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Candidates – Ding Liren suffers second defeat

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Candidates – Ding Liren suffers second defeat

Ding Liren suffers a second loss as four players take the lead.

Four players are in the lead after the second day of the 2020 Candidates tournament in Yekaterinburg. Fabiano Caruana, Ian Nepomniachtchi, MVL and Wang Hao are all on 1.5/2, followed by Alexander Grischuk with one point. Alekseenko and Giri have half a point. In the last place, alone, is tournament favourite, Ding Liren.

Fabiano Caruana v Kirill Alekseenko

Pavel Datsyuk a Russian professional ice hockey player, opened the Second Round with an honorary move in the game between Fabiano Caruana and Kirill Alekseenko.

Pavel Datsyuk makes the first move in the game between Fabiano Caruana and Kirill Alekseenko.
Pavel Datsyuk makes the first move in the game between Fabiano Caruana and Kirill Alekseenko.

It was an uneven duel. On one end was the former contender for the title of World Champion and World No2. On the other hand was the clear outsider of the tournament who got a place at the Candidates after receiving a wild card.

Caruana surprised his opponent by playing 1.d4 instead of his usual 1.e4. A sharp line of the Nimzo-Indian game occurred, with risks for both White and Black. However, it seemed that something went wrong with Alekseenko’s opening preparation. He spent a lot of time thinking but ended up missing key moves.

Caruana quickly took advantage of his opponent’s insecurity, pinning Black’s pieces and preventing him from getting any activity.  After executing his preparation better, Caruana created a stronger position and was much better on time.

The American confidently demolished the defences of the Russian player and went on to win the game.

Fabiano Caruana v Kirill Alekseenko

Ian Nepomniachtchi v Alexander Grischuk

The game between compatriots Ian Nepomniachtchi and Alexander Grischuk ended in a draw. Instead of a handshake, the players opted for an “elbow-shake” at the beginning.

Ian Nepomniachtchi and Alexander Grischuk do the 'elbow shake'!  Will this be the new style for chess players?
Ian Nepomniachtchi and Alexander Grischuk do the ‘elbow shake’! Will this be the new style for chess players?

Black opted for the Berlin defence in the Ruy Lopez. Grischuk managed to create more initiative threatening White’s kingside. However, he got into time trouble. There was an exchange of Knights which led to an ending with opposite-colour Bishops, and the position was equal. A second draw for Grischuk who is now on one point, while Nepomniachtchi is on 1.5/2.

Ian Nepomniachtchi v Alexander Grischuk

MVL v Ding Liren

MVL defeated Ding Liren, delivering a second blow in a row to the Chinese favourite. In the Ruy Lopez, MVL started to press from the very beginning and created a strong position. At one point Black had to give up a pawn and tried to compensate with aggressive play on the Kingside. Eventually, his pieces were left hanging, and Ding resigned on move 37.

MVL takes on an unhappy Ding Liren!
MVL takes on an unhappy Ding Liren!
MVL v Ding Liren

Wang Hao v Anish Giri

The longest game of the day was played between Wang Hao and Anish Giri, lasting almost six hours. 

Straight out of the English Opening White (Wang Hao) took the initiative.  Following an exchange of Queens in the middle-game, the position was balanced.

White, however, skillfully re-positioned his pieces building up pressure in the centre. He then gradually shifted his focus to the Queenside, ultimately winning a pawn and opening space for his pawn on the b-file.

Giri was, however, better on time and tried to use that to prevent his opponent from winning. Wang Hao could not find the right path to victory and – after almost six hours of play – the two called it a draw.

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Wang Hao v Anish Giri

Standings

  Player – points – rating

1 Fabiano Caruana 1½ 2842  

2 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 1½ 2774

3 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 1½ 2767

4 Wang, Hao 1½ 2762

5 Grischuk, Alexander 1 2777

6 Giri, Anish ½ 2763

7 Alekseenko, Kirill ½ 2698

8 Ding, Liren 0 2805

Pairing for round 3

Round Three of the 2020 Candidates Tournament starts at 4 PM local time on March 19. The pairings for the third round are:

 Ding Liren (CHN) Fabiano Caruana (USA)

Anish Giri (NED) Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA)

Alexander Grischuk (RUS) Wang Hao (CHN)

Kirill Alekseenko (RUS) Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS)

 Links

Candidates Report Day 1.

Official website: www.en.candidates-2020.com

FIDE website: www.fide.com

Chess Federation of the Sverdlovsk Region: www.ural-chess.com