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Grenke Classic: 6th Round

The first game features an interesting pawn sacrifice by MVL in order to deal with the annoying queen on a4. In the second game Caruana tried to get Hou Yifan out of her preparation and almost got punished for it.

On a sidenote: This tournament features excellent commentary by Leko. He seems to know everything about everything and doesn’t have a problem with sharing his knowlede with the audience.

Vincent Keymer wins the Grenke Open

8/9 with a GM-norm at the age of 13 sounds quite promising. The kid doesn’t come out of nowhere. He has already shown in youth competitions that he is the number one talent in Germany by far. He is working with Leko which means that his openings are already on a very high level. As the rating-underdog he has the advantage that many opponents are playing for a win against him. Right now he can gain Elo by drawing or by the occasional variance, like his victory against the hungarian GM Rapport. Once he becomes the favorite, things will have to be re-evaluated. Keep in mind that the human brain is fully grown around the age of 15, so he has lots of physical upside-potential. In any case, for Germany it’s either him or nobody.

Modern concepts in the Classical French

It is very hard to defend the French on the highest level. If you check out Negi’s book, you will realize that virtually every single mainline is refuted. Yet black is successful every once in a while, because white has to be precise and there are simply too many too many lines to remember. The biggest recent ideas for black where the high class waiting-move Be7, supporting the pawn on c5 with b6 and leaving the knight on c8. In this game Blübaum comes up with a new move-order, which seems to be known to both players, and they quickly agree to a draw. The big question is if Caruana held back the refutation, because revealing the secret simply wasn’t worth it.

What a Finish!

Congratulations to Fabiano Caruana for becoming the challenger for the World Championship.

Nice comeback!

I didn’t expect Caruana to beat Aronian in the Ruy Lopez. Obviously I was wrong. Maybe Caruana can handle pressure after all. Tough luck for Aronian who got caught again. So far he lost 26.7 Elo points.

This game is a masterclass in creating and exploiting suboptimal piece placement. The bishop never felt comfortable on the kingside and finally had to be sacrificed. The strategy reminds me of Karpov.

Tough pill to swallow

Caruana allowed Karjakin to play a strong exchange sacrifice. Ironically sacrificing an exchange is a very common method to defeat weaker players who aren’t weak enough to blunder material. If you wonder where Karjakin’s million dollar match preparation against Carlsen went, I guess you can see an example here.

After this masterpiece there is a very good chance for Karjakin-Carlsen Reloaded. I don’t see Wesley losing with white to Karjakin and I don’t see Karjakin beating Ding. Caruana needs get lucky with black against the high variance player Grischuk. It would be a catastrophe for russian chess of course. One thing is clear: Karjakin can handle pressure, while I am not so sure with Caruana.

Kramnik on the Marshall Gambit

It’s not a novelty, but it’s new on the highest level. Kramnik’s approach is probably the easiest way to get a technical position in the Marshall Gambit. It is not clear though if this was a bluff or his secondary repertoire. Nevertheless Kramnik is in such a slump that he must be regarded as the target. Caruana missed a golden chance.

Caruana leads the field by half a point and has to play Karjakin (black), Aronian (white) and Grischuk (black). Meanwhile Mamedyarov will face Ding (white), Grischuk (white) and Kramnik (black). In my opinion a tiebreak is the most likely outcome.

Forced draw in the QGD

Khalifman is always good to force a quick handshake and today he didn’t disappoint the fans. This sideline of the QGD is quite interesting, because it features a high class waiting-move.

You only live twice

Previously I had declared a line in the French dead, but apparently it has a second life. The novelty is the only other move that doesn’t get evalued +1.45 or better for white.

This variation is actually quite important for the evaluation of the Classical French, because it contains a lot of forced lines that all seem to equalize, at least according to the machine.

A Freeroll and a Roller Coaster

The fourth round of the Candidates had everything that chess fans could hope for. Strong novelties, excitement and heartbreaking blunders, but also commentators with such low energy that you could almost fall asleep. Listening to Svidler’s euphemisms for six hours was just too much for me, so I had to switch it off.

Anyways, let’s start with the novelty. Grischuk prepared a nice improvement in the Moscow Variation, that changed the evaluation of Topalov’s piece sacrifice from better for black to 0.00. Black has many viable continuations, which makes it tough to keep the position under control. Ding chose the wrong one and Grischuk missed the refutation. Nevertheless this opens up a new chapter in the Moscow Variation with lots of new ground to discover.

The game of the day was the clash between the two leaders. Kramnik chose a slow approach against the Petroff to show his class, but he got slowly outplayed on the kingside. After a couple of inaccuracies by Caruana he actually managed to turn the tables, but messed it up again in time-trouble. Since there are so many missed chances on both sides, there is no point in adding computer analysis. In the end Caruana had to win the game twice to score one point.

The honorable mention goes to Aronian who managed to trick Karjakin in a sideline of the Vienna.