Nepomniachtchi loses last round, takes Candidates title; Wang Hao retires at 31

Ian Nepomniachtchi, assured of the Candidates title after Anish Giri’s loss on Monday evening, surrendered rather tamely to the World No. 3 Ding Liren.

Ian Nepomniachtchi

The Russian Nepomniachtchi was in the lead when the event was halted last March and on resumption he ensured the title with a round to spare- REUTERS   -  REUTERS

Eventual champion World No. 4 Ian Nepomniachtchi and Anish Giri, the two front-runners of the Candidates chess tournament till Monday, lost their 14th and final round encounters on Tuesday as the premier competition came to end, 406 days after it started.

Nepomniachtchi, assured of the title after Giri’s loss on Monday evening, surrendered rather tamely to World No. 3 Ding Liren, who signed off with three straight wins to make amends for an otherwise sub-par display in the 14-round contest.

The Russian was in the lead when the event was halted last March after seven rounds. On resumption, he did not let go of his lead and eventually ensured the title with a round to spare.

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On Tuesday, Giri, too, could not motivate himself to do any better against Russia’s Kirill Alekseenko and lost. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave took the second spot after beating Wang Hao. Fabiano Caruana drew with Alexander Grischuk to share the third spot with Giri.

Wang Hao hangs up his boots

Later, in a surprise development, Wang Hao, 31, announced his retirement from professional chess. After suffering his third straight loss, the World No. 12 revealed, he took the decision owing to serious health issues that have hampered his play since 2018.

14th round results: Ding Liren (Chn) bt Ian Nepomniachtchi (Rus); Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra) bt Wang Hao (Chn); Anish Giri (Ned) lost to Kirill Alekseenko (Rus); Fabiano Caruana (USA) drew with Alexander Grischuk (Rus).

Final standings: 1. Nepomniachtchi (8.5 points), 2. Vachier (8), 3-4. Giri, Caruana (7.5 each), 5-6. Ding, Grischuk (7 each), 7. Alekseenko (5.5), 8. Hao (5).