Sinquefield Cup 2015 – Round 5 – Li Ruifeng!

The Round 5 can easily be attributed to the player named Li Ruifeng. Never heard of the fellow, but to have two of your ideas (or at least rare lines that you have played) used in the same round of a supertournament is quite a feat!

One of the players to use Li’s idea was Aronian. In the well-known position of the Panov Attack in the Caro-Kann (they arrived at it via the English, another 1 c4 by Aronian to avoid Grischuk’s Grunfeld) he unleashed the rare 7 Bg5!? Grischuk reacted better than GM Roiz, who was beaten by Li in a masterpiece (you can see the game in the comments). After Aronian went a bit too far with his originality Grischuk could have punished him, but in his habitual time-trouble he allowed a drawing simplification.

Another player to use an idea of our hero Li was Anand. He played the rarely-played (but only in human games!) 9 Qd3 in the 6 Be2 Najdorf against Vachier. With 6 h3, 6 Be3 and 6 Bg5 all the rage, it is pleasant to see another line against the Najdorf. The Frenchman decided to simplify into an endgame, but these endgames tend to be more pleasant for white. And so it was, but I have the impression Anand could have been more precise – the way he played allowed “a stupid draw” (to quote the Frenchman, who must have been very happy with it!)

The other players probably still haven’t studied the games of Li, so they went their own ways. Topalov, for example, was following the way of Vachier, although the latter continued with his French and described his idea as “shitty.” What I found intriguing is that he didn’t use the expression “Excuse my French” when using the adjective. Without getting deep into the essence of Vachier’s idea, I’ll just state it did give Topalov an advantage, as it appears that Caruana didn’t know it. He was probably of the same opinion of the quality as the Frenchman. But as Topalov confessed, his felt he was tired and he missed the moment when his advantage was gone – in that moment he could have taken a draw by repetition. He didn’t take it and when the tide turned he couldn’t do anything against it. An important win for Caruana before the rest day!

The strangest game of the round was Nakamura-Giri. Nakamura was confidently blitzing out his preparation and then suddenly found himself in a bit of trouble. Not what you usually expect when you manage to get your prep in. (By the way, Nakamura improved on Yu Yangyi’s play, perhaps he’s related to Li Ruifeng?) Nakamura explained that he simply mixed up the rooks and played with the wrong one. After the mistake Giri had the initiative but I have the impression he wasn’t feeling comfortable with his king in the centre. Eventually Nakamura’s counterplay was enough for a draw.

The World Champion Carlsen won against So in a line of the English Attack in the Najdorf that was popular a long time ago. I found it amusing that they followed my 10-year (or so) analysis until move 18 and I was happy to find that my conclusions about the position were correct – white has an excellent compensation for the pawn. Carlsen won convincingly even though he missed faster wins. There are spots on the sun, but that doesn’t make it burns any less strongly.

After the rest day we have the duel of the leaders, the players who had a training camp together before the tournament – Carlsen and Aronian. My guess, a carefully-played draw.

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