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Zurich Rd3: The bluff pays off; Nakamura 2800!



Detailed analysis of the games on chessbase.com

by Alejandro Ramirez

Aronian, Levon ½-½ Kramnik, Vladimir

The Catalan is an interesting opening in chess fashion. Sometimes it seems like it is the only 1.d4 opening that is being played, while at other time it seems completely abandoned. The Catalan is not exactly at its peak of popularity, mainly because Black has figured out more than one way to nearly equalize (most prominently the ideas of a quick Bb4+ followed by Be7 instead of trading bishops on d2). That being said, if there are two people in this World that can bring new spice into the Catalan, they are Aronian and Kramnik... it just so happens that they faced each other today!

It's clear that Big Vlad did not equalize fully from the opening; Aronian's pressure kept mounting all over the board and his control over the d-file was more than annoying. With a good sequence he placed his pieces in perfect squares, first winning a pawn and then trading it for domination over the board and good chances to attack the enemy king.

Kramnik defended cleverly; he sacrificed his pawn again and traded queens. The resulting two pawns against one on the kingside gave White some chances to win, but not many. The Russian defended comfortably and earned his draw.

Caruana, Fabiano ½-½ Anand, Viswanathan

What is happening to Caruana? The talk of the town back in September during the Sinquefield Cup has slowly shed away rating. Some attribute it to the massive amount of games he has been playing recently, other say that the Sinquefield was just a fluke and he is back to his usual level. This doesn't seem true, however, as Caruana consistently shows good preparation and excellent technique - but as of late he has been faltering at some point during the game. Blunders or minor errors are costing him half points and sometimes full points here and there.

Today was one of those cases. A complicated opening idea netted Caruana an extra exchange, but Anand had a pawn and excellent piece placement for it. The Italian defended valiantly, pushing Black back step by step. Just when Caruana was getting everything under control, the blunder 24.Nc2?! allowed Anand to jump back into the game with the excellent 24...Ne3! Luck was on Caruana's side that the move wasn't quite lethal, also that Anand was in serious time pressure. Instead of suffering for a long time, as he should have, Caruana escaped with an easy draw - and even had some very slight pushing chances near the end.

Nakamura, Hikaru 1-0 Karjakin, Sergey

Talk about throwing the dice! The American went for a line that should be a forced draw: even though the drawing line has never been played, it is a variation that has been considered by several grandmasters. It seems as if Karjakin entered massive complications without a sure footing - he did not know (or more accurately, he knew but did not remember) the drawing line and was forced to try to calculate it over the board.

However, this proved to be an impossible task! The drawing variation (which you can find at www.chessbase.com) is a series of computer moves that don't make that much sense. White's king is in the middle of nowhere, getting mated in several instances, but White is up a massive amount of material. A specific sequence forces a perpetual and it is the only way for both sides to survive.

Since Karjakin did not find this variation, he ended up down the exchange and also down a tremendous amount of time on the clock. Nakamura did not forgive such a situation and won very easily; he had over an hour left on the clock when the game ended!

Today's games


Round 3: Nakamura beats Karjakin to take the sole lead

by Marc Lang

Round 3 again saw three very exciting battles and also demonstrated how deeply those super GMs prepare for their games. After Anand outplayed Aronian yesterday using an old home analysis, this time Nakamura caught Karjakin in a web of variations that he had sewed aforehand and that was difficult for the Russian to break, if not impossible without a computer.

So, today's most exciting game was probably this clash between the American bullet expert and the Ukraine-born Russian. In an English opening, Nakamura invited his opponent's queen to invade his camp on f2, something most amateurs wouldn't even consider. As it later turned out, the first 15 moves had already been played before, but then Karjakin failed to find the correct continuation and soon found himself in a lost ending with an exchange down for insufficient compensation.

In Caruana - Anand, both players followed a game by Chinese grandmaster Wen Yun, who, like Caruana, captured an exchange that his opponent offered on a8, hoping to prove that black's compensation wouldn't be enough. As it soon turned out, Anand had to fight desperately for the draw, and although for some time it appeared he would not succeed, with very resourceful play he lured his Italian opponent in an ending with a rook and pawn fighting two minor pieces. As the Indian managed to blockade all of white's pawns, Caruana couldn't make progress and for some time even had to play very precisely himself to secure the maintain the balance. In the end, he was left with a rook and pawn against bishop and two pawns that was a theoretical draw.

The most complicated positional battle was fought between Aronian and Kramnik, where a Catalan was played, an opening not know for its tactical clashes, but for its strategical complexitiy. Although Kramnik can be considered one of the world's leading experts of this variation, Aronian's understanding proved to be in no way inferior and soon the Russian player's position became more and more uncomfortable. Kramnik set up a stubborn defense and managed to exchange a couple of pawns to finally enter an ending with his rook and two pawns fighting a rook, knight and three pawns that he was able to hold.

After this round, Nakamura has taken the sole lead, 1 point ahead of Anand and another ahead of Kramnik with three points. At the bottom of the table, Caruana, Aronian and Karjakin share the last place with 2 points each.

Classical after Round 3
Rk
Name
ELO
Pts
SB
1.
Anand, Viswanathan (IND)
2797
7.0
16.5
2.
Nakamura, Hikaru (USA)
2776
6.0
12.5
3.
Kramnik, Vladimir (RUS)
2783
5.0
12.5
4.
Karjakin, Sergey (RUS)
2760
4.0
10.0
 
Caruana, Fabiano (ITA)
2811
4.0
10.0
6.
Aronian, Levon (ARM)
2777
4.0
9.5


Today's results:
Round 3 - Mon February 16th
Aronian, Levon
-
Kramnik, Vladimir
1:1
Caruana, Fabiano
-
Anand, Viswanathan
1:1
Nakamura, Hikaru
-
Karjakin, Sergey
2:0

Tomorrow's parings:
Round 4 - Tue February 17th
Kramnik, Vladimir
-
Karjakin, Sergey
1:1
Anand, Viswanathan
-
Nakamura, Hikaru
2:0
Aronian, Levon
-
Caruana, Fabiano
1:1


Round 3 starts today at 15:00 with three interesting duels:

Aronian - Kramnik
After yesterday's painful defeat, Aronian will try to get back on track again. However, his opponent, Russian GM Vladimir Kramnik, will surely do his best to catch up with the leaders. The previous encounters were mostly hard-fought battles with a balanced statistic: Either player won 2 games so far.

Caruana - Anand
All previous encounters of these two players ended in draw when Caruana played with the white pieces. It is doubtful, though, that Anand might get an extra rest day - with Caruana being stuck at the bottom of the table, he will certainly do his best to beat the Indian Ex-World Champion to maintain his chances to win the tournament

Nakamura - Karjakin
Considering the statistics, Nakamura might be considered a slight favorite in today's third duel: So far he has scored 5 wins compared to Karjakin's 4. However, the last game between the American and the Russian was won by Karjakin at the FIDE Grand Prix in Baku 2014.

As usual, we will have the games broadcasted with live German, English and Russian commentary on our live page. To choose the language, click on the flag below the video stream on the right.


Clash of the legends, day 2: Two more decisive games

On the second day of the "Clash of the legends" match between Viktor Korchnoi and Wolfgang Uhlmann, the spectators were again entertained with two decisive games: The first was won by Korchnoi, who at first had to defend an inferior position, but later emerged when Uhlmann overlooked that Korchnoi could recapture an exchange sacrifice with check. Black's heavy pieces then invaded the white camp and Uhlmann had to resign soon afterwards

In the 2nd game, however, the German grandmaster quickly strived for revenge, when Korchnoi allowed his bishop on a6 to be trapped. Being a piece down in a hopeless position, Korchnoi immediately resigned.

Clash of the Legends, Zurich 2015
Name
 
1
2
3
4
Total
Uhlmann, Wolfgang
2326
1
0
0
1
2
Korchnoi, Viktor
2499
0
1
1
0
2


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