Magnus Carlsen kept his half point lead in round 10 of the FIDE Candidates’ Tournament in London. On Monday the Norwegian ground down Boris Gelfand (Israel) with White in a Rossolimo Sicilian. His main rivals also won: Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) admitted that he was lucky as in a drawish Berlin Endgame Alexander Grischuk (Russia) blundered in time trouble, while the opponent of Levon Aronian (Armenia), Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine), overstepped the time limit for the fourth time in this tournament, after playing well in a Budapest Gambit. Dejected about his score with White so far, Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan) went for a quick draw against Peter Svidler (Russia) in a Grünfeld.
An hour and a half into the 10th round, the game between Teimour Radjabov and Peter Svidler was already over. It’s about time to quote commentator Nigel Short’s description of such games: it was a damp squid. Having repaired his Grünfeld after his loss against Kramnik (“It wasn’t that broken, to be honest” – Svidler), the Russian grandmaster again went for his favourite defence but his opponent did manage to surprise him with his 16th move. This “either caught me by surprise or I simply couldn’t remember what my notes say,” commented Svidler, who continued playing sensible moves.
All of a sudden Radjabov started repeating, as early as move 19. At some point Svidler walked away from his board in his own time to get himself a cup of tea. “The longer he thinks, the more likely he’ll agree to a draw!” said Nigel Short. And indeed, Svidler did accept Radjabov’s silent draw offer, arguing: “I don’t believe I’m better, I couldn’t find any advantage after both 21…Qc3 and 21…Qa3.”
Radjabov: “Considering my amazing score with White in this tournament (…) I decided that a draw is a very nice result. I am not the guy who is here to lose all my games. I thought that if Peter would play for a win I would also play for a win because there would be no other chance. There were times in my life when I was very unsatisfied with a draw but now I think a draw is an amazing result sometimes!”
Another hour and a half later, Alexander Grischuk resigned his game against Vladimir Kramnik, who again brought back memories from his match against Kasparov in London by playing his favourite Berlin Ending. “The openings I played back in 2000 are working very well for me,” Kramnik said, “but although I score well in this Berlin, in fact I hadn’t won a single classical game in it, only rapid and blitz.”
The 14th World Champion reached a comfortable position by “playing just theoretical moves”, and around move 25 it was “quite drawish”. Kramnik: “27…Bf5 was a clever move, there were a few traps.” Meanwhile Grischuk, who described his position after the opening as “awful”, was getting into time trouble. “I was not happy to get this position and just defend. I didn’t know what to play.”
30.Bxd4 was “an awful blunder” said Kramnik: “In general I was quite lucky; it should have been a draw. It’s quite unusual for me to score half a point more out of nothing. Usually I give up points. For me it’s rare that somebody blunders. It was just a present. I am not used to these kind of things. There are some players who are receiving this kind of presents quite often, but not me.”
Vassily Ivanchuk was also bringing back memories, but of a totally different kind. Against Levon Aronian the Ukrainian overstepped the time limit, for the fourth time already this tournament. By now we just have to mention German grandmaster Fritz Sämisch (1896-1975), who at the age of 73 played two tournaments, one in Büsum, Germany and another in Linköping, Sweden, where he lost all games (fifteen in the former and thirteen in the latter) on time.
Ivanchuk’s opening play, however, is still as unpredictable as ever. “[He’s] known to play any kind of opening so I just decided not to prepare much, keep my head fresh,” said Aronian, who faced the rare Budapest Gambit this time. The Armenian felt he played “a bit imprecise” in the early middlegame, but after he found a double pawn sacrifice (going from one up to one down), the tables turned. “After 26.g4 I have very good compensation. I was actually quite happy with my position,” said Aronian.
By then Ivanchuk was yet again in horrible time trouble: after his 27th move he had two and a half minutes left, and then his moves just didn’t get through anymore. With playing 29…gxf5 (a losing move anyway) he left himself with just one second for eleven moves! Aronian: “I’m happy to kind of recover after a loss against Boris. Let’s see, let’s see. Still many round to go!”
Magnus Carlsen then became the third winner of the day, slowly grinding down Boris Gelfand from a Rossolimo Sicilian. According to the Norwegian, after the opening “White is slightly better but it’s of course very playable for Black.” After some forced moves Gelfand went for the manoeuvre Qd8-b6-b3-c2 where computer engines prefer the passive 20…Qf8. “What computers are missing is that the whole concept was to get the queen active and to keep the white pieces paralysed. But I just missed one thing,” said Gelfand. That thing was a deep tactic which forced the Israeli to change his intended plan (Ra8-a1) and find something else at move 25. There were many ways to defend in that phase, and after the press conference Gelfand stayed around for about ten minutes, analysing blindfold with Jon Speelman and some journalists.
Carlsen said that after his neat 28.Qa5! “it’s clear that I’m playing for two results” and he was happy with his 37.Qe2! as well. “I’m happy to still be leading so I think I’ll just try do more of the same. I wasn’t thrilled that the other two guys won their game but there’s nothing you can do about that. And… I wasn’t sure that the Budapest Gambit was what I wanted to see but I think I can only change what I do myself! I just try to play and that’s what I’ll do for the rest of the tournament.”
After ten rounds Carlsen is leading with 7 points. He’s followed by Aronian (6.5) and then Kramnik (6). Then there’s a gap with: Gelfand, Grischuk and Svidler who have 4.5 points. Ivanchuk and Radjabov are in last place with 3.5 points. On Thursday, March 28th at 14:00 GMT with the tenth round: Grischuk-Carlsen, Kramnik-Radjabov, Svidler-Aronian and Ivanchuk-Gelfand.
The FIDE Candidates’ Tournament is taking place March 14th-April 1st, 2013 at IET London, Savoy Place. It is sponsored by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and organized by AGON and the World Chess Federation (FIDE). Games and information can be found at http://london2013.fide.com.
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