Anand, Carlsen Lead After Grenke Chess Classic Round 4
Anand checking out Carlsen's opening position in round four. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Anand, Carlsen Lead After Grenke Chess Classic Round 4

| 42 | Chess Event Coverage

On Tuesday Vishy Anand swapped places with Peter Svidler to join Magnus Carlsen in the lead at the Grenke Chess Classic in Karlsruhe, Germany. Whereas Anand beat Paco Vallejo, Svidler lost to Levon Aronian while Carlsen drew his game with Fabiano Caruana.

Peter Svidler called his co-leadership "mystifying" himself, and he could only enjoy it for a day. The Russian grandmaster lost without a serious fight against Levon Aronian, who can now definitely can be called a 1.e4-player these days. This time he was successful against his own, Marshall-based 1...e5 repertoire.

Aronian 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Aronian, now a full-fledged 1.e4 player. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Aronian, on winning as White in an Anti-Marshall Ruy Lopez: "Eventually people will run out of openings and they'll turn to playing my own!"

He had chosen the 8.a4 line combined with a quick trade on e5, and pointed out that the difficulty for Black is to grasp the nuances of move orders where White has moves like a4-a5, h2-h3, Qd1-e2 and even Bb3-c4 at his disposal.

Aronian Svidler 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
An Anti-Marshall in Aronian vs Svidler. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Aronian played a novelty on move 17. Svidler told him after the game that he had it in his notes, but decided to steer away from what he had saved on his laptop because he didn't like his analysis. However, he was still a bit worse, and soon after Svidler blundered a pawn. That was basically a technical knockout.

Aronian on his game with Svidler.

Carlsen's new co-leader is Vishy Anand, who defeated Paco Vallejo despite being under pressure after the opening. That was because, for the second day in a row, the five-time world champion had ended up in a position where White was better after the move f4-f5, which prepared a pawn storm on the kingside.

Anand decided to stay calm: "I had this attitude of we'll see what happens and that's it."

White's obvious plan was to push the g-pawn immediately up the board as well, but Vallejo refrained from that.

The Spanish player could have reached this position if he had played 19.g5 Nfd7 20.Qh5 Rfc8 21.Nf3. It seems that (also for the second day in a row!) Anand escaped from bigger trouble because he saw something that his opponent didn't, in this case the knight maneuver Nf3-h2-g4.

Anand 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Anand now leads with Carlsen. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Instead, Vallejo "tried something forced" (Anand) which didn't work, and when his attack failed to come off the ground, he got overwhelmed on the queenside. Anand then did a great job with his knights to repel Vallejo's last attacking attempts.

Anand on his game with Vallejo.

After starting with two wins at Grenke, Magnus Carlsen followed up with two draws. Today he split the point with Fabiano Caruana in what was their first classical game since their title match in November. 

"It felt like less pressure, somehow. We were playing the same line as in the match, but the pressure was off," said Caruana about this.

Caruana Carlsen 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Caruana and Carlsen meet again, and are greeted by a young chess fan on stage. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The players continued their theoretical battle in the 7.Nd5 Sveshnikov, with Caruana playing a novelty on move 14 that deviated from Karjakin-Carlsen, played 15 days ago in Shamkir. 

Here Caruana went 14.Qa4 instead of Karjakin's 14.Be2.

After a few quick moves from both sides (14...Bd7 15.Qc2 Bxb5 16.cxb5 Be7 17.Bd3), Carlsen was the first to ponder for 15 minutes over 17...Nf8, which looked a bit suspicious. Caruana, on his turn, then spent half an hour on 18.b6, which he felt was the critical move.

The American grandmaster kept the initiative for a further seven moves or so, but then, to his surprise, he ended up in a worse endgame without making a big mistake. With some excellent moves (37.f4!, 41.Bh3!) he found a clear way to the draw, even if that meant he had to defend a R vs RN endgame for a while.

Carlsen once beat a grandmaster in that endgame, but in this game he only tried for 20 moves.

"I still haven't lost this yet," Caruana said with a smile.

Caruana Carlsen 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Another Sveshnikov in Caruana vs Carlsen. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Vincent Keymer also lost his fourth game. His battle with Arkadij Naiditsch followed a similar scenario as his games with Carlsen and Caruana: getting a good position out of the opening and playing on equal terms for a while, but then losing the thread and getting outplayed.

Today the compliments for the 14-year-old were coming from Aronian, who said he recognized the "Leko touch" in the many good positional moves Keymer is making. 

"Unfortunately he is also handling the clock like me!" said Leko.

Keymer 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Keymer, still on zero points at the Grenke Chess Classic. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Aronian said he liked the first half of the game that mostly saw slow maneuvering:

"This reminds of where we came from: shatranj, chaturanga. The pieces were moving slowly; you couldn't move the pawn to two. You would slowly move your pieces, the alfils, the ancient bishops would slowly come. This is how the chess should be: slow and beautiful."

It was Naiditsch's first win in the tournament, that brought him back to 50 percent. The way he handled the attack on the king was quite nice, and got him the Game of the Day award.

Naiditsch 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
A lovely attacking game by Naiditsch. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

In a round with no less than four decisive games, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave eventually managed to grind down Georg Meier in a RN vs RN endgame with one pawn for the Frenchman. That should definitely have been a draw, but the German grandmaster failed to find a way to give his knight for the last black pawn and defend the same endgame as Caruana vs Carlsen.

All that happened almost six hours after Meier had surprised his opponent with the very rare 5.h3 against the Gruenfeld. He was probably inspired (or just told!) by his compatriot Matthias Bluebaum, who had played it twice at the French team championship last year.

MVL played a different approach than Bluebaum's opponents, and especially 8...b5 looks like a fine way of meeting White's play. The game was roughly equal for a long time, until Meier lost a pawn shortly before the time control. 60 moves later, he lost the game.

Meier Vachier-Lagrave 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Meier vs Vachier-Lagrave was the longest game of the round. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

2019 Grenke Chess Classic | Round 4 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
1 Carlsen,Magnus 2845 2894 ½ ½ 1 1 3.0/4
2 Anand,Viswanathan 2779 2897 ½ ½ 1 1 3.0/4
3 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2775 2823 ½ ½ ½ 1 2.5/4
4 Aronian,Levon 2761 2780 1 ½ ½ ½ 2.5/4
5 Svidler,Peter 2737 2818 0 ½ 1 1 2.5/4
6 Caruana,Fabiano 2828 2806 ½ ½ ½ 1 2.5/4
7 Naiditsch,Arkadij 2710 2696 ½ ½ 0 1 2.0/4
8 Vallejo Pons,Francisco 2698 2561 0 0 ½ ½ 1.0/4
9 Meier,Georg 2621 2552 0 ½ 0 ½ 1.0/4
10 Keymer,Vincent 2509 1991 0 0 0 0 0.0/4

Pairings round five, Wednesday, April 24:

Svidler vs Vallejo Pons
Vachier-Lagrave vs Aronian
Keymer vs Meier
Carlsen vs Naiditsch
Anand vs Caruana

Impressions of round four.

The first five rounds (April 20-24) of the Grenke Chess Classic take place in the Schwarzwaldhalle in Karlsruhe. After a rest day, the tournament moves to the Kulturhaus LA8 museum in Baden-Baden for rounds six to nine (April 26-29).

The time control is 100 minutes for 40 moves, then 50 minutes for 20 moves followed by 15 minutes to finish the game, with a 30-second increment from move one. Draw offers before move 40 are not allowed.

The games start at 15:00 CEST (14:00 London, 9 a.m. Eastern, 6 a.m. Pacific). You can follow the tournament here, as part of our events portal. The games will also be relayed in Live Chess.

IM Levy Rozman is covering the tournament on his Twitch channel, GothamChess.

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