Gashimov Memorial 2015 – Round 6

Kramnik lost again today, with white against Caruana. Kramnik still believes he can fight on the young guys’ turf, after all infinite confidence is the mark of World Champions. But it is becoming increasingly frequent that he fails to do so – similarly to Anand, he cannot seem to sustain longer games full of tension and his calculations are not as precise as before. In 2014 he lost 3 games at the Norway Chess (two in a row in the last two rounds, against Karjakin, from another favourable position, and Grischuk, trying to force a win when there wasn’t one), 2 games in Dortmund (against Meier, a disgraceful game, and in the last round to Ponomariov, from a drawn Berlin with 5 Re1), 2 games in a row at the Olympiad (against Kasimdzhanov and Vallejo – his first loss to him ever, after going va-banque for no reason). Today he blundered from a favourable position. Anand’s solution to the problem is extremely powerful opening preparation that either kills the game off (especially with black, more on this below) or gives him something to play for with white (unless he wants to draw with white, which he sometimes does, and succeeds without fail). Kramnik’s black preparation is indeed aimed to killing off the game, but with white his ambition shows and against the younger generation this tells – today’s game is proof that even from favourable positions, which are tense and demanding, he can sometimes blunder and lose.

The other games were drawn. Carlsen’s petite provocations when playing Giri never fail to evoke a smile on my face – 1…e6, tempting Giri to the French?! In Wijk this year he tried 1…g6. But Giri is a firm character – never succumbing to provocations! Today he stomped solidly to a draw without fail. He wasn’t distracted even by the favourable chance on move 13.

Incidentally, this “incidental” chance allowed by Carlsen (the normal move was of course 11…bc6) reminds me of another “incidental” chance he allowed Caruana in Wijk this year:

Even Carlsen’s second, P.H. Nielsen noted in his comments for New In Chess that this was wrong. Is Carlsen getting sloppy in the opening sometimes?
Anand is content to draw with black, no matter who he plays. He didn’t show an iota of ambition playing the tournament outsider Mamedov. The solid Caro-Kann, aimed to kill of the game, coupled with Mamedov’s even more solid line, led to the draw they both wanted.
The English player (Adams) won a pawn in the Symmetrical English against the Frenchman (Vachier) but the opposite-coloured bishops helped the latter to hold the draw without problems.
It seemed that So was getting the better of Mamedyarov in the Slav, but he missed his best chance on move 26:

So Carlsen keeps the lead and tomorrow is white against the wounded Kramnik. A draw?

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