GM Shankland
Mar 31, 2013, 6:09 PM |

We have a very big day ahead of us tomorrow, that will bring huge celebrations and sorrows among chess players and fans everywhere. The last 2 rounds of the Candidates tournament have been incredibly dramatic- Magnus finally losing a game of chess, the back-and-forth Aronian-Kramnik game that seemed to be completely drawn ended up being decisive. Then today, Kramnik blew a much better position against Gelfand that was likely won at some moment, and Carlsen managed to grind out Radjabov in a very equal looking ending when the latter advanced a3-a4, making a new set of weaknesses, and allowing the young star to catch up with Kramnik. So, here is how it stands: Carlsen has better tiebreaks than Kramnik, so Kramnik needs to outscore Magnus tomorrow if he is to be the world championship challenger. Carlsen has white against Svidler, one of the lower players in the field who he has already beaten in their first encounter with the black pieces, while Kramnik has black against the always unpredictable Ivanchuk, who has not shown his best form this tournament. The question I am most interested in is just how aggressive Kramnik will be with black- will we see more of his trademark Petroff/Berlin+Nimzo/QUID repertoire, or will he mix it up bigtime trying to win? Ivanchuk is really a wildcard- sometimes he is just invincible, including beating Carlsen with black, but the rest of this tournament he has been badly off form, and has played some seriously suspicious openings, including but not limited to the Dutch, Budapest, Chigorin, Trompowsky. It's ironic, but which version of Ivanchuk shows up to play Kramnik tomorrow will likely dictate who will challenge for the World Title. Carlsen will likely come out with all guns blazing against Svidler: I doubt he will be trying to play it safe when he knows how unpredicable Ivanchuk is. In any case, we are in for a serious day of chess tomorrow. It's hard to bet against Magnus at this stage, but I think Kramnik has some chances here- say 25%- so there is a lot to follow. To top it all off, I will say that while I am sure many are just itching to see Magnus in a world championship match (myself included), Kramnik is a very worthy contender as well and I'm sure he would have another great match with Anand, with plenty of super boring games like these:

Be sure to follow the action live tomorrow, I definitely will be!

Sam Shankland