Tiebreak Method in the 2016 Candidates Tournament
In previous posts I had mentioned that Caruana led Karjakin in the tiebreak. I had thought they were simply going by their Sonneborn-Berger (SB) score, but the Candidates Tournament actually has four levels of tiebreaks, which will be used one by one, in this order: (a) head-to-head record, (b) total wins, (c) SB score, (d) two head-to-head 25|10 rapid games. For a detailed explanation, see the official FIDE regulations (section 3.7, Tie-breaks).
Leader After 12 Rounds
So, with two rounds to go, Caruana and Karjakin are both sitting at 7.0/12. Caruana has a 0.5-point SB edge over Karjakin, but Karjakin holds the more important tiebreak of greater number of wins, so, at the moment, he has a slight lead. The two will face each other in the final round, which could prove to be the decisive match of the tournament.
We still have Round 13 to go though, which is in progress as I write this post. Nakamura has already beaten Topalov, who has had a rough tournament. Naka is actually at 6.5 now, but with only one round to go, it’s probably too little too late.
Aronian vs. Karjakin
Karjakin has Black against Aronian, and, according to Chess.com’s Chess Center, Karjakin has struggled against him in the past. Looking at their head-to-head games on ChessGames, Aronian does seem to have an edge, but it does not seem like such a large one to me. In the 52 games available in the database, the players have drawn 24 times, Aronian has won 16 games, and Karjakin has won 12 games.
In Round 13, Aronian has the White pieces, so let’s check out their record with this color orientation. The database turns up 25 games, with 10 of them being draws. Aronian has won 9 of these matchups, and Karjakin has won 6.
We should also probably put aside the faster time controls (rapid and blitz). Two of Karjakin’s wins were blitz games, whereas Aronian has 1 blitz win and 2 rapid wins. So, for longer time controls, Aronian is has 6 wins with the White pieces to Karjakin’s 4 wins with the Black pieces–that seems fairly close to me, so I’m not expecting a huge advantage for Aronian in this round unlike some others. Both players have played well this tournament, so I expect good preparation and strong game from both sides.
At the moment, Karjakin appears to be down a Knight, but he has two pawns for the piece, and one of them is a dangerously far-advanced passed Rook pawn. Aronian has his Rook behind the passer, however, so we will see if Karjakin can hold it and draw the game. Stockfish 7 gives White a slight edge at this point but certainly not winning.
Caruana vs. Svidler
If Caruana wants to still have a shot when he gets to his final showdown versus one Russian, he will have to first make a strong showing against the other Russian in the tournament, Peter Svidler. Remember that Svidler probably had a winning position against Caruana a couple rounds ago but couldn’t pull off the victory. In several other rounds, Caruana has left wins on the board.
I’m sure there are more complete databases available, but, just with a quick look on Chess Games, I see 25 games. Caruana has won 6, Svidler has won 5, and the rest are draws.
Their match is in progress, and they are an endgame. Both players have a Rook, a Bishop, and 4 Pawns. The Bishops are the same color, however, which reduces the drawing likelihood somewhat. Caruana does seem to have manuevered a bit better over the past few moves, with Stockfish 7 now giving him close to a pawn advantage. However these two games go, the final round is sure to decide the tournament.