16 March 2016

Moscow Candidates - First Week

The 2016 Candidates Tournament started a few days after my Moscow Candidates - Kickoff post, and the results through the fourth round are history. The following crosstable was taken from the official site.

While I was writing this post, the fifth round finished with all games drawn, so add a half-point to all of the totals shown above. Since one-third of the event's 14 rounds have now included, can we make any predictions about the eventual winner?

I have a 'Cumulative Score' on my page for the 2013 Candidates Tournament (London). Looking at those standings after the 4th/5th rounds, we see that Aronian and Carlsen were tied for first at 'plus-2'. By the time the tournament's mid-point was reached, they had both won another game to retain their relative positions. In the second half of the event, Aronian faltered, Carlsen managed an even score, and Kramnik came roaring back to finish in a tie with Carlsen.

(It's curious that while watching commentary on the official site I have twice seen knowledgeable people mention that Anand won the last two Candidate tournements. Many people seem to have forgotten that he was the reigning World Champion at the beginning of 2013.)

The 'Cumulative Score' for the 2014 Candidates Tournament (Khanty-Mansiysk), shows that Anand was leading with 'plus-2' after the 4th/5th rounds, a position he kept at the end of the first half. He added another full point in the second half to win the event.

If the past is prologue, Karjakin would be the favorite to win the 2016 Moscow event. I almost wrote 'clear favorite', but in a chess tournament at this level nothing is clear until the last move has been played in the last game of the last round.

The big news of the first week was the attempt by Agon, the organizer of the Moscow event, to restrict broadcasts of the tournament: And Now for a Word From Our Sponsor (worldchess.com; 6 March).

The moves and video of the Candidates tournament will only be broadcast on World Chess. That has some chess Web sites upset. The reaction is understandable, but is it fair or even right?

Announced less than a week before the first round, the heavy-handed action left long-time chess fans fuming. Agon stuck stubbornly to its position. Also from worldchess.com:-

I'll follow this evolving story of broadcast rights on my main blog.

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