Candidates' Specifics Set

Candidates' Specifics Set

| 46 | Chess Event Coverage

For several months we've known which eight players will vie for the right to challenge Magnus Carlsen's world title. Now we know much more about the 2016 Candidates' Tournament.

Moscow was already the announced city, and the Armenian corporate benefactor, Tashir Group, allowed GM Levon Aronian to be awarded the lone wildcard. (For the record GM Hikaru Nakamura said last week that he considered Aronian the favorite at the last two Candidates' Tournaments.)

According to a press release by Agon, the company that owns the rights to the World Championship, the 14-game double round-robin event will take place March 11-29, 2016 at the DI Telegraph portion of the Central Telegraph Building. The official web site is here.

Agon said the setting is "indicative of the organizers’ ambitions for the World Chess Championship cycle events and plans for taking chess digital." Agon owner Ilya Merenzon has discussed with his desire to sell the rights to the World Championship to outlets all over the globe.

"The sport turned out to fit perfectly to the age of smartphones, and we are delighted to host the tournament at the venue that represents digital culture," Merenzon said in the press release.

Ilya Merenzon, seen here at the last World Championship, wants great publicity for the top chess event.

The building is about 150 years old, but the DI Telegraph section seems to be seeking young, tech-savvy enterprises to fill its space. Its web site calls the site Moscow's "flagship high-end public coworking and event facility."

After an opening ceremony March 10, players will play one game per day for three days, then have a rest day, then repeat this until the final two-day push to the finish; March 29 is reserved for possible tiebreaks and the closing ceremony. This means there will be a total of four free days. The total purse is €420,000.

The winner, of course, earns the right to play Carlsen in a match, which Agon insists will still take place in November in the U.S., despite some reports casting doubt. Even so, Agon has missed its own deadline twice (first the end of November, then the end of January) to publish the venue of the 2016 World Championship Match.

GM Magnus Carlsen has been winning everything lately (London, Qatar and Tata Steel all in about a six-week period), but this is one event he won't be able to win!

Some of the eight Candidates' competitors have already played their final tournament game before the March event, while others still have serious competition before Moscow.

Four are playing next weekend at the Zurich Chess Challenge: GM Hikaru Nakamura (fresh from his win in Gibraltar), GM Viswanathan Anand (fresh from his disaster at same), GM Anish Giri and Aronian. Those four will likely be masking their preparation, but at the "experimental" time control of 40+10, the games aren't terribly "classical" anyway.

GM Hikaru Nakamura would be just fine if a playoff is required at the Candidates'. In the last year, he's won tournament playoffs in Zurich, the Millionaire Open and last week in Gibraltar.

Three players are actually teammates on the 10-time Bundesliga Champion Baden-Baden team, (Aronian, Anand and GM Peter Svidler). Their next matches are on the weekend of February 20-21, and we will see if any of them are called into service. Aronian and Anand have yet to play for their squad this season.

GM Sergey Karjakin and GM Fabiano Caruana were the only world championship contenders to compete at the Tata Steel Tournament — well, if you don't count Carlsen himself. [Edit: GM Anish Giri also played in Wijk aan Zee.] Caruana fared much better, competing for first until the final round, while Karjakin won only a single game and finished with a minus score.

GM Fabiano Caruana is just after both Carlsen and Carlsson on the alphabetical list of grandmasters, but he hopes to not follow in Carlsen's shadow come November.

This wasn't technically Caruana's final warm-up as several days after Wijk aan Zee he took out GM Robert Hess in's Death Match. Luckily for Caruana, there's no bullet chess in Moscow.

GM Veselin Topalov does not have any major planned events until the Candidates'. His last event was the 2015 London Chess Classic nearly two months ago, and he will be the only one of the eight inactive for all of 2016 leading up to the Candidates'.

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