A perfect start of the GRENKE Chess Classic 2017 for Hou Yifan. The best female chess player in the world also won her second game. She is the sole leader of the tournament with two points. Fabiano Caruana came back with a win over Arkadij Naiditsch, and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave won his first game of the event with a win against Matthias Blübaum. Magnus Carlsen had some good chances against Levon Aronian but had to be content with his second draw oft he tournament.
The second round of the GRENKE Chess Classic saw some capricious and inspired games. The game between Georg Meier and Hou Yifan is a good example. Meier played a Catalan and became a good position after the opening. Hou Yifan had to improvise in the middle game but the 29-year old German showed some good play and his advantage increased. However, Meier could not find the right solution to convert his advantage.
Even worse, in time trouble his advantage slipped and Hou Yifan could quickly set up an attack. She sacrificed a knight and with her queen and a rook she attacked the white king. „I was really lucky today“, the Chinese ace modestly admitted after the game.
Fabiano Caruana was obviously not impressed by his loss in the first round an won with the black pieces against Arkadij Naiditsch in the second round. After 1.e4 e5 Naiditsch chose to play 2.Lc4, the Bishops Opening. In the middle game Caruana got a slightly better position and installed a mighty knight on e5.
In time trouble, Caruana increased the pressure after he opened the f-file and attacked the white king with his heavy pieces. " I think that we both played for a win today, but in time trouble I got the upper hand. …..f5 was an important move.“
Fabiano Caruana vs. Arkadij Naiditsch
Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian played a Ruy Lopez in which the Armenian quickly started an attack on the king side. The world champion opened the b-file and tried to open the position. Carlsen missed a good chance to get a material advantage just before the first time control.
An interesting endgame in which Aronian only had a queen against a rook, knight and an a-pawn could not be won by Carlsen, who tried to push for a win for a long time. The world champion cannot be happy with the draw, because he had good winning chances.
The longest game of the day was played by Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Matthias Blübaum.
The 26-year old Frenchmen played an improved variation of a Reti opening he played earlier. Blübaum defended well, but after 30 moves he was a pawn down. Vachier-Lagrave took his time and he was able to convert his advantage after more than six hours of play.