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World Championship Candidates Tournament

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave4.5/7(+2 -0 =5)[games]
Ian Nepomniachtchi4.5/7(+3 -1 =3)[games]
Fabiano Caruana3.5/7(+1 -1 =5)[games]
Anish Giri3.5/7(+1 -1 =5)[games]
Wang Hao3.5/7(+1 -1 =5)[games]
Alexander Grischuk3.5/7(+0 -0 =7)[games]
Kirill Alekseenko2.5/7(+0 -2 =5)[games]
Ding Liren2.5/7(+1 -3 =3)[games] Chess Event Description
World Championship Candidates (2020)

The 2020 Candidates Tournament is an 8-player double round-robin that will decide Magnus Carlsen's challenger for the World Championship match that's set to take place in Dubai this November. The 14-round event is being played in the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Yekaterinburg, Russia from 17 March to 3 April 2020. The prize fund is €500,000.

The players have 100 minutes for 40 moves, then 50 minutes for the next 20 moves, then 15 minutes to the end of the game, with a 30-second increment from move 1. No draw offers are allowed until after move 40. A playoff (beginning with four 25-minute games) is unlikely as head-to-head, no. of wins and Sonneborn-Berger are used first to break a tie for 1st place. (1)

Official site:

(1) chess24

 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 29  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. M Vachier-Lagrave vs Caruana ½-½442020World Championship CandidatesC78 Ruy Lopez
2. Ding Liren vs Wang Hao 0-1452020World Championship CandidatesA20 English
3. A Giri vs I Nepomniachtchi 0-1732020World Championship CandidatesA33 English, Symmetrical
4. Grischuk vs K Alekseenko ½-½412020World Championship CandidatesA20 English
5. M Vachier-Lagrave vs Ding Liren 1-0372020World Championship CandidatesC84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
6. Wang Hao vs A Giri ½-½612020World Championship CandidatesA37 English, Symmetrical
7. Caruana vs K Alekseenko 1-0342020World Championship CandidatesE20 Nimzo-Indian
8. I Nepomniachtchi vs Grischuk ½-½402020World Championship CandidatesC67 Ruy Lopez
9. A Giri vs M Vachier-Lagrave ½-½302020World Championship CandidatesD85 Grunfeld
10. Ding Liren vs Caruana 1-0592020World Championship CandidatesD17 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
11. Grischuk vs Wang Hao ½-½492020World Championship CandidatesC01 French, Exchange
12. K Alekseenko vs I Nepomniachtchi ½-½402020World Championship CandidatesC18 French, Winawer
13. Ding Liren vs A Giri ½-½422020World Championship CandidatesE00 Queen's Pawn Game
14. M Vachier-Lagrave vs Grischuk ½-½532020World Championship CandidatesC67 Ruy Lopez
15. Wang Hao vs K Alekseenko ½-½412020World Championship CandidatesD78 Neo-Grunfeld, 6.O-O c6
16. Caruana vs I Nepomniachtchi ½-½552020World Championship CandidatesD87 Grunfeld, Exchange
17. I Nepomniachtchi vs Wang Hao 1-0432020World Championship CandidatesC42 Petrov Defense
18. A Giri vs Caruana ½-½422020World Championship CandidatesD12 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
19. Grischuk vs Ding Liren ½-½542020World Championship CandidatesC84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
20. K Alekseenko vs M Vachier-Lagrave ½-½332020World Championship CandidatesB80 Sicilian, Scheveningen
21. Wang Hao vs M Vachier-Lagrave ½-½832020World Championship CandidatesD87 Grunfeld, Exchange
22. K Alekseenko vs A Giri 0-1982020World Championship CandidatesC50 Giuoco Piano
23. Grischuk vs Caruana ½-½542020World Championship CandidatesC78 Ruy Lopez
24. I Nepomniachtchi vs Ding Liren 1-0402020World Championship CandidatesC78 Ruy Lopez
25. M Vachier-Lagrave vs I Nepomniachtchi 1-0422020World Championship CandidatesC18 French, Winawer
 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 29  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 61 OF 61 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Apr-06-20  Petrosianic: One piece of history that's worth recalling. Radjabov was once scheduled to play an actual World Championship match, that didn't come off.

Years back, FIDO briefly had a thing called The 2700 Rule, that allowed anyone rated over 2700 to issue a challenge, which the champion had the option of accepting or rejecting. Radjabov jumped on this, got some big money Azeri oil backers, and issued a challenge. Topalov, who was only FIDE Champion then, accepted, with just the slight problem that he was already scheduled to play Kramnik for the Undisputed Title. Had Topalov won, he was going to play this match next, but when Topalov lost, Radjabov did too.

Here's a story about that:

Apr-06-20  parmetd: Hopefully FIDE sorts it all out with Radjabov without the courts. Of course, there is a chance Radjabov is forced to go to Lausanne.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Sokrates....During the course of the match - when it became clear that he would lose - we saw the same desparation by Kasparov as we saw by Capablanca when he, contrary to all odds, lost to Alekhine....>

The most curious aspect of that match to me has been that, while it was of fixed length, Kasparov approached with the overall strategy of 'covering up' and taking short draws as White--as he had done in his first title bout with Karpov, which was, of course, contested under the format of a set number of wins needed.

<....Both geniuses had been so accustomed to be superior to all their contemporaries that they couldn't grasp that their years of supremacy perhaps were over.>

Fischer also was unable to adapt to life after Reykjavik, though in the opposite position of these titans: having devoted his life to gaining the title, what purpose was left to him once he had got there?

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Absentee>
<Or they could have consulted with each other, which is reasonable to assume they did. They weren't the subject of some kind of locked room social experiment.>

If I might humbly suggest, perhaps not the most felicitous choice of words, considering the fact that <Ding Liren was kept in isolation for 14 days>.

But to the substance, there are difficulties. Social distancing practices were in effect. Also, the players were competitors and might not want their concerns to be mistaken for lack of confidence in their ability to succeed in the event.

Apr-06-20  Petrosianic: <Sokrates>: <Shirov had defeated Kramnik and EARNED his right to challenge Kasparov, regardless of his chances and results against the world champ.>

And he did challenge, but refused to play for the paltry sum that was raised. He should have played anyway, just for the chance to be in a championship match. I don't know what contract he signed, but traditionally it's been the challenger's job to find funding.

Nimzovich challenged Capa before Alekhine did, did you know that? He filed a legitimate challenge, but failed to raise the necessary money, and lost his chance. But Nimzo himself didn't refuse to play, Shirov did. Nimzo actually has a stronger case (still not great) to being wronged than Shirov did).

<There is a slight resemblence to the present Candidates, where fans of MVL thought it was a devillish injustice that he hadn't qualified and a godly interference that the virus gave him admittance after all.>

That's one of Wedgemore's trolling games, to claim that the First Alternate "didn't qualify", even though he did. I doubt any of MVL's actual fans said that. He qualified as legitimately as Fischer, Spassky, and other alternates.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Petrosianic>
See, where it's said that Nimzowitsch never put up the earnest money required for a formal challenge (Alekhine did). But we should discuss that on the Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship Match (1927) page.
Apr-06-20  Petrosianic: The cases are similar. But if it comes down to the courts, then we might as well forget it. Even Susan Polgar, who DID have a legitimate case against FIDE, and actually won the case didn't get her title back. The most Radjabov could hope for going that route is cash, and the odds are that the Court of Arbitration For Sport wouldn't even give him that. But if they did, it wouldn't affect what we're interested in.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sokrates: <perfidious> <Fischer also was unable to adapt to life after Reykjavik, though in the opposite position of these titans: having devoted his life to gaining the title, what purpose was left to him once he had got there?>

Spot on an well observed!

Apr-06-20  Petrosianic: Well, some people played chess for the love of the game. All other world champions were able to keep playing even after they personally couldn't be the best any more, although some more enthusiastically than others. (Tal was probably the most enthusiastic ex-champion, Fischer the least).

Unfortunately the only alternative to being able to live with the knowledge is to try to freeze time and pretend that it's always 1972. Actually, Fischer's life would have made a great Twilight Zone episode. The whole concept of yearning for earlier times, sometimes actually going back to them, was a major theme on that show.

Fischer would probably have gotten trapped in a Groundhog Day situation where it was always the day he won the title.

Or possibly a story where Old Fischer went back and met Young Fischer (many directions you could go with that).

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sokrates: <Petrosianic> Yes, I knew about Nimzowitsch's challenge and the lack of money. One of the tragedies in the life of this great theorist in chess. Jens Enevoldsen, his Danish contemporary, wrote about it. Incidently, they both rest on the same burial plot, only a few kilometers from my home. We discussed this here on CG, and I visited the plot a couple of months ago. Strange to see a tombstone with Nimzowitsch name on it. - Anyway, Enevoldsen wrote that they regarded Nimzo's challenge to be of a more symbolic nature, since no one thought he'd stand a chance against the Cuban. Who he never managed to defeat once.

I am not sure I understand you on MVL. Are you actually saying that he qualified? Sure, he was next in line if anyone dropped out, but that's not the same as qualifying originally, not in my book.

Apr-06-20  Petrosianic: <Sokrates>: <Enevoldsen wrote that they regarded Nimzo's challenge to be of a more symbolic nature, since no one thought he'd stand a chance against the Cuban. Who he never managed to defeat once.>

Nobody thought Alekhine had a chance either, and he also never beat Capa before the match. Still, to even play such a match means to go down in history for doing it. If I were Nimzo, I'd have wanted it. Even Marshall, who got slaughtered, also has a certain level of prestige just for having tried.

<I am not sure I understand you on MVL. Are you actually saying that he qualified? Sure, he was next in line if anyone dropped out, but that's not the same as qualifying originally, not in my book.>

I mean he qualified for the First Alternate spot. That's why he got the spot that opened up and others didn't. (He didn't qualify directly for the Candidates, of course).

I believe MVL's enemies would make an issue of that, I just don't think his friends would. Try going to the Fischer Forum, and saying how regrettable it is that Fischer didn't qualify for the 1970 Interzonal. Nobody who likes Fischer is losing any sleep over that.

In the old days, being the champ meant beating the champ. That seems to have changed in the last 20 years or so. Now the feeling seems to be that ANYBODY can beat the champ, so it's no big deal. The important thing is earning the chance to be the one to get lucky. (The fact that none of the first 6 champions qualified for the right to try escapes unnoticed). It's almost impossible to imagine anyone in 1935 arguing that Euwe's victory didn't count because Capa should have been the challenger.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Clemens Scheitz> I have to admit that I was worried when you and my other favorite writer Sven the Dane were thinking about moving your exchanges to some private, obscure, members only site.>

I wouldn't do that, mostly because I don't have any secrets worth keeping secret. If I did, I certainly wouldn't post them on the Internet! As the old joke goes, "I might be crazy but I'm not stupid." Of course there are those on this site that might disagree with that, and they're certainly entitled to their opinion.

You, and others, are certainly welcome to join us for discussions at my forum if you want to post something about yourselves that you might consider off-topic for other pages but that you just want to get off your chest. One warning though; a forum's host (me in this case) has a lot of control over their forum and I will be judge, jury, and executioner for anyone (including myself) which posts anything in my forum which violates <>'s posting guidelines. It will be entirely up to me how I interpret those posting guidelines, and I will probably do so aggressively. And there will be no appeal!

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Petrosianic> I don't remember them saying that, but if they did, "authority" almost surely means "permission of the sponsors", who probably had it in their contract that FIDE couldn't postpone without their okay.>

A reasonable supposition. And certainly the situation changed, if only by degree, from the time that Radjabov suggested that the tournament be postponed and the time that FIDE indicated that they would be postponing the tournament because Russia announced the interruption of air traffic with other countries. It would be interesting to see the actual contract between FIDE and the tournament organizers to verify this but that's not likely to happen.

But I would think that, regardless of the circumstances, the tournament sponsors stood to lose a substantial amount of money if the tournament was postponed after it started. Their losses would have been reduced if the tournament had been postponed as early as possible before travel and activities started in earnest since the players get their travel reimbursed and all organizational cost would be paid by the organizers. So the organizers will probably spend more money stopping and restarting the tournament than if they has postponed the tournament before it started and restarted at a later time, and would have been motivated to do that.

What would have been the fallout if the tournament had proceeded in spite of the "closing" of Russia's borders to air travel? The tournament would have completed by now and I've read conflicting reports about actual travel restrictions implemented for Russia. Some, like FIDE, indicated that Russia stopped both incoming and outgoing air flights and others have indicated that only incoming flight have prevented (see my next post), although there are restrictions on some of the outgoing flights. Clearly if the intent of the government was to prevent the spread of the virus within Russia then only the prevention of incoming flights is strictly necessary; prevention of outgoing flights would have no significant effect. So, as far as Russia was concerned, the players could have left after the tournament's scheduled conclusion without a high degree of risk to Russia given the measures that had been taken to ensure the security of the players as much as possible while the tournament was still going on. Hopefully they would have toned down or eliminated the closing ceremonies, compared to the opening ceremonies as shown by the now infamous picture, and maybe broadcast them so those that wanted participate could have done so virtually.

Then for those who needed to leave Russia to return to their homes their ability to do so would mostly depend on the entry restrictions for those countries. And most countries, even today, still allow entry by their citizens, although sometimes with a highly restricted number of flights allowed. Only 5 players were definitely affected; I don't know if Grischuk and Nepomniachtchi (Alekseenko does) live in Russia proper but if they all did they would presumably not have been affected by the entry ban and not have had any difficulty returning to their homes.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: These were the entry restrictions to their respective country as of Apr-01-2020 per

China (Ding Liren, Wang Hao) – Suspension of entry by <foreigners>, each airline to be allowed to operate a single passenger flight per week.

France (Vachier-Lagrave) - Travelers being evacuated from other countries by the French government must undergo quarantine. Medical professionals at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris will meet flights from China, Hong Kong, Macao, Singapore, South Korea, Iran and certain regions in Italy to check passengers for symptoms and answer questions.

Netherlands (Giri) – The Netherlands issued an <advisory> not to travel abroad. Travel was suspended from "at risk" countries; mainland China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy and South Korea. Not Russia.

USA (Caruana) - Raised its global travel advisory to a Level 4 (its top warning), a <recommendation> — not a requirement — that United States citizens either remain in place or return home. The borders with Canada and Mexico are closed for non-essential traffic. Entry of <foreign> nationals from several countries banned, and all American citizens and legal permanent residents who had been in a high-risk area (not Russia) were restricted to arrive at one of 13 airports.

So it seems to me that while there would always be some difficulty in arranging a return for the players to go home had the tournament concluded as scheduled, the problems were not insurmountable, particularly given the Russian government's likely desire that no harm came to these players since it would have been highly publicized. So once the tournament started and player security measures introduced, FIDE's suspension of the tournament might have been an overreaction on their part, although probably justified if the details of the Russian air travel ban were not clear. Better safe than sorry is a good guideline under these circumstances.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: If you haven't read it (I hadn't), I recommend that you read the following interview with Giri concerning the "chaotic" ending of the 2020 Candidates Tournament, and his reasons for not withdrawing: I don't know about the rest of you but I like Giri's sense of humor.

One thing that Giri does is discuss the measures taken by the organizers to ensure as much as possible the safety of the players during the tournament. And for that they should be commended.

And he claims (and I agree with him) that he has "solved" the Radjabov situation:

"After days of contemplating I finally solved the @rajachess dilemma. In fact it is very easy.

If you think he wants to play and is a hero - let him play as a reward.

If you think he doesn't want to play and is a villain - let him play as a punishment.


I'm soooo jealous that I didn't think of that.

Apr-06-20  Petrosianic: Giri isn't a native English speaker, so I don't fault him here. But stylistically speaking, the joke should say MAKE him play as a punishment, not "let him".

There should actually be FOUR possibilities from combining Wants/Doesn't Want to Play with Is/Isn't a Hero.

So, to tell this gag right, we need funny answers for "Wants to Play and is a Villain" (several possibilities spring to mind), and "Doesn't Want to Play and is a Hero" (again, there are many possibilities, pick the funniest one.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  WorstPlayerEver: <Petrosianic>

It just means you don't understand Dutch. For instance... do you know what "let but.." means?

Apr-06-20  Petrosianic: True, I don't speak Dutch. Maybe it has a meaning that doesn't translate well. Is that anything like sub-letting (like letting, but can only be done on a U-boat)?
Premium Chessgames Member
  WorstPlayerEver: <Petrosianic>

It's complicated to explain, but.. it means literally: let it be. In the sense of: never mind.

"Maar" literally means "but."
"Laat maar" literally means "Never mind."

Ja, maar..
Yes, but..

Apr-06-20  Olavi: <Sokrates: <Olavi> <This age-old discussion is pointless for the simple reason that the organizers in 2000 had no interest in a Kasparov - Shirov match, they would not have paid for it, nor did they have any obligations in any direction. ...> You say that with such an absolute certainty that you must believe yourself that it is true. You seem to take for granted that Kasparov didn't everything in his might to get a sponsor/organiser for a Shirov-match. >

Yes, I state it with absolute certainty. I also fail to see any logical connection between what Kasparov did or did not do - about which I took nothing for granted - and Braingames' offer. Were the latter wrong to put up the money and the organization?

Premium Chessgames Member
  saffuna: It's ridiculous. The entire cycle should be arranged before it started. Everything about the final should have been set before the Kramnik-Shirov match.
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Absentee> Radjabov wasn't replaced because he complained. He was replaced because he withdrew from the tournament on his own initiative.>

Well, not quite. After his "complaint" FIDE told him that he had one day to decide whether he would participate in the tournament or withdraw from it. And that, if he didn't reply, they would take that as an indication of his intent to withdraw and replace him. Only after that did Radjabov withdraw.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Petrosianic> Now, on the other hand, if Radjabov had dropped out and the tournament had <never started at all>, he'd be in an excellent position to demand his spot back.>

I'm not so sure about that. If Radjabov formally withdrew from the tournament as he did, regardless of his stated reason, if any, and regardless of whether he was coerced to do so or not and was then formally replaced as he was in accordance with the replacement procedures in Rules and Regulations, the tournament's participants would have been formally established.

If then the tournament didn't start as scheduled, the legalistically most proper set of participants would be the last set that was formally established; i.e. including Vachier-Lagrave instead of Radjabov. Of course Radjabov would be within his rights (or at least his ability) to try to contest it, but I think that his case would be very weak. FWIW I'll ask my CLLF for his opinion. But, as you said in a later post, "if it comes down to the courts, then we might as well forget it."

And that's an interesting story about the Topalov vs. Radjabov match, thanks for sharing it. Too bad for Radjabov that Topalov did not win his match against Kramnik. But what I don't understand is why, given that FIDE had announced in 2005 that the 2007 WCC would be decided via a tournament rather than a match, they also made a provision in 2005 that any GM with an Elo rating of 2700+ could challenge the defending WCC provided that he could raise $1M in prize money. It seems that different parts of FIDE don't talk to each other; no surprise there.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pedro Fernandez: Hey <nok>, what's up! Well my dear friend, I admit I was a bit radical in my sentence that Steinitz was the ''creator'' of positional chess. That´s not true and you can take it as figurative. Anyway, please, let's read a little about Steinitz at Wikipedia (SIC): <''Statistical rating systems give Steinitz a rather low ranking among world champions, mainly because he took several long breaks from competitive play. However, an analysis based on one of these rating systems shows that he was one of the most dominant players in the history of the game. Steinitz was unbeaten in match play for 32 years, from 1862 to 1894.

Although Steinitz became "world number one" by winning in the all-out attacking style that was common in the 1860s, he unveiled in 1873 a new positional style of play, and demonstrated that it was superior to the previous style. His new style was controversial and some even branded it as "cowardly", but many of Steinitz's games showed that it could also set up attacks as ferocious as those of the old school.

Steinitz was also a prolific writer on chess, and defended his new ideas vigorously. The debate was so bitter and sometimes abusive that it became known as the "Ink War". Steinitz was the target of anti-Semitic abuse,[citation needed] and moved to the United States in 1883 to escape this. By the early 1890s, Steinitz's approach was widely accepted, and the next generation of top players acknowledged their debt to him, most notably his successor as world champion, Emanuel Lasker.''>

So <nok>, I think you should love a bit more to Steinitz. A warm greetings for you!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pedro Fernandez: <<AylerKupp>: <<Pedro Fernandez> I never heard of Von der Lasa>>. My respects to Baron der Lasa. Indeed it was worthy defeat players like Stauton and Anderssen. I'm surprised why he was not more known.

<Staunton: "Have you ever played Anderssen?"

Morphy: "Yes, he's no Von der Lasa." >

Satirism or parody?

See ya.

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