Today in Chess: FIDE Candidates 2022 Round 10 Recap

While Nepomniachtchi seems to be cruising towards the tournament victory, increasing his lead by another half a point after yet another bloody day in the 2022 FIDE Candidates, race for the second place becomes wide open. With Magnus Carlsen seriously considering his retirement from World Championship matches, stakes for the three candidates tied for second place are incredibly high now.

Round 10 results

Round 10 standings

Ian Nepomniachtchi–Teimour Radjabov ½-½

Ian Nepomniachtchi’s game was the only draw, yet he improved his tournament position drastically again. He did not put too much pressure on Radjabov, and the bloodless Catalan quickly petered out into a completely symmetrical position. The strategy of just waiting for his opponents to commit mistakes has worked extremely well for Nepomniachtchi this tournament, and he was rewarded for his sober strategy again.

Ian Nepomniachtchi didn’t take any risks and quickly drew his game against Teimour Radjabov; photo: FIDE/Stev Bonhage

Jan-Krzysztof Duda – Fabiano Caruana 1-0

The decision to give up white pieces paid off tremendously due to this particular game – Fabiano Caruana, the sole pursuer of Nepomniachtchi up to this round, overpressed against Duda, gambling with an unhealthy …h5 & …g5 concept in the Italian. There was no substance in Black’s hyper-aggressive tries, and it was eventually White who opened up the kingside to start a decisive attack.

Duda, the last player not to win a game in the tournament yet, stumbled a little around move 30, but never let the decisive advantage slip out of his hands completely and finished the game off with a couple of precise moves just before the time control. The American grandmaster, leading black pieces, found himself a piece down and in a completely hopeless position, and Duda gradually converted the game to a full point.

Fabiano Caruana lost a very important game as well as the sole second place; photo: FIDE/Stev Bonhage

Last three rounds have been horrible for Fabiano Caruana, losing two games and drawing a better position against Ian Nepomniachtchi by the skin of his teeth. His play seems too heavy compared to Nepomniachtchi’s light-weight practical approach, and he’s paying the price — he’s now trailing 1.5 points behind the leader.

Hikaru Nakamura – Alireza Firouzja 1-0

Nakamura scored a very nice win in an offbeat variation of the Najdorf, punishing Firouzja for his dubious decision to double his f-pawns early on. A very smooth ride from start to finish — Nakamura dominated the board with his mighty passed c-pawn, sacrificing an exchange for an irresistible attack on the black king.

The cunning 26.Ra1-a3-g3 maneuver, sneakily reinforcing White’s attack, was key, and the Frenchman soon had to resign, facing an inevitable checkmate. Nakamura climbed up to the shared second and his play so far has been quite impressive as well — very steady, stumbling only once in yesterday’s game against Radjabov.

Nakamura’s managing to play good chess as well as to give interviews and recap his games on his YouTube channel in the evenings; photo: FIDE/Stev Bonhage

Richard Rapport – Ding Liren 0-1

In terms of excitement, this was definitely the most interesting game of the round. Deep positional maneuvering from Ding, starting with the mysterious 14…Rb8-b7-c7 shuffle, met Rapport’s unleashed creativity. Both sides led a very precise, yet sharp and dynamic fight, with Ding spicing things up with an exchange sacrifice and Rapport returning the favor by giving up his knight on the c4-square.

The turning point came shortly after move 40. In a position with two light pieces and an exposed king against a rook, Ding managed to trick his opponent with the move 41…Nd3. There was only one way to keep things under control and keep the balance (42.Be7!), but Rapport let himself be tricked into an endgame with an extra exchange which turned out to be hopelessly lost, despite the material advantage.

Ding Liren is back on track; photo: FIDE/Stev Bonhage

A sad story for Rapport, who’s managing to shake things up after a long series of draws at the beginning, but certainly not in the way he’d like to, losing his second game in a row. On the other hand, Ding Liren seems to have finally gotten back on his feet playing very good chess and bouncing into second place as well. Will we see a mighty finish from the top seed of the tournament?

Replay the broadcast from round 10 on our YouTube.

The next round might be a big one for our standings as well — Ian Nepomniachtchi will be playing black against Alireza Firouzja, and one can make an argument both for the dangerous Firouzja giving Nepomniachtchi a hard time as well as for him overpressing and Nepomniachtchi even increasing his lead. Nakamura is in a good position to strike against the struggling Rapport, and the most anticipated match-up must be the Caruana-Ding Liren one. Featuring two players sharing the second place, both of them are in high need of winning as many games as possible.

Don’t miss a second of our live coverage from round 11 at 7:50 CDT on or our YouTube and Twitch, guided by grandmasters Alejandro Ramirez, Yasser Seirawan and international master Dorsa Derakshani.