Homestretch at 2016 Candidates!

Fédération Internationale des Échecs  (FIDE)

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)

Daaim Shabazz

Daaim Shabazz is the founder of The Chess Drum, while serving as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds a B.S. Computer Science from Chicago State University, an MBA in Marketing and a Ph.D. in International Affairs & Development, both from Clark Atlanta University. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

8 Comments

  1. On the outside, it seems like Caruana’s main strength is his ability to keep calm under pressure. And, with two rounds to go, it’s really about who can keep their serenity going into the final stretch. To that extent, I think Fabi has what it takes to come out ahead.

  2. I’m rooting for Caruana because I think he has the best shot against Carlsen. Having said that, Karjakin is playing very well and has beaten Carlsen a few times, even if it’s mostly been faster time controls. So who knows!

  3. 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

  4. 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)

  5. Um surprised by the outcome of this practice event i wuz rootin for one of the Americnan practicers! Short r u tryna be funny like me, they tell me in buffalo N.Y. yall gms supposed to be some kinda OVA- DA -BORED genius is that true? UM still here, i hear yall been practicinmy funny knight trick?

  6. Lionel, why don’t you write in normal English please. I do not understand a word that you are saying.

  7. oh thanks Leonard didnt know, plz consider ur misunderstanding of the post may have more to do with the fact that ur a traditionalist as opposed to an ULTRAMODERNIST so ur just learnin when ur reading what UM writing , like Um at the Buffalo Public Library right now , IN REAL LIFE.

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