Round 1. Report
The most dramatic game of the round. The leader of the Grand Prix mixed up something in a fashionable line of the Chebanenko System and ended up in a bad position. “I tricked myself in the opening, playing …b6 and …Bb7. After that it was a one-sided game up to a certain point, when I just got extremely lucky. A small inaccuracy basically cost a game for White! If he played perfectly, I would have a hard time putting up any resistance, not to mention winning the game. My position was totally lost strategically, so I decided to create complications at all costs.” (Evgeny Tomashevsky)
Black directed his knight to the enemy camp, sacrificing a pawn for activity. White only needed to show some accuracy, however, Jobava reacted carelessly and missed a powerful central blow. “This was my only chance”, said Tomashevsky. “After that the game kind of started over. Black was not worse, and my time trouble was not that important anymore. I got very lucky there and on the next few moves, too.”
Baadur Jobava: “I just did not see 26…Bf5 as a legal move. Then I lost control of the position, but continued playing for a win, which was another mistake.”
Tomashevsky parried a badly prepared attack of his opponent, started a counterattack and delivered mate to the enemy king.
According to Jakovenko, the relatively rare plan with 5.Qa4+ against the Razogin Defense was suggested by his second Denis Khismatullin. White got the bishop pair, Black, in return, centralized his knights to active positions. The key moment occurred on the 19th move: White offered a pawn for opening files and activating his pieces. Black should have refused the offer and support his knight with the e5-pawn. However, Anish Giri was overly optimistic, as he grabbed the pawn, allowing his opponent to create strong central pressure.
White’s threats continued to grow, and the Dutch grandmaster had to return the material with interest. In a four-rook ending White had an extra pawn and a better position. The Russian grandmaster conducted the technical stage perfectly and celebrated a win.
Peter Svidler responded to the queen’s pawn opening with the Queen’s Gambit Accepted, and went for a rare plan with 3…a6. Alexander Grischuk was unable to create real problems for Black. After multiple exchanges the players agreed to a draw in a symmetrical endgame on the 31st move.
At the press-conference Svidler agreed it was not the most interesting game, and added: “I have a broken arm, as you can see – I cannot even use the mouse to show variations, so making a draw as Black in such condition is a good result. Generally, I employ this variation once a year – once in 2013, once in 2014, and today was the first time in 2015. I guess people tend to forget that sometimes I can play like this, and do not repeat it at home.”
Grischuk: “Me score against Peter Svidler is 1-7, which I consider a decent result for me, so I try playing very solidly against him. I do remember he played this line against Levon Aronian, and I have some ideas about it prior to the game, and eventually decided to play something else.”
It often happens in modern chess: a very sharp opening – the Dragon Sicilian in this case – only leads to quick simplifications. However, White had a slight advantage in the resulting endgame, and accepting a draw on the move 30 may was a bit premature – hee could have tried playing for a win a little longer.
Sergey Karjakin: “I did not expect Hikaru opting for this variation, although I do remember some of his Dragon masterpieces. He was well prepared, and we arrived at an approximately equal ending almost by force.”
This was one of the most complicated and thrilling games of the round. It contained a heated opening discussion, an exchange of blows in a sharp middlegame, a positional sacrifice… The Rossolimo Sicilian soon transposed to a position that resembled a Paulsen or a Scheveningen Sicilian, only with a black knight on g6 instead of f6. White started a kingside attack, not fearing to sacrifice material, and Black responded by a counterattack in the center.
Wild tactical complications led to a position with an extra pawn to White, however, Black’s powerful bishop on b7 was much stronger than the enemy knight. Black started creating dangerous threats, and the French grandmaster decided to avoid further problems and forced a draw by perpetual on the 33rd move.
If you were worried about not seeing a single Berlin in the first round, you were wrong! The Cuban grandmaster improved Black’s play in Caruana-Carlsen, Baden-Baden 2015, and got a good game. White nicely arranged his pieces, infiltrated the d5-square with his knight, however, did not create any real threats and soon had to initiate simplifications. In less then 10 moves all the pieces except opposite-colored bishops left the board, and a draw became inevitable.