It was a final round suitable for April Fool's Day. Magnus Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik entered the final round tied for first, but with Carlsen having "tie odds". If they finished the day on the same score, Carlsen would be declared the tournament winner and qualify for a title match with Viswanathan Anand (at this point scheduled to take place this November). With Carlsen having White against Peter Svidler, it was incumbent on Kramnik to take some risks with Black to try to defeat Vassily Ivanchuk.
Of course, not all risks are created equal. Both the casino and the sucker who walks in with a system for picking "lucky numbers" are gambling, it's true. It would not violate any physical or mathematical laws if Mr. Lucky Numbers won every single game he played and eventually won the property; the odds against it, however, are so far beyond those used even for astronomical values that we can discount the possibility for all practical purposes. In reality, while Mr. LN could win some money with a little luck and the self-discipline to leave forever in that happy eventuality, the casino will always win in the long run. They are gambling on a hand-by-hand basis, but in the long run there's no gamble at all - they are essentially guaranteed to take the sucker's money.
Why the digression? Well, in addition to wishing to offer the foregoing PSA, I thought it would be an entertaining way of expressing my feelings when I Kramnik uncorked 1...d6 in response to Chuky's 1.e4. Kramnik has been trying this on occasion the past few years, in blitz games, in desperate must-win situations and occasionally against comparatively weak players in classical games, but without much success. To my mind, the Pirc fits with neither his style nor his general repertoire over the past 20 years, and its employment struck me as a desperate and negatively foreboding sign.
Sure enough, he came out of the opening in poor shape, while Carlsen, on the white side of a Ruy, didn't have a whole lot but didn't have anything to worry about, either. But then things started getting squirrely on both boards. Ivanchuk allowed Kramnik to coordinate somewhat, and then sacrificed a pawn, and then as a result Carlsen shifted from safe to risky mode against Svidler. He (Carlsen) criticized his decision to play Ng4 without first swapping on e5; had he made the preliminary exchange he felt that it would be a position he couldn't (normally) lose. Without the trade, however, the position turned extremely complicated, and Svidler did a better job of navigating those complications. By the end of the first time control - which Carlsen made with just three seconds to spare - Svidler's position was winning.
So three cheers for Kramnik and his "miraculous" comeback? Not so fast. Perhaps getting a little optimistic about the favorable trend in his game, and a little nervous about what was going on in Carlsen's battle, he decided not to be satisfied with keeping his finally decent position, but somehow got confused and mixed bad activity (the pawn sac with ...h4 in particular) and passive play on the queenside. The result? Once they too made the time control, he (Kramnik) was just as lost as Carlsen.
Both Svidler and Ivanchuk finished their mighty opponents off, leaving Carlsen victorious on tiebreaks, based on his having won more games than Kramnik. Svidler, and Levon Aronian too, thanks to a nice finish against Teimour Radjabov, finished just half a point behind the "winners", and may join in Kramnik in thoughts of what might have been, had a break here or there gone otherwise. Further off the pace, Boris Gelfand and Alexander Grischuk drew their game, and finished tied for fifth and sixth.
1. Carlsen 8.5
2. Kramnik 8.5
3-4. Svidler, Aronian 8 (I believe Svidler took third on tiebreaks, for whatever that's worth)
5-6. Grischuk, Gelfand 6.5
7. Ivanchuk 6
8. Radjabov 4