Caruana Takes Sole Lead At Grenke Chess Classic
Fabiano Caruana is the sole leader at Grenke. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Caruana Takes Sole Lead At Grenke Chess Classic

| 16 | Chess Event Coverage

After winning the Candidates', Fabiano Caruana might just win his next tournament as well. He is the sole leader with two rounds to go after beating Maxime Vachier-Lagrave today at the Grenke Chess Classic in Baden-Baden.

Let's remind ourselves once again that, last week, Fabiano Caruana called this year's Grenke "just a training tournament" where he was going to play "for fun." Now that he is the sole leader, he might as well take it seriously for two more days, and have even more fun at the end!?

Vachier-Lagrave vs Caruana, Grenke 2018

The start of MVL vs Caruana. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Today he was helped somewhat by Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who played the English but didn't seem comfortable with one of the classic old main lines of the Four Knights variation. His ninth move wasn't critical and maybe an attempt to avoid the biggest chunk of theory, but with logical moves Caruana got a very pleasant position. “He was very unfamiliar with the opening I guess.”

White's 17.Bf1 must have been sad to play. Commentator Peter Leko: “If you don’t go 17.Bf1 your whole concept was wrong." Caruana: “It was.”

Caruana at Grenke 2018

Still some energy left for Caruana. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Although the computer liked his moves, Caruana wasn't sure about 28...g4 after which it "felt like a mess" to him, but he was in control in that mess.


Caruana, Gustafsson, Leko at GrenkeCaruana with Jan Gustafsson and Peter Leko. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

After a series of four draws, Magnus Carlsen won his game with Arkadij Naiditsch. The latter had a bad score against the Norwegian for years but then he beat Carlsen at the 2014 Olympiad, and also in their next encounter, at the Grenke tournament three years ago.


Last year it was a draw after Naiditsch went 1.d4; this year he played 1.e4. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

It became a g3-Najdorf where Carlsen didn't mind to lose some tempi to provoke f2-f3 from White. "I am not a Najdorf aficionado but it seems to me that Black is already a bit better." (Carlsen)

The world champion allowed his opponent back into the game, but got another slight edge, which he spoilt as well. "25.Nd1 looked so strange that I wanted to punish him with 25...e4," he said, but he didn't like that decision.

Carlsen at Grenke 2018

Carlsen moved to plus two today in a game that he didn't enjoy. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

After making these two mistakes, Carlsen felt he had "completely ruined" his position and that he was not enjoying the game anymore. “It was just about trying to trick him after that.”

Carlsen at Grenke 2018

Carlsen going through his game with Leko and Gustafsson. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Viswanthan Anand and Georg Meier drew a Rubinstein French which became quite interesting when the five-time world champion sacrificed a full exchange in the endgame. "I thought this was a very serious winning chance," Anand said about his 29.Rxd5.

However, only a few moves later he made a serious inaccuracy which allowed Black to activate his rooks with tempo. Suddenly White had to fight for a draw, and in fact he was lost for one move, as the computer points out.

Anand Meier Carlsen Grenke

The Anand-Meier press conference with Carlsen and Gusti doing some peekaboo. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The games Aronian-Vitiugov and Hou Yifan-Bluebaum, both draws, can be found in the PGN file.

2018 Grenke Chess Classic | Round 7 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Caruana,Fabiano 2784 2879 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 5.0/7
2 Carlsen,Magnus 2843 2817 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 4.5/7 14.25
3 Vitiugov,Nikita 2735 2815 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 4.5/7 13.25
4 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2789 2805 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 4.0/7 12.75
5 Aronian,Levon 2794 2786 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 4.0/7 12.5
6 Bluebaum,Matthias 2631 2734 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 3.5/7
7 Hou,Yifan 2654 2662 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 2.5/7 9.75
8 Anand,Viswanathan 2776 2618 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 2.5/7 9
9 Naiditsch,Arkadij 2701 2645 0 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 2.5/7 8
10 Meier,Georg 2648 2593 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 2.0/7

Pairings round 8:
Naiditsch-Anand, Bluebaum-MVL, Carlsen-Vitiugov, Caruana-Aronian, Meier-Hou Yifan.

Pairings round 9:
Anand-Carlsen, Hou Yifan-Naiditsch, MVL-Meier, Aronian-Bluebaum, Vitiugov-Caruana

The Grenke Chess Classic is a 10-player round robin held in Karlsruhe (rounds 1-3) and Baden-Baden (rounds 4-9), Germany, The time control is 100 minutes for 40 moves, then 50 minutes for 20 moves and then 15 minutes to finish the game, with a 30-second increment from move 1. Draw offers before move 40 are not allowed.

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