Latest World Chess News

  • Tan Zhongyi on the verge of winning the Women's Candidates tournament - 13
    by Mark Crowther on April 21, 2024 at 1:35 pm

    Tan Zhongyi could not ask for a better chance to win the Women's Candidates in Toronto going into the final round. Tan hardly played the most critical continuation against Aleksandra Goryachkina but a quiet game suited her and a draw by repetition was agreed on move 29. She now leads the Lei Tingjie by a point with no-one else able to catch her. Tan faces Anna Muzychuk with the black pieces in the final round, Muzychuk hasn't won a game yet, although she generated enough chances to have been in contention. The key result of the day was Rameshbabu Vaishali's fourth win in a row, a streak that followed four losses in a row and which started with a game she probably should have lost also. Today she took down Lei Tingjie and practically ruined her chances of winning the event. This was a 3.Bb5+ Sicilian 12...Bf8? (12...Be7=) was too passive and white was better for some time, some inaccuracies from Vaishali meant that black was back in it by move 25 and after first time control black had equality. The game was decided by a single move blunder, 61...Kf7? (61...h6 was equal) when 62.g5! meant all king an pawn endgames were winning for white, and there really was no escaping that. Nurgyul Salimova had a lucky escape against Kateryna Lagno who was busy converting a huge advantage before the inaccurate 42...Rc8? (42...Qd7!) undid all her good work and a draw was soon agreed. Two of the pre-event favourites Humpy Koneru and Anna Muzychuk played out a 45 move draw but I think both will just want this to be over. Round 13 Standings: 1 Tan Zhongyi 8.5pts, 2 Lei Tingjie 7.5pts, 3 Koneru, Lagno, Goryachkina, Vaishali 6.5pts 7 Salimova, Muzychuk 5pts. Round 14 21st April at 19:30BST: Lagno-Vaishali, Lei-Koneru, Muzychuk-Tan, Goryachkina-Salimova.

  • 17 year-old Gukesh leads the Candidates alone with one round to go - 13
    by Mark Crowther on April 21, 2024 at 1:01 pm

    Dommaraju Gukesh is on the verge of victory in the FIDE Candidates tournament in Toronto. A win in the final round with the black pieces against Hikaru Nakamura would guarantee first place. Half a point behind is his opponent Nakamura as well as Fabiano Caruana and Ian Nepomniachtchi who face each other. Gukesh could well win the event with a draw, the other players need a win. There could also be a two way tie, this will be resolved by rapid followed by blitz, if necessary. Gukesh beat 20-year-old Alireza Firouzja whose entire campaign has been undone by his highly emotional approach to chess. Unless Firouzja learns to calm down I don't see how he can move forward. This was a double edged Berlin Defence where Firouzja was at least equal, 32...g5 was a misguided attempt to play for a win I guess but it rebounded and left Firouzja on the defensive. 43...Kh8?! (43.Qg6+!=) was a step in the wrong direction 44...Rg8? (44...Qg6 again) 45.Qg5?! (45.Qh6!) 45...Qg6? ( 45...Ne6! last chance to fight really) after which white didn't make any mistake in converting. Gukesh probably will play solidly against Nakamura and see where that takes him. Hikaru Nakamura surprised Ian Nepomniachtchi with 4...Bc5 in the Ruy Lopez and was clearly well prepared. It does seem like he mixed up that preparation as 14...d5?! (14...d6 is fine) gave white chances if he'd found 17.d5! As it was 17.Bc2 roughly equal and they drew by repetition on move 27. Nepomniachtchi was really the one who could play on and given the size of his task in the final round perhaps he should have. Fabiano Caruana continued to be in must-win territory in this round and he delivered beating Praggnanandhaa with the black pieces in a gruelling grind. In such a long game it's hard to pick things out but 15.Qh3?! (15.Rb1!) handed Caruana a nice initiative and he was quite soon hugely better. 25...Nxe1 grabbing the exchange was entirely natural but it left Caruana with a difficult task of breaking through but perhaps he thought he was fine with that. 40.f3 was forced opening the position a bit but the position was still about equal there. Once Queen's came off Caruana could slowly activate his Queenside pawn majority and although the engines quibble about his choices 67.c3? was the start of collapse from Praggnanandhaa and after 69.Ba1? the game was soon over. Santosh Vidit tried a little bit against Nijat Abasov's Petroff but after great preparation and equality both players had no real motivation to continue and drew. Round 13 Standings: 1st Gukesh 8.5pts, 2nd= Nepomniachtchi, Nakamura, Caruana 8pts, 5th Praggnanandhaa 6pts, 6th Vidit 5.5pts, 7th Firouzja 4.5pts, 8th Abasov 3.5pts, Round 14 21st April at 19:30BST: Nakamura-Gukesh, Firouzja-Vidit, Abasov-Praggnanandhaa, Caruana-Nepomniachtchi.

  • Tan Zhongyi and Lei Tingjie both draw in Round 12 of the Women's Candidates - 12
    by Mark Crowther on April 19, 2024 at 7:59 pm

    Tan Zhongyi continues to lead Lei Tingjie by half a point going into the final rest day of the Women's Candidates tournament in Toronto. They are too far clear of the rest of the field, one of these two players will win the event. Tan Zhongyi was losing against Nurgyul Salimova. By move 25 Tan was in a very uncomfortable position and tried to break out tactically with 25...b6? but this made things worse. Salimova's 43.f6?! (43.g6!) was a step in the wrong direction but she restored her winning position only to play 50.Bxf7? (50.Nxb4, 50.Rh4+ or 50.Bc6) which basically threw away the entire advantage and the game was drawn. Whilst Tan was losing Lei Tingjie seemed poised to overtake her with a win against Kateryna Lagno. Lei defended the French Defence Advanced variation and after 13.Bg3? was better and seemingly within sight of the winning line played 26.Nf3? (26.Qb6! was the only winner) when the position became equal again and drawn on move 40. Aleksandra Goryachkina got nothing in the Catalan against Humpy Koneru, pieces came off and a draw was agreed on move 25. The only decisive game was a resurgent Rameshbabu Vaishali who beat Anna Muzychuk. Things started to go wrong for Muzychuk after 24.e6 and by move 40 Vaishali had traded into a completely winning endgame which she converted. Round 12 Standings: 1st Tan Zhongyi 8pts, 2nd Lei Tingjie 7.5pts, 3rd= Lagno, Koneru, Goryachkina 6pts, 6th Vaishali 5.5pts, 7th= Salimova, Muzychuk 4.5pts. Rest Day 19th April 2024 Round 13 20th April at 19:30BST: Salimova-Lagno, Tan-Goryachkina, Koneru-Muzychuk, Vaishali-Lei. Round 14 21st April at 19:30BST: Lagno-Vaishali, Lei-Koneru, Muzychuk-Tan, Goryachkina-Salimova.

  • Gukesh, Nakamura and Nepomniachtchi lead the Candidates going into the final two rounds - 12
    by Mark Crowther on April 19, 2024 at 1:31 pm

    The FIDE Candidates in Toronto, Canada has reached the final rest day. With two rounds to go three players, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Gukesh and Hikaru Nakamura lead with 7.5/12 half a point clear of Fabiano Caruana, one of these players will win the event. There will be day of tie-breaks on Monday if required, although I'd rather there be a clear winner. Intriguingly pairings include Nepomniachtchi-Nakamura in round 13 and Nakamura-Gukesh and Caruana-Nepomniachtchi in the final round. Nepomniachtchi chose the Exchange French against Praggnanandhaa and after 9 moves black was already level. Praggnanandhaa might have been a tiny bit better (33...c6!?) but the game fizzled out to a draw. A wasted white for Nepomniachtchi that he may come to regret. Nakamura also chose the Exchange French Defence as white against Alireza Firouzja but with 7.Qa4+ the game became very offbeat and sharp. Nakamura then offered a pawn and major complications arose. 17.a3 d4!? (17...Nxf2 was the computer choice). Black got level play until 21...Nxe1? (21...Qd7=) then Nakamura took over until 34.Be1?!= let Firouzja back in the game. Firouzja made time control but his first move after 41.g5? (41.Ra3!) was the decisive mistake. Gukesh as black managed to put Nijat Abasov under pressure right from the opening when he seemed to predict his opponent's replies to his unusual Nimzo Indian. Gukesh won Abasov's a-pawn but was a very long way from converting it, 37.c4?! (37.Ra2!) was the start concessions leading to a won position by move 41 for Gukesh which he then converted. Fabiano Caruana knew he almost certainly had to beat Santosh Vidit today to stay in contention. In a Giuoco Piano Caruana got a little something to play with after 23.Qc5, not much according to the engines but enough to put pressure on Vidit. Caruana won a pawn on move 35 but 37.Rh5? (35.b4) misplaced the rook and allowed Vidit saving chances but 40...Rb8? (40...Qf4) was a losing error. 43.Bf5?! (43.b5!) wasn't the most accurate but Caruana soon won anyway. Round 12 Standings: 1st= Gukesh, Nakamura, Nepomniachtchi 7.5pts, 4th Caruana 7pts, 5th Praggnanandhaa 6pts, 6th Vidit 5pts, 7th Firouzja 4.5pts, 8th Abasov 3pts. Rest day 19th April 2024. Round 13 20th April at 19:30BST: Nepomniachtchi-Nakamura, Praggnanandhaa-Caruana, Vidit-Abasov, Gukesh-Firouzja. Round 14 21st April at 19:30BST: Nakamura-Gukesh, Firouzja-Vidit, Abasov-Praggnanandhaa, Caruana-Nepomniachtchi.

  • Tan leads Lei half a point after 11 rounds in a two horse race for the Women's Candidates - 11
    by Mark Crowther on April 18, 2024 at 6:54 pm

    Tan Zhongyi took sole lead of the FIDE Women's Candidates with 7.5/11 after beating Kateryna Lagno in a Reti. Lei Tingjie managed to draw against Anna Muzychuk and is half a point behind. With three rounds to go Kateryna Lagno, Humpy Koneru and Aleksandra Goryachkina are all on 5.5 points, realistically it's between Tan and Lei for the title. Tan played a Reti System, 13...e5 from Lagno could have been met by 14.Nxe5 with advantage but instead a roughly balance position was arrived at. 27.Rc5? could have been refuted by 27...f4 when overloaded pieces combined with a kingside attack win for black. Lagno played the losing 28...Bxb3 (28...f4 is the way to hold the balance now) and Tan made no mistake in converting. There were similar goings on in the game Lei Tingjie against Anna Muzychuk. After a Giuoco Piano opening Muzychuk was at least equal until she failed to find the correct defence to 19.Bxh6 gxh6? (19...Nh7!) but then Lei played 22.Nxe5? (22.Kh2!) and black was better and then 30.c4? winning. After 34.Nf5 it came down to whether black could avoid perpetual check, it was possible but the way to do it wasn't 42....Bf7? but 42...Ke8 instead. So a draw in the end. Humpy Koneru built up a winning position after 30 moves against Nurgyul Salimova as white in a Slav Defence, she made rather heavy weather of conversion but got there in the end. Rameshbabu Vaishali won again and Aleksandra Goryachkina lost again. It ended up in a equal but tricky Queen and Pawn endgame but 64....d4? lost and Vaishali made no mistake. Round 11 Standings: 1st Tan 7.5 2nd Lei 7 3rd= Lagno, Koneru, Goryachkina 5.5pts, 6th= Muzychuk, Vaishali 4.5pts 8th Salimova 4pts Round 12 18th April at 19:30BST: Lagno-Lei, Muzychuk-Vaishali, Goryachkina-Koneru, Salimova-Tan.

  • Nepomniachtchi beats Vidit in a tense struggle to lead the Candidates alone again on 7/11 - 11
    by Mark Crowther on April 18, 2024 at 4:14 pm

    Ian Nepomniachtchi won a really fascinating struggle against Santosh Vidit in the eleventh round of the FIDE Candidates tournament in Toronto, Canada. Not only did Nepomniachtchi win, he won with the black pieces, but it was Vidit who first had winning chances. Vidit chose a side-line in a fairly topical Petroff line, even with Queen's off the play remained complicated and 33...Rb3? (33...Kg7!) was losing according to engines after 34.h5! Then 35...a5? 36.Bxa3 d5 was also deemed losing for black but only after giving up a piece. The position was back level and 58.Bb3?! and 60.Nb2+? suddenly Nepomniachtchi was winning and his conversion was a lot easier. Earlier Hikaru Nakamura was extremely impressive in beating Praggnanandhaa with black in a game starting 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 c5! Gukesh was the one slightly pushing in his draw against Fabiano Caruana. All this leaves Nepomniachtchi leading on 7/11, Gukesh and Nakamura on 6.5/11 and Caruana in an almost must win situation on 6/11 with three rounds to go. Round 11 Standings: 1st Nepomniachtchi 7pts, 2nd= Gukesh, Nakamura 6.5pts, 4th Caruana 6pts, 5th Praggnanandhaa 5.5pts, 6th Vidit 5pts, 7th Firouzja 4.5pts, 8th Abasov 3pts, Round 12 18th April at 19:30BST: Nakamura-Firouzja, Abasov-Gukesh, Caruana-Vidit, Nepomniachtchi-Praggnanandhaa.

  • Lei join Tan in the lead of the Women's Candidates on 6.5/10 - 10
    by Mark Crowther on April 16, 2024 at 5:56 pm

    The tenth round of the FIDE Women's Candidates saw two decisive games and Lei Tingjie re-join Tan Zhongyi in the lead on 6.5 points, they're a point clear of Aleksandra Goryachkina and Kateryna Lagno. Goryachkina has the reputation of being one of the most solid of women's players and she was hitherto undefeated until Lei beat her today. Goryachkina played the exchange Slav with white and after 23.Rc1? (23.Re1, 23.a3 were both better) Kg6 was in major trouble. 31...Bd3?! lost quite a bit of the advantage and Goryachkina was soon back level, 37.f3? was however a terrible move after which she was completely busted, 43...Bc8? (43...Bxe4) gave white hope and at move 60 the game was equal. Goryachkina thought the game was over as a draw, she missed 60...f5 and in shock played 61.Nxe5?? (61.exf5=) Kf4! and this time there was no escape. Rameshbabu Vaishali is having a miserable time of it and this should have continued against Nurgyul Salimova. Salimova was happily converting a winning advantage until the careless 54...Nc5?= (54...Rh8 was the direct win), then 58...Nb7? also lost (58...Rh7+ holds) 59.d8=Q? is back equal (59.Re8 or 59.Kg8 win) and then 67.Kd6? finally is winning for Vaishali and it turned out there was no coming back for Salimova. The remaining two games were drawn. Tan against Humpy Koneru was a Scotch where black looked to be better at one stage but a long Rook and Pawn endgame was drawn. Kateryna Lagno against Anna Muzychuk featured some eye watering computer generated opening theory in the Open Ruy Lopez. Muzychuk had a massively better pawn structure in the endgame but white's bishop meant that winning chances never materialised. Round 10 Standings: 1st= Lei Tingjie, Tan Zhongyi 6.5pts, 3rd= Goryachkina, Lagno, 5.5pts 5th Koneru 4.5pts 6th= Salimova, Muzychuk 4pts 8th Vaishali 3.5pts Rest Day Tuesday 16th April 2024 Round 11 17th April at 19:30BST: Tan-Lagno, Koneru-Salimova, Vaishali-Goryachkina, Lei-Muzychuk.

  • Nakamura and Caruana win to get back into contention after 10 rounds of the Candidates - 10
    by Mark Crowther on April 16, 2024 at 5:17 pm

    The tenth round of the FIDE Candidates tournament saw the leaders Gukesh and Ian Nepomniachtchi draw and wins for Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana. This leaves Nepomniachtchi and Gukesh on 6, Praggnanandhaa, Nakamura and Caruana on 5.5 and Vidit on 5 all in the mix. A playoff rather than a technical tie-break coefficient will decide the winner. Nepomniachtchi played quite a solid Ruy Lopez line against Gukesh. The main point of interest seems to have been whether 19.c3 led anywhere, but this was a computer move rather than a human one. After 19.Rd3 a draw was favourite until the end of the game. Hikaru Nakamura built up a very large advantage by move 18 against Nijat Abasov in a Petroff. Nakamura wasn't the most accurate after this but Abasov's position remained unenviable until 27.Bf4?! (27.g5 just getting on with the attack was winning) and suddenly not only was Nakamura not better but he was worse/losing. Then the game turned again 36...Qe7? (36...Bc7 was the best but not only good move for black) 37.Be5! and white was winning again. 38.Ne3! would have finished things off but event after 38.Ng3 Rxe5 the damage had been done and Nakamura went on to win. Fabiano Caruana beat Alireza Firouzja in a really wild game. 6.Rg1 showed that Caruana knew this was a day he had to gamble. The game was really difficult, 13...Be6? was a mistake but both players missed that 14.Bxe6 was in fact winning for white after the accurate 14...fxe5 15.e5. 14.Be2 instead left white with nothing. The Open Candidates has no increment and this game was decided in time trouble with Firouzja wrecking his position just to make time control with only a few seconds for his final moves up to move 40. Praggnanandhaa against Santosh Vidit saw solid play from both sides in a Ruy Lopez Berlin. Round 10 Standings: 1st= Gukesh, Nepomniachtchi 6pts, 3rd= Praggnanandhaa, Nakamura, Caruana 5.5pts, 6th Vidit 5pts, 7th Firouzja 3.5pts, 8th Abasov 3pts. Rest Day Tuesday 16th April Round 11 17th April at 19:30BST: Praggnanandhaa-Nakamura, Vidit-Nepomniachtchi, Gukesh-Caruana, Firouzja-Abasov.

  • Tan bounces back with a win over Vaishali to regain the Women's Candidates sole lead after 9 rounds - 9
    by Mark Crowther on April 15, 2024 at 11:12 am

    Tan Zhongyi scored a quick victory against Rameshbabu Vaishali in Round 9 of the Women's Candidates tournament in Toronto and that eventually proved to be enough to lead alone on 6/9. Tan claimed to have surprised Vaishali with her choice of opening, I'm not sure at what move that was but after Vaishali's 11.Ng5 the position became tricky to handle for both sides. 13.h4?! (13.Na3) was ambitious but the key moment came with 16.c4? (16.Bxd6 is only a tiny bit worse for white) f6! and white was already in dire straits. 18.c5? was another error and the collapse was complete with 19. ...Nxd4 20. Qe3? Nxc2. Lei Tingjie looked to be heading for a quick victory herself against Nurgyul Salimova. The choice of the Philidor's by Salimova was probably in the name of unpredictability, she's been changing her openings pretty much every round, but her position was just bad. The key moment came when Lei played the obviously passive 16.Bd2 when 16.g6 or 16.Rg4 would have been much better and the position was soon level and the game finished in a draw by repetition. Humpy Koneru and Kateryna Lagno drew a Ragozin in 57 move. Koneru was pushing for some time after the opening but after 36.Rd1?! (36.Ra2) she dropped a pawn but the resulting rook and pawn endgame was still drawn after accurate play. Anna Muzychuk and Aleksandra Goryachkina drew a Berlin Defence in 45 moves. Muzychuk managed to get her bishop trapped but had just enough pawns to hold the endgame. Round 9 Standings: 1st Tan, Zhongyi 6pts 2nd= Lei Tingjie, Goryachkina 5.5pts 4th Lagno 5pts 5th= Salimova, Koneru 4pts 7th Muzychuk 3.5pts 8th Vaishali 2.5pts Round 10 15th April at 19:30BST: Lagno-Muzychuk, Goryachkina-Lei, Salimova-Vaishali, Tan-Koneru.

  • Nepomniachtchi saves a difficult position against Firouzja and retains the lead of the Candidates with Gukesh after Round 9 - 9
    by Mark Crowther on April 15, 2024 at 9:38 am

    The ninth round of the FIDE Candidates in Toronto saw just the one decisive game when Santosh Vidit beat Hikaru Nakamura but the joint leader Ian Nepomniachtchi looked to be in trouble against Alireza Firouzja. In the end Gukesh and Nepomniachtchi share the lead with 5.5/9 half a point clear of Praggnanandhaa. Hikaru Nakamura seemed to have moved into contention with his round 8 victory against Caruana but went backwards again today by losing for the second time against Santosh Vidit. Nakamura's Round 2 loss was an unmitigated disaster, this one he was just outplayed, twice. Nakamura was equal out of the opening, 20...Rc8 (20...Nf4=) was the start of a bad plan, 21.Ra3 c5? (21...Nf4 slight advantage to white was best) was really bad and white should have been a lot better, but only if Vidit found 22.Ng4. After 22.dxc4?! the position after 22...Nf5 was equal. Nakamura was fine again but soon went wrong 24.b4 Rc8?! (24...axb4=) and Vidit grabbed an important a-pawn. With 27...Nxe5? (27...Rcd8) Nakamura made what turned out to be the decisive error as Vidit played accurately until the end of the game giving no further chances at all. Alireza Firouzja put Ian Nepomniachtchi under great pressure. He chose a very slow double fianchetto setup with white and managed to get a significant edge. The key moment seems to have been on move 29. White had to choose between 30.gxf6 as played or closing the King's wing with 30.g6 and then opening the Queenside. The way Firouzja chose looked dangerous but Nepomniachtchi held, 30.g6 looks more promising in retrospect. Gukesh against Praggnanandhaa was a slow manoeuvring game. The engines think white might have had some small edge about move 30 but it just looked like a well played draw. Fabiano Caruana just about won the opening battle with the black pieces against Nijat Abasov. 3.Bb4 in a Queen's Gambit turned into a Semi-Slav. Caruana was fine but Abasov didn't give any more ground and the game was drawn in 44 moves. Round 9 Standings: 1st= Gukesh, Nepomniachtchi 5.5pts 3rd Praggnanandhaa, R 5pts 4th= Nakamura, Vidit, Caruana 4.5pts 7th Firouzja 3.5pts 8th Abasov 3pts. Round 10 15th April at 19:30BST: Nakamura-Abasov, Caruana-Firouzja, Nepomniachtchi-Gukesh, Praggnanandhaa-Vidit.