Carlsen-Karjakin 2016 – Game 2

The second game was very similar in its essence to the first one. White tried a little bit, didn’t get anywhere and simplified to a draw.

It is still the beginning of the match, the opponents are testing each other, warming up, but that phase is over now and I expect the real fight to begin starting from Game 3.

Karjakin went for his usual 1 e4 and somewhat surprisingly Carlsen didn’t go for the Berlin. This is perhaps a sign that he will not just sit and defend with black, but will try to obtain his own chances in more complex play (like in their game from Norway Chess in 2013 when Karjakin got an overwhelming position in the Breyer but went wrong and Carlsen won the game). He went for the normal Spanish and Karjakin went for the popular setup with d3, Nc3 and a3. I remember studying this setup some time ago, when it was still fresh and posed problems to the black players (I even won a very nice game in the 4NCL in early 2015) but nowadays white’s ideas seem to have dried up while black has several reliable systems to choose from.

Carlsen actually chose a plan that he already implemented this year in a rapid game against Topalov and I was surprised that Karjakin failed to pose even the slightest problems against it. Poor preparation or he expected the Berlin? In either case, Carlsen’s decision to avoid the Berlin (for now?) paid off.

If Carlsen repeats the Spanish in Game 4 I expect Karjakin to go for the main lines and then we will see what Carlsen prepared – the Marshall, the Breyer (these two he has played before more than once) or something else.

Another point worth noting is that it is more difficult to avoid theory and go your own ways with black. This means that Carlsen will most likely go down analysed paths with black, so we can expect some good theoretical battles further on. As for his approach with white, Game 3 should give us more clues about it, as I believe the Trompowsky was a one-game surprise.

Here’s the second game with detailed analysis.

And great news for the Macedonian chess fans – at the finished European Club Cup in Novi Sad Alkaloid won the tournament and for the first time in history a Macedonian club not only wins a medal (in the open section, last year Gambit’s women team won silver) but in fact wins the competition! A result that cannot be improved upon, only equalled, I whole-heartedly congratulate all the team members, from players to officials. After many years of hard work and investments they finally achieved their aim!

Gambit did well, too bad that Nikolovski lost in the last round, he had a great run of 5.5/6 and a win in the last round against a lowly-rated opponent would certainly have given him a medal on his board.

My team Cheddleton finished on a high note, winning the last round and finishing around the starting ranking. The team was weakened by my absence and I hope next year, the third one being a charm, we will finally achieve a proper European breakthrough!

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