FIDE Candidates R1G2: Kamsky strikes first

by Albert Silver
5/6/2011 – It was certainly not what the punters expected, as Kamsky drew first blood in the Candidates. Topalov carefully prepared a very ambitious novelty 9.0-0-0 in a Grünfeld line that Kamsky has played more than once, to set up an all-out affair. Instead, his game never got going and it was his king that went the way of the Dodo. The other games were played out, but drawn. Game two report.

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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.
Perf
Levon Aronian
ARM
2808
½
½
           
1.0
 
Alexander Grischuk 
RUS
2747
½
½
           
1.0
 

 
Nat.
Rtg
G1
G2
G3
G4
R1
R2
R3
R4
Tot.
Perf
Vladimir Kramnik
RUS
2785
½
½
           
1.0
 
Teimour Radjabov 
AZE
2744
½
½
           
1.0
 

 
Nat.
Rtg
G1
G2
G3
G4
R1
R2
R3
R4
Tot.
Perf
Veselin Topalov
BUL
2775
½
0
           
0.5
 
Gata Kamsky
USA
2732
½
1
           
1.5
 

 
Nat.
Rtg
G1
G2
G3
G4
R1
R2
R3
R4
Tot.
Perf
Boris Gelfand
ISR
2733
½
½
           
1.0
 
Shak. Mamedyarov 
AZE
2772
½
½
           
1.0
 

Round one – Game two

Report by Albert Silver


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In spite of the somewhat sedate scoring of three draws and one win, the second game was also a round of surprises. One surprise came from the game between Kramnik and Radjabov. It was also a bit of a disappointment frankly. The surprise was Radjabov’s choice to play the Black side of the Catalan, something he has never done in competition. This is the second time in two games he plays something he normally doesn’t, and to try it against Kramnik, a specialist if there ever was one, in the world championship cycle is a very strange choice. The disappointment is also in this choice, since Radjabov is one of the players to have helped rehabilitate the King’s Indian after Kramnik’s constant drubbing of Kasparov, injecting it with many new ideas. He has played it against Kramnik four times, with two draws and two losses, but the losses came in a rapid game and a blitz, so can hardly be considered defining moments. The game went quietly with both player playing correctly and few sparks, and Kramnik arose with an advantageous rook and knight vs. rook and bishop endgame but was unable to make anything concrete of it.

Kramnik,Vladimir (2785) - Radjabov,Teimour (2744) [E06]
WCh Candidates Kazan RUS (1.2), 06.05.2011
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Be7 4.g3 Nf6 5.Bg2 0-0 6.0-0 dxc4 7.Qa4 a6 8.Qxc4 b5 9.Qc2 Bb7 10.Bd2 Be4 11.Qc1 Bb7 12.Qc2 Be4 13.Qc1 Bb7 14.Bf4 Nd5 15.Rd1 Nxf4 16.Qxf4 Bd6 17.Qh4 Qxh4 18.Nxh4 Bxg2 19.Kxg2 Nd7 20.Nc3 Rfd8 21.Rac1 Be7 22.Nf3 c5 23.a4 bxa4 24.Nxa4 cxd4 25.Rxd4 Bf6 26.Rd6 Ne5 27.Rxd8+ Rxd8 28.Nxe5 Bxe5 29.f4 Bf6 30.Rc6 Rb8 31.Rxa6 g6 32.Nc5 Rxb2 33.Kf3 Bd4 34.Nd3 Rb8 35.Rd6 Bf6 36.g4 Rd8 37.Rc6 Be7 38.g5 h6 39.h4 hxg5 40.hxg5 Rd7 41.Ne5 Rb7 42.Rc8+ Kg7 43.Re8 Rc7 44.Ng4 Rb7 45.e3 Rc7 46.Ke4 Rd7 47.Nh6 Bf8 48.Rc8 Rb7 49.Kf3 Ra7 50.e4 Ra3+ 51.Kg4 Ra7 52.Kh4 Bb4 53.Kg4 Bf8 54.Rb8 Rd7 55.Kf3 Ra7 56.e5 Ra3+ 57.Kg2 Ra2+ 58.Kg3 Ra3+ 59.Kg4 Ra7 60.Rc8 Rb7 61.Ra8 Rc7 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

If the match between Gelfand and Mamedyarov has not been given the same attention as others by the press and fans, it is not because of any lack of appeal by the players. After all, Gelfand has been an elite player for decades and Mamedyarov is certainly one of the most original players in the top whom one can count on to go his own way whether in opening choice or play.


Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Their second game was an interesting, tense Semi-Slav and was a good fight until the very end, but eventually simplifications resolved the game peacefully.

Gelfand,Boris (2733) - Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar (2772) [D45]
WCh Candidates Kazan RUS (1.2), 06.05.2011
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Nf3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.Bd3 0-0 8.0-0 dxc4 9.Bxc4 a6 10.Rd1 b5 11.Bd3 Qc7 12.Bd2 c5 13.Ne4 c4 14.Nxd6 Qxd6 15.Be2 Bb7 16.b3 Rfc8 17.Qb2 Rab8 18.Rdc1 Ne4 19.Ba5 Bd5 20.Ne1 f5 21.f3 Nef6 22.Rab1 g5 23.Qd2 Kf7 24.Bb4 Qb6 25.Ba5 Qd6 26.bxc4 bxc4 27.Rxb8 Qxb8 28.Qb4 Qa8 29.Bxc4 Qc6 30.Nd3 Bxc4 31.Nb2 Qd5 32.Nxc4 Kg8 33.Rc3 f4 34.exf4 Qxd4+ 35.Ne3 Qxc3 36.Qxc3 Rxc3 37.Bxc3 gxf4 38.Nc4 Nd5 39.Bd4 Nb4 40.a3 Nc6 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Perhaps as a result of having faced imminent defeat for the greater part of the game yesterday, Grischuk played the Exchange variation against Aronian’s QGD, and very little happened until the handshake at move 22.


Levon Aronian, the latest member of the 2800 club

Grischuk,Alexander (2747) - Aronian,Levon (2808) [D37]
WCh Candidates Kazan RUS (1.2), 06.05.2011
1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 Be7 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Qc2 c5 7.Bg5 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Nc6 9.Rd1 0-0 10.e3 Be6 11.Be2 Rc8 12.Nf5 h6 13.Bh4 Re8 14.Nxe7+ Qxe7 15.0-0 g5 16.Bg3 Ne4 17.Qb1 Nxg3 18.hxg3 Red8 19.Nb5 d4 20.Nxd4 Nxd4 21.exd4 Qf6 22.Bf3 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

The game of the day was unquestionably Topalov-Kamsky and went against the grain of all the pundits. In fact, Kasparov himself had pointed out Topalov as the favorite in his Skype interview during the US championship, yet perhaps things are not so simple. On the one hand, Kamsky has not only shown himself to be in excellent form, having won the US Championship decisively (not a single rapid tiebreak), but Topalov has yet to show he has recovered from the slump after his loss to Anand in the world championship. His openings choice and even game decisions of always choosing the most dynamic continuations certainly speaks favorably of his optimism, but the play must still back it up. The Bulgarian chose a line of the Gruenfeld he knew Kamsky had played before, and even sprung an extremely ambitious novelty with opposite castling.


Gata Kamsky is the first player thus far to take his fate into his hands

Everything was there for him to be the ringmaster of the game: he was White, he had authored the opening surprise, and he even had an ultra-dynamic position perfectly suited to his style. Even so, it was not enough. His initiative stuttered and stalled when he could least afford it, while the American continuously found the way through the maze. On the other hand, while his kingside efforts bit the dust, Kamsky’s counter-attack suddenly took on a life of its own and things went downhill very quickly.


This was NOT the way the home preparation went...

Topalov,Veselin (2775) - Kamsky,Gata (2732) [A15]
WCh Candidates Kazan RUS (1.2), 06.05.2011
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Qb3 Nb6 6.d4 Bg7 7.Bf4 Be6 8.Qa3 Nc6 9.0-0-0 Nd5 10.Bg3 Bh6+ 11.e3 a5 12.h4 Ncb4 13.h5 c6 14.hxg6 hxg6 15.Rd2 f6 16.Ne4 b6 17.Be2 Qc8 18.Rh4 Kf7 19.Rd1 g5 20.Rh2 g4 21.Nfd2 c5 22.dxc5 f5 23.Rxh6 Rxh6 24.Ng5+ Kf8 25.Nxe6+ Qxe6 26.Bc4 Rc8 27.Bf4 Rf6 28.e4 Rxc5 29.exd5 Qxd5 30.b3 Qd4 31.Be3 Qc3+ 0-1. [Click to replay]

Pictures by Russian Chess Federation

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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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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