The King’s tournament in Basna, Romania, has just started, and I didn’t make it in time to make my predictions beforehand. This blog hasn’t had much in time lately anyway.
I hoped to get a post about the candidates in Kazan. There were times I would have named it a catastrophe. It’s very sad for lovers of chess history to see the most prestigious title – the classical world championship – be reduced to some blitz competition. There were obvious something wrong with the format, as there perhaps also were with the players, although I agree with those who claim the players just did what they had to due to the conditions. Hard core classics like me would suggest the old Fischer format, just count the results, players who just draws could play each other to the end of time. Or just lose their spot in the candidates.
That being said, I had Gelfand as a personal outsider all the time. He does what he has to do, and has made some impressive results in knock out formats also earlier. He saves his energy, strikes when he must, and has not a lot of fans he has to please and impress, his nerves are not a second opponent. Pre tournament favourites like Kramnik and Aronian haven’t even played in to many knock out formats, and especially from Kramnik you should not expect he would make it to win one game out of two with white. His strength is that you cannot beat him, he is the master of defence. But as both Radjabov and Grischuk proved, in Blitz this strength doesn’t count that much. And the nerves are on the side of the weaker part. Congratulations to Gelfand, he does very much deserves his title match against Anand. The world should not be to surprised if Gelfand wins. Sadly, the chess world lives with a regime which would make it not to surprising if the match are canceled, or conditions changed.
To day we have a good, old tournament again. In it are some very strong players, maybe even stronger than the ones who played in candidates. I am sure all four of the, Carlsen, Ivanchuk, Karjakin and Nakamura are very eager to beat Radjabov and prove to him and the world that they just as much as him earned their spot in the candidates. Radjabov has done a lot of work in chess playing for a draw, while the other four have looked of ways to win, or just played chess, like Nakamura and Ivanchuk. Carlsen has to prove that he is still a chess players, after spending more time on the catwalk lately, and strangely withdrawing from the candidates. Ivanchuk would very much like to show that it is not just Anand and Gelfand who can play chess after forty. Nakamura want to prove himself at the top level, and Karjakin has to prove he shouldn’t be forgotten.
Carlsen is by many a favourite. He is hungry for victory again, he made it to easily to the top, perhaps, and just started to lose interest, it seemed. Now the world don’t agree he is the best anymore, and he has again to show his skill at the board. My favourite this time is Ivanchuk. He made a strong victory at Cuba recently, his playing strength at his best is nothing short of nobody. And I think he would like to show Carlsen that even at his best, he is just better. Both of them started out with remarkable wins today. Ivanchuk in a Kings Indian against Radjabov. The old man showed the kid Radjabov something in his own opening, it was highly impressive. And Carlsen just showed how to play the Queens gambit for a win, and win it. It takes two to play for draw, and the draw death has not taken chess yet, obviously.
Tomorrow already my two favourites will meet, Ivanchuk with white, Carlsen with black. I think both of them will play for a win. Just one of them will make it, and I think it will be Ivanchuk. No Sofia rules needed that game.