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:
- Anand (1.5) - Carlsen (1.5)
- Baramidze (1) - Naiditsch (2)
- Caruana (2) - Adams (1.5)
- Bacrot (1.5) - Aronian (1)
In the meantime, you can see today's games, with my brief notes, here.