CANDIDATES' TOURNAMENT 5TH ROUND: A FISHY DAY

Those players who started playing in the Soviet Union, and, more importantly, playing in tournaments in different locations, had to deal with the problem of getting fed in strange towns. They will remember very well that catering establishments would always, once a week, have a day when they offered only fish dishes. Evidently this was to promore brain activity. Those who do not know better might be imagining a host of varied fish and seafood dishes, from mussels to exotic variaties of sushi. But oh no, nothing like it. There would be a maximum of two dishes, often pollock, although seaside cities might offer other options. Sometimes, especially in the 1980s, when shortages of products became especially bad, "fish day" might be two days a week, or even three. But no more about such gloomy things. It is just inspired by a rather depressing last few minutes of today's fifth round, as all the games ended in draws. A real "fishy day"!

But the GMs have their sporting plans and tasks. Nobody wants to throw themselves on the sword. The former world champion clearly decided to buy time to recover from the trauma of yesterday's defeat, and his opponent, the newly-pragmatic Hikaru, did not object (he was Black, after all!). The game never for a moment departed from the realms of equality and is of interest only to a narrow group of specialists. 

But some embers were smouldering! In his customary avant-garde artist's manner, the Armenian GM drew a broad canvas of battle, not hesitating to sacrifice pawns to do so. 

Aronian - Caruana

A few moves ago, White carried out the standard break е4-е5 and made the first sacrifice at the altar. Now it is time for another. . 23.Bс1 Nxc4 24.d6 – and the third! 24…gxf5 25.Rxf5 Nxd6 26.Bg5

«Stockfish» is sceptical, claiming White has no compensation for the material. For Fabi it was another matter, as he is sufferening a small tragedy at the moment. If he could not win yesterday, in a winning position with an extra piece, where is the guarantee that today something even more horrible won't happen? Even more so given that, in order to play for a win, he would have to give up the golden goose, the Bg7. ...And so, to avoid anything worse, the rating-favourite repeated moves. 26…Qa5 27.Bd2 Qd8 28.Bg5 Qa5 29.Bd2 Qd8 30.Bg5 Draw ( ½ : ½ ) Indecisiveness? Common sense? You decide.

 

A scientific dispute in the Grunfeld lasted the same number of moves. The academic (Svidler) and his younger opponent (Giri) after checking each other's documents, began peace negotiations. 

Giri - Svidler

The hand hovers over the d-pawn. Perhaps Peter had expected the commital advance of the pawn from his former countryman?  22.dxe5 – No! 22…Nxe5 23.Bf4 Bd7 24.Rd1 Bc6 25.Rbd4 Re6

The armies are almost perfectly placed and in order to tip the scales, one side or other will have to upset the balance. Who will be first? – 26.Ng5 Ree8 27.Ne4 – Or you? 27…Re6 28.Ng5 Ree8 29.Ne4 Re6 30.Ng5 Ree8 Nobody wants to die...– Draw ( ½ : ½ )

The last draw posed a few questions:

Topalov - Karjakin

Already at move 11, the Bulgarian-Spanish laboratory revealed some interesting preparation. 11.Rb1 and the threat of b3-b4 provoked (forced) the reply  11…c5 (Vlad Tkachiev) 12.dxc5 bxc5 13.Ne5 Bb7 14.Bf4 Bf8 15.Rb2 Bd6

The old Veselin would not have thought long before sacrificining on f7 - 16.Nxf7, and what will be, will be.

But with two losses already, caution prevailed 16.Nd3 Na6 17.Bxd6 Qxd6 18.Nf4 Qe5 19.Rc2 Rad8 20.Na4 c4 21.Qd2

One well-known Scandinavian (not Carlsen) once overcame a no less well-known pianist. What am I talking about? 21…g7-g5(!) – Sergey goes for it! Soon Black had a strong group in the centre. 

After 33…f5 – There was no doubt about the Muscovite's confident look as he advanced his pawns into battle. But the trouble is, they become fewer and fewer... 34.g4 fxg4 35.Bxg4 Nxg4 36.Rxg4 Bg6 37.Kf2 Re5 38.Nd3 Rf5 39.Ke1 h5 40.Rg1 a5 41.Rc2 – and one more  Draw  ( ½ : ½ )

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Material: Sergey Kim