Candidates 2024: Six Decisive Games in 11th Round Set Up Thrilling Home Stretch

Image Caption
courtesy Michal Walusza/FIDE


Action is heating up in Toronto as we are reaching the final stretch of the tournament. The 11th round featured three decisive games (out of four) in each section, all of which were reflective of the pressure that everyone is starting to feel. As the trailing players are now in must-win situations, we can expect to see even more action across the boards.


GM Ian Nepomniachtchi once again emerged as the sole leader with a win over GM Vidit Gujrathi after a 5-and-a-half hour battle that could have went the other way at several key moments.



The dream lives on for the American fans as both of our men are still very much in contention. GM Hikaru Nakamura significantly improved his chances with a win over a close rival GM Praggnanandhaa R. with the black pieces. With this clutch victory, Nakamura leapfrogged Pragg and is now only half-a-point behind Nepomniachtchi.



For some time it was starting to look like GM Gukesh D. might lose his nerves in his game against GM Fabiano Caruana, as he spent around 40 minutes on move 21. However, there were no good opportunities for Caruana to put Gukesh under pressure. There was one moment where the position could have been dangerous for Caruana, forcing him to find some only moves.



GM Alireza Firouzja won an easy game against GM Nijat Abasov, who has been struggling with the black pieces. While Firouzja does not have a realistic chance of fighting for first, this win might be a big motivator for him. He can still play the role of a spoiler as he faces Nakamura and Gukesh in the next two rounds.


courtesy FIDE
Image Caption
courtesy FIDE


As mentioned, Nakamura (with the white pieces) will take on Firouzja in a game where the latter has nothing to lose. Gukesh takes on Abasov, albeit with the black pieces, while Nepo takes on Pragg as White. Caruana also takes White, against Vidit.



There was also a big shake-up in the standings for the Women’s Candidates as the tournament is now a two-horse race between the two Chinese GMs. Going into the round, GM Lei Tingjie and GM Tan Zhongyi were tied for first place with 6½/10, with GMs Aleksandra Goryachkina and Kateryna Lagno within striking distance with 5½/10.

Lagno had the fate of her tournament in her hands as she was facing Tan. Unfortunately, the ultimate result killed any realistic chance for Lagno to fight for first.



The rollercoaster game between Lei and GM Anna Muzychuk could have gone in either direction. Lei needed to find some really tricky moves to launch a successful attack, then some difficult defensive resources to survive. Ultimately, she escaped unscathed and is now trailing Tan by half a point.



Goryachkina suffered her second loss in a row, this time against GM-Elect Vaishali Rameshbabu, who is making a comeback after a streak of four losses. Goryachkina and Lagno are joined by GM Humpy Koneru in a tie for third, but are two full points behind the leader. While all three still have a mathematical chance of tying first or even winning outright, the odds are stacked against them.


Image Caption
Courtesy FIDE


Both Lei and Tan play with the black pieces today, albeit against very different opponents. It is Lei’s turn to face Lagno, while Tan takes on tail-ender IM Nurgyul Salimova.


Quick Links

Official Website

Play begins daily at 1:30 p.m. CDT, except on rest days (Schedule | Pairings | Crosstables)

Follow the games live on (Open | Women's) and (Open | Women's)

Stream Today in Chess, courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club (YouTube | Twitch)

Catch up on Chess Life Online (CLO) Candidates coverage

Review all annotated games from CLO

Follow on social media with the tag #FIDECandidates