Anand Loses, Karjakin Wins As Candidates' Reaches Decisive Phase

Anand Loses, Karjakin Wins As Candidates' Reaches Decisive Phase

| 124 | Chess Event Coverage

It's much harder to stay at the top than to get there. This cliche seems oh so true for the Candidates' Tournament, where Vishy Anand had to let go of pole position today after losing quickly to Hikaru NakamuraSergey Karjakin beat Veselin Topalov surprisingly easily and now shares first again, with Fabiano Caruana, but the Muscovite has a better (second) tiebreak: number of wins.

To reach the fifth floor of the Central Telegraph building, almost anyone takes a slow and tiny elevator that can hold a maximum of four people. That's why every day the players drop in separately, with a few minutes in between. Kris Littlejohn and Grzegorz Gajewski usually join their bosses, Hikaru Nakamura and Vishy Anand respectively, but e.g. Rustam Kasimdzhanov (who is helping Fabiano Caruana) not always.

One player took the stairs today, Sergey Karjakin, and he was quite a bit faster than his second Vladimir Potkin. “As it should be!” noted Potkin. Karjakin would climb even higher today as he won his encounter with Veselin Topalov.

For this game Karjakin went back to his old love: 1.e4. You could say that he was being true to his own style, because he's been an 1.e4 player for almost all his life.

“Finally a Najdorf,” many fans thought today, including MVL. | Photo Lennart Ootes.

Related to this is a nice email which this reporter received from Boris Gelfand, about yesterday's report. He didn't mind that I'd share it:

“You found a great way to pay a tribute to my favorite football player of all time in your round 11 article. I really liked it! Cruyff made me a fan of Ajax, Barca and Orange! He has also influenced my attitude to chess, showing how important it is to be true to your own style.”

For Topalov it was the same: he said goodbye to the Berlin with 1...e5, and chose the opening that fits him much more: the Sicilian. “There will be blood!” joked his lifelong friend Silvio Danailov, who is joining his “Vesko” in Moscow from start to finish.

Blood there was to be, but not Karjakin's. An exciting game with opposite castling had hardly started when Topalov made a terrible blunder. He miscalculated something simple, lost an exchange and didn't get much compensation. Karjakin could have won quicker, but the result was never really in doubt.

Karjakin back at the top again. | Photo Lennart Ootes.

“The way I'm playing in the opening, it doesn't matter. At least I thought it would be a good choice, a little bit more of a complicated game, not a positional one. But the way I'm playing it doesn't really matter,” said Topalov.

The Karjakin-Topalov press conference courtesy of WorldChess.

During this round some new grandmaster faces appeared in the playing hall, such as Natalia Zhukova (who told that her daughter is now taking chess lessons as well, but likes basketball even more!) and Ernesto Inarkiev. The latter chatted mostly with Mark Dvoretsky.

Your reporter couldn't resist asking Dvoretsky whether his famous “superfluous knight” concept was relevant to this game (with both Nb6 and Ne5 looking at the c4 square). The famous trainer remarked: “That is about positional positions, not tactical ones!” (MVL however didn't want to take on c4 as his analysis indicates!)

The players also briefly talked to

By now the term rollercoaster doesn't do enough justice to Vishy Anand's crazy tournament. The Indian GM only played five draws out of 12 games, and keeps on alternating losses and wins. His bad score against Hikaru Nakamura became even worse as he lost, and rather quickly.

It was the second American grandmaster in a row who surprised Anand in the English Opening. Where Caruana played a subtle move order, Nakamura had prepared a very complicated line.

Anand was surprisingly helpless today vs Nakamura. | Photo Lennart Ootes.

"I was essentially gambling that Vishy could not be prepared for it and that he would play more human-looking moves,” said Nakamura. And it worked: Anand didn't find some typical computer moves that were necessary in this position and quickly ended up in big trouble. Littlejohn vs Gajewski: 1-0.

Annotations by GM Robert Hess

The Nakamura-Anand press conference courtesy of WorldChess.

Nakamura spoke to after the game.

Fabiano Caruana played with the white pieces today. Like yesterday, a win would have meant clear first place. Yesterday he came close, but today against Levon Aronian it was too much to ask. 

After a devastating loss the other day (after which he raced to the post-mortem, said little, spoke to almost no reporters, hastened to get his coat and went off), Aronian was back to being gladsome as always when he entered the building today. And he played well.

The round 12 analysis recap by IM Danny Rensch.

In the final phase of the game it was Aronian who had the best chances, and you could say that Caruana didn't lose this game because he managed to avoid time trouble this time. But also because Aronian failed to correctly evaluate the beautiful 38...Rxd3!! (noticed by both players during the game) which Robert Hess analyzed to a win for Black. (One chess fan even saw similarities with the famous Ortueta-Sanz combination.)

The commentators discuss 38...Rxd3 with the players
just before going live. | Photo Lennart Ootes.

Does Caruana think that his game with Karjakin in the final round will be decisive? “It is very likely that it will be. There are so many scenarios where this will have a decisive impact on first place. But OK, there's still a game and a rest day before that,” he said.

Annotations by GM Robert Hess

The Caruana-Aronian press conference courtesy of WorldChess.

The two players who are away from the board during their games the most, faced each other today. Both Anish Giri and Peter Svidler like to stroll along the playing hall when it's not their move. Whereas Giri uses the small area along the wall, Svidler prefers the gap between the playing area and the spectators.

The two played another English, the opening that's so popular in this event, but this main line with 4...d5 we hadn't seen yet. The players bashed out a lot of moves quickly and everything was normal until move 22, when Svidler “saw ghosts” and refrained from playing e3-e4.

A few moves later he did go for it, but from that moment Giri grabbed the initiative. Eventually the Dutchman won a pawn and then he tried to win a double rook ending. He failed, drew his 12th game and then held the initiative in the post-mortem as well. 

“The problem is that you can make twenty inaccurate moves and still the most likely result is a draw,” Giri said. “I am not qualified to have any more opinions here,” was Svidler's comment.

Anish Giri played his 12th draw. | Photo Lennart Ootes.

Plus two can still be enough to win the tournament, so commentator Ian Nepomniachtchi asked Giri how he rates his chances of fighting for first place. The answer: “A little bit higher than yours, but not very much!”

Giri and Svidler on their way to the post-mortem studio. | Photo Lennart Ootes.

Annotations by IM Danny Rensch

The Svidler-Giri press conference courtesy of WorldChess.

2016 FIDE Candidates' Tournament | Round 12 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pts SB
1 Karjakin,S 2760 2837 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 10 ½½ ½½ ½ ½1 ½1 7.0/12 39.25
2 Caruana,F 2794 2836 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½1 ½ ½½ ½½ ½1 ½½ 7.0/12 40.50
3 Anand,V 2762 2809 01 ½0 phpfCo1l0.png 1 ½ ½1 ½0 6.5/12
4 Svidler,P 2757 2781 ½½ ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png ½½ ½1 ½½ ½½ 6.0/12 36.75
5 Giri,A 2793 2777 ½½ ½½ ½ ½½ phpfCo1l0.png ½½ ½½ ½ 6.0/12 35.00
6 Aronian,L 2786 2777 ½ ½½ ½0 ½0 ½½ phpfCo1l0.png 1 6.0/12 34.25
7 Nakamura,H 2790 2746 0½ ½0 ½1 ½½ ½½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png 1 5.5/12
8 Topalov,V 2780 2655 ½0 ½½ ½½ ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png 4.0/12

The round 12 recap by WorldChess.

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. phpfCo1l0.png


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