Opening ceremony at the Candidates 2016

by Sagar Shah
3/11/2016 – The biggest chess extravaganza of 2016, the World Championship Candidates Tournament, is just hours away. The first round will be played at 3 p.m. local time on the 11th of March in the Central Telegraph building in Moscow. After playing the Aeroflot Blitz in the afternoon, Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal made their way to the opening ceremony and sent us some exclusive material from the Russian capital.

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Opening ceremony at the Candidates 2016

Report from Moscow by Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal

A grueling tournament of eighteen rounds of blitz chess at the Aeroflot Open had just ended. Ding Liren came out on top, ahead of Ian Nepomniachtchi, who finished second, and third placed Tigran Petrosian. But there was no time to rest. Amruta and I went back to our room, took our equipment and got ready to leave for the opening ceremony of the Candidates that was going to begin at 7 p.m.

The Cosmos Hotel, where we were staying and where the Aeroflot Open was held, was around twelve kilometres away from the Pashkov House, where the Opening Ceremony was going to be held. In the map above you can also see that Pashkov House is very closely situated to the Central Telegraph building which is the venue for the tournament.

The Cosmos Hotel with 1700 rooms, has quite a unique shape

At this time of the year the temperature is supposed to quite low in Moscow.
However on this particular day it was a pleasant four degrees Celsius!

Considering the road traffic in Moscow, travelling by Metro is the fastest way to move around in the city. Thanks to google maps and helpful Russian people it was not at all difficult to locate the heritage structure where the opening ceremony was to take place.

The Pashkov House is a neoclassical mansion that stands on a hill overlooking the western wall of the Moscow Kremlin, near the crossing of the Mokhovaya and Vozdvizhenka streets. It used to be home to the Rumyantsev Museum, Moscow's first public museum, in the 19th century. The palace's current owner is the Russian State Library.

The security was top notch as guards with Ipads would crosscheck whether
your name was on the list of guests before allowing you to enter the ceremony

Waiters wearing the Agon logo served some highly exotic appetizers

A bar with drinks available for the guests – mainly Beluga Vodka

A glass of liquor + a game of chess = a great combination!

There were four to five chess sets placed in the hall which were used by
the sponsors and the guests to play friendly chess games against each other

Young or old, chess is on everyone’s mind in Moscow!

Former FIDE World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov with two famous tournament directors,
Alexander Bakh of Aeroflot Open and Jeroen van Den Berg of Wijk Aan Zee.

Peter Svidler sharing a light moment with the author of these lines

I met Peter and told him how badly we will miss his commentary at this event. “Yes that’s the running joke”, replied Svidler. “I think after the first few moves I will go to the 'confession booth' and commentate about what’s going on in the games of other players!”

Winner of the previous Candidates and five-time World Champion Viswanathan Anand made
his way to the opening ceremony around 8 p.m. In the picture you can also see the man
who has been working extremely hard to get the entire show running, Agon CEO Ilya Merenzon.

The favourite couple in town: Anish Giri and Sopiko Guramishvili, with their trusted coach Vladimir Tukmakov

Hikaru Nakamura stood alone, away from crowd, with his second Kristoffer Littlejohn.
Surprisingly, Kris is rated just 2156. This shows that rapport and understanding between
the player and the second is much more important than strength and level of the latter.

World Cup 2015 winner Sergey Karjakin entered the hall with his wife Galiya Kamalova and Vladimir Potkin. Have a look at Sergey’s blazer – you can find the sponsors who are backing the local hero at this event.

The wild card entry Levon Aronian in good spirits

Fabiano Caruana was the last candidate to arrive, with his second Rustam Kasimdzhanov.
Note: Veselin Topalov had not yet arrived to the opening ceremony.

FIDE President Kirsan Illymzhinov had the biggest team of seconds!

Who will win the tournament? Vladimir Kramnik’s expression says it all! Although he
missed his spot at this year’s Candidates by a whisker, big Vlad is in Moscow as a spectator

Evgeny Miroshnichenko (right), who was the coach of the current Iranian National Champion Alireza Firouzja at the Aeroflot Open, will be the official commentator for the Candidates 2016. He will be joined at the start by…

… Alexandra Kosteniuk (right), former Women’s World Champion, with her sister Oxana

This video gives you a feel of the settings at the opening ceremony before the players had arrived

Ian Nepomniachtchi, who lives in Moscow, is glad that such a huge event has come to his city.
Here he shares with us his opinions on who he thinks is the favourite at this year’s Candidates

You will need to turn up your volume to hear the soft spoken Chinese number one Ding Liren’s opinion on the Candidates 2016. Ding is looking forward to seeing Veselin Topalov unleash some novelties at the event!

The round begins at 3 p.m. local time in Moscow tomorrow. Stayed tuned as we will bring you exclusive and in-depth on-site coverage for the entire Candidates event.

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 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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