The Candidates so far...
4 rounds down. 2 men in front. 10 games to go. One thing's for sure - there has been some extraordinary chess played so far and let's hope it continues for the remaining games.
Carlsen and Aronian, the bookies' favourites to win this event, have started to show their class early on, reaching an impressive 3/4. Lev played wonderfully against Chuky and simply outclassed Boris, yet I think he still has another gear in him so it will be interesting to see whether he manages to keep pace with a rampant Magnus Carlsen who has now won 2 in a row and looks in top shape. His win against Boris was typical Carlsen - managing to convert the tiniest of endgame advantages into the full point, and his victory today against Grischuk demonstrated a real gulf in class between the two. There is now a danger that if Magnus manages to put together a string of victories like he managed to do in London and Wijk, the rest of the field will simply not be able to catch him, even in a tournament with as many rounds as this one.
It's worth mentioning that these two aren't the only ones who have really impressed thus far. The self-proclaimed Anglophile Mr. Peter Svidler, who has lost an incredible 20+ kilos in preparation for this event (yes these players have to be in top physical and mental shape in order to perform in a tournament as gruelling as this), has been the stand-out "dark horse" for me, sitting on a very healthy +1 thanks to a smooth win against Radjabov in round 3. Peter has demonstrated how comprehensive and thorough his opening preparation has been having achieved a practically winning position against Teimour in a KID Samisch variation, and today he equalized comfortably against Levon Aronian in a Queens Gambit Accepted, again thanks to a superb novelty in a well-known line. I really believe that he has got the goods to challenge for the top spot, the big question being whether he can keep pace with the Norwegian genius who could easily get to +3/+4 before the rest day.
One would be foolish to rule out a challenge from the ex-World Champion Vladimir Kramnik, despite a relatively slow start and 4 rather solid draws. However, we all know that if Vlad manages to chalk up a couple of wins he will be right up there fighting and let's face it - he knows how to keep his nerve and win tournaments. You simply cannot rule the big guy out at this early stage.
Radja is sitting on an even score having won one and lost one, but he has yet to show his best so it will be interesting to see whether he can also mount a challenge, the key for me being whether he can start winning critical games with White.
Grischuk had a tough day at the office losing a difficult game against Magnus, but he has shown that he isn’t in too bad a shape in the other games so he shouldn’t be too disheartened with his -1 score. He will have to win (and win quickly) if he has any hope of catching the leaders.
The Golden Oldies Gelfand and Ivanchuk have really struggled thus far, propping up the table on -2 and one could argue that they are already too far behind the leaders to make a contest of things. Chuky has really struggled with his clock this tournament, losing twice on time (albeit in busted positions) and nearly suffering a disaster in the first round where he nearly got flagged in a theoretically drawn position. Boris had a tough couple of games in rounds 2 & 3 where he went down against an irrepressible Aronian and a stubborn Carlsen – only Boris knows whether he has enough energy and fight to make what looks like an unlikely comeback. We shall soon see.
Join myself and GM Nigel Short for live coverage of round 5 at 2pm GMT, please go to london2013.fide.com to watch all of the action.
Take care and will provide another update soon.