Sinquefield Cup 2015 – Round 7

It takes very little to change a fortune of a man. For Grischuk all it took was one good game.

In his own words, his started playing well 3 rounds ago, when he played Aronian. Even though he probably missed a win there, he must have felt good about that game. Then he beat Caruana and now he beat Carlsen, with black. A second first-timer for Grischuk (the first one was beating Anand), having never beaten Carlsen before. In a Najdorf Sicilian Carlsen tried to follow Li Ruifeng with the rare 9 Qd3, but Grischuk found a way to transpose to the normal lines. And there black had no problems, but this was known since the 90s, so I really don’t know what Carlsen was trying to get from the opening. Grischuk played solidly, for equality, and he got it. The game should have ended in a draw, but then Carlsen became careless, something that never happens to him. This cost him a pawn and then the game, even though he probably missed a way to save the game – but I don’t think he deserved to save the game, after playing like that before the time-control. The way Carlsen has played recently, he starts to feel as “one of the pack,” or as Botvinnik would have put it “a first among equals.” He needs to re-establish his superiority fast!

Another player who had a bad day was Nakamura. After demolishing So he played a very weak game against Aronian – wasting time in the opening, when he still should have been in his preparation, and then not putting up the stiffest resistance. A surprising drop of level by Nakamura. With this win Aronian is almost assured of winning the tournament!

The other games finished in a draw. Topalov and Giri were happy to shuffle around until move 30, each one with his own reasons (Topalov because he lost two in a row and Giri because he likes to draw with black). Caruana tried to improve on Vachier’s win against Adams from Biel, one month ago, but that lead to a closed, Spanish-like structure where black was in time to control both wings. Anand ran into some early trouble against So in the Spanish with 4 d3 (avoiding the Berlin), which is surprising, having in mind that he has prepared it and played is so extensively, but he managed to create first a mess and then a fortress (Anand is known for his ability to see and create fortresses from afar).

Two rounds to go and Aronian is the clear leader a point ahead of the pack consisting of Carlsen, Grischuk, Giri and Vachier. Two draws should nail it.

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