London Chess Classic 2016 – Rounds 2-3
He played the Reti instead and after a brief flurry of tactics the game simplified to a draw. A well-played game by both, who kept good control over the position.
It’s been a while since Anand won a game in the Najdorf. It was a year and a half ago, in Norway, where he beat none other than his opponent from Round 2, the same Frenchman with 2 surnames. In London he repeated the feat after the Frenchman messed up his preparation first and then failed to put up the stiffest resistance.
So beat Adams in the Catalan after the quality of Adams’s moves started to drop. This is typical of a difference in class (I’m not saying Adams is of a lower class than So, he’s just in bad form, but being in good/bad form also makes it a difference in class) – for a while the weaker player plays on par with the stronger one, but once the tension rises and fatigue accumulates he is the one whose level will drop. Around move 20 black was doing alright, around move 30 he was still OK, but dubious move 36 and a mistake on move 37 decided the game. 2/2 for So and 0/2 for Adams.
The wildest game was between Topalov and Caruana. In an Advance French (not a frequent guest on this level, neither the French nor the Advance Variation) the evaluation changed frequently but it all culminated in time-trouble.
Round 3 confirmed my theory that only Carlsen can play successfully on his birthday. In Round 1 Nakamura played a horrible game on his birthday and was lost with white on move 13 against So, in Round 3 it was Anand’s turn to play a bad game on his special day. Life loves irony, so he played it against Nakamura. Not the best of games for either player, as you can witness from this excerpt:
The other games in Round 3 were drawn. Aronian and So played a high-quality game which showed So’s tenacity (I thought he will get mated on the queenside!) while Caruana and Kramnik’s Giuoco Piano sprung into life early on after Caruana decided to copy Ponomariov’s idea of early 6 a4.
It was recently revealed that Vachier was one of Carlsen’s helpers during the match in New York, but so far that work seems to have only benefitted the Norwegian. Playing the white side of the symmetrical line 5 Re1 against Topalov’s Berlin, the Frenchman somehow managed to find himself lost. Luckily for him Topalov didn’t find the killer blow on move 30.
Adams again blundered before the time control, this time against Giri, but finally he was lucky – the pawn he lost was in a rook endgame that he drew comfortably.
A very exciting tournament so far in London, hope they keep it going!