I recently studied the game Aronian vs Caruana in the Sinquefield Cup 2016, and I was absolutely delighted ! Unlike most GM games, it made total sense to me. I understood why the pawns were moved, why the bishops and knights were developed, how both sides had isolated pawns. I understood how the pressure slowly built around these isolated pawns and counted the number of defenders and attackers each side had around these pawns. I understood how the exchange took place, I understood how the pawns had to be placed on squares on the opposite colour as the opponents bishop and most importantly I understood why it was a draw (usually I don't) !

I was taken in by the beauty of the balanced positions and the web of Defense and attack.

Imagine my surprise when I saw their post match interviews. Aronian said he was not well, and although he was ashamed of the match was happy with the draw. Caruana said he jinxed it by saying that all his matches with Aronian have been interesting the day before, and that's why their match wasn't interesting.

Is this match considered boring because they played out old lines ? As a beginner it's new to me, and I actually understood it.

That's why my question is if beginners should first learn some of these standard boring lines so they can understand all the principles involved ? And if so, please recommend some sources where I can do that ?

The game mentioned above goes as follows:

rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/3P4/8/PPP1PPPP/RNBQKBNR b KQkq d3 0 1
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 4. e3 a6 5. Nc3 d5 6. cxd5 exd5
7. g3 Nc6 8. Bg2 Bd6 9. dxc5 Bxc5 10. O-O O-O 11. Nd4 Nxd4
12. exd4 Ba7 13. Bg5 Be6 14. Rc1 Rc8 15. Bxf6 Qxf6 16. Nxd5
Bxd5 17. Bxd5 Rxc1 18. Qxc1 b5 19. Qc6 Bxd4 20. Qxf6 Bxf6
21. b3 Rd8 22. Rd1 Kf8 23. Kf1 a5 24. Bf3 Rxd1+ 25. Bxd1 Ke7
26. a4 bxa4 27. bxa4 Bc3 28. Bb3 Bb4 29. Ke2 Kf8 30. Bc4
  • 3
    I think you mean that the game made total sense to you, rather than that you understood everything about it. Because the latter is quite a bold statement to make, no matter how good you are, and I think it's important to acknowledge the difference between the statements.
    – Scounged
    Aug 15, 2016 at 17:20
  • @Scounged yes, that is what I meant.
    – Saikat
    Aug 15, 2016 at 23:57

2 Answers 2


Yes understanding gm games is a very wonderful feeling. To understand many of the plans that occur in high level games I would suggest reading Pawn Structure Chess by Soltis. It's a book describing plans inherent in the position based on pawn structure, something all top GMs use in their games.

The reason why Aronian and Caruana considered this game boring is 2 fold. 1) the pawn structure was pretty much symmetrical. They each had a,b,d,f,g, and h pawns, and their d pawns were identically placed in the center. Their really aren't pawn structure plans in such positions, leaving a lot less resources to push your opponent around. Also it's a lot easier to create an advantage in a position with imbalances and asymmetry for both sides. 2) Secondly many of the pieces were exchanged when Aronian took on f6, leading to a very equal endgame with no chances for a win. Not to mention it was an opposite colored bishop ending, which are notoriously drawish.

Hope this helped!


Understanding any game is always beneficial to learning. The advantage of a drawn game is that neither side has the upper hand, requiring that they must attack and defend simultaneously. This is less prominent in games where one player is clearly outmatched either in skill or due to losing a piece. This allows you to consider attacks, counter-attacks, defense, and all manner of tactics for both sides and increases the complexity of the game in most cases.

Understanding games such as this is more beneficial due to them often involving complex board positions with simultaneous attacking and defending on both parts.

One disadvantage of studying drawn games is that most of the time the endgame is boring. Once the pieces are traded down, you often end up with a drawn-out and lengthy endgame where neither side can get any sort of advantage and end up making small moves of little significance. In this case, repetition is common and sometimes the 50 move rule is called upon. Despite this, some drawn endgames can be very interesting to study, however in most cases a drawn game is only interesting suring the opening and middlegame.

  • What is your opinion about the said match - Aronian vs Caruana ?
    – Saikat
    Aug 15, 2016 at 14:26
  • this one? chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1827097
    – Aric
    Aug 15, 2016 at 14:27
  • I will have to look at it later, then i will comment.
    – Aric
    Aug 15, 2016 at 14:29
  • Please suggest some sources by which I can study these games and learn. I don't have a chess engine. I want to improve my middle game in particular. Please suggest books.
    – Saikat
    Aug 15, 2016 at 15:29
  • I would suggest watching videos on youtube. TheChessWebsite's channel does a lot of videos where Kevin goes through games between masters and explains what they are thinking and their tactics. I find that this is a great tool. As for books, i am not entirely sure, however i do recommend watching analysis videos of games.
    – Aric
    Aug 15, 2016 at 15:33

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