GRENKE Chess Classic
15 - 22 April 2017

Fighting chess in the final round of the GRENKE Chess Classic

In the last round of the GRENKE Chess Classic, the players once again showed a round full of spectacular games. Although the winner of the tournament Levon Aronian was already crowned with a round to spare, all players were determined to fight for a full point. A rollercoaster game was played by Fabiano Caruana and Levon Aronian, who had a serious advantage, but missed the win in a complicated position. Magnus Carlsen had a strong passed pawn in his game against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, but he could not win his second game of the event. Georg Meier had a slight advantage against Matthias Blübaum, but had to agree with a draw after a perpetual. Hou Yifan and Arkadij Naiditsch shared the point after an interesting game.

Once again, Levon Aronian surprised his opponent in the opening. In an Italian Opening he manoeuvred his knight via d7 to b6, which forced Caruana to think for a long time early in the game. While the American grandmaster thought about his strategy, Aronian took a walk on the stage and had a look at the other games.

Aronian walks around

Caruana reached an acceptable position after the opening and could be pleased with a slight space advantage, but after a pawn sacrifice he could not find the right path to improve his position. He made a terrible blunder instead and lost a piece. "It was a terrible game today, ", Caruana explained in the press conference.

The number 3 of the world battled on with a piece down and managed to promote one of his pawns. However, Aronian did the same and with a rook and a knight up, he had a huge advantage. Because his King was exposed in the center, Aronian suddenly started thinking to find the correct way to a win. After almost 49 minutes he played a move that dramatically changed the evaluation of the position.

Caruana smelled a rat and chased the King down with his Queen and Rook. Aronian had to give up his queen, but with two rooks and a knight he had enough material left to secure a draw. "I am not happy with this game. I had to win this one with such a material advantage“, Aronian said after the game.

Fabiano Caruana and Levon Aronian at the beginning of their game

Georg Meier and Matthias Blübaum played a draw in the last game and shared rank 7 and 8 with 2 points. Meier played e4 and surprised his opponent with a unusual line in the Caro-Kann Defence. "Aronian played this idea two years ago", Meier explained in the press conference.

Georg Meier tested an idea of Aronian

The 29-year old won a pawn against his compatriot and had a small advantage. However, Blübaum got some counterplay and could escape with by giving perpetual check.

Meier and Blübaum puting the pieces at their place

Magnus Carlsen and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave shared the point as well. The world champion played a postional game against the Najdorf and put a strong knight on d5. Carlsen had a pawn majority on the queenside and he concentrated to play on that side of the board.

He managed to create a strong passed pawn on the d-file. However, Vachier-Lagrave could create some counterplay and in the endgame he could hold the endgame with ease. "The event was a bit too short for me. I am not happy with the result and with the quality of my games“, Carslsen said after the game.

Patrick Bittner (Chairman of OSG Baden-Baden) makes the first move of Carlsen - Vachier-Lagrave

Hou Yifan and Arkadij Naiditsch played a very interesting game. Naiditsch chose the French Defence and after the exchange of the queens, a typical French endgame arose. Black exchanged his bad bishop, but had to accept a bad structure with a double pawn. Naiditsch sacrificed the exchange the for a knight, pawn and some activity. 

The Chinese opened the position on the kingside for her rooks, but many pawns were exchanged and in the end the players decided to share the point in an equal position.

Hou Yifan and Arkadij Naiditsch shortly before the start of their game

After the last game, the players and the winner of the GRENKE Chess Classic 2017 were honoured. The organizers were very happy with the event and the total number of visitors. Organizing the Open and the Classic together proved to be a clever move, as the the number of participants in the  GRENKE Chess Open show. With more than 1200 players, the GRENKE Chess Open is the biggest open chess tournament in the world at the moment. Of course, the GRENKE Chess Open will be back in 2018, but the GRENKE Chess Classic will be back as well. The exact dates will be announced at the appropiate time and there will also be some considerations about the lenght and the format of the Classic. 

vlnr.: Sven Noppes (tournament director), Fabiano Caruana, Levon Aronian, Magnus Carlsen, Christian Bossert (chairman Schachzentrum Baden-Baden)

Final standings GRENKE Chess Classic 2017

Standings after seven rounds
1. 1. Aronian, Levon 2774 ** ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 ½ 5.5 4
2. 2. Caruana, Fabiano 2817 ½ ** ½ 1 0 ½ ½ 1 4.0 2
3. 3. Carlsen, Magnus 2838 ½ ½ ** ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 4.0 1
4. 4. Naiditsch, Arkadij 2702 0 0 ½ ** ½ 1 1 ½ 3.5 2
5. 5. Hou, Yifan 2649 0 1 ½ ½ ** 0 ½ 1 3.5 2
6. 6. Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2803 0 ½ ½ 0 1 ** 1 ½ 3.5 2
7. 7. Bluebaum, Matthias 2634 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 ** ½ 2.0 0
7. 8. Meier, Georg 2621 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ** 2.0 0