The Candidates – Peter Svidler, 2747, World #14

3/4/2013 –  From March 14 to April 1st we will enjoy the Candidates Tournament in London – an eight-player double round robin which determines the challenger for the World Championship title. To prepare us for the event Michael von Keitz, former President of the Canadian Chess Federation, will portrait each  Candidate, starting with Peter Svidler. The other seven can read this to start their preparations.

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Peter Svidler (2747 – World #14)

Many times Russian Champion (’94, ’95, ’97, ’03, ’08, ’11) Peter Svidler enters this year’s Candidates Tournament as the second lowest rated player in an elite field. No stranger to the concept of performance under pressure, however, he has noteworthy World Championship results to his credit, including equal second (with Anand) at the 2005 event in San Luis and a credible fifth at the 2007 edition in Mexico City. It also bears mentioning that he qualified to the semi-finals of the 2002 FIDE Knockout World Championship, where he had the misfortune of being burned 2.5-1.5 by a red-hot Ponomariov, who went on to take the Champion’s title. Above all, though, let us not soon forget that Svidler enters this year’s edition as 2011 World Cup Champion, after a 2.5-1.5 result of his own against none other than his fellow countryman and Candidate, Grischuk.

If we revisit the 2007 World Championship briefly, we see that a number of familiar faces have returned since we last saw Svidler competing at this level. Namely, these are Kramnik, Gelfand, Aronian, Grischuk and, of course, Svidler himself. In this event, Svidler secured two draws against Kramnik (1-1), two draws against Gelfand (1-1), two draws against Aronian (1-1) and a match victory over Grischuk (1.5-0.5). In combination with his result against Grischuk at the 2011 World Cup, this appears to bode well for his chances at the 2013 Candidates Tournament, but allow us now to take a closer look at his record against the various Candidates he is imminently due to face.

Svidler's opponents at the Candidates

Boris Gelfand (2740 – World #18)

# Result Moves Year Event Opening
1 Draw (w) 26 1996 Tilburg B92 Sicilian, Najdorf, Opocensky Variation
2 Loss (b) 24 1996 Groningen E73 King's Indian
3 Win (b) 77 1999 Dos Hermanas A29 English, Four Knights, Kingside Fianchetto
4 Win (w) 29 2000 Biel B90 Sicilian, Najdorf
5 Draw (b) 33 2000 Biel C92 Ruy Lopez, Closed
6 Loss (w) 90 2000 Rubinstein Memorial B23 Sicilian, Closed
7 Draw (w) 21 2001 Biel C42 Petrov Defense
8 Draw (b) 28 2001 Biel A15 English
9 Draw (b) 23 2001 FIDE World KO Ch E06 Catalan, Closed, 5.Nf3
10 Draw (w) 20 2001 FIDE World KO Ch C10 French
11 Draw (w) 30 2003 European Club Cup B31 Sicilian, Rossolimo Variation
12 Win (w) 52 2004 Armenia vs. Rest of World B90 Sicilian, Najdorf
13 Draw (w) 20 2005 Russian Team Ch C42 Petrov Defense
14 Win (b) 34 2005 World Team Championship   D85 Grunfeld
15 Draw (w) 25 2006 Turin Chess Olympiad C42 Petrov Defense
16 Draw (b) 29 2006 Dortmund D85 Grunfeld
17 Draw (w) 47 2006 European Club Cup C42 Petrov Defense
18 Loss (b) 43 2006 Tal Memorial A15 English
19 Draw (w) 24 2007 FIDE World Championship C42 Petrov Defense
20 Draw (b) 22 2007 FIDE World Championship A15 English
21 Win (w) 46 2008 Russian Team Ch C42 Petrov Defense
22 Draw (b) 53 2008 Sochi Grand Prix A15 English
23 Draw (b) 48 2009 Russian Team Ch A15 English
24 Draw (w) 49 2009 Nalchik Grand Prix D43 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
25 Draw (b) 15 2009 European Club Cup D85 Grunfeld
26 Draw (w) 30 2009 Tal Memorial C42 Petrov Defense
27 Win (w) 31 2010 Astrakhan Grand Prix A15 English
28 Draw (w) 40 2011 Tal Memorial A13 English
29 Draw (w) 45 2012 Tashkent Grand Prix B30 Sicilian

Overall: 6 Wins, 20 Draws, 3 Losses
White: 4 Wins, 11 Draws, 1 Loss
Black: 2 Wins, 9 Draws, 2 Losses

Gelfand has shown he is adaptable and open to wreaking havoc on the ambitions of any player at this level, but his successes against Svidler pale in comparison to the relationship in reverse. Peter has won more recently and more often, holding a clear edge with the white pieces and good odds of fighting as black. These two have had a recent love affair with the English and the Petrov, giving both a go at the 2007 World Championship. Will they take the battle to new turf, or do they have yet to say their final words in regard to these openings?

Alexander Grischuk (2764 – World #10)

# Result Moves Year Event Opening
1 Win (w) 33 2001 Biel C78 Ruy Lopez
2 Draw (b) 44 2001 Biel B90 Sicilian, Najdorf
3 Win (w) 31 2001 European Club Cup   C92 Ruy Lopez, Closed
4 Draw (b) 11 2003 Russian Ch B54 Sicilian
5 Draw (w) 22 2004 Russian Ch B31 Sicilian, Rossolimo Variation
6 Win (w) 57 2005 Corus B31 Sicilian, Rossolimo Variation
7 Draw (w) 18 2005 Poikovsky Karpov B92 Sicilian, Najdorf, Opocensky Variation
8 Draw (b) 30 2005 Russian Team Ch E73 King’s Indian
9 Loss (w) 38 2006 Tal Memorial B90 Sicilian, Najdorf
10 Draw (b) 41 2007 FIDE World Ch D43 Queen’s Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
11 Win (w) 42 2007 FIDE World Ch B90 Sicilian, Najdorf
12 Draw (b) 39 2007 Russian Superfinal A15 English
13 Draw (w) 37 2008 Baku Grand Prix C72 Ruy Lopez, Modern Steinitz Defense
14 Draw (b) 24 2008 Sochi Grand Prix B96 Sicilian, Najdorf
15 Win (b) 53 2009 Russian Team Ch A15 English
16 Draw (w) 21 2009 Nalchik Grand Prix C18 French, Winawer
17 Draw (w) 30 2009 Russian Superfinal C89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
18 Draw (w) 28 2010 Russian Superfinal B46 Sicilian, Taimanov Variation
19 Draw (b) 41 2011 Russian Superfinal D16 Queen’s Gambit Declined Slav
20 Win (b) 30 2011 World Cup B43 Sicilian, Kan, 5.Nc3
21 Draw (w) 16 2011 World Cup B90 Sicilian, Najdorf
22 Draw (b) 29 2011 World Cup C64 Ruy Lopez, Classical
23 Draw (w) 38 2011 World Cup B51 Sicilian, Canal-Sokolsky Attack
24 Win (b) 50 2012 Russian Superfinal C84 Ruy Lopez, Closed

Overall: 7 Wins, 16 Draws, 1 Loss
White: 4 Wins, 8 Draws, 1 Loss
Black:
3 Wins, 8 Draws, 0 Losses

As we can see, Svidler is highly effective against Grischuk, as either colour. His wins with black came relatively recently, however, while his wins with white were much earlier in their series of lifetime encounters. In an event of this magnitude one hesitates to guess what openings might make an appearance, but the Sicilian Najdorf seems like a strong possibility, with these players having tested it at both the 2007 FIDE World Championship and the 2011 World Cup.

Vassily Ivanchuk (2757 – World #13)

# Result Moves Year Event Opening
1 Draw (b) 17 1997 World Team Ch B06 Robatsch
2 Win (w) 49 1998 Linares B84 Sicilian, Scheveningen
3 Loss (b) 58 1998 Linares D85 Grunfeld
4 Win (w) 33 1998 Dortmund C92 Ruy Lopez, Closed
5 Draw (b) 46 1998 Elista Olympiad C69 Ruy Lopez, Exchange, Gligoric Variation
6 Draw (b) 16 1999 Wijk aan Zee A29 English, Four Knights, Kingside Fianchetto
7 Loss (w) 39 1999 Linares C18 French, Winawer
8 Draw (b) 69 1999 Linares C48 Four Knights
9 Draw (w) 22 2000 Rubinstein Memorial B33 Sicilian
10 Draw (b) 30 2001 World Team Ch C99 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
11 Draw (b) 26 2005 World Team Ch C53 Giuoco Piano
12 Loss (b) 25 2006 Linares-Morelia D80 Grunfeld
13 Draw (w) 55 2006 Linares-Morelia C88 Ruy Lopez
14 Win (w) 30 2006 Spanish Team Ch B07 Pirc
15 Draw (w) 53 2007 Linares-Morelia C42 Petrov Defense
16 Draw (b) 44 2007 Linares-Morelia C88 Ruy Lopez
17 Draw (b) 19 2007 Aerosvit D81 Grunfeld, Russian Variation
18 Draw (b) 30 2007 European Club Cup D11 Queen’s Gambit Declined Slav
19 Draw (b) 15 2008 Russian Team Ch D16 Queen’s Gambit Declined Slav
20 Draw (b) 19 2008 Aerosvit C84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
21 Loss (w) 25 2008 Sochi Grand Prix C65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
22 Draw (w) 37 2008 European Club Cup B31 Sicilian, Rossolimo Variation
23 Draw (b) 37 2008 Pearl Spring C99 Ruy Lopez, Closed,Chigorin, 12..cd
24 Draw (w) 38 2008 Pearl Spring B30 Sicilian
25 Draw (b) 23 2009 Russian Team Ch C99 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin, 12..cd
26 Win (w) 29 2009 Nalchik Grand Prix C78 Ruy Lopez
27 Win (b) 41 2009 European Club Cup A15 English
28 Draw (w) 27 2009 Tal Memorial C65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
29 Draw (w) 51 2010 Astrakhan Grand Prix C42 Petrov Defense
30 Draw (w) 36 2011 European Team Ch B35 Sicilian, Accelerated Fianchetto
31 Loss (b) 56 2011 Tal Memorial D80 Grunfeld
32 Draw (b) 42 2012 European Club Cup A36 English

Overall: 5 Wins, 22 Draws, 5 Losses
White: 4 Wins, 8 Draws, 2 Losses
Black: 1 Win, 14 Draws, 3 Losses

Ivanchuk has proven a tough opponent for Svidler over the years. Vengeance seems to be a theme in their struggles – one takes a lead in their lifetime score and the other ensures he levels it. Note that the Grunfeld has handed Svidler all of his black losses against Ivanchuk, so don’t be surprised to see it again in London. Meanwhile, the Ruy Lopez has treated Svidler nicely as White when facing the Ukrainian, although he has demonstrated himself to be at home in a variety of openings. Rest assured that the games between these two will be titanic.

Teimour Radjabov (2793 – World #4)

# Result Moves Year Event Opening
1 Draw (b) 33 2003 St. Petersburg vs. NAO A15 English
2 Draw (b) 38 2003 European Team Ch D86 Grunfeld, Exchange
3 Draw (b) 47 2005 European Team Ch B41 Sicilian, Kan
4 Draw (w) 42 2006 Linares-Morelia B30 Sicilian
5 Loss (b) 41 2006 Linares-Morelia D16 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
6 Draw (b) 26 2006 European Club Cup B46 Sicilian, Taimanov Variation
7 Draw (b) 19 2007 Corus B41 Sicilian, Kan
8 Draw (b) 13 2008 Russian Team Ch D10 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
9 Draw (w) 41 2008 Baku Grand Prix C63 Ruy Lopez, Schliemann Defense
10 Win (w) 41 2008 Sochi Grand Prix B76 Sicilian, Dragon, Yugoslav Attack
11 Draw (b) 21 2009 European Team Ch D97 Grunfeld, Russian
12 Draw (w) 25 2010 Astrakhan Grand Prix A15 English
13 Draw (w) 40 2010 European Club Cup A15 English
14 Loss (w) 53 2011 European Team Ch D31 Queen's Gambit Declined
15 Draw (w) 29 2012 European Club Cup A49 King's Indian, Fianchetto

Overall: 1 Win, 12 Draws, 2 Losses
White: 1 Win, 5 Draws, 1 Loss
Black: 0 Wins, 7 Draws, 1 Loss

Radjabov, as a world-beater for years now, has proven a puzzle for Svidler. Early on, matters were compounded by the fact that Svidler received seven blacks in their first eight encounters. More recently, however, he has received six whites in seven games. Relatively speaking, they have not seen much of each other over the board, but, for the most part, they have been fairly evenly matched. Radjabov has secured victory against Svidler as recently as 2011, though, while Svidler has to hop in his time machine and revisit 2008 to see his only victory against the (other) boy from Baku. With that considered, one has to slightly favour Teimour in their upcoming battles. Weighing that Peter has fallen victim on both sides of the Queen’s Gambit Declined, perhaps we can expect to see it again here.

Vladimir Kramnik (2810 – World #2)

# Result Moves Year Event Opening
1 Draw (w) 26 1997 Tilburg B33 Sicilian
2 Draw (w) 30 1998 Linares B33 Sicilian
3 Loss (b) 29 1998 Linares E05 Catalan, Open, Classical line
4 Loss (b) 30 1998 Dortmund D86 Grunfeld, Exchange
5 Draw (b) 25 1998 Tilburg D86 Grunfeld, Exchange
6 Draw (w) 27 1999 Wijk aan Zee B33 Sicilian
7 Draw (w) 27 1999 Linares C42 Petrov Defense
8 Loss (b) 33 1999 Linares D85 Grunfeld
9 Draw (w) 23 1999 Dos Hermanas C43 Petrov, Modern Attack
10 Draw (w) 18 1999 European Club Cup B74 Sicilian, Dragon, Classical
11 Loss (b) 49 2004 Wijk aan Zee B97 Sicilian, Najdorf
12 Draw (b) 45 2004 Dortmund D85 Grunfeld
13 Draw (w) 25 2004 Dortmund C67 Ruy Lopez
14 Loss (b) 28 2005 Corus B41 Sicilian, Kan
15 Draw (b) 25 2005 Dortmund B44 Sicilian
16 Win (w) 48 2005 Russian Superfinal C42 Petrov Defense
17 Draw (w) 39 2006 Dortmund C42 Petrov Defense
18 Draw (w) 21 2007 Corus C42 Petrov Defense
19 Draw (b) 23 2007 FIDE World Championship D43 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
20 Draw (w) 29 2007 FIDE World Championship C42 Petrov Defense
21 Loss (b) 37 2009 Tal Memorial D85 Grunfeld
22 Win (w) 41 2011 Tal Memorial A13 English
23 Win (w) 44 2011 Russian Superfinal A07 King's Indian Attack

Overall: 3 Wins, 14 Draws, 6 Losses
White: 3 Wins, 10 Draws, 0 Losses
Black: 0 Wins, 4 Draws, 6 Losses

As a former World Champion, Kramnik is versatile and dangerous to any opponent, but Svidler has managed to be a pest when it counts – holding Kramnik to two draws at the 2007 World Championship tournament and getting the better of him in two Russian Superfinals. That said, in their lifetime encounters, neither has ever managed to crack the other with the black pieces. With his recent manhandling of Kramnik in 2011, watch for Svidler to go all-out with the white pieces, while seeking to hold with black. The Petrov recently crept back into Kramnik’s repertoire, as he faced off in a blitz game against Anand during Zurich 2013. After an unfortunate kneejerk move by Anand (45.Rxb3), victory belonged to the Russian. Perhaps this will inspire Kramnik to try it again, in light of his six outings in this opening against Peter; none (yet) victories for K #3.

Levon Aronian (2809 – World #3)

# Result Moves Year Event Opening
1 Draw (b) 49 2004 Calvia Olympiad E60 King's Indian Defense
2 Draw (b) 60 2004 Petrosian Memorial (Internet)   A41 Queen's Pawn Game (with ...d6)
3 Draw (w) 34 2004 Petrosian Memorial (Internet) C88 Ruy Lopez
4 Draw (b) 35 2005 World Team Championship E60 King's Indian Defense
5 Loss (b) 38 2006 Linares-Morelia D80 Grunfeld
6 Draw (w) 20 2006 Linares-Morelia C88 Ruy Lopez
7 Win (b) 47 2006 Dortmund D80 Grunfeld
8 Win (b) 24 2006 Tal Memorial D80 Grunfeld
9 Draw (w) 32 2007 Corus C84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
10 Draw (w) 38 2007 Linares-Morelia C89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
11 Draw (b) 16 2007 Linares-Morelia D94 Grunfeld
12 Draw (b) 32 2007 European Team Ch D15 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
13 Draw (w) 20 2007 FIDE World Championship C69 Ruy Lopez, Exchange, Gligoric Variation
14 Draw (b) 46 2007 FIDE World Championship A29 English, Four Knights, Kingside Fianchetto
15 Draw (b) 63 2008 Sochi Grand Prix A29 English, Four Knights, Kingside Fianchetto
16 Draw (w) 48 2008 Pearl Spring Tournament C86 Ruy Lopez, Worrall Attack
17 Draw (b) 45 2008 Pearl Spring Tournament A29 English, Four Knights, Kingside Fianchetto
18 Draw (b) 30 2009 Nalchik Grand Prix D11 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
19 Draw (b) 36 2009 European Team Ch D80 Grunfeld
20 Draw (b) 37 2009 Tal Memorial D80 Grunfeld
21 Loss (b) 54 2011 Tal Memorial D82 Grunfeld, 4.Bf4

Overall: 2 Wins, 17 Draws, 2 Loss
White: 0 Wins, 6 Draws, 0 Loss
Black: 2 Wins, 11 Draws, 2 Losses

Aronian is yet another colleague that the veteran Svidler, historically, has a handle on. Their most recent encounter was a decisive result in favour of the Armenian, but, again, the Russian put in a clutch performance at the 2007 World Championship, holding Levon to a split point in both games. The black pieces have been frequent companions to Peter when facing Aronian, with mixed results, but he has yet to yield as white. The Grunfeld has been topical where these two are concerned and Svidler may be anxious to try it once again on the stage that counts the most.

Magnus Carlsen (2872 – World #1)

# Result Moves Year Event Opening
1 Draw (b) 43 2006 Spitsbergen Chess Festival C77 Ruy Lopez
2 Win (w) 31 2006 Spitsbergen Chess Festival B30 Sicilian
3 Draw (w) 29 2006 Tal Memorial C95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
4 Win (b) 47 2007 Corus C84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
5 Draw (w) 27 2007 Linares-Morelia B35 Sicilian, Accelerated Fianchetto
6 Draw (b) 29 2007 Linares-Morelia E60 King's Indian Defense
7 Draw (w) 43 2008 Baku Grand Prix C80 Ruy Lopez, Open
8 Draw (w) 22 2008 Aerosvit E15 Queen's Indian
9 Draw (b) 55 2008 European Club Cup A15 English
10 Draw (w) 40 2009 Tal Memorial B30 Sicilian
11 Draw (b) 53 2011 Tal Memorial D86 Grunfeld, Exchange

Overall: 2 Wins, 9 Draws, 0 Loss
White: 1 Win, 5 Draws, 0 Losses
Black: 1 Win, 4 Draws, 0 Losses

If Svidler-Radjabov encounters are rare, then opportunities to catch games between Svidler and Carlsen have proven to be even more fleeting. That said, Svidler has made his punches count. He has a lifetime +2 against Carlsen and it is an undefeated record at that. On the other hand, he was facing mini-Carlsen at the time and not the beast ascendant we now have before us. Count on Carlsen to make an effort to level their lifetime score and count on Svidler to put up stiff resistance. With a resoundingly successful outing against Magnus in the Sicilian at the 2012 World Blitz Championship, you can bet Peter will at least be considering it as an option in this event.

Overall Stats Against Field

 
Wins
Draws
Losses
Draw %
Overall
26
110
19
70.97%
White
17
53
5
70.67%
Black
9
57
14
71.25%

Repertoire white

Line
score
Perf.
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6
69%
2749
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6
66%
2730
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6
72%
2762
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6
66%
2778
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5
65%
2707
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5
69%
2775

As we can see, in general, Svidler is dangerous as White against most any mainline opening. The French variation of the Sicilian Defense has been particularly kind to him, so woe be to him that springs it on Peter in a misguided fit of optimism.

Repertoire black

Line
score
Perf.
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4
51%
2730
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4
51%
2704
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6
48%
2679
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5
45%
2658
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6
46%
2678
1.c4
42%
2620

As Black, Svidler has not been a happy camper when facing the English against world-class opposition, but, like all openings, he has enjoyed some success against it. He will undoubtedly be facing it again here and one can only hope he acquits himself well.


The Candidates Tournament in London

The London Candidates 2013 will be the strongest tournament of its kind in history. The Prize Fund to be shared by the players totals €510,000. The winner of the Candidates will become the Challenger to Viswanathan Anand who has reigned as World Champion since 2007. Schedule:

Thursday, 14 March Opening/Players meeting
Friday, 15 March Round 1
Saturday, 16 March Round 2
Sunday, 17 March Round 3
Monday, 18 March Rest day
Tuesday, 19 March Round 4
Wednesday, 20 March     Round 5
Thursday, 21 March Round 6
Friday, 22 March Rest day
Saturday, 23 March Round 7
Sunday, 24 March Round 8
Monday, 25 March Round 9
Tuesday, 26 March Rest day
Wednesday, 27 March Round 10
Thursday, 28 March Round 11
Friday, 29 March Round 12
Saturday, 30 March Rest day
Sunday, 31 March Round 13
Monday, 1 April Round 14
Tuesday, 2 April Tiebreaks/Closing ceremony

Players

Seed 
Rank 
 Name
Country
Rating
B-Year
1
1
 Carlsen, Magnus
NOR
 2872
 1990
2
2
 Kramnik, Vladimir
RUS
 2810
 1975
3
3
 Aronian, Levon
ARM
 2809
 1982
4
4
 Radjabov, Teimour
AZE
 2793
 1987
5
10
 Grischuk, Alexander
RUS
 2764
 1983
6
13
 Ivanchuk, Vassily
UKR
 2757
 1969
7
14
 Svidler, Peter
RUS
 2747
 1976
8
18
 Gelfand, Boris
ISR
 2740
 1968

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