FIDE Candidates R1 Tiebreak: Aronian out; Kramnik saved by the clock!

5/9/2011 – The surprises took place almost at the same time. Aronian was tied Grischuk, but lost the fourth game. Kramnik tied Radjabov in all four rapids, and then lost the first blitz (of two). With a dead drawn position and 15 seconds left each, the clock died! When they resumed, thirteen minutes later, Radjabov quickly lost, after which Kramnik took the second blitz match. Report with GM commentary.

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May 2011
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From 3 to 27 May 2011 the FIDE Candidates matches are being held in Kazan, the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, with eight strong GMs competing to qualify as Challenger for the 2012 World Champion match. Time controls in the four regular games are 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game, plus an additional 30 seconds per move starting from move 61. In case of a tie there will be four rapid chess games, and if the tie is still not broken then up to five two-game blitz matches 5'+3". Finally there may be a sudden-death final decider. The prize fund of the candidates is 500,000 Euros.
 

Scoreboard

 
Nat.
Rtg
G1
G2
G3
G4
R1
R2
R3
R4
Tot.
Levon Aronian
ARM
2808
½
½
½
½
0
1
½
0
3.5
Alexander Grischuk 
RUS
2747
½
½
½
½
1
0
½
1
4.5

 
Nat.
Rtg
G1
G2
G3
G4
R1
R2
R3
R4
Tot.
Vladimir Kramnik
RUS
2785
½
½
½
½
½
½
½
½
7.0
Teimour Radjabov 
AZE
2744
½
½
½
½
½
½
½
½
5.0

 
Nat.
Rtg
G1
G2
G3
G4
R1
R2
R3
R4
Tot.
Veselin Topalov
BUL
2775
½
0
½
½
       
1.5
Gata Kamsky
USA
2732
½
1
½
½
       
2.5

 
Nat.
Rtg
G1
G2
G3
G4
R1
R2
R3
R4
Tot.
Boris Gelfand
ISR
2733
½
½
1
½
       
2.5
Shak. Mamedyarov 
AZE
2772
½
½
0
½
       
1.5

Round one – Tiebreaks

The tiebreaks reserved a few more surprises for us, and not all were the usual kind. After some hard-fought games in the tournament control games of their match, but no decisive result, it all changed in the rapid tiebreak. Aronian was considered a big favorite considering his superb record in rapid games overall, and his multiple wins at Monaco among others, but Grischuk struck first blood with an impressive win in game one. Aronian equalized in the next game, and they drew the third. The fourth game was a Queen’s Gambit Declined, and was quite equal, when the Armenian missed a shot (18.b5!), and suddenly was worse. The Russian played superbly at this point, and won a queen for rook and knight. Despite his material advantage, it was not clear he would be able to convert, and top grandmasters on Playchess thought a draw likely. Grischuk saw it differently and applied maximum pressure to break through to the king with a decisive attack, and with it the match.


Lev Aronian, press officer Boris Kutin and Alexander Grischuk at the press conference

While this last game was taking place, Kramnik and Radjabov were already into their blitz tiebreaks, as the games between Aronian and Grischuk had taken considerably longer, and the game starts were not synchronized. Unfortunately, the significant dullness of the first four classic games, continued into the rapids, and a further lot of draws were presented to the spectators. The blitz games were another story though.

The structure of the blitz games was a mini-match of two games played at five minutes with a three second increment per move. Each match is potentially decisive, and up to five such matches could be played to decide a winner. In the first game, Kramnik went down in flames badly, and resigned one move before being mated. This essentially meant that he had an absolute must-win situation if he wanted to stay in the match. Things didn’t seem to be going his way as the position seemed headed for a draw. The pieces went off, no weaknesses appeared, and it went down to a rook and opposite-colored bishop ending where all considered the match a done deal. Kramnik understandably meant to play to the very end, and with fifteen seconds left each (remember they received a three second increment per move though), this is what happened:


We are at move 60, Kramnik plays 60.Rc7+ and presses the clock


Radjabov replies almpst instantaneously with 60...Kf6 – after which...


... suddenly the clock resets itself to zero (as though to start a new game)!


Both players are shocked and perplexed, and receive instructions from the arbiter


They discuss the situation, while arbiter Alex McFarlane admonishes them to keep it down


The clock has to be restarted with the remaining times for each player

It took a good thirteen minutes for the game to resume, during which the players strolled about waiting – with ample time to study the position (one would think). When the game continued, Radjabov quickly collapsed with a series of decisive mistakes and lost. This meant a second blitz mini-match, and this time Kramnik won the first, while in the second Radjabov was caught in a perpetual, which ended the match. The two players shook hands and proceeded to the press conference.

Albert Silver


Commentary by Alejandro Ramirez

Aronian,Levon (2808) - Grischuk,Alexander (2747) [A37]
Candidates 2011 Kazan, Russia (1.5), 09.05.2011 [Ramirez,Alejandro]

1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nc3 e5 4.g3 g6 5.Bg2 Bg7 6.0-0 Nge7 7.Ne1 d6 8.Nc2 Be6 9.Ne3 0-0 10.d3 Qd7. This solid approach against the Symmetrical English is, in my opinion, an underestimated system. Black has a glaring weakness on d5, but on the other hand that is his only palpable weakness in the position. He will be able to advance pawns on the kingside and he can, with correct play, prevent most advances on the queenside. 11.Ned5 Bh3 12.Rb1. 12.Bh6?! is a strategically flawed cheapo. Black wants to exchange the light squared bishops as the g2 bishop can be quite powerful in a queenside attack, but the g7 bishop is currently serving no purpose as it is stuck behind the pawns. 12...Bxg2 13.Kxg2 Rac8 14.e4 Nxd5 15.Nxd5 Ne7 16.Nc3. White's only claim to anything here is that he can control d4 with his bishop while Black can only defend it with his own knight. Therefore the exchange of knights would instantly result in a dead position. 16...Nc6 17.Be3 f5








18.f3?! A little over-ambitious. White should realize he doesn't have anything in the position and start thinking about maintaining the balance. 18.Nd5 Ne7 19.Nc3=. 18...f4. Black didn't have to pick up the gauntlet like this, but there was no reason not to. 18...Rf7 was just as sound. 19.Qd2 Rcf8 20.exf5 Rxf5=. 19.Bg1 h5. Black's kingside pawns are rolling and White hasn't been able to create anything on the queenside yet. 20.Nd5 Rf7








21.g4. 21.a3 Rcf8 22.b4 b6 This is the typical way of handling the queenside initiative. 23.Qa4 fxg3 24.hxg3 h4 when White's position on the queenside is going nowhere, but his position on the kingside is falling apart. 21...hxg4 22.fxg4 Rcf8 23.Qf3. This bloackade would be much more successful with a knight, as opposed to a queen. But then again, the d5 knight is white's only saving grace in this position! 23...Bf6 24.Bf2?!








The bishop is badly placed in f2, as the exchange of bishops favors Black. 24...Rh7 25.Nxf6+. Aronian could not have been happy making this move. However he didn't like the prospect of black's bishop coming to h4. 25.a3 Bh4 26.Bg1 Nd8! and when the knight gets to g5 the game will be over. 25...Rxf6 26.Rh1 g5-/+ 27.h3 b6 28.Rh2

28...Nd8 29.b3 Ne6 30.Kf1 b5 31.Kg2 a5 32.Rhh1 Rf8 33.Rhc1 Rb8 34.Rh1 b4 35.Rh2 a4








Black has complete control over the board, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that the correct plan of action is to open another weakness on the queenside. 36.Kh1 Ra8 37.Bg1 axb3 38.Rxb3 Ra4 39.Rbb2 Ra3. White has no activity and enough weaknesses to lose. The rest is simple for Grischuk. 40.Rbg2 Qa4 41.h4 Rc3 42.Qf1 Qa3 43.hxg5 Rc1 44.Qf2 Rxh2+ 45.Kxh2 Nxg5 46.Kh1 Qxd3 47.Qh4 Qh3+. It is unusual that a 2800 is defeated when he is playing White, and even more unusual as Grischuk played nothing more than natural, good moves and let his opponent undermine himself. 0-1. [Click to replay]


Grischuk,Alexander (2747) - Aronian,Levon (2808) [D37]
Candidates 2011 Kazan, Russia (1.5), 09.05.2011 [Ramirez,Alejandro]

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bf4 0-0 6.e3 Nbd7 7.c5 c6 8.h3 b6 9.b4 a5 10.a3 Ba6 11.Bxa6 Rxa6 12.0-0. 12.b5 cxb5 13.c6 Qc8 14.c7 b4 is a very thoroughly analyzed variation. Grischuk decides to deviate from this mess and plays a more natural move. 12...Qa8 13.Rb1 axb4 14.axb4 Qb7 15.Qc2 Rfa8. Black has control over the only open file, but things are not so simple. White does have an advantage in space and his bishop is far more active than it's counterpart. 16.Ne1!? An interesting redeployment, trying to quickly bolster c5 to allow a possible b5 break. 16...Bd8 17.Nd3








17...Ra3? 17...b5 is usually an undesirable move, as it allows white a free hand on the rest of the board. However, at this moment specifically maybe this move was possible, with the plan of Bc7 and an eventual e5. 18.b5! Well timed. 18...bxc5 19.dxc5

19...Be7 20.Rfc1. 20.Nb4! Woudl've been a greate way to continue the pressure, as white would get a powerful pawn on c7 20...Nxc5 21.bxc6 Qc8 22.c7!+/-. 20...g5!?








Aronian lashes out on the kingside, creating a weakness but gaining time and space. 21.Bg3. 21.Bxg5!? Was actually possible 21...Rxc3 22.Qxc3 Ne4 23.bxc6 Qxc6 24.Ne5 Qc7 25.Qb2 Bxg5 26.Nxd7 Qxd7 27.c6 and Black's pieces look ill prepared to stop the passed pawn. 21...R8a5 22.Qd1 Bf8. 22...cxb5 if Aronian knew what the future held for him, he might've tried this line instead... 23.c6 Qxc6 24.Nxb5 Qxb5 25.Rxb5 Rxb5 when White is better, but not as much as in the game. 23.bxc6 Qxc6








24.Nb4! White's iniative on the queenside is paying its dividends. The queen must move away and make room for the powerful c pawn to advance. Aronian sees no hope in this and instead gives up his queen. 24...Qxc5. 24...Qa8 25.c6 Nc5 26.c7+- with too many threats. 25.Ncxd5 Nxd5 26.Rxc5 Rxc5 27.Nxd5 Rxd5. Unfortunately for Black, the g5 pawn allows White too many resources to create threats against the black king. If the pawn was on g6, maybe it would've been a different story. 28.Qc2 Rc5 29.Qb2 Rd3 30.Ra1 Bg7 31.Ra8+ Nf8 32.Qb8 Rcd5 33.Qe8 h6 34.Kh2 Rd2 35.Qe7 Rd7 36.Qe8 Kh7 37.Qb8 Rb2 38.Qc8 Kg6 39.Qc1 Rdb7 40.Rd8 Nh7 41.Qd1








41...R2b3? Levon cracks under pressure. 42.Qc2+ f5 43.Qc6. With the weaknesses created by the forced f5 push, penetration is around the corner 43...Nf8 44.Bd6 R3b6 45.Qe8+ Rf7 46.Bxf8 Be5+ 47.g3 f4 48.Rd7 fxg3+ 49.Kg2. Grischuk saved some amazing games in this match, especially on game one of the classical and game three of the rapids. Unlike his opponent, he was completely unforgiving when given a chance. 1-0. [Click to replay]

Schedule

All games start at 15:00h local time – 13:00h Berlin/Paris, 07:00 New York (check your local time here)

Tuesday May 03 Arrival
Audio/video commentary
on Playchess
Wednesday May 04 Opening Ceremony
Thursday May 05 Round 1 Game 1 Jan Gustafsson wrap-up
Friday May 06 Round 1 Game 2 Sam Collins wrap-up
Saturday May 07 Round 1 Game 3 Daniel King live
Sunday May 08 Round 1 Game 4 Daniel King live

Monday

May 09 Round 1 Tiebreaks    
Tuesday May 10 Free day    
Wednesday May 11 Free day    
Thursday May 12 Round 2 Game 1 Sam Collins wrap-up
Friday May 13 Round 2 Game 2 Dejan Bojkov wrap-up
Saturday May 14 Round 2 Game 3 Sam Collins live
Sunday May 15 Round 2 Game 4 Daniel King live

Monday

May 16 Tiebreaks    
Tuesday May 17 Free day    
Wednesday May 18 Free day    
Thursday May 19 Round 3 Game 1 van Wely/Gustafsson   live
Friday May 20 Round 3 Game 2 Dejan Bojkov live
Saturday May 21 Round 3 Game 3 Sam Collins live
Sunday May 22 Free day    

Monday

May 23 Round 3 Game 4 Loek van Wely live
Tuesday May 24 Round 3 Game 5 Daniel King live
Wednesday May 25 Round 3 Game 6 Daniel King live
Thursday May 26 Tiebreaks, closing    
Friday May 27 Departure    

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