The state of opening theory is largely dictated by what the world’s top players do and so it is only natural that this year’s strongest tournament (so far) is attracting much attention by players of all categories.
With just five rounds of the Tata tournament played so far, already some interesting trends are appearing in the openings. As seen in fig.1 below, the first move 1.e4 is not only the favourite of players but is also scoring FANTASTICALLY!
The move of champions? ”Best by test”–Bobby Fischer
Played in 18 games so far, Black is clearly suffering and has only achieved 31%, that is, less than 1 point in 3 games. Curiously, looking at fig.2 below, we find that the culprit is that Black is not holding up in the double-kingpawn openings, otherwise considered super-solid and very respectable opening schemes.
There have been 2 Petroff’s and a Ponziani in these 18 games, but all the rest were Spanishes.
While the Berlin Defence is holding its own, the more popular and deeper analyzed 3…a6 lines have been getting pounded! In particular, setups where White is playing an early d3 have been the rule.
Just 4 draws in 7 games (very important games because the whole chess world is watching and the players know it!) is clearly unsatisfactory. It will be interesting to see if some of the players change their opening choices before the tournament ends.
The Italian/American star Caruana might actually be reconsidering his answer to 1.e4 this very night. He has lost both times he played the Black side of the Spanish. Today’s game with Leko was soon decided shortly after the opening. Leko planted a Knight on c4 and soon Caruana found himself with little more than waiting moves, unable to prevent his opponent from cracking open the Kingside with a timely f4.
Leko vs Caruana went downhill very quickly for Black
Photo from link above
POSITION BEFORE WHITE’S 30th MOVE: