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Caruana Beats Nakamura In Round 8 Candidates' Tournament

Caruana Beats Nakamura In Round 8 Candidates' Tournament

In the second clash between the two U.S. grandmasters Fabiano Caruana defeated Hikaru Nakamura. The eighth round of the Candidates' Tournament saw another escape for Sergey Karjakin, although he was probably winning earlier in his game with Peter Svidler.

Starting from today Chess.com has boots on the ground in Moscow. Laughing Your reporter got back from Reykjavik on Friday, played a game himself on Saturday (Dutch league — I won, team lost) and jumped on a plane on Sunday morning.

The venue is inside the Central Telegraph building on Tverskaya 7...
...with a recognizable logo shown in the windows.
The entrance, which leads to a small, dedicated elevator only going to the third floor.

I basically arrived at the venue one minute before the first game of the eighth round finished, so just in time to meet the players and attend the “press conferences.”

There's been some debate about whether these post-game sessions should really be called press conferences. The players basically go through their games, and then the host (either GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko or GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, who took over from GM Alexandra Kosteniuk) ends the thing with the words: “thank you.”

This looks weird, and it really looked weird after the touch-move incident, when everyone expected a questions about that. But nothing.

I arrived just in time for the Aronian-Giri press conference.

What happens is that the players talk to the press — only a handful of people in fact — individually, right afterward. So these analysis sessions should just be called post-mortems, and are intended just for the live show.

One more pic from the Aronian-Giri post-mortem.

Unfortunately Aronian declined to comment to Chess.com on the touch-move incident. “After the tournament I can talk about it,” was all he said.

Nakamura said: “In real-time I did touch the king. I simply didn't realize, I had already lost my mind at that point. I probably touched it 1-2 seconds and I simply didn't realize. I did say “adjust” but I think at that point my mind was so far gone that I didn't realize that I had touched it for as long as I had. But it's not a big deal.”

That was not the end of the story though: for not attending the “press conference” Nakamura was in fact fined by the organizers. 10% of any prize money he'll earn will be deducted, for violating the rules.

“I wasn't aware of this,” said Nakamura. “Obviouly I didn't look closely, but it doesn't matter right now.”

At the time of writing the American hasn't heard aything official yet from the organizers, who haven't been very consistent, says Nakamura: “I think all the rules should be followed uniformly, and that includes the zero-tolerance rule which I can say is not enforced uniformly.”

That was round six, and Nakamura bounced back in round seven with a win over Veselin Topalov. But today he lost his very next game to Fabiano Caruana. The game basically came down to an opening disaster: Nakamura mixed up things, then chose a wrong plan and was subsequently outplayed.

It was an Anti-Berlin with the voluntary 5.Bxc6, and Caruana chose a plan that has become popular recently: castling queenside. How the game went, White's attack was stronger than Black's.

In general I have been playing badly. I don't know what it is,” Nakamura told Chess.com. “In pretty much all the games, the moment when I got out of preparation, when I wasn't 100 percent sure what I'm doing, I played very badly. With the exception of the first-round game. I haven't played the best ideas and I've also just miscalculated.”

The Caruana-Nakamura post-mortem courtesy of WorldChess.

The longest game, between Peter Svidler and Sergey Karjakin, was extremely interesting and really went up and down. First it was Karjakin who had excellent chances, and then Svidler spoilt a huge advantage at the end.

When Ian Nepomniachtchi introduced the post-mortem with “It was a game with many unexpected decisions,” both players smiled, and both had reasons to be happy and disappointed at the same time.

Svidler's draw offer came somewhat early and unexpected. He tried to explain it by pointing out that he completely missed 49...g6 was possible. Probably he lost some faith in his calculating abilities there and from the playing hall Svidler definitely seemed to have trouble concentrating at the end.

Asked whether he would play on as White in the final position, Karjakin said to Chess.com: “Yes of course. I think White is still better. He was probably winning before, and at the end just better. Perhaps he was just upset that he missed something. But I was almost winning out of the opening. Not a game to be proud of.”

The Svidler-Karjakin post-mortem courtesy of WorldChess.

The other two games were much less exciting. “Not very inspiring,” Veselin Topalov described his play against Vishy Anand. The Bulgarian claimed that he “somehow didn't expect” Anand to play 4...Nbd7 and 5...Bb4, even though he had played the same the other day against Giri.

White's setup wasn't aggressive and Anand was soon comfortable, and then more than comfortable. The Indian could have made life more difficult for his opponent with 37...Qb1, but that should lead to a draw as well.

The Topalov-Anand post-mortem courtesy of WorldChess.

And then Anish Giri, who we almost can start calling Mr. Draw — well, that is because he starts to make fun of it himself now too! “At first I was trying to find an advantage for Black but then I decided to just do my usual thing and make a draw,” the Dutch number one said. His opponent Levon Aronian quickly replied, with a giggle: “Thank God you didn't look for an advantage here!”

Giri is scoring more points in the verbal competition than in the real leaderboard. “I feel I played a bit too disgusting but it was enough to make a draw,” was one, and another went “It reminds me of some games I could lose against Kramnik but apparently not to you!” Aronian knows how to deal with these subtle remarks, and quickly countered “It's a big difference!”

The Aronian-Giri post-mortem courtesy of WorldChess.

2016 FIDE Candidates' | Round 8 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf Pts SB
1 Karjakin,Sergey 2760 2882 5.0/8 19.00
2 Aronian,Levon 2786 2878 5.0/8 18.25
3 Caruana,Fabiano 2776 2829 4.5/8 16.75
4 Anand,Viswanathan 2762 2776 4.5/8 15.50
5 Giri,Anish 2793 2776 4.0/8
6 Svidler,Peter 2757 2731 3.5/8
7 Nakamura,Hikaru 2790 2727 3.0/8
8 Topalov,Veselin 2780 2619 2.5/8

The round 8 recap by WorldChess.

Round 9 pairings (Monday): Topalov-Svidler, Anand-Aronian, Giri-Caruana, and Nakamura-Karjakin.

The FIDE Candidates' Tournament runs March 11-29 in the Central Telegraph building in Moscow. The total prize fund is €420,000 with the Tashir Group as the main sponsor. The games start 3 p.m. local time, which is 4 a.m. Pacific, 7 a.m. New York, noon GMT or 1 p.m. CET. The winner earns the right to play Magnus Carlsen in November in New York.


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