Wijk aan Zee 2015 – Round 6

The World Champion makes it 3/3 and beats his principled rival Caruana with black. Two of those 3 wins have been with black. Sometimes it pays to play the Sicilian!

Yesterday I predicted that in view of his insecure play Caruana would opt for something more solid against Carlsen and indeed he did opt for solidity – instead of an Open Sicilian he went 3 Bb5. Carlsen’s reaction was a bit odd, as it seemed that he mixed up the move-order – instead of the usual 8…0-0 he went for 8…e5, allowing 9 Ne5. I’m still not sure whether this was a bluff, a very deep prep (unlikely, as my analysis below shows), or a genuine mix-up.

A very good game by Carlsen, who reminded us that he can also play sharp and exciting chess, bluff and attack when necessary and play the Sicilian as well! And speaking of the Sicilian, I think it was a very subtle psychological choice, to put extra pressure on Caruana by showing aggressive intentions from the start, in a situation when Caruana lost the previous day and probably wanted to play it safe.

Van Wely and Aronian drew from a Trompowsky. It’s funny how some players cannot play boring chess even when they want to!

It cannot get more boring that this, can it?

The final position

The difference in the diagrams speaks for the way the game went.

Jobava lost again, today against So, who pointed out that today’s win was his first tournament win when he has played 1…e5 against 1 e4! Jobava keeps repeating the same mistakes and it’s a pity we won’t be seeing him again in super-tournaments after a shameful result like this one in Wijk, as he’s truly a very exciting player to watch, provided he’s on good form. Today he played a rare idea in a well-known position in the Giuoco Piano and that’s the only positive thing that can be said about his play:

7 Bd5!?

Ivanchuk couldn’t beat Saric, who defended very well in a Slav. A good result for Saric and not so good for Ivanchuk, who must have wanted to increase his lead playing white against one of the outsiders.

Hou Yifan used a rare idea in the Fianchetto Dragon against Wojtaszek in order to achieve a safe position which was quickly equal and later drawn.

9 e5!?

Radjabov and Giri played a spectacular Sicilian with a double-rook sacrifice from Radjabov to force a perpetual. It would have been great if it didn’t smell of home-preparation.

Vachier and Ding Liren played a Caro Kann with the latter blitzing out moves that the computer didn’t approve of. It had its effect when Vachier played a weaker move and black got a good position. But then he started to play badly and eventually lost. A strange game, I have the impression Ding got scared by his early successes – yesterday he gave Ivanchuk a draw and today he played very nervously.

Tomorrow’s pairings see Carlsen play Hou Yifan with white. Will he make it 4/4?

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