Can Caruana Win It All?
by GM Alejandro Ramirez
Fabi, Fabi, Fabi!
The world of chess clearly has its eyes fixed on the events in Moscow. The Candidates Tournament is second in important to only the World Championship Match, and there are four players that are still fighing for the first place in this winner-takes-all double round robin.
Round 10 has just finished in Russia, and it is exciting news for the fans of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis and for American chess. Yesterday, it was India's Viswanathan Anand that won a supremely important game against Levon Aronian, leapfrogging over the Armenian superstar and claiming a share of first place with Russian Sergey Karjakin for the lead. Yet, no one is safe in this tournament. With the caliber of players that we see in Moscow, everyone is vulnerable, anyone can lose a key game; the preparation and analysis going into each and every game has to be absolutely top notch. In a spectacular game, Fabiano Caruana defeated Vishy Anand and leapfrogged the Indian player. Caruana now shares first place with Karjakin, who drew his game.
The bout between Caruana-Anand was truly a masterpiece, from preparation to execution. Improving on a recent game between Aronian-Anand, from the Grand Chess Tour this last year, Caruana threw a wrench in Anand's preparation and came up with a new move early in the game. It was aggressive, unexpected and difficult to meet on the board. The Indian was simply not up to the challenge, and soon White saw himself with a strong advantage on the board and on the clock. Suddenly, Fabi froze. He started thinking for a very long time and eventually decided to sacrifice a bishop! A beautiful and sound decision. Anand had no choice but to accept this gift, but had to return the piece almost instantly before his king was mated. With material parity on the board, White's superior pieces gave him a strong advantage, not to mention a strong pawn on f6 which controlled the board and cemented a powerful knight on e5. Anand tried to be aggressive and counterattack, but it simply backfired: with good technique and masterful piece movements Caruana took the point home.
All the other games in today's round were drawn, but the one who must be kicking himself the most out of today, besides Anand of course, is Aronian. He had a very pleasant advantage against Veselin Topalov, the tail-ender of the event, and instead of pushing for a win he let his advantage evaporate like it was nothing. Topalov obtained an easy draw, and Aronian still trails both Karjakin and Caruana by half a point.
With the other games ending in a draw, including Giri's streak of 10 consecutive draws in this tournament, the top spot is still wide open for four players. The remaining rounds are of insurmountable importance for the career of these players, and anything could still happen. We are preparing ourselves for some London 2012 Candidates level of drama, one of the tournaments that is in the books as the most shocking and nailbiting in the history of chess.
Tomorrow's round promises plenty of action. The most important game of the round will certainly be Anand-Karjakin: can the Indian former World Champion prove that he still has what it takes after his loss to Fabi? Join us tomorrow on Today in Chess to find out!