Elista Tiebreaks: Shirov, Gelfand, Aronian qualify

6/3/2007 – Alexei Shirov won two games in succession and drew the third against Michael Adams to move into the finals. Boris Gelfand beat Rustam Kasimdzhanov by the same score. Levon Aronian had a much tougher time against the bravest and most exciting player in the field: Magnus the Magnificent Carlsen, whom it took all the skill Lev could muster to beat. Full report with pictures and commentary.

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The Candidates Matches for the 2007 World Chess Championship Tournament will be held in Elista, Russia, from May 26 to June 14, 2007. A total of 16 candidates play two rounds of six-game matches to fill four places in the 2007 World Championship in Mexico City. The prize fund is US $40,000 per match, most of the money ($320,000) coming from a personal fund of FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, FIDE ($160,000) and the general sponsor, Rosenergomash.

Tiebreak report

 Player
T1
T2
T3
T4
B1
B2
 Tot. 
 Magnus Carlsen
0
½
½
1
0
0
2.0
 Levon Aronian
1
½
½
0
1
1
4.0
 
 Boris Gelfand
1
½
1
 
2.5
 Rustam Kasimdzhanov
0
½
0
 
0.5
 
 Michael Adams
0
0
½
 
0.5
 Alexei Shirov
1
1
½
 
2.5

Levon Aronian vs Magnus Carlsen

Game 1: Carlsen played an aggressive Benoni, and got an advantage in a rare line. But Black's position remained acceptable. Subsequent inaccuracies of the opponent allowed Aronian seizing space on the kingside, patch the Black's king and carry out a decisive break. Once again Aronian took the lead in the match.


The start of a very tense, dramatic encounter

Game 2: Playing White, Magnus selected an unpretentious opening, and Black equalized without any trouble. In the middlegame, Levon delivered a tactical blow but underestimated the opponent's strong reply, after which Black had to sacrifice a queen. Yet, the compensation appeared sufficient, and in the end Aronian even tried playing for a win. A draw was agreed after lengthy maneuvering. The score became 1.5-0.5 in Aronian's favor.


It's Magnus Carlsen, grandmaster, 16, facing Levon Aronian, No. five in the world

Game 3: The game proceeded to the endgame right from the opening. White could hardly claim an advantage. A position with opposite-colored bishop emerged, and a draw was agreed soon. The score became 2-1 in Aronian's favor.

Game 4: Carlsen could continue fighting for the qualification only by winning this game. He obtained a small advantage in the Queen's Indian. True to his active style, Aronian found an opportunity to complicate the struggle. Magnus reacted interestingly – he sacrificed a pawn and invaded the enemy territory with the queen, locking the Black's bishop in passing. Levon misplayed, and his position became difficult. In mutual time trouble, Carlsen did not find the best move, and the position turned drawish. Aronian could have claimed a threefold repetition, but continuing the game seemed without risk for Black. The queen ending was totally drawn, however, Black made an incomprehensible mistake (82...Qc1+??) and lost it. Carlsen tied the score 2:2, and the players proceeded to blitz games.


The toughest fight in the entire Candidates Matches

Games 5 and 6 (blitz): Supporters of the Armenian grandmaster were obviously worried whether he is able to recover after such a shocking loss. He did! Aronian dominated in both games, confirming his reputation of one of the best blitz players in the world. The tiebreak score was 4-2 (2-2, 2-0) in Aronian's favor.


Alexei Shirov vs Michael Adams

Game 1: Shirov, playing white, got a small advantage in a rare line of the Ruy Lopez due to better pawn structure. As yesterday, Alexei did not shy away from an ending with a small advantage, which looked quite defendable for Black. However, the story repeated again: series of inaccuracies led Black to a disaster. Shirov took the lead 1-0.


Alexei Shirov made short work of Britain's Michael Adams

Game 2: Adams selected the Italian Opening, striving for an unhurried positional game. However, Shirov had other plans, and he started active kingside operations by 9...g5!? Such turn of events took Adams unprepared, and he allowed the opponent to seize the initiative. With consequent play, Shirov developed strong pressure. Defending was difficult for Adams, and his inaccuracies made it easier for Shirov to convert the advantage. White resigned in view of inevitable mate. The score became 2-0 in Shirov's favor.

Game 3: Shirov went for a popular line of the Ruy Lopez, not trying to simplify the position. Adams was prepared for white's central activity and delivered a counterblow which led to an slightly better ending for Black. Shirov did not defend in the best way, and his situation became critical. However, Adams was unable to obtain a decisive advantage, Shirov survived in the game and secured the overall victory. The tiebreak score is 2.5-0.5 in Shirov's favor.


Rustam Kasimdzhanov vs Boris Gelfand

Game 1: Boris Gelfand, playing black, slightly modified his opening compared to the sixth game of the match. In a tense position, Kasimdzhanov misplayed on the 19th and 20th moves. Black won a pawn and seized the initiative. It is possible that Gelfand could hav won quicker, but the plan implemented in the game allowed him to create mating attack. Gelfand took the lead, 1-0.


Oh the pain between the temples: Rustam Kasimdzhanov going down to Boris Gelfand

Game 2: A tense middlegame position arose from the Anti-Meran with 6.Qc2. White executed a forced sequence in order to spoil Black's kingside pawn structure. However, Black acted very energetically, and in the endgame developed dangerous attack against the king. Serious time trouble made Gelfand's situation even worse. On the move 34, Black possibly could achieve a decisive advantage. Having missed this moment, Kasimdzhanov allowed the opponent to consolidate and save half a point. The score after two games is 1.5-0.5 in Gelfand's favor.

Game 3: Kasimdzhanov demonstrated a novelty in the Petroff Defense on the 14th move, and seized the initiative, in addition gaining two-time lead on the clock. However, being under the time pressure, Gelfand found the defense, while Rustam played imprecisely. White did not handle the position in the best way, miscalculated, lost a piece, and soon resigned. The final tiebreak score is 2.5-0.5 in Gelfand's favor.


Legendary world champion Boris Spassky enthralling the audience with commentary


The players hwo qualified for the finals: (from left to right) Evgeny Bareev, Alexei Shirov, Alexander Grischuk, Gata Kamsky, Boris Gelfand, Alexey Rublevsky, Peter Leko and Levon Aronian.

FIDE press director Peter Rajcsanyi summarized the event so far as follows:

The first round of the candidate matches resulted in many colorful and fire-packed games, a few real blunders (from among which many were made in the longer-time-control games), several good combinations, interesting rook sacrifices, not too many draws and a friendly atmosphere among the players, audience and officials.

The outside temperature was high and on many boards there were heated-up struggles in the main playing hall, too. The overall quality of the games is good and the excitement created by the arrangement of bringing all candidate matches into one place pleased most of the local and Internet spectators. On the Internet, the average number of daily visitors reached the sixty thousand level.

Magnus Carlsen is the hero of the first round – no doubt. He became the chess idol of the young Kalmykian girls who may or may not know chess (as he enjoys the same status in Norway, too) while his stamina as well as consistency has been admired all over the world by chess players. His friendly style, delightful and disarming smile and the candid answers pleased media people in the press center all the time. He successfully used the whole chess armory available for him although finally it was not enough against Aronian now. Next time, who knows…

Commentary from official web site, photos by Casto Abundo (FIDE)

Final standings

 Player
Rating
1
2
3
4
5
6
TB
 Tot. 
 Perf.*
 Magnus Carlsen
2693
0
½
1
0
1
½
2.0
5.0
2759
 Levon Aronian
2759
1
½
0
1
0
½
4.0
7.0
2693
 
 Peter Leko
2738
½
1
1
1
-
-
 
3.5
2973
 Mikhail Gurevich
2639
½
0
0
0
-
-
 
0.5
2400
 
 Ruslan Ponomariov
2717
½
½
0
½
½
½
 
2.5
2622
 Sergei Rublevsky
2680
½
½
1
½
½
½
 
3.5
2775
 
 Boris Gelfand
2733
½
½
½
½
½
½
2.5
5.5
2677
 Rustam Kasimdzhanov 
2677
½
½
½
½
½
½
0.5
3.5
2733
 
 Gata Kamsky
2705
½
1
1
1
-
-
 
3.5
3047
 Etienne Bacrot
2709
½
0
0
0
-
-
 
0.5
2367
 
 Alexander Grischuk
2717
1
½
½
1
½
-
 
3.5
2826
 Vladimir Malakhov
2679
0
½
½
0
½
-
 
1.5
2570
 
 Judit Polgar
2727
½
0
½
0
1
½
 
2.5
2585
 Evgeny Bareev
2643
½
1
½
1
0
½
 
3.5
2785
 
 Michael Adams
2734
½
½
½
1
½
0
0.5
3.5
2699
 Alexei Shirov
2699
½
½
½
0
½
1
2.5
5.5
2734

*Performance only calculated for the long games

Pairings for the Candidates Finals:

 Player
Rating
1
2
3
4
5
6
TB
 Tot. 
 Perf. 
 Levon Aronian
2759
                 
 Alexei Shirov
2699
                 
 
 Peter Leko
2738
                 
 Evgeny Bareev
2635
                 
 
 Sergei Rublevsky
2680
                 
 Alexander Grischuk
2717
                 
 
 Boris Gelfand
2733
                 
 Gata Kamsky 
2705
                 

Note that the colours may be different. We will modifiy the table if necessary

Links


Live coverage by Yasser Seirawan on Playchess


Playchess commentator GM Yasser Seirawan

The games of the Candidates Matches, which start at 15:00h local time (13:00h CEST), will be broadcast live on the official site and on Playchess.com server. On the latter there will be daily live audio commentary by GM Yasser Seirawan, with a minimum of three one hour lectures per round, beginning approximately thirty minutes after play has started. For a charge of ten Ducats (about one Euro) a visitor gets a twelve hour pass to listen to the live lectures. Furthermore, GM Seirawan will be awarding daily prizes of Gambit books to the person or persons who have been of the greatest assistance. "We are interested in verbal commentary about a given position (not computer generated analysis), as well as witty insights," he says. "Each and every one is welcome to join in the fun!”

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