2016 World Chess Candidates (Moscow, Russia)

Fédération Internationale des Échecs  (FIDE)

The World Chess Candidates eight-player tournament has includes six of the world’s top ten players. Former World Champions Viswanathan Anand and Veselin Topalov will face a coterie of young talent for a right to challenge Magnus Carlsen for the chess crown. There have been a number of predictions posted on various sites which favor Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura as favorites. Levon Aronian will see if he can break the mold of his disappointing runs for the championship. They’ll also be joined by Russian duo of Sergei Karjakin and Peter Svidler. Anish Giri is hoping to make a breakthrough in his first Candidates tournament. Winning this supertournament would be the biggest of his short career.

Eight of the world’s top grandmasters come to Moscow to play in the tournament that will be contested as a double round-robin over 14 games. The winner will play a match for the title against reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen next November in the US.

The eight participants in the Candidaes tournament will be Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria and Anish Giri of the Netherlands, who qualified based on their ratings; Viswanathan Anand of India, the runner-up of the last championship match in 2014; Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana of the United States, who were the top two finishers in the last Grand Prix; Sergey Karjakin and Peter Svidler of Russia, the winner and runner-up, respectively in the last World Cup; and Levon Aronian of Armenia, a wild card choice.

The guaranteed prize fund of the Candidates Tournament will be in excess of 420,000 USD. First prize is €95,000, second €88,000, third €75,000, fourth €55,000, fifth €40,000, sixth €28,000, seventh €22,000 and eighth €17,000.

The time control for the games is 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, 50 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game, plus an additional 30 seconds per move starting from move one. More details are given at the links below.

Main Site: https://moscow2016.fide.com/
Regulations: https://www.fide.com/FIDE/handbook/regscandidates2016.pdf
Pairings: https://www.thechessdrum.net/tournaments/WorldCandidates2016/Candidates_Tournament_2016_Pairings.pdf
Schedule: https://moscow2016.fide.com/schedule/

2016 Candidates Tournament
March 11th-March 27th, 2016 (Moscow, Russia)
Participants
#
Name
Title
Federation
Flag
Rating
1 Caruana, Fabiano GM USA
2794
2 Giri, Anish GM Netherlands
2793
3 Nakamura, Hikaru GM USA
2790
4 Aronian, Levon GM Armenia
2786
5 Topalov, Veselin GM Bulgaria
2780
6 Anand, Viswanathan GM India
2762
7 Karjakin, Sergey GM Russia
2760
8 Svidler, Peter GM Russia
2757
Main Site

Daaim Shabazz

Dr. Daaim Shabazz is the creator and webmaster of The Chess Drum. He serves as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds an MBA in Marketing and a doctorate in International Affairs & Development. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

36 Comments

  1. Round #1
    Friday, 11 March 2016

    2016 World Championship Candidates
    March 11th-27th, 2016 (Moscow, Russia)
    Round #1
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    1.1 Karjakin
    2760
    ½-½
    Svidler
    2757
    1.2 Nakamura
    2790
    ½-½
    Caruana
    2794
    1.3 Giri
    2793
    ½-½
    Aronian
    2786
    1.4 Anand
    2762
    1-0
    Topalov
    2780
    Games

    Anand bolts out front with an impressive win over Aronian!

    Two American hopefuls.

    Two American hopefuls, Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana.
    Photo by Amruta Mokul.

    The 2016 Candidates tournament is underway and it started off like the 2014 edition… Anand bolting out to an early lead. In that tournament, it was Levon Aronian he defeated. This time it was Veselin Topalov. It was an impressive showing in the Spanish game that appeared heading for equality until zeitnot took over and Topalov erred Anand conjured an ingenious mating attack.

    Also like the last Candidates, Svidler and Karjakin drew their game in an uneventful. The only drama was after Karjakin played 1.Nf3, but Svidler was able to gain a playable position and both sued for peace. The American derby saw Hikaru Nakamura facing Fabiano Caruana with hopes of bringing the crown back to American soil. Nakamura played the English and the game ventured into a relatively equal position. Caruana wearing Brown University t-shirt under his jacket was his usual cool self and drew comfortably in 31 moves.

    Giri-Aronian was the longest game as the Dutchman fought with his miniscule advantage with hopes that Aronian would falter. While Giri continued to pressed he had to be content with a split and he finally agreed to a draw in 65 moves.

    Official Site: https://moscow2016.fide.com/#intro

    Standings

    Viswanathan Anand, 1/1 (+1 -0 =0), Fabiano Caruana, .5/1 (+0 -0 =1), Hikaru Nakamura, .5/1 (+0 -0 =1), Sergey Karjakin, .5/1 (+0 -0 =1), Levon Aronian, .5/1 (+0 -0 =1), Anish Giri .5/1 (+0 -0 =1), Peter Svidler, .5/1 (+0 -0 =1), Veselin Topalov, 0/1 (+0 -1 =0)

    Video by GM Daniel King.

  2. UM rootin for Sunil’s Son to beat theses guys hes in his prime , who yall got? oh dunno why he gave Carjakin a piece.

  3. Round #2
    Saturday, 12 March 2016

    2016 World Championship Candidates
    March 11th-27th, 2016 (Moscow, Russia)
    Round #2
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    2.1 Svidler
    2757
    ½-½
    Topalov
    2780
    2.2 Aronian
    2786
    ½-½
    Anand
    2762
    2.3 Caruana
    2794
    ½-½
    Giri
    2793
    2.4 Karjakin
    2760
    1-0
    Nakamura
    2790
    Games

    Karjakin breaks out into the lead!

    Sergey Karjakin capitalizes off of Hikaru Nakamura's sham sacrifice.

    Sergey Karjakin capitalizes off of Hikaru Nakamura’s sham sacrifice.
    Photo by Amrita Mokal (ChessBase India).

    Official Site: https://moscow2016.fide.com/#intro

    Standings

    Viswanathan Anand, 1.5/2 (+1 -0 =1), Sergey Karjakin, 1.5/2 (+1 -0 =1), Levon Aronian, 1/2 (+0 -0 =2), Anish Giri 1/2 (+0 -0 =2), Peter Svidler, 1/2 (+0 -0 =2), Fabiano Caruana, 1/2 (+0 -0 =2), Hikaru Nakamura, .5/2 (+0 -1 =1), Veselin Topalov, 0.5/2 (+0 -1 =1)

    Video by GM Daniel King.

  4. Round #3
    Sunday, 13 March 2016

    2016 World Championship Candidates
    March 11th-27th, 2016 (Moscow, Russia)
    Round #3
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    3.1 Nakamura
    2790
    ½-½
    Svidler
    2757
    3.2 Giri
    2793
    ½-½
    Karjakin
    2760
    3.3 Anand
    2762
    ½-½
    Caruana
    2794
    3.4 Topalov
    2780
    0-1
    Aronian
    2786
    Games

    Aronian closes gap with win over Topalov!

    A tense battle unfolded between two fierce fighters, but...

    A tense battle unfolded between two fierce fighters, but…

    ... both are in good cheer despite Topalov's loss.

    … both are in good cheer despite Topalov’s loss.

    ... both are in good cheer despite Topalov's loss.

    A cheerful Anand is also at the top of the leaderboard.
    Photos by Amrita Mokal (ChessBase India).

    Official Site: https://moscow2016.fide.com/#intro

    Standings

    Sergey Karjakin, 2/3 (+1 -0 =2), Levon Aronian, 2/3 (+1 -0 =2), Viswanathan Anand, 2/3 (+1 -0 =2), Anish Giri 1.5/3 (+0 -0 =3), Fabiano Caruana, 1.5/3 (+0 -0 =3), Peter Svidler, 1.5/3 (+0 -0 =3), Hikaru Nakamura, 1/3 (+0 -1 =2), Veselin Topalov, 0.5/3 (+0 -2 =1)

    Video by GM Daniel King.

  5. Round #4
    Tuesday, 15 March 2016

    2016 World Championship Candidates
    March 11th-27th, 2016 (Moscow, Russia)
    Round #4
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    4.1 Svidler
    2757
    ½-½
    Aronian
    2786
    4.2 Caruana
    2794
    ½-½
    Topalov
    2780
    4.3 Karjakin
    2760
    1-0
    Anand
    2762
    4.4 Nakamura
    2790
    ½-½
    Giri
    2793
    Games

    Karjakin finesses Anand with novelty … on +2.

    Aronian

    This wasn’t the novelty, but must’ve caught Anand off guard.

    Aronian

    It was pointed out that Anand is now India’s #2 player. We know better!

    Official Site: https://moscow2016.fide.com/#intro

    Standings

    Sergey Karjakin, 3/4 (+2 -0 =2), Levon Aronian, 2.5/4 (+1 -0 =3), Anish Giri 2/4 (+0 -0 =4), Peter Svidler, 2/4 (+0 -0 =4), Fabiano Caruana, 2/4 (+0 -0 =4), Viswanathan Anand, 2/4 (+1 -1 =2), Hikaru Nakamura, 1.5/4 (+0 -1 =3), Veselin Topalov, 1/4 (+0 -2 =2)

    Interview with GM Hikaru Nakamura with IM Sagar Shah

    Video by Sagar Shah/Amrita Mokul.

    Video by GM Daniel King.

  6. Round #5
    Wednesday, 16 March 2016

    2016 World Championship Candidates
    March 11th-27th, 2016 (Moscow, Russia)
    Round #5
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    5.1 Giri
    2793
    ½-½
    Svidler
    2757
    5.2 Anand
    2762
    ½-½
    Nakamura
    2790
    5.3 Topalov
    2780
    ½-½
    Karjakin
    2760
    5.4 Aronian
    2786
    ½-½
    Caruana
    2794
    Games

    No blood, but plenty of bruises

    Very lively press conference. These guys like each other too much! We need a controversy. Somebody needs to glare, growl, scowl, sneer... do something! Photo by Amrita Mokal.

    Very lively press conference. These guys like each other too much! We need a controversy. Somebody needs to glare, growl, scowl, sneer… do something! 😉 Photo by Amrita Mokal (ChessBase India).

    Video by AGON.

    Official Site: https://moscow2016.fide.com/#intro

    Standings

    Sergey Karjakin, 3.5/5 (+2 -0 =3), Levon Aronian, 1/5 (+1 -0 =4), Anish Giri 2.5/5 (+0 -0 =5), Peter Svidler, 2.5/5 (+0 -0 =5), Fabiano Caruana, 2.5/5 (+0 -0 =5), Viswanathan Anand, 2.5/5 (+1 -1 =3), Hikaru Nakamura, 2/5 (+0 -1 =4), Veselin Topalov, 1.5/5 (+0 -2 =3)

    Video by GM Daniel King.

  7. Round #6
    Thursday, 17 March 2016

    2016 World Championship Candidates
    March 11th-27th, 2016 (Moscow, Russia)
    Round #6
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    6.1 Anand
    2762
    1-0
    Svidler
    2757
    6.2 Topalov
    2780
    ½-½
    Giri
    2793
    6.3 Aronian
    2786
    1-0
    Nakamura
    2790
    6.4 Caruana
    2794
    ½-½
    Karjakin
    2760
    Games

    Anand torches Svidler …
    Nakamura doomed by “fingerfehler” dropping to -2.

    The five-time World Champion got a crushing attack. Photo by Amrita Mokal.

    The five-time World Champion got a crushing attack.

    Annotations by IM Sagar Shah.

    Thrilling battle today against would be hopefuls to face Magnus Carlsen. Photo by Amrita Mokul.

    Thrilling battle today against would be hopefuls to face Magnus Carlsen.
    Photos by Amrita Mokal (ChessBase India).

    * * *

    Nakamura’s “fingerfehler” results in devastating loss (WATCH)

    Video by AGON.

    The controversy was that Hikaru Nakamura had touched the king, paused and then said “j’aboube”. Levon Aronian apparently protested. Against the rules, the players started talking to each other before the arbiter stepped in. Play resumed and after a short think, Nakamura played the fatal 74…Kf8?? There was talk about Nakamura not attending the pressure conference which according to the regulations violates the rules. Obviously upset at his -2, he may have made things more difficult and faces a possible sanction. Let us hope that he will make reparation and make a strong comeback in the second half.

    Official Site: https://moscow2016.fide.com/#intro

    Standings

    Sergey Karjakin, 4/6 (+2 -0 =4), Levon Aronian, 4/6 (+2 -0 =4), Viswanathan Anand, 3.5/6 (+2 -1 =3), Fabiano Caruana, 3/6 (+0 -0 =6), Anish Giri 3/6 (+0 -0 =6), Peter Svidler, 2.5/6 (+0 -1 =5), Veselin Topalov, 2/6 (+0 -2 =4), Hikaru Nakamura, 2/6 (+0 -2 =4)

    Video by Sagar Shah.

    Video by GM Daniel King.

  8. President of the Association of Chess Players GM Emil Sutovsky stated,

    I am sorry, but Aronian pretending this endgame to be winning left me speechless. I put it mildly. This sounds like complete rubbish. The plan he claimed to “know” and to be “simply winning” just doesn’t work and has more than one refutation. Top player is not supposed to mislead hundreds of thousands people this way. Also the way Levon conveyed his “knowledge” was quite shocking. But still less shocking than Nakamura trying to j’adoube his king after he started making the move. The players must be really under severe pressure in this event. Sorry I have to write it instead of praising Anand or singling out Karjakin’s brilliant defence. But I really believe that being a top player means a highest responsibility towards the entire Chess World.

    ~ GM Emil Sutovsky (Facebook)

  9. Of course Naka touched his King and whisper j’adoube after the fact, he even expressed confusion when Levon pointed this out, nevertheless; after a minute or so of thought he did move his King. Let’s not forget how Naka dominated super tournament in 2015, ah not that long ago, and was asked a ridiculous request after he won the tournament, by none other than the tournament organizer, to play a mini speed match against Anand for the title!! Naka even accepted and stopped the interview to prepare for this match. This revealed the level of his class, not a split second “touch move incident”. This tournament is not over and Naka is capable of coming out on top and challenging Carslen for the world title.

    1. He is definitely able to come back. Lots of people simply wait for Hikaru to do something wrong and then pounce. They even criticize when there is nothing there. I told him “keep your head up”.

  10. WOW missed this , unfortumate to lose in such a way, good to hear from ya Glenn lol, Daaim if ya see William the Terminator Morris see if u can drag him outta the backroom and come to the chessdrum ya know many young heads on here can learn alot from his wisdom in chess when he decides to put it forward. Ya know drummas or children in chess can no longer afford to wait on some gm to start some talkin so i guess we gotta do it for them, right adia?

  11. Round #7
    Saturday, 19 March 2016

    2016 World Championship Candidates
    March 11th-27th, 2016 (Moscow, Russia)
    Round #7
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    7.1 Svidler
    2757
    ½-½
    Caruana
    2794
    7.2 Karjakin
    2760
    ½-½
    Aronian
    2786
    7.3 Nakamura
    2790
    1-0
    Topalov
    2780
    7.4 Giri
    2793
    ½-½
    Anand
    2762
    Games

    Nakamura bounces backs …
    … fighting chess except one humdrum game.

    Are they signing the scoresheets for a draw already? No... but Anish Giri has a new nickname ...

    Are they signing the scoresheets for a draw already? No… but Anish Giri has a new nickname … “The Artist” because he likes to draw. Yep… seven straight.

    Very tense battle between two tail-enders. Topalov tried to break through, but Nakamura found the right moves. Photos by Amrita Mokal.

    Very tense battle between two tail-enders. Topalov tried to break through,
    but Nakamura defended well and pocketed the point.
    Photo by Amrita Mokal (ChessBase India).

    * * *

    Nakamura on his win and touch-move controversy

    Video by Sagar Shah (ChessBase India).

    Official Site: https://moscow2016.fide.com/#intro

    Standings

    Sergey Karjakin, 4.5/7 (+2 -0 =5), Levon Aronian, 4.5/7 (+2 -0 =5), Viswanathan Anand, 4/7 (+2 -1 =4), Fabiano Caruana, 3.5/7 (+0 -0 =7), Anish Giri 3.5/7 (+0 -0 =7), Peter Svidler, 3/7 (+0 -1 =6), Hikaru Nakamura, 3/7 (+1 -2 =4), Veselin Topalov, 2/7 (+0 -3 =4)

    Video by GM Daniel King.

  12. Round #8
    Sunday, 20 March 2016

    2016 World Championship Candidates
    March 11th-27th, 2016 (Moscow, Russia)
    Round #8
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    8.1 Svidler
    2757
    ½-½
    Karjakin
    2760
    8.2 Caruana
    2794
    1-0
    Nakamura
    2790
    8.3 Aronian
    2786
    ½-½
    Giri
    2793
    8.4 Topalov
    2780
    ½-½
    Anand
    2762
    Games

    Caruana crushes Nakamura … only one point back.

    Nakamura went down to -2 and his hopes are fading. Photo by Amrita Mokal.

    Nakamura went down to -2 and his hopes are fading.

    The battle for American supremacy featured the reigning U.S. Champion versus the highest-rated American. Both got their first tastes of chess in New York City and have evolved into world-class players albeit in different ways. Their styles are also in direct contrast.

    After Nakamura’s 17…b3, who would break through first?

    This game was a Berlin, but soon took on the characteristics of a Sicilian where both sides have attacks on opposite wings. It appeared that black would break through first after 17…b3, but white stops the attack with an instructive defensive maneuver 18…bxa2+ 19.Ka1.

    After this white built up a decisive attack with a number of precise moves. White’s 18.Rhg1 followed by the maneuver Nf3-d2-e4 seemed to be the winning idea. With black’s attacked stopped cold, white’s attack was unstoppable and Caruana won in style. This loss was a shock not only because of the result, but because Nakamura is in a tailspin in the most important tournament in his career. He had been talking about how important this tournament was all year. With six games to go, he can put together an epic run, but his time is running out.

    Very tense battle between two tail-enders. Topalov tried to break through, but Nakamura found the right moves. Photos by Amrita Mokal.

    While Nakamura has fallen on hard times this tournament, he came to the press conference in a good mood. Perhaps he was impressed with his compatriot’s handling of the position. Will he begin helping Caruana if he is eliminated? Photos by Amrita Mokal (ChessBase India).

    * * *

    Fabiano Caruana on his commanding win over Nakamura

    Video by IM Sagar Shah (ChessBase India).

    Annotations by IM Sagar Shah (ChessBase India).


    Standings

    Sergey Karjakin, 5/8 (+2 -0 =6), Levon Aronian, 5/8 (+2 -0 =6), Fabiano Caruana, 4.5/8 (+1 -0 =7), Viswanathan Anand, 4.5/8 (+2 -1 =5), Anish Giri 4/8 (+0 -0 =8), Peter Svidler, 3.5/8 (+0 -1 =7), Hikaru Nakamura, 3/8 (+1 -3 =4), Veselin Topalov, 2.5/8 (+0 -3 =5)

    Official Site: https://moscow2016.fide.com/#intro

    Video by GM Daniel King.

  13. Keeping it real….

    Many Americans and non American have relentless hope for Nakamura to ascend to the top.
    However, truth is Nakamura peaked a couple of years ago after winning the Tal Steel tournament.

    He cannot win elite tournaments, however, he is certainly capable of winning non elite tournaments.
    Ie…Elite tournaments – invitational 2700 & above.

    Lately there has been a string of incidents regarding his over the board play…early draw at Millionaire Open and on two occasions the touch move rule.

    His presence at a tournament previously caused an excitement among the masses. But what we are now seeing is a fall from the ranks.

    1. Dee J,

      I’ve heard every comment about Nakamura.

      I’ve heard he would never make 2600, 2650, 2700, 2750, 2800; I heard he would never beat a top-ten player or win an elite tournament; I heard he would never make top ten and then top five. I hear he will never beat Carlsen. Now I hear he is past his prime at 28. The standards keep going up for him.

      You may have missed 2015 where he won elite events. He won Gibraltar and Zurich, both repeats. Took joint 1st in FIDE Grand Prix Series and got second a couple elite tournaments.That is not a person on decline. Saying that… he is having a bad run in Moscow. I believe it is less about chess than his psychological preparation. Two games he blundered and another game he touched his king. It shows his nerves aren’t there. It’s a high pressure tournament and it’s his first go at it. At age 28, there is no way we will now what the future holds, but he certainly is a force in the top-ten and still good for chess.

  14. Round #9
    Monday, 21 March 2016

    2016 World Championship Candidates
    March 11th-27th, 2016 (Moscow, Russia)
    Round #9
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    9.1 Topalov
    2780
    ½-½
    Svidler
    2757
    9.2 Anand
    2762
    1-0
    Aronian
    2786
    9.3 Giri
    2793
    ½-½
    Caruana
    2794
    9.4 Nakamura
    2790
    ½-½
    Karjakin
    2760
    Games

    Anand beats Aronian… catches Karjakin!
    Carlsen-Anand III on tap?

    * * *

    Anish Giri speaks on his bungling against Caruana.

    Video by IM Sagar Shah (ChessBase India).

    Interesting round as Viswanthan Anand again showed why he is a five-time champion and beat front runner Levon Aronian is a technical win. Again overlooked in this tournament, he appears in a dead heat with leader Sergey Karjakin who drew against the hapless Hikaru Nakamura. The latter making rather candid comments about his chances, but may turn into a horrible “spoiler”.

    One player who can also be a spoiler is Anish Giri because he keeps spoiling good positions. He was four pawns up against Fabiano Caruana and had several chances to close the door on Caruana’s menacing bishops. Yet, “The Artist” goes on to draw his ninth consecutive game. the aphorism “Leko” will soon become “Giri” if he doesn’t win a game. Meanwhile, Caruana stayed alive in his quest to play Magnus Carlsen for the championship in New York.

    Annotations by IM Sagar Shah (ChessBase India).

    Standings

    Sergey Karjakin, 5.5/9 (+2 -0 =7), Viswanathan Anand, 5.5/9 (+3 -1 =5), Fabiano Caruana, 5/9 (+1 -0 =8), Levon Aronian, 5/9 (+2 -1 =6), Anish Giri 4.5/9 (+0 -0 =9), Peter Svidler, 4/9 (+0 -1 =8), Hikaru Nakamura, 3.5/9 (+1 -3 =5), Veselin Topalov, 3/9 (+0 -3 =6)

    Official Site: https://moscow2016.fide.com/#intro

  15. well naka has the talent to comeback and still win but u just gotta want to do it is all, so i wish him well.

  16. Daaim you put Dee’s statement in context, and I must agree with you. I’ve also have heard all these statements about Naka’s playing abilities, just check his score against the top ten and it will show he has a plus score. This is not news, but what is interesting is Anish inability to find a simple move like 24. Ke1 in his 9th round game against Fabiano. Anish should have won that game but the “Artist” wanted to draw.

  17. Well the chess looks pretty decent but Um wonderin about Pete Myers does he still practice with the traditionalist, i see Caruana got a chance in this event so thats cool too.

  18. Round #10
    Wednesday, 21 March 2016

    2016 World Championship Candidates
    March 11th-27th, 2016 (Moscow, Russia)
    Round #10
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    10.1 Svidler
    2757
    ½-½
    Nakamura
    2790
    10.2 Karjakin
    2760
    ½-½
    Giri
    2793
    10.3 Caruana
    2794
    1-0
    Anand
    2762
    10.4 Aronian
    2786
    ½-½
    Topalov
    2780
    Games

    Caruana sparkles against Anand and moves into joint 1st

    Fabiano Caruana is peaking at the right time. His win over Viswanathan Anand came in a convincing manner and sets the stage for a last-round clash with Sergey Karjakin. Karjakin drew his sixth game in a row and seems to be trudging in mud. His play has lacked sparkle in the last few rounds and he has been in trouble a couple of times. In addition, he has a tough schedule in his last four games facing an angry Anand tomorrow … Veselin Topalov, Levon Aronian before facing Caruana.

    Caruana played the zinger 18.Bxh6! The attack was swift and Anand resigned on move 33. Painful loss.

    Caruana had prepared a line for Anand and the former champion walked into it. A very tense moment occurred after 12. Qc2! h6 13. Bf4 Ne4 14. Rad1 Bf5 15. Ne5! Nd6 (15…Nxg3 16.e4 Nxf1 17.exf5 Nxh2 18.Bxc6!?) 16. e4 Bh7 17. Qe2 Ne7 18. Bxh6! Caruana said he wasn’t sure if the piece sacrifice was correct, but felt it would be hard to find the correct continuation over the board. He was right. Anand’s position collapsed after the beautiful 22.f6! sealing off any chance of black freeing the kingside. Most predicted the natural 22.g4. After 22…Ne4, Caruana played 23.Rfe1! when 23..Nxc3 24.Rc1 Nb5 25.Bxb7 and black loses material. With this win, Caruana now moves into a first place tie with good tiebreaks. Chances are looking good for the American player.

    There was a lot of talk on “Today in Chess” show about Anish Giri’s spate of drawn games. Maurice Ashley opined that “something is missing” and perhaps there is not enough killer instinct to close games. Caruana would not be in the position he’s in if Giri had close the four-pawns-up game. While Giri is only 21, he has to figure out a way to make the next step. Yasser Seirawan mentioned that Peter Leko went through the same phase in trying to stabilize against top tier players and then trying to push later on. It never happened and he only got one championship shot at Vladimir Kramnik when the world crown was still divided.

    Hikaru Nakamura appears to be more relaxed, but is still dangerous. He is due to win a game and could possibly finish with an even score if he gets a reasonable +2 out of last four games. Topalov can be a spoiler if he beats Karjakin and/or Caruana. Should be an interesting couple of days before the last rest day!

    * * *

    Fabiano Caruana on his win over Anand

    Video by IM Sagar Shah (ChessBase India).

    Standings

    Fabiano Caruana, 6/10 (+2 -0 =8), Sergey Karjakin, 6/10 (+2 -0 =8), Viswanathan Anand, 5.5/10 (+3 -2 =5), Levon Aronian, 5.5/10 (+2 -1 =7), Anish Giri 5/10 (+0 -0 =10), Peter Svidler, 4.5/10 (+0 -1 =9), Hikaru Nakamura, 4/10 (+1 -3 =6), Veselin Topalov, 3.5/10 (+0 -3 =7)

    Official Site: https://moscow2016.fide.com/#intro

    Video by GM Daniel King.

  19. Round #11
    Thursday, 21 March 2016

    2016 World Championship Candidates
    March 11th-27th, 2016 (Moscow, Russia)
    Round #11
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    11.1 Aronian
    2786
    0-1
    Svidler
    2757
    11.2 Topalov
    2780
    ½-½
    Caruana
    2794
    11.3 Anand
    2762
    1-0
    Karjakin
    2760
    11.4 Giri
    2793
    ½-½
    Nakamura
    2790
    Games

    Caruana-Topalov brawl is the stuff of legends! Fire on Board!

    Fire on Board! Photo by Amrita Mokal.

    Fire on Board!

    Sergey Karjakin had been shaky in his past few games and would be facing a wounded tiger, not an enviable task. Viswanthan Anand came out with god preparation in another anti-Berlin Defense where Anand had a small advantage. Karjakin, clearly losing energy in the final stage, kept making small errors in the opposite colored bishop ending. With his bishop virtually imprisoned, Anand made incremental improvements and black ended up without any moves. This win for Anand puts him in first place with Fabiano Caruana who played a wild game against an off-form Veselin Topalov.

    * * *

    Topalov explains the wild opening!

    Video by IM Sagar Shah (ChessBase India).

    Standings

    Fabiano Caruana, 6.5/11 (+2 -0 =9), Viswanathan Anand, 6.5/11 (+4 -2 =5), Sergey Karjakin, 6/11 (+2 -1 =8), Anish Giri 5.5/11 (+0 -0 =11), Peter Svidler, 5.5/11 (+1 -1 =9), Levon Aronian, 5.5/11 (+2 -2 =7), Hikaru Nakamura, 4.5/11 (+1 -3 =7), Veselin Topalov, 4/11 (+0 -3 =8)

    Official Site: https://moscow2016.fide.com/#intro

    Video by GM Daniel King.

  20. Today, Anand gets beat up by Nakamura’s English opening prep in open tactical game. As they say in boxing, “styles make the fight”

    Nakamura +6-1=12 versus Anand
    Anand nearly even with Carlsen at +8-10=38
    and Nakamura famously doesn’t match up well versus Carlsen +0-12=18

    1. Interesting that Nakamura has had so much success against Anand and a couple of other top players. I believe he will the Rubix Cube called Magnus Carlsen at some point, but his problems are clearly in the psychological realm. He prepared well in chess, but not in his psychological makeup. He made two uncharacteristic blunders. Nxg3 lost to a very simple combination. A player of his level would not miss this unless there were unseen pressures.

      1. oh interestin that most people suggest Naka has psychic issues when it comes to his score vs Magnus, UM not sure why that is? Why do u call Magnus a Rubix Cube?

  21. Round #12
    Thursday, 21 March 2016

    2016 World Championship Candidates
    March 11th-27th, 2016 (Moscow, Russia)
    Round #12
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    12.1 Svidler
    2757
    ½-½
    Giri
    2793
    12.2 Nakamura
    2790
    1-0
    Anand
    2762
    12.3 Karjakin
    2760
    1-0
    Topalov
    2780
    12.4 Caruana
    2794
    ½-½
    Aronian
    2786
    Games

    Anand knocked back… Karjakin back in the hunt!

    Topalov clearly seems out of his league this tournament.

    Veselin Topalov clearly seems out of his league this tournament. Here he is trying to figure out what happened in his 35-move flogging. Photo by Amrita Mokal.

    * * *

    Nakamura reflects on his game and the tournament

    Video by IM Sagar Shah (ChessBase India).

    Standings

    Sergey Karjakin, 7/12 (+3 -1 =8), Fabiano Caruana, 7/12 (+2 -0 =10), Viswanathan Anand, 6.5/12 (+4 -3 =5), Peter Svidler, 5.5/12 (+1 -1 =10), Anish Giri 6/12 (+0 -0 =12), Levon Aronian, 6/12 (+2 -2 =8), Hikaru Nakamura, 5.5/12 (+2 -3 =7), Veselin Topalov, 4/12 (+0 -4 =8)

    Official Site: https://moscow2016.fide.com/#intro

    Video by GM Daniel King.

  22. Federation Internationale des Echecs  (FIDE)

    Homestretch at 2016 Candidates!

    An epic finale’ is brewing in Moscow at the 2016 Candidates Tournament. Both Sergey Karjakin and Fabiano Caruana are gripped in a tense tie for 1st place and are scheduled to meet in the last round of the tournament. At this point Karjakin has the better tiebreak based on his number of wins, so Caruana will have to win one of the last two encounters.

    One day this will be a classic photo.

    One day this will be a classic photo.

    Caruana has sprinted toward the finish line after underwhelming the first seven rounds with draws. After his key win over compatriot Hikaru Nakamura, he pulled ahead in the field after beating Viswanathan Anand. Karjakin lost brutally to Anand, but rebounded with a win over the hapless Veselin Topalov.

    This sets up a very tense showdown where Caruana will face both Russians evoking memories of Bobby Fischer against the Soviets. All the parallels are there: New York, Brooklyn, child prodigy, Russian opposition. Of course, Caruana is a rather mild-mannered personality with tough nerves and a universal style. Equally, Karjakin is a tough competitor who will come without any expense spared to make him successful. He has had an unimpressive second half, but will be more than prepared. Levon Aronian will be a tough prequel to his finale with Caruana.

    The possibilities of a Carlsen-Karjakin match vs. Carlsen-Caruana contrast sharply. As mentioned by commentators, Karjakin has been around the elite level for many years, but despite his various sponsorships, has not established an identifiable media brand. He is not particularly visible and his fan base may not be equal to the other top players. However, he is eminently-qualified to compete and the match will be competitive. Whether Madison Avenue will make an investment is another matter.

    GM Sergey Karjakin

    GM Sergey Karjakin

    For Carlsen-Caruana, there would be immediate attention given that it will be in New York, a place Caruana called home for most of his childhood. There are all the connections to Brooklyn-bred Fischer and Caruana’s Italian ancestry will certainly give marketing agencies a lot to work with. In addition, he has much in common with Carlsen with both being telegenic bachelors, epitomizing a mano-mano, gladiator battle. Finally, Caruana has a decent score against Carlsen which would make for great anticipation.

    Caruana with his second GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov
    Photos by Amrita Mokal (ChessBase India).

    So what will be the outcome of the Candidates? We are all hoping for an ending free of drama and controversy, but there were many critics of the tie-breaking format. Instead of playing a playoff, the winner will be determined by tiebreaks… unless all the tiebreaks still produce a tie. In that case, rapid games are played. There can actually be a five-way tie for first!! One thing that is certain is that chess fans are in for an exciting finale’ and an even more exciting championship in November. Carlsen is certainly watching.

    2016 World Championship Candidates
    March 11th-27th, 2016 (Moscow, Russia)
    Round #13
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    13.1 Caruana
    2794
    *-*
    Svidler
    2757
    13.2 Aronian
    2786
    *-*
    Karjakin
    2760
    13.3 Topalov
    2780
    *-*
    Nakamura
    2790
    13.4 Anand
    2762
    *-*
    Giri
    2793
    Round #14
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    14.1 Svidler
    2757
    *-*
    Anand
    2762
    14.2 Giri
    2793
    *-*
    Topalov
    2780
    14.3 Nakamura
    2790
    *-*
    Aronian
    2786
    14.4 Karjakin
    2760
    *-*
    Caruana
    2794
    Games (PGN)

  23. 2016 World Championship Candidates
    March 11th-27th, 2016 (Moscow, Russia)
    Round #13
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    13.1 Caruana
    2794
    ½-½
    Svidler
    2757
    13.2 Aronian
    2786
    ½-½
    Karjakin
    2760
    13.3 Topalov
    2780
    0-1
    Nakamura
    2790
    13.4 Anand
    2762
    ½-½
    Giri
    2793
    Games

    Caruana misses…
    …in a must-win situation against Karjakin!

    Tension has never been higher and a dream finale has occurred in the 2016 World Championships Candidates Chess Tournament. After 13 rounds, both Sergey Karjakin and Fabiano Caruana sit at the top of the table with 7.5/13 with Viswanthan Anand on 7/13.

    Both Caruana-Svidler and Aronian-Karjakin had high drama. In Caruana-Svidler, the game went down a R+B vs. R ending with Svidler defending. In a tense moment, Caruana was trying to weave a mating net while Svidler was trying to resist. We have seen Vladimir Kramnik win such a game against Lazaro Bruzon with only a couple moves left to claim a draw.

    In this game, Svidler seem to be holding, but then made a mistake with 104.Rh5?? and walked into a losing maneuver which Caruana did not see. If he had seen the winning move, he would have delivered mate on exactly the 116th move.

    Svidler had just played 104…Rh5?? which loses to 105.Rb2! (diagram #1)and after 105…Rh3 106.Bf2! black is forced to move closer into the force field of the bishop (crucial point). After 106…Rf3 107.Bc5 Rf4+ 108.Bd4 Rf3 109. Rb4+ Ka3 110.Rb7 Ka2 111.Rb2+ Ka3 112.Re2! (diagram #2) threatening Bc5+ winning.

    In Aronian-Karjakin, the Armenian had an overwhelming position in the middlegame, but allowed Karjakin to complicate by sacrificing a piece and holding the draw. After the game, Aronian was visibly upset at allowing the opportunity slip away.

    Video by worldchess.com.

    * * *

    Hikaru Nakamura scored another win, this time against Veselin Topalov who is having a forgettable tournament. The game showed a bit of Nakamura’s preparation and in the post-game interview he seemed to be relieved a the turn of fortune in this tournament. He hopes to end on a solid note with one game left. He is currently at 50% after being -2 for most of the tournament.

    Anand-Giri was a draw of course, but not from lack of effort by the Dutch player. There were some very sharp tactics where Anand would have gone wrong. Nevertheless, the jokes are starting to pile up for the Dutch player who has 13 straight draws. So the memes keeping coming…

    All joking aside, Giri really went for the win in a crucial position putting Anand under tremendous pressure. The position was extremely complicated, but in the end they agreed to a draw! The post-game press conference was very lively. Actually in the final position, Anand demonstrated that he possibly had chances. It is better to watch it. Enjoy!

    Anand-Giri Press Conference

    Video by worldchess.com.

    Standings

    Sergey Karjakin, 7.5/13 (+3 -1 =9), Fabiano Caruana, 7.5/13 (+2 -0 =11), Viswanathan Anand, 7/13 (+4 -3 =6), Peter Svidler, 6/13 (+1 -1 =11), Anish Giri 6.5/13 (+0 -0 =13), Levon Aronian, 6.5/13 (+2 -2 =9), Hikaru Nakamura, 6.5/13 (+3 -3 =7), Veselin Topalov, 4/13 (+0 -5 =8)

    Official Site: https://moscow2016.fide.com/#intro

  24. 2016 World Championship Candidates
    March 11th-27th, 2016 (Moscow, Russia)
    Round #14
    #
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    Result
    Name
    Flag
    Rating
    14.1 Svidler
    2757
    ½-½
    Anand
    2762
    14.2 Giri
    2793
    ½-½
    Topalov
    2780
    14.3 Nakamura
    2790
    ½-½
    Aronian
    2786
    14.4 Karjakin
    2760
    1-0
    Caruana
    2794
    Games (PGN)

    Karjakin beats Caruana in a thrilling finale’!

    When Round #14 started, there were a multitude of possibilities in determining the challenger to Magnus Carlsen. The Anand-Svidler match could affect the tiebreak. If Anand wins, the Fabiano Caruana could win the tiebreak if he drew with Sergey Karjakin. When Karjakin opened with 1.e4 and Caruana 1…c5, the gloves were off! More excitement reverberated when the two players essayed a Richter-Rauzer Attack. After Anand-Svidler had drawn, it was all up to Caruana to get the win. Commentators indictated that he got the unbalanced position that he sought.

    This is a dream position for Sicilian aficionados… attack on opposite wings and two bishops fighting to keep a dynamic equilibrium. When Anand-Svidler was drawn it became clear that Caruana had to keep the tension. In the above, position 12…h5 was played in Ivanchuk-Piket. The idea is obviously …Bh6, but also to apply pressure on the dark squares. Black also has options to play …b4 and to go …Ne5. Caruna played 19…a5!? with a pawn sacrifice 20.Rxf6 being answered by 20…Bg7 and 21…Qe5 when black has compensation.

    As the game wore on, tensions ratcheted up after Karjakin sacrificed a pawn with 30.e5!? to open lines against the exposed black king. Only needing a draw to advance, this was not a big concession for the Russian. Caruana had a chance to trade a pair of rook for a slight advantage, but probably felt a need to keep the tension. This was the right decision. However, it was a double-edged sword… keep the game complicated with your king in the center or reduce the pressure on your king by trading down and reducing chances for a win. Caruana went for the first option.

    Caruana opted for the queenside with 26…a4. The move looks optically good, but white was able to consolidate with the improbable 27.bxa4 Bxa4 28.Qd3 Bc6 29.Bb3. It appeared black was doing OK, but was facing zeitnot and played 36…Re4?? Karjaking played a stunner!

    Time was getting low for the American has he had to walk a tightrope. After 36.Qd2, Karjakin was attack both sides of the board. The b4-pawn was about to fall, but 36…Be4 would have keep the tension. Caruana erred with 36…Re4?? instead and was hit by the haymaker, 37.Rxd5! Karjakin stated after the game that the sacrifice wasn’t difficult to calculate at all. On second look, the move makes perfect sense, but it is difficult to play such a move in a high-pressure game.

    Karjakin had “ice water in his veins” as he rattled off the final moves with the efficiency of an accountant. After 37…exd5 38.Qxd5 Qc7 39.Qf5! with devastating effect. After 39…Rf7 40.Bxf7 Qe5 41.Rd7+ black resigned after 41…Kf8 42.Rd8+. It’s mate after 42…Kxf7 43.Qh7+ Ke6 44.Qd7#. Give Caruana credit, he played to win and chose the right strategy, but didn’t get the “W”. Karjakin goes through.

    Video by GM Daniel King.

    Video by ChessBase India.

    * * *

    Standings

    Sergey Karjakin, 8.5/14 (+4 -1 =9), Fabiano Caruana, 7.5/14 (+2 -1 =11), Viswanathan Anand, 7.5/14 (+4 -3 =7), Anish Giri 7/14 (+0 -0 =14), Peter Svidler, 6/14 (+1 -1 =12), Levon Aronian, 7/14 (+2 -2 =10), Hikaru Nakamura, 7/14 (+3 -3 =8), Veselin Topalov, 4.5/14 (+0 -5 =9)

    Official Site: https://moscow2016.fide.com/#intro

  25. Great game by both players! Rxd5!! not hard to see for Sergey but difficult for most players. Looking forward toward to Carlsen vs Sergey.

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