Grenke Chess Classics 2015: Naiditsch got Carlsen into a sweat!

Grenke Chess ClassicsOnce again, Germany was stage to a world-class tournament! From February 2 to 9 2015, Baden-Baden hosted the Grenke Chess Classic 2015.

The constellation of participants couldn’t have been any more promising:

First of all, the Norwegian World Champion and “Mozart of Chess” Magnus Carlsen with the highest ELO-rating ever recorded in history, 2862 points. For six years, the Germans had been excited to see him play in their country, and it was definitely worth the wait. Carlsen impressed with his performance – 4.5 out of 7 points after the final round and a thrilling tiebreak with the German Grandmaster Arkadij Naiditsch.

After two rounds of each ten minutes plus two seconds per move and two victories of White, another two rounds were necessary to determine the final winner. These additional two rounds lasted only five minutes each plus two seconds per move. Carlsen began the 3rd tiebreak round with the White pieces, but couldn’t avoid another draw. The 4th tiebreak round seemed auspicious for Naiditsch, but nevertheless ended in a draw. The last and decisive round was finally played with six minutes for White and five minutes for Black plus each two seconds per move. Carlsen (playing White) was obviously in advantage and after the highest possible level of suspense, after 32 moves, and at 11.50 p.m. German time the duel ended in Carlson’s favor.

Secondly, the current runner-up in the world rankings (ELO 2820), Fabiano Caruana, was eagerly expected to show at the event. He of all people had the potential to challenge Magnus Carlsen. The Italian is considered a serious favorite for the upcoming World Championship. The 22 year-old won an incredible seven matches in a row at the Sinquefield Cup 2014 and finally won with 8.5 out of 10 points (a total of three points ahead of Carlsen!). His ELO-performance of 3103 is certainly a world record! At the Grenke Chess Classics 2015, he scored 4 out of 7 points and ranked 4th. During the entire tournament he remained undefeated and scored a victory against Aronian.

Thirdly, the Indian Grandmaster Visvanathan Anand (ELO 2797) who is not only the current number five in world rankings, but also title defender at the Grenke Chess Classics. The 45 year-old former World Champion had a great comeback last year when winning the Candidates Tournament in Chanty Mansijsk and qualifying as Magnus Carlsen’s World Championship opponent. Since the devastating defeat at the World Championship duel last November the event in Baden-Baden was his first meet with his biggest opponent Carlsen. After a relatively good start (first three rounds with draws), Vishy had to admit defeat to the World Champion yet again and lost to Aronian in the following round. In the end, he scored only 2.5 out of 7 points, due to another defeat through Adams, and ended up in a disappointing 7th rank.

Fourthly, Levon Aronian with 2797 ELO points and 6th rank in worldwide standings has not fallen behind. The Armenian superstar is multiple World Champion in Blitz Chess and Chess960 and is cherished at home like no other. In May 2012, Levon Aronian was second best player in FIDE world rankings at 2825 ELO points and third best player in history. Recently, his performance has weakened a little, but at the Grenke Chess Classics 2015 he was certainly back in shape: He played draws in five out of seven duels, scored one victory against Vishy Anand, and suffered one defeat against Fabiano Caruana (which is definitely not a shame). With 3.5 points and 5th rank he couldn’t continue his top performance, but left Baden-Baden with a solid impression.

Fifthly, 43 year-old Michal Adams with an ELO-rating of 2738 points who is currently number 17 in world rankings. The Briton was already participant of the 2013 edition of the Grenke Chess Classics and placed 4th. Germany seemed to have brought him luck in the past – he won the Sparkassen Chess Meeting in Dortmund ahead of Vladimir Kramnik. At the Grenke Chess Classics 2015 he scored 4 points and ranked 3rd, ahead of Caruana, Aronian, and Anand. Good job!

Sixthly, Grandmaster Etienne Bacrot who was announced youngest Grandmaster of all time at the early age of fourteen. The seven times French Champion had a powerful start into a promising chess career, but couldn’t keep up with the pace in the long run. Today, the 31 year-old Frenchman holds an ELO of 2711 points and ranks in the Top 50 of the world rankings. Compared to Carlsen, Caruana, Anand, Aronian, and Adams he is far behind on his 36th rank. At the Grenke Chess Classics 2015, he played all seven rounds in draws and ranked 6th in the end. Not quite a surprise.

Seventhly, Arkadij Naiditsch who seriously knows how to cause a stir. The 29 year-old German started at the tournament as rank 38 in worldwide standings and an ELO-rating of 2694. Naiditsch became Germany’s youngest Grandmaster at 15 years old. Highlights of his career were the victory at the Dortmund Chess Days 2005 (over Vladimir Kramnik, Peter Leko, and Michael Adams) and the victory over Magnus Carlsen in 2014 at the Chess Olympics in Tromsö (as a member of the German national team). That this achievement wasn’t pure luck, became obvious when he repeated his incredible performance in round 3 of the Grenke Chess Classics 2015 and beat the World Champion yet again! In round 4 he prevailed over Baramidze and managed to get through the tournament with top-opponents without a single defeat! This extraordinary performance caused him to be equal in points with Carlsen after round 7. What followed was a nerve-wrecking playoff in 5 rounds that seriously got Carlsen into a sweat – unfortunately unsuccessfully. He had to comply with 2nd rank of which he can be very proud.

Eighthly, and lastly, the youngest German national player David Baramidze. The 26 year-old was bottom rank in both start and end rakings with an ELO of 2594 points (number 237 in world rankings). From the very beginning, he was hopelessly inferior. At the Grenke Chess Classics 2014, he ranked second behind Arkadij Naiditsch and thus qualified for this year’s event. Baramidze started off as underdog in Baden-Baden and would have loved to cause one or another surprise, but with his top-class opponents he stood no chance. After two draws a sequence of unfortunate defeats began: Baramidze lost to Adams, Naiditsch, Carlsen, Anand, and Caruana. With 1.5 points he ended up in bottom rank.

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Pairings and Results

1st Round

No.

 

Name

ELO

Score

 

Name

ELO

No.

1

GM

Caruana, Fabiano

2811

½ – ½

GM

Anand, Viswanathan

2797

8

2

GM

Bacrot, Etienne

2711

½ – ½

GM

Baramidze, David

2594

7

3

GM

Aronian, Levon

2777

½ – ½

GM

Carlsen, Magnus

2865

6

4

GM

Adams, Michael

2738

½ – ½

GM

Naiditsch, Arkadij

2706

5

2nd Round

No.

 

Name

ELO

Score

 

Name

ELO

No.

8

GM

Anand, Visvanathan

2797

½ – ½

GM

Naiditsch, Arkadij

2706

5

6

GM

Carlsen, Magnus

2865

1 – 0

GM

Adams, Michael

2738

4

7

GM

Baramidze, David

2594

½ – ½

GM

Aronian, Levon

2777

3

1

GM

Caruana, Fabiano

2811

½ – ½

GM

Bacrot, Etienne

2711

2

3rd Round

No.

 

Name

ELO

Score

 

Name

ELO

No.

2

GM

Bacrot, Etienne

2711

½ – ½

GM

Anand, Visvanathan

2797

8

3

GM

Aronian, Levon

2777

0 – 1

GM

Caruana, Fabiano

2811

1

4

GM

Adams, Michael

2738

1 – 0

GM

Baramidze, David

2594

7

5

GM

Naiditsch, Arkadij

2706

1 – 0

GM

Carlsen, Magnus

2865

6

4th Round

No.

 

Name

ELO

Score

 

Name

ELO

No.

8

GM

Anand, Visvanathan

2797

0 – 1

GM

Carlsen, Magnus

2865

6

7

GM

Baramidze, David

2594

0 – 1

GM

Naiditsch, Arkadij

2706

5

1

GM

Caruana, Fabiano

2811

½ – ½

GM

Adams, Michael

2738

4

2

GM

Bacrot, Etienne

2711

½ – ½

GM

Aronian, Levon

2777

3

5th Round

No.

 

Name

ELO

Score

 

Name

ELO

No.

3

GM

Aronian, Levon

2777

1 – 0

GM

Anand, Visvanathan

2797

8

4

GM

Adams, Michael

2738

½ – ½

GM

Bacrot, Etienne

2711

2

5

GM

Naiditsch, Arkadij

2706

½ – ½

GM

Caruana, Fabiano

2811

1

6

GM

Carlsen, Magnus

2865

1 – 0

GM

Baramidze, David

2594

7

6th Round

No.

 

Name

ELO

Score

 

Name

ELO

No.

8

GM

Anand, Visvanathan

2797

1 – 0

GM

Baramidze, David

2594

7

1

GM

Caruana, Fabiano

2811

½ – ½

GM

Carlsen, Magnus

2865

6

2

GM

Bacrot, Etienne

2711

½ – ½

GM

Naiditsch, Arkadij

2706

5

3

GM

Aronian, Levon

2777

½ – ½

GM

Adams, Michael

2738

4

7th Round

No.

 

Name

ELO

Score

 

Name

ELO

No.

4

GM

Adams, Michael

2738

1 – 0

GM

Anand, Visvanathan

2797

8

5

GM

Naiditsch, Arkadij

2706

½ – ½

GM

Aronian, Levon

2777

3

6

GM

Carlsen, Magnus

2865

½ – ½

GM

Bacrot, Etienne

2711

2

7

GM

Baramidze, David

2594

½ – ½

GM

Caruana, Fabiano

2811

1

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Final Rankings after 7 Rounds
Rank Name ELO RED Points Victory Black Victory
1 GM Carlsen Magnus 2865 NOR 3 1
2 GM Naiditsch Arkadij 2706 GER 2 1
3 GM Adams Michael 2738 ENG 4 2 0
4 GM Caruana Fabiano 2811 ITA 4 1 1
5 GM Aronian Levon 2777 ARM 1 0
6 GM Bacrot Etienne 2711 FRA 0 0
7 GM Anand Viswanathan 2797 IND 1 0
8 GM Baramidze David 2594 GER 0 0

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written by Sarah, translated by Birthe