Candidates Tournament 2018
The Candidates Tournament 2018 was an eight-player double round-robin chess tournament, which was held in Berlin, Germany, between 10–28 March 2018. The winner, Fabiano Caruana, earned the right to challenge the defending world champion, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, in the World Chess Championship 2018 match.
|Candidates Tournament 2018|
|Dates||10–28 March 2018|
|Competitors||8 from 5 nations|
|Winning score||9 points of 14|
The tournament was contested as an eight player, double round-robin tournament, meaning there were 14 rounds with each player facing each other twice: once with the black pieces and once with the white pieces.
The prize fund (Regulations 3.8.1) was €420,000 (US$516,000). Prize money was divided equally between players with the same score.
|Place||Prize money (in €)|
The time control was 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, 50 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game; plus a 30 second increment per move starting from move 1.
In the event of a tie, the following tie breaks were used, in order:
- Results in the games between the tied players;
- The most number of wins;
- Sonneborn–Berger score;
- Two tie break games between each tied player, at a time limit of 25 minutes, plus 10 second increment per move;
- Two tie break games between each tied player, at a time limit of 5 minutes, plus 3 second increment per move;
- Armageddon games, at a time limit of 5 minutes for white, and 4 minutes for black, plus 3 seconds per move after move 60; with white having to win and black having to draw or win. If more than two players tied, they were to play a knock-out tournament.
Several players criticized the organization of the tournament. In particular, there were complaints about noise in the playing venue, bathroom facilities, hotel accommodations, and even television screens with commentary on the tournament that were visible to the players during the games. Sergey Karjakin summed up the complaints after round one: "Actually I don't like almost anything in the organization of the tournament. I don't like the hotel, I don't like the venue and also it was a few times very noisy during the game. I don't want to say that I lost because of all these things, but I basically don't like anything."
FIDE announced a "Live Moves Broadcasting Policy" that they proposed to apply to the tournament. This was widely seen as an attack on third-party broadcasters of the event, such as Chess24 and Chessbrah. The policy was also seen as a continuation of FIDE's legal fight with Chess24 and other Internet sites.
There were five different qualification paths to the Candidates Tournament. In order of priority, these are: loser of the World Chess Championship 2016 match, the top two finishers in the Chess World Cup 2017, the top two finishers in the FIDE Grand Prix 2017, next two highest rated players (average FIDE rating on the 12 monthly lists from January to December 2017, with at least 30 games played) who played in Chess World Cup 2017 or FIDE Grand Prix 2017, and one player nominated by the organizers (Agon).
Two players qualified by average rating of 2017. By September 2017, it was clear that this was a three-man race between Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So and Vladimir Kramnik. By mid-October 2017, Caruana and So had a near-decisive lead, but this was resolved on October 30 when Kramnik was named as the wild card candidate, assuring Caruana and So of qualifying by rating. According to the regulations, the first reserve player was the next highest placed player in the Grand Prix, Teimour Radjabov, and further reserves were the next highest players by their average of the 2017 ratings lists, starting with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.
|Loser of the World Chess Championship 2016 match||Sergey Karjakin||28||2763||13|
|The top two finishers in the Chess World Cup 2017||Levon Aronian||35||2794||5|
|The top two finishers in the FIDE Grand Prix 2017||Shakhriyar Mamedyarov||32||2809||2|
|The top two players with highest average 2017 rating who played in World Cup or Grand Prix||Fabiano Caruana||25||2784||8|
|Wild card nomination by the organisers Agon, with FIDE rating at least 2725 in any FIDE published rating list in 2017||Vladimir Kramnik||42||2800||3|
Qualifiers by ratingEdit
The following were the final placings of players attempting to qualify by the 2017 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 Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So (marked with a green background).
Before the tournament, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (the highest rated player not playing, other than world champion Carlsen) considered the joint favourites to be Aronian and Caruana, and also noted that the betting markets said a similar thing. He considered the next most likely to be either Mamedyarov or Kramnik.
FIDE announced the pairings one month before the event. There was a country-diversion system, so players from the same country meet as early as possible. Grischuk, Karjakin, and Kramnik (all from Russia) played each other in rounds 1, 2 and 3 as well as with colours reversed in rounds 8, 9 and 10. Similarly So and Caruana (both from the United States) played each other in rounds 1 and 8.
Games began at 15:00 local time (14:00 UTC before March 25, 13:00 UTC after March 25), each day from March 10 to 27, except for rest days on March 13, 17, 21, and 25 (after rounds 3, 6, 9 and 12 respectively). If needed, tiebreak games were to be played on March 28. The opening ceremony was on March 9, and the closing ceremony on March 28.
Caruana, Mamedyarov and Kramnik all won in round 1, then Kramnik took the lead with a brilliant win with black against Aronian in round 3. However, he started playing very optimistically, and consistently overestimated his position in the subsequent rounds. This led to him losing tough games, first to Caruana in round 4, then to Mamedyarov in round 6. At the halfway point, the scores were Caruana +3; Mamedyarov +2; Kramnik, Grischuk and Ding even; Karjakin -1, and So and Aronian -2. 2016 challenger Karjakin had suffered two losses in the early rounds. Aronian, one of the pre-tournament favourites, had bounced back from his loss to Kramnik with a win over Karjakin, but was promptly defeated by So, and was equal last.
In the middle portion of the tournament, Aronian and Karjakin adopted different strategies. Karjakin tried to steady the ship by playing solid draws with black in rounds 5, 6, 8 and 10, while Aronian sought complications. While Karjakin was successful, Aronian's gamble did not work out, and he dropped more points against Caruana and Kramnik. Caruana continued to lead, but failed to add more wins to his score. Mamedyarov also failed to catch up, but Karjakin clawed his way back into contention with victories over Kramnik and Aronian.
In a sensational round 12, the two leaders each lost for the first time: Caruana to Karjakin, and Mamedyarov to Ding Liren, who had drawn every game to that point. This left five players in contention with 2 rounds to go: Karjakin and Caruana on +2 (with Karjakin leading on tie break), and Mamedyarov, Grischuk and Ding on +1.
In the penultimate round, Mamedyarov and Caruana defeated Grischuk and Aronian respectively, while Ding Liren and Karjakin drew their games. That gave Caruana a half-point lead over Karjakin and Mamedyarov going into the final round, with Ding a further half-point back. Caruana had worse tie breaks than Mamedyarov and Karjakin, so he had to finish ahead of both of them to win the tournament. Ding Liren also had a mathematical chance to win on tie breaks if all results went his way.
In the last round, Karjakin pressed hard for a win with white against Ding, but after a blunder had to scramble for a draw. Meanwhile Mamedyarov managed to get a complicated game with black against Kramnik, but could not get enough winning chances and also drew. Caruana obtained a strong position with black against Grischuk and converted it to a win, even though the other games finished before his, meaning he only required a draw to win the tournament.
In a long interview the day after the Candidates ended, Caruana discussed his pre-tournament training, which involved his long-time second Rustam Kasimdzhanov and other grandmasters Cristian Chirila, Leinier Domínguez and Alejandro Ramírez. Caruana reviewed his progress through the tournament and was critical of his tendency to sit on the lead with overly defensive play. He believed that such defensiveness contributed to his twelfth round loss to Karjakin, which threw the tournament open for his competitors. However, Caruana felt that his ability to forget losses relatively quickly was important in his crucial victories against Aronian and Grischuk in the final two rounds. He also estimated his chances against Carlsen in the world championship match as "about 50-50."
At a charity event several days after the tournament, Kramnik and Karjakin also discussed the Candidates. Kramnik said that his "very aggressive and very uncompromising" play might not have been the best practical choice but at least it showed fighting spirit. Karjakin regretted his "terrible start" but thought that Caruana's eventual victory was a "quite fair" result. Both players agreed that Caruana has his chances in the world championship match, though Carlsen remains the favorite.
|1||Fabiano Caruana (USA) (Q)||14||5||8||1||9||Advance to title match||—|
|2||Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE)||14||3||10||1||8||—|
|3||Sergey Karjakin (RUS)||14||4||8||2||8||—|
|4||Ding Liren (CHN)||14||1||13||0||7.5||—|
|5||Vladimir Kramnik (RUS)||14||3||7||4||6.5||—|
|6||Alexander Grischuk (RUS)||14||2||9||3||6.5||—|
|7||Wesley So (USA)||14||1||10||3||6||—|
|8||Levon Aronian (ARM)||14||1||7||6||4.5||—|
(Q) Qualified to the phase indicated.
- Tie-breaks are in order: 1) head-to-head score among tied players, 2) total number of wins, 3) Sonneborn–Berger score (SB), 4) tie-break games.
- Numbers in the crosstable in a white background indicate the result playing the respective opponent with the white pieces (black pieces if on a black background).
Results by roundEdit
First named player is white. 1–0 indicates a white win, 0–1 indicates a black win, and ½–½ indicates a draw. Numbers in parentheses show players' scores prior to the round.
Points by roundEdit
For each player, the difference between wins and losses after each round is shown. The players with the highest difference for each round are marked with green background.
|Player \ Round||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14|
|1||Fabiano Caruana (USA)||+1||+1||+1||+2||+2||+2||+3||+3||+3||+3||+3||+2||+3||+4|
|2||Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE)||+1||+1||+1||+1||+1||+2||+2||+2||+2||+2||+2||+1||+2||+2|
|3||Sergey Karjakin (RUS)||–1||–1||–1||–2||–2||–2||–1||–1||=0||=0||+1||+2||+2||+2|
|4||Ding Liren (CHN)||=0||=0||=0||=0||=0||=0||=0||=0||=0||=0||=0||+1||+1||+1|
|5||Vladimir Kramnik (RUS)||+1||+1||+2||+1||+1||=0||=0||–1||–2||–1||–1||–1||–1||–1|
|6||Alexander Grischuk (RUS)||–1||=0||=0||=0||=0||=0||=0||+1||+1||+1||+1||+1||=0||–1|
|7||Wesley So (USA)||–1||–2||–2||–2||–2||–1||–2||–2||–2||–2||–2||–2||–2||–2|
|8||Levon Aronian (ARM)||=0||=0||–1||=0||=0||–1||–2||–2||–2||–3||–4||–4||–5||–5|
- "Agon is official organizer of Candidates Tournament 2018". Agon Limited. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
- "Rules & regulations for the Candidates Tournament of the FIDE World Championship cycle 2016–2018" (PDF). FIDE. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
- "FIDE Candidates' Tournament R1: Caruana, Mamedyarov, Kramnik Win". Chess.com. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "FIDE Live Moves Broadcasting Policy". FIDE.com. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "Chess24.com on Twitter". Chess24.com. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- The road to the Candidates 2018, Chessbase, 13 September 2017
- "Kramnik to play 2018 Candidates". Chessbase. 30 October 2017.
- "Top 100 Players March 2018 - Archive". FIDE. Retrieved 1 March 2018.
- FIDE Top 100 lists for 2017: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
- Candidates 2018, web site of Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, 8 March 2018
- 2018 FIDE Candidates' Tournament Pairings, FIDE, 9 Feb 2018
- Round 11: Top of the Leaderboard Is Again Unchanged After Draws at Berlin Candidates Tournament, FIDE, 24 March 2018
- Berlin Candidates Tournament Is Up for Grabs as Leaders Lose in Round 12, FIDE, 25 March 2018
- "Candidates' Tournament R8: Grischuk Outwits Kramnik". Chess.com. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
- "Berlin Candidates 4: Caruana leads after thriller". Chess24. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Aronian Hangs Mate Against Kramnik In FIDE Candidates' Tournament Round 10". Chess.com. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
- "Berlin Candidates 12: A Carlsen-Karjakin rematch?". Chess24. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Berlin Candidates 13: Fabi leads thrilling chase". Chess24. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Berlin Candidates 14: It's Carlsen-Caruana!". Chess24. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Caruana: 'I Think My Chances Are About 50-50'". Chess.com. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "Karjakin, Kramnik At Charity Event: Reflections On The Candidates". Chess.com. Retrieved 3 April 2018.