March 21, 2014 15:58

Aronian Catches Anand in Fascinating 7th Round Candidates’

Levon Aronian moved to shared first place in a fascinating seventh round of the 2014 FIDE Candidates’ Tournament on Friday. The Armenian top grandmaster defeated Sergey Karjakin to reach a score of 4.5/7 - the same as Vishy Anand, who drew his black game with Peter Svidler. Against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Vladimir Kramnik was doing well, then got into big trouble and eventually won anyway. At half-time, the Russian GM is only half a point behind the leaders. Dmitry Andreikin played his best game so far and beat Veselin Topalov convincingly.

Photos © Vadim Lavrenko & Anastasiya Karlovich courtesy of the official website

What a round that was! An amazing day in Khanty-Mansiysk saw three decisive results, while it could have been four and one game could have ended very differently. Tournament leader Anand drew his fourth game in a row, but yet again it was quite interesting. Where he had missed his chances before the rest day, Aronian managed to win a good game with Black to join Anand in the lead. Andreikin played a good game and beat Topalov surprisingly easily, while Kramnik won a topsy-turvy game against Mamedyarov. 

Little did he know when, at the start of the round, GM Gawain Jones tweeted:

But the round got going pretty soon, and all four games were fun to watch.

The round started with Andreikin beating Topalov rather quickly and rather convincingly. The young Russian repeated his Nbd2 against the Queen's Gambit Declined which he had also played against Kramnik in Dortmund last year, and Topalov decided to put his bishop on e7 instead of g7. 

On move 10 Topalov could have sacrificed a pawn for decent compensation, but instead he chose something more complicated: allowing a c-pawn to c6 (which he had himself against Kramnik the other day!) but forcing the enemy king to d1. That turned out to be no problem at all for White.

“I thought it was good for me but of course it's not so simple because I underestimated the plan of going with the king slowly to a2. In fact White is solid and it's not so easy to create counterplay,” said Topalov, who basically lost without a fight after that.

PGN string

Vishy Anand was defending his lead with the black pieces against Svidler, but in no time it looked more like attacking! In a 4.d3 Berlin he got a knight to f4 as early as move 14, and there Svidler thought for 40 minutes.

It started to look quite promising for Black, but Svidler played precisely.

Anand had seen the flashy pawn capture 20...Rxf2, but Houdini's healthy +0.8 evaluation is somewhat misleading because at the board it looks extremely dangerous. The same goes for a line starting with 22...g5. No, Anand took some wise decisions and seemed to get some practical chances anyway when he played a positional queen sacrifice, but even there White was OK.

“Unless I have something immediate, maybe I don't have anything. I was briefly optimistic, but then I couldn't see a plan,” said Anand. “I started out by thinking I'm slightly worse, but then I thought: why?” - Svidler.

PGN string

Whereas some chess fans don't like to see the word “luck” in reports like this, GM Hein Donner used to say “Chess is and will always be a game of chance.” Well, the first thing Kramnik said at the press conference was that he had been lucky! But if you look at his position around move 27, his win was fully justified.

Mamedyarov, who played the Ragozin Defense, was basically outprepared. His 14...b5 pawn push was instructively refuted by Kramnik, who must have enjoyed the knight maneuver Nd2-b1-c3! blocking the passsed c-pawn and attacking the weak d5 pawn. White was soon strategically winning, but Kramnik “got too relaxed”, in his own words, and then miscalculated 29.e4 which he thought was a “forced win”.

Mamedyarov came back into the game with 31...g5!, when the ending was extremely complicated. More mistakes by Kramnik followed, and after the time control he was simply losing and virtually 1,5 points behind Anand and possibly Aronian.

But Kramnik had Caissa by his side, as Mamedyarov lost his concentration in a position where he thought everything was winning for him. With his opponent's king in a mating net, Mamedyarov spoilt the win with one move, and then threw away a draw the very next.

A very welcome change of events for Kramnik, who is now just half a point behind the leaders halfway through the tournament!

Yes, “leaders” in plural this time, since Aronian managed to catch Anand today. The Armenian won an excellent game as Black against Karjakin. In another 4.d3 Berlin the position was about equal at move 15, but there Karjakin missed an intermediate move and Black got some kind of initiative.

According to Aronian it wasn't that terrible for White if he had played 23.Bf2, but Karjakin continuned to make tiny inaccuracies. Few people would have been able to profit, but the world number two kept on finding the most annoying replies and suddenly White couldn't avoid loss of material. “Somehow the tactics didn't work in my favor,” said Karjakin.

PGN string

And so the tournament is at half-time, with Anand and Aronian in the lead. Because the Indian won their mutual game, he would have qualified if it was a single round robin. However, already tomorrow, in the first game of the second half, Aronian as White will have a chance to level their score and grab sole lead instead! The other games are Kramnik-Andreikin, Svidler-Karjakin and Topalov-Mamedyarov.

A few prominent tweeters have made their appearance in this report already, but if you're interested in more, don't miss Eric van Reem's Chess in Tweets!

FIDE Candidates’ 2014 | Pairings & Results

Round 1 13.03.14 15:00 MSK   Round 8 22.03.14 15:00 MSK
Andreikin ½-½ Kramnik   Kramnik - Andreikin
Karjakin ½-½ Svidler   Svidler - Karjakin
Mamedyarov ½-½ Topalov   Topalov - Mamedyarov
Anand 1-0 Aronian   Aronian - Anand
Round 2 14.03.14 15:00 MSK   Round 9 23.03.14 15:00 MSK
Kramnik 1-0 Karjakin   Karjakin - Kramnik
Svidler 1-0 Andreikin   Andreikin - Svidler
Topalov ½-½ Anand   Anand - Topalov
Aronian 1-0 Mamedyarov   Mamedyarov - Aronian
Round 3 15.03.14 15:00 MSK   Round 10 25.03.14 15:00 MSK
Andreikin ½-½ Karjakin   Karjakin - Andreikin
Svidler ½-½ Kramnik   Kramnik - Svidler
Topalov ½-½ Aronian   Aronian - Topalov
Mamedyarov 0-1 Anand   Anand - Mamedyarov
Round 4 17.03.14 15:00 MSK   Round 11 26.03.14 15:00 MSK
Mamedyarov 1-0 Andreikin   Andreikin - Mamedyarov
Karjakin ½-½ Topalov   Topalov - Karjakin
Aronian 1-0 Svidler   Svidler - Aronian
Anand ½-½ Kramnik   Kramnik - Anand
Round 5 18.03.14 15:00 MSK   Round 12 27.03.14 15:00 MSK
Andreikin ½-½ Anand   Anand - Andreikin
Karjakin ½-½ Mamedyarov   Mamedyarov - Karjakin
Svidler 1-0 Topalov   Topalov - Svidler
Kramnik ½-½ Aronian   Aronian - Kramnik
Round 6 19.03.14 15:00 MSK   Round 13 29.03.14 15:00 MSK
Aronian ½-½ Andreikin   Andreikin - Aronian
Anand ½-½ Karjakin   Karjakin - Anand
Mamedyarov 1-0 Svidler   Svidler - Mamedyarov
Topalov 1-0 Kramnik   Kramnik - Topalov
Round 7 21.03.14 15:00 MSK   Round 14 30.03.14 15:00 MSK
Karjakin 0-1 Aronian   Aronian - Karjakin
Svidler ½-½ Anand   Anand - Svidler
Kramnik 1-0 Mamedyarov   Mamedyarov - Kramnik
Andreikin 1-0 Topalov   Topalov - Andreikin 

FIDE Candidates’ 2014 | Round 7 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pts SB
1 Anand,V 2770 2872 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 4.5 15.5
2 Aronian,L 2830 2864 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1 4.5 14
3 Kramnik,V 2787 2818 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 1 4 13.25
4 Svidler,P 2758 2772 ½ 0 ½ 1 1 0 ½ 3.5 11.5
5 Topalov,V 2785 2718 ½ ½ 1 0 0 ½ ½ 3 11.25
6 Andreikin,D 2709 2729 ½ ½ ½ 0 1 0 ½ 3 10.75
7 Mamedyarov,S 2757 2722 0 0 0 1 ½ 1 ½ 3 9.25
8 Karjakin,S 2766 2669 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.5 8.5

The 2014 FIDE Candidates’ Tournament is an 8-player double round robin with 4 rest days. The dates are March 13th-31st, 2014. Each day the rounds start at 15:00 local time which is 10:00 CET, 04:00 EST and 01:00 PST. The winner will have the right to challenge World Champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway in a world title match which is scheduled to take place in November 2014. 

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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


Fireblade's picture

Fascinating round to say the least !
It really is Aronian's tournament to lose now !
Anand has to move up a gear now but with black against Aronian and Kramnik there may not be much gas left....well at least he tried.

Gregorov Lubiesky's picture

Anand's shining in the first part was only due to the WCC 2013 preparations left over (unused). He definitely is not part of the young innovatively playing generation that can press for a win by mounting minor advantages. It is evident that, when playing with Anand, the only thing an opponent need to make sure is to deprive him of clear or big chances and Anand enters into the draw path eventually. This is the handicap that kicked him out of the tournaments winning elite group. With this handicap, Anand cannot continue his supremacy in this (or any) tournament. It is only downhill for him in this tournament. Even Carlsen pointed this out slightly in his recent video journal on the Candidates. Contrarily, Aronian is a genuine fighter and takes one game at a time, and explores it in the best professional and innovative way. Yes, it indeed creates some losses for him at times. But, they are rare. Aronian deserves to win this tournament. Anand's winning this tournament has no point as his style of play is ancient and unfitting to the current chess world. He belongs in the chess museum.

Septimus's picture

I agree with you 100%

ThomasRichter's picture

Anand's performance is a surprise, and the nature of surprise is to fade away.

grandma's picture

A nice surprise after being crushed by Carlsen, but hardly enough to win the tournament.

Mohit Sharma's picture

Carlsen felt that Anand's win on Aronian was pure technique, and same for his second win.

sam's picture

well said. For Vishy, That's why it's very difficult to reach 2800 for him. even if he reach he would slide down very fast back to his old 2770-2780 bracket. He is more of a memory or preparation based. He got back fired with intuition based Carlsen.

James's picture
Gregorov Lubiesky's picture

Also, I'm worried that the Russian cheating machine will start functioning from now on. Be prepared to see, Kramnik winning all his games against the russian counterparts, where as the same russian players will play very agressively against Aronian and Anand, to force them enter into complicated positions, drain them out and even make them lose or draw. Even keeping Anand and Aronian flat would be more than enough to push Kramnik up to the top. There is no way Kramnik is going to go home empty this time, particularly when the tournament is happening in Russia.

Septimus's picture

It has started happening already.

Anonymous's picture

There's much at stake, Kirsan has talken openly about how important it is that the Candidates has a Russian winner, and that it should be easier to accomplish with four Russians in the field.

Anonymous's picture

Kramnik vs Karjakin was very easy win, would anyone bet on Kramnik not beating Andreikin just as easily tomorrow? :)

Anonymous's picture

It could not be more obvious that the fix is in

Morley's picture

Kramnik will win or will be made to win this time.

 Anon's picture

Well, at least the BS and trolling machinery seems to be running like a charm...

grandma's picture

@Gregorov Lubiesky

Do you think so? I can hardly believe that and hope that it's not the case, so I strongly hope that you're wrong, and that the tournament will be decided in a fair way.
Cheating is indeed very counterproductive in any sport.

Well, we'll see.

Anonymous's picture

Well duh! Let's all pretend that the corrupt president of FIDE didn't begin the tournament by saying that a Russian must win. That way we call all pretend this is fair contest without kramnick being the beneficiary, as he says, of "luck".

Anonymous's picture

Hahaha Carlsen fanboys desperate because Vladdy will take his title back where it belongs, soon we will have worthy Champ again!

JRC's picture

@ Gregorov Lubiesky

The cheats are not playing in candidates - the only ones I see are you and Septimus.

Anonymous's picture

Mamed took a dive, per putin.

Thomas Richter's picture

Last time, who told another Azeri, Radjabov, to lose against Carlsen - followed by cheerfully saying in the press conference that this is good for the tournament?

Anonymous's picture

Shame on Radjabov for throwing game!

Snja's picture

This game was certainly the most shocking of the round

Tyke's picture

Wait for next 3 rounds when the 3 Russians will throw their games against Kramnik to help him win

Jeff's picture

Silvio, we recognized you :D

Kadur's picture

He got a point , this is exactly what happened last candidates. The biggest expert on Grunfeld suddenly forgot how to play , and the only player in history who won blitz world championship twice , considered by many as the best player in time trouble live today (maybe in history) blundered an endgame that 2500IM should have draw .

I hope those of you (mostly Carlsen fanboys ) understand today that although other Russians speakers also participate , they are not all in the same group. Try to imagine what would happen if Ivanchuck would qualify for this tournament ...

Jeff's picture

Rather a tinfoil hat than a point.

Kramnik is one of the biggest experts around in QGD and yet he did not know anymore how to play it against Topalov, going down without a fight. Was that game fixed?

In candidates 2013 Aronian made an incredible blunder against Kramnik in a position that he would normally calculate easily until the end. Another fixed game?

Anonymous's picture

Indeed. Yet more irrefutable evidence of the Russians conspiring to sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids...

Mohit Sharma's picture

Haha, thank you for the comment.

Jorge's picture

Ivanchuk defeated Carlsen AND Kramnik.

Where is your conspiracy?

Anonymous's picture

Ivanchuk isn't Russian though.

Anonymous's picture

Chucks would m
Not take a dive like shak

Septimus's picture

I guess Kramnik won't mention "lucky" this time around because he won. It is only when he loses that others are lucky.

alex's picture

In fact that was the first thing he said...

Anonymous's picture

And he was very lucky. 48...Kg6 was completly winning for Mame.

Anonymous's picture

There is no luck in chess, Kramnik was just the better later of the two and won deservedly.

Anonymous's picture

better player

Huy's picture

Oh, yes, chess is basically a game based on luck, you just don't know the justification yet.

celso's picture


Anonymous's picture

and shak did already- low blow ruski - cry-me-a river etc

Jeff's picture

Great tournament so far and this round was brilliant. Every game was interesting and complex.

Andreikin's jujutsu win and Kramnik's turnaround win were lovely.

Terrance's picture

Thrilled that Aronian won! But it would have been even better if Mamedyarov didn't give away that win! Oh well, I like Aronians chances since he will have the white pieces versus he two closest rivals!

Anonymous's picture

Mame being paid ?!?!?!? you're not from planet earth !

Just so you know...'s picture

Mamedyarov is Azerbaijani, not Russian.

Anonymous's picture

Truly ignorant statement.

Anonymous's picture

Ignorant of what?

Anonymous's picture

... A subjugated Russian territory

Anonymous's picture

Topalov will probably defeat kramnik at any cost

Septimus's picture

I hope so too. I'm not a fan of Topa's past antics but by god, Kramnik needs to be crushed in the most aggressive way possible.

Anonymous's picture

Don't really understand the Kramnik hating; if we were to 'anonymise' the games played at London Candidates, nobody could doubt that Kramnik played the most enterprising chess.
Personally, I didn't care for his chess too much before that tournament, but seeing the way he reinvented his style and gave such a heroic performance, in a way that was exactly what chess fans crave, has made me a life-long fan (not at the expense of admiring others though!).
Good luck to him and the rest of the Candidates - keep it up!


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