Candidates 2014 – Round 10

Another exciting round at the Candidates, with the unusual score of black winning the round 2.5-1.5.

The first game to finish was Anand-Mamedyarov. Anand made another small step toward final victory and it was obvious in the press conference he was happy with the draw. He actually got into some deep preparation by Mamedyarov in the Najdorf which objectively should have led to a draw with repetition, as Mamedyarov pointed out in the press conference. Kudos to Mamedyarov for continuing the game when he could have repeated, but Anand played well and reached a good position which was “dynamically balanced” as he said after the game. Mamedyarov was playing a-tempo until Anand’s 19 Bf1, which is rare, but it was praised by both players. As it was, Mamedyarov tried to play for a win, but Anand was solid and he didn’t want to risk it one more time and continue in the final position.

Karjakin didn’t try to push his luck after two consecutive wins and introduced a minor improvement (10 g4) in the Sicilian against Andreikin. It got him into an endgame which was balanced throughout as Andreikin was careful not to fall into any sort of bind. So Karjakin continues with the same strategy and hopes for more gifts from his opponents while Andreikin is just “enjoying the event”, like he said in the press conference.

Kramnik committed yet another one-move blunder. It seems he didn’t manage to recover from his loss against Karjakin, even though he had a free day to recuperate. He was actually playing quite well and got an advantage against Svidler’s Dutch (employing a rather rare setup with 3 e3). But he repeated the same mistake as in the game with Mamedyarov, he started to look for a forced win before the position was ripe for it. Like I said it then, this impatience is a sign of nerves, inability to endure the stress and keep the tension as long as it’s necessary. So this time it was the Santa Claus who received a gift! This result took Svidler to 50% and Kramnik to -1. Kramnik looked utterly depressed in the press conference and tomorrow’s white game against Anand is somewhat resemblant to the game 10 of their match in Bonn in 2008 when Anand only needed a draw to win the match when Kramnik was in a must-win situation. Just to refresh your memory, Kramnik won that game (even though he lost the match in game 11 when Anand got the draw he needed).

Aronian tried to bore Topalov to death with his choice of opening variation in the Chebanenko Slav. He seemed to make some progress when Topalov invited him to push d5, but then it quickly turned against him when he didn’t play 21 Be5, as he said in the press conference. Then it was Topalov who started to push for more, only to ruin it all with his 30…g5, a move that drew a desperate sigh from him in the press conference. Then it was Aronian again who started to probe in the endgame, but Topalov managed to pull himself together and started to play solid moves, as he said in the press conference, and this sufficed for a draw in the end. Another up-and-down game for both players, with Topalov the unhappier of the two as he still sits in last place. He was really disappointed with his play in the tournament, lamenting his missed chances in good positions in his black games against Svidler, Andreikin and Anand (with a score of 0/3). At least he has one more game with Kramnik to look forward to, they seem to motivate him. But he will be black this time and black is not his favourite colour in this tournament.

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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