Gashimov Memorial 2015 – Round 7

No draw! That’s the answer to my question yesterday whether Carlsen-Kramnik would end in a draw. Instead we got a long castle by Kramnik, his first one ever.

Playing Carlsen is never easy, but playing him after two losses in a row, when the confidence is low, is as tough as it can get. To make things worse, Kramnik even lost the opening battle as he fell in some nice Carlsen preparation – not the usual sight when these two are playing – the usual sight is the reverse with Kramnik showing his superior preparation. It seemed as if Kramnik didn’t have a chance, but he did, he even saw it, but miscalculated. It’s easy to dismiss these losses to bad form, but I’m sure Kramnik knows better – he started the tournament quite well, playing good chess, winning a nice game against Adams and having no problems. “Bad form” is just a disguise for the public, deeper problems lie underneath. Kramnik needs to do what Botvinnik called “self-programming”. Botvinnik referred to this term as a change to one’s usual playing style, habits, repertoire and everthing else that is needed in order to accomodate the weakened calculational ability and stamina. Botvinnik also noted that very few players possess this ability to reprogram themselves, but I think that Kramnik is one of them. Whether he does that is another matter.

Today Anand did what I thought he could barely do anymore – he outplayed an elite player from an objectively equal position. But that elite player is Adams, a player of his generation and one that he knows all too well! (I still maintain that he cannot do that against the younger generation). This however doesn’t diminish Anand’s wonderful achievement, a great game and a sole second place is a great tournament for the former World Champion.

Caruana beat So in the Nimzo, a line that So probably wasn’t expecting, as his response wasn’t the best one. But the opening wasn’t to blame, it was So’s erroneous evaluation later on in the game that cost him the point. This is Caruana’s second win in a row and from -1 now he’s on +1. Should be a great confidence booster for him! So is also on +1, but this is his second loss and tomorrow he’s playing Carlsen with white.

I was surprised to see Mamedov go for the ultra-sharp Anti-Moscow Gambit against Mamedyarov. Mamedov tries to take it easy in the opening and even when he tried the Slav against Giri in Round 2 he went for the most solid lines. It’s unclear what he wanted as he went for a dubious line and had Mamedyarov been more precise on move 21, he would have regretted his choice.

The Frenchman (Vachier) and the Dutchman (Giri) played a correct Ragozin where white’s structural advantage was compensated with black’s activity. The draw wasn’t surprising at all. Both players are on -1 and both need to play Kramnik. They will be happy to draw with him as well.

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