Candidates Tournament 2014
Candidates Round 11 : Exciting... not!
After many breath-taking rounds, today we had a day where, apart from a slight bit of uncertainty in the Topalov – Karjakin endgame, nothing unusual happened.
However, Anand has broken out of the pack, and Aronian, and even the closest challengers (Karjakin, Mamedyarov and Svidler) must go for broke. Gentlemen, there are 3 rounds left, it's time !
The first game to finish was Kramnik - Anand: In a classic Catalan, Kramnik chose to repeat his 7.Ne5 used against Carlsen in the last Candidates match, even though he is considered an expert in the 7.Qc2 (Qa4) variation followed by Qxc4. He deviated with 11.Na3, a seldom-played move and, to be honest, one where any idea of getting an advantage is well hidden. After a series of more or less logical moves, we get to this position:
Despite their extra pawn, White is struggling to find a viable plan. Eventually, Kramnik grabs the a7 pawn and after Bxc4, Nxc4 Qxa7+ Qf2 Qa6, the Black rook quickly invades the second rank to eliminate a2 and any trace of an advantage. The draw was agreed on the 31st move. Undoubtedly still recovering from his disappointing mistake yesterday, it's likely that the Russian giant has lost his grip and will now only play the spoiler, since he can no longer qualify. Too bad for the show, but it's good for Anand who takes another step towards the Grail.
The 2nd game, between Andreikin and Mamedyarov, also takes us into a Catalan, but with an early dxc4 followed by c5, which recently has been highly popular. The players first follow the main line until the 12th move where Andreikin chooses to follow a recent game between Kramnik and Anand (Zurich 2013) by playing 12.c4 instead of the main line 12.Nfd4 but Mamedyarov rattles off his moves at light speed and quickly gets a time advantage. When we reach this position :
Mamedyarov has just innovated with Rxd8 (where Bxd8 has been played before) and has a big lead on the clock, so it seems that Andreikin should have prepared something else.
White does have a good bit more room, but after a series of exchanges, the position empties out on the queenside and the proposed endgame of 2B 4 pawns versus BN 4 pawns is certainly slightly favorable to White but the advantage is only symbolic. When everything disappears, the two players agree to a draw, very disappointing..
Third game, Svidler vs Aronian.
The game looked like it would be a good one, with Svidler, back among the leaders, expected to put the pressure on Aronian. But the opening, the Reti Opening with Black playing an early Bg4, doesn't promise a lot of fireworks.
The position quickly became drawish :
This is a classic position in the Reti, Svidler had to be surprised, and after a series of subtle maneuvers, various exchanges close out a very dull day.
In the last game, which is the game analyzed by Chess Anyone today, Topalov and Karjakin follow suit and play a very unambitious opening, but with Topalov's determination, the endgame takes on an unbalanced appearance even if a draw is the logical outcome.
See you tomorrow for a day that we all hope will be more explosive!
To see the annotated Topalov-Karjakin game : click here.