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GM Joel’s Chess Week Recap - Episode 161

Opening: C18, E70, D35, B90, B06, B22: French Winawer, King's Indian Kramer system, QGD 3... Nf6, Sicilian Najdorf, Robatsch defense, Sicilian Alapin

Player(s): Vachier-Lagrave, Nepomniachtchi, Hort, Wahlbom, Khanukov, Sveshnikov, Shirov, Sarana, Dzagnidze, Yip, Karthikeyan, Asadli

And then there were none... When the month began, there were several chess events in progress. With the sudden termination of the FIDE Candidates Tournament, the only events in the world are taking place online. FIDE took a lot of criticism for going through with the tournament in the first place. I took part in a controversial tournament myself; many argued that the World Senior Team Championship, which began March 6, should have been canceled. Admittedly, that event had a much older and more vulnerable player base, as well as a lot of people in close contact. Nevertheless, the tournament was terminated early because of initiatives taken by the Czech government. The Candidates started a few days after our return from Prague. FIDE might well have anticipated that no matter what precautions they might take for the players, there would be circumstances beyond their control. On Thursday, March 26, Vladimir Putin announced that Russia was closing down the country to air traffic. Continuing on would leave several players, arbiters, officials, journalists, etc. stranded in Russia for the foreseeable future. So the tournament is suspended at the halfway point, to be continued at an unspecified time in the future. This is where Ian Nepomniachtchi says, but wait, couldn't you have stopped the tournament one round earlier? Nepo is a bold, emotional, confident player. He came into this tournament with the Winawer French as his primary defense. It didn't play much of a role in his ascendancy to first place - he won twice with white and once with black against the English. With a few months to plan the remainder of the tournament, he might have considered replacing such a high-risk defense with something more robust (even the Sicilian). Holding a draw against MVL would have maintained a full point lead on him and a point and a half on the rest of the field. But now they will be co-leaders upon resumption after the Frenchman played a model game against his national defense.

Teacher's library (453) C18 E70 D35 B90 B06 B22 Vachier-Lagrave Nepomniachtchi Hort Wahlbom Khanukov Sveshnikov Shirov Sarana Dzagnidze Yip Karthikeyan Asadli

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