When offering some thoughts on the Tal Memorial blitz I expressed my admiration for both sides' play in the rook ending of the Carlsen - Kramnik game and a desire to present it for your perusal. Here it is. (I know, I don't want to use that software, but there hasn't been time to learn something new just yet.)
Entries in Vladimir Kramnik (31)
It's a long interview with Vladimir Kramnik, in Russian, and the Google Translation isn't especially good. Still, it's got enough meat that it's worth your while even if you have to suffer the translated version. (HT: Thomas Richter.)
Big Bad Garry (Kasparov) has already offered to help Magnus Carlsen in his preparations for the latter's forthcoming world championship match with Viswanathan Anand. (HT: Brian Gaines.) It's probably good news for Carlsen, and a bit of shrewd legacy building on Kasparov's part - both positively and negatively. Positively, he gets to take a bit more credit for helping build Carlsen into the monster he is; negatively, he helps to ensure that Anand's growing legacy doesn't eat into his own. Anand isn't likely in any case to maintain the champion's title for 15 years, as Kasparov did, nor is he likely to threaten Kasparov's peak rating record of 2851. On the other hand, Anand has won the title in three different formats, beat Vladimir Kramnik (which Kasparov of course failed to do), and has held off not only his elders and contemporaries but, with a hypothetical win over Carlsen, the next generation as well.
So it makes sense for Carlsen, whose openings are often reasonably effective from a practical standpoint but rarely an existential threat to players like Kramnik and Anand, to spend some time working with a legend of special preparation. Further, Kasparov's immense experience of pressure-packed matches will help Carlsen as well - clearly he didn't cope with that aspect of the battle as well as he could have in London. And it makes sense for Kasparov too, for reasons mentioned in the previous paragraph. (There's also what's bound to be some hefty remuneration, but as Kasparov is by all accounts a very wealthy man that can't be more than icing on the cake.)
But what about poor Anand? Should Kasparov be a polite elder statesman and leave these battles to those fighters still in the ring? And what can Anand do about this? I'm thinking there could be several silver linings for him. First, the clash of egos and approaches between Carlsen and Kasparov might prevent the young challenger from playing his best "Carlsenian" chess against the champion. Second, given the well-known and enduring enmity between Kasparov and Anand, this could motivate Anand like almost nothing else to really rise to the occasion and bring back his very best chess. Third, anti-Kasparov sentiment might turn up some surprising new volunteers for the Anand camp. I for one would love to discover that Kramnik went on to offer Anand some serious help as well. Heck, if I were strong enough I'd volunteer to help Anand prep in any way I could, gratis if possible.
Just some musings from a player motivated in part (but not only) by the wish for his generation to maintain its place at the top of the pile; the young will overthrow us soon enough! (And in turn be overthrown as well, world without end, amen.) Your thoughts?
At least a little. It has been a while, but there are a couple of bits of chess news to report, and then I'll offer a brief status update on my condition.
So, first, chess! Several people have noted this Vladimir Kramnik interview (Mark Crowther of TWIC was the first), and it's both a very good read in its own right and a balm for the soul to those of us who, like me, may have been pulling a little extra hard for him to break through to meet Viswanathan Anand for another title shot. Many of you may have already read it, but if you haven't I highly recommend it - whether you're a Kramnik fan or not.
Second, there's a very strong event underway - the Russian Team Championships. As is common these days, the event title is something of a misnomer, as plenty of non-Russians are participating. Unless you're a Russian from a relevant region, though, you are probably like me far more interested in the event as an excuse to see great individual players in action; if so, there's good news. Recent candidates Peter Svidler, Alexander Grischuk and the great spoiler Vassily Ivanchuk are all in action, along with former "vice-champions" Peter Leko and Gata Kamsky (Ivanchuk was one as well, if you count the old FIDE K.O.s), and plenty of other superstars like Sergey Karjakin, Fabiano Caruana, Alexander Morozevich, Shakriyar Mamedyarov and other 2700+ rated stars are in action.
I've only just started to glance at the games, and one immediately caught my eye - Baadur Jobava's rout of Karjakin in what at least appears at first glance to be an utterly insipid line of the Giuoco Piano. I'd post it using ChessBase's online "service", but as it appears to be nonfunctional yet again I'll just post the PGN notation here. (Note: It will take me a little while to figure out a new system - please bear with me - but the ChessBase server has simply failed too often for me to use it anymore. I don't know if they are suffering from hackers, or if they grossly underestimated the system load or what, but at least for the moment they appear utterly unreliable.)
GM Jobava, Baadur (2702) - GM Karjakin, Sergey (2786), 20th TCh-RUS 2013, Round 2:
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.e5 d5 7.Be2 Ne4 8.cxd4 Bb4+ 9.Bd2 Nxd2 10.Nbxd2 0-0 11.0-0 f6 12.Rc1 Kh8 13.Nb3 Bg4 14.a3 Be7 15.Re1 fxe5 16.dxe5 Rf4 17.h3 Bh5 18.Nc5 Bxc5 19.Rxc5 d4 20.e6 Bg6 21.Bd3 Qf6 22.Ng5 Ne7 23.Bxg6 hxg6 24.Ne4 Qxe6 25.Ng5 Qf6 26.Re6 Qf8 27.Rxg6 Rh4 28.Ne6 1-0
I don't believe Jobava's approach will set the world on fire any more than Kramnik's 10.h3 in the Scotch Four Knights, but what they do - and what Carlsen often does as well - is to create positions with at least three critical characteristics. First, they are new. By this I mean a type of position that is new in some respect - it's not just some micro-change in the context of a very well-understood position-type. Sometimes a novelty is finding a new finesse on move 22 that may gain a tempo in a race between two very well-known plans. This is not that. 5.d4 is ancient but utterly devoid of danger in the main lines to those in the know, and being in the know can be accomplished these days in about 10-15 minutes. But Jobava doesn't beat the dead horse that is 6.cxd4, but instead chooses the rarer 6.e5 and then, after 6...d5, the really rare 7.Be2. Ironically, Jobava was one of the few to previously try it, and he lost both times, in 2012, to other 2700-rated players (Malakhov and Kamsky).
In those games Black played 8...Bb6 rather than giving check on b4, and through move 11 they followed another high-level game, a Vallejo Pons-Ponomariov contest from 2011. Like Jobava's 2012 games Black won this one too, but here it was Jobava who innovated with 12.Rc1. And this, my friends and readers, presents a really new position! Who is better? What plans should be chosen? How, if at all, should the pawn tension between White's e- and Black's f-pawns be resolved? Do Black's bishops matter? Do the c-file and White's mini-plan of Nb3-c5 cause Black serious difficulties?
Karjakin is a great player, and on balance a stronger one than Jobava. But part of Karjakin's great strength is his diligence, his very professional level of preparation. This has been characteristic of his play for a long time, and his decision several years ago to work especially with Garry Kasparov's former "permanent" trainer Yuri Dokhoian has only solidified that tendency in Karjakin. Jobava, on the other hand, prefers the road less traveled. I don't mean by this that he is any less diligent in working on his openings than Karjakin, but rather that his openings are less traveled in general than Karjakin's. This gives him a double advantage, when he succeeds. First, he will know his lines better, simply because they are his. But to return to the initial comment starting this discussion, they are new positions, which means that Karjakin's greater general breadth and depth of chess understanding (I'm assuming that characterization is true - please join me there if only for the sake of the argument) isn't so relevant. So, there's newness.
Second, the positions are not readily resolved. This is pretty clear by implication in the foregoing discussion, but it's worth stating explicitly. Maybe White has absolutely nothing from a "God's-eye view" in this line, even as late as 12.Rc1, but so what? I've seen my share of super-GM post-mortems where a player will say something like "Yes, and here Black does this, this and this; trades off the bishops and the position is simply drawn." Such statements are sometimes made practically right out of the opening, and yet the thing is that they are frequently on the money with those assessments. (It's not necessarily that we would manage to hold the position against them, but it's fair for them to assume that a player of comparable technical skill could do so.) In fact, even I've made such statements on occasion in a few positions I've taken myself to understand extremely well, and it's quite possible that you have too, and with justification.
But getting back to the Jobava-Karjakin game, no such story is possible, at least not yet. This goes hand-in-glove with the "newness" point. If Jobava's Giuoco line catches on a bit then we'll have super-GMs and correspondence chess mavens working things out to death, and then we'll see the press conferences where Anand or Kramnik or whoever it is playing Black says "Yes, this is the important factor in the position, and by trading this, covering that square and maneuvering this and that to here and there White has nothing." But for now, it's far from obvious what the play-killing plan is, and that's what makes it work.Third, the opponent has real problems to solve. This isn't Chess960, where we're all just trying to figure out what to do even if there aren't any particular problems just yet. Nor is it simply a vague position where one isn't sure how to clarify the position, but isn't in any trouble as a result. Karjakin had real problems to solve right out of the opening. Jobava soon enjoyed a serious advantage, which he rapidly parlayed into a crushing attack.
That was a bit of a ramble, I suppose, but it's worth thinking about openings along the aforementioned lines. Many amateurs - and many pros too, for that matter - work on their openings with an eye to either murdering their opponents in the main lines or (more often in amateurdom) seeking some tricky, get-rich-quick sideline. The first approach goes back to opening encyclopedias going back at least as far as Bilguier, and is surely the preferred method of Generation Space Bar (i.e., of those who prompt Houdini or their favorite engine to execute its most highly-evaluated move by pressing the space bar on their keyboard). The trappy approach surely has an even older pedigree, though I'm sure its results overall are considerably worse. There are still other approaches, but I think it's worth taking this Jobava/Kramnik/Carlsen approach very seriously as a major third way.
Now from schach to sciatica. Thanks to the glory of painkillers and especially steroids (not of the sort that will get me banned from Olympic weightlifting competitions, fear not), I'm at least able to function like a reasonable facsimile of myself for the moment, after a week and a half of consistent agony and terrible sleep. This is not a cure though, and on Monday I'll see a neurologist to decide what's next: an injection, (comparatively minor) surgery or something else or some combination of options. It seems that my back and discs are pretty good in general, so there are reasonable grounds to hope that after treatment (and some possible post-treatment misery) I should function at least as well as before. And assuming I'm able to keep all of you posted, I will!
Again, many, many thanks to those of you who have contributed, often with some kind words as well. The financial help has indeed been a help, and the encouragement and care it represented has been if anything an even greater blessing - especially during the most painful and incapacitating days of this struggle. I'm not out of the woods yet, but as noted above, it's a relief to at least feel like a reasonable facsimile of my usual self. Thank you!
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
Candidates Tournament, Round 13: Carlsen Wins, Catches Kramnik And Has Tiebreak Odds For The Last Round
My physical condition is roughly the same (maybe a bit better in certain respects, but maybe worse in another), so I'm afraid I'm going to offer an even more cursory report than I did for the last round. So let's get on with it while I can.
Vladimir Kramnik entered the round half a point ahead of Magnus Carlsen, and scheduled for White while Carlsen was due Black (not against each other). Nevertheless, I felt that today's pairings presented a better opportunity for Carlsen, and that's just how things turned out. Kramnik pressed hard against his long-time friend (or at least very friendly colleague) Boris Gelfand and seemed close to a win at times, but Gelfand's resourceful counterattacking defense with his rooks enabled him to save the game. (For theory-watchers, Kramnik's 5.e3 was a fascinating new move (at least new to this level), and Gelfand was very complimentary about the idea and in his respect for Kramnik's ability to find new opening concepts. Gelfand offered a remark to the effect that in recent years, Kramnik may have come up with more new ideas than the rest of us combined.
I'm sure the compliment was appreciated, but the bottom line is that Kramnik didn't get what he needed today, and now his fate is out of his hands. Carlsen had virtually nothing against Teimour Radjabov for a long time, but (especially) given Radjabov's last-place status and his self-admitted lack of confidence, Carlsen was entirely justified in playing on and hoping something would turn up. As it so often happens with Carlsen's opponents, something did, and after 89 moves and almost seven hours of play, Carlsen had pulled off the win.
This leaves Carlsen and Kramnik tied for first, but due to the unfortunate decision to use tiebreaks rather than a playoff, and the further (to my mind unfortunate) fact that the tiebreak that will settle things in this case is "most wins" (why not "fewest losses?" But let me emphasize that I think both are lousy - use a playoff!), it means that if Carlsen defeats Peter Svidler tomorrow (Carlsen will have the white pieces), he wins the event no matter what Kramnik does. Kramnik will have Black against Vassily Ivanchuk, which makes for a pretty random situation. Ivanchuk has had a lot of disasters in this tournament, many of them self-inflicted, but he has also won his last two games with White - including round 12 against Carlsen.
For completeness' sake: Svidler defeated Ivanchuk in good style, while Alexander Grischuk and Levon Aronian drew, resulting in the latter's mathematical elimination from the race for first.
Standings After Round 13:
- 1-2. Carlsen, Kramnik 8.5
- 3-4. Aronian, Svidler 7
- 5-6. Grischuk, Gelfand 6
- 7. Ivanchuk 5
- 8. Radjabov 4
Last Round Pairings:
- Carlsen - Svidler
- Ivanchuk - Kramnik
- Gelfand - Grischuk
- Aronian - Radjabov
Tournament website here.
What a round! Magnus Carlsen had been in first place at the Candidates', either shared or alone, from round 4, and he entered today's round with a half point lead over Vladimir Kramnik and a full point ahead of Levon Aronian. With White against the erratic, self-destructive Vassily Ivanchuk he seemed well situated to increase his lead, especially with Kramnik having the black pieces against Aronian.
Instead, another "miracle" happened - or two. Kramnik came up with a fascinating plan with 10...f5 in a typical IQP position, and it looked good enough to equalize. Practically, it was even better. Aronian's best choice at a certain moment early on was to force a draw by repetition (starting with 15.Bxb5 f4, as I recall), but in his tournament situation that would have been hard to do. So he played on and was worse, but soon the board exploded with tactics. Kramnik made an error that could have allowed Aronian to escape with a draw, but missed it. Instead of finding that move - 21.Ne5 - Aronian played 21.e4?, and Kramnik was very ready for that one. A very nice tactical sequence left Kramnik with a probably winning technical endgame...but again Kramnik slipped. Aronian had several ways to draw the resulting piece-down ending (all based on the wrong-colored bishop + rook pawn combination), but when he played 50.g6?? his last chance was gone. It's hard to know what was going on in Aronian's mind, but it looks as if he was trying to win. It's tough to balance fighting spirit and self-preservation, and in this case Aronian chose wrongly - especially as it was clear by this point that Carlsen would have to struggle to draw.
Turning to that game, Carlsen played the opening poorly with White and was slightly worse. After Ivanchuk's odd 18...a5, however, Carlsen equalized, but then by the end of the first time control Chuky, with Black, was again somewhat better. Still, it wasn't clear for a long time what the result should be, and not only due to the ever-present concern that Ivanchuk would do something completely insane. This time around, he didn't, and when Carlsen failed to maintain his usual insanely high level of technical prowess the Ukranian great managed to convert his material advantage. Overall, Ivanchuk played very well, while Carlsen immediately labeled his play "absolutely disgraceful."
Thanks to that loss, and Kramnik's remarkable run in the second cycle (4.5/5; three in a row) it is now Kramnik who leads by half a point, with Carlsen in second and Aronian a point and a half behind with two rounds to go. Tomorrow is the rest day, and then they finish up on Easter Sunday and Monday. Before giving the full standings and pairings for the last two rounds, a quick note about the other two games, games which could in fact prove very important.
Boris Gelfand and Peter Svidler drew a game without fireworks, but that looked like a model squeeze by Gelfand before the inaccurate 32.Qa7. According to Svidler, 32.Qb3, maintaining the squeeze, would have kept an enduring advantage based on the bishop pair and the possibility of b4-b5. Teimour Radjabov-Alexander Grischuk was also drawn, and as in the Gelfand-Svidler game White may have missed an opportunity for more. Nothing much happened until 40...h5, but that was a serious error allowing White to target Black's f-pawn after 41.h4. Maybe 43.Rxf5+ would have given Radjabov better winning chances than 43.Bxf5; as it was, Grischuk had to wriggle before reaching the theoretically drawn ending with a rook against a rook and f- and h-pawns.
Why were these games important? The answer is that the tournament regulations have a very unfortunate provision for settling a first-place tie: tiebreaks! This is the second-most important event in the chess calendar, behind only the world championship itself, and the geniuses at FIDE are going to allow the challenger's identity to be decided by which player won more games, or how the tailender does in the last round against the next-to-last placed finisher. This is just insane, especially as plenty of far less prestigious events run playoffs in case of a tie.
About the games: I managed to goof my back up (for the second straight year; let's hope this doesn't become a tradition!), so for now I can't sit long enough to work up an in-depth analysis of the games. If things improve I may try to make up for it tomorrow, during the rest day; otherwise, my apologies.
Standings After Round 12:
1. Kramnik 8
2. Carlsen 7.5
3. Aronian 6.5
4. Svidler 6
5-6. Grischuk, Gelfand 5.5
7. Ivanchuk 5
8. Radjabov 4
Round 13 Pairings (Sunday):
- Radjabov - Carlsen (Clearly a big opportunity for Carlsen to bounce right back.)
- Grischuk - Aronian (Will Aronian burn his bridges trying to stay alive, or just play "correct" chess?)
- Kramnik - Gelfand (Gelfand has traditionally matched up well with Kramnik, and rarely loses games to him at a classical time control.)
- Svidler - Ivanchuk
Round 14 Pairings (Monday):
- Carlsen - Svidler
- Ivanchuk - Kramnik (Will Ivanchuk rise to the occasion again, or (indirectly) harm Carlsen a second time?)
- Gelfand - Grischuk
- Aronian - Radjabov
Magnus Carlsen is still in front in the Candidates' tournament, but with three rounds to go a resurgent Vladimir Kramnik is hot on his heels. Carlsen got an easy draw with Black against Alexander Grischuk (not that it was necessarily his aim before the game), and then waited to see if Levon Aronian would catch him or if Kramnik would draw nearer.
In the case of Aronian, he self-destructed in a slightly worse position with the wild 22...g5 and the follow-up error 23...b5. The idea behind 22...g5 was interesting but way too optimistic. Peter Svidler was able to capitalize pretty easily, and as a result Aronian's chances for first took a big hit. For Vladimir Kramnik, however, the round was a boon to his prospects. He defeated the crumbling Teimour Radjabov, getting Radjabov to fall into a nasty trap in the latter's time pressure. Kramnik has scored 3.5/4 in the second cycle, and the difference is in part a more pragmatic approach. In the first cycle he played completely "correctly" but failed to maximize his chances; this time around he's being a bit more tricky, and the points are dropping in his lap. Now Kramnik is just half a point behind Carlsen, and his game with Aronian tomorrow will be of huge importance.
The other game was a lame 17-move draw by repetition between Vassily Ivanchuk and Boris Gelfand. Lame, but understandable: for Ivanchuk, who had White, the tournament has been a disaster, so getting it over with makes sense. Gelfand is out of the running for first, so a quick draw with Black makes sense for him too. (Things could have been very different for Gelfand, though. He was outplayed by Carlsen yesterday, but before that he had won his last two games and had winning positions in the two games before that!)
The games, with my comments, are here. And now for the standings and pairings:
1. Carlsen 7.5
2. Kramnik 7
3. Aronian 6.5
4. Svidler 5.5
5-6. Gelfand, Grischuk 5
7. Ivanchuk 4
8. Radjabov 3.5
Round 12 Pairings:
- Carlsen - Ivanchuk (clearly a big opportunity for Carlsen; better still, he gets Radjabov next round)
- Gelfand - Svidler
- Aronian - Kramnik (whichever player finishes the round without at least 7.5 points can kiss his chances goodbye)
- Radjabov - Grischuk
It's often Magnus Carlsen who turns up the "lucky" winner, but today he has grounds for annoyance if anyone does. He won a nice game with White in a Rossolimo Sicilian against Boris Gelfand. Maybe not a perfect game, but one that was clear and convincing. That assured him of remaining in clear first with four rounds remaining at the Candidates' tournament in London, but the margin is small.
Levon Aronian is just half a point back, thanks to another patented time trouble-induced suicide by Vassily Ivanchuk. Ivanchuk played the Budapest Defense and achieved a good game, but he played so slowly that he managed to lose on time making his 30th move. By then the position had been ruined, but while he had played too riskily given his time situation he was still objectively equal after Aronian's 28th move.
Vladimir Kramnik was also the recipient of a time trouble-induced gift. Alexander Grischuk went into the Berlin ending, and without being well-prepared. Kramnik enjoyed the very, very slightly better chances, but the game was headed for a draw when Kramnik played 27...Bf5. Objectively this is a terrible move, as it turned a slightly better position into one that would require almost a "miracle" (Kramnik's favorite word when his opponents save difficult positions against him) for him to hold - but only if Grischuk made the right decision on move 30. Grischuk was fully aware of the correct option, but happily for Kramnik thought that the move played, 30.Bxd4(??), was the simplest way to hold the draw. Unfortunately for him, it lost in elementary fashion (at least it's elementary when one has a little more time than Grischuk did to calculate things). The right move was 30.Ke3, after which Black must play very accurately not to lose! (In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if my analysis is flawed and Kramnik is losing that ending.)
Kramnik was rolling the dice, and given the tournament situation it was the right thing to do. His chances aren't very good a point behind with four rounds to play, but to catch up from a point and a half back would require a...miracle.
The fourth game was a bit embarrassing but understandable, a 21-move draw (by repetition, to avoid the tournament's 30-move rule) between Teimour Radjabov and Peter Svidler. Radjabov certainly could have played on, but in clear last place coming into the round he's clearly interested in putting this tournament behind him without suffering any further damage.
Standings After Round 10:
1. Carlsen 7
2. Aronian 6.5
3. Kramnik 6
4-6. Gelfand, Grischuk, Svidler 4.5
7-8. Radjabov, Ivanchuk 3.5
Round 11 Pairings:
- Grischuk - Carlsen
- Kramnik - Radjabov
- Svidler - Aronian
- Ivanchuk - Gelfand
With five rounds to go, Magnus Carlsen finished today's round of the Candidates with a double dose of good news. First, though under serious pressure from Vladimir Kramnik, he managed to survive a pawn down to keep a full point lead over the ex-champion. Second, Levon Aronian, with whom he (Carlsen) was tied coming into the round, lost to Boris Gelfand. That leaves Carlsen in clear first with three white games left and no more games against his main rivals. Good news for him, and bad news for Aronian and Kramnik.
In the other games, Vassily Ivanchuk played more quickly against Teimour Radjabov, and was rewarded with his first win of the tournament. Finally, the game between Peter Svidler and Alexander Grischuk was a spectacular draw that was far more interesting (if less competitively significant) than the Kramnik-Carlsen and Gelfand-Aronian battles. You can check it out, with my notes, here.
Standings After Round 9:
1. Carlsen 6
2. Aronian 5.5
3. Kramnik 5
4-5. Gelfand, Grischuk 4.5
6. Svidler 4
7. Ivanchuk 3.5
8. Radjabov 3
Round 10 Pairings (Wednesday; Tuesday is a rest day):
- Carlsen - Gelfand (Gelfand is 2-0 this cycle; but 3-0?)
- Aronian - Ivanchuk (Also interesting, now that Ivanchuk seems to have realized that practicality has its place.)
- Radjabov - Svidler
- Grischuk - Kramnik (Kramnik is rapidly running out of opportunities, and may have to take some risks with the black pieces.)