Big chess at the Candidates 2nd round & Alexander Motylev European Champion

Topalov – Anand 1/2-1/2
Svidler – Andreikin 1-0
Kramnik – Karjakin 1-0
Aronian – Mamedyarov 1-0
Topalov – Anand 1/2-1/2

Anand drew more or less from preparation. The Kramnik game will be the main focus everywhere; great new idea in the opening, exchange sacrifice and so on. But to me the two moments of special attention in todays round where these:

Mamedyarov played 13…Ng6-e7?? instead of 13…Qg5! with unclear play:

14.Nde4! dxe4 15.Nxe4 and White wins. As Andrew pointed out, this is a reloader, as defined in Chess Tactics from Scratch. Last year Radjabov suffered in the candidates, after started with a rating of 2793. Maybe another Azeri will take the bottom spot this year. Mamedyarov has now missed simple moves in his calculations twice in as many games. It does not bare well for the next two weeks for him.

Svidler really outplayed Andreikin in a beautiful way. The following moment was the strategic highlight of the game:

20. f4!!
This is the biggest chess moment in the candidates so far from my perspective. White is threatening both Rxd6 and f4-f5, followed by Bxc4. Black has no easy way to reduce the pressure. He tried to solve it tactically, but was faced with a concrete problem:
20…f5 21. exf5 Bxf5 22. Ne3 Bd3 23. Bxd3 cxd3

Here Black would be fine if it was not for one move:
24. Nf5!
With threats to d6 and of Rxc6 followed by Ne7+. Andreikin tries to make the most of it, sacrificing a piece to let the pawns roam; but in the end it is nowhere near enough.
24…e4 25. Nxd6 e3 26. Nxc8 d2 27. Rxc6 e2 28. Rcc1 exd1=R+ 29. Rxd1 Rxc8 30. Rxd2 Rc3 31. Rd5 1-0

Finally we should not forget the European Championship taking place in Armenia. Alexander Motylev has dominated the event. Although he is a strong player in his own right, Motylev has to some extent been more famous as a trainer for the Russian Open Team. He is a big theoretician and a student of Mark Dvoretsky. A few years back Potkin won the European as well; the year after one of his students, Nepomniatchi won it!

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