Moscow Grand Prix

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Bobby Ang

Chess Piece

Moscow FIDE Grand Prix 2019
Moscow, Russia
May 16-30, 2019

(All participants are GMs)

Round 1

Daniil Dubov (RUS 2690) versus Anish Giri (NED 2787) 1.5-0.5

Hikaru Nakamura (USA 2761) vs. Teimour Radjabov AZE 2759 2.5-1.5

Wesley So (USA 2754) vs. Jan-Krzysztof Duda (POL 2728) 2.5-1.5

Alexander Grischuk (RUS 2772) vs. Sergey Karjakin (RUS 2752) 1.5-0.5

Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS 2773) vs. Levon Aronian (ARM 2762) 1.5-0.5

Wei Yi (CHN 2736) vs. Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS 2708) 1.5-0.5

Peter Svidler (RUS 2739) vs. Nikita Vitiugov (RUS 2734) 1.5-0.5

Radoslaw Wojtaszek (POL 2724) vs. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE 2781) 1.5-0.5

Round 2

Mr. Hikaru Nakamura USA vs. Daniil Dubov RUS 2.5-1.5

Alexander Grischuk RUS vs. Wesley So 2.5-1.5

Ian Nepomniachtchi RUS vs. Wei Yi CHN 2.5-1.5

Radoslaw Wojtaszek POL vs. Peter Svidler RUS 1.5-0.5

Round 3

Alexander Grischuk RUS vs. Hikaru Nakamura USA 1.5-0.5

Ian Nepomniachtchi RUS vs. Radoslaw Wojtaszek POL 3.5-2.5

Round 4

Ian Nepomniachtchi RUS vs. Alexander Grischuk RUS 2.5-1.5

With the change of administration of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) there have been some rule changes in the qualification process for the world chess championship.

As usual, the challenger will be the winner of a Candidates Tournament which will be an 8-player round-robin tournament played in the first half of 2020. There has been a slight change in the composition of the Candidates Tournament, though. Now the 8 players will be:

– The loser of the 2018 championship match, Fabiano Caruana

– The two finalists of the Chess World Cup 2019

– The top finisher in the FIDE Grand Swiss Tournament 2019

– The top two finishers in the FIDE Grand Prix 2019

One player qualifying by rating: highest average of the 12 rating lists from February this year to January 2020, and,

One wild card selected by the organizer of the Candidates Tournament.

The new rules also bring about a change in the format of FIDE World Chess Grand Prix. Instead of 18-player swiss events now each leg will have 16 players in a knock-out tournament over four rounds. Each round will consist of two classical games and the rapid and blitz tie breaks.

The four legs of FIDE Grand Prix are:

1st Leg. May 16–30, 2019 in Moscow, Russia; 2nd Leg. July 11–25, 2019 in Riga, Latvia; 3rd Leg. Nov. 4–18, 2019 in Hamburg, Germany; and 4th Leg. Dec. 10–24, 2019 in Tel-Aviv, Israel.

Grandmaster (GM) Ian Nepomniachtchi (born July 14, 1990) covered himself in glory by winning the first leg of the FIDE Grand Prix. For many years considered among the most promising Russians who will soon reach elite status, he has with this victory erased all doubts that he is already there among the top echelons. The 2010 European Champion and Russian SuperFinals Champion, he is currently ranked 7th in the world. Ian is also highly skilled in the faster time controls and has won two silver medals (2013 Khanty-Mansiysk and 2015 Berlin) in the World Rapid Championship and one silver medal (2014 Dubai) in the World Blitz.

Here in Moscow the format is two-game KO matches with time control of 90 minutes for the 1st 40 moves then 30-minutes play-to-finish with 30 seconds added to your clock after each move starting move 1.

In case of a tie, best-of-two matches will take place until the tie is broken — first with a time control of 25’+10” (25 minutes play-to-finish with 10 second increment after every move), then 10’+10”, and finally 5’+3”. If a winner has not emerged, the players will go to an Armageddon game, with 5 minutes for White and 4 minutes for Black (a 2-second increment will be used from move 61), in case the Armageddon game is drawn then the player with the black pieces is declared the winner.

In the first round Ian Nepomniatchi defeated Levon Aronian 1.5-0.5. Ian won a difficult Q+P endgame in the 1st game and drew the second.

In the second round Nepomniachtchi beat Wei Yi 2.5-1.5. They drew the 2 main games but the tie-breaks were thrillers! First was a really hard-fought Sicilian Najdorf Poisoned Pawn Variation, finally drawn on the 70th move and then Wei Yi got tricked in the decisive 2nd game:

Nepomniachtchi, Ian (2773) — Wei, Yi (2736) [B15]
Grand Prix Moscow 2019
Moscow (2.4), 22.05.2019

1.e4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Nc3 g6 4.d4 Bg7 5.h3 dxe4 6.Nxe4 Nf6 7.Nxf6+ exf6 8.Bc4 0–0 9.0–0 a5 10.a4 Nd7 11.Bf4 Nb6 12.Bb3 Nd5 13.Bh2 Be6 14.Re1 h5 15.Nd2 f5 16.c3 Bh6 17.Nc4 f4 18.Ne5 Qg5 19.Qf3 Rae8 20.Re2 <D>


Wei Yi was quite satisfied with his position and was trying to figure out a way to push back White’s forces. He finally hit upon the complications after 20…f6 21.Nd3 Bg4! White’s queen has nowhere to go but he has the counter 22.Bxf4 and everything is up in the air.

20…f6? 21.h4!

Oops! If now 21…Qxh4 then 22.Nxg6 wins material for White.

21…Qf5 22.Bc2

To his horror Wei Yi now realizes that his Queen is lost.

22…Qxc2 23.Rxc2 fxe5 24.dxe5 Bg4 25.Qd3 Bf5 26.Qd1 Bxc2 27.Qxc2 Re6 28.Re1 Bg7 29.c4 Nb4 30.Qd2 Rxe5 31.Rxe5 Bxe5 32.g3 fxg3 33.Bxg3 Bxg3 34.fxg3 c5 35.Qd7 Rf7 36.Qd8+ Kg7 37.Qxa5 Na6 38.Qb6 Kh7 39.Kg2 Kh6 40.a5 Kh7 41.Qd6 Kg7 42.g4! hxg4 43.Kg3 Kh7 44.Kxg4 Kg7 1–0

Third round he beat Poland’s Radoslaw Wojtaszek, 3.5-2.5. Two short draws in the classical games before the battle flared up in the tie-breaks. Nepom broke through in the final game of the 2nd tie-break.

(295) Nepomniachtchi, Ian (2773) — Wojtaszek, Radoslaw (2724) [B51]
Moscow FIDE Grand Prix
Moscow RUS (3.6), 25.05.2019

This is the 2nd game of 2nd tie-break.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Nd7 4.d4 cxd4 5.Qxd4 a6 6.Bxd7+ Bxd7 7.Nc3 e5 8.Qd3 Rc8 9.0–0 h6 10.Nd2 Qc7 11.h3 Nf6 12.a4 Be7 13.Rd1 0–0 14.Nf1 d5!?

In the second game of the first tie-break Wojtaszek had continued 14…Be6 15.Ne3 Qc5 16.Qe2 Bd8 17.Qf3 b5 18.axb5 axb5 19.Ne2 Bb6 20.Ng3 Ra8 21.Rxa8 Rxa8 22.c3 Ra1 23.Nef5 Ne8 24.Be3 Rxd1+ 25.Qxd1 Qc7 and Nepom shocked Black with … 26.Bxh6!? (as you know sacrifices like this, even though not 100% correct, can be lethal in games with fast time controls) 26…gxh6 27.Qg4+ Kf8 28.Qh4 f6 29.Qxh6+ Kg8 30.Qg6+ Kf8 31.Qh5 Qf7 32.Qh8+ Qg8 33.Qh6+ and drawn on the 37th move.

15.exd5 Ne8 16.d6!

Opening up the d5 square for his knight.


Almost forced.

16…Nxd6? loses a piece: 17.Nd5 Qd8 18.Nxe7+ Qxe7 19.Qxd6;

16…Qxd6 17.Nd5 Bc6 18.Nfe3 White is better.

17.Nd5 Qc6 18.Nfe3 Bc5?

A crucial waste of time. Black’s most logical continuation is 18…f5.

19.b4! Bd6

It appears that Wojtaszek overlooked that 19…Bxe3 loses his queen to 20.Ne7+


Now the White pawns cannot be contained.

20…b6 21.a5! e4

[21…bxa5 22.c5 wins the bishop because of White’s threat of Ne7+]

22.Qd4 Be6 23.axb6 Bxd5 24.Qxd5 Qxd5 25.Rxd5 Bxb4 26.Rxa6 Nd6 27.b7 Nxb7 28.Rb6 1–0

The Final round was an all-Russian affair. Nepom defeated Alexander Grischuk 2.5-1.5. Once again the two main games were drawn but Nepom won the 2nd game of the 1st tie-break to clinch the title.

Nepomniachtchi, Ian (2773) — Grischuk,Alexander (2772) [C54]
Grand Prix Moscow 2019
Moscow (4.4), 29.05.2019

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.c3 d6 6.a4 a6 7.h3 Ba7 8.0–0 h6 9.Re1 0–0 10.Nbd2 Re8 11.b4 Be6 12.Bxe6 Rxe6 13.Qc2 Qd7 14.Nc4 d5 15.exd5 Qxd5 16.Ne3 Qd7 17.Nc4 Qd5 18.Ne3 Qd7 19.b5 Na5

After the game I thought that 19…Ne7 might be better, keeping the knight in the center, but it is not so simple. After 20.bxa6 bxa6 21.Nc4 Black’s e5 pawn is attacked three times and it is only defended once.


Black’s knight is offside. As the Chessbase website explains it: Under these circumstances, White happily exchanged pieces until reaching a position in which the difference in quality between his dark-squared bishop and Black’s knight-on-the-rim was clearly evident.

20…Bd4 21.Rb1 axb5 22.axb5 Ree8 23.c5 Nd5 24.Nxd5 Qxd5 25.Nxd4 exd4 26.Rxe8+! Rxe8 27.Bf4 Re7 28.Qa4 b6 29.c6

Black’s knight is a liability on a5, and his pawn on d4 will fall to Rb1–b4xd4. White is winning.

29…Kh7 30.Rb4 Qe6 31.Rxd4 f5 32.Be3 g5 33.Qb4 Rg7 34.Rd8 Nb3 35.Bd4 Re7? 36.Qxe7+! 1–0

After 36.Qxe7+ Qxe7 37.Rd7 is an easy win.

How did Wesley So do? Well, he beat Poland’s Duda in the first round but went down to Grischuk in the tie-breaks. We will discuss his performance on Thursday.


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.