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FIDE Candidates Tournament 2014 (9)

Anand in the Candidates box seat after yet another day of shock results

Anand and Topalov deep in thought. Photo ©

Anand and Topalov deep in thought. Photo © |

Viswanathan Anand's calm progress through the Candidates tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk continued with a smooth win against Veselin Topalov in Sunday's Round 9. Whilst Anand was winning the pre-event favourites Vladimir Kramnik and his joint leader Levon Aronian were losing. Anand leads on 6/9 a point clear of Aronian and with the knowledge that if they tie Anand's head to head record would see him qualify.

Anand was not allowed to play the positions he enjoys the most against Magnus Carlsen but he has had fewer problems in the Candidates. Today Veselin Topalov came prepared to fight and played a sharp Najdorf defence which no doubt suited Anand down to the ground. Something went wrong for Topalov when he misjudged the position after 18.Nxe4 and he quickly tried to bail out into a rather desperate looking ending which Anand slowly brought home for the full point.

Levon Aronian as black caught Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in the opening with a sharp piece of opening preparation in the 4.f3 Nimzo-Indian but this quickly backfired as Mamedyarov found a really strong practical response that turned the tables completely. Aronian was soon in very bad trouble and whilst Mamedyarov chose a rather strange way to exploit his advantage by exchanging into a bishops of opposite colours ending it turned out to be very safe and certain one. A huge blow for the favourite Aronian who needs to score 1.5 points more than Anand to overtake him (there may be complications if there is a three way tie).

Vladimir Kramnik has had a huge slice of luck in this tournament in contrast to the first half of the London Candidates but he obviously hasn't played anywhere near his best in the last few rounds and finally he lost one. Here Sergey Karjakin played a London System with the idea of getting an unusual position, it paid off immediately when Kramnik blundered almost immediately with 7...dxc4 when after 8.Qxb7 he was already in a bad way. Karjakin was not entirely convincing in his exploitation of this advantage but Kramnik couldn't hold on in the end.

Peter Svidler said that his friends were begging him to play a boring game and today he got a comfortable game with a Sicilian Najdorf which he claimed he was busking as he was totally unsure what Dmitry Andreikin would play even on his first move. Andreikin said that he was unsure about his preparation as he approached the game. The position was drawish at the end.

In golf the third round of four is often called moving day, it's where the champions get themselves in place to win the event. It felt a lot like that today when Anand came up with a win and his rivals fell away. Perhaps we're set for a procession to qualification now, Anand probably only needs to draw his remaining games to do that. However the last four rounds of the London Candidates were very dramatic and it is much too early to regard Anand as a certain winner. How will achieving such a lead affect Anand?

I will try and add player comments to the game file later but that's been taking me hours. Added is the FIDE official report on the round.

Round 9 Standings: Anand 6pts, Aronian 5pts, Kramnik, Karjakin, Mamedyarov 4.5pts, Andreikin, Svidler 4pts, Topalov 3.5pts.

Monday is a rest day.

Round 10 Tuesday 25th March 2014. 9am GMT: Karjakin-Andreikin, Kramnik-Svidler, Aronian-Topalov and Anand-Mamedyarov.

Anand surges ahead as Aronian falters in round 9

Official Round 9 Press Release by the Media Centre of the FIDE World Candidates Tournament

In the battle of two former World Champions Viswanathan Anand defeated Veselin Topalov to again single out on the top after his co-leader Levon Aronian lost to Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.

Sergey Karjakin scored a second consecutive victory by beating Vladimir Kramnik, while the other two Russians - Dmitry Andreikin and Peter Svidler, split the point.

After nine rounds of play Anand is leading the race with 6 points, a full point ahead of the second placed Aronian.

Kramnik, Karjakin and Mamedyarov are on 4,5 points each. Andreikin and Svidler share the sixth place on 4 points, while Topalov is last with 3,5 points.

Monday is the rest day, the tournament resumes with round 10 on Tuesday.

The match between Dmitry Andreikin and Peter Svidler was a Naidorf Sicilian with the Fischer's variation 6.h3.

Svidler opted for the traditional e5-Be6 setup, while Andreikin expanded on the kingside with g4. Black made a counter in the center and soon the queens went off.

The position quickly simplified but there were still some resources for both sides.

However, after reaching the required 30 moves the players have agreed to a draw.

Aronian vs Mamedyarov

Aronian vs Mamedyarov. Mamedyarov won the game of the day. Photo ©

Levon Aronian introduced another stunning idea when he temporarily sacrificed two pawns in the sharp Gheorghiu Nimzo Indian against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.

Black successfully built a strong attack and white was forced to concede an exchange. But then black strayed from the right path and white was given a chance to coordinate the pieces.

A few more mistakes by Aronian and Mamedyarov was already launching a devastating counterattack.

Shortly before the time control white decided to trade down to a winning opposite-colored bishops ending with two extra pawns. Black immediately gave up.

Former World Champions Viswanathan Anand and Veselin Topalov also had the h3 Naidorf Sicilian on trial.

Topalov went for a more flexible structure with e6, much similar to the Scheveningen Sicilian.

White allowed the exchange of his strong dark-squared bishop, but he got a quick long castle in return. Black's reaction was not the best and he soon ended up in a slightly passive French-like structure with the backward pawn on e6.

Black tried to obtain some counterplay against white f4-pawn, but the exchange of both pairs of rooks only helped white to press on black's weak points.

In the ensuing Q+B endgame white king was also much safer.

After some clever maneuvering white won the pawn and proceeded to convert the advantage.

Karjakin vs Kramnik

Karjakin vs Kramnik. Photo ©

Today it was Sergey Karjakin's turn to use an unexpected move order in the opening to throw Vladimir Kramnik off the balance.

The position after 7.Qb3 strongly resembled some of the Kramnik's own games with white from the 90's. Exactly at this moment black erred by capturing the pawn on c4 instead of taking the knight on f3.

Karjakin grabbed the b7-pawn and after a sequence of natural moves obtained clear advantage.

In desperation, black sacrificed another pawn in the hope of setting a blockade on the light-squares. But after some patient build-up, white was able to push the opponent's pieces back.

Vladimir Kramnik

Vladimir Kramnik a very bad day for him. Photo ©

Karjakin exchanged everything to reach a winning double-rook endgame with two extra pawns. Kramnik resigned on move 64.

FIDE Candidates 2014 Khanty-Mansiysk RUS (RUS), 13-31 iii 2014 cat. XXI (2770)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
1. Anand, Viswanathan g IND 2770 * * 1 ½ ½ . ½ . 1 . ½ . ½ . ½ 1 6 2903
2. Aronian, Levon g ARM 2830 0 ½ * * ½ . 1 . 1 0 ½ . 1 . ½ . 5 2805
3. Kramnik, Vladimir g RUS 2787 ½ . ½ . * * 1 0 1 . ½ ½ ½ . 0 . 2761
4. Karjakin, Sergey g RUS 2766 ½ . 0 . 0 1 * * ½ . ½ . ½ 1 ½ . 2771
5. Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar g AZE 2757 0 . 0 1 0 . ½ . * * 1 . 1 . ½ ½ 2780
6. Andreikin, Dmitry g RUS 2709 ½ . ½ . ½ ½ ½ . 0 . * * 0 ½ 1 . 4 2734
7. Svidler, Peter g RUS 2758 ½ . 0 . ½ . ½ 0 0 . 1 ½ * * 1 . 4 2721
8. Topalov, Veselin g BUL 2785 ½ 0 ½ . 1 . ½ . ½ ½ 0 . 0 . * * 2687
Round 9 (March 23, 2014)
Anand, Viswanathan - Topalov, Veselin 1-0 57 B90 Sicilian Najdorf Variation
Karjakin, Sergey - Kramnik, Vladimir 1-0 64 D02 Queen's Pawn Game
Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar - Aronian, Levon 1-0 44 E20 Nimzo Indian
Andreikin, Dmitry - Svidler, Peter ½-½ 30 B90 Sicilian Najdorf Variation

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