FIDE Candidates: the battle resumes tomorrow

by ChessBase
5/11/2011 – The candidates for the 2012 World Championship are taking two days of rest. But on Thursday the remaining four – Kramnik, Grischuk, Gelfand and Kamsky – will continue their matches in Kazan, and we our live coverage on Playchess and the browser-based broadcast which gives you a running evaluation of the games. This is being provided by the Hiarcs team using some extraordinary hardware.

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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.

The first round of the Candidates matches

Did you enjoy the first leg of the FIDE Candidates matches? The stakes are high in Kazan, but the results theoretically disappointing. Just take a look at the statistics: of the sixteen regular full-time games fourteen (=87.5%) were drawn, while the two wins, both scored with the black pieces, pushed Kamsky and Gelfand into the next round. However, if you draw the conclusion that the even until then was dull and boring you were greatly mistaken. Many of the draws were extremely hard-fought, with blood-curdling twists and turns, with drama and tragedy. At least that is what most of our readers felt.

Then came the tiebreak games – rapid and in one case four blitz games. Here there were 41.7% draws, 33.3% wins by White and 25% by Black. There was high drama, which included the clock suddenly deciding it had had enough in the critical phase of a critical game. The arbiters had to get a new clock, consult the live video feed to get the times on the original clock (21 seconds for White and 12 for Black).

After the match we got a playfully irritated call from Garry Kasparov. "Did you send them my DVDs?" the former World Champion wanted to know. "They are playing my openings!" Indeed, Kasparov has recorded four ChessBase DVDs, one on the Queen's Gambit and three DVDs on the Najdorf. Eleven (out of a total of 28 games) saw the Queen's Gambit: Kramnik and Radjabov played it in seven from eight games, Aronian-Grischuk four times; and the Najdorf was played in four games: twice by Topalov against Kamsky and twice by Gelfand against Mamedyarov. Maybe you, too, should study Kasparov's DVDs?

Here, to whet your appetite, is a sampler of Kasparov on the Queen's Gambit. Close your eyes and imagine Kramnik and Kamsky listening to this during their preparations for the Candidates matches in Kazan. Then go to the ChessBase Shop where you will find more general and ordering information on these timeless DVDs

In the end, with or without Kasparov's assistance, the following candidates went through to the semi-finals:

WR Player Rating  Nat. Born
 4 Vladimir Kramnik 2785 RUS 1975
12 Alexander Grischuk 2747 RUS 1983
16 Boris Gelfand 2733 ISR 1968
18 Gata Kamsky 2732 USA 1974

And here are the results and the pairings for the next stage:

  Quarterfinals (best of 4) Semifinals (best of 4) Final (best of 6)
  1   Veselin Topalov 1.5  
8   Gata Kamsky 2.5  
      Gata Kamsky  
    Boris Gelfand  
4   Boris Gelfand 2.5
  5   Shak Mamedyarov 1.5  
  3   Levon Aronian 3.5  
6   Alexander Grischuk 4.5  
    Alexander Grischuk
    Vladimir Kramnik  
2   Vladimir Kramnik 7.0
  7   Teimour Radjabov 5.0  

This is the schedule of the next rounds:

Day Date Game
Thursday May 12 Round 2 Game 1
Friday May 13 Round 2 Game 2
Saturday May 14 Round 2 Game 3
Sunday May 15 Round 2 Game 4


May 16 Tiebreaks
Tuesday May 17 Free day
Wednesday May 18 Free day
Thursday May 19 Round 3 Game 1
Friday May 20 Round 3 Game 2
Saturday May 21 Round 3 Game 3
Sunday May 22 Free day


May 23 Round 3 Game 4
Tuesday May 24 Round 3 Game 5
Wednesday May 25 Round 3 Game 6
Thursday May 26 Tiebreaks, closing
Friday May 27 Departure

Following the games from Kazan

The Russian organisers in Kazan are providing live coverage on the official site, as are many servers all over the world. But what is more interesting is that they are also streaming excellent hi-res video coverage from
the playing hall in Kazan, with live commentary (in Russian). This can be watched as the games are taking place, or later in the archives. Some day, we feel, all chess tournaments will be covered this way.

The Russian Chess Federation's live coverage from the playing hall in Kazan

Naturally Playchess is also covering the event, with players like Sam Collins, Dejan Bojkov, Daniel King, Loek van Wely and Jan Gustafsson providing commentary.

GM Daniel King is doing live audio commentary on the Playchess server

Live evaluation from the Hiarcs computers

In addition to the Playchess commentary the games are also being displayed on our Chesslive broadcast page, which can be accessed in any regular browser, even Apple, without having to download a special client. When you go to the Chesslive broadcast page you get a list of all the games that are currently available in the broadcast room. The ones with the most viewers are on top, so it is easy to access the most important games. You can load and follow multiple games by clicking on "Games" on the left, to get the list. Each loaded game has its own icon, and clicking on these will jump to that game.

The games of the FIDE Candidates in Kazan are being analysed by our most powerful chess engines. Their evaluation of the current board position, together with the main line and an evaluation profile of the entire game so far, are displayed. This only happens when the games are live and the remote engines are running.

This is Deep Hiarcs 13.285 analysing during the final Topalov-Kamsky game

In the above enlarged image (in our Silverlight broadcast you can resize all the windows) you can see at a glance the course that game four of the Topalov-Kamsky match took: Topalov had a small advantage from the start, which suddenly turned into a practically winning position when Kamsky blundered in intense time pressure just before the 40th move. Then at move 44 Topalov threw away most of the advantage and slowly moved into to a 0.00 score, with Hiarcs expecting White to repeat moves for a draw.

During the quarterfinals the engines were running in a somewhat haphazard fashion: Fritz, Hiarcs, Rybka and Junior were given a game apiece by our sysops, sometimes running on a quad system, but sometimes on a very special system: the Hiarcs computers, located in the study of Harvey Williamson in the middle of London (picture above).

Harvey uses two very fast machines. One is a sixteen core (with hyperthreading) system with each core running at 3.2 GHz with 12 GB of RAM. The second is a 24-core system, with the CPUs currently overclocked at 4.2 GHz. That machine has 48 GB of RAM. Naturally they have every tablebase known to man, and the latest opening books on board. These computers have helped some very strong players in their preparation for some very important matches.

The Hiarcs team: Harvey Williamson with program author Mark Uniacke

Harvey, who has been using chess computers since the early 80's, has been working with Mark Uniacke on Hiarcs for several years now. He plays a lot of correspondence chess and hold the IM title there. His real job, however, is the BBC's News and Sport radio network, Radio 5 Live, which is moving to Manchester later in the year: Harvey and his computers will do likewise – but don't worry, you won't notice a thing. During the semifinals we will be using Deep Fritz 12 and Deep Hiarcs 13.2 to give us running assessment of the games.


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the server 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.

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