Candidates Tournament 2014
Candidates Round 3 : Anand is taking the lead !
After a bloody 2nd round (3 wins), round 3 have been more peaceful... at least speaking of the results. But we have attended once again to beautiful fights over the board.
The calmest game was the one between Dmitry Andreïkin and Sergey Karjakin.
The two first moves of the game symbolize perfectly the difficulties of both players. 1.e4 has been a big surprise, especially after Andreïkin's choice during the 1st round (he played 1.d4 to Kramnik), because if he used to open with his King's pawn during his last international event (Warsaw European Team Chess Championship), his repertoire doesn't seem to set big troubles to the World Top.
Karjakin's response 1...e5 was really predictable with probably a Berlin defense to face. So, why did he play 1.e4 to Karjakin and not to Kramnik (who would have probably also played a Berlin)?
Andreïkin chose 4.d3 and the game followed well-known theoretical paths before the position flattened and a repetition appeared on the board.
Andreïkin had twice the white pieces, have played 1.e4 and 1.d4 and didn't succeed into putting some pressure under his opponents while with the black pieces he lost his single game (not because of the opening) against Svidler, using the extremely rare (at this level) Kalashnikov. He tried to create a psychological surprise during his 3 games, but if he changes his repertoire for each game, he will soon be completely exhausted by the amount of work to carry out.
Speaking of Karjakin, as most of the predictors said, he is very predictable for the moment. Kramnik succeeded into placing a novelty and after that painful loss (with 0,5/2), he decided to play the very solid Berlin defense to an opponent who surprised him. Of course, the tournament is very long and he wasn't in a “must win” situation, but his solidity doesn't give the impression that he can fight for the 1st place.
For his game versus Aronian, Topalov chose 1.e4 and Levon remained faithful to his Marshall's gambit despite his loss of the 1st round. The Bulgarian avoid the main line by 8.a4 and innovated by 15.Bc4 !?N. Aronian reacted badly and was soon under a great pressure. After a big tactical period, both players agreed on a draw. (Game of the day, analysed by Chess Anyone).
Topalov is the only player who drew all his games for the moment, but he has proved (if it has to be proved) his fighting spirit and stay not far from the lead. Aronian had a great reaction after his loss of the 1st round but showed an unusual lack of precision during his games which caused a lot of troubles during his games with the black pieces.
The winner of the game Svidler-Kramnik could have join Anand at 2,5/3 and they delivered a colossal fight.
Peter opted for an English opening (he avoid 1.e4 against Kramnik) and soon got a pleasant position with more space. He took advantage of his grip on the d5 square to triple on the d-file and the pressure on d6 reaches his paroxysm after 22.e5.
Vladimir looked for some counterplay on the Queen-side by pushing the b7-pawn but after the excellent 26.c5! Followed by 27.Ne4, Svidler secured a strong passed pawn on d6. White advantage grew again and at the approach of the 40th move seemed almost winning. But in Kramnik's big time pressure, Svidler revealed to be a little imprecise (36.Be1?!) and on the edge of the brink, Vladimir used his marvelous chess skills to save a very compromised game, beginning with the superb 41...e4 ! and also by the beautiful sequence 45...f5 !! and 46...Rf6 !! after what Svidler had to admit that his prey escaped.
Both players agreed on a draw and remained half a point behind the leader. A good operation for Kramnik who saved a precious half a point. Let's hope that this game won't affect Peter's play for the rest of the tournament.
Other exciting fights start on March 17th (see the commentated game by the Chess Anyone's team : click here)