Wednesday, 20 March 2013

2013 Candidates, Round 4: Carlsen-Grischuk

Carlsen made it all look absurdly simple
A second successive win for Carlsen puts him in a tie for first place after four rounds of the FIDE Candidates' Tournament. This game, however, was less about him than his opponent. Alexander Grischuk beat himself by indulging his fatal time trouble habit. Yet again a player in this tournament tried to play with a handicap of more than one hour compared with his opponent. The record of the time trouble addicts compared to their more sensible opponents doesn't stack up - so why do they do it? Beats me.
Grischuk beat himself

True, Grischuk is a marvellous blitz player and he pulled out some pretty useful moves under extreme time pressure which might have frightened the pants off a player below his level, but trying such a hackneyed psychological trick against Carlsen is simply bonkers.

The game started with a sideline of the Berlin Ruy Lopez which Grischuk had defended unsuccessfully against Karjakin in a Moscow rapidplay game last month, but Carlsen (who would be fully aware of that) diverged first. He nursed a slight edge whilst Grischuk agonised over his moves and dug a big hole for himself. It was a good game for knights rather than bishops as Carlsen set his horses on the black a-pawn and locked the black clerics up in a rather unsuccessful back rank conclave.

If you are looking for where Black went wrong, the excellent official press release has a big clue: "An important moment was 17…f5, a move disliked by Carlsen. 'I missed a lot of things with this move. I completely overestimated my position. I still think Black is fine but [during the game] I thought Black was better,' said Grischuk.

Grischuk eventually conjured up some tactics which might well have felled a lesser man but Carlsen defused all the tricks and won some material, making it all look absurdly easy. But, as I said at the top, this one was more about Grischuk's bad tactics than anything Magnus did.

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