Baku GP 2014 – Round 2

Today life got in the way and I couldn’t follow the games live. In fact, all day I was running errands while thinking whether Caruana will lose another Najdorf to Gelfand!

Caruana had 4 losses in a row with white in the Najdorf in 2013 (5, if you also count the Tal Memorial blitz): he lost to Topalov, Dominguez, Gelfand and Nakamura (and Karjakin in the blitz). This is quite extraordinary at that level. Then he got one back by beating Gelfand in Wijk this year with this astonishing opening idea:

Then he got in trouble again in a Najdorf, this time against Topalov in Stavanger this year, as a result of a failure to remember the lines (and I vividly remember Topalov’s “it’s impossible to remember” from the press conference), but he managed to draw.

So the Najdorf seemed to be a bit of a soft spot in Caruana’s white repertoire and yet he bravely went ahead and played it again against one of the world’s best connoisseurs of the opening in the whole history of the game. This time he deviated from the astonishing idea that helped him win in Wijk and went 13 Na5. Then interesting things started to happen.

An amazing fight! And the Najdorf seems to be a good weapon against Caruana!

Andreikin lost feebly against Nakamura with white in a Dutch. At least that’s the impression I got. Perhaps his way too long lay off after the Candidates was a mistake? From around move 15 onwards he was simply outplayed as Nakamura improved the position of his pieces while Andreikin stayed passive. A strange game.

Grischuk played a tame line against Karjakin’s QID and didn’t get an advantage, but he did get a complex middlegame position, quite typical of the opening. Grischuk missed the cute 32 Bf8

32 Bf8!!

and the less cute 37 Nb5 to win outright and this was enough leeway for Karjakin, the famous escape artist.

Of all the players, it should have been Dominguez who should have had 2/2. Today he tortured Tomashevsky for a very long time, and missed a few wins on the way. Black introduced a superficial novelty on move 15, the comp’s suggestion and deviating from the recent game Anand-Aronian, Bilbao.

Again it was time-trouble that prevented Dominguez to find the win on moves 74 (74 g4 or 74 h5) or 75 (75 g4). The same story as yesterday and it is usually a bad sign not to win winning positions.

Radjabov played the Berlin with black against Kasimdzhanov and the most curious moment was this one:

20 Nd8!

The game still finished in a draw though.

Svidler followed in the footsteps of the Partriarch, by adopting his initial idea (8 h3) in the line in the QGD that he invented in the match against Petrosian:

Mamedyarov didn’t react to well and eventually lost, but not before he was pretty OK. I read that Svidler wasn’t too happy with the level of his play.

So we have a lot of players with 1.5/2 and exciting times ahead. Stay tuned!

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