Grenke Classic 2015 – Round 7

Bacrot is the man! All draws in such a tournament is no small feat!

Today he had to withstand the pressure of the World Champion himself, who played for a win and victory in the tournament. He did come close, but Bacrot slipped through. Carlsen was winning actually, but it was a tactical position with counterchances for black, not a technical position, and in calculating positions everyone can make a mistake, including the World Champion.

Naiditsch concluded his remarkable tournament with a steady game against Aronian. Playing the Scotch Four Knights means playing it as safe as possible. He was even better when Aronian tried to create something out of nothing, but then just before messing it up Aronian held an unplesant rook endgame. Carlsen and Naiditsch drawing meant that they would play a playoff for the first place.

They could have been caught by Caruana, who managed to outplay Baramidze in a long game, only to botch it a few meters from the end (reminds me of my game against him!). He even showed the win when he joined the commentary of the playoff. Another disappointment for the Italian, who really needs another good result in order to convince the world he still plays good chess after Saint Louis.

I was shocked to see Anand lose this with black to Adams:

30…Ra4 is simplest, but Anand’s 30…Rd7 is also a draw

There is only one explanation for this – nerves. Or, rather, lack of patience in positions which are “dead draw.” A former World Champion and a player of Anand’s class really shouldn’t be losing these kind of positions. It is the worst possible end of a tournament, to lose a completely drawn endgame! Anand lost 15 rating points in the 7 games he played here – I don’t want to jinx him or anything, but with this kind of play he’s on his way out of the Top 10.

The playoff between Carlsen and Naiditsch turned out to be more exciting than expected. Carlsen won the first game on sheer class, outplaying Naiditsch, but then in the second all sorts of things happened – Carlsen was doing very well, then was completely lost, then was OK again and then lost again. This cycle repeated several times! In the end he lost, must have been a shock for him! The third game was full of hidden tricks and eventually petered out to a draw. The fourth was also very volatile, but again ended in a draw. In the Armaggedon Naiditsch, playing black and needing a draw to win the tournament, collapsed and lost practically in one move. So Carlsen won again, kudos to him to keeping calm after the shocking loss of the second rapid game and maintaining his steadiness under pressure. But the real hero is of course Naiditsch, who played the tournament of his life! I rate this success higher than his Dortmund win in 2005 – to share 1st place with Carlsen is next to impossible in the last several years.

The super-tournament circus knows no stopping and the next stop is Zurich, starting on Saturday (round 1) with Kramnik, Anand, Caruana, Nakamura, Aronian and Karjakin. Although six players playing 5 rounds is a bit weird to say the least. I won’t be able to follow it as closely as I’d like to in view of my own obligations – I will be playing in the 4NCL for my team Cheddleton over the weekend. Now it’s finally time to do some prep for myself!

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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