The Candidates 2018 was one of the most exciting chess events of the year and as it was expected brought immense drama, action, and curiosity to the viewers, including the current world champion Magnus Carlsen. It was held in Berlin, Germany from 10th March- 28th March 2018.
It had some of the world's brightest and strongest minds competing to earn a right to challenge the current world number 1 and world champion -- Magnus Carlsen -- in London in November 2018.
The tournament consisted of fourteen rounds and was quite gruelling for the players as it was a double-round robin event, where each player had to play the others in the field with both the colours.
The event concluded with Super Grandmaster Fabiano Caruana winning the title. He scored a mammoth 9 points out of 14 rounds and was clear first with a full point margin over the rest. For Fabiano, it was a battle with his adrenaline. He came this close to winning in 2016 but lost the last game to eventual winner Sergey Karjakin.
This time, too, it looked as if the same would happen as Karjakin got the better of Caruana in game 12. However, Caruana fought back like a tiger and won both the remaining two rounds, beating Aronian in the thirteenth and Grischuk in the fourteenth. The last match was intense as half of the playing pool had a shot at the championship, but the match between Caruana and Grischuk was the only one to have had a decisive result.
All the other games were drawn, leaving the tournament with the only such result in any of the rounds played. Caruana was followed by Karjakin and Mamedyarov, who finished joint second, but for Wesley So and Levon Aronian, it was a tournament to forget. Even though Aronian was the favourite going into the tournament as he had won the World Cup in 2017, he couldn't keep up with the expectations and didn't have an outing as expected.
Vladimir Kramnik had a forgettable start as he lost as many as 4 games, which was rare to see in his career. Kramnik had also brought in Anish Giri as his second for this event.
With this win, Caruana became the first American after Bobby Fischer to have won a spot at an undisputed world championship match. Gata Kamsky had reached the final in 1996 but there had been a dispute in that edition and Kasparov's title was stripped off and given to Karpov.
With an almost 46 year gap between Fischer and Caruana, one can now only see that chess in America will boom. Caruana showed his mettle and stayed on top of the others even though he thought that he just had a 15% chance of winning before the start of the tournament. He will now play with Carlsen in November. When asked about the clash in the post-match mandatory press-conference, Caruana replied that he will be playing Magnus in the coming week and would begin his preparations for the World Championship a little later. He had also not thought about it at that point in time.
Fabiano is two years younger than Carlsen and is arguably considered the best in America today. He had left America for Europe a few years back but is now back to where he belongs. Growing up in the same neighbourhood as the great Fischer(Brooklyn), Caruana is quite a threat to the world champion. One can now only wait to see how the events unfold in the winter of 2018. Rooting for a closely fought battle in London!Published 31 Mar 2018, 21:38 IST