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London 06: "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse"

by Priyadarshan Banjan - 16/12/2016

That was what the Godfather, Don Vito Corleone, famously said to Johnny Fontaine. And that is also precisely what the new-age Italian American did in the sixth round. Anand played a game that left even his opponent Giri scratching his head. Topalov simply collapsed like a building whose very foundation had been shaken. Aronian overpressed and lost to MVL. Adams held Kramnik. Illustrated Report.

Pictures by Lennart Ootes

London 06: "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse"

Don Vito Corleone — the Godfather

Sicily is an autonomous region of Italy and is famous around the world for various reasons. In popular culture, it is known for the settings in the stories of Mario Puzo novels and films based on them. Among the films, the Godfather is revered today as a cult classic.


Italian-Americans are the fourth-largest European ethnic group in the United States and if Wikipedia is to be believed, 84% of this group originated from southern Italy — the Sicilian region.

Fabiano Caruana, who used to play for Italy, now plays for the United States. In the sixth round of the London Classic, he was up against...

...Hikaru Nakamura.

Caruana explained after the game in the press conference that whenever Nakamura wants to play for a win, he chooses to go with the Sicilian.

And Caruana decided that he must make an offer that Nakamura cannot refuse.

First, let's see the game with analysis by our 10-year-old analyst Aditya Mittal (2068) and then we will see the critical points:

[Event "London Chess Classic 2016"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.12.15"]
[Round "6.3"]
[White "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B96"]
[WhiteElo "2823"]
[BlackElo "2779"]
[PlyCount "63"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:20:08"]
[BlackClock "0:12:58"]
1. e4 {What a day it was! What more you could ask for? Well, today's round
featured one of those rare days where we have thrillers everywhere on the
chess board. Let me not scare you, and sum up some minor things. Well first,
we had a solid draw between Kramnik and Adams. Boo. Then we had Giri chase
Vishy's king but left with a draw. (He is an artist after all) Then we had
Aronian over pressing and losing against Maxime. Then we had Wesley demolish
Topalov's king. (As usual) And then well... this game. Let's keep it as
suspense. So that was the things which happened today. Mind blowing, right?
Even more so, when you see this game, the best of all, a Caruana-Nakamura duel.
..} c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 {The Najdorf! How we love to
see this opening. The reason is that it leads to "Sac,Sac,Mate!" Exactly what
happened today.} (5... g6 {has been little popular. Najdorf is all the rage
now.}) 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 h6 (7... Nbd7 {is also a solid line.}) (7... Qb6 {
is possible directly also.}) 8. Bh4 Qb6 {The poison pawn! Now the question was,
is Caruana going to allow you know what?} 9. a3 $1 {No! He protects b2. But I
quite like this move. It is one of those little moves which make Fabiano an
absolute genius.} (9. Qd2 {leads to some Talk like lines.} Qxb2 10. Rb1 Qa3 11.
f5 $5 (11. Bxf6 gxf6 12. Be2 Nc6 13. Nxc6 bxc6 14. O-O $13 {The position
remains complicated.}) 11... Be7 12. fxe6 fxe6 13. Bc4 Nxe4 $1 $13 {I love
these lines!}) 9... Be7 10. Bf2 Qc7 11. Qf3 {The players are blitzing out
moves, and they are still following Giri-Vachier Lagrave.} Nbd7 12. O-O-O b5
13. g4 g5 {No fear!} 14. h4 gxf4 15. Be2 b4 $2 {The game's novelty but a late
one, and a bad one. You'll see.} (15... Ne5 $5 16. Qxf4 Nexg4 $1 17. Bxg4 e5
18. Nd5 $1 {as recommended by MVL.} (18. Qxf6 Bxf6 19. Nd5 Qd8 20. Nf5 {
is not as strong as in the game.}) 18... Nxd5 19. Qf3 Nf4 (19... Bxg4 20. Qxg4
Nf6 21. Qf3 {These are many lines which are complicated. What great lines!})
20. Bf5 $14) (15... d5 16. exd5 (16. g5 $5 Ne5 (16... Nxe4 $2 17. Nxe4 Ne5 18.
Qc3 Qxc3 19. Nxc3 $18) 17. Qg2 Bxa3 $1 18. Nxd5 Nxd5 19. exd5 Qc3 $3 20. bxa3
Qxa3+ 21. Kd2 Bb7 $13 {is one of those highly engine evaluated lines.}) 16...
Bb7 17. dxe6 $3 {Another queen sack!} Bxf3 18. exd7+ Kf8 (18... Qxd7 19. Bxf3
O-O-O $1 20. Nc6 $1 $18) 19. Bxf3 Rd8 20. g5 hxg5 21. hxg5 Rxh1 22. Rxh1 Ng8
23. g6 $1 $14 {with initiative.}) (15... Rg8 16. g5 $1 (16. Rdg1 {was played
by Giri and he lost.}) 16... hxg5 17. hxg5 Ne5 18. Qxf4 Nfd7 19. Rh5 $1 $14 {
with an advantage. Caruana had definitely prepared all this at home.}) 16. axb4
Ne5 17. Qxf4 Nexg4 18. Bxg4 e5 {We saw this sack in the direct Ne5 line also.
There White had chose Nd5 but here....} 19. Qxf6 $3 {What a move! Played in a
minute! Fabiano has it all worked out at home.} (19. Nd5 Nxd5 20. Qf3 Nxb4 $17
{this is the difference.}) 19... Bxf6 20. Nd5 Qd8 21. Nf5 $1 {This is a move
which I really love! Fabiano could have gone for} (21. Nc6 Bxg4 22. Nxd8 Bxd8
23. Rd2 {with a slightly better endgame, but he had nothing of that!}) 21...
Rb8 {35 mins think by Nakamura. As so often happens, it is a blunder. The only
move was} (21... Bxf5 $1 22. Bxf5 Rb8 23. c4 $16 {But when you go in deep
analysis and higher depth, you realize that it's almost impossible for a human
to defend this! We could simply say 15...b4 was a blunder.}) 22. Nxf6+
Qxf6 23. Rxd6 $2 {Caruana does a mistake but he still has a good advantage and
there is only one way in which Hikaru can defend.} Be6 24. Rhd1 $5 (24. Be3 {
I expected this.} Rxb4 25. Rxa6 Bxf5 26. Rxf6 Bxg4 $16 {You can not be sure
White will win.}) 24... O-O 25. h5 $3 {Not realized by the engines at all!
Caruana is playing so simple moves, it doesn't feel like he is a queen down!}
Qg5+ $4 {It wasn't clear what Hikaru was trying to do. He was totally shaken
up by the queen sack.} (25... Rxb4 $1 {the only way. Otherwise, Black is lost.}
26. Bh4 Bxf5 27. Bxf6 Bxg4 28. Re1 $16) (25... Rfe8 {is met with the brilliant}
26. Bh4 Qh8 27. c3 $3 {The engines don't understand my idea first, but slowly
they raise their evaluation!} (27. Ne7+ Rxe7 28. Bxe7 Bxg4 29. Rd8+ Rxd8 30.
Rxd8+ Kh7 (30... Kg7 31. Bf6+ $1 {is one to be aware of.}) 31. Rxh8+ Kxh8 $10 {
and this must be a draw.}) 27... Kh7 (27... Bxf5 28. Bxf5 Qg7 29. R6d3 $1 {
is the brilliant point. I was pleased to find this.}) 28. Ne3 $1 {is actually
winning! Some of the lines:} Qf8 (28... Rb7 29. Bf5+ $1 Bxf5 30. Nxf5 $18) 29.
Nd5 $1 Bxg4 30. Nf6+ Kh8 31. Nxg4 $18 {This is what makes chess so fun.
Wouldn't you be happy to play these games yourself?}) 26. Be3 {and Black has
to simply go back.} Qf6 (26... Qxg4 27. Nxh6+ Kh7 28. Nxg4 Bxg4 29. Rh6+ Kg7
30. Rg1 $18 {is a simple line.}) 27. Nxh6+ Kh8 28. Bf5 $1 {Simple yet strong
chess. No need to complicate with} (28. Nxf7+ $5 Rxf7 29. Bxe6 Qf3 $1 {and
Black has some chance!}) 28... Qe7 29. b5 (29. Nxf7+ $1 {now was to be
preferred.} Qxf7 30. Rxe6 $1 $18) 29... Qe8 30. Nxf7+ Rxf7 31. Rxe6 Qxb5 32.
Rh6+ {What a game! For the other games, here are the highlights: Nxf3!! in
Anand-Giri, F5!! in Veselin- Wesley, Rxd6!! in MVL- Levon} 1-0 

First, it was the queen sacrifice. But this is still well-known in theoryland and Naka must have been looking forward to an interesting fight.

After 19.Qxf6 Bxf6 20.Nd5 Qd8, Caruana has a decision to make. Where to put his knight?

On the left is the Deep Fritz 13 running on a normal laptop hardware and to the right is the 'Let's Check' cloud engine box.

The 'Let's Check' feature in ChessBase 14 is a true child of the information age and is a testimony to the power of machine learning. The engine in your computer won't go to the depth with the normal hardware you have. In fact, the above screenshot was taken after letting the machine run for just less than a couple of minutes and the main engine in my computer — Deep Fritz 13 — has only managed to reach a depth of 24 moves. However, the cloud engines to the right have already dug deep into the position.


Here comes a curious fact. The engines, the normal ones we use in home computers/laptops, go for the simple 21.Nc6 as you can see to the left. But the Let's Check engines instantaneously opted to play 21.Nf5 at a depth of 57 moves — in less than a second!


How is that possible? Well, as you can see there, the position has already been reached 2754 times by various players who are using powerful engines in their powerful systems. The cloud computers have already absorbed this information and the analysis, which as you can see is continually improving, goes on updating itself. After the job is done, the analysis is stored in the cloud.


After somebody somewhere does this in his engine, anybody using Let's Check in any corner of the world can simply use this analysis that has been stored in the cloud. It does not matter who did the original analysis. Everyone with a ChessBase Account has access to this ever-growing cloud of powerful ideas.


Note: If you want to protect your analysis and not share your knowledge, you can simply log out your ChessBase account from Let's Check, and your analysis won't be uploaded into the cloud—it will just stay in your computer.


This is a combination of machine knowledge and cloud computing.

Caruana said after the game: "Rustam (Kasimdzhanov—Caruana's second) played Nf5 over the board. I pretty much stopped my analysis. The position is a nightmare to play for Black and probably objectively just lost." He added, "It's one of the saddest positions I've ever seen for Black. It's just complete domination with my bishop and knight."

Caruana twisted the dagger in Nakamura's heart, slowly, savouring each moment of Naka's agony. White to play.

After the game, Caruana took a jab at Nakamura by saying that his American team-mate has been "over-relying on the computer's evaluation."

However, the funny thing is that the move 21.Nf5 has already been analyzed by some players as you can see in the LiveBook function of your CB 14! The recorded date when this move was found is 24 April 2016!

The question that remains is: could Hikaru Nakamura have avoided this loss with careful preparation?

The new Godfather? Faby is less than 11 points short of Magnus' 2840.


Vishy Anand played an interesting Sicilian Najdorf as well.

Anish Giri after his novelty 13...Nc5.


[Event "London Chess Classic 2016"]
[Site "London"]
[Date "2016.12.15"]
[Round "6.4"]
[White "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Black "Giri, Anish"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B90"]
[WhiteElo "2779"]
[BlackElo "2771"]
[PlyCount "74"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2003.06.08"]
[WhiteClock "0:10:08"]
[BlackClock "0:30:21"]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. h3 e6 7. g4 Be7 8. g5
Nfd7 9. h4 b5 10. a3 Bb7 11. Be3 Nc6 12. Qd2 O-O 13. O-O-O Nc5 (13... Nxd4 14.
Bxd4 Rc8 15. Rg1 Ne5 16. Qe3 Nc4 17. Bxc4 Rxc4 18. f4 Re8 19. f5 Bf8 20. f6 e5
21. Bb6 Qd7 22. fxg7 Bxg7 23. Bc5 Bf8 24. h5 Rxc3 25. bxc3 Re6 26. Bb4 Qc7 27.
Qa7 Qc8 28. Rdf1 Be7 29. Rf6 Bxf6 30. gxf6+ Kf8 31. Qb6 Bc6 32. Rg8+ {1-0 (32)
Vallejo Pons,F (2697)-Topalov,V (2752) Leon 2012}) 14. f3 Rb8 15. Rg1 Qc7 16.
b4 $5 Nd7 17. Ndxb5 axb5 18. Nxb5 Qc8 19. Nxd6 Bxd6 20. Qxd6 Rd8 21. b5 Nde5
22. Qc5 Rxd1+ 23. Kxd1 Nxf3 24. bxc6 Bxc6 25. Rg3 Rb1+ (25... Qd8+ 26. Bd3 Bxe4
27. Ke2 Bxd3+ 28. Kxf3 $17) 26. Ke2 Qa6+ 27. Kxf3 Qxf1+ 28. Bf2 Qh1+ 29. Ke3
Qc1+ 30. Kf3 Qd1+ 31. Ke3 Qc1+ 32. Kf3 Qh1+ 33. Ke3 Qxe4+ 34. Kd2 Qf4+ 35. Kc3
Rb8 36. Rd3 Rc8 37. Kb2 h5 1/2-1/2



Anand sacrificed a piece for three pawns but there was one problem with his evaluation—the white king is a bit too open.


 Giri chose to play 25...Rb1+ when 25...Qd8+ should have been a better choice as explained in the notes.


 But Giri chose 25...Rb1+ and Anand, calm as a cucumber, ran around with his king.


Giri had asked after the previous round, jocularly of course, when is Anand planning to retire. Anand, wiser with age, quipped, "When is Giri going to win a game?"



 Michael Adams held Vladimir Kramnik with a timely perpetual.

Grand Chess Tour Leader Wesley So eyeing Topalov's king.

Wesley got the king and the game in the end. Grandmasters online were trashing Topalov's coffeehouse play, but one has to wonder if they themselves could survive the Bulgarian if they got a game.


Meaning: it is true that he is having a torrid time here but one must not forget that he is a great player and will surely try to solve his problems.

[Event "London Chess Classic 2016"]
[Site "London"]
[Date "2016.12.15"]
[Round "6.1"]
[White "Topalov, Veselin"]
[Black "So, Wesley"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C54"]
[WhiteElo "2760"]
[BlackElo "2794"]
[PlyCount "54"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2003.06.08"]
[WhiteClock "0:27:06"]
[BlackClock "0:24:03"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 a6 6. a4 d6 7. Bg5 Ba7 8. Nbd2
h6 9. Bh4 g5 10. Bg3 O-O 11. O-O Nh7 12. h3 h5 13. d4 exd4 14. Nxd4 g4 15. hxg4
hxg4 16. Nxc6 bxc6 17. e5 d5 18. Be2 Qg5 19. a5 f5 20. exf6 Nxf6 21. Ra4 Rf7
22. Re1 Nh5 23. Bxg4 Nxg3 24. Re8+ Kg7 25. Rxc8 Bxf2+ 26. Kh2 Qe5 27. Kh3 Ne2


 Topalov trying to hide his face in embarrassment?


Levon Aronian got a pleasant position from the black side of a Giuoco Piano, but he overpressed...


...allowing MVL to pick his first win in the tournament. 

And this, another exciting day was witnessed in London. More to come in the next three rounds!

Every master was once a beginner.

Results of round 6

Board Title Name Country ELO Res. Title Name Country ELO
1 GM Veselin Topalov
2760 0 - 1 GM Wesley So
2 GM Vladimir Kramnik
2809 ½ - ½ GM Michael Adams
3 GM Fabiano Caruana
2823 1 - 0 GM Hikaru Nakamura
4 GM Viswanathan Anand
2779 ½ - ½ GM Anish Giri
5 GM Maxime Vachier Lagrave
2804 1 - 0 GM Levon Aronian

Games in PGN