Candidates’ R8: Quick Draw Aronian-Anand, Karjakin Beats Svidler

Candidates’ R8: Quick Draw Aronian-Anand, Karjakin Beats Svidler

PeterDoggers
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In the 8th round of the 2014 FIDE Candidates’ Tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk tournament leaders Levon Aronian and Vishy Anand drew quickly. In the only decisive game of the round, Sergey Karjakin won his first, against Peter Svidler.

Photos © Vadim Lavrenko & Anastasiya Karlovich courtesy of the official website

The second half of the 2014 Candidates’ Tournament immediately started a day after the first half had ended, and the big game between Aronian and Anand grabbed all the attention. Unfortunately it didn't really live up to the expectations: the opening phase was hardly over when the players started repeating moves, and at move 19 the draw was there.

Silvio Danailov's reaction on Twitter was not surprising:

But was it really about a lack of fighting spirit? It doesn't seem so. It was basically about one player being happy with a draw, and one player getting really confused after committing a fingerfehler and, still shaking a bit, taking a draw when it was possible.

After the opening moves 1.c4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 Aronian played the remarkable 3.Qb3!? - a move that had come to him while he was “taking a nap”! After the game he wasn't sure whether it was a good move, while Kramnik, later in the day, commented: “I also had this idea, but it's such nonsense that I wouldn't even play it in rapid!”

Anand had never seen it before (in a way this is another example of how incredibly rich our game is!) but rather quickly the ex-World Champion went for a line that involved a pawn sacrifice. And then, still playing his moves fast, Aronian put his queen back to b3 on move 8, while he had prepared 8.Qa4. A silly mistake, and for a moment the Armenian thought it would cost him dearly. “I thought I was going to create another miniature.”

Anand, on his turn, didn't play the critical move 8...Nf6 after which White was doing OK. After 17 moves a reversed Czech Benoni was reached, where Black was missing his c-pawn which created the rather useful square c5. Neither player saw a way to improve his position.

Anand: “I didn't see a specific plan for me. I can react to whatever he does, but...” Aronian: “I think the stress of the start was a bit too much for me.”

For Anand the draw was a fine result. It means that if he finishes shared first with Aronian, he will win the tournament because he scored 1.5-0.5 in their mutual games. Despite the criticism after last year's dramatic finish, this controversial tiebreak rule wasn't changed by FIDE. When Kramnik was asked about this today, he lamemented the “passivity” of the top players.

Topalov-Mamedyarov also ended in a draw, but that was quite an exciting game!

In a Najdorf with 6.h3 g6 the players castled on opposite wings, and with the subtle rook move 16...Re8 Mamedyarov prepared a nice piece sacrifice on c4 two moves later. Topalov said that 20.Qb4 was critical, but in the game he didn't dare to try it - instead the Bulgarian found a solid way to give the piece back and soon the players reached a drawn rook ending.

In this second half we're back to seeing some games between the Russian participants, and yet again it became clear that nobody is thinking of quick draws to save energy. In a Chebanenko Slav, Kramnik got total control of the c-file and then decided to sacrifice a pawn. Andreikin took it and just played logical moves, and then Kramnik duly gave another pawn!

That second sacrifice was a bit strange, as Kramnik admitted afterward, because he could have reached the same position with the pawn still on the board. In any case, the position remained drawish and that was also the result.

Svidler-Karjakin was “a fun game” according to Svidler, even thought he lost! In a King's Indian Attack White postponed the development of his b1 knight and went for a setup with Qe2, c4 and Bf4. 

The pawn sacrifice 14.g6 was quite interesting and clearly an attempt to play for a win. Karjakin reacted very well and got a slight advantage which became much bigger when Svidler allowed the black bishop to f3 and g4.

After both players committed some more inaccuracies, Karjakin eventually won an ending with rooks and opposite-colored bishops. At the end, the 24-year-old Muscovite impressed with a long, forced variation. 

And so Aronian and Anand are still tied for first place, with Kramnik half a point behind. The rest of the field is now one big group of five players with 3.5 points. On Sunday we'll have the games Karjakin-Kramnik, Andreikin-Svidler, Anand-Topalov and Mamedyarov-Aronian.

Of course all this is done to produce a challenger for Magnus Carlsen in the next title match. Interestingly, today the World Champion played a game himself. Carlsen (2881) played for the Stavanger club in the Norwegian league, and faced GM Vladimir Georgiev of Bulgaria (2553). for his team Stavanger. Carlsen won the game, and 1.3 rating points with it. Here it is (thanks to Tarjei Svensen & Mark Crowther):

Again, don't miss Eric van Reem's Chess in Tweets!

FIDE Candidates’ 2014 | Pairings & Results

Round 1 13.03.14 15:00 MSK   Round 8 22.03.14 15:00 MSK
Andreikin ½-½ Kramnik   Kramnik 1/2 Andreikin
Karjakin ½-½ Svidler   Svidler 0-1 Karjakin
Mamedyarov ½-½ Topalov   Topalov 1/2 Mamedyarov
Anand 1-0 Aronian   Aronian 1/2 Anand
Round 2 14.03.14 15:00 MSK   Round 9 23.03.14 15:00 MSK
Kramnik 1-0 Karjakin   Karjakin - Kramnik
Svidler 1-0 Andreikin   Andreikin - Svidler
Topalov ½-½ Anand   Anand - Topalov
Aronian 1-0 Mamedyarov   Mamedyarov - Aronian
Round 3 15.03.14 15:00 MSK   Round 10 25.03.14 15:00 MSK
Andreikin ½-½ Karjakin   Karjakin - Andreikin
Svidler ½-½ Kramnik   Kramnik - Svidler
Topalov ½-½ Aronian   Aronian - Topalov
Mamedyarov 0-1 Anand   Anand - Mamedyarov
Round 4 17.03.14 15:00 MSK   Round 11 26.03.14 15:00 MSK
Mamedyarov 1-0 Andreikin   Andreikin - Mamedyarov
Karjakin ½-½ Topalov   Topalov - Karjakin
Aronian 1-0 Svidler   Svidler - Aronian
Anand ½-½ Kramnik   Kramnik - Anand
Round 5 18.03.14 15:00 MSK   Round 12 27.03.14 15:00 MSK
Andreikin ½-½ Anand   Anand - Andreikin
Karjakin ½-½ Mamedyarov   Mamedyarov - Karjakin
Svidler 1-0 Topalov   Topalov - Svidler
Kramnik ½-½ Aronian   Aronian - Kramnik
Round 6 19.03.14 15:00 MSK   Round 13 29.03.14 15:00 MSK
Aronian ½-½ Andreikin   Andreikin - Aronian
Anand ½-½ Karjakin   Karjakin - Anand
Mamedyarov 1-0 Svidler   Svidler - Mamedyarov
Topalov 1-0 Kramnik   Kramnik - Topalov
Round 7 21.03.14 15:00 MSK   Round 14 30.03.14 15:00 MSK
Karjakin 0-1 Aronian   Aronian - Karjakin
Svidler ½-½ Anand   Anand - Svidler
Kramnik 1-0 Mamedyarov   Mamedyarov - Kramnik
Andreikin 1-0 Topalov   Topalov - Andreikin 

FIDE Candidates’ 2014 | Round 8 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pts SB
1 Anand,V 2770 2866 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 5 20.25
2 Aronian,L 2830 2851 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 5 18.75
3 Kramnik,V 2787 2804 ½ ½ 0 ½½ ½ 1 1 4.5 17.25
4 Topalov, Veselin 2785 2723 ½ ½ 1 0 0 ½ ½½ 3.5 14.75
5 Andreikin,D 2709 2736 ½ ½ ½½ 1 0 ½ 0 3.5 14.75
6 Svidler,P 2758 2728 ½ 0 ½ 1 1 ½0 0 3.5 13.5
7 Karjakin,S 2766 2726 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½1 ½ 3.5 13
8 Mamedyarov,M 2757 2730 0 0 0 ½½ 1 1 ½ 3.5 12.25

The 2014 FIDE Candidates’ Tournament is an 8-player double round robin with 4 rest days. The dates are March 13th-31st, 2014. Each day the rounds start at 15:00 local time which is 10:00 CET, 04:00 EST and 01:00 PST. The winner will have the right to challenge World Champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway in a world title match which is scheduled to take place in November 2014. 

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