5 Draws Bring Caruana Closer To Grenke Title
It wasn't the most exciting day of chess in Baden-Baden. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

5 Draws Bring Caruana Closer To Grenke Title

| 18 | Chess Event Coverage

With five draws in the Grenke Chess Classic's penultimate roundFabiano Caruana got a bit closer to his second tournament victory in a month's time. He'll face Nikita Vitiugov as Black tomorrow, while his closest rival Magnus Carlsen will face Viswanathan Anand.

It was the tournament leader himself who gave the example today for everyone else. Fabiano Caruana drew relatively quickly with Levon Aronian after choosing the solid 5.Re1 line against the Berlin. Considering the tournament situation, making a draw today made sense.

Caruana, Kasimdzhanov Grenke 2018

Caruana arriving to the playing hall with his second Rustam Kasimdzhanov. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The game was interesting for a moment when White played the novelty 15.d6, a pawn sacrifice that makes it a bit harder for Black to develop and damages his pawn structure. After a 25-minute think, Aronian decided to give back the pawn immediately and after that everything worked tactically and it was just a draw.

Caruana Aronian Grenke 2018

While still in their own preparation, the players tend to check the other boards on the big screen above them—a typical sight for a top chess event. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

This meant that Magnus Carlsen had the chance to catch Caruana in first place. For that, he needed to beat the St Petersburg grandmaster Nikita Vitiugov, who has been doing very well in this tournament. And also today, he was just too solid.

Nothing fancy in the opening phase this time; Carlsen went for a normal Ruy Lopez as White and got perhaps a tiny edge with a knight on f5 and a pawn on h5, and later a better structure in the endgame. He tried for quite a while, but his opponent wouldn't budge and in fact defended very well.

Carlsen vs Vitiugov, Grenke 2018

Carlsen faced Vitiugov for the first time in his career. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The game between Arkadij Naditisch and Viswanathan Anand, a Giuoco Piano, was fairly interesting. Anand seemed well prepared for the 5.d4 and 6.e5 line as he brought a novelty on move 14.

Naiditsch was threatening to get a strong initiative with the pawn move f4-f5, but that never came on the board. Anand blocked, traded queens and gave back an extra pawn after which neither player could make progress.

Anand at Grenke 2018

Anand seemed well prepared today. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The games Bluebaum vs Vachier-Lagrave and Meier vs Hou Yifan can be found in the PGN file below.

2018 Grenke Chess Classic | Round 8 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Caruana,F 2784 2866 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 5.5/8
2 Carlsen,M 2843 2806 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 5.0/8 19
3 Vitiugov,N 2735 2818 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 5.0/8 18
4 Aronian,L 2794 2785 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 4.5/8 17.25
5 Vachier Lagrave,M 2789 2784 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 4.5/8 16.75
6 Bluebaum,M 2631 2741 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 4.0/8
7 Hou Yifan 2654 2661 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 3.0/8 12.25
8 Anand,V 2776 2629 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 3.0/8 11.75
9 Naiditsch,A 2701 2662 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 3.0/8 10.75
10 Meier,G 2648 2603 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 2.5/8

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

With these pairings, only three players can win the tournament: Caruana, Carlsen or Vitiugov. The most likely result in a top GM game is a draw, and that's also the case for the two key games, Anand-Carlsen and Vitiugov-Caruana. However, a tie is also possible obviously if e.g. Caruana draws and Carlsen wins. In that case, we'll see a playoff between the two participants of this year's world championship match.

A playoff consists of two games with 10 minutes + 2 seconds increment per move. Then, if needed, two games with 5 minutes + 2 seconds increment per move. If it's still equal, we'll have an Armageddon game with 6 minutes for White and 5 minutes for Black who has draw odds. The tournament went all the way to Armageddon in 2015, when Carlsen beat Naiditsch.

Caruana Carlsen Grenke 2018

A playoff between Caruana and Carlsen is a possible scenario for tomorrow. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

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.

Previous reports:

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

Company Contact and News Accreditation: 

Phone: 1 (800) 318-2827
Address: PO Box 60400 Palo Alto, CA 94306

More from PeterDoggers
14-Year-Old Lu Miaoyi Wins Chinese Women's Championship; Wang Yue Takes Open

14-Year-Old Lu Miaoyi Wins Chinese Women's Championship; Wang Yue Takes Open

$4 Million Buy-In Tournament Planned For November With Abdusattorov, Caruana, Nepomniachtchi, Niemann

$4 Million Buy-In Tournament Planned For November With Abdusattorov, Caruana, Nepomniachtchi, Niemann