"The cherished dream of every chessplayer is to play a match with the World Champion. But here is the paradox: the closer you come to the realisation of this goal, the less you think about it"
- Mikhail Tal
Standings after Round 7:
+3 Carlsen, Aronian 5/7
= Kramnik, Svidler 3.5/7
-1 Grischuk, Radjabov 3/7
-2 Ivanchuk, Gelfand 2.5/7
As we predicted prior to the tournament, the contest for the Challenger's seat seems to be between Carlsen and Aronian, but...outdistancing the other players like this?! Like the Tal Memorial in recent years, in a tournament like this where there are no 'bunnies', I expected Carlsen and Aronian to have a sure but slight edge over the others, but these two are simply playing at a higher level over the field, possessing the strength to produce multiple wins. It will be awesome to see one of these guys play for the title with Anand in November.
I'm very happy Aronian has been able to keep pace with Carlsen, but it will be tough to continue doing so for the second half - Carlsen's nerves and stamina are phenomenal, and he finishes events strongly - assuming Carlsen can keep playing at a level he is satisfied with until the end, a score of 9.5 or 10 points seems pretty plausible.
If there is a winner in tonight's Carlsen-Aronian game, obviously they will have a big edge to win the event, while Rounds 9, 11 and 13 where Carlsen and Aronian are both Black, appear to be the best chances for the others to beat the duo and shorten the gap.