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Candidates final report: last round anti-climax

Jan Nepomniachtchi from Russia will be Magnus Carlsen's next challenger for the world championship. The results in yesterday's round 13 meant that at worst Nepo' would finish first equal on points and win the event on tiebreak.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, the last round was something of an anti-climax and Nepo' probably found it hard to get motivated for a game with Black that meant more to his opponent, Ding Liren, than to him. A rather risky tactical manoeuvre in the early middle-game soon led to loss of material and the Chinese grandmaster defeated Nepo' easily. Ding's strong finish with three wins enabled him to reclaim the number three spot in the live ratings from his opponent.

The Russian still finished outright first because Nepo's closest pursuer Anish Giri was also defeated. The Dutch GM lost with the White pieces to Kirill Alekseenko. In today's other games, Fabiano Caruana drew with Alexander Grischuk while Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was runner-up after defeating Wang Hao, who ended the tournament with three successive losses.

A curious statistic is that of the 16 decisive games in the second half of the tournament (out of 28 played) ten came in the last three rounds. This is compared with only 9 decisive games in the first seven rounds played last year.

The final standings of the competitors in finishing order were: Nepomniachtchi 8.5; Vachier-Lagrave 8; Caruana and Giri 7.5; Ding Liren and Grischuk 7; Alekseenko 5.5 and Wang Hao 5.

The Candidates tournament, played at Yekaterinburg in Russia, was an 8-player competition in which every contestant meets each other twice, once with White and once with Black. The first half was, controversially, played last year during the early stage of the Covid-19 pandemic.

FIDE took the decision to halt play immediately following the completion of the first cycle of 7 games because the Russian government announced travel restrictions and this was the last chance for the overseas competitors to go home.

The tournament resumed last week at its original venue, after a 13-month suspension due to the Covid-19 pandemic. All results from the first half, played in March 2020, stood. In the second half players met their opponents with reversed colours.

The World Championship match between Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi will be played in Dubai, starting in late November.

Meanwhile the postponed Moscow chess olympiad (world team tournament) will not happen this year but FIDE hope to hold the World Cup at Sochi in August.