It’s Over! (FIDE Candidates 2020-21 - Round 13)

Congrats to GM Ian Nepomniachtchi. Source: official website

There will be no tiebreak at the FIDE Candidates Tournament, and the last round will be played for the sake of formality only. We know who will be a challenger of a World Champion – It’s the guy from the cover pic, Ian Nepomniachtchi. Congratulations!

But we have to be honest, the other man do the job for Nepomniachtchi. A special chess terrorist, this man!

Caught at the enterance: Chess ‘terrorist’ GM Alexander Grischuk. Source: official website

How did he do it? Well, Nepomniachtchi and Vachier-Lagrave have played almost a firendly dull game. From the first handshake…

Source: official website

…Ian took the initiative, but only so much that a draw never comes into question. They went into an English Opening, Anglo-Indian Defense, King’s Indian Formation, Double Fianchetto (if that means something to you), and Maxime was a bit struggling to equalize, although always looked as they are looking forward to move 40 so they can friendly handshake again.

Therefore, all the eyes were on the board where Giri played with a chess ‘terrorist’…

GM Anish Giri vs. GM Alexander Grischuk

FIDE Candidates Tournament 2020/21 – Round 13, Yekaterinburg, April 26th, 2021
E16 Queen's Indian Defense: Capablanca Variation

In this game, Anish was in the same situation in which Fabiano Caruana was with him yesterday – he has black pieces and needs to win. OK, Grischuk didn’t show a high level of the game so far, but you never know when a Grandmaster can have his glory day…

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Bb7 5. Bg2 Bb4+

E16 Queen’s Indian Defense: Capablanca Variation

This is quite uninspiring, well known opening. Giri must have a surprise somewhere inside it, right?

6. Bd2 c5 7. Bxb4 cxb4 8. O-O O-O 9. Nbd2 d6 10. Qb3 a5 11. a3 Na6 12. Rfd1 Qe7 13. Ne1 Bxg2

13 potez-2021-04-26_234621.jpg

To this moment everything was already know from theory. Exchange of finachetted bishops and now white should simply take it with… a Knight? We saw that in theory. But Grischuk today captures it with a King. This was never seen before!

14. Kxg2 h5

And instead of Giri’s expected surprise, we see a chess ‘terrorist’ firing a surprise first, forcing Giri to start heavy thinking. Eight minutes for that 14… h5.

15. Nc2 bxa3 16. bxa3 Rab8 17. e4 e5 18. Qd3 Nc7 19. Rab1 Ne6 20. Rb5 Rfe8 21. h4 g6 22. f3 Nd7 23. Nf1 exd4 24. Nxd4 Ne5 25. Qe2 Nxd4 26. Rxd4 Nc6 27. Rd1 Qe6 28. Ne3 Ne7

28 potez-2021-04-27_001518.jpg

Arguably, the key mistake. 28… Ne5 was probably better, but Anish (as Caruana yesterday) really doesn’t get anything with a draw. He is trying to squeeze a drop of water from a stone. Very hard to pull off…

29. Qd2 f5

This is by far overambitious, and the question is now will Grischuk execute his advantage.

30. Qxd6 Nc6

Third wrong move in a row, and now the position is really ripe for resignation. But he, just as Caruana against him yesterday, continues to push his pieces in shock.

31. exf5 gxf5 32. Qxe6+ Rxe6 33. Nxf5 Ne5

33 potez-2021-04-27_000417.jpg

It’s two pawns less and destroyed coordination. From this moment on, Giri is moving his pieces in a desperate hope that the opponent will make some spectacular, never seen before, BIG BLUNDER! Not today.

34. Rd6 Ree8 35. Rd4 Nc6 36. Rd2 Rbd8 37. Rxd8 Rxd8 38. Rd5 Rxd5 39. cxd5 Ne5 40. Nd6 Kf8 41. Kf2 Ke7 42. Nb5 Kf6 43. Ke3 Kf5 44. Nd6+ Kf6 45. Ke4 Nd7 46. Kd4 Ke7 47. Nb5 Kf6 48. Nc3 Kf5 49. Ne4 Kg6 50. g4 b5 51. Nc5


And in this position, Giri finally says farewell to his challenging dreams. Maybe some other time, he is still young… You may find even better analysis at the with many comments to the Game of the Day.

And if you are asking why am I referring to Grischuk as a chess ‘terrorist’, well that is his own self-description from the presser after the game:

Press conference with Alexander Grischuk, who labelled himself a terrorist!

I won’t argue with his qualifications, I will extend my congrats to the new challenger…

Challenger, Ian Nepomniachtchi. Source: official website

…and I will try to answer a simple question: Did he deserved to be a new Champion? Let’s see some stats from the games with World Champions:

Classic games

Rapid & Blitz

Not bad at all, wouldn’t you say?

WhiteRound 13Black
GM Grischuk, A.1-0GM Giri, Anish
GM Nepomniachtchi, I.½-½GM Vachier-Lagrave, M.
GM Alekseenko, K.0-1GM Ding, Liren
GM Wang, Hao0-1GM Caruana, F.

The standings after 13 rounds looks like this:

FIDE Candidates-2021-04-19_143846.jpg

1Nepomniachtchi, Ian8.5/132789
2Giri, Anish7.5/132776
3Caruana, Fabiano7/132820
4Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime7/132758
5Grischuk, Alexander6.5/132777
6Ding, Liren6/132791
7Wang, Hao5/132763
8Alekseenko, Kirill4.5/132696

Yes, you can follow completely unimportant Round 14 at


But I would like to suggest something better: If you want to feel a bit of tournament atmosphere, you can take participation to the Hive Chess Tournaments by our @schamangerbert and @stayoutoftherz.

Join us, it’s fun!

* * *

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