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Candidates 2022 R1: Caruana and Nepomniachtchi start with a win

by Shahid Ahmed - 18/06/2022

Fabiano Caruana and Ian Nepomniachtchi are the two victors in the first round of FIDE Candidates 2022. Hikaru Nakamura imploded against his compatriot Caruana. The former abandoned his king safety and stayed true to his style. He had to pay a heavy price for it. Nepomniachtchi won against the super-solid Ding Liren comfortably when his opponent decided against taking a central pawn, which eventually played a key role in his defeat. Duda got an early advantage against Rapport and Radjabov gave a scare to Firouzja. However, both Rapport and Firouzja survived them. Round 2 starts today at 3 p.m. local time, 6:30 p.m. IST. Photo: Niki Riga/FIDE

Fighting chess from the get-go

Candidates 2022 is a tournament where everyone has their eyes on. The time control of no increment till move no.60 in a double round-robin format with an exciting lineup is bound to produce some exciting games.

Caruana started with a win | Photo: Niki Riga/FIDE

Duda - Rapport: 0.5-0.5

It certainly seemed like Jan-Krzysztof Duda (POL, 2750) got a better position out of the opening against Richard Rapport (HUN, 2764).

Position after 10.Bg5

At the top level, it is not easy to extract anything substantial out of an early advantage, especially when the battle is between two of the most creative players in the world at the moment. 10...Bg7 11.cxd6 Qxd6 12.0-0 Be6 13.Na3 Rd8 14.Be2 Qxd1 15.Rfd1 Rxd1+ 16.Bxd1 and the game eventually ended in a draw.

An opening innovation on move 5?! | Video: ChessBase India

Duda - Rapport ended in a draw | Photo: Steve Bonhage/FIDE

Ding Liren - Nepomniachtchi: 0-1

Sometimes inaction at the right time can eventually haunt you. Something similar happened with World no.2 Ding Liren (CHN, 2806) against the former World Championship Challenger, Ian Nepomniachtchi (2766).

Position after 12...Ng4

Nepomniachtchi offered his e4-pawn in a typical position arising out of the English Opening. Ding Liren declined the offer to take the pawn, played 13.Bb2 instead. In retrospect, he certainly felt that he should have taken it because eventually that pawn played a crucial role in crippling White's position. 13.Bxe4 Nxe3 14.fxe3 Bh3 15.Rf2 would have been fine for White and certainly better than the game continuation. If Black did not want to take on e3, then also White would have remained devoid of any trouble.

The art of checkmating World no.2 | Video: ChessBase India

Ding Liren might still have the fatigue of playing 28 rated games in a month | Photo: Niki Riga/FIDE

Caruana - Nakamura: 1-0

Hikaru Nakamura (USA, 2760) played boldly against his fellow countryman and former World Championship Challenger, Fabiano Caruana (USA, 2783).

Position after 21...0-0

White decided to open up a file on the kingside because his opponent's king is vulnerable 22.f3 Qg7 23.fxg4 hxg4 24.Rad1. Black needed to stabilize the position. Instead, he remained true to his style and decided to break the center 24...d5 25.exd5 cxd5 26.Rde1 e4 27.Rxf8+ Rxf8 28.c4. Black seemed to have barely holding the center together. While the position soon became sharp which is what Nakamura prefers, however, things were in favor of Caruana, who had no trouble converting it into a win.

The castling move that shocked the world | Video: ChessBase India

Magnus Carlsen tweeted on Nakamura's game

Anish Giri did not want to be left behind

Nakamura imploded against Caruana | Photo: Niki Riga/FIDE
OOPS! I Blundered My King - Hikaru Nakamura analyzes his Round 1 game | Video: GMHikaru

Radjabov - Firouzja: 0.5-0.5

Teimour Radjabov (AZE, 2753) had been saving his true style of play for this event, for a very long time. Finally we got to see it against Alireza Firouzja (FRA, 2793).

Position after 24.h4

Vintage Radjabov unleashed 24.h4 without a care of returning the exchange Bb4. Of course, he did not miss it, he was unfettered by it. He continued 25.h5 Bxd2 26.Qxd2 h6 27.hxg6 hxg5 28.gxf7+ Kxf7 29.Nxg5+ Ke8. Things heated up, however it did not yield any decisive result, the game eventually ended in a draw.

Radjabov gives a massive scare to Firouzja | Video: ChessBase India

Firouzja survived a first round jitter against Radjabov | Photo: Stev Bonhage/FIDE
FIDE Candidates Tournament 2022 Round 1 Live Commentary by IM Sagar Shah, Amruta Mokal, IM Tania Sachdev, GM Shyam Sundar, Charvi A | Video: ChessBase India

Replay Round 1 games

Round 1 results

112750GMDuda Jan-Krzysztof½ - ½GMRapport Richard27648
222806GMDing Liren0 - 1GMNepomniachtchi Ian27667
332783GMCaruana Fabiano1 - 0GMNakamura Hikaru27606
442753GMRadjabov Teimour½ - ½GMFirouzja Alireza27935

Round 2 pairings

182764GMRapport RichardGMFirouzja Alireza27935
262760GMNakamura HikaruGMRadjabov Teimour27534
372766GMNepomniachtchi IanGMCaruana Fabiano27833
412750GMDuda Jan-KrzysztofGMDing Liren28062



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