Chess Candidates Tournament: Caruana and Firouzja do not finish advantageous positions in the premiere of the Candidates Tournament | Chess

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Sometimes a single play can change a lot of things. If Fabiano Caruana’s 28 against his rival and compatriot Hikaru Nakamura had been the best, the main favorite in the Candidates Tournament that eight chess players compete in Toronto (Canada) would have reaffirmed his status. But it was not accurate under the pressure of the clock, and the game was a draw. Something similar happened to the Frenchman Alireza Firouzja against the Indian Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa. The tie was also signed, without much history, in the other two games of the opening day: Abásov (Azerbaijan) – Niepómniashi (Russia) and Gukesh (India) – Vidit (India).

Nakamura, 3rd in the world at 36 years old, was not fine in a couple of key moments, which may have to do with his striking previous statements: “I have no pressure in this tournament. If I win it, great. But even if I am world champion I will barely achieve a fraction of the influence I have as a streamer and content creator.” Nakamura has 2.3 million followers on his YouTube channel. There are more than 600 million people in the world who know how to play, according to a survey by the prestigious company YouGov. If only 10% know who the world champion is, the conclusion is that Nakamura is blinded by the millions of dollars he earns online or that he says this knowing it is false to take the pressure off himself. In any case, Caruana, with the white pieces, missed a good opportunity.

Firouzja, during his match with Praggnanandhaa in the first round of the Candidates Tournament in TorontoMaria Emelianova

Like Nakamura, but for very different reasons – he studies fashion design in Paris – Firouzja, 20, also confirmed that he does not fully dedicate his energy to high-competition chess, which translates into an absence of the drive that defined him. from childhood to the pandemic. His fight with the Indian prodigy Praggnanandhaa, 18, had several ups and downs until, at the moment of greatest tension and pressure on the clock, the Frenchman of Iranian origin omitted a blow that he would most likely have seen in his adolescence and that would have forced his rival to find a very difficult defense so as not to give up immediately.

The only victory in the eight games of the day came in the Candidates Tournament, where the Chinese Zhongyi Tan brilliantly knocked down her compatriot Tingjie Lei with the black pieces.

Results (1st round).-

Candidates: Caruana – Nakamura, tables; Abásov – Niepómniashi, tables; Firouzja – Praggnanandhaa, tables; Gukesh – Vidit, tables.

Candidates: Goryachkina – Lagno, boards; A. Muzychuk – Salímova, tables; Lei–Tan, 0-1; Vaishali – Koneru, tables.

Classifications.-

Candidates: 1st-8th Nakamura, Niepómniashi, Praggnanandhaa, Vidit, Abásov, Gukesh and Caruana 0.5 points;

Candidates: 1st Tan, 1 point; 2nd-7th Koneru, Salimova, Lagno, A. Muzychuk, Goryáchkina and Vaishali, 0.5; 8th Law, 0.

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