Grenke Chess Classic: Anand Stops Carlsen, Svidler Joins Lead
Anand and Carlsen discussing their game afterward on stage. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Grenke Chess Classic: Anand Stops Carlsen, Svidler Joins Lead

| 22 | Chess Event Coverage

Viswanathan Anand was in his own words "close to lost for most of the game," but defended brilliantly to hold Magnus Carlsen to a draw. This gave Peter Svidler, who won for the second day in a row, the chance to catch Carlsen in first place at the Grenke Chess Classic in Karlsruhe, Germany. 

Even though it was split by two tournaments (the final part of Shamkir and the start of Grenke), Carlsen lost his chance to "do a Caruana"—score seven wins in a row. After five straight victories, it was the 15th world champion, Anand, who stopped him.

Carlsen was close to winning though. Twice, in fact.

Carlsen Anand 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
After beating Anand with 1.e4 (in Wijk aan Zee) and 1.d4 (in Shamkir) this year, Carlsen tried 1.c4 this time. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

First, Anand made kind of a "mouse slip" in the opening on move 10. The game had followed the first tiebreak game of the Carlsen-Caruana match and also a recent Svidler-Tomashevsky game from the Bundesliga.

Anand said he took his "eye off the ball" for a moment when he played 10...c6.

With 11.f4! Carlsen started a pawn storm on the kingside that got him a big space advantage. Engines started to give White a +2 evaluation very soon, which seemed a bit too much but it definitely made clear that Anand was in trouble.

Anand 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Taking his "eye off the ball," Anand got into trouble early on, but he would defend brilliantly in the hours to come. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The Indian GM, who briefly joined the commentary afterward (Carlsen did not), could only admit that he was expecting to lose. However, the five-time world champion kept fighting like a tiger and held his own, until he made another mistake and found new troubles.

"I thought I lost the game again," Anand said about the moment when Carlsen played 53.Bf2!, an impressive mini-plan that had started with Kf2-g1 and was intended to move the bishop to the much better g3 square.

Anand said he couldn't find a defense but he escaped nonetheless, because Carlsen did not see what he saw: the strength of the quiet move 56.Kg2. Black is surprisingly helpless there.

It was the 66th classical encounter between the last two world champions. The score is 12-8 for Carlsen with 46 draws.

Carlsen Anand 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
A draw in the 66th game between Carlsen and Anand, not counting blitz and rapid. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Carlsen Anand 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
The players remained on stage for quite a while discussing lines... | Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Carlsen Anand 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
...with facial expressions supporting evaluations... | Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Carlsen Anand 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
...and bewilderment about missing things. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Carlsen now finds Peter Svidler next to him in the leaderboard. The grandmaster from St. Petersburg duly commented: "It's mystifying."

He defeated Georg Meier in a French, the usual opening for the German grandmaster. The latter managed to surprise his opponent by going for a sharp line in the Classical variation instead of his "normal" Rubinstein, but Svidler managed to figure out lots of strong moves at the board.

Svidler was especially content that he managed to win an endgame with rooks and opposite-colored bishops, because it's that type of ending where he had suffered some painful losses himself.

Don't miss his last two moves—so cruel!

Svidler Meier 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Svidler defeated Meier to join Carlsen in the lead: "It's mystifying." | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Almost the same variation was played in Levon Aronian (again going for 1.e4) vs Paco Vallejo. The difference was 12...a6, which also leads to a lot of theory.

Vallejo: "This line is of course deeply analyzed but to remember everything is a nightmare."

Aronian: "I like challenges! I like to torture myself with this."

The Armenian GM also admitted, in his own way, that he didn't fully succeed in preparing perfectly for this game. "This is what we professionals do: to prepare for anything else but what happens!" said Aronian. 

Aronian 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Aronian has been studying a lot of 1.e4 theory lately, it seems. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

And so, without them knowing, the players followed a Shirov game from last year for 23 moves, not too long before the game ended in a draw.

Aronian Vallejo 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Vallejo said that by playing 1.e4 Aronian finally gives his opponents a chance to surprise him. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Vincent Keymer will have to deal with the fact that he played three pretty decent games at the highest level, but still has zero points behind his name on the scoreboard. If there's one thing he's learning here is that chess is tough.

On Monday he was clearly better against Fabiano Caruana, who said, "at some point my position was so dangerous."

The American grandmaster had a hard time getting a position with possibilities to play for a win. "It seems he has a very solid repertoire and in general he is quite a good player," he said.

Keymer Caruana 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Keymer impressed again in his game with Caruana. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Keymer would have been close to winning by move 32 if he had played Qf4 there (Caruana: "I didn't see a move") but instead, he lost the plot completely. His coach Peter Leko probably calmed him down already, but if not, Caruana's words could help.

"He shouldn't be upset with fights which end in losses," sair Caruana. "His game against Magnus, it's normal, it's very easy to lose to the guy even if you have a good or winning position. I don't think he should kick himself too much. But the fact that he's getting winning chances, or good positions and putting up big fights is a good sign for him. The score doesn't really reflect how tough those games were," he said. 

Keymer 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
"The fact that he's getting winning chances, or good positions and putting up big fights is a good sign for him." —Caruana. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Game number five, the draw between Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Arkadij Naiditsch, was very interesting as well in the best round of the tournament so far. The French GM is the most dangerous white player in the world in the Berlin endgame and basically outplayed his opponent at the start.

MVL's piece sac 25.Nf6+ was a great touch but the follow-up wasn't. Instead of taking on e6, winning Black's h-pawn was a more promising option. As it went, the game finished in a (pretty nice) perpetual.

Vachier-Lagrave Naiditsch 2019 Grenke Chess Classic
Vachier-Lagrave and Naiditsch played an exciting Berlin ending. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

2019 Grenke Chess Classic | Round 3 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Svidler,Peter 2737 2999 ½ 1 1 2.5/3 3
2 Carlsen,Magnus 2845 2941 ½ 1 1 2.5/3 2
3 Caruana,Fabiano 2828 2795 ½ ½ 1 2.0/3 2
4 Anand,Viswanathan 2779 2830 ½ ½ 1 2.0/3 2
5 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2775 2773 ½ ½ ½ 1.5/3 2.5
6 Aronian,Levon 2761 2677 ½ ½ ½ 1.5/3 1.5
7 Naiditsch,Arkadij 2710 2638 0 ½ ½ 1.0/3 1.5
8 Vallejo Pons,Francisco 2698 2622 0 ½ ½ 1.0/3 1.25
9 Meier,Georg 2621 2612 0 ½ ½ 1.0/3 1.25
10 Keymer,Vincent 2509 2018 0 0 0 0.0/3

Pairings round four, Tuesday April 23:

Vallejo Pons vs Anand
Caruana vs Carlsen
Naiditsch vs Keymer
Meier vs Vachier-Lagrave
Aronian vs Svidler

The first five rounds (April 20-24) of the Grenke Chess Classic take place in the Schwarzwaldhalle in Karlsruhe. After a rest day, the tournament moves to the Kulturhaus LA8 museum in Baden-Baden for rounds six to nine (April 26-29).

The time control is 100 minutes for 40 moves, then 50 minutes for 20 moves followed by 15 minutes to finish the game, with a 30-second increment from move one. Draw offers before move 40 are not allowed.

The games start at 15:00 CEST (14:00 London, 9 a.m. Eastern, 6 a.m. Pacific). You can follow the tournament here, as part of our events portal. The games will also be relayed in Live Chess.

IM Levy Rozman is covering the tournament on his Twitch channel, GothamChess.

Fridman Grenke Open 2019
Daniel Fridman won the Grenke Open to qualify for the 2020 Grenke Chess Classic. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

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