The favorites tumbled early at the Candidates Matches in Kazan, as top seeds Levon Aronion, Veselin Topalov and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov all crashed out of the competition - and another, former champion Vladimir Kramnik had the good fortune of a prolonged clock carry on that now makes him favorite to win.
Both Kamsky and Gelfand beat Topalov and Mamedyarov, 2.5-1.5, to move forward to the semifinals - but there was high-drama as the other matches ended tied at 2-2, resulting in a nerve-jangling series of speed mini-matches to see who would be joining them. Kramnik and Radjabov matched each other blow for blow in their four rapid games, and then got down to a series of blitz deciders. And that's when all the fun started.
Radjabov crushed Kramnik in the first blitz game, and only needed a draw to put the former champion out. But the next game took a dramatic twist at a crucial time, with both players looked to be heading for a likely a drawn ending - but at move 60, the clock malfunctioned by suddenly reseting itself to zero and then died, leaving both players flummoxed with less than a minute each. The arbiter then stepped in to to fix the clocks, but by the time this was done, some 10-15 minutes or so had elapsed, and clearly Kramnik had had the advantage of time to think about the position - and indeed when play resumed, he set a zugzwang trap that Radjabov duly obliged by falling into and lost. This meant another set of two blitz games, only this time Kramnik easily won both to move into the semifinals.
Meanwhile Aronian - who was everyone's favorite to win the Candidates outright to be Anand's challenger - found a rather resilient and determined Alexander Grischuk foiling him all the way through their match. But finally the former Russian champion got to outplay his opponent by winning the final rapid game to take the match 2.5-1.5 to set-up an all-Russian semifinal.
The semifinal draw is now: Gata Kamsky vs. Boris Gelfand and Vladimir Kramnik vs. Alexander Grischuk. Play fets underway on Thursday, 12 May at 7:00AM ICC Server Time with Chess.FM commentary from GMs Yasser Seirawan and Jan Gustafsson. We'll also have our Game of the Day service and the New In Chess trivia contest, where each day an ICC member can win a 1-year subscription toNew In Chess magazine. Join ICC today byclicking herefor semifinal clash.
Official Fide site:http://kazan2011.fide.com/
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