Reports | February 16, 2013 22:52

Grenke Classic: Anand catches Caruana in wild penultimate round

In a wild penultimate round with three decisive games, Vishy Anand caught Fabiano Caruana in first place at the Grenke Chess Classic. The World Champion beat Daniel Fridman with White in a Petroff, while Caruana lost with White against Mickey Adams in a Closed Catalan. Georg Meier won against Arkadij Naiditsch in a Bogo-Indian and moved to shared third place.

The playing hall on Saturday

Round 9: Anand catches Caruana

The script of the GRENKE Chess Classic had seemed set in stone – a single decisive game a day, the World Champion struggling to win and Caruana surviving scares on his way to an inevitable first place – but in the penultimate round that script was tossed out of the window. Caruana fell to defeat against Adams, Anand joined him in the lead by beating Fridman, and Naiditsch was tamed by Meier.

Report: Colin McGourty | Photos: Georgios Souleidis | Videos: Macauley Peterson

The tiger from Madras has at times exhibited the frustration of a caged animal here in Baden-Baden, but he remains unbeaten and today chose the perfect moment to pounce. Although Anand was giving little away in the press conference, his victory over Daniel Fridman was obviously cooked up in his home laboratory.

Fridman had out-prepared Fabiano Caruana in the fashionable 5.Nc3 line of the Petroff in Round 5, but this time it was Anand who sprang a surprise in the classical main line. 20.Ra2 was a deviation on a 2009 game between Vladimir Akopian and one of Anand’s current seconds, Rustam Kasimdzhanov (who for that game was seconded by Fridman himself!). After 20…b6 21.Rae2 Fridman took the bait, noting that capturing the pawn was the point of his 20…b6, so it was a little late to turn back now:

PGN string

21…Bxa3!? Vishy’s venomous response was 22.Bg4!! which Fridman said he’d “blundered”, although GM Jan Gustafsson on the live commentary said such a quiet move was far from an obvious follow-up to the pawn sacrifice. The natural 22…Bxg4? loses instantly to 23.Nf6+!. Houdini recommends the madness of 22…Be6! 23.Bxh6! Bxg4 24.Nf6+!… and at least initially claims a draw. Fridman’s 22…Rf8 was a decent human response, but after 23.Bxf5 Qxf5 24.Bxc7 Anand had re-established material equality while retaining an attack on Black’s uncoordinated forces. It was only after 24…Rd7 25.Be5! f6 26.Ng3 Qe6 27.Qa4, however, that the outcome of the game was determined:

PGN string

27…fxe5! would have left Black only a pawn down, but Fridman’s 27…Nc4? ran into 28.Bd6! (he was only expecting 28.Bxf6). If 28…Qxd6 29.Qxc4+ Kh7 Black’s problem is that 30.Ra2 (and countless other moves) win the homeless a3-bishop – yet another reason to regret taking the poisoned pawn! In the game after 28…b5 Black was simply an exchange down, and things could have ended very quickly.

PGN string

Fridman turned interviewer in the post-game press conference: “My main question about the game is why didn’t you just play 33.Rxb6! axb6 34.Ne2! and resigns?” Anand had a good rejoinder – “I never know what’s going to make my opponents resign,” but then admitted he’d simply missed that trick to trap the bishop. It made precious little difference. Anand played 33.Ra6, saying his plan was just “to sit there and hold it tight,” and he did, with Fridman eventually resigning on move 47.

 Replay the post-game press conference with Viswanathan Anand and Daniel Fridman

Georg Meier probably wants this tournament to go on and on as his play, and especially his preparation, is improving by the round. He said Naiditsch had wanted to surprise him, but he was ready with the novelty 11.b3 (improving on a game Le Quang Liem had won after playing 11.Qf4 against Mickey Adams at the 2012 Olympiad) and had prepared the position up to 12.Ne5. Visually it looked nothing much for White, but Meier afterwards kept emphasising his long-term pressure, adding, “Black doesn’t have a clear plan and I have a ton of moves to improve my position”. The crisis came after 25…Na8?!

PGN string

White was finally able to play 26.e4! and Naiditsch lashed out with 26…g5!? (a move he manages to make in most of his games with Black!), although here it was born of desperation. Meier explained there was little else Black could do about White advancing his f-pawn. Naiditsch’s brief flurry of activity on the kingside only resulted in his having to sacrifice an exchange to avoid positional strangulation. Meier summed it up: “I got everything I could dream of and just had to calculate a straightforward win”.

The finishing touch to Meier’s strategic triumph came just after the time control:

PGN string

42.Rd1! White threatens mate after either white rook goes to d8, and Naiditsch could only avoid the mate by entering a trivially lost rook vs. knight ending. Meier was of course happy to claim his second win, but he had some slight regrets: “I’m a little bit sad – I’d prefer to take points off Fabiano than off my friends”.

Replay the post-game press conference with Georg Meier and Arkadij Naiditsch

The last game to finish was a fiendishly complex Catalan battle between Fabiano Caruana and Michael Adams. In terms of the tournament standings the young tournament leader really only needed a draw. When he avoided a possible repetition guest commentator Jan Gustafsson joked that, “there’s something in the code of a 2750 GM forbidding early repetitions with the white pieces”. As the game went on it became clear Fabiano wanted to win, and his 25.g4!? was already double-edged.

Mickey Adams said afterwards that 31.f3-f4?! had been a strategic error:

PGN string

He felt Caruana was hoping to win the d5-pawn but had underestimated 31…Qe6! when the focus switches to the e3-pawn and it’s White on the defensive. Adams later played Bf6-h4-f2 to up the pressure, and although Caruana managed to hold things together until the time control his draw offer after 41.Nxe4 was a little optimistic. Adams saw that he was running no risks by continuing 41…dxe4 42.Qd1 Qf7! (a multi-purpose move that stops Qh5, hits b3 and prevents d5) 43.Rg1 Kh7. Adams played this last move because, in his words, “it’s very hard for White to make a move that doesn’t lose material”. Sure enough, Caruana went wrong immediately with 44.Qe1?

PGN string

It was a tense moment for the audience watching both in the hall and on-line, but Adams had actually been contemplating the winning 44…Ne5! for a few moves now. White’s position collapsed like a house of cards: 45.Qb1 Ng4 46.h3 Nf2+ 47.Kh2 Qh5 48. Kg3

PGN string

Black had all kinds of ways to take home the full point, but there was absolutely nothing wrong with Adams’ choice of 48…Nxh3! 49.Bxh3 Rg6+. As he said after the game, “after so many rounds without a win I was very happy when I saw a safe continuation.”

Replay the post-game press conference with Mickey Adams

Round 9 wreaked havoc on the tournament standings. Not only are Anand and Caruana now locked together on 5.5 points, but the only other players with a chance of catching them on the final day are Adams and Meier – something you would have given long odds against just a round or two ago.

Naiditsch and Fridman have no winning chances, but they still have an absolutely crucial role to play. Fridman, known for his solidity, has the white pieces against Caruana, while Naiditsch, whose fighting chess has made him the man of the tournament, has White against the World Champion. In case of a tie for first place a play-off will be played.

Fridman - Caruana
Adams - Meier
Naiditsch - Anand

Don’t miss the live coverage of the final games on Sunday 17 February. Play starts two hours earlier than usual at 13:00 CET!

Games round 9

PGN file

Grenke Chess Classic 2013 | Pairings & results

Round 1 07.02.13 15:00 CET   Round 6 13.02.13 15:00 CET
Naiditsch ½-½ Fridman   Fridman 0-1 Naiditsch
Adams ½-½ Anand   Anand ½-½ Adams
Caruana 1-0 Meier   Meier ½-½ Caruana
Round 2 08.02.13 15:00 CET   Round 7 14.02.13 15:00 CET
Fridman ½-½ Meier   Meier 1-0 Fridman
Anand ½-½ Caruana   Caruana ½-½ Anand
Naiditsch 1-0 Adams   Adams ½-½ Naiditsch
Round 3 09.02.13 15:00 CET   Round 8 15.02.13 15:00 CET
Adams ½-½ Fridman   Fridman ½-½ Adams
Caruana 1-0 Naiditsch   Naiditsch 0-1 Caruana
Meier ½-½ Anand   Anand ½-½ Meier
Round 4 10.02.13 15:00 CET   Round 9 16.02.13 15:00 CET
Fridman ½-½ Anand   Anand 1-0 Fridman
Naiditsch 1-0 Meier   Meier 1-0 Naiditsch
Adams ½-½ Caruana   Caruana 0-1 Adams
Round 5 11.02.13 15:00 CET   Round 10 17.02.13 13:00 CET
Caruana ½-½ Fridman   Fridman - Caruana
Meier ½-½ Adams   Adams - Meier
Anand 1-0 Naiditsch   Naiditsch - Anand

Grenke Classic 2013 | Round 9 standings


Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


Septimus's picture

Anand does not forgive mistakes. You could hear the collective groan of a million people after Nf3 Nf6 and things were quite calm until move 21. I think Bxa3 may have been critical move where Black slipped up.

We should have a cracker of a round tomorrow Nadisch vs Anand!

Ruben's picture

The slip was 22...Rf8?+- 21...Bxa3!? was playable after 22.Bg4! Be6! wich complications but still holdable to a draw for black. Although 21...Be6 direct was also possible and maybe less risky.
But 21...Bxa3 was very principle and I think right.

Talekhine's picture

How dare you attach a question mark to Rf8. This move is "a decent human response". ^^

slymnlts's picture

I know this report is from the official website but Anand exhibiting "the frustration of a caged animal'? Isn't it a bit too far?

das's picture

anand played well throghout the tournament..caruana who is inconsistent throughout has played well against vishy . also meir had good games against him..anyway i am hoping for him to win it by beating naiditich tomorrow

Morley's picture

Great game from Anand. Fridman seemed unable to find a plan out of prep and Anand never let his advantage slip.

Caruana ended up actually losing a lost position. Twist! The last round should be interesting.

Anonymous's picture

More players than spectators?! The MUST be some trick to get people inside to sit and watch quietly. If I think of one I'll let you know.

Ruben's picture

It is a pitty Anand and Fridman analysing the position that is allready lost and not the critical 22...Be6

Bartleby's picture

I think there was a certain amount of intent involved. The line might still be good enough for using some homework.

PircAlert's picture

Seems like Anand is producing some classic games!

From chessbase report:
"Fridman turned interviewer in the post-game press conference: "My main question about the game is why didn't you just play 33.xb6axb634.e2!and resigns?" Anand had a good rejoinder - "I never know what's going to make my opponents resign," but then admitted he'd simply missed that trick to trap the bishop. It made precious little difference."

I never for a moment believe Anand missed that trick. I was watching and I noted that move, maybe because the computer analysis was showing that one up. But I didn't like the RxNb6 capture as it could easily lead to a R+N+3P vs R+3P with pawns on same side, which won't make the opponent give up easily. I guess Anand's first part of answer was correct and to the point.

PircAlert's picture

It is very much possible he didn't care to calculate an exchange sacrifice to trap a piece and opted for simple chess when he had simply an winning advantage to press home. But that is different from taking it as missing a trick.

redivivo's picture

Does anyone recall someone playing a higher number of mistakes in a tournament than Caruana has done here and still be in the lead before the last round? He was totally lost in both games he won against Naiditsch, as well as with black against Meier, had a bad position in a couple of other games and then finally lost badly against Adams after several blunders in a row.

RG13's picture

Kasparov was known for winning from lost positions - he would create complications which frequently led his opponents astray.

redivivo's picture

"Kasparov was known for winning from lost positions"

It wasn't often Kasparov reached lost positions after making lots of blunders, usually his deep opening preparation ensured that he had an advantage throughout the game.

Caruana's play here has been unusual for him. He has made at least a dozen serious blunders only in his games against Naiditsch, Meier and Adams. He is usually quite accurate (as anyone having a career score of 2-0 against Kramnik must be), but still seems to be in no better form than in Tata where he finished 12th of 14.

PircAlert's picture

RG13, that is news to me! Do you have example games?

RG13's picture

It is called a swindle and I don't know how to search for such positions. However I will amend my statement to "It amazed me how often Kasparov was able to convert UNCLEAR positions."

PircAlert's picture

You would lose confidence when you get a equal or playable position out of opening only to not calculate enough or miscalculate to lose on more than one occasions in the same tournament. But I think the expectation is due to his high rating from previous high performances. I think he will stabilize and then will improve his rating as he is still very young.

redivivo's picture

Caruana had a great 2012, winning Dortmund and being second in Tal Memorial and Wijk, so he certainly has the capacity to become an even greater player than he already is. Funny though that he had a dead lost position in at least a dozen (!) of his last 20 games, most of them against opponents rated very far below him.

Thomas Oliver's picture

These 20 games were all played in 2013 (13 in Wijk aan Zee, 8 so far in Baden-Baden) - so it may well be that Caruana hasn't yet fully recovered from Tata Steel, his first bad event in a long time. But it does characterize a strong player that he can do rather well even when he is out of form (Caruana in Baden-Baden).

RG13 above might mean, for example, Topalov rather than Kasparov - or, longer ago, Mikhail Tal.

AAR's picture

Please bring back the old system of reporting - embed the analysis in the playlist along with the moves.
In the new system, we have to scroll up and down for viewing the analysis and the play.

choufleur's picture

Very nice win by Adams in his trademark deep positional style - I enjoyed it a lot !

Thomas Oliver's picture

Not to criticize Colin's report, but another introductory paragraph might have included the German saying "aller guten Dinge sind drei" - hard to translate, maybe "count to three for justice".
Anand had a winning position in his first game against Fridman and an optically better but not quite winning position with white against Meier - anyone who plays tournament chess himself might have gone through the same thing, it can be frustrating ... . Now he scored a full point from a game that went according to the same script - including the opponent's intention to play as solidly as possible.
Caruana had lost positions in his second games against Meier and Naiditsch - I wouldn't count the first game against Naiditsch, a seesaw affair where both players made several mistakes or inaccuracies. Now he was (much) worse for the third time and 'finally' lost.

Mike's picture

Vishy only lives depending on his home preparation! Against a player where he cannot guess the opening and over 2750 he has no chance to play such a game whatsoever

PircAlert's picture

haha.. Did you see the laboratory preparation until the end game today?! ;) That is why Anand is the greatest player of all time! A win from a 0 eval middle game position against someone considered by quite a few as a 2750 class talented player.

PircAlert's picture

haha.. Did you see the laboratory preparation until the end game today?! ;) That is why Anand is the greatest player of all time! A win from a 0 eval middle game position against someone considered by quite a few as a 2750 class talented player.

Sergio Henrique Riedel's picture

A good chance for Vishy win a major event...

redivivo's picture

Not the most major event in his career though.

Sergio Henrique Riedel's picture

I realy like the way that Naiditsch plays!!

hansie's picture

Anand beats Naiditsch again!

hansie's picture

Anand beats Naiditsch again!

S3's picture

Yes. Funny to re-read the dumb posts of Eadon, andreas, jocky, kronsteen, RRprice, Mike, Septimus, and redivio who all said Anand was a failure halfway the tournament.

redivivo's picture

Making things up again? I haven't called Anand a failure, +1 after 8 rounds was not something he can have been content with though. +3 in the end would be a good result for him, I recall saying, and that's what he got. The field wasn't too strong but he did well.

redivivo's picture

Halfway through the tournament I wrote that Anand was doing OK with his +1 but that the tournament isn't all that strong and that he would need a couple of wins for the tournament to be a success. He got those wins in the last rounds and did well. I can see why you think it is more fun to lie about what I have written though, I'm used to that.

RG13's picture

Caruana avoided a repetition against Adams even though a draw would have guaranteed him at least shared 1st. At least he learned to respect James Bond. ;-)

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