After a great game by both players, Levon Aronian blundered a beautiful final move by Vladimir Kramnik today at the 2018 FIDE Candidates’ Tournament in Berlin. Tournament leader Fabiano Caruana held Shakhriyar Mamedyarov to a draw.
“As you saw from the opening I was a bit tired of sharp games and I wanted to play a normal, safe, equal position. It seems that whatever I do lately, it starts to get crazy,” said Vladimir Kramnik. “I don’t know why, how… It’s difficult to image out of this opening to get this mess on the board but I still managed. I guess I shouldn’t even try probably.”
Kramnik today tried to explain how it is possible that a player like he, who is still known as someone with a positional style, plays one crazy game after another after another at this Candidates’ tournament: it’s sort of happening to him.
Chess.com later asked him to elaborate, and in this interview (to be posted here later), the 14th world champion pointed out that his recent tournaments have been a bit like this, with more decisive games than draws.
Kramnik also commented on not attending the press conference after his previous game, which he lost to Karjakin.
“I came, I was waiting, and then Levon and Shakhriyar were just starting the press conference. I think organisers should do it in such [a] way that [the] players shouldn’t wait to give their press conference for, like, half an hour. It’s clear, you know, it was a tough game, I am tired, I am hungry, by the way. And then, first of all, I have to stand here, not to sit but to stand, for half an hour to wait for the press conference and then maybe another half an hour for my press conference… I just don’t find it right, you know. You should either have a alternative to have to press conference at the same time or a least maybe bring me somewhere, in a quiet place, with a little bit of sandwiches, coffee, so that I can rest. But staying here with everyone and just one your feet for half an hour…”
Kramnik pointed out that contractually he wasn’t doing anything wrong, saying he checked the contract on this.
“It’s written that ‘immediately after the game the player should make himself available for a press conference, and I did. It is not said that I have to wait for half an hour.”
Asked about how he is looking forward to tomorrow’s clash with Kramnik, Fabiano Caruana gave an interesting description of the man who once dethroned Garry Kasparov:
“What can you expect these days? Vlad is probably the most interesting player now at the top. He sometimes approaches positions in ways that I can’t even begin to comprehend. Like, I remember his game against Wesley from Wijk aan Zee. It looked like the most quiet position ever and he sacked a piece. For nothing, from a quiet Catalan. I had never seen an idea like this. So…he’s a great world champion, former world champion, but also one of the most unusual players these days; his talent has changed so much over the years. It will be an interesting game.”
But back to today’s round, in which Kramnik beat Levon Aronian in a very nice game that was somewhat spoiled by a huge blunder at the end. Kramnik’s winning combination wasn’t too difficult, but still pretty.
Aronian, who had more personal friends than ever supporting him today in the playing hall, was visibly annoyed by some of Kramnik’s evaluations of the positions during the press conference.
Aronian at the press conference. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
It seemed that the Armenian GM wanted to emphasize that he was the one who made the game interesting, since he made the choice to go for a sharp position instead of equalizing with …Be6.
“I thought, in the position, it’s interesting to try and get some chances,” Aronian said. He felt he was the one playing for a win at the moment he blundered.
After the press conference Kramnik took the time for interviews and lots of autographs. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
The top clash, between runner-up Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Fabiano Caruana, was pretty exciting as well. The Azerbaijani had the opportunity to take over the lead from his opponent, and clearly came to the board to fight.
“When you see today’s game, you see my mood before the game. I wanted to play! It was a nice try, and he defended well,” said Mamedyarov.
Mamedyarov was ready for battle. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
In a sideline of the Catalan, things got sharp for a moment but then the queens went off and Black was a pawn down. However, the compensation was clear, as Caruana pointed out: “It’s probably the worst pawn structure I’ve ever seen for White.”
Soon after, White gave up an exchange but won a second pawn. It was Mamedyarov who was playing for a win, but Caruana didn’t make mistakes.
He was quite down-to-earth about not winning against Ding: “Winning that game doesn’t improve my tournament situation so much. I mean, even if I win, I still have to overcome some very difficult games.”
A tough fight between the best-performing players so far. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
The other two games were rather quiet, much quieter than the average game here in Berlin. (What a treat this tournament has been so far!)
Ding Liren vs Wesley So had a fairly interesting opening phase. The American player had prepared 6…b6 in the Queen’s Gambit Declined with Bf4 but got “confused” when his opponent didn’t immediately take the gambit pawn on c7. His decision to take on f3 and play …e5 worked out well.
A good draw for So, and the 10th one for his opponent | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Alexander Grischuk faced an ultra-solid Sergey Karjakin today, who won the opening battle with his 10th and 11th move. Afterward, Grischuk admitted that he didn’t see any way to get an advantage with White from there.
“It’s very hard to beat Sergey, even in this tournament when he is not in his top form. With Black he made all draws and actually when he’s White I’m the only person who made a draw with him.”
Grischuk got nothing out of the opening today. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
2018 FIDE Candidates’ Tournament | Round 10 Standings
Games via TWIC.
The Chessbrahs’ coverage of round 10.
Round 11 pairings, on Friday:
Ding-Grischuk, So-Mamedyarov, Caruana-Kramnik, Aronian-Karjakin.