Stavanger 2017 – Round 2
The two former World Champions played their first game in 1989. That’s a long time ago: that same year I finished second in the junior championship of Macedonia. In their most important encounter Anand played perhaps his best chess and won the title in Bonn in 2008. From then until 2013 Anand seemed to be very uncomfortable opponent to Kramnik. And then something changed. Looking at all of their decisive games from 2013 until and including today the score is 10-3 in Kramnik’s favour! Out of these 10 wins only 2 are in classical chess, while of Anand’s 3 wins only 1 is in classical chess.
Today’s game was rather strange. Kramnik varied from his usual Berlin and this seemed to surprise Anand. He went for a very rare line on move 8, probably in an attempt to surprise Kramnik in return. But the objective value of the move wasn’t very high and Black was at least OK after the opening.
The other games were drawn but each one in a different manner. Carlsen used his preparation for the match with Karjakin to defuse Caruana’s Anti-Marshall. Nakamura played openly for a draw against Aronian and ended up worse, but still managed to achieve his objective after ingloriously suffering for 60 moves. I have noticed that he has done this before too – playing for a draw with White from move 1 and then ending up in an unpleasant position which he then goes on to defend well and draw. Surely there are easier ways to draw with White?!
Giri finally ended the 6-game losing streak by drawing Karjakin, although he did his best to eke out that extra half point. But Karjakin has saved even more difficult positions than the one from today’s game. So had the initiative in a symmetrical endgame arising from the Fianchetto Grunfeld, but the bishop pair he won was compensated by the pawn he lost. Vachier couldn’t even dream for more than a draw.
Even though there have been only 2 decisive games so far I think the tournament is very interesting. The games are well-fought and the opening surprises never stop. Tomorrow the derby is Carlsen-Nakamura. Nakamura finally beat Carlsen last year, let’s see if Carlsen manages to get back to his winning ways against the American.