Blog Post 25-03-2013 A Theoretical Overview of Rounds 1-8 of the Candidates

Tue, 2013-03-26 09:51 -- IM Max Illingworth

Blog Post 25-03-2013

A Theoretical Overview of Rounds 1-8 of the Candidates

For this blog post I’m going to offer something a little bit different – rather than analyse one or two Candidates games in detail I want to go through the most important theoretical developments from the tournament – namely what conclusions can be drawn from the opening phase of each game. While Australians are not renowned for their cutting edge theory, I’ve been fascinated by the way opening theory develops since I was a kid and also it’s a good way to expand your arsenal of ideas in a range of positions. Therefore this mini-survey will be useful even if you don’t play the same openings as the world’s best players.

Eighteen of the thirty-two games played thus far have started with 1.d4. Some people have asked me why 1.d4 is more popular than 1.e4 amongst strong players. The most accurate answer is probably ‘fashion’ but it’s true that 1.d4 is safer as while 1.e4 leaves the e-pawn unprotected, a pawn on d4 is securely defended, and also 1.d4 is usually played with the strategic point of constructing a broad centre with c4, Nc3 and e4 whereas 1.e4 is normally founded on rapid development. It’s just a matter of taste although in my last big tournament (the Australian Open) I played 1.e4 exclusively. For the record, 1.e4 was played eight times, 1.Nf3 four times and 1.c4 twice.

Firstly the Symmetrical English (1.Nf3 c5 2.c4) hasn’t troubled Black in this tournament; while 2...Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.e3 gave Aronian a win against Gelfand in Round 2, objectively Black should have been able to defend his position to a draw and lost primarily due to missing the trick 25…Rc8? 26.Bh6! (see the game below). However playing for a draw out of the opening won’t appeal to everyone and 8…e6 is probably a better way to retain winning chances.
(161) Aronian,Levon (2809) - Gelfand,Boris (2740) [A04]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (2.1), 16.03.2013

[pgn]1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.e3 Nf6 5.d4 cxd4 6.exd4 d5 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Qb3 Nxc3 9.Bc4 Nd5 10.Bxd5 e6 11.Bxc6+ bxc6 12.0–0 Be7 13.Be3 Qd5 14.Rfc1 Qxb3 15.axb3 Bb7 16.Ne5 0–0 17.Ra4 Rfd8 18.Nc4 Bf6 19.Na5 Rd7 20.Rb4 Ba6 21.Nxc6 Rb7 22.h3 Kg7 23.Rxb7 Bxb7 24.Ne5 Bd8 25.b4 Rc8 26.Bh6+ Kg8 27.Rxc8 Bxc8 28.Nc6 Bf6 29.b5 Bd7 30.g4 g5 31.h4 gxh4 32.g5 Bxc6 33.bxc6 Bd8 34.Kg2 Bc7 35.Kh3


In two games White tried 3.d4 instead of 3.Nc3, but after 3…cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 Black scored 1.5/2; Kramnik convincingly demonstrated why Carlsen’s rare 6.Bf4 was harmless, but this was an improvement over Radjabov’s loss in the main line 6.g3 Qb6 7.Nb3 Ne5 8.e4 Bb4 9.Qe2 to a well prepared Gelfand. While on the subject of that game, Gelfand’s 13…e5 is a very noteworthy idea, placing his central pawns on the opposite colour squares to his remaining bishop and just as instructively, even the undoubling of the c-pawns doesn’t resolve White’s structural issues as the c3-pawn is isolated and weak and the c4-square is just as vulnerable. You’ll find this game below:

(185) Radjabov,Teimour (2793) - Gelfand,Boris (2740) [A33]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (8.1), 24.03.2013

[pgn]1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.g3 Qb6 7.Nb3 Ne5 8.e4 Bb4 9.Qe2 d6 10.f4 Nc6 11.Be3 Bxc3+ 12.bxc3 Qc7 13.Bg2 e5 14.c5 b6 15.cxd6 Qxd6 16.0–0 0–0 17.f5 Rd8 18.Rfd1 Qa3 19.Rxd8+ Nxd8 20.Bg5 Ba6 21.Qd2 Qe7 22.Rd1 Nb7 23.Bf3 Rd8 24.Qc1 Rxd1+ 25.Bxd1 Nd6 26.Bxf6 gxf6 27.Qe3 Qc7 28.a4 Qd7 29.a5 Nxe4 30.Bc2 Qb5 31.Qf3 Ng5 32.Qg2 bxa5


In one game Kramnik played the KIA (1.Nf3 d5 2.g3), to which Aronian replied with a reversed Torre formation (…Bg4, …e6, …c6 and …Nf6). Objectively White didn’t have anything special out of the opening as his unopposed light-squared bishop was well controlled by Black’s light-squared centre and the two bishops aren’t so great in such a closed position, but Aronian’s …Qb8/…Rc8/…b5 was a bit too ambitious (11…Rc8 might have been better) and after 14.e4! Kramnik had taken the initiative, though Aronian managed to just hold on to the draw. Anyway this probably isn’t the last word in this line.

(175) Kramnik,Vladimir (2810) - Aronian,Levon (2809) [A07]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (5.3), 20.03.2013

[pgn]1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 Bg4 3.Bg2 e6 4.c4 c6 5.0–0 Nf6 6.cxd5 Bxf3 7.Bxf3 cxd5 8.Nc3 Nc6 9.d4 Be7 10.e3 0–0 11.Bd2 Qb8 12.Rc1 Rc8 13.Bg2 b5 14.e4 b4 15.Bf4 Qb6 16.Na4 Qa5 17.e5 Nd7 18.Be3 Nb6 19.Nxb6 axb6 20.f4 Qxa2 21.f5 exf5 22.b3 Qa5 23.Qf3 Nd8 24.Qxd5 Rxc1 25.Rxc1 Qxd5 26.Bxd5 Ra5 27.Bf3 Ra3 28.Rc8 Rxb3 29.Kf2 Rc3 30.Rb8 b3 31.Rxb6 g5 32.Rb8 Rc4 33.d5 Rb4 34.Rxb4 Bxb4 35.Bd1 b2 36.Bc2 Nb7 37.Bxg5 Nc5 38.Bxf5 Na4 39.d6 Nc3 40.d7 Ba5 41.Ke3 f6 42.Bxf6 Nd5+ 43.Kd4 Nxf6 44.exf6 Kf7 45.Bxh7 Kxf6 46.Kd5 Ke7 47.Kc6 Kd8 48.g4 Be1 49.h3 Bh4 50.Kd6 Be7+ 51.Ke6 Bh4 52.Bb1 Kc7 53.Be4 Kd8 54.Bc2 Kc7 55.Bb1 Kd8 56.Be4 Kc7 57.Bd3 Kd8 58.Kd6 Be7+ 59.Ke6 Bh4 60.Bf5 Kc7 61.Kf7 b1Q 62.Bxb1 Kxd7 63.Ba2 Kd6 64.Kg6 Ke5 65.Kh5 Be7 66.g5 Kf4 67.h4 Kg3 68.Bc4 Bf8 69.Be2 Bg7 70.Bc4 Bf8 71.g6 Kf4 72.Ba2 Bg7


After 1.e4 the players have only played either 1…c5 or 1…e5. After 1…c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 two games were played with the topical 3.Bb5 e6 line which can lead to quite sharp and positionally unbalanced games. Both Carlsen and Grischuk aimed to reach quieter positions with some degree of control, but neither completely succeeded in this aim; while Carlsen was even in danger at some point against Radjabov whose two bishops and central/kingside play always seemed to provide enough compensation for his doubled isolated c-pawns after 4.Bxc6 bxc6 5.b3 d6 6.0-0 Ne7 7.e5 Ng6 8.exd6 Bxd6, Grischuk tried the sideline 4.0-0 Nge7 5.Re1 a6 6.Bf1 instead, but didn’t gain much if anything out of the opening, though the position after 18.Qf4 does seem a bit easier to play in practice. All in all the 3.Bb5 e6 line is holding up very well and White should probably look elsewhere for an advantage.

(183) Carlsen,Magnus (2872) - Radjabov,Teimour (2793) [B30]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (7.3), 23.03.2013

[pgn]1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 e6 4.Bxc6 bxc6 5.b3 d6 6.0–0 Ne7 7.e5 Ng6 8.exd6 Bxd6 9.Nc3 e5 10.Re1 0–0 11.d3 f5 12.Ba3 Be6 13.Na4 Qe7 14.c4 Rad8 15.Qe2 Bc8 16.Qe3 f4 17.Qe4 Kh8 18.Rad1 Bg4 19.Rd2 Bxf3 20.Qxf3 Nh4 21.Qe4 f3 22.g3 Ng2 23.Nc3 Qe6 24.Re3 Nxe3 25.fxe3 f2+ 26.Rxf2 Rxf2 27.Kxf2 Rf8+ 28.Ke2 Qh3 29.Qh1 Be7 30.Ne4 Qg4+ 31.Kd2 Qh3 32.Ke2 h5 33.Bb2 Qg4+ 34.Kd2 Qh3 35.Ke2 Qg4+ 36.Kd2 Qh3 37.Ke2


(180) Grischuk,Alexander (2764) - Gelfand,Boris (2740) [B30]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (6.4), 21.03.2013

[pgn]1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 e6 4.0–0 Nge7 5.Re1 a6 6.Bf1 d5 7.d3 d4 8.e5 Nd5 9.c4 dxc3 10.bxc3 Rb8 11.Bb2 b5 12.Nbd2 Be7 13.Ne4 0–0 14.Rb1 Nb6 15.Ba1 Bb7 16.c4 b4 17.Qd2 a5 18.Qf4 Nd7 19.Qg3 Ba8 20.h4 a4 21.h5 h6 22.Qg4 Qc7 23.Nd6 Ncxe5 24.Nxe5 Nf6 25.Qd1 Bxd6 26.Qxa4 Nxh5 27.Qd1 Nf6 28.Ng4 Nxg4 29.Qxg4 e5 30.f4 Rbe8 31.Re3 f6 32.Rbe1 Qf7 33.f5 Bc6 34.Rh3 Kh7 35.Bb2 Ra8 36.Bc1 Rg8 37.Re2 Bf8 38.Rf2 Re8 39.Be2 e4 40.Qh4 exd3 41.Bh5 Re1+ 42.Rf1 Rxf1+ 43.Kxf1 Qe7 44.Rxd3 Qe5 45.Qg4 Be8 46.Bg6+ Bxg6 47.fxg6+ Kh8 48.Rd7 Bd6 49.Bxh6 Qa1+ 50.Kf2 Qxa2+ 51.Kf1 Qb1+ 52.Kf2 Qc2+ 53.Kg1 Qb1+ 54.Kf2 Qb2+ 55.Kf1


Grischuk-Ivanchuk featured a strange start with 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6, which is known to be bad because of 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.e5 which gives White a big space advantage and a lead in development for nothing, but even in the game Grischuk gained a small edge in a standard Accelerated Dragon line and went on to win:

(180) Grischuk,Alexander (2764) - Gelfand,Boris (2740) [B30]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (6.4), 21.03.2013

[pgn]1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 e6 4.0–0 Nge7 5.Re1 a6 6.Bf1 d5 7.d3 d4 8.e5 Nd5 9.c4 dxc3 10.bxc3 Rb8 11.Bb2 b5 12.Nbd2 Be7 13.Ne4 0–0 14.Rb1 Nb6 15.Ba1 Bb7 16.c4 b4 17.Qd2 a5 18.Qf4 Nd7 19.Qg3 Ba8 20.h4 a4 21.h5 h6 22.Qg4 Qc7 23.Nd6 Ncxe5 24.Nxe5 Nf6 25.Qd1 Bxd6 26.Qxa4 Nxh5 27.Qd1 Nf6 28.Ng4 Nxg4 29.Qxg4 e5 30.f4 Rbe8 31.Re3 f6 32.Rbe1 Qf7 33.f5 Bc6 34.Rh3 Kh7 35.Bb2 Ra8 36.Bc1 Rg8 37.Re2 Bf8 38.Rf2 Re8 39.Be2 e4 40.Qh4 exd3 41.Bh5 Re1+ 42.Rf1 Rxf1+ 43.Kxf1 Qe7 44.Rxd3 Qe5 45.Qg4 Be8 46.Bg6+ Bxg6 47.fxg6+ Kh8 48.Rd7 Bd6 49.Bxh6 Qa1+ 50.Kf2 Qxa2+ 51.Kf1 Qb1+ 52.Kf2 Qc2+ 53.Kg1 Qb1+ 54.Kf2 Qb2+ 55.Kf1


Funnily enough 1.e4 e5 has given Black a plus score in the Candidates thus far! Ivanchuk was the only player behind the white pieces to not go for the Ruy Lopez, and his Scotch could have given him an edge had he played 20.b4 a5 21.b5 over 20.Na4, which steered the game into some sort of dynamic equality.

(182) Ivanchuk,Vassily (2757) - Svidler,Peter (2747) [C45]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (7.2), 23.03.2013

[pgn]1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.c4 Ba6 9.g3 g6 10.b3 Bg7 11.Bb2 0–0–0 12.Bg2 Rhe8 13.0–0 Bxe5 14.Qxe5 Qxe5 15.Bxe5 Rxe5 16.cxd5 Bxf1 17.Kxf1 cxd5 18.Nc3 c6 19.Rc1 Kb7 20.Na4 a5 21.Bf3 Kc7 22.Nc5 Ree8 23.Rc2 Ra8 24.Rd2 Re7 25.Rd4 Rae8 26.Nd3 g5 27.Ra4 Kb6 28.Rd4 Kc7 29.Ra4 Kb6 30.Rd4 Kc7


Within the Ruy Lopez, most players have gone for d3 systems which keep a lot of tension in the position and avoid the Berlin and Marshall, with the most successful side being Carlsen! First he won with White by meeting …a6 with Bxc6, and while this didn’t give him an objective advantage, his better pawn structure gave him the easier position to play, and when Grischuk allowed his dark-squared bishop to be shut out of the game he was in trouble:

(172) Carlsen,Magnus (2872) - Grischuk,Alexander (2764) [C65]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (4.4), 19.03.2013

[pgn]1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.c3 0–0 6.0–0 d6 7.h3 a6 8.Bxc6 bxc6 9.Re1 Re8 10.Nbd2 d5 11.exd5 Qxd5 12.Nb3 Bf8 13.c4 Qd6 14.Be3 Nd7 15.d4 e4 16.Nfd2 a5 17.a4 f5 18.c5 Qg6 19.Nc4 Nf6 20.Bf4 Nd5 21.Qd2 Be6 22.Nbxa5 Reb8 23.Ne5 Qf6 24.Bh2 Rxa5 25.Qxa5 Rxb2 26.Rab1 Ra2 27.Qa6 e3 28.fxe3 Qg5 29.Re2 Nxe3 30.Nf3 Qg6 31.Rxa2 Bxa2 32.Rb2 Bc4 33.Qa5 Bd5 34.Qe1 f4 35.Bxf4 Nc2 36.Qf2 Bxf3 37.Rxc2


Meanwhile with Black Carlsen scored a win against Svidler – his idea of bringing his rook to the 5th rank to attack White’s advanced a5-pawn being particularly noteworthy. This is one of those games where Black’s position gets better and better despite White not making a clear errors – something you typically see when one player outplays the other.

(178) Svidler,Peter (2747) - Carlsen,Magnus (2872) [C84]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (6.2), 21.03.2013

[pgn]1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.d3 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.a4 b4 9.Nbd2 0–0 10.a5 Be6 11.Nc4 Rb8 12.c3 bxc3 13.bxc3 h6 14.Re1 Qc8 15.Bc2 Rd8 16.Qe2 Bf8 17.Ne3 d5 18.exd5 Nxd5 19.Nxd5 Rxd5 20.h3 Bf5 21.Rd1 Qe6 22.Bb1 Qd7 23.Be3 e4 24.Nd4 Nxd4 25.Bxd4 exd3 26.Bxd3 Bxd3 27.Rxd3 c5 28.Be5 Rxd3 29.Bxb8 c4 30.Be5 Bc5 31.Rb1 Qd5 32.Rb8+ Kh7 33.Qh5 Qe4 34.Rb2 Rd5 35.Re2 Qb1+ 36.Kh2 f6


Going back to 3…Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.c3 0-0 6.0-0 for a moment, Aronian played 6…Re8 7.Nbd2 a6 against Radjabov, in order to meet 8.Bxc6 a la Carlsen with 8…dxc6. An important strategic idea in this game was Black playing 14…a5! to exploit White not playing 14.b4 – it’s very important to fix the other side’s queenside pawns like this. Radjabov actually clawed his way to back to equality only to collapse near the end of the game and lose. In any case the conclusion for these d3 Ruy Lopez hasn’t changed – Black should be able to equalise but a long game with a lot of tension is guaranteed and the stronger player has a very good chance of winning.

(177) Radjabov,Teimour (2793) - Aronian,Levon (2809) [C65]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (6.1), 21.03.2013

[pgn]1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.c3 0–0 6.0–0 Re8 7.Nbd2 a6 8.Ba4 b5 9.Bb3 d6 10.Re1 Be6 11.Nf1 Bxb3 12.axb3 d5 13.Qc2 h6 14.Ng3 a5 15.h3 Qd7 16.Be3 Bf8 17.Rad1 Rad8 18.Nf5 Qe6 19.g4 dxe4 20.dxe4 Ne7 21.Rxd8 Rxd8 22.Ra1 Ra8 23.c4 b4 24.g5 hxg5 25.Nxg5 Qc8 26.Nxe7+ Bxe7 27.Kh2 Ra6 28.Rg1 Nd7 29.Qe2 Rg6 30.Qh5 Nf6 31.Qf3 Rh6 32.Ne6 Rh7 33.Ng5 Rh4 34.Rg2 Qd7 35.Rg1 g6 36.Bc1 Qe8 37.Be3 a4 38.bxa4 Qxa4 39.Bc1 b3 40.Qg3 Rh5 41.Qd3 Qc6 42.Be3 Rh4 43.Kg3 Rh8 44.Kh2 Kg7 45.c5 Qa4 46.Qc3 Re8 47.Qd3 Rd8 48.Qc3 Qb5 49.Kg2 Rd3 50.Qc1 Nh5 51.Nf3 Qb4 52.Qe1 Qa4 53.Nxe5 Qxe4+ 54.Nf3 Nf4+


The other Ruy Lopez game was Grischuk-Svidler, where Grischuk’s Anti-Marshall system 8.a4 b4 9.d4 gave him a very good position where 20.Ba3 instead of 20.h3 would have given him a big edge, but if Svidler had not played the positional mistake 13…Bg4 then his position would have been very much fine. Actually even this middlegame pawn structure strongly resembles a d3 Ruy Lopez! (where Black plays …d5 then the exchange dxe4 dxe4 occurs).
(163) Grischuk,Alexander (2764) - Svidler,Peter (2747) [C88]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (2.3), 16.03.2013

[pgn]1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0–0 8.a4 b4 9.d4 d6 10.dxe5 dxe5 11.Nbd2 Bc5 12.Qe2 Qe7 13.Nc4 Bg4 14.c3 bxc3 15.bxc3 h6 16.Bc2 Qe6 17.Ne3 Bxe3 18.Qxe3 Na5 19.Nd2 Qc6 20.h3 Be6 21.Qg3 Nd7 22.Rb1 Rfb8 23.Ba3 Nc4 24.Nxc4 Qxc4 25.Bb4 a5 26.Bd3 Qa2 27.Ra1 Qd2 28.Red1 Qf4 29.Qxf4 exf4 30.Be7 Re8 31.Ba3 Bb3 32.Bb5 Bxd1 33.Bxd7 Bc2 34.Bxe8 Rxe8 35.f3 Rd8 36.Be7 Rd7 37.Bh4 g5 38.Be1 Rd1 39.Rxd1 Bxd1 40.c4 Bxa4 41.Bxa5


I saved the 1.d4 games to last, because I figured those of you who like to play ‘accountant chess’ (accumulating small positional and dynamic advantages until one has a winning position, then converting – which is how 1.d4 is frequently played by GMs these days) would have the patience to get this far in the blog post!

Ivanchuk’s experiments in 1.d4 sidelines weren’t too successful – first he lost to Aronian in the Torre Attack after his attempted kingside attack only created weaknesses and let Aronian take full control of the initiative on the queenside and centre (not the most theoretically relevant game) and then his Leningrad Dutch against Radjabov didn’t have the desired effect after Radjabov improved on Kramnik’s 11.Rd1 by opening the d-file first. Actually Black might be okay if Black just gives up the exchange with 12…e4 to stop the e4 break that works so well in the game, but I don’t entirely trust this either. The 8.Rb1 system is still giving Black a bit of a headache in the 7…c6 Leningrad.

(168) Ivanchuk,Vassily (2757) - Aronian,Levon (2809) [A45]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (3.4), 17.03.2013

[pgn]1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 e6 3.Nd2 c5 4.e3 b6 5.Ngf3 Bb7 6.c3 Be7 7.Bd3 0–0 8.Bxf6 Bxf6 9.h4 Nc6 10.Ng5 g6 11.f4 Ne7 12.Qg4 h5 13.Qh3 cxd4 14.exd4 b5 15.a3 Qb6 16.Rg1 Nd5 17.Nge4 Bg7 18.Qf3 b4 19.axb4 Nxb4 20.Nc4 Qb5 21.Ne5 Nxd3+ 22.Nxd3 Qf5 23.Ndc5 Bc6 24.b4 Rfb8 25.Ra5 a6 26.Qe3 Qg4 27.g3 Rb5 28.Rxa6 Rxa6 29.Nxa6 e5 30.dxe5 Bxe4 31.c4 Rb6 32.Qxb6 Qf3 33.Qf2 Qa3 34.Nc5


(164) Radjabov,Teimour (2793) - Ivanchuk,Vassily (2757) [A88]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (2.4), 16.03.2013

[pgn[1.d4 d6 2.Nf3 g6 3.c4 f5 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.g3 Bg7 6.Bg2 0–0 7.0–0 c6 8.Rb1 Ne4 9.Qc2 Nxc3 10.bxc3 e5 11.dxe5 dxe5 12.Ba3 Rf7 13.Rfd1 Qe8 14.e4 f4 15.Rd3 fxg3 16.hxg3 Na6 17.Ng5 Rc7 18.Bd6 Bf6 19.Qd2 Rd7 20.Bh3 Rg7 21.Bxe5 Bxe5 22.Rd8 Bxh3 23.Rxe8+ Rxe8 24.Nxh3 Nc5 25.Qe3 Bd6 26.f3 Ne6 27.Kg2 g5 28.Nf2 h5 29.Qxa7 Bc5 30.Qa4 Rf8 31.Nd3 h4 32.Qa5 b6 33.Rxb6 Bxb6 34.Qxb6 hxg3


Meanwhile a relatively more mainstream opening, the Bogo-Indian, as played in the first round in Gelfand-Radjabov and Aronian-Carlsen, led to two draws, confirming its very solid reputation. In the first game White’s space makes his position look better, but it’s hard to make headway against Black’s rock solid KID-style position – and Black could even play …c5 on moves 13-16 to unbalance the position – while the second game was not very theoretically relevant – maybe taking on d5 before Black plays dxc4 and …c5 gives White a nibble but these Carlsbad pawn structures aren’t so scary for Black who can play for …Ne4 and …Rd6-h6 when White castles kingside.

(158) Gelfand,Boris (2740) - Radjabov,Teimour (2793) [E11]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (1.2), 15.03.2013

[pgn]1.d4 e6 2.c4 Bb4+ 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.Ngf3 0–0 5.a3 Be7 6.e4 d6 7.Be2 Nbd7 8.b4 e5 9.Bb2 a5 10.0–0 exd4 11.Nxd4 Re8 12.Qc2 Bf8 13.N4b3 axb4 14.axb4 Rxa1 15.Rxa1 c6 16.Bf1 d5 17.exd5 Bxb4 18.dxc6 bxc6 19.Nd4 Qc7 20.N2f3 Bf8 21.g3 Bb7 22.Bg2 Qb6 23.Re1 Rxe1+ 24.Nxe1 c5 25.Nb5 Bc6 26.Qe2 Qb7 27.Bxf6 Nxf6 28.Bxc6 Qxc6 29.Ng2 g6 30.Nc3 h5 31.Nf4 Qe8 32.Kf1 Qxe2+ 33.Kxe2 Nd7 34.Nd3 Nb6 35.Ne4 Nxc4 36.Nexc5


(157) Aronian,Levon (2809) - Carlsen,Magnus (2872) [E11]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (1.1), 15.03.2013

[pgn]1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+ 4.Bd2 Bxd2+ 5.Qxd2 d5 6.Nc3 0–0 7.e3 Qe7 8.Rc1 Rd8 9.Qc2 a6 10.a3 Nbd7 11.Be2 dxc4 12.Bxc4 c5 13.Be2 b5 14.dxc5 Qxc5 15.b4 Qe7 16.0–0 Bb7 17.a4 Qxb4 18.axb5 axb5 19.Qb1 Qxb1 20.Rxb1 Bxf3 21.Bxf3 Rab8 22.Nxb5 Ne5 23.Nd4 Nxf3+ 24.Nxf3 Rxb1 25.Rxb1 h6 26.h3 g5 27.g4 Kg7 28.Kg2 Rd7 29.Rb2 Rc7 30.Nd4 Nd5 31.Rc2


Another opening that proved very solid is the Queen’s Gambit Accepted, where Svidler showed excellent preparation based on a dynamic pawn sacrifice to draw easily with Aronian – those wanting to play this as Black should be warned that Black is largely playing for a draw, and White can avoid this line with 3.e3.

(170) Aronian,Levon (2809) - Svidler,Peter (2747) [D22]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (4.2), 19.03.2013

[pgn]1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 a6 4.e3 b5 5.a4 Bb7 6.b3 e6 7.bxc4 bxc4 8.Bxc4 Nf6 9.Nbd2 Nbd7 10.Rb1 Rb8 11.0–0 Be7 12.Qe2 0–0 13.Bb2 c5 14.Bxa6 Bxa6 15.Qxa6 Ra8 16.Qb5 Ra5 17.Qb3 Qa8 18.Ra1 Rb8 19.Qc2 cxd4 20.Nxd4 Rc8 21.Qb1 Rxa4 22.Rxa4 Qxa4 23.Rc1 Qa6 24.Rxc8+ Qxc8 25.h3 h6 26.Qc2 Qxc2 27.Nxc2 Nd5 28.Ba3 Bxa3 29.Nxa3 Nc5 30.Nc2 Kf8 31.Kf1


However some other experiments weren’t so successful; Ivanchuk tried the Chigorin against Gelfand and ended up gaining little compensation for White’s bishop pair and superior central control, though if Ivanchuk had found 25…Rc2 he may well have won the game. Radjabov tried his old favourite the King’s Indian against Svidler in Round 3, but Svidler was able to keep control of the Benko-like position that resulted and Svidler’s knight and bishop proved much better than Radjabov’s rook when Radjabov tried to break out of the White bind that was threatened with b3, a4 and Nb5. You can play through both games below.

(171) Gelfand,Boris (2740) - Ivanchuk,Vassily (2757) [D07]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (4.3), 19.03.2013

[pgn]1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nf3 Bg4 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bf4 Bxf3 6.gxf3 Bb4 7.e3 Nge7 8.Qc2 dxc4 9.Bxc4 Nd5 10.Bg3 h5 11.h3 Qd7 12.0–0–0 0–0–0 13.Ne4 Kb8 14.Kb1 h4 15.Bh2 Bd6 16.f4 f5 17.Ng5 Na5 18.Be2 Rc8 19.Qd2 Bb4 20.Qd3 c5 21.dxc5 Rxc5 22.e4 Rhc8 23.Rc1 Nc4 24.Rxc4 Rxc4 25.exd5 exd5 26.Qb3 Qc6 27.Bxc4 dxc4 28.Qf3 Qb5 29.Qe2 Re8 30.Qc2 c3 31.bxc3 Bxc3+ 32.Qb3 Qd3+ 33.Qc2 Qb5+ 34.Qb3 Qd3+ 35.Qc2 Qb5+


(165) Svidler,Peter (2747) - Radjabov,Teimour (2793) [E81]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (3.1), 17.03.2013

[pgn]1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 0–0 6.Be3 c5 7.Nge2 Nc6 8.d5 Na5 9.Ng3 a6 10.Be2 Nd7 11.Rc1 b5 12.cxb5 axb5 13.Bxb5 Ne5 14.0–0 Nac4 15.Bg5 Bd7 16.Bxd7 Qxd7 17.Qe2 Nxb2 18.Qxb2 Nd3 19.Qd2 Nxc1 20.Rxc1 Bxc3 21.Rxc3 Rfb8 22.Qc2 f6 23.Bc1 Qa4 24.a3 Kf7 25.Nf1 Qxc2 26.Rxc2 f5 27.Nd2 Ra4 28.Nc4 fxe4 29.fxe4 Rb3 30.Kf2 Ke8 31.e5 Ra6 32.exd6 exd6 33.Ke2 Kd7 34.Bf4 h5 35.h4 Ra4 36.Kd2 Rb1 37.Kc3 Ra6 38.Re2 Rd1 39.Re6 Rxd5 40.Rxg6 Rd4 41.Bxd6 Rxh4 42.Ne5+ Kc8 43.Rg8+ Kb7 44.Bxc5 Re6 45.Rg7+ Kc8 46.Nc4 Rg4 47.Nd6+ Kb8 48.Rb7+ Ka8 49.Rd7 Rg8 50.Nc4 Rxg2 51.Bd6 Rxd6 52.Nxd6 h4 53.Rh7 Rh2 54.Kb4 h3 55.Ka5


Also Kramnik played a theoretically important game in the Semi-Tarrasch (via. the 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 c5 move order), showing that 7.a3 to stop …Bb4 is not the deadly weapon it has been made out to be, though Kramnik had to play a few precise moves to demonstrate full equality:

(160) Svidler,Peter (2747) - Kramnik,Vladimir (2810) [D35]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (1.4), 15.03.2013

[pgn]1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 c5 7.a3 cxd4 8.cxd4 e5 9.Nf3 exd4 10.Qxd4 Qxd4 11.Nxd4 Be7 12.Be3 0–0 13.Bc4 Nd7 14.Ke2 Nb6 15.Bb3 Bd7 16.Nf5 Bf6 17.Rab1 Rfd8 18.Rhc1 Bb5+ 19.Kf3 Bd3 20.Bc2 Ba6 21.Bb3 Bd3 22.Bc2 Ba6 23.Bb3


In fact Black’s main defence to 1.d4 this tournament has been 1…Nf6 2.c4 e6, but the Grunfeld has also been played a few times, and not just by Svidler! Kramnik decided to play the Fianchetto Variation with 3.g3, showing himself to be very well prepared, but White’s better pawn structure (isolated Black c-pawn) didn’t give him more than a small edge and Grischuk defended well to take the half point, though this 10.h3 line could work well against an unprepared opponent:

(166) Kramnik,Vladimir (2810) - Grischuk,Alexander (2764) [D71]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (3.2), 17.03.2013

[pgn]1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.Nf3 Nb6 7.Nc3 Nc6 8.e3 0–0 9.0–0 Re8 10.h3 e5 11.d5 Na5 12.Qc2 c6 13.b4 Nac4 14.dxc6 bxc6 15.Rd1 Qe7 16.Nd2 Bf5 17.Nce4 Rad8 18.a3 h5 19.Nxc4 Rxd1+ 20.Qxd1 Nxc4 21.Ra2 Rd8 22.Qf1 Nd6 23.Nc5 Nb5 24.Bxc6 Nc3 25.Rd2 Rxd2 26.Bxd2 Qd6 27.Bxc3 Qxc6 28.Qg2 Qd6 29.e4 Qd1+ 30.Kh2 Bc8 31.f3 Qc1 32.Qd2 Qf1 33.Qg2 Qc1 34.Qd2 Qf1 35.Qg2


Actually Black didn’t manage to fully equalise in any of the Grunfeld games in this tournament; even when Svidler tried the quirky Stonewall-like setup 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Bd2 Nb6 6.e3 Bg7 7.f4 he gained a good position very quickly when Black didn’t play for central control in time with …c5, and if he had played 18.Be3 followed by 19.0-0-0 instead of 18.d5 it’s hard to see how Black holds in the long run because his king is so weak and he is well behind on central control. I expect this f4 idea to gain more adherents in the near future.

(174) Svidler,Peter (2747) - Gelfand,Boris (2740) [D85]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (5.2), 20.03.2013

[pgn]1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Bd2 Nb6 6.e3 Bg7 7.f4 0–0 8.Nf3 Bg4 9.h3 Bxf3 10.Qxf3 c6 11.h4 N8d7 12.h5 e6 13.hxg6 hxg6 14.e4 f5 15.g4 Nf6 16.gxf5 exf5 17.e5 Ng4 18.d5 cxd5 19.0–0–0 d4 20.Nb5 Qd5 21.Qh3 Rfc8+ 22.Kb1 Rc6 23.e6 Qxe6 24.Bg2 Nf2 25.Qh7+ Kf7 26.Rde1 Qf6 27.Bxc6 bxc6 28.Nc7 Rh8 29.Qxh8 Bxh8 30.Ne8 Nxh1 31.Nxf6 Ng3


Ivanchuk gained a big edge with the 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.Nf3 0-0 6.e3 system against Carlsen (the game ultimately finishing in a draw), but had Carlsen played 9…Qxa4 10.Nxa4 Nc6 Black really shouldn’t be worse as his lead in development fully makes up for White’s extra pawn which isn’t as easy to keep as it seems.

(173) Ivanchuk,Vassily (2757) - Carlsen,Magnus (2872) [D93]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (5.1), 20.03.2013

[pgn]1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.Nf3 0–0 6.e3 c5 7.dxc5 Qa5 8.Rc1 Rd8 9.Qa4 Qxc5 10.b4 Qc6 11.Qa3 dxc4 12.b5 Qb6 13.Bxc4 Be6 14.Bxe6 Qxe6 15.0–0 Nbd7 16.Ng5 Qf5 17.Qxe7 Nh5 18.Rfd1 Nxf4 19.exf4 Bf8 20.Qe4 Qxe4 21.Ncxe4 Nb6 22.g3 Rxd1+ 23.Rxd1 Be7 24.Nf3 Rc8 25.Ne5 Rc7 26.Kg2 f6 27.Nf3 Kf7 28.h4 Rc2 29.a4 Ra2 30.Nc3 Ra3 31.Rc1 Nxa4 32.Ne4 Rd3 33.Rc7 Ke6 34.Rxb7 Rd7 35.Rb8 Rd8 36.Rb7 Rd7 37.Rxd7 Kxd7 38.Nd4 f5 39.Ng5 Bxg5 40.fxg5 Nc3 41.h5 gxh5 42.Kh3 Kd6 43.Kh4 Kd5 44.Nxf5 Nxb5 45.Kxh5 Ke4 46.Ne3 Nd6 47.Kh6 Nf7+ 48.Kxh7 Nxg5+ 49.Kg6 Nh3 50.Nd1 Kf3 51.Kf5 Nxf2 52.Nxf2 Kxg3 53.Nd1 a5 54.Ke4 a4 55.Kd4 a3 56.Nc3 a2 57.Nxa2


Meanwhile Kramnik had a model win against Svidler in his Be3 system, although after 14.Kc2, 14…Na5 as has been played in some correspondence games is surely the critical line theoeretically, to stop White being able to advance his kingside majority so easily. Further tests are needed but for the time being the Be3 variation is back on the map as a serious try for an edge.

(187) Kramnik,Vladimir (2810) - Svidler,Peter (2747) [D85]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (8.3), 24.03.2013

[pgn]1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Nf3 c5 8.Be3 Qa5 9.Qd2 Nc6 10.Rc1 cxd4 11.cxd4 Qxd2+ 12.Kxd2 0–0 13.d5 Rd8 14.Kc2 Ne5 15.Nxe5 Bxe5 16.Bc4 Bd7 17.f4 Bd6 18.Kb3 f6 19.a4 Rdc8 20.h4 Rab8 21.Bb5 Bxb5 22.axb5 a6 23.b6 Kf7 24.h5 Rxc1 25.hxg6+ Kxg6 26.Bxc1 Rg8 27.g4 h6 28.Rh5 Kf7 29.e5 Bc5 30.e6+ Kf8 31.Rh4 Kg7 32.f5 Rd8 33.Bxh6+ Kg8 34.Kc4 Bxb6 35.g5 Bf2 36.Rg4 Kh7 37.gxf6 exf6 38.e7 Rc8+ 39.Kb3 Bc5 40.Rc4


Of course we shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking the Grunfeld is strategically wrong based on these games – else we might start calling 1.e4 a mistake because 1…e5 scored Black 60%!

In two games Kramnik got a comfortable position against the Rubinstein Nimzo-Indian, playing 4…0-0 5.Nf3 d5 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 c5 8.0-0 cxd4 9.exd4 b6 10.Qe2 Bb7 11.Bg5 – a very standard position for this system. His game against Radjabov wasn’t particularly relevant from a theoretical point of view, and his game against Gelfand saw Kramnik again get a comfortable position from the opening, although after 18…Ne8 White missed a very strong continuation – can you spot it?

(169) Radjabov,Teimour (2793) - Kramnik,Vladimir (2810) [E54]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (4.1), 19.03.2013

[pgn]1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0–0 5.Bd3 d5 6.Nf3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 c5 8.0–0 cxd4 9.exd4 b6 10.Qe2 Bb7 11.Bg5 Bxc3 12.bxc3 Nbd7 13.Rac1 Qc7 14.Bd3 Ng4 15.Be4 Bxe4 16.Qxe4 Ngf6 17.Qe2 Rac8 18.c4 h6 19.Bh4 Qb7 20.Rfe1 Rfe8 21.a4 Qa6 22.Qa2 Rc6 23.Qb3 Rec8 24.Bxf6 Nxf6 25.Ne5 Rd6 26.Red1 Rcd8 27.Qb4 Qc8 28.Nf3 Ne4 29.h4 Nf6 30.a5 Ng4 31.axb6 axb6 32.Re1 Rc6 33.Qb5 Qc7 34.Re4 Rd5 35.Qb3 h5 36.Ree1 Rf5 37.Qd3 g6 38.Rc2 Qd6 39.Rd1 Rc8 40.Qe2 Rd8 41.Rcd2 Qc6 42.Rc2 Qc7 43.Rcd2 Rc8 44.Rc2 Ra5 45.Rdc1 Qd6 46.Qe4 Rf5 47.g3 Nf6 48.Qe3 Ng4 49.Qe4 Nf6 50.Qe3 Ng4


(181) Gelfand,Boris (2740) - Kramnik,Vladimir (2810) [E54]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (7.1), 23.03.2013

[pgn]1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0–0 5.Bd3 d5 6.Nf3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 c5 8.0–0 cxd4 9.exd4 b6 10.Qe2 Bb7 11.Bg5 Nbd7 12.Rac1 Qb8 13.Rfd1 Rc8 14.Bd3 Bd6 15.g3 a6 16.Bxf6 Nxf6 17.Ne4 Rxc1 18.Rxc1 Ne8 19.Ned2 Qd8 20.Be4 Rc8 21.Qf1 Rxc1 22.Qxc1 Qc8 23.Qc3 Nf6 24.Bxb7 Qxb7 25.Ne5 Nd5 26.Qc6 Qxc6 27.Nxc6 Kf8 28.Nc4 Bc7 29.Ne3 Nxe3 30.fxe3 Bd6 31.Ne5 Bxe5 32.dxe5 Ke7 33.Kf2 Kd7 34.e4 Kc6 35.Ke3 Kc5 36.Kd3


After 3.Nf3 Grischuk managed to get a solid position with the old 3…b5 4.g3 Bb7 5.Bg2 Be7 line of the Queen’s Indian, which held firm despite some inspired play by Aronian – perhaps the position before 32.a4 was White’s only real chance to improve.

(184) Aronian,Levon (2809) - Grischuk,Alexander (2764) [E18]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (7.4), 23.03.2013

[pgn]1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Bb7 5.Bg2 Be7 6.0–0 0–0 7.Nc3 Ne4 8.Bd2 Bf6 9.Ne5 Nxc3 10.Bxc3 Bxg2 11.Kxg2 c5 12.Nf3 cxd4 13.Bxd4 Be7 14.Qd3 d6 15.Qc3 e5 16.Be3 Nd7 17.Rfd1 Rc8 18.Rac1 f5 19.b4 Kh8 20.c5 bxc5 21.bxc5 e4 22.Nd4 Nxc5 23.Nb5 Qb6 24.Qc4 a6 25.Nc3 Qd8 26.Na4 Nxa4 27.Qxa4 Rxc1 28.Rxc1 a5 29.Qb5 h6 30.Rd1 Bg5 31.Bb6 Qb8 32.a4 f4 33.h4 f3+ 34.exf3 exf3+ 35.Kh2 Bf6 36.Bxa5 Be5 37.Qxb8 Rxb8 38.h5 Ra8 39.Rd5 Kg8 40.Kh3 Kf7 41.Kg4 Ke6 42.Rb5 Bd4 43.Bb6


After 3.Nf3 Black has generally gone for 3…d5, when before looking at the Catalan with 4.g3 I should point out that 4.Nc3 has not set Black real problems in the tournament; Carlsen beat Gelfand from an equal middlegame in the positionally inclined Cambridge Springs, and while Grischuk steadily got a great position vs. Radjabov in the Blackburne Variation (4…Be7 5.Bf4) Radjabov’s position out of the opening was extremely solid as one would expect from the QGD.
(167) Gelfand,Boris (2740) - Carlsen,Magnus (2872) [D52]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (3.3), 17.03.2013

[pgn]1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Nbd7 5.Bg5 c6 6.e3 Qa5 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Rc1 Nxc3 9.bxc3 Ba3 10.Rc2 b6 11.Bd3 Ba6 12.0–0 Bxd3 13.Qxd3 0–0 14.e4 Rfe8 15.e5 h6 16.Bh4 c5 17.Nd2 cxd4 18.cxd4 Rac8 19.Nc4 Qb5 20.f4 Rc7 21.Qxa3 Rxc4 22.Rxc4 Qxc4 23.Bf2 Qc7 24.Rc1 Qb7 25.Qd6 Nf8 26.g3 Rc8 27.Rxc8 Qxc8 28.d5 exd5 29.Qxd5 g6 30.Kg2 Ne6 31.Qf3 Kg7 32.a3 h5 33.h4 Qc2 34.Qb7 Qa4 35.Qf3 b5 36.f5 gxf5 37.Qxf5 Qxa3 38.Qxh5 a5 39.Qg4+ Kf8 40.h5 Qc1 41.Qe4 b4 42.Be3 Qc7 43.Qa8+ Kg7 44.h6+ Kh7 45.Qe4+ Kg8 46.Qa8+ Qd8 47.Qxd8+ Nxd8 48.Kf3 a4 49.Ke4 Nc6 50.Bc1 Na5 51.Bd2 b3 52.Kd3 Nc4 53.Bc3 a3 54.g4 Kh7 55.g5 Kg6 56.Bd4 b2 57.Kc2 Nd2


(176) Grischuk,Alexander (2764) - Radjabov,Teimour (2793) [D37]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (5.4), 20.03.2013

[pgn]1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bf4 0–0 6.e3 Nbd7 7.c5 Nh5 8.Be2 Nxf4 9.exf4 b6 10.b4 a5 11.a3 c6 12.0–0 Qc7 13.g3 g6 14.Re1 Ba6 15.Qc2 Bxe2 16.Nxe2 Ra7 17.Rab1 axb4 18.axb4 Rfa8 19.Nc1 Ra3 20.Nd3 Bf6 21.Kg2 Qb7 22.Rec1 Kg7 23.Qd1 b5 24.Nde5 R8a4 25.Rc2 Bd8 26.Qe2 h6 27.Nd3 Nf6 28.Nfe5 Nd7 29.Rcb2 Nxe5 30.dxe5 Qd7 31.Rb3 Be7 32.Ne1 Qa7 33.Nc2 Rxb3 34.Rxb3 Bxc5 35.bxc5 Qxc5 36.Ne3 h5 37.Qc2 Qb6 38.Rb2 Re4 39.Rb1 c5 40.Nd1 Qc6 41.Nc3 Rc4 42.Qd3 b4 43.Ne2 Qa4 44.f5 Qc2 45.Qxc2 Rxc2 46.Nf4 gxf5 47.Nxh5+ Kh6 48.Nf6 Ra2 49.Nd7 Ra5 50.Nxc5 Rxc5 51.Rxb4 d4


On the other hand the Catalan also hasn’t caused Black theoretical problems in this tournament, and even in the rare Ukranian Variation (4…Bb4 5.Bd2 Bd6) Kramnik’s inspired attack didn’t give him more than a draw against Ivanchuk – maybe 19.Nd4 is the way to exploit Black’s lack of development.

(179) Kramnik,Vladimir (2810) - Ivanchuk,Vassily (2757) [E10]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (6.3), 21.03.2013

[pgn]1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Bd6 6.Bg2 Nbd7 7.0–0 0–0 8.Qc2 c6 9.Nc3 dxc4 10.Rfd1 Qc7 11.Ng5 Be7 12.a4 e5 13.a5 exd4 14.Bf4 Bd6 15.Rxd4 Bxf4 16.Rxf4 h6 17.Nf3 b5 18.axb6 Nxb6 19.Rxf6 gxf6 20.Nd4 Bd7 21.Qd2 Kg7 22.Bxc6 Bxc6 23.Nf5+ Kg6 24.Ra5 Rh8 25.Qd4 Rag8 26.Rc5 Qd7 27.Qf4 h5 28.Nh4+ Kg7 29.Nf5+ Kg6 30.Nh4+ Kg7 31.Nf5+[/pgn]


Instead the main line of 4…Be7 5.Bg2 0-0 6.0-0 dxc4 7.Qc2 a6 8.Qxc4 b5 9.Qc2 Bb7 occurred in two games, but 10.Bg5 didn’t give Ivanchuk more than a symbolic edge against Grischuk in a typical Catalan endgame, while in Carlsen-Aronian, Black’s plan of 12…Ra7 and 13…Qa8 followed by 15…c6 and 16…a5 is a very instructive way to reorganise Black’s position – first Black puts pressure on the centre to stop White taking control with e4, then Black prepares to take the initiative on the queenside and leave White with a weak pawn on b4 or a3 to balance out his backward c6-pawn. All in all Black is in pretty good shape against the Catalan.

(159) Ivanchuk,Vassily (2757) - Grischuk,Alexander (2764) [E06]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (1.3), 15.03.2013

[pgn]1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.g3 Be7 5.Bg2 0–0 6.0–0 dxc4 7.Qc2 a6 8.Qxc4 b5 9.Qc2 Bb7 10.Bg5 Nbd7 11.Bxf6 Nxf6 12.Nbd2 Rc8 13.Nb3 Be4 14.Qc3 Nd5 15.Qd2 c5 16.Nxc5 Bxc5 17.dxc5 Rxc5 18.Rfc1 Rxc1+ 19.Rxc1 Qa8 20.Bf1 Bxf3 21.exf3 Rc8 22.h4 h5 23.Bd3 Rxc1+ 24.Qxc1 Qd8 25.a3 g6 26.Be4 Qf6 27.Qd2 Kg7 28.f4 Nb6 29.b3 Nd5 30.Kg2 Qa1 31.Bxd5 exd5 32.Qxd5 Qxa3 33.Qe5+ Kg8 34.Qe8+ Qf8 35.Qc6 Qb4 36.f5 Qxb3 37.fxg6 Qe6 38.gxf7+ Kxf7 39.Qb7+ Kg6 40.Kf3 Qf7+ 41.Qxf7+ Kxf7 42.Ke4 a5 43.f3 a4 44.Kd3 a3


(188) Carlsen,Magnus (2872) - Aronian,Levon (2809) [E06]
FIDE Candidates London ENG (8.4), 24.03.2013

[pgn]1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 Be7 5.d4 0–0 6.0–0 dxc4 7.Qc2 a6 8.Qxc4 b5 9.Qc2 Bb7 10.Bd2 Bd6 11.a3 Nbd7 12.b4 Ra7 13.Nc3 Qa8 14.Nh4 Bxg2 15.Nxg2 c6 16.Rac1 a5 17.Ne4 Nxe4 18.Qxe4 Rc8 19.Nf4 axb4 20.Bxb4 c5 21.Qxa8 Raxa8 22.dxc5 Bxc5 23.Nd3 Bf8 24.Rxc8 Rxc8 25.Rb1 Ra8 26.Bxf8 Kxf8 27.Rxb5 Rxa3 28.g4 h6 29.h4 Ra2 30.Kf1 Ra1+ 31.Kg2 Ra2 32.Kf3 Ra3 33.Kg3 Ra2 34.e3 Rd2 35.Nf4 g6 36.g5 hxg5 37.hxg5 Ke7 38.e4 Rc2 39.f3 Rc5 40.Rxc5 Nxc5 41.Ng2


That’s all the games played in the Candidates tournament so far, and thus the end of the Survey! I hope my overview of the games has given you some interesting ideas with which to refine your opening repertoire, as well as your play in general! We’ll be back on April Fool’s Day with another blog post! As for the seriousness of the next blog post, I will leave that for you to judge when it’s up…