Candidates Tournament 2014
Candidats Ronde 13 by IM Jean-Noël Riff, translated by Cécile Haussernot :
The tiger roars again!
It's done! By brilliantly defending in his game against Karjakin (the first where Anand seemed in trouble) and benefiting from Aronian's defeat at the hands of Andreikin, Anand punched his ticket for a rematch against Carlsen. With superb opening preparation and very accurate analysis, Anand rose above the crowd and showed, for those who needed convincing, that he shouldn't be written off quite yet. Nobody was able to challenge him for first place and that is the real surprise: the 2 other favorites, Kramnik and Aronian, didn't execute well and should review their playbooks. While Kramnik showed early on that he was out of shape, Aronian, like last year, showed he has a problem managing a long tournament, and even if one day he does qualify, he will have to improve his stamina in order to compete with the "Norwegian Machine".
Tomorrow, 5 players at 50% (Kramnik, Aronian, Andreikin, Karjakin and Mamedyarov) will battle for the other steps on the podium, with each half of a point worth its weight in...silver, bronze...
The first game to finish today was Svidler vs Mamedyarov. The Azeri brought out his Najdorf again, and instead of the "usual" h3, Svidler chose Be3 for the first time in this tournament and got into the very sharp Ng4 variation. Both players played quickly through a well-known (albeit secondary) variation and it was the Azeri who deviated first from a Morozevich-Grischuk game, with the less common 16...Nd4. This move seemed to surprise Svidler and despite a slight advantage we won't know what the variant is really worth to White, since Svider voluntarily liquidated most of the pieces (20.Bg3 is possibly better, preventing Kd7 due to a tactic based on Rxh5 and Bxg4, winning back the rook)
Svidler probably wanted to play it safe and despite a slight advantage due to a queenside pawn majority, the advantage is minimal. Svidler will exchange his d5 pawn for the g4 pawn (Rxh8 Rxh8 / Rd4 Rh5 / Rxg4 Rxd5) the doubled pawns and the isolated pawn give him some targets for the moment but not sufficient to hope for anything better than a draw. Mamedyarov didn't misjudge it, the players threw in the towel after zeitnot.
The 2nd game to deliver its verdict is the clash between Andreikin and Aronian, the only player who can challenge Anand. But Aronian, probably feeling the pressure, missed his chance. However, Andreikin's Trompovsky, despite Aronian's questionable 2...g6, didn't produce many sparks and Aronian seems to quickly equalize:
Here Andreikin chooses to sacrifice the quality by playing Kb2! It's a very good, practical choice since Aronian refuses to accept the challenge and little by little his position deteriorates. However, after Bxd1 Rxd1, White doesn't seem to have an advantage in spite of a potentially threatening White pawn majority. However, Aronian will choose to capture e4, get trapped, and then the White king becomes an active and very effective factor in the endgame!
Aronian will want to quickly forget this game!
The 3rd game to finish is between Kramnik and Topalov!
The fight between these two long-standing adversaries was an up and down game that shows the Russian was well-prepard (1-0 Kramnik). Take a look at the analysis done by Chess Anyone!
Here we shine the spotlight on the game that secured the tournament victory for Anand!
In a hybrid system against the queen's gambit (with b3-Bb2 instead of the traditional Bg5) Anand plays very dynamically. When the game leaves the known paths, the position seems very balanced.
Yet Black's choice of 13...Qa5 is highly questionable:
Here Black could consider Ra5 (threatening Nd7 trapping the queen!) and then put pressure on the e4 pawn with Bb7 after the White queen retreats.
Anand, playing with a pawn down, will increase the pace on the 22nd move:
The crucial decision! Anand could be in trouble here if his knight retreats to a6 but instead he will choose to give up 2 pieces for the rook (Rxa2!) and appears that with precise play and after defending well, the endgame is a draw. Karjakin will push for a long time and even "blunder" on the 88th move with Be1 missing a simple tactic (h3+, Kxh3 Re2 wins a piece).
Anand could have probably found a way to win in the final position, but he chose the safe road and qualified for the world championship match by signing the peace treaty here.
Congratulations to him !
To see the game Kramnik-Topalov annotated by Chess Anyone's team : click here.