Candidates Matches 2011
Anish on first stage of the matches with his light annotations of some selected games
After the first stage of the event the qualifiers were- Gelfand (who beat Mamedyarov 2,5-1,5), Kamsky (who beat Topalov 2,5-1,5), Grischuk (who beat Aronian (statistically the main favourite) 2-2, 2,5-1,5 in rapid) and finally Kramnik, who managed to overwhelm Radjabov in what was definitely the most tense match (4 draws, 4 draws in rapid, and 1-1, 1,5-0,5 in blitz).
Gelfand chose an ambitious match strategy of playing Najdorf and was rewarded with a win with the Black pieces. That one win was enough to win the match, considering the solid style of Boris.
Mamedyarov - Gelfand
Kamsky definitely had his Grünfeld under pressure, as the Vesilin-guys (Cheparinov and L'Ami) have obviously done their job. However it seemed that unlike Kamsky, Topalov wasn't in his best shape and didn't use his chances in his both White games and even lost one.
Topalov - Kamsky
Grischuk-Aronian was a tense match. It was apparent that here too, Levon was well prepared against the Grünfeld, but Grischuk proved to be a really tough defender and managed to miraculously escape in all of his Black games, while even winning a rapid one. I must say that after I saw the main-classical part of the match, it became clear to me that if Grischuk continues with the same tough defense and if fortune will keep on choosing him (and believe me, fortune is the main thing here), there isn't much Levon can possibly do. And indeed the match was decided in the last two rapid games, when Grischuk saved yet another semi-lost position in game three and then managed to outplay Levon in the last one. A bitter disappointment for the favourite- Levon, who will have to wait for the next cycle, but a great achievement by Grischuk!
Radjabov-Kramnik seemed like a very boring match for the chess fans. In fact both players were playing the hyper-solid Lasker and while Kramnik went via the 1...Nf6, 2...e6 move order and Teimour through 1...d5, 2...e6 they kept on solving the problems with Black pretty easily. Somehow the match was rather uneventful till Teimour achieved his goal and got Kramnik into the blitz. Teimour won the first game, but luck was really not on his side and with two totally unnecessary losses in blitz, he had to admit the defeat. A great pity for Teimour, who seemed to be in a good shape and was playing on the equal terms with the experienced match-player Vladimir Kramnik.
Radjabov - Kramnik