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Showing posts with label levon aronian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label levon aronian. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Candidates Chess R10: Anand on Course to WC, Keeps 1 Point Lead!

Khanty Mansiysk: Former World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand remained on course for a rematch with Magnus Carlsen of Norway after securing an easy draw against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan in the 10th round of the Candidates Chess tournament.

It turned out to be another good day for Anand as main contemporaries Levon Aronian of Armenia and Vladimir Kramnik of Russia failed to bridge the gap and the Indian ace continues to be in front with a full point lead.

Aronian could not use his white pieces to much use against Bulgarian Veselin Topalov and had to settle for a draw while Kramnik's poor run continued when he failed to spot a tactical stroke that led to a quick loss against compatriot Peter Svidler. The other game of the day between Russians Dmitry Andreikin and Sergey Karjakin also ended in a draw.




Anand remained on course for a rematch with Magnus Carlsen after securing an easy draw against Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan in the 10th round. Photo: Photo: FIDE/Kirill Merkuriev

With just four rounds to come, Anand is sitting pretty training his sights for the next world championship match on 6.5 points. Aronian remains the nearest contender on 5.5 points followed by Mamedyarov, Karjakin and Svidler who all have five points apiece.

Kramnik remained on 4.5 points and he has Andreikin as company while Topalov is at the last spot another half point adrift.

Apart from the match for the next world championship, the winner here also takes home 135000 euros.

Playing with white, Anand stuck to his guns and repeated the moves of his previous round game against Topalov.

The opening went off well for Anand but Mamedyarov was probably not impressed and came up with the equaliser in no time.

The Indian had to exchange the dark square Bishop early and then Mamedyarov followed suit with castling on the queen side leaving the position absolutely level.

Anand tried manoeuvring his pieces to correct squares and once that was done the players just decided to split the points. The game lasted 30 moves.

The shocker of the day came from Svidler when Kramnik simply missed a game changing tactical stroke. It was the Dutch defense as black by Svidler and Kramnik, trying to shy away from the usual, allowed his Russian teammate to equalise easily.

It was in the middle game that Kramnik missed a simple check by the Bishop. The result was huge deficit in the material as Svidler picked up a rook and a couple of pawns for his Bishop and romped home.

Aronian faced the Slav defense from Topalov and the latter had no difficulty in getting a playable position.

The pieces got exchanged at regular intervals and even though Aronian had something to hope for, the position was close to equal for major part of the game. The ensuing rook and minor piece endgame had little chance for either player and the peace was signed in 45 moves.

Karjakin-Andreikin duel was the shortest game of the day lasting 29 moves.

Karjakin went for an early trade of queen in the Sicilian Taimanov but Andreikin was up to the task in keeping the balance. The draw result was guess of every expert. -- PTI

Results after round 10: Vishwanathan Anand (IND, 6.5) drew with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE, 5); Vladimir Kramnik (RUS, 4.5) lost to Peter Svidler (RUS, 5); Levon Aronian (ARM, 5.5) drew with Veselin Topalov (BUL, 4); Sergey Karjakin (RUS, 5) drew with Dmitry Andreikin (RUS, 4.5).

Pairings Wednesday March 26 Round 11GM Andreikin Dmitry RUS - GM M Shakhriyar AZE
GM Topalov Veselin BUL - GM Karjakin Sergey RUS
GM Svidler Peter RUS - GM Aronian Levon ARM
GM Kramnik V RUS - GM Anand Viswanathan IND

Friday, March 14, 2014

Chess Candidates 2014: Anand begins with Win Over Top Seed Aronian

Levon Aronian crumbles versus Viswanathan Anand in Round 1 at the Khanty Mansiysk World Chess Candidates 2014. Photo: FIDE

Five-time World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand displayed top form to beat top seed and rating-favourite Levon Aronian of Armenia in the first game of the first round of the Candidates chess tournament in Khanty Mansiysk (Russia) on Thursday.

Anand made most of the offered opportunities and came on top as Aronian proved no match in the complexities that ensued. The Indian ace was seen at the top of his game for the major part of the high intensity game. 

After attaining equality, Anand obtained and edge. The Queens were exchanged on the 22nd move. Eventually, Anand pulled off a nice trap for his opponent's Knight and took home a most valuable point.

The other games were all drawn: GM Andreikin Dmitry RUS - GM Kramnik Vladimir RUS, GM Karjakin Sergey RUS - GM Svidler Peter RUS and GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar AZE - GM Topalov Veselin BUL.

Earlier, the opening ceremony of one of the most important chess tournaments of the year took place on Wednesday. Eight top Grandmasters of the world are competing over three weeks for a 600,000 Euro prize fund and the chance to challenge World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen (Norway).

The line-up consists of the former World Champion Vishy Anand (India), who lost his title only a year ago, 2013 World Cup winner Vladimir Kramnik, 2013 World Cup runner-up Dmitry Andreikin (both Russia), 2012-13 FIDE Grand Prix winners Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria) and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan), two players qualified by rating Levon Aronian (Armenia) and Sergey Karjakin (Russia), and the player nominated by the organizers – Peter Svidler (Russia).
 
The opening ceremony took place at the concert hall Ugra-Classic and was attended by Natalia Komarova, Ukra Governor and Vice-President of Russian Chess Federation, and Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, FIDE President.

“We are just as nervous as the candidates, – said Natalia Vladimirovna. – A chess board has 64 squares. The candidates tournaments are also played for 64 years. Each square of the board saw thousands of combinations, but we nevertheless expect more brilliance and ingenious games from our players. Chess teaches honesty, fairness and respect to the opponent. I’d very much like to see these rules universally accepted,” concluded the Governor.Kirsan Ilyumzhinov noted that Khanty-Mansiysk continues to bring pleasant surprises: “This tournament and its opening ceremony is a great gift to the players. Since 2005 Ugra is recognized as Chess Mecca. Three great champions gathered here today, and together with five other outstanding players they will have to determine a new title contender”.

He also drew attention to the fact that chess in Ugra is not only a professional sport, but a mass sport, and sport in Ugra is highly developed. Ugra representatives recently won four Olympic medals in Sochi, including two gold medals.

The opening ceremony continued with a concert show peformed by Ugra-Classic creative team. The unique 8 ton pipe organ with mammoth bone keys was the center of attention – and chess, of course!

“Life is like chess, it’s just a clever arrangement of pieces on the black and white board”. This quote by writer Oleg Roy was a theme of the show. Enchanted by mysterious sound of organ, the spectators watched a historical show with elements of dance and theater, filled with quotes about the most intelligent game in the world. -- Report via PTI and Official website



Saturday, January 25, 2014

Tata Steel Chess: Aronian Leads; Harikrishna beats Nakamura


Second-highest rated Indian, Grandmaster Pentala Harikrishna has clocked two straight wins in Rounds 8 and 9 beating Hikaru Nakamura and Arkadij Naiditsch. Meanwhile, Armenia's Levon Aronian - the world no. 2 - retains lead a full 1.5 points ahead of the rest of the field.
 
Gary Kasparov will open Round 10 in Wijk aan Zee on Saturday and also be in the commentary room. -- Official website
Earlier, in Round 4, the Indian Grandmaster drew with Loek van Wely. In Round 5 Harikrishna lost to Anish Giri and allowed Fabiano Caruana to escape with a draw in Round 6. Harikrishna lost to Richard Rapport in Round 7, but returned to pick up two straight wins in Round 8 and 9. 

World No. 2 Levon Aronian continues to lead the group and is set to win the title with only two rounds to go. 
 
 
 
 
The 76th edition of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament is taking place January 10-26, 2014 in two groups (instead of the traditional three), with twelve players in each, instead of fourteen. Two rounds will be played in Amsterdam and Eindhoven. 

Standings after Round 9

1. Levon Aronian 7
2. Anish Giri
3. Fabiano Caruana
4. Leinier Dominguez
5. Sergey Karjaki all at 5.5
6. Pentala Harikrishna 
7. Wesley So both at 5.0
8. Loek van Wely 4.5
9. Richard Rapport
10. Hikaru Nakamura both at 3.5
11. Boris Gelfand 2.4
12. Arkadij Naiditsch 1.5

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Tata Steel Chess R1: Watch Live Harikrishna begins vs Levon Aronian

76th Tata Steel Chess 2014: Talented Indian (No. 2) chess Grandmaster Pentala Harikrishna (World No. 42/Live 31) takes on World No. 2 Levon Aronian in the first round of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2014 on Saturday. 

The 76th edition of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament takes place January 11-26, 2014 in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands. Armenian Grandmaster Levon Aronian won the Tata Steel Chess in 2012. Harikrishna himself, as a debutant in A group of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament in January 2013 Harikrishna finished in the first half (7th place) and reached an elo rating of over 2700.

Watch the games live at the official website.

Participants of Tata Steel MastersNameCountryRating World Ranking
GM Aronian, Levon ARM 2812 2
GM Nakamura, Hikaru USA 2789 3
GM Caruana, Fabiano ITA 2782 6
GM Gelfand, Boris ISR 2777 8
GM Karjakin, Sergey RUS 2759 10
GM Dominguez, Leinier CUB 2754 14
GM Giri, Anish NED 2734 19
GM So, Wesley PHL 2719 28
GM Naiditsch, Arkadij GER 2718 29
GM Harikrishna, Pentala IND 2706 42
GM Rapport, Richard HUN 2691 56
GM Van Wely, Loek NED 2672 77
Average rating : 2743
Category : 20
FIDE-ratings of January 2014


Participants of Tata Steel Challengers
NameCountryRating
GM Wojtaszek, Radek POL 2711

GM Jobava, Baadur GEO 2710 
GM Yu, Yangyi CHN 2677 
GM Saric, Ivan CRO 2637 
GM Timman, Jan NED 2607 
GM Brunello, Sabino ITA 2602 
GM Reinderman, Dimitri NED 2593 
GM Zhao, Xue CHN 2567 
GM Muzychuk, Anna SLO 2566 
IM Bok, Benjamin NED 2560 
GM Duda, Jan-Krzysztof POL 2553 
IM Troff, Kayden USA 2457 
IM Goudriaan, Etienne NED 2431 
IM Van Delft, Merijn NED 2430 
Average rating : 2579
Category : 14
FIDE-ratings of January 2014

On Friday, the opening ceremony took place with an interesting theatrical presentation based on 'The Night Watch'. 
Photo: Opening ceremony theatrical presentation/official website
(More photos and report at www.chessvibes.com)

 -- Team Black and White

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Anand vs Carlsen at Zurich Chess Jan 29-Strongest Tournament in History

Zurich Chess Challenge 2014 – The strongest tournament in chess history to date

On Wednesday, 29 of January 2014, the «Zurich Chess Challenge 2014» will commence at the Hotel Savoy. With six participants it is the first tournament in the history of chess to reach category 23 with an amazing average rating of 2801!

The star of the «Zurich Chess Challenge 2014» will be the newly crowned world-championMagnus Carlsen. During his first tournament appearance since winning the world title last November, the 23-year old Norwegian will compete against his predecessor and former world-champion, Viswanathan Anand of India (number 9 in the world-ranking), the Armenian Levon Aronian (2), the American Hikura Nakamura (3), the US-Italian Fabiano Caruana (6), as well as the Israeli Boris Gelfand (8).



This brilliant event, which will take place in the extraordinary familial environment of the ballroom of the Hotel Savoy, has already caught the attention and led to the registration of many journalists and top-players from throughout the world, including Peter Leko,Jan Timman and Gennadi Sosonko. Further, the Chinese women's world-championHou Yifan will attend this unique occasion and will be playing a simultaneous exhibition with clocks against 6 top Swiss juniors on 1 February at 1 p.m. at the Zurich «Zunfthaus zur Saffran».

For the «Zurich Chess Challenge 2014», a blitz tournament will determine the color distribution on the first day. Five rounds of classical chess will then be played from Thursday to Monday (30 January to 3 February), followed by a rapid tournament with reversed colors on the last day (4 February). A won game in the classical tournament counts two points, draws one point. Wins in the rapid tournament count one point and draws half a point. All games will be commented live by GM Yannick Pelletier and IM Werner Hug and broadcast world-wide live via Internet on www.zurich-cc.com. Admission to the classical and rapid games of this formidable event is free and no previous registration of spectators is required!

The «Zurich Chess Club» was founded in 1809 and is the oldest active chess club of the world. With the «Zurich Chess Challenge 2014» it will continue its long-standing tradition of hosting top-level tournaments, which have included such memorable events as the «Candidate's Tournament 1953», the simul and rapid tournament of all living world-champions at at the Zurich main train station 2009, the «Zurich Chess Challenge 2012» with Levon Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik as well as the «Zurich Chess Challenge 2013» with the four grand masters Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand, Fabiano Caruana and Boris Gelfand.

The «Zurich Chess Club» is very proud to be the organizer and host of this unique event. Further, it would like to thank the main tournament sponsor and chess-enthusiast Oleg Skvortsov from the «International Gemological Laboratories» of Moscow, Russia, whose generous contribution has allowed for this extraordinary happening! We look forward to welcoming all our friends from throughout the chess world either at the Hotel Savoy or live via the Internet!

Participants (Elo rating according to FRL of January 2014)

Magnus Carlsen (Norway, Elo 2872, Nr 1)
Levon Aronian (Armenia, Elo 2812, Nr 2)
Hikaru Nakamura (USA, Elo 2789, Nr 3)
Fabiano Caruana (Italy, Elo 2782, Nr 6)
Boris Gelfand (Israel, Elo 2777, Nr 8)
Vishwanathan Anand (India, Elo 2773, Nr 9)

Schedule

Daily from 30 January to 4 February 2014.
The rounds start at 15.00 local time (CET), except for the last round, which begins at 13.00 CET.
Spectators are welcome, entrance free.

Main sponsor

«IGC International Gemological Laboratories» is a Russian institute providing gemological services, such as diamond grading reports, enhanced diamonds identification, man-made/synthetic diamonds and imitation detection, as well as certification of diamonds, gemstones and jewelry in the Russian Federation. IGC is the Russian branch of «GCI» a group of gemological laboratories located worldwide.

Co-sponsors


Aspeco, SurJewel, Savoy Chess Corner, Zurich Chess Club (founded in 1809, the oldest chess club of the world)

Partners

Hotels Savoy Baur en Ville, Rössli and Seehof in Zurich

Organization

Zurich Chess Club

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Carlsen's 2966 Show @ Sinquefield Chess vs Kamsky, Naka, Aronian

World's Best Wins Strongest Chess Tournament in U.S. History
Norwegian Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen wins the inaugural Sinquefield Cup in Saint Louis

SAINT LOUIS, Sept. 16, 2013: The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (CCSCSL) crowned Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen, 22, of Norway, the champion of the inaugural Sinquefield Cup, the strongest chess tournament in U.S. history. Carlsen is the No. 1 chess player in the world and the first-place finish in the tournament netted him $70,000.

This prestigious event was Carlsen's first-ever appearance at a tournament in the U.S., and his last before he challenges Viswanathan Anand of India in November for the World Championship title. He finished a full point ahead of Hikaru Nakamura, 25, of Saint Louis, who is ranked No. 1 in the U.S. and No. 5 in the world.

"The final margin of victory was a little flattering," Carlsen said at a press conference following the event. "I think I will enjoy some rest over the next couple of weeks. Then I'll have a pretty long training session, and go to India."

Carlsen holds the record as the highest-rated player in chess history. He was named one of TIMEmagazine's 100 most influential people of 2013 and has been the highest-rated player on the planet since he was 19.

Carlsen beat out three of top-ranked chess players in the world including Nakamura, World No. 2 Levon Aronian, 30, of Armenia, and U.S. No. 2 Gata Kamsky, 39, of Brooklyn. Nakamura earned $50,000 for second place, Aronian took home $30,000 and Kamsky netted $20,000 for his last-place finish.

CCSCSL Executive Director Tony Rich said this event marks an important milestone for U.S. chess.

"Bringing the world's best to Saint Louis is yet another sign that the U.S. is becoming a major player in the world chess scene," Rich said. "It also further establishes Saint Louis as the epicenter of chess in the United States."



Also Read: 


Saturday, September 14, 2013

What's Carlsen Doing in St Louis?

The strongest chess tournament in US history, the Sinquefield Cup, is underway in Saint Louis. World's top two Grandmasters are locked in battle with America's top two Grandmasters. The players are  Hikaru Nakamura, Gata Kamsky, Levon Aronian and Magnus Carlsen. Here is a curtainraiser video with former American women's chess champion, Jennifer Shahade.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Norway Chess R2: Carlsen, Anand Draw


SANDNES: World champion Viswanathan Anand won the psychological battle holding his world championship challenger Magnus Carlsen of Norway to an easy draw in the second round of the Norway Chess 2013 Super tournament in progress here.

The much awaited clash turned out to be a full entertainer to the audience as Carlsen tried but could not make much use of his white pieces in a keenly contested game arising out of a Sicilian defence.

Both Carlsen and Anand inched to one point out of a possible two in the 10-player round-robin tournament following a draw in the opener too.

The other game to end early was a damp squib between former world champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria and Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan while Levon Aronian came up with a fine effort to outclass Hikaru Nakamura of United States.

In the other two games Sergey Karjakin crashed through the defences of Jon Ludvig Hammer of Norway and, in a surprise, Peter Svidler of Russia was outdone by Wang Hao of China.

After the end of the second round, Karjakin emerged as sole leader with a perfect two points out of a possible two and he is now followed by Aronian a half point behind.

Anand, Svidler, Nakamura, Calrsen, Topalov and Wang Hao share the fourth spot on one point each while Radjabov is ninth with ahalf point in his kitty. With seven rounds still to come, Hammer is at the bottom of the tables, yet to open his account.

Anand went for the principled Sicilian defence against Carlsen. The Norwegian had beaten Anand in the Moscow variation last time out and he stuck to the same but Anand was much better prepared this time. While the position remained equal Carlsen still had that nagging advantage he wanted to encash and Anand had to be precise in the defence even though it was not too difficult.

A rook and knight endgame was reached early and thereafter all Anand had to do was to get rid of the pawns off the board. The game was drawn with Carlsen having an extra knight but no pawns on the board on move 59.

Aronian crushed Nakamura out of an exchange Slav that speaks volumes about the world No 3. The position was about level out of the opening but the Armenian obviously had more ideas.

Nakamura thought he was fine when giving white a queen side pawn majority but he was proven wrong in the endgame as Aronian made most of it. In the end, the American fought vainly after losing a rook for lmost nothing. As it happened, nothing came of it and he had to resign after 70 moves.

Wang Hao played the game of the day outwitting Svidler in his pet Grunfeld. The Chinese was in command early in the opening and did not falter even while reaching an advantageous end-game.

Hammer lost with white which is certain to dent his confidence. Karjakin did everything right after getting a better endgame and won in 54 moves. (PTI)
Results: Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 1) drew with V Anand (Ind, 1); Veselin Topalov (Bul, 1) drew with Teimour Radjabov (Aze, 0.5); Levon Aronian (Arm, 1.5) beat Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 1); Jon Ludvig Hammer (Nor, 0) lost to Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 1); Wang Hao (Chn, 1) beat Peter Svidler (Rus, 1).

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Norway Chess Round 1

SANDNES: World champion Viswanthan Anand could do little with white pieces as his opponent Levon Aronian of Armenia held him to an easy draw in the first round of Norway Chess 2013 super tournament that got underway in Sandnes.

It turned out to be rather sedate Anand who has got a tough draw in the tournament. White pieces against most of the top seeds and black against lower ranked players means that the Indian ace has to be in top form to deliver the goods and in the opener Aronian was not troubled much.

Sergey Karjakin of Russia continued from where he had left -- winning the blitz drawing of lots -- and put it across Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan whose woes continued after falling hugely in the world ranking.

Norwegian world number one Magnus Carlsen, who is set to play Anand in the next round as well as in the next world championship match in Chennai, could not do more than splitting the point with former world champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria.

The other two games in the high category 10-player round-robin tournament, however, were decisive as Russian Peter Svidler scored a lucky win over Jon Ludvig Hammer of Norway and Hikaru Nakamura proved smarter than Wang Hao of China.

After the end of the first round, Nakamura, Karjakin and Svidler emerged as early leaders with a full point and Anand, Aronian, Topalov and Carlsen are close behind with a half point each. The three losers are on the bottom of the table.

Anand went for the closed Ruy Lopez as white and his strategy did not yield desirable result. Aronian was well armed in the opening and as many as three minor pieces changed hands by 13th move itself.

The resulting middle game with more heavy pieces was not dry but the presence of opposite coloured Bishops did not give any chance to either player. After a bit of a shadow-boxing, the peace was signed on move 33.

Radjabov slipped further after a dismal show in the last candidates tournament as he fell prey to a finely crafted manoeuvre by Karjakin in the middle game arising out of an off-beat Sicilian.

Playing white, the Russian sensed his chances perfectly in the middle game and his 26th move was a clincher leading to a winning endgame.

Svidler was only trying to equalize a pawn less endgame against Hammer out of a Grunfeld defence when the Norwegian number two started to make a lot of mistakes. Launching his double rook on the seventh rank, the Russian won a handful of pawns to turn the tables.

In the other decisive game of the day, Nakamura won two pieces for a rook with a sortie against Wang Hao to get a winning endgame. The Chinese had gone for the solid Petroff defence which did not come good as black.

Carlsen played a solid English opening as white but got nothing against Topalov who is in top form the game was drawn after 51 moves. (PTI)

Results Round 1: Viswanathan Anand (Ind) drew with Levon Aronian (Arm); Magnus Carlsen(Nor) drew with Veselin Topalov (Bul); Sergey Karjakin (Rus) beat Teimour Radjabov (Aze); Hikaru Nakamura (Usa) beat Wang Hao (Chn); Peter Svidler (Rus) beat Jon Ludvig Hammer (Nor).

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Norway Chess Super Event Begins



SANDES: World champion Viswanathan Anand will take on Levon Aronian of Armenia in the first round of the Norway Chess 2013 super tournament that gets underway in Sandes.

Anand secured five whites in the nine-round tournament by finishing joint second in the blitz event that was played to prepare the drawing of lots.

The top five contestants in the blitz tournament will get five white and four black games in the 10-player event which is also one of the strongest ever.

The much-awaited clash between Anand and Norway's world number one Magnus Carlsen will happen as early as in the second round and the latter will get to play white in that encounter.

Carlsen, who had expressed his disappointment at Chennai being the awarded the hosting rights of the next world championship match between him and Anand, said he will not let that news "diminish the joy and excitement derived from playing the top level Norway chess tournament".

For Anand, apart from the clash with Carlsen, it will also be a real test against a very high quality opposition.

The event also boast of participation of world number four and former world champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria who is fresh from a fantastic victory in the Grand Prix tournament.

Sergey Karjakin and Peter Svidler of Russia and Hikaru Nakamura of United States are the other players, who are a big force to reckon with while Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan will look forward to regain his touch.

Wang Hao of China and local talent Jon Ludvig Hammer complete the line-up of the 10-player tournament to be played on a round-robin basis.

For the Indian ace it has been a decent start to the competition.

The blitz tournament was taken quite seriously by Anand, whose joint second finish was a good result even though he suffered a shocking loss at the hands of lowest-ranked Hammer.

Sergey Karjakin won the tournament scoring 6.5 points while Anand, Carlsen and Nakamura were tied for the second spot a half point behind.

Svidler finished fifth on 5.5 points after losing the last round against Carlsen. Topalov was completely off-colour in the blitz, finishing last with just one point from nine games while Aronian was another surprise for the spectators as he ended ninth scoring 2.5 points. (PTI)

Pairings round 1: V Anand (IND) vs Levon Aronian (ARM); Magnus Carlsen (NOR) vs Veselin Topalov (BUL); Hikaru Nakamura (USA) vs Wang Hao (CHN); Peter Svidler (RUS) vs Jon Ludvig Hammer (NOR); Sergey Karjakin (RUS) vs Teimour Radjabov (AZE).

Friday, May 3, 2013

Aronian Wins Alekhine Chess 2013



The games of the last round of the Alekhine Memorial were played on May 1st in St. Petersburg. Levon Aronian and Boris Gelfand shared the first place with 5.5 points out of 9. The Armenian Grandmaster had a better tie-break score and was awarded the first prize. The Israeli Grandmaster took the second place. The reigning World Champion Vishy Anand finished third with 5 points.

In the last round, Boris Gelfand had White against Vishy Anand. Last year these players competed for the chess crown in a World Chess Championship match in Moscow. Their game was quiet and ended in a draw on the 40th move.

Levon Aronian played a very aggressive opening against the recent leader Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The French Grandmaster ended up in severe time trouble and soon committed the decisive error. Thanks to this victory, Levon Aronian, who considers Alexander Alekhine his favorite player, won the Alekhine Memorial.
 

At the closing ceremony Aronian thanked the sponsors of the event, its organisers and spectators, who showed genuine interest to the tournament and inspired its participants to demonstrate their creative talent.

The longest game of the round was Adams-Kramnik. The Russian Grandmaster managed to score his second victory, and finished at 50%. The main prizes and special prizes were awarded during the closing ceremony.


The prize for a game in Alekhine's style was given to Laurent Fressinet who defeated Vladimir Kramnik in Paris. The best combination prize went to Ding Liren for his victory against the eventual tournament winner. Boris Gelfand received the best technique prize and Nikita Vitiugov got the last special prize for the best play during the St. Petersburg half of the tournament.

Resuts of Round 9: Aronian – Vachier-Lagrave 1-0, Adams – Kramnik 0-1, Gelfand – Anand, Vitiugov – Ding Liren, Svidler – Fressinet draws.

Final standings: 1-2. Aronian and Gelfand – both 5.5; 3. Anand – 5; 4-8. Adams, Vitiugov, Fressinet, Kramnik, and Vachier-Lagrave – all 4.5; 9. Ding Liren – 3.5; 10. Svidler – 3.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Alekhine Chess R4: Four in Lead


Round 4 games of Alekhine Memorial were played in Paris on April 24. Like in Round 3 four games out of five ended in a draw. The key game of the round was played between Levon Aronian and Peter Svidler. It was hard to predict however that this would be the only effective game of the round. Yet, Aronian’s fighting mood was clearly seen. It seems that he tries to catch up what he missed when he played in Candidates Tournament in London. 

Aronian performed a deep home preparation against Svidler’s hallmark in Grunfeld defense. Russian grandmaster, World Cup winner, couldn’t solve his opening problems and got a bad endgame, where Aronian gained a strategic advantage. Before the first time control was reached the game was consistently won for white. As all other games ended in a draw Levon Aronian joined the tournament leaders – Gelfand, Adams and Vachier-Lagrave.

Boris Gelfand, who was playing black, met some minor opening problems that were created by Nikita Vitiugov, but managed to avoid all the threats and drew the game. French grandmaster Maxime Vachier-Lagrave played white against World champion Viswanathan Anand. He got a slight advantage, but before the first time control Maxime made a mistake and his opponent capitalized on opponent’s error and drew the game as well. At the press conference after the game Vachier-Lagrave mentioned that the position on the board still remained equal.

The game between Chinese prodigy Ding Liren and former World champion Vladimir Kramnik ended earlier than others. Kramnik showed a precise way to equality. The game between Laurent Fressinet and Michael Adams looked much more dramatic. French grandmaster tried to change the tournament leader, however Adams performed an obstinate defense and saved himself half a point that still keeps him in the leading group of the tournament.

Places after four rounds: 1-4. Adams, Vachier-Lagrave, Gelfand, Aronian – 2.5 points; 5-7. Kramnik, Ding Liren, Fressinet – 2 points; 8-9, Vitiugov, Anand – 1.5 points, 10. Svidler – 1 point.
Round 5 pairings: Gelfand – Aronian, Adams – Vitiugov, Svidler – Vachier-Lagrave, Kramnik – Fressinet, Anand – Ding Liren.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Candidates R12: Carlsen-Ivanchuk 0-1

In a dramatic 12th round Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) took over the lead from Magnus Carlsen (Norway) at the FIDE World Chess Candidates' Tournament in London. The former World Champion beat Levon Aronian (Armenia) while Carlsen suffered his first loss against Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine). The other two games, between Boris Gelfand (Israel) and Peter Svidler (Russia) and Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan) and Alexander Grischuk (Russia), were drawn. With the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament entering its decisive phase, chess fans from all over the world will focus on London this Easter weekend. So far the tournament website has been visited by over half a million fans, even before the start of the 12th round! And every day the organizers are receiving dozens of emails. Christian from Germany wrote on Friday morning: “All of you are doing a marvellous job! Thanks to Socar, thanks to you, and thanks to Laurence and Nigel and everyone else making this fantastic event.”


In what was a truly dramatic round, for the first time all games went beyond move 40. Boris Gelfand and Peter Svidler, however, agreed to a draw immediately after the time control. Gelfand was happy with his position out of the opening, an Anti-Grünfeld. He said he knew that it’s “difficult to defend for Black”. Svidler agreed: “It’s a structure I’m not comfortable playing.” Making matters worse with the inaccurate 20…Red8 and 21…Bg7, Svidler was looking at an unpleasant position around move 30. “I’m kind of running out of moves. To call it a Zugzwang position is an overstatement but it’s very difficult for me to make moves.” Gelfand, however, missed a tactic with his 32nd move (he should have played 32.Qb3) when the worst was over for Black. “I thought I was winning a piece,” said the Israeli grandmaster.

Aronian-Kramnik, on paper the Big Game of this round, became an absolute thriller, an “epic battle”, as Kramnik called it himself. It started as a Semi-Tarrasch and Aronian, who had to play for a win in this game, chose the modest 6.e3. It could have transposed into a Panov Caro-Kann, but with 10…f5 Kramnik took a different and quite original path. About this move, commentator IM Lawrence Trent said: “It’s like marmite, either you love it you don’t like it at all!”


On move 16 the game became extremely sharp, and every move was crucial. As became clear at the press conference, the players evaluated the position after 17.Rc5 quite differently. Aronian: “Honestly speaking I thought I was close to winning.” Kramnik: “Really? I thought I was close to winning!” The Armenian actually saw the line 21.Rh5 Rac8 22.Ne5 which draws (missed by Kramnik) but thought he had more. In that phase, according to some pundits Aronian “self-destructed”.

Kramnik then missed the strongest continuation (21…Qf4). Instead he went for a promising ending, which he said was “technically winning of course”. However, by exchanging rooks at the right moment, Aronian found a way to draw it, based on the fact that he could exchange all the pawns on the kingside after which Black would end up with a bishop of the wrong colour. This was a “cold shower” for Kramnik, who said it was “a miracle” that he still had a chance to play for a win with 41…Kf8.

The drama wasn’t over yet as Aronian then missed “quite a simple draw” (Kramnik) at the end when he went for 50.g6 instead of 50.h6 g6 51.Kb5, as the Russian demonstrated at the press conference. “Throughout the game I couldn’t calculate one line. Of course it’s embarrassing to lose a game like this but I’ll have to deal with it”, said Aronian. Kramnik: “I’m happy with my play because of course everybody is very tired already and I’m also not totally fresh, especially because it was the third game in a row. If you consider this, I think my level was quite high for this state of mind which we’re all experiencing now!”


The next game to finish was Radjabov-Grischuk, which, because of the dramatic affairs on the other boards, didn’t get a lot of attention in the commentary. It started as a Ragozin and the Azerbaijani (finally!) got an advantage out of the opening with the white pieces. Grischuk: “I thought I had a very promising position but then I realized that [after 16…Ne6 17.Qe5 Be4] White just has 18.Nd2 so I had to switch to defence.” The Russian praised his opponent’s play: “I think Teimour played very well. I completely underestimated the dangers in the endgame.” Radjabov, who probably missed a chance on move 56: “I don’t know if I’m winning but it should be close.” About defending the infamous f+h rook ending, Grischuk said: “I had quite some experience. In one month I had two games with Pavel Eljanov. Both times I had the pawns myself; I drew the first one and won the second. And I read some articles about it.”


And then, after seven hours of play, the chess world was shocked as Magnus Carlsen lost his first game of the tournament, and with it his lead in the tournament. But if anyone could beat him it was the erratic Vassily Ivanchuk, who had the upper hand in their first mutual game as well. In a Taimanov Sicilian, the Ukrainian quickly got a pleasant ending. “When 10.Nb3 appeared on the board I understood that this structure resembles the French Defence and it’s interesting to play. Objectively it’s not better for him but there were many tricks and traps,” said Ivanchuk.

Quite upset about his loss, Carlsen did attend the press conference and was very critical of his play. “First of all I think I played absolutely disgracefully from move 1.” He admitted that it was Black who had an edge in the ending, but after the weakening move 18…a5 he started to play for a win again. But then his 24.Nb5 was "extremely stupid”. “I can do anything. Probably I'm actually not better but I should never lose it.” About the position after move 30, the Norwegian said: “I think there's still not too many problems for me but I just kept on missing more and more stuff.”
Ivanchuk kept pressing, but even the rook ending should have ended in a draw, e.g. with 71.c6. However, there Carlsen made the decisive mistake: “Here I was actually pretty sure that I would draw, which is why I played so carelessly. I hadn’t seen 71…Ke4 at all.” Although he wasn’t sure about his technique, Ivanchuk didn’t make a single mistake, converted the full point and made Kramnik the new sole leader.

The Ukrainian repeated what he said the day before: he sees the rest of the tournament as “preparation for the Russian league” (his next event). He didn't want to admit that he found extra motivation in playing the world’s number one. “Of course I wanted to do my best today. I didn’t have a goal to specially win this game but I was thinking after the 23rd move the position is objectively equal. If Magnus wouldn’t have taken risks, I wouldn’t have had chances to win.”


After twelve rounds the standings are as follows: Kramnik leads with 8 points, followed by Carlsen with 7.5. Aronian is third with 6.5 points and Svidler fourth with 6. Grischuk and Gelfand are tied for fifth place with 5.5 points, Ivanchuk has 5 and Radjabov 4 points. Saturday, March 30th is a rest day. After the clock is set one hour forward, the 13th round will be played on Sunday, March 31st at 14:00 British Summer Time (BST) with the games Radjabov-Carlsen, Grischuk-Aronian, Kramnik-Gelfand and Svidler-Ivanchuk.

(Report by Peter Doggers/Pictures by Anastasiya Karlovich)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Candidates R11: Kramnik Trails Carlsen

In Thursday's 11th round of the FIDE World Chess Candidates' Tournament 2013 Vladimir Kramnik moved to second place. Russia's number one beat Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan), while Levon Aronian (Armenia) lost to Peter Svidler (Russia). Drawing his black game with Alexander Grischuk (Russia), Magnus Carlsen (Norway) kept his half point lead in London with three rounds to go. Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine) and Boris Gelfand (Israel) played a very quick draw. 


Designed by world-renowned Pentagram Design, the playing zone in the IET’s Lecture Theatre has a lower middle area and a higher area at the back. It is there where the arbiters stay and where the players are getting their food and drinks during the game. As became clear at the start of the 11th round, chess players aren’t really used to such a split-level room. Vassily Ivanchuk slipped and almost fell down, hurt his left ankle and had to treat it with some ice. (Now he’s fine.) At the press conference his opponent, Boris Gelfand, said that he too almost fell down in one of the previous rounds, plunged in thought about his position!



The encounter between Ivanchuk and Gelfand was in fact the shortest game of the tournament so far. In a Grünfeld, the two started repeating moves right after the opening, and agreed to a draw at move 17. It was a bit of a theoretical duel, as Ivanchuk repeated his Bf4 system which he adopted against Carlsen in the fifth round, Gelfand deviated on move seven and then the players followed the game Fridman-Kramnik, Dortmund 2012 until move 11. “It’s not easy to play if you don’t know it because it’s a very sharp position and both pawns are hanging. I think Vassily found a good solution to be safe,” said Gelfand. Ivanchuk: “I remember that Fridman played 12.Qb3 but I didn’t analyse it.”


Gelfand showed a few variations on the laptop in the press room, and said about the final position: “White can never be worse here. I think as a player who played Catalan all my career, I like generally White’s possibilities with this bishop on the big diagonal.” Asked about the historical importance of this Candidates’ Tournament, Gelfand said: “Tournaments like these are a milestone. Unfortunately recently I feel that the respect to the players is dropping, maybe because of computers. People think ‘OK, he didn’t see this move, the computer shows 0.65’, and they tend to respect players less. But of course such a tournament is fantastic. It’s wonderful to play here.”

Candidates R10: Carlsen in Sole Lead

Magnus Carlsen kept his half point lead in Round 10 of the FIDE Candidates’ Tournament in London. On Wednesday the Norwegian ground down Boris Gelfand (Israel) with White in a Rossolimo Sicilian. His main rivals also won: Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) admitted that he was lucky as in a drawish Berlin Endgame Alexander Grischuk (Russia) blundered in time trouble, while the opponent of Levon Aronian (Armenia), Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine), overstepped the time limit for the fourth time in this tournament, after playing well in a Budapest Gambit. Dejected about his score with White so far, Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan) went for a quick draw against Peter Svidler (Russia) in a Grünfeld. 
 

An hour and a half into the 10th round, the game between Teimour Radjabov and Peter Svidler was already over. It’s about time to quote commentator Nigel Short’s description of such games: it was a damp squib. Having repaired his Grünfeld after his loss against Kramnik (“It wasn’t that broken, to be honest” – Svidler), the Russian grandmaster again went for his favourite defence but his opponent did manage to surprise him with his 16th move. This “either caught me by surprise or I simply couldn’t remember what my notes say,” commented Svidler, who continued playing sensible moves.
 

All of a sudden Radjabov started repeating, as early as move 19. At some point Svidler walked away from his board in his own time to get himself a cup of tea. “The longer he thinks, the more likely he’ll agree to a draw!” said Nigel Short. And indeed, Svidler did accept Radjabov’s silent draw offer, arguing: “I don’t believe I’m better, I couldn’t find any advantage after both 21…Qc3 and 21…Qa3.”

Radjabov: “Considering my amazing score with White in this tournament (…) I decided that a draw is a very nice result. I am not the guy who is here to lose all my games. I thought that if Peter would play for a win I would also play for a win because there would be no other chance. There were times in my life when I was very unsatisfied with a draw but now I think a draw is an amazing result sometimes!”

Another hour and a half later, Alexander Grischuk resigned his game against Vladimir Kramnik, who again brought back memories from his match against Kasparov in London by playing his favourite Berlin Ending. “The openings I played back in 2000 are working very well for me,” Kramnik said, “but although I score well in this Berlin, in fact I hadn't won a single classical game in it, only rapid and blitz.”
 


The 14th World Champion reached a comfortable position by “playing just theoretical moves”, and around move 25 it was “quite drawish”. Kramnik: “27…Bf5 was a clever move, there were a few traps.” Meanwhile Grischuk, who described his position after the opening as “awful”, was getting into time trouble. “I was not happy to get this position and just defend. I didn’t know what to play.”

30.Bxd4 was “an awful blunder” said Kramnik: “In general I was quite lucky; it should have been a draw. It’s quite unusual for me to score half a point more out of nothing. Usually I give up points. For me it's rare that somebody blunders. It was just a present. I am not used to these kind of things. There are some players who are receiving this kind of presents quite often, but not me.”

Vassily Ivanchuk was also bringing back memories, but of a totally different kind. Against Levon Aronian the Ukrainian overstepped the time limit, for the fourth time already this tournament. By now we just have to mention German grandmaster Fritz Sämisch (1896-1975), who at the age of 73 played two tournaments, one in Büsum, Germany and another in Linköping, Sweden, where he lost all games (fifteen in the former and thirteen in the latter) on time.

Ivanchuk’s opening play, however, is still as unpredictable as ever. “[He’s] known to play any kind of opening so I just decided not to prepare much, keep my head fresh,” said Aronian, who faced the rare Budapest Gambit this time. The Armenian felt he played “a bit imprecise” in the early middlegame, but after he found a double pawn sacrifice (going from one up to one down), the tables turned. “After 26.g4 I have very good compensation. I was actually quite happy with my position,” said Aronian.By then Ivanchuk was yet again in horrible time trouble: after his 27th move he had two and a half minutes left, and then his moves just didn’t get through anymore. With playing 29…gxf5 (a losing move anyway) he left himself with just one second for eleven moves! Aronian: “I’m happy to kind of recover after a loss against Boris. Let’s see, let’s see. Still many round to go!”

Magnus Carlsen then became the third winner of the day, slowly grinding down Boris Gelfand from a Rossolimo Sicilian. According to the Norwegian, after the opening “White is slightly better but it's of course very playable for Black.” After some forced moves Gelfand went for the manoeuvre Qd8-b6-b3-c2 where computer engines prefer the passive 20…Qf8. “What computers are missing is that the whole concept was to get the queen active and to keep the white pieces paralysed. But I just missed one thing,” said Gelfand. That thing was a deep tactic which forced the Israeli to change his intended plan (Ra8-a1) and find something else at move 25. There were many ways to defend in that phase, and after the press conference Gelfand stayed around for about ten minutes, analysing blindfold with Jon Speelman and some journalists.

Carlsen said that after his neat 28.Qa5! “it’s clear that I’m playing for two results” and he was happy with his 37.Qe2! as well. “I’m happy to still be leading so I think I’ll just try do more of the same. I wasn’t thrilled that the other two guys won their game but there’s nothing you can do about that. And… I wasn’t sure that the Budapest Gambit was what I wanted to see but I think I can only change what I do myself! I just try to play and that’s what I’ll do for the rest of the tournament.”

After ten rounds Carlsen is leading with 7 points. He’s followed by Aronian (6.5) and then Kramnik (6). Then there’s a gap with: Gelfand, Grischuk and Svidler who have 4.5 points. Ivanchuk and Radjabov are in last place with 3.5 points. On Thursday, March 28th at 14:00 GMT with the tenth round: Grischuk-Carlsen, Kramnik-Radjabov, Svidler-Aronian and Ivanchuk-Gelfand.

(Official website report by 
Peter Doggers and Photos by Anastasiya Karlovich)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Candidates R8: Carlsen, Aronian Lead

Magnus Carlsen of Norway and Levon Aronian of Armenia are still tied for first place after eight rounds at the FIDE World Chess Candidates' Tournament in London. The leaders of the tournament faced each other over the board on Sunday and drew a Catalan game in just an hour and a half. Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, who beat his compatriot Peter Svidler in a Grünfeld, is now one point behind the two. Like Kramnik, Boris Gelfand of Israel won his first game of the tournament. He defeated Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan by adopting the strong positional concept 13...e5! in an English game. For the third time already in this tournament, Ukrainian Vassily Ivanchuk lost on time, in this round against Alexander Grischuk of Russia.
 


On Sunday the second half of the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament started with a big game: Magnus Carlsen versus Levon Aronian, the two leaders of the tournament. In the first round they drew against each other, and if either player would have won this one, he would have been “huge favourite”, as Carlsen put it the day before. One reason is that if two players tie for first place after the last round, the first tie-break rule is the individual result.

Somewhat expectedly, neither player wanted to take too much risk and as a result the game quickly petered out to a draw. “I thought that Magnus was not going to take much risk and play solid,” said Aronian. Carlsen: “I was just trying to play more or less solidly, trying to put some pressure without taking too much risk. It felt like the natural thing to do in such a situation. He played precisely in the opening.”

Thanks to good preparation Aronian quickly equalized in a Catalan. However, in a very equal ending Carlsen declined a draw offer, somewhere around move 33: “I thought there was no harm in playing a few more moves. But at that point both of us knew what was going to happen anyway!”

As the players explained, such quick draws are part of the game: “As in the whole tournament, you don’t really want to lose any game, but this one particularly. In this tournament situation it would mean a lot. You have to try and take your chances when you can,” said Aronian. “In general with Black in such tournaments that’s the way you play. You try and play solid and if there are chances, you take them, otherwise… You know, the players here are so strong that it’s not easy to win any game,” said Carlsen.

(Report Peter by Doggers/Photos by Anastasiya Karlovich)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Candidates R7: Carlsen, Aronian Lead


In what was the shortest round of the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament so far, Levon Aronian of Armenia and Magnus Carlsen of Norway maintained their 1.5 point lead over Russians Vladimir Kramnik and Peter Svidler. Against Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan, Carlsen needed to sacrifice an exchange to wear off dangerous threats against his king, which proved to be sufficient. Aronian got a small positional advantage against Alexander Grischuk of Russia, who saved himself by going for active defence. For a moment Kramnik was in big trouble, but he escaped with a draw when his opponent Boris Gelfand of Israel refrained from playing actively on move 19. Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine and Peter Svidler of Russia played the shortest draw of the round in a Scotch game that quickly turned into an endgame.



In the seventh round of the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament all games were finished in less than four hours. It’s hard to believe, though, that the participants were trying to be ready in time for the Chess Boxing event which is taking place at London’s Scala Club on Saturday night. Especially Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian have something better to do, on the night before they will play each other for the second time.

Less than three hours into the round, Vassily Ivanchuk and Peter Svidler were in the middle of an interesting ending when they suddenly agreed to a draw. “I didn’t expect the Scotch, and he probably didn’t expect long castles,” is how Svidler explained the time spent by both players in what was a theoretical opening variation. “It was a new position to me. I was trying to understand what was going on, and trying not to blunder something,” said Ivanchuk.

The players quickly reached an ending where White had a rook, bishop and knight with five pawns against two rooks and seven pawns for Black. Because neither player could really play for a win, the move repetition was a logical finish. Not satisfied with his play in the previous two rounds, Svidler said: “I don’t particularly mind equalizing and making a draw against a very strong player.”

The FIDE Candidates' Tournament is taking place March 14th-April 1st, 2013 at IET London, Savoy Place. It is sponsored by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and organized by AGON and the World Chess Federation (FIDE). Games and information can be found at http://london2013.fide.com.

Standings after Round 7
1.Magnus Carlsen 5
2.Levon Aronian 5
3.Peter Svidler 3.5
4.Vladimir Kramnik 3.5 
5.Teimour Radjabov 3
6.Alexander Grischuk 3
7.Vassily Ivanchuk 2.5
8.Boris Gelfand 2.5

Sunday pairings round 8
1.Magnus Carlsen-Levon Aronian
2.Teimour Radjabov-Boris Gelfand
3.Alexander Grischuk-Vassily Ivanchuk
4.Vladimir Kramnik-Peter Svidler



Report by Peter Doggers/Photos by Anastasiya Karlovich

Friday, March 22, 2013

Candidates R6: Carlsen, Aronian Lead

By winning in round 6 Levon Aronian (Armenia) and Magnus Carlsen (Norway) increased their lead at the FIDE Candidates' Tournament to 1.5 points. The score was opened by Carlsen who beat Peter Svidler (Russia) from the black side of a Closed Ruy Lopez. Aronian profited from a blunder by Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan) in the 7th hour of play. In a Closed Catalan, Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) sacrificed an exchange and then a piece, but despite getting into time trouble yet again, Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine) defended well and held the draw. Alexander Grischuk (Russia) and Boris Gelfand (Israel) drew an exciting 3.Bb5 Sicilian.
 
So far the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament has received amazing response from chess fans all over the world. During the first six rounds over 265,000 unique visitors from 194 countries have visited the official website. Over 70 international journalists have requested press accreditation and almost all British media have covered the tournament in one way or another. One example is the BBC, who have already done three different items on Magnus Carlsen!

On Thursday the top seed score quite a smooth win against Peter Svidler. In a more or less standard Ruy Lopez position, the Russian grandmaster decided to “try something new” with his move 15.Bc2. He thought that he should have played h2-h3 earlier, perhaps instead of 17.Ne3. His play in that phase was “based on a miscalculation”. A few moves later Svidler was “already struggling” until he missed 33…Qe4! which decided the game immediately. He did have a small compliment to his opponent: “As usual the conversion phase went quite smoothly.”
 

As computer engines pointed out, Carlsen in fact missed a strong move earlier on: 25…Bxh3. “At this point I was just thinking that straightforward moves were good enough for a huge advantage,” said Carlsen, who is more than satisfied after six rounds of play. “I’m very happy. I’ve had four blacks so far and I feel that I’m playing at a decent level so… as I said before: I am where I need to be. We’ll see what happens from here.”

One of Carlsen’s main rivals, world’s number two Vladimir Kramnik, lost further ground by drawing with Vassily Ivanchuk. Once again the Ukrainian got into serious time trouble. “I had to spend some time in the opening because the position was very dangerous and of course I understood that every little mistake can lead to a loss,” said Ivanchuk.

Kramnik came up with a nice positional exchange sacrifice and then did away with another piece to create a dangerous attack on the enemy king. But it was just not enough: just when his opponent needed to make 13 moves in only 1 minute and 4 seconds, the former World Champion had to go for a perpetual check.

The game was so complicated and interesting that during the press conference Kramnik impatiently asked if the press room’s laptop could run an engine. After it was switched on, he grabbed the mouse and said: “I don’t know if I had anything. Let’s see what the guy says.” The players and host Anastasiya Karlovich had a good laugh about some of the amazing moves that were suggested by the machine. For sure Kramnik was also trying to find analytical support for the difficult decision he had to make on move 30...
 

About the tournament situation, Kramnik said: “I just have bad luck. I quite like my play but the ball is just not getting into the goal. Yesterday I was very close to a win, and today again... It was just amazing that I was not checkmating him. I’m afraid that if I don’t repeat moves I’m just lost. It would be a gamble because he is a very good blitz player. I am not happy about the way the tournament is going but I don’t think I can blame myself. The only thing I can do is continue to show good chess and hope that at some point I will have luck on my side.”

Alexander Grischuk and Boris Gelfand played the Rossolimo Sicilian (3.Bb5), a line which the Israeli got on the board many times last year in his World Championship match against Vishy Anand. About his seventh move Grischuk said: “Unfortunately Boris was very well prepared for this rare line.” After the opening the Russian grandmaster lost a pawn and then he had to "fight for the draw", but he managed to get the game sharper. With little time on the clock for both players at the second time control, Gelfand decided to repeat moves.

Teimour Radjabov versus Levon Aronian was a relatively quiet Ruy Lopez. “I thought I had a decent position out of the opening and lots of time on my clock, so I thought I should pose some problems for Teimour,” said Aronian, who seemed to get an advantage after White’s pawn push 24.g5. Kramnik, who joined the commentary team when he was finished and even took the time to look at this game, said: “This g4-g5 looks like a nervous move. It seems people are a bit nervous here, especially the young guys!”

With a weakened king position Radjabov had to be careful, and he was for a long time. “I should say that till the very last moment he was defending very well. Only through luck I managed to break his resistance,” said Aronian. The Armenian could profit from a blunder by his opponent on move 53 and thus scored an important point.

After six rounds Carlsen and Aronian have 4.5 points (or “plus three” in chess slang), which is 1.5 point more than Svidler and Kramnik. Grischuk and Radjabov have 2.5 points and Ivanchuk and Gelfand 2. Friday is a rest day. Saturday, March 23rd at 14:00 GMT the seventh round will be played: Carlsen-Radjabov, Aronian-Grischuk, Gelfand-Kramnik and Ivanchuk-Svidler.

The FIDE Candidates' Tournament is taking place March 14th-April 1st, 2013 at IET London, Savoy Place. It is sponsored by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and organized by AGON and the World Chess Federation (FIDE). Games and information can be found at http://london2013.fide.com.
Report by Peter Doggers/
Pictures by Anastasiya Karlovich

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Candidates R4: Aronian, Carlsen Lead


In Tuesday’s fourth round of the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament in London Magnus Carlsen of Norway caught Levon Aronian of Armenia in first place. Carlsen beat Alexander Grischuk of Russia in a Ruy Lopez Berlin, while Aronian was held to a draw by Peter Svidler of Russia in a Queen’s Gambit Accepted. The two oldest participants, Boris Gelfand of Israel and Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine, drew a very interesting game that started with the rare Chigorin Defence. Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan and Vladimir Kramnik of Russia drew a Nimzo-Indian that was always more or less balanced. 

After enjoying their first rest day, on Tuesday the eight top grandmasters returned to the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) at Savoy Place for the fourth round of the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament. It was also the first day that, in the commentary room, host IM Lawrence Trent was joined by former World Championship contender GM Nigel Short. Throughout the tournament, online spectators can follow the games while watching and listening to live commentary simultaneously. In the playing hall, the audience enjoys a similar experience thanks to Samsung tablets which are waiting for them on their seats at arrival.


The first game to finish was a relatively short draw: tournament leader Levon Aronian split the point with Peter Svidler after 31 moves. In this game, Svidler showed once again that he has come to London very well prepared. The grandmaster from St. Petersburg successfully employed a rare line of the Queen's Gambit Accepted in which Black actually hangs on to his c-pawn with an early ...a6 and ...b5. 


“During the game I was trying to remember what my intention was, but I failed," said Aronian. According to Svidler, his opponent didn't play the most dangerous plan: "This is actually not such a straightforward line but with some precision Black tends to equalise if White goes for the pawn grab. I suppose the critical lines are somewhere where White ignores the pawn for a while."

Svidler's 10...Rb8 instead of 10...Ra7 is a new idea (played only once before) that involves a long-term pawn sacrifice. It worked well, and Svidler equalised quite comfortably. "It's nice to have half a rest today. Somewhat nicer for me than it is for Levon I'm sure but for me it's fairly nice," said Svidler.

A bit more than 3.5 hours into the round, Magnus Carlsen won his second game of the tournament to catch Aronian in first place. In the popular Berlin variation of the Ruy Lopez, his opponent Alexander Grischuk started spending a lot of time early on. An important moment was 17…f5, a move disliked by Carlsen. “I missed a lot of things with this move. I completely overestimated my position. I still think Black is fine but [during the game] I thought Black was better,” said Grischuk. One of Black's problems was his bad bishop on f8 – the reason why his position looked better than it was.



To make matters worse, Grischuk’s disadvantage on the clock started to grow. After making his 21st move, Grischuk had only 4 minutes and 24 seconds left on the clock for his next 19 moves. It was just impossible to reach the time control without making mistakes, and Carlsen profited from these mistakes by not paying attention to his opponent’s time trouble too much. As he said after the game, he was “just trying to play well”. And he was never really worried: “Obviously there are threats but I felt that I always had enough resources to parry them. You can never be absolutely sure but I thought that I had enough play on the queenside to counter whatever threats he could muster.”

Only two players are older than forty in this tournament: Boris Gelfand and Vassily Ivanchuk. Both 44, these chess legends must have played over a hundred games against each other. Gelfand referred to this when he expressed the following nice words about his opponent: “Each game is very interesting and always a big lesson for me. Probably it’s one of the reasons for our chess longevity: when you play such a great player so many times, it gives you so much experience and knowledge – it helps a lot!”

As so often, Ivanchuk played a rare opening set-up. With Black he went for the Chigorin Defence (1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nc6) and it took Gelfand a few minutes to decide on which line to play. In a position that looked a bit better for White, on move 22 a very nice piece sacrifice was found (and played instantly!) by Ivanchuk. After some wild complications White ended up with an extra bishop on h2 that was completely out of play, and there Black could force a perpetual check.

The last game to finish, between Teimour Radjabov and Vladimir Kramnik, was a Nimzo-Indian game that always looked fairly equal. “I think I got a very nice position out of the opening and it’s also very easy to play. I had this very simple plan of trying to attack these hanging pawns but of course White is also very solid. It might be equal and maybe it’s a matter of style, but I would take Black in this position, it’s easier to play somehow,” said Kramnik. The Russian was happy with his manoeuvres, and thought he was pressing. “But Teimour seemed to defend very well.”

Radjabov agreed that he got “nothing out of the opening". “I probably mixed up some things in the opening, how I got this position without the two bishops. It’s kind of a dream position for Black.” But the Azerbaijani managed to avoid serious mistakes, and so Black’s advantage was never more than symbolical.

After four rounds Aronian and Carlsen are tied for first place with 3 points while Svidler is the only player with 2.5. Kramnik and Radjabov are on 50% with 2 points, Grischuk has 1.5 points and Gelfand and Ivanchuk are still in last place, with 1 point. Wednesday, March 20th at 14:00 GMT (India time 7.30 pm) the fourth round will be played: Ivanchuk-Carlsen, Svidler-Gelfand, Kramnik-Aronian and Grischuk-Radjabov.


The FIDE Candidates' Tournament is taking place March 14th-April 1st, 2013 at IET London, Savoy Place. It is sponsored by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and organized by AGON and the World Chess Federation (FIDE). Games and information can be found at http://london2013.fide.com.
Report by Peter Doggers

Photos by Anastasiya Karlovich

Monday, March 18, 2013

Candidates R3: Aronian in Sole Lead


Levon Aronian is the sole leader at the FIDE World Chess Candidates 2013’ Tournament after three rounds of play. On Sunday the Armenian grandmaster beat Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine, who overstepped the time limit for the second day in a row. In what was a very exciting round, co-leader Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan lost to Russia’s Peter Svidler in a Sämisch King’s Indian. Magnus Carlsen of Norway beat Boris Gelfand of Israel with Black in 57 moves from the old Cambridge Springs variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined. Russian grandmasters Vladimir Kramnik and Alexander Grischuk drew a Grünfeld game in 35 moves. 
Two and a half hours into the third round of the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament a remarkable situation occurred: in all four games, between the two contestants there was a time difference of about an hour on the clock. Thanks to their preparation Peter Svider, Vladimir Kramnik, Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian enjoyed a big time advantage against Teimour Radjabov, Alexander Grischuk, Boris Gelfand and Vassily Ivanchuk respectively.

In the case of Grischuk, however, this was nothing special. The 29-year-old Muscovite is the reigning World Blitz Champion and known for getting into time trouble quite often in his classical games. At the press conference his opponent noted that things could have been even worse. Kramnik: “At some point when Sacha was thinking, I was trying to compete with Peter Svidler, I mean, who would have more advantage on time!”

Their game started with the Fianchetto Variation of the Grünfeld. Because many moves were quite logical, Kramnik’s preparation went as deep as move 21, when he felt he had a slight advantage. At some point Grischuk had to give up a pawn, but his piece activity offered enough compensation. “Sacha played very correctly. I am not sure if I had any improvement on what I played,” said Kramnik afterwards.

Poor Vassily Ivanchuk lost on time for the second day in a row. The Ukrainian is known for his wide opening repertoire, and today he tried his luck with an opening that’s popular at club level: the Torre Attack (via a Trompovsky move-order). Levon Aronian responded well to his opponent’s aggression, and his wonderful 19th move gave him a big advantage. While his opponent’s clock was ticking away Aronian actually didn’t play that convincingly, but he won anyway.

“Today I just tried to play some creative game but probably for practical reasons it was a bad strategy. 31.c4 was a nice move but there I realised that even if he would start to give me material with every move I would still lose on time,” said Ivanchuk, who will in fact turn 44 tomorrow. Asked how he will spend his rest day, the Ukrainian replied: “I will try to completely not think about chess!”

Like Ivanchuk, Teimour Radjabov got in huge time trouble with only a few seconds left to make his last three moves before the first time control. The Azerbaijani did manage to reach move 40, but he failed to save the game. Just after the opening, his favourite King’s Indian, he needed to think a lot. Radjabov: “I was not so much surprised, but in general I forgot the lines I had seen there. I just mixed everything up.”

Svidler arrived in the press room both relieved and happy about how his opening went. He played the 5.f3 (Sämisch) variation and got exactly what he had prepared. “It’s very nice to get a position like this with also an hour and a big advantage on the clock. The game was mainly decided in the opening because I got such a huge advantage. The combination of the position I got and also the clock pressure that was on Teimour here, that together made his situation quite difficult.”

The chess fans were spoilt with yet another win at the end of the day. After two quick and uneventful draws, top seed Magnus Carlsen managed to beat Boris Gelfand with Black. In this game it was the Israeli who spent lots of time. “It’s a rare line, a very original position. The pawn structure isn't determined yet. I had to think about the best way to configure it,” said Gelfand.

With his last move before the time control (40.h5) he gave his opponent unnecessary practical chances, and when the queens were traded Carlsen’s two passed pawns on the queenside decided the game. “I’m very happy to win and now that Levon won his second game… it’s still early in the tournament but it’s good to keep pace,” said Carlsen.

After three rounds Aronian is the sole leader with 2.5 out of 3 while Carlsen and Svidler are in shared second place with 2 points. Kramnik, Grischuk and Radjabov have 1.5/3 while Gelfand and Ivanchuk are in last place with 0.5/3.

Monday, March 18th is the first rest day. Tuesday, March 19th at 14:00 GMT the fourth round will be played: Carlsen-Grischuk, Radjabov-Kramnik, Aronian-Svidler and Gelfand-Ivanchuk.

The FIDE Candidates' Tournament is taking place March 14th-April 1st, 2013 at IET London, Savoy Place. It is sponsored by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and organized by AGON and the World Chess Federation (FIDE). Games and information can be found at http://london2013.fide.com.

Report by Peter Doggers
Pictures by Anastasiya Karlovich

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