Gashimov Memorial & US Championship 2018
It has been some time since these two finished, so the wrap-up is overdue. Since everything is already written and known of the tournaments and the results, I will focus on some personal observations.
The Gashimov Memorial is Carlsen’s second tournament victory of the year. It is good that both the Champion and the Challenger are dominating the events where they play. Carlsen’s play was far from ideal in Shamkir, but it sufficed. He embraced the pragmatic approach of Karjakin and made draws until his chances came. Then he took them, probably his most cherished one being against Giri, who at least for a while stopped his Twitterade.
I won’t repeat myself here as I recorded a video on my YouTube channel where I discuss the problem of the many draws that were non-events in Shamkir. I cannot say I like the occurrence, but it is the reality of modern chess.
In the US Championship the main news was the unexpected win by Sam Shankland, who definitely had the tournament of his life. Caruana had a great tournament, with only the temporary crisis in Rounds 4 (loss to Izoria) and 5 (saving a lost position against Shankland) preventing him from winning another title. He also won another Petroff with Black, against Robson. I also talked about his early novelties in Grenke, his opening preparation still reaps the fruits of the thorough preparation for Berlin.
The main negative surprise in Saint Louis was Nakamura. He lost 18 points and is only 3 points ahead of Grischuk as number 10 in the world. He scored a miserable 50% and he was absolutely toothless in the openings. I already wrote about this tendency of Nakamura to slacken, but I didn’t expect it would continue for the whole tournament. With Norway Chess coming soon, it is not inconceivable for Nakamura to drop out of the Top 10.
To conclude, I’ll take a look at the very convincing way Caruana dealt with an annoying line in the Sicilian.