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FIDE Candidates 2016 (6)

Nakamura in touch move drama at the end of Candidates Round 6

The FIDE Candidates had its most dramatic day so far finishing with a late controversy involving Hikaru Nakamura. The day ended with Levon Aronian sharing the lead with Sergey Karjakin. Viswanathan Anand got back in the race with a quick win against Peter Svidler.

Leader Sergey Karjakin had a tough day after being put under pressure in a Queen's Indian by Fabiano Caruana. Karjakin took a "little bit crazy decision" to sacrifice his queen in the hope that his solid position would be enough to hold. As the game panned out this seemed to be correct as he did hold the draw without his opponent missing any absolutely clear opportunities.

Viswanathan Anand scored a smashing win against Peter Svidler in a very sharp Ruy Lopez. The players didn't really identify where black went wrong but at some point it became very hard to find a decent plan and 18...Nxb3?, Svidler's attempt to rescue himself, was met with a direct refutation.

Veselin Topalov played the rather outrageous 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. h4!? against Anish Giri. This was met with a Benko setup by Giri who argued that 3.h4 must make it very playable as it is worse than a waste of time. Giri at the very least equalised and then gradually took over the position. I'm pretty certain he had very good winning chances but Topalov defended very well and provided enough difficulties to obtain a draw.

The final game of the day was the most controversial. Levon Aronian beat Hikaru Nakamura. Aronian obtained small advantage by playing a rare line but this dribbled away to equality on move 20. It's hard to extract useful information from Aronian's press conferences as he tends to be more entertaining than accurate. He claimed a big advantage on move 25, most likely it was an edge but he kept the pressure up (although he almost allowed a three fold repetition, he wasn't sure he hadn't, but I don't think he did) and there was still a lot of work to do at move 40. 41...Nd2+ (41...Na3) was a mistake from Nakamura that maybe did turn the position into a win and Aronian missed this most directly with 53.Kf6 (he had no explanation as to why he didn't play it). Aronian then just manoeuvred around without making any clear progress for some time. He claimed after the game that the plan was to eventually force f5 with a win. I am not sure this is really true.

On move 74 Nakamura clearly touched his king with the intention of moving it and then belatedly tried to say J'Adoube. Aronian gestured something like "Oh come on" and the arbiter forced Nakamura to move the king. The more I view at the footage the worse it looks for Nakamura. Whether Nakamura would have realised he had to move the King without the complaints we will never know. After 74...Kf8 Aronian won quickly starting with 75.Kf6 to get into a share of the lead.

You can watch a video of the incident on the organiser's YouTube page along with the press conferences.

I have some detailed notes to all of the games in the body of the article.

Round 6 standings: Karjakin, Aronian 4pts, Anand 3.5pts, Caruana, Giri 3pts, Svidler 2.5pts, Topalov, Nakamura 2pts.

Rest day Friday 18th March 2016

Round 7 pairings: Svidler-Caruana, Karjakin-Aronian, Nakamura-Topalov, Giri-Anand.

FIDE Candidates 2016 Moscow (RUS), 10-30 iii 2016 cat. XXII (2778)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
1. Karjakin, Sergey g RUS 2760 * * . . 1 . ½ . ½ . ½ . ½ . 1 . 4 2904
2. Aronian, Levon g ARM 2786 . . * * ½ . ½ . ½ . ½ . 1 . 1 . 4 2904
3. Anand, Viswanathan g IND 2762 0 . ½ . * * ½ . . . 1 . 1 . ½ . 2834
4. Caruana, Fabiano g USA 2794 ½ . ½ . ½ . * * ½ . . . ½ . ½ . 3 2778
5. Giri, Anish g NED 2793 ½ . ½ . . . ½ . * * ½ . ½ . ½ . 3 2777
6. Svidler, Peter g RUS 2757 ½ . ½ . 0 . . . ½ . * * ½ . ½ . 2721
7. Topalov, Veselin g BUL 2780 ½ . 0 . 0 . ½ . ½ . ½ . * * . . 2 2650
8. Nakamura, Hikaru g USA 2790 0 . 0 . ½ . ½ . ½ . ½ . . . * * 2 2650
Round 6 (March 17, 2016)
Aronian, Levon - Nakamura, Hikaru 1-0 83 E15 Queens Indian
Anand, Viswanathan - Svidler, Peter 1-0 24 C88 Ruy Lopez Closed
Caruana, Fabiano - Karjakin, Sergey ½-½ 36 E15 Queens Indian
Topalov, Veselin - Giri, Anish ½-½ 68 E60 King's Indian without Nc3

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