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    « Candidates 2014, Round 14 (The Finale): Anand Still The Winner; Karjakin Second | Main | Carlsen On The Candidates' Tournament, Part 2 »
    Saturday
    Mar292014

    Candidates 2014, Round 13: Anand Wins The Tournament

    Sergey Karjakin made Viswanathan Anand work very hard for the draw, but the former champion rose to the occasion, split the point and thereby won the tournament. One important moment came on move 48, when Karjakin played g4; this was in his opinion his only real mistake in the game. He thought he was winning the pawn ending that would arise after 53.Nxg5 Rxd2+ 54.Kxd2 Kxg5 55.Ke3 - e.g. 55...h3 56.Kf2 Kh4 57.Kg1 Kg5 58.Kh1 Kh4 59.Kh2 with a winning zugzwang - but then realized that both 55...Kf6 and 55...Kh6 draw. If White plays 56.f4 (against either move) then 56...h3 is fine.

    Realizing that the pawn ending wasn't a win, Karjakin played 53.Kd3 and tried to find other plans, but nothing came close. The 50-move rule was coming in sight near the end and Anand could surely have held in that way without any trouble, but to his credit he was both alert and appropriately greedy when he played 88...h3+! Three moves later it was Karjakin who would have something to worry about, but when he offered the draw it was too much for Anand to turn down. (Magnus Carlsen surely would have played on, but Vishy's fans will have to be satisfied with 88...h3+ and tournament victory.)

    The other games were eventful in their own way as well. The stealthy Dmitry Andreikin put an end to Levon Aronian's ambitions in this cycle, beating him on the white side of a Trompowsky. Andreikin's concept with 14.Qxe5+, entailing the sacrifices that followed on moves 16, 19 and 20, was remarkable. Soon Aronian was lost, and while there may have been some inaccuracies here and there White's win was logical and well-deserved.

    Both Aronian and Andreikin have reached 50%, coming from opposite directions, while Karjakin stayed there. And they're not alone: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov remained on 50%, holding a slightly inferior position against Peter Svidler (a 6.Be3 Ng4 Najdorf), and Vladimir Kramnik returned there after winning the grudge rematch against Veselin Topalov. That game was extremely complicated and (not surprisingly) rather mistake-filled. The last pair of errors came in tandem on move 50. Kramnik had several ways to win, including 50.Ne4+ (50...Bxe4 51.Rd8+ Ke7 52.Rxd2 Bc2 and now one way is 53.Kf2 b2 [53...Kf7 54.Rd7+ Kg6 55.Rd6+ Kh7 56.Rb6+-] 54.h7 and White wins whether the pawns are promoted or exchanged), but instead uncorked 50.N7f5+(??). Topalov thought for a while and played 50...Bxf5(??); instead 50...Kc7! 51.h7 b2 52.Rc8+ Kxc8 53.h8Q+ Kb7 and it's simply a draw; White cannot prevent Black from safely promoting without surrendering his own queen.

    The difference with Topalov's version can be seen in the final position. After Black moves the king somewhere, White plays 56.Ne3. The knight covers d1 and the queen covers b1, something that was impossible when Black's bishop was alive and kicking on d3.

    The tournament could just as well end here, but unlike matches play will continue even after a winner has been decided. So here are the pairings for the last round, to be played tomorrow (player scores in parentheses): 

    • Aronian (6.5) - Karjakin (6.5)
    • Anand (8) - Svidler (6)
    • Mamedyarov (6.5) - Kramnik (6.5)
    • Topalov (5.5) - Andreikin (6.5)

    I have a feeling that everyone except Topalov will be amenable to a quick draw, but we'll see. Speaking of Topalov, it would be bizarre if he overpressed and lost, as that would leave Andreikin of all people in clear second (assuming the other games are drawn). It could happen!

    Meanwhile, congratulations to Anand, whose stable chess in the tournament was clearly better than everyone else's. A couple of interesting tidbits: first, Anand has done at least one thing he's going to need when facing Carlsen the grinder, and that's get in better shape. Anand has lost a good deal of weight lately, and he acknowledged in the press conference today that he was at least in part inspired by Svidler's example last year. Second, it was a nice surprise to hear (again at today's presser) that when he was unsure about playing in this tournament it was Kramnik whose strong encouragement when most of the way towards getting him to participate. In fact it was a feel-good story all the way around: it was at last year's London tournament that it happened. Kramnik had eliminated Anand, but was then eliminated in the next round by Hikaru Nakamura in a "ridiculous" ending (Anand's word). So even though Kramnik had eliminated him, he felt bad for Kramnik and wanted to encourage him, so he invited him for dinner the next day. As it turned out, it was Kramnik who encouraged him - and now it's time for a world championship rematch.

    Does Anand have a shot this time around? I wouldn't rule it out if he's physically and psychologically prepared!

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    Reader Comments (16)

    My guess is Anand will have learned more from the previous match about playing Carlsen than vice versa. Anand is a pro at preparation for matches, and not exclusively in openings. He is still the underdog but an upset would be only slightly surprising. Especially, if Carlsen is overconfident.

    March 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Karen

    This is what Grischuk said before the event (original at Russian federation website, English translation at https://chess24.com/en/read/news/carlsen-grischuk-and-co-on-the-candidates):

    Q Which of the players has the greatest chance of “upsetting” Carlsen in a match?

    Grischuk: "I think whoever wins will have realistic chances in a World Championship match. The thing is that the winner of such a tournament will already be a different person than he was before the start of the event. So even if you take, for instance, Anand, then with that “other” Anand it definitely won’t be easy for Carlsen."
    Was Grischuk the only strong player who didn't rule out Anand before the event?

    [DM: I don't see this as stating an opinion about Anand's chances, either pro or con. What he's saying is that if Anand won the Candidates, a point about which he expressed no opinion, he would have a shot against Carlsen.]

    March 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterThomas

    I think Anand's play, and deserved victory, in this Candidates restored the thing he needed most last year: his confidence. Now he knows he has it in him to play at the highest level again, he has something to shoot for, and is under significantly less pressure. That, along with all he learned after so many games against Carlsen last time, make me think he will be in much better shape this time around. Carlsen will still be the heavy favorite, but I wouldn't be surprised if it ended by a narrow 2-1 score, or something similar.

    [DM: A 2-1 score? It will presumably be another 12-game match.]

    March 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBlatko

    Thank you for the Anand/Kramnik stories. I have liked both of them for many years, this is a further reason to continue doing so!

    March 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercmling

    That is a nice story between Kramnik and Anand. I don't really see Anand (or anyone else right now) having a very good chance against Carlsen, but he surely can play a much more competitive match than he did in Chennai. I'm happy he has another chance. I was also happy Kramnik was able to win against Topalov.

    [DM: Amen to that last part! It would be even better, though, if they could somehow clear the air and Topalov kicked Danailov to the curb. Danailov has been a father-figure to Topalov for around 20 years now, so that's probably very unlikely to happen.]

    March 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMikeO

    I am not sure about the tiebreaks, but it would be fun if they finished in alphabetical order. With Topalov losing to Andreikin, it might even be possible. While Topalov is a great chess player, I have an intense dislike for Danailov, a cheap manipulator and a cheat, so I would not cry about Mr. T. being at the alphabetically proper place.

    March 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSimple Pole etc.

    It would behoove Anand to push very hard for a win against Svidler tomorrow to (a) send a message to Magnus (b) prepare himself for going to the limits and (c) giving us some fun stuff to watch.

    [DM: Maybe...but not gonna happen.]

    At the rate that the Kramnik-Carlsen happiness is going we could well see big Vlad be a second for the first time since he was last a second in Kasparov's match against.... Perhaps he has some nice anti-Berlin advice since he started this whole snooze-fest off against Kasparov to begin with :-) Sometimes it feels like everyone has been playing Kramnik's openings since 2000...

    March 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commenternminwalla

    "even if you take, for instance, Anand"

    I think Grischuk with this means that even Anand (i.e. the maybe least likely player to win the Candidates) would have chances to beat Carlsen. He wouldn't say "even" if he didn't see Anand as a very improbable Candidates winner.

    [DM: A simpler interpretation of "even Anand" looks back to his loss to Carlsen last year. Even Anand would have a chance, despite having been beaten soundly last November.]

    March 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermothra

    Congratulations to Anand for making me and everyone else that said he had no chance look like fools! Well done, sir, it's nice to be proven wrong even if my guy (Kramnik) didn't make it.

    It's been nineteen years since Anand first qualified to play for a championship match. That's better than anyone I can think of except Lasker!

    [DM: Depending on how you want to parse world championship matches, Karpov managed to do it at a distance of 22 years: he qualified for his first match in 1974, and was (successfully) defending half of the split crown in 1996. Also interesting is Smyslov's case. He played in his first world championship in 1948, and came within a match of qualifying for another shot at the title in 1984 - a crazy gap of 36 years!]

    Finally, no losses for Anand and everyone else has at least two losses. Wow.

    March 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterIcepick

    Also thanks for the Anand/Kramnik stories (didn't get to watch the presser yet!).

    Anand's play wasn't inspired (No Kasparovesque runs of consecutive wins or even the killing novelties Anand was uncorking regularly in the late 00's), perhaps, but he was stable and confident, the two things he has not been since 2010. And that's a really great sign for a WCH rematch, because brilliance isn't so much what is required against Carlsen. Carlsen's forte is taking advantage of the unstable form of fellow competitors.

    If Anand can show up prepared and willing to test Carlsen late in games, and physically able to do so, then he has a very good chance given what presumably will still be superior theoretical preparation.

    March 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGMC

    I actually disagree about the quick draws. The prize fund (euros) is listed here:

    1st place 95,000
    2nd place: 88,000
    3rd place: 75,000
    4th place: 55,000
    5th place: 40,000
    6th place: 28,000
    7th place: 22,000
    8th place: 17,000

    So with everyone tied from 2-6th. there's a 60k euro difference in the pay day. I'd show up for that.

    March 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoss Hytnen

    Anand will also win world chess championship 2014

    March 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjitendra

    Here are my IPR's for the tournament's first and second halves. Incidentally I had Angreikin at 2960 in games 7--12 before today's round, 300 higher than his opponents. The guy should get some more invites and may be this year's revelation---I have performances of 2965 for him at last year's Moscow Tal Mem and 2843 at Dortmund, so his current rating being only 2709 is a puzzlement to me. All values rounded to nearest 5; trying my best to make the table less jaggy:

    Khanty-Mansiysk IPR's through Round 13
    Player-- g1-13 g1-6 g7-13, Oppts

    AllPlayrs 2760 2775 2745, oppts the same (Average Elo of players is 2770)

    ViAnand 2940 2955 2925, oppts 2795 (Steady as she goes; today's game actually upped him +5)
    Andr'kin 2825 2760 2900, oppts 2740
    Aronian 2715 2775 2645, oppts 2775
    Karjakin 2745 2585 2820, oppts 2815
    Kramnik 2725 2740 2670, oppts 2625 (Low oppts value means he's missed chances; he was 2515 for games 6--10)
    Mamed'v 2660 2745 2590, oppts 2765
    PSvidler 2790 2700 2905, oppts 2735
    Topalov 2715 2890 2555, oppts 2950 (!)

    On another topic, two years ago I posted results from an in-depth study of every game in standard individual tournaments with both players within 10 of 2600 since 1971 (enlarged to +-20 in the 1970's and +-15-or-20 in some other years to equalize sample sizes). I've added data points for 2012 and 2013 now, and they are surprisingly high. I've posted a graphic to my webpage here; each bar is for the previous 4 years so 2010--2013 is the last one. The early bars are based on very few data points. The slight downward trend in the rolling average from 1993--96 thru 2003-06 I think is best ascribed to faster time controls (and no adjournments), but I have no explanation for the recent upward trend. In any event it makes the evidence against substantial rating inflation all the stronger. It's "boring" to say that the international rating system has been remarkably stable, but several areas of my data are saying the same thing.

    March 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKenneth Regan

    "I actually disagree about the quick draws. The prize fund (euros) is listed here:

    1st place 95,000
    2nd place: 88,000
    3rd place: 75,000
    4th place: 55,000
    5th place: 40,000
    6th place: 28,000
    7th place: 22,000
    8th place: 17,000

    So with everyone tied from 2-6th. there's a 60k euro difference in the pay day. I'd show up for that."

    ■Aronian (6.5) - Karjakin (6.5)
    ■Anand (8) - Svidler (6)
    ■Mamedyarov (6.5) - Kramnik (6.5)
    ■Topalov (5.5) - Andreikin (6.5)

    Expect every game except Anand-Svidler to be a real contest. Anand does have the opportunity to use the game against Svidler as a training game and to send a message to Carlsen that he can and will win the rematch. We can only wish that Anand avails himself of this opportunity, but it is likely a vain wish. As an aside, who is Anand's personal physical fitness trainer? :)

    Leaving out the bigger payday factor and starting from the bottom of the tournament table, Topalov will play for a win because he is a fighter, he has the White pieces, and he does not want the dubious distinction of finishing alone at the bottom of the tournament table.

    Mamedyarov will play for a win because he is a fighter, for love of the game, and to cause Kramnik to "pack his bags" in style. :)

    Aronian will play for a win because he is Aronian!

    Addendum:

    Wth first place and the challenge to Carlsen's legacy determined, the fight is for second place.

    Everyone should be motivated to give their best in the final round of the 2014 Candidate's Tournament!

    March 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTrill

    Grischuk's prediction in full had Anand as one of the three players that would make him very surprised if they won it:

    "I won't be original: the main favorites are Aronian and Kramnik. Also, Svidler, Karjakin and Mamedyarov may well win. But I would be very surprised if Anand, Topalov or Andreykin would win"

    http://www.chessvibes.com/candidates%E2%80%99-tournament-preview-predictions-by-top-gms

    March 30, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermothra

    Two comments on Kenneth Regan's IPR stats, and a third vaguely related question.

    (1) I wonder which is harder, winning the Candidates (given the actual starting field), or beating Carlsen (given victory in the Candidates)? My guess is that these are on a par. Does Regan's IPR data support this? Suppose it's true. In one way this support's Grischuk's comment about any winner of the Candidates being a serious candidate against Carlsen. In a more refined way, it doesn't, since prior to the tournament, it's surely almost certain that the winner of the Candidates will outperform his actual ability, and there is regression to the mean. Hard to believe that post Candidates Anand is vastly better than pre Candidates Anand. But in a perhaps psychologically important way, it does support Grischuk's remark: all it takes for someone like Anand to perform at a Carlsen-competitive level is some luck, of various forms, and winning the Candidates is a demonstration that the level of luck needed can quite realistically happen.

    (2) Interesting and gladdening to see Topalov's opponents' IPR so high: does this suggest that the dislike many of the top players seem to have for him makes them try harder than normal when they play him?

    (3) I've often wondered whether Kramnik -- and now, perhaps many of the Candidates -- go too far in the direction of "desperate times call for desperate measures". Sure, being behind at the halfway stage may reduce one's odds (initially fairly low anyway) of winning, but it surely doesn't obviously follow that one has to start playing openings which one is not well suited to, being significantly more aggressive than usual etc.. My guess would be that Carlsen's strategy of just playing normally and waiting for your chances is much better. Could this be investigated properly? For this and multiple other reasons, were I an elite chessplayer, I would want a chess savvy statistician on my team on a more or less permanent basis.

    March 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDavid McCarthy

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