Traps, Tricks & Mistakes: Candidates 2018

The year 2018 gave us amazing chess games. One of the most brilliant was played in the Candidates. Aronian, playing White, faced Kramnik in the 3rd round. The first surprise for chess experts (even for Kramnik) was Aronian’s move one: 1.e4. According to chess statistics, Aronian usually plays 1.d4, 1.c4 or even 1.Nf3 as the first move.

In that special occasion, Francesco Tristano, a piano player and composer from Luxembourg, was the guest to make the initial move and pushed the king’s pawn two squares. Kramnik expected that Aronian would take that move back and play 1.d4, 1.c4 or another of his regular openings, but no, he let it there!

Many top players praised this game. Alexander Grishuk, for instance, commented: “One of the greatest games I have seen. Amazing from start to finish, absolutely unbelievable”

In view of the important advantage that Kramnik got with Black playing 7…Rg8, we can conclude that 7.h3 is a candidate to “positional mistake”. We have to wait for future games at the top level and see whether any GM finds improvements in this variation, or 7.h3 achieves the category of “mistake”.

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