29 May 2015

The Return of the Challenger

Round Five Review of the final FIDE Grand Prix in Khanty-Mansiysk by GM Sergei Shipov

I say a bad streak in the chess life of a young talented player cannot last indefinitely provided that he works hard and is full of ambition. 

Following his success in the Candidates tournament in 2014, Karjakin has quite suddenly slowed down and has given ground. He has started to produce results clearly below his level. The culmination of Sergei’s downfall was the last place in the Russian Championship Superfinal in Kazan.

The reasons of whatever is happening remain a mystery for me. Well, there is no such thing as a sudden deterioration in the quality of performance of a player who is well in his prime.

And, at last, in the fifth round of this Grand Prix I managed to recognize the old Karjakin, determined and confident master of chess.

His game against the direct competitor for the qualification place in the new Candidate’s tournament saw him performing in his best traditions.

Karjakin – Tomashevsky 

Sergei has handled the preparatory part of the decisive onslaught in a very intelligent manner. He kept creating lots of minor threats while draining away his opponent’s energy and time by making him come up with appropriate countermeasures. Only during the final and decisive time trouble Sergei finally sprang into action.

Besides, Evgeny has removed his rooks from the center for nothing. He shouldn’t have attached so much importance to the a3-a4 breakthrough. The most amazing thing is that it was still this breakthrough that decided the outcome of the battle at a later stage of the game.

70.e4! Nb6 

In our online stream Sergey Rublevsky and I were trying for quite some time to calculate the direct honest line 70...dxe4!? 71.dxe4 Nb6 72.Bxe5 fxe5 73.Rd6 Nc4 74.Rd7 Rxa3 75.Rxa3 Rxa3 76.Bxc4 bxc4 77.Rxb7, and decided to continue it with 77...Ra2+ 78.Ke3 Ra3+ 79.Kd2! Ra2+ 80.Kc3 Rxf2 81.Rc7 Rf3+ 82.Kxc4 Rxg3 83.Rxc6 g5 84.hxg5 Rxg5 85.b5 

and when we reached this position in our analysis we mistakenly evaluated it as lost for Black, while in reality Black manages to extricate himself from trouble by 85...h4 86.Kd5 (86.b6 h3! 87.b7 h2 88.b8Q h1Q=) 86...h3! 87.Rc3 Rh5 88.Rc1 h2 89.Rh1 Rh6! 90.Kc5 Kg7 91.b6 Rh3 92.Kb4 Rh8 93.Ka5 Rh3 94.Ka6 Ra3+ 95.Kb7 Ra2 96.Kc7 Kf6 97.b7 Rc2+ 98.Kd6 Rb2 99.Kc7 Rc2+ with a draw. 

Of course, with Tomashevsky having only 15 minutes left on his clock at this moment it was impossible for him to go as far as this. He had to go by guesswork mostly. 

71.f4! Ng4 72.Bd4 Nc8?! 

Although the idea of striving for the counterplay was correct, the way it was executed left much to be desired. The following line defies any human mind altogether 72...Kg6! 73.Bxb6 (73.Kf3 Rxa3!; 73.Rda1 Rd8) 73...Rxb6 74.exd5 cxd5 75.Bxd5 Re8+ 76.Kf3 Rd6 77.f5+! (77.Be4+? f5; 77.Bxb7 Re3+ 78.Kg2 Re7!) 77...Kxf5 78.Be4+ Ke6 79.d4 f5!, whereas 80.Bxb7? Rb8 81.d5+ Kf6 82.Bc6 Ne5+ 83.Ke2 Nxc6 84.dxc6 Re8+ would even result in White’s collapse. 

73.exd5 Ne7 74.dxc6 

This is apparently a key moment in the game. 


Evgeny was carried away by the idea of installing his knight on f5. However, the g3-pawn has proved to be not so valuable to White.  A lot more stubborn is 74...Nxc6! After the game Sergei admitted that he planned 75.Bc3, but then Black is OK after 75...Rxa3 76.Rxa3 Rxa3 77.Rb1 Nh6! and 78...Nf5. Even after the stronger move 75.Bc5! not everything is so clear: 75...b6 76.Bg1 Nxb4 77.Raa1 Nh6! 78.Kd2 Rxa3 79.Rxa3 Rxa3 80.Rb1 Nf5 81.Bxb6 Nc6 82.Bf7 Ra4! 83.Rxb5 (83.Bxh5 Nxg3) 83...Nxg3 84.Bc4 with only a slight edge for White. 


This is how a weakness has been turned into a strength. 


In the case of 75...Nf5 76.Bc5 Nxg3+ 77.Kd2! Nf5 78.a5 Nxh4 the powerful passed pawn on a5 outweighs all the achievements of Black on the kingside: 79.Kc3 Nf5 80.Re1 Rd8 (80...Rc8? 81.Be6) 81.Rae2 Raa8 82.Re6 Rdc8 83.Bd1 Kg6 84.Bf3 Ra6 85.Be4 Ngh6 86.d4 Ng4 87.d5+-. 

76.Bc4 Nf5 77.Bc5 Re8+ 

The exchange sacrifice would fail to provide Black with any chances to bail out after 77...Nxg3+ 78.Kd2! (78.Kf3 Nf5) 78...Nf5 79.Bxa6 Rxa6 80.Rda1 Nxh4 81.Rxa4 Rxa4 82.Rxa4 Ng2 83.Ra6 because White's one passed pawn would be faster than three black pawns. It should be noted that 83...Nxf4 is most precisely met by 84.Bd6! in order not to allow black knight on e5. 


This is the most precise solution. The f3-square is likely to become useful to the white bishop. There followed yet 

78...Raa8 79.Bf7 Red8 

Or 79...Nxg3 80.Bxe8 Rxe8 81.Rxa4 Nf5 82.Ra6 Rc8 83.Rc1 Nxh4 84.Ba7! Nf5 (84...Nf3+ 85.Ke2) 85.b5+-.

80.Bxh5 Ngh6 81.Bf3! 

81...Nxg3 82.Bxc6 Rac8 83.Bb7 Rc7 84.Bf3 Rcd7 85.Kc3 Nhf5 86.Bc6 Rc7 87.b5 Rcc8 88.Re1 Nxh4 89.Rxa4 Nhf5 90.Rc4 g6 91.Bf3 Nh4 92.Re7+ Kh6 93.Bb7 Rb8 

94.Ba7 Nhf5 95.Bxb8 Nxe7 96.Bc7 Rd7 97.b6 Ne2+ 98.Kd2 Nd4 99.Bg2 Black resigns. 

Many chess warriors have become stuck in a bog of draws. They do try their best to win, indeed, but the shields of the opponents have always proved stronger than their own swords. 

Grischuk – Gelfand 

Sasha summarized the after-game analysis by saying that, “So, the move 8.h3 leads to a forced draw, as ridiculous as it may sound.” One has to admit that it really sounds ridiculous because it is not exactly true. 

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6! 

Without making a religion of the Chelyabinsk Variation this time, the Sveshnikov I mean. 

3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4! 

The Najdorf Variation can be avoided as well. 

4...Nc6 5.Bb5 Bd7 6.Qd3! 

So, this makes Zvjaginsev a classic chess player also! 

6...Nf6 7.Bg5 

Ian Nepomniachtchi, who will also join the ranks of the classic chess players in a few years to come, attempted the 7.c4 bind against Gelfand (Sochi 2014), who simplified the game with 7...Ne5! 8.Nxe5 dxe5 9.Qe2 e6 10.0–0 Bxb5 11.cxb5 Bc5 and obtained a comfortable game. 


Black is striving for simplifications on e5. 7...e6 leads to the conventional Sicilian-type of play with both kings castling to the opposite flanks, for example: 8.Nc3 Be7 9.0–0–0 a6 10.Bxc6 Bxc6 11.Nd4 0–0 12.h4 Qa5 13.g4 Rac8 14.Bxf6 Bxf6 15.g5 Be7 16.Rdg1 b5 17.Kb1 b4 18.Nce2 Bb5=+, as in Andreikin-Gelfand, Moscow 2013. 

Boris must have believed that Sasha was going to come up with some sort of serious improvement in this line and decided to bail out of it. 


To my mind, this move is a good way to claim an advantage. In the case of 8.Nc3 Black would have a possibility to quickly deploy his forces on the kingside by 8...h6 9.Bh4 g5! 10.Bg3 Bg7 and he has excellent chances in the upcoming complications. I drop the details out as I believe in all strong chessplayers’ capability of finding them out without outside assistance. 

8...Nge5 9.Nxe5 Nxe5 10.Bxd7+ 

10.Qb3 does not gain any advantage in view of 10...Qa5+ 11.Nc3 Bxb5 12.Qxb5+ Qxb5 13.Nxb5 Rc8 14.0–0–0 a6=. 

10...Qxd7 11.Qb3 


This is a nifty novelty. 11...g6 has been played here before, but then the white knight is allowed to land comfortably on d5: 12.Nc3! Bg7 13.Nd5 Nc6 14.0–0–0 0–0 (14...h6 15.Bd2 0–0 16.Bc3+=) 15.e5! with attack. 


This is a strong objection as the white knight heads to с4. Had White played 12.Nc3, the possession of this critical square would have been taken over by the black knight: 12...Rc8 13.0–0–0 Nc4 14.Rd4 Qc6, and White cannot make immediate use of his lead in development. 

Let me show you the details of one eye-catching line available in this position: 15.Nb5 Qc5 16.Qa4! Rc6!! (after 16...Qxg5+ 17.f4! Qxf4+ 18.Kb1 Black is going to find himself in a really bad shape) 17.Nxa7 (17.Be3 Nxe3 18.fxe3 a6=+) 17...Qxg5+ 18.f4 (18.Kb1 b5! 19.Nxb5 Qc5=+) 18...Qxg2 19.Rhd1 Nb6 20.Qb3 Rc5 (20...Rc7 21.R4d2 Qxe4 22.Qxb6) 21.c3 Be7 22.Qxb6 0–0 23.Qxb7 Bf6 24.Rxd6 Bxc3 (24...Rc4!?) 25.bxc3 Rxc3+ 26.Kb1 Qc2+ 27.Ka1 Ra3 28.Qb2 Qxb2+ 29.Kxb2 Rxa7 and the resulting endgame is drawish. 


The exchange could have been avoided only at the cost of serious positional concessions: 12...h6 13.Bh4 Qc6 14.f3 a6 15.0–0–0 b5 16.Kb1 g5 17.Bg3 Bg7 18.h4 with an initiative for White. 

13.Bxe7 Qxe7 14.Qb5+?! 

This check can be dispensed with as unnecessary, to my mind. It supplies Black with the possibility to deploy his knight to a good square and provokes him into the a7-a6 advance, which may prove useful later. Therefore, stronger and more relevant for the opening theory is 14.0–0–0! 0–0 15.Rd2 

The problem of the weak pawn on d6 is unlikely to be tackled as quickly and elegantly as it happened in the game. For example, 15...a6 (15...Rfd8 16.Rhd1) 16.f4 Nc6 (16...Ng6 17.g3) 17.Nc4 Rad8 (weaker is 17...Rfd8 18.Rhd1 and Black cannot play 18...d5? in view of 19.Nb6±) 18.Ne3 (18.Rhd1 is met by 18...d5!) 18...b5 19.Rhd1 Qh4 20.f5 Qxe4 (20...e5 21.Nd5 Qxe4 22.Qe3!?) 21.fxe6 fxe6 22.Rxd6 Rxd6 23.Rxd6 Rf6 24.Qd3 with the edge for White. 


Of course 14...Qd7 cannot be played in view of 15.0–0–0, when the d6-pawn becomes almost as good as dead. 

15.0–0–0 0–0 16.Rd2 

The fire could still have been maintained by 16.Nc4! Rfd8 17.Ne3, keeping the d6-pawn from advancing. It could have been answered with 17...a6 18.Qb6 a5!? and the pawn is pushed forward, vacating the squares for the black rook. 


16...Rfd8!? was equally good. The breakthrough in the center would then be organized in exactly the same way as in the game. 

17.Rhd1 a6 18.Qb6 

Passive approach is not going to help Black in attaining equality in this position: 18...Rd7 19.Nc4 Rfd8 20.Ne3 etc. However, Black can dispense with a passive defense. 

18...d5! 19.exd5 Rxd5 20.Rxd5 exd5 21.Rxd5 

We are not going to keep our knight secluded from the game, are we? 

21...Nb4 22.Rd1 Nxa2+ 23.Kb1 Nb4 24.Qd6 Qe2!? 

Equally appropriate is 24...Qxd6 25.Rxd6 Re8 26.Kc1 Kf8=. 


White could have further enjoyed the pleasure of the game by 25.Qd2!?, and after 25...Qxd2 26.Rxd2 Re8 27.b3 (with the idea of Na3-c4-d6) 27...b5 28.c4 White has managed to gain a slight edge. However, Gelfand would have likely opted for 25...Qe7 with counterplay for Black. 

25...Qe1+ 26.Rd1 Qe2 27.Rd2 Qe1+ 28.Rd1 Qe2 Draw. 

Giri – Dominguez 

This endgame promised Black definite winning chances, as he has two extremely strong bishops. One could choose between 37... a4, or 37... Kg7, or 37... Bf4 38.Rc2 Rd7. A wide choice! However, Leinier lost sight of an elegant exchange combination. 

37...Rd7? 38.Be4! 

Now you can avoid the exchange of pieces only at the expense of losing the b7-pawn, which is likely to turn into a very painful experience.  

38...Rxd2 (38...Bb5 39.Rxd7 Bxd7 40.Bxb7=) 39.Nxd2 Bf4 40.Bxc6 Bxd2 41.Bxb7 a4 42.Bc6 Bc1 43.Bxa4 Bxb2 44.Kf1 Bxa3 Draw. 

Caruana – Jobava

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2 f6!? 6.0–0 fxe5 

Repetition is the mother of learning, as they say. Although this line looks quite suspicious, Baadur is full of belief... 


In the second round of this tournament Vachier-Lagrave opted for 7.dxe5, which resulted in a more complex game: 7...Bc5 8.Nbd2 Ne7 9.Nb3 Bb6 10.Nfd4 0–0 11.c4 Nd7 12.g4 Bxd4 13.Nxd4 c5 14.Nb5 Bg6 15.f4 etc. 

7...Nd7 8.Bd3! 

Not so clear is 8.g4 Be4 9.Nc3 (9.f3?! Bg6) 9...Nxe5 10.Nxe4 Nf7 11.Ng3 Qh4! 12.f4 Bd6!, and according to my analysis Black has enough counterplay. 


After 8...Nxe5?! 9.Bxf5 exf5 alongside with 10.Re1 also strong is 10.dxe5, for example, 10...Bc5 11.Nd2 Ne7 12.Qh5+ g6 13.Qh6 Qc7 (13...Qd7 14.Nb3 Bb6 15.e6!) 14.Nb3 Bb6 15.Bf4, and Black is in trouble.  

9.Re1 Be7 

After 9...Nxe5 10.Bxf5 exf5 11.Rxe5+ Be7 12.Rxf5 White is just up a healthy pawn. 


This move creates the threat of White’s knight lunging on g5. Not bad is 10.Bxf5 exf5 11.c4 with a slight edge. However, perhaps White is entitled to more than that in this position. 

10...Ne4! 11.Nc3 Ndf6 

11...Nxc3 fails to equalize – 12.bxc3 0–0 13.Qe2 Rf7 14.c4. 


Both opponents played their moves so fast that it left nobody wondering as to the domestic nature of their origin. 


13.Nxe4 dxe4! 

13...Nxe4 14.Bxe7 Qxe7 15.Bxe4 Bxe4 16.Ne5± would end up in a strategically lost position. 

14.Bxf6 exd3 15.Bxe7 Qxe7 

15...dxc2!? 16.Qxc2 Qxe7 also deserves attention in terms of fighting for equality. White is likely to be slightly better after 17.Qc3. However, if you imagine this position without the e6-pawn and with the black bishop occupying the d5-square then... To make long story short, Black is not without counterplay. 


Black needs to take drastic measures as the d3-pawn is about to perish in the midst of enemy’s pieces. 


One can perhaps also start with 16...Rad8. 16...Bg4, on the other hand, would fail to cash in because of 17.Re3. I believe that somewhere here the opponents were already out of their books and started to generate own ideas. 


17.Re3, and 17.Qd2 are another reasonable options for White. 


17...Rad8! is perhaps a bit stronger so as to be able to follow up 18.Nd4 Qxc5 with pushing the e6-pawn: 19.Re3 e5 20.Nxf5 Rxf5 21.Qd2 Rf7 22.Rae1 Rd5 with counterplay. 


This careless move results in wasting of an opening advantage. They used to tell us even as early as our childhood days that a queen is a poor blockading piece, and for a good reason so... 

At first, it was necessary to dislodge the black queen from his ideal square by 18.Re5!, and then White would be able to successfully arrange his pieces on good blockading positions. For example, 18...Qb6 19.Qd2 Bg4 20.Nd4 ±.

Baadur would most likely have resorted to the dynamic possibility by 18...Qd6 19.Re3 Rad8 (19...Bg4? 20.Rxd3) 20.Nd4 e5, but in this case the black pawns became vulnerable via 21.Nxf5 Rxf5 22.Qb3+ Rf7 23.Rd1 d2 24.Re2 g6 25.Qc4 Kg7 26.Qe4 

and one pawn is going to inevitably drop in the near future. 


White is likely to have missed this resource. Now 19.Nd4 is met by 19...e5 and 19.Ne5 is answered with 19...Be2! White had to resign himself to allowing the exchange on f3. 

19.Qxd3 Bxf3 20.gxf3 Qg5+ 

Perhaps even stronger is 20...Rad8! 21.Qe4 Rf6, retaining the queen on the board to enhance his counterplay... 

21.Kh1 Rad8 22.Qe4 Qf5! 23.Qxf5 Rxf5 


The weakness of the white pawns and the activity of the black rooks neutralize the minimum material advantage of White. 

24.Rad1 24...Rfd5 25.Rxd5 Rxd5 26.Re2 

I believe that 26.Re4 Rd2 27.Rb4 b6 28.Kg2 would also lead nowhere. Further white pawn leverages would result in drawish outcomes. For example, 28...Kf7 29.a4 Kf6 30.f4 g6 31.Rb5 Rc2 32.Kg3 h6 33.h4 Rd2 34.c4 Rc2 35.b3 Rc1 36.a5 (36.f3 Rc3) 36...bxa5 37.Rxa5 Rc3+ 38.f3 Rxb3 39.Rxa7 Rc3 40.Rc7 Rc2 41.Rc8 h5 42.c5 Kf7 43.c6 Kf6=. 

26...Kf7 27.f4 Rd1+ 28.Kg2 Rb1 29.Kf3 g6 30.b3 Rc1 31.c4 Rc3+ 32.Ke4 Ke7 33.Rd2 Rc1 34.Kf3 b6 35.Rd3 Ra1 36.a4 Ra2 37.Ke3 a5 38.Kf3 Rb2 39.h3 Rc2 40.Kg3 Rb2 41.Re3 Kf6 42.f3 Ke7 43.Kh4 h6 44.Kg3 Rb1 45.h4 h5 46.Rc3 Kd6 

47.f5 gxf5 48.Kf4 Ke7 49.c5 

and in this position a draw was offered by Fabiano, and quite timely so.

However, there is one tournament player who is far from being characterized as a man of peace. He drew only one game, whereas in all other game of his the blood was drawn. His game from round five was no exception either.

Jakovenko – Vachier-Lagrave 

It was due to the blunders committed by the French grandmaster that the fate of the game was decided in the final run. 

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.g3 Bg7 6.Bg2 0–0 7.h4 e5 8.Nxd5 Qxd5 9.d3 Nc6 10.h5 Bg4 11.hxg6 hxg6 12.Rh4 Qd7 13.Qa4 Be6 14.Rh2 Ne7 15.Qxd7 Bxd7 16.Bh6. 


Maxime must have confined his analysis only to the automatic recapture with the bishop. Equality was maintained by a simple move 16...f6, for example, 17.Bxg7 (17.d4 Bxh6 18.Rxh6 Nf5!) 17...Kxg7 18.d4 e4 19.Nd2 f5, and Black is not worse due to his possession of the d5-square. The capture of White’s bishop on h6 was followed by a brief pause when the Frenchman realized, of course, what a mess he had made…


As both Black bishops are en prise Black has to resign himself to remaining a pawn down. 

17...Bb5 18.Rxh6 Nf5 19.Rh2 Rfe8 20.Ng4 Nd4 21.Nf6+ Kg7 22.Nxe8+ Rxe8 23.Kf1 Nxe2 24.Bxb7 Bxd3 25.Kg2 Rb8 26.Rd1 Bf5 27.Rd2 Nxg3 28.Kxg3 Rxb7 29.Rh4 Be6 30.b3 c6 31.Rd8 Rb5 32.Ra4 Rc5 33.Kf3 Bd5+ 34.Ke3 Rc2 35.Rxa7 g5 36.Rd6 Rb2 37.Ra4 f6 38.b4 Kg6 39.a3 

It was still possible to put up resistance by 39...Rb3+ 40.Kd4 g4 or 39...Kf7. 

However, Vachier-Lagrave in his usual manner was trying to capitalize on his opponent’s time trouble and came up with the hasty move 


that was met by 40.Ra5!, suddenly exposing the precarious position of the с6-pawn. 

Having realized that after 40...Kg6 41.b5 the Black’s structure in the center is going to collapse inevitably, he recognized his defeat. 

One just cannot play like this! 

The course of the following game was far from peaceful. It was the endgame that was mishandled, however. 

Nakamura – Svidler 

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.h4 c6 6.Bg5 h6 (6...dxc4!? 7.e4 b5 8.e5 Nd5 9.h5 gxh5!) 7.Bxf6 Bxf6 8.h5 g5 9.e3 e6 (9...Bg7 10.Qc2 0–0 11.0–0–0 Be6!?) 10.Qc2! a6? (10...Nd7! 11.0–0–0 0–0 12.e4 g4! 13.Nh2 e5!) 11.0–0–0 b5 12.c5! g4 13.Nh2 e5 

Peter has definitely mishandled the opening part and the retaliation for it is about to start. 

14.Ne4! 0–0 

Very bad is 14...dxe4 15.dxe5 Qe7 16.exf6 Qxf6 17.Qxe4+. 

15.Nd6 Bg7 

15...g3 is strongly met by 16.dxe5! Bxe5 17.Nxc8 Qxc8 18.Nf3 Nd7 19.Nxe5 Nxe5 20.f4 Ng4 21.Rh3±. 


Against 16.Be2 Black would defend himself successfully by 16...g3! 17.fxg3 Qg5. Equally good would have been 16...f5 17.f3 exd4! (rather than 17...g3?! 18.Nf1 exd4 19.f4!±) 18.exd4 g3 19.Nf1 f4 etc. 


The black queen has been deprived of the possibility of being deployed to g5. White starts to open up the game. 

17.f3! g3 

Opening of the g-file is, of course, fraught with danger: 17...gxf3?! 18.gxf3 exd4 19.exd4 Nd7 20.Bh3 Qd8 21.Rhg1 Kh8 22.Rxg7! Kxg7 23.Rg1+ Kh8 24.Qd2 Qf6 25.Bxd7+-. 

18.Ng4 Qe6 


Worse is 19.dxe5 Nd7!, and White lacks the f3-f4 resource due to the g4-knight being undefended.  

19...Bxe5 20.dxe5 Qxe5 (20...Nd7 21.f4) 21.e4! Nd7! 

Development is of the highest priority. After 21...dxe4 22.Qxe4! it was the lack in the development of the queenside pieces that was going to tell: 22...Qxc5+ (22...Qxe4 23.fxe4 Ra7 24.Rh3±) 23.Kb1 Ra7 24.Bd3 f6 25.Rh4 Kh8 26.Rc1 Qe5 27.Qg6 Qg5 28.Rg4 Qxg6 29.Rxg6+-. 

22.exd5 cxd5 23.Kb1 Rfc8 

This is the critical moment of the game. As Nakamura had little time left on his clock he stopped short of going for the most principled continuation. 


After inclusion of preliminary moves 24.Qd2 Qf6 White could have defended his trump pawn via 25.b4!, not fearing any pathetic attempts by Black to open up the game. In all lines White managed to obtain a significant and, perhaps, a decisive advantage. For example, 25 ... a5 26.Bxb5 (26.Qxd5 Nf8 27.Qd4 Qxd4 28.Rxd4 axb4 29.Rg4 + Kh8 30.Bxb5 Rxc5 31.Bc4 ±) 26 ... Nf8 27.Qxd5 axb4 (27 ... Rab8 28.a4) 28.Rhe1 + -.

24...Rxc5 25.Qd2 Qd6 26.Rg4+ 

More precise would have probably been 26.Bd3 Kf8 27.Bf5 (27.Rd4!?) 27...Ne5 28.b3 with compensation for the missing pawn. 

26...Kf8 27.Qd4 Nf6 28.Rf4 

After 28.Rxg3 Qxg3 29.Qxc5+ Kg7 30.Qd4 Re8 White has inferior position also. 

28...Rc6 29.Bd3 Re8 30.Rf5 Re6 (30...Qe7!?) 31.a3 


Why draw? Having an extra pawn and more minutes on his clock, Svidler could and should have continued to fight. For example, he could have prepared the b5-b4 breakthrough via 31 ... Rb6!. Let’s acknowledge that in case of the most likely response 32.Rc1 (32.Rf4 Qe5!) 32... b4 33.a4 b3! he would have obtained decent chances for the successful outcome of the game. 

Judging by the course of the press conference, Svidler realized it himself also. But what has been done cannot be undone.

Caruana retains his lead. As the number of his pursuers has increased, the chase is very likely to become exciting!