London Chess Classic – Round 5

The fifth round of the London Chess Classic was an important day for chess theory, as several of the players showcased their world class preparation.Caruana, Anand, and Giri surprised their opponents in the opening, with the last two playing important novelties and opening ideas that caught their opponents off guard and allowed them to draw easily.

The longest game of the round was between Nakamura and Kramnik, where the American took any chance he could to catch the tournament leader. Unfortunately for him, he remains half a point behind, as the former World Champion demonstrated his incomparable defensive skills to draw the game.

The only decisive result came from Adams, who took advantage of Topalov’s poor form to recover from his slow start.

Aronian, Levon vs Giri, Anish 1/2

The Dutchman improved on the first-round game between Kramnik and Topalov, equalizing out of the opening with an interesting idea of an exchange sacrifice. Aronian refused to accept the sacrifice and the resulting symmetrical position ended in a threefold repetition after several moves. In Giri’s own words, his result today was not spectacular, but his opponent was the one who should regret the opening choice, as Black drew without any trouble. At the halfway point, Giri has now drawn all his games but still has ambitions to win the tournament.

So, Wesley vs Anand, Viswanthan ½

As usual, Anand came to the game well prepared and unleashed a novelty on move 10. Facing a new move in the opening gives the opponent the option of either going for the most critical line and risking facing deep preparation, or choosing the quieter option without fighting for the advantage. After spending some time, So chose the latter and the game was drawn without any trouble once the 30 move requirement was met.

Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime vs Caruana, Fabiano ½

The U.S. Champion surprised his opponent on move two by implementing the Russian defense, an opening he has not yet used. Out of the opening, White found himself in an uncomfortable position, but keeping the edge required Caruana to spend more time at the critical moment and find the more concrete continuation; instead, he relied on his intuition too much and sacrificed an exchange without realistically considering that the sacrifice could be accepted as the resulting position looked very dangerous for White. Unfortunately, his intuition betrayed him as Vachier-Lagrave bravely accepted the sacrifice by calculating out the lines. The U.S. Champion regretted not spending more time to find the correct continuation, but he felt that overall he’s been rather lucky in his games and, perhaps, has more points than he deserves.

Adams, Michael vs Topalov, Veselin 1-0

Fans in London finally had something to be happy about as their hometown hero delivered a fine victory over Topalov, who is still struggling to find his form. In a double-edged position, Black went astray by first playing too ambitiously and then refusing a trade of queens when his king’s position was compromised. The Bulgarian was punished ruthlessly as his king never found refuge and White’s attack along with the extra pawn proved to be too much to deal with.

Nakamura, Hikaru vs Kramnik Vladimir ½

This titanic six-hour struggle ended in a draw when the former World Champion found an amazing stalemate resource in what looked like a winning position for White. Nakamura tried to squeeze water from a stone in an equal position, eventually sacrificing his knight for two pawns in the endgame. One mistake would have cost Kramnik the game, but he found the only moves to draw the game. Not one to hide his emotions, Nakamura was clearly in disbelief as the result of the game became inevitable. The players get a much-deserved day off tomorrow.

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