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FIDE World Chess Championship Candidates London 2013 (14)

Carlsen's grim determination means Candidates destiny back in his own hands

Carlsen's fate is in his own hands in the final round of the Candidates but this is really not over! Photo © Ray Morris-Hill

Carlsen's fate is in his own hands in the final round of the Candidates but this is really not over! Photo © Ray Morris-Hill |

The FIDE Candidates tournament round 13 saw almost unbearable tension over 7 hours before the final results were in. Vladimir Kramnik held a half point lead and he had white against Boris Gelfand whereas Magnus Carlsen who was half a point behind had black against a really dispirited Teimour Radjabov. The results were a win for Carlsen and a draw for Kramnik. This means the two are tied on 8.5/13 with a round to go. Carlsen has an extra win (and an extra loss!) compared to Kramnik which means so long as he matches Kramnik's result in the final round he will qualify for a World Chess Championship match against Viswanthan Anand. I really believe that these tie-break criterion are just plain wrong and if they tie they should have been a rapid and if necessary blitz play off scheduled but it's too late now.

Does this mean that Carlsen is big favourite to qualify? I don't believe so. Today Carlsen's and Kramnik's last round opponents met and Peter Svidler clearly was seeing very good lines in beating Vassily Ivanchuk who eventually lost his 5th game on time 4 moves short of the time control. In addition whilst Kramnik looks very tired he played pretty well against Gelfand (who also played quite well). Carlsen looked completely done in at his press conference and was remarkably candid about his bad mental state after his loss to Ivanchuk. Carlsen didn't play all that well today but he forced himself to play on against an opponent in an equal position until time and his opponent's complete lack of confidence won him the game. Carlsen was not elated at his press conference he won because "as long as I couldn't lose I had to keep on playing." He summed up his final round chances "I don't know I just know that now I'm back in the running and that's, after my last game, that's all I can ask for."

On Monday we will see chess history written, almost certainly not great chess. In all honesty much though we like to see the best player win it's more likely to come down to something random. Carlsen probably is slight favourite as two draws will see him through and he has white and Kramnik has black but the other factors may come into play more. Carlsen plays a relaxed Svidler with white, Kramnik has black but he faces Ivanchuk who lost yet again in this round. I know which pairing I'd rather face if I were them (rather than being me...)

Round 13 Standings: Carlsen, Kramnik 8.5/13 (Carlsen qualifies if he matches Kramnik's R14 result), Aronian, Svidler 7, Grischuk, Gelfand 6, Ivanchuk 5, Rajdabov 4.

Final Round Pairings: 14: Carlsen-Svidler, Ivanchuk-Kramnik, Gelfand-Grischuk, Aronian-Radjabov.



Radjabov-Carlsen. Photo © Ray Morris-Hill

Magnus Carlsen surprised Teimour Radjabov with an unusual line in the Nimzo-Indian and got a small initiative and probable advantage but that had completely gone by first time control. Carlsen was very pessimistic at this stage. Rajdabov got into time trouble and in the end was surviving on the 30 second increment and crumbled.

Carlsen quotes:

It was tough, I was really upset after the last game, I couldn't sleep and I wasn't feeling so great today and I think I got a pleasant position at some point but I couldn't make any of it and then we got this endgame which is basically equal but I felt because of the tournament situation I have to try and take whatever little chance I might have.

What's going to happen tomorrow against Peter Svidler?

"I don't know I just know that now I'm back in the running and that's, after my last game, that's all I can ask for." - Carlsen.

Carlsen was asked what he did on the free day to be so psychologically strong in this game?

"I didn't really cope with the pressure in the last round before that so I don't think you should praise me too much for that. Since the last game I tried to focus on this one somehow but it wasn't too easy. But I had to play and it wasn't easy but I just did what I needed to do."

Didn't you think trying would expose you to a loss?

"I tried to keep some kind of balance. I noticed at some point when I played Ke5 there there was a little chance of getting mated I didn't see that so, ignorance is bliss. I think that there are virtually no losing chances for black it's very, very difficult to see how I'm going to win it's many, many moves ahead and I need cooperation but as long as I couldn't lose I had to keep on playing."

Radjabov,Teimour (2793) - Carlsen,Magnus (2872) [E32]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (13.1), 31.03.2013

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 d6

Carlsen plays a very rare variation of the Nimzo-Indian to try and put Radjabov on the back foot.

5.Nf3 Nbd7 6.g3 0-0 7.Bg2 e5 8.0-0

[8.dxe5 1-0 Rajlich,I (2399)-Lomineishvili,M (2437)/St Petersburg RUS 2009/The Week in Chess 750 (59)]

8...c6 9.Rd1 Re8 10.dxe5 dxe5 11.a3 Bxc3 12.Qxc3 Qe7 13.b4 Nb6 14.Be3 Ng4

"I misplayed the opening maybe around this part. Maybe I can take on b6 or something." - Rajdabov.

15.Nd2 f5 16.h3 Nxe3 17.Qxe3 e4!? 18.Rac1 Be6 19.Qc3 Rad8 20.Bf1 c5 21.bxc5 Na4 22.Qb4 Nxc5 23.Nb3 Rxd1 24.Rxd1 Na6 25.Qxe7 Rxe7 26.e3 Kf7

Magnus Carlsen


Teimour Radjabov

Position after 26...Kf7

"This has to be somewhat better for black, not by very much." Svidler.

27.Be2 b6 28.Rd8

"I wasn't sure why he allowed the rook to the 8th to be honest." - Svidler.


[28...Re8!? Svidler.]

29.Nd4 Kf6 30.Kf1 Rd7 31.Rf8+ Bf7 32.Ke1 g6 33.h4 h6 34.Rc8

Magnus Carlsen


Teimour Radjabov

Position after 34.Rc8

"Around this point I tried to regroup forcing him to make a decision whether to exchange one minor piece or a rook, just something to keep on playing and upset the balance a little bit" - Carlsen.

34...Be6 35.Rf8+ Rf7 36.Rh8 Rc7 37.Nb5 Rd7 38.Nd4 h5 39.Rf8+ Bf7

"The fact that the entire kingside is fixed on the light squares is not [good news for Carlsen]" - Svidler. "Of us two Magnus is still the better endgame technician so he probably knows something I don't." Svidler.

40.Rc8 Ke5

Magnus Carlsen


Teimour Radjabov

Position after 40...Ke5

"I thought around the time control that this isn't going to happen. I had no choice but to keep on going and fortunately he eventually crumbled." Carlsen didn't think he was really going to manage to win around this stage.


[41.Rc6 Radjabov.]

41...a6 42.Rc8 Rd6 43.Nc6+ Kf6 44.Nd4 Be6

"Black simply has no plan, not at least one that I can see to get anywhere because white's position is incredibly solid but the same applies to white." Svidler.

45.Rf8+ Ke7 46.Ra8 Rd7 47.Rb8 Rb7

Magnus Carlsen


Teimour Radjabov

Position after 47...Rb7

"In this position I don't have to exchange rooks in fact because it's not very hard for me to play." Radjabov who thought at the very least it was a practical mistake. "I was happy with the exchange of rooks because I think that increases my winning chances very slightly although the position is still a draw obviously. Probably it was a draw right until the end. I mean I don't know I couldn't calculate but I managed to keep the game going and he made enough mistake that it was like a win."

48.Rxb7+ Nxb7 49.Kd2 Kd6 50.Kc3 Bf7 51.Nb3 Ke5 52.Bf1 a5 53.Be2 Be6 54.Bf1 Bd7 55.Be2 Ba4 56.Nd4 Nc5 57.Kb2 Be8 58.Kc3 Bf7 59.Nc6+ Kd6 60.Nd4 Nd7 61.Nb5+ Kc5 62.Nd4 Ne5 63.Nb3+ Kc6 64.a4?

Magnus Carlsen


Teimour Radjabov

Position after 64...a4

"Maybe I didn't have to play a4, it was an important moment somehow. Which is ridiculous also from a practical point of view." Radjabov.

[64.Nd2 Kd6 "and it's maybe a draw. In my hands I'm not so sure." - Radjabov.]

64...Kd7 65.Nd4 Kd6 66.Nb5+ Kc5 67.Nd4 Be8 68.Nb3+ Kd6 69.c5+ Kc7 70.Kd4 Nc6+ 71.Kc3 Ne7 72.cxb6+ Kxb6 73.Nd2 Bxa4 74.Nc4+ Ka6 75.Na3+

[75.Nd6+ Kb6 76.Nc4+ Kc5 77.Nxa5]

75...Kb7 76.Nc4 Ka6

[76...Nc6 77.Nb2! was almost overlooked by Carlsen.]

77.Na3+ Ka7

Magnus Carlsen


Teimour Radjabov

Position after 77...Ka7

"The problem here is that you were so short on time it's not so easy to ... [work it out]" - Carlsen.

78.Kd4 Nc6+ 79.Kc5 Ne5 80.Nc4?!

[80.Nb5+ Kb7 81.Nc3 (81.Nd6+ Kc7 82.Nc4 Nd7+ (82...Nd3+ Carlsen 83.Kd4 Nc1) 83.Kd4 Bb5) 81...Bc6 82.Kd4 Nf7; 80.Kd4]

80...Nd3+ 81.Kd4

[81.Bxd3 exd3 82.Nd2]

81...Nc1 82.Bf1 Bb5 83.Nxa5?

Magnus Carlsen


Teimour Radjabov

Position after 83.Nxa5

Definitely loses.

[83.Kc3 a4 84.Kb2 Nd3+ 85.Bxd3 exd3 86.Nd2 Kb6 87.Kc3; 83.Kc3 and play goes on.]

83...Bxf1 84.Nc6+ Kb6 85.Ne7 Nd3 86.Nxg6 Kc7 87.Ne7 Bh3 88.Nd5+ Kd6 89.Nf6 Bg4 0-1



Kramnik-Gelfand. Photo © Ray Morris-Hill

Vladimir Kramnik yet again surprised if not shocked his opponent in the opening. Kramnik got a big time advantage and a better position but Boris Gelfand kept active and at first time control the position does seem to just about hold for him.

Kramnik,Vladimir - Gelfand,Boris [E60]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (13.3), 31.03.2013

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 c6 4.Bg2 d5 5.e3

"I think in a practical sense it's a good choice. I doubt such a move can give an advantage. Finally I think I got a bit better position out of the opening. Maybe he introduce more than all of us altogether. Even on move 5 he always comes up with a great idea." - Kramnik. "Quite an interesting move it's amazing how many moves Vladimir can introduce." - Gelfand.

[5.Nc3 Bg7 6.Bg5 dxc4 7.Nf3 Nd5 8.0-0 0-0 9.Rc1 Nd7 10.Qd2 Re8 11.Ne4 N7f6 12.Nc5 b6 13.e4 bxc5 14.exd5 Ne4 15.Qf4 cxd5 16.Bh6 cxd4 17.Bxg7 Kxg7 18.Qe5+ f6 19.Qxd4 e5 20.Qe3 Qb6 21.Qa3 Be6 22.Rc2 Rac8 23.Nh4 Ng5 24.Rd1 e4 25.Rcd2 Nf7 26.Bf1 Ne5 27.Kg2 g5 28.f4 Ng4 29.fxg5 fxg5 30.Qc3+ Kg8 31.Rd4 gxh4 32.gxh4 Qd6 33.Qh3 Qf4 0-1 Gonzalez Ramirez,M-Prada,F/Las Palmas 1995]


[5...Bg7 6.Ne2 Nbd7 7.cxd5 cxd5 8.Nbc3 with already a very comfortable position for white according to Gelfand.]


"Of course there are many ways to protect the pawn and then the game gets very sharp and of course the one who has checked it with the computer has some advantage always." - Kramnik.

6...Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Na3 Nbd7

[8...Be6 and the computer gives some "very strange" lines according to Kramnik which are supposedly better for black.]


"A comfortable plus for white but it's very solid for black anyway." - Kramnik.

9...Nb6 10.Na5

[10.b3 c5 11.Ba3]


"Almost only move" - Kramnik.

11.b4 e5 12.dxe5

[12.Ba3 Rd8]

12...Qxe5 13.Nd4 Ne4 14.Qc2 Re8

Boris Gelfand


Vladimir Kramnik

Position after 14...Re8

Kramnik thought he might have overestimated his position here.

15.Ba3 Qe7

[15...h5 16.b5 (16.Rac1 h4 17.b5 hxg3 18.hxg3 c5 very sharp.) 16...c5]


[16.Qd3 Kramnik. 16...Bf8 (16...h5 17.Rad1 h4 18.b5 c5 19.Bxe4 hxg3 20.hxg3 with some compensation for the pawn according to Gelfand.) 17.Bb2]

16...h5 17.Rd3

"Rd3 is probably not a bad move but Boris played very well because now..." Kramnik. "Only moves already" - Gelfand.


"Blacks position is kind of active but just blow a little bit and it collapses." - Kramnik.


[18.Naxc6 "Doesn't seem to work." Kramnik and Gelfand. 18...bxc6 19.Qxc6 Bb7 20.b5 Bxc6 21.Bxe7 Bxd4 22.Bxe4 and black wins.; 18.Qb3 Nc7 Gelfand. (18...Ndf6 19.b5 c5 Kramnik.) ]


[18...Ndf6 Kramnik. 19.f3 "f3 I don't like [for me]" Gelfand. 19...Ng5 20.b5]]


[19.f3 Ng5 (19...Nec3!) 20.fxg4 Nxe3 "I didn't even want to. It's too dangerous is f3." - Kramnik.; 19.Ndxc6 bxc6 20.Nxc6 Qe6 Gelfand. (20...Qf6 Kramnik. 21.Rxd5 Nc3 All very wild!) 21.Rxd5 Nc3 Again balanced.]


Bxd4 "strange move" - Kramnik but he didn't see another move for black.


20.Rxd4 Ng5 21.Qd3

[21.e4 Nf3+ (21...Nc7) 22.Bxf3 Bxf3 23.Qb3 "Finally winning" - Kramnik. 23...Bxe4 24.Re1 f5 25.f3 Qf6 26.Bb2 Bxf3 27.Rxe8+ Rxe8 28.Qxf3 Re1+ "A bit scarey" - Kramnik. Computers have it equal!! 29.Kf2 Rb1 (29...f4? 30.Kxe1 does winl.; 29...Qe6 "Maybe I was winning but quite scarey." - Kramnik.) 30.Qe2 f4 31.Rxd5 Rxb2 32.Rd2 fxg3+ 33.Kg2 Rxd2 34.Qxd2]



22.Bxf3 Bxf3 23.b5

Boris Gelfand


Vladimir Kramnik

Position after 23.b5

"Black can't even create a threat. I think I'm clearly better here." - Kramnik.

23...Qe6 24.Nxb7

[24.bxc6 bxc6 25.Nxc6 Nxe3 Gelfand. "So maybe I did it right." - Kramnik.]

24...cxb5 25.Nd6 Qh3 26.Qf1 Qxf1+ 27.Kxf1 Re6 28.Nxb5 Rb8 29.Nd6


29...Nf6 30.Rf4


30...Bd5 31.Rc2


31...Ne4 32.Nxf7 Ra6 33.Bc1 Re8 34.Rc7 Rxa2 35.Nh6+ Kh8 36.Nf7+ Kg8 37.f3 Bxf7 38.Rfxf7 Rd8 39.Rg7+ Kf8 40.Rgf7+ Kg8

Boris Gelfand


Vladimir Kramnik

Position after 40...Kg8

Time control and it seems with best play this is a draw. Kramnik thought for quite a long time but couldn't find a way through.

41.Ke1 Nc5 42.Rg7+ Kf8 43.Rgf7+ Kg8 44.Rg7+ Kf8 45.Rh7 Nd3+ 46.Kf1 Kg8 47.Rcg7+ Kf8 48.Rf7+ Kg8 49.Rfg7+ Kf8 50.Rb7 Kg8 51.Rhg7+ Kf8 52.Rgc7 Nxc1 53.Rxc1 Rxh2 54.Kg1 Re2 55.e4 a5 56.Ra7 a4 57.Rb1 a3 58.Rxa3 Rdd2 59.Ra7 Rg2+ 1/2-1/2



Svidler-Ivanchuk. Photo © Ray Morris-Hill

Peter Svidler played an interesting game against Vassily Ivanchuk in a French Defence but then Ivanchuk missed the probable best as he got into severe time pressure and was left with about a minute for 10 moves in a much worse position and obviously lost.

Svidler,Peter (2747) - Ivanchuk,Vassily (2757) [C02]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (13.4), 31.03.2013

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Bd7 6.Be2 Nge7 7.0-0 Ng6 8.g3 cxd4 9.cxd4 f6 10.exf6 Qxf6 11.Bg5 Qf7 12.Be3 h6 13.Nc3 Bd6 14.Nb5 Bb8 15.Ne5

[15.Rc1 0-0 16.a3 Qf6 17.b4 a6 18.Nc3 Ba7 19.b5 Na5 20.a4 Bb8 21.Ne1 Bd6 22.f4 Rfc8 23.Nf3 Bb4 24.Ne5 Nxe5 25.dxe5 Qe7 26.Bd4 axb5 27.Nxb5 Rxc1 28.Qxc1 Bxb5 29.Bxb5 0-1 Jonkman,H (2491)-Firman,N (2494)/Lvov UKR 2001/The Week in Chess 373]

15...Ngxe5 16.dxe5

Svidler thought Ivanchuk was in a principled mood and he wanted to ask him what he wanted to do here.

16...Nxe5 17.Bc5

Vassily Ivanchuk


Peter Svidler

Position after 17.Bc5

"I tried working out what's going on here but it's very difficult." - Svidler.


[17...h5 Svidler didn't have any direct threats so thought this might be possible. "Just to stop Bh5 forever. I will never have this option ever again." - Svidler. 18.Rc1 h4 19.Nd6+ Bxd6 20.Bxd6 Nc4; 17...a6 18.Nd4 "With very, very nice compensation for the pawn." Svidler.]


"It seemed to me a very ambitious try" Svidler.

[18.Bxc4 dxc4 19.Nd6+ Bxd6 20.Qxd6 Rc8 21.Rad1 Rc6 22.Qb8+ Bc8 23.Qxa7 Qf5]

18...b6 19.Bb4

[19.bxc4 bxc5 20.cxd5 0-0 21.d6 Bc6 "Hugely unclear but most likely ending up very equal." - Svidler.; 19.Bd4 Bxb5 (19...Ne5 20.f4 Ng6 21.Rc1 0-0 22.Nc7 Bxc7 23.Rxc7 Rfc8) 20.bxc4 Bxc4 21.Bxc4 dxc4 22.Bxg7 "Which I thought was very important." Svidler. 22...Qxg7 23.Qf3 Bxg3!! Not spotted by Svidler but really quite nice. 24.Qc6+ (24.Qxa8+ Ke7 25.Qxa7+ Bc7+ 26.Kh1 Qe5 still equal!) 24...Ke7 25.hxg3 Rac8 26.Qb7+ Kf6 27.Qf3+ Kg5 28.Qe3+ Kg6 with draw.]

19...a5 20.Bc3! Bxb5 21.Bh5 g6 22.Bxh8 gxh5 23.Re1

Vassily Ivanchuk


Peter Svidler

Position after 23.Re1

[23.bxc4 Bxc4 24.Re1 Bd6 "and black has a very solid structure. I don't see why I'm playing for a win here." - Svidler]


Probably not the best according to Svidler.

[23...Nd6! 24.Qxd5 Kd7!! "And this position is very, very tricky." Svidler spotted this whilst waiting for Ivanchuk to move. 25.Qxa8 Bc6 26.Qxb8 Qf3 27.Qa7+ Kc8 28.Qa6+ Equal. 28...Kc7 29.Qa7+ (29.Kf1 Qg2+ 30.Ke2 Bb5+ 31.Qxb5 Nxb5 "Probably OK for black objectively but I can continue playing." - Svidler.) 29...Nb7 30.Be5+ Kd7 31.Rad1+ Ke7 32.Kf1 Bb5+ 33.Rd3 Bxd3+ 34.Kg1 Bf5 "draws, well good luck finding that." Svidler gives a line his team told him after the game.]

24.bxc4 Bxc4 25.Qd4

"Here I am much better as I'm in time to set up a blockade." - Svidler.


[25...Kd7 26.Qg7+! Kc6 27.Qe7 (27.Qg8 was Svidler's suggestion tring to tie black on the 8th rank but 27...Kb7 28.Qxe6 Qxe6 29.Rxe6 Bxg3!! is only a bit better for white according to Houdini.) 27...Bd6 28.Rxe6 Qxe6 29.Qxe6 Rxh8 30.a4 White wins on material.]

26.Be5 0-0-0 27.Rac1 Rd7 28.a4

Vassily Ivanchuk


Peter Svidler

Position after 28.a4

"I'm not entirely sure about 28.a4, this may have been a mistake. I was trying very hard not to play against the flag but against somebody who will have a minute in a second a move like this giving him a plethora of options is maybe not such a bad idea." - Svidler.


"Qg4 came as a bit of a shock frankly but I don't think the variation changes very much I can play Qe3." - Svidler.

29.Qe3 h4

Achieves nothing but black is in trouble on the board and clock.

[29...d4 30.Qxh6 d3 (30...Bxe5 31.Rxc4+) 31.f3 (31.h3) 31...Qxf3 32.Rxc4 d2 33.Rxc7+ Rxc7 34.Qxd2 "Just in time otherwise it might get actually a bit tricky." Svidler.]

30.Qxh6 hxg3 31.hxg3

Vassily Ivanchuk


Peter Svidler

Position after 31.hxg3

"This has to be lost objectively and also against half a minute I'm favourite to convert this I think." - Svidler.


"Everything is collapsing because there are so many weaknesses." Svidler.

32.Bf4 Re7 33.Bg5 Kd7 34.Bxe7 Bxe7 35.Kg2 Bc5 36.f3 Qf5 37.Qg7+

"And here Vassily lost on time but the evaluation shouldn't be in much doubt." - Svidler. "I'm guaranteed a non-negative score which is very important."



Most probably Aronian just wants to go home. Grischuk made him work reasonably hard for a draw. I didn't see their press conference so there isn't much I can say about their game.


Grischuk-Aronian. Photo © Ray Morris-Hill

FIDE Candidates London (ENG), 15 iii-1 iv 2013 cat. XXII (2787)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
1. Kramnik, Vladimir g RUS 2810 * * ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ . ½ 1 2895
2. Carlsen, Magnus g NOR 2872 ½ ½ * * ½ ½ 1 . 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 2886
3. Aronian, Levon g ARM 2809 ½ 0 ½ ½ * * ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 0 1 1 1 . 7 2811
4. Svidler, Peter g RUS 2747 ½ 0 0 . ½ 1 * * ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 7 2815
5. Grischuk, Alexander g RUS 2764 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ * * ½ . ½ 1 ½ ½ 6 2764
6. Gelfand, Boris g ISR 2740 ½ ½ 0 0 0 1 ½ ½ ½ . * * ½ ½ ½ 1 6 2766
7. Ivanchuk, Vassily g UKR 2757 ½ . ½ 1 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ * * 0 1 5 2702
8. Radjabov, Teimour g AZE 2793 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 . 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 1 0 * * 4 2642
Round 13 (March 31, 2013)
Kramnik, Vladimir - Gelfand, Boris ½-½ 59 E60 King's Indian without Nc3
Svidler, Peter - Ivanchuk, Vassily 1-0 37 C02 French Advance
Grischuk, Alexander - Aronian, Levon ½-½ 38 D11 Slav Defence
Radjabov, Teimour - Carlsen, Magnus 0-1 89 E32 Nimzo Indian 4.Qc2

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