London, Rd. 2: Anand, So and Caruana

by Marco Baldauf
12/10/2016 – The London Chess Classic kicked off quite fast as today's 2nd round brought three decisive games. Anand showed good preparation against the Najdorf and didn't shy away when Maxime Vachier-Lagrave gave him the chance to sacrifice an exchange - notes by Krikor Mekhitarian. Wesley So nurtured a slight but nagging advantage against Adams until the Englishman collapsed. Topalov and Caruana played a rollercoaster game but in the end the star from the U.S. had the better of it.

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London Chess Classic 2016

Round 2, Anand - Vachier-Lagrave - Notes by Krikor Mekhitarian

 

Krikor Mekhitarian's commentary will be delivered with the next ChessBase Magazine #176, together with most of the games of the London Chess Classic annotated - and many more. You can find the fresh ChessBase Magazine #175 with annotations by Vladimir Kramnik, Wesley So, David Navara, Pavel Eljanov, Simon Williams, Daniel King any many other exclusive authors in our shop → here.


Daniel King's Highlights from Round 2

Photos: Lennart Ootes

Before round two we had three leaders: Wesley So, Vladimir Kramnik and Levon Aronian who all won in round one.

Two of the leaders faced each other, but the game between Kramnik and Aronian was the first one to end in a draw. Kramnik, after having experimented a lot with 1.e4 this year, chose the Réti and claimed some slight pressure after the opening. Aronian's position was a bit passive but solid. After Kramniks 20.e5 the position turned into a middlegame with opposite coloured bishops. Kramnik retained pressure, but Aronian also had his trumps and after 32 moves the game ended in a repetition.

Kramnik and Aronian played a short but interesting draw. They now both have +1.

In a very complex game Anand showed ambition.

The first victory of the day went to Vishy Anand, who was well prepared against MVL's Najdorf and outplayed the French grandmaster in a highly complex middlegame. Anand sacrificed the exchange for two pawns and the bishop pair which gave him a very pleasent position. Vachier-Lagrave blundered soon after and had to resign before the time control was reached.

Position after 28.Rxe2: White is better and even after the best move ...Nxe4 Black will suffer for a long time.
However, MVL played 28...Rd1+, which is a mistake and gives White tactical opportunities based on the idea Bxb7.

Position after 33.Bxb7 - the a-pawn will queen, therefore Back resigned.

After this loss Vachier-Lagrave drops below the 2800.

MVL's spot in the world ranking was immediately taken by Wesley So, who reached the prestigious 2800-mark for the first time in his career.

 

So won against Michael Adams and now leads with 2.0/2. Thanks to his bishops and a 4 vs 3 majority on the kingside So always had some pressure, but to win he needed some help from Adams who went low on time and got into trouble with his queen.

Great start for Wesley So, who is leading the tournament and Grand Chess Tour.

Nakamura seemed to have recovered after yesterday's catastrophe and drew without too many problems against Giri, who played the interesting and rare 7.Qxd4, planning to swing her majesty over to h4 and launch an attack against the castled black king. Nakamura took his time and went into the tank for 42 minutes, to then come up with the interesting idea of ...Qa5 followed by ...Qh5 which prevented Giri's idea.

Position after Giri's 7.Qxd4 - it took Nakamura 42 minutes to decide on 7...Qa5 followed by ...Qh5.

In terms of excitement, the game of the day was undoubtedly played by Topalov and Caruana.

Caruana and Topalov were putting up a good fight in the French Defense.

Caruana tried the French Defense, an opening hehad already used at the Sinquefield Cup this year. Topalov surprised his opponent with the advance variation, a line he hadn't played for four years. Caruana spent a lot of time in the opening and soon got into horrible time trouble. However he somehow "managed not to blunder" (Caruana) in a crazy and complicated position. At some point Caruana felt his "position is basically lost", but Topalov started to drift and Caruana had a great comeback, finishing the game in style with 36...Re8!!

Caruana commenting on this tough encounter: "Every move he played surprised me"

 

Results of round 2:

Vladimir Kramnik

½-½

Levon Aronian

 

Veselin Topalov

0-1

Fabiano Caruana

 

Viswanathan Anand

1-0

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

 

Anish Giri

½-½

Hikaru Nakamura

 

Wesley So

1-0

Michael Adams

 

Standings:

Games of rounds 1 and 2:

 

Apart from the London Chess Classic, the British KO Championship is taking place in London. After today's semi-finals, Nigel Short and David Howell will meet in the final.

Games of the British KO-ch:

 

Tournament page London Chess Classic...

Grand Chess Tour...

London Chess Conference...

Full report on round two by IM Sagar Shah on ChessBase India



Marco Baldauf, born 1990, has been playing since he was eight. In 2000 and 2002 he became German Junior Champion, in 2014 he became International Master. He plays for SF Berlin in the Bundesliga.