Candidates Tournament 2014
Candidates Round 9 : The Tiger of Madras strikes a big blow !
The 9th round represents a major turning point in this tournament.
We saw an exciting round with fighting and tense games as the players gave it their all before the rest day.
In the game between the last two players in the standings, Svidler showed his will to come back into the tournament by picking the the Najdorf over the Ruy Lopez or the solid Taimanov Sicilian, which he more often employed lately. This choice might have been motivated by Andreikin’s somewhat “light” opening preparation in this tournament, but Dmitry chose to go for an open Sicilian (I was personally expecting 3.Bb5+ or 3.c3) and played 6.h3, which was already seen in yesterday’s Topalov-Mamedyarov encounter.
But as there was only little material left it was hard for Black to convert his advantage and after the rooks were exchanged the players agreed a draw, although Black’s position was still slightly superior.
Peter’s decision is however not really surprising as he seemed very affected by his last games and probably didn’t have the mental strength to try and push for a win in this endgame. Andreikin for his part continues his solid but little convincing tournament. His opening preparation is simply not good enough to fight on this level and unlike Carlsen, he cannot compensate this by a superior level in other areas of the game.
The Mamedyarov-Aronian game is probably one of the nicest games of these last few years.
This immensely fighting game saw Mamedyarov go for the 4.f3 line against the Nimzo and Aronian then chose the rare 4…0-0 (instead of the more common 4…d5 and 4…c5), which leaves the centre to White before Black will attack it later.
Aronian didn’t wait for Mamedyarov to show him his endgame technique and resigned immediately. This was an amazing game and also a huge blow to Aronian who saw his race for 1st place stopped and now leaves the way wide open for Anand, who defeated Topalov in this 9th round (a game which is annotated by the Chess Anyone team).
It was also a disastrous day for Vladimir Kramnik, who lost in a shocking way to Sergey Karjakin, who is starting a late comeback into the tournament.
Sergey decided to avoid any preparation by opting for the London System (3.Bf4), an opening which is rarely seen on that level. Kramnik was clearly surprised and spent a lot of time in the opening. He quickly found himself in an unpleasant situation and blundered with 10…dxc4??, a blunder caused by a calculation mistake (Kramnik had planned to play 10…Bb4 but he had forgotten that after 11.Bxc4 Nxc3 White has 12.Qxb4). Karjakin’s advantage conversion wasn’t the most precise but his position was so winning that Kramnik couldn’t avoid defeat and resigned on move 64.
This was a nice win for Karjakin, who made an excellent opening choice by forcing Kramnik to start thinking very early in the game and he is now back in the tournament with a 50% score.
Kramnik is now also stuck on the same 4.5/9 score and he will probably be looking forward to the rest day as one could clearly see how tired he was in the last 3-4 games.
So after 9 rounds Anand has a 1 point lead over Aronian (in fact it is even more of a 1.5 point lead as he has the better tiebreak, which means it won’t be enough for the Armenian to finish on the same score), but the final sprint still promises to be very interesting as the pressure and tiredness will start to tell!
See the game Anand - Topalov annotated by the Chess Anyone's team : click here.