General Feb 12, 2014 | 7:00 PMby Colin McGourty

Candidates Tournament pairings published

The World Chess Federation today announced the pairings for the tournament that will determine the next challenger for World Champion Magnus Carlsen. The 2014 Candidates Tournament starts a month tomorrow, with Viswanathan Anand - Levon Aronian the pick of the first-round ties. 

2014 Candidates Tournament

  • Dates
  • 13-31 March 2014
  • Location
  • Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia
  • System
  • 8-player double round-robin
  • Players
  • Levon Aronian, Sergey Karjakin, Peter Svidler, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Veselin Topalov, Dmitry Andreikin, Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand
  • Rate of play
  • 120 min/40 moves, 60 min/20 moves, 15 min for rest of game + a 30 sec increment from move 61
  • Extra
  • Total prize fund = 600,000 Euros. The winner will play a World Championship match against Magnus Carlsen.

In terms of excitement last year's Candidates Tournament in London was arguably the event of 2013, and there's every reason to expect a repeat a year later. The location may be decidedly cooler - the Siberian oil town of Khanty-Mansiysk - but the rivalries will if anything be more intense. The line-up is unchanged from the one announced last month:

1. Viswanathan Anand  (India, former World Champion) 
2. Vladimir Kramnik  (Russia, 2013 World Cup winner) 
3. Dmitry Andreikin  (Russia, 2013 World Cup finalist) 
4. Veselin Topalov  (Bulgaria, 2012-13 Grand Prix winner) 
5. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov  (Azerbaijan, 2012-13 Grand Prix runner-up) 
6. Levon Aronian  (Armenia, 2012-13 rating list) 
7. Sergey Karjakin  (Russia, 2012-13 rating list) 
8. Peter Svidler  (Russia, host nominee) 

The draw has now been completed, and although the pairings are in a sense unimportant - after all, the players play each other twice with the colour of the pieces alternating - they still throw up some talking points and make the upcoming event much more real! 

Russians receive special treatment 

Fischer at the 1960 Olympiad | photo: Wikipedia

At first you might think it's an odd coincidence that the four Russian players in the event (who make up half the field) play only each other in Rounds 1-3 and then 8-10, but in fact the draw was deliberately "rigged" to ensure that happened. The point is to discourage collusion between players from the same country, as it's less likely it will be clear who they should "help" at the start or with four rounds still to play. 

Of course if a Russian player wins that won't stop conspiracy theorists speculating, but it does hark back to famous Candidates Tournaments past. The tournament system was actually replaced by matches due to the vehement protest of none other than US World Champion Bobby Fischer, who entitled a notorious article in Sports Illustrated, The Russians Have Fixed World Chess

He described the 1962 Curacao Candidates tournament as follows:

There was open collusion between the Russian players. They agreed ahead of time to draw the games they played against each other. Each time they drew they gave each other half a point. The tournament winner, Petrosian, got 5 points of his 17 total this way. They consulted during the games. If I was playing a Russian opponent, the other Russians watched my games, and commented on my moves in my hearing. Then they ridiculed my protests to officials. They worked as a team.

Grudge matches

Spectators will have to wait until Round 6 for perhaps the most eagerly-anticipated encounter of the tournament - Veselin Topalov-Vladimir Kramnik. That will be the first World Championship showdown between the Bulgarian and the Russian since their 2006 match in Elista, Russia descended into the farce of a "toilet war" scandal. Topalov and his manager Silvio Danailov continue to claim that Kramnik cheated and the players have never shaken hands since.

For less personal reasons Levon Aronian (Armenia) - Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan) in Round 2 will also have more than usual at stake - their countries are still technically at war - while there will be other flashbacks to matches past. Kramnik and Topalov will have the chance to take revenge for their World Championship losses to Anand in 2008 and 2010 respectively.

The full pairings are as follows:

Round 1 - 13 March 2014

Dmitry AndreikinRUS-Vladimir KramnikRUS
Sergey KarjakinRUS-Peter SvidlerRUS
Shakhriyar MamedyarovAZE-Veselin TopalovBUL
Viswanathan AnandIND-Levon AronianARM

Round 2
- 14 March 2014

Vladimir KramnikRUS-Sergey KarjakinRUS
Peter SvidlerRUS-Dmitry AndreikinRUS
Veselin TopalovBUL-Viswanathan AnandIND
Levon AronianARM-Shakhriyar MamedyarovAZE

Round 3
- 15 March 2014

Dmitry AndreikinRUS-Sergey KarjakinRUS
Peter SvidlerRUS-Vladimir KramnikRUS
Veselin TopalovBUL-Levon AronianARM
Shakhriyar MamedyarovAZE-Viswanathan AnandIND

Rest day
- 16 March 2014

Round 4 - 17 March 2014

Shakhriyar MamedyarovAZE-Dmitry AndreikinRUS
Sergey KarjakinRUS-Veselin TopalovBUL
Levon AronianARM-Peter SvidlerRUS
Viswanathan AnandIND-Vladimir KramnikRUS

Round 5
- 18 March 2014

Dmitry AndreikinRUS-Viswanathan AnandIND
Sergey KarjakinRUS-Shakhriyar MamedyarovAZE
Peter SvidlerRUS-Veselin TopalovBUL
Vladimir KramnikRUS-Levon AronianARM

Round 6
- 19 March 2014

Levon AronianARM-Dmitry AndreikinRUS
Viswanathan AnandIND-Sergey KarjakinRUS
Shakhriyar MamedyarovAZE-Peter SvidlerRUS
Veselin TopalovBUL-Vladimir KramnikRUS

Rest day
- 20 March 2014

Round 7 - 21 March 2014

Sergey KarjakinRUS-Levon AronianARM
Peter SvidlerRUS-Viswanathan AnandIND
Vladimir KramnikRUS-Shakhriyar MamedyarovAZE
Dmitry AndreikinRUS-Veselin TopalovBUL

Round 8
- 22 March 2014

Vladimir KramnikRUS-Dmitry AndreikinRUS
Peter SvidlerRUS-Sergey KarjakinRUS
Veselin TopalovBUL-Shakhriyar MamedyarovAZE
Levon AronianARM-Viswanathan AnandIND

Round 9
- 23 March 2014

Sergey KarjakinRUS-Kramnik VladimirRUS
Dmitry AndreikinRUS-Peter SvidlerRUS
Viswanathan AnandIND-Veselin TopalovBUL
Shakhriyar MamedyarovAZE-Levon AronianARM

Rest day
- 24 March 2014

Round 10 - 25 March 2014

Sergey KarjakinRUS-Dmitry AndreikinRUS
Vladimir KramnikRUS-Peter SvidlerRUS
Levon AronianARM-Veselin TopalovBUL
Viswanathan AnandIND-Shakhriyar MamedyarovAZE

Round 11
- 26 March 2014

Dmitry AndreikinRUS-Shakhriyar MamedyarovAZE
Veselin TopalovBUL-Sergey KarjakinRUS
Peter SvidlerRUS-Levon AronianARM
Vladimir KramnikRUS-Viswanathan AnandIND

Round 12
- 27 March 2014

Viswanathan AnandIND-Dmitry AndreikinRUS
Shakhriyar MamedyarovAZE-Sergey KarjakinRUS
Veselin TopalovBUL-Peter SvidlerRUS
Levon AronianARM-Vladimir KramnikRUS

Rest day
- 28 March 2014

Round 13 - 29 March 2014

Dmitry AndreikinRUS-Levon AronianARM
Sergey KarjakinRUS-Viswanathan AnandIND
Peter SvidlerRUS-Shakhriyar MamedyarovAZE
Vladimir KramnikRUS-Veselin TopalovBUL

Round 14
- 30 March 2014

Levon AronianARM-Sergey KarjakinRUS
Viswanathan AnandIND-Peter SvidlerRUS
Shakhriyar MamedyarovAZE-Vladimir KramnikRUS
Veselin TopalovBUL-Dmitry AndreikinRUS

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