FIDE Candidates Round 6: Tan Plays Attacking Gem; Vidit, Praggnanandhaa Recover

Former Women’s World Champion Tan Zhongyi capped off a tremendous attack against GM Anna Muzychuk to gain her third victory in the 2024 FIDE Women’s Candidates and maintain the lead. All four games were decisive in round six, leaving GM Aleksandra Goryachkina in second by half a point and GM Kateryna Lagno in third.

In the FIDE Candidates Tournament, GMs Ian Nepomniachtchi and Gukesh Dommaraju continue to share the lead after making solid draws. GMs Vidit Gujrathi and Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu recovered from disappointments on the previous day with victories, respectively, over GM Alireza Firouzja and GM Nijat Abasov, who now share last place.

Round seven will be on Thursday, April 11, starting at 2:30 p.m. ET / 20:30 CEST / 12:00 a.m. IST.

Standings – Candidates

Standings – Women’s Candidates


Candidates: Vidit, Praggnanandhaa Score Comeback Victories

The leaders maintained their positions with draws in GM Fabiano Caruana-Nepomniachtchi and Gukesh-GM Hikaru Nakamura. Both Vidit and Praggnanandhaa, who had failed to win on the previous day, converted advantages in stellar fashion this time.

Caruana and Nepomniachtchi have each scored just one win against each other in classical chess, with 12 draws. Their clash was the first game to finish on Wednesday and the 13th draw in their careers.

Nepomniachtchi-Caruana was the first game to end. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

“We will minimize the risk. That is the message that I get from Ian’s opening choice,” said Leko as the players played quickly in a Four Knights Scotch. They followed their 2020 Candidates encounter until 11…cxd5 but still vacuumed all the pieces from the board with a handshake two hours after starting their game.

Nepomniachtchi explained that he was caught off-guard in the opening—on the first move: “Today, to be honest, I expected [1]…c5 because Fabiano played …c5 here twice.” It’s early in the tournament, and neither he nor Caruana was upset with the half point.

Today, to be honest, I expected [1]…c5 because Fabiano played …c5 here twice.

—Ian Nepomniachtchi

The most exciting part of the Gukesh-Nakamura game was the opening, where Nakamura uncorked a novelty as early as move seven in a potentially sharp Sicilian.

With both playing at 98 percent accuracy, according to Game Review, neither player really got a chance to play for more. In his video recap (below), Nakamura says that he expected an interesting game after his 14…Nc8, but the game petered out shortly after that.

Now, on to the two decisive games.

Going into the game against Firouzja, Vidit led the head-to-head score with two wins and one draw. On Wednesday, he added a third victory.

Vidit 2.0 came beaming to the press conference. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Firouzja experimented with a quirky queen sortie in the Sicilian Rauzer, once played before by Gelfand, but ran into early trouble with 11…Bb7?. Then 13…Qxf2?, grabbing a pawn, was one mistake too many. Vidit commented: “It was very apparent that I’m better. The only question was if I can convert it cleanly because I was low on time.”

14.e5! was the cleanest winning move and he won convincingly from there, throwing in the Karpov-Unzicker-like 21.Ba7! along the way, a nice throwback to a famous game from the 1970s.

After missing his chance to beat Caruana the day before, Vidit 2.0 seems to have returned. What has changed? Vidit told FM Mike Klein that he went to the gym to blow off some steam, but also:

The people around me showed the positive side. Like, I got outprepared and I was on my own, and then I managed to outplay him in the middlegame. I played almost all the top choices, so that was the bright side. That gave me confidence—that even the world-number-two [Caruana] I can outplay despite getting outprepared.

The people around me showed the positive side.

—Vidit Gujrathi

You can listen to Vidit’s analysis in the video below.

It was the first encounter ever between Praggnanandhaa and Abasov. With a victory, the Indian prodigy is just half a point behind the leaders.

The game started by following the first 10 moves of GM Boris Gelfand vs. GM Vladimir Kramnik from 1994, but the action was at its height in the endgame. Time and again, Abasov found resource after resource to keep fighting—laughing in the face of the evaluation bar, which prematurely claimed victory several times for Praggnanandhaa.

A tough fight for Praggnanandhaa, but he came out on top. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

After finally surviving what should have been a decisive attack after 31.f6!, Abasov reached the final critical moment on move 38. He played the most natural move, capturing the pawn on f6—it was also the losing move. Praggnanandhaa responded swiftly with 39.Rxa6 Rf5 and what the commentators called the move of the day, 40.Nd7!!. Lights out.

Praggnanandhaa, who has had some of the most exciting games this tournament, said: “I don’t know what was happening either. And I also don’t understand why I’m playing interesting games every day because I’m kind of trying to play normal chess, but somehow things are getting interesting.”

I also don’t understand why I’m playing interesting games every day because I’m kind of trying to play normal chess.

—Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu

Round seven is the halfway point of the tournament. Then players will play the same opponents for the second time in this double round-robin format. Both tournament leaders will have the black pieces: Nepomniachtchi will defend against a determined Nakamura, while Gukesh will defend against a potentially rattled Firouzja.

Caruana and Praggnanandhaa are both a half-point behind the leaders, while Vidit will look to continue his remarkable comeback against the tournament’s lowest seed. This round will be followed by a rest day.

Women’s Candidates: Tan Plays Attacking Gem

All games were decisive in favor of the higher-rated player, and one fact remains the same: Tan leads the tournament.

Tan enjoyed her sixth round in the sole lead of the women’s event. Against Muzychuk, she played the modest Colle Zukertort System, but after 12…Nd7?, which Tan called a mistake, she began a spirited attack that earned our selection for Game of the Day.

It does have one blooper at the end, where Muzychuk could have saved the half-point—but it was missed. GM Rafael Leitao analyzes the masterpiece below.

You can also listen to her thoughts directly in the video:

With the black pieces, Goryachkina defeated IM Nurgyul Salimova to stay a half-point behind the leader. She said it wasn’t a hard game: “In general, it was not difficult for me to play. Only it took too long, but definitely the game didn’t go well for my opponent.”

In general, it was not difficult for me to play. Only it took too long.

—Aleksandra Goryachkina

Objectively, Salimova did have an equal game after losing a pawn on move 34. The key was placing her rook behind the passed c-pawn. Instead, she drifted first with 42.Kg3?! and 43.Kh4?, and finally 45.Rb1? was the nail in the coffin. Goryachkina pushed her passed pawn to victory.GM Vaishali Rameshbabu allowed the Marshall Attack in the Ruy Lopez, but a version in which she didn’t grab the sacrificed pawn. GM Kateryna Lagno equalized comfortably with Black and then started pressing for more with 20…Nf4!.

An important comeback for Lagno after fumbling a win the day before. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The Indian grandmaster had to find a series of only moves to defend against the attack, but she lost brutally quickly when she failed to find the first (difficult) defensive move, 21.Re3!.

GM Humpy Koneru had won all four of her previous classical encounters against GM Lei Tingjie, but they hadn’t played since 2021. The Chinese grandmaster ambitiously played the King’s Indian Defense, but it wasn’t until the endgame that she found the chance to play for a win.

Lei defeated Humpy for the first time ever in classical chess. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Knowing what happens in the game, perhaps White was better advised to activate the king with 36.Kg1. In the game, Lei won the a-pawn and quickly marched it down the board to victory.

Round seven has the potential to be a turning point in this event. Goryachkina will have the white pieces against tournament leader Tan, and this is her best chance to challenge directly for the lead.

You can watch video recaps of the Candidates in our playlist below (click here).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries

How to watch?
You can watch the 2024 FIDE Candidates Tournament on Chess24’s YouTube and Twitch, and the 2024 Women’s FIDE Candidates on Chess.com’s YouTube and Twitch. The games can also be followed from our Events Page.

The FIDE Candidates Tournaments are among the most important FIDE events of the year. Players compete for the right to play in the next FIDE World Championship match against current World Chess Champions GMs Ding Liren and Ju Wenjun.


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