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Spectator Experience at the Candidates Tournament: Round 3

Photos by John Brezina

By John Brezina, Parker Chess Club


I had the pleasure of attending Round 3 of the World Chess Candidates Tournament in Berlin, Germany. And, with the great news of American Fabiano Caruana winning the tournament, I thought I'd share some of my experience.


The International Chess Federation (FIDE) runs the World Championship cycle and does a good job in trying to make the games spectator friendly. It is not an easy task to have hundreds watching, while still keeping a quiet environment for the players. The Kuhlhaus in Berlin was transformed into a multi-story platform for viewing. General admission allowed you to view from the second floor looking down on the players. Ticket prices started at about $25 ranging into the hundreds for better VIP access. The fourth floor provided commentary with analysis and a playing area; it is also where the press conferences were held after the games. With this setup, it allowed the public a chance to meet the players briefly afterwards. The fifth floor was just for media and a VIP room with analysis from Judit Polgar, Lawrence Trent, and others. The games started at 3 p.m. sharp and were set up into 4 divided areas (as you can see in the pictures).

The intensity of the players made for great games. Aronian suffered his first of several losses from Kramnik. Ding Liren drew against the other American candidate, Wesley So. Grischuk and former world challenger Karjakin also had a tense draw. And the final marathon draw between Caruana and Mamedyrov kept fans on the edge of their seats. A nearly 5 1/2 hour late night draw exhausted the players and fans alike. All players were gracious in the after game press conferences and provided fans an insight into thoughts during the game.

It really was a great tournament overall and I look forward to the U.S. Championships next (April 17-30, 2018). I highly recommend those that are able to make it out to Saint Louis for the tournament do, where Fabiano will be playing. A great chance to meet our next World Championship challenger!