CANDIDATES' TOURNAMENT ROUND 13 - AND THEN THERE WERE THREE

In Agatha Christie, eventually there were none... We are spared that, and will end with one. But already, with one round to go, all but three players are out of contention for first place. And only two of them can win the right to challenge Carlsen. 

If a player, in the course of a tournament, gives interviews and discusses the course of the event, you can usually assume he is out of contention. To the deliught of the journalists, Veselin Topalov has been willing to spend his time trying to discover the reasons for his terrible collapse in this tournament. "Today's game began very badly for me. Already in the opening, Hikaru played a new move. Or perhaps it was not new, but anyway, I landed in a bad position. Then he went wrong and for a long time things were equal. But then in the end, I gave him everything." 

Topalov - Nakamura

33.Rg3 Re2 34.Ra1 Nxe5 35.Ra8 Kf7 36.Bh7 g5 37.Bg8 Kf6 38.Rf8 Kg7 39.Re8 Ng6 40.Bxe6 Nf4 White resigns (0:1)

Hikaru: "If only there were another cycle..."

«Frankly, I am not very interested in the result of the tournament and my game tomorrow has no influence on it. ..I think of it like a football match, where I am 0-5 down. If I lose 0-6, what is the difference?" The blitz-interview, given to Р-Спорту, needs no commentary. Veselin is quite open, and one can only be relieved that, with such an attitude, he will not sit down at the board today for a game which could determine the challenger. But for Giri, the end of the pressure might be a good thing, who knows? 

A secondary concern has been whether Giri will establish an unprecedented series of draws? The record is already achieved, in fact, but everyone wonders whether he will succeed in drawing all 14 games. In order to avoid this, Anish took exceptional measures: 

Anand - Giri

24…Bxf2 – That's one way to avoid a darw!!  25.Kxf2 Qb6 26.Kf1 Nh5 27.g4 fxg3 28.Bd3 – Who would predict an eventual draw here?

Draw  on move 52-м  ( ½ : ½ ) No comment needed…

If the first two games ended reasonably quickly (about average), the other two, which could have decided everything, lasted all evening, keeping the spectators glued to their seats amidst the tension. In a Spanish middlegame, it initially looked as if the  5-time Russian champion had played the more convincingly. But close to the time control things switched round. :

Caruana - Svidler

34…Rae8?! (He can retain the advantage with 34…Rf8!)  35.dxe5 Nxe5 36.Nxe5 Rxe5 37.Bxf4 – If the rook were on f8, Black would get a large, possibly decisive advantage, with 37…Rxe4 but with the rook on e8, the situation changes 180 degrees - 38.Qxe8! wins for White. Such a sudden change from a comfortable advantage to fighting for a draw could shake many players' composure, but Peter pulled himself together and 20 moves later, showed an effective way of securing a theoretical draw: 

61…Rf5 62.Rxa6 Kc8 63.Kd3 Rh5 64.c5 Kb7 65.Rg6 Bxa5 66.Bxa5 Rxc5 – and we have the well-known ending R+B v R. Both GMs would play this endgame perfectly well in normal circumstances, but not in the Candidates' Tournament, in the 13th round and in the 8th hour of play. There is no sense in dwelling over the mistakes made, as those who wish to can consult the online commentary by Shipov and Smirin. Obviously, only total physical and emotional exhaustion by both players can explain the mutual blunders, where Svidler blundered first into a loss, and then Caruana could not remember the winning method in the famous Philidor position. Maybe the muse of Caissa did not want things settled too early? Both players have grounds to be disappointed with the eventual result, Caruana perhaps especially. But, be that as it may: Draw ( ½ : ½ ).

Only a win suited Levon Aronian, to retain at least some distant prospects of success in what has been a difficult tournament for him. And things started optimistically! 

Aronian - Karjakin

29…Nxe3 30.Qxa3 Rxb2 31.Qxb2 Nxg2 32.Kxg2 a3 33.Qb7 Qd8 34.Qxc7 Qxc7 35.Rxc7 Bd5 36.Rc5 a2 37.Bc3 Bg8 38.Ba1 Rb8 39.Ra5 Rb1 40.Bc3 Rd1 41.Kf3 Rxd3

To the great Armenian's enormous disappointment, the extra knight gives only practical chances, and not so significant at that. The pawn on a2 is improbably strong and ties down the white pieces, which would like to be operating on the other side of the board. Levon tried heroically for another 60 (!) moves to trick his opponent, but Sergey played with metronomic accuracy. Draw ( ½ : ½ ), and for Armenia, the third attempt to get a world championship match ended unsuccessfully. …  

In the last round, Karjakin's situation looks best - a draw with Caruana will suffice, given that Anand is unlikely to win his first game with Black in the event, against Svidler. And besides, surely Peter will not let down his Russian national teammate? On the other hand, as is well-known, last rounds have their own rules. Time - just hours remain - will tell. 

Links: 1, 2, 3

Text: Sergey Kim