Caruana Again Only Winner In London
Going into the rest day, Fabiano Caruana took a full-point lead at the London Chess Classic. In round five he was again the only winner after beating Vishy Anand.
Even after five rounds, seven players are still on a clean 50 percent. We have Anand and Karjakin on minus-one, as both players lost to the leader: Caruana. The London Chess Classic might become the first tournament win for Caruana with Carlsen in it since his legendary victory at the 2014 Sinquefield Cup.
2017 London Chess Classic | Round 5 Results
|Ian Nepomniachtchi||½-½||Sergey Karjakin|
|Fabiano Caruana||1-0||Vishy Anand|
|Levon Aronian||½-½||Maxime Vachier-Lagrave|
|Magnus Carlsen||½-½||Wesley So|
|Michael Adams||½-½||Hikaru Nakamura|
Vachier-Lagrave channeling his inner AlphaZero before the round? | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
The draw percentage keeps on growing and has now reached a staggering 92 percent, but only if all the remaining games at the 2017 London Chess Classic end peacefully it will be "worse" than the 1999 Petrosian Memorial, where Ivkov, Portisch, Taimanov, Spassky, Smyslov, Hort, Balashov, Tseshkovsky, Gligoric, and Larsen played a closed round robin and only three games out of 45 ended decisively.
Those were different circumstances, with probably less incentive to play for a win, but even with serious money on the line here in London, the super-GMs have a hard time winning games. Except Fabiano Caruana, that is.
Caruana going through the game with Maurice Ashley. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Against Vishy Anand's Berlin the American GM chose a line where White castles queenside and tries to get an attack going, but initially he wasn't confident. "I felt like I would lose at some point," Caruana said.
But when he saw 26.Bc1 he got more optimistic about his chances. "At least I had a plan. That's really all I needed for some confidence in the position."
An interesting Anti-Berlin in the making. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
He was surprised that Anand resigned in the final position where he expected his opponent to try 39...Bh5. "I thought at least I have to calculate something."
Anand: "Obviously I completely lost the plot because from move 29 to something every move is a blunder, if not actually a blunder then by intent. It just happens."
Chess.com's interview with Caruana.
Anand and Caruana briefly discussing some lines right after the game. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Magnus Carlsen got some winning chances against Wesley So, who defended like a lion today. "I thought it was pretty much equal until he allowed this 29.c5, and then I got a huge initiative," said Carlsen. Right before the time control I thought I was close to winning; then after the time control I realized it wasn't so at all. So I had to start anew. When I got this pawn a6 I was reasonably optimistic but I didn't see a way so probably he defended very well."
Carlsen winning this tournament got a bit less likely, but obviously he hasn't given up yet. "I first of all have to keep fighting. Today wasn't great, it wasn't the result I needed, but it was a step up from the two previous games so hopefully I can pick up on that and get some energy for the next game."
Carlsen: "It was a step up from the two previous games." | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
So: "It was tough. You gotta fight for every half-point these days. He was pushing hard, trying his best."
Afterward, So said: "I'd like to thank the Lord for letting me save this game." | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Arguably the most promising game, from looking at the opening position, was the one that ended in a draw the quickest. Levon Aronian and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave played a 3.f3 Gruenfeld, where Aronian wasn't very well prepared since MVL usually plays something else vs 3.f3.
"I know there are better options than I have chosen in the game," Aronian said. "I am a bit upset. I came to play for a win and then I had to beg for a draw. That is of course not the game plan."
Vachier-Lagrave: I felt like I should have gotten better things out of my position but I got frustrated and I didn't find a clear-cut line and somehow I probably bailed out a bit too early."
Chess.com's interview with Vachier-Lagrave.
After a brief pause, MVL would play the Gruenfeld move 3...d5 after 3.f3. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Hikaru Nakamura put some more effort in popularizing the Sicilian Dragon as he played it as Black against Michael Adams. "It's a good opening, why not play it!" he smiled afterward.
That was also because Black was never really in danger, and Nakamura thought about playing for an advantage around move 20. "I was hoping I could find more but there just wasn't anything," said Nakamura.
Adams: "White's king is always vulnerable to annoying checks and Black's king is completely safe. That's why it's hard to make much of this structure. It looks nice but it's not very easy to do anything with it."
Adams playing his lifelong favorite opening move 1.e4. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
You can find the game between Ian Nepomniachtchi vs Sergey Karjakin in the PGN file.