Challenger vs World Champion! ⎸2018 Grenke Chess Classic, Round 1

Fabiano Caruana vs Magnus Carlsen, King’s Indian Defense (E61)
2018 Grenke Chess Classic, Round 1, Karlsruhe, Germany, 03/31/18

The Grenke Chess Classis is the elite portion of the chess festival held in Karlsruhe each year. This year’s setup includes chess superstars such as Anand, Hou Yifan, Aronian, Georg Meier, and, what’s most exciting, the world champion Magnus Carlsen and the challenger Fabiano Caruana. Caruana won the Candidates Tournament just a few days prior to the tournament so this is the first encounter between the two, and a great prelude to their upcoming London match (between 9 and 28 November 2018).

Magnus immediately flexed his muscles at the challenger and opened with the fighting King’s Indian Defense, an opening you don’t often see on top level due to its volatility and double-edged nature. The game became exciting very early on and Magnus managed to equalize and to even gain an advantage by creating a formidable central pawn structure which Caruana had to tend to for the remainder of the game. In the end he managed to tame the passed pawns and draw, but it was a really narrow escape, and Magnus had several winning continuations he missed.

It will be exciting to see how both of them do in the remaining games, as their performance here will definitely be a great indicator for the upcoming match. One thing that has to be kept in mind, though, is that both players will surely not use their main opening repertoire in the games to come. They will have to save it for what’s coming up, so we can expect a few more King’s Indians, Benoni structures or even more aggressive openings!

This year’s Grenke Chess Classic is featuring Levon Aronian, Viswanathan Anand, Georg Meier, Nikita Vitiugov, Matthias Bluebaum, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Arkadij Naiditsch, Hou Yifan, Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana.

Standings after Round 1:

Nikita Kirillovich Vitiugov 1/1
Magnus Carlsen 0.5/1
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 0.5/1
Levon Aronian 0.5/1
Arkadij Naiditsch 0.5/1
Fabiano Caruana 0.5/1
Viswanathan Anand 0.5/1
Georg Meier 0.5/1
Yifan Hou 0.5/1
Matthias Bluebaum 0/1

The E61 King’s Indian Defense occurs after the moves:
1.d4 Nf6
2.c4 g6
In this game it was achieved by transposition due to Caruana trying to avoid the main lines. The King’s Indian is a hypermodern opening, new in a sense that it opposes the classical principles of chess set in the 19th century. The opening idea for black is to let white control the center of the board with a formidable pawn structure and to later challenge it with the moves e5 or c5, disrupting white’s plans.

Study the King’s Indian by going through the games of its main practitioners; Bobby Fischer, John Nunn, Peter Svidler and others.


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