Having done all the hard work in 12 rounds, Viswanathan Anand needs a point from the last two outings to win the €600,000 World Candidates chess tournament at Khanty Mansisyk, Russia, this weekend.
Unbeaten and untroubled so far, Anand (7.5 points) takes on Sergey Karjakin in the 13th round on Saturday. In the final round, he plays white against out-of-contention Peter Svidler.
There are only a few combination of results that can deny Anand the title and a rematch for the world title against Magnus Carlsen in November.
As things stand, only second-placed Levon Aronian (6.5) and joint-third duo of Karjakin and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (six each) hold realistic chances of stopping Anand in his pursuit.
In the most unlikely event of Anand losing the remaining games, Aronian will have the best chance to win the title. Should Karjakin win twice, including the final game with black against Aronian — and Anand fails to beat Svidler — then the 24-year-old Russian will top the eight-man field.
Mamedyarov, who plays Svidler and Kramnik, too will have to win both games to keep alive his chances of claiming the title. But going by the form of the contenders, two draws should be enough for Anand.
Creditably, Karjakin is getting good positions in the last few rounds and his title chances depend entirely on beating Anand. Should Karjakin over stretch, Anand can well ensure the title with a round to spare.
Anand’s decision not to press harder for a possible victory against Dmitry Andreikin remained the subject of debate in the chess world during Friday’s rest day.
Had Anand found the winning continuation, he would have needed only a draw in the final two rounds to win the title. Since a tired Anand did not concede any ground to Aronian, in the last three rounds, the Indian is still the firm favourite. He only needs to avoid an accident on Saturday.
13th round pairings:
Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 6) vs Viswanathan Anand (7.5); Dmitry Andreikin (Rus, 5.5) vs Levon Aronian (Arm, 6.5); Peter Svidler (Rus, 5.5) vs Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze, 6); Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 5.5) vs Veselin Topalov (Bul, 5.5).