Baden-Baden Grenke Chess Classic 2015

| Sjakkbloggen
| Baden-Baden, Germany

I played some Bundesliga games for the strongest German team Baden-Baden many years ago. It is great to be back in Baden-Baden for the arguably strongest tournament in Germany ever. The famous spa-town does have a long and important chess history with major events stretching back to the 19th century, as well as the first two editions of this event in 2013 and 2014.

I couldn`t have asked for a better way to spend the few days between Tata Steel Chess and this event. Lots of sports every day and a great cross-country skiing trip last Saturday.

We are staying at the very good and grandiose Brenner`s Park-Hotel & Spa close to the playing venue, and during the five minute walk to the venue for round 1 yesterday we had some real Norwegian weather with snow and hail. This must be my tournament!

We are playing 7 rounds with a restday Thursday, and my competitors are Caruana, Anand, Aronian, Adams, Bacrot, Naiditsch and Baramidze. The two local players qualified by winning the all-German edition last year. Except for Baramidze we have all played for Baden-Baden in the past or are playing for Baden-Baden now. Some of the players as well as my coach Peter Heine Nielsen came straight from Bundesliga Sunday evening.

As in Wijk they turned the rating list upside down, and when it was my turn during drawing of lots Sunday night, no 6 was left resulting in 4 black games overall and 3 in the first 4 rounds.

The round 1 game against Aronian yesterday was quite interesting. After some manoeuvring I got a bit too optimistic. Allowing gxf5 was an oversight, and I needed to find some accurate moves to equalize in time trouble from a cramped position. His advanced f-pawn turned out to be a weakness and I managed to put pressure on him in the 5th and 6th hour of play. He defended well and the long game ended in a draw, as did all the other games.

Today I played white against the strongest UK player Michael Adams. He helped me during the World Championship match and knows me well. It was quite a challenge to find an interesting and promising opening. It was probably fairly balanced out of the opening, but at least my strong pawn center provided the potential dynamics to allow a lot of manoeuvring. I felt I had found a good plan with a4 followed with b4 and a5 to force his bishop to a7. Surprisingly it was probably not enough to break through. Maybe he could have defended more successfully by simply standing still but completely passive defense is never easy. He gave up his b-pawn to keep his pieces active. It turned out he didn`t have enough counterplay and I could slowly improve my position and trade off to a winning rook ending. All the other games ended draw despite lots of action, and I`m sole leader after two rounds.

Next I`m black against Naiditsch who beat me at the Olympiad in Tromsoe last year.