Monday, April 1, 2013
Carlsen and Kramnik lose, tie for first, Carlsen advances
This Candidates tourney has been a real doozy. If you haven't been following it, here's a little recap. After seven rounds, the halfway point in the double round robin tournament, Carlsen and Aronian were dominating the field, each with three wins and four draws. Former World Champion Kramnik had drawn all seven games and trailed both leaders by 1.5 points. Then Kramnik went on an incredible tear, scoring 4.5 points in the next five games, to vault into the lead! He beat Aronian in the last of those games after Aronian blundered away an easy draw. That was Aronian's second consecutive loss, leaving him 1.5 points behind Kramnik. Meanwhile, Carlsen was unrecognizable as White against Ivanchuk, who had an incredibly erratic tournament. Carlsen played badly throughout the game and lost after missing a possible draw in the rook ending. So after 12 rounds, the standings were Kramnik 8/12, Carlsen 7.5/12, Aronian 6.5/12, with just two rounds to go. Then in round 13 Carlsen eked out an endgame win as Black against Radjabov, while Kramnik was unable to convert his advantage against Gelfand. Aronian drew against Grischuk, falling out of contention. This set the stage for an incredibly dramatic last round. Carlsen and Kramnik led with 8.5 points. Carlsen had White against Svidler, while Kramnik was Black against Ivanchuk. Ivanchuk, as mentioned, had been extremely erratic, losing five games on time before move 40. (By comparison, Fischer lost twice on time in his entire career.) Carlsen was leading on tiebreaks, since the first tiebreak was number of wins and he had won five games to Kramnik's four. So Kramnik had to hope Carlsen did not win in the final round, and if so had to outscore him: if Carlsen drew, Kramnik had to win, while if Carlsen lost, Kramnik would have to win or draw. Kramnik must have figured that Carlsen would at least draw as White, so he (Kramnik) would have to win. Carlsen, on his part, must have feared that Ivanchuk would get in his usual time pressure and flag, in which case he (Carlsen) would have to win. The upshot was that both of the leaders played badly. Carlsen got nothing out of the opening, got extremely low on time (he had something like two minutes for his last 12 moves in a complicated position), and barely made the time control, only to find himself in a hopeless ending. Kramnik, meanwhile, played the opening dubiously, trying to keep the game complicated and hope that Chukky would flag as usual. Chukky was having none of it. He handled the complications deftly and made time control with a minute to spare, with a completely winning position. Both Carlsen and Kramnik lost, leaving them tied for first with 8.5 points. So Carlsen, despite losing as White for the second time in three games, backed into a tie for first and a win on tiebreak. He will face Anand for the World Championship in November. An unbelievable finish. Aronian meanwhile won nicely against Radjabov. He and Svidler tied for third with 8 points. Gelfand (Anand's challenger last time) and Grischuk tied for fifth with 6.5, Ivanchuk was seventh with 6 points, and Radjabov was last with 4.