London Chess Classic 2016 – Round 6

What a round. It seems the players needed the rest day.

Topalov lost yet another game, this time against So. What is notable is that his bad form doesn’t really mean that his head is not working (although that’s what he’s said himself), but rather it shows in the wrong decisions he is taking. In the post-mortem he showed that he saw all the lines and improvements suggested by the computer, but his problem was deciding against playing those moves. With the current rating loss of more than 20 points he is well out of the Top 20 in the world. A comeback is not very likely, bearing in mind his statements that he doesn’t work on chess anymore and his lack of ambition. He will undoubtedly have good showings every now and then, but he will get less and less invitations to elite events and whether he will settle for lesser ones remains to be seen.

The game of the day was the duel of the Americans. A spectacular game, but one decided by superior opening preparation. The players followed Giri-Vachier from Stavanger in April this year and then Nakamura played the novelty and improvement suggested by the engine, 15…b4, and then they followed the first line for 5 moves. Now, when I say engine I usually refer to the latest Stockfish development version, the one I usually use. And from what I’ve seen by comparing the moves played by the elite, the majority of them also use it. Having immense hardware resources I believe they also use other engines, like Houdini 5.01 or Komodo 10.2. But in this instance it was obvious that Nakamura didn’t consult Houdini 5.01. I know that every configuration is different and here I speak what happened on mine, but neither Stockfish nor Komodo came up with 21 Nf5, while Houdini did in a relatively short time and low depth (depth 23 on my laptop, by depth 25 it was showing a huge advantage for white after it). Caruana said that it was his second, Kasimdzhanov, who came up with the move, but we don’t know how he discovered it. In any case, after 21 Nf5 black is just lost. Even though Caruana didn’t always play the computer moves, his choices were more than good enough to wrap up the game.

Aronian is famous for his deep opening preparation, he always plays 1…e5 after 1 e4 yet nobody can touch him there even though they know what he will play. It was interesting to see how Vachier, Carlsen’s second in the latest match and one who incessantly analysed positions after 1 e4 e5 for months on, will try to pose problems. And what happened? It was Vachier who ended up in trouble! Sometimes you wonder what he was doing on Carlsen’s team, being outprepared in all the games of this tournament! But then Aronian got greedy and ambitious (a typical trait of over-confident people), over-pressed and lost. And, against all odds, the Frenchman won a game.

At some press conference in the past Giri asked Anand when he was going to retire. Perhaps a bit insulting, but that’s why we love Giri, his big mouth can always be depended on to produce excitement when his chess fails to. After being close to winning against Anand after the latter incorrectly sacrificed a piece, Giri missed the win and made the 6th draw in a row. Then Anand asked him, “When are you going to win a game?”

Kramnik played the Colle System against Adams and black demonstrated a good way to obtain equal play. Play remained balanced throughout and ended in a draw.

Round 7 is already underway but who will win the tournament will be decided in Round 8 when Caruana plays So.

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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1 Comment
  • […] Their last game before this year’s championship was a spectacular win for Caruana after a queen sacrifice in the Najdorf. Against So it is a similar story – he hasn’t beaten him since 2015 and […]

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