GRENKE Chess Classic begins

by Alejandro Ramirez
2/2/2015 – Some top players apparently just enjoy playing. One week after the long tournament in Wijk aan Zee Carlsen, Caruana, Aronian meet again, this time in Baden-Baden, Germany, joining Anand, Adams, Naiditsch, Bacrot, and Baramidze for the GRENKE Chess Classic, an eight-player-round-robin. The first round brought entertaining games but four draws and no win. First round analysis.

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Round 01 - February 02, 2015, 15:00
Caruana Fabiano 2811 ½-½ Anand Viswanathan 2797
Bacrot Etienne 2711 ½-½ Baramidze David 2594
Aronian Levon 2777 ½-½ Carlsen Magnus 2865
Adams Michael 2738 ½-½ Naiditsch Arkadij 2706

Daniel King shows the game Bacrot vs Baramidze

Some top players apparently just enjoy playing. One week after the long tournament in Wijk aan Zee Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, Levon Aronian meet again, this time in Baden-Baden, Germany, joining Vishy Anand, Michael Adams, Arkadij Naiditsch, Etienne Bacrot, and David Baramidze for the GRENKE Chess Classic, an eight-player-round-robin. The first round brought entertaining games but four draws and no win.

The match-up of the day was certainly between the World Champion and Levon Aronian, who until relativley recently was the number two player in the globe.

Aronian, Levon ½-½ Carlsen, Magnus
The game started without any excitement, but it picked up near time pressure:

[Event "3rd GRENKE Chess Classic"] [Site "Baden Baden GER"] [Date "2015.02.02"] [Round "1"] [White "Aronian, L."] [Black "Carlsen, M."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D36"] [WhiteElo "2777"] [BlackElo "2865"] [PlyCount "127"] [EventDate "2015.02.02"] 1. c4 e6 2. Nc3 d5 3. d4 Nf6 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Bg5 c6 6. Qc2 Be7 7. e3 Nbd7 8. Bd3 h6 9. Bh4 Nh5 10. Bxe7 Qxe7 11. O-O-O Nb6 12. Nf3 Bg4 13. Kb1 Nf6 14. Rc1 Nfd7 15. Ka1 O-O-O 16. Nd2 Kb8 17. Na4 Nxa4 18. Qxa4 Qh4 {A relatively dry position. Black has no real targets to pressure, while White is doing the best not to weaken his position.} 19. Rcf1 Qf6 20. Qc2 Rc8 21. Nb3 Rc7 22. Rc1 Rhc8 {Black's complicated plan of doubling on the c-file and playing c5 may not have been a bad idea, except that it was never executed.} 23. h3 Be6 24. Rhf1 h5 $2 (24... c5 $5 25. Nxc5 Nxc5 26. dxc5 Rxc5 27. Qxc5 Rxc5 28. Rxc5 Qg5 { White cannot successfully defend his g-pawn (29.g4 runs into 29...Qh4) so Black gets one pawn for the two rooks against queen situation, which might make his position just an inch preferable.}) 25. f4 $1 {Carlsen must have underestimated this move. There is no comfortable way to protect against f5, trapping the bishop.} g6 (25... Nb6 26. f5 Bd7 27. Nc5 {Leaves Black's pieces without coordination, very similar to what happened in the game but with the kingside pawns still alive, which is worse for Black.}) 26. f5 gxf5 $6 (26... Bxf5 $1 27. Bxf5 gxf5 28. Rxf5 (28. Qxf5 Qxf5 29. Rxf5 Rg8 $11) 28... Qg6 {And Black is a tiny bit worse, but should have enough counterplay with pressure against e3, g2 and some c5 ideas.}) 27. g4 $1 {This strong move binds Black's pieces.} hxg4 28. hxg4 Nb6 {what else?} 29. gxf5 Bd7 30. Nc5 Re8 {Black has some compensation for his cramped position in the form of pressure on e3 and a relatively solid camp, but it is definitely White that is preferable here.} 31. Rce1 Qd6 32. a3 $6 (32. Rg1 $1) 32... Bc8 33. Qf2 Nd7 $6 (33... f6 $1 {Forces Aronian to find some good way of continuing the pressure. Black is close to equality.}) 34. e4 $1 dxe4 35. Nxe4 Qf8 (35... Qd5 36. Bb1 $1 {Is extremely uncomfortable, with the threat of Nc3.}) 36. Rg1 Rd8 37. Qh2 $2 {This move lets go of any advantage.} (37. f6 $1 Nb6 38. Rg7 {keeps the bind and some real pressure on the position. It's hard to find moves for Black.}) 37... Qh8 $1 {Now that the queens come off the board it is impossible to play for a win with White.} 38. Qxh8 Rxh8 39. Rg7 Nb6 40. Nf6 Rd8 41. Rg4 (41. Bb1 $1 {was probably a simpler way of forcing a draw.} Rxd4 42. Ne8 Rcd7 43. Nf6 Rd8 44. Rxf7 $11) 41... c5 42. Ne8 $6 (42. dxc5 Rxc5 (42... Rxd3 43. cxb6 axb6 44. Re8 {looks a bit dangerous for Black.}) 43. Bb1 $11 Bxf5 $4 44. Rg5 $18) 42... Rcd7 43. dxc5 Rxd3 44. cxb6 axb6 {Now that White doesn't have access to the eight rank the bishop is a slightly better piece than the knight on e8.} 45. Rf4 R8d5 46. Ref1 {It's hard to make progress with Black anyway. If he is forced to trade a pair of rooks White's defensive task becomes easier.} Rd1+ 47. Rxd1 Rxd1+ 48. Ka2 Rd5 49. Ng7 {Awkward, but the f-pawn is doing an important job of restraining the Black bishop.} Bd7 50. Kb3 Kc7 51. Re4 Kd6 52. Ne8+ Kc6 ( 52... Bxe8 53. Rxe8 Rxf5 54. Rb8 {is almost impossible to win.}) 53. Ng7 Rd3+ 54. Kb4 Rg3 55. Rc4+ Kd6 56. Rd4+ Kc7 57. Nh5 Rg2 58. Nf6 Bc6 (58... Bxf5 59. Nd5+ Kb8 60. b3 $11) 59. b3 b5 60. Ng4 Re2 61. Nh6 Be8 62. Ng4 Bd7 63. Nh6 Be8 64. Ng4 1/2-1/2

The undisputed number one: World Champion Magnus Carlsen (2865)

After a disappointing  2014 Levon Aronian (2777) hopes to come back into shape in 2015.

However close by was the strong game between Caruana and Anand:

Caruana, Fabiano ½-½ Anand, Viswanathan
After a less than sucessful opening it seems as if Anand had good chances to equalize, but a dubious move made his life difficult:

[Event "3rd GRENKE Chess Classic"] [Site "Baden Baden GER"] [Date "2015.02.02"] [Round "1"] [White "Caruana, F."] [Black "Anand, V."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C53"] [WhiteElo "2811"] [BlackElo "2797"] [PlyCount "76"] [EventDate "2015.02.02"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 d6 6. b4 Bb6 7. a4 a5 8. b5 Ne7 9. O-O O-O 10. h3 c6 11. Bb3 Ng6 12. Re1 Re8 13. Nbd2 d5 14. Nf1 dxe4 15. Ng5 $1 {Forced.} (15. dxe4 Qxd1 16. Bxd1 cxb5 17. axb5 Be6 {leaves Black in a superior position with his passed pawn on the a-file and better coordination.}) 15... Re7 16. Nxe4 Nxe4 17. dxe4 Be6 18. Rb1 Rd7 19. Qc2 Nf8 20. Ne3 Bxe3 $6 { This move simply looks dubious. There is no need to get rid of this bishop so quickly.} (20... Bc5 21. Bxe6 Nxe6 22. bxc6 bxc6 23. Nc4 {Anand was probably scared of some position like this, in which the knight on c4 can attack a5 and e5 at the same time, but he should be fine after for example} Qc7 $11 { Eventually White will have to trade that c5 bishop off, allowing Black to install his own knight on c5.}) 21. Bxe3 h6 22. Red1 Rc8 23. Rxd7 Qxd7 24. Rd1 Qe8 25. bxc6 Qxc6 26. Bd5 {An attempt to bring live in to the position. Since the bishop cannot be taken there are some real problems that Anand has to solve.} Qxc3 (26... Bxd5 27. Rxd5 Qxc3 (27... Nd7 28. Rxa5 Qxc3 29. Qxc3 Rxc3 30. Rb5 $14) 28. Qxc3 Rxc3 29. Rxe5 $18) 27. Qxc3 Rxc3 28. Bxb7 Nd7 $1 {It's important to bring the knight back into the game as swiftly as possible. Caruana spent some time here trying to break Black's defenses, but it might not be possible to do so.} 29. Ba6 (29. Bd5 Nc5 30. Bxc5 Rxc5 31. Bxe6 fxe6 32. Rd8+ Kf7 33. Ra8 {is slightly better for White but should be holdable.} Rc4 34. Rxa5 Rxe4 {must be a draw.}) 29... Nc5 $1 30. Bxc5 Rxc5 31. Bb5 Kh7 $1 32. Rd6 Bc4 {With the trade of these bishops the draw is obvious.} 33. Rb6 Bxb5 34. Rxb5 Rxb5 35. axb5 a4 36. b6 a3 37. b7 a2 38. b8=Q a1=Q+ 1/2-1/2

Fabiano Caruana (2811) is still the world's number 2, but after his spectacular success at the Sinquefield Cup
he lost a lot of ratings points and is only one point ahead of Alexander Grischuk in the world's ranking list.

Vishy Anand (2797) won the first GRENKE Chess Classic and is defending champion.

Adams, Michael ½-½ Naiditsch, Arkadij
Naiditsch's excellent handling of the Tarrasch Variation in the French Defense maybe even left him with a small edge. He tried to nurture this into an endgame, and although he was maybe better at some point, he was unable to finish off a resilient Adams.

Michael Adams, England, (2738)

Arkadij Naiditsch, Germany's number one (2706)

Bacrot, Etienne ½-½ Baramidze, David
Bacrot simply blundered half a point today:

[Event "3rd GRENKE Chess Classic"] [Site "Baden Baden GER"] [Date "2015.02.02"] [Round "1"] [White "Bacrot, E."] [Black "Baramidze, D."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D70"] [WhiteElo "2711"] [BlackElo "2594"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r1b2k2/1ppr1p1p/pn4p1/3P3P/2n5/2N2P2/PP4P1/1K1R1BNR w - - 0 22"] [PlyCount "19"] [EventDate "2015.02.02"] 22. hxg6 fxg6 $6 (22... hxg6 {seemed far more logical, not putting the h-pawn in danger, and not weakening the e6 square.}) 23. Bxc4 Nxc4 24. Nh3 Re7 25. Ng5 h5 26. g4 $1 {Suddenly Bacrot has a real intiative.} hxg4 $6 (26... Re5 27. Nce4 Ne3 $1 $13 {White seems to have good resources, but Black has threats of his own with Bf5 in some variations.}) 27. Nce4 $2 {Simply gifting away half a point.} (27. fxg4 $1 {The attack will slowly mount:} Nd6 (27... Bxg4 28. Rh8+ Kg7 29. Rxa8 Bxd1 30. Nxd1 $18) (27... Kg8 28. Nce4 $1 $18 {The knights inclusion disallows Bxg4 because of the fork on f6. Black is helpless.}) 28. Rh8+ Kg7 29. Rh7+ Kf6 30. Rf1+ Kxg5 31. Rxe7 Bxg4 32. Rxc7 $18) 27... gxf3 $1 28. Rh8+ Kg7 {Bacrot must have forgotten he does not have Rdh1 here:} 29. Rh7+ (29. Rdh1 Nd2+ $1 30. Kc1 (30. Nxd2 Bf5+ $19 {with the h8 rook hanging.}) 30... Nxe4 {is not mate as f6 is no longer covered.}) 29... Kf8 30. Rh8+ Kg7 31. Rh7+ 1/2-1/2

Etienne Bacrot from France (2711)

David Baramidze from Germany (2594). He qualified for the tournament by becoming second in the first GRENKE Chess Classic

Replay First round Games

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Schedule

Round 01 - February 02, 2015, 15:00
Caruana Fabiano 2811 ½-½ Anand Viswanathan 2797
Bacrot Etienne 2711 ½-½ Baramidze David 2594
Aronian Levon 2777 ½-½ Carlsen Magnus 2865
Adams Michael 2738 ½-½ Naiditsch Arkadij 2706
Round 02 - February 03, 2015, 15:00
Anand Viswanathan 2797 - Naiditsch Arkadij 2706
Carlsen Magnus 2865 - Adams Michael 2738
Baramidze David 2594 - Aronian Levon 2777
Caruana Fabiano 2811 - Bacrot Etienne 2711
Round 03 - February 04, 2015, 15:00
Bacrot Etienne 2711 - Anand Viswanathan 2797
Aronian Levon 2777 - Caruana Fabiano 2811
Adams Michael 2738 - Baramidze David 2594
Naiditsch Arkadij 2706 - Carlsen Magnus 2865
Round 04 - February 06, 2015, 15:00
Anand Viswanathan 2797 - Carlsen Magnus 2865
Baramidze David 2594 - Naiditsch Arkadij 2706
Caruana Fabiano 2811 - Adams Michael 2738
Bacrot Etienne 2711 - Aronian Levon 2777
Round 05 - February 07, 2015, 15:00
Aronian Levon 2777 - Anand Viswanathan 2797
Adams Michael 2738 - Bacrot Etienne 2711
Naiditsch Arkadij 2706 - Caruana Fabiano 2811
Carlsen Magnus 2865 - Baramidze David 2594
Round 06 - February 08, 2015, 15:00
Anand Viswanathan 2797 - Baramidze David 2594
Caruana Fabiano 2811 - Carlsen Magnus 2865
Bacrot Etienne 2711 - Naiditsch Arkadij 2706
Aronian Levon 2777 - Adams Michael 2738
Round 07 - February 09, 2015, 15:00
Adams Michael 2738 - Anand Viswanathan 2797
Naiditsch Arkadij 2706 - Aronian Levon 2777
Carlsen Magnus 2865 - Bacrot Etienne 2711
Baramidze David 2594 - Caruana Fabiano 2811

All games are transmitted live and with commentary on playchess.com

Commentary (free for Premium members)

02.02.2014 Round 1 Alejandro Ramirez
03.02.2014 Round 2 Daniel King
04.02.2014 Round 3 Daniel King
05.02.2014 Free Day  
06.02.2014 Round 4 Daniel King
07.02.2014 Round 5 Oliver Reeh/Dorian Rogozenco
08.02.2014 Round 6 Simon Williams
09.02.2014 Round 7 Mihail Marin

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All photos: Georgios Souleidis


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Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.
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