2013 World Chess Candidates (London, ENG)

Fédération Internationale des Échecs  (FIDE)

The World Chess Candidates Tournament begins today completing the final stage in determining who will face World Champion Viswanathan Anand later this year. If we look at this objectively, there are eight players in the field and eight players with a legitimate chance to win. There are no easy outs here as the eight-seed was the last challenger to Anand. There is a good mixture of youth and experience and all of the players are tough fighters.

FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov declares the opening of the tournament. Photo by Ray Morris-Hill: https://raymorris-hill.smugmug.com/

Each of the Candidates qualified through various methods. Loser of 2012 Championship Match (Boris Gelfand); three players qualified on ELO rating (Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik, Levon Aronian); three players (Peter Svidler, Alexander Grischuk and Vassily Ivanchuk) coming from the 2011 World Cup; one nominee (Teimour Radjabov). (See more on candidates here)

While the cycle has been through an number of palpitations, there are not many who will debate the strength and representativeness of the field. Certainly future cycles will include more diversity from other regions as there are a number of young promising players looking for a shot at glory. Hikaru Nakamura, Fabiano Caruana, Anish Giri, Wang Hao, Wesley So and many other aspirants will certainly be taking notes.

Is this Magnus Carlsen’s time? Many believe so.
Photo by Ray Morris-Hill

Chessvibes ran an interesting story on predictions of the candidates by selected Grandmasters which included a far-reaching poll asking respondents who is likely to win and a whopping 57% chose Magnus Carlsen as the consensus pick. Levon Aronian was a distant second at 15.67% and Vladimir Kramnik at 8.9%. (see results)

The tournament will begin today March 15th and extend through April 4th (including tiebreaks). There will be four rest days (one after every three rounds) and the time control will be 40 moves in 2 hours, 20 moves in 1 hour and 15 minutes to finish the game, with 30 seconds increment from move 61. The total prize fund is €510,000.

Opening Ceremony

Official Site: https://london2013.fide.com/
Photo by Ray Morris-Hill: https://raymorris-hill.smugmug.com/

2013 World Championship Candidates Tournament
March 15th-April 2nd 2013 (London, England)
#
Name
Title
Federation
Flag
Rating
1 Carlsen, Magnus GM Norway
2872
2 Kramnik, Vladimir GM Russia
2810
3 Aronian, Levon GM Armenia
2809
4 Radjabov, Teimour GM Azerbaijan
2793
5 Grischuk, Alexander GM Russia
2764
6 Ivanchuk Vassily GM Ukraine
2757
5 Svidler, Peter GM Russia
2747
8 Gelfand, Boris GM Israel
2740
Official Site

Daaim Shabazz

Daaim Shabazz is the founder of The Chess Drum, while serving as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds a B.S. Computer Science from Chicago State University, an MBA in Marketing and a Ph.D. in International Affairs & Development, both from Clark Atlanta University. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

57 Comments

  1. Round #1
    Friday, 15 March 2013

    Is this Vassily’s last chance?
    Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    Preview: Tough matchups today with Aronian-Carlsen headlining the round. The two have played 32 matches with Carlsen on +3. Aronian lost to Carlsen at the 2013 London Classic before holding a draw in 2013 Tata Steel. He will be attempting to surprise Carlsen in the opening. Gelfand-Radjabov looks to be an interesting match with two fierce fighters unafraid to enter complications. Radjabov has a +4 score against Gelfand with four wins coming with black. In Ivanchuk-Grischuk, we have two of the most enigmatic figures in the field. The first three rounds will determine which Ivanchuk will show up… the world beater or someone who is unsure of his place in the field. This may be his last shot at the world title and while deserving, he will have to earn it. Consolation is that he has never lost to Grischuk. Svidler-Kramnik… interesting matchup. Svidler has a two game winning streak against Kramnik winning in the 2011 Tal Memorial and 2011 Russian Superfinal giving Svidler his 6th Russian title.

    2013 World Championship Candidates
    March 15th-April 4th, 2013 (London, England)
    Round #1
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    1.1 Aronian
    2809
    ½-½
    Carlsen
    2872
    1.2 Gelfand
    2740
    ½-½
    Radjabov
    2793
    1.3 Ivanchuk
    2757
    ½-½
    Grischuk
    2764
    1.4 Svidler
    2747
    ½-½
    Kramnik
    2810
    Games

    Aronian and Carlsen trot out opening moves. The battle was anti-climatic and drawn in only 31 moves. Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    Overview: There were four draws in the first round of the World Chess Candidates as it appeared that no one took any real risk this early in the tournament. Svidler-Kramnik finished in a spartan 23 moves as the two repeated moves in a Grunfeld (without …Bg7). Aronian-Carlsen was the next game to finish shortly after the required 30-move limit for draws. Carlsen played a Bogo-Indian, deviating from the King’s Indian that almost cost him a point at the Tata Steel tournament. The two waded the waters but made no real waves. Aronian’s 17. a4 Qxb4 18. axb5 axb5 19. Qb1 forced a rather rapid liquidation and they shook hands at move 31. In another Bogo-Indian Gelfand-Radjabov had dynamic tension, but white was unable to make anything of his space. In Ivanchuk-Grischuk, white trotted out a Catalan variation, but got nothing substantial and black equalized rather quickly. GM Daniel King stated that it was a psychological strategy for everyone to get on the board.

    Official Site: https://london2013.fide.com/
    Photos by Ray Morris-Hill: https://raymorris-hill.smugmug.com/

    Video by GM Daniel King.

  2. Long live the chess drum!

    The lineup as you say is strong, yet I and many others would like to see a different selection process. A world championship should only allow one player per country. Would anyone not agree Bobby F is rolling over in the grave in regards to the number of russians in the lineup? Looks like a replay of the cold war days of chess when BF took on the iron curtain machine. 6 out of 8 contestants fall within the former boundary on the so called evil empire. The more things change the more they stay the same applies here.

  3. This is not the Olympics, and certainly not the place for national restrictions. The world championship should be contested by the best players, regardless of their current (or previous) FIDE flag.

    If you want to be the world champion, you should have to beat the best players on the planet, and I defy anyone to tell me that any of these players aren’t qualified to be in London on objective merit. The lowest-rated participant? All he did was win the Candidates’ Matches in the previous cycle.

    If we can’t have candidates’ matches, this is definitely the next best thing. If you don’t want the Russians to dominate the WC, then beat them – like Fischer and Anand did, and like Carlsen is attempting to do.

  4. I agree with Boyd Reed. What if every top 20 player in the world besides Carlsen and Anand was from the former Evil Empire (which is not a very far-fetched scenario)? Would you exclude all but one of them just to keep nations balanced?

    I would like to see someone from China’s very strong field though…

  5. Seven out of eight players are from the former Soviet Union. There are three players from modern-day Russia and they all qualified through the various methods. Russia is no longer at the top of chess and they will struggle to gain any form of dominance since the talent has reached several nations. There is no need to limit the number of players based on federation. The World Cup is a knockout tournament in which 50+ nations are represented. So there is a chance to see diversity… and in the next 10 years, we will see more of it. Asia will certainly be in that number.

  6. Round #2
    Saturday, 16 March 2013

    Preview: Another tough matchup today with the top seeds going to battle. Carlsen-Kramnik is an important match because both are getting the tough battles out of the way early. If one should lose, then there is time to recuperate and rally. Kramnik still has a plus score against Carlsen and looks to maintain his advantage. Will this be a damp squib or will it be a war to end all wars? Probably somewhere in between. Grischuk-Svidler will be another Russian derby as we saw Svidler-Kramnik last round. Grischuk has had trouble against Svidler with one won, seven losses and sixteen draws. This is certainly a good opportunity to Grischuk to turn the tables. Radjabov-Ivanchuk has a chance to be a thriller. With a roughly equal score, there have been a number of interesting battles covering a variety of opening such as the English, Benko Gambit and a number of Sicilians. Looks like another interesting battle brewing. Aronian-Gelfand have primarily stayed in the Queen’s Gambit discussion. Their last TEN games have featured this opening. Aronian may look for a surprise in this game hoping to catch Gelfand napping. Maybe Armenia’s famous preparation will shine through.

    2013 World Championship Candidates
    March 13th-April 4th, 2013 (London, England)
    Round #2
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    2.1 Carlsen
    2872
    ½-½
    Kramnik
    2810
    2.2 Grischuk
    2764
    ½-½
    Svidler
    2747
    2.3 Radjabov
    2793
    1-0
    Ivanchuk
    2757
    2.4 Aronian
    2809
    1-0
    Gelfand
    2740

    Aronian breaks out into the lead.
    Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    Overview: Two decisive games today in London… both of them were seen as games that could be decisive. Firstly, Aronian-Gelfand had some bite right out of the opening and rustled up a pawn plus. It appeared as if Gelfand could hold but then the zinger with 26.Bh6+! and 30.g4! resulting in a beautiful zugzwang position. In Radjabov-Ivanchuk, the Azeri came up with a nice remedy verus the Dutch Defense. In the press conference, Radjabov discussed some of the intricacies of the position as black soon came under pressure and at a point had to fianchetto his rook. With white’s grip on the position black’s position collapsed after donating his queen for two pieces. Carlsen-Kramnik had no such venom and the games was drawn unceremoniously in the minimum 30 moves. Grischuk-Svidler was actually a very interesting battle that petered out into a drawn opposite-colored bishop ending.

    Video by Macauley Peterson.

  7. Regrettably, Naka did not qualify, but I hope he continues to press on. I am making it my business to study the games of Carlsen, Fisher, Kasparov and the other greats in great details. With every goal, the preparation has to starts very early. There’s no reason why after so many years, there has never been a player of African Descent who has qualified for the world championship. Barriers have been broken in golf and it surely can be done in chess. I would not be fully satisfied to see my son with an IM and GM title. I think like the Russians, the Chinese and the Indians. If you’re going to go for it, go all the way. Otherwise, try something else.

    1. Guy,

      There have been Africans to qualify for the World Cup, a World Championship qualifier, but they never go past the first round. Watu Kobese, Amon Simutowe, Robert Gwaze and Stanley Chumfwa have all played. There have been some interesting results including Watu Kobese beating GM Peter Leko.

  8. Cleveland,

    Nakamura did not play in the zonal tournament which would have qualified him for the 128-player 2011 World Cup tournament. He would have had to place in the top three. Three players also qualified on ELO rating. Gelfand qualified because he was the challenger in the last championship match. Lastly Radjabov was hand-picked.

  9. Thanks Guy and Daaim! Guy, I was thinking about your comments about chess achievements and wondering among the elite players just how much of their success is due to a team approach. I understood in the past the Russians took national pride in chess research and new concepts were not to be share with the outside world except at game time. I have often wondered if Nakamura achievements will be limited because of a lack of a superior team approach. Just a thought.
    cpercy

    1. Thanks for sharing Cleveland, i think your right about the team approach thing it gives them an edge. I was kinda wondering about that myself by the look of some of the results in the top events. He seems to scoe well with just littlejohn if i recall the name.

  10. Cleveland,
    I can only guess on this subject. I think that being able to integrate the talents of others into your own game is matter of individuality. It may work for some and may not for others. It seemed to have worked for past and current champions like: Anand and Kasparov. So, in due course, if Nakamaura is able to make it to the championship stage, I think he should at least give it a try.

  11. Round #3
    Sunday, 17 March 2013

    2013 World Championship Candidates
    March 15th-April 4th, 2013 (London, England)
    Round #3
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    3.1 Gelfand
    2740
    0-1
    Carlsen
    2872
    3.2 Ivanchuk
    2757
    0-1
    Aronian
    2809
    3.3 Svidler
    2747
    1-0
    Radjabov
    2793
    3.4 Kramnik
    2810
    ½-½
    Grischuk
    2764

    Overview: Today’s games showed energy and ambition… with mixed results. Vassily Ivanchuk was attempting to change his course after losing a tough game yesterday. Today his experiment against Levon Aronian was punished. The Armenian played the best game of the tournament thus far with a number of hammerblows to capitalize on Ivanchuk’s draconian 9. h4 attack. This approach didn’t appear to fit with the setup. Aronian shifted the action to the queenside with a thunderous 14…b5! hoping that 15.Bxb5 Qb6 gives black an easy game.

    Moves later, black used the pawn as a battering ram with 18…b4! (Diagram #1) White’s king got stuck in the center and soon black’s pieces were buzzing dangerously about the board. The final break of 29…e5 (Diagram #2) was an ambitious attempt to shatter two pawn islands at once. While aesthetically beautiful, it turns out that this was ill-advised.

    It is doubtful that Aronian was playing for the clock since he condemned such actions in the press conference. Nevertheless, Ivanchuk had his king dangling in the wind and black’s queen lead a demolition forcing resignation. In the final position, black would play …Bf8 at some point and the swords were poised to skewer the exposed king.

    Magnus Carlsen got his first win by persisting to grind down a beleaguered Boris Gelfand. In what appeared to be a rather equal ending, the world #1 ended up using his pawn majority and a well-placed knight in the center of the board to bring Gelfand’s position to a collapse. Carlsen keeps pace with Aronian with a win. Long tournament, but it’s important for Carlsen to keep sights on Aronian who seems to be in magnificent form.

    Radjabov was punished for his overambition… Svidler is joint 2nd on 2/3.
    Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    Svidler-Radjabov resembled a Benko Gambit. However, black ended up playing for a queenside initiative that never materialized and white ended up on the stronger side of two minors against a rook. Svidler ending up with a mating attack forcing Radjabov to sacrifice an exchange and resign a few moves later.

    Kramnik-Grischuk got nothing out of their Grunfeld conversation.

    Videoby GM Daniel King.

    Official Site: https://london2013.fide.com/
    Photos by Ray Morris-Hill: https://raymorris-hill.smugmug.com/
    Drum Coverage: https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2013/03/15/2013-world-championship-candidates-london/

    Standings

    Levon Aronian, 2.5/3 (+2 -0 =1), Peter Svidler, 2/3 (+1 -0 =2), Magnus Carlsen, 2/3 (+1 -0 =2), Alexander Grischuk, 1.5/3 (+0 -0 =3), Teimour Radjabov, 1.5/3 (+1 -1 =1), Vladimir Kramnik, 1.5/3 (+0 -0 =3), Boris Gelfand 0.5/3 (+0 -2 =1), Vassily Ivanchuk, 0.5/3 (+0 -2 =1)

  12. Round #4
    Tuesday, 19 March 2013

    GM Nigel Short was in the commentator’s booth. Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    Preview: After the first rest day, Levon Aronian seems to be the most fit for the occasion as he has played energetically in the first three rounds. Both Magnus Carlsen and Peter Svidler are coming off of impressive wins to let the Armenian know that he won’t simply run away. In fact, Svidler will have a chance to stop Aronian’s march in this round. In the meantime, Carlsen will face Alexander Grischuk, a player trying to find his form. The two have only played seven classical games with Carlsen at +1.

    Teimour Radjabov and Vladimir Kramnik will pawn off in only their 16th encounter. The Russian is on +2 with 17 draws (11 consecutive including Istanbul Olympiad). Gelfand-Ivanchuk will be a tough fight as both seem to be off form a bit. If Ivanchuk loses a third game, that could become a big psychological blow.

    2013 World Championship Candidates
    March 15th-April 4th, 2013 (London, England)
    Round #4
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    4.1 Carlsen
    2872
    1-0
    Grischuk
    2764
    4.2 Radjabov
    2793
    ½-½
    Kramnik
    2810
    4.3 Aronian
    2809
    ½-½
    Svidler
    2747
    4.4 Gelfand
    2740
    ½-½
    Ivanchuk
    2757

    Overview: The inevitable has happened. Magnus Carlsen has closed the gap on the field by winning against Alexander Grischuk in a rather smooth game. In this game, white essayed the Ruy Lopez avoiding the complications of the Berlin and got a very comfortable position for his pieces. Meanwhile black played 17.f5?! which became came under fire in the post-mortem.

    Magnus Carlsen on the march! Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    Magnus Carlsen is on the march with two straight wins.
    Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    Grischuk then conjured up complications after sacrificing an exchange for rook penetration. Carlsen remained cool as a cucumber and simply repelled the attack. GM Nigel Short and IM Lawrent Trent came up with a number of fantasy variations and there were variations where black had chances in some variations (including a queen sacrifice on g2 with 30…Qxg2+). Dogged by time pressure, Grischuk was unable to find any complications and Carlsen simply consolidated and collected the point.

    Gelfand-Ivanchuk was a wild affair coming out of the Chigorin Defense and an even wilder game ensued with unbalanced and dynamic play. It appeared that black had a lot of activity and that white’s kingside pieces were sitting idle. This slothful treatment of the position almost cost Gelfand the full point as Ivanchuk bore down on the queenside.

    The engines screamed 25…exd5 when they spit out 25…Rc2!? as a better alternative, but it does not seem to grant a winning initiative. Despite being a piece up, Gelfand could not use his advantage to protect his king and had to yield a three-fold repetition. These two veterans are back on the right track.

    The final position says a lot about the tone of the game… rather equal throughout.

    In Radjabov-Kramnik, it looked as if someone’s head would fall, but the game ended peacefully. One thing coming out of this game is an instructive lesson of how to play against hanging pawns. White was not able to create any space with a pawn thrust as black stayed very active.

    Aronian-Svidler was never in any doubt… a rather uneventful draw. Svidler’s 10…Rb8 was a part of home preparation involving a long pawn sacrifice. This may not have been a good result for Aronian as Svidler had no problems and the final position is proof. In the post-mortem, Svidler stated,

    “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.”

    Svidler will not be able to rest much. He has Gelfand tomorrow and Carlsen BEFORE the second rest day. It was noted that Svidler looked to be in great physical condition. He will need his extra stamina as both will be tough encounters. Each game in round five will have its own subplot… Ivanchuk-Carlsen, Svidler-Gelfand, Kramnik-Aronian, Grischuk-Radjabov.

    Videos by Macauley Peterson.

    Video by GM Daniel King.

    Official Site: https://london2013.fide.com/
    Photos by Ray Morris-Hill: https://raymorris-hill.smugmug.com/
    Drum Coverage: https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2013/03/15/2013-world-championship-candidates-london/

    Standings

    Magnus Carlsen, 3/4 (+2 -0 =2), Levon Aronian, 3/4 (+2 -0 =2), Peter Svidler, 2.5/4 (+1 -0 =3), Vladimir Kramnik, 2/4 (+0 -0 =4), Teimour Radjabov, 2/4 (+1 -1 =2), Alexander Grischuk, 1.5/4 (+0 -1 =3), Boris Gelfand 1/4 (+0 -2 =2), Vassily Ivanchuk, 1/4 (+0 -2 =2)

  13. Thanks for the information Daaim. Now that chess seems to be really catching on in Africa, the Caribbean, USA and many other places, there is hope that one day we will see a player of African Descent go further than round one of a championship qualifier.

  14. Sensational! This only proves even more that it’s not a matter of whether it can be done, but a matter of when. It’s been almost 12 years since IM Watu Kobese stunned the 2700 + Leko. It’s time to start stirring things up again!

  15. Round #5
    Wednesday, 20 March 2013

    Preview: Lots of subplots in this round. Magnus Carlsen has a two game winning streak, but he is facing a tricky opponent… Vassily “The Vanquisher” Ivanchuk. The Ukranian has been beaten handily by Carlsen and is on -6 in classical play, but he has a chance to change the complexion of the event with a win. Even a draw would be good given the head-to-head account. Svidler-Gelfand will see two players of similar styles. Svidler has a +3 advantage and has lost to Gelfand only once since 2001 (… at the 2008 Tal Memorial).

    Vladimir Kramnik will be tested by Aronian. Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    Vladimir Kramnik will be tested by Aronian.
    Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    Kramnik-Aronian will be a classical battle between titans separated by only one ELO point. This could be a key match in the tournament since both will be watching Carlsen. Kramnik has handled Aronian very well, but the Armenian will come well-prepared. Kramnik last defeated Aronian at the Istanbul Olympiad, but that did not stop the Armenians from winning gold. Will Aronian exact revenge?

    Grischuk-Radjabov is a battle by two young players who have competed against each other since their junior days. Their record is about even, but both are trying to find a good playing rhythm. Grischuk seems a bit sluggish this tournament. His loss against Carlsen was unnecessary as he was impulsive. This game will most likely see a decisive result.

    2013 World Championship Candidates
    March 15th-April 4th, 2013 (London, England)
    Round #5
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    5.1 Ivanchuk
    2757
    ½-½
    Carlsen
    2872
    5.2 Svidler
    2747
    ½-½
    Gelfand
    2740
    5.3 Kramnik
    2810
    ½-½
    Aronian
    2809
    5.4 Grischuk
    2764
    ½-½
    Radjabov
    2793

    Overview: Craaaaazy round of chess today in London. All games were drawn but it is uncertain if anyone on earth can explain these games. Vassily Ivanchuk appeared to have Magnus Carlsen in a headlock against the Grunfeld Defense, but the Norwegian was able to secure the balance and the half-point.

    This rather serene photo was in contrast to the tornado on the board against Gelfand. Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    This rather classic and serene photo of Peter Svidler was in contrast to the tornado he unfurled on the board against Boris Gelfand. Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    Svidler-Gelfand was absolutely a brawl as the Russian befuddled the commentators with a series of moves 18. d5 cxd5 19. O-O-O d4 20. Nb5 Qd5 21. Qh3 Rfc8+ 22. Kb1 Rc6! and now GM Nigel Short was gobsmacked by 23. e6!?! Both he and IM Lawrence Trent worked out a few lines and upon further examination, it was apparent that Svidler had conjured up some complications. However, the game would fizzled out quickly when both sacrificed their queen within a few moves of each other. Thrilling!!

    Kramnik-Aronian was an interesting encounter as the Russian essayed his “Killer Catalan”. After some middlegame tension, the game saw mass exchanges and an opposite-colored bishop ending where black was able to blockade two connected passed pawns rather easily. Instructive endgame lesson.

    This rather serene photo was in contrast to the tornado on the board against Gelfand. Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    Vladimir Kramnik in battle against Levon Aronian.
    Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    Another unbalanced game in Grischuk-Radjabov, but no decisive result. Radjabov attempted a piece sacrifice with 34…Bxc5 35.bxc5 Qxc5 for three connected passed pawns. As the black pawns mobilized in a formation, the white knight (after 40.Nd1) started galloping around the board and came back just as the pawns were ready to roll forward. The knight return the sacrifice for two pawns and they shook hands a couple of moves later.

    Videos by Macauley Peterson.

    Official Site: https://london2013.fide.com/
    Photos by Ray Morris-Hill: https://raymorris-hill.smugmug.com/
    Drum Coverage: https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2013/03/15/2013-world-championship-candidates-london/

    Standings

    Levon Aronian, 3.5/5 (+2 -0 =3), Magnus Carlsen, 3.5/5 (+2 -0 =3), Peter Svidler, 3/5 (+1 -0 =4), Vladimir Kramnik, 2.5/5 (+0 -0 =5), Teimour Radjabov, 2.5/5 (+1 -1 =3), Alexander Grischuk, 2/5 (+0 -1 =4), Boris Gelfand 1.5/5 (+0 -2 =3), Vassily Ivanchuk, 1.5/5 (+0 -2 =3)

  16. Round #6
    Thursday, 21 March 2013

    Alexander Grischuk attempts to redeem yesterday’s loss. Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    Preview: An in-form Svidler will take on Magnus Carlsen after having played a maniacal game against Boris Gelfand last round. He holds a +2 advantage over Carlsen in classical play and may look to press the issue a bit. Kramnik-Ivanchuk should be interesting as these contemporaries have had many great battles… Kramnik on +4 winning 4/4 with white. Kramnik however has not beaten Ivanchuk in 12 years (with one loss). Grischuk-Gelfand will be an interesting struggle and perhaps the marquee match of the round, Radjabov-Aronian. Both are amazingly resourceful, but Aronian has as much courage to press with black as with white.

    2013 World Championship Candidates
    March 15th-April 4th, 2013 (London, England)
    Round #6
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    6.1 Svidler
    2747
    0-1
    Carlsen
    2872
    6.2 Kramnik
    2810
    ½-½
    Ivanchuk
    2757
    6.3 Grischuk
    2764
    ½-½
    Gelfand
    2740
    6.4 Radjabov
    2793
    0-1
    Aronian
    2809

    Peter Svidler played 33.Qh5 with a nasty threat of 34.Rh8+! but after 33…Qe4 there was nothing left.

    Overview: After six rounds in the World Candidates tournament, separation is beginning to occur. Magnus Carlsen won his third in four games beating Peter Svidler in a rather smooth fashion. Carlsen was able to find nice activity for his pieces and developed some positional advantages. After 24. Nd4 Nxd4 25. Bxd4 exd3 26. Bxd3 Bxd3 27. Rxd3 c5 28. Be5 Rxd3 29. Bxb8 c4 black had a positional advantage. After spotting Svidler’s trick 33. Qh5 (threatening 34.Rh8+ mating), Carlsen began to tighten the screws after 33…Qe4. With Svidler in time pressure he blundered a piece and resigned.

    Final position in Aronian-Radjabov. Aronian played energetically and the star of the game was the “roving rook”.

    Levon Aronian kept pace beating Teimour Radjabov in a game showing his boundless energy. This game was double-edged throughout, but the Azeri player started placing having trouble with his exposed king.

    Aronian made a nice “rover” with Ra8-a6-g6-h6 keeping a bead on the king. That rook then made another maneuver with Rh5-h4-h8-e8-d8-d3 where it helped deliver the finishing blow. Actually Radjabov was holding the position until zeitnot became a factor. He blundered with 53.Nxe5?? and after Aronian’s 53…Qxe4+ 54.Nf3 Nf4+ Radjabov resigned.

    The Armenian seems to have the best form thus far but stated in the press conference that there was still a long way to go and things can change “in seconds”. The Armenia-Azerbaijan rivalry did not seem to interfere with an exciting game and amicable post-mortem.

    Kramnik had fire in his eyes and went for Ivanchuk’s jugular vein. However he had to settle for a perpetual.

    Vladimir Kramnik’s Catalan is usually associated with slow positional grinds and a towering bishop on g2 making mincemeat out of black’s queenside. This game was nothing like this. Kramnik must have eaten spicy food at a Jamaican or Indian restaurant the previous night because he came out breathing fire and a swashbuckling affair.

    In quite an ambitious game, Kramnik sacrificed an exchange with 19. Rxf6 gxf6 20. Nd4 aiming at the weakened king. He then sacrificed a bishop to deflect a defender from the crucial f5-square with 22. Bxc6!? Bxc6 23. Nf5+ Kg6 24. Ra5. Black scrambled his rooks to the kingside in a frantic attempt to save the king. In the nick of time, he made enough room for the king to scamper and Kramnik had to take a perpetual. Thrilling game!

    Grischuk-Gelfand was a wild affair ended in another perpetual after 51. Kf1 Qb1+ 52. Kf2 Qc2+ 53. Kg1 Qb1+ 54. Kf2 Qb2+ 55. Kf1.

    Grischuk-Gelfand was a Sicilian Rossolimo with the Russian playing the more passive line 6.Bf1 instead of 6.Bxc6!? He somehow conjured up an attack with 22. Qg4 Qc7 23. Nd6 Ncxe5 24. Nxe5 but had to go into full retreat after 24…Nf6 25.Qd1 and black netted a pawn after 25…Bxd6 26.Qxa4 Nxh5.

    Grischuk still tried to batter down the walls to the g7-square with 28. Ng4 Nxg4 29. Qxg4 e5 30. f4 Rbe8 31. Re3, but black was able to hold despite kingside weaknesses. The game ended in another perpetual check. Exciting! Four games, four thrillers. Certainly not a repeat of the 27/30 draws in the qualifier.

    Video by GM Daniel King.

    Official Site: https://london2013.fide.com/
    Photos by Ray Morris-Hill: https://raymorris-hill.smugmug.com/
    Drum Coverage: https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2013/03/15/2013-world-championship-candidates-london/

    Standings

    Magnus Carlsen, 4.5/6 (+3 -0 =3), Levon Aronian, 4.5/6 (+3 -0 =3), Vladimir Kramnik, 3/6 (+0 -0 =6), Peter Svidler, 3/6 (+1 -1 =4), Alexander Grischuk, 2.5/6 (+0 -1 =5), Teimour Radjabov, 2.5/6 (+1 -2 =3), Vassily Ivanchuk, 2/6 (+0 -2 =4), Boris Gelfand 2/6 (+0 -2 =4)

  17. Round #7
    Saturday, 23 March 2013

    Will Levon Aronian make a move?
    Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    Preview: After the second rest day we resume play and will see if the spirit play continues. There are some marquee matchups including Carlsen-Radjabov. In fact, all of the games feature pairings players who are close in age and are contemporaries so familiarity will be a factor. Kramnik-Gelfand (48 encounters), Aronian-Grischuk (22 encounters including 1997 when they were both about 15), Ivanchuk-Svidler (32 encounters) and Carlsen-Radjabov (23 encounters).

    The games will prove to be contentious as there is an interesting contrast of styles. It is certain that players realize that this may be the best chance to capture the world title as Viswanathan Anand is in the sunset of his career. The fighting chess is inspiring and most certainly the World Champion is paying close attention.

    2013 World Championship Candidates
    March 15th-April 4th, 2013 (London, England)
    Round #7
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    7.1 Carlsen
    2872
    ½-½
    Radjabov
    2793
    7.2 Gelfand
    2740
    ½-½
    Kramnik
    2810
    7.3 Ivanchuk
    2757
    ½-½
    Svidler
    2747
    7.4 Aronian
    2809
    ½-½
    Grischuk
    2764

    Boris Gelfand missed a great opportunity against Vladimir Kramnik.
    Photo by Anastasiya Karlovich.

    Boris Gelfand may have missed his chance after missing 19.Nfg5! h6 20.Qh5 with a winning attack. Ironically, he analyzed the also-strong 19.Neg5!? h6 20.Bg6! but didn’t play that either, but instead the passive 19.Ned2. The commentators stated that this may be due to a lack of confidence in his current form.

    Overview: While there is a giant ferris wheel in London, this round was more like a roller coaster with three of the games being on the brink of a decisive result. Ivanchuk-Svidler didn’t provide a rich discussion, but Gelfand-Kramnik was stirring when the Israeli had a chance to play the strong 19.Nfg5! with a winning attack.

    After 19…h6 20.Qh5 hxg5 21.Nxg5 Nf6 22.Qxf7+ Kh8 23.Nxe6. The commentary box had gone through this during the game and felt sure Gelfand would play it. Neither player saw it and only looked at 19.Neg5 h6 20.Bg6! This was actually winning as well, but Gelfand played the passive 19.Ned2 and the game fizzled into equilibrium.

    Aronian-Grischuk had a moment when the Armenia had a strong hand after sacrificing a pawn. Unfortunately he was unable to muster up more than a slight edge in the ending and the drama ceased after 43.Bb6. The big match of the day was Carlsen-Radjabov with two contemporaries battling.

    Magnus Carlsen escaped once again after Teimour Radjabov played the winning 22…Ng2! Carlsen was visibly upset despite holding the draw.

    Carlsen opted for the solid anti-Sicilian, but chose a rather strange setup. With the queenside locked, Radjabov took advantage of white’s offside pieces and launched an impressive attack initiated by 19…Bxf3! 20.Qxf3 Nh4! After 21.Qe4 f3 22.g3 Ng2! black had a winning attack. Carlsen had to donate the exchange to avoid a virulent attack with …Qe6, …Qh3 ideas.

    After 23.Nc3 Qe6 Re3 Nxe3 25.fxe3 black was a clear exchange up, but something strange happened. In trying to find a win, Radjabov fell low on time and played 25…f2+? (25…Rf7) 26.Rxf2 Rxf2 27.Kxf2 Rf8+ 28.Ke2 Qh3 29.Qh1 and white was holding. Carlsen was flustered in the post-mortem and did not seem willing to discuss such a position. Radjabov was grasping for a reason that he allowed a save, but he certainly came close. Carlsen’s poor composure during the press conference caused quite a bit of a stir.

    Tomorrow is a new day… seven rounds left.

    Video by Macauley Peterson.

    Official Site: https://london2013.fide.com/
    Photos by Ray Morris-Hill: https://raymorris-hill.smugmug.com/
    Drum Coverage: https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2013/03/15/2013-world-championship-candidates-london/

    Standings

    Magnus Carlsen, 5/7 (+3 -0 =4), Levon Aronian, 5/7 (+3 -0 =4), Vladimir Kramnik, 3.5/7 (+0 -0 =7), Peter Svidler, 3.5/6 7(+1 -1 =5), Alexander Grischuk, 3/7 (+0 -1 =6), Teimour Radjabov, 3/7 (+1 -2 =4), Vassily Ivanchuk, 2.5/7 (+0 -2 =5), Boris Gelfand 2.5/7 (+0 -2 =5)

  18. 2013 World Championship Candidates
    March 15th-April 4th, 2013 (London, England)
    Standings after Round #7
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    1
    2
    3
    4
    5
    6
    7
    8
    Pts.
    1
    Carlsen, M
    2872
    ½
    ½
    1
    1
    ½
    ½
    1
    5.0
    2
    Aronian, L
    2809
    ½
    ½
    ½
    ½
    1
    1
    1
    5.0
    3
    Kramnik, V
    2810
    ½
    ½
    ½
    ½
    ½
    ½
    ½
    3.5
    4
    Svidler, P
    2747
    0
    ½
    ½
    ½
    1
    ½
    ½
    3.5
    5
    Grischuk, A
    2764
    0
    ½
    ½
    ½
    ½
    ½
    ½
    3.0
    6
    Radjabov, T
    2793
    ½
    0
    ½
    0
    ½
    1
    ½
    3.0
    7
    Ivanchuk, V
    2757
    ½
    0
    ½
    ½
    ½
    0
    ½
    2.5
    8
    Gelfand, B
    2740
    0
    0
    ½
    ½
    ½
    ½
    ½
    2.5

  19. Round #8
    Sunday, 24 March 2013

    Magnus Carlsen won against Levon Aronian, but the two share joint 1st after four rounds. Photo by Frits Agterdenbos of ChessVista.

    This was one of two games Magnus Carlsen won against Levon Aronian last year. This game at 2012 Tata Steel and 2012 London Classic catapulted Carlsen over the rating ELO record, but Aronian looks to close the gap. Photo by Frits Agterdenbos of ChessVista.

    Preview: This is the most important game of the tournament thus far. The two leaders will face off in a gladiator battle in the eighth round. Levon Aronian is in good form and Magnus Carlsen is coming off a lackluster performance nearly losing against Teimour Radjabov. It appears that Aronian is well-prepared for this event, but Carlsen seems to be muddling through. We will see if Carlsen’s opening will hold up. The winner of this match will be in a good position.

    Can Vladimir Kramnik break through? It’s getting late. Photo by Ray Morris-Hill: https://raymorris-hill.smugmug.com/

    As the tournaments wears on, players will have a greater sense of urgency and that moment has come for Vladimir Kramnik. He has not won a game and came close to losing to Boris Gelfand last round. He hasn’t seemed stable and seems a bit out of character (i.e., game versus Ivanchuk). He faces Peter Svidler who is in top shape despite losing to Carlsen. This is nearly a must-win situation for Kramnik but if either wins, they will be on the heels of the leaders.

    Grischuk-Ivanchuk and Radjabov-Gelfand are pairings of tail-enders, but all are capable of winning a couple of games and upsetting the tone of the tournament. Radjabov has played rather well, but none of the others are inspiring hearts as of yet.

    2013 World Championship Candidates
    March 15th-April 4th, 2013 (London, England)
    Round #8
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    8.1 Carlsen
    2872
    ½-½
    Aronian
    2809
    8.2 Radjabov
    2793
    0-1
    Gelfand
    2740
    8.3 Grischuk
    2764
    1-0
    Ivanchuk
    2757
    8.4 Kramnik
    2810
    1-0
    Svidler
    2747

    Overview: The field has tightened. While Carlsen-Aronian was drawn, Vladimir Kramnik powered to victory by grinding down Peter Svidler into mush. Out of a Grunfeld, white got a slight advantage after early queen trade. As Kramnik tightened his grip and grabbed more space, Svidler’s piece got tangled until he was facing an unstoppable pawn mass in the center of the board. A powerful display by Kramnik with a picturesque ending. He pulls within one of the lead and plays Carlsen in round nine.

    Kramnik played the crisp 37.gxf6! and after 37…exf6 (After 37…Kxh6 38.fxe7 black is crushed) then 38.e7! Rc8+ 39. Kb3 Bc5 40.Rc4 (threatening 41.Rxc5). Black resigned since massive losses are imminent.

    Video by Macauley Peterson.

    A very interesting discussion in the Sicilian Dragon ensued in Grischuk-Ivanchuk. The game had an unusual line 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. Bc4 Qa5!? Ivanchuk was able to plant a knight on d3, but Grischuk just played around it. White was slightly better, but the game appeared to be headed for a draw when Ivanchuk’s time pressure lead to his undoing. After 36…e5?? 37. b4! axb4 38. cxb4 Ne6 39. Nxd6! and Ivanchuk overstepped time in a completely lost position.

    Bad break for Vassily Ivanchuk who overstepped the time limit for the third time. Photo by Ray Morris-Hill: https://raymorris-hill.smugmug.com/

    Boris Gelfand was coming off of a near-win and was playing the newlywed Teimour Radjabov. The game was an English which resembled a Sicilian. White got the two bishops but closed the kingside with 17.f5 and suddenly his pawns became weak. It was amazing how quickly Radjabov’s position collapsed. After 30…Qb5! 31. Qf3 Ng5 there were simply too many threats. White resigned after 32.Qg2 bxa5. White could do nothing.

    Video by GM Daniel King.

    Official Site: https://london2013.fide.com/
    Photos by Ray Morris-Hill: https://raymorris-hill.smugmug.com/
    Drum Coverage: https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2013/03/15/2013-world-championship-candidates-london/

    Standings

    Magnus Carlsen, 5.5/8 (+3 -0 =5), Levon Aronian, 5.5/8 (+3 -0 =5), Vladimir Kramnik, 4.5/7 (+1 -0 =7), Alexander Grischuk, 4/8 (+1 -1 =6), Peter Svidler, 3.5/8 (+1 -2 =5), Boris Gelfand 3.5/8 (+1 -2 =5), Teimour Radjabov, 3/8 (+1 -3 =4), Vassily Ivanchuk, 2.5/8 (+0 -3 =5)

  20. It will be fascinating to see how Carlsen plays round 8 after a disappointing round 7. Will he now play guardedly, main-line opening, or will he let round 7 cloud his thinking and play unsteadily. Getting my coffee ready for this one!

    1. I don’t know Guy. I was really disturbed by his demeanor at the press conference. He shows these waves of being out of control. That would doom him in a match.

      1. I’m not sure why such a big deal is being made of his demeanor. Sure, he looked uncomfortable and restless, but he wasn’t rude or anything. What exactly did he do that was so disturbing? He always seems a bit aloof and bored.

        1. Fidgeting, looking away, shifting in chair, body turned away as if ready to leave, laconic answers… certainly not exemplary behavior for the chief ambassador of the game right now. He changed his behavior the next day because he was no doubt made aware, but I cannot remember a player of his caliber with this behavior since Kasparov lost to Deep Blue. We can remember how much of the butt of jokes Kasparov became for his poor sportsmanship. Carlsen has to be on his best given his status.

  21. This was a swift handshake between Aronian and Magnus. I suppose this eight round draw was part of a strategy. However, round 7 should serve as a cue that there are no weak opponents in this tournament. Anyhow, the door has opened up somewhat to allow for Kramnik and others to join the lead. It was sort of unexpected to observe how Carlsen acknowledge his draw against Timor. It remains to be seen how he will face up to a loss.

    1. Nope… no weak players. Anyone could have won this tournament. The field is very tight and will get even tighter. Carlsen can’t rest because he faces Kramnik next.

  22. Round #9
    Monday, 25 March 2013

    2013 World Championship Candidates
    March 15th-April 4th, 2013 (London, England)
    Round #9
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    9.1 Kramnik
    2810
    ½-½
    Carlsen
    2872
    9.2 Svidler
    2747
    ½-½
    Grischuk
    2764
    9.3 Ivanchuk
    2757
    1-0
    Radjabov
    2793
    89.4 Gelfand
    2740
    1-0
    Aronian
    2809

    Overview: While the Kramnik-Carlsen was a moral victory of the Norwegian who held off the “Killer Catalan”. Carlsen fell head first into Kramnik’s preparation and quickly got into deep trouble. At one point, Carlsen was a full pawn down, but he played very actively to avoid being tied up by the passed a-pawn. He was able to accomplish some material liquidation and while a pawn down, the draw became theoretical. Carlsen is quickly gaining a reputation as being a tenacious defender, but how many lives does the Norwegian have left?

    Grischuk-Svidler was the wildest game of the tournament!
    Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    In this position after 19…h3!?!? pieces flying everywhere!

    The Svidler-Grischuk drawn game of the round was the wildest! Grischuk sacrificed a piece on move 12, then two more for the white queen. In the diagram white has to cope with an exposed king while black has to figure out a way to prevent white from coordinating his pieces and getting a lock on the position.

    The game kept getting more bizarre, but white was unable to prevent the harassment of the black queen. The white pieces huddled around the king, but white had nothing more than to build a fortress draw. What would occur is that black queen would always gain checks on the open board especially with the black king far from danger. Svidler gained ground on the leaders.

    Levon Aronian was attempting to keep pace with Carlsen and was facing a tough hombre in Boris Gelfand. The Israeli was coming off of a good win and with the white pieces he was motivated. The game evolved into a relatively balanced struggle with equal chances. The tension started to build when Aronian started with 24…dxc4 25. Bxc4 Rxd4 26. Bxe6 Bf7 27. Bxf5 but blundered with 27…Bf7? After 27. Bxf5 Bc4 28. e6! the board was cut in half and black forces became disorganized. After seizing the advantage, Gelfand played precisely and ground down Aronian’s forces for the full point. Aronian is still only half-point back with five rounds left. Meanwhile Gelfand is on an even score.

    Both players have had a tough tournament… each on the end of three losses.
    Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    In Ivanchuk-Radjabov this was the battle between two hard luck competitors. Ivanchuk had lost three games on time and Radjabov failed to convert against Carlsen and also lost three games. In this 76-move game, it was a relatively even affair throughout, but in an equal rook ending, Radjabov allowed the thread of the position to unravel. After trading a pair of rook, Ivanchuk was able to gain active play and establish an armada of health pawns on the kingside. In the final position 76.f6 wins due to 76…Kxe6 Re8+ and 76…Rxe6 77.Rd8+! winning.

    Official Site: https://london2013.fide.com/
    Photos by Ray Morris-Hill: https://raymorris-hill.smugmug.com/
    Drum Coverage: https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2013/03/15/2013-world-championship-candidates-london/

    Standings

    Magnus Carlsen, 6/9 (+3 -0 =6), Levon Aronian, 5.5/9 (+3 -1 =5), Vladimir Kramnik, 5/9 (+1 -0 =8), Alexander Grischuk, 4.5/9 (+1 -1 =7), Boris Gelfand 4.5/9 (+2 -2 =5), Peter Svidler, 4/9 (+1 -2 =6), Vassily Ivanchuk, 3.5/9 (+1 -3 =5), Teimour Radjabov, 3/9 (+1 -4 =4)

  23. Magnus was not at ease after his 7th round draw, but today he showed that he is determined not to lose a game. For one thing, when you face this guy, you better be ready to fight to the very end. I think there is some truth to this saying that, luck tends to favor the prepared mind.

  24. Radjabov will relax and get at least one more win. I think his nerves got the best of him in the Carlsen game. I believe Grischuk, Gelfand and Ivanchuk will also take some casualties. Carlsen will lose at least one game, but fortunately for him he has already neutralized Aronian and Kramnik.

  25. I don’t see Aronian beating Kramnik, but anything can happen….

    Carlsen must WIn his White games,…and at least 1 more black….!

    He is in a very good position, but realistically speaking, i see either Carlsen, Aronian or Kramnik taking this IMO.

    1. Yes… given that there are only five rounds left, they have a realistic chance. For Gelfand, Grischuk and Svidler they have too much ground to make up. None are likely to put together a Topalov-like streak.

  26. Round #10
    Wednesday, 27 March 2013

    Magnus Carlsen keeping an eye out on his nearest competition,
    Levon Aronian. Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    2013 World Championship Candidates
    March 15th-April 4th, 2013 (London, England)
    Round #10
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    10.1 Carlsen
    2872
    1-0
    Gelfand
    2740
    10.2 Aronian
    2809
    1-0
    Ivanchuk
    2757
    10.3 Radjabov
    2793
    ½-½
    Svidler
    2747
    10.4 Grischuk
    2764
    0-1
    Kramnik
    2810

    Overview: Today was a pivotal turn as only three players have a realistic chance of winning the tournament. Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik have made the final stage of the tournament a three-horse race as each won their games today.

    Carlsen faced a resurgent Boris Gelfand whom he defeated in round three. In this game, Carlsen trotted out the Rossolimo Attack, an opening which he undoubtedly made improvements on after getting a horrible position against Teimour Radjabov after 4.Bxc6. Gelfand also came up with a novelty as black against Viswanathan Anand’s 4.Bxc6 bxc6 5.b3 e5!? so this would be a good discussion. However, Carlsen certainly did not want to test Gelfand’s preparation
    and opted for 4.O-O instead.

    Boris Gelfand attempted to stop the march of Magnus Carlsen.
    Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    White got a very comfortable position and developed fluidly while Gelfand’s black queen started wandering from her army. While she was away, Black’s forces soon came under assault and the queen would remain imprisoned behind enemy lines for the rest of the game. There were a number of backrank weaknesses that prevented black from being more aggressive.

    Carlsen’s 28.Qa5! was a nice motif that forced black to stand down. In a very crisp finale, Carlsen donated a piece after 44.Qf3 Qxf1+ 45.Kh2 to get his steamrolling pawns moving and ended nicely with 45…Qb1 46.b7 Qb5 47.c6 Bd5 48.Qg3 and the b-pawn with morph into another queen.

    Teimour Radjabov may be lurking in last place, but he can be a dangerous “spoiler”. Beware. Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    Levon Aronian got a victory when a beleaguered Vassily Ivanchuk forfeited for the fourth time. IM Lawrence Trent pointed out that these occurrences are not merely time scrambles, but with ten moves short! In this game, Ivanchuk played the improbable Budapest Defense after 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e5 3. dxe5 Ng4 this line has often been used for shock value and certainly Aronian could not have expected such a move.

    These types of openings are rarely played at this level and there is a reason why… the gambit did not yield black any initiative. Aronian played 26.g4 Rf4 27.Bf5 attempting to cut off black defenses while launching and attack after 27…Nd5 28.Rh3. This was not dangerous, but with zeitnot creeping up, the Ukrainian blundered with 28…Rh8? and after 29.e3 gxf5 30.exf4 and black flagged in a completely losing position. Shame.

    An endgame for the books, black has just captured a piece with 30…cxd4. White has a compromised pawn structure and soon had to give way.

    Perhaps the most instructive game was Grischuk-Kramnik as the resulting endgame will no doubt end up in endgame books and databases from henceforth. After a discussion in the Berlin Defense, Kramnik came out with a much better pawn structure and this was made apparent later on. White was forced to go in a losing ending after 29…Nd4! 30.Bxd4 cxd4. In the diagram, black would simply win opposition as white’s pawn structure was totally overextended. Black protected passed pawn served as a diversion and white lost his kingside. Nice technique!

    In Radjabov-Svidler there wasn’t much of a discussion in the Grunfeld and a repetition of moves occurred after move 21.

    Video by GM Daniel King.

    Official Site: https://london2013.fide.com/
    Photos by Ray Morris-Hill: https://raymorris-hill.smugmug.com/
    Drum Coverage: https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2013/03/15/2013-world-championship-candidates-london/

    Standings

    Magnus Carlsen, 7/10 (+4 -0 =6), Levon Aronian, 6.5/10 (+4 -1 =5), Vladimir Kramnik, 6/10 (+2 -0 =8), Boris Gelfand 4.5/10 (+2 -3 =5), Alexander Grischuk, 4.5/10 (+1 -2 =7), Peter Svidler, 4.5/10 (+1 -2 =7), Vassily Ivanchuk, 3.5/10 (+1 -4 =5), Teimour Radjabov, 3.5/10 (+1 -4 =5)

  27. Round #11
    Thursday, 28 March 2013

    Preview: Big round here. An underachieving Alexander Grischuk, who a year earlier shocked the world by winning the drawfest qualifier, will face the surging Magnus Carlsen. With only four rounds remaining, only three players remain in contention and any win can turn the tide. The other five players will be playing without undue pressure and can take chances. Upsets loom.

    Teimour Radjabov can be a tremendous obstacle and he is still #4 in the world and can play at a high level. Peter Svidler will be a tough out for Levon Aronian… both are in good form. The Ivanchuk-Gelfand match is not important, but intriguing nevertheless. The fans will see if the Ukrainian can complete a game without forfeiting on time. If he forfeits another game, then many questions will swirl. This has never happened to him before.

    Peter Svidler set to face Levon Aronian. Was this photo an expression of things to come? Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    2013 World Championship Candidates
    March 15th-April 4th, 2013 (London, England)
    Round #11
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    11.1 Grischuk
    2764
    ½-½
    Carlsen
    2872
    11.2 Kramnik
    2810
    1-0
    Radjabov
    2793
    11.3 Svidler
    2747
    1-0
    Aronian
    2809
    11.4 Ivanchuk
    2757
    ½-½
    Gelfand
    2740

    Overview: While it was Magnus Carlsen’s day to get a quick result, he had to watch as Vladimir Kramnik inched closer with a win over Teimour Radjabov who is basically playing for his pride. This game resembled so many in that Radjabov went for the King’s Indian but the game steered into different terrain.

    The game was not characteristic of the closed battles featuring a white queenside march and a black kingside assault… it was wide open. However, Kramnik’s bishop had free reign of the board and chased the queen around gaining time. Then Kramnik lowered the boom with 33.Nxe7+! winning the exchange since the knight is poison due to 33…Rxe7+ 34.Qc8+ Bf8 35.Rb8 and massive material losses to follow. So Kramnik pulled within a half-point leaping over Levon Aronian who lost.

    With Svidler enjoying a space advantage, Aronian played 22…g5? and 23…b5? and his position immediately came crashing down.

    Svidler-Aronian was a key battle and white got all he wanted in the opening. While Svidler stated that his advantage was slight and black should have been fine, white had so much space after 22.c5. Like a cornered animal, Aronian lashed out with 22…g5?? Svidler suggested 22…g6, but after the text move black’s position quickly went south. They say mistakes come in bunches. On 23.c6! Aronian played 23…b5? and Svidler quickly transferred the focus to the weakened kingside and finally hit Aronian with a bodyshot 33.Bg6+! clearing the path for the f-pawn. In the final position, black was totally helpless.

    In a game of no consequence, Ivanchuk-Gelfand played 17 moves, so it does not warrant much analysis.

    Official Site: https://london2013.fide.com/
    Photos by Ray Morris-Hill: https://raymorris-hill.smugmug.com/
    Drum Coverage: https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2013/03/15/2013-world-championship-candidates-london/

    Standings

    Magnus Carlsen, 7.5/11 (+4 -0 =7), Vladimir Kramnik, 7/11 (+3 -0 =8), Levon Aronian, 6.5/11 (+4 -2 =5), Peter Svidler, 5.5/11 (+2 -2 =7), Boris Gelfand 5/11 (+2 -3 =6), Alexander Grischuk, 5/11 (+1 -2 =8), Vassily Ivanchuk, 4/11 (+1 -4 =6), Teimour Radjabov, 3.5/11 (+1 -5 =5)

  28. Round #12
    Friday, 29 March 2013

    Preview: Time is getting short. Three rounds left and one point separates the top three position. In a crucial battle today, Levon Aronian will face Vladimir Kramnik in a battle that may determine whether it is a two-horse race instead of a three-horse race. With Magnus Carlsen facing an out-of-form Vassily Ivanchuk, both of them must think about winning if Ivanchuk suffers another meltdown of time pressure. The pressure is on!

    Magnus Carlsen was hoping to establish distance from the field against an erratic Vassily Ivanchuk. Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    2013 World Championship Candidates
    March 15th-April 4th, 2013 (London, England)
    Round #12
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    12.1 Carlsen
    2872
    0-1
    Ivanchuk
    2757
    12.2 Gelfand
    2740
    ½-½
    Svidler
    2747
    12.3 Aronian
    2809
    0-1
    Kramnik
    2810
    12.4 Radjabov
    2793
    ½-½
    Grischuk
    2764

    Overview: Amazing!!! An absolutely tense round unfolded today in London as the Candidates tournament took a dramatic turn. At one point the commentators did not know what to make out of the wild affair seen in Aronian-Kramnik. The game was a Tarrasch and the pace quickened before move 20. The game was so unclear that both players thought they were better! Take a look.

    The move 17.Rc5 started the hostilities after 17…Qd6 18.Qc2!? fxe3. The piece sacrificed turned the board into an inferno as speculation buzzed on servers and amongst the commentators. There were a couple of occasions where Aronian could have played Rh5 but resisted the temptation.

    Vladimir Kramnik has finally chased Carlsen and Aronian down. Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    Aronian’s 21.e4? left spectators gawking since 21…Qf4! appeared to be decisive, but Kramnik played 21…Rac8 and followed the forced line of 22. e5 Bxe5 23. Nxe5 Rxc5 24. Ng6+ Nxg6 25. dxc5. The Russian then uncorked the stunner 25…Be4! netting a piece.

    Just when the verdict was deemed final Aronian found the resourceful 33.Rc3!! setting up a drawing position. Verdict? Not! The game sauntered on with white eating the queenside pawns, but then played a clunker in 50.g6?? (50.h6! draws). It was a devastating loss for Aronian and virtually knocks him from contention. Nevertheless he is a party to a game for the ages. What a battle!

    In Carlsen-Ivanchuk, a Taimanov Sicilian where black got everything he wanted in a common structure. The key moment occurred after 18.bxc3 and 18…a5 which was criticized by an agitated Carlsen. He stated that he was playing for a win, but it appeared that he had a number of problems. These became real when Ivanchuk broke with 24…g5! and gained activity.

    The game still had a number of tricks, but it turns out the Carlsen missed the crucial one… 71.Ke4! His chances begin to melt away rapidly. There were still some stalemating tricks, but this was not the f- and h-pawn rook ending which are commonly drawn (see Radjabov-Grischuk this round), but the e- and h-pawn. Ivanchuk did not suffer a time meltdown and converted smoothly.

    Magnus Carlsen’s shocking loss threatens to overturn the predictions of many.
    Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    Carlsen’s loss turned into name-calling and shouts of conspiracy on some websites. Many made excuses for the Carlsen debacle and some even analyzed scenarios where he could still win. There seems to be an implied support for Carlsen to win the tournament. However, it was simply a bad loss in a game where the world’s highest rated player was outplayed in critical stages of the game.

    While Carlsen’s composure during the press conference was better than after the draw against Radjabov, he was visibly upset. He referred to his moves as “stupid” but more revealing was his statement that his play was “absolutely disgraceful from move one”. This can be interpreted as entering the game in an uncomfortable state of mind. He will need to fix it or he’ll be making this speech again.

    Both Boris Gelfand and Peter Svidler may have the tournament record for most quick draws as their Grunfeld dance only lasted 40 moves. Conversely, Radjabov-Grischuk was a tough battle lasting 87 moves. The Azeri player may have been winning at some point, but ended up in the aforementioned drawn ending f+h rook ending. The game was rather complicated in the middlegame, but when the rook ending emerged, there was some precedence since Grischuk had the stronger side of this ending recently…twice. He drew it rather effortlessly.

    Video by Daniel King.

    Official Site: https://london2013.fide.com/
    Photos by Ray Morris-Hill: https://raymorris-hill.smugmug.com/
    Drum Coverage: https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2013/03/15/2013-world-championship-candidates-london/

    Standings

    Vladimir Kramnik, 8/12 (+4 -0 =8), Magnus Carlsen, 7.5/12 (+4 -1 =7), Levon Aronian, 6.5/12 (+4 -3 =5), Peter Svidler, 6/12 (+2 -2 =8), Boris Gelfand 5.5/12 (+2 -3 =7), Alexander Grischuk, 5.5/12 (+1 -2 =9), Vassily Ivanchuk, 5/12 (+2 -4 =6), Teimour Radjabov, 4/12 (+1 -5 =6)

  29. Strange things are happening in this tournament. What a turn of events as of round 12. Kramnik takes the lead?!

    1. Both Carlsen and Aronian lost in the endgame. Are today’s players too focus on opening prep and not enough on basics like the endgame?

  30. 2013 World Championship Candidates
    March 15th-April 4th, 2013 (London, England)
    Standings after Round #12
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    1
    2
    3
    4
    5
    6
    7
    8
    Pts.
    1
    Kramnik, V
    2810
    ½½
    ½1
    ½1
    ½1
    ½*
    ½*
    ½1
    8.0
    2
    Carlsen, M
    2872
    ½½
    ½½
    1*
    11
    ½0
    ½*
    7.5
    3
    Aronian, L
    2809
    ½0
    ½½
    ½0
    ½*
    10
    11
    1*
    6.5
    4
    Svidler, P
    2747
    0*
    ½1
    ½½
    ½½
    ½*
    6.0
    5
    Grischuk, A
    2764
    ½0
    ½*
    ½½
    ½*
    ½1
    ½½
    5.5
    6
    Gelfand, B
    2740
    ½*
    00
    01
    ½½
    ½*
    ½½
    ½1
    5.5
    7
    Ivanchuk, V
    2757
    ½*
    ½1
    00
    ½*
    ½0
    ½½
    01
    5.0
    8
    Radjabov, T
    2793
    ½0
    ½*
    0*
    ½½
    ½0
    10
    4.0

  31. The fans are all over Radjabov on websites. The fact that he was handpicked and he’s having a bad tourney as led many fans to take vicious pot shots at him.

    1. I’m surprised at Rajabov’s performance, but there is no question he belongs in the field. I do understand that he has recently gotten married and has not played in many tournaments as of late. It’s unfortunate, but we’ll see if he can get a win.

  32. Round #13
    Sunday, 31 March 2013

    Main Venue… Institute of Engineering and Technology.
    Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    Preview: The 2013 World Candidates tournament is entering its last two rounds and the result is still in doubt. While two players have a reasonable chance of winning the top four are mathematically eligible to win. Two points separate the top four positions with Vladimir Kramnik atop the chart with an undefeated 8/12. What is remarkable about Kramnik’s rise is that the second half of the tournament, he has run roughshod over the field with 4.5/5 including a pivotal victory over fellow contender Levon Aronian.

    The tournament has had a number of exciting moments aided by the fighting spirit of the players. Carlsen has received most of the attention and many predicted him to win the tournament with an undefeated score. His shocking loss at the hands of a beleaguered Vassily Ivanchuk put his world title hopes in jeopardy. He will have to press in his final two games against Teimour Radjabov and Peter Svidler. Frontrunner Vladimir Kramnik will play Boris Gelfand and Vassily Ivanchuk, both tough outs.

    (Note: ChessBase has been publishing a series of articles calculating the odds of the winner. Very biased towards Carlsen, but very intriguing! https://www.chessbase.com/Home/TabId/211/PostId/4009336/candidates–tiebreaks-chances-of-winning-310313.aspx)

    2013 World Championship Candidates
    March 15th-April 4th, 2013 (London, England)
    Round #13
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    13.1 Radjabov
    2793
    0-1
    Carlsen
    2872
    13.2 Grischuk
    2764
    ½-½
    Aronian
    2809
    13.3 Kramnik
    2810
    ½-½
    Gelfand
    2740
    13.4 Svidler
    2747
    1-0
    Ivanchuk
    2757

    Overview: In a tournament full of twists and turns, Carlsen pulled out a victory in a completely equal position to reclaim the lead in the Candidates tournament. Kramnik failed to capitalize on his initiative and was held to a draw. It this point, both Carlsen and Kramnik are tied, but Carlsen owns the tiebreak lead on the virtue of having more wins.

    Teimour Radjabov was unable to hold Magnus Carlsen.
    Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    In Radjabov-Carlsen, The Azeri had a slight advantage throughout the middlegame with a rook planted deep in black’s camp, but the game was equal in the ending. After jockeying for position, Radjabov perhaps started to tire and made a crucial mistake with 64.a4? and moves later that pawn was lost. The game was still a draw according to the chess engines, but Radjabov was low on time. Finally Radjabov played 83.Nxa5?? simply losing a piece to 83…Bxf1. This is the second time Carlsen was the beneficiary of Radjabov’s generosity.

    Vladimir Kramnik was on the brink with two rooks on the seventh against Boris Gelfand but the Israeli also got two rooks on the seventh and forced a draw. Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    Kramnik-Gelfand looked like another win from another Catalan-type game. A Neo-Grunfeld, white got strong pressure on the queenside and got a dominating position. Kramnik eschewed a draw by repetition with two rooks on the seventh, but there was nothing more. Actually black got two rooks on the seventh as well and there were nothing more than a draw.

    Peter Svidler won his game against Vassily Ivanchuk where black lost… on time. Surprise. Ivanchuk has lost five games on time forfeit, one of the worse case of time abuse in recent history. To his “credit” Ivanchuk was completely losing. Grischuk-Aronian was drawn officially eliminating the Armenian from contention and actually allowing Svidler to replace him in fourth place. Horrible second half for Aronian (2/6).

    Video by GM Daniel King.

    2013 World Championship Candidates
    March 15th-April 4th, 2013 (London, England)
    Standings after Round #13
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    1
    2
    3
    4
    5
    6
    7
    8
    Pts.
    1
    Carlsen, M
    2872
    ½½
    1*
    ½½
    11
    ½0
    ½1
    8.5
    2
    Kramnik, V
    2810
    ½½
    ½1
    ½1
    ½½
    ½1
    ½*
    ½1
    8.5
    3
    Svidler, P
    2747
    0*
    ½1
    ½½
    ½½
    ½1
    7.0
    4
    Aronian, L
    2809
    ½½
    ½0
    ½0
    10
    ½½
    11
    1*
    7.0
    5
    Gelfand, B
    2740
    00
    ½½
    ½½
    01
    ½*
    ½½
    ½1
    6.0
    6
    Grischuk, A
    2764
    ½0
    ½½
    ½½
    ½*
    ½1
    ½½
    6.0
    7
    Ivanchuk, V
    2757
    ½1
    ½*
    ½0
    00
    ½½
    ½0
    01
    5.0
    8
    Radjabov, T
    2793
    ½0
    ½0
    0*
    ½½
    ½0
    10
    4.0

    Official Site: https://london2013.fide.com/
    Photos by Ray Morris-Hill: https://raymorris-hill.smugmug.com/
    Drum Coverage: https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2013/03/15/2013-world-championship-candidates-london/

  33. Exciting finale’ on tap as both Carlsen and Kramnik will vie for the a shot at the World Championship. Svidler and Ivanchuk will prove to be tough opposition. What a tournament this proved to be!

  34. Round #14
    Monday, 1 April 2013

    Preview: This is it! It is now a one-round tournament with both Magnus Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik vying for the right to face World Champion Viswanathan Anand in November. For Kramnik, it would amount to a rematch. For Carlsen, it would be an opportunity for ascendancy to the top for world chess.

    Carlsen will face Peter Svidler who is actually in top form despite losing to Carlsen earlier. Kramnik will play an erratic Vassily Ivanchuk who is very capable of beating Kramnik despite losing five games on time! It should be a very tense. The two other games… probably uneventful draws.

    2013 World Championship Candidates
    March 15th-April 4th, 2013 (London, England)
    Round #14
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    14.1 Carlsen
    2872
    0-1
    Svidler
    2747
    14.2 Kramnik
    2810
    1-0
    Ivanchuk
    2757
    14.3 Gelfand
    2740
    ½-½
    Grischuk
    2764
    14.4 Aronian
    2809
    1-0
    Radjabov
    2793

    Overview: In what ended as one of the most thrilling tournaments in years the 2013 Candidates tournament was an epic event in what has become a vindication of the entire cycle… however imperfect it is. There were several leaders with Carlsen, then Aronian, then Kramnik. The last round, there were two players vying for the chance to challenge for the World Championship against Viswanathan Anand in November. The tournament result was in doubt all the way until the last pawn was push.

    What happened to #4-ranked Teimour Radjabov???
    Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    Before we get to the marquee matchups let’s discuss the two others. Levon Aronian ended the tournament on a strong note after fumbling the lead in the second half of the tournament. His last win was at the expense of a shellshocked Teimour Radjabov who lost seven games… perhaps twice the amount he loses in one year. It may have been a combination of his brief hiatus, preparation for his new life of marriage and lack of prep time for the biggest tournament of his life. He did not manage well and chess is an unforgiving sport.

    Aronian’s powerful 34.Ree7! weaved a mating net around the black king while the black pieces looked on helplessly.

    In this game, Aronian unfurled the Averbakh Variation against Radjabov’s favorite King’s Indian Defense. He was able to get a very fluid position and sacrificed the e4-pawn for initiative. This initiative turned into a tactical melee which ended with Aronian sacrificing his queen for two rooks. These two rooks begin a dastardly plan of weaving a nice net around the king starting with 31.Bd5! a2 32.Rxf7+ Kg5 33.h4+ Kh6 34.Ree7! (diagram) Black is helpless after 34…g5 35.Be4! since 35…Qxe4+ 36. Rxe4 Kg6 (36… a1=Q 37. Re6+ Kh5 38. g4+! Kxg4 39. f3+ Kxh4 (39… Kh5 40. Rxh7#) 40. Rh6#)) 37. Ra7 a1=Q 38. Rxa1 Bxa1 39. hxg5 Kxg5 40. Rc4+-. Nice combination by the Armenian who ended on a solid +2 along with Svidler.

    Carlsen-Svidler and Ivanchuk-Kramnik were the marquee matchups for today and they were epic indeed. In Carlsen-Svidler, tension was in the air as they traversed through the Ruy Lopez. There was a critical moment and there was tension so thick you could cut it with a knife. Carlsen was also running low on time and one could feel that he was coming apart.

    A scintillating attack roared ahead after 31…Nf4! Svidler mopped up after that but his compatriot failed to hold Ivanchuk. Russians will be shut out of the championship cycle once again.

    Svidler threw down 31…Nf4! attempting to batter the door down with an all-out onslaught. Carlsen accepted the offer and his position was soon being overrun after 32. gxf4 Qxh4 33. Nxf7 Bxf3! Carlsen had to try simplifying. This resulted in a completely losing ending where Svidler’s two bishops were swarming the board and supporting the rolling pawns. Carlsen resigned and left the fate in the last game of the tournament.

    So… with the chess world in shock, the Ivanchuk-Kramnik would determine who would be the challenger. It is not clear if Kramnik knew that Carlsen lost, but he was already in mortal danger against Ivanchuk. Kramnik unwisely chose the Pirc Defense which does not have a following at the elite level. Not sure why Kramnik played this other than to catch Ivanchuk sleeping.

    When Vassily “The Vanquisher” Ivanchuk looks away as he was shown doing against Magnus Carlsen, it is cause to beware. However,Vladimir Kramnik may have made a poor choice in the Pirc Defense. Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    Ivanchuk played the classical setup with 1.d4 d6 2.e4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Be2. White got a comfortable game and began to gain a bind on the position after a nice pawn sac with 24.g3!? Nxh3+ 25.Kg2 Nhg5 26.Rh1. Before the game, he intimated that this was “just another game” and quelled all talk of collusion as he tightened the screws on Kramnik.

    This is not the kind of position that suits Kramnik. Usually he is on the end squeezing with positional pressure. He missed his best chance with 35…Rxa6! and instead landed in hot water with the decisive mistake 35…Rc8? After Ivanchuk established a powerful passed pawn with 38.b5! Rb7 39.b6 c5 40.Rb1 Bf8 41.Qd5 and black was helpless. Ivanchuk wrapped up the full point when after 47.Kf1, black is in zugzwang. Wow!!!

    If anyone had predicted that both Carlsen and Kramnik would lose they would have beat all the odds-makers. Nevertheless, Carlsen limped through to earn a chance at the championship title. His second half was unimpressive to say the least… losing twice (Ivanchuk and Svidler) and getting worse positions in two other games (Radjabov and Kramnik). He will most certainly have to sharpen his openings against the well-prepared team of Anand. However, a new era of chess has begun and Carlsen will be more than a worthy challenger.

    Magnus Carlsen, World Championship Challenger!
    Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

    2013 World Championship Candidates
    March 15th-April 4th, 2013 (London, England)
    Final Standings
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    1
    2
    3
    4
    5
    6
    7
    8
    Pts.
    1
    Carlsen, M
    2872
    ½½
    10
    ½½
    11
    ½0
    ½1
    8.5
    2
    Kramnik, V
    2810
    ½½
    ½1
    ½1
    ½½
    ½1
    ½0
    ½1
    8.5
    3
    Svidler, P
    2747
    01
    ½1
    ½½
    ½½
    ½1
    8.0
    4
    Aronian, L
    2809
    ½½
    ½0
    ½0
    10
    ½½
    11
    11
    8.0
    5
    Gelfand, B
    2740
    00
    ½½
    ½½
    01
    ½½
    ½½
    ½1
    6.5
    6
    Grischuk, A
    2764
    ½0
    ½½
    ½½
    ½½
    ½1
    ½½
    6.5
    7
    Ivanchuk, V
    2757
    ½1
    ½1
    ½0
    00
    ½½
    ½0
    01
    6.0
    8
    Radjabov, T
    2793
    ½0
    ½0
    00
    ½½
    ½0
    10
    4.0

    Official Site: https://london2013.fide.com/
    Photos by Ray Morris-Hill: https://raymorris-hill.smugmug.com/
    Drum Coverage: https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2013/03/15/2013-world-championship-candidates-london/

  35. It was meant to be! Carlsen and Kramnik both went down in the final round, yet only one moves on. Congrats to all the players, but Magnus in particular deserves a tip of the hat. He is GOOD!

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