Carlsen Again Spoils At Grenke; Hou Yifan On 2/2

Carlsen Again Spoils At Grenke; Hou Yifan On 2/2

| 86 | Chess Event Coverage
For the second day in a row Magnus Carlsen spoilt a promising (in this case winning) position at the Grenke Chess Classic in Karlsruhe. Hou Yifan moved to 2/2, while both Fabiano Caruana and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave bounced back with wins.

Hou Yifan leads the tournament after two rounds. | Photo: Georgios Souleidis.

Carlsen is known to be a slow starter at tournaments; this seems to happen more often than not. Also at the Grenke Classic he hasn't won a game yet after two rounds, despite getting great positions in both. 

Today, vs Aronian, he was clearly winning—after he had been worse, though.

In an Anti-Marshall (8.a4) Carlsen didn't get much out of the opening, and then played a somewhat risky bishop trade on move 19. "19.Bxe6 was a bit stupid. I tried to provoke him a bit," the world champ said.

Black would have been better if he hadn't traded rooks on the b-file. "It was ridiculous to exchange the rooks," said Aronian. "I thought he could never enter with the rook."


A highly entertaining draw in Carlsen-Aronian. | Photo: Georgios Souleidis.

Well, White's other rook did enter, and for a moment both players though they were mating each other when Black's h-pawn ended up on g2. This yielded Aronian surprisingly little. 

Aronian: "I couldn't believe my eyes. There had to be something for me."
Carlsen: "This just happens all the time!"
Aronian: "I should just stop having any ambitions at all!"

Black's logical looking 29th move turned out to be a mistake. Carlsen found a great combination but then didn't go for the winning line with 34.Nfe5, thinking that 34.Qe4 was easier. He had missed Aronian's 35...Ne2+! when it was suddenly a draw.

In the resulting endgame the adventure continued, leading to one of the most interesting draws on top level in recent years, according to Peter Leko. "Pure art. It's just fantastic."

We'll now give the mic to GM Dejan Bojkov. Note that, since this week, you can use engine analysis in our game viewers by clicking on the icon on the down left (as explained here).



"For me it was pleasant enough!" smiled Carlsen afterward. | Photo: Georgios Souleidis.

If an amazing draw like this is the only draw of the round, you know it was a good day.

The first winner was in fact Hou Yifan, who thus moved to 2/2 and clear first place. It wasn't a convincing win from start tot finish for the women's world number one, who got under serious pressure against Georg Meier.

After the opening, the German grandmaster had several ways of keeping that pressure, but somehow he allowed a deadly counter from his opponent. "I felt I must be winning somewhere but I couldn't make it work," said Meier.

Hou Yifan speaking to Eric van Reem. Tomorrow she'll play Carlsen.

The two players who lost yesterday both won their games today. Only one of them is back to being a 2800 player. That's Fabiano Caruana, who soundly outplayed Arkadij Naiditsch from a Vienna game.

The latter "tried to create something," as Caruana put it, but his opening strategy kind of backfired. Black was more than fine out of the opening, and after his 23rd move Caruana was "very optimistic." Then Naiditsch didn't respond accurately to Black's activity on the kingside, and it was over quickly.


A very smooth win for Caruana today. | Photo: Georgios Souleidis.

The longest game of the day, in terms of moves as well as time, was won by Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The Frenchman defeated Matthias Bluebaum from a Réti Opening in which MVL had quite some experience. The position after move 14, with some hypertension on the queenside, was still part of his preparation.

When Bluebaum picked the wrong knight to occupy the e4 square, his position started to become unpleasant. He soon lost a pawn, but with 4 vs 3 on one wing, and opposite-colored bishops, there were definitely drawing chances. Bluebaum kept the game going for long, but eventually couldn't hold.


Good recovery for MVL as well. | Photo: Georgios Souleidis.

2017 Grenke Chess Classic | Round 2 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pts SB
1 Hou,Yifan 2649 3519 1 1 2.0/2
2 Caruana,Fabiano 2817 2676 0 1 1.0/2 1.00
3 Naiditsch,Arkadij 2702 2810 0 1 1.0/2 1.00
4 Carlsen,Magnus 2838 2704 ½ ½ 1.0/2 0.75
5 Aronian,Levon 2774 2730 ½ ½ 1.0/2 0.75
6 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2803 2668 0 1 1.0/2 0.50
7 Bluebaum,Matthias 2634 2630 ½ 0 0.5/2 0.50
8 Meier,Georg 2621 2521 0 ½ 0.5/2 0.50

The Grenke Classic is an 8-player single round robin. Rounds 1-3 take place in the Schwarzwaldhallte Karlsruhe, and for the last four rounds the tournament will move to the Event-Akademie in Baden-Baden.

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 second round by the organizers:

Previous report

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