Anand Beats Aronian, Catches Karjakin In Moscow Leaderboard

Anand Beats Aronian, Catches Karjakin In Moscow Leaderboard

| 123 | Chess Event Coverage

In a trade of co-leaders, Vishy Anand defeated Levon Aronian and took over his shared first place at the Candidates' Tournament. The other leader, Sergey Karjakin, drew with Hikaru Nakamura today.

After seven hours and seven minutes of play, Anish Giri had to settle for yet another draw after getting a winning position against Fabiano Caruana. Veselin Topalov and Peter Svidler also drew their game.

Round 9 in action. | Photo: Lennart Ootes.

Before jumping into the games your reporter needs to share one slight flaw in the design of the venue — just to get it off my back. The thing is, the press room is located behind the playing hall, and to reach it the journalists use a small corridor that shares the route of the grandmasters to their toilets. So, every time a player needs to go, security temporarily closes that corridor. As a result, several times a day a traffic jam appears on both sides, with people trying to get in our out of the press room. 

Journalists sometimes just can't get into the press room.

To make things worse, the same corridor also happens to be the way from the press room to the toilets for journalists. (They don't share the same toilets with the players.) So, it can also mean you can't go to the toilet, or leave from the toilet, and you're stuck for several minutes wondering if you're missing all the action.

All this is the result of very strict anti-cheating measures, and the fact that this corridor is probably part of the official playing area. Something to avoid for next time, WorldChess!

Danny Rensch' recap and analysis of round 9

Round 9

Anyway, on to the games. First Vishy Anand, who doesn't cease to impress. He won a surprisingly one-sided game against Levon Aronian, which saw some mistakes but nonetheless was a one-way affair. “It was pretty one-sided. I have been not playing well and Vishy played a good game,” admitted Aronian afterward.

Aronian: “Vishy played a good game.” | Photo: Lennart Ootes.

Aronian's problems started when he allowed a strong bishop on d5. Whereas Anand concluded that it had to be an oversight, Aronian argued that he had miscalculated.

A double rook endgame came on the board, and whereas yesterday he avoided making a big decision shortly before the time control, this time Anand gambled a bit on move 38 with Kg4. It worked out well when Aronian played an inaccurate king move just before the time control.

The game started as a Giuoco Piano. | Photo: Lennart Ootes.

Anand was winning in the fifth hour, then chose the wrong plan on the kingside (“embarrassing,” was how he called that) but then Aronian made one more big mistake. On what would have been the 95th birthday of Vassily Smyslov, it may still not be too late to study his classic book on rook endings (co-authored with Grigory Levenfish).

Annotations by IM Danny Rensch

The Anand-Aronian post-mortem courtesy of WorldChess.

Here's a brief reaction from Anand to about the error in the endgame:

With five rounds to go, Anand is now a serious contender for first place. On the rest day he is sharing the lead with Sergey Karjakin, who drew with Hikaru Nakamura and this kept his undefeated plus two score.

Karjakin still on top! | Photo: Lennart Ootes.

In all modesty (not!), the opening in that game might well have a direct relation with's reporting. You might remember Maxime Vachier-Lagrave's analysis of the game Topalov-Karjakin from round 5. He suggested 11...Nbd7 as an alternative there, and provided some analysis...

MVL suggested 11...Nbd7 last Wednesday.

...well, guess what. Karjakin played it, and the game followed MVL's notes exactly!

The very next move, however, Nakamura was more or less out of preparation. He called it “mentally hard” when you don't check a move that appears very natural at the board. 

As a result, Karjakin seemed to get a slight edge, but when he allowed Nakamura to take on f7 the game was equal again.

Annotations by IM Danny Rensch

The Nakamura-Karjakin post-mortem courtesy of WorldChess.

There seems to be a spell on Anish Giri. Whatever happens, he won't win a game (or lose one) in Moscow!? Even reaching a completely winning position today against Fabiano Caruana didn't do it for the Dutchman.

It was a strange game. Caruana seemed well prepared for his opponent's aggressive intentions in the Grünfeld, played fast and basically started thinking when he was already worse. 

Things started to go wrong with 18...f5, which allowed 19.f4 and 20.g3, and then 20...Nc4 was just a blunder. However, probably affected by the fast play of his opponent, Giri wasn't ready to judge things properly. He did notice the winning move 24.Ke1 but saw ghosts and also overestimated the position he got in the game.

Can he be blamed for going for a position where everything is protected (27.Nce2) and White is three pawns up?

Giri couldn't break through Fabiano's defense. | Photo: Lennart Ootes.

The folllowing back-and-forth from the press conference needs to be included in full:

Giri: “I was hoping for a complicated game, and I managed that. But Fabiano seemed very well prepared.”
Caruana: “I moved quickly but that doesn't mean I was well prepared!”
Giri: “
You did a Levon to me! You're prepared to a certain point and then you just kept on blitzing!”
Caruana: “
The computer says that White is winning but I thought it was quite difficult to play.”
Giri: “
You seemed prepared so I thought there should be something for you.”
Caruana: “Nah, there's probably nothing. It's just not a good position.”
Giri: “It gets worse and worse. First some guy is bluffing me and then the other guy is playing a losing line. People lose respect!”

Well, as it went the position was just very tricky, with Black's bishop pair and the many knight forks for White. (So tricky that Caruana briefly thought he was playing for a win!)

Giri tried it for a very long time, and made it the longest game of the longest round with, for the first time, all games going beyond the time control. The game eventually finished with a draw claim by Caruana, who could force a threefold repetition. The players were still amazingly energetic afterward.


The Giri-Caruana post-mortem courtesy of WorldChess.

Speaking to, Giri admitted that today he was “closer than ever,” and that not being able to win or lose is “not inspiring.” It's all the more disappointing because he did decided to go “all out” today. Here's his brief reaction in front of our camera:

And here's Caruana's version of what happened:

In the shadows of all this, two players who are out of contention drew their game: Veselin Topalov and Peter Svidler. It was an Anti-Marshall with 8.a4  and Topalov was copying Anand here, who beat Svidler so quickly in the 8...Bb7 line.

This time the Russian GM went 8...b4 and the players described the position out of the opening as a “strange, weird Zaitsev.” With a tactic Topalov got a clear edge but he missed a good chance on move 32 and after that Svidler was hanging on.

Not the best game ever by Topalov and Svidler. | Photo: Lennart Ootes.

Not happy with his play so far, Svidler first reaction to the question how he is planning to spend his rest day was: “Brain transplant? Seems called for by now.”

Annotations by IM Danny Rensch

The Topalov-Svidler post-mortem courtesy of WorldChess.

2016 FIDE Candidates' | Round 9 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf Pts SB
1 Karjakin,Sergey 2760 2857 5.5/9 23.50
2 Anand,Viswanathan 2762 2859 5.5/9 22.50
3 Caruana,Fabiano 2776 2817 5.0/9 21.25
4 Aronian,Levon 2786 2815 5.0/9 21.00
5 Giri,Anish 2793 2779 4.5/9
6 Svidler,Peter 2757 2740 4.0/9
7 Nakamura,Hikaru 2790 2698 3.5/9
8 Topalov,Veselin 2780 2654 3.0/9

The round 9 recap by WorldChess

Round 10 pairings (Wednesday): Svidler-Nakamura, Karjakin-Giri, Caruana-Anand, and Aronian-Topalov.

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.


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