The GRENKE Chess Classic moved from Karlsruhe to Baden-Baden for the second part of the tournament after a restday. The game between the highest rated players of the event, Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana ended in a unevenful draw, but the other games in round four had a lot of interesting chess to offer. Levon Aronian took the lead with his win over Matthias Blübaum after the leader after three rounds, Hou Yifan lost against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Arkadij Naiditsch had a good chance to join Aronian at the top of the table, but he could not convert his winning chances against Georg Meier and had to be content with a draw.
It was a but odd to see Magnus Carlsen sitting alone in the playing hall. He arrived much earlier than the other players and had some time left to concentrate on his game against Fabiano Caruana.
Caruana played the Petroff, but Magnus Carlsen changed the position to an unusual French Defence. After the Queen exchange on move 14, Carlsen was tempted to play an move with his knight on the queenside. Caruana had no trouble to neutralize that slightly optimistic move and could equalize the position with ease.
"15.Nb5 was a mistake. I don’t know why I should be better here“, Carlsen said in the press conference and he was slightly annoyed by this move. Carlsen won a pawn, but his position was unbalanced and it was not easy to create an advantage. In an endgame with two rooks and bishops oft he opposite colour, it became clear that the game sooner or later would end in a draw. After 40 moves the game ended with a three-fold move repetition.
Caruana was not impressed by the game and the American was more worried about other everyday problems: „I hope that the weather will improve".
Carlsen against Caruana wasn´t a stunner
Levon Aronian is a hot favorite to win the tournament after his win in round four. He played against Matthias Blübaum and before the game, he could not decide what to play with the black pieces. ‚ It was a spontaneous decision to play the Chebanenko System of the Slav“.
Levon Aronian with a typical pose
Levon Aronian had an easy game against Matthias Bluebaum
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave brought Hou Yifan back to earth. In a Ruy Lopez, the players followed a long forced line, after which the French grandmaster had a slightly better structure and a dominating light piece in the endgame.
Hou Yífan defended very well until move 49, but in a complicated position, her opponent created a passed pawn on the h-file. The 23-year old Chinese thought that the material on the board would not be sufficient for a win. Vachier-Lagrave missed a winning move, but his opponent also missed a study-like possibilty to force a draw. A little later, "MVL" created a passed pawn on the other side of the board that could not be stopped anymore.
"MVL" defeated Hou Yifan
Arkadij Naiditsch almost managed to win his game to share the lead with Levon Aronian. After an extremely tight and exciting game against Georg Meier, in which Naiditsch missed some good chances to win, the grandmasters shared the point. Naiditsch picked a popular opening, the London System, which is often played by amateurs and professionals alike. In an unusual middlegame position, in which both Kings remained in the center, it took 18 moves before a piece was exchanged.
Meier had some advantage on the queenside but Naiditsch tried his luck on the kingside. After the Queens were exchanged, the endgame that arose was better for Naiditsch, who won a pawn. He could have taken another pawn, but he allowed some dangerous counter chances.
Meier activated his king in the rook ending and for a minute, he could even hope for more than a draw. However, that proved to be way too optimistic and after six hours of play, the players called it a day and shared the point.
The longest game of the day ended with a draw
The fifth round of the GRENKE Chess Classic starts on Thursday 20. April at 15:00 CET. Will Arkadij Naiditsch be able to challenge Levon Aronian with the black pieces? Can Hou Yifan beat back after her loss in round four? Can Magnus Carlsen finally win a game after four draws in a row?