With only five rounds left in the Candidates Tournament of 2022, there was still room for an upset in the standings. Ian Nepominiachtchi led the pack on 6.5 points, with Fabiano Caruana following closely with 5.5 points. In the previous round, Radjabov, Alireza, and Ding secured wins, leaving only Polish grandmaster Jan Krzysztof Duda as the only candidate without a win in the tournament. Let’s see how Round 10 of the FIDE Candidates Tournament 2022 went down.
Nepo Maintains Top Spot
Nepo was coming into this round with the sole purpose of further cementing his lead on the standings. Anything except a loss would guarantee a first place for the former challenger going into Round 11. But he had in his way the Azerbaijan powerhouse, Teimour Radjabov.
The game started with Nepo opening with e4, Radjabov responded with Nf6, and the players went for an Indian game, choosing the Anti-Nimzo Indian Variation.
Nepo then opted for a fianchettoed bishop with 4.g5, suggesting he was probably going to castle kingside. Radjabov had similar plans as he castled kingside on move 5, with Nepo following suit on move 6.
A few pawn trades occurred on the queenside; a pair of rooks also got traded off on move 11. After that, more trades occurred on the queenside as the players focused on controlling as many squares as possible. Radjabov then gave up his light square bishop for Nepo’s knight on move 21, preferring the Knight pair to the Bishop pair. The players then traded more minor pieces, and by move 28, the only minor pieces left were bishops of opposite colors. The rooks followed the capture trend on move 30 with a queen exchange on move 32.
The game looked like a dead draw as, by move 33, it was an opposite-colored bishop endgame with both sides having an identical pawn structure with the same number of pawns. After a few repetitions, the players shook hands, and a draw was agreed.
ROUND 10 OF THE FIDE CANDIDATES TOURNAMENT 2022: IAN NEPOMNIACHTCHI ½ – ½ TEIMOUR RADJABOV
Clash Of The Speedsters Ends In Hikaru Win
After their clash in Round 3 that ended in a draw, Hikaru Nakamura and Alireza Firouzja met again in Round 10 of the FIDE Candidates Tournament 2022. They were both coming into the match off the back of contrasting results; Hikaru lost against Radjabov in the previous round, while Alireza picked up his first win in the tournament against Hungarian grandmaster Richard Rapport. Both players were looking to take down the other for a full point.
Hikaru opened with e4 and Alireza code through Sicilian Defense as his chosen weapon. If the Sicilian wasn’t enough indication that Alireza was out for blood, the Najdorf Variation that he chose immediately put Hikaru on high alert that this would be a tough battle. Knowing a storm was coming, Hikaru chose the English Attack line to counter Alireza’s Najdorf.
Alireza again showed that he had prepared something special for the US grandmaster. Instead of capturing with the queen when Hikaru initiated a knight trade, he captured with the g7 pawn. The engine considered the pawn capture by Alireza to be an inaccuracy. The light square bishops were traded on move 12, and Alireza could execute d5 on move 13.
Things started to get interesting when Hikaru gave up his rook for Alireza’s knight on move 23. Although Alireza was up the exchange, the engine favored Hikaru with an evaluation of +4.0.
Hikaru began building on the advantage by launching an attack on Alireza’s exposed king with 25.Qh5. Alireza then made a mistake by playing 26.Rc6? Instead of a5. Hikaru kept piling on the pressure, and Alireza’s undoing happened on move 28, where instead of Bxh6, he played Qxb4?? Checkmate was now unavoidable and Firouzja, upon discovering this, resigned on move 32.
ROUND 10 OF THE FIDE CANDIDATES TOURNAMENT 2022: HIKARU NAKAMURA 1 – 0 ALIREZA FIROUZJA
Smooth Sailing For King Ding
Richard Rapport faced off against Chinese grandmaster Ding Liren in Round 10 of the FIDE Candidates Tournament 2022. Ding was in good form after finally picking up a win in Round 9 against Duda; Rapport, on the other hand, lost to Alireza Firouzja. Both players were looking to get a positive result in this round.
Rapport went for e4, and Ding replied with e5; the Hungarian then went for the Ruy Lopez opening, to which Ding replied with the Morphy Defense. Next, Ding looked to go for an early attack on Rapport’s king, that had already castled by playing g5. However, it seemed castling was not in Ding’s plans as he expanded his pawns on both sides of the board.
Ding was dictating the pace of the game, and Rapport was forced to exchange his inactive knight with Ding’s scary-looking knight on h5, damaging his kingside in the process. Things then cooled off a bit on the kingside as play was shifted to the queenside.
Rapport then sacrificed his knight on move 33 to connect his pawns. He would, however, win Ding’s rook on move 36. Rapport would then have a rook for two minor pieces. A queen trade then occurred on move 43. However, by move 45, the engines would give an advantage of -4.1 to Ding. The dark square bishop was so strong that Rapport had to give up his rook for it on move 46.
At this point, Ding would have an overwhelming advantage as the game went into an opposite-colored bishop’s endgame, with Ding having a passed pawn on b5. Rapport also had a passed pawn but could not keep it for long.
With Ding’s passed pawn only two moves from promotion and no hope of any counter-play from white, Richard Rapport resigned.
ROUND 10 OF THE FIDE CANDIDATES TOURNAMENT 2022: RICHARD RAPPORT 0 – 1 DING LIREN
10th Time’s The Charm!
Polish Grandmaster Jan-Krzysztof Duda was the only player in the tournament yet to pick up a win. However, he wasn’t going to have an easy task as he faced Fabiano Caruana in Round 10.
The players went for an Italian Game choosing the Giuoco Pianissimo Variation. An early bishop trade occurred on move 10 that doubled Fabi’s pawns on the e-file but still gave him the semi-open f-file to use for attacking purposes.
After some knight maneuvers, Fabi was able to get his knight to the f4 outpost making it a huge threat that Duda had no choice but to eliminate with his dark square bishop.
Fabi then decided to go for a kingside attack with 17.g5; although it looked scary, the engine considered it inaccurate.
Fabi wasn’t looking to back down and continued his attack with h5; Duda finally had enough of the black queen being too close to his king and chased her away with 20.g3The engine evaluation at this point was +4.0 in favor of Duda.
Duda would then start a counterattack of his own with 24.h4 opening up lines to Fabi’s kingside.
Duda would miss the chance to increase his advantage as he played 31.axb5? Instead of Nxe6 as the engine recommended. However, he still had the advantage as Fabi wasn’t playing accurately either.
A rook trade would happen on move 37 with Duda having a +2.9 advantage.
Fabi would then fall victim to a discovered attack on his queen and have to part with his bishop on f3. However, the minor piece advantage would be enough to clinch the win as Duda forced a queen trade and Fabi had no choice but to resign on move 57 as the material advantage Duda had was too great.
ROUND 10 OF THE FIDE CANDIDATES TOURNAMENT 2022: JAN-KRZYSZTOF DUDA 1 – 0 FABIANO CARUANA