Sutovsky seems to have tough luck with this line, regardless if he plays it with white or black. Unfortunately following the computer-mainline leads to disaster, but black seems to have an improvement.
Well, not so much. The longer I work on this project the more I am convinced that the basic draws are known and that many players on the highest level are using a counter strategy. Forced draws simply don’t occur in Carlsen’s games and even the more theoretical players like Kramnik are experimenting with the Torre-Attack these days. They simply have to protect their rating points against engines.
Lately there were a few rapid/blitz tournaments, but the only guy who made a few quick draws was Wesley So. It doesn’t make much sense for these guys to show their prep in short time controls.
From the seven games over 100 moves Caruana, Nakamura and Karjakin each took part in three. Naka even beat Fabi in two of them.
Carlsen made a quick draw when the most likely outcome would have been a three-way tie with Caruana and Nakamura. Instead the Don managed to outplay So from a dubious position to spoil the strategy. A bit of luck was involved but congratulations nevertheless.
This weird position occurred straight from the opening in the game Caruana vs. Nakamura from the 7th round. Who is better and why?
Using the Dorfman-Method we can easily establish that both kings are safe, because the queens are off and there is no direct way to attack either king. The next step is counting the material. White has the two bishops and therefore the material advantage. That’s it, no more steps. White is slightly better.
Using the Point-Count-Method, which is very close to a computer evaluating the position, we count the two bishops as +0.5. Then we and add +0.3 for each half-open file. Finally we add +0.3 for control of the center. This adds up to +1.4. At the same time we discount three isolated pawns and two doubled pawns, which adds up to -1.5. Since the black position has no weakness, it means that black a tiny bit better and the overall evaluation should be -0.1.
Stockfish gives b6 for black and evaluates the position as equal, 0.00.
Magnus chose to play the Slav and got punished. It is no surprise that Wesley played the Exchange Variation, because it suits his zero-risk-style, it also contains a bit of venom. If black plays for a win he usually gets in trouble very fast. I am not going to add any pointless computer analysis to the game. If you are interested, you should check out Svidler’s commentary on Youtube, that is if you survive the mild monotone voice and his human-tranquilizer-style for more than two minutes. Unfortunately I can’t, which is arguably very sad.