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.

 

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