Round 2: Naiditsch beats Adams after epic battle

Arkadij Naiditsch emerged victorious after a rollercoaster 7-hour game that saw the German no. 1 and Mickey Adams jockey for the initiative. That game overshadowed the sharp contest between Viswanathan Anand and Fabiano Caruana, where the young apprentice unleashed some more deep preparation to hold the champion at bay.


The game of the round sparked into life on move 26, when Adams attacked Naiditsch’s queen:



The German responded with the spectacular 27.Rxd5!, which Adams admitted he simply blundered. The minor problem is that taking the queen sees Black mated after 27…Rxf4?? 28.Rd8+ Kh7 29.Ng5+ Kh6 30.exf4!. Surprisingly, however, the position was still balanced, and after a passage of play in which both players rejected a draw by repetition it was Black who emerged with an extra pawn.



Adams confessed afterwards (for the second day in a row!), “I had no idea what was going on”. At first it seemed as though Naiditsch, angry at letting his earlier edge slip, was making the classic mistake of pushing too hard for a win, but towards the second time control Adams found himself in danger. He thought it was already tough for a human to hold and considered himself practically lost after 50…fxe5. That explained his decision to jettison the exchange:



56…Rxf3?! It was still all to play for, but Adams now had to tread a tightrope while Naiditsch was scenting blood. Exhaustion and time pressure finally had their way, and Mickey offered his hand on move 79. The players somehow found the energy to appear for a post-game press conference with IM Lawrence Trent, hours after the two other games had finished drawn.


 Replay the post-game press conference with Arkadij Naiditsch and Michael Adams



Fabiano Caruana’s difficulties in last month’s Wijk aan Zee started with an early loss with the black pieces against Vishy Anand. Although that could of course happen to anyone, things soon went from bad to worse. When the dust had settled the young Italian had lost five games and almost 25 rating points, dropping not only out of the world Top 5 but also the Top 10. Caruana told the GRENKE Chess Classic press team that his performance there was the result of a whole combination of factors. One was that he was unwell for most of the event, but he was also without his coach Vladimir Chuchelov, who was focussing on one of his other students, Anish Giri.

Vladimir is in Baden-Baden for Fabiano alone, and a repetition of the Wijk aan Zee scenario doesn’t seem to be on the cards. For the second day in a row Caruana demonstrated deep preparation and surprised the World Champion with 20…a5!?, a move Vladimir had recommended the night before instead of the previous grandmaster choice of 20…Nxg4. Vishy at first continued to play relatively quickly, but he lived to regret it – lamenting his “careless” 22.Ne3, which allowed Caruana to equalise with 23…d5! (Anand in the press conference: “I should have at least thought about this”):



In the play that followed Caruana emphasised that both sides had a lot of options and he’d barely looked at Anand’s 25.Qb1. He thought his 26…Rad8 “maybe wasn’t the best” as White had some pressure after 27.a4! but after the crucial 28…e4! he was visibly confident in his position as he left the stage.



For a while it seemed as though the Italian might have a strong initiative against the white king, but the champion used all his experience to bring the game to a rock-solid draw. Anand joked about the near-symmetrical final position, “I thought here I was pushing him back, but it’s not up to much”.


Replay the post-game press conference with Viswanathan Anand and Fabiano Caruana



The second game to finish was the 26-move draw between German grandmasters Daniel Fridman and Georg Meier. Fridman is a very funny man, and greeted IM Lawrence Trent in the press conference with, “you didn’t fall asleep?” It wasn’t spectacular chess to watch, but what emerged from the press conference was an insight into the subtleties that decide matters in the higher echelons of world chess. Meier revealed that “a lot happened in the early moves”, as Fridman managed to use a move-order trick to play a line of the Nimzo-Indian that Meier had successfully avoided in last year’s Dortmund tournament. Meier was left struggling to remember the analysis he’d done as a junior, while Fridman… claimed he hadn’t expected to succeed and also couldn’t remember the line!

The turning point in the game perhaps came on move 14. Fridman wasn’t yet low on time, but he explained his reasoning for playing 14.Bb4 instead of potentially more promising moves: “In some ways I just believed him. If I started to calculate all the variations I might play the same Bb4 but without time on the clock.” After that there was a lively tactical sequence featuring the nice zwischenzug 15.Qd4



…but the game never left the bounds of equality and finished in a logical repetition of moves. Georg Meier is off the mark in Baden-Baden!


Replay the post-game press conference with Daniel Fridman and Georg Meier


The highlight of Saturday’s Round 3 looks set to be the battle of the leaders: Caruana – Naiditsch. Will Naiditsch’s satisfaction at winning be enough to overcome the exhaustion of today’s game? In the same fixture in Dortmund last year the Italian escaped by the skin of his teeth. Full pairings:

Adams – Fridman
Caruana – Naiditsch
Meier – Anand

The games can be watched live with video commentary by IM Lawrence Trent on the GRENKE Chess website from 15:00 CET:

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