Gashimov Memorial 2015 – Round 5

A great round today in Shamkir! Three decisive games, all won by white.

Anand won against the leader So in a way in which he usually wins lately – poweful opening preparation gave him an attacking position and when So couldn’t navigate the complications Anand achieved a winning endgame. This time (unlike in Round 1 against Carlsen) he won without problems. The game is noteworthy because Anand’s aggressive novelty 10 Ng5 invites irrational complications (the analysis tries to shed some light on these) – something Anand was prepared for while So wasn’t. In modern chess, the better prepared player almost always wins.

Carlsen won in his trademark style, just like a shot in the head from behind. Vachier never stood a chance when he forsook his strength (good theoretical preparation) and went in for original play (the game started 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 g3 b5). Carlsen simply plays better chess! The following sequence was cute, a nice pawn sacrifice in order to achieve white-square domination:

The final position is also worth a diagram:

Mate is inevitable

Mamedyarov beat Kramnik for the first time in his life. Kramnik’s choice of the Semi-Tarrasch reminds me of my own experiences with the defence. I always liked the simplified position with smooth development in the main line (after 5 cd Nd5 6 e4) but in practice I always struggled to contain white’s centre and kingside activity. The defence served me well on several important occasions, but I was never comfortable during the games. Kramnik started using the Semi-Tarrasch at the Candidates in London in 2013, famously to beat Aronian in Round 12, but his score when his opponents chose the main line (like today) is one draw and two losses (against the same Aronian one month after the Candidates at the Alekhine Memorial and today). He was doing fine for most of the game, but in time-trouble he missed his saving chance:

It is becoming apparent that Kramnik cannot withstand the tension as before and cannot expect to go undefeated in these tournaments. This means that he needs more wins, but they are also hard to come by. I am curious to see what he does at the World Cup, as it is his only chance to qualify for the Candidates – the Candidates without Kramnik would feel incomplete!

Mamedov drew Adams in the Yates Variation in the Spanish. Black (Adams) couldn’t hope for much once everything was exchanged in the centre.

Caruana should have beaten Giri, but the latter is becoming a tough nut to crack. In a very tactical position, with a lot of calculation involved, it was Caruana who couldn’t calculate the win (which was there). Calculation is also Caruana’s strength, but this example shows once again what I was writing when commenting on the game Anand-Giri from Round 3 – the modern chess defence is all about not allowing blunders and hanging in there as long as possible. This makes things very difficult for the attacker and even such a superb calculator as Caruana couldn’t crack Giri.

Tomorrow is a rest day and Round 6 sees the game Giri-Carlsen, Giri being the only player of the elite who has a positive score against Carlsen and the only player that Carlsen hasn’t managed to beat.

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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  • Apr 23,2015 at 10:51 pm

    More or less So. 🙂

  • Apr 23,2015 at 2:59 pm

    Tournament had nice potential if So was not beaten today and if Mamedyarov is not in bad shape,everything else rather expected.

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