Candidates Round Three: If This is a Tame Round, We're In For A Wild Tournament

As the players head into the final round before the first rest day, it’s anybody’s guess what will happen. Round three did not deliver as many explosive results as the previous day, but the players’ desire to surprise their opponents right out of the opening is continuing to produce fresh, interesting positions in both events!



Pragg Vidit
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Pragg (L) and Vidit analyze their game. The three Indian players have all played each other now, but many of us are already anticipating their rematches beginning in round eight. (Photo courtesy Michal Walusza/FIDE)


Round two of the Candidates Tournament set the bar high for excitement, but we can’t expect so many decisive results every day! It was a quick bounce-back for the young Pragg (as GM Praggnanandhaa R. is known), who took great risks in the opening on his way to defeat his countryman Vidit.



GM Gukesh D. put GM Ian Nepomniachtchi under some serious pressure with his bishop pair, but it was not enough to bring the full point home.


An intense duel between Gukesh and "Nepo" ended with both players holding on to a share of the lead (Photos courtesy of Michael Walusza/FIDE (L) and Maria Emelianova/ (R))


There was one key moment in the game which could have given Gukesh the opportunity to take the lead of the tournament.



Both American grandmasters had a peaceful day.


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Nakamura is also a favorite for the "best facial expressions" prize, although with Nepomniachtchi and Lei Tingjie competing, he is not a shoe-in (Photo courtesy Michal Walusza/FIDE)


GM Fabiano Caruana suffered a bit in the opening due to lack of space but found a path to equality with a pawn sacrifice, while GM Hikaru Nakamura had no issues at all on the black side of the exchange Slav.


x after 3
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courtesy FIDE


With one more game before the first rest day, each pairing contains the potential for fireworks. In a battle of two of the leaders, Caruana has the white pieces against Gukesh. Nepomniachtchi takes white against Vidit, who has shown a willingness to take chances. Likewise, Nakamura has white against Pragg, while Abasov has white against Firouzja in another pair of games featuring players willing to take risks with the black pieces.  




In the Women’s event, the brother-sister duo remained in sync, as GM-Elect Vaishali Rameshbabu bounced back from a tough loss by defeating IM Nurgyul Salimova in a sharp Petroff.



Muzychuk Lagno
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Muzychuk came close to hunting down the leopard-printed Lagno, but settled for a draw (Photo courtesy Michal Walusza/FIDE)


GM Anna Muzychuk missed a golden opportunity to recover from her previous round’s loss with a deadly king hunt against GM Kateryna Lagno.  



GM Tan Zhongyi’s winning streak finally came to an end, but she remains on top of the leaderboard after a comfortable draw against GM Humpy Koneru. GM Lei Tingjie’s Evans Gambit was certainly a big surprise, but it didn’t rattle GM Aleksandra Goryachkina enough to stop her from making a comfortable draw.


x 3w
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courtesy FIDE


Tan takes the black pieces for the third time in four games, this time against Lagno. Given the unfavorable allotment of colors at the start of this event, any opportunity Tan has to build on to her lead now will prove doubly beneficial in the second half of the event!


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Lei Tingjie made Goryachkina defend against the Evans Gambit, but Goryachkina seemed unbothered (Photo courtesy Michal Walusza/FIDE)


Also of interest is Goryachkina’s game with white against Vaishali, as Goryachkina can catch Tan if she wins and Tan draws.


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