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FIDE Candidates 2016 (11)

Candidates winner no closer to being decided after nervous play in Round 11

The likely winner FIDE Candidates tournament was no clearer after an exciting round 11. There were several games that turned around and it left the standings very different from what they could have been 20 minutes before first time control.

In the London Candidates of 2013 Magnus Carlsen took the lead with a nice win in Round 10 against Boris Gelfand and seemed to have everything under control. The following four rounds saw his play take a dive and he barely got over the line to win the event. All nerves, this tournament serves up pressure unlike any other on the calendar, and not everyone is ready for it, particularly debutants. I expected the final four rounds to be key in this tournament and the first of those rounds was today.

Levon Aronian was pressing for a win against Peter Svidler that would have taken him into a share of the lead again. Aronian eventually became a little impatient, 28.Rf3?! was a little bit crude, Svidler equalised and then took over the initiative and won after the errors 38.Qe2? and 44.c4? Probably a bit late for Svidler who got back to 50% with his first win and also probably Aronian is now out of the running, Svidler at least has two games with the white pieces left.

Anish Giri tortured Hikaru Nakamura for many moves after getting the better of the opening (maybe 13...Be6 was the wrong plan). Giri seemed reluctant to commit himself to a winning attempt before move 40 but when he did with 50.Nxg7 it was a bad miscalculation missing 51...Rg5! and Giri had to settle for his 11th straight draw. No player has ever drawn all their games in a Candidates tournament.

Fabiano Caruana came under extreme pressure out of the opening by Veselin Topalov. After 17.Qh5 Topalov seemed well on top but Caruana defended well and reached a winning position after 31.Qxg4 taking queens off. Caruana was close to taking the lead alone but was in time trouble. The simple 36...Bxf4 would probably have got Caruana home, then things got slightly out of control and his last three moves 38...Re1?!, 39...g5?! and 40...Rxe5?! blew almost his entire advantage. Caruana offered a draw after 41.Bf6 and it was accepted.

The most impressive game of the day was Viswanathan Anand's win against the previously undefeated Sergey Karjakin. A slow maneuvering Ruy Lopez left Anand with a tiny initiative and edge. Karjakin admitted he underestimated the problems but as first time control approached his difficulties mounted and after 39.Rd4 the position was close to winning. Anand won in 62 moves, most likely Karjakin couldn't even have saved the position after first time control with best play. Anand has seen these tense final round situations many times, perhaps he is the best equipped to deal with it.

I haven't seen the player press conferences so no notes today.

Round 11 Standings: Caruana, Anand 6.5pts, Karjakin 6pts, Giri, Svidler, Aronian 5.5pts, Nakamura 4.5pts, Topalov 4pts

Candidates Round 12 Fri 25th March: Svidler-Giri, Nakamura-Anand, Karjakin-Topalov, Caruana-Aronian.

FIDE Candidates 2016 Moscow (RUS), 10-30 iii 2016 cat. XXII (2778)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
1. Caruana, Fabiano g USA 2794 * * ½ 1 ½ . ½ ½ ½ . ½ . ½ 1 ½ ½ 2842
2. Anand, Viswanathan g IND 2762 ½ 0 * * 0 1 ½ . 1 . ½ 1 ½ . 1 ½ 2845
3. Karjakin, Sergey g RUS 2760 ½ . 1 0 * * ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ . 1 ½ ½ . 6 2814
4. Giri, Anish g NED 2793 ½ ½ ½ . ½ ½ * * ½ . ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ . 2778
5. Svidler, Peter g RUS 2757 ½ . 0 . ½ ½ ½ . * * ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 2780
6. Aronian, Levon g ARM 2786 ½ . ½ 0 ½ . ½ ½ ½ 0 * * 1 . 1 ½ 2775
7. Nakamura, Hikaru g USA 2790 ½ 0 ½ . 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 . * * 1 . 2711
8. Topalov, Veselin g BUL 2780 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ . ½ . ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 . * * 4 2674
Round 11 (March 24, 2016)
Anand, Viswanathan - Karjakin, Sergey 1-0 70 C65 Ruy Lopez Berlin
Giri, Anish - Nakamura, Hikaru ½-½ 53 C50 Giuoco Piano
Aronian, Levon - Svidler, Peter 0-1 48 D16 Slav Lasker/Smyslov
Topalov, Veselin - Caruana, Fabiano ½-½ 41 A33 English Symmetrical

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