Chess Candidates Tournament: Niepómniashi ties while his three pursuers win | Chess News

Chess Candidates Tournament: Niepómniashi ties while his three pursuers win |  Chess News

Dommaraju Gukesh, 17, keeps his aspiration for a historic feat very much alive after taking a risk and winning with the black pieces against Azerbaijani Nijat Abásov. American veterans Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana did the same against Frenchman Alireza Firouzja and Indian Gujrathi Vidit, respectively. And the leader, Ian Niepómniashi, was ultra-conservative and tied a draw with white against the Indian Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa. So the Russian now commands alongside Gukesh and Nakamura, with Caruana lurking with two rounds remaining (Saturday and Sunday) in the Candidates Tournament in Toronto (Canada). In the Candidates, the fight between the Chinese Zhongyi Tan and Tingjie Lei continues.

Niepómniashi and Nakamura, both with the white pieces, chose the same opening (variant of the change against the French Defense) against Praggnanandhaa and Firouzja, respectively, to the surprise and disappointment of many fans, who with three rounds left in a Candidates hope that leaders take risks. This approach almost guarantees that Black will come out of the opening well, with a balanced game, and makes it clear that White’s player does not want to risk the slightest, at least in the first two or three hours of fighting.

Why did they do it? Probably because they are aware that the talent of their young rivals is enormous, at least as great as their own, and that therefore they do not have any advantage in very complex positions that require great creativity. Consequently, the way to take advantage of their strengths is to bore them with a flat game, waiting for them to make mistakes or inaccuracies when the game is already very advanced. In fact, this is how his victories the day before were forged: Nakamura beat Praggnanandhaa in a very close position where the Indian insisted on complicating matters and failed. And Niepómniashi took advantage of the excessive ambition of another Indian, Gujrathi Vidit, in the fifth hour of play, when there were no solid reasons to expect a victory from the Russian.

Nakamura got the opportunity he wanted: Firouzja doesn’t know how to play in any other way than looking for beauty and complexity, so he turned the board into a mess, but in a position where White lacked any major weaknesses. Therefore, the machines gave a clear advantage to Nakamura… as long as he played with the precision of a machine. He did not do it, and Firouzja then had his opportunity to achieve a good position, and a very complex one at that. But the current Firouzja is not the prodigious teenager of three years ago, and he omitted the precise order of movements, which resulted in a clear, almost decisive advantage for Nakamura.

Nakamura, in the press room after her victory over FirouzjaMaría Emeliánova

Almost, but overconfidence is always a great danger, even for elite veteran players like Nakamura, whose self-confidence often borders on arrogance in his statements or live broadcasts. Suddenly, when his victory seemed like a piece of cake, he fell into a tactical trap that reduced his advantage to a minimum. However, Firouzja, very unmotivated, is now an unpredictable explosion bomb, and made a mistake that is difficult to understand in a very probable tie ending.

On the contrary, Niepómniashi achieved nothing and was somewhat worse off because Praggnanandhaa is not a crazy head like Firouzja but a genius with an astronomical depth in understanding strategy, despite the fact that he is only 18 years old. As Judit Polgar said in his live commentary: “Niepómniashi has gotten into a kind of position that he didn’t want, where he can be suffering for hours if Pragg squeezes properly. Although it is true that Niepo is a very tough defender.”

Indeed, the Russian went on the defensive without making any mistake. In fact, it was the Indian who had to come down to reality and admit that his last chance to win the Candidates at age 18 was evaporating. If he continued to tighten the position, he ran a high risk of losing. So he stepped on the brakes, and the tie was signed, leaving the two-time runner-up in the world close to winning his third consecutive Candidates Tournament.

But it won’t be easy at all because his three rivals are very motivated, and the pairings are especially tough for the Russian, whose rivals will be none other than Nakamura and Caruana, who will face Praggnanandhaa on Saturday. And Nakamura on Sunday with Gukesh, whose opponent in the penultimate round will be the unpredictable Firouzja. In case of a tie on points, there will be a quick tiebreaker on Monday.

The day was very strange in the Candidates Tournament. The bottom runner, Nurgyul Salímova (Bulgaria) had a clear winning position against the leader, Zhongyi Tan (China), but she failed to turn it into a victory. The 2nd, Tingjie Lei (China) did not finish a position with an overwhelming advantage against the Russian Katerina Lagno. The Indian Humpy Koneru also tied a winning position, against the other Russian, Alexandra Goryáchkina. And the Ukrainian Anna Muzychuk confirmed her terrible form with another defeat, against the Indian Rameshbabu Vaishali (sister of Praggnanandhaa). The essential thing does not change: barring catastrophe in the last two rounds, the champion’s next challenger, Wenjun Ju, will be one of her two compatriots.

Results (12th round).-

Candidates: Niepómniashi – Praggnanandhaa, tablas; Nakamura – Firouzja, 1-0; Abásov – Gukesh, 0-1; Caruana – Vidit, 1-0.

Candidates: Lagno – Lei, boards; A. Muzychuk – Vaishali, 0-1; Goriáchkina – Koneru, boards; Salimova – So, boards.

Classifications.-

Candidates: 1º-2º Niepómniashi, Gukesh and Nakamura 7.5 puntos; 4º Caruana 7; 5º Praggnanandhaa 6; 6º Vidit 5; 7º Turquoise, 4.5; 8º Abásov, 3.

Candidates: 1st Tan 8; 2nd Earth 7.5; 3a-5a Goriáchkina, Lagno and Koneru 6; 6a Vaishali 5.5; 7th-8th Salimova and A. Muzychuk

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2024-04-19 01:14:09
#Chess #Candidates #Tournament #Niepómniashi #ties #pursuers #win #Chess #News

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