A forgettable second half of the Candidates for Fabiano Caruana saw him losing four out of seven games in the final rounds of the event. On the last day of action, he lost to Alireza Firouzja. In the following position, Caruana is a pawn down and played 54.Nd2, when a more active, counterattacking alternative would have given him better prospects going forward.
Better was 54.Rg4, when after 54…a4, White has 55.c4+ Kc6 56.Rg6+ Kb7 57.Rxg7+ Ka6 58.Nc1, and Black’s initiative has been neutralized.
Also in the final round, the winner of the event, Ian Nepomniachtchi, did find the most precise way to hold a draw against Jan-Krzysztof Duda by choosing to counterattack instead of defending passively.
Defending the pawn with 33.f4 is not a mistake, but Nepo’s 33.Nd6 is more effective and forced. White should not fear 33…c3 since the king is in time to help in defence via 34.Ke2. Duda went for 33…Bxe5 and the game was drawn not long after.
Find analyses for these two positions and two more endgames in the replayer below.