Aronian New Leader At Grenke

Aronian New Leader At Grenke

| 27 | Chess Event Coverage

Hou Yifan missed a draw and lost an instructive endgame to Maxime Vachier-Lagrave today at the Grenke Chess Classic. The new leader is Levon Aronian, who won against Matthias Bluebaum.

Levon Aronian, the new leader at Grenke | Photo: Georgios Souleidis.

Hou's score of 2.5/3 was excellent, especially taking into account that she had played top seeds Carlsen and Caruana already. But while she remained undefeated in Karlsruhe, her first game in Baden-Baden (where the tournament has moved for the last four rounds) didn't go so well. 

From a Berlin Ruy Lopez, the players reached an endgame—but not the famous one. Here White was better from the start, with a bishop vs a knight and a better pawn structure.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave felt that he might not have played it super accurately, and at the same time it must be said that Hou defended very well. On move 53 MVL tried one more, rather tricky idea, and Hou failed to find the study-like draw that Dejan Bojkov will show you.



The first loss for Hou Yifan. | Photo: Georgios Souleidis.

Levon Aronian took full advantage of the situation, as his win over Matthias Bluebaum leapfrogged him to sole first place. 

The Armenian's combo of the Chebanenko Slav (an early ...a6) and a Schlechter System (...c6, ...d5 and ...g6), which he claimed to have found at the board, was rather successful because Bluebaum played the opening too slowly. His 11.h3 was "careless" according to Aronian, while Bluebaum himself was even more critical. "Of course I could have played better after h3, but I was so disgusted about this move..."

Aronian ended up with an extra pawn in an endgame with heavy pieces. "There are always drawing chances, but if you're low on time..." (Aronian). This was the case for Bluebaum, who by the way celebrated his 20th birthday during the rest day.

"I tried to play Peter Svidler's style. Not to think, just to play fast," said Aronian, and it worked.


Aronian now leads with 3/4. | Photo: Georgios Souleidis.

Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana played a rather timid draw that started from an exchange French, reached via a Petroff. Carlsen plays this every now and then vs the French, e.g. against Varuzhan Akobian during the PRO Chess League.

Caruana had considered it. "I had a very brief look at 8...Be6. Not more than five minutes." That turned out to be enough, as he calculated more accurately than Carlsen. The latter missed Caruana's reply to 15.Nb5?! and Carlsen went as far as calling this move a blunder. After that, the game quickly petered out to a draw.


The last time Carlsen started with four draws was in Wijk aan Zee 2016. There, he continued with three straight wins. | Photo: Georgios Souleidis.

The longest game was also the most dramatic. Arkadij Naiditsch outplayed Georg Meier from a London system, reached a winning endgame, even saw the winning line with 34.Ke1 but mixed up the moves and then let his opponent escape. A true Houdini act by Meier.


Naiditsch-Meier, a very interesting battle in round four. | Photo: Georgios Souleidis.

2017 Grenke Chess Classic | Round 4 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pts SB
1 Aronian,Levon 2774 2914 ½ 1 ½ 1 3.0/4
2 Caruana,Fabiano 2817 2792 0 1 ½ 1 2.5/4 4.50
3 Hou,Yifan 2649 2858 1 ½ 0 1 2.5/4 4.50
4 Naiditsch,Arkadij 2702 2807 0 1 ½ 1 2.5/4 3.00
5 Carlsen,Magnus 2838 2719 ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.0/4 4.25
6 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2803 2690 0 1 0 1 2.0/4 3.00
7 Meier,Georg 2621 2545 ½ 0 0 ½ 1.0/4
8 Bluebaum,Matthias 2634 2442 0 0 ½ 0 0.5/4

The Grenke Classic is an eight-player single round robin. The time control is 100 minutes for 40 moves, then 50 minutes for 20 moves and 15 minutes to finish the game with a 30-second increment from move one. Draw offers before move 40 are not allowed.

Games from TWIC.

Here's a highlight video of the fourth round by the organizers:

Previous reports

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