Three Winners in Spectacular Second Round FIDE Candidates’

Three Winners in Spectacular Second Round FIDE Candidates’

| 29 | Chess Event Coverage

In the second round of the 2014 FIDE Candidates’ Tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk “youth” a hard time against “experience”. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov blundered his queen in the opening (a QGD Manhattan system) and put up some resistance against Levon Aronian but in the end he couldn't hold it. In a game that was praised by experts, Peter Svidler defeated Dmitry Andreikin from a Kalashnikov Sicilian. Vladimir Kramnik beat Sergey Karjakin, who tried the Queen's Gambit Accepted. Kramnik and Svidler joined Anand in the lead with a score of 1.5/2.

All photos courtesy of the official website

After a first-round loss, who doesn't want to bounce back immediately? Preferably with a game that's not too long, maybe even a quick blunder by the opponent? Wouldn't that be great?

That's exactly what happened to Levon Aronian, who received an early gift from his opponent, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, in round 2 of the Candidates’ Tournament. Azerbaijan top grandmaster missed a tactic, and had to give up his queen as early as move 17. Even though it was too early to resign, the resulting positing was just lost, especially against the world number two.


“I was quite surprised [about 11...h6] but then I realized that Shakhriyar, a strong tactical player himself, just blundered a simple tactic. It happens quite a lot that tactical players sometimes don't see simple things,” said Aronian. The real mistake was made on move 13, as Mamedyarov admitted he had completely missed 14.Nde4.

Vishy Anand, the only winner of the first round, drew rather comfortably with Veselin Topalov. The Bulgarian approached his opponent's solid Slav-repertoire by playing around with move-orders (1.Nf3, postponing d2-d4) and then it was the Indian's turn to make it really original by going for 4...Nbd7 and 5...e5. Interestingly, this had been played before in a game between Mikhail Tal - Anand's favorite World Champion - and Vladimir Bagirov, back in 1987.

Anand playing 7...d6 against Topalov

Black's play came down to a pawn sac, and as commentator Peter Heine Nielsen said on the official website, the question was whether Topalov would take some risks to hang on to it. Well, he did, but in a way that didn't scare his opponent the slightest. The game reached an ending where White ended up with two weak pawns, and almost by force a 4 vs. 3 rook ending was reached.

OK, Garry Kasparov once lost this to Jeroen Piket, and Anand had shown to be slightly vulnerable in rook endings in his match with Carlsen, but the Kasparov-Piket game was online (and rapid) and the endgames in Chennai were much more complicated. To put an end to all doubts, Anand impressively liquidated to a 2 vs. 1 pawn ending which he knew was drawn. He then enjoyed pointing out at the press conference that the position after 50...f5 is a mutual zugzwang position, meaning that if it's Black to move he loses. 

An animated Anand at the press conference

The game between Peter Svidler and Dmitry Andreikin was more or less decided by one, highly creative pawn move. Andreikin, who qualified for this event as finalist of the 2013 World Cup, managed to surprise his opponent with his opening choice: the Kalashnikov. At the press conference Svidler said he would have preferred to play Andreikin a bit later in the tournament, as he expected the unexpected!

Andreikin going for 4...e5 vs. Svidler

This was the reason for his slighthly timid 6.c4, the positional alternative to the more critical 6.N1c3. “"Not the most critical but I shouldn't be involved in huge tactical complications,” said Svidler.

The players agreed that Black was absolutely fine after the opening, and on move 16 the critical position was reached. “Losing the sense of danger” (Andreikin), Back went for the tactical 16...b5, missing the creative pawn move 20.f4 in his calculations. An absolutely critical move with which White gained the upper hand. A few moves later Andreikin missed one more detail, giving his opponent the opportunity to finish the game in style. 

Svidler and Andreikin going through their game

The position after move 28 reminded of the following game. Svidler rightly pointed out that “that was three pawns, not two - which make the difference.” (Did the players know that this famous game also started as Kalashnikov!?)

Vladimir Kramnik then also won, to join Anand and Svidler in first place. The 14th World Champion, who might be playing for his last chance to win back the title this year, beat Sergey Karjakin in a Queen's Gambit Accepted.

Kramnik, well prepared and focused, against Karjakin

Kramnik came up with a new idea on move 9, and at the press conference Kramnik revealed that he had already prepared it for the 2013 Candidates’! Praising his opponent for finding several computer moves in a row, the 38-year-old Russian couldn't clearly point out where Black had gone wrong. Feeling that he had been outplayed basically from the start, Karjakin said: “I'm not ashamed that I lost. The game was quite interesting, I was fighting and I lost.”

Kramnik with good reason to smile at the press conference

Chairs in Chess

At the end of the last press conference the chairs that are used by the players were discussed. In the first round the players used fixed chairs, but for the second round they were given chairs on wheels. Nonetheless, Kramnik had asked for (and was given) a different, even more comfortable chair.

A lucky chair for Kramnik?

One of the hosts, Anastasiya Karlovich, reminded the journalists of the 2013 Paris Grand Prix, where Alexander Grischuk asked for a less comfortable chair to avoid falling asleep during the game. Kramnik then mentioned that Garry Kasparov did something similar in his match with him, but that he himself always prefers “the most comfortable chair possible.”


Tomorrow is the last day that the four Russians are paired against each other: Andreikin-Karjakin, Svidler-Kramnik and Topalov-Aronian. The measure to have players from the same nationality playing each other at the start is to remove any doubts about them joining forces and help the strongest. It was Bobby Fischer who accused the Soviet participants of such a strategy at the 1962 Candidates’ Tournament. It's unlikely that the rule is really necessary these days, but it's not that harmful either. 

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 - Karjakin   Karjakin - Andreikin
Svidler - Kramnik   Kramnik - Svidler
Topalov - Aronian   Aronian - Topalov
Mamedyarov - 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 2 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pts SB
1 Anand, Viswanathan 2770 2998 ½ 1 1.5 1.5
2 Kramnik, Vladimir 2787 2928 1 ½ 1.5 0.75
3 Svidler, Peter 2758 2928 ½ 1 1.5 0.75
4 Topalov, Veselin 2785 2764 ½ ½ 1.0 1.0
5 Aronian, Levon 2830 2764 0 1 1.0 0.5
6 Karjakin, Sergey 2766 2582 0 ½ 0.5 0.75
7 Andreikin, Dmitry 2709 2582 ½ 0 0.5 0.75
8 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 2757 2617 ½ 0 0.5 0.5

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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