When Nakamura bursted into the scene he had one huge weakness and that were his openings. Over the years he made the transition and incorporated freerolls and forced draws into his repertoire. Just look up his win in the English against Karjakin and you know what I am talking about. In the following game Naka is willing to repeat an old line that dates back to the Kortchnoi-Karpov match in 1978. It looks like Karjakin smelled a rat and went for the forced draw.
Every once in a while you can see what happens, when engine-kids are on their own. In such cases the game usually ends very fast and things can become rather ugly. In the featured game, Wesley was obviously caught out of preparation in a static type of position, where dynamic resources simply don’t exist. The weird thing is that he refused to castle and instead tried everything he could to open up files against his own king. I bet the most difficult task for Carlsen in this game was to hide the grin on his face.
On a sidenote I should mention that I underestimated Carlsen in my predictions. Playing something other than his match openings doesn’t hurt him that much, because there are so many quiet systems to chose from, where he can make something out of nothing.
The tournament in Bilbao has about the worst lineup that one could ever imagine. Carlsen and Karjakin can’t play their main openings, Giri and Wei Yi are both Drawmeisters, So is a classical Bumhunter, but there are no bums in the field, which basically leaves it to Nakamura to grab the money.
Vacation is over and the Drawmeisters are back at work shuffling pieces around for no purpose other than stealing rating points. This time Pono shows us a simple way to tame Kramnik’s already rather tame Semi-Trash Variation: Push a4-a5 and liquidate the queenside!
After the unfortunate experience in the Najdorf, our hero chose the much safer 1.d4 and managed to kill the position in his usual style.
Taking a look at the position after gxf3 as a winning attempt was inspired by the following classic and one of my favorite games. Since Leko never had the chance to seize the c-file like Botvinnik, his decision cannot be blamed though. After all we want to be fair, don’t we?
Things don’t look to good for our hero so far. He drew in the first round as expected, equalized with black in the second round and as a true gentleman he refused to beat a woman in the third round. In the fourth round he had to face the guy with the name that nobody can pronounce (Ne-pom-ni-she). I don’t know what went wrong with the preparation for this game, because Leko plays a novelity on move 15 and loses track immediately after a rather obvious reply that is among the top choices for every engine, so it wasn’t exactly unexpected. Basically it was a rare loss straight from the opening.
On a sidenote: Hou Yifan found a nice drawing mechanism against Chucky. It is neither forced up to that point nor are there any predecessors, so I assume that it was just an over the board creation.
I don’t know about you, but whenever Peter Leko plays a game, it feels like a major holiday to me. Ok, he played all the top computer moves and ended up a pawn down, so it wasn’t the typical draw that the fans would have expected. Still it all ended in a repetiton and who wants to argue with the master? We’re not worthy!
Play it safe!