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Candidates Round 12 — The “other” won again

Cover by Lennart Ootes/FIDE

Round 12 of the FIDE Candidates Tournament is over, and there were 4 decisive games! It’s very rare to have so many decisive games at such a high level, but for the players, it’s a must-win situation, which usually results in a decisive game, one way or the other.

The highlight of Round 12 was Giri’s win with Black against Fabiano Caruana, but also Nepo’s win against Wang Hao, which keeps him at the top of The Candidates with 8 points. Also, MVL achieved his first win at the second part of the tournament against Alekseenko, and Grischuk and Liren played the original Queen’s Gambit line, with Liren winning the game.

Results of Round 12:

Caruana 0–1 Giri
Ding Liren 1–0 Grischuk
Vachier-Lagrave 1–0 Alekseenko
Wang Hao 0–1 Nepomniachtchi

The “other” won #2 with Black

Photo by Lennart Ootes/FIDE

Anish Giri shined again with a masterful performance against Caruana. During the game, Anish tried to complicate things in order to get the lead, but Caruana equalized the position with his flexible and quiet moves. In the middlegame though, Fabi was conquered by an optimistic vibe, destroyed his queen’s side pawn structure for an important central square, which put him into a very unpleasant position after Giri’s exceptional defense.

At one point Caruana seemed very off on the chessboard and after an inaccuracy, Giri finished the game, winning with Black the World’s No.2!

Earlier this month, chesscom didn’t even put Anish on its poll for winning the tournament, and referred to him as the “other”, but as it turns out Giri is going for the win! As Boris Gelfand stated at the BREAKDOWN LIVE SHOW with WGM Dina Belenkaya and GM Ernesto Inarkiev: “Anish represents a combination of great positional and dynamic abilities”, which finds us totally aligned.

Also, GM Michael Adams commented on Anish’s game against Caruana, and he gladly said that he would be very happy to have played such a game with Black, because it’s a very high quality performance!

Watch Michael’s comments on the game below.

A win for a win

Photo by Lennart Ootes/FIDE

Ian Nepomniachtchi stays at the top after his win against Wang Hao, but as he stated at the Press Conference, he thinks that the situation of the tournament after R12 is still very complex. We can understand his worries, taking into account that Anish Giri seems to have a great tournament so far, and they are only half a point away with 2 more rounds to go.

The game between these Top Grandmasters was very interesting, with Nepo playing the Petrov Defense, an opening that he is not so skilled at. After many exchanges forced by Wang Hao, he couldn’t achieve an equal position, even though there were some opportunities. After the end of the game, Wang Hao admitted that: “After 40 moves I started to play like a 2200 player.”

First win for MVL at the resume of the Candidates

Photo by Lennart Ootes/FIDE

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is having a hard tournament so far, which is such a pity after his impressive performance at the 1st half of the Candidates. On R12 though he played a great game against Kirill Alekseenko, with 3.f3 against the Caro-Kann Defense.

The game was very well controlled by Maxime, who was feeling very comfortable with his position, carefully watching for any tactical counterplay for Black, and slowly gaining advantage during the game. After the positive outcome of his game, he stated that his goal for the next two rounds is to play two good games.

An original Queen’s Gambit

Photo by Lennart Ootes/FIDE

At the game between Ding Liren and Alexander Grischuk, a very interesting line of the Queen’s Gambit was played, with Grischuk struggling to pull it off as Black. Later in the game, Alexander sacrificed two pawns in order to create a more complicated position but Liren stayed calm and turned the situation in his favor, ending up winning the game.

Live Breakdown with special guests WGM Dana Reizniece-Ozola & GM Michael Adams

WGM Dina Belenkaya and GM Ernesto Inarkiev, as every day at 5 pm GMT, hosted the Breakdown Studio, and commented on the decisive games of the round with WGM Dana Reizniece-Ozola & GM Michael Adams

Watch the breoadcast below.

Standings after R12:

# Player Position
1 Ian Nepomniachtchi 8
2 Anish Giri
3 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
4 Fabiano Caruana 6
5 Alexander Grischuk
6-7 Wang Hao, Ding Liren 5
8 Kirill Alekseenko

#Pairings R13:

Wang Hao – Fabiano Caruana
Nepomniachtchi – Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
Kirill Alekseenko – Ding Liren
Alexander Grischuk – Anish Giri

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