Candidates: Karjakin's last chance

by Klaus Besenthal
3/24/2018 – In the Candidates Tournament in Berlin, the leader and his closest pursuer played draws in the eleventh round: Fabiano Caruana found precise answers to Vladimir Kramnik's opening ideas, Shakriyar Mamedyarov steered Wesley So towards an early peace. With three rounds to go, Caruana is still half a point ahead of Mamedyarov. Musical chairs in the chasing group. The Chinese Ding Liren was on the verge of a brilliant victory against Alexander Grischuk, but in mutual time pressure, Grischuk managed a miraculous escape. For Ding, his eleventh consecutive draw. | Photo: World Chess

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A late Russian charge?

Will the next challenger of Magnus Carlsen be Fabiano Caruana, Shakriyar Mamedyarov or still with an outside chance Sergey Karjakin, and Alexander Grischuk, who after Friday's play are just a point behind. Any other winner is highly unlikely now. We really have a four-way race with three rounds still to play. Let's start with the standings:

Standings after round eleven


Caruana ½-½ Kramnik

It may not have been a memorable game in its entirety, but Kramnik's creative opening choice with Black will definitely be one of the highlights of the tournament. Caruana was forced to invest 30 minutes for his next three moves to work out how to proceed. You don't see that very often at this level on move five!


Caruana and Kramnik

Fabiano Caruana defended his lead in round eleven | Photo: World Chess

So ½-½ Mamedyarov

After drawing with Caruana yesterday, Shakriyar Mamedyarov was still happy with a draw today with Black. After looking at Caruana's game against Kramnik, he had come to the conclusion that his rival would not be able to extend his lead, and he'll have another chance to pull level. In any case, the Azerbaijani's opening choice lead to equality from which it would have been impossible for him to get more than half a point.


Mamedyarov and Aronian

Mamedyarov is behind the front-runner, and Aronian will regret not being there too
For So, the tournament was over early, not he can just enjoy playing | Photos: World Chess

Wesley So

Aronian 0-1 Karjakin

Levon Aronian has clearly not been in his best shape in Berlin. But the story is less clear with Sergey Karjakin: After a bad start to the tournament, the Russian has almost imperceptibly climbed his way back to the top again. He still has a small chance to reach a second match against Magnus Carlsen with a strong finish, but he will certainly need more wins in the next few days — draws will not be enough.


Aronian and Karjakin

After a weak start, Karjakin has not yet given up the fight for another match with Magnus Carlsen | Photo: World Chess

Ding ½-½ Grischuk

This might have been not only the first victory for the Chinese Ding Liren, but also a very impressive one. In hair-raising time scramble there were mistakes on both sides, but overall the two grandmasters produced an absolutely thrilling game, with drama worthy of any sporting endeavour. For purists who care more about correctness, it might not have been great, but at least it gives fans fodder for days worth of enjoyable analysis.


Ding an Grischuk

It was difficult to watch how Ding let a brilliant win slip in horrendous time trouble | Photo: World Chess

All games of round ten


Round-up show with GM Erwin l'Ami

Translation from German: Macauley Peterson


Klaus Besenthal is computer scientist, has followed and still follows the chess scene avidly since 1972 and since then has also regularly played in tournaments.


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DragonVerde27 DragonVerde27 3/24/2018 09:14