Kavalek in Huffington on Carlsen vs Anand

4/9/2013 – The world's top-rated chess player Magnus Carlsen of Norway qualified from the Candidates tournament in London to challenge the reigning champion Vishy Anand of India in the world championship match in the fall of this year. Carlsen, 22, won in the English capital by a squeaker after a dramatic last round, played on April Fools' Day. Read about this in Lubomir Kavalek's HuffPo column.

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Magnus Carlsen plays Vishy Anand for the World Chess title

By GM Lubomir Kavalek

Before the last round, Norwegian grandmaster Magnus Carlsen shared first place with Vladimir Kramnik of Russia before the last round. Having a better tiebreak, Carlsen could qualify by matching Kramnik's result in the crucial last game. That night Carlsen had a terrible dream: he drew his last game and Vladimir Kramnik won, qualifying for the world championship match against Anand. The reality was even worse: Carlsen lost to Peter Svidler of Russia. But Kramnik lost, too. Although both players shared first place, Carlsen became the challenger for the world crown having won more games than the Russian.

The double-round robin Candidates tournament featured most of the world's best players.

Standing from the left: Teimour Radjabov, Magnus Carlsen, Alexander Grischuk, Levon Aronian, Vassily Ivanchuk; Seated: Peter Svidler, Vladimir Kramnik, Boris Gelfand

Here is the final crosstable:

The table displays Kramnik ahead on traditional tiebreak points, but the Candidates Tournament rules counts the number of wins – Carlsen five, Kramnik four – to break the tie, after the first tiebreaker, score against each other, was even.

Two players were singled out to win the Candidates before the tournament began and the first half went as predicted: Carlsen and Levon Aronian of Armenia won three games each, drew the rest and took the lead. Nobody else crossed the 50 percent mark.

The two leaders were on track to repeat the score in the second half. Who would blink first? Aronian usually takes more risks, often pushing his luck. He tripped first, losing to Svidler. With five rounds to go, Carlsen was in the lead. It prompted the chess historian Richard Forster to call him "chess player without mistakes." Did Forster jinx him?

When two quarrel, the third may laugh and all of a sudden Kramnik entered the scene. The Russian bear, as if hibernating, hardly moved in the first half, drawing all his games. But he was happy with his good level of play. If he continued to play well without blunders, he was convinced the points would come. And they did. A sudden burst of four wins catapulted him into first place with two rounds to go. Kramnik was leading Carlsen by a half point.

The most dramatic finish in the history of the Candidates tournaments began on Friday, March 30, with three rounds left. The players with the black pieces triumphed and unexpected things happened. Aronian played Kramnik and on move 17 both of them thought they were winning, so complicated was the position, so difficult to solve over the board. Kramnik emerged with a piece up, but misplayed it and Aronian could have forced a draw. He missed it and lost.

Kramnik usually turns questions and answers press conferences into monologues, but not this day. He was so exhausted, he could not think. He wanted to go away and rest.

Carlsen was playing Ivanchuk and up to this game the Norwegian thought he played decent chess in the tournament with very few mistakes. This is an understatement, of course, since stringing games with good moves is not easy. Vassily Smyslov knew how to do it: in his prime he won two Candidates tournaments in 1953 and 1956. Bobby Fischer was another one: at his best, he didn't give his opponents many chances. "As soon as Fischer gains even a slightest advantage, he begins playing like a machine. You cannot even hope for some mistake," said Tigran Petrosian after he lost to Fischer in the final Candidates match in 1971. Carlsen spikes good positional moves with little tactical sequences and does not mind increasing his advantage gradually. He is patient and can wait to claim victories in long sessions.

Vassily Ivanchuk is a dangerous player. In the last 20 years he defeated all the world's best players at least once. Sometimes he is moody and his nerves play tricks on him. Otherwise, he could have been the world champion long time ago. He lost five games on time in London, but his game against Carlsen went on and on. It turned out to be the longest game of the tournament, 90 moves long. It was not going well for the Norwegian most of the time. "I was ridiculously impractical," Carlsen said afterwards. He had a draw at hand after 70 moves, but blundered on his next move.

[Event "FIDE Candidates, London"] [Site "London ENG"] [Date "2013.03.29"] [Round "12"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Ivanchuk, Vassily"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B48"] [WhiteElo "2872"] [BlackElo "2757"] [Annotator "GM Lubomir Kavalek/ The Huffington Post"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/8/1R6/p1P1pk1p/r7/2K5/8/8 w - - 0 71"] [PlyCount "40"] [EventDate "2013.03.15"] 71. Rh6 $2 (71. c6 $1 Ke6 72. Rb5 $1 {(Threatening 73.Rxe5+!)} Kd6 73. Rxe5 $1 h4 ({Not} 73... Kxe5 $2 74. c7 $1 Ra1 75. Kb2 {and white queens.}) 74. Kb3 Ra1 75. Kb2 Rh1 76. Rxa5 Kxc6 77. Ra4 {and white reaches the Vancura draw, named after a Czech composer who came up with the concept of attacking the h-pawn from the side, for example:} h3 (77... Kd5 78. Ka2 Ke5 79. Rb4 h3 80. Rb3 Kf4 81. Rc3 Kg4 82. Rc4+ Kg5 83. Rc3 $11) 78. Ra3 h2 79. Rh3 Kd5 80. Rh8 {and white has plenty of checks after the black king comes closer to the h-pawn.}) 71... Ke4 {Carlsen missed that the king can walk around his e-pawn and attack the c-pawn.} 72. Rd6 (72. c6 Kd5 73. Rxh5 Rc4+ 74. Kd3 Rxc6) 72... Rd4 $1 73. Ra6 (73. Rxd4+ exd4+ 74. Kc4 d3 $18) 73... Kd5 74. Rxa5 Rc4+ 75. Kd3 Rxc5 { Ivanchuk is now winning.} 76. Ra4 Rc7 77. Rh4 Rh7 78. Ke3 Ke6 79. Ke4 Rh8 80. Ke3 Kf5 81. Ke2 Kg5 82. Re4 Re8 83. Ke3 h4 84. Ke2 h3 85. Kf2 h2 86. Kg2 h1=Q+ 87. Kxh1 Kf5 88. Re1 Rg8 89. Kh2 Kf4 90. Rf1+ Ke3 0-1

"It was a reckless move," Carlsen said about his last blunder on turn 71. One move and chess humbles you. You make a mistake early and the suffering goes on and on, and you lose at the end anyway, and they drag you in front of the cameras for a press conference. Be careful what you say, it will be repeated in newspapers all over the world and every burst of anger will be played on YouTube. Even after a decade people will quote you and watch how you sat dejected, sliding down in your chair, hoping to disappear under the table. Finally, you make it to your hotel room, but you are unable to sleep, your brain doesn't let you rest, still working, still spinning out one variation after another.

– Part two to follow soon –

Original column hereCopyright Huffington Post


The Huffington Post is an American news website and aggregated blog founded by Arianna Huffington and others, featuring various news sources and columnists. The site was launched on May 9, 2005, as a commentary outlet and liberal/progressive alternative to conservative news websites. It offers coverage of politics, media, business, entertainment, living, style, the green movement, world news, and comedy. It is a top destination for news, blogs, and original content. The Huffington Post has an active community, with over one million comments made on the site each month. According to Nielsen NetRatings, the site has around 13 million unique visitors per month (number for March 2010); according to Google Analytics the number is 22 million uniques per month.


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