The Candidates 2020

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  • #31
    Qd3 and Giri resigns - the point is Rg3 (if Rxd3+ exd3 and the pawn queens first) Kc3! and Kd2, Ke2.


    • #32
      Nice finish by Nepo. 73.... Qd3!


      • #33
        The Candidates 2020

        March 17, 2020

        Round One

        It is interesting to watch all the video coverage of the tournament. Peter Svidler and Magnus Carlsen contributing to the broadcast on chess24 with Lawrence Trent and Jan Gustafsson.

        The official site has Evgenij Miroshnichenko with Daniil Dubov. On the wall analytical board is Daniil Yuffa and the interviewer on the post mortems appears to be Anna Burtasova. The last two are guesses because the Russian transmission is notorious for not identifying who is onscreen.

        I just checked with google and found, to my amazement, that Anna is FIDE registered as a Canadian player. Perhaps some ChessTalker can further elaborate on her career.

        I got an email this morning from World Chess which is running the tournament with FIDE, saying that to keep the players safe from photographers and the coronavirus, that they have had dolls made who resemble the players and the photographers can photograph these dolls but not the players.

        This has to be an elaborate leg-pull. If it is real then World Chess has hit bottom in their attempts at chess promotion. See the photographs of the dolls at:

        “WORLD CHESS, a media company and an official partner of FIDE, the chess governing body, developed an innovative way to supplement the event’s coverage without putting the players at risk: Ken and Barbie-like models of the players are prepared and will be available for photography and filming while the players can be safe during the event.

        5-inch players’ replicas, wearing suits as ties as per FIDE regulations, sitting at the chess tables, can be photographed shaking opponents hands, while the real players will avoid doing that based on the recent health advisory.

        “Unlike in boxing or tennis, in chess players have not been historically docile to pose for photos, especially after losing an important game,” explains Ilya MEREZNON, World Chess CEO, “Now, with the coronavirus and stress, they will probably avoid appearing in public. Having organized numerous tournaments and aware of this, World Chess will supplement the event’s coverage with photos of 5-inch replicas of the players, so the media and organizers can have more assets for the event’s coverage””

        The games of Round One

        Round 1, Mar. 17
        MVL – Caruana, Fabiano
        C78 Ruy Lopez, Archangel variation

        1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.a4 Rb8 8.c3 d6 9.d4 Bb6 10.a5 Ba7 11.h3 O-O 12.Be3 exd4 13.cxd4 Nb4 14.Nc3 Bb7 15.Ng5 Qe7 16.e5 dxe5 17.Nxf7 e4 18.Nd6+ Kh8 19.Nxb7 Rxb7 20.Qe2 c6 21.Rad1 Rd7 22.f3 exf3 23.Rxf3 c5 24.dxc5 Rxd1+ 25.Nxd1 Bxc5 26.Qf2 Bd6 27.Nc3 Nd3 28.Qe2 Nc5 29.Ba2 Re8 30.Qd2 Nce4 31.Nxe4 Nxe4 32.Qd3 Ng5 33.Bxg5 Bc5+ 34.Kh1 Qxg5 35.Rf1 Qe5 36.Qd5 Qe2 37.Qf5 Qe5 38.Qxe5 Rxe5 39.Rd1 g6 40.Bd5 Re7 41.Bc6 Re2 42.Bb7 Rxb2 43.Bxa6 Ra2 44.Bxb5 Rxa5 1/2-1/2

        Final Position


        Round 1, Mar. 17
        Ding, Liren – Wang, Hao
        A20 English, Kingside Fianchetto

        1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 Bc5 4.d3 O-O 5.Nc3 c6 6.Nf3 d6 7.O-O Re8 8.Na4 Bb4 9.a3 Ba5 10.b4 Bc7 11.e4 a5 12.Bb2 Na6 13.b5 cxb5 14.cxb5 Nc5 15.Nxc5 dxc5 16.a4 Bg4 17.Ra3 Nd7 18.h3 Bh5 19.Qb1 b6 20.Nd2 Nf8 21.Bf3 Qg5 22.h4 Qg6 23.Qd1 Bxf3 24.Qxf3 h5 25.Qf5 Rad8 26.Qxg6 Nxg6 27.Kg2 f6 28.Nc4 Kf7 29.Bc1 Rd7 30.f4 exf4 31.Bxf4 Nxf4+ 32.gxf4 f5 33.e5 Re6 34.Kf3 Rg6 35.Ne3 Ke6 36.Rd1 Bd8 37.Ra2 Rd4 38.Nc2 Rd5 39.Ne3 Rd7 40.Rdd2 Bxh4 41.Rg2 Rg4 42.Rh2 g6 43.Nxg4 fxg4+ 44.Ke3 Be7 45.Rac2 h4 0-1

        Final Position


        Round 1, Mar. 17
        Grischuk, Alexander – Alekseenko, Kirill
        A20 English, Kingside Fianchetto

        1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 Bc5 4.d3 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.Nc3 Nxc3 7.bxc3 O-O 8.Qc2 Nc6 9.Nf3 h6 10.O-O Rb8 11.Bb2 b6 12.Rad1 Qe8 13.e4 Bd6 14.Nh4 Bg4 15.f3 Bd7 16.f4 exf4 17.gxf4 Na5 18.Rde1 Qd8 19.Qf2 Nc4 20.Bc1 Bc5 21.d4 Be7 22.Nf3 f5 23.Qe2 Nd6 24.e5 Ne4 25.Nd2 Nxd2 26.Bxd2 Be6 27.Qd3 Qd7 28.Be3 c6 29.a4 a6 30.Qxa6 Ra8 31.Qxb6 Bd5 32.Qb2 Rxa4 33.Ra1 Rfa8 34.Rxa4 Rxa4 35.Ra1 Rxa1+ 36.Qxa1 Bxg2 37.Kxg2 Qd5+ 38.Kf2 Bh4+ 39.Ke2 Qg2+ 40.Kd3 Qe4+ 41.Kd2 Qg2+ 1/2-1/2

        Final Position


        Round 1, Mar. 17
        Giri, Anish – Nepomniachtchi, Ian
        A33 English, symmetrical, Geller variation

        1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 e6 6.g3 Qb6 7.Ndb5 Ne5 8.Bf4 Nfg4 9.e3 a6 10.h3 axb5 11.hxg4 Nxc4 12.Rc1 d5 13.b3 Bb4 14.bxc4 Ra3 15.Be5 f6 16.Bd4 Qa5 17.Be2 Bxc3+ 18.Rxc3 Rxc3 19.Kf1 b4 20.g5 e5 21.Bxc3 bxc3 22.gxf6 gxf6 23.Qb1 Qc7 24.Qd3 b5 25.Qxc3 bxc4 26.e4 dxe4 27.Rh4 Be6 28.Rxe4 O-O 29.Bxc4 Kg7 30.Qb3 Rb8 31.Bxe6 Rxb3 32.Rg4+ Kf8 33.Bxb3 Qc1+ 34.Kg2 Qc6+ 35.Kg1 h5 36.Rg8+ Ke7 37.Rg7+ Kd6 38.Rh7 Qf3 39.Rh8 e4 40.Rd8+ Ke7 41.Bd1 Qc3 42.Rd5 h4 43.gxh4 f5 44.Rxf5 Qe1+ 45.Kg2 Qxd1 46.Rg5 Qa1 47.Rg4 Qb1 48.Rg3 Qxa2 49.Rh3 Qd5 50.Kf1 Qd1+ 51.Kg2 Qg4+ 52.Rg3 Qh5 53.Ra3 Qd5 54.Kg1 Kf6 55.Rg3 Qd1+ 56.Kg2 Kf5 57.Rg5+ Kf4 58.Rg3 Qd5 59.Kf1 Qd2 60.Kg2 Qd1 61.Re3 Kf5 62.Rg3 Kf6 63.Rh3 Kg6 64.Rg3+ Kh5 65.Rh3 Qb1 66.Re3 Kxh4 67.Rg3 Kh5 68.Rh3+ Kg4 69.Rg3+ Kf4 70.Re3 Qd1 71.Ra3 Ke5 72.Rg3 Kd4 73.Re3 Qd3 0-1

        Position after White’s 46.Rg5


        Comments from the Chat Room

        - MVL 1/2-1/2 Caruana is the first result of the 2020 #FIDECandidates! "A theoretically important game" (Svidler)

        (Nigel Short) - I think Giri has fortress, if he sacrifices his queen. I cannot believe that there are any serious chances of winning this.

        Lawrence Trent: "I don't believe in fortresses. I am quoting a famous..." Magnus Carlsen [interrupting to finish Trent's sentence]: "Rapper."

        Jan: "Is Kirill a bit of a time trouble addict himself?" Peter: "Yes, he likes thinking" Lawrence: "I wish I liked thinking..." Peter: "We all wish for some version of that, Lawrence... you and thinking should be more of a couple!"

        - Wow! After going unbeaten in 14 games in his last #FIDECandidates joint top seed Ding Liren is going down against Wang Hao!

        - It is a pleasure to be able to watch the tournament while my school is closed down. Even more so with the @chess24com stream. They even have Magnus commentating. Seeing something like this tournament going on as normal is reassuring.

        (Romain Edouard) - Ding Liren's 30.f4 is probably his worst move over many years. It seems being quarantined here and there wasn't the best psychological preparation.

        Caruana: "We're one of the last sporting events in the world not to have been cancelled - we'll see at the end if it was the right decision"

        chess24 - Peter Svidler is live now from Yekaterinburg talking about the strange experience of holding a tournament during the coronavirus epidemic:

        (chess24) - Two unexpected early leaders of the #FIDECandidates - Wang Hao and Ian Nepomniachtchi


        • #34
          Rd 2 It didnt take long for Fabulous Fabi to strike. All of a sudden his pieces were swarming the kingside! (count em - 5!). Then Nf4 pretty as a picture. and Nxh5+ demolition.


          • #35
            Ding Liren played 15...f5 which seemed natural but when later combined with g5 turned out to be a bad plan. Within a few moves MVL had all the pawn breaks on the queenside and then Ding's pieces became entangled and he soon lost a piece.


            • #36
              Ding Liren is now 0-2 a shocking start.


              • #37
                Nepo played a Berlin against Grischuk and had all the dynamic chances but chose the wrong knight path and soon draw.


                • #38
                  Wang Hao played a Nimzovitchian focus on the isolated D pawn and then a blockading knight on d4. As they say: Good things come from positional play. Now its starting to look like a Capablanca like squeeze as White controls the C-file and has the magic c5 square.


                  • #39
                    Wang Hao has gained all the trumps for the endgame - a passed B pawn, bishop over knight and the C file. Now can he guide the pawn home or will he look for other ways to transpose his advantage?


                    • #40
                      The Candidates 2020

                      March 18, 2020

                      Round Two

                      The commentators on chess24 are Lawrence Trent, Jan Gustafsson, Peter Heine Nielsen and Alireza Firouzja. Peter coached Vishy Anand 2002 - 2012 and has been coaching Magnus Carlsen since 2013.

                      About four hours in to their commentary, there was some discussion about the merits of Bronstein’s Zurich 1953. No one seemed to have been influenced by this classic. One supposes that the influential books change from generation to generation.

                      There was a NIC article a few years ago which stated that Bronstein annotated the games but most of the writing was done by a life-long friend of Bronstein – Boris Vainshtein.

                      Asked about their favorite chess book – these were the answers:

                      Jan – Life and Games of Mikhail Tal

                      Lawrence – Jonathan Rowson’s Chess for Zebras

                      Peter – Larsen’s 50 Selected Games

                      Alireza – Mark Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual

                      A google review of the Rowson book for those like myself who are familiar with the title but not the content!

                      Jonathan Rowson, author of the highly acclaimed Seven Deadly Chess Sins, investigates three questions important to all chess-players:

                      1) Why is it so difficult, especially for adult players, to improve?

                      2) What kinds of mental attitudes are needed to find good moves in different phases of the game?

                      3) Is White's alleged first-move advantage a myth, and does it make a difference whether you are playing Black or White?

                      In a strikingly original work, Rowson makes use of his academic background in philosophy and psychology to answer these questions in an entertaining and instructive way. This book assists all players in their efforts to improve, and provides fresh insights into the opening and early middlegame.

                      All this discussion with three games finished and Wang Hao – Giri five hours old and still going on.


                      It is understandable that the organizers of the Candidates want the tournament to go on. They took any suggested measures to keep the players safe from viral contamination. At the same time, they held an opening ceremony in which the theatre seats were filled. Lennart Ootes published a photo showing this. There were no players present.

                      There was criticism of such a large gathering. For example, Garry Kasparov wrote this:

                      Demonstrating that this FIDE event is an extension of the Russian federation. Critical journalists banned, photo censored, and this huge gathering against all international guidance & common sense. Tragic.

                      The photo was then removed:

                      This photo by @LennartOotes was briefly available for download but then removed from the @FIDE_chess Flickr account. FIDE has received criticism for allowing a big crowd (without players) at the #FIDECandidates opening ceremony in spite of worldwide advice for social distancing.

                      The statement from FIDE:

                      Please note that the players were not present. With just 93 cases registered in Russia, this kind of public gathering (up to 5,000 people) was still allowed in Russia. But we understood that seen from other countries, this image may cause alarm, so we opted for taking it down.


                      The games:

                      Round 2, Mar. 18
                      Caruana, Fabiano – Alekseenko, Kirill
                      E20 Nimzo-Indian, Kmoch variation

                      1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.f3 d5 5.a3 Be7 6.e4 dxe4 7.fxe4 c5 8.d5 exd5 9.exd5 O-O 10.Be2 Re8 11.Nf3 Bg4 12.O-O Nbd7 13.d6 Bf8 14.h3 Bh5 15.Nb5 Re6 16.Bf4 a6 17.Nc7 Re4 18.Bh2 Rc8 19.g4 Bxg4 20.hxg4 Nxg4 21.Bd3 Nxh2 22.Bxe4 Nxf1 23.Qxf1 Bxd6 24.Nd5 g6 25.Qh3 Kg7 26.Kh1 Ne5 27.Nh4 h5 28.Rg1 Bf8 29.Nf4 Ng4 30.Nxh5+ gxh5 31.Bf5 Be7 32.Bxg4 hxg4 33.Qxg4+ Bg5 34.Qh5 1-0

                      Final Position


                      Round 2, Mar. 18
                      Nepomniachtchi, Ian – Grischuk, Alexander
                      C67 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defence, open variation

                      1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.Nc3 Ke8 10.h3 h5 11.Bf4 Be7 12.Rad1 Be6 13.Ng5 Rh6 14.Rfe1 Bb4 15.a3 Bxc3 16.bxc3 h4 17.Kh2 Kf8 18.Rb1 b6 19.Rb4 Re8 20.Ra4 a5 21.Bd2 c5 22.Rf4 Rh5 23.Rf3 Kg8 24.Bc1 Ne7 25.g4 hxg3+ 26.fxg3 Nc6 27.Bf4 Bc8 28.Rfe3 Nd8 29.Kg2 Ne6 30.Nxe6 Bxe6 31.g4 Rh8 32.Bg5 Kh7 33.Kg3 Rb8 34.Rd3 Rhe8 35.Red1 b5 36.Rd8 b4 37.Rxe8 Rxe8 38.cxb4 cxb4 39.axb4 axb4 40.Rd8 Rxd8 1/2-1/2

                      Round 2, Mar. 18
                      MVL – Ding, Liren
                      C88 Ruy Lopez, Closed

                      1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 O-O 8.h3 Bb7 9.d3 d6 10.a3 Qd7 11.Nc3 Rfe8 12.Bd2 Nd8 13.Nd5 Nxd5 14.exd5 c5 15.a4 f5 16.axb5 axb5 17.Rxa8 Bxa8 18.c4 Nf7 19.cxb5 g5 20.Nh2 Kg7 21.Bc4 Kg6 22.g4 Nh6 23.Qf3 Bd8 24.Qg2 f4 25.b4 Bb6 26.Qe4+ Kg7 27.bxc5 dxc5 28.Nf3 Nf7 29.Bc3 Bc7 30.b6 Bb8 31.Qf5 Qxf5 32.gxf5 Kf6 33.Nd2 Rd8 34.d6 Rxd6 35.Rb1 Nd8 36.b7 Bxb7 37.Ba5 1-0

                      Final Position


                      Round 2, Mar. 18
                      Wang, Hao – Giri, Anish
                      A37 English, symmetrical variation

                      1.c4 c5 2.Nc3 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 Nc6 5.Nf3 e6 6.h4 h6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nb5 d5 9.cxd5 exd5 10.O-O Nf6 11.Bf4 O-O 12.Qc1 a6 13.Nbxd4 Nxd4 14.Nxd4 Kh7 15.Rd1 Re8 16.Qc7 Qxc7 17.Bxc7 Bg4 18.f3 Rac8 19.Ba5 Bd7 20.Kf2 h5 21.Bf1 Ng8 22.Bc3 Bh6 23.Rd3 Ne7 24.Rad1 Bg7 25.e3 Kg8 26.R3d2 Ba4 27.Re1 Bd7 28.Ne2 Rc7 29.Bxg7 Kxg7 30.Nc3 Be6 31.Red1 b5 32.a3 Rb8 33.Ne2 a5 34.Nd4 Bd7 35.b4 axb4 36.axb4 Ra8 37.Rb2 Ra4 38.Rdb1 Rb7 39.Rc1 Rba7 40.Nxb5 Bxb5 41.Bxb5 Ra3 42.Be2 Rb7 43.b5 Rb6 44.Rd1 Kf6 45.Rdd2 Rb7 46.Bd3 Nc8 47.e4 dxe4 48.Bxe4 Rb6 49.Rd7 Rc3 50.Rb7 Rxb7 51.Bxb7 Nb6 52.Be4 Ke5 53.Rd2 Rb3 54.Bc6 Nc4 55.f4+ Kf6 56.Rd8 Rb2+ 57.Kf3 Nd2+ 58.Ke3 Nf1+ 59.Kf3 Nd2+ 60.Ke2 Ne4+ 61.Kf3 1/2-1/2

                      Position after 57.Kf3


                      Chat Room Comments

                      Olimpiu G. Urcan - A catastrophic start for Ding Liren, one of the most talked about potential challengers for the world title in the past two years. The only good news is that if he does make a comeback, it will be the greatest comeback in the history of the Candidates.

                      Chess24 - Tough times for Kirill Alekseenko - he made his 28th move with 2 seconds to spare while Fabiano Caruana has an hour to decide on the cleanest kill!

                      Firouzja on MVL after Ding Liren tries g5!? in a desperate position: "You cannot bluff against him - he's himself a good bluffer!"

                      Chess24 - Wang Hao-Anish Giri makes the time control, with Giri staring 0/2 in the face... and Wang Hao in with a great chance of the sole lead on 2/2!

                      Later: Chess24 - Some measure of order is returned to the world as Anish Giri manages to hold a draw against Wang Hao!


                      • #41
                        Wang Hao - Giri draw. So where did Wang Hao go wrong? I think as early as 40.Rc5! It was a chance to occupy a magical square. One of the old maxims: Occupy the bishop 5 square. It ties Black down.


                        • #42
                          I hope the good endgame doctor GM Karsten Mueller weighs in on this one.


                          • #43
                            Two very interesting games. Ding - Caruana and Alekseenko - Nepo


                            • #44
                              Ding - Caruana I wonder about 9...e5 and 10..Bc2. It may all be book but it seems artificial. Later on the black queen swings into e3, across to b3, and nips the pawn a4. All those queen moves. I thought only I played like that to unbalance positions. Anyways, the computer really likes Ding's central pawn wedge and consolidating his king position. It gives him an advantage of 2.5.


                              • #45
                                Nepo is playing an interesting French defence. Instead of 16...bxc5 he plays 16...Qxc5. Completely different strategy in leaving the C-file open to focus on the backward pawns.