Cracking the Candidate Code (3)

by ChessBase
6/20/2022 – In the June issue of the venerable British Chess Magazine, Macedonian GM Aleksandar Colovic (President and General Secretary of the Association of Chess Professionals) takes a deeper look at the strengths and weaknesses of the eight players fighting for a chance to be the next world champion. In agreement with BCM, ChessBase will publish BCM’s evaluation of the chances of the individual players, continuing with the Richard Rapport. With a deeply annotated game Colovic takes a look at the chances of this intriguing candidate. | Photo FIDE official.

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The intriguing Richard Rapport

One of the most impressive recent feats of ‘the passion that whips the blood when great stakes can be gained by resolute and self-confident daring’ (Lasker) was Richard Rapport’s decision to risk and continue the second game of his final match against Andreikin (26) in the Belgrade Grand Prix event.

Here’s a reminder of that fascinating game, as analysed in the April issue of BCM. [You can click on moves in the following notation to get a replay board. Click on the fan icon for analysis assistance of a chess engine].


This decision, to trust himself and Fate in a decisive moment, is a true sign of a strong character. But, as it turned out, Rapport didn’t believe that he could qualify for the Candidates! He admitted this in a later interview and as a result of this lack of confidence he made a decision that will seriously impact his chances in Madrid.

He accepted all tournament invitations.

It is highly motivated and prepared players who win these events. Rapport may be motivated, but it is unlikely that he will be well-prepared. With events lined up he won’t have the time to prepare properly – he agreed to play in Norway, a tournament that finishes a mere six days before the start of the Candidates. Playing Carlsen and co. before an exhausting 14-round Candidates is not quite the best practice. Playing in Romania at the Superbet Classic wasn’t a success either, as his final score of minus two (both losses with White due to big blunders) placed him at shared-last.

Rapport’s second issue is that he is a self-confessed loner. He likes to work alone and finds it difficult to work with others. What he has achieved alone is incredible, but in order to climb the highest mountain players need teams – like it or not, the days of Fischeresque feats of ‘one against the world’ are gone and unlikely to return. Every single player who has qualified for a World Championship match has had a team that has supported him all the way. It would really be great to see Rapport find a support system to help him reach his full potential, but it seems that this won’t happen for Madrid, which is a pity, as I would have really fancied to see the best he can offer.

Editor's Note: Soon after this article was submitted, news came out that indirectly confirmed the author's analysis. Richard Rapport decided to change his federation after accepting a sponsorship offer from Romanian Superbet. He also withdrew from the planned Norway Chess tournament to prepare better for the Candidates.

The above series appears in the June 2022 issue of The British Chess Magazine, the world's oldest chess publication. It is reproduced with kind permission.

BCM covers the international and British chess scene. In a blend of current event coverage and thought-provoking analysis of the chess world’s most topical issues, BCM gives readers what they need to understand and enjoy the Royal Game and its wider context in society. BCM’s interviews with top players and key chess world influencers and participants (actors, businessmen, artists, politicians, top chess world administrators), detailed games analysis and historical articles provide in-depth coverage of chess events and wider chess themes.

Published monthly, each issue of The British Chess Magazine contains 64 pages packed with exclusive articles and annotations. You can buy a subscription (£55 per year, £4.58 per issue) or download a sample copy free.

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