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GRENKE Chess Classic Tournament

Levon Aronian5.5/7(+4 -0 =3)[view games]
Magnus Carlsen4/7(+1 -0 =6)[view games]
Fabiano Caruana4/7(+2 -1 =4)[view games]
Yifan Hou3.5/7(+2 -2 =3)[view games]
Arkadij Naiditsch3.5/7(+2 -2 =3)[view games]
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave3.5/7(+2 -2 =3)[view games]
Matthias Bluebaum2/7(+0 -3 =4)[view games]
Georg Meier2/7(+0 -3 =4)[view games] Chess Event Description
GRENKE Chess Classic (2017)

The 2017 GRENKE Chess Classic was an 8-player round-robin held in Germany from April 15-22. Levon Aronian dominated the field, finishing a point and a half in the lead.

The first 3 rounds were in Karlsruhe alongside the GRENKE Chess Classic (Open) (2017), then after a rest day the last 4 rounds are in Baden-Baden. The field featured World Champion Carlsen and fellow Top 10 players Caruana, Vachier-Lagrave and Aronian, as well as women's no. 1 Hou Yifan.

The time control was 100 minutes for 40 moves, then 50 minutes for 20 moves and then 15 minutes to the end of the game, with a 30-second increment from move 1. If players were tied for first place a rapid play-off would take place. (1)

Official site:

(1) chess24: GRENKE Chess Classic

 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 28  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Yifan Hou vs Caruana 1-040 2017 GRENKE Chess ClassicC67 Ruy Lopez
2. M Vachier-Lagrave vs Naiditsch 0-143 2017 GRENKE Chess ClassicC11 French
3. Aronian vs G Meier ½-½41 2017 GRENKE Chess ClassicA06 Reti Opening
4. M Bluebaum vs Carlsen ½-½59 2017 GRENKE Chess ClassicE90 King's Indian
5. G Meier vs Yifan Hou 0-134 2017 GRENKE Chess ClassicE01 Catalan, Closed
6. M Vachier-Lagrave vs M Bluebaum 1-074 2017 GRENKE Chess ClassicA06 Reti Opening
7. Naiditsch vs Caruana 0-140 2017 GRENKE Chess ClassicC28 Vienna Game
8. Carlsen vs Aronian ½-½70 2017 GRENKE Chess ClassicC84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
9. Yifan Hou vs Carlsen ½-½38 2017 GRENKE Chess ClassicB90 Sicilian, Najdorf
10. Aronian vs M Vachier-Lagrave 1-042 2017 GRENKE Chess ClassicA04 Reti Opening
11. Caruana vs G Meier 1-035 2017 GRENKE Chess ClassicC10 French
12. M Bluebaum vs Naiditsch 0-144 2017 GRENKE Chess ClassicE04 Catalan, Open, 5.Nf3
13. Naiditsch vs G Meier  ½-½68 2017 GRENKE Chess ClassicD02 Queen's Pawn Game
14. M Bluebaum vs Aronian 0-146 2017 GRENKE Chess ClassicD10 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
15. Carlsen vs Caruana ½-½40 2017 GRENKE Chess ClassicC42 Petrov Defense
16. M Vachier-Lagrave vs Yifan Hou 1-068 2017 GRENKE Chess ClassicC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
17. Aronian vs Naiditsch 1-058 2017 GRENKE Chess ClassicA00 Uncommon Opening
18. G Meier vs Carlsen 0-141 2017 GRENKE Chess ClassicD90 Grunfeld
19. Yifan Hou vs M Bluebaum ½-½48 2017 GRENKE Chess ClassicD38 Queen's Gambit Declined, Ragozin Variation
20. Caruana vs M Vachier-Lagrave ½-½43 2017 GRENKE Chess ClassicB96 Sicilian, Najdorf
21. M Bluebaum vs Caruana ½-½79 2017 GRENKE Chess ClassicD27 Queen's Gambit Accepted, Classical
22. Naiditsch vs Carlsen  ½-½42 2017 GRENKE Chess ClassicA45 Queen's Pawn Game
23. M Vachier-Lagrave vs G Meier  ½-½40 2017 GRENKE Chess ClassicC10 French
24. Aronian vs Yifan Hou 1-042 2017 GRENKE Chess ClassicA00 Uncommon Opening
25. Carlsen vs M Vachier-Lagrave ½-½59 2017 GRENKE Chess ClassicA00 Uncommon Opening
 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 28  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  saffuna: If there's ever a good time to blow a won game, it would be when he's already won the tournament.
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<saffuna> So that means the strategy was too many moves for the computer to see?>

Possibly. I was looking at the site and (at least for non-premium users), they usually run their Stockfish analyses at too low a search ply to have much confidence in their evaluations. The move that caused the big evaluation swing, 42...Qa4, from the position below was only run to a search depth of 22 plies. With Stockfish that's almost the equivalent of flipping a coin.

click for larger view

But not in this case. I let the same Stockfish 8 analyze the position to d=34, a more reasonable depth for Stockfish although not definitive and it evaluated 42...Qa4 at [-4.14] and the next best move, the strange looking (to me) 42...Qa7, was evaluated at [=3.37]. I should note that this was apparently a complex position; even though Black is up a rook and a knight, Stockfish evaluated the next 3 moves, including the one that Aronian played, 42...Qa4, as equal, [0.00].

So, given all that, a draw was a reasonable result.

But let's forget the engines. In the position above it's clear that White's chances for a draw (or a win, in case of a major blunder by Black) lie in being able to achieve a perpetual check situation. So Black's top priority would seem to be to bring additional pieces to surround his king, But which one(s)? The knight is pinned so it can't move and, until the knight moves, the Rb3 can't be brought back since the one likely move, 42...Rb6, would seem to hinder Black's ability to escape the unavoidable checks.

So a queen move is must be, but where? Stockfish suggested 42...Qe1 evaluating it at [-3.40] (d=22) or [-4.14] (d=34). On e1 it blocks 43.Qh3+, but it results in a queen sac after 43.Qh3+ Qe6 44.Re8+ Kxd8 45.Qxe6.

click for larger view

Still, Black has N+2R vs. Q means that Black is effectively a piece up, although White's 2 connected passed pawns could provide some counterplay even though they are not advanced. Stockfish 9 at d=34 considered this to be Black's best approach with the rest of the line being 45... Rh7+ 46.Kg3 Nd5+ 47.f3 Rg7+ 48.Kh4 Ne7 49.Kh3 Rg6 50.Qe2 Rh6+ 51.Kg3 Nf5+ 52.Kf4 Nd4 (Black's knight now has a perfect position and Black has the initiative) 53.Qe4 Rd6 54.Kg5 Rb2 55.f4 Ne6+ 56.Kf5 Kc7 57.Kg4 Kb6 58.g3 Nd4 59.Kh3 Rb3 60.Kh4 Nf3+ 61.Kh5 Nd2 62.Qg2 Nxc4 (now Black has 2 connected passed pawns also) 63.g4 Nd2 64.g5 Rf3 65.Qg4 Rf1 66.g6 Ne4 67.Qg2 Rxf4 68.g7 Nf6+ 69.Kg5

click for larger view

And even if Black has to give up its knight for White's g-pawn, 2P+2R vs. Q should be win for Black. A long and unreliable variation to be sure, but in situations like this 3 pieces are usually capable of overwhelming a queen. In fact, restarting the analysis from the position above, Stockfish evaluates the resulting position at [-13.20] at d=30, with the evals rising.

My kudos to Aronian for not only winning the tournament decisively and unbeaten, but agreeing to extensively participate in the post-game interview along with Caruana after what I'm sure was a very disappointing non-win. There he simply said that he underestimated the strength of 42...Qe1.

Premium Chessgames Member
  saffuna: Thanks. I was thinking more about the evaluations around moves 30 to 33.
Apr-22-17  Transformer: <AylerKupp>: Excellent analysis, but you meant Aronian played 42...Qa5 not ...Qa4.
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Transformer> Yes, I meant 42...Qa5 and not 42...Qa4. Just as English is not my first language, algebraic notation is not the first notation I learned. That "privilege" goes to English descriptive notation. And, as you may or may not know, in English descriptive notation the squares are numbered from the perspective of the player who made the move. So 42...Qa5 would have been written as 42...Q-R4 since a5 is the fourth square from Black's perspective.

So, just like sometimes I lapse into Spanish, particularly when I get excited, sometimes I lapse into English descriptive notation. And, of course, it doesn't help if, like me, you also happen to be fat-fingered.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gregor Samsa Mendel: <AylerKupp>--It sounds like Spanish is your first language. If so, didn't you learn Spanish descriptive notation before English descriptive notation? I'm asking because it sounds like your situation growing up and mine might have been similar. I grew up in the US in a bilingual English/Spanish household, where my father and I followed games in the newspapers in English DN but I also read my father's old chess books in Spanish DN. I learned descriptive notation in English and Spanish simultaneously.
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <saffuna> Thanks. I was thinking more about the evaluations around moves 30 to 33.>

Now you tell me! :-) But I went back and looked at Stockfish's evaluations at the site and between moves 30 and 33, although still at low ply and therefore unreliable, they were all above [-3.00] and thus considered winning, except for 33...Rf7 which was evaluated at "only" [-2.61[, still winning. In fact the evaluations all stayed in the [-3.00] to [-2.00] range until 42...Qa5 when they changed to [+0.39] or equal. Maybe the chessbomb evaluations were different.

In fact, Stockfish's evaluations for Black were all in the winning range (>[-1.50]) starting with 23.b3 so as you said, all of a sudden Aronian's advantage was gone. In fairness this was a deceptively complex position, as I pointed out earlier Black only had 2 possibilities on his 42nd move to preserve his advantage, all other moves lead to equal chances or worse. Still, the fact that a top-rank and experienced grandmaster could not find one of those 2 moves after 49 minutes of thought means that there might still be some chances for the rest of us.

Premium Chessgames Member
  saffuna: <In fairness this was a deceptively complex position, >

No kidding.

By the way, I just saw "Aylerkupp's corollary." Brilliant!

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Wish <CG> had a feature where I could just drop an xtab in - so that it updates the intro automatically:


Grenke Chess Classic (2017)
Karlsruhe GER, 2017.04.15 - 2017.04.22
Average Rating: 2730 (Category 20)
Rtng Ti Age Nat Score 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Perf Chg
1: Aronian, Levon 2774 gm 35 ARM 5.5 / 7 X = = 1 1 1 = 1 2954 +15 (+4 -0 =3)
2: Caruana, Fabiano 2817 gm 25 ITA 4.0 / 7 = X = 0 = 1 1 = 2768 -5 (+2 -1 =4)
3: Carlsen, Magnus 2838 gm 27 NOR 4.0 / 7 = = X = = = 1 = 2765 -7 (+1 -0 =6)
4: Hou, Yifan 2649 gm 23 CHN 3.5 / 7 0 1 = X 0 = 1 = 2742 +9 (+2 -2 =3)
5: Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2803 gm 27 FRA 3.5 / 7 0 = = 1 X 0 = 1 2720 -8 (+2 -2 =3)
6: Naiditsch, Arkadij 2702 gm 32 GER 3.5 / 7 0 0 = = 1 X = 1 2734 +4 (+2 -2 =3)
7: Meier, Georg 2630 gm 30 GER 2.0 / 7 = 0 0 0 = = X = 2587 -4 (+0 -3 =4)
8: Bluebaum, Matthias 2632 im 20 GER 2.0 / 7 0 = = = 0 0 = X 2586 -4 (+0 -3 =4)
28 games: +7 =15 -6

A verbatim mode would be helpful too.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: GRENKE Chess Classic
15 - 22 April 2017


Sven Noppes – Tournament Director,

Christian Bossert - Tournament

Director, Chairman of the Baden-Baden

Chess Centre,

Articles/Photos - Georgios Souleidis

Video production - E & R Solutions

Social Media - Eric van Reem

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: What a wonderful tournament site the GRENKE organizers have provided!

All the games available for download (even if the PGN is unnormalized), and all the important information nicely organized.

Truly a model site for all to emulate.

(If only they provided a live xtab as the tournament progressed, it would be perfect)

All the photos from the event are freely available for any website to use, as well, provided source attribution is included.

Wonderful, just wonderful.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: BTW -

<chessgames> - please get the PGN properly normalized.

* * * * *

<Event = "Grenke Chess Classic (2017)">

(or somesuch)

<Site = "Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden GER">

(absolutely mandatory)

<EventDate = "2017.04.17">


<GameSite = "Karlsruhe GER" (round <= 3)>

<GameSite = "Baden-Baden GER" (round >= 4)>

* * * * *

Lest you be confused - there's iconoclastic, and there's just simply (common-sense) right.


Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: You can't get a fine wine (whine?), without a few sour grapes....

A version of the tournament PGN, all properly normalized, can be found here:

It introduces the GameSite tag, which I hope will eventually become universally adopted.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sokrates: Powerful tournament by Aronian even with the missed win in the last round. Which would have placed Caruana with Hou, MVL and Naiditsch.

Btw, congrats to Hou is also called for - 50 % in a tournament of this calibre including a win vs. Caruana, must be one of her best results.

The world champion can't be happy with his play. One single win (vs. a bottom player) and 6 draws is a meager harvest - he is fortunate that it's sufficient for a seconds placement. But where is the young warrior who made the opponents shiver with fear when they had to face him? He has won and survived in many games due to his reputation - that psychological advantage may evaporate when the players detect that he has lost his former supremacy.

Caruana and MVL, who once were clear favourites for becoming the challengers to Carlsen's crown have also got something to think about. Of course, they still have their fair chances, and although Wesley So is the man of the hour right now, his candidacy will not be a given thing. Will Aronian have a come-back in that context? I doubt that very much, but like Kramnik he could become a decisive factor in the final showdown.

And Karjakin - everybody seems to think he has become out of the question. But we should revoke history in the 1950s when Smyslov after a tie with Botvinnik in the first match, qualified once again and defeated Botvinnik in the next.

If this tournament should be interpreted of anything it would be that it has not given a clear hierarchy among the potential candidates - on the contrary.

Apr-23-17  scholes: Did Carauna see 42 Qe1 during the game ?
Apr-23-17  Imran Iskandar: <scholes> No, apparently they both missed it.
Apr-23-17  activechess55:

Did the teeth lose their sharpness? Were the nails missing from his claws? Had he grown too old to hunt? There were doubts abound.

But last week proved all these speculations wrong. The tiger from Armenia had all hunting tools intact and working! His appetite was as voracious as ever! He gorged on a bagful of preys for four days on end! This was a good news for his fans, who awaited similar performance from him for long.

Kasparov says,“Chess world is a better place when Aronian is in form.” His games reminds us of an artist with a canvass and the brush!

Congrats Levon!

Carlsen, Caruana, Aronian, Yifan and MVL were vying for the top spot. All of them sported glasses. It is befitting, Aronian won the event. His glass-frames happen to be the trendiest!

Apr-23-17  scholes: In the last 10 years, Apart from Carlsen, Aronian super tournament record is way ahead of other players . Unfortunately he choked at all important tournaments. Was not even second at any candidates tournament.
Apr-23-17  scholes: If two top 5 players of the world cannot find a move after thinking for 50 minutes then should it be called a blunder. Engines have become too strong.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <<scholes> If two top 5 players of the world cannot find a move after thinking for 50 minutes then should it be called a blunder. Engines have become too strong.>

This is indeed a very good point.

But I think two is too low a bar - after all, Anand and Carlsen both missed a fairly basic tactic, once upon a time.

But the gist of the point remains...

Apr-23-17  BOSTER: A lot was said about game Caruana vs Aronian, but nobody didn't show how to win after 36.h5.
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: <but nobody didn't show how to win after 36.h5.>

I'm calling double negative

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <plang: <but nobody didn't show how to win after 36.h5.>

I'm calling double negative>

Far as I tell, <N0B0DY> made no post on this....

Now there is <another> double negative!

Of a sort.

Apr-23-17  BOSTER: My mistake.
Thanks,< plang>.
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: l in fun - I remember learning in math class that as long as there are an odd number it is still a negative - always looking for the precious triple negative
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