In round 5, Caruana again produced the only decisive result, defeating the 15th World Champion, Vishwanathan Anand.
This gives Caruana a full point lead over the field—with 7 players tied for 2nd-8th place at an even score.
Caruana’s victories have propelled him to #2 in the world, currently reaching 2807.9.
While there have been many, many draws (92% of games so far), it’s not because there have been a lack of exciting games and close calls.
One such game was the topsy-turvy game between Levon Aronian and Sergey Karjakin. Karjakin aggressively advanced his kingside pawns while Aronian sacrificed a pawn (and offers a second) to generate activity. In time trouble, Aronian made a mistake, and, in the final position, Karjakin overlooked his winning chances and accepted a draw offer.
In round 5, Magnus Carlsen fought hard for over 5 hours against Wesley So, gaining an advantage and trying in his usual style to convert it into a victory, but So defended accurately.
“It was tough. You gotta fight for every half-point these days. He was pushing hard, trying his best.”
In an attempt for exciting games, Hikaru Nakamura has tried the hyper-aggressive Sicilian Dragon in both of his rounds with black. The games were sharp, especially his battle against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, but ultimately ended peacefully.
Dracarys! Unfortunately, most of the time the result in chess is still a draw. #LondonChess
Even with a 92% draw rate, this isn’t anything new for super-GM chess. In fact, for the London Classic 2017 to take over the world record for the most draws, every single remaining game would have to end in a split point.
The current record holder for the highest percentage of draws in a tournament is the 1999 Petrosian Memorial, where 42 games out of 45 were drawn, 93.3%. In that event, half the players drew every single one of their 9 games.
Here are a few of the players’ thoughts on the high frequency of draws and possible solutions.
Personally, I think we will see more decisive results in the second half. It’s unlikely that the players of this caliber and will to win, especially Carlsen, will let Caruana run away with the tournament without making a fight of it.