Magnus Carlsen wins FIDE Candidates' Tournament Print
Monday, 01 April 2013 06:39

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On April 2nd the closing ceremony of FIDE World Chess Candidates` tournament took place on 11 Downing Street at the official residence of British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. The winner of the FIDE Candidates’ Tournament Magnus Carlsen was awarded with the medal by British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. After short speeches by FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, World Chess CEO Andrew Paulson, George Osborne and Magnus Carlsen the guests enjoyed food and wine. Find the photos from the closing ceremony and the players meeting in the photo gallery.

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Magnus Carlsen won the FIDE Candidates' Tournament in London on Monday after a bizarre finish of what has become a historic event for chess.

Both the Norwegian and the other leader, Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, unexpectedly lost their game in the final round, and so they remained tied for first place and Carlsen won on the second tie-break rule: higher number of wins. This means that in the next title match, World Champion Viswanathan Anand will face Carlsen. On the last day Levon Aronian of Armenia beat Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan while Boris Gelfand of Israel and Alexander Grischuk of Russia drew their game.

A Hollywood blockbuster couldn’t have had a more dramatic scenario with the hero of the story going down just before the end, only to emerge as the winner after all. This is what happened in rounds 12-13 with Carlsen losing his lead to Kramnik on Friday and then recovering on Sunday, and it also happened in a thrilling final round. The Norwegian unexpectedly lost his white game against Peter Svidler, but because Vladimir Kramnik also went down against Vassily Ivanchuk, Carlsen won the tournament anyway. It was quite a fitting scenario for April 1st, except that this is what really happened!

The day started quietly with a draw between Boris Gelfand and Alexander Grischuk. Facing the Grünfeld, which he included in his own repertoire last year against Anand, Gelfand tried the 5.Bd2 variation. Grischuk was “surprised by 11.Bc4” but reacted well and about the position after 17.f4 he said: “White at maximum can get a very slight advantage but Black can get a winning position if something goes wrong for White.” Already with 18...b4 Black “more or less forced the draw”, according to the Russian. Joining the live commentary, Grischuk said: “I’m quite happy to finish my game early so that I can enjoy this!”

Then, the game between Levon Aronian and Teimour Radjabov finished in favour of the Armenian. “In general after the opening I got a big advantage and it was very difficult to play for Black,” said Aronian. Radjabov, who finally went for a proper King’s Indian – the defence with which he has had so many successes – managed to trap the white queen in the early middle game, but Aronian got two rooks for it and combined with the presence of opposite coloured bishops, his attack on the king was just too strong.

But, of course this last round was all about the other two games: Vassily Ivanchuk versus Vladimir Kramnik and Magnus Carlsen versus Peter Svidler. Because Carlsen was leading on tie-break, Kramnik basically had to outperform him in the final round to emerge as the winner: he needed a win if Carlsen drew, or a draw if Carlsen lost. It all went quite differently. Kramnik, playing black, got under serious pressure right out of the opening, while Carlsen didn’t get much of an opening advantage playing white.

To keep all options open, Kramnik played the Pirc Defence, and Ivanchuk responded with simple, healthy developing moves. However, the Ukrainian (again!) needed quite some time to make his moves in this game, so even though he was building up an advantage, the Carlsen fans weren’t sure at all about the situation. Would Ivanchuk lose on time again...?

Meanwhile, Carlsen himself was using lots of time himself – too much time. After making his 27th move, the Norwegian had only 5 minutes left for 13 moves, and 2 moves later his clock was down to 1 minute and 20 seconds. It was a situation Carlsen hadn’t been in before in all previous rounds! It must have been around this time that the home page of Norway’s biggest newspaper online, vg.no, crashed (like several chess servers) due too the high number of visitors trying to follow the games.

Carlsen only barely made the time control – he made his last three moves in about nine seconds, knocking over some pieces in the process and losing precious seconds there. After the dust had cleared, he found himself in a completely lost ending Svidler had simply played an excellent game, while Carlsen had succumbed under the pressure and the tension. “I was trying to equalize and then Magnus perhaps overestimated his position,” said Svidler. “I was spending too much time in the middle game on reasonably good moves but also on not too difficult moves. (...) I definitely overestimated my position. Additionally, I just couldn't calculate very well today and then you have to spend a lot of time, that’s the way it is. Obviously not as much time as I did, because it became a serious liability at the end, but it's not easy. From early on there were lots of things to calculate on every move,” said Carlsen at the press conference, while Ivanchuk and Kramnik were still playing.

 

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Before leaving the press room, Carlsen asked whether he could get the position of that last game on the laptop that was available. By that time Ivanchuk had made the time control, and he had a winning position. Carlsen said: “I think this cannot possibly go wrong,” and right at that moment Kramnik resigned his game, and with it his fight for first place. Carlsen was congratulated by his manager and by Svidler, and immediately gave a few interviews to mostly Norwegian press.

Meanwhile, Ivanchuk and Kramnik arrived in the press room to comment on their game. “I had to play for a win, to burn bridges in a way, because of course I didn't think that Magnus was going to lose. I thought I got what I wanted at some point. It was an interesting position but terribly complicated. Somewhere around 20...Nhf4 I liked my position and then somehow I lost a bit of concentration because I didn’t know what to do,” said Kramnik, who also kept an eye on the other game.

“The problem was that Peter [Svidler]’s position was already promising but not yet so clear so I didn’t know what to do, whether to play for a draw... Somehow I got a bit lost between watching that game and trying to understand what I should do. Then I made a few awful decisions and I was unlucky that I had to make a tough decision on move 40, not 41.” In time trouble the Russian missed an important tactic, and then his position was lost. Ivanchuk agreed that the position was at some point drawish. “But I noticed that my opponent started to play a bit risky and he gave me chances.”

Carlsen then returned to the press room to answer questions in his new status as tournament winner. He said: “I never expected to lose and I didn't really have any expectations for the other game. That didn’t make sense to me since I couldn’t do anything about it. (...) I didn't really want to resign before I was sure that Ivanchuk would win!”

The tournament winner felt that until the 11th round he “played the best chess for sure”. “At the end everyone got tired, the quality got lower and anything could happen. But overall I think I did pretty well and I deserve to win.” Carlsen said he was “very impressed” by Kramnik’s comeback in the second half of the tournament. About his match against Anand, he said: “I think it’s going to be very interesting, a great event but it’s a long time ahead so we’ll see what happens.”

The final standings are as follows: 1. Carlsen 8.5 points (5 wins), 2. Kramnik 8.5 points (4 wins), 3-4. Svidler and Aronian 8 points, 5-6. Grischuk and Gelfand 6.5 points, 7. Ivanchuk 6 points and 8.Radjabov 4 points.

The FIDE Candidates' Tournament took place March 14th-April 1st, 2013 at IET London, Savoy Place. It was sponsored by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and organized by AGON and the World Chess Federation (FIDE). Games and information can be found at http://london2013.fide.com.

The closing ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. 11 Downing street.



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In yet another truly dramatic 13th round of the FIDE World Chess Candidates' Tournament Magnus Carlsen (Norway) caught Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) in first place. Carlsen, who ground down Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan) in 89 moves, is now first on tie-break because of his higher number of wins. Kramnik had a promising position against Boris Gelfand (Israel) but couldn't get more than a draw. Alexander Grischuk (Russia) and Levon Aronian (Armenia) drew as well, while Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine) lost yet another game on time against Peter Svidler (Russia).



In the 13th round “giant killer” Vassily Ivanchuk returned to his bad habit in this tournament of handling the clock terribly. It’s hard to believe but it’s true: the Ukrainian's flag fell for the fifth time! It must be said that in this game the final position was lost. “It was a new experience for me. When he played 27…Rd7 he looked away, and after I played 28.a4 and pressed the clock, he lost about half a minute trying to figure out which move I made,” said Svidler.

The game was a French Advance, and the Russian grandmaster played concrete moves from the start. “If I do nothing Black will develop very naturally so I went 11.Bg5 and 12.Be3 asking questions with every move.” Then, on move 15, Svidler went for pawn sacrifice. It was “one of those moments” where he thought: “If I don’t play this I will kind of regret it forever.” After 23.Re1 he was “very happy for a while” until he realized that Black has 23…Nd6 there. Svidler then showed an amazingly complicated computer line which his seconds told him about after the game. “Good luck finding that. There’s absolutely no one who can find that out at the board!”

Ivanchuk didn’t spot it, again spent too much time and after White’s 37th move his flag fell. “I saw White’s ideas but I didn’t know what to do. From the opening my position wasn’t very comfortable,” the Ukrainian said. At the press conference GM Danny King asked him the question that needed to be asked: how can you explain to yourself the masterpieces you played against Radjabov and Carlsen, and at the same time losing on time in five games? Ivanchuk: “Everything has happened. I don’t like to focus too much on my lost games. I’d like to forget them as quickly as possible and soon start a new tournament.” On his game against Kramnik tomorrow, he said: “For me it’s not important, it’s just a normal game.”

Alexander Grischuk and Levon Aronian drew a Slav/Catalan in 38 moves. “I think I got a comfortable advantage out of the opening. Black has of course decent chances to equalize but he has to play very accurately because White has a positional advantage in the centre,” said Grischuk, who thought that Aronian’s 12…a5 was “very ambitious”. White got a nice endgame advantage with the bishop pair and more active rooks, but somehow Grischuk misplayed it. “White has to be precise and it will be long suffering for Black,” he said. A tactical phase followed and Aronian could save the half point. At the press conference Grischuk said that he did play for a win: “Of course I lost a big part of my motivation but it’s not every day that I can play against such a brilliant player like Levon!”

Moving on to the two key games of the round, Vladimir Kramnik and Boris Gelfand were the first to finish. This encounter started as a Fianchetto Grünfeld and the former World Champion came up with a new idea as early as move five – something that’s very rare in chess. “It’s amazing how many ideas he’s introducing, maybe more than all of us together!” said Gelfand. “At least I got a game, I got a game,” said Kramnik, who needed to keep all options open: going for a solid draw or playing for a win, depending on the developments in Radjabov-Carlsen.

After move 17 White seemed to have nice pressure and with giving up his dark-squared bishop Black appeared to be walking a tightrope. Kramnik: “One little mistake and everything starts to collapse!” About the position after 21.Qd3 he said: “Black cannot even create a threat. I think I’m clearly better, strangely enough.” The critical moment of this game was perhaps at move 30 where with little time on the clock Kramnik might have missed a stronger continuation. But, throughout the game Gelfand defended fantastically, and the Israeli fully deserved the half point he got.

About his game in the last round, against the unpredictable Ivanchuk, Kramnik said: “It doesn't matter with whom you play. The last game is the last game. I played many decisive games already, it doesn’t matter. I’m not nervous, I’m OK.”

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For Magnus Carlsen the big question was how he would cope with what was his first loss since September last year. According to commentator IM Lawrence Trent the Norwegian’s strategy was basically “not to go crazy”. Against Teimour Radjabov, Carlsen played a rare line of the Nimzo-Indian in which he had to give up the bishop pair at an early stage. With simple developing moves Radjabov got a slight edge, but the Azerbaijani missed a tactic and Carlsen grabbed the initiative.

Avoiding further mistakes, Radjabov managed to reach an ending that was only slightly worse for him, and which should have led to a draw. However, as he has down so often lately, Carlsen just kept on trying and trying and eventually, after 89 moves, he managed to “squeeze water from a stone”, as one chess fan put it, and win the ending. Knowing that he was leading the tournament again, Carlsen entered the press room relieved and excited, doing a joyous and explosive high-five with his manager Espen Agdestein.

At the start of the press conference Radjabov put a smile on everyone’s face, including Carlsen’s: “I prefer to lose today than all my previous games because at least there is an intrigue in the tournament and it might be one historical loss for me!” Carlsen: “It was tough. I was really upset after the last game, I couldn’t sleep and I was not feeling so great today. I think I got a pleasant position at some point but then I couldn’t make any of it and then we got this endgame which is basically equal but I felt because of the tournament situation I have to try and take whatever little chance I might have. (…) Probably it was a draw right till the end, I don't know, I couldn’t calculate. But I managed to keep the game going and he made enough mistakes so that I could win. I’m back in the running and after my last game that’s all I can ask for!”

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After thirteen rounds Carlsen is tied for first place with Kramnik. Both have 8.5 points, but the Norwegian has a higher number of wins. This means that Kramnik needs to outperform Carlsen in the last round to win the tournament. Aronian and Svidler are shared third with 7 points, Grischuk and Gelfand shared fifth with 6 points, Ivanchuk is seventh with 5 points and Radjabov is in last place with 4 points. The 14th round and final round will be played on Monday, April 1st at 14:00 BST with the games Carlsen-Svidler, Ivanchuk-Kramnik, Gelfand-Grischuk and Aronian-Radjabov.



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Round 12

In a dramatic 12th round Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) took over the lead from Magnus Carlsen (Norway) at the FIDE World Chess Candidates' Tournament in London. The former World Champion beat Levon Aronian (Armenia) while Carlsen suffered his first loss against Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine). The other two games, between Boris Gelfand (Israel) and Peter Svidler (Russia) and Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan) and Alexander Grischuk (Russia), were drawn.

With the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament entering its decisive phase, chess fans from all over the world will focus on London this Easter weekend. So far the tournament website has been visited by over half a million fans, even before the start of the 12th round! And every day the organizers are receiving dozens of emails. Christian from Germany wrote on Friday morning: “All of you are doing a marvellous job! Thanks to Socar, thanks to you, and thanks to Laurence and Nigel and everyone else making this fantastic event.”

In what was a truly dramatic round, for the first time all games went beyond move 40. Boris Gelfand and Peter Svidler, however, agreed to a draw immediately after the time control. Gelfand was happy with his position out of the opening, an Anti-Grünfeld. He said he knew that it’s “difficult to defend for Black”. Svidler agreed: “It’s a structure I’m not comfortable playing.”

Making matters worse with the inaccurate 20…Red8 and 21…Bg7, Svidler was looking at an unpleasant position around move 30. “I’m kind of running out of moves. To call it a Zugzwang position is an overstatement but it’s very difficult for me to make moves.” Gelfand, however, missed a tactic with his 32nd move (he should have played 32.Qb3) when the worst was over for Black. “I thought I was winning a piece,” said the Israeli grandmaster.

Aronian-Kramnik, on paper the Big Game of this round, became an absolute thriller, an “epic battle”, as Kramnik called it himself. It started as a Semi-Tarrasch and Aronian, who had to play for a win in this game, chose the modest 6.e3. It could have transposed into a Panov Caro-Kann, but with 10…f5 Kramnik took a different and quite original path. About this move, commentator IM Lawrence Trent said: “It’s like marmite, either you love it you don’t like it at all!”

On move 16 the game became extremely sharp, and every move was crucial. As became clear at the press conference, the players evaluated the position after 17.Rc5 quite differently. Aronian: “Honestly speaking I thought I was close to winning.” Kramnik: “Really? I thought I was close to winning!” The Armenian actually saw the line 21.Rh5 Rac8 22.Ne5 which draws (missed by Kramnik) but thought he had more. In that phase, according to some pundits Aronian “self-destructed”.

Kramnik then missed the strongest continuation (21…Qf4). Instead he went for a promising ending, which he said was “technically winning of course”. However, by exchanging rooks at the right moment, Aronian found a way to draw it, based on the fact that he could exchange all the pawns on the kingside after which Black would end up with a bishop of the wrong colour. This was a “cold shower” for Kramnik, who said it was “a miracle” that he still had a chance to play for a win with 41…Kf8.

The drama wasn’t over yet as Aronian then missed “quite a simple draw” (Kramnik) at the end when he went for 50.g6 instead of 50.h6 g6 51.Kb5, as the Russian demonstrated at the press conference. “Throughout the game I couldn’t calculate one line. Of course it’s embarrassing to lose a game like this but I’ll have to deal with it”, said Aronian. Kramnik: “I’m happy with my play because of course everybody is very tired already and I’m also not totally fresh, especially because it was the third game in a row. If you consider this, I think my level was quite high for this state of mind which we’re all experiencing now!”

The next game to finish was Radjabov-Grischuk, which, because of the dramatic affairs on the other boards, didn’t get a lot of attention in the commentary. It started as a Ragozin and the Azerbaijani (finally!) got an advantage out of the opening with the white pieces. Grischuk: “I thought I had a very promising position but then I realized that [after 16…Ne6 17.Qe5 Be4] White just has 18.Nd2 so I had to switch to defence.” The Russian praised his opponent’s play: “I think Teimour played very well. I completely underestimated the dangers in the endgame.” Radjabov, who probably missed a chance on move 56: “I don’t know if I’m winning but it should be close.” About defending the infamous f+h rook ending, Grischuk said: “I had quite some experience. In one month I had two games with Pavel Eljanov. Both times I had the pawns myself; I drew the first one and won the second. And I read some articles about it.”


And then, after seven hours of play, the chess world was shocked as Magnus Carlsen lost his first game of the tournament, and with it his lead in the tournament. But if anyone could beat him it was the erratic Vassily Ivanchuk, who had the upper hand in their first mutual game as well. In a Taimanov Sicilian, the Ukrainian quickly got a pleasant ending. “When 10.Nb3 appeared on the board I understood that this structure resembles the French Defence and it’s interesting to play. Objectively it’s not better for him but there were many tricks and traps,” said Ivanchuk.

Quite upset about his loss, Carlsen did attend the press conference and was very critical of his play. “First of all I think I played absolutely disgracefully from move 1.” He admitted that it was Black who had an edge in the ending, but after the weakening move 18…a5 he started to play for a win again. But then his 24.Nb5 was "extremely stupid”. “I can do anything. Probably I'm actually not better but I should never lose it.” About the position after move 30, the Norwegian said: “I think there's still not too many problems for me but I just kept on missing more and more stuff.”

Ivanchuk kept pressing, but even the rook ending should have ended in a draw, e.g. with 71.c6. However, there Carlsen made the decisive mistake: “Here I was actually pretty sure that I would draw, which is why I played so carelessly. I hadn’t seen 71…Ke4 at all.” Although he wasn’t sure about his technique, Ivanchuk didn’t make a single mistake, converted the full point and made Kramnik the new sole leader.

The Ukrainian repeated what he said the day before: he sees the rest of the tournament as “preparation for the Russian league” (his next event). He didn't want to admit that he found extra motivation in playing the world’s number one. “Of course I wanted to do my best today. I didn’t have a goal to specially win this game but I was thinking after the 23rd move the position is objectively equal. If Magnus wouldn’t have taken risks, I wouldn’t have had chances to win.”

After twelve rounds the standings are as follows: Kramnik leads with 8 points, followed by Carlsen with 7.5. Aronian is third with 6.5 points and Svidler fourth with 6. Grischuk and Gelfand are tied for fifth place with 5.5 points, Ivanchuk has 5 and Radjabov 4 points. Saturday, March 30th is a rest day. After the clock is set one hour forward, the 13th round will be played on Sunday, March 31st at 14:00 British Summer Time (BST) with the games Radjabov-Carlsen, Grischuk-Aronian, Kramnik-Gelfand and Svidler-Ivanchuk.

The FIDE Candidates' Tournament is taking place March 14th-April 1st, 2013 at IET London, Savoy Place. It is sponsored by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and organized by AGON and the World Chess Federation (FIDE). Games and information can be found at http://london2013.fide.com.



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Round 11

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FIDE Candidates round 11: Kramnik beats Radjabov, now second behind Carlsen as Aronian loses to Svidler

In Thursday's 11th round of the FIDE World Chess Candidates' Tournament Vladimir Kramnik moved to second place. Russia's number one beat Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan), while Levon Aronian (Armenia) lost to Peter Svidler (Russia). Drawing his black game with Alexander Grischuk (Russia), Magnus Carlsen (Norway) kept his half point lead in London with three rounds to go. Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine) and Boris Gelfand (Israel) played a very quick draw.

Designed by world-renowned Pentagram Design, the playing zone in the IET’s Lecture Theatre has a lower middle area and a higher area at the back. It is there where the arbiters stay and where the players are getting their food and drinks during the game. As became clear at the start of the 11th round, chess players aren’t really used to such a split-level room. Vassily Ivanchuk slipped and almost fell down, hurt is left ankle and had to treat it with some ice. (Now he’s fine.) At the press conference his opponent, Boris Gelfand, said that he too almost fell down in one of the previous rounds, plunged in thought about his position!

The encounter between Ivanchuk and Gelfand was in fact the shortest game of the tournament so far. In a Grünfeld, the two started repeating moves right after the opening, and agreed to a draw at move 17. It was a bit of a theoretical duel, as Ivanchuk repeated his Bf4 system which he adopted against Carlsen in the fifth round, Gelfand deviated on move seven and then the players followed the game Fridman-Kramnik, Dortmund 2012 until move 11. “It’s not easy to play if you don’t know it because it’s a very sharp position and both pawns are hanging. I think Vassily found a good solution to be safe,” said Gelfand. Ivanchuk: “I remember that Fridman played 12.Qb3 but I didn’t analyse it.”

Gelfand showed a few variations on the laptop in the press room, and said about the final position: “White can never be worse here. I think as a player who played Catalan all my career, I like generally White’s possibilities with this bishop on the big diagonal.” Asked about the historical importance of this Candidates’ Tournament, Gelfand said: “Tournaments like these are a milestone. Unfortunately recently I feel that the respect to the players is dropping, maybe because of computers. People think ‘OK, he didn’t see this move, the computer shows 0.65’, and they tend to respect players less. But of course such a tournament is fantastic. It’s wonderful to play here.”

After an original start in another Grünfeld, Alexander Grischuk and tournament leader Magnus Carlsen also agreed to a draw relatively quickly. In this game Grischuk went for the amazing 5.h4!?, a coffeehouse move that was recently put to the test by his ever-creative compatriot Alexander Morozevich. Carlsen’s thoughts at this point: “I just thought that in general 5…c6 shouldn’t lose. I also looked a little bit at some sharper alternatives but I couldn’t remember them so it made no sense for me to do that.”

Indeed Black’s position was OK until he went for the active but dubious 12…e5. Carlsen: “This was completely unnecessary. After 12…a6 or 12…Qe7 Black is absolutely fine.” Then White definitely had something, but Grischuk just couldn't find a way to profit. With only thirteen minutes left on the clock, the Russian started repeating moves. Carlsen didn’t see a reason to continue playing either: “At the end I simply have no way of saving the d-pawn and playing on. If there was I would because in general, in the long run I have more useful moves. But the d-pawn is falling so there’s nothing I can do.”

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Vladimir Kramnik beat Teimour Radjabov, who was under pressure right from the start and then fell for a nice trick on move 28. The opening was a rare variation of the Symmetrical English. “It was not really a case of preparation, more a case of memory,” said Kramnik. The Russian was happy about the first phase of the game: “The outcome of the opening was great. One hour on the clock, nice pressure… It couldn’t be better. It’s not much but Black has to play very accurately.” Radjabov: “I forgot the theory somehow. [At move 15] I couldn’t really find out what was the move.”

He hasn’t been too satisfied about his luck thus far in the tournament, but by now Kramnik really seems to have Caissa on his side. At move 28 he set a trap, and Radjabov fell for it. Kramnik: “I saw it, it’s a very nice trap, easy to fall for in time trouble. It was quite a nice combination.” The former World Champion, who spotted his trick as early as move 26, explained his good form as follows: “As I said at the start of the tournament, I just need to keep a good level of play and then the points will come. I will have to do the same for the rest of the tournament: I have to play well and not blunder anything.”

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Having a very up and down tournament himself, Peter Svidler played an important role for the tournament standings on Thursday. The grandmaster from St Petersburg won against Levon Aronian, who more or less blew up his position as he missed some crucial tactics – it was quite a similar scenario as his round 9 loss against Gelfand.

“Finally my refutation of the Nimzo, which people have been dodging so far, was revealed!” joked Svidler, who explained the game in length at the press conference. Visibly upset, Aronian remained quiet for most of the time. “After 22.c5 we come to the one big position in the game,” said Svidler. “After I saw 22…g5 I thought this was kind of uncalled for. After this Black’s position just collapses. The game was really decided in this one moment. I can definitely say I was a bit lucky today.”

“I just blundered 23.c6. Otherwise there’s nothing wrong with 22…g5. Like in the game with Gelfand I made a tactical blunder,” explained Aronian, who didn’t want to draw any conclusions yet. Replying to a journalist who wondered whether Carlsen and Kramnik were adopting a better strategy, the Armenian replied: “I think it would be better if I answered this after the end of the tournament. Perhaps we’ll see some strategy winning over another, but I don’t think the tournament has finished already.”

After eleven rounds, with 7.5 points Carlsen is still leading but now it’s Kramnik who is trailing by half a point. Aronian is clear third with 6.5 and Svidler clear fourth with 6 points. Grischuk and Gelfand are tied for fifth place with 5, Ivanchuk is 7th with 4 and Radjabov is last with 3.5 points. On Friday, March 29th at 14:00 GMT the twelfth round will be played: Carlsen-Ivanchuk, Gelfand-Svidler, Aronian-Kramnik and Radjabov-Grischuk.

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Aronian, Carlsen & Kramnik winners in 10th round FIDE Candidates

Magnus Carlsen kept his half point lead in round 10 of the FIDE Candidates’ Tournament in London. On Monday the Norwegian ground down Boris Gelfand (Israel) with White in a Rossolimo Sicilian. His main rivals also won: Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) admitted that he was lucky as in a drawish Berlin Endgame Alexander Grischuk (Russia) blundered in time trouble, while the opponent of Levon Aronian (Armenia), Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine), overstepped the time limit for the fourth time in this tournament, after playing well in a Budapest Gambit. Dejected about his score with White so far, Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan) went for a quick draw against Peter Svidler (Russia) in a Grünfeld.

An hour and a half into the 10th round, the game between Teimour Radjabov and Peter Svidler was already over. It’s about time to quote commentator Nigel Short’s description of such games: it was a damp squib. Having repaired his Grünfeld after his loss against Kramnik (“It wasn’t that broken, to be honest” – Svidler), the Russian grandmaster again went for his favourite defence but his opponent did manage to surprise him with his 16th move. This “either caught me by surprise or I simply couldn’t remember what my notes say,” commented Svidler, who continued playing sensible moves.

All of a sudden Radjabov started repeating, as early as move 19. At some point Svidler walked away from his board in his own time to get himself a cup of tea. “The longer he thinks, the more likely he’ll agree to a draw!” said Nigel Short. And indeed, Svidler did accept Radjabov’s silent draw offer, arguing: “I don’t believe I’m better, I couldn’t find any advantage after both 21…Qc3 and 21…Qa3.”

Radjabov: “Considering my amazing score with White in this tournament (…) I decided that a draw is a very nice result. I am not the guy who is here to lose all my games. I thought that if Peter would play for a win I would also play for a win because there would be no other chance. There were times in my life when I was very unsatisfied with a draw but now I think a draw is an amazing result sometimes!”

Another hour and a half later, Alexander Grischuk resigned his game against Vladimir Kramnik, who again brought back memories from his match against Kasparov in London by playing his favourite Berlin Ending. “The openings I played back in 2000 are working very well for me,” Kramnik said, “but although I score well in this Berlin, in fact I hadn't won a single classical game in it, only rapid and blitz.”

The 14th World Champion reached a comfortable position by “playing just theoretical moves”, and around move 25 it was “quite drawish”. Kramnik: “27…Bf5 was a clever move, there were a few traps.” Meanwhile Grischuk, who described his position after the opening as “awful”, was getting into time trouble. “I was not happy to get this position and just defend. I didn’t know what to play.”

30.Bxd4 was “an awful blunder” said Kramnik: “In general I was quite lucky; it should have been a draw. It’s quite unusual for me to score half a point more out of nothing. Usually I give up points. For me it's rare that somebody blunders. It was just a present. I am not used to these kind of things. There are some players who are receiving this kind of presents quite often, but not me.”

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Vassily Ivanchuk was also bringing back memories, but of a totally different kind. Against Levon Aronian the Ukrainian overstepped the time limit, for the fourth time already this tournament. By now we just have to mention German grandmaster Fritz Sämisch (1896-1975), who at the age of 73 played two tournaments, one in Büsum, Germany and another in Linköping, Sweden, where he lost all games (fifteen in the former and thirteen in the latter) on time.

Ivanchuk’s opening play, however, is still as unpredictable as ever. “[He’s] known to play any kind of opening so I just decided not to prepare much, keep my head fresh,” said Aronian, who faced the rare Budapest Gambit this time. The Armenian felt he played “a bit imprecise” in the early middlegame, but after he found a double pawn sacrifice (going from one up to one down), the tables turned. “After 26.g4 I have very good compensation. I was actually quite happy with my position,” said Aronian.

By then Ivanchuk was yet again in horrible time trouble: after his 27th move he had two and a half minutes left, and then his moves just didn’t get through anymore. With playing 29…gxf5 (a losing move anyway) he left himself with just one second for eleven moves! Aronian: “I’m happy to kind of recover after a loss against Boris. Let’s see, let’s see. Still many round to go!”

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Magnus Carlsen then became the third winner of the day, slowly grinding down Boris Gelfand from a Rossolimo Sicilian. According to the Norwegian, after the opening “White is slightly better but it's of course very playable for Black.” After some forced moves Gelfand went for the manoeuvre Qd8-b6-b3-c2 where computer engines prefer the passive 20…Qf8. “What computers are missing is that the whole concept was to get the queen active and to keep the white pieces paralysed. But I just missed one thing,” said Gelfand. That thing was a deep tactic which forced the Israeli to change his intended plan (Ra8-a1) and find something else at move 25. There were many ways to defend in that phase, and after the press conference Gelfand stayed around for about ten minutes, analysing blindfold with Jon Speelman and some journalists.

Carlsen said that after his neat 28.Qa5! “it’s clear that I’m playing for two results” and he was happy with his 37.Qe2! as well. “I’m happy to still be leading so I think I’ll just try do more of the same. I wasn’t thrilled that the other two guys won their game but there’s nothing you can do about that. And… I wasn’t sure that the Budapest Gambit was what I wanted to see but I think I can only change what I do myself! I just try to play and that’s what I’ll do for the rest of the tournament.”

After ten rounds Carlsen is leading with 7 points. He’s followed by Aronian (6.5) and then Kramnik (6). Then there’s a gap with: Gelfand, Grischuk and Svidler who have 4.5 points. Ivanchuk and Radjabov are in last place with 3.5 points. On Thursday, March 28th at 14:00 GMT with the tenth round: Grischuk-Carlsen, Kramnik-Radjabov, Svidler-Aronian and Ivanchuk-Gelfand.

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Magnus Carlsen is the sole leader after nine rounds at the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament. On Monday the Norwegian drew with Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) while co-leader Levon Aronian (Armenia) lost to Boris Gelfand (Israel). Peter Svidler and Alexander Grischuk (both Russia) drew an amazingly complicated game and after 6.5 hours of play Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine) scored his first win, against Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan).


With the second half of the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament well under way, the interest in the tournament is growing, both online and at the IET in London. Every day both the number of spectators in the playing hall and journalists in the press room is growing, and many local grandmasters can be seen at the venue. Gawain Jones, Daniel King and Luke McShane have been frequent visitors and on Monday GMs John Nunn, Matthew Sadler, Jon Speelman and Simon Williams came along. They all witnessed another great round in which the big game was world number 2 Vladimir Kramnik against world number 1 Magnus Carlsen.

Kramnik got a nice advantage in a Catalan: “Actually it was my preparation for Kazan; I was about to play it against Radjabov in 2011 but finally for some reason I decided to play something else. Since that time I was keeping it and nobody played it. This 11.Qc2 and 12.Rd1 is kind of a new set-up; it’s quite dangerous I believe.” Carlsen: “I didn't know the details too much of this line. I more or less had to figure it out over the board. It’s not so easy to play and the way I played, he got a stable advantage so I probably did something wrong. I was just trying to find a good plan which I probably didn’t succeed in doing.”

After 13.Nc3 White was “just better” and after 20.Qe3 it was “getting really critical for Black” (Kramnik) but then, starting with 22…Re8, Carlsen found a key defensive idea (and perhaps even the only move): 25…Nd5!. Almost by force an ending with rooks and opposite-coloured bishops came on the board where Kramnik’s extra pawn wasn’t worth much. “It just seems to work by millimetre,” the Russian said two times at the press conference. 


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“Of course Magnus is a very strong player, a very strong defender. I don't say that I missed any win today but I was better in the opening, had a very nice position and then… it seemed very close. It’s a bit disappointing of course,” said Kramnik. Carlsen about defending this game: “I thought it was dangerous but the good thing for me is that most of the time I had to make only moves. Then in a way it’s easier.”

Peter Svidler and Alexander Grischuk played the most spectacular game of the tournament so far. The latter went for the ever-interesting King’s Indian Defence, and like in his game against Radjabov, Svidler played the Sämisch variation. Then, on move 12, Grischuk came up with an absolutely stunning novelty that involved a long-term piece sacrifice.

At first Svidler was “very worried”. “In a practical game (…) every move will be a torture.” English grandmaster Matthew Sadler, who lives in The Netherlands but spent his weekend with family, joined the commentary for a while and said: “I was counting the pieces and I must have counted them at least ten times!”

Svidler went for a long think, played an interesting sequence of moves and then felt he was winning. “Of course I missed 19…h3. After that I realized the game continues.” Eventually White got three minor pieces for his queen, and Svidler still felt that “White should be better somehow”, but “it became a bit too messy for my liking”. In time trouble he might have missed some ways to make Grischuk’s life harder. Just after the time control Black had created so much counter play that Svidler had seen enough and accepted his opponent’s draw offer.

The game between Boris Gelfand and Levon Aronian became quite very important for the tournament standings. In a Queen’s Gambit Declined that turned into some sort of Stonewall position, around move 25 Aronian missed a tactic and lost an important pawn. Computers don’t like his 26…Bf7, a move Gelfand didn’t expect: “Here I think Levon is in trouble.”

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However, according to the Israeli Black wasn’t lost yet. “After 32…Rd3 I don’t know if my advantage is so big, but 32…h5 is a blunder.” Aronian, who had to skip the press conference because of a drug test (which Carlsen, Kramnik and Svidler also had to perform), said he had missed 28.e6 and then “completely forgot about this 33.f5 stuff”. However, just before the time control Gelfand missed a quick win, and a double rook ending came on the board. “Fortunately I have this plan of a king’s attack,” said Gelfand, who won the ending without too much trouble. It wasn’t an easy game for him, though. “I think for me it was more difficult because I played with my very close friend and he is leading the tournament. But we're professionals and we have to play our utmost in each game.”

After six and a half hours of play, Vassily Ivanchuk scored his first win of the tournament. He got a pleasant advantage out of the opening against Teimour Radjabov, who played what could be dubbed the “Accelerated Lasker Variation” of the Queen’s Gambit Declined. For a moment commentator Nigel Short thought that Radjabov had perhaps accidentally played Lasker’s Nf6-e4 one move too early, but in fact the Azerbaijani spent five minutes on it. Radjabov: “It was a long torture somehow. I got this unpleasant position, I mixed something in the opening and I got this slightly worse position where you always have to stand. I didn't have so many counter play ideas.”

Both players were not sure if the ending was really lost for Black. “Maybe I didn't have to change the knights as then the position became really easy to play for White. There’s maybe no direct win,” said Radjabov. Instead of his preparation, as suggested by Kramnik in an interview, Radjabov blamed his inactivity for his disappointing play thus far: “I should have played in one of the recent tournaments, but my family situation did not allow this. You can see that the players who played in Zurich didn't start very well, but now they are all in good form.”

After nine rounds, Carlsen is in clear first place with 6 points. Aronian is now second with 5.5, followed by Kramnik with 5 points. Gelfand moved to shared 4th place with Grischuk: both are on 4.5. Svidler is 6th with 4 points, Ivanchuk 7th with 3.5 and Radjabov last with 3. Tuesday, March 26th is the third rest day of the tournament. Play resumes on Wednesday, March 27th at 14:00 GMT with the tenth round: Carlsen-Gelfand, Aronian-Ivanchuk, Radjabov-Svidler and Grischuk-Kramnik.

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Round 8: Carlsen & Aronian still tied for first place at FIDE Candidates, Kramnik now a point behind


Magnus Carlsen of Norway and Levon Aronian of Armenia are still tied for first place after eight rounds at the FIDE World Chess Candidates' Tournament in London. The leaders of the tournament faced each other over the board on Sunday and drew a Catalan game in just an hour and a half. Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, who beat his compatriot Peter Svidler in a Grünfeld, is now one point behind the two. Like Kramnik, Boris Gelfand of Israel won his first game of the tournament. He defeated Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan by adopting the strong positional concept 13...e5! in an English game. For the third time already in this tournament, Ukrainian Vassily Ivanchuk lost on time, in this round against Alexander Grischuk of Russia.

On Sunday the second half of the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament started with a big game: Magnus Carlsen versus Levon Aronian, the two leaders of the tournament. In the first round they drew against each other, and if either player would have won this one, he would have been “huge favourite”, as Carlsen put it the day before. One reason is that if two players tie for first place after the last round, the first tie-break rule is the individual result.

Somewhat expectedly, neither player wanted to take too much risk and as a result the game quickly petered out to a draw. “I thought that Magnus was not going to take much risk and play solid,” said Aronian. Carlsen: “I was just trying to play more or less solidly, trying to put some pressure without taking too much risk. It felt like the natural thing to do in such a situation. He played precisely in the opening.”

Thanks to good preparation Aronian quickly equalized in a Catalan. However, in a very equal ending Carlsen declined a draw offer, somewhere around move 33: “I thought there was no harm in playing a few more moves. But at that point both of us knew what was going to happen anyway!”

As the players explained, such quick draws are part of the game: “As in the whole tournament, you don’t really want to lose any game, but this one particularly. In this tournament situation it would mean a lot. You have to try and take your chances when you can,” said Aronian. “In general with Black in such tournaments that’s the way you play. You try and play solid and if there are chances, you take them, otherwise… You know, the players here are so strong that it’s not easy to win any game,” said Carlsen.

In this round Boris Gelfand won his first game of the tournament. He defeated Teimour Radjabov without much effort, thanks to a powerful new idea in the English opening on move 13. “It's a big positional concept. It cuts both the bishop on g2 and the knight on b3,” explained Gelfand afterwards.

Radjabov never really got into the game. “Somehow I didn’t find a way to execute the g4-g5 plan. I was surprised that I had to play for equality. I was only right about my estimation, not about my moves.” Gelfand, who didn’t need much time on the clock: “I know that I am better and I know what I have to do, that’s why I played very quickly. The problem is on white’s shoulders.” Not long afterwards Vladimir Kramnik also won his first game. After seven draws, the Russian grandmaster beat his compatriot Peter Svidler in a variation of the Grünfeld in which Kramnik also beat Garry Kasparov, 13 years ago, in their World Championship match, also in London.

“Now it became clear why Kasparov dropped the Grünfeld after game 2 in our match. Finally I showed the refutation of this opening!” joked Kramnik, which put a little smile even on Svidler’s face. On a more serious note, the former World Champion said he analysed his idea 14.Kc2 already during that match. Until recently he didn’t think it was worth trying, but he discovered that “Black in fact has to be very accurate”.

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Svidler’s 14…Ne5 (instead of the more standard 14…Na5 which Kramnik had surely looked at thoroughly) was a good practical decision. But spending half an hour on it wasn’t. “If you're going to play 14…Ne5 you have to do it immediately,” said Svider. As it went, Kramnik got a slight advantage but Black was solid and without time trouble Svidler might have defended better. From move 30 onwards he started to play inaccurately, and with a few strong moves Kramnik could score the full point

“In fact I thought that my victory was yesterday because after this absolutely awful, unexplainable blunder which I made, I was forgiven and I somehow considered it as a good sign. I still cannot explain how I managed to make such a blunder but I think it was a turning point, at least I hope so, that I start to get luck on my side and start to go on with full force, let’s see,” said Kramnik.

The game between Alexander Grischuk and Vassily Ivanchuk finished dramatically. It was a Sicilian Dragon and the position was always more or less equal, but, staying true to their “style”, both players got into time trouble. Ivanchuk didn't make the time control yet again.

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At the press conference Grischuk revealed that the last time he won a classical game in a World Championship or Candidates event was “6 years and about 25-26 games ago” – his win against Gelfand in Mexico 2007. Grischuk: “It was like Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude, but for me it was six years of suffering!”

Asked about the time control in London (40 moves in 2 hours, then 20 moves in 1 hour and then 15 minutes plus 30 seconds increment from move 61), Grischuk said: “Where you have a move limit, it’s correct that you don’t have increment. It’s your own responsibility that you think about the time. But at the end of the game it’s correct to have increment because otherwise it can go on and on. The problem is that we are all spoilt by the fact that most tournaments are held with increment. It’s difficult to switch. But I think this is the right time control.”

Ivanchuk’s response to the same question was: “It’s a matter of taste. I cannot say there is a time control that everybody likes.” The Ukrainian was quite upset about what was already his third loss on time, and preferred to answer questions from the press separately from his opponent. Ivanchuk’s very correct play at the board should be mentioned, though: in the heat of the moment, with just four seconds left on the clock for four moves, he accidentally knocked over one of his opponent’s pawns. Where many players would (incorrectly) press the clock first and then quickly put back the pawn, the Ukrainian (correctly) did this in his own time. But then “there was no way for him to make the time control,” as one of the arbiters said…

After eight rounds, Carlsen and Aronian are still tied for first place with 5.5 points. Vladimir Kramnik is one point behind with 4.5 while Grischuk is in 4th place with 4 points. Gelfand and Svidler are shared 5th with 3.5 points, Radjabov is in 7th place with 3 points and Ivanchuk is last with 2.5 points. Monday, March 25th at 14:00 GMT the ninth round will be played: Kramnik-Carlsen, Svidler-Grischuk, Ivanchuk-Radjabov and Gelfand-Aronian.

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Four draws in round 7 FIDE Candidates, Aronian & Carlsen maintain 1.5 point lead


In what was the shortest round of the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament so far, Levon Aronian of Armenia and Magnus Carlsen of Norway maintained their 1.5 point lead over Russians Vladimir Kramnik and Peter Svidler. Against Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan, Carlsen needed to sacrifice an exchange to wear off dangerous threats against his king, which proved to be sufficient. Aronian got a small positional advantage against Alexander Grischuk of Russia, who saved himself by going for active defence. For a moment Kramnik was in big trouble, but he escaped with a draw when his opponent Boris Gelfand of Israel refrained from playing actively on move 19. Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine and Peter Svidler of Russia played the shortest draw of the round in a Scotch game that quickly turned into an endgame.

In the seventh round of the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament all games were finished in less than four hours. It’s hard to believe, though, that the participants were trying to be ready in time for the Chess Boxing event which is taking place at London’s Scala Club on Saturday night. Especially Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian have something better to do, on the night before they will play each other for the second time.

Less than three hours into the round, Vassily Ivanchuk and Peter Svidler were in the middle of an interesting ending when they suddenly agreed to a draw. “I didn’t expect the Scotch, and he probably didn’t expect long castles,” is how Svidler explained the time spent by both players in what was a theoretical opening variation. “It was a new position to me. I was trying to understand what was going on, and trying not to blunder something,” said Ivanchuk.

The players quickly reached an ending where White had a rook, bishop and knight with five pawns against two rooks and seven pawns for Black. Because neither player could really play for a win, the move repetition was a logical finish. Not satisfied with his play in the previous two rounds, Svidler said: “I don’t particularly mind equalizing and making a draw against a very strong player.”

Against Boris Gelfand, Vladimir Kramnik played the same Nimzo-Indian line as in his round 4 game against Teimour Radjabov. The Russian deviated himself, and improved upon a game that his opponent played last year in his World Championship match against Viswanathan Anand. Kramnik’s preparation worked well, but then he played a “terribly risky move”, namely 19…Ne8. "The tournament situation asks you to play for a win in every game," said Kramnik.

However, if Gelfand had played one of his knights to g5 there, he would have gotten a very promising position. When host Anastasiya Karlovich mentioned one of the tactical ideas the computer engines found, Kramnik was slightly shocked: "Hmmm... so I missed something." And when former top grandmaster Evgeny Bareev mentioned the other Ng5 move to Kramnik, the former World Champion was even more surprised: “I thought I saw something. It's really strange, I don't know what I was missing. Some kind of blackout." It seems that a bit of luck was finally on Kramnik’s side, but he’ll need more in the second half of the tournament if he wants to fight for first place.

Also in the game between Teimour Radjabov and Magnus Carlsen an opening came on the board that was played several times in last year’s World Championship match: a Rossolimo Sicilian. Black got the bishop pair, but White had the better pawn structure. At some point Radjabov managed to get the initiative on the kingside. About that phase, Carlsen said: “Here I was thinking that there’s no special danger since I can sacrifice an exchange when the knight gets to g2, so that was my main blackout.”

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As it turned out, Black’s advantage was quite serious, if he hadn’t immediately pushed his pawn to f2. Radjabov: “I was afraid you would put a knight on f2. I thought that f3-f2+ was winning somehow. I thought that the pieces are coming, e4 is coming, Qf6-a1. And then Ke2, Qh3, Qh1 and suddenly I didn’t find anything. I was sure I have to sacrifice this f-pawn somehow. I was also sure that the computer shows that I don’t have to sacrifice!” As it went, White got excellent positional compensation and Black couldn’t make progress.

The other leader, Levon Aronian, was pressing for most of the time against Alexander Grischuk but the Armenian had to settle for a draw as well. The game was a Queen’s Indian. “Levon played a very solid line with White, just very solid. I tried to make things unclear but Levon found a very strong plan with b4 and c5 and after that I had to defend. I think Levon played very well, I think pretty much perfectly until a certain moment.”

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“I didn’t have much of an idea, I just tried to play solidly,” said Aronian, who managed to sharpen the game with his 15th move. He sacrificed a pawn and got more than enough compensation, but probably with this 30th move he lost his advantage. “I was getting too comfortable,” said Aronian. Grischuk defended actively and could reach a drawn endgame.

Looking forward to the second half of the tournament, and his game against co-leader Aronian on Sunday in particular, Carlsen said: “I think it’s going to be a big game tomorrow. If either one of us wins that one obviously that person is going to be the huge favourite. As we have witnessed today, anything can happen. I’ll just try to look forward to tomorrow and for the tournament… I’m sure everyone will be in a fighting mood – I hope so anyway!”

Aronian: “I think that the first half was pretty good. Certainly I think there’s always room for improvement. That’s what I’m going to try to do in the second half. When you’re playing in a tournament of such calibre everybody is trying to show their best so in a way it’s inspiring. Personally I really enjoy this tournament so far!”

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After seven rounds, half way the tournament, Carlsen and Aronian have 5 points, still a point and a half more than Svidler and Kramnik, who are on 3.5. Grischuk and Radjabov have 3 points and Ivanchuk and Gelfand 2.5. Sunday, March 24th at 14:00 GMT the eighth round will be played: Carlsen-Aronian, Radjabov-Gelfand, Grischuk-Ivanchuk and Kramnik-Svidler.


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Round 6: Aronian & Carlsen increase lead at FIDE Candidates to 1.5 points


By winning in round 6 Levon Aronian (Armenia) and Magnus Carlsen (Norway) increased their lead at the FIDE Candidates' Tournament to 1.5 points. The score was opened by Carlsen who beat Peter Svidler (Russia) from the black side of a Closed Ruy Lopez. Aronian profited from a blunder by Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan) in the 7th hour of play. In a Closed Catalan, Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) sacrificed an exchange and then a piece, but despite getting into time trouble yet again, Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine) defended well and held the draw. Alexander Grischuk (Russia) and Boris Gelfand (Israel) drew an exciting 3.Bb5 Sicilian.

So far the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament has received amazing response from chess fans all over the world. During the first six rounds over 265,000 unique visitors from 194 countries have visited the official website. Over 70 international journalists have requested press accreditation and almost all British media have covered the tournament in one way or another. One example is the BBC, who have already done three different items on Magnus Carlsen!

On Thursday the top seed score quite a smooth win against Peter Svidler. In a more or less standard Ruy Lopez position, the Russian grandmaster decided to “try something new” with his move 15.Bc2. He thought that he should have played h2-h3 earlier, perhaps instead of 17.Ne3. His play in that phase was “based on a miscalculation”. A few moves later Svidler was “already struggling” until he missed 33…Qe4! which decided the game immediately. He did have a small compliment to his opponent: “As usual the conversion phase went quite smoothly.”

As computer engines pointed out, Carlsen in fact missed a strong move earlier on: 25…Bxh3. “At this point I was just thinking that straightforward moves were good enough for a huge advantage,” said Carlsen, who is more than satisfied after six rounds of play. “I’m very happy. I’ve had four blacks so far and I feel that I’m playing at a decent level so… as I said before: I am where I need to be. We’ll see what happens from here.”

One of Carlsen’s main rivals, world’s number two Vladimir Kramnik, lost further ground by drawing with Vassily Ivanchuk. Once again the Ukrainian got into serious time trouble. “I had to spend some time in the opening because the position was very dangerous and of course I understood that every little mistake can lead to a loss,” said Ivanchuk.

Kramnik came up with a nice positional exchange sacrifice and then did away with another piece to create a dangerous attack on the enemy king. But it was just not enough: just when his opponent needed to make 13 moves in only 1 minute and 4 seconds, the former World Champion had to go for a perpetual check.

The game was so complicated and interesting that during the press conference Kramnik impatiently asked if the press room’s laptop could run an engine. After it was switched on, he grabbed the mouse and said: “I don’t know if I had anything. Let’s see what the guy says.” The players and host Anastasiya Karlovich had a good laugh about some of the amazing moves that were suggested by the machine. For sure Kramnik was also trying to find analytical support for the difficult decision he had to make on move 30...

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About the tournament situation, Kramnik said: “I just have bad luck. I quite like my play but the ball is just not getting into the goal. Yesterday I was very close to a win, and today again... It was just amazing that I was not checkmating him. I’m afraid that if I don’t repeat moves I’m just lost. It would be a gamble because he is a very good blitz player. I am not happy about the way the tournament is going but I don’t think I can blame myself. The only thing I can do is continue to show good chess and hope that at some point I will have luck on my side.”

Alexander Grischuk and Boris Gelfand played the Rossolimo Sicilian (3.Bb5), a line which the Israeli got on the board many times last year in his World Championship match against Vishy Anand. About his seventh move Grischuk said: “Unfortunately Boris was very well prepared for this rare line.” After the opening the Russian grandmaster lost a pawn and then he had to "fight for the draw", but he managed to get the game sharper. With little time on the clock for both players at the second time control, Gelfand decided to repeat moves.

Teimour Radjabov versus Levon Aronian was a relatively quiet Ruy Lopez. “I thought I had a decent position out of the opening and lots of time on my clock, so I thought I should pose some problems for Teimour,” said Aronian, who seemed to get an advantage after White’s pawn push 24.g5. Kramnik, who joined the commentary team when he was finished and even took the time to look at this game, said: “This g4-g5 looks like a nervous move. It seems people are a bit nervous here, especially the young guys!” 

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With a weakened king position Radjabov had to be careful, and he was for a long time. “I should say that till the very last moment he was defending very well. Only through luck I managed to break his resistance,” said Aronian. The Armenian could profit from a blunder by his opponent on move 53 and thus scored an important point.

After six rounds Carlsen and Aronian have 4.5 points (or “plus three” in chess slang), which is 1.5 point more than Svidler and Kramnik. Grischuk and Radjabov have 2.5 points and Ivanchuk and Gelfand 2. Friday is a rest day. Saturday, March 23rd at 14:00 GMT the seventh round will be played: Carlsen-Radjabov, Aronian-Grischuk, Gelfand-Kramnik and Ivanchuk-Svidler.

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Four fighting draws in 5th round Candidates tournament

The standings didn't change after Wednesday's fifth round of the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament in London as all games ended in draws. Facing his own favourite Grünfeld, Peter Svidler (Russia) got a winning position against Boris Gelfand (Israel) but after wild complications the game ended in a draw. Magnus Carlsen (Norway) also played the Grünfeld and for the first time he was under pressure, against Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine), but eventually he held a knight ending a pawn down. Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) got his chances in a Réti against Levon Aronian (Armenia), who held an opposite-coloured bishop ending two pawns down. The last game to finish was Alexander Grischuk (Russia) versus Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan). In a 5.Bf4 Queen's Gambit Declined White also got very close to a win but with a bishop sacrifice the Azerbaijani held his own.

The fifth round of the Candidates tournament had a comical start. In two games the Grünfeld Defence came on the board: Peter Svidler versus Boris Gelfand and Vassily Ivanchuk versus Magnus Carlsen. And quite remarkably, after the move 3…d5, which defines this opening, both Svidler and Ivanchuk started to think! It seemed that the Ukrainian was waiting for Svidler to move, while Svidler needed to think of a good way to play against his own favourite defence…

Well, in fact the grandmaster from St. Petersburg had found an interesting idea (7.f4) together with his seconds Nikita Vitiugov and Maxim Matlakov shortly before the game. “It looks incredibly ugly and that was one of the main reasons for playing it because I thought Boris might decide he has to play for an advantage now,” said Svidler. Gelfand didn't react well, on the contrary. Afterwards the Israeli said that he hadn’t played the opening so badly in his entire career. “This move 8…Bg4 is a disaster and 10…c6 may be even worse.”

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However, after reaching an overwhelming position ("In a tournament like this I'm very unlikely to get such a position again"), Svidler wanted to force matters and “started sacrificing pawns left and right”, as Grischuk put it. Gelfand reacted very well and even got the upper hand, but after some more complications he decided to offer a draw just before the time control. He explained it as follows: “Draw offers are a psychological game. If White would decline then the pressure would be on his side and maybe he would take too much risk. People underestimate this; they are crazy about the number of moves and statistics but here it’s real psychology!”

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Also in that other Grünfeld game it was White who got a clear advantage. Ivanchuk played strongly and created problems for his opponent, which meant that for the first time in this tournament, top seed Magnus Carlsen was under serious pressure. “It was a very difficult game. I tried to be creative in the opening. He responded well and I was worse, so I decided to sacrifice a pawn in order to get into an endgame which I thought I could hold,” said Carlsen.

For a moment the Norwegian even played for a win; at move 31 Ivanchuk, who was again short of time, offered a draw. Carlsen declined: “At some point I even got optimistic which was completely unfounded and I had to fight to save the game. I just underestimated his possibilities. It was an unprofessional and bad decision to play on.”

Also in the game between the world’s number two and three, Vladimir Kramnik and Levon Aronian, White got excellent winning chances. Aronian’s problems started after his risky pawn push 13…b5. “This was probably asking for too much.”

Kramnik then found the strong idea of pushing his f-pawn and sacrificing his a-pawn along the way. He managed to break open the centre, but then missed a strong continuation which was pointed out by computer engines. Nonetheless, after the time control the Russian reached a very promising ending. “I don’t know what the computer says but I have a feeling I missed a win,” said Kramnik, and Aronian agreed with him. During their press conference the two top grandmaster showed numerous amazing variations to the (online) spectators, and after about half an hour they still didn’t find a win for White, despite being two pawns up in an opposite-coloured bishop ending.

Most of this press conference was in fact watched by Alexander Grischuk and Teimour Radjabov in the press room as well. Their game finished shortly after that of Kramnik and Aronian. It was the same story here: Grischuk got close to a win, but failed to convert the full point. In the 5.Bf4 variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined, the Muscovite was very much in control: “I think I got a completely winning position but I should not have let Black sacrifice on c5. I underestimated that."

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With his 34th move Radjabov managed to change the nature of the position completely and at the same time he got his opponent rather confused. “I thought I was checkmating but 36…h5 was cold a shower," said Grischuk. Eventually a complicated ending was reached where Radjabov had three passed pawns against a knight for Grischuk, but there the Russian decided to force the draw by liquidating to an equal rook ending.

And so after five rounds the standings are the same with half a point more for each player. Aronian and Carlsen are tied for first place with 3.5 points while Svidler is the only player with 3. Kramnik and Radjabov have 2.5 points, Grischuk has 2 points and Gelfand and Ivanchuk are in last place, with 1.5 points. Thursday, March 21st at 14:00 GMT the sixth round will be played: Svidler-Carlsen, Kramnik-Ivanchuk, Grischuk-Gelfand and Radjabov-Aronian.

Official website

Round 5 Photo Gallery

Cross Tables



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Round 4: Magnus Carlsen catches Levon Aronian in first place at FIDE Candidates

In Tuesday’s fourth round of the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament in London Magnus Carlsen of Norway caught Levon Aronian of Armenia in first place. Carlsen beat Alexander Grischuk of Russia in a Ruy Lopez Berlin, while Aronian was held to a draw by Peter Svidler of Russia in a Queen’s Gambit Accepted. The two oldest participants, Boris Gelfand of Israel and Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine, drew a very interesting game that started with the rare Chigorin Defence. Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan and Vladimir Kramnik of Russia drew a Nimzo-Indian that was always more or less balanced.

After enjoying their first rest day, on Tuesday the eight top grandmasters returned to the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) at Savoy Place for the fourth round of the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament. It was also the first day that, in the commentary room, host IM Lawrence Trent was joined by former World Championship contender GM Nigel Short. Throughout the tournament, online spectators can follow the games while watching and listening to live commentary simultaneously. In the playing hall, the audience enjoys a similar experience thanks to Samsung tablets which are waiting for them on their seats at arrival.

The first game to finish was a relatively short draw: tournament leader Levon Aronian split the point with Peter Svidler after 31 moves. In this game, Svidler showed once again that he has come to London very well prepared. The grandmaster from St. Petersburg successfully employed a rare line of the Queen's Gambit Accepted in which Black actually hangs on to his c-pawn with an early ..a6 and ...b5.

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“During the game I was trying to remember what my intention was, but I failed," said Aronian. According to Svidler, his opponent didn't play the most dangerous plan: "This is actually not such a straightforward line but with some precision Black tends to equalise if White goes for the pawn grab. I suppose the critical lines are somewhere where White ignores the pawn for a while."

Svidler's 10...Rb8 instead of 10...Ra7 is a new idea (played only once before) that involves a long-term pawn sacrifice. It worked well, and Svidler equalised quite comfortably. "It's nice to have half a rest today. Somewhat nicer for me than it is for Levon I'm sure but for me it's fairly nice," said Svidler.

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A bit more than 3.5 hours into the round, Magnus Carlsen won his second game of the tournament to catch Aronian in first place. In the popular Berlin variation of the Ruy Lopez, his opponent Alexander Grischuk started spending a lot of time early on. An important moment was 17…f5, a move disliked by Carlsen. “I missed a lot of things with this move I completely overestimated my position. I still think Black is fine but [during the game] I thought Black was better,” said Grischuk. One of Black's problems was his bad bishop on f8 – the reason why his position looked better than it was.

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To make matters worse, Grischuk’s disadvantage on the clock started to grow. After making his 21st move, Grischuk had only 4 minutes and 24 seconds left on the clock for his next 19 moves. It was just impossible to reach the time control without making mistakes, and Carlsen profited from these mistakes by not paying attention to his opponent’s time trouble too much. As he said after the game, he was “just trying to play well”. And he was never really worried: “Obviously there are threats but I felt that I always had enough resources to parry them. You can never be absolutely sure but I thought that I had enough play on the queenside to counter whatever threats he could muster.”

Only two players are older than forty in this tournament: Boris Gelfand and Vassily Ivanchuk. Both 44, these chess legends must have played over a hundred games against each other. Gelfand referred to this when he expressed the following nice words about his opponent: “Each game is very interesting and always a big lesson for me. Probably it’s one of the reasons for our chess longevity: when you play such a great player so many times, it gives you so much experience and knowledge – it helps a lot!”

As so often, Ivanchuk played a rare opening set-up. With Black he went for the Chigorin Defence (1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nc6) and it took Gelfand a few minutes to decide on which line to play. In a position that looked a bit better for White, on move 22 a very nice piece sacrifice was found (and played instantly!) by Ivanchuk. After some wild complications White ended up with an extra bishop on h2 that was completely out of play, and there Black could force a perpetual check.

The last game to finish, between Teimour Radjabov and Vladimir Kramnik, was a Nimzo-Indian game that always looked fairly equal. “I think I got a very nice position out of the opening and it’s also very easy to play. I had this very simple plan of trying to attack these hanging pawns but of course White is also very solid. It might be equal and maybe it’s a matter of style, but I would take Black in this position, it’s easier to play somehow,” said Kramnik. The Russian was happy with his manoeuvres, and thought he was pressing. “But Teimour seemed to defend very well.”

Radjabov agreed that he got “nothing out of the opening". “I probably mixed up some things in the opening, how I got this position without the two bishops. It’s kind of a dream position for Black.” But the Azerbaijani managed to avoid serious mistakes, and so Black’s advantage was never more than symbolical.

After four rounds Aronian and Carlsen are tied for first place with 3 points while Svidler is the only player with 2.5. Kramnik and Radjabov are on 50% with 2 points, Grischuk has 1.5 points and Gelfand and Ivanchuk are still in last place, with 1 point. Wednesday, March 20th at 14:00 GMT the fourth round will be played: Ivanchuk-Carlsen, Svidler-Gelfand, Kramnik-Aronian and Grischuk-Radjabov.


Official website

Round 4 Photo Gallery

Cross Tables


Round 3

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Levon Aronian is the sole leader at the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament after three rounds of play. On Sunday the Armenian grandmaster beat Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine, who overstepped the time limit for the second day in a row. In what was a very exciting round, co-leader Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan lost to Russia’s Peter Svidler in a Sämisch King’s Indian. Magnus Carlsen of Norway beat Boris Gelfand of Israel with Black in 57 moves from the old Cambridge Springs variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined. Russian grandmasters Vladimir Kramnik and Alexander Grischuk drew a Grünfeld game in 35 moves.

Two and a half hours into the third round of the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament a remarkable situation occurred: in all four games, between the two contestants there was a time difference of about an hour on the clock. Thanks to their preparation Peter Svider, Vladimir Kramnik, Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian enjoyed a big time advantage against Teimour Radjabov, Alexander Grischuk, Boris Gelfand and Vassily Ivanchuk respectively.

In the case of Grischuk, however, this was nothing special. The 29-year-old Muscovite is the reigning World Blitz Champion and known for getting into time trouble quite often in his classical games. At the press conference his opponent noted that things could have been even worse. Kramnik: “At some point when Sacha was thinking, I was trying to compete with Peter Svidler, I mean, who would have more advantage on time!”

Their game started with the Fianchetto Variation of the Grünfeld. Because many moves were quite logical, Kramnik’s preparation went as deep as move 21, when he felt he had a slight advantage. At some point Grischuk had to give up a pawn, but his piece activity offered enough compensation. “Sacha played very correctly. I am not sure if I had any improvement on what I played,” said Kramnik afterwards. 


Poor Vassily Ivanchuk lost on time for the second day in a row. The Ukrainian is known for his wide opening repertoire, and today he tried his luck with an opening that’s popular at club level: the Torre Attack (via a Trompovsky move-order). Levon Aronian responded well to his opponent’s aggression, and his wonderful 19th move gave him a big advantage. While his opponent’s clock was ticking away Aronian actually didn’t play that convincingly, but he won anyway.

“Today I just tried to play some creative game but probably for practical reasons it was a bad strategy. 31.c4 was a nice move but there I realised that even if he would start to give me material with every move I would still lose on time,” said Ivanchuk, who will in fact turn 44 tomorrow. Asked how he will spend his rest day, the Ukrainian replied: “I will try to completely not think about chess!”

Like Ivanchuk, Teimour Radjabov got in huge time trouble with only a few seconds left to make his last three moves before the first time control. The Azerbaijani did manage to reach move 40, but he failed to save the game. Just after the opening, his favourite King’s Indian, he needed to think a lot. Radjabov: “I was not so much surprised, but in general I forgot the lines I had seen there. I just mixed everything up.”

Svidler arrived in the press room both relieved and happy about how his opening went. He played the 5.f3 (Sämisch) variation and got exactly what he had prepared. “It’s very nice to get a position like this with also an hour and a big advantage on the clock. The game was mainly decided in the opening because I got such a huge advantage. The combination of the position I got and also the clock pressure that was on Teimour here, that together made his situation quite difficult.” 

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The chess fans were spoilt with yet another win at the end of the day. After two quick and uneventful draws, top seed Magnus Carlsen managed to beat Boris Gelfand with Black. In this game it was the Israeli who spent lots of time. “It’s a rare line, a very original position. The pawn structure isn't determined yet. I had to think about the best way to configure it,” said Gelfand. 

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With his last move before the time control (40.h5) he gave his opponent unnecessary practical chances, and when the queens were traded Carlsen’s two passed pawns on the queenside decided the game. “I’m very happy to win and now that Levon won his second game… it’s still early in the tournament but it’s good to keep pace,” said Carlsen.

After three rounds Aronian is the sole leader with 2.5 out of 3 while Carlsen and Svidler are in shared second place with 2 points. Kramnik, Grischuk and Radjabov have 1.5/3 while Gelfand and Ivanchuk are in last place with 05/3.

Monday, March 18th is the first rest day. Tuesday, March 19th at 14:00 GMT the fourth round will be played: Carlsen-Grischuk, Radjabov-Kramnik, Aronian-Svidler and Gelfand-Ivanchuk.


Official website

Photo Gallery of the 3rd Round

Cross Tables


Round 2

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Levon Aronian and Teimour Radjabov are in shared first place after two rounds at the FIDE World Chess Candidates' Tournament in London. Aronian won against Boris Gelfand, who blundered material. Radjabov outplayed Vassily Ivanchuk, who eventually lost on time in what should be a lost position. Magnus Carlsen got no opening advantage against Vladimir Kramnik and the two quickly drew. Alexander Grischuk and Peter Svidler also split the point, but not before both players had had an advantage in the game.

In December Magnus Carlsen of Norway beat Garry Kasparov’s record of the highest ever Elo rating. Being 62 points ahead of Russia’s number one Vladimir Kramnik, the Norwegian is the clear favourite in all the polls. Because of this, and perhaps his temporary side-career as a model for G-Star, on Friday Carlsen was asked by one journalist whether he felt he could make the game “more attractive, more sexy”. The top seed replied: “I drew both of my games in a total of less than three hours and an average of 30.5 moves so… that’s going to change the game a lot!”

According to Kramnik, his opponent made “the wrong opening choice”. “I consider it just harmless. In fact after ten moves there was not much to play for. It happens sometimes in modern chess.” Carlsen: “I guess the opening line in question is not very dangerous for Black but I had had some hopes beforehand that I could be able to press a little bit. Many times also with White against Vladimir I’ve been doing quite badly so at least equality is an improvement for me!”

The following game to finish was the first decisive game of the tournament: Levon Aronian of Armenia versus Boris Gelfand of Israel. It started fairly quietly and Aronian explained it as follows: “This is a well known line and White is slightly better. With precise play it normally ends up as a draw. I thought I just keep the same strategy and play solid.” Gelfand compared the ending that came on the board to the Marshall variation of the Ruy Lopez, which his opponent has often defended successfully to a draw. The Israeli, who blundered a bishop check, expained his loss with a brief sentence: “I didn’t play well I guess.”

The game between Russian GMs Alexander Grischuk and Peter Svidler ended in a draw, but not before either player had had a promising position. Svidler’s plan with 13…Bg4 was unfortunate, and after about fifteen moves he was already quite worried about his position. Luckily for him, his opponent miscalculated with his 20th move. “I quickly got a big advantage but I spoilt it in one move, I was almost winning there,” said Grischuk. To is own surprise, Svidler even ended up in a better ending but with a precise 30th move White managed to hold the draw.

Aronian could only enjoy his leadership status for about one and a half hours. Azerbaijan's Teimour Radjabov, who had been pressing from the start in his game with Vassily Ivanchuk, won when his opponent overstepped the time limit at move 34.

In a Leningrad Dutch, the Ukrainian grandmaster played an inaccurate 9th move as he probably missed White’s positionally illogical plan to exchange the e-pawns. White got a strong initiative and wisely declined Black’s exchange sacrifice. Soon Ivanchuk had to give up his queen for rook and bishop, and things weren’t exactly clear but his timetrouble decided the game in White’s favour.

Interestingly, the two winners of the second round were also the two players who attended the SOCAR reception the night before. When asked what happened at that party, Radjabov said: “Nothing really happened there, otherwise we wouldn’t win today, I think!”

At the opening ceremony on Thursday, head of AGON Andrew Paulson mentioned the new design of the playing hall and the ChessCasting software that is being used to transmit the games live to the world. During the round, the spectators in the playing hall are given small interactive tablets which have the software preinstalled. Because the same software is available on the tournament website, the audience present in London and everywhere else in the world can get a more personal experience while following the tournament.

ChessCasting has three main screens. The first shows all four games in progress with diagrams, moves and the total time left. Then there’s the single game view, which shows the advantage for one of the players, the time spent on each move and a combined view of advantage and time. On the third page the user can go even deeper and see the ‘advantage breakdown’: material, king safety, pawn strength and mobility for each player. On top of that, spectators can start a joint analysis at any time and with anyone in what’s called “the Sandbox”. AGON plans to improve ChessCasting in the future for instance by adding Twittter and Facebook integration.

And so after two rounds the tournament has two leaders: Levon Aronian and Teimour Radjavov. Both are on 1.5 out of 2. Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik, Peter Svidler and Alexander Grischuk are on 1 out of 2 while Boris Gelfand and Vassily Ivanchuk have 0.5 out of 2. Sunday, March 17th at 14:00 GMT the third round will be played: Gelfand-Carlsen, Ivanchuk-Aronian, Svidler-Radjabov and Kramnik-Grischuk.

The FIDE Candidates' Tournament is taking place March 14th-April 1st, 2013 at IET London, Savoy Place. It is sponsored by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and organized by AGON and the World Chess Federation (FIDE).

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Official website

Photo Gallery of the 2nd Round

Cross Tables


Round 1

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FIDE World Chess Candidates' Tournament starts peacefully


The FIDE World Chess Candidates' Tournament started on Friday with all four games ending in draws. In the first round the players playing the black pieces were all slightly higher rated than their opponents, and all four managed to avoid serious problems.
Over the last few days the IET’s Lecture Theatre has been transformed into an atmospheric chess arena, with specially designed tables, chess pieces and logos. Asked about his opinion, Magnus Carlsen of Norway said: “To say something about that I guess I need to play some more games, and perhaps some longer games as well!" The world’s number one drew rather quickly with world number three Levon Aronian of Armenia.

In what was the top game of the round, Carlsen played the Bogo-Indian and equalized rather comfortably. “In general, Levon with Black, that's as tough as it gets. It's an important game for me but at the same time it's the first round, and sometimes it's going to be quiet.” Aronian said he had “expected a bit more from this game”, but played inaccurately early on and then lost his opening advantage.

Not only the chess fans have been awaiting this event eagerly; 6-times Russian Champion Peter Svidler confessed that the last couple of days were "quite tense" for him. He was happy to start his first game, in which he faced his compatriot Vladimir Kramnik.

It became clear once more just how high the level of opening preparation by the players is when Svidler revealed that he had actually looked at Kramnik’s rare choice of the Semi-Tarrasch. After the exchange of queens, Svidler felt the position should be very close to equality. “Perhaps White has some slight pressure if he is very lucky and accurate with move orders.” Kramnik was “pretty much worried” but still found a good way to solve his problems.

The game between Boris Gelfand of Israel and Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan saw an amusing incident at the start of the round. Chief arbiter Werner Stubenvoll of Austria announced that FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov would make the traditional opening move for the game “Anand-Radjabov”. At the press conference Radjabov referred to last year’s World Championship match between Gelfand and World Champion Viswanathan Anand. “I wasn’t sure if Boris should feel happy about being the World Champion, or if I should be happy playing the World Champion already without winning the Candidates!”

In yet another Bogo-Indian, Radjabov’s 16…d5 was a straightforward way to solve the opening problems. Gelfand, who actually saw this move coming, said: “I had the feeling White would find something but when I came to the position I couldn't find anything.” Many pieces were traded, and just before the time control the position was a dead draw.

The last game to finish was Ivanchuk-Grischuk, an Open Catalan with Black playing his king’s bishop to the modest e7 square, where a check on b4 is considered to be a safe option. Grischuk’s explanation was: “I saw that two guys played the move …Bb4+ already and Kramnik was threatening it, so I thought I had to be original!” Although Ivanchuk had a tiny advantage at some point, the draw was agreed just after the first time control.

Without exception the players expressed their joy to play this tournament in London. “I'm always enjoying my presence here; it's such a great city!” said Levon Aronian. The Armenian grandmaster has already attended several shows since he arrived. “The only thing I don't like about London is the weather,” said Alexander Grischuk, who is actually the only player who smokes, and who needs to leave the building for it.

And so after the first round the tournament has no leaders nor tail-enders. Saturday, March 16th at 14:00 GMT the second round will be played: Carlsen-Kramnik, Grischuk-Svidler, Radjabov-Ivanchuk and Aronian-Gelfand.

The FIDE World Candidates Tournament is taking place March 14th-April 1st, 2013 at IET London, Savoy Place. It is sponsored by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and organized by AGON and the World Chess Federation (FIDE).

Reported by Peter Doggers

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Official website

Round 1 Photo Gallery

Photos by Anastasiya Karlovich


Opening

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World’s best chess players to play for shot at world title at IET London

The long-awaited FIDE World Candidates Tournament 2013 was officially opened on Thursday night by FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov at IET London, Savoy Palace. The tournament’s opening ceremony was attended by chess officials, sponsors, and international chess media. Over fourteen rounds, eight of the very best chess players in the world will fight for the right to challenge World Champion Viswanathan Anand in a world title match later this year.

At the start of the ceremony, head of AGON Andrew Paulson presented the specially designed Championship chess set of World Chess, and gave the very first set to Mr. Ilyumzhinov. Designed by Pentagram, the chess set will be available for sale in a number of different editions.

Paulson also pointed out the new design of the playing hall and the ChessCasting software that will be used to transmit the games live to the world. "It's a new design to make more esthetic the experience of watching or being a spectator at a tournament," said Paulson. One novelty is that small interactive tablets will be handed out to spectators in the playing hall which will allow the audience to have a personal experience in the hall while watching the players – something that's unique for any sport. Andrew Paulson also mentioned the special security measures with unique technology prepared by the organizers that will be used for the first time on this event.

Before officially opening the event, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov reminded the guests of the long chess tradition in London, where 19th-century players like Howard Staunton, Wilhelm Steinitz and Emanuel Lasker achieved successes. "Over the next three weeks London will be the main chess centre in the world. Attention of millions of chess lovers will turn to London. It's here the challenger for the title of World Champion will be determined. The Candidates Tournament is the main and most expected tournament of the year in the chess world," said Ilyumzhinov.

The FIDE World Candidates Tournament takes place March 14th-April 2nd, 2013 at IET London, Savoy Place. It is sponsored by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and organized by AGON and the World Chess Federation (FIDE). The eight participants are Magnus Carlsen of Norway, Levon Aronian of Armenia, Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan, Alexander Grischuk of Russia, Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine, Peter Svidler of Russia and Boris Gelfand of Israel. The first round will start Friday, March 15th, 2013 at 14:00 GMT. Games and information can be found at http://london2013.fide.com.

Report by Peter Doggers
Pictures by Anastasiya Karlovich

Opening Ceremony Photo Gallery

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FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov

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Head of AGON Andrew Paulson

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Tournament participants


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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