Round 6: Aronian & Carlsen increase lead at FIDE Candidates to 1.5 points
By winning in round 6 Levon Aronian (Armenia) and Magnus Carlsen (Norway) increased their lead at the FIDE Candidates' Tournament to 1.5 points. The score was opened by Carlsen who beat Peter Svidler (Russia) from the black side of a Closed Ruy Lopez. Aronian profited from a blunder by Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan) in the 7th hour of play. In a Closed Catalan, Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) sacrificed an exchange and then a piece, but despite getting into time trouble yet again, Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine) defended well and held the draw. Alexander Grischuk (Russia) and Boris Gelfand (Israel) drew an exciting 3.Bb5 Sicilian.
So far the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament has received amazing response from chess fans all over the world. During the first six rounds over 265,000 unique visitors from 194 countries have visited the official website. Over 70 international journalists have requested press accreditation and almost all British media have covered the tournament in one way or another. One example is the BBC, who have already done three different items on Magnus Carlsen!
On Thursday the top seed scored quite a smooth win against Peter Svidler. In a more or less standard Ruy Lopez position, the Russian grandmaster decided to “try something new” with his move 15.Bc2. He thought that he should have played h2-h3 earlier, perhaps instead of 17.Ne3. His play in that phase was “based on a miscalculation”. A few moves later Svidler was “already struggling” until he missed 33…Qe4! which decided the game immediately. He did have a small compliment for his opponent: “As usual the conversion phase went quite smoothly.”
As computer engines pointed out, Carlsen in fact missed a strong move earlier on: 25…Bxh3. “At this point I was just thinking that straightforward moves were good enough for a huge advantage,” said Carlsen, who is more than satisfied after six rounds of play. “I’m very happy. I’ve had four blacks so far and I feel that I’m playing at a decent level so… as I said before: I am where I need to be. We’ll see what happens from here.”
One of Carlsen’s main rivals, world’s number two Vladimir Kramnik, lost further ground by drawing with Vassily Ivanchuk. Once again the Ukrainian got into serious time trouble. “I had to spend some time in the opening because the position was very dangerous and of course I understood that every little mistake can lead to a loss,” said Ivanchuk.
Kramnik came up with a nice positional exchange sacrifice and then did away with another piece to create a dangerous attack on the enemy king. But it was just not enough: just when his opponent needed to make 13 moves in only 1 minute and 4 seconds, the former World Champion had to go for a perpetual check.
The game was so complicated and interesting that during the press conference Kramnik impatiently asked if the press room’s laptop could run an engine. After it was switched on, he grabbed the mouse and said: “I don’t know if I had anything. Let’s see what the guy says.” The players and host Anastasiya Karlovich had a good laugh about some of the amazing moves that were suggested by the machine. For sure Kramnik was also trying to find analytical support for the difficult decision he had to make on move 30...
About the tournament situation, Kramnik said: “I just have bad luck. I quite like my play but the ball is just not getting into the goal. Yesterday I was very close to a win, and today again... It was just amazing that I was not checkmating him. I’m afraid that if I don’t repeat moves I’m just lost. It would be a gamble because he is a very good blitz player. I am not happy about the way the tournament is going but I don’t think I can blame myself. The only thing I can do is continue to show good chess and hope that at some point I will have luck on my side.”
Alexander Grischuk and Boris Gelfand played the Rossolimo Sicilian (3.Bb5), a line which the Israeli got on the board many times last year in his World Championship match against Vishy Anand. About his seventh move Grischuk said: “Unfortunately Boris was very well prepared for this rare line.” After the opening the Russian grandmaster lost a pawn and then he had to "fight for the draw", but he managed to get the game sharper. With little time on the clock for both players at the second time control, Gelfand decided to repeat moves.
Teimour Radjabov versus Levon Aronian was a relatively quiet Ruy Lopez. “I thought I had a decent position out of the opening and lots of time on my clock, so I thought I should pose some problems for Teimour,” said Aronian, who seemed to get an advantage after White’s pawn push 24.g5. Kramnik, who joined the commentary team when he was finished and even took the time to look at this game, said: “This g4-g5 looks like a nervous move. It seems people are a bit nervous here, especially the young guys!”
With a weakened king position Radjabov had to be careful, and he was for a long time. “I should say that till the very last moment he was defending very well. Only through luck I managed to break his resistance,” said Aronian. The Armenian could profit from a blunder by his opponent on move 53 and thus scored an important point.
After six rounds Carlsen and Aronian have 4.5 points (or “plus three” in chess slang), which is 1.5 point more than Svidler and Kramnik. Grischuk and Radjabov have 2.5 points and Ivanchuk and Gelfand 2. Friday is a rest day. Saturday, March 23rd at 14:00 GMT the seventh round will be played: Carlsen-Radjabov, Aronian-Grischuk, Gelfand-Kramnik and Ivanchuk-Svidler.
Report by Peter Doggers
Pictures by Anastasiya Karlovich