During this rest day, the 2018 World Candidates tournament is heading toward a very exciting ending. America’s Fabiano Caruana has held sole lead (6/9) for a couple of rounds breaking away from Shahkriyar Mamedyarov (5½/9), also undefeated. Caruana has had a very solid showing thus far and only obstinate defense by Ding Liren (and some misses by Fabiano) prevented a full-point lead over the field. Ding has drawn all nine of his games.
There has been a lot of attention on Caruana for the past few years since rejoining the U.S. National Team. Since then he has won a U.S. Championship and a gold medal with the U.S. Olympiad team. In recent days, excitement has heightened and the prospects of him earning the right to challenge Magnus Carlsen seem possible. Caruana missed an opportunity in 2016 when Sergey Karjakin defeated him to win the tournament. Karjakin lost the match against Carlsen that November.
There are many who feel that Caruana would represent a threat to Carlsen’s supremacy. He has a decent head-to-head score, has a style that is flexible and nerves that are steady enough to rankle the Norwegian. Hikaru Nakamura, who has been knowing Caruana since childhood, also talked about his strengths.
Video by World Chess.
This skill has been on fully display during the first half of the tournament. Although he snatched a win from Vladimir Kramnik, he missed one at a critical stage of the game with Ding Liren. After pressing Ding for three hours, Caruana seemed to be on the verge of collecting the full point with his deft rook maneuvers. In the maze of complications, he missed his chance. Here was the segment when the winning line was shown…
Video by World Chess
Nevertheless, Caruana has been well-prepared and showed his resilience in snatching a win from beleaguered Kramnik and scoring an important win over Levon Aronian. Kramnik has been in a tailspin since the loss and is virtually out of contention. GM Ian Rogers cautioned readers about Kramnik being the “drunkened gunslinger” with nothing to lose. Caruana faces him in round 11. Before that, Caruana will face Mamedyarov who is hot on his heels. The road is a tough one and Caruana will have to keep his nerve to become the first American to vie for the World Championship since Bobby Fischer.
Main Site: https://worldchess.com/berlin/
Games (TWIC): https://theweekinchess.com/assets/files/pgn/wchcand18.pgn