The switch is also time-consuming, so I didn’t really have the time to comment on the Classic. I’ll take a look at some moments that I found interesting below. The fact that Anand won is very surprising, but only because the peculiar tie-break system gave him the black-wins odds. Anand didn’t show any superiority and he played in his usual energy-saving mode, using his fantastic preparation to stay out of trouble, both with black and white. In fact, he won the tournament thanks to Adams’ collapse. Adams won the first game in impressive style, but then got into opening trouble against Giri and Nakamura and lost both. In the last round against Anand he made some inexplicable mistakes to lose from a drawn position.
Kramnik played exciting chess, he busted Nakamura thanks to his superior opening preparation and showed interesting and high-quality opening ideas against Adams (14…Bc4 in the Berlin) and Giri (11…c6 in the Catalan). Giri is thriving lately, while his girlfriend’s chess suffers (easy to guess which way the energy is going in this relationship) and Nakamura is stagnating. Caruana couldn’t come back after his first-round loss and I think he’s still getting used to the new level and expectations.
|Adams-Kramnik, 14…Bc4!? instead of the usual 14…Rg6|
|Giri-Kramnik, 11…c6!?, a rare move|
The tournament was interesting to follow, as it always is for a professional to watch the best players play against each other, but I wonder whether this over-saturation of elite events leads somewhere. If you take into account that starting with the Olympiad in August there was non-stop top-level chess going on (Sinquefield cup, the Grand Prix tournaments, the ECC, Bilbao, the WCh match in Sochi) while on the other hand the open tournaments are getting thinner by the day in every possible aspect (prize-fund, conditions for titled players, number of days) it seems that the non-elite players are slowly being forced out of active play and reduced to the role of observers. It’s fun to observe, of course, but playing still has some exciting moments…
Today the classical part of the Classic began and the game of the day undoubtedly was Adams’ win over Caruana. It reminded me of the famous Kasparov wins against Karpov: game 16 of the 1986 match in Leningrad and game 20 of the 1990 match in Lyon. The harmonious attack of the white’s pieces and the key Kh2 move are taken from Kasparov’s notebook!
The other interesting game (but only for serious professionals) was the duel of the ex-World Champions. Anand played the Triangle, he first used this move order in game 5 in Chennai last year. After Kramnik’s 4 Nf3 (Carlsen played 4 e4) Anand avoided the Noteboom (4…dc4) and went for the usual Semi-Slav 4…Nf6, but the real surprise came on the next move when he went for the ultra-sharp and heavily analysed Botvinnik line. It’s obvious he prepared this for Carlsen, most probably last year for Chennai, but he never got the chance to play it. And then it started – they followed theory. And followed it, followed it, and then some more. Try to remain calm when I inform you that the new move was on move 42, in a dead-drawn rook endgame, with peace signed on move 45. Incredibly deep preparation by both and exciting for the professionals to find out Anand’s intended black repertoire for his last two matches.
The third game, Nakamura-Giri was a draw and that’s all that can be said about it.
Then his books on the Berlin Defence and 1…e5 black repertoire came out. I remember reading his story how he came about to creating his black repertoire based on 1…e5 and the Berlin after suffering for several years with the French Defence.
This year’s Russian Superfinal witnessed his finest hour – Lysyj won clear first with 5.5/9, with 4 wins, 2 losses and 3 draws, half a point ahead of Jakovenko, who only beat him and drew the rest!
What I found surprising were the lousy scores of Karjakin and Svidler – Karjakin shared last place witn 4/9 while Svidler managed to crawl back to 50% with a last round win over Zvjaginsev. I somehow have the feeling that the constant talking while commenting on the World Championship match in Sochi served Svidler badly – when the mouth moves too much it gives no chance to the brain to start working. Svidler’s comments were excellent, but his play left much to be desired. As for Karjakin, perhaps buying his wife a big jeep before the tournament wasn’t the best possible psychological preparation?!
It was a very strange game by Kramnik, I’ve never seen him make so many weakening moves and ending up lost in 20 moves! I know Kramnik (and not only him!) hates playing in the mornings (I for example have horrible results in my morning games) but the last round started at noon, not the worst of times.
So it’s difficult to explain Kramnik’s play, but all credit should go to Yu Yangyi who ended the tournament with 3/3, beating Giri and Kramnik, the number 1 and 2 seeds in the last 2 rounds (in Round 7 he beat GM Lenderman)! I’ve written in an earlier post, How to Win Opens (read it in full here), the crucial thing in open tournaments is always a good finish, and Yu had the perfect finish.
Here’s his final-round win against Kramnik:
Kramnik’s maneuver was no less impressive. Here’s the game with comments:
I found it curious that Kramnik didn’t change his repertoire to play in an open event. He slugged it out in the dull Berlin with 5 Re1 against Debashis (2485) for 81 moves and things didn’t work out against the below-2500 guys in the first rounds. Obviously these guys are so far from Kramnik’s world that they didn’t care what happens in that one game and played bravely and didn’t deserve to lose. Which cannot be said for the likes of Vovk (2640) who played cowardly or Sjugirov (2673) who played shamefully. These guys are a bit closer to Kramnik’s sphere and they know who Kramnik is and what Kramnik means – they were afraid, showed too much respect and lost without a fight. Hence, the irrelevance of Kramnik’s openings.
Kramnik is now on course to win the tournament, being the sole leader with 7/8 before the last round. I’m sure this tournament will serve as proof for those who state the elite are way too strong for the “common” GMs and that’s why they don’t play opens.