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FIDE Candidates Tournament 2014 (2)

Wins for Aronian, Svidler and Kramnik in Candidates Round 2

Vladimir Kramnik is one of the early leaders after a round 2 win. Photo ©

Vladimir Kramnik is one of the early leaders after a round 2 win. Photo © | http://candidates2014.fide.com

The second round of the FIDE World Championship Candidates in Khanty-Mansiysk finished with Viswanathan Anand, Peter Svidler and Vladimir Kramnik tied for first on 1.5/2. It is early days yet but each round tells us a little bit more about the form and preparation of the players.

Veselin Topalov and Anand have played many Slav's together but already with 4.Nbd7 Anand signaled his intention to take things in a different direction to previous games. Anand temporarily sacrificed a pawn to reach an ending and even made that permanent in order to force a drawn Rook, Bishop and Pawn ending with Topalov's four kingside pawns never being enough to force a win against his three. They were first to finish and played down to king vs king.

Levon Aronian got back to 50% with a win against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov which was settled early. Aronian had played 7.Nd2 in a Queen's Gambit Ragozin system before but Mamedyarov forgot what he had prepared for this line. 11.f4 was aggressive and Aronian thought Mamedyarov had blundered in allowing 13.f5. In fact things were not yet bad with 13...Qg5 leading to an equal position but Mamedyarov didn't see what Aronian was up to and after 13...Ne7? 14.Nde4! white wins black's queen. Aronian concentrated on keeping Mamedyarov out of the game after that and even had some time trouble before bringing home the full point.

Peter Svidler admitted he had no idea even what first move he would face from Dmitry Andreikin and after four move found himself in a Sicilian Kalashnikov variation following 4...e5 which he hadn't examined in a long time. Svidler decided to avoid the sharper variations. Andreikin more or less got what he wanted and even entertained the notion he might be better at one point. It seems 16...b5 is not the best (16...Bxd5) as 17.Qg3! gave Svidler a risk free advantage. 20.f4 was the star move of the game and it set Andreikin problems he could not solve. Andreikin blundered fatally with 22...Bd3? after which Svidler's 23.Bxd3 cd 24.Nf5! gave him a winning position. Svidler only had to accurately calculate how to stop black's running pawns.

Vladimir Kramnik was the final winner of the day playing a new variation of the Queen's Gambit Accepted against Sergey Karjakin with 9.a3 that he had initially prepared for last year's Candidates tournament in London (in the meantime this move has been played once). Kramnik said he couldn't remember all the details of his preparation having only briefly looked at it the day before but he had Karjakin on the back foot throughout the game. 23...Nxe3 seems to have been Karjakin's main chance to draw. After this time trouble, a weak king and a generally worse position eventually led to Karjakin's position collapsing.

Round 2 Standings: Anand, Kramnik, Svidler 1.5/2, Topalov, Aronian 1pt, Andreikin, Karjakin, Mamedyarov 0.5pts.

Round 3 pairings Sat 15th Mar 2014 9am GMT: Andreikin-Karjakin, Svidler-Kramnik, Topalov-Aronian, Mamedyarov-Anand

Notes in a PGN file in the body of the article. Also the official press release from the Media Centre of the FIDE World Candidates Tournament and their photos from the round.

Official Round 2 Press Release by the Media Centre of the FIDE World Candidates Tournament

Playing Hall in Khanty–Mansiysk

Playing Hall in Khanty–Mansiysk. Photo © http://candidates2014.fide.com/.

In the battle between two former World Champions, Veselin Topalov started his game with a flexible Reti setup, which is a kind of Bulgarian specialty as their Grandmasters achieve excellent results with white pieces.

It wasn't a great surprise that Viswanathan Anand responded by lining his favourite Slav structure.

White initiated an early skirmish in the center, but black didn't hesitate to sacrifice a pawn in order to complete the development.

Topalov's extra pawn was isolated and came under fire from the black rooks. Black's compensation appeared to be sufficient.

Anand-Topalov

Anand-Topalov which finished in a draw. Photo © http://candidates2014.fide.com/.

The queenside got cleared of pawns and white kept a 4P vs 3P advantage on the other side of the board. Anand immediately forced the exchange of the bishops and played the textbook 28…h5 to secure a draw.

Topalov played by the Sofia rules and the point was officially split on move 54.

Levon Aronian quickly bounced after the poor start to defeat Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in round two of Candidates Tournament.

Mamedyarov against Aronian

Mamedyarov against Aronian. Photo © http://candidates2014.fide.com/.

Mamedyarov defended with the Ragozin Queen's Gambit and Aronian avoided the sharpest lines by clarifying the central pawn structure early on.

The position resembled the Queen's Gambit Exchange Variation and appeared innocuous enough, but one careless knight move blocked the retreat route for black queen.

Aronian pounced on the opportunity to win the opponent's queen for a rook and minor piece.

However, converting the advantage was not that easy, as Aronian admitted in the press conference. If black consolidates the pieces he could even hold the game.

Aronian advanced his central pawn mass and then proceeded to maneuver in order to reach the time control.

As soon as the time was added to the clocks, Mamedyarov allowed the decisive d5-break and immediately resigned.

Dmitry Andreikin treated us with an old Sicilian defence, the Labourdonnais-Loewenthal variation. This opening was revived in the recent years as several top players used it with success and a number of opening manuals were published.

Peter Svidler

Peter Svidler. Photo © http://candidates2014.fide.com/.

Black apparently achieved the strategical aims, he traded the dark-squared bishops and struck the white pawns with 16…b5. But Svidler got some action going with the beautiful sequence that included 17.Qg3 and 20.f4.

It didn't take long before black cracked under pressure and erred with 22…Bd3. A retort 24.Nf5 revealed the poor positioning of black pieces that allowed all kinds of geometrical motives.

Black threw his pawns forward in the one last desperate attempt. He could only get a rook endgame being two pawns down. After the precise 31.Rd5 Andreikin gave up.

Svidler said that the opponent's opening choice was a complete surprise. It's been a long time since he looked at the variations. He conceded that after 11…Qg5 white doesn't have a slightest advantage. Andreikin agreed and added that he was very happy with his position.

Andreikin disliked 13.b4, while Svidler believes that 16…b5 was rash and suggested 16…Rfd8 instead.

Vladimir Kramnik

Vladimir Kramnik. Photo © http://candidates2014.fide.com/.

Vladimir Kramnik and Sergey Karjakin engaged in a popular sharp line of Queen's Gambit Accepted.

Black won a pawn but his advanced soldier on e4 was weak and a constant target of white's attack. A rook-lift to c5 ousted the black queen and Kramnik gave the c4-pawn to win the e6-pawn clearing the way for his strong passer.

With Karjakin being low on time, Kramnik sacrificed an exchange to install the knight on the strong outpost.

This was an excellent practical decision as Karjakin couldn't be precise in parrying all the threats with only minutes on clock. Black dropped the guard and 34.Rc5-35.Nc6 won the material back with interest. Faced with further loses Karjakin resigned.

Kramnik said that he prepared 9.a3 for the last year's Candidates Tournament, but he didn't have a chance to use it before. He sensed that Karjakin might play the QGA and he reviewed the lines this morning.

Karjakin thought about retreating the knight 9…N4d5 because he understood that Kramnik deeply analysed the position, but he decided to be principled and took the bishop on e4.

Playing Hall in Khanty–Mansiysk

Playing Hall in Khanty–Mansiysk. Photo © http://candidates2014.fide.com/.

The FIDE World Candidates Tournament is taking place March 11th-April 1st, 2014 at the Ugra Chess Academy in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

The event is sponsored by the Khanty–Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug and Sibur, and organized by FIDE, Russian Chess Federation and Ugra Chess Federation.

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 * * . . . . ½ . 1 . . . . . . . 3000
2. Kramnik, Vladimir g RUS 2787 . . * * . . . . . . ½ . 1 . . . 2930
3. Svidler, Peter g RUS 2758 . . . . * * . . . . 1 . ½ . . . 2930
4. Topalov, Veselin g BUL 2785 ½ . . . . . * * . . . . . . ½ . 1 2763
5. Aronian, Levon g ARM 2830 0 . . . . . . . * * . . . . 1 . 1 2763
6. Andreikin, Dmitry g RUS 2709 . . ½ . 0 . . . . . * * . . . . ½ 2579
7. Karjakin, Sergey g RUS 2766 . . 0 . ½ . . . . . . . * * . . ½ 2579
8. Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar g AZE 2757 . . . . . . ½ . 0 . . . . . * * ½ 2614
Round 2 (March 14, 2014)
Kramnik, Vladimir - Karjakin, Sergey 1-0 39 D20 QGA
Svidler, Peter - Andreikin, Dmitry 1-0 31 B32 Sicilian Labourdonnais
Topalov, Veselin - Anand, Viswanathan ½-½ 54 A09 Reti Opening
Aronian, Levon - Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 1-0 44 D38 QGD Ragozin

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