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    « Candidates Update: Getting Caught Up (Almost!), With Lots of Annotated Games | Main | Candidates Update: Karjakin and Aronian Lead with +2, Anand at +1 After 6 Rounds »
    Tuesday
    Mar222016

    Candidates Update: Anand, Karjakin Lead After 9 Rounds; Five Rounds Remain

    A real report will have to wait, but some scattershot comments are in order at the moment.

    1. The fallout from the Aronian - Nakamura touch-move game has been significant, with both players coming in for criticism. The source in Nakamura's case is obvious: for the rules violation. (He has had another problem that indirectly resulted from the first. Understandably upset about the game, he avoided the post-game press conference, and as a result will be docked 10% of his prize fund. Ouch.) As for Aronian, he has received a couple of criticisms. The first was from Nakamura, who said in an interview that Aronian had "made it personal" (or words to that effect) in the immediate aftermath of the situation. I have no idea what was said, but perhaps some lip reader can suss out the details from the video. The second criticism concerned Aronian's claim in the post-game press conference that he was winning. Emil Sutovsky (on Facebook) was particularly exercised about this, and while I think he's right on the substance - Aronian wasn't winning or even close to winning; if anything, it's a near-elementary draw - his reaction was severely overblown.

    2. Anyone in the mood for Anand-Carlsen III? There were five matches between Karpov and Kasparov, back in the day, and all five had a great deal of excitement. (There were also three Botvinnik-Smyslov World Championship matches and - sort of - three World Championship matches between Karpov and Korchnoi.) Granted, the first A-C match was terrible, and the second one was better but still disappointing. But maybe the third time is the charm? If nothing else, it will mean that Anand will have automatic qualification to at least one more Candidates cycle, and I'm sure all his rivals are excited about that. Frankly, whatever one's feelings about Anand and seeing him play in his 25th consecutive world championship match (just kidding, it will "only" be his sixth if he makes it back), it's still an incredible accomplishment.

    3. Will Giri (or Svidler) win a game in this event? They have had some enormous advantages, but somehow, something keeps happening to thwart them before the finish line.

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    Reader Comments (11)

    I'm firmly in the camp that whoever wins the event deserves to face Carlsen, (of course the winner deserves to face him, but I mean I would have no problem with it - apparently other disagree) whether it's Anand or someone else. I don't give Anand great chances should it be him, but in a 12 game match, he certainly could win.

    I do wonder if Giri will win a game - if he didn't win this game against Caruana, what game will he win? He is ridiculously strong and prepared, no doubt, but I wonder if he is lacking something to win at this hyper elevated level? I don't know, but I can understand why people might wonder. He fights hard in many games. It's mysterious how Carlsen has won so many of these 'even' games, while Giri seems to draw so many of them.

    Anand's game against Aronian was very Capa-like. I didn't understand his Kh5 move, but other than that, he made chess look simple and easy, like Capa often did.

    March 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMikeO

    Waiting for the detailed report. Your reports are interesting and also provide insights to the tournament. Thanks for taking the time to provide detailed analysis of the important games.

    March 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterParag Samant

    I was disappointed that Svidler didn't convert against Karjakin in round 8 - it looked like he found a winning plan in a really good game but didn't see it through.

    March 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMarc

    Anand is the candidate with the best chance of beating Carlsen.

    Carlsen has every reason to be overconfident and less motivated to prepare vs. Anand. Anand likely still has unused preparation against Carlsen from the prior matches. Anand will be more relaxed in this match as he has already been there twice. The other candidates might wilt under the pressure of a World Championship match (indeed, some appear to be wilting under the pressure of a candidates match).

    I'd prefer to see a new challenger but if Anand wins I agree that the third match could be the charm.

    March 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Karen

    It may be in the stars that the former prodigies Karjakin and Carlsen are predestined to meet in a World Championship match. Karjakin has shown that he has the nerves to compete with Carlsen. As a runner up in the last Candidate Tournaments, Karjakin pressed Anand to the bitter end. He may have a greater reserve of energy down the wire having skipped the collegiate Grand prix events this year to focus on the World Championship Cycle. It may be Karjakin time after all.

    March 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPolo

    I wonder if at this point Anand really cares about anything other than the World Championship. It seems to me that he's not that dominant on the tournament circuit, but then in the candidates tournaments he suddenly comes alive. Sure, it would be nice to win Biel or Bilbao or whatever, but he's won so much in his career it couldn't really be that big a deal at this point. But the World Championship is a different matter, especially if he could wrest it from Magnus.

    March 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterTheodore Whitfield

    I agree that the Candidates are the best way to choose the challenger. It would be a pretty sorry step back to go to the alternative of trying to organize world championship matches based on the whims of individuals/groups/corporations and how much money they are willing to put up.

    The losing player of the championship match automatically qualifying for the following cycle also seems to be appropriate. Are there any rating standards they need to maintain? (Vishy of course has been mid-to-high 2700s and even crossed 2800 since the last match with Carlsen, but that needn't always be the case.)

    The prospect of a Carlsen-Karjakin match up will probably be more exciting than a Carlsen-Anand one.

    March 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRS

    Speaking of the famous Karpov-Korchnoi matches, guess who turns 85 today, on March 23 ?

    By the way, I'm of the opinion that those two did indeed play three (not two) WC matches. Their 1974 24-game marathon was, arguably, a defacto WC match.

    March 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterHoward S Sample

    @Howard S. Sample: Ah, someone else noticed ... time for some self-promotion: http://www.chess-international.de/Archive/54203 (in German) - Korchnoi reached the final stages of the world championship cycle (last eight or nine) no less than nine times in his long career.

    March 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterThomas

    Hmmm.....I estimate it to be probably ten times, rather than nine.

    He clearly made it to the Candidates in 1962, 1968, 1971, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1983, 1988, and 1990----that's nine times.

    But then he was seeded into the Candidates 1985 tournament, along with Beliavsky, Smyslov, and Ribli. Granted, he didn't place in the top four, which would have advanced him to the next stage, but then that Montpelier tournament was clearly a Candidates event.

    Thus, it was probably ten--not nine.

    [DM: Thomas is attentive to details, so if you're going to contradict him you should pay careful attention to what he's written. He didn't mention Candidates matches or tournaments, but being in the last eight or nine. The oddball pre-Candidates Candidates event in Montpellier had 16 participants, and thus did not meet the standard he offered in his comment.]

    May 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterHoward S Sample

    Hmmm....you're probably right, Dennis, especially with the point about the Candidates tournament in Montpelier being an "oddball" type of tournament. Thomas was probably right, after all.

    [DM: It's not "probably": he said "last eight or nine" (i.e. the final eight plus the world champion), and he didn't finish in the top eight.]

    By the way, the fact that Montpelier had 16 participants would not necessarily disqualify it from being a Candidates event.

    [DM: That's true, but I didn't think of it as an "oddball" tournament because of its size, but because it was a Candidates tournament to determine not the unique challenger for the World Championship match, but for Candidates matches - which still didn't determine the challenger!]

    After all, Zurich 1953 had 15 players! But, then, to be fair the winner of Zurich (Smyslov) immediately became the official challenger for the WC. But, in the case, of Montpelier, the top four qualifiers still had to go through the final Candidates stage, with Sokolov emerging as the winner....only to get blown off the board by Karpov !

    May 9, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterHoward S Sample

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