Cracking the Candidate Code (4)

by ChessBase
6/21/2022 – In the June issue of the venerable British Chess Magazine, Macedonian GM Aleksandar Colovic 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 is publishing BCM’s evaluation of the chances of the individual players, continuing today with the dark horse from Poland, Jan-Krzysztof Duda (24), and former candidate Ian Nepomniachtchi (31).

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The dark horse from Poland

The second-youngest player in the event is Jan-Krzysztof Duda (24). After securing his qualification by winning the World Cup in 2021 he only played in Wijk aan Zee at the beginning of the year, thus leaving plenty of time for thorough preparation. This approach makes him the ‘dark horse’ of the tournament. We could see the fruits of his preparation at the online events he participated in. At the Oslo Esports Cup, played at the end of April, we could see him change his repertoire with Black, using the Berlin against 1.e4 and the Grunfeld against 1.d4. It is safe to assume that he was testing these new openings against tough opposition to have them battle-ready for Madrid.

Duda’s win of the World Cup propelled him to the elite: few players have managed to win a World Cup. Don’t forget that he eliminated Carlsen in the semi-final! This means that he can withstand tension for a prolonged period, which says a lot about his nervous system. Good nerves, good preparation and with a touch of luck good form can be the magic formula for Duda in Madrid.

A second chance for Nepo?

The most recent Challenger, Ian Nepomniachtchi (31) has a historic chance to become the second player in history (after Smyslov) to win two Candidate Tournaments in a row. And I just don’t see him doing it.

It was great to see Nepomniachtchi come back with good results after his débacle in Dubai, albeit these came in faster time controls. He only returned to classical chess at the Superbet Classic in May, but here he was sub-par: a minus score and loss of seven rating points. But what’s more important is that he again showed the same weaknesses as in the match with Carlsen – the inability to withstand long tortures in inferior, but holdable positions.


This game shows that even after analysing the reasons for his loss in Dubai Nepomniachtchi didn’t manage to cover his weak spot. Madrid will show whether he manages to find the strength to withstand a gruesome 14-round tough tournament – in the past he has always cracked in longer events, dropping his level and spoiling his chances.

Nepomniachtchi is still reaping the fruits of his extensive pre-match preparation and this will likely help him in Madrid. But it will be his nerves and stamina that will determine his final result.

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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hansj hansj 6/24/2022 11:00
"Ian Nepomniachtchi (31) has a historic chance to become the second player in history (after Smyslov) to win two Candidate Tournaments in a row."

You forgot Spassky.
arzi arzi 6/21/2022 02:22
From when the name should be taken into account?
Some Wiki: The earliest signs of Paleolithic settlement in Greece date back to about 200,000 BC. in northern Greece and Thessaly. 7000 BC. there was a Neolithic period in agriculture in northern Greece. From Minoan culture? From Alexander the Great? From the time of the Roman Empire? From the Ottoman period? From the Greek War of Independence? From World War I? From World War II?

Some Wiki: North Macedonia: The region's history begins with the kingdom of Paeonia, a mixed Thraco-Illyrian polity. In the late sixth century BC, the area was subjugated by the Persian Achaemenid Empire, then incorporated into the Kingdom of Macedonia in the fourth century BC.

Some Wiki: Philip II of Macedon absorbed the regions of Upper Macedonia (Lynkestis and Pelagonia) and the southern part of Paeonia (Deuriopus) into the kingdom of Macedon in 356 BC. Philip's son Alexander the Great conquered the remainder of the region and incorporated it in his empire, reaching as far north as Scupi, but the city and the surrounding area remained part of Dardania.

Maybe the time itself is little confusing for all of us? Human life is so short alongside kingdoms, without offending anyone. Today's mistake is future´s reality. Yesterday´s glory is tomorrow´s oblivion.
LTRANTAS LTRANTAS 6/21/2022 01:27
Dear chess friends the name is North Macedonia.
Sensitive mistakes,hoping not in purpose!
Please dont insault Greece!
Dont forget that we support you many years now!