Wijk aan Zee 2015 – Round 2
Caruana and Saric played the slightly forgotten nowadays Zaitsev Variation in the Spanish with Saric repeating the rare 14…a5 which he has played before. It is always dangerous to repeat lines you have played before, especially against people who prepare well. Caruana is one of them and he did show his preparation, but black still had a good game. The game was tense and balanced, but on move 28 we can see what a difference in class means: the higher the class of a player, the longer he can play high-quality moves in tense situations. In other words, world class players rarely crack, and almost never when playing against non-world class players. Saric showed that he can play on equal terms for the good part of the middlegame, but he couldn’t withstand the tension and cracked:
Hou Yifan’s opening choice was strange – in the Panov Caro Kann she entered an endgame a pawn down where the maximum white could hope was to recuperate the material and draw. Surely there are better ways to play for a draw with white! As it happened, she missed these opportunities and Ding Liren returned the material only when he achieved positional advantage in return. Then he went on to win without much trouble.
Aronian and Giri played a topical Grunfeld line which Aronian himself defended with black quite recently – against Radjabov in Beijing in a rapid game. Giri obviously improved on that game, but it has all been played before – only black’s 23rd move was new.
Carlsen didn’t get anything out of the opening (a Rubinstein Nimzo-Indian) against his former second So. In his own words he felt “outplayed” by So in the middlegame and had to look for an opportunity to draw, which he found easily.
Jobava and Vachier played a theoretical draw in the Classical Dragon, nothing much to add there.
Radjabov and Ivanchuk played a correct game, while van Wely was winning against Wojtaszek, but he somehow managed to miss 3 relatively easy wins after the time control: