The second cycle of the FIDE World Chess Championship Candidates Tournament is on. In the important game, leaders, Levon Aronian of Armenia and Viswanathan Anand drew in 19 moves after repetition to maintain their top place.
Aronian played the English opening and Anand responded by …c6 and …d5, a possible line he had prepared for the Carlsen match. Sacrificing a pawn, Anand had space and lead in development. Unwilling to play on with the extra material, Aronian decided not to risk and repeated the position for an early draw.
After the comfortable draw, Anand jointly leads with Aronian. They have five points from eight games. Six rounds remain to be played in this 8-player double all-play-all.
Kramnik who drew Andreikin (3.5) is in 4.5 points. Karjakin overcame Svidler with black in the lone marathon game of the day. Both players are on 3.5 points. Topalov and Mamedyarov drew a rook ending in 32 moves and they are also on 3.5 points each.
Clearly, the title race is among Anand, Aronian and Kramnik. The winner of this event will challenge Carlsen for the title later this year.
Levon Aronian-Viswanathan Anand
Round 8, English Opening, A11:
1. c4 c6 2. Nf3 d5 3. Qb3 d4 4. e3 c5 5. Qb5+ Nc6 6. Qxc5 e5 7. Qb5 a6 8. Qb3 Bc5 9. d3 Nf6 10. e4 O-O 11. Be2 Bb4+ 12. Nbd2 a5 13. O-O Nd7 14. Qd1 Bd6 15.Ne1 Nc5 16. Nb3 Na6 17. Nd2 Nc5 18. Nb3 Na6 19. Nd2 1/2-1/2