Round 14 of the Candidates Tournament 2022 saw Ian Nepominiachtchi draw against Jan Krzysztof Duda after already booking his slot in the World Chess Championship. Ding Liren beat Hikaru Nakamura to take second spot, Alireza beat Caruana and Radjabov won against Rapport. Let’s now take a closer look at how the action went down in the final round.
Nepo Unbeaten From Start To Finish
After confirming his spot as the world chess championship challenger, Ian Nepominiachtchi looked to put the finishing touches on his stellar performance in Round 14 of the Candidates Tournament 2022. His opponent was Polish grandmaster Jan-Krzysztof Duda. Duda, by his standard, was not having the best of tournaments. However, he looked to finish on a good note by taking down Nepo.
The game started with Duda going for e4, Nepo replied with e5 and on move 2, the players went for a rather rare opening, the Russian Game. Nepo quickly went for Duda’s e4 pawn on move 3 and the pole captured Nepo’s pawn on e5.
Duda would offer a knight trade on move 5 but Nepo wasn’t interested and would later move his knight away from danger.
The game would continue with both players castling and then trying to place their pieces on the best squares available.
Duda would look to start a kingside attack with 16.h5, but Nepo just ignored him and played Ra6. A trade of pawns would happen in the center, and Duda would have a dangerous-looking knight on e4.
Nepo would go for a knight trade on f3 and then threaten Duda’s queen with 20. Nd4, Duda captured and Nepo grabbed the b2 pawn. Duda then responded with hxg6?!, and although it looked threatening, the engine evaluated it to be an inaccuracy saying Rxd8 was best, and trade of rooks would occur. Duda then went for a daring bishop for pawn sacrifice with 26.Bxg6 looking to open up Nepo’s kingside, but the engine considered the position to be a solid 0.0, giving no advantage to either player.
A trade of queens would then occur on move 29 and Duda would win back his sacrificed piece. The other pair of rooks were traded on move 31 making the game a bishop v knight endgame. Neither side looked to have an advantage and after a capture fest that led to only a bishop left on the board, the game ended in a draw due to insufficient material.
ROUND 14 OF THE CANDIDATES TOURNAMENT 2022: JAN-KRZYSZTOF DUDA ½ – ½ IAN NEPOMNIACHTCHI
Ding Beats Hikaru For A Potential Title Shot
Ding Liren v Hikaru Nakamura was more than a match to decide who takes second place. Their encounter in Round 14 of the Candidates Tournament 2022 could potentially decide who would be the second challenger to the world title if Magnus does not play. There was all to play for in this match.
Ding opened with d4, to which Hikaru replied Nf6, the game then transposed into the Semi-Tarrasch Defense Variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined. The first capture would be done by Hikaru with 6.dxc4. Castling by both players would then occur.
A fianchetto of bishops on the b2 and b7 square would happen before a trade occurred on the e4 square. A queen trade would then be offered by Ding, and Hikaru would gladly accept as he only needed a draw to ensure second place. The players would then look to place their pieces on optimal squares.
Hikaru would then offer a bishop trade on move 21, and Ding would accept. The Chinese grandmaster would then double his rooks on the c-file. A rook trade would happen on move 29, and at that point, the game was fairly equal as the engine evaluation was 0.0. Hikaru would play 35. Bd8?, the engine would dislike the move, suggesting Rd8 as the best move.
Ding would then create a passed pawn on e4 and an inaccuracy by Hikaru, 41.f3+? would give Ding an advantage of +2.6. Hikaru would not be able to hold on to his pawn on f3 and Ding would capture it. After a few moves, Ding would have an advantage of +6.9 and would be able to convert it into a win on move 58.
ROUND 14 OF THE CANDIDATES TOURNAMENT 2022: DING LIREN 1 – 0 HIKARU NAKAMURA
Alireza Ends On A High
The 2022 FIDE Candidates Tournament was not going how grandmaster Alireza Firouzja had planned, after 13 rounds, he was sitting in 8th place. The championship match every chess fan wanted to see between Magnus and Alireza would sadly not happen this time. However, Alireza had the chance to finish the tournament well as he faced US grandmaster Fabiano Caruana in Round 14 of the Candidates Tournament 2022.
Fabi would open with e4 and Alireza went for e5, we would see the Berlin Defense in the final round of the Candidates. An early bishop for knight trade was done by Fabi with 5.Bxc6 both players would then castle.
Alireza would play f6 and then Rf6 anticipating that Fabi was about to launch an attack on his kingside. True to Alireza’s suspicions, Fabi tried launching an attack with his queen and knight but was unable to find an opening and he temporarily retreated.
Alireza would then start his counterattack with 19.f5? the engine would evaluate this move as a mistake, preferring g5. A trade of pawns and minor pieces would then occur, and Alireza would have a Queen and Rook battery on the f-file. Another minor piece trade would happen on move 22 and Alireza would then double his rooks on the f-file.
Fabi would bravely and willingly open up his king on move 29 with gxh4 and a queen trade would soon follow on move 33. By move 36, Alireza would have an outside passed pawn on h4 and the engine would give him an advantage of -1.4. Fabi would play f4?, a mistake that would lead to Alireza winning a pawn.
The game would continue with both players trying to gain a decisive advantage over the other.
Fabi would then make a huge blunder on move 60 by playing Ne4 instead of Nb1 and as a result of this, Alireza would win another pawn.
With 2 passed pawns for Alireza and no counterplay whatsoever for Fabiano, the US grandmaster was forced to resign on move 63.
ROUND 14 OF THE CANDIDATES TOURNAMENT 2022: FABIANO CARUANA 0 – 1 ALIREZA FIROUZJA
Radjabov Dispatches Rapport In Miniature
Hungarian grandmaster Richard Rapport would face off against Teimour Radjabov with both players looking to finish as high as possible in the final round. Rapport would open with e4, e5 would be played by Radjabov and the Berlin would again appear for the final time in the FIDE Candidates Tournament of 2022.
Like in the Fabi-Alireza game, Rapport would go for the early knight capture with 5.Bxc6. The game would then continue in normal Berlin fashion. However, the engine would disagree with Radjabov’s move 10. O-O, giving Ng3 as the best move. The players would then look to place their pieces on the most advantageous squares.
Rapport would then start a kingside attack with 18.g4, he would then press on with 19.g5?. The engine would consider this a mistake giving Nh4 as the best move. Radjabov would then reply with fxg5? But the engine preferred hxg5. Rapport, in his usual aggressive style, would then go for a knight sacrifice with 20. Nxg5, the engine would not agree with Rapport’s move, giving h4 as the best option.
Rapport would then double rooks on the g-file, attacking Radjabov’s king but bf8 would defend the threat. Radjabov would start a counter attack and Rapport’s position quickly deteriorated. Rapport would then play 30. Qe3, a blunder that Radjabov took advantage of and ultimately win the game.
ROUND 14 OF THE CANDIDATES TOURNAMENT 2022: RICHARD RAPPORT 0 – 1 TEIMOUR RADJABOV