Candidates R07: Nakamura beats Topalov

by Sagar Shah
3/19/2016 – It was the last round of the first half of the tournament, and the pairings were surprisingly very evenly matched based on the standings – the two leaders Levon Aronian and Sergey Karjakin faced off against each other and so did the two tail-enders Hikaru Nakamura and Veselin Topalov. We had one decisive game and three draws. On show today was really high class opening preparation by the players. Round seven report with postgame video interviews.

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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.

Round 7, Saturday 19 March 2016
Svidler Peter
Caruana Fabiano
Karjakin Sergey
Aronian Levon
Nakamura Hikaru
Topalov Veselin
Giri Anish
Anand Viswanathan

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

Candidates round seven – Nakamura beats Topalov

Report from Moscow by Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal

The Four Seasons Hotel where the players are residing for this event

The view from the hotel

The entrance to the Red Square (more pictures will be coming up in the next reports)

The author of these lines enjoying with characters of Russian History.
The character on the right is supposed to be Stalin, but who is the one of the left?

Anish Giri - Viswanathan Anand 0.5-0.5

Anand and Anish have been friends since 2010 – read the final part of this article for proof

It would be difficult to tell you which opening was played by Anand – was it the Queen’s Gambit Declined, the Nimzo Indian or the Ragozin? I would say it was a potpourri of all of them. The name of the opening doesn’t really matter, what matters is the fact that Anand was extremely well prepared and this dissuaded Anish Giri from taking the most principled approach in the position.

Anand’s move 11…Re8!? is a very interesting idea. The plan is to meet 12.cxd5 with e5!? Whether the pawn sacrifice is enough or not is unclear, Anish thought it was a safe idea not to mess with Anand’s preparation. As he said in the press conference, “I don’t mind to fight this position with Vishy, which in itself is a big challenge. But to fight Vishy + a strong machine is not part of my plan!” Once he didn’t choose 12.cxd5 and instead went for 12.Bxf6, it was very apparent that the game would end in a draw. Quite a successful result for Anand, who consolidated his win against Svidler in the sixth round with this solid draw. On the other hand Anish is still looking for his first win in the tournament.

What can you do if the game finished early, you still have a chocolate bar to finish?

[Event "Candidates 2016"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.03.19"] [Round "7"] [White "Giri, Anish"] [Black "Viswanathan, Anand"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "E36"] [WhiteElo "2793"] [BlackElo "2762"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "61"] [SourceDate "2016.03.19"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Nbd7 {Until now we are following the game between Levon Aronian and Vishy Anand. Here the Armenian went 5.Bf4 and Vishy took the pawn with dxc4. Anish deviates with Qc2.} 5. Qc2 Bb4 {The most difficult question of the game: is it a Nimzo, Queen's Gambit or Ragozin?} 6. a3 Bxc3+ 7. Qxc3 O-O {Now we are somewhere in the Nimzo territory where instead of dc4 Black has played Nbd7. Is this line inferior to the main line? Well, Vishy shows that when you are well prepared even inferior lines look good.} 8. Bg5 h6 9. Bh4 c5 {Black is playing very logical chess. As he is ahead in development he is trying to break the centre.} 10. e3 cxd4 11. Qxd4 { This is the first new move but at the highest level nothing really has been known about this line. So Anish was thinking at the board. Vishy on the other hand was well prepared.} (11. exd4 dxc4 12. Bxc4 Nb6 $11) 11... Re8 $5 { Subtle preparation by the Indian ace. The move in itself is not so scary. But when you know that your opponent has prepared it in detail and you haven't even seen it, then you shy away from the most critical move, cxd5, which is what Anish did.} 12. Bxf6 (12. cxd5 e5 {Is this really so strong? As Anish said in the press conference I am ready to face this move against Anand but against Anand and computer it is a little bit too much.} 13. Qd2 (13. Qd1 Qa5+ 14. Qd2 Qxd5 {regains the pawn but White maintains an edge after} 15. Rc1 $14) (13. Bxf6 Qxf6 14. Qd2 Qg6 $5 $44 (14... e4 15. Nd4 Nb6 {is also possible.})) 13... g5 $5 14. Bg3 g4 15. Nh4 Ne4 16. Qb4 Ndf6 17. Bd3 Qxd5 18. Rd1 $14 { This might not be a thorough analysis of the line, but I think Anand must have worked out the details really in great depth after cd5 e5.}) 12... Nxf6 13. cxd5 Nxd5 (13... Qxd5 {is also possible.}) 14. Be2 {White has a small edge mainly because of the c8 bishop. But Black can equalize without too many difficulties.} Nf6 $1 (14... e5 15. Nxe5 (15. Qc5 {This is the move that Anand was aftraid of. But I think Black is completely fine here after} e4 16. Nd4 Qg5 $36) 15... Qa5+ 16. b4 Nxe3 $1 17. Qxe3 Qxe5 $11) 15. Qxd8 Rxd8 {As Giri said after the game, I held no illusions that I could win such position against Vishy.} 16. O-O Bd7 17. Rfc1 Rac8 18. Kf1 Kf8 19. Ke1 Ke7 20. Ne5 Rxc1+ 21. Rxc1 Rc8 22. Rxc8 Bxc8 {More pieces are exchanged and the game finally ends in a draw.} 23. f4 Nd7 24. Nxd7 Bxd7 25. Kd2 Kd6 26. Kc3 e5 27. g3 b6 28. Bc4 f6 29. b4 g5 30. h4 gxh4 31. gxh4 {A relatively good result for Anand especially considering that he was black. Giri is still searching for his first win in the event.} 1/2-1/2

How did you spend your rest day? Anish, “Apparently preparing all the wrong things!”

“I tried this new idea with 11…Re8, and things can get highly unpleasant if you potter around.
Given the fact that my last black game against him was quite unsuccessful, I was happy today.”

Anish kibitzing the live games with a journalist from TASS

Hikaru Nakamura – Veselin Topalov 1-0

Interviewer to Hikaru, “How did you come back after your loss to Levon?” “The most important thing for me was that there was no game yesterday. It was a rest day. I took a break from chess and followed news, sports and all the other things that are important in life as well.” And it was good news for Nakamura that he was facing the out-of-sorts yet highly ambitious Topalov. Veselin has been having a pretty bad event, but that hasn’t stopped him from taking risks and playing in an aggressive style. When you aren’t calculating well this strategy can be quite risky. This was the case in the game when in a complex position he made quite a few errors and lost. Full credit to the Bulgarian grandmaster for making it an exciting game.

In the above position Veselin mixed up things really well with the move 21…Bxc5 22.dxc5 d4!? Nakamura had underestimated this idea. And while the computer shows an edge for White, over the board it was extremely difficult for the American grandmaster to find the right path. However, Topalov didn’t continue in the most incisive manner, which made the game end in Nakamura’s favour.

–3 after seven rounds is not something Veselin was hoping for

Spend some time with this position. It is Black to play. What is the best move for Topalov here? Mind you, the Bulgarian grandmaster couldn’t find it. Your task is to immerse yourself in the position and see what exactly is going on. Once you are aware of it, you might well find the move.

This video shows you Topalov's emotions after his loss with Nakamura and also his chat with his manager IM Silvio Danailov after the game. This clip also gives you a feel of the tournament venue, where the players exit after their games, where the viewers usually sit for the game and where the press conference room is.

When Hikaru was asked about the J’adoube incident, he replied, “It’s not a big deal. At that time I probably touched the king for a second or two. In the moment I certainly didn’t feel like I touched the king, but I probably did that and the arbiter seemed to think that way. I have no problem with the ruling. I am just upset that Levon, instead of keeping it to chess, decided to make it personal with a few things that he said.” Watch the full video above for more.

The j’adoube incident has added to the misery of Hikaru Nakamura at the Candidates 2016

[Event "Candidates 2016"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.03.19"] [Round "7"] [White "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Black "Topalov, Veselin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D12"] [WhiteElo "2790"] [BlackElo "2780"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "77"] [SourceDate "2016.03.19"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 Bf5 5. Nc3 e6 6. Nh4 Bg6 7. Nxg6 hxg6 8. Rb1 $5 {We reached the standard position of the Slav Defence and Nakamura makes this little rook move. What is the idea of this one? Well White intends to play c5. However, right now it was not possible as 8.c5 would be met with 8... b6!? and then b4 with a5, when it is no longer possible to play a3 as the rook on a1 would be hanging after axb4. But once you move your rook away from a1, then the c5 followed by b4 ideas become possible.} Nbd7 9. c5 a5 {It is funny that this same idea of Rb1 followed by c5 was first employed by Topalov in his World Championship match in Elista against Kramnik in 2006! Kramnik had responded very well with black and in this game Topalov basically uses all the manouvres and ideas of his old foe.} 10. a3 Be7 11. g3 e5 12. Bg2 e4 13. b4 axb4 14. axb4 Nf8 $5 {Transferring the knight to e6 before castling was also done by Kramnik.} 15. b5 Ne6 16. Bd2 O-O (16... b6 {could have been an interesting idea.} 17. cxb6 Qxb6 18. O-O $14) 17. Na4 Ng5 18. h4 (18. O-O { was a much better way to continue.}) 18... Nf3+ 19. Bxf3 exf3 20. bxc6 bxc6 21. Nc3 {[#]Now it seems as if White would just win the pawn on f3 and then 0-0 and be a simple pawn up. But Topalov had prepared a nice sacrifice!} (21. Nb6 Ra2 $132) 21... Bxc5 $1 {The exclamation is not for the objective evaluation of the move. It is for the practical implications. They are easy to calculate for humans and hence practically this is an excellent idea.} 22. dxc5 d4 23. exd4 Qxd4 (23... Re8+ 24. Be3 (24. Kf1 Qxd4 $44) 24... Ra3 25. Rb3 Rxb3 26. Qxb3 Qxd4 27. Nd1 $1 (27. O-O Rxe3 28. fxe3 Qxe3+ 29. Kh1 Nh5 $40) 27... Qd7 28. h5 gxh5 29. Rh4 $16 {and the extra piece will make itself count.}) 24. O-O (24. Qxf3 {was Nakamura's initial intention, but it fails to} Ra3 $1 25. Rd1 ( 25. O-O Qxd2 $11) 25... Qc4 $1 $17 {Very strong move threatening Re8+. White is almost busted.}) 24... Qg4 25. Re1 (25. Be3 $2 {It is important for the queen on d1 to keep an eye on f3 and hence this is a blunder.} Rfd8 $1 26. Qb3 Qh3 $19) (25. Bf4 $5 {This looks like a natural idea.} Rfd8 26. Bd6 Ra3 $1 { The knight cannot move as then f3 would be defended and Qh3 comes in.} 27. Qd3 (27. Rc1 $2 Ne4 28. Nxe4 Qh3 $17) 27... Nd5 28. Rbc1 (28. Rfc1 Re8 $1 $17 { The main point is that White has absolutely no moves! Black has attacking ideas with Re2, and he can also strengthen his position with Kh7. All in all this is just lost for White.}) 28... Re8 29. Kh2 Re2 $1 $19 {It's the same story - Zugzwang like position and White is once again lost.}) 25... Rfd8 26. Rb2 Rd4 27. Re7 (27. Re3 {This was the other option but after} Rad8 28. Nb1 Ne4 29. Qxf3 Qxf3 30. Rxf3 Nxd2 31. Nxd2 Rxd2 {This endgame should be drawn.} 32. Rb6 Rc2 33. Rxc6 f6 34. Re3 Rd1+ 35. Kg2 Rdd2 $132) 27... Rad8 28. Qb3 (28. Nb1 Ne4 $17) 28... Rf8 $1 {How do you meet the threat of Qh3 now?} 29. Qd1 Rfd8 30. Qb3 Rf8 {Time to make a draw?} 31. Nd1 $1 {Not really. Once again the exclamation mark is not for the objective evaluation of the position but for the fighting spirit shown by Nakamura.} Nd5 (31... Qf5 {Engines suggest this as the best move in the position. So what exactly is the idea of this move? Look a little deeper with your tactical eye and you will see that the threat is Rxh4! White must do something against it immediately.} 32. Re3 {looks like the only defensive move to get rid of the f3 pawn.} (32. Ne3 Qh3 33. Qd1 { Now this looks simply winning for White as the f3 pawn is falling. But Black has a nice double attack.} Nd5 $1 $19) 32... Qd7 $1 33. Rxf3 Rxd2 34. Rxd2 Qxd2 $15 {The material is even and Black cannot be worse, maybe a tad better.}) 32. Re5 Kh7 {Topalov is ambitious. He sees that something like Rb8 can give him a win if he can manage to deflect the white queen and prepare Qh3. But as it turns out this is just too speculative and Nakamura already has a winning position.} (32... Nf6 {With the idea of Qd7 made sense.}) 33. Kh2 $1 {Stopping a direct Qh3 at some point.} Nf6 34. Be3 Rb8 {As Topalov nicely put it - the only problem with this move is that it is losing!} 35. Qxb8 Rxd1 {How do you meet the threat of Rh1 followed by Qh3? Only one move.} 36. Rb1 Qd7 $5 37. Rg5 $1 {This was the move that was completely overlooked by Topalov.} (37. Rxd1 $2 Ng4+ 38. Kh3 Nxf2+ 39. Kh2 Qh3+ 40. Kg1 Qg2#) 37... Ne4 38. Rxd1 Qxd1 39. Qf4 { An edge of the seat entertainer.} 1-0

Sergey Karjakin – Levon Aronian 0.5-0.5

The game between the two leaders lived up to the expectations. Sergey’s games are interesting to follow because in almost all his games he is going for lines which are complex and have a lot of play for both sides. Today his choice was the King’s Indian Attack. Levon had come well prepared to the game and showed a new idea beginning with pushing his a-pawn down the board.

This move doesn’t really change the character of the position, as in the King’s Indian Attack Black often goes for queenside expansion. But this move order is pretty unique and that made Sergey take up a lot of his time. Levon obtained a very nice position out of the opening. One particularly impressive moment was the following:

Sergey has just moved his knight to g5. Aronian made a move here which had traces of great prophylactic and defensive geniuses in it like Tigran Petrosian or Anatoly Karpov. Can you find what the move is? The answer is given in the replay board below:

The expression of an artist immersed in his work

[Event "Candidates 2016"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.03.19"] [Round "7"] [White "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Black "Aronian, Levon"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A07"] [WhiteElo "2760"] [BlackElo "2786"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "61"] [EventDate "2016.03.19"] [SourceDate "2016.03.19"] 1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 e6 4. O-O Be7 5. d3 O-O 6. Nbd2 a5 $5 {[%cal Ga7a5] Aronian played this relatively new idea which was tried once before at the top level by Bruzon Batista against Ruslan Ponomariov in World Cup 2011.} 7. e4 a4 {Gaining further space on the queenside and looking to weaken the dark squared complex with a4-a3.} 8. a3 c5 9. Re1 Nc6 10. h4 $6 {Karjakin was critical of this move and said that he should have first closed the centre with e5 before indulging in this flank move.} (10. e5 Nd7 11. Nf1 {would lead to a normal KIA position.}) 10... dxe4 $1 {In this structure the move h4 looks a little silly.} 11. Nxe4 (11. dxe4 e5 12. Nc4 Qc7 13. Ne3 Nd4 $11) 11... Nxe4 12. Rxe4 (12. dxe4 e5 $15) 12... b5 13. Ng5 {And now comes a brilliant move by Levon.} Ra6 $1 {True this might seem as if the rook just defends the c6 knight. But actually it will be useful for the defense on the kingside on the third rank after e5.} (13... h6 {looks like a perfectly fine move. But Levon could have been afraid of} 14. Rxe6 $5 fxe6 15. Bxc6 Ra6 16. Be4 hxg5 17. Qh5 {The position is getting messy.} Rf5 18. g4 $5 gxh4 19. gxf5 exf5 20. Bxf5 Bxf5 21. Qxf5 Rf6 $17 {It all ends well for Black but it is not so easy to calculate over the board.} ) 14. Qh5 h6 15. Nf3 (15. Rg4 Ne5 $1 (15... f5 16. Nxe6 Bxe6 17. Rxg7+ Kxg7 18. Bxh6+ Kf6 19. Qg5+ Ke5 20. Qf4+ Kf6 $11) 16. Re4 Nd7 $19) 15... f5 16. Re1 Bd7 (16... Bf6 {was the best move, keeping control on the e5 square. Of course, Levon saw this but he thought that Bd7 was smarter.}) 17. Ne5 Nxe5 18. Rxe5 Bd6 19. Re1 Qf6 20. Rb1 $1 {This is why Karjaking is a strong defender. He allows f5-f4 but makes sure that b2 is defended and that he can exchange his dark squared bishop.} f4 (20... b4 {Might have kept more pieces in the position and given Black better chances of exploiting his advantage.}) 21. Bxf4 Bxf4 22. gxf4 Qxf4 23. Qxc5 Rf5 24. Qe3 Qxh4 {This looks scary for White but Karjakin has everything under control.} 25. Qg3 Qh5 26. Qc7 Qf7 27. Qb7 Rd6 28. Qb8+ Qf8 29. Qxf8+ Kxf8 30. Re3 Bc6 31. Rbe1 {It was a pity that Levon could not press well in the slighly better position, but as always Sergey defended really well. } 1/2-1/2

Peter Svidler – Fabiano Caruana 0.5-0.5

Peter Svidler’s bad fortune in the tournament continues. His preparation at the event is simply phenomenal. Apart from his game against Vishy Anand he got an advantage out of the opening in almost all the games he has played so far. However, today’s game against Caruana was somehow the biggest miss, as Peter following his excellent preparation got a technically winning position literally out of the opening.

Fabiano, on the move, takes a sip of water. But where is his opponent?

Peter Svidler is otherwise occupied (watching Giri vs Anand unfold)

Fabiano’s 10…b6 was really slow as it allowed Peter to open the kingside with 11.h5!
Later the bishop went to h6 and the queen to c1 and it was a blistering attack.

The attack was converted into a better endgame which Svidler was unable to win.

As can be seen in this interview Peter was quite dejected with his performance. But he was also hopeful that if the first half is anything to go by, then he would surely be getting many more chances in the second half.

The picture says it all!

[Event "Candidates 2016"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.03.19"] [Round "7"] [White "Svidler, Peter"] [Black "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A34"] [WhiteElo "2757"] [BlackElo "2794"] [Annotator "Amruta Mokal/Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "89"] [SourceDate "2016.03.19"] 1. c4 {This was the third white game for Peter in the event. In the first one he opened with 1.e4, while against Aronian he went 1.c4. Today he repeats the English Opening.} c5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. g3 d5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 {Fabiano has had good success with black in this line, most notable being his win against Topalov from the 2014 Sinquefield Cup.} 6. Bg2 g6 7. Ng5 $5 {This has been played in eight encounters before this game, with the top game being Wang Yue vs Ian Nepomniachtchi. But that was only a blitz.} (7. Ne4 {was an interesting knight sortie tried in Li Chao vs Peter Leko.}) 7... e6 8. d3 (8. Nge4 Be7 9. d3 O-O 10. Bh6 Re8 11. h4 $5 {1-0 (42) Agdestein,S (2560)-Polugaevsky,L (2575) Haninge 1988}) 8... Bg7 9. Nge4 $146 (9. Bd2 {1/2 (61)-1/2 (61) Wang,Y (2723) -Nepomniachtchi,I (2721) Beijing 2013}) 9... O-O (9... f5 10. Nxc5 $5 Nxc3 11. bxc3 Bxc3+ 12. Bd2 Bxa1 13. Qxa1 O-O 14. h4 $5 {Even though White is an exchange down and has no pawns to show for it, he has good compensation thanks to the dark square weaknesses in Black's position.}) 10. h4 (10. Nxc5 Nxc3 11. bxc3 Bxc3+ 12. Bd2 Bxa1 13. Qxa1 Nd4 $15 {White doesn't have enough compenstation.}) 10... b6 $6 {[%cal Gb7b6] As Caruana said in the press conference, this was not the most accurate move.} (10... f5 11. Nxc5 Nxc3 12. bxc3 Bxc3+ 13. Bd2 Bxa1 14. Qxa1 Qd6 15. Qc3 $44) (10... h5 11. g4 $5 hxg4 12. h5 {Using brute force to break through, but this may not be very good for White.} f5 13. Nxd5 exd5 14. Nc3 Be6 15. hxg6 f4 $17) (10... h6 11. Nxc5 Nxc3 12. bxc3 Bxc3+ 13. Bd2 Bxa1 14. Qxa1 Nd4 (14... Qd4 15. Qxd4 Nxd4 16. Bxh6 $16) 15. O-O Nxe2+ 16. Kh2 Nd4 17. Bxh6 $44) 11. h5 Bb7 12. hxg6 hxg6 (12... fxg6 { was necessary but to give the knight on e4 a permanent outpost is not something that Black would like to do voluntarily.}) 13. Bh6 Nxc3 {Here Svidler thought for 20 minutes, trying to understand whether he should take back with the pawn or the knight.} (13... f5 {wouldn't make much sense as after } 14. Bxg7 Kxg7 15. Qd2 fxe4 16. Qh6+ Kf6 17. Nxe4+ Ke7 18. Qxg6 $16 {White is just better.}) 14. bxc3 $1 (14. Nxc3 {is also possible, but taking with the pawn is stronger.}) 14... f5 (14... Bxh6 15. Rxh6 Ne5 16. Qd2 $16) 15. Qc1 $1 ( 15. Qd2 $6 {This move is not the most accurate as e4-e3 would come with a tempo.} fxe4 16. Bxg7 e3 $1 17. Qxe3 Kxg7 18. Qh6+ Kf6 $13) 15... fxe4 16. Bxg7 Kxg7 17. Qh6+ Kf6 (17... Kf7 18. Qh7+ Kf6 19. Qxb7 $16) 18. dxe4 Rh8 (18... Qe7 19. e5+ Kf7 (19... Kxe5 20. Qxg6 Kd6 21. Rh7 $18) 20. Be4 Nxe5 21. Qf4+ Qf6 22. Rh7+ Kg8 23. Qxf6 Rxf6 24. Rxb7 $16) 19. e5+ $1 (19. Qf4+ Kg7 $19) 19... Kf7 ( 19... Kxe5 20. Qf4#) (19... Nxe5 20. Qf4+) 20. Qf4+ Kg7 21. Rxh8 Qxh8 (21... Kxh8 22. Qh6+ Kg8 23. Qxg6+ Kf8 24. Qh6+ Kg8 25. Qxe6+ $18) 22. O-O-O $1 Kg8 23. Rd7 {Threatens mate on f7, and b7 is also hanging.} Rf8 24. Qg4 (24. Qg5 Qh5 25. Qxh5 gxh5 26. Rxb7 Nxe5 27. f4 $16 {was also another good position that White could have aimed for.}) 24... Qh6+ 25. f4 Re8 26. Rxb7 Nxe5 27. Qh3 Qxh3 28. Bxh3 $16 {And there we have it. Svidler has a technically better – and you can even go to the extent of saying close to winning position. But the problem with facing guys like Caruana is that they defend staunchly and never really give up.} Nc4 29. Rxa7 e5 30. Bg2 (30. Ra4 $1 Ne3 (30... Nd6 31. Ra6 $16 ) (30... b5 31. Bd7 $1 $18 {is the key point.}) 31. Re4 Nd5 32. Kc2 $16) 30... Ne3 31. Bc6 Re6 32. Bb5 exf4 33. gxf4 Rf6 34. Kd2 Nf1+ 35. Kd3 Rxf4 {Another key moment of the game. Svidler said that he regretted the fact that he didn't play Rb7 here.} 36. e4 $6 (36. Rb7 Rf6 37. e4 Kf8 38. e5 Re6 39. Ke4 $18 { with complete domination.}) 36... Ng3 37. e5 Rf3+ 38. Kc4 Ne4 {Things have already started becoming tricky and White's advantage is no longer obvious.} 39. Bc6 Rxc3+ 40. Kb5 Re3 41. Kxb6 c4 42. Bd5+ Kh8 43. e6 (43. Bxc4 Nd2 44. Bf7 Rxe5 {should end in a draw.}) 43... c3 44. Rc7 g5 45. Bxe4 {Peter calls it a day. It was really a close call for the American GM, who is having a real topsy turvy tournament.} 1/2-1/2

Food, drinks and engines on the mobile phone – a chess lover is ready for a long session of viewing!

The temperature went down as low as minus six degrees Centigrade on Saturday and this man was walking on the streets of Moscow in sport clothes. The secret of why he wasn’t feeling cold – he comes from Siberia!

In one of our previous reports we had mentioned that many veterans had made their way to the tournament hall to watch event. On Saturday you could see many young women at the venue enjoying the games.

Her choice of h3 square for the knight may not be the best,
but the selection of necklace is top notch!

The stare!

Polina Torochkova, Founder of the charity Fund "Country of Talents"

Can’t miss a moment! The players haven’t come out but the journalists are ready to shoot!

Ian Nepomniachtchi replaced Alexandra Kosteniuk as the official commentator in the seventh round

From the 20th of March we will see the second cycle begin in the tournament. The same players who faced each other in the first round will face-off in the eighth round but with colours reversed. For example: Anand was white against Topalov in the first round. He will now have the black pieces in the eighth.

All photos by Amruta Mokal of ChessBase India

Standings after seven 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
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 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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alpine alpine 3/21/2016 05:44
These comments amuse me. It appears all these commentators were privy to the private discussions of Aronian and Naka. Perhaps some of you knobs wouldn't be so judgmental if we knew exactly what words were spoken between Levon and Hikaru...otherwise, why would Naka mention it? He accepted the arbiter's decision -- that's the way sport goes. Kasparov committed much worse (and got away with it) with an even greater arrogance. Get over yourselves.
Rational Rational 3/20/2016 10:11
I understand Nakamura's actions at the board were spur of the moment and I am not too hard on him. He reached top at young age so it is a bit hard to hold some of his young indiscretions against him.
But Aronian has definitely done nothing wrong at all in calling Nakamura's out at the time and anyone would get angry when Nakamura's tried the J'adoube BS. Aronian may well have thought his position was winning anyway, if he wanted to psyche out Nakamura it would be more logical to emphasise that the position was only a draw.
tages erebus tages erebus 3/20/2016 03:43
Has anyone yet asked J'adoubamura why he fondled his King in the Aronian game?
Cocolisso Cocolisso 3/20/2016 02:42
Naka was nervous in the game with Aronian that's normal with don't have to blame him for that !! From outside is more easy to judge people it is not easy to be in that situation . We have to be more humans!!!
lasker28 lasker28 3/20/2016 01:04
Disappointed in Nakamura's interview.

He should own up to his disgraceful behavior in round 6 rather than attacking Aronian for getting upset that he blatantly tried to cheat. He should have apologized to Aronian after the game rather than refusing to shake his hand because Aronian didn't let him get away with cheating. He should have attended the press conference and apologized there, chalking it up to a regrettable decision in the heat of battle, rather than petulantly avoiding the press conference altogether.

If you clearly touch your King (which was on the center of the square) for a couple seconds and then say "I adjust," you are trying to cheat. It's very simple and it was caught on camera, so take responsibility and move on. Saying that it was no big deal and that he had no problem with the arbiter's ruling is just avoiding the question by deflecting away from his own actions. The big deal here is your behavior, Hikaru, not the behavior of Aronian or the arbiter.
johnmk johnmk 3/20/2016 12:47
Unfortunately you have to expect this sort of thing in any sports. These guys have been devoting their lives to one activity only and often they are not as sportsmanlike as we would wish. They can be courteous but often it is just a thin veneer that will collapse when the stakes are high enough. Naka storming out of the playing hall without giving an interview is no worse than the behaviour of Fischer in his prime. So both Naka and Aronian acted petty in one way or another. Some people are more bothered by Aronian's attitude believing it is a high crime to claim you have a winning position when you don't.
charlysl charlysl 3/20/2016 09:28
Hikaru just wanted to emulate fellow adoptive neapolitan legend with a Hand of God of his own, but got caught.

He can say whatever he wants, it's all on video anyway for all to see what really happened.

I have no horse in this race, but even his fans must realise this is a PR disaster.
JoeCJK JoeCJK 3/20/2016 08:59
To say "I adjust" after touching the piece with clear intention to move is an attempt at cheating, plain and simple. To turn it around and blame Aronian for speaking up against it at the board is unbecoming.
Aighearach Aighearach 3/20/2016 05:21
Obviously Topalov is increasing his lead as the favorite; half way through, and he's on the bottom rung, and yet only 2.5 points behind the leader.
VVI VVI 3/20/2016 04:38
Anand will win the candidates again.
DJones DJones 3/20/2016 12:52
I don't see where he blamed others. He accepted his punishment and took the financial penalty. He admitted he touched the piece and then moved it and said Aronian said something untoward to him. What else do you want? Seems you have a bloodlust,.
monty fufu monty fufu 3/20/2016 12:36
"Very shameful and disrespectful comments by So about Varuzhan Akobian. Blame everyone except yourself for breaking the rules."

Apparently Hikaru's principles aren't any more consistent than his play.
DJones DJones 3/20/2016 12:15
Queenslander needs to seek help. Relishing the suffering of others is a bad thing. Nakamura was asked by Jen Shahade during Norway chess 2015 how he felt when Magnus was losing badly at home in Norway chess and you know what he said? " I don't do that. Magnus is the greatest player in the world and he will recover. Rooting for the failure of others is bad karma and I only worry about my own games. I don't root for other players to lose. It's not right"
Queenslander Queenslander 3/20/2016 12:09
Nakamura botched his after-game interview today! In an ugly display of arrogance he not only fudged the touch-move incident - look at the video, he completely and purposefully closes his hand on his king - but also had an nasty dig at Aronian by saying he'd made some comments he didn't like. Oh his delicate little ego! Fans will be hoping Levon crushes him in the return game and Magnus beats him another dozen times.
Beanie Beanie 3/19/2016 11:55
Actually Caruana and Giri have been the most consistent as they've had the same result in every game. 3/19/2016 11:28
Giri-Anand: Neither felt the need to take risks and a quiet draw as soon as legally permitted.
Karjakin-Aronian: As tournament leaders with half the event to come, neither player wanted to appear too aggressive nor too timid. Karjakin has now moved 13 of his 14 rook pawns! Co-leader Aronian isn't lagging either with 12 compared to someone like Giri with only 6.
Svidler-Caruana: A fighting draw when both players desperately need a win.
Nakamura-Topalov: What happens when your tournament goes south? Lick your wounds or go all in? Veselin seems determined to do the latter and his speculative sacrifice finally gave Nakamura a victory.
Prediction for the second half- One of those sleepers Caruana, Giri or Svidler will finally wake up and be in contention. Hard to see Anand winning again if his opponents play the Berlin as Black or 1 d4 as White. The candidates is Karjakin's or Aronian's to lose, they are the two players who've been the most consistent in the first half.
DJones DJones 3/19/2016 09:21
Vishy's toupe is well done and looks fine. Let him be himself. Too many people want to change players and make them all the same. We need nice guys, vain guys, jerks, clowns and statesman. We need analysts, students of the game and hosts. Let people be themselves. Stop trying to kill their spirit into this brown mass of sameness where people give robotic answers. do robotic things and move lockstep.
Tucsonkid Tucsonkid 3/19/2016 08:39
Nakamura's attitude in the interview above commenting on touching the king sure comes across as that of an arrogant jerk. Nakamura clearly touched the king, intended to move it, and got caught. Then he says he "has no problem with the arbiter's ruling". Of course he didn't have a problem with the ruling because he touched the king.

I thought the next sentence out of his mouth would be an apology for blowing off the post-game press conference but instead he chose to comment on how Aronian handled Nakamura trying to pretend he was simply adjusting the king! You tried to cheat, Nakamura, got caught, then attack the other guy when he holds you to the rules?

The chess world is very small. Nakamura is not doing himself any favors with fans and sponsors by antagonizing one of the classiest players in the game after getting caught trying to get away with something.

Apologize, Nakamura, and maybe you can still redeem a little dignity. Everyone makes mistakes. One day, you'll be in need of a sponsor's exemption to get into a tournament and it wouldn't be a surprise to see you get passed over since the sponsor won't want a rude jerk around to thumb their nose at the rules and the press conferences.

duellum duellum 3/19/2016 08:32
Vishy is a champ, quintessential champ. He really solidified the united chess crown by defeating Kramnik, Topalov, and Gelfand. He's a legit world champ. One of the best and will be until someone at this tournament dethrones him. Will all that, I still don't understand why he doesn't have the confidence to not wear a hair hat. He's the man. No need for it.
DJones DJones 3/19/2016 07:52
I am not sure luck had much to do with it. Chesswhen played correctly (imo) is a fight. Nakamura chose to avoid repetition draw and fight with 31. Nd1. Topalov admittedly did not see the Qf5-Qh3 idea or even more potent the Qf5-Qd7 idea and was lost at that point. Fortune favors the brave and Nakamura played like he needed to win today. Now he has new life with 7 rounds to go and some return matches on the horizon against the event co-leaders with the white pieces. He could very well beat Caruana with black and anand with white as well given their recent games with those colors pairings. Anyone who thinks he is some weak willed punk that will quit because things get tough has not been paying attention to his career. He will fight to the death and is an extremely dangerous underdog.
JohnTVian JohnTVian 3/19/2016 07:16
Today, I felt really bad about Hikaru's king touching experience yesterday, so I thought I'd watch his game with Topalov in hopes he would have some better luck. It was exciting to see that Hikaru was playing very well and had some good counter play. But then he played 27. Re7, my nerves came unglued. I was screaming at Nak for making such a boner move. Why couldn't he see that all black had to do was remove the queen off of d1 and then it's mate in two? As my wife ran for the chill pills, and Topalov moved Rad8, I had visions of Hikaru playing Rc7 or some careless move like that. But when he played Qb3, I saw the method of his madness. I'm not sure about anyone else, but when there's an enemy pawn on my 3rd rank with a queen backing it up, I get a little nervous. I felt that 27. Rd3 was in order. Lucky for Nakamura, Topalov made a few bad moves himself and Nakamura was able to win.
Resistance Resistance 3/19/2016 06:26
Great game from Peter! Keep it up man! There's still many games ahead, we're just at the mid-point of tournament...
KevinC KevinC 3/19/2016 06:02
At least for the preliminary report, in the Nakamura-Topalov game, they left out the moves 37...Ne4; 38 Rd1 Qd1; 39. Qf4 and then Topalov resigned.