Can Radjabov and MVL make it to the Candidates?

by Sagar Shah
11/16/2017 – The Grand Prix series until now was not the most exciting string of tournaments held, mainly because of the high number of draws in the past events. But the last leg held at Palma De Mallorca, Spain, which will begin November 16th, is extremely exciting, because two spots from the Candidates 2018 will be decided from here! Two players who have the best chance to make it are Teimour Radjabov and MVL. We have the pictures from the grand opening ceremony that was held in a Gothic Castle.

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Final Leg of the World Chess Grand Prix 2017

Palma de Mallorca is now looking forward to nine days of intense chess battles, which will finally determine the two winners of the series — participants of the Candidates 2018.

We previously reviewed all the qualification routes in some detail. These are the current standings of Grand Prix 2017, for those who have a chance to qualify. 

The following are the number of points that players would get if they finish in top 5:

Place Grand Prix Points
1st 170
2nd 140
3rd 110
4th 90
5th 80

Radjabov has the best chance. He has to finish sole third and he will qualify for the Candidates. As Ding Liren has already qualified for the Candidates via World Cup, chances of MVL have also increased. If MVL finishes first or second, he makes it through. In case Radjabov or MVL tie with Mamedyarov or Grischuk, the following are the tiebreak rules:

  1. Number of actual game result points scored in the three tournaments entered
  2. Number of games played with black

This promises to be a very exciting last leg of the Grand Prix to determine the two players who would qualify for the Candidates 2018.

The Opening Ceremony

Press release

November 15, 2017 – The world’s best chess players and chess establishment came together in Bellver Castle to celebrate the opening of the final leg of the FIDE 2017 World Chess Grand Prix Palma de Mallorca — a prestigious qualifier for the World Chess Candidates Tournament.

The Opening Ceremony was held at the landmark hilltop Bellver Castle, former residence for the Kings of Mallorca built in the 14th century in a Gothic style. At the castle’s unique circular yard guests had a good opportunity to mingle with each other and enjoy modern Spanish guitar music.

The Gothic castle where the opening ceremony was held Photo: Agon Limitied

The setup for the opening ceremony Photo: Agon Limitied

Javier Ochoa, Honorary FIDE Vice President and President of the Spanish Chess Federation, thanked FIDE for the opportunity to host the tournament and welcomed the participants. “Spain is a country with a great Chess tradition and a thousand-year long history of playing chess,” he added.

Sebastia Nadal, President of the Winter Chess: “It is very rewarding to know that one of the best Spanish chess players of our time, Francisco Vallejo Pons, who was born and who resides here in our islands, could take part in this cycle of the World Chess.”

All the participants captured in one frame at the Gothic castle Photo: Agon Limitied

And in front of the World Chess Grand Prix banner Photo: Agon Limitied

In the drawing of colours, the top player of the tournament according to the FIDE rating Levon Aronian chose black pieces for the first round.

The pairings are the following: Dmitry Jakovenko (Russia) –  Levon Aronian (Armenia), Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France) – Boris Gelfand (Israel), Pavel Eljanov (Ukraine) – Hikaru Nakamura (USA), Ding Liren (China) – Francisco Vallejo Pons (Spain), Evgeny Tomashevsky (Russia) – Peter Svidler (Russia), Anish Giri (Netherlands) – Richard Rapport (Hungary), Ernesto Inarkiev (Russia) – Li Chao (China), Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan) – Alexander Riazantsev (Russia), Jon Ludvig Hammer (Norway) – Harikrishna Pentala (India).

The Palma Grand Prix is supported by Official Partner EG Capital Advisors, an international asset management company, Kaspersky Lab, World Chess and FIDE Official Cybersecurity Partner, S.T. Dupont, Official Writing Instrument, and Isklar, Official Water.

Where there is Anish, there has to be Erwin! Photo: Agon Limitied

Will Radjabov show us some of his lethal King's Indian at this event? Photo: Agon Limitied

What's the latest update in the Grunfeld?! Photo: Agon Limitied

MVL tells us how to become better at Najdorf! Photo: Agon Limitied

The two World Cup finalists! Photo: Agon Limitied

Such opening ceremonies give the players time to catch up with each other and share some light moments Photo: Agon Limitied

Ernesto Inarkiev Photo: Agon Limitied

First round starts tomorrow at Hotel Iberostar Bahia de Palma, the official partner of the Series. Watch it broadcast at the World Chess website.

The games begin on November 16th. Who do you think will win? | Photo: Agon Limitied

Julia Taranova, Communications Manager
World Chess by Agon Limited


Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He and is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India website, the biggest news outlet in the country related to chess.
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Arminio12 Arminio12 11/17/2017 11:54
@ Timothy Chow: Nice way of putting things, but it took me a while to figure it out. Yes, I can see one such scenario: someone (everyone except Ding, MVL, Radjabov) wins the tournament and Ding and MVL tie for 2nd place. In that case they'd both earn 125 points, meaning Ding woud be ahead of MVL in the final standings anyway. In RW MVL then ties with Grischuk, and he may or may not qualify, see my reply to Raymond Labelle (just before this one). But, in IW Ding would indeed qualify, and both Grischuk and MVL would be out. So, you're right, there is one scenario (can you see any more?) in which Ding's qualification raises MVL's chances. However, it's a very uncertain matter, as I explained before (in that reply I just mentioned). In fact it’s quite likely he wouldn’t make it that way, So I feel that scenario doesn’t count for much. But I agree, “mathematically” it is there.
Arminio12 Arminio12 11/17/2017 11:48
@ Raymond Labelle: With respect to that 3rd place ("However, if Ding ends up total first or second, this would help MVL or Radjabov, if they finished third."), this may be true for Radajabov but not for MVL. The 3rd spot earns 110 points, MVL needs at least 125 points to tie with Grischuk and with just 110 that's 15 short. So that just won’t do, but 2nd place might. In case Ding wins and MVL ties for 2nd place (with anyone but Radjabov), he’d earn those 125 points, and then the tiebreak criteria will apply. Let’s figure that out, just for fun.
Criterion 1: the combined points of the 3 tournaments together. As things stand, it means MVL qualifies with a 6/9 score (or better) in the Palma leg, that he doesn’t qualify with 5/9 (or less) and that he just might qualify with 5,5/9, depending on the next criteria (all the way up to 5: drawing of lots).
Criterion 2: combined number of black games. That ’s kind of a chance thing, in my opinion, but there it is. Interestingly, to have as many black games as Grischuk, let alone more, MVL should have at least 5 games with black now. This will prove difficult: he had white in his 1st game (will have black in his 2nd, later today, against Giri), which means he’ll probably end up with 5 times white and 4 times black. So, if criterion 1 doesn’t help, criterion 2 is likely to eliminate him.
Criterion 3: number of wins. Grischuk has 5 in 3 legs, MVL 3 in 2. But he has already scored 1 win in Palma, so he has 4 so far. Now remember that this criterion only applies when MVL ends up with 5,5/9. That means he’ll win at least one more game: with 8 draws he’d end up with 5/9 and be eliminated before (criterion 1). That would just be enough for another tie. Of course, if he loses anywhere, he needs another win to get to 5,5/9, and then he would pass Grischuk with number of wins.
Criterion 4: number of black wins. So far, that ‘s 3 to 1 for Grischuk. If indeed MVL will have black in only 4 games, he must win at least twice to even the black score with Grischuk, or 3 times to do better. Not very likely, because then he’d probably end up with more than 5,5/9.
Criterion 5: drawing of lots. That doesn’t look like it raises one’s chances, does it?
All in all, if these tie break rules apply, I think MVL has very little chance to make it. Nobody has scored 6/9 in 2nd place so far, and 5,5/9 will make the number of black games count, in which case MVL is likely to be out.
Timothy Chow Timothy Chow 11/17/2017 12:57
I don't pretend to understand all the qualification rules, but I think the reasoning behind the claim that "as Ding Liren has already qualified for the Candidates via World Cup, chances of MVL have also increased" goes like this: In the real world (RW), Ding Liren has already qualified. There is an imaginary world (IW) in which Ding Liren has not qualified. Assume that the quality of everyone's play in the Grand Prix would be exactly the same in IW as it is in RW (i.e., nobody's match strategy or psychological motivation is affected in the least by Ding Liren's status). Then, for any possible scenario in IW which results in MVL qualifying, the same scenario in RW would also result in MVL qualifying. On the other hand, there are some scenarios in RW that would result in MVL qualifying that would not result in MVL qualifying in IW. Therefore, MVL's chances of qualifying are better in RW than in IW.
WALLFISH WALLFISH 11/16/2017 09:29
Did FIDE bully people into not broadcasting this? I don't see links yet at chess24 and some other websites
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 11/16/2017 08:04
Arminio12 is right, at least partially (or maybe completely, I am not sure I figured everything out). To qualify you need enough points to be in the first 2 - none of who are currently Ding. So, if Ding goes over MVL or Radjabov, it makes less points for them and diminishes their chances to catch up to first and second place.

However, if Ding ends up total first or second, this would help MVL or Radjabov, if they finished third. The third would qualify for the Candidates instead of being eliminated in that case.

Maybe the fact that Ding already qualified as Candidate kind of increases MVL or Radjabov chances, but it is not that simple. And I am not even sure I am not missing something.
ngnn ngnn 11/16/2017 06:20
"There are 2 things difficult with chess : chess itself and the rules for the candidates qualification."

M. Carlsen: Rules for the candidates qualification are so deep that sometimes I just feel completely at loss.

G. Kasparov: In the qualification rules there are things even I don't understand.

A. Alekhine: You call me a master of candidates qualification rules. But those rules will always be the master of us all.
Arminio12 Arminio12 11/16/2017 01:42
You write: "As Ding Liren has already qualified for the Candidates via World Cup, chances of MVL have also increased."

I'm not so sure. I don't think Ding will simply step out of the way for MVL or Radjabov, just because he's already qualified. The point is that the other two must still keep him behind them. If Ding finishes above them, he takes away the points they may quite desperately need themselves. MVL must either win the tournament or be clear second. Whether or not Ding is already qualified doesn't matter: if he wins the tournament or ties with MVL for 2nd place it is game over for the Frenchman. Radjabov has a slightly better chance, but here, too, Ding may be in the way.

No, nothing has become any easier than it was. 11/16/2017 10:00
Great ! Looking forward for the games now. And... viva MVL !
goeland goeland 11/16/2017 08:41
There are 2 things difficult with chess : chess itself and the rules for the candidates qualification.