Candidates R05: Fabiano’s Benoni!

by Sagar Shah
3/16/2016 – All games of round five of the Candidates Tournament 2016 ended in draws. Anand vs Nakamura was a dull draw, Giri and Topalov had chances against Svidler and Karjakin respectively, but their opponents defended quite well. The game of the day was surely Aronian’s attack against Fabiano Caurana’s Benoni! Yes you read that right, not the Berlin – the Benoni! Report with pictures, videos, analysis and more!

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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 five – Fabiano’s Benoni!

Report from Moscow by IM Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal

Round 5, Wed. 16 March 2016
Giri Anish
Svidler Peter
Anand Viswanathan
Nakamura Hikaru
Topalov Veselin
Karjakin Sergey
Aronian Levon
Caruana Fabiano

Note that ChessBase is doing daily one-hour roundup shows after each round

Yesterday we brought to you a video of the players entering the tournament venue. Today we went to the fifth floor and stood near the security check. One by one the players arrived and here's a video of that. Especially interesting is what Nakamura carries with him to drink and also how Veselin Topalov came to the tournament in a black suit and in great mood!

Levon Aronian – Fabiano Caruana 0.5-0.5

Levon Aronian came to the tournament hall in a calm and sedate mood,
but Caruana’s opening choice turned on the beast in him!

The most interesting game of round five was definitely the battle between Levon Aronian and Fabiano Caruana. Aronian opened the game with 1.d4. Caruana seemed like he wanted to go for the Queen’s Indian or the Queen’ Gambit Declined but suddenly shocked everyone with the Benoni!

Fabiano Caruana played the Modern Benoni which is quite risky
mainly because Black not only gives White space but also the central majority

Caruana on his choice of opening said, “I wanted to play the Benoni since last two months, but none of my opponents were allowing me to do so. Perhaps if I would have told them before the game that I wanted to play the Benoni I would have got half a dozen!”

Standing up from his board and watching the giant screen, Anish Giri had a smile on his face. When we asked him the reason for that, the Dutch GM replied, “I found it particularly entertaining that Fabiano played the Benoni. Not at the Vugar Gashimov Memorial or against Veselin Topalov, who is currently in the last place, but against Levon Aronian! I thought this must be a very deep choice, maybe his second Rustam Kasimdzhanov has gone crazy! He always seemed to me like a sane guy, but something must have happened! Well, he got away with it. I am sure Fabiano regretted his decision on many occasions. Levon gave away too many pawns and Fabiano escaped with a draw. At the end of the day you always wonder, wouldn’t it be easier to just play Queen’s Gambit and get away with a draw rather than create the whole spectacle! (smiles) [You can see the video of Anish saying the above in the Youtube embed below his game against Svidler]

The critical position of the game was reached on move twenty when Aronian, in textbook fashion, sacrificed a pawn with 20.e5 dxe5 21.f5! While this might seem surprising to some, it is in fact a very common positional pawn sacrifice. In this case it is used for an attack, but positionally too it is very sound. The bishop on g7 is shut down and the knight on d7 doesn’t get the e5 square. Meanwhile the white knight gets the e4 square. So all in all this is an excellent idea. Check the end of this article to find a clip from my DVD “Learn from the Classics” where I explain exactly this same idea.

In the game Aronian didn’t go for the move f5-f6. In the press conference he showed some of the ideas he had seen in this position and his imagination combined with accurate calculation of variations completely floored me! Aronian said, “I want to mate you!” He started the analysis with the move 24.h4!? and while this looks extremely slow, the idea is just majestic. After 24…Nxc4 25.h5! Qxd5 26.hxg6 hxg6 27.Qb3! the queen is transferred to the kingside and combined with a knight and a rook lift, it leads to a mating attack. Computers really don’t understand it at first but then realize how strong the attack is. And this position is one example why we consider Aronian to be a genius

[Event "Candidates 2016"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.03.16"] [Round "5"] [White "Aronian, Levon"] [Black "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A77"] [WhiteElo "2786"] [BlackElo "2794"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "59"] {This was by far the most interesting game of round five. Caruana really showed what a braveheart he was by employing the Benoni. Although Aronian was just too optimistic about his position, it surely looked dangerous for Black. The game ended in a draw, but there was a lot of excitement.} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 $5 {As the commentator Miroshnichenko said, "Not the Berlin but the Benoni!" Same two letters at the start but completely different games!} 4. d5 d6 5. Nc3 exd5 6. cxd5 g6 7. e4 Bg7 8. Be2 {Aronian chooses the classical setup of the good olden days with Be2, Nd2, Qc2 etc. Much more modern and aggressive is Bd3 followed by h3. But once you play something modern, it becomes theoretical, while with Be2 there quite some scope for creativity.} O-O 9. O-O Re8 10. Nd2 Nbd7 11. Qc2 (11. a4 {was how one of the greatest defensive player in the world, Tigran Petrosian, liked to play. The move itself is a high class prophylactic move. It stops ideas of b5 and at the same time prepares a highly sophisticated manoeuvre with Ra3 so that the rook can help in the kingside defense!}) 11... Ne5 12. b3 $5 {Caruana said in the interview after the game that he had looked at this move and it seemed dangerous to say the least.} Bg4 13. Bxg4 (13. f3 {was possible but Aronian saw absolutely no need for this.}) 13... Nfxg4 14. Bb2 a6 15. h3 Nf6 16. f4 {Optically it seems that White is simply cruising. He has developed all of his pieces and has a nice central pawn majority, Nc4 is coming, so is Rae1 and e5 is well and truly on cards.} Ned7 17. Nc4 (17. a4 {Trying to play it slow was also an option.}) 17... Nb6 18. Rae1 (18. Nxb6 Qxb6 19. e5 {looks scary but can be met with} c4+ $1 20. Kh2 (20. Kh1 cxb3 21. axb3 Nh5 $1 $17) 20... cxb3 21. axb3 dxe5 22. fxe5 Rxe5 $1 23. Na4 Qd6 24. Bxe5 Qxe5+ $17) 18... Nxc4 19. bxc4 Nd7 $6 (19... Nh5 $5 {was Fabiano's intention, but he didn't go with it.} 20. g4 (20. e5 dxe5 21. f5 Ng3 $15) 20... Bd4+ 21. Kg2 Nf6 22. Nd1 {The computer thinks that this position is equal because Black can strike out with} b5 $1 $132) 20. e5 $1 { [#] A textbook positional idea which I explained in quite some detail in my DVD "Learn from the Classics". The point is very nice: if White played direct f5 then the e5 square would be a huge hole. However, by playing e5 dxe5 and then f5, the e5 square is covered by a pawn, the bishop on g7 is passive, all in all it is an excellent positional pawn sacrifice. It has been played in many classical games, one of them being Botvinnik-Pomar.} dxe5 21. f5 $1 b5 $1 {Caruana realises that he needs to be active. Just sitting and doing nothing would lead to a mate pretty soon.} (21... e4 22. Nxe4 $16) 22. Ne4 Nb6 23. Bc1 (23. f6 {was Aronian's intuition. He wanted to launch a very strong attack on the Black king. Look at his idea.} Bf8 24. h4 $3 {[#] I wonder how such ideas even come to these top players. In this position he wants to play h5 then take on g6 and after hxg6 by Black transfer his queen to h4 followed by Ng5 and deliver mate. Of course this takes a lot of time but it is interesting nonetheless.} Nxc4 25. h5 Qxd5 {This looks like the most critical way as Black has won two pawns.} (25... Nxb2 26. hxg6 hxg6 27. Qb3 $1 {[%cal Gb3h3]} Qd7 28. Qg3 Nd3 29. Qxd3 $16) (25... Ra7 {was a tricky try by Fabiano to avert mate. He want to capture back on g6 with the f-pawn. The engines immediately show how White can gain a decisive advantage.} 26. Qf2 $1 Qxd5 27. hxg6 fxg6 28. Rd1 Qf7 (28... Qxe4 29. f7+ $18) 29. Ng5 $18) 26. hxg6 hxg6 27. Qb3 {Threatening to go to h3 follwed by Ng5.} (27. Qf2 $5) 27... Qd7 {and now comes the Aronian special.} 28. Qg3 $1 Nxb2 29. Qh2 $3 {Threatening Ng5.} (29. Qh4 $2 Nd3 30. Ng5 Qd4+ $19) 29... Qg4 30. Re3 $1 $18 {and the mate on the h-file cannot be averted. Wasn't this a simply amazing bit of analysis by Aronian? Creativity, calculation, intuition, art and beauty all rolled into one. Only thing lacking during the game for Aronian was trust - the trust on his intuition!}) 23... Nxc4 24. d6 gxf5 (24... Nxd6 25. Rd1 $16) 25. Rxf5 Nxd6 26. Bg5 {This looks really scary for White, but Black has it under control with} Qa5 $1 {attacking the e1 rook.} (26... Qd7 27. Nf6+ Bxf6 28. Rxf6 Re6 {Looks like a defensive try but it seems highly risky as after} 29. Qf2 $1 $40 {it seems like White should have a strong attack.}) 27. Bd2 Qd8 28. Bg5 Qa5 29. Bd2 Qd8 30. Bg5 { An extremely exciting game of chess. And all thanks to Caruana who had the bravery to play the Benoni!} 1/2-1/2

Aronian: I got very excited and wanted to mate you. Caruana: I bring that out in you,
don’t I? Have a look at this highly entertaining press conference.

Veselin Topalov – Sergey Karjakin 0.5-0.5

The battle between the man-in-form (right) and the man out-of-form

Topalov has been having a pretty dismal event until now. Prior to the round he had a score of -2. But this was the perfect game to redeem himself. Firstly he was up against the tournament leader Sergey Karjakin and secondly he had the white pieces. Both the players blitzed through their initial moves and they reached the same position that was played between Anish Giri and Sergey Karjakin in the third round.

Let Topalov explain this move to us: “I just want to push the pawn to b4. In all other lines it is impossible to achieve that. It looks primitive but it was an interesting idea, at least for one game, and I think I got a very nice position.”

After making the move 11.Rb1!, Topalov got up from his chair looking quite confident,
and left Sergey to figure out the details of how to continue

The opening went very well for Veselin as he got a position with strong pressure on the hanging black pawns on c5 and d5! Sergey had won a nice game in the fourth round fighting against these pawns. And now in the fifth round, he was the one defending them! But his alertness and attention to detail was very high.

Karjakin had just played 14…Bf8 on the previous move. Topalov tried to build up the pressure on the d5 pawn with 15.Rb2!? And Sergey replied with 15…Bd6!? A very natural question that comes to mind is why didn’t the Russian play 14…Bd6 instead of Bf8? The answer lies in the fact that on 14…Bd6 the d5 pawn was hanging as the rook was on b1. But when the rook moved to b2, then after 15…Bd6 the d5 pawn is somehow not as appetizing as before because the b2 rook hangs in many lines. Such little things prove that Sergey is in excellent shape at the event.

Extremely focused and exploring every little detail in the position is Sergey Karjakin

Once the opening phase had passed, Black equalized the game and Karjakin had very little trouble holding the draw. With this win Karjakin maintains his lead by half a point while Topalov remains in the bottom of the table by the same margin.

Interview with Veselin Topalov about 11.Rb1!

This video contains Topalov's impression of the game and some very nice explanation of his novelty 11.Rb1

[Event "Candidates 2016"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.03.16"] [Round "5"] [White "Topalov, Veselin"] [Black "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "E15"] [WhiteElo "2780"] [BlackElo "2760"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "81"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Ba6 5. b3 Bb4+ 6. Bd2 Be7 7. Nc3 d5 8. cxd5 exd5 9. Bg2 O-O 10. O-O Re8 {Sergey plays te same opeing that he did against Anish Giri in round three. Topalov came to the board with a new idea which he now showcases.} 11. Rb1 $5 $146 {[%cal Ga1b1] [#] As Topalov explained after the game, this move is connected with the idea of getting in b4 to stop c5. White always wants to make this move in the opening in this line but is never able to. This is a very brute way to force it.} c5 {Topalov condemned this move after the game, but in a way it looks perfectly natural because it nips the b4 idea in the bud.} (11... Nbd7 {is another option as after} 12. b4 Bb7 ( 12... Bc4 $6 13. Bf4 {[%cal Gf3d2]}) 13. b5 a6 14. a4 axb5 15. axb5 Ne4 { looks like a playable position for Black.}) 12. dxc5 bxc5 13. Ne5 Bb7 14. Bf4 Bf8 {[%cal Ge7f8]} (14... Bd6 {doesn't work because of} 15. Nxd5 Nxd5 16. Bxd5 Bxd5 17. Qxd5 $18) 15. Rb2 {Trying to transfer the rook to d2. But this small detail of rook on b2 instead of b1 makes such a huge difference. And Karjakin was extremely alert.} Bd6 $5 {[%cal Ge7f8,Ge7d6] [#]} 16. Nd3 (16. Nxd5 { was still possible but after} Bxd5 $1 (16... Bxe5 17. Nxf6+ Bxf6 18. Qxd8 Rxd8 19. Bxb7 Bxb2 20. Bxa8 $18) 17. Bxd5 (17. Nxf7 $5 Bxf7 18. Bxa8 Nbd7 19. Qxd6 Qxa8 20. f3 $14) 17... Bxe5 {White has to find this important resource with} 18. Rd2 $1 (18. Bxe5 Qxd5 $17) 18... Nbd7 19. Bxe5 Nxe5 (19... Rxe5 $6 20. Bxa8 Qxa8 21. Rxd7 $16) 20. Bxf7+ Nxf7 21. Rxd8 Raxd8 22. Qc2 $14) 16... Na6 17. Bxd6 Qxd6 18. Nf4 Qe5 $1 {One can say that the danger has passed for Black and he has equalised out of the opening.} 19. Rc2 Rad8 20. Na4 c4 21. Qd2 g5 22. Nh3 h6 23. f4 gxf4 24. Qxf4 cxb3 25. axb3 Kg7 26. Qxe5 Rxe5 27. Nf4 {White still has a small edge in the position, but thanks to the reduced number of pawns the game soon ends in a draw.} Re7 28. Nd3 Ng4 29. Rf4 Ne3 30. Rd2 d4 31. Bh3 Be4 32. Nac5 Nxc5 33. Nxc5 f5 34. g4 fxg4 35. Bxg4 Nxg4 36. Rxg4+ Bg6 37. Kf2 (37. Rgxd4 Rxd4 38. Rxd4 Rxe2 39. Rd7+ Bf7 40. Rxa7 Rb2 $11) 37... Re5 38. Nd3 Rf5+ 39. Ke1 h5 40. Rg1 a5 41. Rc2 {An interesting game especially the opening play where Topalov unleased a novelty.} 1/2-1/2

Anish Giri – Peter Svidler 0.5-0.5

“There are many people who open their games with Nf3, g3 or Nf3, e3 and win by force, like Vladimir Kramnik or Sergey Karjakin. But I am not one of those guys! Generally when I begin this way I do not have a clue about what I am doing!” That is how Anish started the press conference! Nf3 followed by g3 was a way to avoid Svidler’s excellent home preparation that he has been showing at this event.

“It is ironic that people are driving me to play my main opening, the Grunfeld, looking at weird move orders to play my absolute main opening that I have been playing for the last 25 years. Well, it is some sort of a compliment to my home preparation at this event.”

Anish surprised Peter with Nf3 followed by g3, and Peter surprised Anish by playing the move 7…a5 in the solid variation of the Grunfeld Defence. Svidler made an inaccuracy in the opening with 13…Bf5 and Anish managed to get an excellent position. White had wonderfully coordinated pieces, but Black’s position was resilient. In the end Peter was able to find some important resources like re-routing his bishop to c6 via d7 and Anish was short on time. The result was a draw in 30 moves.

I swear by my heart that all this was not home-preparation!

Anish Giri’s wife Sopiko Guramishvili waits patiently outside the press conference room

[Event "Candidates 2016"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.03.16"] [Round "5"] [White "Giri, Anish"] [Black "Svidler, Peter"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D78"] [WhiteElo "2793"] [BlackElo "2757"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "60"] 1. Nf3 $5 {Anish wants to stay away from Svidler's excellent home preparation and just have a normal game of chess.} d5 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. d4 Nf6 5. c4 c6 {By a transposition we have reached the popular solid variation of the Fianchetto Grunfeld. As Peter said in the press conference: "It is funny that people are trying to find weird move orders to force me into playing the Grunfeld, which is clearly my strongest opening!"} 6. Qb3 O-O 7. O-O a5 $5 { Svidler's main move is 7...Qb6 but he had played this once before against Pavel Tregubov in 2004.} 8. cxd5 a4 9. Qd1 cxd5 10. Nc3 {The players could have reached the same position with the pawn on a7 as well. What does having the pawn on a4 mean? In some cases it can be a weakness, but it is also a strength that confers a lot of space to Black on the queenside.} Ne4 11. Nd2 $146 (11. Nxa4 {doesn't really make sense as after} Qa5 12. Nc3 (12. b3 b5 13. Nb2 Nc6 $44 {followed by Bf5 is a free flowing position for Black.}) 12... Nxc3 13. bxc3 Qxc3 14. Bd2 Qc4 $11) 11... Nxc3 12. bxc3 Qa5 13. Qc2 Bf5 $6 {"I just blanked out!" Svidler was quite critical about this move and rightly so. He could have kept better control on the position by playing his bishop to e6 instead of f5.} (13... Be6 {with Rc8 coming up next. The opening has gone really well for Black.}) 14. e4 dxe4 15. Nxe4 Nd7 16. Rb1 Qc7 17. Qe2 {White definitely has a small edge now, mainly because his pieces are much better co-ordinated. The rook on b1, the bishop on g2 and the dark squared bishop coming to f4, it all looks pretty good for Anish.} Rfe8 18. Be3 (18. Bf4 e5 { is fine for Black.}) 18... Rab8 19. Rb4 $1 {Giri wanted to stop Black from playing e5 at all costs but was not able to do so. But this rook lift is excellent. It puts pressure on the a4 pawn and also prepares doubling on the b-file.} e5 20. Rc4 (20. d5 {was definitely an option} Bxe4 21. Rxe4 $5 { so that Bf8 doesn't come with a tempo.} (21. Bxe4 Bf8 22. Rxa4 Nc5 {Anish didn't ike the solid control that Black had on the dark squares.} 23. Rb4 Nxe4 24. Rxe4 b5 $44 {Black is a pawn down but has excellent compensation.}) 21... Nc5 (21... f5 22. Rxa4 $16) 22. Rb4 $16 {[%cal Gf1b1]}) (20. Rxa4 Bxe4 21. Bxe4 b5 22. Rb4 exd4 23. Bxd4 Bxd4 24. cxd4 Nf6 25. f3 Qc3 $44) 20... Qb6 21. Rb4 Qc7 22. dxe5 Nxe5 23. Bf4 Bd7 $1 {[#] A strong regrouping of pieces by Svidler. The bishop will be well placed on c6.} 24. Rd1 Bc6 $11 {Black has absolutely no problems now.} 25. Rbd4 Re6 26. Ng5 Ree8 27. Ne4 Re6 28. Ng5 Ree8 29. Ne4 Re6 30. Ng5 Ree8 1/2-1/2

Anish seriously explains his game against Peter and then in his typical sense of humour tells us why he was smiling at the start of the round and why he has lost faith in the James Bond movies!

Viswanathan Anand – Hikaru Nakamura 0.5-0.5

Not many exciting moments in the game between Vishy Anand and Hikaru Nakamura

Hikaru Nakamura came well prepared to the game

“My third anti-Berlin in a row! [smiles]. I was trying to play against his doubled e-pawns. Sometimes if White manages to consolidate his structure, it can be a long game and black has to suffer a bit. I got my knight to e3, and he weakened his structure with d5-d4, but it didn’t seem enough.” This is how Anand explains his game against Nakamura.

Anand did play the move 10.a4, which was a novelty, but definitely not one of his scary innovations which would bring his opponents in a state of panic

To many of the viewers it seemed like the least interesting game of the day. There was only one open file, pieces got exchanged, there was no pawn tension in the position, no real outposts and no pawn breaks. This was a game where both the payers were fine with a draw and wanted to prepare themselves for the next encounter.

The walk to the conference room from the playing hall is always
friendly and jovial when the game has ended in a peaceful draw

All the players were made to sign around ten of these posters having AGON’s symbol on them

[Event "Candidates 2016"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.03.16"] [Round "5"] [White "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C65"] [WhiteElo "2762"] [BlackElo "2790"] [Annotator "Amruta Mokal/ Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "55"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. O-O Nd4 6. Nxd4 Bxd4 7. Nd2 ({ Anand had played the main move just a month ago, but did not get much from the opening and the game ended in a draw (against Vladimir Kramnik in Zurich Chess Challenge, Switzerland, Feb 2016)} 7. c3 Bb6 8. Na3 O-O 9. Bg5 d5 10. exd5 Qxd5 11. Bxf6 gxf6 12. Bc4 Qd7 13. Nc2 Qg4 14. d4 Qxd1 15. Raxd1 Bg4 16. Rd2 $11 { 1/2-1/2 (32) Anand,V (2784)-Kramnik,V (2801) Zuerich 2016}) 7... a6 8. Ba4 b5 9. Bb3 d6 10. a4 $146 {[#] A novelty but not an earth-shattering one. a4 looks like a very normal move that one would play in such positions.} ({The main game in this line between Tomashevsky-Ponomariov continued with} 10. Nf3) 10... Bb6 11. axb5 Bg4 12. Nf3 axb5 13. Rxa8 Qxa8 {Black doesn't seem to be having too many problems out of the opening.} 14. h3 Be6 {Nakamura decides to play safe and solid.} (14... Bh5 {will give some attacking chances to White.} 15. g4 Bg6 16. Nh4 O-O 17. Kg2 $40) 15. Bxe6 fxe6 {Such double pawns are quite often good to have as they control the critical central squares and also gives Black the open f-file.} 16. Nh2 O-O 17. Ng4 Qe8 18. Be3 Bxe3 (18... Nxg4 19. Bxb6 cxb6 20. Qxg4 $14 {looks at least a small edge for White.}) 19. Nxe3 {After the game Anand said that he was happy when he got the knight to e3.} Qc6 20. Qd2 d5 21. f3 ({White could try to open the position to get f5 square and create some imbalances, but with less space and blacks strong central pawns it would not be practically very easy to play.} 21. exd5 exd5 (21... Nxd5 22. Re1 $14 {[%csl Re5,Re6]}) 22. Ra1 d4 23. Ng4 Nxg4 24. hxg4 e4 25. dxe4 Qxe4 $11) 21... d4 22. Ng4 Nxg4 23. hxg4 h6 (23... Ra8 24. Qg5 Qxc2 25. Qxe5 Qxb2 26. Qxe6+ Kh8 27. Qc6 $14) 24. g5 (24. Ra1 Kh7 (24... Ra8 25. Rxa8+ Qxa8 26. g5 $36 ) 25. Qb4 Ra8 26. Rxa8 Qxa8 27. Qxb5 Qa1+ 28. Kf2 Qc1 $11) (24. Rc1 $5 { [%cal Gc2c3] with the idea of c3 was an interesting move and would have given White a small edge in this case. It's not that White would like to play c3, but he keeps it in reserve and asks Black what he is doing.} Ra8 25. g5 $1 $14) 24... hxg5 25. Qxg5 Qxc2 26. Qxe5 Qxd3 27. Qxe6+ Kh7 28. Qh3+ {One could say nothing much happened in the game and it was a pretty straight-forward draw.} 1/2-1/2

Anand talks about his game, what he was aiming for and how he intends to prepare for the next round.

Three local talents, GM Maxim Matlakov (right), Ildar Khairullin and Ian Nepomniachtchi are making it a point to come daily to the tournament hall and soak in the chess atmosphere of a tournament that they might well be playing after a few years.

Aeroflot Open heroes Sanan Sjugirov and Alexandr Predke were also here

Some couples preferred to watch the games…

…while some preferred to do commentary – like Pavel Tregubov and Alexandra Kosteniuk!

A good style sense is always appreciated in a chess tournament!

Sitting in the Candidates tournament hall in Moscow, and reading the Soviet Chess Strategy,
this man has taken all the right decisions in his bid to improve as a chess player!

And finally, here’s the promised lecture on the idea used by Aronian against Caruana – the positional pawn sacrifice with e5 dxe5 followed by f5. The same one was used by Botvinnik against Pomar in the Varna Olympiad 1962 and I cover it in my DVD Learn from the Classics.

Learn from the Classics

By IM Sagar Shah

Languages: English
ISBN : 978-3-86681-500-1
Delivery: Download, Post
Level: Tournament player, Professional
Price: €29.90 or €25.13 without VAT (for Customers outside the EU) $27.06 (without VAT)

Wise and successful players of the game have always told us to study the classics – games by the great masters of the past. But in this age of cutting-edge opening theory, preparation and engines, is studying the classics really that helpful?

On this DVD, Sagar Shah does'nt merely preach. First, he shows you classical games of great legends such as Petrosian, Botvinnik, Fischer, Korchnoi and Kasparov, looking at typical patterns and ideas from the middlegame. The author then goes on to explain how you can use these ideas in your own battles – by showing you examples of applied classical knowledge from his own games!

As well as looking at the middlegame, Sagar also focuses on the opening. The information explosion has ensured that opening theory continues to evolve at a rapid pace. The author shows that playing through the classics can help us establish a strong and stable feel for the initial phase of the game, and analyzes the opening duel between Botvinnik and Petrosian from their World Championship match in 1963. Going over these games will give you an excellent idea of how the classics can be used to prepare your own openings.

Order Sagar Shah's Learn from the Classics in the ChessBase Shop


Standings after five rounds

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 ½-½ Topalov Veselin
Aronian Levon ½-½ Anand Viswanathan
Caruana Fabiano ½-½ Giri Anish
Karjakin Sergey 1-0 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 ½-½ Svidler Peter
Anand Viswanathan ½-½ Nakamura Hikaru
Topalov Veselin ½-½ Karjakin Sergey
Aronian Levon ½-½ 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

Roundup broadcasts

ChessBase is doing roundup shows at the end of each round of the Candidates.

Here is the full schedule of future broadcasts – you need to be a premium member to watch

Roundup Commentary Schedule

Date Day Round English German
17.03.2016 Thursday Round 6 Yannick Pelletier Sebastian Siebrecht
18.03.2016 Friday Free day Summary Yannick Pelletier  
19.03.2016 Saturday Round 7 Oliver Reeh/Karsten Müller Klaus Bischoff
20.03.2016 Sunday Round 8 Chris Ward Klaus Bischoff
21.03.2016 Monday Round 9 Simon Williams Klaus Bischoff
22.03.2016 Tuesday Free day Summary Yannick Pelletier  
23.03.2016 Wednesday Round 10 Daniel King Klaus Bischoff
24.03.2016 Thursday Round 11 Simon Williams Klaus Bischoff
25.03.2016 Friday Round 12 Daniel King Oliver Reeh/Karsten Müller
26.03.2016 Saturday Free day Summary Yannick Pelletier  
27.03.2016 Sunday Round 13 Daniel King Klaus Bischoff
28.03.2016 Monday Round 14 Yannick Pelletier Klaus Bischoff


Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. 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, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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