Candidates Tournament: Surprises and Disappointments at the Halfway Mark

Candidates Tournament: Surprises and Disappointments at the Halfway Mark

The Candidates tournament, a grueling chess competition where only the winner qualifies for a shot at the World Championship, has reached its halfway point. With seven rounds played and seven more to go, the tournament has witnessed a mix of surprises, disappointments, and memorable moments.

Overperformers:

Two Indian teenagers, Gukesh D and Praggnanandhaa R, have defied expectations with their impressive performances. Gukesh remained undefeated until Round 7, while Praggnanandhaa has showcased his exceptional opening preparation and aggressive play. Both are now in joint second place, just half a point behind leader Ian Nepomniachtchi.

Underperformers:

Hikaru Nakamura, the world No. 3, and Alireza Firouzja, the crown prince-in-waiting, have struggled to live up to their billing. Nakamura has managed only one win in seven rounds, while Firouzja has suffered three losses. Firouzja’s dismal performance has been attributed to his poor time management and a series of online blitz games he played before his Round 7 match.

Move that Shook:

Praggnanandhaa’s 4…f5 against Vidit Gujrathi in Round 3 was a bold and unexpected move that caught the chess world by surprise. The Delayed Shliemann in the Ruy Lopez is a hyper-aggressive line with a somewhat dubious reputation, but Praggnanandhaa played it with confidence and precision.

Time Trouble:

The time control at the Candidates has been a source of controversy. With 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, players have often found themselves in time trouble, leading to rushed decisions and costly mistakes. Gukesh, in particular, has suffered from this time pressure, losing a game to Firouzja in a mad time scramble.

Post-Game Press Conferences:

Post-game press conferences have provided moments of levity and intrigue. Nepomniachtchi was asked about the contents of his thermos, revealing that it contained tea purchased from a gift shop in Canada. Firouzja, after his first win, admitted that he needed to play risky chess and win all his remaining games to have a chance of qualifying.

Round 7 Results:

* Open: Nakamura drew with Nepomniachtchi, Caruana drew with Praggnanandhaa, Abasov drew with Gujrathi, Firouzja defeated Gukesh
* Women: Lagno drew with Salimova, Goryachkina drew with Tan, Muzychuk drew with Humpy, Lei defeated Vaishali

Round 8 Pairings:

* Open: Nakamura vs. Caruana, Nepomniachtchi vs. Abasov, Praggnanandhaa vs. Firouzja, Gujrathi vs. Gukesh
* Women: Lagno vs. Goryachkina, Salimova vs. Muzychuk, Tan vs. Lei, Humpy vs. Vaishali

Gukesh Stumbles, Nepomniachtchi Regains Lead in Candidates Tournament

Gukesh Stumbles, Nepomniachtchi Regains Lead in Candidates Tournament

In the intense battle for the Candidates Tournament, India’s D Gukesh suffered a heartbreaking loss to Alireza Firouzja in Round 7, knocking him out of the shared lead. The result propelled Ian Nepomniachtchi, who drew his game with Hikaru Nakamura, back into sole possession of first place.

Gukesh, playing with White, faced an unbalanced position created by Firouzja’s London System. Despite Firouzja’s struggles in the tournament, he found inspiration in an online blitz session on the morning of the game. With time running out, Firouzja executed a brilliant Nd7! move, forcing Gukesh into a time scramble.

Under immense pressure, Gukesh made a crucial mistake with Kh7, allowing Firouzja to deliver checkmate with 37…Rf3. The blitz session may have provided Firouzja with the spark he needed to pursue a mating attack, while Gukesh’s first defeat in seven rounds dealt a significant blow to his title hopes.

Meanwhile, R Praggnanandhaa continued his impressive run with an ambitious French Defense against world No. 2 Fabiano Caruana. Despite Caruana’s previous successes against the French Defense, Praggnanandhaa’s deep knowledge of the line forced a draw in 41 moves.

Praggnanandhaa expressed satisfaction with his tournament performance, highlighting the quality of his games and his ability to recall lines at the board. He credited his support system for helping him overcome tough moments.

As the players enter a rest day before the final seven rounds, the standings remain tight. Nepomniachtchi leads with 4.5 points, followed by Caruana and Praggnanandhaa with 4 points each. Gukesh is tied with Nakamura and Abasov at 3.5 points.

Indian Teenager Shares Lead in Candidates Tournament, Inspired by Viswanathan Anand

Indian Teenager Shares Lead in Candidates Tournament, Inspired by Viswanathan Anand

The Candidates Tournament, a prestigious chess event that determines the challenger for the World Championship, has reached its halfway point with an Indian teenager, Gukesh D, sharing the lead. This remarkable achievement is a testament to the transformative impact of Viswanathan Anand, India’s first chess superstar.

Thirty-three years ago, Anand’s victory in the Candidates match against Soviet player Alexsey Dreev shattered the notion that an Indian could break into the elite chess world. His success inspired a generation of Indian players, including Dibyendu Barua, who became India’s second Grandmaster.

In 1994-95, India hosted the Candidates quarterfinals and semifinals in Sanghinagar, Hyderabad. Anand faced Soviet-born American GM Kamsky in the quarterfinals and held a comfortable lead. However, Kamsky staged a remarkable comeback, winning the next two games and the two rapid playoff games to defeat Anand.

Despite this setback, Anand’s journey continued. He avenged his defeat against Kamsky in the PCA Candidates tournament final and qualified for his first World Championship against Garry Kasparov in 1995. His first World Championship title arrived in 2000, and he went on to become world champion four more times.

Anand’s success has inspired a new generation of Indian chess players, including Gukesh D, Vidit Gujrathi, and Praggnanandhaa R. These young players are now making their mark on the world stage, sharing the lead in the Candidates Tournament and dreaming of following in Anand’s footsteps.

Indian Grandmasters Rebound with Wins in Candidates Tournament Round 6

Indian Grandmasters Rebound with Wins in Candidates Tournament Round 6

Round 6 of the Candidates Tournament witnessed a resurgence for Indian grandmasters Vidit Gujrathi and R Praggnanandhaa, who secured the only decisive victories in the Open section.

Praggnanandhaa, after a disappointing draw against Ian Nepomniachtchi in Round 5, bounced back with a win against the tournament’s lowest seed, Nijat Abasov. The endgame proved to be a thrilling affair, with Abasov desperately trying to avoid a second consecutive loss. However, his decision to capture a pawn on a6 proved costly, as Praggnanandhaa spotted a brilliant move (40.Nd7) that sealed the game.

Gujrathi, who had endured two losses and a tough draw in the previous rounds, found redemption against Alireza Firouzja. The French-Iranian GM, known for his stylish attire, has struggled in this tournament. Gujrathi capitalized on Firouzja’s early mistakes, taking a pawn with 13…Qxf2? that ultimately led to his downfall.

The marquee matchup between Nepomniachtchi and Fabiano Caruana ended in a quick draw, continuing the trend of drawn encounters between the two former Candidates winners.

In the Women’s section, all games in Round 6 were decisive, with three victories for Black. Former world champion Tan Zhongyi maintained her lead with a win over Anna Muzychuk. Indian players Koneru Humpy and R Vaishali suffered losses to Kateryna Lagno and Lei Tingjie, respectively.

Gukesh Triumphs in Six-Hour Marathon, Joins Candidates Tournament Lead

Gukesh Triumphs in Six-Hour Marathon, Joins Candidates Tournament Lead

Chess, a game of strategy and endurance, can be a brutal affair. In the ongoing Candidates Tournament, a grueling battle for the right to challenge the World Champion, young Indian prodigy D Gukesh has emerged as a formidable force.

In Round 5, Gukesh faced Nijat Abasov, the lowest-ranked player in the Open category. After a tense six-hour marathon, Gukesh emerged victorious, showcasing his remarkable composure and resourcefulness.

Early on, Abasov equalized comfortably with Black. However, as the game progressed, Gukesh’s chances with White grew. Despite facing a time scramble, he managed to unearth a winning endgame.

With Black’s King vulnerable and a pawn down, Gukesh threatened checkmate. In a queen endgame, Abasov had only one move to avoid defeat: pushing his Queen to g2. However, exhausted after six hours of play, he mistakenly moved his Queen to f1 instead.

This fatal error allowed Gukesh to trade Queens and secure a decisive advantage. Abasov’s six-hour battle was in vain, as he resigned in defeat.

Gukesh’s victory not only propelled him into the tournament lead but also into the world’s top 10 in live ratings. His mentor, Viswanathan Anand, praised his execution, calling it “a dramatic finish.”

Meanwhile, fellow Indian R Praggnanandhaa had a disappointing day. Despite sacrificing two pawns and a piece against Ian Nepomniachtchi, he failed to capitalize on his advantage and settled for a draw.

The Round 5 results set the stage for exciting matchups in Round 6. Gukesh will face Hikaru Nakamura, while Praggnanandhaa will take on Abasov.

Candidates Tournament: A Chess Mountain to Conquer

Candidates Tournament: A Chess Mountain to Conquer

The Candidates Tournament: A Mountainous Chess Challenge

The Candidates Tournament, a grueling chess competition, is likened to a mountain climb by former world No. 2 Levon Aronian. Over three weeks, 16 players (eight in Open and women) will face a test of their chess intellect, emotions, and endurance. Only two will emerge victorious.

This year’s tournament features a clash of generations, with established elite players facing off against rising stars. In the Open section, three players under 20 years old—D Gukesh, R Praggnanandhaa, and Alireza Firouzja—will make their debuts.

In an era dominated by computer engines and AI, players must find new ways to prepare for classical tournaments. Grzegorz Gajewski, coach to Gukesh, emphasizes the importance of using engines judiciously to avoid stifling creativity.

Gajewski believes that players should focus on finding practical positions that allow them to demonstrate their superior board skills. Aronian agrees, suggesting that players should introduce unexpected moves early on to disrupt their opponents’ preparation.

The tournament’s length makes it difficult to maintain a lead. Anand highlights the need for calmness, adaptability, and the ability to seize opportunities. Aronian, despite his experience, has yet to qualify for the World Championship through the Candidates Tournament.

He acknowledges the emotional toll the tournament takes, as players balance the desire for focus with the passion to succeed. The Candidates Tournament is a true test of chess prowess, endurance, and the ability to navigate the emotional rollercoaster of competition.

Carlsen Predicts Nakamura or Caruana as Candidates Favorites

Carlsen Predicts Nakamura or Caruana as Candidates Favorites

Magnus Carlsen, the five-time world chess champion, has shared his insights on the upcoming Candidates tournament, which will determine his challenger for the next World Championship. In an interview on the Sjakksnakk podcast, Carlsen expressed his belief that Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura are the strongest contenders to emerge victorious.

Carlsen highlighted the consistency and experience of Nakamura and Caruana, stating that they are the “best and most consistent players” in the field. He acknowledged the potential of rising stars like Alireza Firouzja, but emphasized that a victory for any of the other four participants (Gukesh, Praggnanandhaa, Vidit, Abasov) would be a major upset.

Regarding the World Championship match itself, Carlsen believes that Nakamura poses a significant threat to Ding Liren, the current challenger. He noted that Nakamura has historically performed well against Ding, while Ding has struggled against Caruana. However, Carlsen also emphasized that Ding’s recent form has been impressive, and if he maintains that level of play, he could challenge either Nakamura or Caruana.

Carlsen also discussed his own absence from the World Championship cycle, stating that he has no immediate plans to return. He expressed contentment with his decision to step away and believes that it has been beneficial for his overall well-being.

On the topic of the younger generation of chess players, Carlsen expressed skepticism about whether any of them will surpass his own achievements. He acknowledged their potential but doubted that they would reach the same level of dominance that he has enjoyed.

Carlsen emphasized his continued love for the game, despite his reduced involvement in competitive chess. He enjoys playing casual online games and believes that taking breaks from major tournaments can be beneficial for his motivation.

Praggnanandhaa Draws in Prague Masters, Prepares for Candidates Tournament

Praggnanandhaa Draws in Prague Masters, Prepares for Candidates Tournament

R Praggnanandhaa, India’s rising chess star, concluded the Prague Masters chess tournament with a draw against David Navara of the Czech Republic. Despite his valiant effort, Praggnanandhaa settled for a draw in the final round, but he can take solace in his strong performance, which has positioned him as the top-rated Indian heading into the upcoming Candidates Tournament in Toronto.

The Candidates Tournament, a prestigious event that determines the challenger for the World Championship match, was initially met with visa issues for some participants. However, thanks to the tireless efforts of FIDE and various channels, the tournament is now set to proceed as planned.

In the final round of the Prague Masters, five draws occurred among the top 10 players, leaving the standings largely unchanged. Nodirbek Abdusattarov of Uzbekistan emerged victorious, having secured 6/8 points in the previous rounds and adding another half-point in the final round.

Praggnanandhaa finished the tournament with a respectable score of five points, alongside Parham Maghsoodloo of Iran and Ngyen Thai Dai Van of the Czech Republic. Gukesh, Richard Rapport of Romania, and David Navara shared fifth place with 4.5 points each, while Mateusz Bartel and Vincent Keymer finished with 3.5 points. Vidit Gujrathi placed last with three points.

Among the three Indian participants in the Candidates Tournament, Praggnanandhaa has shown the most impressive form. However, with the dates for the World Championship challenger match now set, it remains to be seen who will emerge victorious under the pressure of the high-stakes event.

Visa Issues Threaten Toronto's Hosting of Prestigious Chess Tournament

Visa Issues Threaten Toronto’s Hosting of Prestigious Chess Tournament

The 2024 Candidates Tournament, a prestigious chess event organized by the International Chess Federation (FIDE), is scheduled to take place in Toronto from April 3 to 23. However, the tournament’s location remains uncertain due to visa issues affecting several participants.

Five Indian players have received visa approvals for the tournament: Praggnanandhaa R, Vidit Santosh Gujrathi, and Gukesh D in the Open category, and Vaishali Rameshbabu and Koneru Humpy in the Women’s category. However, three players and an official from other countries are still awaiting their visas.

Vladimir Drkulec, president of the Chess Federation of Canada, confirmed that all Indian participants have received their visas and will be able to participate in the tournament. However, he emphasized that the tournament will be moved to Spain if all players from other countries do not receive their visas by Friday.

“We are down to ten visas still needing approval. There are no Indians on that list,” Drkulec said. “But it won’t do any good if we don’t get all the players approved from other countries as the tournament will move to Spain.”

FIDE has issued an urgent appeal to Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marc Miller, to resolve the visa issue. FIDE director general Emil Sutovsky has stated that the tournament will not be postponed or players replaced due to visa issues.

This will be the first time the Candidates Tournament, which has been held for nearly 70 years, will be held in North America. The tournament features 16 of the world’s top chess players, including Magnus Carlsen, the reigning World Champion.

2024 Candidates Chess Tournament Faces Relocation Due to Visa Issues

2024 Candidates Chess Tournament Faces Relocation Due to Visa Issues

The 2024 Candidates chess tournament, scheduled to take place in Toronto, Canada, from April 3 to 23, faces an uncertain future due to unresolved visa issues for players and participants. The tournament, which determines the challengers for the world champion title in both the open and women’s categories, is at risk of being moved out of Canada if the visa problems are not resolved by Friday.

Vladimir Drkulec, president of the Chess Federation of Canada, expressed concern over the situation, stating that “if we cannot resolve these issues by Friday, the tournament will be moved to Spain.” He emphasized the need for “political will” to address the issue and expressed cautious optimism that a resolution could be reached before the deadline.

The tournament faces uncertainty as many players, including India’s teen sensation R Praggnanandhaa, have not received their visas. As many as 40 participants, including 16 players, are yet to secure visas. Vidit Gujrathi, Gukesh D, and Vaishali Rameshbabu, Praggnanandhaa’s sister, are among those who have not been issued visas.

The International Chess Federation (FIDE) made an urgent appeal last Friday, expressing concern about the lack of visa updates for players who submitted their applications months ago. The appeal, posted on social media, tagged Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marc Miller, and his department.

Drkulec stated that the federation has contacted multiple members of parliament and government ministers, receiving positive responses from their staff. FIDE director general Emil Sutovsky emphasized that the tournament will not be postponed or players replaced due to visa issues.

This will be the first time the nearly 70-year-old tournament is being held in North America and will feature 16 of the world’s best players. The tournament is a significant event in the chess world, and its relocation would be a major disappointment for the Canadian chess community and fans worldwide.

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