Anand Back At Top After Grinding Down Karjakin

Anand Back At Top After Grinding Down Karjakin

| 128 | Chess Event Coverage

Vishy Anand is yet again back in shared first place after beating Sergey Karjakin at the Candidates' Tournament today. He still has a worse tiebreak than Fabiano Caruana (mutual score), who drew with but could have beaten Veselin Topalov today.

Levon Aronian was much better but played for a win one move too long and then lost to Peter Svidler.

“In a way I’m probably immortal.”

Is Vishy Anand doing it again? Will the five-time world champion emerge as the winner of the Candidates', qualify for a third match with Magnus Carlsen and thus be, in a way, immortal?

Time will tell, but it is just absolutely amazing how the 46-year-old Indian grandmaster keeps on reaching the top. With worse tiebreaks against both Sergey Karjakin and Fabiano Caruana, today's game was kind of a must-win — and he delivered.

The handshake before one of the key games in this tournament. | Photo Lennart Ootes.

“Playing football is very simple, but playing
simple football is the hardest thing there is.”

And like against Aronian, Anand won in an endgame and made it look simple. It is perhaps that part of Anand's huge experience that comes, at least partly, from the many games he played with Carlsen.

Anand got a slight edge out of the opening, an Anti-Berlin. The game went straight to an endgame with opposite-colored bishops and rooks, and White controlled the only open file. Anand started pushing his 4-vs-3 pawn majority, but was it really enough for a win?

No, it wasn't. At the post-mortem Anand pointed out a few moments where Karjakin could have played better.

Karjakin, Anand and Nepomniachtchi at the post-mortem. | Photo Lennart Ootes.


“Football is a game of mistakes. Whoever
makes the fewest mistakes wins.”

And that certainly counts for chess too. Anand just kept on pressing, and although Karjakin's mistakes were small, they decided the game. When Anand got the chance to play 39.Rd4, he felt he was going to win the game.

“Somehow when we exchanged the queens I was actually thinking that this is a dead draw,” Karjakin told “Somehow I played not accurately at all. At some point it became very unpleasant.”

After the time control it was already lost today, according to Karjakin. He said that he wasn't nervous but that Anand was. “I just played bad, that was the reason I lost.”

“It was my impression that the game was high quality,” Anand told afterward. “I think I'm quite proud of this game.”


Both players commented to

The Anand-Karjakin press conference courtesy of WorldChess.

“If you can’t win, make sure you don’t lose.”

Only half a point behind the leaders, Levon Aronian was still in contention as well but today he suffered a major setback. He got a very promising position out of the opening, failed to win in the attack, and then played on for a win too long while spending lots of time on the clock. That way Peter Svidler scored his first win in the tournament, and rather unexpectedly.

Aronian was pressing, but eventually even lost. | Photo Lennart Ootes.

It was another Isolated Queen's Pawn position for Svidler, reached via a Slav — he had done the same against Karjakin and Nakamura earlier in the tournament. But, “something strange happened,” he explained to “Me and Maxim [Matlakov, his second - PD] even expected Levon would go for this setup, but still I managed to not prepare for it properly.”

Trading knights and bishops before move 20 seemed solid, but even there his team had underestimated White's attacking chances. Aronian directed everything towards the enemy king and definitely missed a chance when he refrained from 24.Nh6+ Kg7 25.h4, connected with the move f4-f5. In the post-mortem Svidler was checkmated.

“Every disadvantage has its advantage.”

Defending against such a strong attack has one advantage: you often don't have a choice, and that saves time on the clock. Asked how difficult it is to defend such a position, Svidler said to “Well, I had to make a few only moves so in a way it wasn't that difficult.”

Surely influenced by his nice position earlier in the game as well as the tournament situation, Aronian felt obliged to continue playing for a win. He did that “one move too long,” Svidler said to, and noted that the trick 37.Rxg6+! was probably objectively best. As it went, Svidler won a pawn and soon after the game.

Peter Svidler scored his first win in the tournament. | Photo Lennart Ootes.

Annotations by GM Robert Hess

The Aronian-Svidler press conference courtesy of WorldChess.


“Italians cannot beat you, but you can certainly lose against them.”

Well, he's not that Italian anymore but Fabiano Caruana couldn't beat Veselin Topalov today from a fairly winning position despite getting very close. Before that he had been under considerable pressure, and maybe that's why, after a tough game but in position that's still complicated, Caruana offered a draw, and Topalov accepted. “I was ready to finish this game,” said Caruana afterward.

A highly complicated draw between Topalov and Caruana. | Photo Lennart Ootes.

The game started with an incredibly difficult line in the English that was first seen at top level in the game Aronian-Leko, Morelia 2008. Lots of stuff has happened since, and that includes the amazing 10...Ra7!? (played in the blitz game Matlakov-Grischuk, Dubai 2014).

Caruana was “out of book” a bit earlier than Topalov, who finally got to sacrifice an exchange in this tournament. He didn't find the most dangerous moves though, and Caruana took over the initiative when his queen penetrated into White's position.

In fact Caruana just outplayed Topalov in this phase, with a long series of computer-accurate moves. At that point many expected him to win this game, and possibly grab sole lead in the tournament.

“Sometimes something's got to happen
before something is going to happen.”

But as said, all the complications took Caruana too much time on the clock and to win the game he had to make it happen, but something else happened instead. In time trouble he spoiled it as he missed White's 39.Rc2 (with the sudden threat to take on c5).

At the post-mortem the players showed some interesting variations and it seems likely that they would have reached a draw in a bishop endgame. It's a pity they didn't show it on the board, argued one Norwegian grandmaster, and who would disagree?

Caruana and Topalov “finished” their game on a laptop instead. | Photo Lennart Ootes.

Annotations by GM Robert Hess

The Topalov-Caruana post-mortem courtesy of WorldChess.

“You have got to shoot, otherwise you can't score.”

“This is getting really bad,” said Anish Giri while passing this reporter on his way to the post-mortem. He had just blown another very promising position, this time against Hikaru Nakamura. The Dutchman probably doesn't know what's going on either, but fact is that he has drawn all his 11 games.

What does Giri need to do to win a game?? | Photo Lennart Ootes.

From a Giuoco Piano Giri had kept a slight plus, which started to become more serious after some pawn trades on the queenside. Black was left with an isolated b-pawn, which was potentially weak. Meanwhile, Giri was trying to play on both flanks, and Nakamura was hanging on by a thread.

Just when he would win a pawn, Giri suffered from chess blindness and played an incorrect piece sac on g7. Another game where a sudden turn of events led to a draw in a position where both players didn't dare playing on. Another draw, but at least Giri shot at the goal this time.

Annotations by GM Robert Hess


Sopiko Guramishvili & Vladimir Tukmakov, Giri's wife and coach,
following the games at the venue. | Photo Lennart Ootes.

The Giri-Nakamura press conference courtesy of WorldChess.

2016 FIDE Candidates' Tournament | Round 11 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pts SB
1 Caruana,F 2794 2841 phpfCo1l0.png ½1 ½ ½½ ½ ½ ½1 ½½ 6.5/11 34.50
2 Anand,V 2762 2843 ½0 phpfCo1l0.png 01 ½ 1 ½1 ½ 6.5/11 34.00
3 Karjakin,S 2760 2810 ½ 10 phpfCo1l0.png ½½ ½½ ½ ½ 6.0/11
4 Giri,A 2793 2779 ½½ ½ ½½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½½ ½½ ½ 5.5/11 30.50
5 Svidler,P 2757 2780 ½ 0 ½½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½1 ½½ ½½ 5.5/11 28.75
6 Aronian,L 2786 2776 ½ ½0 ½ ½½ ½0 phpfCo1l0.png 1 5.5/11 28.25
7 Nakamura,H 2790 2713 ½0 ½ ½½ ½½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png 1 4.5/11
8 Topalov,V 2780 2680 ½½ ½ ½ ½½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png 4.0/11


A disappointing draw, but still in first place... | Photo Lennart Ootes. together with Anand! | Photo Lennart Ootes.

Round 12: Svidler-Giri, Nakamura-Anand, Karjakin-Topalov, and Caruana-Aronian.
Round 13: Caruana-Svidler, Aronian-Karjakin, Topalov-Nakamura, and Anand-Giri.
Round 14: Svidler-Anand, Giri-Topalov, Nakamura-Aronian, and Karjakin-Caruana.

The FIDE Candidates' Tournament runs March 11-29 in the Central Telegraph building in Moscow. The total prize fund is €420,000 with the Tashir Group as the main sponsor. The games start 3 p.m. local time, which is 4 a.m. Pacific, 7 a.m. New York, noon GMT or 1 p.m. CET. The winner earns the right to play Magnus Carlsen in November in New York.

This report is dedicated to the one and only #14. phpfCo1l0.png


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