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Candidates Round 13 — Nepo is the next challenger

Nepomniachtchi qualified for the World Chess Championship match against Carlsen with a draw in Round 13. With one more round to go, the Russian Grandmaster granted his spot at the World Championship in November, after his draw against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and after Giri’s defeat from Grischuk. Anish Giri was half a point away from Nepomniachtchi in R12, but after the outcome of R13, the one point difference between the two Grandmasters is decisive.

Ian Nepomniachtchi will play in the Championship Match. Photo by Lennart Ootes/FIDE

Results R13:

White Result Black
Wang Hao 0-1 Fabiano Caruana
Nepomniachtchi ½-½ Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
Kirill Alekseenko 0-1 Ding Liren
Alexander Grischuk 1-0 Anish Giri

Yesterday, the atmosphere was heavy for players and fans. We were switching games every 5 minutes, analyzing both Nepo’s and Giri’s single moves, and waiting patiently for these pivot results.

At Nepo’s game everything was going smoothly and a draw seemed right around the corner, until a pawn sacrifice by MVL spiced things up. The position turned from questionable for Black to a very interesting one, with some complications. “It’s not easy but at least I got some sort of fighting game,” said Vachier-Lagrave.

On the other hand, Giri’s game was not that promising. As early as move 14...h5, showed that Giri’s confidence was about to be demolished. His need for winning chances, left Anish with a poor judgement and a rather thankless position by move 27.

Afterwards Grischuk stated: “My plan was to play like a terrorist, to terrorize him with a draw and if he goes for a worse position then I will play. That’s pretty much exactly what happened. If he had played for equality I would just try to force a draw and most likely succeed.”

Later that day and after both games results, Magnus congratulated his friend, with his own unique way!

He also stated: “It’s very interesting. He’s a very, very strong opponent. Somebody who also plays very aggressively, and usually gives his opponents chances as well. In that sense, there is every chance there’s going to be an exciting match”

Second consecutive loss for Wang Hao

Caruana was mathematically out of the assertion of the challenger’s position, but this doesn’t mean that his chess doesn’t amaze us! After a great game, and a crucial mistake from Wang on move 40, Fabiano got a desirable win, and moved closer to the Top 3.

A strategic game

Alekseenko played against Ding Liren on R13, which didn’t leave him with the result he wished for. Kirill came from half a point in three games and Liren from an impressive win against Grischuk in R12, which seemed to have played a role in both players’ psychology.

The game had a strategic character, but Alekseenko rushed his decision at a critical position, and went from winning the game in one move to losing the game on the same move.

WGM Dina Belenkaya and GM Ernesto Inarkiev hosted the  Candidates Breakdown Studio, and commented on the pivotal games of R13 with NM Bruce Pandolfini.

Standings after R12:

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

Pairings R13:

Caruana – Grischuk
Giri – Alekseenko
Ding – Nepomniachtchi
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave – Wang

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