18 April 2024

Ian Nepomniachtchi Takes Sole Lead at FIDE Candidates Again

The tournament goes into Round 12.

Photo credit: Michal Walusza / FIDE
Photo credit: Michal Walusza / FIDE

The FIDE Candidates resumed in Toronto after a rest day. 

In Round 11 of the open section, Vidit Santosh Gujrathi and Ian Nepomniachtchi opened with the Petrov Defence. Despite the queens coming off the board quite early, the position was full of nuances. In the middlegame, White acted somewhat imprecisely. This allowed Black not only to equalise but also to create serious problems for his opponent. Vidit solved it but had to sacrifice a pawn in order to free up his pieces. For a long time it was a fairly even endgame with rooks and minor pieces, but at one point the Russian played too risky and could have got himself into a much worse position, however, this did not happen. Vidit allowed the situation to escalate. He lost the thread of the game closer to the 60th move. Nepomniachtchi managed to outwit his opponent and win in severe time trouble, once again becoming the sole leading player. 

Hikaru Nakamura outplayed Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa as Black. Alireza Firouzja crushed Nijat Abasov in 24 moves with the white pieces. The game Dommaraju Gukesh vs Fabiano Caruana ended in a draw.  

Standings after Round 11:

1. Ian Nepomniachtchi – 7
2-3. Dommaraju Gukesh, Hikaru Nakamura – 6.5
4. Fabiano Caruana – 6
5. Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa – 5.5
6. Vidit Santosh Gujrathi – 5
7. Alireza Firouzja – 4.5
8. Nijat Abasov – 3.

Round 12 pairings:

Nakamura – Firouzja
Abasov – Gukesh
Caruana – Vidit
Nepomniachtchi – Praggnanandhaa

In the women's tournament, Tan Zhongyi defeated Kateryna Lagno with the white pieces: in the double-edged middlegame, both opponents made mistakes. However, it was the Russian who made the final mistake in a heavy time pressure. The former World Women's Champion is now the sole leader, as Lei Tingjie drew an absolutely stunning game against Anna Muzychuk and is now half a point behind her compatriot.

It was a long and dramatic game between Rameshbabu Vaishali and Aleksandra Goryachkina. The Indian chess player, who was playing white, gained a large advantage in the middlegame, but she did not have enough precision to carry it through to victory. After the time control move, Vaishali tried to squeeze the water out of the stone by sacrificing an exchange, but Goryachkina defended tenaciously and the worst seemed to be over for Black. However, after many hours of fighting, Aleksandra made a mistake in the queen ending and lost the game.  

Playing White, Humpy Koneru outplayed Nurgyul Salimova. 

Standings after Round 11:

1. Tan Zhongyi – 7.5 
2. Lei Tingjie – 7
3-5. Aleksandra Goryachkina, Humpy Koneru, Kateryna Lagno – 5.5
6-7. Rameshbabu Vaishali, Anna Muzychuk – 4.5 
8. Nurgyul Salimova – 4. 

Round 12 pairings:

Lagno – Lei Tingjie
Muzychuk – Vaishali
Goryachkina – Koneru
Salimova – Tan Zhongyi

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