4 Winners In Grenke Chess Classic's Round 2; Vitiugov Still Perfect
The podium during round two. | Photo: Eric van Reem/Grenke Chess Classic.

4 Winners In Grenke Chess Classic's Round 2; Vitiugov Still Perfect

| 23 | Chess Event Coverage

Nikita Vitiugov continues to lead the Grenke Chess Classic in Karlsruhe after beating Georg Meier in today's second round. Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave also won their games today.

Caruana-Carlsen was not a bad tournament opener, and there was more to enjoy in round two with no less than four decisive games. The surprising leader is still Vitiugov, who also won his second game. The group of players on 1.5 points consists of some decent chess players: Aronian, Carlsen and MVL.

Let’a start with Levon Aronian, who will be looking for ways to forget his Candidates’ Tournament as quickly as possible, and doing well at Grenke would be a good start. He had won only won one game in Berlin (round four vs Karjakin), but after staying “dry” for 10 games, today he scored the full point against Arkadij Naiditsch.

Aronian played the 5.Nge2 sideline against the King’s Indian, which worked out pretty well in this game. He got an advantage on the queenside, while king wasn’t less safe than Black’s. It looks like Black was already in trouble around move 25.

Levon Aronian at Grenke 2018

Levon Aronian./Grenke Chess Classic.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave’s last classical tournament was Gibraltar; he sadly just missed out on qualifying for the Candidates’ last year. The Frenchman did play some Bundesliga games and quite a few encounters in the PRO Chess League, but still, the question was whether he would be somewhat rusty.

Today’s win over Vishy Anand didn’t look like it. He got an opening advantage, held on to it and refuted more inaccuracies by his opponent.

The opening advantage only appeared after having been surprised by Anand in a Sicilian Taimanov. All that MVL remembered was that he had to take on b5. “11…Rc8 came as a shock before I realised it was exactly what I had prepared!”

At first sight it seemed that Anand resigned slightly early, but his position is really hopeless, especially against a strong grandmaster.


Photo: Eric van Reem/Grenke Chess Classic.

Nikita Vitiugov vs Georg Meier was a French Advance—an opening variation you don’t get to see much in super tournaments. Meier knew that his opponent is also an expert on the French, but thought that was OK: “It’s always interesting when you have a knowledgable opponent, I don’t really mind.”

Vitiugov’s move order was interesting, and should have given White an advantage. He admitted Black was fine in the endgame.

Meier’s mistake came one move 22. Putting his knight on c4 there was “a miscalculation” as he forgot that b7 was hanging after White’s Nd6. That was an important tempo, and he never got back into the game. “In the end I think Nikita played very well because there will still some tricks in the position.”

The quiet guy that he is, Vitiugov was also very modest about being in the lead. “Actually I got lucky today and yesterday,” he said. As it turned out, he didn’t know it was winning when he played that great …Ne4 move the other day.

Nikita Vitiugov at Grenke 2018

Nikita Vitiugov. | Photo: Eric van Reem/Grenke Chess Classic.

It’s tempting to call Magnus Carlsen’s win over How Yifan a typical Carlsen win, but he did admit himself that his modest opening (2.Bc4) didn’t give him anything. “Black was fine out of the opening but you can expect that from this opening.”

He was happy with a slight edge in the endgame, and from there he outplayed his opponent. MVL described it as “a bit unpleasant for Black but it should be enough for a draw,” but the Chinese grandmaster failed to do so.

Commentator Peter Leko was especially impressed by the prophylactic move 29.Rd1, and the fact that Carlsen spent only three minutes on it. “I had seen it long before,” the world champ commented.

Magnus Carlsen Grenke 2018

Magnus Carlsen. | Photo: Georgios Souleidis/Grenke Chess Classic.

Getting into time trouble, Hou  missed one good chance on move 32, also pointed out by Leko.  Hou said she wasn’t sure what exactly she missed. “During the game I couldn’t figure out …Ra8.”

Carlsen hadn’t seen the point behind it either, and might not have played perfectly in the technical phase. “I don’t think I played very precisely but I don’t think I blundered anything either,” he said.

Photo: Eric van Reem/Grenke Chess Classic.

The game between Fabiano Caruana and Matthias Bluebaum was faily balanced from start to finish. The black players seems another expert on the French these days, following a German tradition in which Wolfgang Uhlmann comes to mind.

2018 Grenke Chess Classic | Round 2 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Vitiugov,N 2735 3439 1 1 2.0/2
2 Carlsen,M 2843 2909 ½ 1 1.5/2 1
3 Aronian,L 2794 2865 1 ½ 1.5/2 0.75
4 Vachier Lagrave,M 2789 2929 ½ 1 1.5/2 0.75
5 Caruana,F 2784 2737 ½ ½ 1.0/2
6 Naiditsch,A 2701 2601 0 ½ 0.5/2 0.75
7 Meier,G 2648 2574 0 ½ 0.5/2 0.75
8 Bluebaum,M 2631 2569 0 ½ 0.5/2 0.5
9 Anand,V 2776 2531 0 ½ 0.5/2 0.25
10 Hou Yifan 2654 2619 0 ½ 0.5/2 0.25

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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