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The world championship Candidates in Ekaterinburg was abruptly stopped on Thursday morning, following a Russian government announcement that air traffic with other countries would cease indefinitely starting Friday.

Fide, the global chess body, could not guarantee the return home of the five non-Russian grandmasters, two from China and one each from France, Netherlands, and the United States, plus tournament officials and players’ aides.

Seven of the 14 rounds have been completed, and these scores will stand when it becomes possible to resume the postponed tournament. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who only took part as a late substitute, and Ian Nepomniachtchi were joint leaders with 4.5/7 following the Frenchman’s round seven win over the Russian.

America’s Fabiano Caruana, who won the 2018 Candidates and lost the subsequent world title match to Norway’s Magnus Carlsen in a speed tie-break, was the pre-tournament favourite but underperformed. However, Caruana was only a point behind the two leaders on 3.5/7 and will have the favourable white pieces against Vachier-Lagrave in round eight.

Whenever round eight happens.

The Candidates had been the only global sports event to continue under the threat of the virus, and featured daily medical checks and play behind closed doors with only online spectators.


Can you find White’s sneaky route to the black king in the corner? It’s mate in three in this Karl Fabel problem, which also has a trap for incautious solvers.

Click here for solution

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