Candidates’ R4: Mamedyarov & Aronian Win, Anand Maintains Lead

Candidates’ R4: Mamedyarov & Aronian Win, Anand Maintains Lead

| 42 | Chess Event Coverage

In round 4 of the 2014 FIDE Candidates’ Tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk Vishy Anand maintained his half-point lead. The Indian GM drew a wild but relatively short game with Vladimir Kramnik that started as a Vienna. Levon Aronian moved to shared second place by beating Peter Svidler in a Grünfeld. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov finally had Caissa on his side; the Azerbaijani won against Dmitry Andreikin in a Chebanenko Slav. Sergey Karjakin tried 1.c4 against Veselin Topalov; these two players split the point at move 40.

Photos © Vadim Lavrenko courtesy of the official website

With lots of snow and temperatures around zero Celsius, the players had good reason to stay inside on Sunday and continue preparing for their next games. Today they played the fourth round, and two players won: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Levon Aronian. Drawing his game with Vladimir Kramnik, Vishy Anand is the only player on 3.0/4.

Former world champions Anand and Kramnik have played each other numerous times - in fact 166 in total, including rapid, blitz and other types of games, according to the database! In their 167 encounter they played the Vienna variation of the Queen's Gambit - something they got on the board a few times with colors reversed. “I was surprised to find himself in the Vienna,” said Anand. “I couldn't remember him playing this for a while so in the beginning I was trying to remember my preparation in this line.”

There was nothing wrong with Anand's memory as the Indian followed Kramnik's last game in this line, against Grischuk, in 2011. It's a sharp middlegame, where both kings stay in the center for the moment. White has a better development, but Black is the first to create serious threats. 

At the press conference Anand wondered whether he should have played 19.Nf3, which was in fact played once before. The alternative looked natural too, and was based on playing 21.Nb3, but in the end the Indian went for 21.Nf3, which led to a draw by force, just when the game seemed to become very interesting.

Asked about the game, Kramnik decided not to show all his cards. “It's a long tournament and I don't want to give many variations, because the game has quite a theoretical importance in my opinion. I wouldn't also like to tell what was my preparation and why.” Reacting to a comment by Alexander Grischuk that he might not be prepared well enough with the black pieces, Kramnik said: “I don't fully agree but he has a point.”

There's not much to say about the other draw, between Sergey Karjakin and Veselin Topalov. With 1.c4 Karjakin tried to surprise his opponent, but the Bulgarian knew what he was doing in one of the main lines of the English. On move 23 all minor pieces were traded, and a few moves later Karjakin got two rooks for a queen. Normally that's a good thing, but Topalov had seen that there was no way for White to win the d4 pawn.

“I can't say that I'm in my perfect form but it's not bad either. It's just the beginning,” said Topalov.

Mamedyarov hadn't exactly been the luckiest guy in town: in the first round he had a promising against Topalov that ended in a draw, and then he suffered two losses of which especially the one against Aronian was somewhat unnecessary. But this time it was his opponent who blundered.

In a Chebanenko Slav, Mamedyarov avoided the theoretical lines by choosing 6.a3 - “Just to play chess.” He said that Black was OK out of the opening, but he thought Black should have tried harder to prevent the b2-b4 push. Andreikin thought that his problems started later, describing 22...b6 as “perhaps not precise.”

The final phase of the game was a bit of a lottery as both players had just one minute left on the clock for their last six moves. A mistake was bound to happen, and it was Andreikin who gave away half a point by choosing the wrong square for his king on move 37. White's knight on c2 was a remarkably strong defender.

Aronian-Svidler got the chess fans on the edge of their seats, with topical theory, a bishop sac on f7, the march of two connected center pawns, an interesting ending and even a computer suggestion that was so beautiful that even the players were impressed!

The very theoretical 8.Rb1 of the Grünfeld came on the board, and soon it became clear that Svidler was the one who had come to the board better prepared. His 21...Qa3 is an important alternative to 21...Qa6 (known to be good for White), although strictly speaking not a novelty as it had been tried in correpondence games.

At the press conference it became clear that Svidler had looked extensively at White's piece sacrifice 22.Bxf7+. “It might sound strange but this seems to be the safest way to get some play,” said Aronian about the move that got the crowd screaming.

The critical moment of the game was after 27.Bc3. Svidler spent 40 minutes on the clock because he had to make a very principled decision: to play a slightly worse, but probably holdable ending, or “to play a game”, as he put it himself. He chose the latter, which was also the more difficult option. Commentator Peter Heine Nielsen thought it wasn't the most practical decision to refrain from 27...Nxd4 as in the game Black's problems proved too hard to meet.

Svidler summarized the game as follows: “A very interesting and theoretically important game I think. I seem to be choosing wrongly as in when to go for a principled fight in this tournament.”

Tomorrow we'll see the games Andreikin-Anand, Karjakin-Mamedyarov, Svidler-Topalov and Kramnik-Aronian, the first of two games between the two pre-tournament favorites.

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 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 - 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 4 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pts SB
1 Anand, Viswanathan 2770 2981 1 ½ ½ 1 3 6.25
2 Aronian, Levon 2830 2856 0 ½ 1 1 2.5 4.5
3 Kramnik, Vladimir 2787 2839 ½ ½ 1 ½ 2.5 4.5
4 Topalov, Veselin 2785 2781 ½ ½ ½ ½ 2 4.25
5 Svidler, Peter 2758 2773 0 ½ ½ 1 2 3
6 Karjakin, Sergey 2766 2671 0 ½ ½ ½ 1.5 2.5
7 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 2757 2685 0 0 ½ 1 1.5 2
8 Andreikin, Dmitry 2709 2576 ½ 0 ½ 0 1 2

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. 

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

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