On Tuesday, 27th of April 2021, exactly 400 days after it started, the longest chess tournament in history so far finally came to an end in Yekaterinburg and what a ride it was! The reason for this unfortunate delay is none other than coronavirus pandemic, which affected us greatly in every aspect of life, including the chess community.
Many tournaments were cancelled or postponed for this period of time leaving many of us “chess fanatics” devastated, but we can all say now that things are looking a bit brighter in comparison to last year. It is great to see that online chess community is growing as well. One of those postponed events is The Candidates Tournament which was halted after the 7th round in March 2020. It is one of the greatest tournaments in the world of chess and of great importance for the professionals, as it is their time to shine and to show us their dedicated work that they have put into preparation for this event.
The winner of The Candidates Tournament, who will be facing the active world champion Magnus Carlsen in November this year, is GM Ian Nepomniachtchi. He suffered a defeat with black pieces in the very last round against GM Ding Liren, nevertheless winning a tournament, probably tired from long preparations and lacking the fighting spirit as his spot on the top had been secured the round before. The sources for this conclusion are his own words after the last round was over:
“This success is a huge milestone in my career. Perhaps in my life also. Indeed, I am extremely tired because I don’t think I would ever like to play a tournament again which lasts like more than one year. … I am very happy it paid off in the end but I don’t think I would like to have such an experience again.”
Being tired from playing the tournament for so long, in the last round he mixed up his opening preparation and found himself in a tough position from the very start of the game, causing him to resign on the move 35. Thankfully, it did not change the standings and we can agree that we are all extremely happy to see this kind of achievement from him, showing us that hard work pays off in the end.
Moving on to the second place and silver medal goes to famous GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave who defeated GM Wang Hao in the last round of the tournament. Tough tournament affected the Chinese grandmaster as he suffered three losses in a row and sadly gave a statement to the press that he will be retiring from professional competitive chess at the age of only 31. Suffering a loss in the last round of the tournament against GM Kiril Alekseenko, GM Anish Giri, thankfully, still goes on to take the third place and a bronze medal. He went too aggressive and overestimated his chances to win after what he thought was a positional pawn sacrifice, which caused him to lose a whole point in the end. Still, he showed great sportsmanship towards his chess colleagues and the winner himself, quoting “Ian played two great halves. He did a great job.”
We love to see this kind of behavior from chess professionals, showing us that we should always treat our opponents with respect and acknowledge their hard work and dedication, setting an example not only for the chess world, but in every sports community as well.
|2||Maxime Vachier Lagrave||2767||1½||½½||½0||½0||1½||½1||½1||8.0|
This tournament also gave us many amazing games with beautiful ideas and tactics that we can learn from. For our readers we decided to show the ones we found most interesting.
The first is a very fine game where GM Anish Giri defeated GM Wang Hao in round 9.
This next game is definitely one of the most interesting games demonstrating Caruana’s preparation on the Sicilian.
In this last game we are analyzing, in round 10 Ian Nepomniachtchi was playing white against Kirill Alekseenko. Nepo had a 0.5 lead so he had to secure this one.
Official tournament page: https://en.candidates-2020.com/