Baku GP 2014 – Round 7

I was too quick to praise Nakamura’s yesterday decision not to tempt fate and play solid when not in form – today he went ballistic immediately from the opening against Karjakin with the Veresov. I think it’s sheer laziness – Karjakin is well-known as being very good in the opening (“sterilising it” as Grischuk put it) and it takes a lot of work to get a playable position against him, something Nakamura didn’t feel like doing. But there are no shortcuts at this level, there is a reason why the Veresov isn’t played and this game demonstrated to Nakamura why. On move 6 (!) he spent 34 minutes (he said he didn’t look at 5…c4 in his prep, confirming my suspicion of laziness) and on move 8 (!), 31 more and was already in a worse position with more than an hour spent.



Good friends Svidler and Grischuk drew a friendly game ending in a perpetual check.

Yesterday I said that surprises for surprises’ sake are not good at this level. Caruana tried his luck with the Scandinavian against Andreikin, something he has played before, but rarely (and possibly inspired by Carlsen’s use of it against him at the Olympiad) but even though it surprised Andreikin, it didn’t prevent him from achieving solid position and subsequently outplaying Caruana. The Scandinavian isn’t a very dynamic opening so the surprise was only psychological – chess-wise white could play normal moves and achieve a good position. Plus perhaps I jinxed Caruana when I said he’s on a new level now, as today’s game didn’t confirm it. So Caruana’s human after all and after this loss he’s joined in the lead by Gelfand.



Gelfand pressed Kasimdzhanov from start to finish in a QGD. Somehow he didn’t manage to win, although it seemed he had some chances in the endgame.

Radjabov played the same 3 f3 against Dominguez’s Grunfeld that Caruana used to defeat Svidler. Did I mention that Caruana and Radjabov share the same coach now, GM Chuchelov? Dominguez chose another line, 8…e5, used by Gelfand in the 3rd match game against Anand. Radjabov followed a couple of recent games played by Dominguez, but it seems he forgot his lines and the game went out of his control. Luckily he kept his presence and held the draw.

Mamedyarov couldn’t break Tomashevsky’s Slav, even though it seemed that he had an advantage with the central duo e4-d4. The comp even shows an accidental chance for black on move 28 (28…c5) but probably they both missed it. The game was drawn shortly afterwards.

Today’s loss is good news for Caruana. He’s still in the lead, so nothing is lost, while it takes the pressure away and he can go back to playing good chess and forget about ratings and records. Tomorrow he’s black again, against Kasimdzhanov, but I doubt he’ll be experimenting like today.
Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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