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.

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