Promising start of the new Grand Prix series – even though the first game to finish was the friendly draw between Mamedyarov and Radjabov, the other games were very interesting.
The first win was achieved by Gelfand against Andreikin. It was surprising how weak Andreikin’s opening preparation was – he didn’t play anything after the Candidates, so surely he could have prepared something! But no, he went along with something he’d played before (nothing wrong with that per se) and got busted simply because the line turned out to be dubious. The real issue here is how come Andreikin didn’t figure out that himself, since other games have already shown the way. The game was short and sweet for Gelfand who demonstrated powerful play.
The second win was notched by Caruana against Karjakin, with black. Caruana played the QGD again, like against Vachier in St. Louis, when in his own words was happy with a draw. And it seems that he would have been happy with a draw here, too, but Karjakin managed to put him under some pressure, I really liked his g3, Kg2, Rh1 and h4 plan.
Caruana defended patiently and they entered wild time-trouble with a few minutes for some 10 moves and the game was decided then. Simply put, Caruana’s nerves were stronger and he withstood the pressure better, while Karjakin cracked and blundered. On a positive note for Karjakin, he was wearing a jacket without his sponsor’s logo on it. Perhaps he’s no longer trying to bring the crown back to Russia?
The other games were drawn, but Dominguez should have won against Kasimdzhanov, after being worse, but here again time-trouble played the decisive role.
At the press conference Nakamura said he was enjoying Svidler’s videos instead of preparing and came up with a tame line against the Spanish. He got nothing and was lucky not to get in real trouble.
Tomashevsky and Grischuk went for a heavy theoretical discussion in the Grunfeld, white repeating his rare move 18 g3 that he played in 2013. And then they followed a correspondence game until move 27 when the correspondence players agreed a draw, while our well-prepared protagonists had to obey the 30-move no draw rule and played on until move 32. That’s good preparation and memory!