2018 Berlin Candidates LIVE (blog and updates)

Berlin Candidates 2018 liveHello and welcome to’s coverage and live updates from the 2018 Berlin Candidates. In this minute by minute live we will follow the events from the first day of the qualification tournament that will determine the challenger for Magnus Carlsen in this year’s 2018 World Chess Championship.

Scroll down for the live updates and news in chronological order and follow the links below for more live coverage. The Candidates begin March 10th at 16:00 CET

Live: Candidates Chess 2018 live with analysis / Live with chat / Live on your Android mobile phone / Live updates on Twitter

March 10th, 14:45 CET With only 15 minutes left to the start of the games, we leave you with the live coverage by the GM commentator, the engines, and the different live options – follow the links above and join the chat and the discussion of round 1 of the Berlin Candidates 2018. Enjoy!

March 10th, 14:30 CET The President of the Spanish Chess Federation continues to be the one bringing fresh news and photos. Here he took a picture from the second floor of the venue, the same view that the spectators will have

Candidates chess venue

March 10th, 14:07 CET Less than an hour left to the start of the games. GM Marian Petrov (reigning national champion) as well as Stockfish, Komodo, and Houdini are ready for the coverage of the games. Join the always fun and helpful chat with the experts here

March 10th, 13:15 CET The winner of the 2013 Candidates Magnus Carlsen is currently awaiting the winner of the 2018 Berlin Candidates for a final of the World Championship in London. For VG, Carlsen stated that he is looking forward to having the “strongest opponent” possible coming out of the Candidates, pointing out that he expects the most from Aronian and Caruana.

March 10th, 12:45 CET

There is still a little more time until the start of the Candidates in Berlin. For all the news in the past 24h scroll down and read them in chronological order. If you can’t wait for strong chess, check out the live game between Andscacs and Chiron (Sicilian: Kan, 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Bd3 Nf6 7.O-O) here at the official website of TCEC

March 10th, 12:15 CET

Deutsche Welle with a preview of the Candidates, with the photos of David Llada here

March 10th, 11:45 CET

Rappler, an online news website based in the Philippines, has made a detailed preview of the local hero Wesley So. They say, “What are the chances of So? Pretty tough. For 17 days he will be playing these men twice: Armenian Levon Aronian, winner of the World Cup; former world champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia; Sergey Karjakin, also of Russia, who lost the world title match two years ago to Carlsen; Azarbaijian’s Shakriyar Mamedyarov, the top seed and world No.2; unpredictable Russian Alexander Grischuk and Ding Liren of China, who eliminated So in the semifinals of the World Cup.”

The Philippines support for Wesley So will be there. As Rappler comments, “Philippine chess has fallen on hard times since So chose to play for the US in 2014. There are some signs of revival as the National Chess Federation of the Philippines will be watching wonder kid Daniel Quizon and Michael Concio at the HD Bank Cup in Vietnam. Thus So is still embraced by Filipino fans like one clings to a true love on distant shore. For when will the Philippines have someone ranked 4th in the world?”

“The psychological battle is only part of the lure of chess. This absorbs and consumes Filipino chess fans who hope against hope Wesley So will challenge Magnus Carlsen for the title. They are witnessing chess history unfold before their laptops and for 17 days”, concludes the Rappler.

However, So will attract even more eyes on him, as he is currently the 2017 US Chess Champion, where he won the title in an exciting tiebreak. In that championship he proved strong against solid opposition, including Hikaru Nakamura or Fabiano Caruana, who So will meet in the first round of the Candidates. Replay the games here

March 10th, 11:15 CET

The first Chinese player to ever participate in a Candidates will be Ding Liren. He qualified by finishing second at the World Cup 2017. The year 2017 was a fantastic one for Ding Liren as he won Shenzhen Masters and Moscow FIDE Grand Prix. He was also key in team events where he brought Alkaloid a team silver medal and also helped China win the gold at the Khanty-Mansiysk World Team Championship. He seems to be arriving in top form in the Candidates with ELO 2769.

A great example of the chess Ding Liren is capable of is in this video commentary by GM Daniel King where he called his game against Bai Jinshi “Ding Liren’s Symphony No. 1″

March 10th, 11:00 CET

Many have wondered looking at the Candidates 2018 pairings why the same player has the same color in consecutive rounds on multiple occasions. This is done for a reason. There is a country-diversion system, so players from the same country meet as early as possible. Grischuk, Karjakin, and Kramnik (Russia) will play each other in rounds 1, 2 and 3 as well as with colors reversed in rounds 8, 9 and 10. Similarly So and Caruana (USA) will play each other in rounds 1 and 8.

March 10th, 10:45 CET Talking about ELO and general strength of the Candidates, it is not the strongest Candidates in recent history. The average ELO of the Berlin participants is 2785, while in the event that Carlsen won in 2013 the average ELO was 2786. Still, it is a top event to follow this March, and is certainly heading any chess aficionado’s calendar.

March 10th, 10:25 CET

The online edition of Spiegel has published in its online edition (in German) a detailed preview of the Candidates (see here). The German media, however, have not been active on reporting about the event so far. Possibly the lack of a local player is a factor, although Kramnik has firmly stated Berlin is like “second home” for him. Currently, Germany’s top players are rather far from qualifying for this event – the top player Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu has 2681 ELO, Georg Meier is with 2648 ELO. The World Cup seems the best option for them. Otherwise, chess in Germany is as big as ever, with 92 GMs and 265 IMs.

March 10th, 10:00 CET There are less than five hours until the start of the Berlin Candidates, that we will cover with commentary by GM Marian Petrov and computer analysis. This is enough time to review the recent history of the tournament here: Karjakin wins Candidates 2016 / Anand wins Candidates 2014 / Carlsen wins Candidates 2013

March 10th, 9:45 CET More about the central role of President Sargsyan in yesterday’s opening ceremony and today’s ceremonial first move. Armenian press published the full transcript of the speech of Serzh Sargsyan, addressing the players, the organizers, the audience, and chess fans in general.

“Dear Mr. Makropoulous,

Dear participants of the tournament,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today is a major event for global chess – the Candidates Tournament is beginning, which is highly anticipated by millions of fans around the world.

I believe this is a unique destination for the chess giants present here today, who only hours later will kick off this giant tournament for the right to challenge world champion Magnus Carlsen.

I am proud and also grateful to the organizers for having the chance to make the first symbolic move at this tournament, as the best appreciation for the contribution which our country has had for the development and outreach of chess. Although Armenia is not a big country by size and population many believe it to be a chess superpower, because in the past several years the national chess team of Armenia, which also includes the current candidate Levon Aronian, has captured three Olympic titles and one world champion title.

Chess is a unique game which has been tested by time. It is very much similar to life where the final result greatly depends on the moves which you’ve done, while after the game all pieces – be it a King or an ordinary pawn, are stored in the same box. Perhaps this is the reason that for many centuries mankind loves to play chess, is discovering its new and hidden sides, is trying to uncover the endless secrets and depth of this wise game.

Chess is a game, but also an art and science. It teaches the culture of accurate calculation and thinking, creativity and honest competition. It forces to deeply respect your opponent. Realizing the positive impact of chess on children’s reasoning, flexibility and development of creative mind and other features, Armenia became the first country in the world to include chess in its national curriculum.

I can happily state that our society accepted this with great excitement and the positive results can already be felt. Certainly, we are happy that the Chess In Schools program is being spread in other countries too.

The world’s first scientific research institute of chess was opened in Armenia this year. We hope that the studies and activities of the institute will discover the yet unknown sides of chess.

Dear friends,

The World Chess Federation, which today unites 189 countries, bears great responsibility in developing and spreading chess, by being a highly important chess body.

I would like to thank FIDE for the continuous and productive cooperation with Armenia’s chess federation and wish new achievements.

I would like to take this opportunity to also thank the Berlin City Hall and the organizers for giving us this chess fest. Holding the tournament at the high level will be a great contribution and stimulus for global development of chess.

Dear chess players,

This tournament is unique by its nature. The best of the best are competing for the title of candidate. Here the difference between the first and second places is huge because the winner will continue his struggle for the chess crown. But the participation in the tournament itself is already a great honor for any chess player which proves great chess mastery. For many it is a dream and life goal to be among these eight chosen ones. Each of you has deserved this place as a result of lengthy and persistent struggle by overcoming difficult selection phases.

I am sure that this tournament will be tense but also interesting, and we will witness numerous beautiful and meaningful games.

Being in the homeland of renowned chess player, 2nd world champion Emanuel Lasker, who held the chess throne for 27 consecutive years, I would like to conclude my speech with his advice: “When you see a good move, look for a better one”.

I wish all of the candidates success, and may the strongest win.”

(Full translation by Stepan Kocharyan by

March 10th, 9:30 CET

Ruptly published a video on the press conference and the opening ceremony of the Candidates, including a long talk by Kramnik on chess software and computers, naming the video “Brainiac chess players gather in Berlin ahead of Candidates Tournament”

March 10th, 9:05 CET In our earlier updates from yesterday in this live blog, we informed that President Serzh Sargsyan is in Germany to attend the opening of the Candidates Tournament. As a guest of honor, President Sargsyan will make the symbolic opening move today at 16:00 CET.

March 10th, 8:50 CET Parallel to the Candidates, Grenke, Shamkir, Grand Chess Tour, Olympiad and all events listed below, chess fans will have 24/7 access to 3000+ ELO chess at the Top Chess Engine Championship. Since it is now a league with divisions and new format there will be non stop games all year long. You can head to the official website at this very moment or to the TCEC Chess TV channel (which is with 1+ million views since the start of the year).

March 10th, 8:35 CET In the wake of Candidates matches, two super Grandmaster tournaments were announced. Vugar Gashimov Memorial 2018 will take place 11-28 April in Shamkir. Participants include Magnus Carlsen, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Vladimir Kramnik, Anish Giri, Ding Liren, Sergey Karjakin, Veselin Topalov, Teimour Radjabov, Rauf Mamedov, and one more TBA. The Grand Chess Tour was also announced with Anand, Aronian, Caruana, Grischuk, Karjakin, Mamedyarov, Nakamura, So, and Vachier Lagrave. Adding to those the upcoming Grenke Chess, the Chess Olympiad 2018, and the World Chess Championship 2018, we are ahead of fantastic streak for top quality chess that starts with this Candidates tournament.

March 10th, 8:15 CET

The Candidates tournament in Berlin has a hefty prize fund. This is thanks to several sponsors including PhosAgro, EG Capital Advisors, Kaspersky Lab, S.T Dupont, and PRYTEK. CEO of PhosAgro Andrey Guryev said, “The decision to support chess was made seven years ago. Not only is it an intellectual sport, but also an excellent way to develop strategic thinking. PhosAgro’s participation in world-class chess championships allows the company to remain competitive at the world stage and count its actions on several moves forward. Western Europe is one of the priority markets for us and we are delighted that today we are opening the Tournament precisely in Germany, the country in which chess is one of the most popular sports. It will definitely attract the attention of our partners and customers, both at the corporate level and at the retail level.”

March 10th, 8:00 CET Sergey Karjakin, the winner of the 2016 Candidates, gave a long interview in Berlin to Izvestia ( He said, “In my view, chances and starting positions of all Grandmasters are equal [...] I had several training camps before the Candidates. In February, friends helped me with a calm and cozy place in Scotland, where I could concentrate on chess. There I was able not only to prepare for the chess tournament, but also to walk a lot and run. I had a great time and my results at the Tal Memorial were a further confirmation of this. Now the main thing is to keep this form.”

March 10th, 3:45 CET Games in Berlin start daily at 15:00 CET. There will be a total of 14 rounds and 4 rest days

March 9 — Friday Opening Ceremony
March 10 — Saturday Round 1 (live here at 15:00 CET with GM Marian Petrov)
March 11 — Sunday Round 2
March 12 — Monday Round 3
March 13 — Tuesday Rest Day
March 14 — Wednesday Round 4
March 15 — Thursday Round 5
March 16 — Friday Round 6
March 17 — Saturday Rest Day
March 18 — Sunday Round 7
March 19 — Monday Round 8
March 20 — Tuesday Round 9
March 21 — Wednesday Rest Day
March 22 — Thursday Round 10
March 23 — Friday Round 11
March 24 — Saturday Round 12
March 25 — Sunday Rest Day
March 26 — Monday Round 13
March 27 — Tuesday Round 14/Closing Ceremony
March 28 — Wednesday Tie Breaks/Closing Ceremony

March 9th, 20:45 CET Sergey Karjakin won the Candidates 2016 (replay the games here) and qualified for the match with Carlsen last time. This time in Berlin he has another chance to qualify for the final and become the challenger. Kyrillos Zangalis, the manager of Karjakin, speaks about his chances and more interesting topics in this interview

March 9th, 20:15 CET Another photo by the President of the Spanish Chess Federation, the players as rock stars on the stage, more in his Twitter account

Candidates players

March 9th, 20:00 CET The opening ceremony today had many VIPs. Among them was the President of Armenia and the Armenian Chess Federation Serzh Sargsyan. Here is a photo by Javier Ochoa

Serzh Sargissian

March 9th, 19:30 CET There are multiple predictions by experts about the outcome of the Candidates. Some believe in Kramnik’s experience, some in the youth of Wesley So and Ding Liren.

The online coefficients by Bwin give Aronian as leader with 3,5, followed by Kramnik with 3,9 , Caruana with 5,25 , Karjakin with 6,0 , Ding Liren with 8,0 , Mamedyarov with 8,50 , and Grischuk with 9,0. Another online company, MarathonBet, shows Aronian as favorite with 4,75 , followed by Karjakin with 5,50 , Caruana and Kramnik with 6,0 , Wesley So and Mamedyarov with 6,5, and Ding Liren and Grischuk with 11,0.

An analysis based on the current ELO of the participants by the senior writer & puzzle editor Oliver Roeder on his twitter account puts Mamedyarov as favorite with 23% chances to win

Analysis by Oliver Roeder

Analysis by Oliver Roeder

March 9th, 19:15 CET A few words about the venue of the Candidates 2018. The tournament will take place in Kuelhaus, a 5000 square meters building, with 5 floors. The playing hall will be on the first floor where players will seat on the four sides on a cube, each board isolated from direct view from the other boards. There are not many places for spectators, there are different audience sectors with live screens on other floors in the Kuelhaus venue. The fourth floor is dedicated to press conferences. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster starting today ( General tickets cost from €20 to €40 a day, Tournament passes go for €170.

Graphical representation of the venue by the official website

Graphical representation of the venue by the official website

March 9th, 19:00 CET A press conference was held this afternoon by the organizers of the 2018 Berlin Candidates. Ilya Merenzon, CEO of Agon, expressed his belief that chess has commercially changed since the World Chess Championship in New York. He also added that he hope the Candidates in Berlin will be “really exciting for chess lovers here [Berlin] and for people who watch it online”. Vladimir Kramnik was also at the press conference and said that he played so many times in Germany and Berlin that it is like his second home. On the question why he was the wild card of the event, Kramnik responded with a sense of humor, “I got a wildcard because of my advertising of the defense named after the city of Berlin.”

The FIDE Deputy Georgios Makropoulos was happy that chess is perfect fit for online coverage and that it is going on in the right direction to provide a top quality product for the audience and for the sponsors.

March 9th, 18:00 CET In less than 24h the Candidates in Berlin will start. Pairings have been know for quite a while now and the players have had sufficient time to prepare for the first round. An all Russian derby will see Kramnik and Grischuk face on board 1. The other Russian player, Sergey Karjakin, will have white against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Levon Aronian will play against the Chinese representative Ding Liren. Another “local derby” will have American players Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So on the last board. This last game is probably the match-up of the day, as Wesley So held Caruana to a draw in a worse position at the last US championship and later went on to win the title. Replay the game here

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