Four Draws In Moscow; Karjakin Maintains Lead

Four Draws In Moscow; Karjakin Maintains Lead

| 46 | Chess Event Coverage

After four draws in round five of the Candidates' Tournament Sergey Karjakin is still a half point ahead of the pack. 

When you hold a big chess event in the capital of Russia you'll be assured of one thing: grandmasters dropping by. On Wednesday some regulars were there such as Ian Nepomniachtchi, Maxim Matlakov and Ildar Khairullin, but also some new faces: Evgeny Sveshnikov, Vladimir Belov, Andrey Deviatkin, and Pavel Tregubov, the latter being the husband of commentator Alexandra Kosteniuk.

Whether they're all supporting Sergey Karjakin is not clear, but the one participant who happens to live in Moscow is still in the lead. “He seems to be the player in the best shape so far and might soon be the man to beat!” wrote our commentator Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

Today Karjakin was put under pressure by tailender Veselin Topalov, who played his best game so far. In another Queen's Indian, Karjakin's trademark opening these days, Topalov forced his opponent to play with hanging pawns instead of against, like yesterday. And with some subtle rook moves, the Bulgarian kept an advantage.

Topalov put Karjakin under a decent amount of pressure. | Photo courtesy of WorldChess.

But then it was Karjakin's turn to find two great (defensive) ideas: 15...Bd6! and 20...c4!. (“If I don't play 20...c4 it might get unpleasant.”) He continued with very concrete play and limited any possible danger. 

“I believe White should be better [out of the opening], the question is how much," said Topalov, who might have taken on f7 on move 16 when he was younger. He left the press room visibly disapppointed, knowing that he had his chances.

The Topalov-Karjakin press conference courtesy of WorldChess.

This happened to be the longest of the four draws. In fact, the other three games all ended on move 30 precisely, the minimum according to the rules (without an earlier move repetition, that is). Vishy Anand said about his game: “We repeated and reached 30 at the same time!”

That was an Anti-Berlin with Hikaru Nakamura behind the black pieces. The American said he was happy he could play the 5...Nd4 line (usually White plays 5.c3 to avoid this) as he considered it “quite equal.”

Nakamura and Anand were in a pretty good mood afterward. | Photo courtesy of WorldChess.

However, in the middlegame he felt under pressure anyway, and criticised his 18...Qe8. White was slightly better and with 24.Ra1 Anand could definitely have played for a win. In the press conference it seemed that Nakamura had seen a bit further, and rightly feared that move.

The Anand-Nakamura press conference courtesy of WorldChess.

Levon Aronian might have been rather close to his second win today, if he had trusted his attacking possibilities against Fabiano Caruana a bit more.

Caruana surprised his seven rivals (Giri visibly frowned when he noticed!) and most chess fans by playing the Benoni today. This opening that was considered dangerous for many years but enjoyed a small revival in the first decade of the 21st century, when the late Vugar Gashimov played it successfully.

Caruana's choice wasn't intended specifically for the Candidates'. “I've been trying to play the Benoni for a long time but nobody lets me!” he said. “You have a partner in me. You can always play Benoni with me!” quipped Aronian.

Aronian: “You can always play Benoni with me!” | Photo courtesy of WorldChess.

The Armenian went for a “comfortable plus” and then played the typical e4-e5, dxe5, f4-f5 sequence known from the classic Penrose-Tal, Leipzig Olympiad 1960 and many other games.  

At the press conference Aronian was all smiles. In his usual, jovial mood, he started showing that he had planned 23.f6 to start a mating attack, but said he didn't trust it. However, Caruana failed to defend against it then and there (“You see? I mated you my friend!” — Aronian) and the longer you let the computer calculate, the stronger the attack gets. 

Did Aronian miss a chance to score a beautiful win?

The Aronian-Caruana press conference courtesy of WorldChess.

Anish Giri and Peter Svidler played a Fianchetto Grünfeld with 6.Qb3. Normally Black puts his queen on b6 as well, but Svidler decided to spend 15 minutes thinking of something Anish “might not have looked at carefully before the game.” He chose 7...a5, similar to 6...a5 which he had tried against Aronian at the Olympiad in 2004.

It worked out OK, and Black was doing fine around move 13, but somehow five moves later White was clearly better. And then something typical happened: with many good possibilities, Giri spent too much time on the clock and then chose a suboptimal continuation. Soon, the players repeated moves.

“There are always all kinds of resources. The Grünfeld is a resilient opening!” said Svidler.

The Giri-Svidler press conference courtesy of WorldChess.


2016 Candidates' Tournament | Round 5 Standings

# Name Fed Rtg Perf Pts SB
1 Karjakin,Sergey RUS 2760 2923 3.5/5
2 Aronian,Levon ARM 2786 2847 3.0/5
3 Giri,Anish NED 2793 2778 2.5/5 6.75
4 Svidler,Peter RUS 2757 2781 2.5/5 6.25
5 Caruana,Fabiano USA 2794 2783 2.5/5 5.75
6 Anand,Viswanathan IND 2762 2782 2.5/5 5.25
7 Nakamura,Hikaru USA 2790 2703 2.0/5
8 Topalov,Veselin BUL 2780 2625 1.5/5

The round 5 recap by WorldChess.

Round 6 pairings: Anand-Svidler, Topalov-Giri, Aronian-Nakamura, and Caruana-Karjakin.

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.

More from PeterDoggers
Gender Bias Research Shows Parents, Mentors Shortchange Girls’ Chess Potential

Gender Bias Research Shows Parents, Mentors Shortchange Girls’ Chess Potential

Nepomniachtchi Repeats Levitov Chess Week Victory

Nepomniachtchi Repeats Levitov Chess Week Victory