Today in Chess: FIDE Candidates Chess Tournament 2022 R12 recap
Two rounds to go and two-point lead for Ian Nepomniachtchi. There were three draws, including the notorious Berlin draw featured in the central game Nepomniachtchi–Nakamura, and one decisive game, where Radjabov crushed Ding Liren with black pieces in just 26 moves. After the 12th round Ian Nepomniachtchi needs only half a point to guarantee his victory in the tournament, while Nakamura and Ding could theoretically still catch him if he loses both games. The fight for 2nd place has just become even tighter with Teimour Radjabov joining the action.
We had a special guest in our studio today — the 13th world chess champion Garry Kasparov himself, offering his thoughts on the tournament as well as a potential Carlsen–Nepomniachtchi rematch he believes is due.
Ian Nepomniachtchi–Hikaru Nakamura ½-½
The tournament leader did not leave anything to chance today. Quickly agreeing to a draw by repetition in the infamous Berlin variation, he spent less than 10 minutes at the board. The decision to make a draw if Nakamura stays solid was made already in home preparation, as Nepomniachtchi explained after the game.
Draw was a decent result for Nakamura as well — “At the end of the day, Ian is obviously very well prepared and I didn’t think it was really worth it to risk a loss,” Nakamura said in the post-game interview, and both players’ motivations are very understandable. Especially considering what happened to Ding Liren, who climbed up to sole 2nd just one round ago and now let Nakamura catch up with him.
Ding Liren–Teimour Radjabov 0-1
An absolute shocker for the Chinese star, who tried to lead his opponent out of the book in the Nimzo-Indian, but his play was too artificial. At some point, one could start to wonder when he was planning to actually castle his king into safety, and a couple of dubious moves later, it was already too late. Ding’s careless play landed him in an absolutely hopeless position even before the move counter hit 20, and Radjabov proceeded to execute his advantage in style.
After the brilliant rook sacrifice on e3, the game was basically over. Recapturing on e3 leads to heavy material losses if not mate, and otherwise White is left uncoordinated and an important pawn down. Things escalated quickly from there and disgusted Ding, shaking his head, resigned a couple of moves later. What a game from Radjabov who climbed back to 50 percent and is just half a point behind the pack fighting for the second spot.
Jan-Krzysztof Duda – Alireza Firouzja ½-½
Nerves and fatigue were prevalent factors in this game and both players demonstrated they were equally shaken and tired after a difficult tournament. Duda opened with a sharp line of the Semi-Slav, gradually reinventing an old game between Dubov and Shirov from 2013. Firouzja was the first to make a mistake, moving forward with his g-pawn again.
The parallels with yesterday’s game against Nepomniachtchi seemed to be possible as Duda reacted well initially, quickly gaining a decisive advantage. However, the Polish grandmaster did not manage to keep things under control and the evaluation started to swing. Clearly uncomfortable with the sharp nature of the position, Duda transferred the game into an advantageous endgame with an extra exchange and it seemed like he’d be able to play on with low risk. Nevertheless, enough was enough for Duda and he let the game finish in a draw on the spot.
Richard Rapport – Fabiano Caruana ½-½
Declining another Berlin draw in the opening, Rapport tried to liven matters up with an aggressive knight jump to g5, pushing the h-pawn forward. Nothing helped against the super-solid Caruana, though. Pieces kept leaving the board and at some point it was Rapport leading white pieces who had to start paying attention in order not to let his position drift away.
Caruana actually won a pawn and reached a rook endgame with an extra passer on the kingside, but he was nowhere near to having a big advantage. A couple of precise active defensive moves from Rapport safely led the game to a drawish end. As a matter of fact, this was the only game that continued past the time control this round, but it did not last too long either.
Replay the broadcast from round 12 here.
Tomorrow is the last rest day, and grandmasters Alejandro Ramirez, Yasser Seirawan and international master Dorsa Derakshani will be back the day after tomorrow at Sunday, July 2 at 7:50 CDT to guide you through the last two rounds of the 2022 FIDE Candidates. Tune in on uschesschamps.com or YouTube and Twitch.