CANDIDATES' TOURNAMENT ROUND 7 - IS THE MADNESS OF THE BRAVE THE WISDOM OF LIFE?

Criossing the midway point of the event has no impact on the composition of the leading trio.

Giri-Anand. Anish continues to play in a very economical way. Is he saving his energy for the second half? It is hard to say, but today's game was very respectable and correct. In intelligent fashion, White tried to show whether he had any way to increase his microscopic advantage, but the ex-world champion from India equally firmly insisted in maintaining the staus quo. On move 31, the players agreed a draw.  

The clash of the leaders attracted special attention. In his day, Alexander Nikitin used jokingly to refer to this opening as "the lazy man's system", but in the hands of the candidates, this is not the motivation, of course. Both Kramnik and Svidler have several times caught opponents on the hop with the simple sequence Nf3, g3, Bg2, 0-0, d3, e4, Nbd2. The Armenian artist is too bright to be bothered by such things, however, and with simple and natural (to him!) moves even obtained some advantage. But it never came as far as his transforming his plus into a full point, although Sergey's position did look a bit worrying at one stage. But just at that point, rather than unhurriedly increasing his advantage, as he could have done, Levon lurched forward: 

Karjakin - Aronian

20…f4 – after which Sergey confidently steered the game to drawing waters. 21.Bxf4 Bxf4 22.gxf4 Qxf4 23.Qxc5 Rf5 24.Qe3 Qh4 25.Qg3 Qh5 26.Qc7 Qf7 27.Qb7 Rd6 28.Qb8 – Oof! He escapes! 28…Qf8 29.Qxf8 Kxf8 30.Re3 Bc6 31.Rbe1 Draw (½ : ½) 

Meanwhile, the tournament's two cellar-dwellers were battling each other on the precipice:

Nakamura - Topalov

The indomitable "Vesko" sets things off: 21…Bxc5 – «Fortune favours the brave»? 22.dxc5 d4 23.exd4 Qxd4 24.0-0 Qg4 25.Re1 Rfd8 26.Rb2 Rd4 27.Re7 Rad8 28.Qb3 Rf8 29.Qd1 Rfd8 30.Qb3 Rf8 31.Nd1 Nd5 32.Re5 – Fantastic. White has an extra piece, but cannot strengthen his position. So, repetition (32…Nf6)?

32…Kh7?? – White cannot avoid it, but Black doesn't want it!  33.Kh2 – How ironic - the same king move brings Black to catastrophe but brings White success.   33…Nf6 34.Be3 Rb8 35.Qxb8 Rxd1 36.Rb1 Qd7 37.Rg5 Ne4 38.Rxd1 Qxd1 39.Qf4 Black resigns (1:0)  As often happens in this cruel world, the madness of the brave is not the wisdom of the world. But thanks for the entertainment, Veselin!  

Sanctions helped...

The Russian-American clash nearly ended in a goal:

Svidler - Caruana

15.Qc1 fxe4 16.Bxg7 Kxg7 17.Qh6 Kf6 18.dxe4 Rh8 19.e5 Kf7 20.Qf4 Kg7 21.Rxh8 Qxh8 22.0-0-0 Kg8 23.Rd7 Rf8 24.Qg4 Qh6 25.f4 Re8 26.Rxb7 Nxe5! – Peter launches some great blows and Caruana defends equally brilliantly. There is no mate, but isn't the ending better for White? 

27.Qh3 Qxh3 28.Bxh3 Nc4 29.Rxa7 e5 30.Bg2 Ne3 31.Bc6 Re6 32.Bb5 exf4 33.gxf4 Rf6 34.Kd2 Nf1 35.Kd3 Rxf4 36.e4 Ng3 37.e5 Rf3 38.Kc4 Ne4 39.Bc6 Rxc3 40.Kb5 Re3 41.Kxb6 c4 – Stockfish criticises this pawn advance, but one cannot expect total accuracy from GMs at the end of the game. This was already the fifth hour of play. …

42.Bd5 – An inaccuracy in return. After 42.а4 Caruana's suffering would not have been over just yet. 42…Kh8 43.e6 c3 44.Rc7 g5 45.Bxe4 Draw (½ : ½) Once again, the arms and the shield proved equal to one another, but Giri is not alone in claiming the title "king of the draw". 

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Material: Sergey Kim