Maybe, but not yet. Dylan Loeb McClain elaborates - and with a headline that reminds one of my old tag line when mentioning Caruana.
HT: Marc Beishon
Maybe, but not yet. Dylan Loeb McClain elaborates - and with a headline that reminds one of my old tag line when mentioning Caruana.
HT: Marc Beishon
Despite its brevity, this year's Zurich Chess Challenge will still be a true super-tournament. There are only six players, but the "weakest" of them is rated 2760. Here's the lineup:
If I understand the tournament website correctly, there will be a blitz tournament on Friday the 13th which will determine the pairings for the classical tournament. That will run from the 14th through the 18th, and then there will be a rapid event on the 19th. As I mentioned in an earlier post, octogenarians Viktor Korchnoi and Wolfgang Uhlmann will play also four rapid games with each other (two each on Sunday and Monday), so this should be a very entertaining event.
Round 3 of the Grenke Chess Classic wasn't a display of great chess players at their best, and that could be why it was such an entertaining round. Maybe the one draw wasn't terribly interesting, as Etienne Bacrot and Viswanathan Anand drew in a theory-heavy line of the Berlin ending, but the other three games were lively and decisive.
The game of the round was of course the battle between Arkadij Naiditsch and Magnus Carlsen, or "Magnus Jobava" as some dubbed him after his questionable piece sacrifice on move 10. Neither human insight nor computer calculation could justify the sacrifice, and Naiditsch looked likely to win until his 31st move. After that a tense equality prevailed for almost 20 moves, but then Carlsen got in trouble again starting with 49...Kf6. (Or maybe before then. 49...Rf4 maintains equality, but Black has to find a lot of subtle and accurate moves to keep that equality.) The final error was 55...Rc7, after which Naiditsch accurately calculated things to the end, and won.
Two additional Magnus Carlsen-related tidbits. First, this is his second straight loss to Naiditsch; the first loss was in the Tromso Olympics last year. The second was noted by Carlsen in a tweet: this is his fourth consecutive third-round loss. The first three came in the Sinquefield Cup, the match with Anand, and at Wijk aan Zee. He didn't win the Sinquefield Cup, but he went on to win the other two, and as he's only half a point back with four rounds to go his situation is far from hopeless.
Naiditsch leads though, and so does Fabiano Caruana the latter defeated Levon Aronian. Aronian has been playing poorly (by his exalted standards) since last year's Candidates' tournament, and today's game won't do anything for his confidence. He started with a perfectly decent position, but a series of inaccuracies and errors (perhaps especially on his 31st and 34th moves) left him lost at the time control, and he resigned after Black made his 40th move.
Finally, Michael Adams bounced back from yesterday's loss to Carlsen with a win over David Baramidze. They played a Closed Ruy with 6.d3, and Adams didn't have much until Baramidze blundered with 16...Ne7?? Adams spotted the position and obtained a won position, and Black's dubious piece sacrifice on move 25 eliminated any last chances he might have had to hold the game.
Tomorrow (Thursday) is a rest day, and on Friday they'll play round 4, with these pairings:
In the meantime, you can see today's games, with my brief notes, here.
There was a lot of action today in Wijk aan Zee, complete with a surprisingly large number of errors and even blunders. We begin with Radoslaw Wojtaszek's remarkably one-sided defeat of the world champion, Magnus Carlsen. Wojtaszek struck a powerful blow for his "boss" - he has long been one of Viswanathan Anand's seconds - defeating Carlsen with surprising ease on the white side of an unusual Leningrad Dutch. Rather than opting for the traditional kingside fianchetto Wojtaszek expanded on the queenside with an early b4. Carlsen prevented White from consolidating his extra space on that flank by pushing his a-pawn all the way to a3, where it was soon lost. Carlsen may have had some compensation for this, but objectively speaking that went out the window after 28...Qe6. Whether it was a blunder or a case of unnecessarily desperate action is unclear, but what does seem clear is that White was winning after this move if he played well, and Wojtaszek did. One might have wondered how Wojtaszek would feel after escaping from seriously lost positions in the first two rounds; it seems the answer could be that he felt revitalized.
While one can wonder if Carlsen blundered in his game there's no question that Levon Aronian did in his, against Wesley So. After 20...Nd7 White can win an exchange, but Black will have at least enough activity to make up for the material. After Aronian's 20...Ng8?? 21.Bh5 g6 22.fxg6!, however, he was simply lost. Aronian fought for another 32 moves, but against So's accurate play he never had a chance to save the game.
Baadur Jobava also lost disastrously, but it wasn't so much due to any one move (though there were some clear errors) as it was to an overly risky strategy. Sometimes Jobava's provocative play backfires, and against Ding Liren he had to resign after just 22 moves.
The final winner of the day was Vassily Ivanchuk, whose victory over Loek van Wely was more to his credit than to any particular egregious move or plan by the Dutchman. Ivanchuk just played well and overwhelmed his opponent.
Ivanchuk caught Fabiano Caruana in first place with 2.5/3, as Caruana only managed a draw against Anish Giri. That may not be the best way of putting it, as it suggests that he had some chances to win. He didn't, but had to suffer for 97 long moves with the black pieces before escaping with half a point.
The games Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs. Teimour Radjabov and Ivan Saric vs. Hou Yifan were also drawn, and in both cases one player missed a likely win. In the first game it was Vachier-Lagrave who missed a great chance with the subtle 32.Nc7!!, while in the second it was Hou Yifan who could have had her opponent on the ropes had she played the obvious and banal 18...Rxa4.
The games, with my notes, are here. These are tomorrow's pairings for round 4:
In the B-group, David Klein beat Bart Michiels, Vladimir Potkin beat Valentina Gunina and Anne Haast upset Jan Timman. Klein, Robin van Kampen, Wei Yi and David Navara lead with 2/3.
Fabiano Caruana is off to another good start in a super-tournament, and at 2-0 he is the clear leader of the A-group at Wijk aan Zee. His victim today was Ivan Saric, who won the theoretical battle on the black side of a Zaitsev Ruy Lopez. That's a bit surprising, given Caruana's generally impeccable home preparation, but unfortunately for the young Croatian grandmaster he couldn't make the most of it. It seems to me he got a bit too excited about his chances around moves 29 and 30, and rather than recapturing the f-pawn right away he focused on his own plans. After Caruana's 31st and 32nd moves, however, it was clear that White had everything under control, and the end result was that Saric had given up a pawn without getting anything in return. Caruana's technique was basically flawless, and Black resigned down a piece and two pawns for nothing.
The day's other winner was Ding Liren, who beat his countrywoman Hou Yifan in a rather one-sided game. Hou chose a pawn sac that looks good optically but hasn't had great results, and by the time she regained her pawn her structure was ruined. Ding won the endgame pretty easily.
Loek van Wely should have joined the winners' circle, but on three occasions failed to convert huge advantages against Radoslaw Wojtaszek, who has already had more luck in the first two rounds than some players will have in the entire 13-round tournament.
The other games were relatively uneventful. Magnus Carlsen got nothing with White against Wesley So and had to work a little to get the draw. (Admittedly, not too much, as So seemed pretty happy with a draw against the world champion.) Levon Aronian and Anish Giri bashed out 25 moves or so of Gruenfeld theory, resulting in a position where White gets an extra pawn or two but Black's activity and the opposite-colored bishops makes it very hard for White to play seriously for a win. Aronian tried, but Giri defended well and was never in danger. Baadur Jobava played a line against Vachier-Lagrave's Accelerated Dragon that has a reputation for giving White nothing, and nothing happened today to change that. Finally, Teimour Radjabov and Vassily Ivanchuk played a game that wasn't predestined to a draw straight out of the opening, but it was still quite balanced almost straight through from start to finish.
In the B-group there was more activity today. Yesterday's only winner, Robin van Kampen, drew his game, and he was caught by David Navara, Bart Michiels, Valentina Gunina and Wei Yi.
The A-group games, with my comments, are here, and these are tomorrow's A-group pairings:
That's the title (but without the punctuation at the end) of a New York Times article that begins with this implausible sentence: "Fabiano Caruana is a chess champion all but made for the age of social media." The article offers a nice profile of Caruana, with some coverage of Magnus Carlsen thrown in, but there's little in the piece to suggest that Caruana is likely to be a social media star beyond the confines of the chess community. (Of course, I'd be very happy to be wrong about this!) Have a look and see for yourselves.
(HT: Bob Banta)
There's a very interesting interview with world #2 Fabiano Caruana here. One noteworthy aspect is the tone: while Caruana presents himself in a reasonably self-effacing way in the video interviews I've seen, there's a very strong confidence (but not arrogance) that comes across in this piece. A second note, in passing, is bad news for American fans like this writer: he has no plans to switch federations and represent the U.S. again. (Good news for Italians though!)
It's especially interesting to see his comments about the just-completed match between Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand, and I was pretty surprised to read the following:
What was Vishy’s main mistake in this match?
The strange way in which he twice played the Sicilian Defence. Already on the first attempt it didn’t go so well, but he continued it a second time. The whole course of the match in Sochi showed that Carlsen had nothing special prepared against the Berlin and Vishy should have stuck to his guns. The idea of playing the Paulsen was very bad and very strange, in my view.
While I would heartily agree that the choice of variation within the Paulsen/Kan Anand chose in game 6 was pretty terrible, I wouldn't agree with his general remark, especially if we don't cheat by evaluating Anand's decision about what to play in games 4 and 6 by what happened in games 7, 9 and 11. So let's recap: in game two Carlsen played 4.d3 vs. the Berlin, and very quickly and easily outplayed Anand despite not getting any "official" advantage from the opening. Anand switched to the Sicilian in game 4, and this time when Carlsen went for a sideline Carlsen even stood worse. So I don't understand what Caruana means when he said that "on the first attempt it didn't go so well." The second outing, game 6, was a disaster for Anand, that's true, but it wasn't really the fault of the Sicilian or even the Kan/Paulsen. Anand picked a very strange line, one that both Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik had considered bad for Black for a very long time. It's no wonder that he got in big trouble and lost that game, but I don't see why the blame should be laid at the doorstop of Anand's decision to play the Paulsen.
Anyway, whether you agree with me or the guy who is #2 in the world, it's a lively interview and well worth taking the time to read.
Until their simultaneous failure last round, either Fabiano Caruana or Boris Gelfand - or both - led the Baku Grand Prix, and I think that with the exception of round 3, no one else shared that lead with them. Coming into round 10 there was a six-way tie for first, and with Caruana in particular having lost two of his last three games it looked as if they had been swallowed up by the field.
Not so! Caruana and Gelfand both won in round 10, and while there were two other decisive results all of the players who entered the round tied with them finished it trailing them once more. Leinier Dominguez had White against Caruana, but played unsuccessfully in the English and soon found himself suffering in a position where Black dominated the dark squares while White suffered with a bad light-squared bishop. White was worse, but wasn't losing until he swapped rooks on move 26. He clearly wanted to open lines on the queenside for counterplay, but the end result was a vulnerable king. Caruana took speedy advantage, ensuring himself of at least a share of the lead while leaving Dominguez in the cellar.
Gelfand took on one of the co-leaders, Teimour Radjabov, and won very smoothly - too smoothly, perhaps. Radjabov eschewed his old favorite King's Indian and went into an Open Catalan, which is a Gelfand specialty. They followed a Kramnik-Radjabov game from their 2011 Candidates match, and although Radjabov produced the novelty on move 14 Gelfand was quickly better. Radjabov was clearly worse by move 19, and a further error on move 24 resulted in a 28 move win by the 2012 "vice-champion".
Sergey Karjakin and Peter Svidler entered the round tied for first, and both may have had their moments of optimism. For Karjakin, he was on the white side of a Ruy line that had scored 8.5/9; for Svidler - who of course improved on the earlier games - he obtained a dangerous kingside attack with the help of a piece sacrifice. Luckily for Karjakin, Svidler either missed something or underestimated his chances, and took a perpetual in a clearly better position.
Hikaru Nakamura was another leader who could only draw, not managing much on the white side of an Exchange Slav.
Evgeny Tomashevsky remained within half a point of the lead, making it a four-way tie behind Caruana and Gelfand, by defeating Dmitry Andreikin. The game was decided in what I assume was mutual time pressure, wherein Andreikin made more, and more severe, errors than his opponent. By the time they made the time control Tomashevsky was up three pawns for nothing, so Andreikin gave up on his 41st turn.
Finally, the game between Rustam Kasimdzhanov and Alexander Grischuk was won by the latter when the former FIDE champ underestimated Black's kingside play.
Fabiano Caruana wins a game and leads the tournament. Where have we heard that line before? A few more months of this and people will start offering retrospectives on the Magnus Carlsen era. Today it was Peter Svidler who was tossed into the wood chipper, though the game wasn't as clean as one might have liked. Caruana came out of the opening, a 3.f3 Anti-Gruenfeld, with a significant advantage, but 18.e5 was a mistake. (A very natural move, but a mistake nevertheless; 18.Nge2 was probably best.) The struggle flared up anew until Svidler's 27...Rh8?; the computer suggests (the very risky-looking) 27...Bxe4 28.Nxe4 f5 instead. For rating watchers, Caruana is now over 2851 and a win or two away from beating Garry Kasparov's career best (live) Elo rating. Carlsen himself is just 12 points away, though the latter's all-time mark will be safe at least through the end of this tournament.
Boris Gelfand could have kept pace with a win over Sergey Karjakin, but while the game was a success - an easy draw with Black in a Najdorf where he even enjoyed some advantage - he is out of first place for the first time in the tournament.
Rustam Kasimdzhanov won pretty easily against Dmitry Andreikin, who once again appeared not to "have any openings". Kasimdzhanov had a large advantage after the opening and rolled to victory.
Alexander Grischuk's woes in this tournament continued with a strange loss to Teimour Radjabov. He came out of the opening with a slight edge with White into a middlegame with a large margin of safety. This margin disappeared with the combination of 19.b4 and 25.f4 (the latter move in particular was an error), creating targets for Radjabov on both sides of the board. 29.Qxe8 was the decisive error, after which Radjabov was able to take aim at the weaknesses and stroll to success.
Leinier Dominguez had some advantage against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, but was unable to bring home the full point.
Likewise, Evgeny Tomashevsky had an edge (though generally not a very big one) against Hikaru Nakamura throughout their game, which was drawn as well.
Round 7 Pairings:
The last two rounds of the Baku Grand Prix have been a bit slow, at least when it comes to wins and losses. In today's round 5 action all the games were drawn, and only in the game between Hikaru Nakamura and Leinier Dominguez did anyone have serious winning chances. (Nakamura was pressing there and had a winning advantage at one point.)
In round 4, before the first rest day, there were more opportunities for a decisive result, but only in the game between Fabiano Caruana and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov did someone manage to convert the advantage. Caruana was the winner (I've annotated the game for you here), and in the process he caught up with Boris Gelfand in first place. After five rounds they lead with 3.5 points apiece, good enough for a half point lead over Nakamura and Peter Svidler and a point plus over the next four players in the table.
The round 6 pairings are: