Karjakin on his Candidates Tournament triumph

Karjakin on his Candidates Tournament triumph

WGM WGM_Adriana_Nikolova
Apr 4, 2016, 8:40 AM |

Sergey Karjakin is Magnus Carlsen’s challenger for the World Championship title after winning the Moscow Candidates Tournament by a full point. Since then he’s been swept up in a whirl of media appearances, including giving numerous interviews to the Russian press. We take a look at some of his comments on the key moments of the tournament, his preparation and his expectations for the match against Carlsen this November.


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Sergey Karjakin makes his winner's speech at the Closing Ceremony | photo: Eteri Kublashvili, RCF


The quotes from Sergey below are taken from the following interviews:

  • Sergey Karjakin: I managed to store up energy for myself and surprises for my opponents(Vladimir Barsky), Russian Chess Federation (RCF)
  • Sergey Karjakin: Among the first to congratulate me on my victory were Dvorkovich, Kramnik and Carlsen! (Oleg Bogatov, Anatoly Samokhvalov, Sergey Smyshlyaev), RSport
  • Sergey Karjakin: In Moscow I played to win, like a man, like a Russian (Kirill Zangalis), Sport-Express


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Karjakin talks to representatives of RSport | photo: Eteri Kublashvili, RCF


Sergey Karjakin’s final tournament before the Candidates was the Tata Steel Masters in Wijk aan Zee. After that he took a leaf from Magnus Carlsen’s playbook and headed for somewhere warmer – the United Arab Emirates, it later turned out – to prepare, giving the occasional hint on social media:



It wasn’t just relaxing, though…

Preparing for the Candidates

Karjakin: It was very important to build up a certain number of ideas, because without surprises for your opponents it’s almost impossible to win such a tournament. In order to do that it was absolutely necessary to hold a training camp, especially as I also had to get some rest and store up energy. The United Arab Emirates was very well suited to those goals. The weather was around +30 and the work went great. By the way, I can already announce my “secret” fourth second – Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.

In that case can you also announce your “non-secret” ones!

Yury Dokhoian, Vladimir Potkin and Alexander Motylev. We did a great job, stored up some ideas and, at the same time, relaxed. I arrived in Moscow in top condition!

And how many of those ideas did you manage to use? 5-10 percent?

(laughs) It’s always like that – you use a small part of what you’ve prepared. But at the same time, I managed to pose big opening problems to Anand, who’s famous for his preparation, and in some other games as well. Perhaps they weren’t so spectacular, but in terms of the opening I got good positions, and that boosted my confidence. Of course the good start to the tournament also did that. (RCF)


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Vladimir Potkin (here during Round 1) was part of the winning team - it's unlikely he and Ian Nepomniachtchi will be helping Magnus Carlsen in New York the way they did in Sochi! 


There was some debate afterwards about the quality of Karjakin’s ideas, including a line of the Queen’s Indian that earned Sergey four not always entirely convincing draws with the black pieces!





Unlike Anish Giri and Sopiko Guramishvili, Karjakin didn’t stay with his wife Galiya and their young son in the hotel, but they weren’t so far apart.

Family support

I think you were really helped by your wife Galiya…

Yes, of course. She really inspired me. Half a year ago she gave me a wonderful son, who we named Alexey. And then she did everything so that my preparation went as well as it could. Galiya constantly inspired me, and when such a wonderful little guy appeared in our family she took all the troubles on herself and gave me the possibility to study chess in peace. I’m very grateful to her, and now I’m simply obliged to devote as much attention to her as possible. Otherwise she’d simply take offence. (smiling)

Alyosha, of course, doesn’t yet realise what his dad has done?

At five months, of course, that would be tough (laughs), but over time I hope he’ll grasp that there’s some link between his birth and my success. That gave me such drive that, if it wasn’t for the birth of my son, there perhaps wouldn’t have been this success in the Candidates Tournament. Of course, history doesn’t tolerate the conditional mood, but Alyosha definitely had a role in my victory.

What about your duties as a father – are you good with nappies?

To be honest, I’m proud that Galiya has taken care of the majority of that, but I also always try to help, as far as I’m able. I really love to walk with my son – we usually stroll for a couple of hours each day, when I’m free.


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Sergey and Galiya together again at the Closing Ceremony | photo: Eteri Kublashvili, RCF


Sergey, you spent almost three weeks focussed on chess, with almost no contact with your family. Where did you find some release, in order not to go crazy?

You were right to say “almost”. I didn’t actually leave my family – on the rest days we’d always meet up. Once Galiya and I went to a restaurant and to our surprise we met Viswanathan Anand there. I was with the pram and it wasn’t so easy to get it up the stairs. And the next day I had a decisive game. And Vishy, on the one hand, was surprised, while on the other he understood that the family really was a release for me and one of the factors in my success. (RSport)

Now let's switch to the tournament itself.


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Sergey Karjakin started with a draw against his compatriot Peter Svidler


Round 2: Beating Nakamura

In the second round I managed to provoke Nakamura. I won’t hide the fact I set a trap for the American. It was so tempting that he fell into it. And that, of course, gave me a boost. A win almost at the start is very important. (Sport-Express)


Nakamura's 29...Nxg3?? would have equalised for Black, if not that after 30.fxg3 Nxd4 31.Bxd4 Bxd4 32.exd4 Qe3+ 33.Qf2 Qxd3 White has 34.Rc7!, winning on the spot





Round 4: A first classical win over Anand

An important moment. Firstly, I overcame myself, and secondly I seized the lead. The game was very classical – in the sense that with each move I only improved my position, while my opponent simply couldn’t do a thing. The fact that I managed to get such a grip gave me extra motivation. I can do it! (Sport-Express)

Rounds 5-10: Six draws


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