This year, the GRENKE Chess Classic is a hard-fought event with a lot of decisive games. After the third round, Hou Yifan is still in the lead with 2,5 points after she drew her game against world champion Magnus Carlsen. There were three decisive results in the other games, though. Levon Aronian won a good technical game against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Fabiano Caruana played a wild tactical game against Georg Meier and Arkadij Naiditsch won against Matthias Blübaum. The three winners of today have two points after three rounds.
The last round of the GRENKE Chess Classic in Karslruhe was exciting for the spectators in the packed playing hall. Before the chess circus moves on to Baden-Baden fort he second part oft he tournament, the players obviously decided to leave Karlsruhe with a bang. Levon Aronian played a beautiful technical game against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and won his first game of the tournament. In an English opening the players exchanged the queen and knights early in the game. The 34-year old hero from Armenia had a slightly better pawn structure and he created some long-term opportunities on the kingside.
Second defeat for Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
Because of his superior technical skills, Aronian managed to win this game, after he created a passed pawn on the h-file. „I don’t think that I played a very special game today“, Aronian modestly said afterwards. For him it was not unusual to win a game like this, because he can play these positions like almost no other top player in the world.
Levon Aronian with nice positional game
Still swimming on a wave of euphoria is Hou Yifan. The 23-year old Chinese was surrounded by numerous autograph hunters after her game against Magnus Carlsen. She is always friendly and is happy to sign books or to take selfies with her fans. Magnus Carlsen chose to play the Najdorf Variation of the Sicilian Defence today against the best female player of the world, showing that he was ready for an open fight.
Magnus Carlsen with three draws so far
Hou Yifan reacted well and managed to dominate the important square d5 in the middle game. After she put a rook on that particular square in the center, the experts agreed that she had a slightly better position. However, she did not find a promising continuation to improve her position. Carlsen found a way into an equal rook endgame that ended in draw.
Hou Yifan leads the GRENKE Chess Classic
Fabiano Caruana won his second game in a row. Georg Meier chose to play his beloved Rubinstein Variation of the French Defence against the number three of the world. Caruana managed to create an unbalanced position in the middle game and started a king-side attack. The American sacrificed a knight on e6, which proved to be deadly. Meier played a few more moves, but had no chance to create any counter chances and had to resign.
Fabiano Caruana (left) won against Georg Meier
Arkadij Naiditsch was the third winner of the day. At first, he had to defend for a while with the black pieces against Matthias Blübaum, but he slowly started a counter attack. In a Catalan Opening the German International sacrificed a pawn and became some compensation on the queen side. Naiditsch however, kept his cool and slowly but steadily managed to create some counter chances on the kingside.
It was very instructive to see how Naiditsch managed to improve his position and after he created a passed pawn on the b-file, Blübaum faced some serious problems. He desperately tried to stop the pawn with some tactical tricks, but Naiditsch won the game just after the time control.
Blübaum and Naiditsch highly concentrated
After the rest day on Tuesday, the GRENKE Chess Classic will continue in Baden-Baden on Wednesday. Hou Yifan will try to defend the lead in her game against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The top game of the round will be the encounter between Magnus Carlsen against Fabiano Caruana. You do not often see games between the number one and number three of the world!