Kramnik takes the lead after dramatic Candidates R12 in London

Magnus Carlsen now half a point behind Vladimir Kramnik

The chess fans lived one of the most astonishing days in chess history today during the Round 12 of the Candidates Tournament 2013 in London.

In an unseen 2800+ blunderfest Kramnik walked away with the full point against Aronian. At the same time determined and diligent Ivanchuk defeated world number one Magnus Carlsen to turn the World Championship 2013 qualifications upside down.

Candidates London 2013 news / Pairings / Live games

Previous reports: Round 1 / Round 2 / Round 3 / Round 4 / Round 5 / Round 6 / Round 7 / Round 8 / Round 9 / Round 10 / Round 11 / Round 12

Magnus Carlsen started the round with half a point advantage ahead of his closest competitor Kramnik, and a full point ahead of Aroninan. His opponent of the day was Vassily Ivanchuk. The Ukranian opened with an ambitious and rare Sicilian line, where for the first time in the tournament he was ahead on the clock after the opening.

After a forced sequence of moves, we had an interesting endgame where white has doubled pawns but also some extra space thanks to the e5-pawn. GM Christian Bauer commented in the live Chessdom transmission, “Ivanchuk has got to figure out what he wants, a draw or more?”

In a parallel show, Kramnik already had achieved an advantage against Aronian. Right from the opening the Armenian went into an unsound sacrifice, allowing the initiative to the Russian.

An amazing sequence of moves captured the attention of all: with 20… Ne7 Kramnik single-handedly threw away the advantage, but white went into deeper trouble with 21.e4, something that at the press conference Aronian explained he was actually seeing as winning move. The unexpected reply had a clumsy reaction by Kramnik and with 21… Rac8 he was back to the drawing board in a dynamic game.

Was Carlsen also concentrated on the 2800+ blunderfest exchange or he could not find the right approach, he opted for the slightly inaccurate 28. Rhg1 which gave the answer to the question posed by GM Bauer. Ivanchuk saw the opportunity and immediately started looking for the most precise moves to press the Norwegian.

This stirred both of them into time trouble before the time control and the game was again about equal after move 40.

On the other key board of the day Kramnik and Aronian kept on exchanging inaccuracies, coming out of move 40 in an equal, but difficult position. With a minor piece less, Aronian parried all attempts of Kramnik and conducted the game towards a draw.

When things cleared and everyone expected quick moves and shake of hands, the Armenian fell into deep thought and went for the blunder of the day: he chose the wrong pawn push with 50.g6 instead of 50.h6, handling the full point to Vladimir Kramnik.

The Russian stated at the press conference that he saw that 50.h6 was a draw, but even after 50.g6 he wasn’t sure that he’s winning. Yet, he easily brought the full point home.

The long thinking in the Aronian – Kramnik game and the decisive blunder of the Armenian seem to have affected Carlsen. He started looking more and more worried, and with that inaccuracies in his play came too. The awkward 46. Ne8 followed by other minor imprecisions, put Carlsen between a rock a hard place. In a very difficult ending, worthy of being a quality endgame study, Ivanchuk found the correct path, brought the point home.

Ivanchuk mentioned at the press conference, “After 24. Nb5 the position is still objectively equal but it is difficult for white because there are many tricks.” Carlsen was logically unhappy , “I played absolutely disgracefully from the start… I just kept on blundering stuff”. He was not satisfied with 24. Nb5, while for the ending he noted, “”70. c5 was careless, I missed 71…Ke4”.

Much is left for the home analysis, from both chess and psychological point of view, in this dramatic day where Kramnik overtook Carlsen in the general standings.

Vladimir Kramnik

Levon Aronian

Boris Gelfand and Peter Svidler signed a draw just after the first time control. The players chose to maintain very healthy pawn structures and preferred to maneuver with their pieces, looking for a small edge instead of going for dangerous pawn advances. The ex-world championship challenger got the bishop pair, but kept his pieces in very passive positions. Gelfand exchanged the queens on move 37 and the draw became the most likely result. With this outcome, Svidler remains on an even score, while Gelfand is still on -1. Both of them are completely out of the race for first place and will try to maintain their ratings in the last two rounds.

Teimour Radjabov achieved a solid edge in his game against Alexander Grischuk, but was not able to get the full point. The Azerbaijani, who is having a disappointing tournament, did not try to push too hard against his opponent’s position. He exchanged some pieces and accepted going into a queenless middlegame.
A rook endgame was reached where the GMs struggled to gain control of the open files. Radjabov activated his rook more effectively and eventually won two pawns, however, these pawns were in the f- and h-files. Grischuk demonstrated the theoretical evaluation of this endgame and achieved the draw on move 87.

Standing after R12

1 Vladimir Kramnik 8
2 Magnus Carlsen 7.5
3 Levon Aronian 6.5
4 Peter Svidler 6
5 Alexander Grischuk 5.5
6 Boris Gelfand 5.5
7 Vassily Ivanchuk 5
8 Teimour Radjabov 4

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