Hou Yifan Crushes Caruana in his Favorite Ruy Lopez!
The elite Grenke Chess tournament is taking place this month in Germany, featuring some of the world’s best players including the Men’s World Champion Magnus Carlsen and the Women ranked-#1 Hou Yifan.
As with every tournament he enters, Magnus was the pre-event favorite but it is Hou Yifan who has stolen the headlines early on with 2 great victories including this brilliant win over 2800+ rated Fabiano Caruana.
GM Damian Lemos has analyzed this game especially for iChess in this free video.
Opening with 1.e4, Hou Yifan played right into Caruana’s favorite Berlin Defense of the Ruy Lopez (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Ne4 5.Re1 Nd6 6.Ne5 Be7). Facing a notoriously tough to crack line, Hou Yifan focused on sensible development, challenging her opponent to find something.
Caruana played an unusual sequence of pawn moves, 13…g6, 14…f6, 15…Rf7 and 20…g5. This aggressive idea of claiming space and opening lines on the Kingside is especially risky as Caruana had castled on that side. However, he felt justified in this as he was able to bring a Rook (f7) to bear down either the f or g-file. There was also the possibility of displacing White’s dark-squared bishop.
With a series of precise moves, however, Hou Yifan was able to prove that opening the Kingside was only beneficial to White. Instead of retreating her bishop, Hou countered with 21.Ng3, exchanging a knight (one of Black’s Kingside defenders) and keeping her bishop on it’s more effective diagonal.
It becomes clear that the …g5 pawn is a weakness and it’s quickly targeted and traded off, opening the g-file and exposing the Black King. With his Kingside plans scuppered, Caruana pushes his a-pawn ineffectively while White continues her strategy of trading off defenders and bringing attackers into the game (29.Qe4 and 31.Re3).
As Black finds himself increasingly restricted, Hou Yifan intensifies the pressure, resulting in a merciless finish!
Enjoy GM Damian Lemos’ analysis of this great game and let us know what you think of it!