26 April 2021

Ian Nepomniachtchi Wins FIDE Candidates Tournament in Advance

The Russian qualified for the World Championship Match.

The FIDE Candidates Tournament resumed in Yekaterinburg after a free day. 

In the central game of the round Nepomniachtchi - Vachier-Lagrave, the French grandmaster met the English Opening with quite a creative continuation with a double fianchetto and got an unpleasant position. White started a pawn assault on the queenside in the middlegame, while Black decided to storm the kingside. The Russian acted very solidly and neutralised the opponent's play immediately. Then Black made a breakthrough on the queenside and sacrificed a pawn. MVL went for the exchange of the rooks in a complicated situation, which happened to be erroneous since White traded queens in a favourable moment and got a better endgame with minor pieces being a pawn up. Ian Nepomniachtchi fixed a draw from the position of strength.    

Anish Giri, the main Nepomniachtchi's rival, lost to Alexander Grischuk as Black. The grandmasters struggled in the Queen's Indian Defence, where the Russian managed to create weaknesses in his opponent's camp and gain more space. Giri needed to be very precise in defence, but it wasn't easy for Black to protect his hanging pawns. Grischuk skillfully increased his advantage, and at one point, the Dutch grandmaster didn't cope with pressure and started to play all-in. Soon his position collapsed, and Alexander won on the 51st move.

Having scored 8.5 points, Ian Nepomniachtchi became unattainable for other players and won the tournament in advance. In November-December 2021, the Russian grandmaster will face Magnus Carlsen (Norway) in the World Championship Match.

President of the Chess Federation of Russia Andrey Filatov: "I congratulate Ian on his brilliant victory in such a tough competition! Winning the Candidates Tournment with one round to go is a phenomenal result and an indicator of the long-term and persistent work of Ian and his coaching staff, which is supported by the CFR's general partner "PhosAgro". It is a great and very important victory for the Russian chess!"

Fabiano Caruana defeated Wang Hao, while Kirill Alekseenko lost to ding Liren.

Standings after Round 13:

1. Ian Nepomniachtchi - 8.5 points

2. Anish Giri - 7.5

3-4. Fabiano Caruana, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave - 7

5. Alexander Grischuk - 6.5

6. Ding Liren - 6

7. Wang Hao - 5

8. Kirill Alekseenko - 4.5.

Round 14 pairings: 

Fabiano Caruana - Alexander Grischuk 

Anish Giri - Kirill Alekseenko

Ding Liren - Ian Nepomniachtchi

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave - Wang Hao


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Information and photos by Eteri Kublashvili