With both Vladimir Kramnik and Magnus Carlsen struggling to get a result out of their round 13 games,the leaderboard of the Candidates tournament remained unchanged at the end of Sunday. With just one round to go,Kramnik retained his half-point lead over Carlsen. But considering the slim margins involved,and Carlsens superior tie-break credentials,there could still be a twist left.
Carlsen will have the advantage of playing white in the final round,and will be taking on Peter Svidler,currently in joint-third. Kramnik,with black,will take on Vassily Ivanchuk. If Carlsen betters Kramniks result in the final game,the duo will finish the tournament level on points,but Carlsen will go through to challenge Anand because of his better Sonneborn-Berger score.
For the last couple of rounds,the scenarios were fairly straightforward for Magnus Carlsen. With two rounds to go,the Norwegian had to better Vladimir Kramniks results to win the tournament and challenge Anand for the world title. It was not improbable that Carlsen,with one of the highest win percentages in recent memory,would convert one or both of his games in hands. A loss for Kramnik would only make things easier for Carlsen.
However,things did not go according to plan for the World No. 1. Playing black against Teimour Radjabov,who is currently placed bottom of the table and against whom he had already struggled once before in the tournament,Carlsen again found the going tough. In the Classical Nimzo-Indian set-up,Radjabov seemed to have a real advantage as long as he retained his bishop pair.
Carlsens plan was to limit the range of whites fianchetto light bishop with a blockading structure of pawns. Radjabov took his bishop off the long diagonal and allowed his bishop pair to be separated and all the advantage of an accurately played opening was lost.
Carlsens play was practical and with a 40-minute advantage on the clock,the Norwegian ensured that there were just two results possible. The game would in all probability end a draw,but there were chances that Radjabov could mis-play it and hand Carlsen the win. After the exchange of rooks,the players were left with a knight,bishop and pawns ending which Carlsen attempted to dominate by pushing his pieces and the king up the board. The Azeri had all critical squares covered and was accurate in defense to deny Carlsen the win as the game stretched past six hours.
Kramnik was playing his last white of the tournament and to ensure that things did not hang in the balance until the last round,he would ideally have liked to win the game. The Kings Indian defence adopted by Gelfand was solid,but again,under time pressure,the Israeli allowed Kramnik to get a winning position. Though Kramnik won four of his five last games,the win proved elusive on this occasion.
On the other boards,Peter Svidler won his game against Vassily Ivanchuk to move into joint third with Levon Aronian,while Aronian could only manage a draw against Alexander Grischuk.
Results,round 12: Teimour Radjabov (Aze,4) vs Magnus Carlsen (Nor,7.5); Vladimir Kramnik (Rus,8) drew with Boris Gelfand (Isr,5.5); Peter Svidler (Rus,6) bt Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukr,5); Alexander Grischuk (Rus,5.5) drew with Levon Aronian (6.5)
pairings for final round: Magnus Carlsen vs Peter Svidler; Vassily Ivanchuk vs Vladimir Kramnik; Boris Gelfand vs Alexander Grischuk; Levon Aronian vs Teimour Radjabov