2016 FIDE World Chess Candidates Tournament

by Frederic Friedel
3/4/2016 – It starts in a week, the eight-player double-round robin tournament to determine the Challenger for the World Championship title match in November this year. Here are details of the tournament and some pictures of the venue and the state-of-the-art design and production features that have been set up for the tournament. In addition an interview with Peter Heine Nielsen on the chances of the various players.

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2016 FIDE World Chess Candidates Tournament

This 14-round event, which determines the next Challenger to Magnus Carlsen's title, will take place in Moscow from March 10–30. An official partner of the tournament, which is supported by the Russian Chess Federation, is the “Tashir Group”. Organizer is the AGON, the commercial partner of the World Chess Federation, which will also stage the World Championship 2016, from 11-30 November in New York.

The 2016 Candidates will see eight players, including six of the World’s top-ten rated grandmasters, representing six countries, taking part.

According to FIDE regulations the list of players includes the top two performers from the 2014-2015 Grand Prix: Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana (both of the USA); the winner and runner-up of the 2015 World Cup, Sergey Karjakin and Peter Svidler (both of Russia); as well as the loser of the 2014 World Chess Championship match, Viswanathan Anand of India; Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria and Anish Giri of the Netherlands, based on their 2015 FIDE ratings are likely to have qualified to participate. The eighth and final participant is Levon Aronian of Armenia, who was chosen as Wild Card entry by the Organizers.

Here is a table of all eight Candidates, with their current (March 1st 2016) ratings and their current world rankings:

Fabiano Caruana
Anish Giri
Hikaru Nakamura
Levon Aronian
Veselin Topalov
Viswanathan Anand
Sergey Karjakin
Peter Svidler

So who will win this event? We have a fascinating interview with Peter Heine Nielsen, who has been the second of both Anand and (currently) Carlsen:

Danish Grandmaster Peter Heine Nielsen is a well-known opening expert, who worked with Magnus Carlsen when the young Norwegian player used the Dragon as one of his weapons against 1.e4. He was second of World Champion Anand in his matches against Vladimir Kramnik, Veselin Topalov and Boris Gelfand. Recently, he started to work again with Magnus Carlsen. Peter Heine was in Hamburg recording more DVDs when the above interview was conducted.

Prize fund and time controls

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

Tiebreaks: If two or more players score the same points at the top of the list, the tie will be decided by the following criteria, in order of priority:

  1. The results of the games between the players involved in the tie. If they are still tied:
  2. The total number of wins in the tournament of every player involved in the tie. If they are still tied:
  3. Sonneborn Berger System

If there is no clear winner with the above three criteria, there will be a special competition between the players who still remain tied after using the 3rd criteria (Sonneborn Berger): after a new drawing of colors, each tied player will play two tiebreak games with the other tied opponent(s). The games shall be played using the electronic clock starting with 25 minutes for each player with an increment of 10 seconds after each move. If one or more players are still tied there will be a two-game blitz match (5m + 3s) between them, and if there is still a tie an Armageddon game (five minutes vs four minutes, White must win).

The Venue

The Central Telegraph, an historic building on Tverskaya Street in the heart of Moscow, is the site of the 2016 Candidates tournament to select a challenger for the World Championship.

The building, which provides fixed line telephony and Internet access, was inaugurated in 1929

This is what it looks like today. The Central Telegraph has a large multifunctional space
within the building, will be the actual venue for the tournament [pictures from Wikimedia]

A new way to watch chess

The Candidates Tournament will feature a new, modern design for the playing space and for the spectators. It will have state-of-the-art design and production features for the players, the spectators and for the streaming broadcast of the event over official site (WorldChess.com).

Area for visitors and press briefings area

The interior space where the players will compete and the spectators can watch has been designed by Novoe Architectural Bureau. It is a fully integrated area with distinct spaces for the competition, for news conferences, and for spectators who want to watch the games directly, listen to commentary or possibly play some games themselves.

The playing area with the four tables

There is a glass-enclosed VIP area, which is sponsored by Beluga ...

... that overlooks the playing area, much like a sky-box in regular sporting events.

For the live broadcasting of the games and the commentary there is a spacious television studio ...

... that overlooks the visitors’ area and playing hall.



Topics: Candidates 2016

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bronkenstein bronkenstein 3/11/2016 02:33
Thanks @chessmatt and @kartik_ramkumar for the link. I hope CB staff reads their comment section sometimes.
dysanfel dysanfel 3/11/2016 05:26
I like the idea that Naka has never beat Carlsen, just like Fischer had never beaten Spassky.
kartik_ramkumar kartik_ramkumar 3/9/2016 08:50
Mithrull Mithrull 3/9/2016 07:58
I can not find the time that the rounds begin anywhere, even on worldchess.com Anyone know?
Resistance Resistance 3/7/2016 06:30
Some of the pictures seem to be fake, or computer genarated. If so, why? Weren't you allowed to go inside the building where the players will be playing against each other? Maybe the real interior is not that cool and they do not want us to know? Anyway, I hope they have a great tournament.

I don't think Vishy is in the mood this time for winning a tournament of this kind (losing a third time to Carlsen would be pretty devastating for him: I don't think he's found the antidote for the Norwegian star yet).

Levon is good, and I like his chess, so I'm rooting for him. But he lacks character, a non-chess attribute. He needs to build strength in that area first if wants to become World Champion. All the best for you, Levon.

Giri is good and has chances; he is very serious in terms of preparation: like a World Champion. I like that. All the best for you too, Anish.

Fabiano... If he is on, we will see him moving the little wooden-pieces in front of Carlsen next November. Let's go Fabiano!

Hikaru: he knows he is good, but lacks consistency. A consequence of his manifest lack of discipline. Work on that, Hikaru, and you'll get to the next level ("I swear to God, brother... ").

Sergei is too timid. You gotta risk man! You gotta risk if you wanna win. "No pain, no gain", as the saying goes. Go for the throat, my friend: stop kidding around. You might lose some games, but you'll feel better about yourself.

Peter is so talented... But he lacks character, too. Fight, man! Fight your way to that World Championship! Carlsen knows you're dangerous. Show us what you are made of here, my friend.

Vesselin... Well, he doesn't seem to be in the mood either. I'd love to see him fighting Carlsen in New York; I'd love to see the Good old Topa kicking some azz again...

My prediction: either Caruana or Giri will win this thing.

digupagal digupagal 3/7/2016 06:28
To all those who back young genreations? what is so special about them? They are all computer engine driven monsters. You would not want such kind of players unless you want to kill chess.

In fact it is strange to write on chessbase site, but ideally we should ban all chess engines, but that is not possible right(Multimedia training is fine)?
Fisher Random is another way chess can live on. Otherwise ppl. who only prepare(giri, caruana, aronian)/play machine like(carlsen) have killed/are killing chess.
Hawkman Hawkman 3/6/2016 09:15
The Candidates will be so fascinating. Anand is the only one with success, but he's 46. Topalov, Svidler, and Aronian have experience, but not success and they may be slightly past their prime. The kids are playing well, but they're inexperienced. The favorite Naka has never won a game against Carlsen. What's is going to happen? :help:
RaoulBertorello RaoulBertorello 3/5/2016 10:43
@depsipeptide: Wow ! Wonderful forecast ! Much better than those boring 28+ minutes by Nielsen. You should claim a contributor job on this site.
snosko snosko 3/5/2016 09:03
Correct me if I'm wrong, but when Mr Nielsen mentions that nobody else apart from Anand has found himself with such an opportunity to be world champion I thing that he is forgetting Topalov and San Luis.
depsipeptide@gmail.com depsipeptide@gmail.com 3/5/2016 08:53
Anand and Topalov- Difficult to motivate, best case scenario if they win is a WC match. Been there, done that. And age is against them.
Aronian, Karjakin- Touted as WC candidates for years but have not lived up to the promise. Might self destruct under the pressure.
Giri- Too risk averse to streak ahead but might do well if it comes down to maintaining a small lead.
Svidler- The dark horse who seems to be thinking more about what to say in the post-game interviews than his move.
Nakamura- Gritty and capable of fighting hard. But the reward of winning is a match against the dreaded Sauron.
Caruana- Probably the player who would give Carlsen the best fight. A lot will depend on his form and whether he can conserve his energy in a long tournament.
Hawkman Hawkman 3/5/2016 08:02
"I think chess championship in today's competition is boring...no one like Kasparov or Karpov, who very dominat and have a unique style. with charismatic or 'mystic' aura....now competititon just to killing the time!"

Agreed. If you factor in ratings inflation, Magnus would have been #3 in January 1984.
RaoulBertorello RaoulBertorello 3/5/2016 10:56
I think the favorite player to win this contest is Fabiano Caruana, who since mid 2014 has been neglecting his participation in all other tournaments but those official ones driving to the world chess championship. Since mid 2014 he as done everything in order to get to the world chess championship match more than anybody else. He won the real marathon-like Grand Prix, achieving almost nothing else in the meanwhile just because he was focused in preparing for the Grand Prix itself, the exception being Saint Louise 2014, where he shone because right then he was approached by US federation officials and Sinquefeld who proposed him to switch back to US by offering him tons of money. Moreover, he shone again only after securing the Grand Prix won, when he got second in Tata Steel Masters, a clear sign he can overtake everybody else, if he is not busy with something more important.
Yuan Mei Yuan Mei 3/5/2016 05:53
To answer firestorm's question: Grischuk, Kramnik, Morozevich.
DJones DJones 3/5/2016 04:47
I hope the players ignore the nonsense and noise, play the game they have all shown they are capable of and enjoy the experience. I never bought the anti-russian propaganda that the corporate news media and western governments have been promulgating. The Russians are smart, elegant and deep race of people in general and I am sure this event will be the event of the year in the heart of the chess cultural center of the last century. I am far more looking forward to this than the actual championship which should have been held in silicon valley instead of NYC. Anyway, let's do it!
ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 3/5/2016 04:23
nice insights by nielsen...
ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 3/5/2016 04:22
vishy,.....vishy.......vishy ..... is my choice.....the choice of millions of indians/universal chess players......
ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 3/5/2016 04:21
great tournament in waiting... i mean the candidates....just in the corner!!!!
ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 3/5/2016 04:14
nielsen is a guy ..... but still, ethically i feel he should not have become a second for magnus after remaining a second of vishy in three of his matches .....at least he should have remained neutral....not seconding vishy and magnus in their mutual matches.....this is from ethical point of view....
singgih singgih 3/5/2016 03:11
I think chess championship in today's competition is boring...no one like Kasparov or Karpov, who very dominat and have a unique style. with charismatic or 'mystic' aura....now competititon just to killing the time!
chessmatt chessmatt 3/5/2016 02:00
the tournament site link is incorrect. It should be:

tom_70 tom_70 3/5/2016 01:35
I'm pulling for Nakamura, Karjakin, Giri, or Caruana. I'd like to see a new generation player get a shot. If it has to be someone from the old guard, Svidler or Aronian would be fun to watch. Anand and Topalov have both been fantastic players, but I'd rather see Kramnik in the match than either of those two. We all know Anand can't be Carlsen in a match. And even though Topalov can have still a great tournament here and there, he is too sporadic in his results, to compete with Carlsen in a 12 game match.
gmwdim gmwdim 3/4/2016 08:45
Ding and So will have a good chance to qualify next time. Vachier-Lagrave will have a good chance as well. With Anand's recent poor form, this might be his last candidates.
Hawkman Hawkman 3/4/2016 08:31
"No Kramnik, 2nd on the FIDE ratings list, at 2801. (Kramnik's first absence since mid-1990's.) "

Kramnik would have won. These 3 will finish top 4: Anand, Topalov, and my dark horse Svidler.
genem genem 3/4/2016 08:00
[Oops, Topalov IS participating.]
genem genem 3/4/2016 07:59
No Kramnik, 2nd on the FIDE ratings list, at 2801. (Kramnik's first absence since mid-1990's.)
No Topalov, 8th on the FIDE ratings list, at 2780.
Both with 0 games played in 2016.
. . . .
No Liren Ding, 9th at 2777.
No Wesley So, 10th at 2773.
Both with 13 games in 2016. (Maybe next time.)
SriramGirish SriramGirish 3/4/2016 07:04
I wouldn't be surprised if it came down to an armageddon between Vishy & Nakamura.
firestorm firestorm 3/4/2016 06:54
"Who would produce the most interesting match against MC?" is the more interesting question for me, rather than who has the best chance of winning. I think there are a couple of players there who could give Magnus a scare potentially, but only Topalov and Anand have experience of playing a match for the world championship and the pressure that brings. It would be good for chess to have someone new nonetheless, although it is a shame that Kramnik didn't make it to the candidates this time (or has had a match with MC). Next candidates, who would bet against at least two Chinese players in it?
fightingchess fightingchess 3/4/2016 06:16
if anand wins it again, something is wrong young top players.
gmwdim gmwdim 3/4/2016 05:43
Watch as Anand wins again.
algorithmy algorithmy 3/4/2016 04:59
Be it Karjaken!