Tournoi des Candidats au titre mondial 2014
Candidates Act 2: It's started, alright!
After a first round of observation, except for the noticeable and convincing win of Anand against Aronian, this second round was explosive with 3 decisive games, all of them in white's favor.
Here are the details of this wild round!
First the duel between Topalov and Anand, the Indian probably surprised his opponent by playing Nbd7 on move 4 (which, even if it had already been played by Aronian or Kramnik, is considered to be a side-line), then 5...e5 where e6 is usually preferred. Soon the game leaves the known paths (a theoretical novelty on the 7th move is pretty rare at this level!) Anand's preparation was very sharp and after ten moves Topalov couldn't claim any sort of advantage. After exchanging queens and despite being a pawn down, Anand seems to have completely equalized
The second game : Svidler versus Andreikin. The first big surprise, Andreikin, who has the reputation of being very solid, chose the dangerous Kalashnikov ! Only Radjabov and Ivanchuk have used it at such a high level. Svidler, well-prepared, as always, chose the positional line with 6.c4 and was very careful not to get into big complications that often arise in this opening.
The first theoretical turning point was the use of the rare 11...Qg5 (11...Nf6 is the main line, where Black prefers to develop the queen to b6). After looking at this game, it's hard to believe this move is an improvement. Svidler's 13.b4, is the real novelty (13.Nd5 has been played before but not often enough to call it "theory").
After a series of "normal" moves the position seems more pleasant for White. After 16.Nd5 Andreikin appears to have missed White's continuation and started losing tracks which can explain the move 16...b5. Bxd5 was undoubtedly better but White seems a bit better because of its nice space advantage.
For the third game, which opposed Aronian to Mamedyarov, the theoretical debate beginned with the Ragozin Defense, Aronian's favorite opening!
Levon chose a sideline (7.Nd2) that he already used in 2011. The 2 players followed the Aronian - Ivanchuk game and didn't deviate until the ninth move where Black prefered Ng6 (the most often-played move) over Be7 chosen by Ivanchuk (0-1 in 38 moves).
11.f4 chosen by Aronian shows the quality of his preparation and Black must already choose carefully and after 13.f5 Aronian sets up a huge trap !
The last game, (which is our Editors' Choice for the annotated game of the day) is a Russian derby between Kramnik and Karjakin. Vladimir, well-prepared, took the initiative in the opening and pressured Karjakin. Karjakin brilliantly defended before collapsing in zeitnot.
A beautiful game by Kramnik! Although it is difficult to draw a conclusion after two rounds, this tournament seems to have started out with a very high level of combativity and risks to be very bloody before it ends.
However, some players seem to be a little less well prepared, or are they holding back something?
The future will tell! (see the annotated game by Chess Anyone : click here.)