Baku GP 2014 – Round 6

Today I got that inner feeling that Caruana is actually on a new level now. The way he’s dominating the opposition reminds me of how Carlsen was dominating the opposition when he rose through the ranks and shot to his stratospheric level. Exciting times in the elite chess for the fans, new rivarly on the horizon, something not seen since the 80s and the Karpov-Kasparov era, when two players were clearly superior to the rest.

Caruana decided that the Grunfeld gave him better chances to score against Svidler than the Spanish in case of 1 e4. He had problems when facing the 3 f3 line himself with black, so he went for it. Svidler tried to surprise him with the very rare 10…a6, but it’s very probable that the move is of a low quality. Surprises for surprises’ sake are not good at this level and Caruana proved it – he reacted very precisely and got a big advantage. From a human perspective, he did everything correct winning a piece on move 18, but objectively it wasn’t the best way – black did obtain counterplay. But again, from a human perspective, it was difficult to expect black to play extremely precisely to keep that counterplay going, so it was not a surprise when he made a mistake and lost quickly. Just like Carlsen, Caruana dominates because he calculates better than the rest, but unlike Carlsen, he’s more dynamic and less technical in style.

A lousy tournament for Grischuk so far. His missed chance in the second round against Karjakin plus the loss on time against Gelfand in the next round are haunting him and led to more misery today as he lost a completely safe position against Radjabov. The Fianchetto Grunfeld led to static position and maneuvering play. It’s difficult to imagine a player of their calibre to lose a position as safe as this one:

Grischuk-Radjabov after 15 moves

Black planted the knight on e4 and started pushing f5, g5 and coupled with Grischuk’s horrendous time-trouble he won. Good for Radjabov, winning his first game and bad for Grischuk, who’s now languishing on -2.

Karjakin-Gelfand was an interesting Najdorf. The topical 6 h3 led to positions similar to the English Attack when white pushes f4. Black quickly obtained a great position, so it’s unclear what Karjakin intended with this line.

Andreikin tried to surprise Kasimdzhanov with the Philidor Defence and he succeeded, but I suspect it was a pleasant surprise. His 11 d5 is a new move, but quite a typical move in these structures and white was better after it.

A funny thing occurred in the game Dominguez-Mamedyarov. After 10 moves in the Spanish black was a tempo down compared to the normal line when white pushes 9 d4 without playing 9 h3 first. And he voluntarily went for it as in the position below black’s last move was 10…Bd7-g4.

Here usually the pawn is still on a2!

Even funnier was that black didn’t really suffer for it! The game was balanced throughout and eventually drawn (the comp gives an advantage for white after 33 Re8, but somehow I don’t believe it).

Nakamura probably decided not to tempt fate against Tomashevsky and instead of something fighting like the KID he went for the Lasker Defence in the QGD. It’s a mature decision not to force matters when not in particularly good form (Grischuk should take notice). The Lasker is a wonderful drawing weapon and Nakamura got what he wanted without too much trouble (although 34 Nb3 looks to offer a bit of something to white).

Caruana leads alone with 4.5/6 and if he continues like today he’s certain to win this tournament convincingly.

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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  • Oct 9,2014 at 10:16 am

    But of course you know they don't care about the audience, result is the king! Anything that brings results is good, image and good looks mean nothing. 🙂 I'm sure Petrosian and Leko didn't lose much sleep over the criticicm, besides Petrosian could always say he was sacrificing exchanges! 🙂

  • Oct 8,2014 at 11:50 pm

    …wonderful drowing weapon 🙂 that is exactly what audience need ,maybe even better to call back Petrosian and mix him with Leko , everyone would be pleased
    PS the good old Tigran was sacrificing exchange at least and made games interesting .

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