Levon Aronian sole leader after exciting 3rd round London Candidates
Levon Aronian is the sole leader at the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament after three rounds of play. On Sunday the Armenian grandmaster beat Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine, who overstepped the time limit for the second day in a row. In what was a very exciting round, co-leader Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan lost to Russia’s Peter Svidler in a Sämisch King’s Indian. Magnus Carlsen of Norway beat Boris Gelfand of Israel with Black in 57 moves from the old Cambridge Springs variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined. Russian grandmasters Vladimir Kramnik and Alexander Grischuk drew a Grünfeld game in 35 moves.
Two and a half hours into the third round of the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament a remarkable situation occurred: in all four games, between the two contestants there was a time difference of about an hour on the clock. Thanks to their preparation Peter Svider, Vladimir Kramnik, Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian enjoyed a big time advantage against Teimour Radjabov, Alexander Grischuk, Boris Gelfand and Vassily Ivanchuk respectively.
In the case of Grischuk, however, this was nothing special. The 29-year-old Muscovite is the reigning World Blitz Champion and known for getting into time trouble quite often in his classical games. At the press conference his opponent noted that things could have been even worse. Kramnik: “At some point when Sacha was thinking, I was trying to compete with Peter Svidler, I mean, who would have more advantage on time!”
Their game started with the Fianchetto Variation of the Grünfeld. Because many moves were quite logical, Kramnik’s preparation went as deep as move 21, when he felt he had a slight advantage. At some point Grischuk had to give up a pawn, but his piece activity offered enough compensation. “Sacha played very correctly. I am not sure if I had any improvement on what I played,” said Kramnik afterwards.
Poor Vassily Ivanchuk lost on time for the second day in a row. The Ukrainian is known for his wide opening repertoire, and today he tried his luck with an opening that’s popular at club level: the Torre Attack (via a Trompovsky move-order). Levon Aronian responded well to his opponent’s aggression, and his wonderful 19th move gave him a big advantage. While his opponent’s clock was ticking away Aronian actually didn’t play that convincingly, but he won anyway.
“Today I just tried to play some creative game but probably for practical reasons it was a bad strategy. 31.c4 was a nice move but there I realised that even if he would start to give me material with every move I would still lose on time,” said Ivanchuk, who will in fact turn 44 tomorrow. Asked how he will spend his rest day, the Ukrainian replied: “I will try to completely not think about chess!”
Like Ivanchuk, Teimour Radjabov got in huge time trouble with only a few seconds left to make his last three moves before the first time control. The Azerbaijani did manage to reach move 40, but he failed to save the game. Just after the opening, his favourite King’s Indian, he needed to think a lot. Radjabov: “I was not so much surprised, but in general I forgot the lines I had seen there. I just mixed everything up.”
Svidler arrived in the press room both relieved and happy about how his opening went. He played the 5.f3 (Sämisch) variation and got exactly what he had prepared. “It’s very nice to get a position like this with also an hour and a big advantage on the clock. The game was mainly decided in the opening because I got such a huge advantage. The combination of the position I got and also the clock pressure that was on Teimour here, that together made his situation quite difficult.”
The chess fans were spoilt with yet another win at the end of the day. After two quick and uneventful draws, top seed Magnus Carlsen managed to beat Boris Gelfand with Black. In this game it was the Israeli who spent lots of time. “It’s a rare line, a very original position. The pawn structure isn't determined yet. I had to think about the best way to configure it,” said Gelfand.
With his last move before the time control (40.h5) he gave his opponent unnecessary practical chances, and when the queens were traded Carlsen’s two passed pawns on the queenside decided the game. “I’m very happy to win and now that Levon won his second game… it’s still early in the tournament but it’s good to keep pace,” said Carlsen.
After three rounds Aronian is the sole leader with 2.5 out of 3 while Carlsen and Svidler are in shared second place with 2 points. Kramnik, Grischuk and Radjabov have 1.5/3 while Gelfand and Ivanchuk are in last place with 0.5/3.
Monday, March 18th is the first rest day. Tuesday, March 19th at 14:00 GMT the fourth round will be played: Carlsen-Grischuk, Radjabov-Kramnik, Aronian-Svidler and Gelfand-Ivanchuk.
Report by Peter Doggers
Photos by Anastasiya Karlovich