The Candidates’ tournament has come to a close and Magnus Carlsen was the winner in a tie-break over Vladimir Kramnik. He will challenge Viswanathan Anand for the world title later this year. For chess fans everywhere, the games were as tense as a football or basketball game tied in the last few minutes. The live chess site, London2013.fide.com, gave a number of viewing choices to well over a half-million fans. This was a colorful experience on the Internet.
Carlsen shared the lead with Levon Aronian in round 8, with Kramnik a point behind. In round 9, the tide suddenly turned against Aronian. Playing Boris Gelfand, he lost in a double rook ending. Carlsen and Kramnik drew after Kramnik got a nice advantage in a prepared Catalan line. Carlsen lost a pawn but, in a miraculously clever manner, drew. He was now in the lead alone.
In round 10, Carlsen held onto his lead. Kramnik, Aronian, and Carlsen all won, so Carlsen was still a half-point ahead of Aronian, with Kramnik in third place, a point behind. In round 11, Kramnik managed to beat Radjabov, and came within a half point of Carlsen as Carlsen drew in a short 23 mover against Grischuk, and, sadly for Aronian, he started a fatal decline with a bad loss to Peter Svidler.
Round 12 found Kramnik facing Aronian in a long struggle. The slumping Aronian missed a draw in a long endgame. All eyes then focused on Carlsen vs. the very eccentric Ivanchuk, who had already lost 5 games on time. As usual, Carlsen got into a complex endgame, but he met his master in Ivanchuk. (“I missed a lot of stuff,” Carlsen said later). Ivanchuk had the more active king, and after declining a repetition of moves, suddenly appropriated a pawn, which Carlsen was unable to get back. Later, Carlsen missed a draw and lost. Suddenly Kramnik was the tournament leader.
So, in the next-to-last round Carlsen’s prospects seemed dreary. Then the scoreboard suddenly turned around. Kramnik got two rooks to the seventh against Gelfand but could only find a draw. Carlsen playing White against Radjabov’s Nimzo-Indian once again got into an endgame; this time with minor pieces that looked like a dead draw, but Carlsen persisted and won. Going into the 14th and final round, Carlsen and Kramnik were now tied for first, but with the tie break (most wins) favoring Carlsen, the pressure was on Kramnik.
In the last round, Carlsen had white against Svidler and Kramnik had black against Vassily Ivanchuk. After much pressure-filled play, both Carlsen and Kramnik lost. It was clear from the post-game press conferences, that the pressure greatly affected both of them. Carlsen was declared the official challenger to the world champion on tie-break.
Brevity: M. Schultz v. G. Gandolfi (2005)
1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.Bf4 c5 4.d5 Qb6 5.Bc1 d6 6.f3 Nf6 7.e4 g6 8.Nc3 Bd7 9.a4 Bg7 10.Bc4 0–0 11.Nge2 Na6 12.0–0 Rfc8 13.h3 Qd8 14.f4 Nc7 15.e5 Nfe8 16.Ne4 b6 17.Ng5 h6 18.e6 fxe6 19.dxe6 hxg5 20.exd7+;1-0
Winners: Metrowest Vernal Equinox: 1st, Brattain, 3.5-0.5, 2d-3d: Martirosov & Arun, 3-1; Boylston Thursday Night, 1st-2d, Godin and Schmidt: 3.5-5 tie for 3d, Slive, Cross and Driscoll, 2.5-1.5.