London Chess Classic – Round 6

The players came back in a combative mood after the rest day as we saw the most explosive round of the 2016 London Chess Classic.Not only did this round bring the most decisive games in a single round, but the round also had the most exciting and brilliant games.

The U.S. Champion startled everyone by sacrificing a queen in the opening and winning in a spectacular manner.

Wesley So continues his lead as his opponent collapsed, allowing him once again to win with the black pieces.

Vachier-Lagrave, although still unhappy about his play, scored his first victory of the tournament over the Armenian, Levon Aronian.

Anish Giri was close to scoring his first win as well, but one incorrect move let his resourceful opponent escape with a draw. The quiet battle between Kramnik and Adams was lost in all the excitement, as neither player made any realistic winning attempts.

Topalov, Veselin – So, Wesley 0-1

It is very clear that Topalov can’t seem to find his form as he completely collapsed after 18 moves. After So played too ambitiously on the kingside, White managed to seize the initiative by opening up the center and it started to look like Black was going to get punished. However, the Bulgarian played a series of inexplicable moves, allowing his opponent to build up a winning attack with simple and logical moves. This is the second game the American wins with the black pieces.

Anand, Viswanathan – Giri, Anish ½

In a sharp Najdorf position, Anand made the dubious decision of sacrificing a piece for three pawns. Counting material, it’s not an unusual decision, but a move before Anand had compromised his king’s position, which gave his opponent the initiative. Giri found himself in an opposite color bishop middlegame chasing his opponent’s bare king across the board; but, much to his surprise, his opponent’s king survived on the dark squares. Even though Anand had the white pieces and was playing for a win, it was a nice escape for him.

Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime – Aronian, Levon 1-0

The Armenian’s opening  was excellent as Vachier-Lagrave once again found himself in an uncomfortable position. The Frenchman chose to avoid any opening preparation his opponent had done, choosing the quieter path instead of grabbing a pawn. White solved his problems tactically, going into an exchange down position where his bishop offered enough compensation for him not to lose. For some reason, Aronian decided to press too much in a position where he should have opted out for a draw and lost pawn after pawn until it was time to resign.

Caruana, Fabiano – Nakamura, Hikaru 1-0

All eyes were on this game as the two American rivals faced off once again. The game exploded after both players blitzed out the opening moves and the U.S. Champion sacrificed a queen for the initiative. This was the third time in this event where Nakamura had a queen for two pieces, but, unlike the previous two games, his queen was completely dominated. Caruana did not find the most precise continuation to finish off the game, but Nakamura eventually cracked after feeling pressure the entire game. Caruana demonstrated his deep knowledge of the game when he explained that he didn’t bother analyzing the position at home after the queen sacrifice because, in his own words, it was the saddest position he had ever seen.

Kramnik, Vladimir – Adams, Michael ½

White chose the quite Colle opening, looking for a long strategic battle, as Magnus Carlsen did just a few weeks ago during his World Championship match against Karjakin. He was unable to put any real pressure on his opponent, as he equalized easily and had no real problems. The game ended in an uneventful draw, when Black forced the matter but eventually  giving up a piece for a perpetual.

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