So far, chess24 is putting out some nice material, including this concluding report, complete with annotated games and interviews. A tease: Grischuk explains his infamous comment about Kramnik's "bad preparation".
Entries in Vladimir Kramnik (53)
Here you will find a bit about the 2014 Candidates, a look towards the 2016 Candidates (assuming Vladimir Kramnik gets there!), and (from Anand's side of things) an optimistic and intriguing look towards the Carlsen rematch later this year.
(HT: Brian Karen)
I posted about this article yesterday, noting that Google Translate didn't do a fantastic job with the text. There's a much clearer translation of some of the harsher comments over on Susan Polgar's site (HT: Nosh Minwalla), for those who want to see what Vladimir Kramnik will be posting on his bulletin board for motivation next time they play.
The first cycle of the 2014 Candidates' tournament finished with a crazy and chaotic round that saw three decisive games, and it could easily have been four. In the end Viswanathan Anand and Levon Aronian were tied for first at +2*, half a point ahead of Vladimir Kramnik.
Anand has led the entire tournament, by himself for most of it, and he probably would have kept that lead if he had played 20...Rxf2 against Peter Svidler. White's compensation looks pretty slim, so it looks like Anand has sunk into an overly safety-first mentality. If he fails to win the tournament, it will be unforced errors like this that will be to blame. After foregoing this great opportunity, Svidler was able to neutralize his minimal disadvantage and save the game.
Meanwhile, Aronian took the opportunity to catch up to Anand at the halfway point, thanks to his convincing win over Sergei Karjakin, now the tournament tailender. Interestingly, both Aronian and Anand were Black in a 4.d3 Berlin, and in both games Black came out of the opening smelling like a rose. Karjakin played b4 on move 10, and then went for d4 some moves later. As a result, the c4 square was weakened, and Aronian managed to conquer that square and infiltrate the queenside in general. White's position got worse and worse, and a desperate counterattack ultimately led to an ending where Aronian was down the exchange but had too many pawns for White to cope with.
(One nice quote about that game, from chess24's round report. It comes from Rustam Kasimdzhanov, a chess24 contributor, Karjakin's second and a great player in his own right - the winner of the FIDE knockout world championship in 2004. He writes this about Aronian's 47...Qc4, which was the only winning move: "Qc4!! I mean wow!! It's at times like this you recognise the greatest. I'd never pull it off, not after 5 hours of play. It was SUCH a difficult move. It just does not occur, not to mortals.")
Kramnik bounced back from his painful loss against Topalov with a win over Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, but he was very lucky. He was doing well with White after a well-played opening, but not as well as he thought. As a result he overpressed, and was soon forced to head for an ending where he hoped his queenside passers would compensate for Black's extra piece. For a long time Mamedyarov played very well, but at just the moment when he could obtain a straightforwardly winning position he blundered - twice! Worst of all, he did so with loads of time on the clock. He missed a tactic, and while that can happen to anyone he would surely have spotted it if he had spent a bit more time. Instead, he went from winning to equal to dead lost, and the game ended just a few moves later. A real tragedy for Mamedyarov, who had worked his way back from -2 after the first three games and would have finished the first cycle at +1, half a point behind the leaders. Instead, he's now -1 and it's Kramnik who is nipping at the leaders' heels.
Another player who came into the round with an equal score also fell back to -1: Veselin Topalov. His opening preparation against Dmitry Andreikin was very good, but as in the game with Svidler two rounds earlier he fell apart almost immediately after his preparation ended. Topalov was crushed, and I'm guessing that he forgot to make sarcastic comments about his opponent at today's press conference.
There is no break between the two cycles, and round 8 starts tomorrow (or today, if you're across the pond) at the usual time, with the following pairings (player scores are in parentheses):
- Kramnik (4) - Andreikin (3)
- Svidler (3.5) - Karjakin (2.5)
- Topalov (3) - Mamedyarov (3)
- Aronian (4.5) - Anand (4.5)
Aronian - Anand is clearly the game of the day, but it's also an important opportunity for Kramnik, playing the white pieces against one of the relative outsiders. Svidler too needs to regain the winning habit before the leaders break away for good, and White against the tailender is a good place to start.
Meanwhile, here are the round 7 games, with my notes.
* Remember last year: there are no real ties for first. In case of a tie, tournament victory is determined by tiebreaks rather than a playoff. As Anand defeated Aronian in round 1, he would qualify for the match with Magnus Carlsen if they alone finish tied for first and Aronian doesn't beat Anand in the second cycle.
That there are quite a few digs by the world champion at Vladimir Kramnik's expense is pretty obvious, even with the shaky Google translation. (Norwegian readers are welcome to offer better translations!) This should sweeten the pot in case they end up playing in November.
(HT: Ross Hytnen)
If you've been watching top level chess on the internet for any time now, you'll know that when it comes to post-game press conferences, Peter Svidler is quite the talker. He is wonderfully articulate even in English, though it is not his native tongue, and just as a matter of personality he loves to talk. Whenever I've seen him at such a conference, he has dominated the proceedings.
Likewise Vladimir Kramnik. While he is not as eloquent in English as Svidler, his grasp of the language is certainly very good, and he too tends to dominate press conferences. His style is a little different - a bit more variation heavy and shorter on psychological narration, but his conferences are enjoyable and impressive as well.
So what would happen when these two shared the spotlight in a post-game presser? Further, how would they cope with the regular interruptions necessitated by the need to have their comments translated into Russian?
The fascinating result can be seen below, starting at the 5:31:10 mark. I can't recall ever seeing anything like it before, but it was pretty amazing, almost savage. Enjoy!
Today's round at the Candidates was very exciting, with three wins from the four games. Vladimir Kramnik's win was especially good. The ex-champ found a remarkable new idea in a very well-known position, and his sustained initiative eventually proved too much for Sergei Karjakin. The game was such an achievement that Karjakin himself said this after the game: "This is one of those rare cases when I'm not ashamed of my play, because White [Kramnik] was playing very enterprising and interesting [chess]".
With the win Kramnik caught his great successor, Viswanathan Anand, who drew efficiently against Veselin Topalov with the black pieces. Anand was able to do what he couldn't do against Carlsen; namely, hold a slightly worse ending. (Of course, he's not alone in that respect.) So for both he and Kramnik are looking very good both in terms of prep and form.
Peter Svidler is a third co-leader thanks to his victory over Dmitry Andreikin. Andreikin played the Kalashnikov and achieved a good position from the opening, but went wrong with 16...b5. (The consensus view is that 16...Bxd5 17.exd5 Ne7 was better.) After that relatively small inaccuracy Svidler played extremely well, with 17.Qg3!, 20.f4!, 24.Nf5! as the star moves.
Finally, Levon Aronian bounced back from yesterday's loss with a win over Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. The latter blundered with 13...Ne7 (13...Qg5 would be have been fine), missing the nice but not overly difficult tactical trick 14.Nde4! White won the queen for inadequate compensation, and he gradually reeled in the full point.
UPDATE: The games, with my brief comments, are here.
Here are tomorrow's pairings (players' scores are in parentheses):
- Andreikin (.5) - Karjakin (.5)
- Svidler (1.5) - Kramnik (1.5)
- Topalov (1) - Aronian (1)
- Mamedyarov (.5) - Anand (1.5)
It seems that there are three things you can count on in life: death, taxes, and the Russians underperforming in team events. The Russians drew with Armenia in round 1, which was only a mild upset (and admittedly a better result than the U.S.'s 2.5-1.5 loss to Ukraine), but they were dispatched by the Americans 3-1 in round 2. Hikaru Nakamura defeated Vladimir Kramnik in what one would normally think of as a Kramnik-like performance, and for dessert leapfrogged Kramnik into third place on the live rating list. The other victory came from Ray Robson, who took advantage of Nikita Vitiugov's losing the thread in a very sharp Slav Marshall Gambit. Here's a quick look at both games.
Overall, Germany and Azerbaijan lead the World Team Championship with 4 match points (i.e. 2-0 scores in their matches) and 5.5 board points; Ukraine has 4 match points and 5 board points to sit in third. It's a ten team round-robin though, so the current standings aren't too important just yet.
The last day of the 2013 Russian Championship was an exciting one. The spectators got their money's worth! Peter Svidler came into the last round with a half point lead over Vladimir Kramnik and Ian Nepomniachtchi, and had the challenging pairing of Black against Sergey Karjakin. Karjakin tested Svidler's Gruenfeld in the now-old, former main line of the Exchange Variation with 8.Rb1, and Svidler followed the old recipe to a draw.
That left Nepomniachtchi and Kramnik, who just so happened to be playing each other. Kramnik did much of the pushing, and was better for good chunks of the game, though never winning. A draw was just about always there for the taking, but no guts, no glory: he kept pressing, and with 67...Kh3 he was on his way over the edge. Maybe 69...Rd3 or 69...Ng4+ would have kept things together, but 69...b5? got him in trouble, and 71...Nf7 left him lost. (Maybe he didn't see that 75.Bd4 would stop all of his threats?) Nepomniachtchi's good defense and Kramnik's overextension allowed the former to catch Svidler, and so it was on to a rapid tiebreak - two g/15s.
In last year's Russian Championship tiebreak Svidler was eliminated, while Nepomniachtchi's previous tiebreak experience was a good one - he defeated Karjakin in 2010 to win the title of Russian champion. This time around, however, it was Svidler who came through to win his seventh(!) national championship. Svidler won the first game with White and was winning the second game too when Nepomniachtchi offered a match-conceding draw that was accepted.
Congratulations to Peter Svidler!
The Russian Championship* started today, and round 1 had the following results:
- Kramnik - Shomoev 1-0
- Svidler - Nepomniachtchi 1-0
- Andreikin - Karjakin 1-0
- Motylev - Inarkiev 0-1
- Goganov - Vitiugov 0-1
The wins by Peter Svidler and especially Dmitry Andreikin were especially significant, as they defeated 2700+ opposition, but Vladimir Kramnik's game was spectacular. First he made an interesting and probably essentially sound sacrifice a full exchange, and then followed that with a further sacrifice of a piece for two pawns. It doesn't seem to have been sound, but Shomoev imploded and Kramnik bagged the full point. It made for an entertaining game, but if Kramnik plays that way against the 2700s he's not going to finish the tournament with a good score. Anyway, the game is here, with my comments.
* For those of you who can't read Russian, TWIC's page is clean and easy.