Norway Chess 2015 – Round 3

When I read Giri’s words yesterday, saying that Carlsen will be furious and that he will take his chances, I immediately sensed fear. Giri is proud of his plus score against Carlsen, having beaten him with black in an odd Grunfeld back in 2011, but focusing too much on Carlsen shows that Giri is genuinely afraid of him. But fear helps some people – it concentrates the mind and the thought of a loss triggers the self-preservation instinct. Then they play the only moves to avoid defeat. (I know this from personal experience. In my junior years I had a rival who had worse results than me, who was very afraid when playing me, yet he always managed to beat me!) Giri seems to belong to that group.

The opening of the game confirmed my view, as Giri went for a solid set-up, not crossing the sixth rank, setting up the bunker and waiting for an assault. But then it seemed he lost his patience. Instead of keeping tight he transposed to a very bad Spanish with 16…e5 and was strategically lost. Carlsen was confidently moping up until he first missed a direct (if difficult to find) win, and then spoilt it all with a rash sacrifice. Another uncharacteristic performance by Carlsen, but also all credit to Giri, who fought very hard when pressed to the wall.

Topalov beat the Frenchman (Vachier) with black in the main line of the Meran (something we rarely see these days thanks to the popularity of 8…Bd6) after white miscalculated seriously on move 22. The game finished 6 moves later. Only the Frenchman himself can explain what happened to him.

The other games were drawn. Aronian couldn’t beat Hammer with white in the English. He’s complaining of his openings, but he didn’t play much recently, so he had quite some time to work on them. How things go for him show that he didn’t. It’s interesting to note that out of 15 games played so far, 1 c4 (or 1 Nf3 followed by 2 c4) has been played in 6 – it is a growing trend to play the English and try to avoid the heavy theory.

Nakamura was another player who adopted 1 Nf3 and 2 c4 today, against his recently inaugurated compatriot Caruana. Nakamura made some dodgy statements prior to the game, questioning Caruana’s decision to change federations and move from the Italian to the US federation. But the opening of the game didn’t really show any hostility – they reached a drawish looking position and then some maneuvering followed. It was all going toward a draw when something happened to Caruana and he commited strange mistakes in a rook endgame. A classical case of unprovoked (unless those words really touched him!) hara-kiri. Now the result between these two in the past 5 years stands at 5-1 to Nakamura (with many draws)

Anand and Grischuk went where not many have dared to venture in the years after the Anand-Gelfand match – the main line of the Sveshnikov Sicilian (everybody is a 3 Bb5 addict nowadays). This is a recent addition to Grischuk’s repertoire, but it seems he only uses it against Dominguez (beating him once and drawing once). Anand was prepared though and inserted the subtlety 17 h4 before advancing 18 b5.

Tomorrow we have the big game Anand-Carlsen. In Baden-Baden Carlsen kick-started his tournament by beating Anand with black with the Dutch Stonewall, while in Shamkir in April this year was close to losing after blundering badly in the Marshall. What to expect tomorrow? 1 e4 I think.

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