The just concluded Candidates Tournament in London was rife with drama, particularly in the final rounds. These ten positions (eight of which are puzzles to solve) showcase some the highlights/lowlights of this topsy-turvy event.
#10 - Aronian makes his move
This first position marks the beginning of Aronian's early breakaway from the pack; Gelfand, in a very slightly worse but quite drawable position, made a careless mistake with his last move 25...Rc8. Can you find Aronian's clever reply, and afterwards, his ultra-accurate winning plan ?
#9 - Radja in Blunderland, Part One (A Three-Part Trilogy)
Radjabov, for whatever reason, had a wretched tournament. Here, against Aronian, he needs to play 53.Qe2 in order to hold this somewhat unpleasant position as White. Instead he finds a way to lose in two(!) moves...
#8 - Radja in Blunderland, part D'oh, er, D'eux
Here, in a critical game against Carlsen, Radjabov is completely winning after simply 23...Rxe1 24.Qxe1, but instead did some strange things and eventually drew. Can you see his simplest path to a win (after 24.Qxe1)?
#7 - Kramnik Makes His Move
Kramnik was having trouble early in the tournament converting better positions, but in this game Grischuk helps him out a bit. The question in this position is if White should take Black's Knight.
#6 - Aronian Stumbles, Part One
Aronian was leading the tournament when he pressed a bit too hard against Gelfand and paid the price. Try and find a crushing blow for Boris(White) in this position.
#5 - Aronian Stumbles Harder, Part Two, Electric Boogaloo
This ultra-tense game catapulted Kramnik into sole possession of first place. Given the monumental pressure both players were under, it's perhaps unsurprising that it also featured one of the worst blunders in high level chess in quite some time:
#4 - Chucky's Revenge, Part One
Like Aronian against Gelfand, Carlsen here overpressed against Ivanchuk and is fortunate to have a way to rescue this position. Alas, he was unable to find it in time and instead suffered his first loss of the tournament. Can you discover what he missed?
#3 - Radja in Blunderland, The Final Chapter
Radja has yet again blundered in a crucial game, this time with 80. N(a3)-c4. Can you finish him off as elegantly as Magnus?
#2 - Svidler the Spoiler
Peter Svidler had an excellent tournament and only narrowly missed tying for first place. See if you can win this position as efficiently as the five-time Russian Champion.
#1 - Chucky's Revenge, Part Two
In the end, it was the ever unpredictable Ivanchuk who punched Magnus's World Championship ticket with this win over Kramnik (who, in retrospect, only needed a draw to win the tournament). There are many wins in this position, but see if you can find Ivanchuk's brutally effective solution.