The Candidates (after round 9)
Many of us for very long time were waiting for The Candidates Tournament to begin. We expected and still expecting many interesting games, many opening novelties and above all fighting chess. All that currently is happening in London! Only the game Carlsen – Arnonian was “ peaceful ”. I really wanted to see good game of No.1 and No.3, but at that point Magnus and Levon had equal points and were shearing first place, so easy draw was expected result, because if either of them lost that game his chances for winning the tournament and being the new challenger of Anand will be extremely low. Of course until the end many things could have happen but that risk is too much to take.
From the beginning of the tournament we all expected that Carlsen and Aronian will fight for first place, not many people said that Kramnik will win but we can all agree that these three players are more or less better than the rest of the participants. Magnus is obviously better that the others hence the big Elo difference, but he is not much better than Levon and Vladimir. I think that if there were matches between them there is neither a clear winner nor clear favorite – I expect equal fight. The difference is that Magnus, as Vishy said: “He is so efficient in collecting points! ”. And this in tournaments like this is very important!
In this tournament Carlsen won against Svidler with black, Grischuk with white and Gelfand with black. All these players are very strong and yet he won two games with black! In all the games the positions after the opening and in the middlegame were equal, but not simple, up until the moment when his opponents start making mistakes. This is precisely what Magnus is striving for. Equal, but complex positions with plenty of play in them (preferably positional play) where he plays fast and keeps on playing, although it’s a drawish position, until his opponent blunders. This is what happened in Gelfand –Carlsen game. In games versus Grischuk and Svidler he outplay them, again in equal positions. It’s almost impossible to do that against Kramnik. Against him he played safe with white and managed to safe difficult position with black. In remaining games he is 3 times white and 2 times black so everything is in his hands now.
Aronian was quite lucky so far. He saved almost lost position against Kramnik, won around equal endgame against Gelfand (after Gelfand blundered), and he had the “luck” to be the player against whom Ivanchuk played irrationally attacking (which is far from the best strategy against world’s No.3!). Against Radjabov he played good game and eventually won after Teimour made terrible blunder.
This tournament is different than the others by its time control. There is no increment of 30 seconds per move! And this clearly suits Magnus and Aronian, because they rarely fall into time trouble and also gives them advantage because their opponents can’t get use to this time control. As we could see Ivanchuck has big problems with that.
So far Kramnik was unlucky not winning against Aronian and maybe he could have been more “deadly” versus Carlsen, but if he starts winning he has a chance to catch up and to fight for first place.