24 March 2016

Lady Luck's Inertia

Round ten of the candidates tournament in the review of Eteri Kublashvili.

With yet four rounds to go till the end of the Candidates Tournament, there has again taken place a change of leadership: the permanent leader of the race Sergey Karjakin is now joined by Fabiano Caruana, who has defeated Viswanathan Anand.

The players opted for the English Opening (which, by the way, happened in two other games of the round as well), in which Caruana has introduced a fresh idea on move 12.

Caruana – Anand 

12. Qc2 

Earlier this position saw Levon Aronian developing his bishop with 12. Bg5. 

12...h6 13.Bf4 Ne4 14.Rad1 Bf5 15.Ne5 

Fabiano Caruana, “Bad is 15…Nxg3 in view of 16. e4 Nxf1 17. exf5. In response to 15…f6  I was considering the option of 16. Bxh6 with a complex game to follow: 16…Nxg3 17. Rxf5 Nxf5 18. Nxc6 Qd7.” 

15…Nd6 16.e4 Bh7 17.Qe2 

According to Fabiano, White’s advantage here is overwhelming. 


The last Black's move surprised the American, who, realizing that the position looks reap for some winning resource, has therefore decided to sacrifice a piece.

18.Bxh6! gxh6 19.Qh5 Nef5 

White’s initial idea was to play 19. Rf4, but then this move was rejected in view of 19…Ng7 20. Qxh6 Re6 21. Qh3 Qg5 22. Rh4 Qe3+ 23. Kh1 Nxe4 and Black is winning. The option of transiting into and endgame had to be accepted instead. 

20.exf5 Qg5 21.Qxg5+ hxg5 22.f6 


Caruana labeled this move as a blunder. He was considering the 22…c6 23. Rde1 Rad8 line, and stated that it was unclear how Black’s position was to be broken through. 

23.Rfe1 Nxc3 

23…Nxf6 is answered with 24. Bxb7, followed by Ba6, whereas 23…Nd6 is met by 24. Bd5. The game, however, progressed so that Black lost by force: 

24. Rc1 Nb5 25.Bxb7 Rad8 26.Bc6 Nxd4 27.Bxe8 Rxe8 28.Kf2 Nc2 

29.Red1! Be4 30.Nxc4 Re6 31.Rd8+ Kh7 32.Kg1 Rxf6 33.Rf1 Black resigns. I would like to add that during the post-game review Anand would not breathe a single word. 

The American grandmaster admitted that in the last few days, beginning with salvation in the game with Peter Svidler, fortune began to smile at him. Fabiano also shared that every day in the restaurant he would accidentally pick up some cookies with optimistic predictions, while the last fortune cookie even promised him a leap in material prosperity.

The other three games have traditionally ended in draws. 

Sergey Karjakin and Anish Giri handled a fundamental theoretical line of the Slav Defense. As both players were very well prepared in the opening, a draw, agreed on move 32, became the most natural result. After the game Sergey claimed that "it is difficult to prepare for Anish, because he knows everything. As for today, he also knew everything, but maybe partially forgot something, so it explains his thinking so long."

Karjakin and Giri’s places in the studio were almost immediately occupied by Peter Svidler and Hikaru Nakamura, whose battle in the English Opening ended in an early perpetual check.

Svidler – Nakamura 

According to Peter Svidler, this position is a key moment from Black’s point of view.  Now Nakamura could go for 18…Ng6 19. Re1 Ne5 or 19…Bxg2 20. Kxg2 f6 21. Re3 Re7 22. Rae1 Rae8 23. Bc3 b6 24. a4, and the positions in these lines were not to St. Petersburg grandmaster’s liking. 

Meanwhile, the move made in the game, 18…c6, leads to a more or less forced draw: 

19.dxc6 Nxc6 20.Bxh3 Qxh3 21.Nxc6 bxc6 22.b4 Bb6 23.Qxd6 Rxe4 24.Qxc6 Rae8 25.Qxb6 Rh4 26.gxh4 Qg4+ 27.Kh1 Qf3+ 28.Kg1 Qg4+ 29.Kh1 Qf3+ 30.Kg1 Qg4+ Draw. 

The last to finish their game were Levon Aronian and Veselin Topalov. The Armenian grandmaster, playing White pieces, obtained a promising position, but a couple of imprecise moves deprived him of his superiority. 

When the game finished, Levon complained of tactical blunders on his part, whereas Veselin simply characterized his game as "terrible."

Aronian - Topalov 

The Bulgarian grandmaster admitted that he underestimated the potential of White’s position after 20…Ne4?! 21. Nxe4 Bxe4 22. Bxe4 Rxe4 23. Rfe1 Rxe1+ 24. Rxe1 Qf5 25. Re7 Rb8 26. Kg2 Bb6 27. Qe2 d5 

Here White committed an error. According to Levon, instead of 28. c5?! he should have played 28. Qf3, leading to a technically winning endgame for White. In the game, however, Topalov not only managed to fend White off, but even launched some counter play to overtake the initiative. The opponents agreed to a draw prior to the start of the second time control. 

Round ten was visited by the twelfth World Champion Anatoly Karpov, whose workplace is not far away from the Telegraph. The legendary grandmaster briefly commented on the leaders’ performance:

- Sergey Karjakin plays consistent and confident chess. Well done! I think he is determined to win the tournament and may be closer than ever to live out his dream. Of course, there is still a lot of games ahead, but being a leader when still in the middle of the tournament and not letting your leadership go is a very important thing. Besides, Sergey plays interesting chess at that.

As for Caruana, in the beginning he was as if a fish out of water, but has gradually elbowed his way towards a leader position. Today he defeated Anand in a very interesting and important game, and they switched places in the tournament standings. However, the entire struggle is still ahead.

- Following Caruana’s incredible save in the game against Giri would it be OK to say that the American is as lucky as the first prize winner?

- Should he end up as a tournament’s winner, we will definitely say it then (laughing).

Thus, after completion of round ten leading the field are Sergey Karjakin and Fabiano Caruana with 6 points both. Trailing half a point behind them are Viswanathan Anand and Levon Aronian.

The pairings of round 11: Aronian - Svidler, Topalov - Caruana, Anand - Karjakin, Giri - Nakamura.