I have to go back to the winning streak in Wijk aan Zee in January to find something resembling the comfortable feeling of being in the zone at the chess board experienced here in Shamkir this week.
Today I tried to surprise Vladimir Kramnik in the opening with the choice of 1.e4 and a novelty in the d3 Ruy Lopez. Kramnik is probably the player with the best opening repertoire in the world, but still I was impressed with his knowledge in the variation today. He took the pawn I offered him on a5 and objectively the position was about equal. When he allowed Nxc6 I was getting optimistic and the queen against rook and bishop ending he went for should be winning for white. He made it simple for me with his Rd1.
The victory brought me to 5.5 points and a clear lead with two rounds to go. Anand won after an interesting exchange sacrifice against Adams and is sole second at 4.5 followed by Caruana and my opponent tomorrow Wesley So, at 4 points.
As during most chess tournaments my focus during the event is quite limited. I do appreciate that Shamkir is surrounded by snow-covered mountains in the horizon, and it.s quite a sight on a clear sunny day. We visited a very good local restaurant a few kilometers out of town at the rest day Wednesday after the important and fun football tournament staged the same day.
I.m black against So at the usual 3pm local time Saturday.
Magnus Carlsen, Shamkir, Azerbaijan, April 24th, 2015