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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Fide Chess Candidates R7: Aronian, Carlsen Hold on To Lead

Chess blog for latest chess news and chess trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2013

Hi everyone, 

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

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

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

The players quickly reached an ending where White had a rook, bishop and knight with five pawns against two rooks and seven pawns for Black. Because neither player could really play for a win, the move repetition was a logical finish. Not satisfied with his play in the previous two rounds, Svidler said: “I don’t particularly mind equalizing and making a draw against a very strong player.”
Against Boris Gelfand, Vladimir Kramnik played the same Nimzo-Indian line as in his round 4 game against Teimour Radjabov. The Russian deviated himself, and improved upon a game that his opponent played last year in his World Championship match against Viswanathan Anand. Kramnik’s preparation worked well, but then he played a “terribly risky move”, namely 19…Ne8. "The tournament situation asks you to play for a win in every game," said Kramnik.

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

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