CANDIDATES' TOURNAMENT ROUND 9: «…THE KNIGHTS DOMINATE THE BISHOPS»

Imperceptibly, the Candidates' tournament is entering its decisive phase. The players have five rounds left, with almost two thirds behind them. The daily rate of decisive games remains much the same (one result, three draws), but the internal pressure is growing to the critical level. The players are tired, the number of mistakes and inaccuracies is growing. Today's rest day could not come a better moment. 

A modest +2 suffices for the lead and it will be interesting to see what the eventual winner needs to score. Surely 8 out 14 will not be enough? It seems improbable, but if one thinks back to one of the last Linares tournaments of the 1990s, there 7/12 was sufficient to win. Incidentally, that was Vladimir Kramnik...But to return to today's heroes. Showing enviably principled opening play, Sergey again played the Queen's Indian. But it looked at first as though things had gone very wrong. 

Namakura - Karjakin

After 17.Qxb1

However, that was only to the ignorant spectators. For the Russian and his analytical laboratory of Dokhoian/Motylev/Potkin the dangers were clearly exaggerated, and with great accuracy, Sergey steered the game into drawing waters.  Draw ( ½ : ½ )

In the game involving the leader, Aronian soon found himself on the ropes. True to his tactics of "press with White, draw with Black", the Indian slowly but surely tightened his grip. 

Anand - Aronian

19.f3 b6 20.Rfd1 Nc5 21.b4 Nd7 22.Bb3 Nf6 23.Qd4 Qe7 24.Nd5 Nxd5 25.Bxd5 – Things are getting more and more unpleasant for Black and he is starting to suffocate for lack of air.  

Some time later, the ex-world champion went over to decisive action:

38.Kg4 – The king needs to be involved! The computer does not think so much of this human decision, but it soon become clear who was right. But in the 6th hour, Anand committed some inaccuracies and the win almost slipped away. Admittedly, Anand was playing very quickly in his good old fashion, and Aronian had to defend with his flag hanging. .

Levon has fought heroically in an exceptionally difficult position, but now he played  57…Rc4? – the consequences of this lapse became clear after 58.Kg7 Kd7 59.g6 c6 60.Kf6 – This is the point - the black rook is very badly placed. 60…cxb5 61.g7 Rg4 62.axb5 Rg1 63.Rd3 Ke8 64.Re3 Kd7 65.Re5 Rxg7 66.Rd5 Black resigns (1:0). The players exchange places in the tournament table. "The more time passes, the more we understand just what a great player Anand is!" (Sergey Shipov). 

No amount of misfortunes can dampen the will to win of true fighters. Even after losing their last chances of victory in the event, they keep battling. Bravo! 

Topalov - Svidler

20.Nxf7 – Vesko in his element! White gets a serious advantage. To the credit of the 7-time Russian champion, he managed to survive this cold shower. An interesting moment occurred at move 33: 

The machine instantly finds the swindle 33.Ba4 when, given the tiredness of the players, it is extremely hard to find the right response. But 33.Вс2 – Veselin lost the forces and, probably, the belief in the win. After a few moves, the kings appeared on e4 and e5. Draw ( ½ : ½ )

The two youngsters engaged in an uncompromising battle. Fabiano played the opening riskily and was on the edge of disaster. Despite their youth, the players have studied one another very thoroughly, quite apart from the fact that both have worked for some time with the same trainer (Vladimir Chuchelov). 

Giri - Caruana

20…Nc4 – Provocation or oversight? Hard to say. Anish took the central pawn and was soon no fewer than four (!) pawns up. 

With the move 33.Nh5! a blow which a boxer might call a "slap", a seemingly risky exposure of the white king, White should have secured the win. In such a case, Tal once joked "I don't see a direct way to lose!". but when asked what he would play as White, replied "I'd be wondering why Black didn't resign". Anish played more cautiously and Caruana started suffering. Two knights dominated twio bishops (a rare thing!). Caruana hung on and at move 55, set a diabolical trap: 

Please take the pawn! After 56.Nxb6 Qd1 Black breathed a sigh of relief

It was impossible to read anything on the players faces during thir marathon. One can only envy their tenacity and calmness. For the Dutch champion, though, it ended with his ninth draw in a row! 

82.Qd2-a2 Black has found the ideal set-up and answered all questions. Anish played on for almost 100 moves before bowing to the inevitable. Draw ( ½ : ½ )

 

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Material: Sergey Kim