[Event "FIDE Candidates Chess Tournament 2022"] [Site "Chess.com"] [Date "2022.06.18"] [Round "2"] [White "Duda, Jan-Krzysztof"] [Black "Ding, Liren"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C54"] [WhiteElo "2750"] [BlackElo "2806"] [Annotator "Rafael Leitao"] [PlyCount "82"] [EventDate "2022.??.??"] [TimeControl "5400+30"] {This was the quieter game of the round, but it doesn't mean it was without a fight.} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. c3 d6 6. O-O O-O 7. Re1 a5 8. h3 h6 9. Nbd2 Be6 10. Bb5 Qb8 {We take this move for granted nowadays, but it’s always nice to remember that the most important game ever with this maneuver was played in 1907 by the great Akiba Rubinstein against Dawid Janowski. Obviously, the position was not the same, but pattern recognition is very important in chess.} 11. Nf1 Qa7 12. Re2 a4 13. Ng3 Qa5 14. Bxc6 bxc6 { All this is well-known theory for elite players. Now Duda plays a novelty. If I can point out one weakness in Ding’s game is that his repertoire is too predictable against the King’s pawn. Of course, he relies on deep knowledge and the solid positions of the Italian or Ruy Lopez, but even so, it seems to me that he is a fixed target.} 15. Bd2 {This is what I call a small novelty. Not a big deal, doesn't change the story of the world, but it sets some new problems.} (15. Nh4 {is the main move,}) 15... Bb6 16. Qc2 Kh7 {The idea behind this move is to play Ng8 followed by Ne7 and get ready to push the f-pawn.} 17. c4 Qa7 18. Bc3 Ng8 19. Rd2 {White also has his plans.} c5 $1 { It’s essential to stop d4. It’s not a big deal to shut the b6-bishop since he can get back to play after c6-Bc7 or even be exchanged with Ba5.} 20. Rf1 c6 21. Nh2 {White prepares to push the f-pawn but Black is solid enough.} f6 22. Re2 (22. f4 {This move would backfire after:} exf4 23. Rxf4 d5 $1 {Let's not forget that Black has the bishop's pair.}) 22... Qd7 {I consider this position slightly better for black. As a well-known grandmaster once asked me during a blitz game: \"I have the bishop's pair and you $2\".} 23. Bd2 g5 $6 {I understand that Ding Liren wanted to prevent the f4-break once and for all, but this creates unnecessary weaknesses.} (23... Ne7 $1 {This simple move just gives Black the upper hand.} 24. f4 exf4 25. Bxf4 Ng6 {[%CAl Gd6d5]}) 24. Rb1 $1 {Prevented from playing on the kingside, Duda moves the rook to support the other possible pawn break.} Ne7 25. b4 axb3 {I consider this a very difficult decision.} (25... cxb4 {This move broadens the scope of the b6-bishop and prevents White from creating a passed pawn. It looks more natural to me.} 26. Rxb4 Qa7 27. Be3 Bxe3 28. fxe3 a3 {With no particular problems for Black.}) 26. Rxb3 Bc7 27. Be3 Qe8 $6 {A strange move since Black is not allowed to play h5.} (27... f5 {seems premature:} 28. exf5 Nxf5 29. Nxf5 Bxf5 30. Nf1 {with a slight advantage for White.}) (27... Ng6 {This looks simple and good.}) 28. Rb7 Qd8 29. Qd1 Bc8 30. Rb3 Qe8 31. Reb2 Qg6 32. Nhf1 (32. Rb7 $5 {For a while, I was tempted to make this Petrosian-like exchange sacrifice work. But unfortunately, I am not convinced.} Bxb7 33. Rxb7 Rac8 {This is forced, and I don't think White has much.} (33... Rfc8 $2 34. Qg4 {This is a dream position for White and illustrates the main point of the sacrifice.})) 32... Rf7 33. Qe2 Kg8 34. Bd2 f5 35. exf5 Nxf5 36. Nxf5 Bxf5 37. Ng3 Bc8 (37... d5 $1 {The computer suggests this and claims the position is equal. I think it's difficult for a human to part with the f5-bishop that can protect the queenside so well from c8.}) 38. Be3 Kg7 39. Nh5+ {Now Duda goes for a repetition, but he could play for more.} (39. Rc3 $1 {[%CAl Gb2b3,Gb3a3] This deep move would set some problems for Black. The idea is to play Rb3-Ra3, exchange rooks and maybe one day advance the a-pawn to a8.}) 39... Kg8 40. Ng3 Kg7 41. Nh5+ Kg8 1/2-1/2 [Event "Chess.com"] [Site "Chess.com"] [Date "2022.06.18"] [Round "2"] [White "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Black "Radjabov, Teimour"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C65"] [WhiteElo "2760"] [BlackElo "2753"] [Annotator "Rafael Leitao"] [PlyCount "147"] [EventDate "2022.??.??"] [TimeControl "5400+30"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. Nbd2 Nd4 6. Nxd4 Bxd4 7. c3 Bb6 8. d4 $5 c6 (8... exd4 {is dangerous for Black.} 9. e5 dxc3 10. bxc3 Qe7 (10... Nd5 11. Ne4) 11. O-O Nd5 12. Bc4 $1 {with very good compensation for the pawn.} ) 9. dxe5 cxb5 10. exf6 Qxf6 11. O-O O-O {This curious opening sequence was played in a few top rated games.} 12. Qh5 Qc6 {Online games are now a constant source of ideas and theory develops much faster. There was a time in my life when I would never consider analysing a blitz game when preparing a variation. I guess these days are gone.} (12... b4 $5 {This interesting move was suggested by GM Mekhitarian during the live broadcast. The idea is to sacrifice the pawns and open the position for the bishop's pair.} 13. cxb4 d5 $5 14. exd5 Re8 {Black has decent compensation.} 15. Nf3 Bf5 16. Qg5 Qxg5 17. Bxg5 h6 18. Be3 Bxe3 19. fxe3 Rxe3 {and a draw is the most likely result.}) 13. Re1 {The first new move.} (13. Nf3 {was played by Nepomniachtchi in an online game against Aronian.}) 13... Re8 14. Nf3 d5 $5 (14... Rxe4 $2 {just loses.} 15. Bf4 d5 16. Ng5 {with a winning attack.}) 15. exd5 (15. Qxd5 Qxd5 16. exd5 Rxe1+ 17. Nxe1 Bf5 18. Be3 Bxe3 19. fxe3 Be4 {and Black is close to a draw.}) ( 15. e5 $5 {is a possible improvement.}) 15... Rxe1+ 16. Nxe1 Qc4 17. h3 Bd7 18. Qf3 Re8 19. Be3 Bxe3 20. fxe3 Re5 $6 (20... h6) 21. d6 $6 (21. Rd1 $1 {White could achieve some advantage after this precise move.} Rf5 (21... Qxa2 $2 22. Nd3 Rxd5 23. e4 $1 Rd6 24. Nc5 $1 Rxd1+ 25. Qxd1 {winning.}) 22. Rd4 $1 Qxa2 23. Qg3 h6 24. Nd3 $1 Qb1+ (24... Rxd5 25. Nc1 $1 Qxb2 26. Rxd5 Qxc1+ 27. Kh2 Be6 28. Rxb5 Qxc3 29. Rxb7 {With winning chances.}) 25. Qe1 Qxe1+ 26. Nxe1 { with some advantage for White.}) 21... Qd5 (21... Bc6 {is also good.}) 22. Rd1 Qxf3 23. Nxf3 Rxe3 24. Rd5 f6 25. Rc5 Re6 26. Rc7 Rxd6 27. Rxb7 a6 28. Nd4 { The endgame is a draw, but White has more active pieces and practical chances.} h5 29. h4 g5 30. g3 Kf7 31. Kf2 Kg6 32. Ke3 Rd5 33. Ra7 Rd6 34. b3 Be6 35. Rc7 {Radjabov is in big time trouble, and now he makes a mistake.} Rd5 $6 (35... Bg4) 36. Rc6 $1 Re5+ 37. Kf2 Bd7 38. Rxa6 {White wins a pawn.} gxh4 39. gxh4 Re4 40. Rd6 Bg4 41. Rd5 (41. b4 $1 {is better.}) 41... Bc8 (41... f5 $1 { Black prepares f4 followed by Re3 with counterplay.} 42. Rd6+ (42. Rxb5 f4) 42... Kf7 43. Nxb5 f4) 42. Rc5 {This endgame is very complex, and an entire article could be written about it. I apologize for not being able to show all the lines here. Some of the computer suggestions need at least a few hours before I can understand them $1} (42. Rd8 $1) 42... Bd7 43. Rc7 Be8 44. Nf3 Re6 45. Ra7 (45. Rc8 $1) 45... Re4 46. Ra8 Kf7 47. Rd8 Re7 48. Rd2 Re4 49. Rd5 Kg6 50. a3 $6 Re7 51. Nd4 Re4 52. Nxb5 Rxh4 (52... Rf4+ $1 {This check was important to place the king in a worse position.} 53. Ke3 (53. Kg3 Rg4+ 54. Kh3 Bc6) 53... Rxh4 {with good drawing chances.}) 53. Nd4 Rh2+ 54. Kg3 Rd2 55. c4 Rd3+ 56. Kh4 Bf7 $2 (56... Rc3 $1 {It looks like this move leads to a draw.} 57. a4 Bxa4 $1 58. bxa4 Rxc4 59. a5 Ra4 60. Kg3 Ra3+ {Believe it or not, this position is a draw. As I wrote before, probably a whole article is needed to prove it.}) 57. Rd8 Rd1 58. a4 Rh1+ 59. Kg3 h4+ 60. Kg2 $2 {The wrong square for the king.} (60. Kf2) (60. Kf4) 60... Rc1 $2 {The wrong square for the rook. By now, I hope the reader understands how difficult this endgame is and why a whole article is needed just for it.} (60... Rb1 $1 61. a5 Kg5 {The difference is that Black has the b2-square available for a timely check. It's always easy to explain things when the game is over.}) 61. a5 Kh5 (61... Kg5 62. Kf2 $1 { With no checks available, White prepares Nf3 on the next move. The position is winning.}) 62. Kf2 $1 {The same idea.} Kg4 63. Rf8 $1 h3 (63... Bg6 64. Rg8 Kh5 {Many paths lead to Rome. One of them is:} 65. a6 Ra1 66. c5 Rxa6 67. c6 Ra7 68. b4 {and the pawns decide the game.}) 64. Rxf7 h2 65. Rg7+ Kf4 66. Ne2+ Ke5 67. Ng3 Rc2+ 68. Kf3 Rc3+ 69. Kg2 Rxb3 70. a6 Ra3 71. a7 Kd4 72. Nf5+ Kxc4 73. Rb7 Kc5 74. Ne7 {Two very complex endgames in today's round. Let's learn our lesson: endgames must be studied carefully $1} 1-0 [Event "Chess.com"] [Site "Chess.com"] [Date "2022.06.18"] [Round "2"] [White "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"] [Black "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C54"] [WhiteElo "2766"] [BlackElo "2783"] [Annotator "samsh"] [PlyCount "65"] [EventDate "2022.??.??"] 1. e4 {Round two of the Candidates was a quieter affair than round one, though there were some missed chances. The most notable game was between Nepo and Caruana, since they had jumped out to an early lead by winning the previous day.} e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. O-O d6 6. c3 a6 7. a4 Ba7 8. Re1 h6 9. Nbd2 g5 $5 {The first surprise. This move is far from unheard of and has been played dozens of times, including a Magnus game, but it was not supposed to have the best reputation as of late. I have noticed that in the last couple years, Caruana has been more willing to play somewhat shakier looking lines with the Black pieces for practical value, and this game it nearly paid dividends.} (9... O-O {Of course this is the main move, though I also quite like Be6.}) (9... Be6 $5 {This was almost a novelty before I dumped it on MVL and got a better position with Black. I ultimately lost the game anyway, but it has become a hot trend as of late.}) 10. b4 Ng4 {In general, Nh7 is considered to be best, but I can't imagine Caruana going for this line if he did not have some new idea to change the current state of theory.} 11. Re2 Qf6 12. Qe1 Qg7 13. Nf1 O-O 14. Ng3 Ne7 {Up to here, Nepo has been playing the best moves, including the odd-looking Qe1. I suspect he was still in preparation. Now though, the machine evaluations start to drop, and Black's position looks more playable.} 15. d4 $5 {Of course this is the most principled, but it also involves a fair amount of risk.} (15. Bb3 {My computer suggests this calm move might be enough for a slight edge. I'm not sure I buy it.}) 15... exd4 16. cxd4 $2 {Funnily enough, this incredibly natural and obvious recapture seems to be a mistake $1 White will lose his d-pawn anyway, and it would have been better to get the bishop to b2 directly.} (16. Bb2 $1 Nc6 17. Rc1 $1 {White slowly plays prophylaxis against any knight coming to e5 by overprotecting the c4-bishop, and the rook will be generally useful on the c-file. It feels a bit inhuman to play chess like this, but it should be best.} ) 16... Nc6 $1 {White will lose d4 and will have to show his compensation. It should be there, but something in Nepo's play in the coming moves left a bit to be desired.} 17. Ra3 Nxd4 18. Nxd4 Bxd4 19. h3 Ne5 20. Ba2 c5 21. bxc5 Bxc5 22. Rb3 b5 {All of the last moves have been very logical. Either side probably could have deviated with any number of reasonable alternatives, but I have nothing major to say about this past phase. What comes next though is where things get interesting.} 23. Nf5 $2 {One of my helpers recently told me that absolutely everyone in the world apart from Magnus constantly misevaluates the consequences of piece exchanges. I thought he was being a bit harsh at the time, but games like this make me wonder if he has a point. The last two world championship challengers both constantly made the wrong calls about what piece exchanges would be favorable.} Qf6 $6 (23... Bxf5 $1 {Black absolutely should get rid of this knight.} 24. exf5 bxa4 $17 {White does not have enough attacking pieces, and Black looks safe enough.}) 24. Kh2 (24. h4 $1 {The machine is not too enthusiastic about this, but I think Nepo could have tried tearing open the king a bit more forcefully. This feels more thematic than playing for f4, which is the only point I can dream up behind Kh2.}) 24... bxa4 25. Rg3 Kh7 (25... Bxf5 $1 {Again, this was very strong.}) 26. Qd1 Bd7 (26... Bxf5 $1) 27. Rc2 Bxf5 $1 {Finally.} 28. exf5 Rab8 29. Qh5 Rg8 30. Bb2 Rge8 31. Bc1 Rg8 32. Bb2 {Now, Caruana repeated moves here, missing his chance. It was not easy, but it was there.} Rge8 (32... Rxb2 $1 {This would have won but only with a precise sequence. Again, making the right exchanges...} 33. Rxb2 a3 $1 34. Rb7 Bxf2 35. Rxa3 {I'm sure Caruana saw the line to here and probably stopped, thinking he is losing control and should make the draw instead. Black needs one more good move.} d5 $1 {This move does it all. It cuts off the a2-bishop, defends a6, it is safe from capture due to Qd6, and otherwise Qc6 is on the way. Black should win.} 36. Bxd5 Qd6 $1 $19) 33. Bc1 1/2-1/2 [Event "Chess.com"] [Site "Chess.com"] [Date "2022.06.18"] [Round "2"] [White "Rapport, Richard"] [Black "Firouzja, Alireza"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B53"] [WhiteElo "2764"] [BlackElo "2793"] [Annotator "Rafael Leitao"] [PlyCount "120"] [EventDate "2022.??.??"] [TimeControl "5400+30"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Qxd4 $5 {Rapport is an original player, and it's always nice to see his unusual openings. To be fair, this move is not so unusual, but it's not a move you expect to see in a Candidates Tournament.} Nc6 5. Bb5 (5. Qe3 {This year the Brazilian grandmaster Luis Paulo Supi played this move in a rapid game. It finished in a draw.}) 5... a6 $5 (5... Bd7 { In my younger days, everybody played this move.}) 6. Bxc6+ bxc6 7. c4 e5 8. Qd3 Ne7 9. c5 $5 {This is Rapport's second game in a row that features an unusual opening, an early Ne7, and an early c5 move $1} Ng6 10. cxd6 Qxd6 11. Qxd6 Bxd6 {White has the better pawn structure, and Black has the bishop's pair. Everybody is happy, and the position is equal but not drawn.} 12. Be3 a5 13. O-O f6 14. Rc1 Ra6 15. Nbd2 Be6 16. Ne1 $1 Kf7 17. Nd3 Rd8 18. Kf1 {Until now, all very natural. But now Firouzja plays a move I don't like.} Bb4 $6 {Maybe I don´t like it because I love the bishop's pair too much.} (18... Be7 19. Ke2 Nh4 {is equal.}) 19. Ke2 Nh4 20. Nxb4 axb4 21. g3 Ng6 22. Bc5 {Now white is slightly better.} Rb8 23. a3 bxa3 24. Rxa3 Rba8 (24... Rxa3 $1 {This is more precise. One idea is to sacrifice a pawn to get active play.} 25. bxa3 Nf8 $1 { And now if white goes for} 26. Bxf8 Rxf8 27. Rxc6 Ra8 28. Rc7+ Kf8 29. Rc3 g5 { Black's activity should be enough for a not so difficult draw.}) 25. Nc4 (25. Rca1 $5 Rxa3 26. Rxa3 Rxa3 27. bxa3 {This endgame is much more dangerous for Black than it seems at first sight.}) 25... Bxc4+ 26. Rxc4 Nf8 27. Rb3 Ne6 28. Rb7+ Kg8 29. Be3 Rd8 30. f4 Nd4+ $6 {A dubious positional decision. With a damaged pawn structure and with White's much more active rooks, Black's position is close to a collapse.} 31. Bxd4 exd4 32. Kd2 (32. Kd3 $2 {Of course not this one.} Ra1 $1) 32... Ra1 $2 (32... d3 33. Rc3 Ra1 34. Rxd3 Rxd3+ 35. Kxd3 Rh1 {This is a desperate attempt suggested by the computer, but I firmly believe White is going to win here.}) 33. Rxc6 Rh1 34. Rcc7 Rxh2+ 35. Kd3 { Two rooks on the 7th-rank is more or less what every chess player wants from life.} g6 36. e5 fxe5 37. fxe5 Rh3 {Surely, Rapport will regret spoiling such a beautiful endgame. But then, he must not forget that yesterday he was the one to escape in a lost endgame. The best thing a tournament player can do is to forget all this during the competition and just think about the next game. Easier said than done.} 38. Ke4 $6 (38. Rg7+ Kh8 (38... Kf8 39. Rbf7+ Ke8 40. e6 {mates.}) 39. Rgd7 $1 {The cleanest win.} Rxg3+ 40. Kxd4 Rxd7+ (40... Rg4+ 41. Kc5 $1 Rxd7 42. Rxd7 Re4 43. Kd5 Re2 44. b4 {With an easy win. The defender side hardly survives with the king locked in these positions.}) 41. Rxd7 {wins.}) 38... Rxg3 39. Rg7+ Kh8 40. Rxh7+ Kg8 41. Kf4 Re3 42. Rbg7+ (42. Rhg7+ $1 {Surprisingly, the win is not easy. With the engines on and a good cup of coffee, I can assert that White wins after:} Kh8 43. Rge7 {For instance: } Rh3 44. e6 d3 45. Rbd7 Rb8 46. Kg5 {winning.}) 42... Kf8 43. Rf7+ Kg8 44. Rfg7+ Kf8 45. Rf7+ $2 (45. Rc7 Kg8 46. Rhg7+ Kh8 47. Rge7 {is similar to the line shown before.}) 45... Kg8 46. Rhg7+ Kh8 {Now it's a draw, but rook endings are so difficult, and it's no surprise that the adventures are not over.} 47. Rxg6 Re2 48. e6 Re8 (48... d3 {is also enough for a draw.} 49. e7 ( 49. Rd7 Rf8+ 50. Kg3 d2 $11) 49... Rd4+ $1 50. Kf5 d2 51. Rf8+ Kh7 52. Rf7+ { with perpetual check.}) 49. Rh6+ Kg8 50. Rg6+ Kh8 51. Rff6 Re7 $2 {The drama continues $1} (51... d3 $1 52. Rg3 R8xe6 53. Rxe6 Rxe6 54. Rxd3 Kg7 {Of course, it's scary to go for this endgame but with tablebases on and that same good cup of coffee, I can assert that the position is drawn.}) 52. b4 $2 {Missing a delightful study-like win.} (52. Kf5 $1 d3 53. Rg1 $1 d2 54. Rh1+ Kg8 55. Rfh6 $1 Rf2+ 56. Ke5 Re2+ (56... Kg7 57. Rh7+ Kf8 58. Rh8+ Kg7 59. Kd6 {wins.}) 57. Kd6 Re1 58. Kxe7 d1=Q 59. Rg6# {A deserved result for White after finding so many diffcult moves.}) 52... d3 {And now it's a draw again.} 53. Rg3 d2 54. Rh6+ Rh7 55. Rxh7+ Kxh7 56. Rd3 Kg6 57. Kf3 Rxe6 58. Rxd2 Kf6 59. Kf4 Re1 60. Rd4 Ke6 {A fantastic escape by Firouzja. After suffering and defending two rook endgames with Black in the first two rounds, he will certainly be relieved to play with White tomorrow.} 1/2-1/2