The fourth leg of the FIDE Grand Prix is being played in Jerusalem, Israel. The Grand Prix events are all KO tournaments with 16 players at the start. At each round of the tournament, players compete a best-of-two game KO match under classical time controls (90 minutes for the first 40 moves, then an additional 30 minutes play-to-finish with 30 seconds added to your clock after every move starting move 1).
If the match is tied 1-1 then you go into tie-breaks: two games at a time limit of 25 minutes + 10 second increment. If still tied then an additional two games at 10 minutes + 10 second increment. If still there is no decision then two more games at a time limit of five minutes + three second per move increment. Finally, if all else fails then a single Armageddon chess game: white receives five minutes while Black only receives four minutes. There is a two-second per move increment starting move 61. Black wins the match in case of a draw.
Each of the legs awards grand prix points as given below. After all four legs have been completed the competitors’ grand prix points are added and the top two will be seeded into the 2020 Yekaterinburg Candidates Tournament.
Winner of a leg: 8 points
Runner-Up: 5 points
Semifinal loser: 3 points
Round 2 loser: 1 point
Round 1 loser 0 point
Bonus for winning match
without tie-breaks + 1 point
So far the top results are:
Moscow Grand Prix, May 17-29, 2019
1. Ian Nepomniachtchi
2. Alexander Grischuk
3–4. Hikaru Nakamura, Radoslaw Wojtaszek
5–8. Daniil Dubov, Wesley So, Wei Yi, Peter Svidler
Riga Grand Prix, July 12-24, 2019
1. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
2. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
3–4. Wesley So, Alexander Grischuk
5–8. Sergey Karjakin, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Yu Yangyi, Veselin Topalov
Hamburg Grand Prix, November 5–17, 2019
1. Alexander Grischuk
2. Jan-Krzysztof Duda
3–4. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Daniil Dubov
5–8. Veselin Topalov, David Navara, Peter Svidler, Yu Yangyi
Grand Prix Standings before Jerusalem are:
1. Alexander Grischuk*, 20 points
2. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, 13 points
3. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, 10 points
4. Ian Nepomniachtchi, 9 points
5. Jan-Krzysztof Duda*, 8 points
6. Wesley So, 4 points
Grischuk and Duda have already played in the allowed three legs out of four so they are not participating in the Jerusalem tournament. A quick analysis tells us that Alexander Grischuk is already guaranteed a place in the Candidates’ Tournament. Even if Maxime Vachier-Lagrave were to win in Jerusalem and overtake Grischuk in the final standings the Russian GM will still be no. 2 and, as I said earlier, the top 2 will qualify.
The Jerusalem Grand Prix started last Dec. 11 and will run until the 23rd. Mamedyarov was eliminated in round 1 of Jerusalem and is already out of contention. Only Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Wesley So (slim chances only) who all won in the 1st round are still in the running for the last seat to the Candidates.
Wesley beat the surging Chinese star Yu Yangyi in the first round. It is a masterpiece of power play — getting a slight advantage from the opening and forcing it through to a win.
Yangyi had a breakout year in 2014 when he won the 1st Qatar Masters Open tournament, beating Kramnik and Anish Giri in the last two rounds. Then he shone again as a member of the gold medal Chinese team to the Chess Olympiad. GM Yu was a major contributor to the Chinese cause, in fact he won the individual gold medal on board 3 with a performance rating of 2912, the best in the entire olympiad.
Yu Yangyi has been enjoying a second surge this second half of 2019 — beating him is never easy.
So, Wesley (2760) — Yu, Yangyi (2738) [C43]
Grand Prix Jerusalem 2019 Jerusalem (1.2), 12.12.2019
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 Nxe4 4.dxe5
As our BW readers know, 4.Bd3 is supposed to be the best according to nowadays theory. 4…d5 5.Nxe5 Nd7 6.Nxd7 Bxd7 7.0–0 is the main line here, by far.
In case you are one day playing White and your opponent surprises you with 4…Bc5!? the correct response is 5.Bc4! look at how the Hungarian GM Zoltan Almasi massacred Anish Giri’s forces: 5…Nxf2 6.Bxf7+ Kxf7 7.Qd5+ Kg6 8.Qxc5 Nxh1 9.Nc3 d6 10.Qc4 h6 11.Nd5 Rf8 12.Qe4+ Kf7 13.Bxh6 gxh6 14.Qh7+ Ke8 15.Nxc7+ Qxc7 16.Qxc7 Na6 17.Qxd6 Bf5 18.0–0–0 Rc8 19.Nd4 Rd8 20.Qxh6 Nf2 21.Qh5+ Kd7 22.e6+ 1–0 Almasi,Z (2707)-Giri,A (2714) Beijing 2011.
5.Nbd2 Nxd2 6.Bxd2 Be7 7.Bd3 c5 8.c3 Nc6 9.0–0 Bg4 10.Re1 Qd7
[10…0–0 would allow White to put an annoying bishop on f5: 11.h3 Bh5 12.Bf5!? with the equally annoying threat of e5–e6]
11.h3 Bh5 12.Bf4
[12.e6 does not work here. After 12…fxe6 13.Bb5 0–0 14.Ne5 Qc7 15.Qxh5 Rf5 White’s forces are pushed back]
The play is revolving around White’s idea of e5–e6. One possible plan is to relocate Black’s knight to e6, but 12…Nd8? is refuted by 13.g4 Bg6 (13…Ne6 14.gxh5 Nxf4 15.e6! Nxe6 16.Ne5 is strong) 14.e6! Nxe6 15.Ne5 Qd8 16.Qa4+ Kf8 17.Bxg6 hxg6 18.Nxg6+ with a winning attack.
Wesley’s novelty, and it is strong. There is a tempting alternative here: 13.Qc2? Bxf3 14.Bf5? but it is refuted by 14…Be4! winning a piece.
Offering an exchange sacrifice, but Wesley is not obligated to accept it.
Accepting the sacrifice with 14.Nd4 Bxe2 15.Nxe6 Bxd1 16.Nxf8 is not so convincing. After 16…Ba4 (16…Bc2 17.Nd7 Nd8 18.e6 Nxe6 19.Bd2 Rd8 also offers decent compensation.) 17.b3 (17.Nd7? Nd8 the idea behind Black’s 16th move. The white knight is trapped) 17…Bb5 18.a4 Bd3 19.Nd7 Rd8 20.e6 fxe6 21.Ne5 Nxe5 22.Bxe5 Bc2 I do not think White has any advantage here. Take note that the b3 pawn cannot be saved: 23.b4? cxb4 24.cxb4 d4! Black is the one playing to win.
As I have just shown you the past few moves seem to be quiet development but there is a lot of turbulence beneath the surface. And what has Wesley achieved from his deadly accurate play in the opening? Just the more active pieces. But that is enough for him to work with.
Black had to defend d5, and 15…Rad8 does not seem to work: 16.Ng5 Bxg5 (16…Qf5 17.Bg4 Qc2 18.e6 Qxd2 19.exf7+ Bxf7 20.Bxd2 Black’s position has not yet properly untangled) 17.Bxg5 Rd7 18.b3! (so that …d5–d4 becomes unpalatable for Black because of Bc4) 18…Re8 19.f4 h6 20.Bh4 followed by Bf3 puts a lot of pressure on Black’s center.
[16…Qf5? 17.Bg4 Qg6 18.Nxe4 dxe4 19.Qd5 White wins a pawn at the minimum]
[17…Nxe5? 18.f3 Bf5 19.Qxd5 material is already equal but Black is about to lose at least another pawn]
18.Be3 d4 19.cxd4 Rfd8 20.Qc3! Qg6
Just in case Wesley overlooks the mate threat on g2.
21.g3 cxd4 22.Bxd4 Qe6 23.Kh2 Rac8 24.Qe3 Bf5 25.Bc3 Rxd1
Yu Yangyi did not like 25…Bxh3 26.f3 (threatening to trap the bishop with g3–g4) 26…Bf5 27.g4 Bc2 28.Rxd8+ Rxd8 29.b3! followed by Bc4 keeps up the pressure on e6.
26.Rxd1 Qxa2 27.g4 Be6
Yu Yangyi is a very tough defender. Putting the bishop on e6 was his main idea. Now if White tries to continue the offensive with 28.f4 then 28…Ne7! 29.f5 Nd5 introduces unwanted complications.
Introduces the new threat of Rd6 followed by Bd3.
Wesley decides there is no harm in grabbing a pawn. He could also have proceeded with his plan of 29.Rd6! g6 30.h4 and Black is at a loss for a proper defense.
29…Nd5 30.Bd4! a5 31.Bf3 Qc4 32.b3 Qc2 <D>
POSITION AFTER 32…QC2
Out of a supposedly “dull and boring” Petroff Wesley has put pressure on Yu Yangyi’s position and he does not let up here.
33.Bxd5! Bxd5 34.Qxd5 Qxd1 35.e6!
The attack is not yet over.
35…Qc2 36.exf7+ Kh7?
[36…Kf8 was the only way to keep the game going. 37.Qd6+ Kxf7 38.Qd7+ Kf8 39.Qxg7+ Ke8 40.Qe5+ Kd7 41.Qd5+ Ke7 42.Qxa5 Qc7+ 43.Qxc7+ Rxc7 We get an ending where white has a bishop and 3 pawns against black’s rook. White should win although of course there are a lot of technical issues]
37.Qe5 Qg6 38.Qe7! 1–0
The pawn will queen.
Wesley So’s opponent in round 2 is Ian Nepomniachtchi. There are no ifs or buts about this, Wesley has to defeat the formidable Nepomniachtchi without going into tiebreaks to keep up his Candidates’chances.
Bobby Ang is a founding member of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and its first Executive Director. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA), he taught accounting in the University of Santo Tomas (UST) for 25 years and is currently Chief Audit Executive of the Equicom Group of Companies.