"Scary" Win: Carlsen-Aronian At Grenke Chess Classic
Carlsen vs Aronian at Grenke. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

"Scary" Win: Carlsen-Aronian At Grenke Chess Classic

| 59 | Chess Event Coverage

Magnus Carlsen kept his full-point lead at the Grenke Chess Classic with a win vs Levon Aronian on Saturday. The only player trailing him by a point is Fabiano Caruana, who defeated Arkadij Naiditsch. Viswanathan Anand suffered his second loss in a row, vs Georg Meier.

A day after being completely exhausted, and expressing his win against Meier as "an absolute mess," an energetic Carlsen scored an ultra-smooth victory over Aronian. Sitting next to him in the studio, commentator Peter Leko remarked: "If you are tired and you play like this like you did today, it’s quite scary!"

Our Game of the Day annotator Dejan Bojkov expressed a similar feeling: "It is becoming frightening, his superiority to the others. I have not seen anyone winning games like his from the Karpov era. People do not even know what happened. Neither do engines!"

Magnus Carlsen 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
A deeply focused Carlsen today. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

It was not the win itself against Aronian, but how Carlsen won the game that provoked such reactions. Even the world champion himself couldn't really pinpoint where his opponent had gone wrong.

"It looks like he shouldn’t be worse at all but suddenly it became very unpleasant," Carlsen said. "It's very strange, [as Black] you make all these natural moves and then you’re somehow stuck. My play is so simple, I know what my moves are gonna be and for him it’s much more difficult."

Levon Aronian 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
A rather un unpleasant game for Aronian. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

It was a line of the Vienna Queen's Gambit where White accepts a slightly worse structure in return for a lead in development. This turned into a different type of position, with hanging pawns on c4 and d5 and a Black bishop that seemed somewhat misplaced on the kingside.

In this position the game continued 18...b6 19.a4 a5, where during the game Carlsen expected 18...a5, to "force" 19.a4 and then 19...b6, with which Black fixes the pawn structure on the kingside in a standard way that makes square c5 available for the knight.

During the game he was wondering why Aronian didn't play 18...a5, but the same structure came on the board anyway, and then in the long run pawn b6 got weak, which begged the question if this structure is actually good or bad. 

Leko wasn't sure either, and said: "We’re learning everything day something new!"

If Aronian did one thing wrong today it was his time management. He was down to about a minute roughly from move 25 and playing "on the increment" from there.

Magnus Carlsen 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Carlsen is getting close to his third tournament victory in 2019. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

"It was much better today to be honest," said Carlsen, who scored his 16th classical win against the Armenian grandmaster, versus seven for Aronian. 

"It’s much easier to play those guys that I’ve played so many times before. It feels like there is less pressure and you can just go with the flow. With the other guys I am overthinking everything and here I am just playing much more fluidly."

Asked about the news that Giri had won the tournament in Shenzhen, Carlsen said, with a lot of smiles: 

"I would like to offer my quite insincere congratulations to Anish for his win!"

And he added: "It was an exciting last round. Now he got this monkey off his back, so we’ll see what happens in the future. But it’s a bit of a mixed feeling to be honest."

Players 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
MVL, Caruana, Keymer and Svidler before the start of the round. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Fabiano Caruana's win vs Arkadij Naditisch was less smooth, but impressive at the same time. If we don't take into account the tactic (perhaps missed by both players?) on move 17, Caruana wonderfully refuted Naditisch's 17th and 19th move with computer-like precision.

Fabiano Caruana 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Impressive play today by Caruana. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Yesterday no less than six players were trailing Carlsen by a point, but after this round only the American grandmaster is left there, and now alone in second place. In the live ratings the gap is significantly higher: 50.3 Elo points.

Live ratings chess April 2019
Source: 2700chess.

Viswanathan Anand suffered his second loss in a row; an unexpected result as he was playing White against tail-ender Georg Meier. The latter played his best game of the tournament but it should still have ended in a draw, if Anand hadn't blundered in a rook endgame.

Meier commented: "Actually I was getting seriously ashamed of the way I was playing in the last few games since I lost twice to Vachier in one game; it kind of broke me completely it seems. So I am glad that today I played a reasonable game of chess and even Magnus said out the way out that it was not bad so I guess it was not bad!"

Anand vs Meier 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Anand vs Meier. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Meier returned to his favorite Rubinstein French, which he had played twice before against Anand. About the opening, he said: "Maybe Vishy is just running out of ideas because I didn’t quite understand what he was doing."

The game was quite sharp due to castling on opposite wings, and at some point Meier thought his opponent "tried to bail out." He wanted more, tried to keep the initiative and eventually got rewarded as Anand completely missed a mating idea.

Georg Meier 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Georg Meier: "Even Magnus said out the way out that it was not bad so I guess it was not bad!" | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

When Vincent Keymer finally won a game in round five, the last round in Karlsruhe, his coach Leko suggested that Baden-Baden would be "a new tournament." So far that seems the case, as his pupil first drew comfortably with Aronian, and today with Peter Svidler.

Vincent Keymer 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Another good game for 14-year-old Vincent Keymer. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The draw between Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Paco Vallejo was quite special: it lasted 52 moves, but in the final position all pieces and 13 of the 16 pawns were still on the board! Is this the type of chaturanga, slow maneuvering game Aronian likes so much?

Vachier-Lagrave Vallejo 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Vachier-Lagrave vs Vallejo, a chaturanga kind of draw? | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

2019 Grenke Chess Classic | Round 7 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
1 Carlsen,Magnus 2845 2926 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 5.5/7
2 Caruana,Fabiano 2828 2824 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 4.5/7
3 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2775 2783 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 4.0/7 12.75
4 Svidler,Peter 2737 2750 ½ ½ 1 0 ½ 1 ½ 4.0/7 12
5 Naiditsch,Arkadij 2710 2747 ½ 0 ½ 0 1 ½ 1 3.5/7 12
6 Anand,Viswanathan 2779 2713 ½ ½ ½ 0 1 0 1 3.5/7 11.5
7 Aronian,Levon 2761 2700 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 3.5/7 11
8 Vallejo Pons,Francisco 2698 2662 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 2.5/7
9 Meier,Georg 2621 2570 0 0 0 1 ½ ½ 0 2.0/7 6.5
10 Keymer,Vincent 2509 2595 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 1 2.0/7 5.75

Pairings round eight, Sunday, April 28:

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

The tournament has moved away from Karlsruhe and rounds six to nine (April 26-29) are taking place in the Kulturhaus LA8 museum in Baden-Baden.

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.

Tomorrow Hikaru Nakamura is covering the tournament on his Twitch channel, GMHikaru.

Earlier posts:

More from PeterDoggers
Gender Bias Research Shows Parents, Mentors Shortchange Girls’ Chess Potential

Gender Bias Research Shows Parents, Mentors Shortchange Girls’ Chess Potential

Nepomniachtchi Repeats Levitov Chess Week Victory

Nepomniachtchi Repeats Levitov Chess Week Victory