31 March - 9 April 2018

Caruana wins to join MVL and Vitiugov in the lead

Things got off to a slow start as the GRENKE Chess Classic resumed in the spa town of Baden-Baden after a sunny rest day. After all the crazy encounters we witnessed in Karlsruhe there was very little drama on the boards today as only Caruana could win his game while the four remaining games were drawn without a single mistake to be found anywhere.

The second half of the tournament is being played at the LA8 in Baden-Baden

Going into what was undoubtedly the clash of the day, Carlsen had not beaten Vachier-Lagrave in 6 games and over two and a half years. Playing with the white pieces, Magnus was clearly eager to ‘correct’ this statistic and although Maxime once again showed excellent preparation the World Champion got out of the opening with a slight edge. It looked like a trademark Magnus position where the Frenchman was doomed to suffer in a slightly worse ending, but he held the draw with surprising ease. In his interview Carlsen pinpointed 25.a4 as a possible inaccuracy – you can watch both player interviews as well as them going through the game together on our YouTube channel.

Both players were in high spirits as they joined Peter Leko in the live show

It was only the second ever classical game between Vitiugov and Anand, but the result was the same as a draw was agreed on move 38. While this result is good enough for the Russian to continue jointly leading the tournament, Vishy is still looking for his first win at this year’s GRENKE Chess Classic.

The game between Vitiugov and Anand was very balanced throughout

Despite a difficult start to the tournament and having the black pieces against Aronian, Hou Yifan played a very precise game today and never gave her opponent any chances. A well-earned draw was signed on move 39, where if anything Black is the one with a tiny edge.

Hou Yifan played a very accurate game to hold Aronian with the black pieces

Caruana meanwhile made it a second consecutive win as he got the better of Arkadij Naiditsch. It was one of those games where the engine says the position is equal, but in practice is very unpleasant to play for Black as white’s knight is more active and closer to the opponent’s king. Fabiano later said he thought 28…Ne5 followed by 29…Nc4 was the wrong plan and shortly after Naiditsch grabbed the white pawn on b2 the computer started liking White’s position too. 34…Qxa4 was the final blunder as the black king found himself at the mercy of the strong combination of queen and knight and Naiditsch had to resign on move 42.

Thanks to his victory Fabiano joins MVL and Vitiugov in the lead

That meant that the last remaining game was the all-German clash between Bluebaum and Meier. Matthias was clearly caught out in the opening as he spent over one hour on his first 11 moves, but the clock situation was the only intrigue of this otherwise equal and symmetrical game which ended in a draw on move 44.

The German duel between Bluebaum and Meier ended peacefully

With his victory Fabiano Caruana has joined Vachier-Lagrave and Vitiugov in the lead, on 3/4. Carlsen and Aronian trail them by half a point, while oddly enough there is nobody on 50%. Anand and Bluebaum are on 1.5/4, while Naiditsch, Hou and Meier are on 1/4. In tomorrow’s 5th round two of the tournament leaders will be involved in big games as Vachier-Lagrave is White against Aronian and Caruana Black against Anand. Vitiugov will lead the black pieces against Hou Yifan, as will Carlsen against Meier and finally Naiditsch will be looking to bounce back as he is White against Bluebaum.

The remaining five rounds will all kick off at 3pm CEST and you should make sure to tune into our live show with commentary by GMs Peter Leko and Jan Gustafsson.

Text and photos: Fiona Steil-Antoni

Player interviews on the official YouTube channel