Sinquefield Cup 2015 – Round 8

Sometimes drawing a won game is much worse than losing. This is particularly true when out of form, when a well-played and deserved win is vital to regain some (or all) self-confidence and belief.

What Carlsen didn’t win against Nakamura is difficult to describe. Things seemed to go his way in the easiest possible manner, starting again with Nakamura’s bad opening preparation (for a second day in a row!) and the type of position they got – an endgame with an almost decisive advantage for white. And then, in his own words, “a moment of insanity” robbed him of all the good work he’d done. Chess is cruel, one bad move can ruin everything with no second chances allowed. This draw is even worse for Carlsen than yesterday’s loss – normally when you play well you think you deserve to win, and when you don’t you feel like something that was rightfully yours was taken away. And that hurts like hell. This game, however, can have a huge impact on Nakamura’s psychological disposition when playing Carlsen – this kind of unexpected luck can sometimes turn things around and the “customer” can start playing without the usual burden of inevitability.

Aronian didn’t try too hard against Anand, but I think the reason for that was Anand’s superb preparation. In an English (again! Aronian is really persistent with 1 c4 in spite of getting nothing all the time. No wonder his white win came after 1 d4 and his two other wins were with black.) Anand went for an old line that was considered bad ever since the games Kasparov played in the 80s. But, with all due respect, Stockfish & Co. are better analysts than Team Kasparov from the 80s and Anand proved it. The draw also suits Aronian perfectly, as he maintains his one-point lead going to the last round.

The other games didn’t see much excitement. Vachier improved upon his loss to Carlsen from Round 3 and drew comfortably against Grischuk. So and Topalov chose a line in the Nimzo where the position is blocked and exchanged the heavy pieces along the a- and b-files to draw easily (in spite of the 50 moves they played). Giri improved on his blitz game with Vachier from 2013 and obtained a slight edge against Caruana’s Grunfeld (so it is possible!) but then wavered and was forced to save himself, which he did.

In the last round we see the unambitious Topalov take on Aronian (a draw), Anand-Carlsen (they can’t wait for the the tournament to end!), Nakamura-Grischuk (they can’t stand each other), Caruana-So (another American duel) and Vachier-Giri (draw).

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