London Chess Classic 2016 – Round 4

Topalov has never been one to take it easy. When in good form this means blasting the field away, when in bad…

Topalov is in bad form in London. Usually people are extra careful then, playing it safe, trying to make draws and keeping it low. Not Topalov though. He did play the Berlin with black yesterday against Vachier, but got a winning position out of it! Perhaps he thought this was a change of fortune for him?! Most probably not, because had it been a change of fortune he would have won that game. But he keeps pushing and against Nakamura’s surprise choice of Caro-Kann he went all in quickly enough. After Nakamura’s novelty on move 9, in a relatively unexplored sideline in the Caro, Topalov went forward immediately and on move 11 the comp was already giving advantage to black!

A bad game for Topalov, who usually sees much more than what was shown in this game. But a good result for Nakamura, who after the birthday loss won two in a row and is now on +1, just half a point behind the leader So.

Speaking of So, he could have increased his lead by beating Giri. But Giri is tough to beat, even when he follows fashion and plays rubbish openings. Or was it yet another case of “my cat ate my preparation?” Very strange to see Giri worse with white on move 11! People like Carlsen (it’s in line with his character and chess understanding) and Kramnik (infinite opening creativity, so he can play and invent new stuff in any line) have recently put systems like the London, Zukertort and Colle back on the menu in the elite events and others have joined in. But as they say, Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi. (Luckily, Giri is of a tender stature, so he won’t take this personally.) Giri has always been strong in theoretical fights, why exactly he needs to follow fashion and copy others I don’t understand. You don’t see Anand or So do it, they stick to what suits them best. Unless Giri finds his own way, he will never manage to fulfill his immense potential. To his credit, he defended well to save this game.

Kramnik tricked Vachier in the opening (not an easy task, but Big Vlad has done even more impossible things) and won a pawn, but it wasn’t enough. The Frenchman defended well for a long time and saved the draw.

Caruana and Aronian proved again (after the match in New York) that the main lines in the Spanish are as safe as it can get for black in chess. A correctly played game that ended in perpetual check.

Anand and Adams drew after Anand missed several important moments during the game. Adams’s pawn sacrifice was rather vague, but Anand didn’t make the most of his chances, eventually allowing Adams to simplify with an elementary combination. It’s never a good sign when you miss things in your calculations, it undermines confidence and this leads to weaker play. How it will affect both players (but primarily Anand, who seemed to be missing more) remains to be seen.

Today’s Round 5 sees So-Anand. Will So extend his lead by taking advantage of Anand’s sloppy calculations?

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