Berlin Candidates 2018 – Round 5

Like I said yesterday, they couldn’t keep it up. Not that they didn’t try…

The game of the day was undoubtedly the wild affair between Aronian and Grischuk. I don’t really understand Grischuk’s decision to meet 3 f3 with a transposition to a Benoni, it’s such a risky choice at that level and he is a sitting duck when repeating it. I understand that he is seeking his chances in the sharp Benoni, but I still consider the risk a bit too high. I wonder whether somebody else will try to repeat this line against him.

Naturally, Aronian varied from his game against Li Chao from last year and soon enough Grischuk was lost. But it was such a mess… Here are detailed comments, once again courtesy of GM Nedev with a few comments and additions from myself.

A huge missed opportunity for Aronian. By winning a second game in a row he would have been only half a point behind the leader; even more importantly, he would have been riding the wave of self-confidence that he so desperately needs to play well! Now he’s stuck with a bag of mixed feelings.

As for Grischuk, he said it best in the press conference when he noted that he didn’t win yesterday and he didn’t lose today in what was a mirror-like situation of a forced win/loss. I like it how he maintains his philosophycal view even in such situations of high tension!

Kramnik tried to squeeze whatever he thought was in the stone against So by using the Semi-Tarrasch. He has good memories of the opening from the first time he used it back in 2013 in London, when he beat Aronian in a crucial moment. But he’s had quite a few painful defeats there too. He said he was still in his analysis on move 20 and by my estimate it went on at least some 8-9 moves further. As a result he got a drawn position that he tried to win until move 57.

At the press conference he said that he didn’t really expect to win. So why did he try so hard, spending energy that he will desperately need in the second half of the tournament? I mentioned that his strategy is probably to maximise his points in the first half of the tournament, but the position was so dry that he couldn’t even dream of coming close to a win. So we come back to the first question – why did he try so hard?

Caruana was surprised by Karjakin’s choice of 7…dc in the Closed Catalan, a line already successfully tried by his second Riazantsev. For a change, Karjakin got to demonstrate his preparation going well after move 17 (the crucial move that he remembered) in what was effectively a total simplification.

Ding Liren obtained a typical technical position in yet another Catalan against Mamedyarov. He has won several good games in that structure (for example against Wang Hao in the World Cup and against Aronian in the Sharjah Grand Prix) but Mamedyarov was precise and wasn’t in any danger.

All draws means that there is no change in the standings. Tomorrow’s games Caruana-Grischuk and Mamedyarov-Kramnik promise to continue the trend of Wild in Berlin.

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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  • Matthew Gilbert
    Mar 16,2018 at 9:57 pm

    This has been one of the most Wild and unpredictable Canidates tournaments I’ve ever seen. Just trying to do all of the analysis of these games seems to be quite challenging. No telling what’s next.

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