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London Chess Classic 2016 – Round 7
CHAOS REIGNS IN THE NAJDORF ERA AS NAKAMURA BEATS MVL
London Chess Classic 2016 – Round 7 has been the best round so far for a modest commentators for me.
There are two specific reasons why I venture to say that:
For the first time since the start of the tournament I didn’t have ANY DOUBTS whatsoever about the GAME OF THE ROUND choice. Since Nakamura – MVL game was the most interesting game of the tournament so far, surpassing the Caruana – Nakamura queen sacrifice game from the previous round (analysis of which can be found here)
The afore mentioned game finally allowed me to insert another Warcraft reference, since the richness of the tactical play on the board can rightfully be described with the CHAOS REIGNS
Other than that, London Chess Classic 2016 – Round 7 saw little going on on the other boards. Apart from a slight chance in the Giri – Topalov, which was not used by the somewhat cautious Netherlands player, there weren’t any winning chances for either of the remaining players.
Therefore, it is proper to say that chaos has saved the Round 7 similarly as Warcraft III has saved 7 year olds from boredom.
And not only 7 years old it would seem.
Anyway.. In the remainder of the post we will briefly examine every game played in the round. And afterwards, the detailed analysis with commentary of the game Nakamura – MVL will be given. Hint: Click on any move, and the pop-up board will appear.
ARONIAN – ANAND
One of the serious contenders for the most boring game of the tournament. In the Bf4 line of the Queen’s gambit declined Aronian avoided the trendy 6 c5 continuation and went on with the more modest 6 e3, allowing the Black to carry out his 6… c5 idea. Very soon a symmetrical position was reached, and simplification followed, leaving the bishop vs knight endgame on the board.
Therefore, it is rightfull to say, that not very much happened here.
SO – KRAMNIK
Another not very tense game which followed similar course as the Aronian – Anand game. The very same Bf4 variation of the Queen’s gambit declined was employed, and once again White allowed the “freeing” c5 advance. However, So prefered to take both on c5 and d5, in order to gain control of the d4 square. However, Kramnik masterfuly exploited the weakening of the b5 and combined pressure on the queenside with the d4 breakthrough in the centre.
Once again, a draw was agreed very soon.
ADAMS – CARUANA
Adams – Caruana game from the London Chess Classic 2016 – Round 7 was the first game in the round that brought some excitement. Caruana played the popular g6-Bg7-c5-e5-d6 setup against the English opening. Moreover, he proceeded with a5, in order not to allow the dangerous b4 sacrifice.
Mickey played very well though, and held the initiative throughout the whole game. Ultimately, as a result of his initiative, he managed to win a pawn.
Unfortunately, together with the pawn capture there was also transpotion to the “ULTIMATE COLOURED BISHOPS” endgame, where White didn’t have any winning chances. Therefore, the draw was the only logical result.
GIRI – TOPALOV
Apart from Nakamura – MVL, the most exciting game of the round.
Once again, the opening was the Bf4 queen’s gambit declined. However, in Giri didn’t avoid the confrontation and chose the most critical c5 line of the variation. Both players were prepared, and the structure typical for the variation in question was reached. The position was blocked, but White had active ideas on the kingside connected with a timely g5 breakthrough.
For a number of moves Topa defended accurately and both sides merely shuffled their pieces around. However, on move 50, Topa played the incatious 50… Qa4, which could have allowed 51 g5!! followed by a pawn sacrifice which could have resulted in a winning attack.
Fortunately for Topalov, Giri played catiously, which allowed him to correct his mistake and reach the save heaven of a much needed draw. Thus gaining a respite in this tournament which turned out to be very difficult for him.
NAKAMURA – MAXIME VACHIER LAGRAVE
Finally we have arrived at my favourite game of the tournament so far.
After losing in Round 6 in the Najdorf, Nakamura wanted to play the White side of the opening, since he opened with e4. MVL’s response was very much predictable, as he is the most fervent supporter of the favourite opening of Fischer and Kasparov.
Furthermore, the players repeated the very same variation that was played in the Caruana – Nakamura game, untill MVL deviated first with 13… Bb7.
Nakamura seemed rather prepared, and soon played the very interesting 16 Qh3!?, which casts serious doubts on the entire setup chosen by MVL.
In the tactical skirmish that followed, Nakamura seemed to be always on top, and finally managed to break down MVL’s resistance with a very nice mating combination.
To sum up, wonderful game from the both players. Because MVL always tried to create new problems for Nakamura, and the American was consistent in solving them convincingly.