Candidates Rd1: The Madras Tiger breaks Aronian

by Albert Silver
3/13/2014 – Just when you thought you could almost plan the final crosstable, round one threw all the predictions out the window. While the other games ended in disappointing draws, Vishy Anand, the Madras Tiger, defeated the pundit favorite, Levon Aronian, after neutralizing his opening and then outplaying him for a fantastic first win. Illustrated report with analysis by GM Gilberto Milos.

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The FIDE Candidates Tournament is taking place in Khanty-Mansiysk (Russia). The first round will start on Thursday, March 13 at 3 p.m. local time, the final round is on Sunday, March 30, 2014. The event is a double round robin (14 rounds). The time control is 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 and 15 minutes for the rest of the game plus an additional 30 seconds per move starting from move 61.

The tournament will determine the challenger who will face the reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen in a title match later this year. The prize fund is 600,000 Euros (= US $832,000), the first place 135,000 and last (8th) place 25,000 Euros.

The eight candidates, sorted by their March 2014 rankings, are:

# Candidate Country
rating
w-rank
1 Levon Aronian Armenia
2830
2
2 Vladimir Kramnik Russia
2787
3
3 Veselin Topalov Bulgaria
2785
4
4 Viswanathan Anand India
2770
8
5 Sergey Karjakin Russia
2766
9
6 Peter Svidler Russia
2758
11
7 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov Azerbaijan
2757
13
8 Dmitry Andreikin Russia
2709
42

The average rating of this event is 2770. If you are missing players like Fabiano Caruana, Alexander Grischuk, Hikaru Nakamura (numbers 5–7 in the world rankings) they you should know that the qualification for the Candidates was not based on rating but on other criteria: Anand qualified by virtue of being the loser of the 2013 World Championship match; Kramnik and Andreikin by being the two top finishers in the World Cup 2013; Topalov and Mamedyarov by being the top two finishers of the FIDE Grand Prix 2012/13; Aronian and Karjakin on the basis of rating; and Svidler as the organizing committee's wild card.

Round one

Round one – 13.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Andreikin Dmitry
½-½
Kramnik Vladimir
Karjakin Sergey
½-½
Svidler Peter
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
½-½
Topalov Veselin
Anand Viswanathan
1-0
Aronian Levon

The opening round of the 2014 Candidate tournament was a mixture of great excitement and cautious play.

The players wait for the games to start

The tournament is officially launched with the symbolic first move

A fisheye view of the playing hall where the next challenger for the world champion will be decided

For Dmitri Andreikin and Vladimir Kramnik, it was an opportunity to see whether Kramnik would try to bully his way past Andreikin, or whether Andreikin would be content to neutralize his prestigious opponent. Andreikin is a superb technical player, but is not one prone to taking risks, and it bears remembering that during his superb runner-up performance at the World Cup last year, losing to the former world champion, he had only won a single classical game, winning nearly all his matches in the rapid tiebreaks.  

Both Kramnik and Andreikin showed how well-prepared they were

To those seeing the opening played for the first time, it might have seemed like sharp action was taking place, but the entire Nimzo-Indian line played was a rinse-and-repeat operation that had been seen up until the 21st move last year in Mamedyarov-Kramnik (Moscow, 2013). That game ended in a draw shortly after on the 26th move, and today was not a big improvement.

A significantly more svelte Svidler faces Karjakin

Sergey Karjakin went for a less usual line against Peter Svidler’s Sicilian Taimanov with 8.f4 b5 9.e5, but got good play and seemed to have the edge in the opposite-side castling attack. Somehow he never seemed to really get going, perhaps a little too positional, and probably missed Svidler’s 22…Bc4! That was good enough for the draw.

The players share their thoughts in the post-mortem press conference

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov’s game against Veselin Topalov was another animal altogether, and it was no surprise. After all, both players really must be considered far and away the most dynamic of the entire lineup, and their game did not disappoint.

The Bulgarian played a novelty in an offbeat Gruenfeld (6…c5!?) in which he seemed very well prepared. It was not enough to force the Azeri into trouble and they simplified into a symmetrical queenless middlegame that seemed headed to a draw.

Mamedyarov and Topalov share notes after the game

This was not to Topalov’s liking who tried to inject some dynamism into the position with 19…a5?! but this was a mistake, and suddenly he was worse, fighting for the draw. At the end, Mamedyarov missed his best chance to keep the pressure and they shook hands on move 36.

Vishy Anand blew away the bookies

The game of the day was Vishy Anand, who was paired in round one against the top seed and pundits’ favorite, Levon Aronian.

GM Gilberto Milos annotates:

[Event "2014 Candidates"] [Site "Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia"] [Date "2014.03.13"] [Round "1"] [White "Anand, Vishy"] [Black "Aronian, Levon"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C88"] [WhiteElo "2770"] [BlackElo "2830"] [Annotator "GM Gilberto Milos"] [PlyCount "93"] [SourceDate "2014.03.10"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. h3 Bb7 9. d3 d5 10. exd5 Nxd5 11. Nbd2 {This is Anand´s idea. It's also possible to take on e5 directly.} Qd7 {As far as I know this is a novelty though not a good one. Black was doing well with other moves;} (11... Nf4 12. Ne4 Na5 13. Bxf4 exf4 14. d4 {Was played in Topalov-Leko (2009).}) (11... f6 12. c3 Kh8 { took place in Anand-Caruana (2013) and Black won.}) 12. Nxe5 Nxe5 13. Rxe5 Nf6 14. Re1 $1 {The exclamation mark is not so much for the move as it is for the entire plan used by Anand to try to refute Black's idea.} Rae8 15. Nf3 Bd6 16. Be3 Re7 (16... Nd5 {was certainly an option.}) 17. d4 Rfe8 18. c3 h6 ({Again Black has the option} 18... Nd5 19. Bd2) 19. Ne5 $1 {The key to White's strategy: Give the pawn back to simplify into an endgame with the two bishops.} Bxe5 20. dxe5 Rxe5 21. Qxd7 Nxd7 22. Red1 Nf6 {After this move Black is in big trouble.} ({A better and perhaps necessary try would be} 22... Nc5 23. Bxc5 ( 23. Bc2 Na4) 23... Rxc5 24. Rd7 Re2 $14 {with counterplay and good chances of holding.}) 23. c4 $1 c6 (23... Be4 24. Rac1 c6 (24... bxc4 25. Bxc4 Bd5) 25. a4 {is also very good for White.}) 24. Rac1 R5e7 25. a4 {Black has too many problems in this simple position and I believe is already lost. I checked the game with the computer and was unable to find a clear improvement for Black from here on.} bxc4 26. Bxc4 Nd5 27. Bc5 Re4 28. f3 R4e5 29. Kf2 {[%cal Rc5f8, Rc5a7,Rc5a3,Rc5e3,Yc4a6,Yc4e6,Yc4e2,Yc4a2] The bishops control the entire board.} Bc8 30. Bf1 R5e6 31. Rd3 Nf4 32. Rb3 {The weaknesses in the queen side are decisive. Black is just lost.} Rd8 33. Be3 Nd5 34. Bd2 Nf6 35. Ba5 Rde8 ( 35... Rd4 36. Rb8) 36. Rb6 Re5 37. Bc3 Nd5 38. Bxe5 Nxb6 39. Bd4 Nxa4 (39... Nd5 40. Rxc6) (39... c5 40. Rxc5) 40. Rxc6 Rd8 41. Rc4 {And the knight is trapped.} Bd7 42. b3 Bb5 43. Rb4 Nb2 44. Bxb5 axb5 45. Ke3 (45. Ke2 {would have been a mistake due to} Nc4 $1) 45... Re8+ ({After} 45... Nd1+ 46. Ke2 { the knight has nowhere to go.}) 46. Kd2 Rd8 47. Kc3 {If 47...Nd1 then 48. Kc2 and the knight is lost. A great game by Anand but a very poor one by Levon who lost a classic thematic endgame illustrating the well-known power of the bishop pair.} 1-0

Something has gone wrong

An absolutely fantastic victory for the Indian, who was on everyone’s list of ‘maybe has a chance’ to ‘no chance’. This may seem grossly unfair to the great player, but it was not so much based on what he can do as his apparent see-sawing motivation and form in the last years. As it is, in just one game, in round one, he has turned the tournament’s forecasts on their head, and made the tournament a far more interesting affair. We love it.

About Gilberto Milos

GM Gilberto Milos is a veteran grandmaster who has been six-times Brazilian champion, and is one of only four Brazilian players to break into the world's Top 100. He has represented Brazil no fewer than nine times in the Olympiads, and in 2000, took third in the Chess World Cup, behind Anand and Bareev.

In 2014, during a rapid tournament in Brazil, he was not only the only player to hold Magnus Carlsen to a draw, but did so twice in fact. He will play for Brazil in the 2014 Olympiads and is the team captain.

The Wild Card

One topic that must be considered exceptionally controversial is the usage of the Wild Card. An example of emails received on the subject can be seen in:

Boo to the Candidates Tournament for allowing the organizers to pick a Wild Card. While Peter Svidler is an exceptional player, missing three of the Top 10 players is a shame. (...) Time to end this practice for such high stakes events and require only objective, agreed-in-advance criteria such as rating or performance in qualifying events. -- (Jason Rihel, London)

It is hard not to agree with the readers on this. While it is understandable to allow a sponsor-organizer to add a player in an unofficial event such as the Grand Slam events, or even individual stages of the FIDE Grand Prix, the use of a Wild Card in the Candidates tournament, an event that qualifies a player directly to a match for the World Championship is completely inappropriate. It not only takes away from the strict qualification steps that others underwent, such as winning the FIDE Grand Prix series, or the World Cup, but allows potentially less (or much less) worthy participants a shot at the world title for no other reason than they are fortunate enough to be from the organizing country and in the good graces of the organizers. The potential for abuse and corruption is clear.

No one is suggesting there is foul play involved, but in no way can this be viewed as fair to the players not chosen, nor even the players who did qualify by their shining standard.

Pictures from official site

GM Daniel King present highlights of round one

Games of the round:

[Event "FIDE Candidates 2014"] [Site "Khanty-Mansiysk RUS"] [Date "2014.03.13"] [Round "1.1"] [White "Andreikin, Dmitry"] [Black "Kramnik, Vladimir"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [WhiteElo "2709"] [BlackElo "2787"] [ECO "E32"] [Opening "Nimzo-Indian"] [Variation "classical variation"] [EventDate "2014.03.13"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 O-O 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 d5 7. Nf3 dxc4 8. Qxc4 b6 9. Bg5 Ba6 10. Qa4 Qd7 11. Qc2 c5 12. dxc5 Rc8 13. Bxf6 gxf6 14. Qe4 Qb5 15. b4 bxc5 16. e3 Qb7 17. Qg4+ Kf8 18. b5 Bxb5 19. Rb1 a6 20. a4 f5 21. Qf4 Qe4 22. Qxe4 fxe4 23. axb5 exf3 24. b6 Rd8 25. gxf3 Nc6 26. f4 Nb4 27. Bg2 Rab8 28. b7 Nd5 29. O-O Rd7 30. Rfc1 Rdxb7 31. Rxb7 Rxb7 32. Bxd5 exd5 1/2-1/2 [Event "FIDE Candidates 2014"] [Site "Khanty-Mansiysk RUS"] [Date "2014.03.13"] [Round "1.2"] [White "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Black "Svidler, Peter"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [WhiteElo "2766"] [BlackElo "2758"] [ECO "B48"] [Opening "Sicilian"] [Variation "Taimanov variation"] [EventDate "2014.03.13"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Qc7 6. Be3 a6 7. Qd2 Nf6 8. f4 b5 9. e5 Ng4 10. Bg1 Bb7 11. O-O-O Nxd4 12. Bxd4 Be7 13. Bd3 f5 14. h3 Nh6 15. Rhg1 O-O 16. Qe3 Rac8 17. Kb1 Bc6 18. Ne2 Bd5 19. g4 g6 20. b3 Qb7 21. Rdf1 a5 22. Ng3 Bc4 23. Be4 Bd5 24. Bd3 Bc4 25. Be4 Bd5 26. Bd3 1/2-1/2 [Event "FIDE Candidates 2014"] [Site "Khanty-Mansiysk RUS"] [Date "2014.03.13"] [Round "1.3"] [White "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Black "Aronian, Levon"] [Result "1-0"] [WhiteElo "2770"] [BlackElo "2830"] [ECO "C88"] [Opening "Ruy Lopez"] [Variation "closed, 7...O-O"] [EventDate "2014.03.13"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. h3 Bb7 9. d3 d5 10. exd5 Nxd5 11. Nbd2 Qd7 12. Nxe5 Nxe5 13. Rxe5 Nf6 14. Re1 Rae8 15. Nf3 Bd6 16. Be3 Re7 17. d4 Rfe8 18. c3 h6 19. Ne5 Bxe5 20. dxe5 Rxe5 21. Qxd7 Nxd7 22. Red1 Nf6 23. c4 c6 24. Rac1 R5e7 25. a4 bxc4 26. Bxc4 Nd5 27. Bc5 Re4 28. f3 R4e5 29. Kf2 Bc8 30. Bf1 R5e6 31. Rd3 Nf4 32. Rb3 Rd8 33. Be3 Nd5 34. Bd2 Nf6 35. Ba5 Rde8 36. Rb6 Re5 37. Bc3 Nd5 38. Bxe5 Nxb6 39. Bd4 Nxa4 40. Rxc6 Rd8 41. Rc4 Bd7 42. b3 Bb5 43. Rb4 Nb2 44. Bxb5 axb5 45. Ke3 Re8+ 46. Kd2 Rd8 47. Kc3 1-0 [Event "FIDE Candidates 2014"] [Site "Khanty-Mansiysk RUS"] [Date "2014.03.13"] [Round "1.4"] [White "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"] [Black "Topalov, Veselin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [WhiteElo "2757"] [BlackElo "2785"] [ECO "D11"] [Opening "QGD Slav"] [Variation "Breyer variation"] [EventDate "2014.03.13"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nbd2 g6 5. e3 Bg7 6. Bd3 c5 7. dxc5 Na6 8. Nb3 dxc4 9. Bxc4 Qxd1+ 10. Kxd1 Ne4 11. Ke2 Naxc5 12. Nxc5 Nxc5 13. Bb5+ Bd7 14. Bxd7+ Kxd7 15. Rd1+ Ke8 16. Rb1 Rc8 17. Bd2 Ne4 18. Bb4 f5 19. Ne1 a5 20. Bxa5 Ra8 21. Rd5 b6 22. Bb4 Rxa2 23. Nd3 Kf7 24. Rc1 Rha8 25. Rc2 Nf6 26. Ne5+ Ke8 27. Rb5 R2a7 28. Ba3 Ra5 29. Rc7 Rxb5 30. Rxe7+ Kd8 31. Nf7+ Kc8 32. Nd6+ Kd8 33. Rxg7 Rd5 34. Nb7+ Kc8 35. Nd6+ Kd8 36. Nb7+ Kc8 1/2-1/2

Click on drop-down menu for all games

Schedule and results

Note: the games are played at 3 PM local time, which is 10 a.m. CET (Paris) and 5 a.m. EST (New York). Click here if you are uncertain what that means for your local time.

Round one – 13.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Andreikin Dmitry
½-½
Kramnik Vladimir
Karjakin Sergey
½-½
Svidler Peter
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
½-½
Topalov Veselin
Anand Viswanathan
1-0
Aronian Levon
Round two – 14.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Kramnik Vladimir
-
Karjakin Sergey
Svidler Peter
-
Andreikin Dmitry
Topalov Veselin
-
Anand Viswanathan
Aronian Levon
-
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
Round three – 15.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Andreikin Dmitry
-
Karjakin Sergey
Svidler Peter
-
Kramnik Vladimir
Topalov Veselin
-
Aronian Levon
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
-
Anand Viswanathan
Round four – 17.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
-
Andreikin Dmitry
Karjakin Sergey
-
Topalov Veselin
Aronian Levon
-
Svidler Peter
Anand Viswanathan
-
Kramnik Vladimir
Round five – 18.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Andreikin Dmitry
-
Anand Viswanathan
Karjakin Sergey
-
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
Svidler Peter
-
Topalov Veselin
Kramnik Vladimir
-
Aronian Levon
Round six – 19.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Aronian Levon
-
Andreikin Dmitry
Anand Viswanathan
-
Karjakin Sergey
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
-
Svidler Peter
Topalov Veselin
-
Kramnik Vladimir
Round seven – 21.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Karjakin Sergey
-
Aronian Levon
Svidler Peter
-
Anand Viswanathan
Kramnik Vladimir
-
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
Andreikin Dmitry
-
Topalov Veselin
Round eight – 22.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Kramnik Vladimir
-
Andreikin Dmitry
Svidler Peter
-
Karjakin Sergey
Topalov Veselin
-
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
Aronian Levon
-
Anand Viswanathan
Round nine – 23.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Karjakin Sergey
-
Kramnik Vladimir
Andreikin Dmitry
-
Svidler Peter
Anand Viswanathan
-
Topalov Veselin
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
-
Aronian Levon
Round ten – 25.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Karjakin Sergey
-
Andreikin Dmitry
Kramnik Vladimir
-
Svidler Peter
Aronian Levon
-
Topalov Veselin
Anand Viswanathan
-
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
Round eleven – 26.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Andreikin Dmitry
-
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
Topalov Veselin
-
Karjakin Sergey
Svidler Peter
-
Aronian Levon
Kramnik Vladimir
-
Anand Viswanathan
Round twelve – 27.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Anand Viswanathan
-
Andreikin Dmitry
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
-
Karjakin Sergey
Topalov Veselin
-
Svidler Peter
Aronian Levon
-
Kramnik Vladimir
Round thirteen – 29.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Andreikin Dmitry
-
Aronian Levon
Karjakin Sergey
-
Anand Viswanathan
Svidler Peter
-
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
Kramnik Vladimir
-
Topalov Veselin
Round fourteen – 30.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Aronian Levon
-
Karjakin Sergey
Anand Viswanathan
-
Svidler Peter
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
-
Kramnik Vladimir
Topalov Veselin
-
Andreikin Dmitry

Playchess commentary

Date Round English commentary German commentary
March 13 Round Simon Williams/Chris Ward Oliver Reeh/Merijn van Delft
March 14 Round 2 Daniel King/Simon Williams Oliver Reeh/Karsten Müller
March 15 Round 3 Simon Williams/Irina Krush Klaus Bischoff
March 17 Round 4 Alejandro Ramirez/Simon Williams Klaus Bischoff
March 18 Round 5 Daniel King/Chris Ward Klaus Bischoff
March 19 Round 6 Alej. Ramirez/Parimarjan Negi Oliver Reeh/Merijn van Delft
March 21 Round 7 Simon Williams/Daniel King Oliver Reeh/Merijn van Delft
March 22 Round 8 Daniel King/Yasser Seirawan Oliver Reeh/Karsten Müller
March 23 Round 9 Simon Williams/Alejandro Ramirez Oliver Reeh/Merijn van Delft
March 25 Round 10 Daniel King/Simon Williams Klaus Bischoff
March 26 Round 11 Alejandro Ramirez/Irina Krush Klaus Bischoff
March 27 Round 12 Daniel King/Yasser Seirawan Klaus Bischoff
March 29 Round 13 Daniel King/Irina Krush Klaus Bischoff
March 30 Round 14 Daniel King/Yasser Seirawan Klaus Bischoff

Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.


Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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