Tal Memorial 2016 – Round 7
A surprisingly quiet day in Moscow after the rest day. For the first time we had 5 draws. They got us used to bloodshed!
Gelfand finally stopped the bleeding by playing the Catalan against his former helper Tomashevsky. In the Closed System and trench warfare for 26 moves they found a threefold repetition.
Giri became a father yesterday so today he tried not to spoil his first day of fatherhood by playing solid stuff against Kramnik’s QGD (so there it was, the QGD, Giri decided not to test the Hedgehog for a 4th time, so he wisely went 1 d4). For 14 moves they followed Kramnik’s game from the Olympiad against Nakamura and as in that game Kramnik didn’t have the slightest problem to hold the draw in the simplified IQP position. From the point of view of modern theory it is notable that Kramnik’s use of the old move 7…Nbd7 (instead of the Tartakower line 7…b6 or the Lasker line 7…Ne4) just adds problems to the white players how to crack the QGD – all three offer black excellent, and most importantly equal, play. These problems have forced white players to look for ideas in the 5 Bf4 line, which currently is more promising for white than 5 Bg5, although there black is also solid as a rock.
Aronian was a guest in a Russian TV show together with Kramnik and I suspect they may have exchanged some opening ideas during the commercials. Against Mamedyarov he also went for the QGD, but Mamedyarov was more ambitious than Giri and went 5 Bf4 only to allow Aronian show us what I meant when I said that black was solid as a rock there as well. For 16 moves they followed the 4th match game Anand-Kramnik from 2008 (fruitful commercials?) and then Aronian played the known improvement to sterilise the position completely.
Li Chao continued with his off-beat white openings, today he went for the already-forgotten Nadanian variation in the Grunfeld (6 Na4, after the starting 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 Nf3 Bg7 5 cd Nd5). They blitzed out theory until move 16, but by that time it was obvious the position would simplify to a draw quickly. They played until move 50 only because they were forced to do so by the Sofia rules.
The most interesting game was Anand-Svidler. In an Anti-Marshall line Anand obtained the usual next-to-nothing white has in these lines and got some chances when Svidler started to drift a bit. Svidler has never beaten Anand in classical chess and has beaten him only twice ever (both times in rapid, in 2000 and 2002). Perhaps the accepted draw in a completely winning position in Dos Hermanas in 1999 was the start of all the suffering for him? Today he was also on the brink of yet another loss, but it seems Anand miscalculated when given the chance.
Will Kramnik beat Tomashevsky tomorrow with white? And will Nepo venture the Scotch against Anand? My answer to both questions: maybe.