FIDE / Maria Emelianova

Candidates Round 6: Praggnanandhaa Catches Up, All Decisive Games in Women's

ChessAnalysisChess PersonalitiesOver the boardTournament
Praggnanandhaa and Vidit win in the Open as Goryachkina, Tan, Lei, and Lagno win in the Women's

This year's Candidates — both the Open and the Women's — is truly a spectacle of chess carnage. Two decisive results in the Open and four decisive results in the Women's! As a chess fan, one could not really ask for more. The games had their fair share of intrigue as well and were not one-side-just-blundered victories. The leaderboard at the top in both sections has not changed significantly, but tomorrow's round will see some very important battles, both in the Open and the Women's.

As well as broadcasting the live games from the two tournaments, Lichess is providing a live stream for every day of the Candidates. Make sure to tune in to our Twitch or YouTube channels, with streams starting from 14:15 Toronto time (18:15 UTC).

*We're also providing daily annotations on some of the games from GM Brandon Jacobson and IM / WGM Padmini Rout. The full study can be found here.


Round Recap

Open Section

The two favorites (according to our simulations) choosing to go for solidity is not very surprising. The other games and their results were not too unexpected, either. Praggnanandhaa pressed and converted against Abasov, Nakamura with the Black pieces aimed to neutralize Gukesh, and Vidit and Firouzja chose to go for complications to give themselves a chance to bounce back. Logical results, insane games, and beautiful chess!

Vidit's game was keenly followed because people sought the answer to one simple question: could he convert this? Firouzja went for a dynamic and sharp variation of the Classical Sicilian, but he seemed to have jumbled up his preparation and ended up nabbing a pawn on f2, which only gave White counterplay against Black's uncastled king. Firouzja of course defended tenaciously, and for a moment it was not at all clear how White would break through. He didn't need to, though. Vidit had a long-term advantage in that Black's king would never find safety, and, after Firouzja sacrificed an exchange to get his king safe, Vidit converted impeccably. GM Brandon Jacobson analyzes today's Sicilian action:

Praggnanandhaa has been showing some good form lately, and he surely wanted a win with White today against the tournament's only 2600 player, Abasov. Praggnanandhaa steered the game into novel territory soon after Abasov essayed the Tarrasch Defense. The game took a sharp turn as Praggnanandhaa kept massaging an advantage while Abasov imposed further complications. Soon, an endgame was reached where only White could be better, and better he was. Praggnanandhaa duly converted the advantage, even though at some point the esteemed Stockfish printed dynamic equality. GM Brandon Jacobson explains this game in detail:

In the battle of favorites, it was clear from the very start of the clash that safety-first was on the cards. Nepomniachtchi and Caruana played a line of the Four Knights Game that is known to almost draw by force, and with both sides having barely spent any time through the game, it was clear that both sides were quite satisfied with peace.

Gukesh is tied for first with Nepomniachtchi, so it makes sense that he wouldn't want to risk much. Nakamura, coming off a victory with Black against Firouzja, also still has outside chances to win the Candidates, so he, too, did not want to risk too much. Logical needs created a logical result and logical play. It has to be said that Nakamura did play the highly risky and enterprising hyperaccelerated Dragon, though, but Gukesh quickly neutralized it with the anti-Sicilian drawing weapon of choice, the Alapin (or Alapin-like), 3. c3. The game was not a tepid draw, to be sure, but pieces kept getting traded and the character of the position only allowed for one result: equality.

Women's Section

Clearly unsatisfied with yesterday's four (exciting) draws, the players today decided to set the board ablaze and not ask Shirov about it. The standings themselves, however, did not change too much as the leaders won. Curiously, the four decisive games today included three Black victories and just one White victory.

The tournament leader, Tan Zhongyi, continues to sit atop the throne alone as she won her game against Anna Muzychuk today. Two words summarize Muzychuk's tournament so far: missed chances. Today, after got a positional advantage in the Colle-Zukertort and kept piling on the pressure, Muzychuk missed a chance to equalize with 34...Bxe6! Of course, it's a difficult move to see as the players are not as comfortable as the spectators, nor do they have access to the resources the spectators have — AKA a certain fish. Spectators also can enjoy the post-game analysis by IM / WGM Padmini Rout, while the players will have to prepare for their next game:

Goryachkina did what had to be done and kept up with Tan before their clash in round 7. Salimova had a fine position out of the Catalan, but Goryachkina kept finding precise positional moves and Salimova's position soon started to crumble. Salimova did make a minor comeback and defended quite well, but, eventually, she succumbed to Goryachkina's flawless play.

Lei has been making a mid-tournament push to catch Tan and she has been playing some very enterprising openings, from the Evans Gambit in round 3 to the much maligned King's Indian Defense today. Her opening choice seemed to serve her well as her position looked stable and perhaps even advantageous at some points. The game quickly became equalish, though, but the resulting position was still a complex endgame, which Humpy misplayed. The opposite-colored bishop position was not a simple draw and, in just a few moves, Humpy was lost and Lei converted her advantage. IM / WGM Padmini Rout walks us through today's action:

Lagno has missed some chances in this tournament, but, after Vaishali blundered by saddling herself with mangled pawns on the kingside on move 21, Lagno did not let go of the edge. Vaishali soon gave up material to defend, but it was too little, too late.

Round 7 Preview

In the Open, there is big potential for the tournament to open up even more — or for one person to start making a run for it. Nakamura will be looking to catch the leaders as he faces Nepomniachtchi. Caruana and Praggnanandhaa, both half a point behind the leaders, will probably not take too many excessive risks, but will still obviously look for chances should they present themselves. Gukesh will look to capitalize on Firouzja's recent bad streak, but Firouzja with the White pieces will definitely want to save face. Abasov and Vidit promises to be an exciting game as well what with Vidit's topsy-turvy performance so far.

In the Women’s section, Goryachkina faces Tan in what will be a very crucial game for the standings. Goryachkina needs to stop Tan and has a golden opportunity to do so with the White pieces. A surging Lagno faces Salimova, who's had a turbulent tournament so far. Muzychuk and Humpy, both experienced veterans who both have not had the best event so far, will clash against each other while what have been so far the tournament's most enterprising players, Lei and Vaishali, will play against each other.

Make sure to follow the action with us in Round 7!

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