Grenke Classic 2017: Magnus scores; Levon leads

by Elshan Moradiabadi
4/21/2017 – Round five saw Magnus Carlsen finally score as he soundly defeated Georg Meier with black. He still remains a full point behind the leader since Levon Aronian also won, beating Arkadij Naiditsch in an inspired performance. After sacrificing an exchange to keep Naiditsch's king in the center, he entered a pawn up into an opposite-colored bishop he handled superbly. Read the report with the highly instructive analysis by Tiger Hillarp-Persson.

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Grenke Classic 2017: Magnus scores; Levon leads

All photos by Georgios Souleidis

Round 5 (20.04.2017 / 15:00)
Player
Res.
Player
Aronian, Levon
1 - 0
Naiditsch, Arkadij
Hou, Yifan
½ - ½
Bluebaum, Matthias
Caruana, Fabiano
½ - ½
Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime
Meier, Georg
0 - 1
Carlsen, Magnus

 

Video highlights of round five

The fifth round of the Grenke Chess Classic saw some important developments in the crosstable of the tournament. With two rounds to go and a full-point lead, Armenian Levon Aronian is the clear favorite to win this event, his first super-tournament scalp in quite some time. His lead over the field came as he once again demonstrated his endgame skills to dismantle Latvian (now representing Azerbaijan) Arkadij Naiditsch position, when the latter’s opening adventure went wrong very early in the game. Aronian had a huge developmental plus over Naiditsch and at some stage it seemed that material loss was inevitable for black but Naiditsch somehow managed to maintain the balance. While he prepared to finally bring his king to safety, Aronian decided to take drastic measures and sacrificed an exchange for a pawn to keep the king stuck in the center.

Once more, Levon Aronian showed his endgame chops as he converted an opposite colored bishop ending with ease (or made it look easy!)

Despite the awfully looking situation of black’s king, the lack of enough material on the board should have given Naidtisch some chances to maintain the balance but time pressure and constant difficulties posed by Aronian drained Naiditsch and he buckled and decided to go for an opposite color bishop ending down a pawn. Usually, an opposite colored bishop just a pawn down should be possible to hold but in this case Aronian had two strong f- and e- pawns which he had no problem pushing forward while contorlling Black’s 2 vs 1 majority on the queenside and with this he masterfully converted his advantage.

Levon Aronian vs Arkadij Naiditsch (annotated by Tiger Hillarp-Persson)

[Event "GRENKE Chess Classics"] [Site "Baden-Baden"] [Date "2017.04.20"] [Round "5"] [White "Aronian, Levon"] [Black "Naiditsch, Arkadij"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A13"] [WhiteElo "2774"] [BlackElo "2702"] [Annotator "Tiger Hillarp-Persson"] [PlyCount "115"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. c4 e6 2. g3 d5 3. Bg2 Nf6 ({There is something to be said for} 3... dxc4 { now, before the knight has been developed to f6. After} 4. Nf3 a6 {Black has gained some extra flexibility, whereas it is unclear what White can do differently.}) 4. Nf3 dxc4 (4... Be7 {is most respectable. White has two ways to fight for the initiative:} 5. O-O (5. d4 {is the Catalan. Now} O-O 6. O-O ( 6. Qc2 $5 {is another fashionable line. The critical response is} c5) 6... dxc4 {is a position one which one could write at least a hundred pages. Many strong players try to find ways around this line.}) 5... O-O 6. b3 {is what Kramnik has played lately. Perhaps he has lost faith in the Catalan, or perhaps he is just aiming for lesser known positions.}) 5. O-O $5 {This, on the other hand, is a move that gives White some extra flexibility.} (5. Qa4+ Nbd7 6. O-O c5 { and White has nothing better than taking with the queen on c4, since} 7. Na3 a6 {is awkward.}) (5. Qc2 {is another possibility that makes sense, although after } c5 {, there is no longer the possibility of playing Na3 instead of Qc2.}) 5... Nbd7 ({This looks more reliable than} 5... a6 {, when} 6. Qc2 b5 7. Ne1 $1 {(This move was first played by A Grigorian, but the idea is much older.)} Nd5 8. d3 $1 cxd3 9. Nxd3 Bb7 10. Nc3 {leaves White with splendid compensation for the pawn.}) 6. Qc2 $1 {So I drone about flexibility this and flexibily that and here I go again. It is more flexible than} (6. Qa4 a6 7. Qxc4) 6... c5 $5 ( {After} 6... a6 {White has the option of taking on c4, but can also consider} 7. a4 $5 c5 (7... Nc5 8. Qxc4 Qd5 9. Qa2 Qxa2 10. Rxa2 Nb3 11. d4 Nd5 12. Nbd2 $36 {1/2-1/2 (40) Mozharov,M (2523)-Oparin,G (2496) Moscow 2013}) 8. a5 $5) 7. Na3 {...and the fleixibility pays off. With the queen on a4, this move makes no sense.} Nd5 $5 {The best advice I ever read about openings, is to try to find an idea of your own in every position you study. "That sounds like a lot of work", you might say, but the point is not to come up with a truly original idea in every such position, but rather to find a narrative that is your own (and which has some coherence). In that way you will both bind your memory of the variation to a narrative (improving memory) and push deeper, understanding more. Considering how the position develops in the coming few moves, I wonder what kind of narrative Arkadij had in mind.} 8. Nxc4 b5 $1 9. Ne3 $1 (9. Nce5 Nxe5 10. Nxe5 Bd6 11. Nf3 Bb7 {was very comfortable for Black, in Foisor,O (2425)-Inkiov,V (2450) Cuxhaven 1992.}) 9... Bb7 $6 ({After} 9... Nxe3 10. fxe3 (10. dxe3 Bb7 11. b3 Be7 {is also a bit better for White, if the engine is to be believed. I find it hard to swallow. As long as Black doesn't mess up completely or give up three pawns for one on the queenside, it will be hard for White to gain any winning chances.}) 10... Bb7 11. Ne5 $1 Nxe5 12. Bxb7 Rb8 13. Bg2 {White has the bishop pair in an open and unbalanced position. I'd rather play White here. Still, this is a line where Black's 7th move makes sense. In the game, Nd5 leads to a loss of three tempi (Nd5/Bxd5/Bb7) so it is probably the right way to go anyway.}) 10. Nxd5 Bxd5 ({After} 10... exd5 { White has a typical resource:} 11. b4 $1 cxb4 (11... c4 12. Bb2 f6 13. Nd4 $36) 12. Bb2 {and Black will not be able to finish developing without f7-f6, which will turn Nf3-d4 into a marvelous move.}) 11. e4 $1 Bb7 12. d4 cxd4 13. Nxd4 Rc8 14. Qe2 a6 15. Rd1 {Something has gone wrong for Black. White is developing fast and with Bh3 hanging in the air, Black has tactical problems on the d-file.} Bc5 (15... Be7 16. Be3 O-O 17. Bh3 $1 $16) 16. Nb3 Be7 ({After } 16... Bb6 17. Bf4 {Black is struggling to avoid the bind on the knight. The queen cannot go to e7, so the best defence is} Rc4 18. Rd2 Qc8 {However, it doesn't solve his problems, as} 19. Rad1 Nf6 20. Be3 Bxe3 21. Rd8+ Qxd8 22. Rxd8+ Kxd8 23. Qxe3 {, followed by Na5 is very strong indeed.}) 17. Rd3 $1 { A great move. I use to tell juniors that when it comes to choosing between two or three seemingly good moves, a good place to start is to see if there are any pieces which you absolutely know where they belong. If there is such a piece, it is often a good idea to start with that one. In this position it is quite obvious that White needs to mount the pressure on the d-file, but there is also the possibility of playing Bc1-somewhere. But where is that somewhere? Is it on f4, on e3, or even on d2? You don't know. Ahh, so perhaps move the rook first?} Qc7 ({So why not castle?} 17... O-O 18. Qd1 $1 {is the point behind Rd3.} Rc7 (18... Bc6 19. Nd4 Ba8 20. Nxe6) 19. Bf4 e5 20. Bxe5 Nxe5 21. Rxd8 Rxd8 22. Qh5 {and Black doesn't have enough for the exchange.}) 18. Bf4 Ne5 ({White gets a very comfy advantage after} 18... Qb6 19. Be3 Qc7 20. Rc1 Qb8 21. Rxc8+ Qxc8 22. Na5 O-O 23. Rc3 Qb8 24. Nxb7 Qxb7 25. Qc2 $16 {There is no way for Black to deviate.}) 19. Rc3 Qb8 20. Qh5 $1 Bd6 (20... Bf6 21. Rxc8+ Bxc8 22. Rc1 {and Black cannot defend against both Rxc8/Bxe5 and Rc5. Something's gotta go.}) 21. Rxc8+ $1 Bxc8 22. Rd1 Bc7 $8 23. Na5 Bd7 $6 { I don't envy Arkadij's position and I even find it hard to find fault with his play. Something went wrong before this move.} ({Black's best chance of survival was} 23... O-O $1 24. Bxe5 Bxe5 25. Nc6 Qc7 26. Nxe5 g6 $1 {although White has excellent winning chances after} 27. Nxg6 (27. Qg5 $5 f6 28. Rc1) 27... hxg6 28. Qg5) 24. Bxe5 $5 ({Aronian's choice is alluring, but there were plenty of less-spectacular-but-good moves. For instance:} 24. b4 Ng6 25. Be3 { and Black is in a pickle.}) 24... Bxe5 25. Rxd7 Kxd7 26. Qxf7+ Kd6 27. Bh3 Re8 28. Nb7+ Kc6 29. b4 $1 {This far it has all been forced and it is clear why Aronian went down this rabbit-hole. Black's pawn are in tatters and the king is in danger of losing its head.} Rf8 ({Or} 29... Bf6 30. Na5+ Kb6 31. Qd7 Re7 32. Qc6+ Ka7 33. Qc2 Rc7 34. Nc6+ Kb7 35. e5 Bg5 36. Bg2 $18 {Black has no coordination and his pieces nothing to aim for.}) 30. Qe7 $2 {This is a mistake that could have thrown away the win.} ({Perhaps White missed} 30. Na5+ Kb6 31. Qe7 Qc8 32. Nc6 $3 {A beautiful move that is quite hard for a human to spot. (It's much more difficult to find such a move when the knight doesn't take anything. If, instead, we place a pawn on c6, then it becomes obvious).} Qxc6 (32... Kxc6 33. Bxe6 {and the price to hold onto the rook is high:} Qb8 $2 34. Bd5+ Kb6 35. Qc5#) 33. Qxf8 {would have been quite similar to the game.}) 30... Bd6 $2 (30... Bc7 $1 {is the only chance. After} 31. Na5+ Bxa5 32. Bxe6 Bxb4 33. Qxb4 Rf6 34. Qd4 {White still has a nasty initiative, but Black is not significantly worse if he can find} Qc7 $1 35. Bd5+ Kd7 $1 36. e5 Rb6 $1 { Still for a human to defend Black's position with success would almost put that person in danger of failing a Turing test.}) 31. Na5+ Kb6 32. Qxe6 { White is back on track.} Re8 33. Qd7 Bxb4 (33... Re7 34. Qc6+ Ka7 35. Qd5 Rc7 36. Nc6+ Rxc6 37. Qxc6 $16) 34. Nc6 Qd6 35. Qxe8 Qxc6 36. Qb8+ Qb7 {This is the right move if you know that the bishop ending is a draw. Otherwise it's better to go for} (36... Ka5 {, when the technical difficulties are less clear. }) 37. Qxb7+ Kxb7 38. f4 {Since there is no way for Black to create a passed pawn on the queenside, White is basically two pawns up, but is it a win?} Kc6 39. Kf2 a5 40. Kf3 a4 41. Bf5 h6 ({Tricks, like} 41... Bf8 42. Bxh7 b4 43. Bg8 b3 {, doesn't work due to} 44. axb3 a3 45. b4 $1) 42. Bg6 Kd7 43. e5 Bc5 44. Bd3 Kc6 45. Bc2 {So, there is nothing Black could have done to avoid this position. Next White will play h4, g4, Ke4, h5 and then - as soon as Black's king leaves c6 for the defence - harass the queenside pawns until they become static. Then, finally, White will win by playing g5. We will soon see this scenario up close.} Kd5 {The king has nothing to do here, but going backwards would have changed nothing:} (45... Bg1 46. h4 Bc5 47. h5 Kd7 48. Bd3 Ke7 49. Bxb5 a3 50. Ke4 Bf2 51. g4 Kf7 52. Bc4+ Ke7 53. g5 hxg5 54. fxg5 Kf8 55. h6 g6 56. Kd5 Be3 57. Bd3 Bxg5 58. h7 Kg7 59. Bxg6 {and then K-d7, followed by e5-e8. 1-0}) 46. Be4+ Kc4 47. Bc6 Bg1 48. h4 {I followed this game on a server where some patzer desribed this a "blunder" since the engines game 48.e6 as winning. Well, Mr. Patzer, Aronian has it all under control.} (48. e6 {1 is indeed winning, but you shouldn't put your pawns on squares on which they could be blockaded , unless you calculate with terrible precision. At this late a stage in the game, the human way of doing it (h4) is much better. Patzer vs Aronian: 0 -}) 48... Kc5 49. Be8 Bd4 50. h5 Bc3 51. Ke4 Be1 52. g4 Bd2 53. Kf5 a3 54. g5 b4 55. Ba4 Kd5 56. gxh6 gxh6 57. Bb3+ Kc5 58. Ke4 {and Black resigned.} 1-0

This tournament has not been going the way the World Champion had hoped for. Despite his excellent chances against Aronian in round one, and his healthy plus against Bluebaum, Magnus Carlsen got himself into trouble in the third round against Hou Yifan and in the fourth his opening fizzled out very soon and the game ended in a draw against Caruana.

Magnus Carlsen tilted things in his favor after Georg Meier erred in the opening

Today, Magnus had a super solid but out of shape German George Meier with black pieces. Playing the Grunfeld, he may have caught Meier off-guard, or the German simply forgot his preparation, as he soon ended up being on a much worse fianchetto Grunfeld where Carlsen was a healthy pawn up. Further down the road, Carlsen traded his rook for a knight and two pawns and exploited white’s king safety by nicely placing his knight on d4 and queen on d5. The position was technically winning and despite Meier’s resilience, the world champion converted comfortably to reach +1 after five round, thus joining Hou Yifan and Fabiano Caruana in a tie for second place.

Georg Meier vs Magnus Carlsen (annotated by Elshan Moradiabadi)

[Event "4th GRENKE Chess Classic 2017"] [Event "4th GRENKE Chess Classic 2017"] [Site "Baden-Baden"] [Date "2017.04.20"] [Round "5"] [White "Meier, Georg"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D90"] [WhiteElo "2621"] [BlackElo "2838"] [Annotator "Elshan Moradiabadi"] [PlyCount "82"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventCountry "GER"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceQuality "1"] [TimeControl "40/6000+30:20/3000+30:900+30"] 1. d4 {0} Nf6 {9} 2. c4 {0} g6 {6} 3. Nc3 {0} d5 {7 Not sure whether I should consider this a surprise or not. However, when I first saw the first three moves I thought the world champion was actually opting for a King's Indian Defense!} 4. Nf3 {83} Bg7 {6} 5. g3 $5 {117 An interesting line!} (5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. g3 {is also very interesting! }) 5... dxc4 {57} 6. Qa4+ {131} Nfd7 $1 {216 The best move but very well-known!} 7. Qxc4 {372} Nb6 {244} 8. Qd3 {151} O-O {112} 9. Bf4 {1283} (9. Bg2 Nc6) 9... Nc6 {235} 10. Rd1 $6 {104 I'm not a fan of this move. I understand that White is trying to protect d4 with Rd1 but that costs him too many tempi. Instead, I think White should have tried to get his king to safety as soon as possible.} (10. Bg2 Nxd4 11. Nxd4 e5 $1 (11... Qxd4 12. Qxd4 Bxd4 13. Nb5 Bxb2 14. Rb1 a6 15. Rxb2 axb5 16. Rxb5 Bd7 17. Re5 Bc6 18. Bxc6 bxc6 19. Rxe7 Nd5 20. Re4 Rfe8 21. Rxe8+ Rxe8 22. Kd2 Nxf4 23. gxf4 Re4 24. e3 Ra4 25. Ra1 Kf8 26. Kc3 Ke7 27. Kb3 Ra5 28. Rc1 Rb5+ 29. Kc3 Rc5+ 30. Kd2 Rxc1 31. Kxc1 Kf6 32. Kd2 g5 33. fxg5+ Kxg5 34. f4+ Kg4 35. Kd3 Kf3 36. f5 f6 37. a4 h5 38. a5 h4 39. a6 h3 40. e4 Kg2 41. Ke2 Kxh2 42. Kf2 c5 43. e5 c4 44. exf6 c3 45. f7 c2 46. f8=Q c1=Q {1/2-1/2 (46) Bruedigam,M (2312)-Lagunow,A (2441) Germany 2013}) 12. Bxe5 (12. Ndb5 Qxd3 13. exd3 exf4 14. Nxc7 Rb8 15. O-O fxg3 16. hxg3 Rd8 $17 {1/2-1/2 (59) Huebner, R (2595)-Topalov,V (2750) Dortmund 1996}) 12... Bxe5 13. Rd1 Qe7 14. O-O c6 $15 ) 10... Bf5 {493} 11. Qd2 {126} Bg4 {255} 12. Bg2 $2 {240 this is too much.} ( 12. Ne5 Nxe5 13. Bxe5 Bxe5 14. dxe5 Qxd2+ 15. Rxd2 Nc4 16. Rd4 Nxe5 17. Re4 f6 18. Bg2 {may give White some chances}) 12... Bxf3 {117} 13. Bxf3 {6} Nxd4 {28} 14. Bxb7 {91} Nc4 {7} 15. Qc1 {56} Rb8 {14} 16. b3 {1304} Rxb7 {167} 17. bxc4 { 7} c5 {207} 18. O-O {538} Rb4 {54 You *know* things are going really bad when every natural move for Black poses serious problem for White.} 19. Bh6 {419} Bxh6 {271} 20. Qxh6 {7} Rxc4 {9} 21. Ne4 {130} Nxe2+ {97} 22. Kg2 {6} Qa8 {6} 23. f3 {4} Rxe4 $1 {99 strong and forced otherwise Ng5 was a threat.} 24. fxe4 {8} Qxe4+ {3} 25. Kf2 {41} Nd4 {42} 26. Qe3 {47} Qd5 {8} 27. Rd2 {108} e5 { 123 The game is over. The rest is just an agony.} 28. Re1 {44} Re8 {82} 29. Qe4 {22} Qe6 {3 no exchange this time} 30. Re3 {248} Kg7 {294} 31. Rb2 {214} c4 { 340} 32. g4 {114} Qf6+ {552} 33. Ke1 {391} Qg5 {71} 34. Kf2 {280} Re6 {56} 35. Ke1 {44} h5 {91} 36. h3 {24} Rf6 {47} 37. Kd2 {200} Rf4 {233} 38. Qxe5+ { 5 I am sure Meier had seen the end but decided to give the joy of geometry to the spectators} Qxe5 {5} 39. Rxe5 {4} Nf3+ {6 Fork number 1} 40. Ke3 {0} Nxe5 { 6} 41. Kxf4 {7} Nd3+ {17 And fork number 2 decides the game!} 0-1

 

Magnus comments on his win, and his forthcoming game against Naiditsch who has scored a couple of times against him in the last couple of years.

Caruana-MVL was a wild Najdorf where both players showed a great desire to win the game. The game was a rich one but I do not see any exact point where things could go in the way of either player.

Hou Yifan opted for 1.d4 in order to push as hard as she could against Mathias Bluebaum but Bluebaum’s preparation in the Ragonzin proved sufficient and the game soon petered out into a draw.

Standings after five rounds

Pairings and schedule

Round 1 (15.04.2017 / 15:00)
Player
Res.
Player
Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime
0 - 1
Naiditsch, Arkadij
Bluebaum, Matthias
½ - ½
Carlsen, Magnus
Aronian, Levon
½ - ½
Meier, Georg
Hou, Yifan
1 - 0
Caruana, Fabiano
 
Round 2 (16.04.2017 / 15:00)
Player
Res.
Player
Naiditsch, Arkadij
0 - 1
Caruana, Fabiano
Meier, Georg
0 - 1
Hou, Yifan
Carlsen, Magnus
½ - ½
Aronian, Levon
Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime
1 - 0
Bluebaum, Matthias
 
Round 3 (17.04.2017 / 15:00)
Player
Res.
Player
Bluebaum, Matthias
0 - 1
Naiditsch, Arkadij
Aronian, Levon
1 - 0
Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime
Hou, Yifan
½ - ½
Carlsen, Magnus
Caruana, Fabiano
1 - 0
Meier, Georg
 
Round 4 (19.04.2017 / 15:00)
Player
Res.
Player
Naiditsch, Arkadij
½ - ½
Meier, Georg
Carlsen, Magnus
½ - ½
Caruana, Fabiano
Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime
1 - 0
Hou, Yifan
Bluebaum, Matthias
0 - 1
Aronian, Levon
 
Round 5 (20.04.2017 / 15:00)
Player
Res.
Player
Aronian, Levon
1 - 0
Naiditsch, Arkadij
Hou, Yifan
½ - ½
Bluebaum, Matthias
Caruana, Fabiano
½ - ½
Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime
Meier, Georg
0 - 1
Carlsen, Magnus
 
Round 6 (21.04.2017 / 15:00)
Player
Res.
Player
Naiditsch, Arkadij   Carlsen, Magnus
Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime   Meier, Georg
Bluebaum, Matthias   Caruana, Fabiano
Aronian, Levon   Hou, Yifan
 
Round 7 (22.04.2017 / 15:00)
Player
Res.
Player
Hou, Yifan   Naiditsch, Arkadij
Caruana, Fabiano   Aronian, Levon
Meier, Georg   Bluebaum, Matthias
Carlsen, Magnus   Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime

Links

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Elshan Moradiabadi is a GM born and raised in Tehran, Iran. He moved to the US in 2012. Ever since, he has been active in US college chess scenes and in US chess. is a veteran instructor and teaches chess to every level, with students ranging from beginners to IM. He can be contacted for projects or teaching.
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peterfrost peterfrost 4/22/2017 05:00
What fabulous annotations from Tiger! Love it when annotators teach us with words rather than drown us in variations. Priceless wisdom in "start with the piece that you know where it belongs" and 'don't move your pawns forward in a bishop of colour ending in such a way they can be blockaded". Many thanks Tiger.
mathematics1 mathematics1 4/21/2017 04:48
One day i want to be like hou!
pocketknife pocketknife 4/21/2017 02:20
If Caruana beats Bluebaum the last round Carlsen - Aronjan will be very interesting! I like this tournament. The games, the players, the venue, the speakers - all fine!
hserusk hserusk 4/21/2017 11:59
Nice hipster glasses! :D
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