Candidates R02: Nakamura implodes, Karjakin strikes!

by Sagar Shah
3/12/2016 – Svidler against Topalov was a sedate draw. Anand and Aronian played a theoretical battle where both of them were excellently prepared. Giri and Caruana’s game promised quite a bit, but in the end also finished in a draw. The game of the day was surely Sergey Karjakin’s victory over Hikaru Nakamura. The Russian put on the slow stove pressure and Nakamura simply self-destructed. Detailed game analysis.

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The 2016 FIDE World Chess Candidates Tournament is a 14-round event, which determines the next Challenger to Magnus Carlsen's title, is taking place in Moscow from March 10–30. Eight players, including six of the World’s top-ten rated grandmasters. The time control 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 one. The guaranteed prize fund is US $420,000.

Candidates Round two: Nakamura implodes, Karjakin strikes!

Report from Moscow by IM Sagar Shah

Round 2, Saturday 12 March 2016
Svidler Peter
Topalov Veselin
Aronian Levon
Anand Viswanathan
Caruana Fabiano
Giri Anish
Karjakin Sergey
Nakamura Hikaru

It was the last day of the Aeroflot Open 2016. After seven hours of intense chess Boris Gelfand won his game against Rinat Jumabayev and finished joint first at the event along with Evgeniy Najer. At the closing ceremony I approached Gelfand with a request. “Boris, I would like to do an interview with you for the ChessBase newspage. Will you have some time tomorrow?” Boris thought for a few seconds, “Tomorrow is the blitz event and I have to leave immediately after it ends. How about we find some time during the Candidates? I will be commentating on the first two days at least, and we can work something out.” I agreed, fully aware that at the Candidates it might be very difficult to get hold of him. After all there are always dignitaries coming to the tournament hall and a player like Boris is always in great demand. Yet, I hoped that this interview would take place, as Gelfand’s knowledge, skills and honest opinions about chess could help every aspiring player.

Come 12th of March and the second round of the Candidates just got underway. I went to the press room to set up my laptop and other stuff. We were 15 minutes into the game and the Israeli number one barged into the press room. “Let’s do the interview”, he said. It was overwhelming in a way! Here was a guy who was not only was a strong chess player but had great human qualities like keeping his word.

The interview consists of 58 minutes of chess discussions with Boris on varied topics that
will benefit many chess players. The interview will be published on the website soon.

The reason for writing such an elaborate introduction about the interview was the sheer co-incidence of two of the games having quite a substantial connection with Gelfand’s games of the Aeroflot Open – the biggest one being Levon Aronian versus Vishy Anand, where the Armenian number one played the same novelty that Gelfand had essayed on 6th of March 2016 in his game against Boris Grachev.

Five games had reached this position before and everyone had played 8.Nc3. Boris Gelfand played
8.Nd2!? in his game against Grachev, and the same idea was picked up by Levon Aronian.

This position between Sergey Karjakin and Hikaru Nakamura is the same that was
reached between Gelfand and Martirosyan from the second round of the Aeroflot Open.

Moral of the story: Top players follow the games of other top players and grab onto any new idea or improvements they can learn from them.

Levon Aronian – Anand Viswanathan 0.5-0.5

Aronian faced grave pressure in the first round against Anish Giri when the latter employed the 5.Bf4 variation in the Queen’s Gambit Declined. The Armenian thought that it was a good idea to try this same line with the white pieces. However, Anand was quite clever in the opening and instead of committing his dark-squared bishop, he started with 4…Nbd7. Both the players were armed to the teeth with home preparation. Also they were very well aware of the recent game between Boris Gelfand and Boris Grachev from the Aeroflot Open 2016. Anand found the important manoeuvre Ba6-b5-a4 at the key moment and Aronian couldn’t really press with the white pieces. In the final position Vishy was a pawn up, but thanks to the opposite coloured bishop endgame there was nothing much to play for.

It is always nice to know what is the difference between playing 4…Nbd7 and 4…Be7? Apart from reserving the option of developing the bishop to any other square apart from e7, this move also leads to the concrete line starting with 5…dxc4 and 6…b5 that was played by Vishy Anand in this game.

[Event "FIDE Candidates 2016"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2016.03.12"] [Round "2"] [White "Aronian, Levon"] [Black "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [WhiteElo "2786"] [BlackElo "2762"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "61"] [EventDate "2016.03.10"] {Levon Aronian has always been a tough opponent for Vishy Anand. The Armenian has had a good score against the Indian, but quite often Anand has been able to create certain brilliancies against Levon, for instanc their game at the Wijk Aan Zee 2013.} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 {Anand starts off with the flexible moves Nf6 and e6. This gives him a lot of options – to play the Nimzo, QGD, Ragozin and also the Benoni if the need arises.} 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Nbd7 $5 { This idea of developing the knight on d7 before the bishop on f8 is interesting. The point of this move is that the bishop can develop on e7 or b4. This keeps all options open. And as Vishy mentioned after the game: Nbd7 is transpositional in nature and gives Black many more opportunities.} 5. Bf4 { After suffering for the entire game yesterday from the black side of the QGD 5. Bf4, Aronian thinks that this is a good idea to try it as White!} dxc4 $5 (5... Be7 6. e3 O-O $1 {takes us to the main line of the 5.Bf4 QGD.}) 6. e3 {This is quite an important position and the main moves here have been ...Nb6 and ... Nd5. Even a6 has been popular. But Anand opts for the move 6... b5!? which has only been played 19 times before.} b5 {So what is the idea of this move, you may ask. Well first of all you are simply saving the pawn on c4. Hence, the logical move is to take on b5. But after} 7. Nxb5 {Black gets to develop with a tempo with the move:} Bb4+ 8. Nd2 $5 {This move has only been played once before in this particular position and only a week ago by Boris Gelfand in his game against Boris Grachev from the Aeroflot Open 2016. The height of coincidence is that when this move was made, Gelfand was sitting right besides me. He told me that this was played by him against Grachev in the Aeroflot Open 2016. I asked him whether he thinks Aronian knew the game and followed his idea. Gelfand said: "Aeroflot is a great tournament, and I am one of the top players. So it wouldn't come as a surprise if Aronian had not missed this game!"} (8. Nc3 {is the only move that has been played before by top players like Wojtaszek, Karjakin, Roiz, Gustaffson and Bu. Play might continue something like this:} Nd5 9. Rc1 N7b6 {with a complex position.}) 8... Nd5 { Vishy Anand paused for a while before making this move. Most probably recalling his analysis.} 9. Bg3 N7b6 10. Qc2 O-O 11. Be2 (11. Bxc4 Nxc4 12. Qxc4 Ba6 $19 {wouldn't be very good for White.}) 11... Ba6 12. Nc3 c5 $1 { Black is ahead in development and hence makes the right decision to open up the position.} 13. dxc5 {Until now we have been following the game between Gelfand-Grachev and through transposition we also have the game of Lenic vs Stern. At this point, however, Anand deviates and instead of directly taking on c5, he first takes on c3 and then picks up the c5 pawn.} Nxc3 14. bxc3 Bxc5 15. O-O {Both sides have castled and the opening phase is now over. Let us try to understand what's going on. The pawn on c4 gives Black space but it also limits Black's possibilities, as two of his pieces are tied down. It may look like White is slightly better, but Black is holding the balance.} Rc8 16. Rfd1 Qg5 (16... Qf6 {is also possible as} 17. Ne4 {is met with} Qf5 18. Rac1 Be7 { with an interesting position.}) 17. Nf3 Qg6 18. Qd2 Bb5 $1 {This is the key move of the entire game. It is a common idea in this structure: Black reroutes his bishop to a4 where it will be much more useful than on a6.} 19. Qe1 { Aronian made this move quite quickly, which felt as thought he was still in his home-preparation. But as he mentioned after the game, he seemed to have a deja vu feeling that he had seen this before at home, when actually it was quite possible that he hadn't. In any case this is pretty good move with the idea of meeting Ba4 with Rd2.} Ba4 20. Ne5 (20. Rd2 $6 f6 $1 {Was the important point. Hence it is neccessary to insert Ne5 before playing Rd2.}) 20... Qg5 21. Rd2 (21. Nf3 {trying to repeat the position would be incorrect as after} Qe7 22. Rd2 f6 {with the idea of e5, Black is clearly better.}) 21... Rfd8 22. Rxd8+ Qxd8 (22... Rxd8 {was also possible.} 23. Nxc4 Nxc4 24. Bxc4 $14 {Black has compensation but he will not be regaining his pawn any time soon.}) 23. Nxc4 Nxc4 24. Bxc4 Bxe3 $1 {The most clear cut way to equalize.} (24... Ba3 {is also possible but after} 25. Bb3 Bxb3 26. axb3 Bb2 27. Rxa7 $14 {White has a small edge.}) 25. Qxe3 (25. Ba6 Bd2 26. Qe4 Bc6 $1 {An important move to foresee.} 27. Qe5 Ra8 28. Rd1 Qb6 $11) 25... Rxc4 26. Rb1 Rc8 27. h3 (27. Qxa7 Bc2 28. Rc1 Rxc3 $11) 27... a6 28. c4 Rxc4 29. Rb8 Rc8 30. Qb6 Rxb8 31. Qxb8 { And rather than trying to play this pawn up endgame which would anyway end in a draw after 30 odd more moves, due to the opposite coloured bishops, Anand agreed to a draw. A wise decision considering that there is such a long event left ahead.} 1/2-1/2

You can always bank on Vishy Anand to be well prepared in the lines that he plays

“19.Qe1 may not be a move that I had prepared, but I always have a feeling of déjà vu when I see a position and think that this is something that I have worked on at home!” (Levon Aronian after the second round).

Fabiano Caruana – Anish Giri 0.5-0.5

Two of the youngest participants of the Candidates locked horns against each other in the fashionable line of the Anti-Berlin Defence. Fashionable, because Vishy Anand had played the same line against Veselin Topalov in the first round and had emerged victorious. Both the players had at least some experience in this opening. Fabiano had played a game against Topalov at the Sinquefield Cup 2015 with the black pieces, while Anish’s good friend Dutch GM Benjamin Bok already had three games in that line. Caruana’s direct Qd1 without inserting a4 move was a novelty. Anish’s reaction was quite provocative. He allowed the white pawn to come to e6. It seemed as if Caruana had some pressure on the position, but his time was just too low for him to take any sort of calculated risks. In the end he settled for the most natural moves and the game ended in a draw.

[Event "FIDE Candidates 2016"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2016.03.12"] [Round "2"] [White "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Black "Giri, Anish"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C65"] [WhiteElo "2794"] [BlackElo "2793"] [Annotator "Amruta Mokal/ Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "83"] [EventDate "2016.03.10"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. c3 O-O ({Anish opted for} 5... d5 { against MVL in Tashkent 2014. The game ended in a comfortable draw. 1/2 (32)-1/ 2 (32) Vachier Lagrave,M (2757)-Giri,A (2768) Tashkent 2014}) 6. O-O d6 7. Nbd2 {Caruana had earlier gone for 7.h3 in Malmo 2012 against Giri! Four years later, both are players have become super strong and we are sure to see many more battles in the years to come.} (7. h3 Ne7 8. d4 Bb6 9. Re1 c6 10. Bd3 Ng6 11. Be3 Re8 12. Nbd2 {1-0 (41) Caruana,F (2770)-Giri,A (2693) Malmo 2012}) 7... Ne7 8. d4 exd4 9. cxd4 Bb6 10. Re1 Bg4 11. h3 Bh5 {All this was seen in the game Anand-Topalov from the first round of the Candidates 2016. Anand went 12. a4 in this position. Caruana prefers to break the pin immediately and plays Qb3.} 12. Qb3 d5 {Recently Caruana himself played this with Topalov in Sinquefeld Cup 2015 and won a nice game. Its important to note though he won with black he still chose to play this line from white. This shows that the top players analyze their games objectively and make use of any new ideas that they come across, especially in their own games.} 13. e5 Nd7 14. Qd1 {[%cal Gd1b3,Gb3d1] What's going on?!! Qd1-b3-d1? Is Caruana our of his mind? Not really! Things in the centre are settled now and the queen doesn't mind this backward move, mainly vacating the b3 square for the knight.} f6 $5 { Immediately challenging the center. As Giri said during the press conference, he thought that this line was fine for Black, but after the game he thinks that his seconds somehow had underestimated the dangers in the position.} 15. e6 Nb8 {Undeveloping moves seem to be the order of the day. However, to be fair, the knight simply didn't have a good square to go to.} 16. Nb3 {Eyeing for the c5 outpost which would force Black to part with his dark squared bishop. At the same time the route for the bishop to develop on d6 has been opened.} Qd6 (16... Nbc6 {was possible but it seems as if Anish wanted to prevent his opponent from going Bf4.}) 17. g4 Bg6 18. Nh4 Nbc6 19. Bxc6 (19. Nxg6 Nxg6 {looks fine for Black.}) (19. Ng2 {preparing Bf4 can be an option, but Black has a strong move in the form of} f5 $1 20. Bf4 Qb4 21. Bxc6 Nxc6 $11 ) 19... Qxc6 (19... bxc6 20. Ng2 {is now a clearly better position for White as Bf4 is threatened and there is no bishop to attack on b5 with Qb4.} f5 21. Bf4 Qb4 22. a3 Qa4 23. g5 $16 {Black is left without any countrplay.}) 20. Bd2 {White is ready to give up the d4 pawn in order to get good amount of piece activity.} (20. Bf4 {is natural but it always seems dangerous to put a piece where a pawn fork can happen. In this case the move g7-g5.} Bc2 21. Qd2 Bxb3 22. axb3 g5 23. Bxg5 fxg5 24. Qxg5+ Kh8 {Giri showed some blistering analysis in this position. One of the lines that was very entertaining was the following.} 25. Qe5+ Kg8 26. Nf5 Nxf5 27. gxf5 Qd6 28. f6 Qxe5 29. dxe5 $16 { [%csl Ge5,Ge6,Gf6] Anish gave us an example of four rows of pawns (32 pawns!) vs all the other pieces. Truly wonderful the kind of thing these top players like to indulge in!}) 20... Bc2 21. Qe2 Bxb3 22. axb3 Bxd4 {Although Black has won a pawn, it doesn't really matter. The pawn on e6 is a monster and the rook on a1 is also activated without any efforts. Giri has to play carefully here.} 23. Bb4 Bc5 (23... Rfe8 $2 24. Bxe7 Rxe7 25. Nf5 $18) 24. Rec1 b6 25. Bxc5 bxc5 26. Ra6 (26. Ra5 {winning the c5 pawn could have been even stronger.}) 26... Qb7 27. Rxc5 Rfe8 28. Qb5 {It was possible to play more aggressively, but Caruana had already spent a lot of his thinking time and hence decided it was safer to simplify the game.} (28. Nf5 $142 $1 Qxb3 29. Ra3 $1 (29. Rxc7 $2 Nxf5 30. gxf5 Qxh3 $11) 29... Qb4 30. Rxc7 $16) 28... Qxb5 29. Rxb5 d4 $1 {This pawn is the soul of Black's position. It will create threats and give him the necessary counterplay.} 30. Nf5 (30. f4 {looks natural.} Rad8 31. Nf3 d3 32. Nd2 {This was Vladimir Kramnik's suggestion. White threatens f5 now, so Black must do something about it.} f5 $1 33. gxf5 (33. Kf2 {looks stronger but after} Rd5 {it should nevertheless be around equal.}) 33... Rd5 34. Rxd5 Nxd5 35. Rxa7 Rf8 $11) 30... Rad8 31. Rxa7 (31. Nxe7+ Rxe7 32. Kf1 d3 33. Ke1 Rde8 34. Kd2 Rxe6 35. Rxe6 Rxe6 36. Kxd3 Rd6+ $11) 31... Nxf5 32. gxf5 d3 {Now it is just a draw.} 33. Ra1 g6 34. Rc5 Re7 35. Rd1 gxf5 36. Rc6 Rd4 37. Kg2 Kg7 38. Kf3 Kg6 39. Rc4 Rd5 40. Rc3 d2 41. Re3 Rd6 42. Re2 {An exciting game where we could have seen even more fireworks had Caruana not been under time pressure.} 1/2-1/2

If Caruana would have managed his time better might well have seen another decisive result today

Anish Giri definitely seems to have come to Moscow in a fighting mood

The analysis session was highly entertaining. Fabiano: “This was too deep for me.”
Anish: “A few more press conferences with me and you will start considering such moves!”

Sergey Karjakin – Hikaru Nakamura 1-0

It would not be inappropriate to say that Sergey Karjakin simply outplayed Hikaru Nakamura today. The Russian, who had the white pieces, slowly increased his pressure. As Vladimir Kramnik, who was in the commentary box during round two, rightly pointed out: “Black must do something pretty soon or else he would simply have to suffer for the rest of the game.” And Nakamura is definitely not a player who likes to suffer. He sacrificed his knight on g3 and calculated that he would win back the piece along with interest. Turns out that Karjakin had seen one move further and Nakamura ended up with a knight less! In the end there was nothing to be done. With a complete piece down, Hikaru had to resign.

In this position Nakamura took on g3. What exactly was his idea and
how is it refuted. Try to see if you can play like Karjakin to win the game!

[Event "FIDE Candidates 2016"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2016.03.12"] [Round "2"] [White "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E15"] [WhiteElo "2760"] [BlackElo "2790"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "75"] [EventDate "2016.03.10"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Ba6 5. b3 Bb4+ 6. Bd2 Be7 7. Bg2 d5 ({ Of course} 7... c6 {is the main line, but 7...d5 is also becoming quite popular these days.}) 8. cxd5 exd5 9. O-O O-O 10. Nc3 Nbd7 11. Qc2 {Sergey makes the normal developing moves and looks forward to a complex middlegame.} Re8 12. Rfd1 Nf8 (12... Rc8 {with the idea of directly going c5 would be more appropriate.}) 13. Ne5 Bb7 14. Bc1 $5 {The bishop would be much better placed on b2.} Ne6 15. Bb2 Bd6 {The threat is Nxd4.} 16. e3 (16. Nb5 $5 Nxd4 17. Bxd4 Bxe5 18. Bxe5 Rxe5 19. Qxc7 $14) 16... a6 17. Ne2 c5 $6 {Black is absolutely not ready for this opening of the center. Firstly have a look at the white pieces. They are just perfectly situated: the bishops on long diagonals, one knight in the center, the other ready to jump to f4 to put further pressure.} ( 17... c6 {Trying to hold was the right way to proceed.}) 18. dxc5 Nxc5 (18... bxc5 19. Nc4 $1 Bc7 20. Nf4 $16) 19. Nd3 Nce4 20. Rac1 {Kramnik, who is so good at such technical positions, felt that Black must do something quickly or else he would just have to suffer with a passive and inferior position.} Rc8 21. Qb1 Qe7 22. Bd4 Rxc1 23. Rxc1 b5 24. b4 {The sad face of the bishop on b7 determines White's advantage} Nd7 25. a3 Nf8 26. Ba1 Ne6 27. Qa2 Bc7 28. Nd4 Bb6 29. h4 $5 {[#] Karjakin has things under control and he tries to gain some space on the kingside. It is true that this weakens the g3 square, but is it concretely dangerous? Nakamura thinks so and that explains his next move.} Nxg3 $4 {A huge blunder at this level. But as it is rightly said, such blunders do not happen in vaccuum. It was the sustained pressure of Karjakin that prompted Hikaru to make the mistake.} (29... Nxd4 30. Bxd4 Bxd4 31. exd4 Qf6 $14 { is slightly worse but nonetheless playable.}) 30. fxg3 Nxd4 31. Bxd4 Bxd4 32. exd4 Qe3+ {Hikaru must have ended his calculations at this point. The knight on d3 is hanging and if Nf2 then the c1-rook hangs. So White has to give back the piece. But Sergey has seen a move further.} 33. Qf2 $1 Qxd3 34. Rc7 $1 { [%cal Gc7f7,Gc7b7] A strong double attack and just like that Black loses a piece.} f5 35. Rxb7 h6 36. Bxd5+ Kh7 37. Bg2 Re2 38. Bf1 {A painful defeat for Hikaru, but still a long way to go.} 1-0

Things didn’t work out so well for Hikaru today. But it is a long event.
With twelve rounds to go he can surely make a comeback.

Seeing one move further – Sergey Karjakin joins the leader with a round two win

A huge smile is natural, when your husband wins! Galiya Kamalova,
wife of Sergey, came to the tournament hall at the end of the game

Video analysis of Karjakin vs Nakamura by GM Daniel King

Peter Svidler – Veselin Topalov 0.5-0.5

What is more boring than the Berlin endgame? The Nxe5 symmetrical pawn structure line in the Berlin! Svidler tried a line in which Alexander Areshchenko had beaten Etienne Bacrot from the white side. But Topalov was pretty well prepared and after a few accurate moves, the players shook hands and a draw was agreed. After Topalov’s loss yesterday it is surprising that Peter didn’t press harder with the white pieces. But it is a long tournament and one can understand that the players are just getting into the groove.

[Event "FIDE Candidates 2016"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2016.03.12"] [Round "2"] [White "Svidler, Peter"] [Black "Topalov, Veselin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [WhiteElo "2757"] [BlackElo "2780"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "60"] [EventDate "2016.03.10"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. Re1 Nd6 6. Nxe5 {nine times out of ten when this line is played we can expect a draw.} Be7 7. Bf1 Nxe5 8. Rxe5 O-O 9. Nc3 Ne8 10. Nd5 Bd6 11. Re1 c6 12. Ne3 Be7 13. c4 Nc7 14. d4 d5 15. cxd5 {All this has been seen in the game Areshchenko-Bacrot. Bacrot took on d5 with his knight, but Topalov improves with Bb4.} Bb4 16. Bd2 Bxd2 17. Qxd2 Nxd5 18. Nxd5 Qxd5 19. Re5 Qd6 20. Bc4 Bd7 {An accurate move connecting the rooks.} 21. Rae1 b5 22. Bb3 a5 23. a4 bxa4 24. Bxa4 Be6 25. Rxa5 Rxa5 26. Qxa5 Qxd4 27. Bxc6 Qxb2 28. Bd5 Bxd5 29. Qxd5 Qf6 30. g3 g6 {As you can see nothing really substantial happened and a draw was agreed.} 1/2-1/2

What do you do when your games ends in an hour from the start? Pose for pictures…

….or kibitz live games with friends. Here you see Ilya Merenzon, CEO of Agon, Arkady Dvorkovich,
an economist who was a Deputy Prime Minister in Dmitry Medvedev's Cabinet,
Peter Svidler and Mark Glukhovsky, Chairman of the RCF Management board.

It was a pleasure to see Vladimir Kramnik in the commentary room and the players
too were happy to see their friend and rival! Here Levon Aronian greets the big Vlad

Indian chess supporters follow Vishy wherever he goes!

Bird’s eye view of the press center and the live games big screen

Anna Burtasova, who conducts interviews with top grandmasters and dignitaries
at the venue, is a WGM, chess journalist and the producer of Chesscast broadcasts

Pictures by Amruta Mokal of ChessBase India,


Pairings and results

Round 1, Friday 11 March 2016
Karjakin Sergey
Svidler Peter
Nakamura Hikaru
Caruana Fabiano
Giri Anish
Aronian Levon
Anand Viswanathan
Topalov Veselin
Round 2, Saturday 12 March 2016
Svidler Peter
Topalov Veselin
Aronian Levon
Anand Viswanathan
Caruana Fabiano
Giri Anish
Karjakin Sergey
Nakamura Hikaru
Round 3, Sunday 13 March 2016
Nakamura Hikaru   Svidler Peter
Giri Anish   Karjakin Sergey
Anand Viswanathan   Caruana Fabiano
Topalov Veselin   Aronian Levon
Rest day, Monday 14 March 2016
Round 4, Tuesday 15 March 2016
Svidler Peter   Aronian Levon
Caruana Fabiano   Topalov Veselin
Karjakin Sergey   Anand Viswanathan
Nakamura Hikaru   Giri Anish
Round 5, Wed. 16 March 2016
Giri Anish   Svidler Peter
Anand Viswanathan   Nakamura Hikaru
Topalov Veselin   Karjakin Sergey
Aronian Levon   Caruana Fabiano
Round 6, Thursday 17 March 2016
Anand Viswanathan   Svidler Peter
Topalov Veselin   Giri Anish
Aronian Levon   Nakamura Hikaru
Caruana Fabiano   Karjakin Sergey
Rest day, Friday 18 March 2016
Round 7, Saturday 19 March 2016
Svidler Peter   Caruana Fabiano
Karjakin Sergey   Aronian Levon
Nakamura Hikaru   Topalov Veselin
Giri Anish   Anand Viswanathan
Round 8, Sunday 20 March 2016
Svidler Peter   Karjakin Sergey
Caruana Fabiano   Nakamura Hikaru
Aronian Levon   Giri Anish
Topalov Veselin   Anand Viswanathan
Round 9, Monday 21 March 2016
Topalov Veselin   Svidler Peter
Anand Viswanathan   Aronian Levon
Giri Anish   Caruana Fabiano
Nakamura Hikaru   Karjakin Sergey
Rest day, Tuesday 22 March 2016
Round 10, Wed. 23 March 2016
Svidler Peter   Nakamura Hikaru
Karjakin Sergey   Giri Anish
Caruana Fabiano   Anand Viswanathan
Aronian Levon   Topalov Veselin
Round 11, Thursday 24 March 2016
Aronian Levon   Svidler Peter
Topalov Veselin   Caruana Fabiano
Anand Viswanathan   Karjakin Sergey
Giri Anish   Nakamura Hikaru
Round 12, Friday 25 March 2016
Svidler Peter   Giri Anish
Nakamura Hikaru   Anand Viswanathan
Karjakin Sergey   Topalov Veselin
Caruana Fabiano   Aronian Levon
Rest day, Saturday 26 March 2016
Round 13, Sunday 27 March 2016
Caruana Fabiano   Svidler Peter
Aronian Levon   Karjakin Sergey
Topalov Veselin   Nakamura Hikaru
Anand Viswanathan   Giri Anish
Round 14, Monday 28 March 2016
Svidler Peter   Anand Viswanathan
Giri Anish   Topalov Veselin
Nakamura Hikaru   Aronian Levon
Karjakin Sergey   Caruana Fabiano


Sagar 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 is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India website, the biggest chess news outlet in the country.


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peter frost peter frost 3/14/2016 05:32
Great notes to the games by Sagar. Speaking as a lower rated player, it's so nice to be able to "read" explanations about what is going on, rather than getting bogged down in endless head spinning variations. Sometimes an illustration of a variation is appropriate and necessary, to bring out key points in the player's thinking, but too often annotators simply indulge in "alternative games". Sagar's notes make me want to play through the game when I see so many words, whereas usually I just see lots of 'moves" and am immediately turned off. Great stuff Sagar...please keep annotating in this vein!
ArisR ArisR 3/14/2016 12:19
How can one flip the board? I still can't, been waiting for that simple option for ages.
Glenn Glenn 3/13/2016 09:52
Not much room in a super-tournament like this for errors like that made by Naka against Karj
akin. Must've missed Rc7.
Hawkman Hawkman 3/13/2016 05:51
This site is still showing Caruana as playing for Italy.
JohnTVian JohnTVian 3/13/2016 03:12
@ algorithmy, I'm very careful when I say anything about any GM because I'm fully aware that the shoe doesn't fit. But look at the move Nakamura made against Sergey as an example, 12...Nf8, instead of 12...Rc8. The guy is ignoring all of the logistics in chess by not contending for the center. I understand that it's okay to stray into left field, as long as one can find their way back. But not during one of the most important tournaments of one's lifetime. I wish Nakamura well and hope he can perform better in the games to come. Gee, the shoe really doesn't fit, perhaps it's best not to say anything...
mozartiano123 mozartiano123 3/13/2016 03:03
I see many criticizing the live coverage. I gave it a try and liked a lot.
Well, sure they are having some technical faults like taking long to show the boards during analisys. But the leve of commentary is massive and Alexandre Kosteniuk is doing a great job.
Stupido Stupido 3/13/2016 12:54
Re live coverage Kosteniuk and Miroshnichenko do a nice job analysing the games and interviewing players. Post-games conferences are good and focused on what happened on the board. Having Gelfand and Kramnik commenting as well was great.
Overall it's entertaining despite the too many ads and useless interruptions, when I can connect...
Nigel Short is a fantastic commentator but he too can become a bit boring after a while. His stock of funny little stories is not inexhaustible and I for one does not want to hear once again the story of Kasparov's dog.
Aighearach Aighearach 3/13/2016 11:52
Everybody should know it is correct to press Topalov in the first half of the tournament. ;)
Bojan KG Bojan KG 3/13/2016 10:28
This coverage is step backward. Games without analysis, only notation is catastrophic. Also I expected Jan to do commentary. Very bad, I must say.
Rational Rational 3/13/2016 10:23
I did not mean to disrespect Topalov, who is a great player with an attractive style of play. But having just lost and having a more variable level of form he would be a target at this level at this time. It was more a point about Svidler's opening choice, I would be interested what others think
fightingchess fightingchess 3/13/2016 10:09
come on topalov is an ex world champion and played twice for the title. everyone see him as an outsider. no one can mess with him and just go for a win at all costs against him.
Rational Rational 3/13/2016 08:51
I found Svidler's opening strange against Topalov, the line he picked against the Berlin is very drawish and if anyone is seriously trying to win the tournament White vs Topalov is an opportunity as Anand showed.(admittedly Anand was lucky Topalov missed his Bf2 chance)
Resistance Resistance 3/13/2016 07:02
Good second round. Good games.

Sharp draw. Although the game was kind of short, Peter kept it sharp. Topalov, understandably, didn't go all out for the win this time. Keep it sharp, Peter, and you'll have real chances of winning this thing.

Aronian couldn't quite impose his game. He never got out of the opening, and Anand is the one to blame for that: he pressed right from the start! Good game from Vishy, again (solid performance). Levon: they're not kidding this time, man. They want to win this thing, and they'll push you around if you allow it. Fight back, my friend! Play the Evans Gambit with White, or some sharp stuff with Black, I don't know, but show some attitude: they wont mess with you anymore if you throw a knight at their king's shelter, say at move 15! (OK: not at move 15; but you get the point).

Tense game. Giri seemed to be OK after a while, but Caruana never lost his grip and managed to keep pressing, and he even might've had some better options, here and there, later in the game. Yet, it was a complex game and there wasn't enough time to solve every little thing. Good game by both.

I don't think Karjakin had much before Nakamura went all out for the win with the knight sac at g3. He, Naka, could've simply exchanged a couple of pieces at d4 (29... Nxd4, 30... Bxd4, instead of 29... Nxg3), and it is a pretty balanced game after that. But Hikaru wanted to win, and exchanging on d4 is just too boring. Maybe he felt frustrated by not having much either after the opening phase. Good defensive refutation by Sergei, Hikaru will have to be a little more cautious next time.

Can't wait for Round 3.

Pionki Pionki 3/13/2016 06:49
Amazing how long it has taken to have a diagram in which you can flip the board. Hopefully by 2026 we will use a diagram with a little button to blow the board full screen. Chess players do need a lof of time.
PallavM PallavM 3/13/2016 06:22
Yeah, too much comercials and very big useless introduction to players again and again ...very less commentary part and you have to reload site again and again , unpleasant experience to even most enthusiastic fan
Bob the builder Bob the builder 3/13/2016 03:38
My guess is Naka just got a bit lazy and stopped calculating Nxg3 sacrifice after Qxe3, as Qf2 with Rc7 is trivial if you look.

I think one of the young ones will win as quite long schedule and oldies need to really pull away early so they have some lead before the later rounds when they have more chance for their playing strength to wane,
TallVenusian TallVenusian 3/13/2016 01:52
About Nakamura not double-checking his calculation before playing 29...Nxg3 -- Nakamura spent significant time on only 4 of his moves:

8 minutes 10 seconds on 29...Nxg3, his 4th longest think
37 minutes on 21...Qe7
22 minutes on 16...a6
and an astounding 89 minutes on 12...Nf8

so I think it likely that he saw and calculated 29...Nxg3 earlier in the game, at least when he was spending 37 minutes on 21...Qe7, maybe earlier.
bronkenstein bronkenstein 3/13/2016 12:40
@rational "I think Nakamura's blunder demonstrates his lack of respect. Would Karjakin have allowed Ng3 if it were good?"

I agree that Nxg3 was somewhat naive. It will be tough to even just return to 50%, Topalov might be Nakamura's last chance.
Alf23 Alf23 3/13/2016 12:35
Hi, pretty fine chess diagrams, the best you can flip pieces also kind of elegant. Thank you
Stupido Stupido 3/13/2016 12:00
Lovely trash talking in press conference between Caruana and Giri during their analysis. Caruana "it's to deep for me..." Giri "a few more press conferences with me and you'll start considering such moves" ^^ Besides the jokes, it was a quite complicated and interesting game.
Justjeff Justjeff 3/12/2016 11:32
You people are harsh. One and two move blunders happen at the World Championship level occasionally. And Kramnik allowed mate in one in his match vs. Deep Fritz.
and a happy new year and a happy new year 3/12/2016 10:50
I agree wityh Rational. I'm surprised that Nakamura didn't double check his calculation before playing 29...Nxg3. If a player as great as Karjakin offers you the chance to wreck his kingside and win a pawn with an obvious sacrifice, surely you should think twice about it? Maybe there is a flaw in your combination... (though as algorthmy says, Rc7 is hard to see). 3/12/2016 10:46
Capsule summary
Svidler-Topalov: The sharpest dressed players today but on the board they were happy to settle for a colorless draw that lasted 30 moves only due to the regulations. Moral loser- Svidler, for not trying harder with White.
Aronian-Anand: Another example of Anand's deep opening preparation. A correct and good game by both sides.
Caruana-Giri: Having the same ex-coach (Chuchelov) must make it hard for these two to face each other and they usually draw. Today Caruana was better but ran into time pressure. He needs better clock handling in future rounds.
Karjakin-Nakamura: The game of the round. Karjakin was headed for a positional squeeze when Nakamura lashed out tactically. Losing a game when you're outplayed happens to everyone but making a big hole in your calculations is indicative of shaky form. Not a good sign for Hikaru's fans.
Overall, Anish Giri has played the best chess in these two rounds and will be the man to watch.
Wacked Wacked 3/12/2016 10:45
I agree on the lack of quality coverage. The announcers are so so and the presentation is far from top notch. Where are Nigel and Lawrence??
Rational Rational 3/12/2016 10:35
I think Nakamura's blunder demonstrates his lack of respect. Would Karjakin have allowed Ng3 if it were good?
algorithmy algorithmy 3/12/2016 10:21
@ JohnTVian

Hhhhha that's a good one, but honestly it's not that easy to foresee the intermediate move Rc7 when playing N×g3.
DropkickIggy DropkickIggy 3/12/2016 10:19
I agree with asoni. It's pathetic...
algorithmy algorithmy 3/12/2016 10:18
if the winner of this candidate is not Karjakin, Caruana or Giri, it will be a great disappointment. Even Hikaru is still far for being able to handle Carslen and he will be like a piece of pie, only those three can give Carlsen the hardest time, and only then we can watch a decent championship match instead of the punching bag Anand used to be the last two championships
asoni asoni 3/12/2016 09:42
worst coverage of candidates by official site ever
JohnTVian JohnTVian 3/12/2016 08:26
I think that Beluga Vodka got the best of Nakamura...
ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 3/12/2016 07:01
still, a good, creative draw by vishy..