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FIDE Candidates’ Tournament 2016

The most awaited chess event of this first part of 2016 is here. After a long cycle to define the line-up with the "hateful eight", the battle to get a seat at the board with the Norwegian who came from Mars to play for the World Champion title is eventually going to happen, from March the 11th to March the 28th. The tournament takes place in Moscow, Russia. Games start at 6AM EST the first two rounds, and at 7AM EDT from round 3 onward. U.S. switches to DST on March the 13th, whereas Russia doesn't use Daylight Saving Time. It is a 14-round Double Round Robin tournament. All play all twice.



Here is the list with the participants:

Player Country Qualification path Age Rating
Viswanathan Anand  India Loser of the World Chess Championship 2014 match 46 2784
Sergey Karjakin  Russia Top two finisher in the Chess World Cup 2015 26 2769
Peter Svidler  Russia Top two finisher in the Chess World Cup 2015 39 2751
Fabiano Caruana  USA Top two finishers in the FIDE Grand Prix 2014–15 23 2787
Hikaru Nakamura  USA Top two finishers in the FIDE Grand Prix 2014–15 28 2787
Veselin Topalov  Bulgaria Top two players with highest average 2015 rating who played in World Cup or Grand Prix 41 2780
Anish Giri  Netherlands Top two players with highest average 2015 rating who played in World Cup or Grand Prix 21 2798
Levon Aronian  Armenia Wild card nomination of Organizers (Agon), with FIDE rating in July 2015 at least 2725 33 2792

Express your VOTE on who will win this amazing tournament! Click HER


What does GM Yermolinsky thinks about the Candidates'?

Here is his LIVE show, where he gives us his impressions on the most important tournament of the year.


Round Reports

Round 1

Vishy, Vishy, Vishy! Yes, the first round of the Candidates' 2016 is all about the great Indian player, who swiftly beat Topalov in a fantastic game, to take the early sole lead. Again, everyone had Anand as the least probable winner of this event, and the "Tiger" shows once again that nobody should ever underestimate his immense class. The tournament is long - 14 rounds - and obviously it's not the case to start celebrating Anand, but it's just too good to see Vishy fight like a young stud, and reminding all his foes that he's there, and it won't be easy  for them. The US duel finished in a draw, with Nakamura apparently missing a good chance to get an advantage. Aronian and Giri played an interesting game, also drawn. the all-Russian match between Peter Svidler and Sergey Karjakin was draw. After the first round, Anand leads, followed by everyone else half a point behind, and Topalov at one full point. Tomorrow Round 2: Svidler-Topalov, Aronian-Anand, Caruana-Giri and Karjakin-Nakamura. 

GM Yasser Seirawan video recap 

The winner of the Guess The Result contest is Pancake, who guessed all the 4 results! Bravo! He wins three months of FREE membership.

The GOTD TRIVIA winner is MOM1. Congratulations! He wins 3 free months of membership.


Round 2

Today two games ended in a fairly quick draws. Svidler wasn't able to get anything going in the anti-Berlin against Topalov, who - probably trying to recover after yesterday bad start - opted for a solid game. Levon Aronian chose a line in the QGD against Anand that is not the most challenging one, and Anand was able to equalize comfortably with black. Caruana and Giri, the youngest participants and for sure among the favorites for the final victory, fought hard over the board. The final draw was not boring shuffling at all. The only decisive game was Karjakin's win over Nakamura. The game was interesting, with opportunities on both sides after the opening. In a very uncharacteristic way, Nakamura blundered at move 29, sacrificing a knight for the attack. The sac was not sound though, and after a few moves the USA hero realized he would have finished the forced variation a piece down, and resigned in a hopeless position. After two rounds Anand and Karjakin lead with 1.5, half a point ahead of the pack with Caruana, Giri, Aronian and Svidler. A full point behind the leaders Nakamura and Topalov. Tomorrow round 3: Nakamura-Svidler, Giri-Karjakin, Anand-Caruana, Topalov-Aronian. Games start at 3PM local time, 8AM EDT (US is switching to Daylight Saving Time tomorrow morning), 12 noon GMT and 1PM CET.

GM Alex Yermolinsky video recap 

The winner of the Guess The Result contest is Corocotta, who guessed all the 4 results! Bravo! He wins three months of FREE membership.

THE GOTD TRIVIA winner is MOAK. Congratulations!


Round 3

What a game! Svidler and Nakamura today kept all the chess world glued to their computer screens for six hours. Nakamura went all out for an attack, but didn't calculate everything perfectly, and found himself in muddy waters. Hikaru had to call all his stamina and great creativity up, but he did manage to play well and force Peter to settle for a draw. An exciting and entertaining game, which has been followed by enthusiast kibitzers all over the cyber world. Giri played a startling attacking game against Karjakin, showing that he doesn't fear any of these "big guys". Anish, in the heat of his furious attack, overextended his position a bit and, realizing he was two full pieces down(!), had to curb his attacking impetus and force a draw by perpetual. Anand and Caruana played very solid, without any real thrilling moment, and went for a "quiet" draw. Topalov sacrificed a pawn in the opening, to give his pieces more mobility. Unfortunately for Veselin, Aronian was able to continue his development while defending the extra pawn. Out of the opening - showing that his level of form is not at its best - Topalov lost a second pawn, missing that his Queen was pinned by Aronian's rook. Levon's duty at that point was to keep the huge advantage of two pawns, and so he did, entering quite easily into a totally won endgame. A bad blow for Topalov, who is now at -2 after three rounds. The tournament is long, with 11 rounds to go, but Veselin will have to find somehow his best chess to try a come-back. With today's win, Aronian joins Anand and Karjakin on top of the standings, with 2 points. Half a point behind another trio with Giri, Caruana and Svidler. With 1 point Nakamura, and Topalov close the list with 0.5 points. tomorrow is the first rest day. Plays resumes Tuesday at 8AM EDT - 12 noon GMT or 13:00 CET.

GM Lars Bo Hansen video recap 

Today a lot of people predicted 4 draws, but nobody was able to guess all the 4 results rightly! We have 8 winners! bennywinsTwoEqualsOnenikenwidiartto,  ECP,  TiredDad,  AbsoluteZero,  Radja and Tom. congratulations! All of them win 2 weeks of FREE membership!

THE GOTD TRIVIA winner is PEB216 Congratulations!


Round 4

Nakamura vs. Giri was the first game to finish today. The preparation of the two contenders looked incredibly strong, and they played fast and furious in positions that would have taken hours to be analyzed by "normal" players. During the press conference, Nakamura said "well, it's a pretty normal line". Chess in the era of computers, at its best. Aronian and Svidler reached an amazing position out of the opening, with 4 pawns on the same file.

The game went on to be a draw, but you don't see something like this very often at this level. ICC's commentator GM Lars Bo Hansen tweeted: "They should put a sign on Nakamura-Giri and Svidler-Aronian: don't try this at home!". Karjakin is Hero Of the Day. He won his first classical game against the great Anand, in Rubinstein style: get better pawn structure, tie defensive pieces down and circle from behind. After a number of years, Anand is not the first Indian player in the live rating list.

Is it the inevitable sign of time going by? We'll see: it's not the first time that Anand is declared finished, too old, only to bounce back every time. Caruana apparently missed a gold opportunity to win his game against Topalov. They went for a classical Giuoco Piano, with a lot of maneuvering to control the center.  At move 37 Topalov gave up a whole piece. People watching the game were amazed and Topalov looked totally lost. But Fabiano wasn't able to see a path to the victory and - probably out of bad nerves - played an inexplicable rook move, that gave Veselin breath and eventually the draw. A interesting round, with some wild play and a new leader: Sergey Karjakin, solo on top after 4 rounds. Tomorrow round 5: Giri-Svidler, Anand-Nakamura, Topalov-Karjakin, Aronian-Caruana. Games start at 8AM EDT, 12 noon GMT, 13:00 CET and 15:00 Moscow.

STANDINGS AFTER Round 4



 

Today we have a SPECIAL EDITION of the Game Of the Day video!
GM Alex Yermolinsky  and IM Vojislav Milanovic  recap the round

 

Again a lot of people predicted four draws, and nobody was able to guess all the 4 results. We have 6 winners: TwoEqualsOne, ECP, dietcoke, Radja, Corocotta, nikenwidiartto. They all win 2 weeks of FREE membeship. 

The winner of the GOTD TRIVIA contest is wstaylor. Congratulations!


Round 5

For the first time in the Candidates' tournament, all the games finished in a draw. But it wasn't a dull day in Moscow. Aronian vs. Caruana was quite an interesting game. Fabiano finally got to play his Benoni, which seems like he's been trying to for a while, according to what he said in a post-game interview: " I've been trying to play the Benoni for a while, but nobody lets me!". Aronian let him, and the game went on following the classical variation for the Benoni, with 9...Re8, 10.Nd2. Later in the game Aronian sacrificed a pawn, but it seemed at least dubious. Caruana had to allow a repetition, when Aronian was a whole lot of material down after going all-in for the attack, sacrificing material for the center. Probably Fabiano didn't find a safe way to avoid it.

Topalov put up a stubborn fight against the leader Karjakin, but the game didn't offer much for neither player to try, despite the exciting play. Giri found himself with a slight edge against Peter Svidler, but it took the young Hollander a bit too much time, and he allowed a repetition at move 26. Anand wasn't able to get anything out of the opening, and his game vs. Nakamura drifted rapidly to be a rather "normal" draw. Anand is again the first Indian player in the live rating list.

Tomorrow Round 6: Anand-Svidler, Topalov-Giri, Aronian-Nakamura and Caruana-Karjakin. The four draws leave the standings unchanged, with Karjakin leading by half a point over Aronian; Caruana, Giri, Anand and Svidler share 3-6 a full point from the leader; Nakamura and Topalov trail way behind.

STANDINGS AFTER Round 5

Today we have a SPECIAL EDITION of the Game Of the Day video!

GM Jon Speelman  and IM John Watson  recap the round

 

With 4 draws, we had again quite a bunch of winners in the Guess The Result contest: Pancake, TwoEqualsOne, ECP, Radja and bennywins, who predicted all games to be drawn. They win 18 days of FREE membership each.

The winner of the GOTD TRIVIA contest is Forgetful. Congratulations!


Round 6

A round full of action, drama and a bit of comedy. Without doubt the most interesting round in the Candidates' so far. Anand outplayed Svidler in a Ruy Lopez. Like in the old days, the great Vishy was able to set up a crisp attacking plan, after Svidler's 18 ...Nb2, which in post-mortem looked like a fatal mistake. "0.Ng5 is already winning. Peter didn't feel like giving his Queen away to try to resist the attack, but his choice led to a crushing loss in a few more moves. A game that could sign the path of the two players in the Candidates': Anand is back at +1, with a great spirit now, whereas Peter got whipped off the board in 20 moves, and that's not something that helps your morale. Caruana-Karjakin was a rollercoaster. At move 20 Karjakin decided to renounce to his Queen to open the game and find attacking chances. After some maneuvering, where it didn't seem that either played had the advantage, Karjakin sacrificed his knight, to give the "d" pawn mobility and have it reach the second row, backed-up by a rook. But it wasn't enough, and Karjakin had to defend brilliantly to survive. Caruana was forced to give back his Queen, and the players eventually reached a drawn position. An amazing game. Aronian-Nakamura was a dramatic piece of chess. Nakamura fought hard, avoiding subtle traps and pushing for the advantage. The players entered an equal endgame after an intense game. At that point, Hikaru grabbed his King, but then realized he could not move it, and let it go. Unfortunately for him, the rules of chess state that once you touch a piece, you have to move it.

 

The touch-king moment courtesy of WorldChess.

And moving the King in that position meant mayhem for the US number two. A bad experience for Nakamura, especially after such a hard-fought 6-hour game! In the live rating list, Karjakin is back in the top 10, and at the moment he seems to be the favorite for the final victory in this event. Tomorrow is the second rest day. Play resumes on Saturday, at 8AM EDT, 12 noon GMT, 13:00 CET, with live commentary in ICC.

STANDINGS AFTER Round 6

Today we have a SPECIAL EDITION of the Game Of the Day video!

GM Ronen Har-Zvi  and GM Larry Christiansen  recap the round

The winner of the Guess The Result contest is doraemon7, who guessed all the 4 results. Well done! He wins three months of FREE membership!

The winner fo the GOTD TRIVIA contest is AstroChessPilot. Congratulations!


Round 7

Another interesting round today, with the leaders facing each other. Aronian started strong against Karjakin, running his "a" pawn quickly to a5 and then a4, in an unusual way to play the opening. Karjakin had to stop the bold little fellow by playing a3. Sergey, in the French-type structure of the center, strangely enough did not go for the committal 10...e5 but instead played h4. Aronian saw this as a possibility to make the game a bit more positional, and exchanged in the center, equalizing the position. Aronian, however, want's able to push decidedly on Karjakin's king side, and gave the Russian way to liquidation. Aronian then decided to exchange his bad bishop and the game drifted shortly into a draw.

Anand was able to equalize quite easily after the opening. There was nothing Giri could do against Anand's calm and precise management of the game. A solid draw for the Indian genius, especially because he had black in this game. Svidler Caruana was an amazing game. They started with an English opening. Svidler played a new move with 9.Nge4 instead of the canonic 9.Bd2. After black castling, Svidler played h4. Enterprising chess, trying to walk off the usual paths. Peter started posing problems to Fabiano already at move 13, with Bg5. Caruana realized he was under some serious pressure on the king side. He had to defend patiently and very precisely not to succumb under Svidler's vehement hammering. Despite Caruana's excellent defense, the players entered an endgame that looked only a matter of technique for Svidler to bring home the full point. But the Russian missed a couple of clear chances to win the game. At move 41 the most pristine one: Caruana made a serious mistake by playing c4?, giving Svidler an easy win.

Unfortunately for Peter, he played 42.Bd5+??, instead of the immediately winning 42.a4. After these two mistakes in a row, the game went ahead a few more moves and then the players agreed to a draw. A huge missed opportunity for Svidler and a great (if not lucky) save by Caruana, who keeps his hopes alive for the final result.

 

Press conference Svidler-Caruana courtesy of Worldchess.

 

Nakamura Topalov was another thrilling encounter. In a Slav, Topalov congealed the center with 12...e4, and Nakamura started organizing an attack on the Queen side. Topalov, trying to create counter-play on the king side, sacrificed a pawn and then played the fantastic sac 21...Bxc5, prying the position open and centralizing his queen. Nakamura found a way to unpin his queen on the open "d" file, but Topalov calmly reacted to Naka's threats, and Hikaru had the get back with his queen, to keep under control the checkmate threats Veselin was posing on the king side. Unfortunately for Topalov, Nakamura was able to avoid all the tactical traps and Topalov's attack faded out, leaving the Bulgarian a piece down, hopeless.

 

Press conference Nakamura-Topalov courtesy of WorldChess

Nakamura bounces back after round 6 loss. Topalov now dwells alone at the bottom of the list, in a tournament that so far has been really bad for the former World Champion. Tomorrow Round 8 at 8AM EDT, 12 Noon GMT, 13:00 CET, with ICC's live commentary.

GM Ron W Henley video recap 

Today we have four winners today in the GTR contest: Pancake, ECP, Frankly and bennywins. All of them wer able to guess the 4 results. Bravo!

The winner of the GOTD TRIVIA contest is blunderville. Congratulations!


Round 8

Again only one decisive game in Round 8. Aronian-Giri was a quiet draw, with Giri drawing his eighth game in a row, and Aronian maintaining the lead. Anand-Topalov finished in a draw too. Anand seemed to have a slight edge, but there was no way for the Indian chess genius to break through, and he had to settle for a draw. Topalov, whose tournament has been horrible so far, managed to draw a game, which may help his morale. He can't win the event, of course, but for sure Veselin is able to play better chess.

Press conference Anand-Topalov courtesy of WorldChess.

Svidler-Karjakin was a very interesting game. Svidler, once again, had the advantage, but could not capitalize it, and Karjakin defended with nails and teeth not to lose the leadership he continues to share with Aronian, after this hard-earned draw.

Press conference Svidler-Karjakin courtesy of WorldChess.

Caruana and Nakamura played an enthralling game. Caruana castled long in a Berlin Defense, and the players started attacking full force, almost splitting the board in two. Nakamura pushed his pawns deep into Caruana's defensive field, but in doing so, he left his kingside without the needed protection. Caruana organized his attack coordinating very well two rooks, Queen and a knight, leaving his fellow countryman hopeless after Nakamura's attempts to defend his position. Caruana with this important win keeps up with the leaders, being only half a point behind now, whereas Nakamura, again at -2, unfortunately is not anymore among the players who can still grab the seat in front of the World Champion in November, to play for the title. tomorrow Round 9: Topalov-Svidler, Anand-Aronian, Giri-Caruana and Nakamura-Karjakin. Play starts at 8AM EDT, 12 noon GMT, 13:00 CET, and 14:00 local time in Moscow.

STANDINGS AFTER Round 8

GM Joel Benjamin video recap 

Today we broke all records, with NINE winners in the GTR contest: Pancake, TwoEqualsOne, TiredDad, chesskid2007, ECP, Daccord, Radja, nikenwidiartto and bennywins!

Winner of the GOTD TRIVIA contest is Gladiator46 - Well done!


Round 9

Anand takes one of the leaders and wipes him off the board. Is there still someone out there who says that chess is a sport for very young guys? Well, if so, this can only mean that Anand is still very young indeed! And Mr. Kasparov seems to agree with this grin

Anand played a fantastic rooks endgame with surgical precision, showing once again he's not to be called off for the final victory.

Press conference Anand-Aronian courtesy of WorldChess.

Nakamura and the other leader, Sergey Karjakin, played an interesting game, with both players trying to get the advantage, to no avail.

Giri and Caruana fought an epic battle for over 7 hours and 96 moves. Giri seemed to be on the verge of interrupting his incredible 8/8 draws streak. Caruana found again himself playing with an enemy's pawn very close to his king. Fabiano went for a double pawn sac, most likely part of his preparation. Giri was able to put Caruana under heavy pressure, but Fabiano showed a terrific resilience, playing on and getting slowly into the game. After over 7 hours, and some imprecisions mostly due to tension and tiredness, the two young gladiators agreed on a draw.

 

Press conference Giri-Caruana courtesy of WorldChess.

Luckily for Fabiano and Anish tomorrow is a rest day. After such a tiring battle, a day off is surely welcome.

Peter Svidler, who today had a fight with his hairdo, drew Topalov. 


Photo by David LLada

After today, the next 5 rounds will be really a thrill, with 5 players still there contending the spot to play Carlsen in November: Anand, Karjakin, Aronian, Caruana and Giri. Play resumes Wednesday, after the rest day, at 8AM EDT, 12 noon GMT, 13:00 CET.

STANDINGS AFTER Round 9

 

GM Larry Christiansen video recap 

The winner of the GTR contest today is Biscuetz, who guessed all the 4 results. Well done!

The winner of the GOTD TRIVIA contest is GreyWarden. Congratulations!


Round 10

There are a number of special days, such as father's day, mother's day, and even a Pi's day, for the math's freaks. Today in Moscow the eight gladiators celebrated the "c4" day. Three out of four games started with 1.c4, and in the fourth game, c4 was played at the third move. It was a big day, although only one game really stole all the attention of the many chess lovers who follow this amazing event. Giri collected his tenth draw, in an uneventful game against Karjakin. Svidler and Nakamura drew, doing little for either's tournament chances. Nakamura, in an interview after the game, said that this has been a rough event for him, and honestly called himself out of the competition for the final victory. Aronian-Topalov was a bit more interesting, but there were not intense moments, and it ended in a draw. The big game was Caruana-Anand. Caruana, conducting his army in an attack that will most likely make it in GM Larry Christiansen's weekly show, beat Anand to join Karjakin in the lead. Nothing is yet lost for the great Indian though, as he plays white against Karjakin tomorrow, and that will be one of the key-games of the whole event. Back to today, Fabiano is demonstrating all his will-power. After the epic battled he played with Giri in the last round, struggling for over 7 hours to stay alive, today the US number 1 unleashed a fantastic attack, with a piece-sac aimed at opening Anand's defense, posing serious problems for Vishy to solve. The Indian champion found a way to avoid getting checkmated, but then he played some imprecise moves, whereas Caruana was in full Komodo-style, precise and ruthless. A brilliant victory for Fabiano, which raises the hopes of all his fellow countrymen to see an American challenge Magnus Carlsen in New York, later this year.

 

Press conference Caruana-Anand courtesy of WorldChess.

Tomorrow Round 11. Now every round is decisive, and it'll be a thrill to keep following the most important tournament of the year. Play starts at 8AM EDT, 12 noon GMT, 13:00 CET.

STANDINGS AFTER Round 10

GM Jon Speelman  and GM John Fedorowicz  recap the round

Today we have a again multiple winners for the GTR contest: Speiretti, TiredDad, ECP, bennywins, TwoEqualsOne, Biscuetz, spoks7th and Corocotta.

Winner of the GOTD TRIVIA is SlimeDog2. Congratulations!

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