FIDE Candidates Rd1 G1: Fighting chess but no knockouts

by Albert Silver
5/5/2011 – Despite the conspicuous absence of Magnus Carlsen, the 2011 Candidates has a number of intriguing matchups between vastly contrasting players styles, promising combative chess at the highest level. The first games showed two Najdorfs and a clear desire to win, but only Aronian ever threatened to score the full point, against Grischuk, tripping right before the winning line. Express 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.
Rtng
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
Tot.
Perf.
Levon Aronian
ARM
2808
½
             
0.5
 
Alexander Grischuk 
RUS
2747
½
             
0.5
 

 
Nat.
Rtng
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
Tot.
Perf.
Vladimir Kramnik
RUS
2785
½
             
0.5
 
Teimour Radjabov 
AZE
2744
½
             
0.5
 

 
Nat.
Rtng
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
Tot.
Perf.
Veselin Topalov
BUL
2775
½
             
0.5
 
Gata Kamsky
USA
2732
½
             
0.5
 

 
Nat.
Rtng
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
Tot.
Perf.
Boris Gelfand
ISR
2733
½
             
0.5
 
Shak. Mamedyarov 
AZE
2772
½
             
0.5
 

Round one – Game one

Report by Albert Silver

Despite the conspicuous absence of Magnus Carlsen, the 2011 Candidates has a number of intriguing matchups promising combative chess at the highest level. Though not all players are known for the most exciting chess styles, one usually gets the most interesting games precisely when pairing players with the most contrasting approaches. The first round has this in spades with ultra dynamic players such as Topalov, Radjabov, Mamedyarov, and Grischuk on the one hand, and Aronian, Kramnik, Kamsky, and Gelfand on the other. Add to that a chance for a place in history as world champion, and all the ingredients are there.

Online spectators are also offered an amazing array of mouthwatering options to enjoy the game, ranging from the online video feeds of the Russian Federation (above picture), to free live web access at Playchess with a 24-core machine providing computer analysis. Finally, if you are premium member on the Playchess server, you can see the wrap-up shows by GM Jan Gustafsson and Loek Van Wely among others, as well as live GM commentary during the weekends. Really, chess players never had it so good.

One of the first matchups to really draw attention is the grudge match between Gata Kamsky and Veselin Topalov (picture above). This is a repeat of their Candidates final from the previous cycle, and considering the amount of bad blood and bombastic declarations made beforehand, one almost expects a board to be placed under the table to prevent them from kicking each other. Kamsky didn’t shy away from Topalov’s Najdorf, but immediately sent him into a think when he followed up the 6.a4 line with the novelty 7.a5!?. The game remained dynamic but balanced until simplifications occurred and Topalov correctly gave up the exchange for a pawn and bishop-pair. With no way to create any winning chances on either end, a draw was agreed upon.

Kamsky,Gata (2732) - Topalov,Veselin (2775) [B90]
WCh Candidates Kazan RUS (1.1), 05.05.2011
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.a4 Nc6 7.a5 e6 8.Nxc6 bxc6 9.Bd3 Be7 10.0-0 c5 11.Bf4 Qc7 12.Qe2 Bb7 13.e5 Qc6 14.f3 Nh5 15.Bd2 c4 16.Bxc4 dxe5 17.b3 Rd8 18.Rad1 Qc5+ 19.Kh1 Nf4 20.Na4 Nxe2 21.Nxc5 Bxc5 22.Bxe2 Ke7 23.b4 Rxd2 24.Rxd2 Bxb4 25.Rd3 Bd5 26.Rb1 Bxa5 27.Ra3 Bd2 28.Rxa6 Rc8 29.Ra7+ Kf6 30.Bd3 Be3 31.Ra4 h5 32.Rab4 Rc3 33.h4 g6 34.Kh2 Kg7 35.Ra4 f5 36.Re1 Bc5 37.Re2 Kf6 38.Re1 Bf2 39.Re2 Bc5 40.Re1 Bf2 41.Re2 Bc5 White Time: 1h:00min Black Time: 0h:52min 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]


Gata Kamsky during his round one game in Kazan


Veselin Topalov drew his first game of the Candidates with the black pieces

Mamedyarov (above) vs Gelfand was another Najdorf, and Gelfand found himself in a difficult situation with a misplaced bishop. But the Azeri GM failed to find a way to improve his position and his initiative eventually pettered out.

Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar (2772) - Gelfand,Boris (2733) [B90]
WCh Candidates Kazan RUS (1.1), 05.05.2011
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e5 7.Nf3 Be7 8.Bc4 0-0 9.0-0 Nc6 10.Re1 b5 11.Bb3 Rb8 12.Bg5 Be6 13.Bxf6 Bxf6 14.Nd5 Bg5 15.Qd3 Bh6 16.Red1 Kh8 17.Nc3 Qb6 18.Bxe6 fxe6 19.Qxd6 Nd4 20.Qxb6 Nxf3+ 21.gxf3 Rxb6 22.a4 Kg8 23.axb5 axb5 24.Ra5 b4 25.Rb5 Rfb8 26.Rxb6 Rxb6 27.Ne2 Rc6 28.c3 bxc3 29.Nxc3 Bg5 30.Kf1 Rb6 31.Rb1 Be7 32.Ke2 Rb8 33.Kd3 Bc5 34.Na4 Bxf2 35.b4 Ra8 36.Nc5 Kf7 37.Kc4 Ke7 38.Rd1 Bd4 39.Nb3 White Time: 0min:39s Black Time: 0min:53s 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

The shortest game of the day was between Radjabov and Kramnik in which Kramnik chose the Lasker variation of the QGD, and nothing really got going.

Radjabov,Teimour (2744) - Kramnik,Vladimir (2785) [D56]
WCh Candidates Kazan RUS (1.1), 05.05.2011
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 0-0 7.e3 Ne4 8.Bxe7 Qxe7 9.Rc1 c6 10.Be2 Nd7 11.0-0 Nxc3 12.Rxc3 dxc4 13.Rxc4 e5 14.Qc2 exd4 15.Nxd4 Nb6 16.Rc5 Rd8 17.Bf3 Be6 18.Rc1 Bd5 19.a3 Nd7 20.Rc3 Nf6 21.Bxd5 Rxd5 22.Rc4 Re8 23.h3 Ne4 24.b4 a5 25.Rb1 White Time: 0h:50min Black Time: 1h:07min 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

The longest game of the day was Aronian’s game against Grischuk, and it had promised to be the event’s first blood right to the very end. The game started as a Gruenfeld, and Aronian as White having the last word in the preparation. He emerged from the middlegame with an extra c-pawn but the technical phase appeared less than obvious at first view.

As the endgame unfolded, it became clear that the Russian was going to have tremendous defensive problems to solve as he was effectively playing with only rook and knight against the Armenian’s rook, knight, king and passed pawn. Sure enough Grischuk’s options began to dry up and the pawn began to creep forward. A masterful win seemed in store for Aronian until an appalling blunder right at the finish line (69.Nc5??) threw it all away, and a draw ensued the next move.


This is where Aronian could have won with the move 69.Ne5. Instead he played 69.Nc5=.

Aronian,Levon (2808) - Grischuk,Alexander (2747) [D87]
WCh Candidates Kazan/Tatarstan/Russia (1.1), 05.05.2011
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bc4 c5 8.Ne2 Nc6 9.Be3 0-0 10.0-0 b6 11.dxc5 Qc7 12.Nd4 Ne5 13.Nb5 Qb8 14.Be2 bxc5 15.f4 Ng4 16.Bxc5 a6 17.Na3 Qc7 18.Bd4 e5 19.fxe5 Nxe5 20.Qc1 Bg4 21.Bxg4 Nxg4 22.Qf4 Qxf4 23.Rxf4 Ne5 24.Rb1 Rad8 25.Nc2 Nd3 26.Rff1 Rd7 27.Rfd1 Nf4 28.Kf2 Rc8 29.Ne3 h5 30.Rb6 Ne6 31.Bxg7 Rxd1 32.Nxd1 Kxg7 33.Ke3 Nc5 34.Rd6 a5 35.c4 a4 36.Kd4 Ne6+ 37.Kc3 Rb8 38.Rd5 Nf4 39.Rd2 Ne6 40.Rb2 Rd8 41.Nf2 a3 42.Rd2 Rb8 43.Nd3 Rb1 44.c5 Kf6 45.c6 Ke7 46.Nb4 Rc1+ 47.Kb3 Nc5+ 48.Kxa3 Nxe4 49.Rd4 Nd6 50.Ka4 Ke6 51.Ka5 Rc5+ 52.Ka6 g5 53.a4 Ke5 54.Rd2 Rc4 55.Ka5 f5 56.Rc2 Kd4 57.Rd2+ Ke5 58.Nd3+ Kf6 59.Kb6 Nc8+ 60.Kb7 Nd6+ 61.Kc7 Ne4 62.Ra2 Nc3 63.Rb2 Nxa4 64.Rb4 Rxb4 65.Nxb4 Nc5 66.Kb6 Ne6 67.Nd3 h4 68.h3 Ke7 69.Nc5 Nxc5 70.Kxc5 Kd8 1/2-1/2. [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    

Live broadcast

The games are being broadcast live on the FIDE web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download the free PGN reader ChessBase Light, which gives you immediate access. You can also use the program to read, replay and analyse PGN games. New and enhanced: CB Light 2009!


In addition you can watch the games live on a regular browser on our live broadcast site.
A very powerful computer is analysing the games and tracking the evaluation in a bar chart.


The Russian Chess Federation is providing excellent hi-res live video coverage from
the playing hall in Kazan, with live commentary (in Russian).

Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the server Playchess.com. If you are not a Playchess member you can download ChessBase Light, which gives you immediate access. You can also use the program to read, replay and analyse PGN games.



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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