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Rorschach - 2

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok, Sascha reached the final of the Hamburg GP by defeating MVL in the semi-final.

That puts him halfway on his plane to the candidates. He isn't safe yet, as the Jerusalem GP is (obviously) still to be played. But it would take very unfortunate turn of events (from his perspective) there to kick him out of the top two in the standings (MVL and Shak reaching the finals, or of them reaching the final to get beaten by Nepo), and that's just under the worst case assumption that Sasha doesn't win in Hamburg.

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And Sascha won the Hamburg GP.

Theoretically he can still get ousted by Max and Shak, by repeating the outcome of the Riga GP, but I think the chances for that negligible.

So let's look at the candidates.

1. Caruana (Loser title Match Carlsen - Caruana)

2. Radjabov (Winner World Cup)

3. Ding Liren (Runner up World Cup)

4. Wang Hao (FIDE Grand Swiss Lottery)

5. Grischuk* (GP qualifier1)

6. Giri* (Rating qualifier)

7. GP Qualifier 2 (Shak, MVL, Nepo)

8. Wild Card (my guess Nepo)

Grischuk can theoretically still be ousted, but it's very unlikely at this point. Giri will be there. Not even bothered with scenarios that oust him.

The second GP spot will be hotly contested between Shak and MVL. AS that's their last chance to get there I think. The Wildcard will go to a Russian this time. Last time Lev was lucky that there was an Armenian sponsor to get him that spot. Eligible Russians. Nepo, Grischuk, and Alekseenko.

Assuming Grischuk is safe, it's really down to Nepo and Alekseenko. So, if Nepo gets that second GP spot, Alekseenko will play the candidates, and Max and Shak will be forced to watch. However, I think one of them is joining Sascha as GP qualifier. And the Wildcard will go to Nepo.


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It's real.


My chess guy is the youtuber Agadmator.   His intros can ramble but provide context for the game he's reviewing, and I find he breaks games down with a minimum of wasted words and is comprehensive about showing players' plans and then showing why it did or didn't work.  And his accent is understandable!  In chess that's a real bonus.    

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  • 3 weeks later...

And Jako has just eliminated Shak from the GP path.

Excellent news for Grischuk, as in Sascha is now officially qualified for the candidates.*

Second GP qualifier is still race between MVL and Nepo.

*Had to check the tournament tree. MVL and Nepo would both need to play the final for a theoretical scenario that would oust Grischuk. Tournament tree says, taht encounter could take place in the semi-final. Thus Grischuk is qualified.

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  • 2 weeks later...

And Nepo claimed the second GP qualifier spot.

So Candidates line up almost complete.

1. Caruana

2. Radja

3. Ding Liren

4. Wang Hao

5. Grischuk

6. Nepo

7. Giri

Are now confirmed.

The final wildcard spot will presumably go to Alekseenko.

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  • 2 months later...

Chess probably thinks it's more or less immune to Covid-19, seeing as the distance between the players is great enough. We'll see - at least it is some live sport (or "sport", if you prefer). And, as a bonus, we got MC and Peter Svidler to comment on the games. So ... winnish?

Anyway, MVL not really the best prepared, but holds against Fabi, Grischuk inexplicably in time trouble (Alekseenko should be pleased), but Wang Hao winning against Ding? I bet I'm not the only one who didn't see that one coming. 

As I'm writing, Giri is desperately trying to save a draw against Nepo, and, this being him, he may just be able to. But I really wouldn't try that at home..

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Just to add: Nepo beats Giri to start with a win.

Not sure what this means for the candiates as a whole. Ding is in trouble, falling behind already, and against a player he really should hold (as much as anyone in the field, I guess, they are all there for a reason..). That may be in Fabi's favour, as I believe he'll pick up pace as he goes along. Giri losing also pretty much ends his bid, I think - I can't see him recovering. 

Wang Hao .. don't think he'll hold the entire tournament, but I'm very often (mostly) wrong on chess matters anyway, so .. he has the start he wants, anyway. So does Nepo, and for him I think this is serious. He can play at a high level for a period of time, and he's able to beat anyone. Stability isn't his forté, but here he needs 8 games. It is possible, if perhaps unlikely. He'll be pleased with the start FWIW.

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Quite a few larger tournaments have been cancelled or postponed recently, and I think there's probably a non-zero chance that the Candidates Tournament doesn't last the full 14 rounds. Something to watch while it's on, at least.

Ding losing is good news for Carlsen, I think, as I feel he'd make for a more challenging opponent than Caruana in December.  (Ding, at least, would have less reason to fear tie breaks...)  I think it would be a bit of an upset if neither of those two won the tournament.  Though a few people (including Carlsen himself, I think?) have suggested that Nepomniachtchi might be capable of doing it, and he's at least started the right way.

And yeah, I agree that Giri probably plays too solidly to recover from a -1 start.  He'll probably need to take more risks than he'd like to now if he wants to make up the deficit (the winners of the last three Candidates Tournaments have finished on +3, +3 and +4, so I think it's likely that the winner will need something similar this time as well).  I don't know if he does that or he just writes the tournament off and tries to conserve rating points (the way So seemed to after his terrible start last time)  

I haven't really looked at the game, but I got the impression that Giri got to play some home preparation but then went wrong pretty quickly when he had to start thinking for himself.

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I think the the candidates will last the for the full duration.

Radja asked for a postponetment (because of his fear of Corona), which was rejected. Thus he backed out and MVL got in afterall.

Ding Liren and his team arrived two weeks earlier and underwent the quarantine measures I think. Wang Hao had spent the last couple of months in Japan (probably preparing and reading mangas). Anyway, I got a bit sidetracked here.

What I wanted to say was, if FIDE now cut the tournament short, after Radja backed out, they'd look like even bigger asses. Unless one of the players drops dead, they will see this tournament thru. Plus it's taking place in Russia, who are still more on the denial levels of Trump a few weeks ago.

As for Ding, yeah, that's a bad start into the tournament. I mean Wang isn't some jackass GM he could just brush aside. But still losing with the White pieces is as bad a start into this tournament for one of the big two favorites (the other being Fabiano) as possible.

Giri was never gonna win this tournament anyway. You'd need to finish +3 or +4 to win it. And Giri is way too drawish for that.

On another note. I remembered there being a nice two part interview with Wang Hao a few years ago.

And I found it.

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The commentators suggested that Giri was playing prep, yes, but Nepo managed to find the right moves, and then Giri went astray. 

They also said that the position at the end of the prep should be a draw, but that there was still some play left, and that to mentally shift from "I got my prep in. Great! I'm doing well" to "Hmmm, I really need to play accurately to save this position" is challenging. There was speculation that Giri wouldn't make it before he started sliding - though, note, everyone then expected Giri to manage a draw. 

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Ding looks to be on track for his second loss in a row, this time against MVL.  

Given how solid Ding has been for so long, it's hard to avoid the thought that this apparent drop in form might not be happening without the disruption of the pandemic and the quarantine measures he's had to go through.  Though that said, as I noted above, So had a pretty similar collapse in 2018, seemingly for purely chess reasons, so it's not impossible that it's unrelated.

20 hours ago, A Horse Named Stranger said:

What I wanted to say was, if FIDE now cut the tournament short, after Radja backed out, they'd look like even bigger asses. Unless one of the players drops dead, they will see this tournament thru.

Well, this is FIDE we're talking about -- even in the post-Ilyumzhinov-era, they're not exactly exemplars of good public relations or common sense.  I think Radjabov was probably right that the tournament should have been suspended.  Hopefully he gets another chance to play in a Candidates Tournament at some point, but given his age and general lack of chess activity these days, I imagine there's a better-than-even chance he won't.   (Unless he gets the wildcard next time, of course.)

On Twitter, Ian Rogers reports that the plan is to suspend the tournament in the event that that any of the players tests positive (with all current scores carried over when the tournament resumes later in the year).  Not sure what the plan is if seconds or other people present but not playing test positive.

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Ding tanking is excellent for Fabi. His odds of getting a second shot at MC is improving. 

However, MVL winning gives him a good start as well - holding Fabi and beating Ding should give him confidence. And Wang Hao winning again (probably, or even drawing) - he has gotten a dream start. 

Giri is out, certainly, as is Ding. Alekseenko is probably out as well. The rest have chances, but I would bet on Fabi now.

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Yep, that should be the end of Ding's hopes for a WCC match, at least for this cycle.

I thought pre-tournament, that Alekseenko would be the one guy everybody would try grind out a win against. As in he is the least seasoned of the players. I suspect that might shift towards Ding now, as the sharks can smell blood in the water now. If he doesn't bounce back immediately, I think he might be in for a long and rather joyless tournament.

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19 hours ago, Rorshach said:

I really, really, really should have learned (A LONG TIME AGO!) not to count Giri (and Karjakin) out before they've resigned.

Yeah, that was impressive resilience from Giri (with a bit of help from Wang Hao).   Psychologically that could have a big impact on both players (although I doubt either one of them is going to seriously threaten to win the tournament).

Meanwhile today's big game is Ding-Caruana; after 13 moves played Stockfish seem to rather like White, at least if Ding finds 14. Qf4.  On the other hand Caruana is almost an hour up on the clock already...

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Yeah, I think you're right.

Only complication is how little time Ding has left on the clock, but on the other hand he seems to have coordinated his pieces now and I don't think Black has many concrete threats left.

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