During the past two weeks we saw many interesting games in London. We all saw one great tournament, with lot of exciting games. Finally, after fourteen rounds it’s over. The finish was quite unexpected and very strange. Facing the last round both, Kramnik and Carlsen had 8.5 points, but Magnus was better in the second tie-break criteria: more wins, so practically it was like he had half point more. The standings before the last round pretty much shaped the strategy of both players. Of course for Kramnik was more difficult because he had to make 0.5 points more, above all he was playing with black and Carlsen was white. They both had strong opponents Carlsen was facing the solid Svidler, while Kramink the unpredictable Ivanchuk.
Last round started like many predicted. Carlsen played like always, nothing from the opening except playable position with positional battle, so normally Ruy Lopez was on the board. Between Ivanchuk and Kramnik I expected Sicilian but, Kramnik opted for rare Pirc which was good decision because of the time trouble problems of Ivanchuk. As the time passed we saw something that doesn’t happen often in Carlsens games he felt in time trouble. That was quite understandable, it was the last round, it wasn’t just some tournament it was very important one, it was not about the money, it was about getting chance to become world champion! And he didn’t want to leave that to the hands of faith or to be more precise to Vladimir Kramniks hands he was trying to win, and like that to decide the winner, under such pressure, not to mention that he was physically and psychologically exhausted. I have seen many players in similar positions playing very important games in the last round, also I have been in situation like that, where thousands of things are going into your head and you have doubts about every move you make. It’s very hard to focus on the game, and the time on the clock Is “flying”. Unfortunately for Magnus he wasn’t able to play his best game under these circumstances.
On the other hand Vladimir has much more experience in that kind of situation, but he was facing different problem. Nothing depended only from him, but he had to do his best – he had to win. We all know that he is very solid player and that is very difficult to beat him, but his repertoire on 1.e4 it’s rather narrow. Unlike most players who play open tournaments and face opponents on different level, Kramnik plays mainly on closed tournaments where draw with black is satisfying result. So suddenly he faced quite rare, for him, situation. Playing the Pirc he was playing not to him best known position and for sure not position that suits his style.
No one expected, both leaders lost their games. After the games at the press conference Magnus said that he didn’t want to resign before he sees that Kramnik is going to lose which means how important is this victory to him, but for me more important was what Kramnik said, that at some point he could choose between slightly worse but drawish position and active play trying to win at that moment he saw the Magnus’s position but he couldn’t see whether Peter was going to win or not so he decided to play on win, which was a mistake..
We can all agree that both of them deserved to win this tournament, they played very good chess and the quality of their games game was very high, but only one can be the challenger.
In my opinion Anand vs Carlsen match would be more interesting than Anand vs Kramnik because Magnus has shown great results recently and impressed many chess players with his play and his fighting spirit, many players believe that Magnus will be the one who will take Vishy of the chess throne after so many years. It will be big challenge for Magnus because he is going to face more experienced opponent, especially more experienced in matches. With good preparation and right seconds by his side his chances definitely will be bigger. The match is scheduled in November in, like Magnus said, some nice place. I can’t wait to see it!