Candidates’: Anand Beats Mamedyarov, Back in Sole Lead

Candidates’: Anand Beats Mamedyarov, Back in Sole Lead

| 72 | Chess Event Coverage

Going into the first rest day, Vishy Anand is back to being the sole leader at the 2014 FIDE Candidates’ Tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk. The 44-year-old Indian defeated Shakhriyar Mamedyarov with the black pieces in round 3, countering strongly against over-aggressive play from the Azerbaijani. Andreikin-Karjakin, Topalov-Aronian and Svidler-Kramnik ended in draws with especially the latter seeing some amazing tactics.

Photos © Vadim Lavrenko courtesy of the official website

The word 'spectacular' shouldn't be used on a daily basis, but it's not easy to find a better way to describe the third round in Khanty-Mansiysk! The scores - three draws and one win - don't reflect the drama, the tactical motifs and the missed opportunities that were seen on Saturday at the Candidates’ Tournament.

In the end only Vishy Anand managed to win, against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. The former world champion, who is suffering from a slight cold and a mildly irritated throat, enjoys a half-point lead over Kramnik & Svidler during the first rest day. As commentator (and former second of Anand) Peter Heine Nielsen put it today, “a guy who seems to have been in a chess crisis for years, is playing exellently right now.”

Anand's game with Mamedyarov was in fact the first to finish - it barely lasted two and a half hours. A fairly normal position was reached after fifteen moves, with Black playing a Slav set-up against White's Catalan approach. Anand was happy with 16...Kh8! which made a quick ...f6 and ...Bf7 possible.

This didn't come on the board, because Mamedyarov went 17.e5?!? - a move that's both aggressive and risky. “An attempt to punish Black but I think it doesn't work tactically,” said Anand at the press conference. He showed a line where the black queen ends up on e3 from where she couldn't be chased, because the two black bishops attack the e1 and d1 squares, reducing White's rooks to mere spectators.

Mamedyarov managed to trade one of these super-strong bishops, but his kingside was compromised. “White's king is very weak, as we saw in the game,” said Anand. As is often the case when the Indian wins a good game, he had trouble pointing out where his opponent had made the decisive error but it might well be on move 24. The computer's evaluation drops considerably after 26.Rf1 but also after other moves the players didn't like White's position at all.

During the live web broadcast Nielsen described Mamedyarov's style as “sligthly careless”, which works against a lot of players but can backfire against really strong ones. The Azerbaijani said himself: “It's much easier for me to win a game than to make a draw. I would never come and play to make a draw. Of course I will still try to play for a win, maybe not like today. Maybe it was too risky. I didn't play for four months, maybe that was the reason I blundered here.”

Dmitry Andreikin and Sergey Karjakin drew the least interesting game of the round - a 4.d3 Berlin that quickly reached a middlegame with opposite-colored bishops. Andreikin's decision to trade all rooks was “basically a draw offer, which I accepted,” said Karjakin.

The draw between Veselin Topalov (who turned 39 today) and Levon Aronian also finished before the time control, but not before the board had caught fire! The Bulgarian chose the 'classical' Anti-Marshall with 8.a4, but unlike Kasparov (against Short in 1993) he continued with d2-d4 and d4xe5 - a line that's quite topical these days.

Topalov criticised 19...Re8, which is a perfectly natural move but perhaps the timing was wrong because it allowed a strong queen sortie to h5. Aronian had underestimated the move, but quickly saw that taking on e4 would give White too much activity.

On move 23 Topalov went for a tactical sequence that led to a kingside attack, but Aronian's reaction was excellent - especially 28...Qd5. The computer couldn't find any mistakes, and so the perpetual at the end was a normal end to the game.

Svidler vs. Kramnik, the first game of the tournament that went beyond the time control, was a truly wonderful encounter. In a Symmetrical English the 7-times Russian Champion managed to keep a slight advantage out of the opening, which increased thanks to strong moves such as 25.c5! and 28.h5! but mainly because of Kramnik's mistake 30..Rc8. 

Svidler must have been winning there, but with less than two minutes on the clock he completely forgot about a double attack that solved Black's problems instantly. “I thought what I was doing was very clever but I missed 36...Qe5,” said Svidler. Kramnik, who was also in time trouble, then returned the favor on move 39, missing an easy draw.

After the time control both players thought that Black should be losing, but in fact there was a study-like defense for Black, and Kramnik (“maybe helped by the lack of options” - Viktorija Cmilyte) managed to find it! 

Both Kramnik and Svidler were happy to have played a very interesting game, and the latter summarized: “I missed my chances somewhere around move 35 because of over-excitement.” (Svidler)

After the rest day it's the start of the “Russia versus The World” part of the tournament. The pairings for Monday: Mamedyarov-Andreikin, Karjakin-Topalov, Aronian-Svidler and Anand-Kramnik.

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 - Andreikin
Karjakin ½-½ Svidler   Svidler - Karjakin
Mamedyarov ½-½ Topalov   Topalov - Mamedyarov
Anand 1-0 Aronian   Aronian - Anand
Round 2 14.03.14 15:00 MSK   Round 9 23.03.14 15:00 MSK
Kramnik 1-0 Karjakin   Karjakin - Kramnik
Svidler 1-0 Andreikin   Andreikin - Svidler
Topalov ½-½ Anand   Anand - Topalov
Aronian 1-0 Mamedyarov   Mamedyarov - 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 - Andreikin   Andreikin - Mamedyarov
Karjakin - Topalov   Topalov - Karjakin
Aronian - Svidler   Svidler - Aronian
Anand - Kramnik   Kramnik - Anand
Round 5 18.03.14 15:00 MSK   Round 12 27.03.14 15:00 MSK
Andreikin - Anand   Anand - Andreikin
Karjakin - Mamedyarov   Mamedyarov - Karjakin
Svidler - Topalov   Topalov - Svidler
Kramnik - Aronian   Aronian - Kramnik
Round 6 19.03.14 15:00 MSK   Round 13 29.03.14 15:00 MSK
Aronian - Andreikin   Andreikin - Aronian
Anand - Karjakin   Karjakin - Anand
Mamedyarov - Svidler   Svidler - Mamedyarov
Topalov - Kramnik   Kramnik - Topalov
Round 7 21.03.14 15:00 MSK   Round 14 30.03.14 15:00 MSK
Karjakin - Aronian   Aronian - Karjakin
Svidler - Anand   Anand - Svidler
Kramnik - Mamedyarov   Mamedyarov - Kramnik
Andreikin - Topalov   Topalov - Andreikin

FIDE Candidates’ 2014 | Round 3 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pts SB
1 Anand, Viswanathan 2770 3070 ½ 1 1 2.5 2.75
2 Kramnik, Vladimir 2787 2865 ½ 1 ½ 2 2.5
3 Svidler, Peter 2758 2874 ½ ½ 1 2 2.5
4 Topalov, Veselin 2785 2786 ½ ½ ½ 1.5 2.25
5 Aronian, Levon 2830 2771 0 ½ 1 1.5 1.25
6 Karjakin, Sergey 2766 2631 0 ½ ½ 1 1.5
7 Andreikin, Dmitry 2709 2650 ½ 0 ½ 1 1.5
8 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 2757 2515 0 ½ 0 0.5 0.75

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. 

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