Reports | February 15, 2013 20:25

Grenke Classic R8: Caruana survives and beats Naiditsch, increases lead to a point

Grenke Classic R8: Caruana survives and beats Naiditsch, increases lead to a point

Fabiano Caruana is leading by a full point at the Grenke Chess Classic after eight rounds of play in Baden-Baden. The Italian ("half-American, a quarter Italian and a quarter Houdini" – commentator Lawrence Trent) survived a lethal attack on his king and even beat Arkadij Naiditsch, who continues to be part of the only decisive game of the round. You can do the math: Anand-Meier and Fridman-Adams were drawn.

Fabiano Caruana, close to tournament victory

Round 8: History repeats itself

Fabiano Caruana has taken a huge stride towards winning the inaugural GRENKE Chess Classic by once again defeating Arkadij Naiditsch from a lost position. Viswanathan Anand was unable to match the young Italian as he failed to convert an advantage against Georg Meier, while birthday boy Daniel Fridman was happy to stop the rot with a solid draw against Michael Adams.

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

Fridman had suffered two tough losses in rounds 6 and 7 and clearly had few Napoleonic plans for his game against Adams. Until move 12 they were following the game Gawain Jones played against Adams on top board in Round 4 of the recent tournament in Gibraltar. Jones tweeted, “Fridman using an old line against the Nimzo that I played against Mickey in Gibraltar. I managed an edge so Mickey deviated with 12...Qe5”. In that earlier game Adams had castled queenside immediately and ended up worse, though he eventually drew. The most curious moment of today’s game came on move 14.

PGN string

Kramnik and Gelfand are among those who’ve played 14…Qa5+, but Adams saw some ghosts after 15.b4?! and instead came up with 14...Bc6?! Fridman was very puzzled: “The whole idea of this 11.Ne214.Nd4 line is to prevent Bc6, which is why it was surprising that after 20 minutes Mickey played it anyway!” It certainly looked strange to give up the bishop, but after queens were also swapped off any outcome other than a draw looked improbable. Fridman wasn’t complaining: “After two losses in a row you want such a position – not a big risk and if Black makes some inaccuracies…” IM Lawrence Trent offered to commentate in his underpants for Round 9 if the game ended decisively, but fortunately that was avoided (with meteors and asteroids the world has been shaken enough for one day!). Fridman did show an amusing line at the end:

PGN string

“I could have played 35.Kb5 Kc7 36.Ka6 Kb8 and allowed 37...Nc7 mate, but that would be Mickey’s birthday not mine”.

Replay the post-game press conference with Daniel Fridman and Michael Adams

World Champion Viswanathan Anand was downhearted in today’s post-game press conference, lamenting that he’d “blown his game” and spoiled an ending that “must be technically winning, somehow”. In the end he’d been the one who had to find only moves to force a perpetual in a pawn race he described as “a mess – I had no idea what was going on”.

It had all started off very differently. Meier’s pet 7…Nd5 line in the Rubinstein French had been dealt a powerful blow in his first round game against Caruana (GM Dmitry Kryakvin wrote a fine article about that in Russian for the Russian Chess Federation website), so he varied today with 7…Bd6. The opening seemed to go fine for the German except that the World Champion was obviously well-prepared. 16…Kg8 (instead of 16…f5!?) was flagged as a possible inaccuracy by Meier, who’d missed Anand’s later zwischenzug:

PGN string

20.Qg3! After 20…Kh7 21.Bd2 Qa4 (maybe 21…Qa6 was better) 22.b3 White was on top, and there were flashes of the Anand of old as he moved quickly and confidently, for instance playing 29.Ba5 instantly and with a flourish. It was clear the champion felt it would just be a matter of time before he picked up one or more of Black’s pawns and converted a full point. The curious thing, for this observer at least, was that Meier was also playing quickly, with the players reaching the time control with 30 minutes to spare each. He explained afterwards that it wasn’t a case of confidence in his position but simply that it was relatively straightforward to play, and his one idea was to push his h-pawn as he did in the game. Anand regretted playing 40.Bxc5:

PGN string

That allowed Meier to respond 40…Rd1! and use his rook to harass White’s kingside pawns, but it seems Meier was correct to point out that 40.Kc1 wouldn’t be a huge improvement after 40…Be4!. In fact, despite Anand’s disappointment it’s not clear that either player went far wrong in the ending. When Adams and Fridman discussed the game in their press conference they realised it was White who had to be careful as the h-pawn couldn’t be stopped. It looked daunting, but both players had seen the drawing lines:

PGN string

Here 51.Rd5! ensures White also queens and Meier was unable to prevent the white queen and bishop from delivering perpetual check. All in all, despite the misgivings of the participants, it seems it was objectively a well-played game.

Replay the post-game press conference with Viswanathan Anand and Georg Meier

Not for the first time here in Baden-Baden it was Arkadij Naiditsch who ensured the spectators wouldn’t be deprived of spectacular attacking chess, though Fabiano Caruana is fast becoming his nemesis. First Naiditsch only managed to draw an overwhelming position against the Italian in last year’s Dortmund tournament, and now Caruana has twice actually won when all the odds have been stacked against him.

Naiditsch started the game by playing the Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez, which Caruana admitted he hadn’t looked at despite having lost to Naiditsch in the same line back at the 2009 European Team Championship. The Italian knew he was in for a hard day when he realised that after 16.Kh1 his intended 16…Bc5 runs into 17.Nd5!. He was forced to allow 16…Qc6 17.Nd4! Qb6 18.Ndf5! Bc5 19.Qe1!:

PGN string

Caruana could find nothing better than inviting the onslaught with 19…g6!?, though he had no illusions about the solidity of Black’s position. Indeed, after 20.Nh6+ Kg7 21.g4 Bb7 22.g5 Nh5 23.Be5+ f6 24.gxf6+ Nxf6 it turned out White had a clear win:

PGN string

25.Rd1!!, leaving both white knights en prise, was the move. The main line is perhaps 25…Bxe3 26. Rd7+! Kxh6 (26...Kh8 27. Ng4!) 27. Qh4+ Nh5 28.Bg7 mate. Adams commented that the rook move was something that might have been played on general principles, as it’s obviously good to include another piece in the attack. Naiditsch still had a whirlwind attack after 25.Neg4, however, and it was only following 25...Bd4 26.Bxd4 Qxd4 27.Rd1 Qxb2 that the game was turned on its head:

PGN string

After the game a dejected Naiditsch was asked about missed wins and exclaimed, “I think there were 10 – I counted 8, but maybe I missed some!” This was the moment when he felt at least two of them slipped. 28.c3!, blocking the queen, was the move Naiditsch was originally planning to play and was also apparently suggested by Hikara Nakamura, an interested observer of the live commentary. The players also noted 28.Qg3! and despite Houdini’s evaluations Caruana said after the game that he hadn’t seen a defence against either move (by this stage he also had well under a minute a move).

Instead Arkadij played 28.Nxf6????? (the question marks are his own), when after 28…Qxf6 29.Ng4 Qf4! it was Black who was in the driving seat. Naiditsch’s best bet was perhaps to exchange off queens and try to survive an ending a pawn down, but he decided his best chances were in complications. Caruana didn’t see everything (for instance, 36…Bxg4! 37.hxg4 b4! wins on the spot as White can’t defend f3), but he saw enough. The last truly tense moment came when Caruana had 30 seconds left to make the time control:

PGN string

Caruana saw the spectacular 40…Rd8!, but he was worried he’d missed something after 40…Nd7 c5! (he hadn’t!). All his good work could have been undone with 40…Qh6?, but he kept his full advantage with 40…Qf5! Caruana felt afterwards that he’d made things difficult for himself at the end, but not for the first time in this tournament when you check the moves with a computer it turns out he played with computer-like precision. He may be living dangerously, but don’t believe anyone who suggests the Italian’s success is down to luck.

Replay the post-game press conference with Arkadij Naiditsch and Fabiano Caruana

So with only two rounds to go Fabiano Caruana now leads the World Champion by a full point. Viswanathan Anand Anand will surely have to go all-out to beat Fridman in Saturday’s Round 9 and hope that Caruana can’t beat Adams. The full pairings for the penultimate round are: Anand - Fridman, Meier - Naiditsch and Caruana - Adams. You can follow live coverage on the GRENKE Chess Classic website from 15:00 CET.

The Elo Open prize-giving ceremony (from left to right): Christian Bossert (organiser), Parimarjan Negi,
Etienne Bacrot, Ruben Felgaer, Daniel Fuchs (arbiter), Markus Keller (organiser)

While the GRENKE Chess Classic is just about to reach its climax the Elo Open accompanying the main event ended today. Draws on the top four boards saw French top-seed Etienne Bacrot claim first with 7/9. There was a three-way tie on 6.5, with India’s Parimarjan Negi taking silver and Argentina’s Ruben Felgaer bronze. Tornike Sanikidze from Georgia was unlucky to miss out on a prize on tiebreaks. You can play through a selection of games from the tournament at the GRENKE Chess Classic website and find the full results at Chess-Results.


Games round 8

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 - Fridman
Naiditsch 1-0 Meier   Meier - Naiditsch
Adams ½-½ Caruana   Caruana - 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 8 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.


Morley's picture

Caruana is quite a fortunate player so far in Baden-Baden. He was dead lost before the first time control against Meier in round 6, and in both games against Naiditsch, yet managed to turn what should have been 0/3 into 2.5/3! Something tells me that if he was up against the competition he faced in January, his Grenke score would look a lot like his Tata score. He is a resourceful player, but this poor of time management is going to major stumbling block if he ever wants to contend for the WC.

Really cool game from Anand and Meier. It is amazing that those three outside passed pawns didn't win, kudos to Meier for finding the right resources and even putting some pressure on the World Champ.

Naiditsch ... exciting and very creative, but ridiculously uneven. Looks like we can add him to the list of players who have immense talent and can beat anyone on a good day, but are too unpredictable for their own good ... Moro, Naka, Sasha ...

Thomas Oliver's picture

You have a fair point about "Caruana 2013" - even if a draw might have been the 'correct' result in his first game against Naiditsch: both players missed opportunities, which primarily indicates that the game was complicated. But how come "Caruana 2012" (Tal Memorial, Dortmund, Bilbao) did much better against the type of opposition he faced in January 2013?

Naiditsch - well, as a permanent member of the 2700+ club he is a relative newcomer. He isn't WCh material, does it matter?

Thomas Oliver's picture

For some reason the text didn't pass through, I'll try again: You have a fair point about "Caruana 2013" - even if the 'correct' result of his first game against Naiditsch might have been a draw: both players missed opportunities, the position was complicated ... . But "Caruana 2012" did much better against the very strongest opposition (Tal Memorial, Dortmund, Bilbao).

Jambow's picture

Caruana Naiditsch best game so far imho. Without Naiditsch this would be a real snoozer and inspite of him putting it all out there he is even they should double his appearance fee.

Caruana is playing well maybe not up to his elo performance but better than in Ta Ta by far where he was just playing poorly. A lot of people complain about Carlsen in the same tone as they are Caruana here and that is a compliment in a round about way.

Anand well he pulled off one win in eight games because his opponent wanted to make a fight of it but otherwise Yaaawn.

RRPrice's picture

I think I've finally figured out what is going on in this tournament. Naiditsch thinks it's football scoring and no one else is willing to tell him otherwise as his recklessness might give them the point.

Nima's picture

There was nothing to yawn about in his last game at least. If you prefer kamikaze chess visit your local chess club.

Eadon's picture

Anand is being extremely boring and has been extremely boring for several years. e.g. the match with Gelfand was dull dull dull.
As a world champ, he should be showing off some fireworks not playing like some frightened accountant. I mean, it's not that he doesn't have lots of analysis done for him by his team of helpers.

Anonymous's picture

During the Tata tournament discussion it was already established that Eadon is a Carlsen groupie who doesn't watch games but only results. Amazing what envy does to people..Anand's opposite coloured castling, Ng5-h7 and so much more. It's a pity Eadon has to miss all that because of his prejudice.

Thomas Oliver's picture

"Eadon ... doesn't watch games but only results."
Well said - I would say that Anand's games with black against Fridman and with white against Meier were pretty similar to typical wins of Carlsen. "The only difference" was that Anand didn't win while Carlsen might have won one or both of these games - against Fridman because he would have found the forced win, against Meier because the opponent might have gone wrong.

But a drawn game can still have "content" - and if 'fireworks' means complications, sacrifices and so on, Carlsen is generally as much an accountant as Anand.

Dina's picture

Anand may be declining now but is still one of the greatest world champions.No body can match Anand's achievements. Anand became a world beater on his own without any soviet school help or computer. Anand didn't get many chances during his prime to become world champion but still became a world champion at a late age of 37. While most of the top players were deriding Knockout championships giving excuses, He played and won after accepting the challenge( 1 time he won knockout but lost to karpov, next time he won the world championship , another time he reached semifinal). He accepted round robin challenge and won the world championship.( 1st time he finished second). And ultimately he defended world championship 3 times. Earlier in youth he qualified through old style candidates also. Anand has grown up in an environment where world champion is considered ultimate, So he gives his best when it is called world championship. Among his generation, Ie, Kramnik, Topalov, Ivanchuk, Gelfand, Kamasky, etc. etc. , Anand is the most consistent and outstanding performer in world championships. When you consider all these things, without doubt Anand will definitely figure in top 5 greatest chess players.

redivivo's picture

"without doubt Anand will definitely figure in top 5 greatest chess players"

Without doubt? Then you will have to say that he without doubt is greater than most of Lasker, Kasparov, Karpov, Alekhine, Capablanca, Fischer, Botvinnik, Steinitz, Smyslov etc. I'd rank Anand ahead of for example Kramnik but not by that much and to me Kramnik is very far from top five.

"Anand didn't get many chances during his prime to become world champion"

That depends on how you define many chances or his prime. He played Candidates in 1991, FIDE Candidates 1994-95, PCA title match 1995, FIDE title match 1998, declined the Braingames title match 2000, won FIDE title 2000, tried to defend it in 2001-02 when Ponomariov won, and then shared second with Svidler in the FIDE WC 2005. After that came the successful 2007-2008-2010-2012 sequence, and his prime may have been in 2007-08 when he won Linares and World Championships two years in a row and became #1, that he never had been before. So he did play a fair amount of World Championships.

Anonymous's picture

Where would you rank Carlsen, redivio?

redivivo's picture

Right now not top ten but hard to evaluate since he just turned 22 and has scored results the last five years that not many can compete with. Give him a few more years and I think most people will rank him top ten.

RRPrice's picture

Is asking where a player, who has barely surpassed 20, ranks among the all time great appropriate unless you are willing to limit your comparison to what those you are comparing him to had achieved by a similar age? It you are willing to so limit your comparison, then he would definitely rank among the very best of all time.

It appears as though Carlsen's potential is enormous (we are talking ascension to the highest heights enormous; to the Pantheon to sit with the likes of Capablanca, Lasker etc enormous). And, despite his young age, he has already achieved more than than almost every other currently active player - including players whose careers have lasted decades longer than his currently has.

bronkenstein's picture

+1, well said, very well known and way too often ignored or simply forgotten.People have either short memory or are (much more often) simply unaware of these simple facts.
´Without doubt Anand will definitely figure in top 5 greatest chess players´ - even higher than only top 5 imNSHo, but we need bit of historical distance for that to be widely accepted(having the ongoing hysteria in mind, we will need A LOT of distance =)

What I like the most is his will to play instead of applying political pressure, finding excuses etc. , things we saw too many times by various champs and pretenders throughout the chess history.

Vishy´s choice was simply to play (and win!) instead, letting his pieces speak instead. A choice of gentleman, sportsmen and true World Champion.

redivivo's picture

"´Without doubt Anand will definitely figure in top 5 greatest chess players´ - even higher than only top 5 imNSHo, but we need bit of historical distance for that to be widely accepted(having the ongoing hysteria in mind, we will need A LOT of distance =)"

I'm curious about your list of greatest players ever if you rank Anand even higher than "only top 5".

Heinz's picture

Dina, I don't think so. Anand has defended his title in a few matches, but never been bestt in the world (perhapst best among equals for a short period)
Most of his career he was clearly behind Kasparov, and for a couple of years now, even more clearly behind Carlsen.

PircAlert's picture

Never seen before precision play is characteristic of Anand. He is matchless. What else do you want to call him the greatest ever? He has excellent record in one-on-one official matches. Exceptional speed, not just out of opening phase, in middle and end game is another trade mark of Anand. Anand wasn't afraid to take up challenges in whatever format, knock-out, tournament, match, that was presented to him. Successful titled defenses many times against varied style, opposition and formats. All time top players like Carlsen, Kramnik, Topalov, Nakamura who have fully studied or studied enough his games have great regard for his play. What did Kasparov achieve in comparison? He struggled to beat Karpov whereas a tired Anand without much preparation held Karpov in the classical part in 1998 in a manipulated format. Kramnik thoroughly dominated Kasparov in a time when Kasparov was "supposed" to be at his peak as rating was a reflection of strength in his case. Kasparov was made to duck Anand many times, once when through contract plot by Keene, another when Kramnik asked Kasparov to face Anand, another when Anand himself directly challenged him for match after he won tournament championship. 1995 Kasparov - Anand was a private affair, Anand didn't have a chance to "secure" his seconds/preparation as he had to play under unofficial breakaway terms. He learnt to "secure" his seconds later on, though preparation stealing tricks are evolving nowadays that Anand has to be careful in future. Only superiority Kasparov had over Anand is rating but it hardly counts. To give a comparison, even Caruana lately had higher rating than Anand but his quality is far below Anand as any decent chess player can tell. You can also hype up rating by game fixing. Shorter version performance can support your rating superiority but Kasparov consistently avoided them, shut shop when computer preparations started to dominate and when he couldn't face younger challengers. Early retirements are making even Smyslov look stronger than Karpov, Kasparov in terms of longitivity, as he played challenger match at an age of 63 against Kasparov. But in reality, the olden day competition was so weak. U.S. champion Lev Alburt was able to study a brand new opening in one evening and could play successfully in his title match. Can it happen today? So now to make look Kasparov better, all weak champions are now heading in all time great list?? It is very doubtful Kasparov will be in all time great 10 list.

Why players are taking risks against a 100 points higher Carlsen but not against Anand?

So make no mistake, Anand is the greatest ever in the kingdom of chess!

Andreas's picture

Pirc, why do you spend so much time writing such a nonsense? Someone who considers Kasparov not amont the 10 all time greates has definitely no clue about chess history or is severely bypassed by strange emotions.

PircAlert's picture

Andreas, non-sense?? I can tell upfront 4 players from whose statements at various times you can make out that they don't consider Kasparov any better than them. Anand, Kramnik, Carlsen nad Nakamura! If so, he is sitting right there at 5th place! Karpov, Fischer might consider the same also. I know just a opinion alone won't count but it matters to some extent. In any case, you need to make a case to bring Kasparov into all time top 10. Just keep repeating whatever you have been telling or putting up a case on the basis of popularity won't help.

Top considerations for greatness, in that order:

Quality of play:
1. Accuracy - in opening, middle, end game.
2. Creativity - in opening, middle, end game
3. Brilliancies - in opening, middle, end game
4. Thinking speed - in opening, middle, end game

1. In one on one matches
2. World championship titles
3. Individual encounters
4. World ranking (less consideration as prone to fixing)
5. Tournament wins (less consideration)

Performance in different versions of game:
1. Rapid
2. Blitz
3. Blindfold

Performance in different formats and in varied style of opposition:
1. Matchs, Tournaments, Knock-outs
2. Attacking players, defensive players, 21st century play.

Geniusness of a player:
1. Non manipulatable childhood achievements
2. Simul strength/floor

Top player endorsements:
1. Spontaneous and "wow" type comments from top players

Negative points:
1. Ducking
2. Manipulating
3. Playing politics

Anything manipulatable will have less weightage. For example, 2 players have 8 top category wins. You fix 2 more tournament for one player and make it to a 10 count. In what way will it make one greater than the above?

Where is the critical thinking? So if you want to make a case for Kasparov, please provide statistics on these guidelines to show he is any better than Anand!

PircAlert's picture

Correction: World championship title should be above one-on-one in the order.

chesshire cat's picture

Any you, Pirc, are surely his greatest defender.

PircAlert's picture

Cat, I forget to mention that point about Anand among many other things. He is the greatest defender of all time! He wriggled himself out of almost certain loss at many times.

RealityCheck Sr.'s picture

Hey @PircAlert, R. J. Fisher actually took the time out to meet with WC Anand. I'd gotten the impression Fischer held WC Anand in high esteem. Ok, this shouldn't surprise anyone who knows something about recent chess history.
On the other hand, he wouldn't give GK the time of day. He rebuked him. He didn't want to have a dog gone thing to do with him. What's that tell us?

Frits Fritschy's picture

Im westen nichts neues, at least on the Carlsen- Anand front. Come out of the trenches, guys, this war is going on way too long, no one really hitting anyone. no end in sight. This site is getting pretty boring this way. Just pull out of the discussion, it's not that difficult.

PircAlert's picture

Hi Reality, yeah, very much possible. I would think so too that Fischer would have rated Anand above Kasparov.

Here is another one I forgot to mention about endorsements. That is Gelfand. Here is his qualification to comment, and what he comments about Anand just before the match. "I have studied the games of my opponent thoroughly... Practically, I began preparation a year ago... I invested all my energy in order to be as well prepared as possible for the duel."

"Uncomprimising attack against Anand can be a fatal strategy – he is the born tactician.... The way to beat Anand is PERFECT PREPARATION, good form and a willingness to fight. And some luck..."

Complete interview in link.

Mart Smeets's picture

I guess you must know guys...

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