First game Candidates final drawn

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First game Candidates final drawnThe first game of the Candidates final in Kazan, Russia between Alexander Grischuk and Boris Gelfand ended in a draw. Grischuk was slightly better for a long time in an ending but Gelfand defended accurately. The final consists of six classical games and if necessary a tie-break with rapid and blitz games. The winner will play against World Champion Viswanathan Anand next year.

General info

The Candidates matches take place May 3-27 in Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia. Levon Aronian (Armenia), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan), Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan) and Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria) were knocked out in the quarter-finals. In the semis, Alexander Grischuk (Russia) won against Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) and Boris Gelfand beat Gata Kamsky (USA). The quarter-finals and semi-finals consisted of four classical games and tie-breaks; there are six classical games in the final. The winner qualifies for a World Title match against Vishy Anand next year. More info here; tie-break rules here.

Game 1

Now that favourites like Levon Aronian, Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov are gone, we notice a decrease in interest in and excitement about the Candidates final. Many chess fans feel that neither Alexander Grischuk or Boris Gelfand stand a reasonable chance against World Champion Vishy Anand next year, so what's the reason to follow the developments in Kazan any longer?

Perhaps it helps to realize that it doesn't really make sense to state that "the strongest players have been eliminated already". Although this might actually be true, it ignores the very reason why these Candidates matches are organized in the first place. They're there to find out who, at this point in time, is stronger than the others.

Playing just four classical games in the quarter finals and semis and then six in the final is slightly less convincing than the 24 games Karpov and Korchnoi played in their Candidates final in 1974. But given the flawed system FIDE is using in 2011, we have to accept that in the current World Championship cycle, the winner of the Candidates final is the true, and only true challenger for Anand. And let the World Champ prove himself that he really is much stronger than Gelfand or Grischuk next year!

It's not easy to say who is the favourite in this final. Gelfand has huge experience, but Grischuk perhaps more energy. Gelfand reached the Candidates by winning the 2009 World Cup, and should in fact have played a match against Levon Aronian (the winner of the Grand Prix) to determine Anand's opponent. Grischuk came in as a substitute for Magnus Carlsen (who refused to participate) but did eliminate top favourites Aronian and Kramnik.

First game Candidates final drawn

This final will be played over six classical games, of which the first ended in a draw. It was a good fight that, in the first place, proved that Grischuk is not happy with a quick draw with White in any opening against any opponent. In fact the Russian managed to get a small advantage in an ending, which forced his opponent to defend very accurately.

First game Candidates final drawn

Update: In a comment under this report, GM Yasser Seirawan, who comments on the games for ICC's Chess.FM every day, says:

I’m surprised in the annotations at various websites attention hasn’t been drawn to White’s 25th move Kc3, blocking the Rook. A very counter-intuitive move. The critical move was 25.Rc5!, with the very straightforward idea of winning the a7-pawn. Play might have proceeded in two directions, first a “race”:

25.Rc5 Rd2+ 26.Kc3 Rxf2 27.Ra5 Rxh2 28.Rxa7, in this race, White’s two connected passed pawns are more advanced and furthermore White’s b7-Bishop is ideally placed to stop Black’s pawns. White is winning.

The other try is to stop White on the Queenside: 25.Rc5! g6 26.Ra5 Kg7 27.Rxa7 Rd7 28.b5 Bd5 29.Bxd5 Rxa7, Black has won the Exchange but the combination of Bishop, two connected passed pawns, supported by the White King is winning for White.

Have fun playing out these lines on your engines.

Great site!

Yasser


These lines have been added to the game viewer below. Grischuk-Gelfand Candidates final, g1 (Kazan) 2011

Game viewer by ChessTempo


Images FIDE | Russian Chess Federation



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