Tal Memorial 2016 – Round 6
Gelfand lost a fifth game in a row. Against Kramnik today he again remained faithful to his principled approach and went for his beloved Najdorf. To my great surprise (and I believe not only mine) Kramnik went for the sharpest lines with 6 Bg5, something he has never played before. It must be said that the second stint of playing 1 e4 goes much better for Kramnik – more than 10 years ago when he tried to play regularly 1 e4 his results weren’t stellar in spite of his great preparation. Going into the deep Najdorf territory he must have counted on Gelfand’s devotion to his preferred lines and Gelfand didn’t disappoint him – he went for his usual choice of 6…e6 7 f4 Nbd7 and Kramnik could show his preparation, which ended around move 25, when the position was already winning for him! Gelfand’s problem was that he didn’t expect this line to happen so he didn’t refresh his memory of the line and basically lost without a fight. It cannot possibly get worse for Gelfand and I actually expect him not to lose another game until the end of the tournament.
As if not trusting his own luck and merit, Giri lost rather easily today. Aronian surprised him with a rare setup in the English and Giri didn’t manage to find an adequate plan. It’s surprising how quickly black’s position fell apart.
Svidler beat Li Chao, after the latter treated the opening in a very sub-standard fashion. Generally speaking, except for his game against Gelfand, Li Chao’s openings aren’t to the usual standard of these players – his white games against Anand and Tomashevsky in the Nimzo were very bad from the point of view of the opening and today he went astray as early as move 7!
Nepomniachtchi is back in the lead after playing a fine game in his trademark style to beat Mamedyarov. In the Giuoco Piano (not what you would expect of Nepo) he still found a way to sharpen things up by sacrificing a pawn for initiative. Defence was anything but easy and Mamedyarov didn’t manage to cope.
A very good game by Nepomniachtchi, who is on the brink of the greatest success of his career. Three rounds still to go and he has Anand, Li Chao and Gelfand to play so everything is in his hands!
The only draw of the day was Tomashevsky-Anand. In a QGD white obtained an endgame with an IQP but today the technique of defence of these positions is so advanced that making a draw is an easy task.
Tomorrow is a rest day and in Round 7 we have Giri-Kramnik with two days of wondering whether Kramnik’s 4th black in the tournament will also be a 4th Hedgehog for him.