The final standings of the Fide Candidates
1. Ian Nepomniachtchi – 8½ 2. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave – 8 3. Anish Giri – 7½ 4. Fabiano Caruana – 7½ 5. Ding Liren – 7 6. Alexander Grischuk – 7 7. Kirill Alekseenko – 5½ 8. Wang Hao – 5
The last round might have been not so important after the winner was decided but still has produced some nice games.
The winner in the event Ian Nepomniachtchi as often happens in such a situation was not very motivated when he had to face Ding Liren with black. On the contrary, the Chinese after winning two games in a row was starting to find his form.
With some interesting move order, the game went to Modern Benoni where only after 9 moves we had a novelty as Ding decided not to develop his queenside. Nepo was tempted to make a quick attack with Qh4 but he had to trade his bishop.
Then instead of cd4, he went for some complications in which Ding has found a very nice idea Nc2. Black missed his best change g5 and after this, he lost the knight and allowed white to develop with tempo Bf4 and Nd2. Soon after the queens were off and the endgame was very tough for the Russian. He lost two pawns and Ding won third in a row. Too late and too bad for him the tournament is over.
Yesterday I was very motivated but today when I woke up I felt like my motivation significantly went down,” said Ian Nepomniachtchi after the last-round game with Ding Liren. “I wasn’t very happy that I have one more game to play.”
Anish Giri could catch the leader and he needed white to defeat struggling Kiril Alekseenko. It was a Catalan and black went into the systems with b6 and soon deviated from the main lines after Re8.
Giri played somewhat passive and black has got a comfortable position and even took the initiative with his strong knight. Shortly after that white already was happy with the draw but Kiril decided to play on. White was slightly worse and decided to play g4 and later f4. Black took a pawn and after some complications emerged with a big advantage. In the end, Anish lost almost all the pawns and had to resign.
MVL against Wang Hao was a quiet game. The Chinese went into the Berlin system and in this endgame, white was a bit better initially. Then the pieces have started to disappear from the board and it was an equal endgame with two rooks and a knight each. Yet Wang managed to blunder and lost quickly like in the last few games. After the game, he has announced his retirement from the professional game due to stress and some health issues.
In the last game, Fabiano Caruana made an early novelty in Sicilian against Alexander Grischuk. It was a very unusual position for this opening and the queen was off early. Despite the doubled c-pawns white had some initiative on the queenside. But the Russian decided to trade Bb5 and managed to defend the pawns there. After a few moves black has got a very strong knight and was out of danger. However soon Caruana managed to put slight pressure with g4 and f5 and got a slight edge.
Black managed to exchange a lot of material and in the end, the rook endgame was drawn.