Kramnik in the mix after first win

It took all of eight rounds, but former world champion Vladimir Kramnik finally claimed his first win of the Candidates tournament to cut the lead at the top to a point. After leaders Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian (5.5 pts) settled for a quick draw, Kramnik made up some ground by wringing out a win with white against Peter Svidler to move to 4.5 points. It was not just Kramnik who took advantage of the slip up at the top of the leaderboard, as Boris Gelfand and Alexander Grischuk too registered wins.

Kramnik had drawn each of his seven rounds before Sunday and as Carlsen and Armenia's Aronian steadily pulled away with three wins each, it looked like the Russian would have to make his move sooner rather than later. Despite being one of the favourites, Kramnik had cut a picture of frustration through the first phase at London.

After playing black in three of the first four rounds, Kramnik immediately enjoyed better positions, and was close to wins in both rounds five and six, against Teimour Radjabov and Aronian. The failure to convert these chances into a win, and the expanding gap between him and the leaders was clearly a concern for the Russian.

And on Sunday, Kramnik's luck finally changed. Svidler opted for the Grunfeld to Kramnik's d4 and the position simplified to a rook and pawns ending, with both parties retaining their dark bishops. Though Kramnik did not enjoy a big advantage he had enough to play for, and kept the game going, perhaps also noticing that Svidler was steadily using up his clock.

Finishing touch

Kramnik showed impeccable endgame technique in using his advanced pawns and rook to imprison black's king and rook, while his bishop mopped up in other areas. Having to give up a piece to prevent the pawn from promoting, Svidler resigned. The win could have come at the right moment for Kramnik, who will take on Carlsen in the next round.

... contd.

Please read our terms of use before posting comments
TERMS OF USE: The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writer's alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of The Indian Express Group or its staff. Comments are automatically posted live; however, reserves the right to take it down at any time. We also reserve the right not to publish comments that are abusive, obscene, inflammatory, derogatory or defamatory.