Grenke: Bluebaum beats Anand

by André Schulz
4/7/2018 – The sixth round of the Grenke Classic tournament lasted no less than seven hours today. Fabiano Caruana suffered long and hard against Yifan Hou but finally came to a happy draw. Matthias Bluebaum celebrated a great success against Viswanathan Anand, while Arkadij Naiditsch won against Georg Meier | Photo: Georgios Souleidis

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Meier's loss puts him in last place

The Baden-Baden cultural centre LA8 today welcomed the main sponsor of the tournament, Grenke Leasing AG, represented in forced by all four board members, including CEO Antje Leminsky, who made the first move on the board of Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian.

As the home stretch of the tournament slowly comes into view, World Champion Magnus Carlsen will be looking for an opportunity to strike a blow against the leaders. But not today.

The CEO of GRENKE AG Antje Leminsky performs first move flanked by Gilles Christ (left), Mark Kindermann and Sebastian Hirsch (right) | Photo: Georgios Souleidis

Vitiugov ½-½ Vachier-Lagrave

The match between Nikita Vitiugov and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was the top game of today's sixth round, as two of the three leaders faced off. The theme of the game was the Fianchetto variation against the Gruenfeld defence. The Russian grandmaster chose a rather rare structure with an early queen outing to a4. Vachier-Lagrave gave a pawn to accelerate his development and received compensation for it. 


The Frenchman regained his pawn on move 17, but not for long; Vitiugov's piece activity took it back soon after, and the players reached a minor piece endgame with 4 vs 3 on the kingside. MVL demonstrated that White's extra pawn wasn't going anywhere, and eventually liquidated the remaining material to bare kings.

Solid and safe against the Indian openings: Play the Fianchetto

The King''s Indian and Grunfeld are notoriously tricky and theoretical openings. The Fianchetto variation avoids the main lines which Black players enjoy, and goes for a small but safe edge. GM Nick Pert played the Fianchetto variation for over 20 years, and at the time of recording was unbeaten with White since November 2011!

Caruana ½-½ Hou

The third leader, Fabiano Caruana, had to deal, not with a Russian, but with a Russian defence from Hou Yifan.

Fabiano Caruana vs Yifan Hou

Caruana chose the 5.Nc3 variation, which leads to doubled c-pawns, followed by long-castling, and then played for familiar attacking patterns on the kingside.


The best female chess player in the world, however, was not scared, forced an exchange of queens and stood better in the minor piece ending. The next World Championship challenger had to suffer for a long time while Hou Yifan slowly improved her position. On the 65th move, Hou missed a very hidden winning chance: 


Hou Yifan played the obvious 64...a5. However, with the paradoxical looking 64...Kd2, followed by 65...Nd3! 66.cxd3 d4 !! Black could have forced a pawn to queen.

After this missed opportunity, the task became more difficult for Black. Caruana defended himself carefully and tenaciously. On move 98, after more than seven hours, the point was finally shared.

Carlsen ½-½ Aronian

Carlsen and Aronian are both pursuing the leading trio, and today was there moment to play each other. The Norwegian, playing with white, tried to fight his opponent with his own weapons and employed the English opening, often gladly played by Aronian. In the Mikenas system, Aronian responded with a modern style of play and then planted an annoying bishop on d3. 


Although Carlsen managed to get his king castled and then to engage Aronian in skirmishes, the Norwegian never had a chance to put any serious pressure on his opponent. In the rook endgame, the World Champion arrived with an extra pawn, but that was not enough to win.

Meier 0-1 Naiditsch

With Georg Meier and Arkadij Naiditsch, two of the three German players met again today. The pair used to be teammates at the 2011 European Championship on the German team. Naiditsch has meanwhile switched federations and plays for Azerbaijan. The game was followed a popular version of the Bogo-Indian defence. You will also find a model game in the Mega Database until the 17th move, but then the two players went their own ways. 


After the 20th move, Naiditsch took command and put Meier under pressure with his very agile knight. The white position was scarcely defensible. On the 33rd move, White stopped the game:


White played 33.cxb6 and had to give up after 33...Qb7 — it's lights out for White. Instead, with 33.Nb4, and the idea of Nb4-d5, White could have blocked the long diagonal.

Bluebaum 1-0 Anand

With two points, Mathias Bluebaum was the best of the three German players after five rounds. He lost to Vitiugov but kept a draw against Carlsen and Caruana, the World Champion and his challenger. Today Bluebaum had another big test with Anand as his opponent but this time with white. In the standings, the 15th World Champion and his young German opponent were still neighbours since Anand suffered a defeat at the hands of Vachier-Lagrave and four draws besides.

Bluebaum vs Anand

In the Queen's Gambit Accepted, Anand then did what is classically frowned upon according to textbooks: He held the pawn on c4, at least for a bit. But theory evolves rapidly in the modern era, and Black has done remarkably well in the small sample of games from the rare 4...b5 line. One notable recent adherent is Polish number four Kacper Piorun, who's a teammate of Anand's second Grzegorz Gajewski.

Bluebaum's move 7.a5 is a new approach to isolate the b4-pawn — an ambitious concept against the black buildup on the queenside.


Still, the game remained quite level throughout the middlegame, after an early queen swap, until Anand's attempt at further exchanges on the queenside gave White pressure thanks to an active rook.


White's rook is coming to c1 next, and so after 23...Bc5 24.Rc1 Ra2, Anand decided to sacrifice a piece and bet on his passed b-pawn. But, even though the pawn reached b2, it was not enough. Bluebaum made the conversion look easy, and is now the only player on an even score.

Standings after six rounds


All games


Round six recap

Commentary webcast

Commentary by GM Peter Leko and GM Jan Gustafsson

Translation from German: Macauley Peterson


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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