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.