Grenke Round 4: Naiditsch Bounces Back
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PRESS RELEASE - Round 4: Where would we be without Arkadij Naiditsch? For the third day in a row his game saw a dramatic time scramble and the only decisive result on the stage of the GRENKE Chess Classic. On this occasion he emerged victorious, while Mickey Adams and Fabiano Caruana played a sharp and hard-fought draw. World Champion Viswanathan Anand was agonisingly close to a first win, but an endgame slip allowed Daniel Fridman to escape.
Fridman was mildly sceptical about Anand’s claim in the post-game press conference that he’d played the novelty 13…e5 after 5 minutes’ thought at the board. That was a deviation from a game from the recent Tashkent Grand Prix where Peter Leko played the logical 13…a4 against Alexander Morozevich only to find himself swept off the board by a ferocious kingside attack. Here Anand smothered his opponent’s play to force what he described as a “very comfortable ending”. Although the ending is Fridman’s forte time trouble and minor inaccuracies led to a position where both players acknowledged he was lost (after 48.Kb3).
World Champion Vishy Anand
The winning line was 48...Be8 49.Nf1 Ba4+ 50.Kb2 Bd1 51.Ne3 Bf3 52.Nd5 Bxe4 53.Nxf6 Bxf5 54.Kb3 bxa3 55.Kxa3 e4 56.Kb3 e3 57.Kc3 e2 58.Kd2 Bd3! and the rest is easy… Needless to say that’s still fiendishly difficult for mere mortals, but Fridman said in the press conference, “I saw it, but what can I do, it’s just only moves…”.Vishy instead played 48…Bh5? and said after Fridman’s 49.Ka2 he immediately realised the difference – White now has the d7-square. After 49…Ka4 50.Nb3 bxa3 51.Nxc5+ Kb4 White has the saving 52.Nd7! and all roads lead to a draw. It was a huge disappointment for the World Champion, who may have hoped his performance in Wijk aan Zee had put an end to the aggravating discussion about a lack of decisive results in his games.
That’s the last thing Arkadij Naiditsch has to worry about, of course. The German no. 1 has gone hell-for-leather in all his games, with unpredictable but always entertaining results. Today’s opponent Georg Meier was finally undone by his terrible handling of the clock – at one stage he had 51 seconds for 13 moves – although Naiditsch also failed to play the smoothest game of his life.
It all started with historical overtones. In 1925 Baden-Baden was the venue for one of the greatest tournament triumphs of the fourth World Champion, Alexander Alekhine, who scored 12 wins, 8 draws and no losses against a world-class field. Three years earlier in Vienna he won a fine game against Hans Kmoch by following the line Meier played today right up until move 10.
Alekhine took the white knight with his pawn – a move Houdini still approves of – while Meier went for the novelty 10…Bxe4. Alekhine followed up with 11…h5 and 12…g5 and won a crushing game, but while Meier eventually did play ...h5 and even showed ...h5 in combination with …g5 in the press conference (much to Naiditsch’s bewilderment), things didn’t follow the same scenario in 2013.
Naiditsch used an unprintable exclamation to express his emotions after spending 30 minutes mulling the consequences of 14.c6 Nb8!? only to see Georg Meier instantly respond 14…Nf6. That seemed to be a good practical choice, but after 15.Qxb5 a6 16.Qa4 Meier spoiled an apparently sound position with the terrible 16…Ne4?, admitting he’d “completely failed to realise” that he couldn’t follow exchanges on e4 with ...f5 as d5 simply wins – Black can’t survive when White opens the d-file with a pawn on c6.
By this stage Meier was already in desperate time trouble and logically the game should simply have ended in a straightforward strategic victory, but perhaps some of the spirit of Alekhine returned as Meier seized his last chance with 20…Qh4. After 21.f4 White would be well on top, as Naiditsch realised, but he saw a “better” move: “I thought 21.h3?! was just winning the game”. He admitted he’d simply blundered that he loses the a3-bishop after 21…a5 22.Qxb5 Qg3 23.fxe4 Qxe3+ 24.Kh1 Qxa3, and was lucky that he still had 25.Qb7!
Meier was down to seconds and understandably missed the stunning drawing line 25…Qd6!! 26.Qxa8 Ke7 27. e5 Qxd4 28.Qxh8 (28.Rad1 Qxd1!) Qxe5! and Black’s queen and bishop give perpetual check. It still wasn’t over, as a bad case of moving the wrong rook on move 29 gave Meier much more prosaic chances of holding a draw with 29…Qxd4! but after 29.Rxd6?? 30.Rxc3 Rxd4 31.c7! the fat lady was well and truly singing. Meier said he considered resigning on the spot but then decided to show the spectators the neat 31…Rc8 32.Rb1 Rb4 33.Rd1.
The last game to finish was surely the best game of the round in terms of quality. Fabiano Caruana was back at his imperious best when it came to preparation. After 16…Bg4 Adams was on the edge of what he knew, but said he decided to be “very ambitious” and play 17.Nd5!? Caruana confirmed that novelty was a very good move, but that confirmation was the whole problem! He was prepared for the line, even if he said he hadn’t looked at it for a year. After 17…Bxf3 18.Nxb6 Bxg2 19.Kxg2 Rxb6 20.f4 Adams said it “wasn’t a very pleasant surprise” that the paradoxical 20…d5 came instantly.
Only White’s 22nd move made the young Italian stop to think, but from that point on it was a very even struggle. Adams identified 26…Rfg8 as the moment at which Caruana slipped, and thought 26…Qg5! would have been critical. After 27.Rf6! White was clearly on top, but although Adams felt White might have a win (34.h4! is the computer’s suggested improvement, though Adams wasn’t convinced when he was shown it after the game) it was very hard to prove anything. It was a game neither player deserved to lose and was eventually agreed drawn on move 50.
That leaves Caruana in the outright lead on 3/4, while Adams has mixed emotions. He’s played some of the most enterprising chess in Baden-Baden, but has only three draws and a loss to his name. As he jokingly summed it up in the press room: "A slight lack of points has been the problem. Not much has been going my way"
Full standings after 4 rounds of the GRENKE Chess Classic:
The key showdown in Monday’s round 5 looks set to be Anand – Naiditsch.
The full pairings are:
|Round 1 on 07/02/2013 at 15:00
Naiditsch Arkadij - Fridman Daniel
Adams Michael - Anand Viswanathan
Caruana Fabiano - Meier Georg
|Round 2 on 08/02/2013 at 15:00
Fridman Daniel - Meier Georg
Anand Viswanathan - Caruana Fabiano
Naiditsch Arkadij - Adams Michael
|Round 3 on 09/02/2013 at 15:00
Adams Michael - Fridman Daniel
Caruana Fabiano - Naiditsch Arkadij
Meier Georg - Anand Viswanathan
|Round 4 on 10/02/2013 at 15:00
Fridman Daniel - Anand Viswanathan
Naiditsch Arkadij - Meier Georg
Adams Michael - Caruana Fabiano
|Round 5 on 11/02/2013 at 15:00
Caruana Fabiano - Fridman Daniel
Meier Georg - Adams Michael
Anand Viswanathan - Naiditsch Arkadij
|Round 6 on 13/02/2013 at 15:00
Fridman Daniel - Naiditsch Arkadij
Anand Viswanathan - Adams Michael
Meier Georg - Caruana Fabiano
|Round 7 on 14/02/2013 at 15:00
Meier Georg - Fridman Daniel
Caruana Fabiano - Anand Viswanathan
Adams Michael - Naiditsch Arkadij
|Round 8 on 15/02/2013 at 15:00
Fridman Daniel - Adams Michael
Naiditsch Arkadij - Caruana Fabiano
Anand Viswanathan - Meier Georg
|Round 9 on 16/02/2013 at 15:00
Anand Viswanathan - Fridman Daniel
Meier Georg - Naiditsch Arkadij
Caruana Fabiano - Adams Michael
|Round 10 on 17/02/2013 at 13:00
Fridman Daniel - Caruana Fabiano
Adams Michael - Meier Georg
Naiditsch Arkadij - Anand Viswanathan
Follow the live coverage on the GRENKE Chess Classic website from 15:00 CET: http://live.grenkechessclassic.com
Report: Colin McGourty Photos: Georgios Souleidis