The 2018 Wijk an zee Chess Tournament: A preview to the Candidates

The 2018 Wijk an zee Chess Tournament: A preview to the Candidates

Jan 20, 2018, 5:23 PM |

2018 Tata Steel Chess Tournament: A Preview to the Candidates

(Note: I started writing this article a couple days ago, but thought you all might enjoy my insights)

Round 5:

Hello Chess fans, I am SwordoftheWord16 and this is my new blog. My former username on was Shieldoffaith13. Ok now that we got the introductions out of the way, let us talk about today’s topic.

In its 80th year, the 2018 Tata Steel Chess tournament has already produced many exciting tactical battles as well as fine strategical games. Such tactical geniuses as Mikhail Tal and Gary Kasparov and strategical geniuses such as Mikhail Botvinnik and Anatoly Karpov’s influence over today’s top players are evident. Yesterday’s games saw the following entertaining clashes: GM Magnus Carlsen Vs GM Vladimir Kramnik, GM Mamedyarov vs GM Fabiano Caruana , GM Sergey Karjakin vs Maxim Matlakov, GM Wesley So vs GM Adhiban Baskaran, and many other intriguing matches.

In this article, I would like to look at each of the five present Grandmasters that are Candidates for the World Chess Championship, which takes place in London later on this year. I believe that this tournament is a trailer if you will, to the prestigious Candidates tournament and could possibly even predict the winner of that tournament. Nevertheless, it is hard to say how the Candidates in Wijk Ann Zee will play against the other three Candidates i.e. GM Levon Aronian, GM Alexander Grischuck, and the man who played the dubbed ‘game of the year’ in 2017, China’s number one player, Ding Liren!

As of writing, the Candidate with the best score in the tournament is GM Mamedyarov who catapulted himself into shared 1st place by defeating current World # 3 and fellow Candidate, GM Fabiano Caruana. Mamedyarov stayed true to his attacking style and sacrificed a pawn as early as move 5 in the QGD. What I like about this game of Mamedyarov’s is that he not only put on a tactical display but as soon as the tactics fizzled out he show some very fine endgame technique that I’m sure made even the World Champion Magnus Carlsen want to switch the endgame position that he was playing in.

GM Mamedyarov vs GM Fabiano Caruana:


Magnus nearly lost to former World Champion GM Vladimir Kramnik who also seems very well prepared for the upcoming Candidates tournament in March. Here is Magnus’ game below.

 GM Magnus Carlsen vs GM Vladimir Kramnik:



 Current US Chess Champion, GM Wesley So, looks like he has united with his fabulous 2016 form. Here he shows us that not all rook endgames are drawn.

 GM Wesley So vs GM Adhiban Baskaran:


The Previous Challenger to the World Chess Championship, GM Sergey Karjakin made a quick and rather uneventful draw against fellow Russian Grandmaster, Maxim Matlakov. The so-called “Minister of Defense” is playing a very solid tournament thus far with all of his games ending in draws.

GM Maxim Matlakov vs GM Sergey Karjakin:

On the other end of the totem pole however, the man who had one of the best tournament performances ever in the 2014 edition of the Sinquefield Cup, GM Fabiano Caruana, has been struggling to get any points on the board. He lost to Vishy and as we saw above, Mamemdyarov. Overall, he has not really shown his best form. Although Fabiano is a favorite to win the Candidates, judging by the way he is currently playing it is unlikely that he will even finish in the top three in that tournament. There is still a bunch of rounds left in Wijk Ann Zee, so it is hard to say who exactly will perform.

Let us continue to watch this tournament closely though to see who might become the biggest threat to Magnus Carlsen!

One final thought, whom do you think or want to win the Candidates?