Monthly Archives: Jun 2017

Grand Chess Tour 2017

People are always whining how chess cannot become as popular as some of the other sports like tennis or football. People say chess isn’t interesting or dynamic enough. Enter the Grand Chess Tour 2017.

This year they eliminated the classical part completely. Only rapid and blitz. All the drama and excitement. In cooperation with Canal+ with professional TV broadcast. Sounded promising.

For me watching a sporting event can be fun only if I watch it live. If I don’t catch it live then I don’t want to watch it. Most probably I would know the result and then it won’t be interesting. Unfortunately, I couldn’t watch the GTC live. I would download and take a look at the games in the evenings, but I never saw the drama live. It must have been great. But I cannot say I liked what I saw from the games.

I will only show the most absurd example, to make a point:



Exciting? Undoubtedly, if you watched it live. Idiotic? Definitely, if you saw the game later in the evening. My question is: do we really need to make the best players in the world look like absolute beginners in order to have fun watching chess being played?

This is what chess will become if we only seek the “fun” part of it. If we want to see hands moving fast, putting a knight on f1, banging on the clock and Carlsen cursing. I believe there are other things that are much more fun than this “spectacle.”

Chess is much more profound than this. It was never intended to be primitive fun. Of course, the money is great so the world’s best players will turn into clowns if required. I just don’t like it.


Video Game Analysis

Yesterday I tried a new form of chess instruction. My very good friend, David Kramaley, the CEO of Chessable, asked me to help him with his own analysis of a game he played. The idea was that he goes through the game on his own, explaining his thoughts to me and then I would step in at points where I thought it appropriate.

You can have a look at the result here:



Since we plan to do this on a regular basis, I would appreciate feedback – what do you think we should improve on, what do you think is good, what isn’t etc. We also plan to have my pretty face visible pretty soon, I am sure you look forward to that!



Caro-Kann For Black

I would like to present you with an excerpt from one of the last emails that I sent to my Inner Circle. In case you would like to receive this kind of emails, please use the friendly yellow form on the right to subscribe.


Enter the Caro-Kann. If I have to explain why, I’d say that it has to do with the inherent solidity of the structures. The Berlin is also solid (I have also prepared that one at depth!) but the Caro feels more compact. After all, the pawn doesn’t go that far, only 1 square ahead!

When studying Fischer’s games I noticed that he played all the lines against the Caro-Kann (except the Advance, which at that time was considered completely harmless). Compare that to his almost exclusive use of the Sozin against all Sicilians. My impression was that he wasn’t sure which line was best against it, so he kept varying. In the last 5 Caro-Kanns he played, all in 1970, he played 3 ed in game 1 against Petrosian in the Match of the Century, 3 Nc3 in game 3, and three times he played 2 d3 (against Marovic, Hort and Hubner).

Curiously enough, the same situation of almost all lines being more or less equally playable applies to today. But here’s the thing that attracted me to the idea of the Caro – almost all of them can be easily solved.

Let’s start one by one. The Panov is practically sterile after 5…Nc6 (after 3 ed cd 4 c4 Nf6 5 Nc3) even though the other lines 5…e6 and 5…g6 are perfectly playable too. The Exchange Variation after 3 ed cd 4 Bd3, successfully used by Fischer in that famous game 1 of the Match of the Century, is rather toothless nowadays. Black has nothing to fear there after playing logically 4…Nc6 5 c3 Nf6 6 Bf4 Bg4 7 Qb3 Qc8. In the reverse Carlsbad structure with the bishop out on g4 the position is as safe and solid as possible.

2 d3 can be met either by the fianchetto (2…d5 3 Nd2 g6 4 Ngf3 Bg7 5 g3 e5) or the central development of the bishop after 2…d5 3 Nd2 e5 4 Ngf3 Bd6. I would go for the former, in order to avoid 5 d4 in case of the latter, but it is largely a matter of taste.

The Two Knights, an early Fischer favourite, can be met in various ways. My preference would be the established 3…Bg4 4 h3 Bf3 5 Qf3 e6. What can possibly go wrong there?

And so we arrive at the main lines. Nowadays there are two critical ways to tackle the Caro – the Advance Variation (in particular Short’s plan with 4 Nf3 e6 5 Be2) and the Main Lines with 3 Nc3 de 4 Ne4.

It is actually the Advance Variation that bothered me when thinking about the Caro-Kann for Black. It looks unassuming and not really threatening, but that space advantage White has becomes annoying as the game goes on (I suffered some unplesant losses in several training games I played). And also there was the problem of choice of lines. There are so many plans and move orders to choose from and I found them rather confusing because I couldn’t see a clear-cut plan behind them.

And then an obscure line appeared. It was the absurd-looking check 5…Bb4 (Black can also play 5…Nd7 first and then 6 0-0 Bb4). It was a game by Carlsen that drew my attention to it – he used this line to beat Giri in a rapid game last year. True, he also used this line to famously lose to Sjugirov in 2010, but then I wasn’t paying attention.

The reason why I became attracted to the idea is that here Black’s play had purpose – the bishop will drop to c7 to attack e5 after …f6, or to b6 to attack d4 after …c5. On the kingside there was also a clear way how to place the pieces – Black plays …h6 to secure the Bf5, plays …Ne7 and castles. Then he tries to achieve …c5 and/or …f6. And that’s it! Very simple and straight-forward. The line is becoming popular as after Carlsen it was Mamedyarov and Andreikin who continued to use it on a regular basis. There is, however, some hidden danger in these lines when White plays Nh4 and Nh5 and for now this seems to be the best way to play for White.

The main lines after 3 Nc3 de 4 Ne4 Bf5 (I was never really attracted to 4…Nd7 or 4…Nf6) 5 Ng3 Bg6 also looked uncomfortable. If the sidelines like 6 Nh3 or 6 Bc4 can be dealt with, the main line after 6 h4 h6 7 Nf3 looked problematic. I always had the hunch that here 7…e6 should be played, instead of the more popular 7…Nd7. Not because it is the better move, but because it is somewhat less common and gives Black some additional options later on, such as playing …c5 and …Nc6. Again it was Carlsen who employed this first at a top level – he used it in the first black game of his match with Anand in 2013. Refinement came several years later, when Black learned not to give the check on b4 on move 11 and play 11…Be7 immediately – the point being the pawn on d4 hangs now.

The crucial games were played by Giri and Mamedyarov:  Wei Yi-Giri from this year’s Wijk and Saric-Mamedyarov from Baku’s Olympiad. Both of them suggest that Black is in excellent shape!

You can download the lines mentioned above here. They are far from conclusive, but they can serve as a good starting point for creating a Caro-Kann repertoire. Who knows, maybe soon enough I will use them myself!


But there is also Part II of this Repertoire and it can come directly to your Inbox on Saturday if you join my Inner Circle before then!


Stavanger 2017 – Round 9

To verify my own prediction from the last post, I scored 50%.

Carlsen didn’t try to beat Anand with Black and understandably so. In a way it reminds me of his last game of the match with Karjakin – he achieved what he needed to – here to score a win, there to equalise the score – and then just played the last game in an unassuming manner. It is notable that in the opening he used Giri’s 10…Be6, which was used against him in Round 5. Anand deviated immediately, with the most popular move in the position, and then they followed theory until move 15. White maintained a small and safe pull, perhaps his best chance was on move 23 when he could have pushed e5.



So and Aronian was a QGD with 5 Bf4 and until move 15 they followed the game So-Topalov from the rapid in Paris last year when Aronian introduced an improvement. He didn’t have any problems and drew easily, basically securing a clear first (since by that time it was clear that Nakamura won’t win his game).

Karjakin messed up the opening against Vachier’s Najdorf and instead of a slightly better endgame ended up in a much worse endgame. He was lucky that Vachier went for the repetition instead of trying for a win.

Kramnik finished on a high as in Shamkir, only this time instead of a titanic battle he preferred the blitzkrieg. He demolished Giri in 20 (!) moves. I was appalled at seeing Giri’s 5th move.




The duel of the Americans spoiled Nakamura’s tournament and improved Caruana’s. The first surprise was Nakamura’s choice of the Najdorf. Was he playing for a win and trying to catch Aronian? From the way the tournament went for him he didn’t have any “moral” rights for that – in way too many games he was playing openly for a draw, so just to change all that in the last game and pull it off with a Black win? Unlikely. The second surprise is that he keeps going into these deeply analysed Najdorf lines in spite of the occassional loss – the most painful was undoubtedly against the same Caruana in London when he was caught in a fine preparation involving a queen sacrifice. He also lost a game in the Najdorf to Caruana in last year’s US Championship. Today’s game followed similar course – Nakamura was caught in preparation and he had to find the way out by calculating some very complex lines. He managed to a point, but then he cracked.



The tournament was a great triumph for Aronian. His last two victories, in Grenke and here, show him at the height of his powers and he is definitely the best player in the world at this moment. He is now convincingly over 2800 on the rating list, but this still doesn’t mean anything in regards to his chances to qualify for the Candidates. His only chance is to get to the final of the World Cup, but a knock-out has its own laws.

On the other side of the spectre we have the faltering World Champion. He admitted that he lacked confidence in his ability to win games and that is the worst possible lack of confidence to have. If you don’t believe you can win, you won’t. When they say that chess is 90% psychology at this level this is what they mean. Carlsen will work on it, I am sure, but how long it will take is uncertain – he hasn’t won a tournament this year (the last tournament he won was in July 2016, the Bilbao Masters) and the crisis lasts for a very long time now.

And the so-called “Minister of Defence” ended last. Karjakin is maximising his profits (financial, personal and political) from his status of vice-Champion, but that won’t last for long. He is politically active in Russia, he has a strong self-promoting campaign going and he reaps the benefits of “not having lost the match with the World Champion.” But all these excuses of not having to qualify for the Candidates (now) and the results don’t matter, I have a match to play (before the match) are just that – excuses. They cannot hide the fact that he is not playing well and his results have deteriorated dramatically. He is not a regular in the the Top 10 anymore and I don’t see him become one any time soon. The core of the problem is that he doesn’t even seem concerned about it and he doesn’t seem to care. It must be difficult to put in the hours and have the will to win when you’re a millionaire and life is so good and easy. To do it one must have that type of character and from what we’ve seen so far Karjakin doesn’t have it. Will he change? I don’t think so, but I may be wrong – only time will tell.

A few words about the others. Kramnik impressed, but that is only thanks to the fact that he won the last game. He had two bad days and that is two too many if you want to fight for victory. He still has the problems with stamina after playing long games and it doesn’t seem that he is adjusting to tackle it. Unless he does it soon he won’t win in the last rounds and the tournaments will start to become mediocre. I think he’s still very much hopeful to qualify for the Candidates and give it all there, so at least this year we will see Kramnik fighting with all his might.

Nakamura should have finished sole second and I think his ambition in the last round did him a bad service. His newly-acquired solidity is good and brought him stability, but he probably needs to mix it up better with his previous aggression. A better mix will see him fight for first place more often.

Giri looked silly in that last round loss. Undoubtedly a huge disappointment for him after he dug himself out of the hole of 7 losses in a row (6 in the blitz and 1 in the first round to Nakamura). Now, at least for a while, people will stop talking about his draws.

It was So who made all the draws and it was inevitable that it happens. With his super-solid style and openings he managed to win several tournaments and rise in the rankings. But people got used to it and now he’s not making progress with it. He should have beaten Karjakin, but was lost against Giri, so his result equals out. To achieve success at this level, against this opposition, one needs more edge. But I am not sure So has it. I think he will continue in the same manner and see where that takes him. For now he is the prime candidate to qualify for the Candidates by rating and it will definitely be great to see him there.

Vachier is probably disappointed, but I wonder what he expected from this tournament. For me he is not on the same level as Aronian, Caruana or Nakamura, in spite of having more rating than them in the last period. He had an amazing run but now that ended and he is slowly slipping. He needs to rediscover what made it tick for him, but it usually never happens – you have to discover something new that makes it tick, the old trick won’t work again.

Anand was probably happy to come back with at least one win after those two bad losses. I expected to see another Caro-Kann from him (after Round 1) but against Karjakin he still went for the Berlin. His preparation is of the highest level, as always, but the bad days can ruin any tournament. If only he could limit those he will be there for 10 more years!

One of the strongest tournaments in history finished and it was a great pleasure to watch and analyse these games. Great fighters always produce great games.


Goldchess Immortal

Goldchess Immortal Tournament poses a challenge to amateur and professional chess players from all over the world. It is a new tournament devised by the hard-working enthusiasts behind the Goldchess project, who keep on inventing new and exciting ways to keep you entertained.

The rules of the tournament can be found here. The good thing about it is that it is open 24h a day and anyone can participate.

As the CEO of Goldchess puts it: “The Goldchess time is coming. We are an absolute chess hit of world – Immortal Tournament, open 24 hours a day with prize pool $5000!”

And there is one winner already – Lukasz Luba from Poland. For winning the game below he won $500. Not bad at all.



For more information on the Goldchess tournaments check out their Hot News page here.

Make sure you take your place in the tournament because it will be closed during the summer period between 20 June and 23 July.


Stavanger 2017 – Round 8

It takes character to become a Champion. Today Carlsen showed it. He risked a lot, could have lost, but still emerged victorious.

It is a shame that all the work Karjakin put in last year before the Candidates and the match has gone to waste. As I correctly predicted in my preview of the match, Karjakin now seems to enjoy more the benefits of “having drawn the World Championship match” rather than working on what went wrong and improve further. His results since New York have been mediocre at best and his self-promoting campaigns are over-blown and not helping his chess. He will play the Candidates next year, but he has no chance to win it again, unless he makes a drastic change in his behaviour. Which I doubt he will, life is good now.

The game was extremely complicated and it is curious that Karjakin made the decisive mistake on move 41, having survived the time-trouble safely.



Kramnik used to be an epitomy of stability, nowadays he’s an epitomy of instability. Partly as a result of the change of his style, now playing aggressively and until the end, but also because of his (lack of) stamina. I already wrote about this earlier and now it appears he still hasn’t managed to solve this problem. The way this tournament is unfolding it looks almost exactly the same as the Gashimov Memorial. For a complete match it only takes him beating Giri in the last round. But Giri isn’t Eljanov…

What surprised me in today’s game is that he went down a long prepared line against Vachier and then on move 23 he probably didn’t remember which rook to put on d8 and as it usually happens, he put the wrong one. But Vachier didn’t take advantage of it and the game went on.



Caruana’s troubles in the QGA continued, again in the endgame after 7 dc dc 8 Qd8 Kd8, but he keeps on making excruciating draws. I just hope he hasn’t become a masochist like Karjakin…

Aronian put some pressure on Anand but didn’t try too much. After all, +3 will certainly win him the tournament, so why take unnecessary risks?

The same can be said about Nakamura-So. Nakamura played similarly to his game with Karjakin, only So was much more precise and didn’t allow any chances whatsover. Nakamura has said that he has tried very hard in the last several years to become a more solid player and we can confirm that he has succeeded. I think he is also very happy with his tournament and won’t risk spoiling it.

In the last round I will be most interested in Anand-Carlsen, whether Carlsen will try hard to get to 50% and risk again, and Kramnik-Giri, whether Kramnik will end on a high as in Shamkir. I’d bet on “no” on both accounts, but let’s see.



Stavanger 2017 – Round 7

After the free day the players decided to become mafiosi. Three Italian games (all Giuoco Piano) and one Sicilian. Only the Americans (one of them with Italian origin!) went for the closed games and the QGA.

It is curious that Caruana prepared the Petroff and the QGA for this event, openings famed for being among the most solid and safe ones and yet in spite of all his excellent preparation he ends up in trouble with them. He was in trouble in the QGA against Aronian in Round 1, he probably forgot his preparation and was struggling against Karjakin in the Petroff in Round 5. Today he was suffering in the QGA endgame against So. He had a perfectly equal position after 15 moves, but then he embarked on a very dubious operation that led him to a position where he had hanging pawns and So had the pair of bishops. Soon enough he lost one of the hanging pawns but at least forced a position with opposite-coloured bishops. He suffered, but survived.

Speaking of messed-up preparation, that is what the Frenchman did in his game against Giri. An Accelerated Dragon (a daring choice by Giri) transposed to a Dragon and Vachier forgot the theory on move 19. This is considered early in the Dragon! He was left a pawn down, with some compensation, but he was probably so disgusted with himself that it all went downhill from there, and rapidly too. He resigned on move 33. Quite surprisingly Giri moves to a plus score with an incredibly easy win.

The Italian games started slow, as they usually do. Anand didn’t achieve much against Nakamura and the game was calm throughout. The excitement arrived when they entered a rook endgame with White’s a and b-pawns running and Black’s h and g-pawns running. But they quickly found a repetition to avoid unnecessary risks and possible miscalculations.

Karjakin faced another novelty by Aronian, who improved on his games against Caruana from the Grenke Classic and from the opening blitz. The improvement was the more aggressive 10…Kh8 with the idea of Nh7 and f5. Aronian got excellent game after it, even with the less forcing move 13…Bf6 (the engine suggests 13…Bf5, which at first sight does seem to be better, but I am sure Aronian analysed these moves at great depth). The game entered a dynamically balanced middlegame and surprisingly Karjakin cracked – he allowed the obvious …f3, destroying the pawn shelter of the White king. The execution was flawless. Aronian moves to +3 and is almost guaranteed to win the tournament – together with his last win in Grenke, these two tournaments are perhaps his greatest achievements so far!




The third Italian was the slugfest between Kramnik and Carlsen. Who would have thought that Kramnik playing 1 e4 would develop an irresistible attack against Carlsen’s king? Yet that is what happened. Both players were aiming for a fight, so they avoided the less complex and equalising lines. The structure that arose resembled the one from the Keres Variation in the Spanish (the difference being the bishop on a7 instead of e7) and promised very rich play. Very soon complications began where both kings were under attack. And Carlsen erred! This time Kramnik’s nerves were better I suppose, after all he’s been losing to Carlsen left and right lately (in 2016 he managed to lose 7 (!!!) games in a row against Carlsen, 1 in classical and the rest in rapid and blitz). Kramnik found all the best moves and won the game, making Carlsen’s home tournament a nightmare he won’t forget, while at the same time he improved his own by coming back to +1.



All the talk will be about Carlsen now. He risks finishing a tournament without a win, something that hasn’t happened since 2007. Plus he’s losing so much rating and may even no longer be number 1 very soon (in fact, it can happen already tomorrow – the difference between him and Kramnik is now only 6 points!). Serious crisis for the World Champion and a very exciting situation for the chess world!


Stavanger 2017 – Round 6

Carlsen’s second White game in a row didn’t go much better than the first. He failed miserably to make a difference and it is now safe to say that this tournament is another bad result for the World Champion.

He tried 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bf4 against his (former) second Vachier (Vachier was on Carlsen’s team for the match against Karjakin). Black spent 11 minutes to play 2…g6, but the game was the least exciting of the round with White not coming close to anything resembling an advantage. Tough times for the World Champion.

The game of the day undoubtedly goes to Aronian. He obliterated Kramnik in his favourite Semi-Tarrasch by employing the most direct approach – pushing d5. Kramnik’s affair with the Semi-Tarrasch reminds me a bit of my own with the same opening. I started playing it from the mid-90, when it was a well-forgotten option for Black and I always got good positions out of the opening. But it turned out that the character of the position, with White’s centre e4, d4 and his constant threats to push either pawn or play Ne5 or push a4-a5 didn’t suit me very well. My overall result over the years wasn’t that bad, I won 1 (incidentally, one of my finest games ever), lost 2 and drew 7, but eventually I abandoned it. Kramnik’s score with it so far in classical, including today’s loss, is 2 wins, 3 losses and 4 draws.



The other decisive game was Caruana-Anand. It started with 1 c4, Caruana beat Anand with the English at the Candidates when Anand was having a rough time against the English. Since then he prepared and very successfully used 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Bb4, until he blundered badly against Giri in Round 4. Apart from that glitch, the line continues to be a lucky one for Anand since today he beat Caruana in an excellent game. He introduced a novelty on move 7 (true, the line isn’t very well explored so these things are still possible!) and this surprised Caruana who started to spend a lot of time. In a French structure (with reversed colours) Anand simply played better and won deservingly. A wonderful game by Anand, as if he was in a different class!

Nakamura played a drawish line against Karjakin’s Nimzo and the latter decided to indulge his masochistic impulses by going for a clearly worse but holdable endgame of B+N vs Nakamura’s pair of bishops. After the match with Carlsen we already know that he is at his best there – he held without problems.

Giri managed to pose problems to So in a symmetrical position arising from the Symmetrical English. I would have expected So to draw more easily than he did, but Giri played with great precision and got a big advantage. And then, in the rarest of occurrences, my human perception turned out to be more valid than the engine’s proposed moves. I felt that White’s 27 g4, weakening the king, wasn’t very good and this was shown later in the game. After analysing a bit I confirmed my hunch that avoiding it and playing 27 Rc7 was better. To the engine, both moves were OK, when in fact they weren’t. Sometimes it’s good to be human.



Tomorrow is a rest day, but there won’t be any cow-milking. I can only imagine how disappointed the players already are.


Stavanger 2017 – Round 5

After a day of 5 draws perhaps the organisers will consider having a cow-milking event prior to every round?

Today it was mostly about memorisation. Vachier and Aronian tested their memory in the Marshall Attack. It is not that the players just bang out their preparation and reach a draw, no, they do come up with slight improvements and novelties. The idea is to check if the (slight) problems they create for their opponents will bear some fruit. Mostly they don’t, but it’s worth a try, especially if not minding a draw.

Vachier came up with a novelty on move 20, deviating from their two previous games – one was played at the opening blitz and the other at the Sharjah GP several months ago. Since the whole line is absolutely harmless for Black, Aronian didn’t have much trouble drawing.

Anand and So went down the deep theory of the Giuoco Piano that exploded in the last few years. So’s 16th move was new, but the position was already dry enough. Besides, I don’t think Anand minded a draw after yesterday’s loss.

The most exciting theoretical duel was between Karjakin and Caruana in the Petroff because the latter played a line which was considered bad for Black because of some old analysis by Ivanchuk.



The other two games had less theory. Kramnik went for 1 e4 again, this time against Nakamura, and again he showed his opening guile. Take a look:



These guys only allow a maximum of 1 chance per game! If you don’t take it then it’s a draw…

Carlsen didn’t manage to make something out of very little in the Giuoco Piano against Giri. He missed his best chance on move 15 and then he even risked a bit more than necessary and sacrificed a pawn, but Giri safely steered the game towards a draw. Carlsen is still struggling to find his rhythm and best chess and as things stand he is very likely not to win yet another event! Tomorrow he has his second White in a row (against Vachier) which is most probably his last chance to make a change in the tournament.


Stavanger 2017 – Round 4

Well, who would have thought that milking cows and driving tractors helps produce decisive games? In case you are wondering, those were some of the activities the players undertook during the rest day yesterday. The best cow-milkers were So and Kramnik, the best tractor driver Caruana. Draw your own conclusions folks!

Round 4 produced 3 decisive games and all of them were won by White. Aronian produced a wonderful effort and applied enormous pressure that even the World Champion couldn’t sustain. First it was a not-at-all obvious novelty in a very-well known position (on move 10!) that Aronian had discovered in 2003. Then there was an exchange sacrifice for domination, then the classical sacrifice of the bishop on h7 and finally the World Champion cracked even though he did have one final chance. A very impressive tour de force by Aronian and to make it even more impressive he did it against the World Champion! Worth noting is that Aronian only played 1 d4 in this tournament, switching from his almost exclusive use of 1 c4 in his previous tournaments.



Nakamura won his second game in the tournament and now leads with 3/4.  He beat Vachier in a 6 Bd3 Najdorf. This is curious as in my last tournament I also had to face it and I came to the conlcusion that 6…g6 is the best way to meet it. Vachier’s 6…e5 (which seems to be played against everything except 6 Bc4 and 6 Bg5 in the Najdorf nowadays) should be OK, but then he let himself be overrun on the queenside while his kingside attack was non-existent. I find it strange that he didn’t play the typical prophylactic 12…a5. Here’s the game with light comments.



Giri is coming back from his knock-down. He beat Anand today and slowly it seems that the tournament is becoming a very bad one for the former World Champion. Anand improved on Grischuk’s play (against the same Giri) in his so-far lucky 2…Bb4 in the English Opening and got a very good position. Soon Giri’s bishops were fighting Anand’s knights and Anand is perhaps the best player with knights in recent history. It was complex and double-edged, but then some of Anand’s decisions turned out to be below par and he allowed Giri a strong initiative. All this culminated in a blunder by Anand on move 31. He resigned 2 moves later. After the loss to Kramnik another bad day for Anand and now he is dead last with -2 (1/4).

So had (Minister of Defence) Karjakin on the ropes for a long time, but he failed to find the win. His best chance was before the time control on move 34, when he hastily took the pawn on c4 instead of a preparatory move preventing the activation of the black knight – after that Karjakin held firm for more than 30 moves.

Kramnik was another player who held firm and saved a lost position against Caruana. In answer to my question in my last post, no, he didn’t repeat the Arkhangelsk against Caruana, switching back to his trusted Berlin. Caruana varied from his game against Xiong from the last US Championship but Kramnik was well-prepared as always and got a good position, only to blunder a few moves later and find himself in a prospectless endgame a pawn down. Caruana was certainly winning already around move 30, but he allowed activation of the black king and then suddenly things weren’t that straight-forward. Eventually Kramnik managed to scare Caruana off and salvaged the draw. I have already written about Caruana’s problems in converting winning positions and it seems the problem is still ongoing.

Tomorrow’s round sees angry Carlsen meet resurgent Giri. Place your bets gentlemen.


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