CANDIDATES' TOURNAMENT ROUND 11: SIX IN WITH A CHANCE
After clocks were stopped in the last game of the round (Karjakin resigned against Anand), it became clear that three quarters of the field still have reasonable chances of winning the event. And it would not require anything extraordinary - just for the leaders to lose once or, at most, twice. Overall, one cannot exclude the most unlikely things happening, as they did today. ...
...The first game to finish was:
Topalov - Caruana
However, it would not have been the first in any normal tournament. If only the players had not already played ten exhausting rounds against the best players in the world, if only they had not spent so much energy and nerves, if only...But back to the diagram. Fabiano could not believe his luck, because after 10…Ra7 doesn't it appear that due to the weakness of b2 and f3, White must part with material? Nothing of the sort! Alas, so far it is all theory. But after 11.h3 axb5 12.Qxb5 Qc6 13.hxg4 Qxh1 14.Bxe5 Qc6 15.Bd4 Ra8 16.a3 Be7 17.Qh5 Kf8 18.0-0-0 b6 a completely surrealistic transformation occurred.
White is an exchange down but the rook on h8 is out of play. Over the next 20 moves, Caruana played ingeniously to seek chances and get the sleeping rook into the game. It is impossible to discuss anything concrete in this game, as a mass of head-spinning variations confronts one at every point. The last turning point came after White's 38th move.
A win, which would bring +3 and a share of first prize at least (to judge by the last Candidates' tournaments), is not far away, but here Fabio erred: 38…Re1?! – It looks as though the job is done, and there can be nothing to fear. But after 39.Rc2! The young GM noticed to his horror that the deadly Rc2xc5 is threatened and after taking the rook, the pawn cannot be stopped! In such a case, it is easy to lose one's head, but to the credit of the Italian-American, he found a way to maintain the balance: 39…g5 40.Bxg5 Rxe5 41.Bf6 Rd5 – and Draw ( ½ : ½ ).
Much has already been written about the Dutch player's performance. Some are ironic about it, some critical, some sympathetic. But the essence of the situation does not change. Draw follows draw. Today Anish played superbly, gradually infiltrated the black catacombs and should have obtained the fruits of his excellent work.
Giri - Nakamura
Stockfish's 48.Qg4! looks good, with the vulgar threat of a fork, but the chosen move 48.Qd4 also keeps the advantage. 48…Ref8 49.e6 Rf5 50.Nxg7?? – disaster… 51…Qxg7 51.Rg3 Rg5 – a move which Hikaru played with some emphasis and a meaningful glance at his opponent.
One cannot even guess how Anish's heart fell at this moment. After 52.Rxg5 hxg5 53.Qxd5 Draw ( ½ : ½ )
Anish Giri - when stability is not a happy thing......
Aronian went down in a quite unlikely fashion. White had the initiative for a long time, with Black building his barriers, but there was never a thought White might lose.
Aronian - Svidler
One might ask how it is possible to lose such a position? It is hard to say. But Levon at some moment could not deal with his tiredness and nerves and collapsed quickly.
The worst is already behind Svidler and White cannot defend the three weak pawns on b5, c3 f4. The Armenian should have accepted the inevitable and after the solid 38.Rd3 the game would probably have ended in a draw. But White seems still to have been under the impression of his former advantage, and this is what happened: 38.Qe2?! Qc1 39.Kf2 Qxf4 – the first apple falls. 40.Kg1 Qc1 41.Kf2 Qf4 42.Kg1 Kg8 – and, as the Americans once said, "Houston, we have a problem." .
43.Qb2 a6 – Now a second drops and White already has a very difficult position. 44.c4?! axb5 – It is not even about pawns so much as the exposed white king and open a-file. 45.c5 Qe4 46.Qd2?? – Levon collapses completely… 46…Qb1 47.Kf2 Ra8. 48.Qe1 Qb2 White resigns(0:1).
It is hard to recall a tournament where the role of the biggest unbalancer, alternating wins and losses, was the oldest player. Anand is playing the role of Korchnoi in this event, perhaps? Six decisive results! As many have already pointed out, he has been a difficult opponent for Karjakin in the past. As today showed, the Russian's win in the first cycle was just the exception that proves the rule.
Anand - Karjakin
Sergey had played a bit passively and gradually slipped into an unpleasant position, although the opposite-coloured bishops still give good hopes of a draw. But how can one exchange all the rooks?
Black has problems finding a move. He had to give up the e4-pawn (after 33…Ве6), and after soon establishing a passed pawn on the f-file, Anand got a decisive advantage. (1:0) Anand is again in the driving seat!
Material: Sergey Kim