CHESS: Aronian-Carlsen Was Liveliest Of the Candidates Matches

The New York Times
June 17, 2007 Sunday
Late Edition – Final

Aronian-Carlsen Was Liveliest Of the Candidates Matches

By Dylan Loeb McClain

There were no real surprises at the candidates matches, held May 27
to June 13 in Elista, Kalmykia, a Russian republic, to select four
qualifiers for the World Championship Tournament in Mexico City in
September and October.

The four winners were Levon Aronian of Armenia, Peter Leko of
Hungary, Boris Gelfand of Israel and Alexander Grischuk of Russia.

Going into the matches, Aronian and Leko were the two highest-ranked
players; Gelfand was No. 4, and Grischuk was tied for No. 6.

The most competitive and entertaining contest was the Round 1 matchup
between Aronian and Magnus Carlsen of Norway, the 16-year-old who has
electrified the chess world. The match was the only one that required
six tiebreak games. In the fifth, Aronian pulled away by outplaying
Carlsen in the middle game to win a pawn.

Through 11 0-0, the game followed two that Carlsen had played before,
both times as White. In those games, Carlsen had tried 12 Qd2 and 12
Nb5. Aronian’s 12 Bd6 was a more direct approach to try to take
advantage of the hole at d6. Carlsen should not have sought to
simplify with 12 Na5; it left his queenside pawns badly compromised.
Instead, 12 Ne8 would have made more sense.

Although Carlsen was able to exchange his lead a-pawn through a
tactical finesse, he was unable to defend the second pawn on the

Aronian’s greatest strength is his accuracy in maneuvering his
pieces, and that was on display once he got the advantage. His 33 Nf5
slowed the approach of Carlsen’s king toward the center. Then with 38
h5, he locked down Carlsen’s kingside pawns, preventing simplifying

The rest was a clinic, and Carlsen resigned in a hopeless position.

The lineup for Mexico City looks as if it will be even stronger than
that of the championship tournament in San Luis, Argentina, in 2005.
The roster includes Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, the world champion;
Viswanathan Anand of India, No. 1 in the world; Alexander Morozevich
of Russia, No. 4; and Peter Svidler of Russia, No. 9.

The most notable omission, as of now, will be Veselin Topalov of
Bulgaria, tied for No. 2 with Kramnik. Topalov is excluded under the
terms of the championship match he played against Kramnik last year.

The Bulgarian Chess Federation has petitioned the World Chess
Federation to consider including Topalov, and even Kramnik, Topalov’s
bitter rival, has called it strange that Topalov is not playing.

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