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    Entries in Sergey Karjakin (22)

    Saturday
    Jun282014

    Karjakin-Carlsen From the World Rapid Championship

    This time, we'll have a look at an exciting Dragon from round 6 of the World Rapid Championship. The game was drawn and generally well-played, but both players may have missed some chances. It looks like it's of theoretical significance as well, so Dragoneers and prospective St. Georges should check it out.

    Sunday
    Jun152014

    Norway Chess: Karjakin Wins Again!

    [Sorry about the delay - I was otherwise engaged yesterday. All of you probably already know what happened, but for completeness' sake we'll write a quick wrap-up and pretend what follows is news.]

    There was plenty of drama in the final round of the Norway Chess tournament, with three players vying for first place; two of them facing each other. Sergey Karjakin led by half a point over Fabiano Caruana - who had the white pieces against him in the last round - and Magnus Carlsen, who had White against bottom seed Simen Agdestein. Thus while Karjakin led it would be hard to describe him as the favorite.

    Indeed, Karjakin could easily have finished in third place. While Carlsen didn't get anything against Agdestein through the first time control, the latter faltered soon afterwards. Releasing the tension with 42...bxc4+ was a significant step in the wrong direction, and "consistent" play led to a speedy loss. Meanwhile, Karjakin's 31st move was an error, and had Caruana centralized his knight to e4 rather than violating old Tarrasch's maxim with 32.Na4 Karjakin would have been in trouble. Instead, Caruana lost the thread, and was completely lost by the end of the time control.

    So Karjakin is once again the winner of an event the Norwegian organizers presumably designed to showcase their star, the world champion. I believe I've asked the question before, and wonder what the stats are about how players in matches and round-robins fare in their home countries, given a multinational field.

    Moving on from brief ruminations about a possible home field disadvantage, let's quickly summarize the other results. Veselin Topalov missed a big chance to win his third game in the second half of the tournament, though it was only there for one move. Levon Aronian should have played 23...c5, when he would have had only a slight disadvantage. Instead he played 23...Bg7?, when either 24.d5 or 24.Qxb5 axb5 25.d5 would have given White a big advantage. (Topalov seemed to think it was just winning when he mentioned it in the post-game press conference.) Fortunately for Aronian, Topalov played 24.h4?, and this time Black played 24...c5 - now with equality.

    Vladimir Kramnik went loaded for bear against Alexander Grischuk's Gruenfeld, and energetic and imaginative attacking play was about to lead to success. All Kramnik needed to do was play 31.fxg6 and he would be winning or at least close to winning. The main idea is that after 31...hxg6 32.d7 Black cannot play 32...Rd4 because of 33.Rxg6+; this resource was unavailable to Kramnik after 31.d7? Rd4. After a further error (32.Qf3 instead of 32.Qc2 or the cool 32.fxg6! Rxd3 33.gxf7+ Kh8 34.Rxd3=) Kramnik was lost, and indeed went on to lose the game. Kramnik started the tournament +2 and finished -1 - another disappointing result for the ex-champ in 2014.

    Finally, Anish Giri and Peter Svidler put disappointing tournaments to bed with a 20-move draw by repetition.

    Final Standings:

    • 1. Karjakin 6/9
    • 2. Carlsen 5.5
    • 3. Grischuk 5
    • 4-5. Caruana, Topalov 4.5
    • 6-9. Aronian, Svidler, Giri, Kramnik 4
    • 10. Agdestein 3.5

    As Carlsen himself stated after the event, Agdestein's last place wasn't really a fair result, but he was unable to convert many superior positions. Had he done so, he might have been the tournament victor or at least have been in the running. Anyway, it was an entertaining event, and next up is the world rapid & blitz championship, starting tomorrow.

    Thursday
    Jun122014

    Norway Chess, Round 8: Karjakin Beats Kramnik, Leads Entering the Final Round

    It was a crazy round at the Norway Chess tournament today, with big swings in most of the games. The most pronounced drop came in Peter Svidler vs. Magnus Carlsen, where Carlsen was coasting to a quick and easy win until the very bad and wholly unnecessary 24...Rfxf4; plenty of other moves would have maintained a winning advantage.

    Levon Aronian didn't have quite the advantage Carlsen did, but he was probably winning as well against Fabiano Caruana. After the game Aronian suggested 28.Qc3 instead of his 28.Bxd5, and even after 28.Bxd5 exd5 White would have kept control with 29.Qb5+. The key was not to move his knight, but Aronian admitted to missing Caruana's idea with ...Qd2 (see move 31 in the game), after which the position was simply drawn.

    Alexander Grischuk enjoyed a significant and enduring advantage against Anish Giri, but instead of going for Re8-b8 on moves 36 or 38 played 38.Nxf5 instead. While winning a pawn, it forced his rook to defend against Black's b-pawn from a passive rather than an active location, and Giri was able to draw by a thread.

    Simen Agdestein - Veselin Topalov was a game without a hill-shaped evaluation graph. For once Agdestein was in trouble in the tournament, and unlike several of his opponents, he was unable to escape once he was in the hole. Topalov jumped back to 50%, while Agdestein dropped to -1.

    Finally, the most important game in terms of the standings: Sergey Karjakin beat Vladimir Kramnik to take over clear first. For most of the first time control it looked stably equal, and one would normally expect Kramnik to hold an equal technical position with ease. It didn't happen, in part because it didn't remain technical. Shortly before the end of the first time control Karjakin won Black's a-pawn for his f-pawn, resulting in both players having significant pawn majorities on opposite flanks. Here Karjakin outplayed Kramnik, and won very deservedly.

    And so it's deja vu all over again. Karjakin won this tournament last year, and now he leads with a round to go. It's also reminiscent of this year's Candidates' tournament, where Karjakin started poorly but came on like gangbusters at the end. It would be too soon to make any declarations, however, as he has a tough pairing while Carlsen in particular has a comparatively easy one. Here are tomorrow's last round pairings:

    • Carlsen (4.5) - Agdestein (3.5)
    • Giri (3.5) - Svidler (3.5)
    • Kramnik (4) - Grischuk (4)
    • Caruana (4.5) - Karjakin (5)
    • Topalov (4) - Aronian (3.5)
    Tuesday
    Jun102014

    Norway Chess, Round 7: Karjakin Joins The Tie For First After Giri Self-Destructs

    Round 7 of the Norway Chess tournament was a very long one, with four of the five games going past five hours, even past five and a half hours, and one game nearly reaching the whopping eight hour mark. But despite that the games were relatively uneventful. Peter Svidler and Simen Agdestein drew quickly, and the next game to finish was between Magnus Carlsen and Alexander Grischuk. Carlsen had the better structure in a knight vs. bishop ending and eventually won a pawn, but the material was too limited and Black's pieces too active for him to convert the edge.

    Next to finish was Fabiano Caruana vs. Veselin Topalov. Caruana had what chances there were with his slight material advantage (rook and two pawns vs. bishop and knight, plus other material for both sides), but Topalov's pieces were well-coordinated against the pawns. In fact, the previous sentence requires correction. There was one brief moment early in the game where Topalov had a chance: if he played 23...Nb6 instead of 23...Ne5 he would have had a serious advantage, according to the computer. Missing that one shot, the game remained very balanced for the remaining 43 moves.

    Vladimir Kramnik and Levon Aronian agreed to a draw mere moments after the Caruana-Topalov game finished, but despite similarity of result, and length both in time and moves the storyline was the reverse of its counterpart. For a long time nothing much was happening, with Kramnik trying to gnaw away at Black's slightly weak pawn on c6 (the product of the minority attack b2-b4-b5xc6). After 50 moves Kramnik was finally making some progress, but precision was needed. Apparently 51.Qb6 was the right move, because after Kramnik's very natural 51.Ba4 Aronian was ready with the tactically alert 51...f4! 52.exf4 Bxh4!, assuring himself of sufficient counterplay to draw. The follow-up with 55...Bxg3+!! 56.Kxg3 h4+ 57.Kh2 Qd6 was especially nice, after which it was clear that Kramnik needed to acquiesce in the draw lest something worse happen to him.

    That valuable bit of wisdom escaped the young Anish Giri, who suffered a rather painful and altogether unnecessary defeat against Sergey Karjakin. Giri inflicted doubled and isolated pawns on Karjakin all the way back on move 18, and then did very little for about the next 36 moves. At that point Karjakin managed to improve his structure, albeit at the cost of immobilizing one of his rooks. 20-some odd moves later Giri won the exchange, but Karjakin believed - maybe rightly, maybe not - that he had an unbreakable fortress. After collecting the exchange on move 76, Giri engaged in another long session of doing nothing/very little until he hit on a very good idea, to put the queen on h1 and go for the g4 break. The latter finally occurred at move 116, and it worked. The position was very different and somewhat dangerous for Black, and Karjakin made what should have been a fatal error when he played 118...c5. That move was desirable and worked out, but he needed to play 118...Qc7 instead. Not an easy move to play, especially as it gives up the d-pawn.

    After 118...c5 119.Qf7+ Ka6 White needed to ask himself what was Black's idea or threat, and then he would have found 120.Qd7 (or 120.Qe8), preventing Black from (safely) activating his queen with ...Qc6. Having eliminated Black's main source of counterplay, Giri could have finished Karjakin off after activating his rook. Instead he played 120.Rc2?, and after 120...Qc6! 121.Qg6 c4! Black was completely fine. Now it was White who needed to show a modicum of accuracy and - more importantly - White also needed to recognize that he was in more danger than Karjakin. Giri failed at this task, and rather than repeating the position with 131.Ka2, asking Karjakin if he had any good ideas, he played 131.Rc4?? Karjakin played 131...Bc3, and White is getting mated in pretty obvious fashion Giri resigned right away. (Games, without notes, are here.)

    As a result of this well-deserved victory, Karjakin is now tied for first, while Giri is tied for last; had Giri won the opposite would have been the case! One point still separates first place from last with two rounds to go, so everyone has all to play for on Thursday and Friday. Tomorrow is a rest day, and here's what we have to look forward to in round 8:

    • Aronian (3) - Caruana (4)
    • Karjakin (4) - Kramnik (4)
    • Grischuk (3.5) - Giri (3)
    • Svidler (3) - Carlsen (4)
    • Agdestein (3.5) - Topalov (3)

    Sunday
    Mar302014

    Candidates 2014, Round 14 (The Finale): Anand Still The Winner; Karjakin Second

    The most important business of the 2014 Candidates' tournament was settled yesterday when Viswanathan Anand clinched first and a world championship rematch with Magnus Carlsen, but cash and honor remained at stake for the other seven players. In the end, only one game was decisive, and it saw Sergey Karjakin grind out the full point against Levon Aronian to take clear second and a sizable payday of 88 thousand euros.

    Anand had White against Peter Svidler, and kept the game under control, drawing in 34 moves without a scintilla of risk. Anand thus finished the tournament with an undefeated +3 score, while Svidler remained on -1.

    Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Vladimir Kramnik also drew their game quickly. Perhaps Mamedyarov came into the game with some ambitions, but Kramnik equalized effectively and expeditiously, and the game ended on move 30 rather than move 20 only because the rules required it. They both finished on 50%.

    Veselin Topalov enjoyed a nominal edge against Dmitry Andreikin, winning a pawn on move 30. Given the damage to his kingside structure, however, Andreikin was still basically fine. Topalov continued through move 69, and then gave in to the inevitable. He thus finished in clear last place, while Andreikin remained at 50%.

    That just left the Aronian-Karjakin battle. The two players' fortunes had gone in opposite directions since their previous meeting in round 7. Then, after winning their head-to-head game, Aronian was +2 and tied for first, while Karjakin was -2 and alone in last place. By the time of today's game, they were both at 50%, and if anything Karjakin could have had an even bigger score. Their game was a see-saw battle early on, but from around move 32 it was clearly Karjakin who would do the pressing. Aronian held tight for a very long time, but finally cracked with 72.Kg2(?). After 72...Qb2 White had nothing better than 73.Rh1, sacrificing a piece, but there wasn't enough compensation and Karjakin reeled in the point after 94 moves. It's a pity for Karjakin that he got started so late in the tournament, but clear second and a fantastic +3 in the second cycle should give him plenty of encouragement for the next time around.

    Final Standings (given in tiebreak order)

    • 1. Anand 8.5
    • 2. Karjakin 7.5
    • 3. Kramnik 7
    • 4. Mamedyarov 7
    • 5. Andreikin 7
    • 6. Aronian 6.5
    • 7. Svidler 6.5
    • 8. Topalov 6

     

    Wednesday
    Aug282013

    2013 World Cup: Round 6, Day 3: Kramnik & Andreikin Reach Finals; Andreikin & Karjakin Qualify for Candidates

    Today's tiebreak session at the World Cup was a short one, as two 25-minute games were enough to determine the match winners. In the first session Evgeny Tomashevsky and Dmitry Andreikin had a fairly quick draw, but theirs was the marathon of the round. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave played like he had lost his mind in his white game against Kramnik, and had to resign after just 22 moves. After 16 moves of that game the position was level and sharp, and here Vachier-Lagrave's decision to bring the rook into play with 17.Re4 quickly backfired. After 20...Bf5 White was already in some trouble and the c-pawn looked likely to fall after a subsequent ...Bd3. That would have been a dream scenario for the Frenchman compared to what actually happened. After 21.Rh4?? Bc2 White's best would have been to surrender an exchange for less than nothing with 22.Qe2 Bd3 23.Qd1. Instead, he uncorked the even more disastrous 22.Qxc2??, hoping for 22...Qxc2 23.Be4. That also loses to 23...Qxd2+ 24.Bxh7+ Kh8 25.Bc2+ Qh6, which will leave Black a rook up, but Kramnik's 22...Nxf3+ was even simpler, winning the house.

    In the rematch Kramnik was a little slack, and his whole plan to swap everything with 13.d5, 14.Ne1 and 15.Nxd5 gave Vachier-Lagrave a little pull, but when Black played the premature 23...b5 the game started to tip back in Kramnik's favor. By the end Kramnik was close to winning, but took the opportunity to draw by repetition. That won him the match and a trip to the finals, but it didn't win him a ticket to next year's Candidates' tournament. That's because he had already qualified. What it did do was switch his ticket. Rather than qualifying by rating he qualifies as a World Cup finalist, and that means that the player who was the #3 finisher (and thus non-qualifier) on rating has now qualified: Sergey Karjakin.

    Today was an interesting day for Kramnik, and it's not clear that he really benefited. There's the prestige of making it to the finals of the World Cup, and even more if he wins it. There's the added payday, too. On the other hand, his score against Karjakin isn't fantastic, to put it mildly. Since 2010, taking all time controls into account, the score is 7-1 for Karjakin, not counting five draws. Even just taking classical games into account it isn't good news for Kramnik: 2-0 for Karjakin, plus four draws.

    Meanwhile, the other semi-final was also bad news for Kramnik. Kramnik did lose a blitz game to Tomashevsky last year, but their classical record shows that Kramnik has won both of their games: one in 2004 and one in 2012. As for Andreikin, Kramnik has lost both games they've played, both in the last couple of months.

    So who advanced? Andreikin, of course. Tomashevsky was doing pretty well with Black into the middlegame, but it all went downhill after 28...Re1? He apparently missed 30.Qd2 after the trade of rooks, and after that Andreikin whipped up an initiative that quickly decided the game. Tomashevsky should have traded queens with 28...Qxd3 and after 29.Rxd3 played 29...Re6 so as to defend the f-pawn if necessary. The position would have remained equal and the match unclear.

    Tomorrow is the one and only absolute day off in the entire event, and then the best-of-four game final begins on Friday.

    Saturday
    Jun082013

    Rapid Events: Karjakin Wins Sberbank, Nepomniachtchi Running Away With The World Rapid Championship

    Veselin Topalov was the early leader in the Sberbank Rapid tournament, but he was bludgeoned nicely on day 2 by Sergey Karjakin, who wound up winning the tournament with 6.5/9, half a point ahead of Topalov.

    Meanwhile, over in Khanty-Mansyisk, the World Rapid Championship is turning into a runaway for Ian Nepomniachtchi, who has given up a single draw each of the first two days. He has 9/10 and leads his closest pursuers (Ivan Cheparinov and Ildar Khairullin) by two points going into the last day and the final five rounds. (The live commentary with GMs Alexander Khalifman and Efstratios Grivas is pretty good and available on-demand, so if you have a little free time for chess spectating you might enjoy that.) After this finishes, the World Blitz Championship will take place at the same site (and with the same players? I'm not sure) on Sunday and Monday.

    Saturday
    May182013

    Norway Chess Finale: Karjakin Wins; Carlsen and Nakamura Tie for Second

    There was some drama in the last round of the Norway Chess supertournament, but it was a little surprising that it mostly came from the victor, Sergey Karjakin, rather than his main rivals. Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand were half a point behind, and with Karjakin having the white pieces against Veselin Topalov it seemed they needed to win to have a chance.

    Carlsen had Black against Levon Aronian, and never came close to getting anything. He equalized with no problem in a Queen's Gambit Declined, but the opening is so solid that even once Carlsen obtained a token edge Aronian didn't have much difficulty steering the ship to the drawing harbor after trading almost all the pieces.

    Anand, by contrast, not only didn't come close to winning; he even lost against the resurgent Wang Hao. Like Carlsen, Anand came out of the opening (an unusual Symmetrical English) in fine shape with the black pieces. That was the good news, but from 17 on it was all bad news. If Anand had traded queens he would have kept equality; instead, 14...Bxa2? 15.Qa4! got him in trouble, and then 16...Rfd8 sealed his fate. Perhaps Anand missed Wang Hao's 16th and 17th moves, or maybe the oversight had to do with something that happened later in the sharp tactical sequence that followed. Whatever the case, Wang Hao finished with a material advantage, and in the end Black had no hopes of a fortress against White's powerful queen.

    Radjabov-Svidler was a short draw, preventing Svidler from catching up to Carlsen, but Hikaru Nakamura did catch Carlsen by defeating Jon Ludwig Hammer. Hammer has gone after his opponents in this tournament, not just trying to draw or even win but to win by landing haymakers - knockout shots. So it was here too, as Hammer went all-out on the white side of a Noteboom, shoving pawns in the center and going for a kingside attack as his queenside collapsed. It looked a little scary and made for a great show for the spectators, but Nakamura had everything well-calculated. Had Hammer not resigned when he did, on move 34, he would soon have found himself down a queen and a rook and getting mated. Sometimes when you go for broke, you wind up broke!

    That left Karjakin-Topalov. Karjakin was surprised not by the Najdorf, but by Topalov's choosing 7...Qc7 (after 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4) for the first time in his career. He handled things a bit unsurely, and after 16.Nd5 (16.Na5 was better) Black enjoyed an edge. There were no big swings through the time control, with neither player being more than slightly better, and the position was so difficult to play that inaccuracies were easy to make. I don't know if Karjakin was playing for a win or just to hang on, but it's clear that Topalov was pushing, whether or not he was objectively better. Topalov's 45...Rbb5? changed that, however, as 46.Qc2 left White clearly better. (Topalov may have missed that on 46...Rb3 47.Nd2 Rcxc3 White has 48.Rc4+, winning. Even if he throws in 47...Bxd2 48.Rxd2 and only then plays 48...Rcxc3, 49.Rc4+ is very strong here as well.) In the end Karjakin repeated moves from a position of strength, preferring guaranteed tournament victory to the chance for a few more rating points. (It would have pushed him to #4 in the world, but he can pursue an additional 3.8 rating points another day.)

    Congratulations to the victor, Sergey Karjakin! I'm reminded that showcase events don't always turn out as the organizers planned. 100 years ago a double round-robin tournament was organized in Havana, Cuba, but hometown hero Jose Raul Capablanca finished second, half a point behind Frank Marshall - thanks in good part to losing a game to him in the second cycle. 50 years ago the First Piatigorsky Cup was organized in part for Bobby Fischer's benefit; he didn't show up. Three years later he did play in the Second Piatigorsky Cup, only to finish half a point behind Boris Spassky, who beat him in their game from the first cycle. And so it was here: Norway had their first super-tournament, and Magnus Carlsen finished half a point behind. (A consolation: his "great predecessors" went on to become world champions.) Here are the full standings:

    1. Karjakin 6 (out of 9)
    2-3. Carlsen, Nakamura 5.5
    4-6. Svidler, Aronian, Anand 5
    7. Wang Hao 4.5
    8. Topalov 4 (one loss and eight draws!)
    9. Radjabov 3 (losing 12 more rating points - he has dropped 60 points since the start of the Candidates!)
    10. Hammer 1.5

    Thursday
    May162013

    Karjakin Leads Norway Chess With Two Rounds Left; Carlsen Half a Point Behind

    I've been letting the Norway Chess reports slide, as I've been trying to catch up on work while also moving along in the back-and-leg saga. About the latter: I had a second cortisone shot on Monday and started physical therapy today. Fun! The pain is more or less gone, but some numbness remains in my foot (and could last another six months to a year) and my body still has a lot of self-repair to do. Of course, it's also very important that I not just get through the current episode, but go on to do what I can to avoid suffering this same fate (or worse) next year, or the year after that, etc.

    Back to chess. Between the last rest day, after round 3, and this one, four rounds have gone by. Sergey Karjakin was 3-0 while Magnus Carlsen was 3-for-3 as well - but three draws rather than three wins. Karjakin started the next block by defeating Levon Aronian - impressively, and with the black pieces to boot! - while Carlsen drew again. In round 5 they met, and with Karjakin having White and an eight-game winning streak (counting the blitz, and including a win there over Carlsen) it looked like a fantastic opportunity for him to practically put the tournament on ice.

    Things started terrifically for Karjakin, and he obtained a significant edge against Carlsen's Breyer, winding up with an extra pawn. Around move 29 though, it started to fall apart. If Karjakin had played 29.Bb5, looking to round up the c-pawn, Carlsen would have been in trouble. Instead, 29.Bc2 looked to consolidate behind the e-pawn, but the main result was to give Black a free hand to develop his counterplay. After 36 moves Carlsen had regained his pawn and enjoyed some initiative, but the game was still up in the air. Unfortunately for Karjakin, he erred on moves 37 and 39 (and move 40 too, but by then it was already too late), and by the time he made the time control the game was as good as over.

    The win brought Carlsen to within a point of Karjakin, and with a grind-'em-out victory over poor Teimour Radjabov (who was defeated by him in similar style in the penultimate round of the Candidates) he closed to within half a point. That wasn't such bad news for Karjakin though, as it meant he drew with Black against world champ Viswanathan Anand - and he did so only with great effort. That he held was both impressive and important, demonstrating both mental toughness and probably giving his confidence a boost.

    He was able to build on that in round 7, defeating Hikaru Nakamura on the white side of a 6.Bg5 Najdorf. Carlsen remained "on" as well, defeating his countryman Jon Ludwig Hammer with Black. (About Hammer: he started the event 0-3, but drew with Black against Veselin Topalov in round 4 and beat Wang Hao in round 5. He lost in rounds 6 and 7 though.) Today (Thursday) was a rest day; the penultimate round starts Friday. Here are the pairings, with scores in parentheses:

    • Carlsen (5) - Wang Hao (2.5)
    • Topalov (3) - Aronian (4)
    • Anand (4) - Hammer (1.5)
    • Nakamura (3.5) - Radjabov (2.5)
    • Svidler (3.5) - Karjakin (5.5)

    Saturday
    May112013

    Norway Chess, Round 3: Karjakin Leads With 3/3

    Six rounds remain in the Norway Chess super-tournament, and Sergey Karjakin has yet to play Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, Viswanathan Anand or Veselin Topalov - four of the world's top five players. Still, he leads with a 3-0 score, and this after winning the blitz tournament too, which he concluded with a 4-game winning streak. So he seems to be in good form and should be full of confidence - just what every sportsman wants.

    His third victory in the main tournament came at Wang Hao's expense. Karjakin enjoyed a slight but persistent advantage on the white side of an old Rauzer main line, thanks to the bishop pair and an apparently more useful pawn majority, but that's all it was until Wang Hao's 36...f5(?). This increased the power of White's bishops, and when Karjakin sealed up the kingside with 39.h4(!), preparing 40.Re5, Black gave up. White's pieces dominate and Black has nothing to do but watch his pawns drop and White's queenside majority advance.

    Aronian and Anand are tied for second, a full point behind Karjakin. Levon Aronian was a little fortunate to play Peter Svidler, who has apparently been visiting doctors for a variety of ailments during the event. Svidler was better throughout, but offered a draw after his 31st move, just after the legal limit. (Here the rule is that draw offers are forbidden before move 30.) The main line Svidler considered after his final move, 31.a5, continued 31...Nc4 32.Rb7+ Re7 33.a6 Na5 34.Nd6+ Ke6, but here he missed that after 35.Rxe7+ Kxe7 he would have 36.Nc8+, winning the a-pawn. It may or may not be enough to win, but it's certainly worth trying, as White gets winning chances for free; i.e., with no risk whatsoever.

    Anand joined Aronian in second by defeating Veselin Topalov on the white side of a Najdorf. He enjoyed the easier play in the quasi-ending/late middlegame with all the heavy pieces plus opposite-colored bishops, but had Topalov braved the risky-looking 28...Qxh4 he might have been alright. After 28...Bd6 Anand played 29.Bg2 and 30.Bxd5, when the beautiful bishop gave him an obvious, clear advantage. Black's pieces lacked coordination and f7 became a target, and the position became just about impossible to hold. Topalov couldn't, and with the flashy 35.Be6 Anand won material, and Black gave up after the first time control.

    What about Magnus Carlsen? The world's #1 faced Hikaru Nakamura and, of all things, the Bishop's Opening (via a Vienna move order). As one would expect from two players who like to play and have great faith in their ability to win games at the board, the play quickly grew creative when Carlsen offered a pawn with 10...b5!? Nakamura might have improved slightly, by his own admission, with the (more) natural 16.Qg4, but even so the game was always about equal up until 29.Nc3?! (29.Ne3 was better and equal). Carlsen played 29...e3, and the game soon finished in a draw, but he missed an opportunity with 29...Qe5(!), seen by the computer but not the players. The idea is seen in the variation 30.b6 e3 31.b7 (losing; 31.Re1 is forced, but Black is better, but not winning, after 31...Rd2) and now 31...Bxg2+! wins: 32.Kxg2 Rd2+ 33.Kf3 Qxf5+ 34.Kg3 Qxf1! 35.b8Q+ Kh7 and despite White's large material advantage he is lost.

    Finally, Teimour Radjabov won his first game by giving Jon Ludwig Hammer his third consecutive loss in an up and down game.

    Saturday is a rest day, and on Sunday they will play round 4, with these pairings (player scores in parethenses):

     

    • Carlsen (1.5) - Svidler (1.5)
    • Topalov (1) - Hammer (0)
    • Anand (2) - Nakamura (1.5)
    • Aronian (2) - Karjakin (3)
    • Wang Hao (1) - Radjabov (1.5)