2016

London Chess Classic – Round 7

After a day full of fireworks, the players were quite conservative in their opening choices. Nakamura utilized Caruana’s preparation that Caruana used against him yesterday to deliver the only decisive result of the round, beating Vachier-Lagrave.

The rest of the games were quite uneventful and did not affect the standings much.

Wesley So decided to take no risks and drew quickly against Kramnik. So still leads the pack and will face off against his closest rival, Fabiano Caruana, tomorrow. All eyes will be on that game, as Caruana needs to score with the white pieces to win the tournament.

Aronian, Levon vs  Anand, Viswanathan ½

The Armenian superstar failed to recover from his tough loss yesterday as his opponent had no issues equalizing the game out of the opening. The bishop pair and the development advantage didn’t prove to be fruitful due to White’s weak pawns. Anand found a clever way to force an exchange of the pieces in a position that looked slightly dangerous for him. With not enough pieces on the board, the players agreed to a draw on move 30.

So, Wesley vs  Kramnik, Vladimir ½

The tournament leader made a practical decision of playing a safe game and not taking any unnecessary risks, as he was a full point ahead of Kramnik entering the round. Kramnik explained that taking big risks in the opening with black at the top level simply means one will lose the game; therefore, he just played his normal solid opening, letting the burden of feeling the pressure to win fall on his opponent’s shoulder. After many exchanges, the game ended in a draw once the required 30 move minimum was met. After the game, Kramnik praised his opponent immensely, calling him the best player of the year and a future contender for the world championship title.

Nakamura, Hikaru vs Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 1-0

After getting blown off the board yesterday, Nakamura used the same line Caruana used to annihilate him. Black was first to deviate from yesterday’s game, but Nakamura came up with a new idea that posed different kinds of problems for his opponent. Vachier-Lagrave is a Najdorf specialist, but, once again in this tournament, he found himself out-prepared. Unfortunately, in a sharp position, each mistake is very costly and the pressure to find the most accurate moves just to survive proved to be an impossible task for the Frenchman. Nakamura played a brilliant tactical game, showing off his flawless calculation in the postgame analysis and ended the game in true Nakamura style.

Adams, Michael vs Caruana, Fabiano ½

Adams decided to play an unusual opening for him, the English, since he felt as though he wouldn’t be able to predict what Caruana would choose against his main opening. The U.S. Champion found himself in a worse endgame, but he defended tenaciously and drew the resulting opposite color bishop. Caruana  remains half a point behind the tournament leader and will face him tomorrow with the white pieces.

Giri, Anish vs Topalov, Veselin ½

The position looked like a draw but Giri had a space advantage and the kind of position that he could press for a win endlessly with no risk. White first transferred his king to the queenside waiting for the right time to breakthrough on the kingside. Surprisingly, when the opportunity presented itself, Giri continued maneuvering his pieces around instead of going for the throat. The six hour game eventually ended in a draw after Black regrouped his pieces and no longer allowed any breaks. Giri is the only player who has drawn all his games and Topalov is surely satisfied to have finally stopped the bleeding with a draw.

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