Gashimov Memorial 2015 – Round 2

Round 2 in Shamkir saw the players getting used to the atmosphere and playing at their usual level (except maybe for Mamedyarov, more on this below).

Kramnik played So for the first time in his life. He went for a quiet line again, opening with 1 Nf3, 2 g3, 3 Bg2 just like against Adams yesterday. So chose the move-order made popular by Anand in the first match against Carlsen, namely 1…d5 and 2…g6, intending Bg7 and e5. The game could have transposed to the Fianchetto Grunfeld had white played 6 c4, but again Kramnik avoided theory. I have the impression he’s saving some preparation for the World Cup and he’s playing with the “old baggage” (as Botvinnik used to say) from the last two years, when he introduced the Reti and the slow set-ups with white’s fianchetto. The game itself was correctly played and drawn, a good result for So, drawing with Kramnik with black, who also shows that he has no nerves – after the scandal at the US Championship he is 3.5/4, today’s game being the only draw.

Mamedyarov finds it difficult to play at home, especially against Carlsen. Last year he lost both games, today he lost badly again, practically immediately in the opening. Sometimes it’s difficult to explain why people play like that against Carlsen…

In the game Vachier-Anand black employed the rare 7…Bf5 in the Ragozin, a move played two months ago by his second Gajewski at the European Individual Championship. The game was balanced throughout and ended in a draw.

Adams and Caruana drew an uneventful Spanish with 4 d3, worth noting was the typical maneuver 9…c5 with Nd7-b8-c6-d4:

9…c5! with Nb8-c6-d4 to come

I wrote yesterday about Mamedov’s vulnerability when playing with black, as his usual choices of the Maroczy against 1 e4 and the KID against 1 d4 beg to be crushed in this company. He was wise to introduce some changes and today we saw him play the solid Slav against Giri. Giri didn’t get anything out of the opening and tried to squeeze water from stone. In this he only risked to be worse and was never even close to creating chances to win. Another good result for Mamedov (and not so good one for Giri).

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