Candidates Tournament 2016
The Candidates Tournament 2016 was an eight-player double round-robin chess tournament, held in Moscow, Russia, from 11 to 30 March 2016. The winner, Sergey Karjakin, earned the right to challenge the defending world champion, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, in the World Chess Championship 2016. The result was decided in the final round when Karjakin defeated runner-up Fabiano Caruana.
|Candidates Tournament 2016|
|Venue||Central Telegraph Building|
|Dates||11–30 March 2016|
|Competitors||8 from 6 nations|
|Winning score||8.5 points of 14|
FIDE's commercial partner Agon was the official organizer, with support from the Russian Chess Federation. The main sponsor was the Tashir Group, a Russian real estate company headed by Armenian-born businessman Samvel Karapetyan.
The tournament was contested as a double round-robin with each player playing 14 games. Four rest days took place after rounds 3, 6, 9, and 12. The winner of this 8-player candidates tournament would be the challenger of Magnus Carlsen at the 2016 World Chess Championship. At the DI Central Telegraph Building, Agon had designed and built a 20000 square-foot space near the Kremlin to woo more spectators to the sport, with 99% of the focus on online viewership. As the official organizer, they owned live moves and video broadcasing rights. Legal actions were commenced against sites who had acted otherwise.
The prize fund (Regulations 3.8.1) was 420,000 euros, with 95,000 to the winner, 88,000 to 2nd place, 75,000 to 3rd, 55,000 to 4th, 40,000 to 5th, 28,000 to 6th, 22,000 to 7th, 17,000 for 8th place. Prize money would be divided equally between players on the same score.
There were five different qualification paths to the Candidates Tournament. In order of priority, these were: loser of the World Chess Championship 2014 match, the top two finishers in the Chess World Cup 2015, the top two finishers in the FIDE Grand Prix 2014–15, next two highest rated players (average FIDE rating on the 12 monthly lists from January to December 2015, with at least 30 games played) who played in Chess World Cup 2015 or FIDE Grand Prix 2014–15, and one player nominated by the organizers (Agon).
|Qualification path||Player||Age||Rating||World Ranking|
|Loser of the World Chess Championship 2014 match||Viswanathan Anand||46||2762||12|
|The top two finishers in the Chess World Cup 2015||Sergey Karjakin||26||2760||13|
|The top two finishers in the FIDE Grand Prix 2014–15||Fabiano Caruana||23||2794||3|
|The top two players with highest average 2015 rating who played in World Cup or Grand Prix||Veselin Topalov||41||2780||8|
|Wild card nomination of Organizers (Agon), with FIDE rating in July 2015 at least 2725||Levon Aronian||33||2786||7|
FIDE gave the qualifiers until January 11 to decide upon participation and sign the contract, and all accepted even though Veselin Topalov was open in his dislike of Moscow as a location. Topalov did not attend the opening ceremony, leaving himself open to a forfeiture of 5% of his prize money to each of FIDE and the organizers, by 3.11.2 of the Regulations.
The ratings and rankings in this table are taken from the March 2016 FIDE list. They are provided for information purposes only, and were not used for seeding. Notable highly ranked players who did not qualify include Vladimir Kramnik, a former World Champion and the world number 2 as of March 2016, and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, the world number 5. The age column is in years as of 15 March 2016. FIDE uses a country-diversion system, so that Svidler and Karjakin, similarly Nakamura and Caruana, are paired together in rounds 1 and 8, to avoid conflicts in late rounds, as seen in the pairings.
Qualifiers by ratingEdit
The following were the final placings of players attempting to qualify by the 2015 rating lists.
The list omits world champion Magnus Carlsen. Players who qualified for the Candidates Tournament by other means are shown with a shaded background. The two qualifiers by rating were Topalov and Giri (marked with a green background).
|1||Sergey Karjakin (RUS) (Q)||14||4||9||1||8.5||Advance to title match||—|
|2||Fabiano Caruana (USA)||14||2||11||1||7.5||—|
|3||Viswanathan Anand (IND)||14||4||7||3||7.5||—|
|4||Peter Svidler (RUS)||14||1||12||1||7||—|
|5||Levon Aronian (ARM)||14||2||10||2||7||—|
|6||Anish Giri (NED)||14||0||14||0||7||—|
|7||Hikaru Nakamura (USA)||14||3||8||3||7||—|
|8||Veselin Topalov (BUL)||14||0||9||5||4.5||—|
(Q) Qualified to the phase indicated.
Results by roundEdit
Pairings and resultsNumbers in parentheses indicate players' scores prior to the round.
The first round saw Anand beat Topalov after mutual blunders around move 20, then again around move 40, to get an early lead as all other games were drawn, two of them right at the (minimal) 30-move mark.
Round 3 saw both leaders draw, as Giri made two knight sacrifices before forcing an early draw by repetition against Karjakin, while Anand had a nagging edge against Caruana that eventually evaporated. Meanwhile, Aronian joined the leaders by beating a very off-form Topalov with Black, while Svidler as Black out-prepared Nakamura in a complicated Semi-Slav line to move 25, but failed to convert a pawn-up endgame in which Mark Dvoretsky questioned his lack of killer instinct.
After a rest day, two of the leaders faced each other in Round 4, with Karjakin as White choosing a passive opening and coming up with an early novelty against Anand, and then saddling him with hanging pawns (see diagram). He then switched to a pressing endgame against Black's pawn weaknesses, and soon after the time control an Anand miscue led to his immediate resignation. This was Karjakin's first career victory over Anand at classical time controls.
Nakamura and Giri drew in just over an hour in 30 moves in a game that might have been completely pre-analyzed, while Svidler and Aronian drew a rook ending at the time control. The game between Caruana and Topalov saw a Giuoco Pianissimo opening, before Topalov opened up the position and later blundered in time pressure, but Caruana spoiled a large advantage right after the time control by miscounting the pieces, and in the end a double rook endgame was drawn.
In Round 5, all the games were drawn, three of them at move 30 and the other at move 40. Unlike the previous round, here when Karjakin himself had hanging pawns it did not matter (see diagram) and he drew comfortably.
Round 6 had Svidler losing out of opening against Anand, while Karjakin held a materially imbalanced position to a draw against Caruana. The Topalov-Giri game saw a practical novelty already at move 3, with a resulting drawn knight endgame after the 60-move mark. In the game Aronian-Nakamura, Aronian nurtured an advantage for some time, but the endgame appeared to be drawn. But on move 74, Nakamura made a fingerfehler and touched his king, forcing him to make a losing move (see diagram). The incident was controversial as Nakamura initially tried to claim j'adoube, the international term to convey that one intends to adjust the piece, not move it. This win brought Aronian into the lead with Karjakin, with Anand just behind, going into the second rest day.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (March 2018)
The tournament winner was decided in the final round game between Karjakin (playing white) and Caruana. Before this round, these were the only two players who could win the tournament, having 7.5 points each. For Caruana to win the tournament, he needed to win the game, or draw and rely on Anand to win with black against Svidler.
Caruana chose the Sicilian Defence, signalling his intention to play for a win. Karjakin continued with the Open Sicilian. Caruana took the initiative and it appeared as if a win for black could be possible. His pawns were attacking the white king that had castled on the queenside. However, his own king had not castled and became a requirement for the defense of three pawns on d, e, and f file. Eventually, this weakness (aided by an imprecise move 36...Re4?) led to the collapse of the black defense. Caruana resigned on move 44, making Karjakin the winner and challenger for the World Chess Championship 2016.
In a matter that dominated early discussion of the Candidates, Agon controversially tried to claim that only approved broadcasters were able to put forth the game moves in real time. However, a similar restriction was attempted by Sofia organizers first for the Topalov-Kamsky match in 2009 and then the World Chess Championship 2010, with the end result that ChessBase was found non-culpable in a resulting lawsuit. The judge in that case took only half an hour to reject all demands from the Bulgarian Chess Federation (BCF), while ChessBase relied on the legal definition of a database. The most important aspect was that the judge did not agree that a chess game can be seen as a database, and therefore the BCF could not refer to their rights as database producers. The president of the BCF, Silvio Danailov, estimated the loss at 1 million euros in a Forbes interview, though they had only asked 15000 euros from ChessVibes for retransmission rights, and crucially only spent 8000 euros themselves, which the judge found insufficiently substantiated as a realistic amount toward a database endeavor.
Agon's legal position on move retransmissionEdit
Agon produced a legal position white paper (Shekhovtsov & Partners), asserting that chess fans should have to agree to terms and conditions that include not re-transmitting the moves elsewhere, before being allowed access. This is in line with a 2011 European Chess Union memo that produced a legal opinion from Morten Sand, indicating that contract law formed a superior basis for exploiting the chess audiences, with the expectation that viewers could be made to bear 75 euros (each) for the world championships, so that "the financial upside is huge" to generate 750000 euros.
Commentary from affected partiesEdit
The Bulgarian website Chessdom had the strongest editorial on the matter (from CEO Anton Mihailov), calling Agon's decision a multi-level blunder, even pointing out that Agon's decision actually violates Section 220.127.116.11.4.1 of the Candidates Regulations ("All live images, live broadcasting (Internet TV) pictures and all the other content for the full event details will be carried on the official domain [moscow2016.fide.com]. The organizer shall not develop any other website."). However, this item is enforceable only between Agon and FIDE. Their main thrust though, was:
Millions of fans will not learn about this year’s Candidates matches because of AGON’s policy. Many will miss the live coverage and only learn about the games after the tournament is over, when Carlsen’s challenger is known. What is the commercial value of that? Can you calculate how much are the lost benefits for the sponsors of the event? And for the hosts? And for the players? And for the sponsors of the players?
Additionally, Mihailov noted the lack of equality of arms in Agon's legal salvo: "With lawyer white paper threats you have cut any journalist’s right to properly cover the Candidates. While being with the law on their side, no sane journalist will risk losing time and/or money arguing with an organization." Two more articles were swiftly published, including a polemic against AGON's monopolistic agenda. Chessdom in the end did not broadcast live moves.
Chess.com had an article on the matter, couching their Candidates preview with "a remarkable decision by the organizers might well be the biggest story here", while noting that it personally "lacks the technology [for automated PGN relay] and always relies on volunteers to bring grandmaster games in Live Chess."
In the Norwegian press, Magnus Carlsen was nonchalant toward the kerfuffle, saying that everyone could just watch the Agon broadcast, with their comments and computer evaluations. However, NRK will also have move-by-move coverage on NRK.no, according to their own interview with him.
ChessBomb published that it would not use the Agon site due to non-agreement with terms and conditions, and asked for volunteers to seed their Tor setup (though later dropped this initiative). Implicitly, this relied on the fact that the clickwrap license presented by Agon (or World Chess Events Limited) may not in fact be valid in every viewer locale, so by allowing information to be obtained and retransmitted without contractual obligation. However, after a successful Round 1 broadcast, during Round 2 their live move transmissions were essentially halted, with looming legal threats.
ChessBase ended up taking the threats seriously, which could have been to the dismay of Agon, as the official commentators (Alexandra Kosteniuk and Evgeny Miroshnichenko) were trying to use their software in Round 1. Instead, they had to switch to manual entry from ChessBomb. Alleged violators included not only ChessBomb and Chessdom, but also ICC, Chess24, and Der Spiegel. Although the Terms and Conditions (#10) mention New York state law as applicable to those who signed up, Merenzon sent a cease and desist letter that invoked 10 years imprisonment under Russian law. The specifying of choice of venue and choice of law in a contract of adhesion can also be in dispute.
Agon also impeded the credentials of Salim Fazulyanov, allegedly as retaliation against his website Kavkaz-Chess.ru for being the first Russian site to publish Chessdom's open letter.
Eventually Agon's own worldchess.com editorial staff broke ranks, declaring that an embargo was not the way to go, but a show. The main argument is: holding all the trumps like live video and exclusive interviews with players (and other VIPs) should be enough, without resorting to legal blusterings. Before Round 2, Agon partially relented, dispensing with its presumptory 2-hour PGN embargo, designating the game's end instead.
In round 1, the moves were carried live without restriction by official partner NRK. About 45 minutes into second round, the NRK live move transmission became suspended, causing other sites to also experience confusion. According to reporter Tarjei Svensen on Twitter, Agon was actively pursuing lawsuits against ChessBomb, Chess24, ICC, and ChessGames.com, with the chilling effect of causing them to essentially suspend activity. The Norwegian online newspaper site VG Direkte (also an official partner) initially stayed active (with the browsewrap language: "By viewing this page you expressly agree not to publish any information concerning the chess moves of the candidates tournament 2016 chess games until the end of such game"), but then also suspended activity. Der Spiegel continued its live ticker of Aronian-Anand analysis throughout.
Legal action and media coverageEdit
After Round 2, Agon officially announced its rumored legal action against the above four broadcasters.
The Guardian newspaper covered an exposé of the ruckus, noting that Agon's tactics may be hoping to at least scare off its rivals and keep the big prize (coverage of the World Championship match with Carlsen) to itself. Vladimir Kramnik was quoted from an ensuing interview as saying: "If you want to make chess professional, if you want to help chess to grow, you have to understand very clearly that the organiser of any chess tournament has full transmission rights. Because the organiser has invested a lot of money and effort to organise the tournament, morally and legally they have full rights over the live transmission." Kramnik contended such control was the way football, tennis and other sports had become successful, and by doing the same, chess could jump to a totally different level. He also imposed his own view upon any end user's opinion of the coverage, declaring that "no one is suffering" from Agon's decision. Top organizer Stuart Conquest was also quoted: "However you look at it, pretty clear that start of Candidates has been a PR [press relations] disaster for organisers / Agon / FIDE."
Round 3 and beyondEdit
ChessBomb's whole site went down (due to a component upgrade gone wrong) 10 minutes into Round 3 without any moves having been shown, while Chess24 intermittently carried the moves of two of the four games (Giri–Karjakin and Nakamura–Svidler) in the early going. Chessgames.com similarly had Giri–Karjakin, while Der Spiegel had the Anand–Caruana game on their live ticker. After rectification 10 minutes later, ChessBomb had all three of the above-mentioned games, and Chess24 quickly added Anand–Caruana also.
By round 4 the immediate frenzy appeared to have dissipated, as Grandmaster David Smerdon was given an all-clear from Agon (or World Chess Events Limited) to run a live blog. However, the main sites were still lagging in their relays by about 20–25 minutes during the opening moves. The (Agon affiliated) sites NRK and VG Direkte relayed the games with a delay of about 20 minutes. Later, at approximately an hour into the games, the alternative feeds were nearly keeping pace with Agon's site, though some slowdown sporadically remained. Agon boasted that PGNs were now going to be available as Flash Reports within minutes of the finish of each game. Their own onsite live commentators were still having problems getting the moves to the games at some junctures. Renowned trainer Mark Dvoretsky was deeply unsympathetic to Agon's position, particularly as the official site was so inconvenient to use, and he also mentioned the privacy issues with the necessity of registering there.
After the tournamentEdit
Agon, through a company called Turnir Pretendentov LLC (the name meaning 'Candidates Tournament' in Russian) attempted to sue eLearning Ltd. for 20 million roubles, for the live broadcasting of the moves of the Candidates Tournament on chess24.com. Agon's legal claim was rejected in its entirety on 25 October 2016. Agon are also suing ChessGames and ChessBomb; the final hearings in these cases are due to take place on 17 January 2017 and 28 February 2017 respectively.
- Serzh Sargsyan invited to open Candidates Tournament (FIDE News)
- FIDE-Agon agreement (3.1a) of Annex 11, 2012 FIDE General Assembly
- World Chess Candidates Tournament (FIDE)
- Fischer, Johannes (2015-11-05). "Candidates will take place in March in Moscow". ChessBase. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
- McGourty, Colin (2015-11-05). "Aronian gets wild card for Moscow Candidates". chess24. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
- "Rules & regulations for the Candidates Tournament of the FIDE World Championship cycle 2014–2016" (PDF). FIDE. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
- NYC to host 2016 WCC by Jonathan Zalman, Wall Street Journal, 1 March 2016
- Live moves and video from Candidates exclusively on WorldChess (Agon)
- The organizer has full transmission rights (WorldChess)
- Official Agon statement on DDOS attack and legal action (WorldChess)
- Officials (Moscow 2016)
- 2016 Candidates Tournament Announcement and Contract (FIDE)
- Bulgarian grandmaster unhappy with choice of Moscow for the Candidates Tournament (Russian)
- Danailov Says Choosing Moscow for the Candidates is "Outrageous" (Chess-News Russia)
- Second Loss For Topalov, Aronian Joins Leaders At Candidates' Tournament (Chess.Com)
- Top 100 Players March 2015
- Candidates Tournament Pairings (2016)
- FIDE Top 100 lists for 2015: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
- "World Chess Championship Candidates (2016)". chessgames.com.
- Anand wins, three other games are draws (WorldChess)
- Deja Vu: Anand takes early lead (WorldChess)
- Karjakin joins Anand as co-leader (WorldChess)
- Karjakin wins after Nakamura blunders (WorldChess)
- Aronian wins to join leaders (WorldChess)
- Three lead after three rounds (WorldChess)
- Karjakin Wins and is Sole Leader (WorldChess)
- Karjakin takes charge (WorldChess)
- All games drawn in Round 5 (WorldChess)
- Day of draws leaves Karjakin in the lead (WorldChess)
- Touch Move in Aronian-Nakamura (YouTube, WorldChess)
- Mark Crowther, Nakamura in touch move drama at the end of Candidates Round 6, The Week in Chess, 17 March 2016
- Anand and Aronian win, Aronian leads with Karjakin (WorldChess)
- Candidates R13: It's Karjakin or Caruana!, Chessbase, March 27, 2016
- Moves from Candidates Tournament exclusively shown by approved broadcast partners (Agon)
- Bulgarian organizers take ChessBase to court (ChessVibes)
- ChessBase copyright, Danailov interview (Chessdom)
- A fight over relaying chess moves Gambit Blog (NY Times)
- The organizers of the match Topalov - Anand expect at least 500 thousand. Euros if ChessBase site convicted (Bulgarian)
- Bulgarian Chess Federation versus ChessBase 0-1 (ChessVibes)
- Landgericht Berlin decision 16 O 270/10 (German)
- Internet Law Blogpost (German)
- Danailov profile Forbes Bulgaria, translated to English by ECU
- Agon Limited, White Paper Position
- Memo Re: Copyrights of chess games – internet transmission of chess games ECU Copyright Commission, Section 2.4
- Agon's new policy puts the Candidates tournament idea in jeopardy (Chessdom)
- Agon's new controversial policy is a step towards monopoly (Chessdom)
- Candidates' To Start Friday; Agon Blocks Game Transmission By Chess Sites (Chess.com)
- Magnus Carlsen interview (Norwegian)
- NRK Interview with Magnus Carlsen (Norwegian)
- Candidates 2016 to start with a controversy (ChessBomb)
- Candidates 2016, How to Help Us (ChessBomb)
- Tweet (Tarjei Svensen)
- Anand beats Topalov in the first round (Chess.com)
- Contractual choice of law in contracts of adhesion and party autonomy by Mo Zhang, Akron Law Review, Vol. 41, 2007
- Candidates Live (Chessdom)
- Win Audiences and Sponsors with a Show, not an Embargo (Agon)
- Change in the timing of the release of PGN files (Agon)
- FIDE and Agon sign historic media rights with NRK (FIDE press release)
- NRK.no access to games
- Tweet (ChessBomb)
- VG Direkte game access
- Live Aronian-Anand Ticker Round 2 (Der Spiegel, German)
- Agon Limited commences legal action (Agon)
- World's chess fans await next move in battle over tournament broadcasts by Stephen Moss (The Guardian)
- Re: Agon ban of live move transmissions by Paolo Casaschi (English Chess Forum)
- Kramnik supports Agon (Agon)
- Tweet (Stuart Conquest)
- 3rd round live ticker (Der Spiegel, German)
- Live Blog by David Smerdon, Candidates Round 4
- Tweet (Tarjei Svensen)
- Tweet (Agon)
- Tweet (ChessVibes)
- Interview, Mark Dvoretsky (Chess-News, Russian)
- chess24 win Moscow case, announce New York line-up (chess24)