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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Candidates Chess R6: Anand Draws Karjakin, Leads in Khanty Mansiysk

Sergey Karjakin - Viswanathan Anand draw in Round 6. Photo: FIDE (Thursday is a rest day)

Khanty Mansiysk, Russia: Viswanathan Anand remained in sole lead with a third straight draw, signing peace with Russian Sergey Karjakin in the sixth round of Candidates Chess tournament here on Wednesday.

After scoring two victories in the first three rounds itself, Anand did not get many chances for the third day running even as Karjakin had to work hard for the half point. It turned out to be another high-tension round in the candidates that will select the challenger to Magnus Carlsen of Norway in the next World championship match later this year.

Bulgarian Veselin Topalov reacted like a wounded tiger after losing the previous round to Peter Svidler and defeated second seed Vladimir Kramnik of Russia in a fine display while Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan put it across Peter Svidler of Russia to announce his arrival as a contender in the tournament.

Anand remained in sole lead with a third straight draw, signing peace with Russian Sergey Karjakin in the sixth round of Candidates Chess tournament.

If this was not enough, top seed Levon Aronian of Armenia spoiled all the hard work of the first few hours and mishandled a winning position to let Russian Dmitry Andreikin off the hook with a draw. 

After the lopsided round, Anand took his tally to four points and remained a half point ahead of Aronian. While Kramnik and Svidler slipped to joint third spot along with Topalov and Mamedyarov who came back to a fifty percent score.

Karjakin moved to 2.5 points and is now on seventh spot, a half point clear of Andreikin who was simply lucky to survive today. For the first time in Candidates, the main line of the Berlin defense came on board. Anand has not been able to crack it since the last world championship match and today was no different even though Karjakin had to find some right way to equalise.

After the usual trading of queens, Anand got the typical breakthrough on the king side but while that gave him a better control in the king side, Karjakin punctured the other flank by parting with his bishop. Even as Anand's king walked to the center, black's position remained impregnable and the draw was agreed to after 33 moves. -- PTI 


Results Round 6: V Anand (Ind, 4) drew with Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 2.5); Veselin Topalov (Bul, 3) beat Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 3); Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze, 3) beat Peter Svidler (Rus, 3); Levon Aronian (Arm, 3.5) drew with Dmitry Andreikin (Rus, 2).

Candidates Chess R5: Anand Draws Andreikin, Keeps Lead with 3.5!

Khanty Mansiysk (Russia): Former World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand played out an easy draw as black against lowest-seeded Dmitry Andreikin of Russia in the fifth round, but kept the lead at the Candidates chess tournament here.
Viswanathan Anand draws comfortably with Dmitry Andreikin. Photos: FIDE

It turned out to be a no-hassle day for Anand as the Indian was seen pressing for an advantage towards the end of the game. The draw took Anand to 3.5 points out of a possible five and he keeps his half point lead with the end of the first half now approaching near.

Anand chose the Berlin defense, an opening he has not been able to break himself as white for some time and Andreikin employed the closed set up that was on expected lines. The Russian got a slightly favourable position in the middle game but was made to sweat hard for more by Anand who played at a good speed.

It was a mild time pressure for Andreikin that led him into difficulties and Anand was fighting for an advantage towards the end of the first time control. The Russian, however, got his act together just in time to find the path to equality after trading the queens. The peace was signed in 42 moved.

"I was trying but I didn`t see anything concrete, my hope was when his king came out but after the queen exchange its just a draw," said Anand in the post-game conference, adding, "I was very happy with my position in the middle game but it did not become more".

In other games of the day Peter Svidler of Russia defeated Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria while Sergey Karjakin of Russia played out a draw with Azeri Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.

Russian Vladimir Kramnik was close to winning against Levon Aronian of Armenia, but after a long struggle the latter was able to hold his fort together.

With Anand in front on 3.5 points, Svidler, Kramnik and Aronian follow him a half point behind. Topalov, Karjakin and Mamedyarov are on two points each from their five games while Andreikin remains at the bottom on one and a half points.

Svidler came out with a sterling performance to beat Topalov. From a Ruy Lopez Moller, Svidler opted for the variation he had popularised some years back and did not get any advantage.
Topalov`s opening preparation may have worked in his favour, but the Bulgarian did not handle the intricacies as well as he wanted. Svidler got a small advantage first and then his wily manoeuvres ensured that white`s advantage grew in the rook and opposite colour Bishops endgame.

As the position became more difficult, Topalov lost track and blundered in to a hopeless position.

Sergey Karjakin and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov played out a regulation draw. Karjakin did not get anything with his white pieces against the Sicilian defense and the pieces kept getting exchanged at regular intervals. In almost no time, the players reached a heavy pieces endgame where the final result was only a matter of time.

Vladimir Kramnik of Russia was involved in a heated battle against Levon Aronian. The Russian did everything right to attain a dangerous attack with his white pieces but could not force matters as Aronian came up with a stupendous Queen sacrifice.

The position remained better for Kramnik but the Aronian just found the right defense to equality. The longest game of the day lasted 60 moves.

Results round 5: Dmitry Andreikin (Rus, 1.5) drew with V Anand (Ind, 3.5); Peter Svidler (Rus, 3) beat Veselin Topalov (Bul, 2); Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 2) drew with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze, 2); Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 2.5) playing Levon Aronian (Arm, 2.5). -- PTI

Monday, March 17, 2014

Candidates Chess 2014 R4: Anand Draws Kramnik, Leads with 3 Points

Five-time World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand played out a draw with Vladimir Kramnik in the fourth round but remained in sole lead to stay in contention in the Candidates chess tournament in Khanty Mansiysk.

Anand - Kramnik Draw in Round 4. Official website

Kramnik’s Vienna variation has been analysed extensively and Anand went for a variation which is conclusively drawn. 


The draw took Anand to three points out of a possible four and the Indian remained in sole lead. Kramnik remained in second place on 2.5 and was joined by top seed Levon Aronian of Armenia on 2.5 points. Aronian scored a remarkable victory over Russian Peter Svidler. 

Former World Chess Champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria signed peace with Sergey Karjakin of Russia while Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijain scored his first victory at the expense of Dmitry Andreikin of Russia.

With 10 rounds still to come, it's an early call yet. Anand, Kramnik and Aronian might be fighting at the top for a berth as the finalist for the next world chess championship, but the likes of Svidler, Karjakin and Topalov are fighting it through.

Topalov had no difficulties in keeping the momentum against Karjakin in an English opening game while Mamedyarov was at his best for once in crushing Andreikin with white pieces.

Anand is on course to one of the best performances of his life. The field is open yet. Stay tuned to the action in Khanty Mansiysk! -- Staff Writer with PTI inputs

Standings
1 GM Anand Viswanathan 2770 IND 3
2 GM Aronian Levon 2830 ARM 2½
3 GM Kramnik Vladimir 2787 RUS 2½
4 GM Svidler Peter 2758 RUS 2
5 GM Topalov Veselin 2785 BUL 2
6 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2757 AZE 1½
7 GM Karjakin Sergey 2766 RUS 1½
8 GM Andreikin Dmitry 2709 RUS 1

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Chess Candidates 2014 R3: Anand Crushes Mamedyarov, Takes Leads

Khanti Mansiysk, Russia: Five-time World Chess Champion Viswanthan Anand continued his fine form and crashed through the defences of Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan to notch up his second successive win in the Candidates Chess tournament.

Viswanathan Anand picks up a crushing victory over Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in Round 3. Photo: FIDE 

Not many experts had given Anand a chance coming in to candidates after he lost the World Chess Championship match against Magnus Carlsen of Norway in November last year.


However, the 'Tiger from Madras' has not only proved his critics wrong but has also emerged as a serious contender even though it is still early days in the 14-round tournament.

With 2.5 points in his kitty from the first three games, Anand is now in sole lead. The other games in the eight-player double round robin tournament ended in draws. 

Former World Chess Champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria missed out on his chances against top seed Levon Aronian of Armenia while Dmitry Andreikin signed peace with fellow Russian Sergey Karjakin after playing solidly as white. Peter Svidler had the upper hand in the game versus Vladimir Kramnik, but the latter managed to draw.

The fact that Anand's victory came with black pieces was icing on the cake for the Indian. Playing the Modern variation in the Slav defense, Anand had little trouble equalising out of the opening and Mamedyarov was also looking at dynamic possibilities after losing the previous round.

It was in the early middle game itself that Anand sensed his chances. Mamedyarov could not find any way to improve other than king side pawn advances and that met with a timely breakthrough by Anand leaving weaknesses on white's king side.

On move 24 Anand deployed his queen in an attacking position and Mamedyarov realised that he was already much worse. The pressure got to the Azeri Grandmaster sooner than expected as he caved in through a blunder on the 26th move itself. Anand wrapped the issue in 31 moves. -- PTI

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Chess Candidates 2014 R2: Anand Keeps Joint Lead with Kramnik, Svidler

World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand played out an easy draw with black against former World Chess Champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria in the second round of the Candidates Chess 2014 in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia, on Friday.

Not missing anything after his fantastic opening round victory against top seed Levon Aronian of Armenia, Anand came up with another emphatic display of positional chess.

The Indian ace moved to 1.5 points out of a possible two, a tally now matched by the Russian duo of Vladimir Kramnik and Peter Svidler.

While the opening day saw only Anand winning and rest of the games ending in draws, the second round was in contrast, as only Anand drew. Vladimir Kramnik cut through the defences of compatriot Sergey Karjakin in great style while Peter Svidler made his 'wild card' look worthy with a crushing victory over Dmitry Andreikin.
Khanty Mansiysk World Chess Candidates 2014: Anand draws with Topalov, stays in joint lead with Kramnik and Svidler. Photo: FIDE/official website

Making sure he won't be far behind after the first round defeat, Levon Aronian struck back with vengeance as he made mince meat of Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan.

With Anand, Kramnik and Svidler in front, Aronian holds the fourth spot on one point along with Topalov and these two have Mamedyarov, Karjakin and Andreikin right behind them with a half point each.

On what turned out to be an easy day as black, Anand opted for a set-up akin to the Slav defense and had apparently done a lot of home-work in the variation. Topalov sank in to a long thought early in the opening while he went about capturing a pawn in the center and Anand was simply on top in preparation as he played much faster.

After winning the pawn, Topalov could not think of anything better than converting to a endgame with Rooks and Bishops still on board but Anand had worked out that this ploy will also lead to a draw only.

Further liquidations led to a drawn rook and pawns endgame and the peace was finally signed with only Kings left on the board. The game lasted 54 moves.

Kramnik showed he is in fine fettle with a brilliant attacking victory over Karjakin, known as the youngest ever Grandmaster in the world. The Queen's gambit accepted by Karjakin as black resulted in a lively position and Kramnik went about his execution with an exchange sacrifice. It was all over in just 39 moves.

If Aronian felt the pressure after losing to Anand, he did not show it and squeezed out a nice victory against Mamedyarov. It was a Ragozin variation wherein Aronian came up with a fine new idea and Mamedyarov's early blunder led to loss of his queen for two pieces. The rest was easy as Aronian won in 44 moves.

Peter Svidler came up with an inspired performance in a Sicilian Accelerated Sveshnikov against Andreikin. Winning a pawn with precise technique, Svidler had little troubles in converting the ensuing rook endgame in to a full point.

Results Round 2: V Topalov (Bul, 1) drew with V Anand (Ind, 1.5); Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 1.5) beat Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 0.5); Peter Svidler (Rus, 1.5) beat Dmitry Andreikin (Rus, 0.5); Levon Aronian (Arm, 1) beat Shakhriayar Mamedyarov (Aze, 0.5). -- PTI

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



Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Viswanathan Anand all set for World Chess Candidates in Khanty Mansiysk

Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia: With odds stacked against him, five-time World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand will look forward to making a grand comeback in the Candidates chess tournament that starts in Khanty-Mansiysk with the first round on Thursday.  
With the weather slated to hit -14 degrees during the week, the heated battles are likely to compensate for them as eight of the world elite compete here to find the next challenger for World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway.

It may be recalled that Carlsen defeated Anand in the last world chess championship match at Chennai by 6.5-3.5 margin to become the undisputed king of the 64-squares late last year.

The eight-player super tournament will be played under double round robin basis and there will be 14-grueling rounds in all before the winner is determined. After a recent decline in form and rating, Anand starts only as the fourth seed in the tournament.

Levon Aronian of Armenia starts as the rating favourite with his ELO touching 2830 points. Russian Vladimir Kramnik who missed winning the candidates by a whisker last year, is ranked second ahead of former world champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria.

Sergey Karjakin of Russia is behind Anand and is seeded fifth ahead of seven times Russian Champion Peter Svidler. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan and Dmitry Andreikin of Russia complete the line-up.

With his remarkable current form Levon Aronian is a live threat to all participants and Kramnik will hope to give the Armenian a run for his money. The stakes are high as apart from a match against Carlsen, the tournament has a total prize pool of 600,000 Euros (About Rs. 5 crore) out of which 135,000 Euros is reserved for the winner.

The tournament will be played under Classical Chess rules with 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 for the next 20 and then 15 minutes each with a 30 seconds increment from move 61.

How they got here: 

V Anand: Losing finalist of last world championship The World champion is here as the losing finalist of World championship. If Anand does not win it, he will either have to go through a long cycle or take is rating up significantly to be back in hunt next time.

Levon Aronian: By virtue of his high rating. Aronian did not come good in the last world chess cup but otherwise has been in exemplary form. His victory at the Tata Steel tournament earlier this year was a just indication of his great form. Many Chess buffs are rooting for a match between Aronian and Carlsen.
Sergey Karjakin: High rating. Karjakin qualifies as the second player on rating. He holds the record for the youngest ever Grandmaster in history at 12 years and seven months and has won some of the strongest events. His most recent success was in Norway when he came first ahead of Carlsen himself.

Vladimir Kramnik: Winner of the last World Chess Cup. Having never played in the knock-out world cup before, not many believed Kramnik would last the distance in the seven rounds format. However he made it all look too easy. He might have been around even without the world cup victory but this was certainly the way he wanted to come in. The Russian has been out of competitive chess for some time, as he opted out of Tata Steel as well as the Zurich Classic this year.

Dmitry Andreikin: Runners up in World Chess Cup Andreikin?s second place finish in the world cup was no less intriguing. Slowly but steadily, this 2010 world junior champion is making his presence felt in elite chess. The hallmark is solid play, complemented with deep opening preparation. On his day, a real threat to the best in business.

Veselin Topalov: Winner of FIDE Grand Prix. One has not been hearing much about Topalov since he lost the 2010 world championship match against Anand. Yet, if his performance in the Grand prix is anything to go by, Topalov can belittle everyone else with his uncompromising variety of chess that very few possess. It was not long ago when he was the world champion and this tournament gives him another chance.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov: Runners up in Grand Prix. Mamedyarov is the most unpredictable player in this field and can serve as the spoiler of the tournament as well win it by sheer power-play. Grit, determination and fearlessness are words that best describe this Azerbaijani.

Peter Svidler: Organisers wild card. It is not without reasons that the wild card is given to Svidler - the seven times Russian champion. Svidler has won it all in the past including the World chess cup and remains a feared opponent. It was he who jolted Calrsen in the last round of Candidates last year and the Norwegian is world champion because Kramnik also lost his game on the same day against Ukrainian Vassily Ivanchuk. A draw by Kramnik would have resulted in a match between him and Anand and recent history would not be the same. -- PTI


(For special features and other reports also visit our partner site www.worldchesschampionship2013.com)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I have Hunger to Play Good Chess: Anand

Former World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand on his preparation for the Candidates 2014 in an interview to Ashok Venugopal for Sunday Standard - The New Indian Express
How are you preparing for the Candidates tournament? A lot of strong players will be in action. Who do you think is a tough opponent?
The Candidates will be a tough event — strong players and a grueling format. I think there is no one particular favourite. It depends on who is in top form. I have been preparing for the event since January.

Have you made any change in the style of preparation?

Again, can’t say much.

Have you changed your seconds from the World Championship?

I can’t really talk about it right now.

Have you overcome the World Chess Championship defeat?

That is over. I don’t think about it anymore. It seems like it happened ages ago. As a sportsperson you have to learn to let go and move on.

In the London Chess Classic you began to win again, but managed to reach only till quarterfinals. When you won the first match (after the World Championship loss) in the tournament did you get over a psychological barrier? How do you rate your performance?

At this level of the game, there are no barriers. You have good games and bad ones. I would say moderately happy. I was very proud of my games in the qualifying. I could feel myself like a six-year-old again, just playing very fast and confidently. That is the way I would really love to play.

At Zurich, in perhaps the strongest field in the history of the game, you came fifth overall. How do you rate this performance? You are known for your rapid skills, but lost three games?

Well, I am going through a phase of changing my game. So there will be some hits on the way before you reach your optimum form. So, Zurich was a good learning experience.

Is there a mental block when playing Carlsen? You are yet to beat him in the classical format in the last two years or so.

This is something I hope to correct. It is his (Carlsen) style, which is very different to what many players have grown up with.

How do you recollect the match against Carlsen at Zurich Chess 2014?

It was a normal game. You can’t base each encounter on the match. That is over. You have to just look forward and play a normal game.

How eager are you to go through the grind, win the Candidates and take on Carlsen again in the World Championship in November?

I am looking to do well in Khanty right now. If that leads to a match in November I would definitely try and do things differently.

Despite having nothing left to prove do you still have the hunger to be the world champion?

I would say I have hunger to play good chess.

What motivates you now to give your best? Is it pride, reputation or just simple love for the game?

I would just say that I love the game. If something gives you a lot of pain, it also gives you a lot of enjoyment. That is why you love it and is passionate about excelling in it.

How do you handle pressure, not just expectations of fans from the country, but also that from the Western media, players and officials who cannot digest an Indian ruling the world of chess?

You do have some amount of pressure being the outsider. But I have always tried to keep a small circle of friends and just enjoy the chess. I don’t really read much chess news. But there are also many people who show their support especially since you had to work doubly harder to reach the top.

Does the attitude (running down Anand) of some former Russian greats like Garry Kasparov motivate you to prove them wrong?

I don’t waste my time on petty chess politics. Chess was clearly Kasparov’s strongest point.

-- Team Chess Magazine Black and White would not have asked the last two questions in there. Ah well. More on that later ;)

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