Shocking 9th Round Candidates’: Anand Wins, Aronian & Kramnik Go Down

  • PeterDoggers
  • on 3/23/14, 7:15 AM.

Sunday was a pretty good day for Vishy Anand. In a shocking 9th round of the 2014 FIDE Candidates’ Tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk, the ex-World Champion defeated Veselin Topalov, while his closest rivals Levon Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik both lost, to Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Sergey Karjakin respectively. With five rounds to go, Anand effectively has a 1.5 point lead over Aronian because he will win a possible tiebreak on mutual result.

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

Last year's Candidates’ Tournament was definitely one to remember, and especially the last couple of rounds. This year the tournament is no less exciting, while the players (well, except for one!) seem to be losing their nerves even earlier. Teimour Radjabov, who participated last year, summarized it as follows:

It all started quietly, with a draw between two Russian participants who are not playing a major role at this point. From a 6.h3 Najdorf, Dmitry Andreikin and Peter Svidler quickly reached an equal ending and when the last rooks were traded, and the necessary thirty moves were played, they called it a day.

But so much was happening on the other three boards, it was just crazy! The first sensation was Vladimir Kramnik getting into serious trouble against Sergey Karjakin. OK, it can happen, but right from the opening? Which was... a London System??

By then Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Levon Aronian were involved in a terribly sharp 4.f3 Nimzo-Indian, while Vishy Anand and Veselin Topalov were also playing 6.h3 Najdorf, where White had a slight edge.

Mamedyarov-Aronian was the first to finish, and it was the top seed in this tournament who went down. He knew more about the opening than his opponent, but as we've seen in this tournament, this does not guarantee success. 

Mamedyarov found the important maneuver Ra1-b1-b4, and then Aronian missed the critical move 16...c5! which is probably good for Black. An excellent positional exchange sac followed, and with three pawns plus an increasingly dangerous attack, Mamedyarov was well on top. The players didn't mention from which position Black was losing, but it's clear that it was very difficult after 28.d5.

A big blow for Aronian, who said: “I was blundering things the whole game. These positions are generally my style but today I think I underestimated the complexity of the position.”

Mamedyarov played a really good game. He said: “I had nothing to lose. I just play chess. I played risky but it's good chess. I don't know if it's right or not, but this is how I play.”

Anand took full advantage with another clean win, against Topalov. In a reasonably normal Sicilian, the Bulgarian's 13...f5 wasn't good. According to Anand, it didn't work in this type of position because White's pawn block f4-g5-h4 was restricting the e7 bishop too much.

It was also the type of position where, as an exception, Black winning the e3 bishop for a knight didn't bring him much. And then Topalov somehow missed 18.Nxe4, when White ended up with a “dream French position” (Anand).

It seems that Anand missed a quicker win (30.Qa7!) but after Topalov's inaccurate 31st move he could reach a technically winning ending by pushing both his h- and a- pawn to the fifth rank.

By then Kramnik was still fighting for his life, but after the opening disaster he never really got back into the game, despite getting a temporary bind on the light squares. Karjakin reached a double rook ending with two extra pawns, which needed some precise move to win, but he managed.

“It wasn't really a game,” said Kramnik, referring to his blunder on move seven (which turned out to be a novelty).

And so Kramnik is 1.5 points behind Anand, but he will face the Indian with the white pieces on Wednesday in round 11, so anything is possible. About the tournament situation Kramnik said: “So far Vishy is playing by far better than the others and that is why is leading. It's that simple. And also he is not blundering.”

“It was a good day, certainly. I think it's nice I get a rest day tomorrow and I'm looking forward to that,” said Anand. Two of his compatriots are already looking forward to Anand-Carlsen, Part 2:

It seems like we're dealing with an Anand who is playing close to his level of Mexico 2007 and Bonn 2008. Strong chess, no big mistakes. He hasn't been in a single really bad position so far. It's been a long time since he's played at this level for nine games in a row. The big question is: can he keep it up for five more rounds?

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 ½-½ Andreikin
Karjakin ½-½ Svidler   Svidler 0-1 Karjakin
Mamedyarov ½-½ Topalov   Topalov ½-½ Mamedyarov
Anand 1-0 Aronian   Aronian ½-½ Anand
Round 2 14.03.14 15:00 MSK   Round 9 23.03.14 15:00 MSK
Kramnik 1-0 Karjakin   Karjakin 1-0 Kramnik
Svidler 1-0 Andreikin   Andreikin ½-½ Svidler
Topalov ½-½ Anand   Anand 1-0 Topalov
Aronian 1-0 Mamedyarov   Mamedyarov 1-0 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 9 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pts SB
1 Anand,V 2770 2898 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½1 6.0/9
2 Aronian,L 2830 2801 ½ 1 10 ½ 1 ½ 5.0/9
3 Kramnik,V 2787 2762 ½ ½ 10 1 ½½ ½ 0 4.5/9 20.50
4 Karjakin,S 2766 2771 ½ 0 1 ½ ½ ½1 ½ 4.5/9 19.50
5 Mamedyarov,S 2757 2780 0 1 0 ½ 1 1 ½½ 4.5/9 18.75
6 Andreikin,D 2709 2738 ½ ½ ½½ ½ 0 1 4.0/9 17.75
7 Svidler,P 2758 2726 ½ 0 ½ ½0 0 1 4.0/9 17.00
8 Topalov,V 2785 2689 ½0 ½ 1 ½ ½½ 0 0 3.5/9

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. 

53653 reads 188 comments
10 votes


  • 3 years ago


    I think we all can agree that the tourney has been extremely interesting so far. Vishy Anand seems to be the only one with stable results. Aronian and Kramnik are still holding on their #2 and #3 on the table while others are moving up and down chaotically.

    The question is, can anyone cathch up with Anand at this point? Or does it look like he's gonna be the Candidate? If he ends up challenging Carlsen, I hope he performs at his Best - and that will be an awesome fight!

  • 3 years ago


    Karjakin's opening choice was just sad, and Kramnik's blunder was just tragic.  "I wanted to go into unknown positions...." Yeah right.  The London system has been KNOWN TO BE BAD FOR OVER 80 YEARS!!!!

  • 3 years ago


    Ugh, Kramnik is collapsing... Now all the results oriented people with think that the London system or 3.Qb3 in the English are actually viable openings.....

  • 3 years ago


    Some play, many discuss, few win and one waits...

  • 3 years ago


    Guys just CHILL OUT!!

    Magnus Carlsen; everyone agrees; is a strong World Champion and highest rated player; as of today. 

    We need someone to challenge him; and the best player out of the present Candidates Tournament 2014;  has to do it!

    The reality is that as of today Anand is playing great chess and has proved; without any doubt; that he is the strongest one amongst the players that are fighting in the Candidates Tournament 2014.

    This is proved by the fact that Anand has NOT lost a game till now in the Candidates Tournament 2014; not even in any troubling positions till now; against any of the current players!

    All others have blundered or lost games; blaming their losses on opponents computer preparation or their own blunders.

    Hence if at all anyone has the right to challenge Magnus Carlsen as of today; it should RIGHTLY be Anand.

    And dont forget he is the most experienced playing Magnus Carlsen; as he is the only one who has till date played a World Championship match with Magnus Carlsen.

    I wish him well in this Candidates Tournament; as well and if he wins this; then in his second attempt at regaining his lost Crown!!

  • 3 years ago



    Good point. Anand is highly motivated for a rematch and he is currently the most in form. I am disappointed with Aronian's performance.

    As Carlsen put it in reference to Anand - Aronian Game 1, "It isn't often that you beat the World #2 purely on technique"

  • 3 years ago


    This tiger from Madras is going to shred the new cheetah from Norway in the next WC match. Maybe the cheetah is young and the tiger is old but it is going to be one hell of a world championship match. It is also a wounded tiger! You can see it mauling the lambs in this candidates tournament. Go Anand go - my favorite player:) Love from UK. Tanya.

  • 3 years ago


    Aaronsky72 - on the money

    Carlsen showed why he is just better

  • 3 years ago


    To those who think Carlsen-Anand (II) will be a boring match and an easy win for Carlsen:

    I think the current candidates results only shows one thing: Anand is the most MOTIVATED guy to play Carlsen among all these others.

    Just think of a 40-something year-old Anand who was ridiculed against Carlsen and have been criticized in the recent years for his lackluster performance. At the time of his loss he wasn't even sure if he wanted to attend the candidates. To be able to psychologically recover from that loss and get preped for a tournament at this level where he has to play against the best of the world who are mostly much younger than him just to be able to repeat that embarrassing match with Carlsen needs a looooot of motivation.

    I'm not saying that this makes him beat Carlsen, since obviously Carlsen has significanly better odds to win the wcm than any other player right now.

    What I'm saying though is that right now Anand seems to want that match repeat with Carlsen sooo badly and appears to be much more motivated than the rest of these guys and hence I believe Carlsen vs Anand will be a much closer and interesting match than Carlsen vs. any of the other guys from the candidates. I also believe that this Anand is less likely to repeat his mistakes in the previous wcm .

  • 3 years ago


    I agree with vinothbabu, Anand is an amazing player. I only got intersted in chess 9ish months ago, yet I watched(LIVE) 5 of the games. Anand lost but I thought it was all psychological, looking forward to round 2 of Anand v Carlsen :)

  • 3 years ago


    Form is temporary; class is permanent. Anand lost to Carlsen in the WC last year due to a combination of poor preparation, nerves and perhaps a bit of intimidating aura of his opponent. In a sense, the 'monkey is now off his back' after the loss (i.e., not world champion anymore) and he is playing with greater freedom and authority. I am British and I am not aligned to any particular player or country. However, in this tournament I certainly feel that Anand is a class above the rest (Man vs Boys!). He is just too solid and precise. Pulling off best moves one after the other. A true legend! Anand is the best person to challenge Carlsen again, and I have a feeling that Carlsen is going to have a rude awakening:) xx

  • 3 years ago


    Odds of Anand winning canidate: 75%.

    Odds of Anand beating Carlsen: 25% or less.

  • 3 years ago


    what a shame, i don't wanna see Anand crushed mercilessly by Carlsen again.

  • 3 years ago


    anand volvio, en forma de fichas.

  • 3 years ago


    Dramatic Mamedyarov vs Aronian:

    Anand vs Topalov: the Tiger is definitely back!

  • 3 years ago


    So much of hatred towards Anand, guys give a break. Anand is legend reagardless of his win/loss.

  • 3 years ago

    NM Petrosianic

    strange games this round, full of ideas, i like it!  i'm rather surprised by the oversights though maybe this happens more in strange positions

  • 3 years ago


    Looks really good for Vishy. He is playing what he knows best - solid chess, no unnecessary risk and pushing for the win when the chance comes along.

    Also, his rivals look really bad in this tournament. After 8 rounds Levon is on +1 and Volodia on even, so at the moment everything goes his way.

    One can't be hugely surprised about Levons play - yes, we did expect some more consistency, but he respects his style of play - complicated positions with lots of play. Usually it goes more his way, but these are Candidates, best folks in the world minus Magnus, no guarantees.

    Volodia is a real disappointment - as Grisha said, he is completely un(der)prepared as black. Two straightforward losses (Topalov and Karjakin, two tough draws (Svidler and Anand) and one easy draw (Andreikin) - that's a score you don't expect from a favorite. The decision to keep himself out of the tournament practice before Candidates was obviously wrong.

    If Vishy wins he mustn't make a mistake and isolate himself again - it is so obvious that he missed tournament chess. That goes for Magnus also - if he doesn't play his form will drop.

    And that's generally good for chess fans - people want to see World champion playing tournaments and not just waiting for the world title match.

  • 3 years ago


    Anand being on top is a slight surprise to me, but one that I am very content with. He has been a true gentleman to the game, as are Levon Aronian and others. Vishy is an amazingly talented player, who may have needed to be coaxed to play a bit more ambitiously. Kramnik was my pick at the beginning and there is still much great chess to be played. This is all just great for Chess!!

  • 3 years ago


    People can speculate and argue conjecture all day long on how good Anand was and currently is.  Anand fans need to lick their wounds and take it easy.  

    Bottom line, Carlsen rarely loses now-a-days due to his superb skills in all facets of the game.  Whoever wins the candidates has a tough uphill battle regardless of their past (which is completely irrelevant).  All that matters is the present, here and now.  Carlsen is world champion and won against Anand fair and square.  A re-match will result in another Anand obliteration.  While anything can statistically happen, it is very highly unlikely Anand will even win the candidates let alone win back the world championship against an unstoppable force such as Carlsen.

    Regardless of who wins the challenger's spot, Carlsen will crush the next three or four challengers before he even breaks a sweat.  He has many years of "world chess champion" ahead of him.  Look at his record against the top players in the last two or three years.  He has proven himself without question.    

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