Four Draws in Round 11 Candidates’, Anand Closer to Victory
In round 11, for the first time in the 2014 FIDE Candidates’ Tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk, all games were drawn. With three rounds to go, ex-World Champion Viswanathan Anand now has excellent chances to qualify for a second world title match with Magnus Carlsen.
Photos © Vadim Lavrenko, Kirill Merkuryev & Anastasiya Karlovich courtesy of the official website
Magnus Carlsen can almost start preparing for another match with Vishy Anand. After four draws in the eleventh round, it seems quite unlikely that any other player will win the 2014 Candidates’ Tournament, especially since Anand has two more white games in the last three remaining rounds. A different scenario is still possible, but few will expect that to happen.
Today's game against Vladimir Kramnik was a crucial one: Anand was playing one of the pre-tournament favorites with the black pieces.
Kramnik will put a big pressure today on Anand . Survive or die ?! #Candidates2014— Sebastien Mazé ( @mazetovic) March 26, 2014
And indeed, for a moment it looked like Kramnik got something. In a Catalan, he played the virtually new move 11.Na3 (where he had tried 11.Qc2 a year ago against Carlsen!) and Black was left with a (very) weak c-pawn.
But there, once again, Anand proved to be in excellent shape. He sacrificed the pawn immediately in return for active piece play, and it soon became clear that his judgement was accurate. Black had more than enough counterplay and if anyone it was Kramnik who needed to be careful. At the press conference the Russian GM said he had analysed 11.Na3 a few years ago, but he blamed “old engines” for not seeing the compensation for Black.
Classy defence from Vishy today; impressive mixture of activity, creativity and restraint. #Candidates2014— Jonathan Rowson ( @Jonathan_Rowson) March 26, 2014
It wasn't a very inspired Kramnik today, and at the press conference it became clear why: he had basically given up after yesterday's dramatic loss. “I was very pessimistic today. I was triple-checking whether I was not blundering anything.”
He described his game with Svidler as “the ultimate game”. “Even if I had won today I don't think I would have made a chance to win the tournament.”
Kramnik then revealed that he isn't sleeping very well in Khanty-Mansiysk. “I think today I broke my record. I didn't fall asleep before six in the morning. I never had a night of more than eight hours. Nine hours would have been a dream - if every round I had slept for nine hours, I would have a 100% score.”
Anand said he got enough sleep, which prompted Kramnik to say: “That's the difference and why he has two more points. I only had bad nights and awful nights! But it's my problem, it's not an excuse.”
This result gave Levon Aronian a chance to get to half a point behind Anand in the standings, but he never got close to an advantage, let alone winning chances. Perhaps his opening as Black (1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 Bg4 3.Bg2 e6 4.c4 c6) was a bit timid?
Aronian: “I was actually planning to play something completely different. During the game for some reason I went for this and I was regretting it a lot. This is the second time I am receiving an unpleasant position with this line. Maybe there is something with me or with the line; I have to find out.”
Andreikin and Mamedyarov also played a Catalan but instead of Bf8-e7, Mamedyarov chose the line 5...c5, which Andreikin hadn't expected. A few moves later the queens were traded and like in Kramnik-Anand, Black gave his c-pawn to spoil White's structure.
To Mamedyarov's surprise, Andreikin managed to keep a slight edge. “Maybe if someone else had played, he would have made an easier draw,” he said at the press conference. But the Azerbaijani did a reasonable job to reach the same result.
The most interesting game of the round was Topalov-Karjakin. Black played the double fianchetto, and in a well known position Topalov came up with the new idea g4-g5 & Nc3-e4.
After a funny rook shuffle (c8-c7-c8-c7) by Black, both players put their queen behind a bishop (recently dubbed “Réti's Rifle” by IM Arthur van de Oudeweetering) and, like a Wild West duel, these rifles were looking at each other - quite a unique situation.
Topalov-Karjakin, 20.Qh1!- first line of the computer, showing that these days computers got it all. Even a sense of humor. #Candidates2014— Anish Giri ( @anishgiri) March 26, 2014
Well, it was a short-lived visual curiosity as the players quickly went for an ending. Just before the time control Karjakin decided to “fix the draw” by giving an Exchange for two pawns, but after the dust had settled he realized he was better!
The commentators started discussing possible scenarios - Karjakin could get to a point behind Anand, and the two would still face each other in the penultimate round - but in reality Black was probably never winning. “I was thinking a lot how to make it work but I didn't find it,” Karjakin said.
After eleven rounds, with a one-point lead over Aronian who needs to finish half a point ahead of him, it's very clear who is in the driving seat: Vishy Anand. But he is not alone:
@GMGawain) March 26, 2014
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FIDE Candidates’ 2014 | Pairings & Results
|Round 1||13.03.14||15:00 MSK||Round 8||22.03.14||15:00 MSK|
|Round 2||14.03.14||15:00 MSK||Round 9||23.03.14||15:00 MSK|
|Round 3||15.03.14||15:00 MSK||Round 10||25.03.14||15:00 MSK|
|Round 4||17.03.14||15:00 MSK||Round 11||26.03.14||15:00 MSK|
|Round 5||18.03.14||15:00 MSK||Round 12||27.03.14||15:00 MSK|
|Round 6||19.03.14||15:00 MSK||Round 13||29.03.14||15:00 MSK|
|Round 7||21.03.14||15:00 MSK||Round 14||30.03.14||15:00 MSK|
FIDE Candidates’ 2014 | Round 11 Standings
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. | Games thanks to TWIC