29 June 2022

Madrid Candidates - Second Week

At the end of last week's post, Madrid Candidates - First Week (June 2022), I noted,
Next week's 'Second Week' post should have the results through the ninth round. If Nepomniachtchi and Caruana continue to do well, one of them could become World Champion Carlsen's challenger for the second time.

Both of them continued to do well, but the event is still far from over. The following chart shows the standings after the seventh round, mid-point of the tournament. The next two rounds saw two key games featuring two of these top players against a key rival.


Nepomniachtchi, Caruana Win Again To Extend Lead On Field
(chess.com; after rd.7)

In the eighth round, Nepomniachtchi drew while Nakamura beat his compatriot Caruana. That gave the Russian a full point lead over the higher placed of the two Americans, who were in second and third.

In the ninth round, Nepomniachtchi drew with Black against Caruana, while Nakamura lost to GM Radjabov. That let the Russian retain his one point lead over Caruana, who was a point ahead of Nakamura and GM Ding Liren, both with an even score. The Chinese player won his first game of the tournament, beating GM Duda. Nepomniachtchi has White against Nakamura in round 12.

With five rounds left to play it seems even more unlikely that anyone except Nepomniachtchi or Caruana will win the event. Since both players won a previous Candidates tournament, we can conclude that experience counts in this toughest of tournaments.

22 June 2022

Madrid Candidates - First Week

The first four rounds of the 2022 Candidates Tournament (m-w.com) have finished, making this a good time for a follow-up to last week's post Madrid Candidates - Kickoff (June 2022). For the 'First Week' posts of the two previous candidates tournaments, see:-

For both posts, I used the following chart showing the round-by-round progress of the participants in the 2013, 2014, and 2016 candidates tournaments.

The red ovals identify the leaders after the 3rd, 7th (midway), and 14th (final) rounds. In all cases, the ultimate winner was among the leaders after the other, intermediate rounds. The only real exception to this pattern was GM Kramnik in 2013, who was trailing after the 3rd and 7th rounds, then had a super spurt during the second half to finish in a tie with GM Carlsen.

I created a new chart for the 2018 and 2020 tournaments, shown below. It highlights the leaders after the 4th round, because that's where the 2022 tournament is now. The red line on the 2020 tournament is a reminder that the event was effectively split in two pieces because of the covid-19 pandemic.

In the 2022 tournament, GM Nepomniachtchi is leading with 3.0 points after four rounds, followed by GM Caruana with 2.5 points. The other six players are all bunched within a half point of each other.

Next week's 'Second Week' post should have the results through the ninth round. If Nepomniachtchi and Caruana continue to do well, one of them could become World Champion Carlsen's challenger for the second time.

15 June 2022

Madrid Candidates - Kickoff

The 2022 Candidates Tournament starts in a few days. Following the pattern I established for the previous event -- see Yekaterinburg Candidates - Kickoff (March 2020) -- here are a few relevant links:-

The centerpiece of this current post is a crosstable showing the historical record of all previous games between the eight players, according to Chessgames.com. Their records against World Champion Carlsen are also included. The links under the players' last names lead to their FIDE rating pages.

  Car Din Dud Fir Nak Nep Rad Rap : Car
Caruana xx * * * * * * * : *
Ding Liren xx * * * * * * : *
Duda xx * * * * * : *
Firouzja xx * * * * : *
Nakamura xx * * * : *
Nepomniachtchi xx * * : *
Radjabov xx * : *
Rapport xx : *
Carlsen : xx

In next week's post, I'll summarize the highlights of the first week. I'm sensing more interest in this event than in any previous candidates tournament.

25 May 2022

The Return of Chessdom News

Where have I seen that title before? Oh, yes, it was The Return of Chessdom News (May 2021), on my main blog. At the time I wrote,
In early 2019, Chessdom stopped being one of the 'go-to' sites for chess news and started limiting itself to specialty topics like news about TCEC. The last time I referenced Chessdom as a news source was over a year ago. [...] Chessdom.com TCEC S21 articles 'by Sergio' started appearing last month.

That observation turned out to be premature. There was a gap of ten months -- from May 2021 to March 2022 -- when there was no news about TCEC or, apparently, about anything else. There is a similar gap in my bookmarks for Chessdom.com.

In March 2022, the site suddenly came to life with a flood of reports, many related to the World Championship. Some reports were about the new cycle that starts next year:-

Unfortunately, Chessdom's use of tags to group related reports together looks like an afterthought rather than an integral tool for organizing the site. The first report in that list, about the 2023 Grand Swiss, has a tag named 'fide grad [sic] swiss 2022 [sic]'.

One tag that could be promising is All posts tagged "FIDE elections" (chessdom.com). There are currently only five reports under the tag, although announcements on the forthcoming election have been coming fast and furiously. A suivre...

18 May 2022

The Ding Liren Affair

Let's return to The Karjakin Affair (March 2022), where I wrote,
I added the FIDE announcement about GM Karjakin's ban to my page 2022 Candidates Tournament. Why is this important to the Candidates event, scheduled to start in June?

The answer to that question was because Karjakin had earlier qualified as one of the eight candidates to challenge Magnus Carlsen in the next title match. Earlier this week we learned that the Russian Karjakin had been replaced by the Chinese Ding Liren.

We learned not via a formal announcement on the FIDE site, but via a tweet on the world's largest chat room. Even then, Karjakin's replacement wasn't identified by name in the tweet, but by a photo with an embedded caption.


Mark your calendars! We are a month away from the start of the #FIDECandidates in Madrid, Spain... (twitter.com; 16 May 2022)

I hope we get a FIDE announcement so that I can add it to my page on the 2022 Candidates Tournament (m-w.com), due to start at Madrid in less than a month. I also hope they replace Karjakin's photo, which is still on what appears to be the official site for the tournament, FIDE World Championship. Cycle 2021-2023 (wcc.fide.com). I looked at that subdomain in my previous post on the cycle, 2022 Candidates; 2023(?) Title Match (May 2022), and nothing has changed since then.

So how did Ding Liren qualify for the second most important event in chess? He qualified by rating. The nitty-gritty was explained in two reports by Chess.com's Peter Doggers:-

As the comments to that second report testify, many chess fans aren't happy with the rating method of qualification, but rules are rules. Better to fix anomalies by updating the rules for the next time than to make stuff up as you go along.

For the nittier-grittier on the rating, see Ding, Liren CHN Individual Calculations Chess Ratings FIDE, period=2022-05-01 (ratings.fide.com). He gained 7.2 rating points for the period.

11 May 2022

A Giant Among GMs

Earlier this week, in Yuri Averbakh, 1922-2022 (chess.com), Peter Doggers reported,
GM Yuri Averbakh, the world’s oldest grandmaster, a trainer, international arbiter, chess composer, endgame theoretician, writer, historian, honorary member of FIDE, and the last living participant of the famous Zurich 1953 Candidates Tournament, has passed away, three months after turning 100. His death has been confirmed by the Russian Chess Federation and FIDE. Averbakh was one of the few strong players who managed to simultaneously reach significant heights in chess theory, literature, journalism, history, and chess politics.

Of the dozen photos of GM Averbakh in my eBay photo archive, this was my favorite. From an eBay auction in February 2012:-

The description informed,

Original Soviet chess press photo. The 26th Championship of USSR in Tbilisi 1959. Grandmasters from left to right: Tigran Petrosian, David Bronstein, Mikhail Tal, Yuri Averbakh.

The photo pictures a former World Championship challenger (Bronstein) and two future World Champions (Tal, Petrosian). GM Averbakh competed in the 1952 Saltsjobaden Interzonal (5-8th/21), the 1953 Zurich Candidates (10th-11th/15), and the 1958 Portoroz Interzonal (7-11th/21) a half point behind the group that qualified for the 1959 Yugoslavia Candidates (all links m-w.com).

Averbakh has figured many times on this blog, as well as on my main blog, e.g. in these related posts:-

Many of the posts on my main blog were related to his contributions to endgame theory. This post is all Averbakh:-

In another post on that blog, Friendly Chess Players (July 2013), I mentioned,

Near the end of the book ['Centre-Stage and Behind the Scenes: A Personal Memoir'], GM Averbakh divides great players into six groups. Here are quotes from Averbakh describing each group [...]

Another obituary from this week, Yuri Averbakh, Chess’s First Centenarian Grandmaster, Dies at 100 (nytimes.com), by the NYT's top chess writer, Dylan Loeb McClain, referenced the same categories:-

Though Mr. Averbakh was talented, he said he knew he lacked the necessary qualities to become a world champion. In his autobiography, he wrote that great players fall into six categories: killers, fighters, sportsmen, people who like to play games, artists and explorers. All of the world champions came from the first four groups, he said. He put himself in the sixth category -- that of an explorer.

GM Averbakh was a World Champion chess explorer, possibly the greatest ever. Who else comes close?

04 May 2022

2022 Candidates; 2023(?) Title Match

The 2022 Candidates Tournament; Madrid, VI-VII (m-w.com) starts next month. I updated that page to include the latest announcements.

The eighth player is still unknown. A Fide.com subdomain that I had never seen before, FIDE World Championship. Cycle 2021-2023 (worldchampionshipcycle.fide.com), includes Sergey Karjakin as a participant, but with an asterisk against his name:-

World Cup runner-up; (* : Suspended by a decision of FIDE EDC. Subject to appeals.)

See a previous post on this blog, The Karjakin Affair (March 2022), for background. I could have written a companion post, 'The Ding Liren Affair', but decided that it was premature. See Ding Liren on his way to the Candidates (chessbase.com), for a different opinion. Instead of speculating on the eventual outcome, I'll just wait for FIDE's decision. It should come soon.

For a comprehensive explanation of the current status of the Candidates tournament and of the subsequent title match, see

Both pages are from Chess.com. The WCC title match is not yet listed on the FIDE calendar. Although the previous title match, 2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi (m-w.com), was held at the end of last year in Dubai, it was originally scheduled for end-2020.