Only four left standing

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Bobby Ang

Chess Piece

FIDE World Cup 2019
Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia
Sept. 9–Oct. 2, 2019

Results of Round 4 (winners)

Ding Liren CHN 2811 vs. Kirill Alekseenko RUS 2671 3-1

Alexander Grischuk RUS 2759 vs. Leinier Dominguez Perez USA 2763 2.5-1.5

Nikita Vitiugov RUS 2732 vs. Wesley So USA 2767 1.5-0.5

Ian Nepomniachtchi RUS 2776 vs. Yu Yangyi CHN 2763 0.5-1.5

Jan-Krzysztof Duda POL 2730 vs. Jeffery Xiong USA 2707 3.5-4.5

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov AZE 2767 vs. Teimour Radjabov AZE 2758 2.5-3.5

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave FRA 2774 vs. Peter Svidler RUS 2729, 1.5-0.5

Le Quang Liem VIE 2708 vs. Levon Aronian ARM 2758 2.5-3.5

Results of Round 5

Alexander Grischuk RUS 2759 vs. Ding Liren CHN 2811 0.5-1.5

Nikita Vitiugov RUS 2732 vs. Yu Yangyi CHN 2763 4-5

Jeffery Xiong USA 2707 vs. Teimour Radjabov AZE 2758 0.5-1.5

Levon Aronian ARM 2758 vs. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave FRA 2774 1.5-2.5

7-round 128 player. Knockout event

Time Control: 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, then 30 minutes play-to-finish with 30 seconds added to your clock after every move, starting move 1

In the 4th and 5th rounds all the Russian and American players were knocked out and the four players left standing, the semifinalists, are:

Ding Liren CHN 2811

Yu Yangyi CHN 2763

Teimour Radjabov AZE 2758

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave FRA 2774

I was really happy in the third round when Vitiugov upset Sergey Karjakin. As our readers know Karjakin almost won his world title match against Magnus Carlsen in November 2016 — they drew 6-6 in the classical games and it was only in the rapid tie-breaks that Carlsen prevailed. He is equally deadly in any time control, having won the 2012 World Rapid and 2016 World Blitz Chess Championships.

Let’s be clear about this though, GM Nikita Vitiugov is no slouch. He is a member of the gold-medal winning Russian teams to the World Team Chess Championships in 2009 and 2013. Vitiugov is known to be an expert in the French Defense and is a mainstay of the St. Petersburg Chess Club, which a few years ago was renamed Mednyi Vsadnik, or “Bronze Horsemen,” a reference to one of the symbols of the city, the great status of Peter the Great in the Senate Square in Saint Petersburg.

It also turned out that Vitiugov is in the pink of his form. Wesley So ran into an inferior variation of the Petroff and could not hold the position.

Vitiugov, Nikita (2732) — So, Wesley (2767) [C43]
FIDE World Cup 2019 Khanty-Mansiysk (4.1), 20.09.2019

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 Nxe4 4.Bd3 d5 5.Nxe5 Nd7 6.Nc3 Nxe5 7.dxe5 Nxc3 8.bxc3

Overall this opening line does not have a good reputation. White always has Qh5, Bg5, 0–0, f2–f4, et cetc. Which explains Wesley’s next move, preventing Bg5 once and for all. This is a passive treatment though and Vitiugov plays masterfully to bring out the advantages of his position.

8…Be7 9.0–0 0–0 10.f4 f5

This move is supposed to equalize according to some old analysis by Forintos and Haag. It has a bad scoring history though: it has come up 5 times in the tournament circuit and white won 3 times with 2 draws, no losses.

11.Be3 Be6 12.a4 Qd7 13.Qf3 Rfd8 14.Rfd1 c5 15.Kh1 g6 16.h3 Qc7 17.Qf2 b6 18.Qe1 Kh8 19.Be2 Rg8 20.Bf3 Rad8 21.a5 b5 22.a6! Rd7 23.Rdb1 Rb8 24.Bf2 Rdd8 25.Qe2 Qb6 26.Rb2 Rd7 27.Qf1 Rc7 28.Be2 Bd7 29.Qd1 Qe6 30.Ra5 Kg7 31.Qa1 g5 32.Bxb5 Rxb5 33.Raxb5 Bxb5 34.Rxb5 gxf4

I was following this game live on the internet with the sinking feeling that Black’s position is getting progressively worse. Now it finally looks like Wesley is getting attacking chances in the kingside — the e5 pawn is in danger and then he can follow-up by putting his bishop on the b8–h2 diagonal and threaten mate.


Vitiugov calmly continues his queenside action.

35…Qxe5 36.Rb7 Rxb7

It turns out that Wesley’s king is unfortunately placed. After 36…Bd6 37.Rxc7+ Bxc7 38.Qxc5 f3?? 39.Bd4 the end.

37.axb7 f3 38.gxf3 Bd6 39.Kg2 Qh2+ 40.Kf1 Qxh3+ 41.Ke2 Qh2

White’s b7 pawn will win the game for him.

42.Qxa7 Kf6 43.Qb6 Ke7 44.Qc6 Kd8 45.Qc8+ Ke7 46.Qxf5 Kd8 47.Kf1 Qh1+ 48.Bg1 Bh2 49.Qg4 Bd6 50.Ke2 Ke7 51.Bxc5 Qh2+ 52.Bf2 h5 53.Qf5 Kd8 54.Qc8+ Ke7 55.Qf5 Kd8 56.Qf7 h4 57.Qg8+ Kd7 58.Qg4+ Kc6 59.Qc8+ Kb5 60.b8Q+ [60.b8Q+ Bxb8 61.Qc5+ Ka4 62.Qb4#] 1–0

The 4th round ended the campaign of GM Kirill Alekseenko. He was the only player rated less than 2700 in the field. You will recall that he knocked out the tough Vietnamese Nguyen Ngoc Truongson (2638) in the first round, Norway’s Johan-Sebastian Christiansen (2558) in a thrilling tactics fest in the 2nd and the heavily-favored Indian no. 2 Penteala Harikrishna (2746) in the third.

Ding, Liren (2811) — Alekseenko, Kirill (2671) [A20]
FIDE World Cup 2019 Khanty-Mansiysk (4.3), 22.09.2019

1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bg2 d6 5.e3 Bg7 6.Nge2 h5 7.h4 Be6 8.b3 Nf6 9.d4 exd4 10.exd4 Bg4 11.0–0 Qd7 12.Bg5 0–0 13.Qd2 Rae8 14.Rae1 a6 15.d5 <D>



I was really surprised to see that this is the losing move. Apparently the knight should have gone to e7.

16.Bxf6! Bxe2

It turns out that 16…Bxf6 17.f4 Bxe2 18.fxe5 Bxf1 19.exf6 Rxe1 20.Qh6 is mate.

17.Bxg7 Bxf1 18.Qh6

No salvation.

18…f6 19.Qh8+ Kf7 20.Bxf8 Nf3+

[20..Rxf8 21.Qh7+ Ke8 22.Qxg6+ Kd8 23.Qh6 Qf7 24.Rxf1 White remains up a piece]

21.Bxf3 Rxe1 22.Bh6 Bd3+ 23.Kh2 Qe7 24.c5! 1–0

After 24.c5 (the threat is 25.Qg7+ Ke8 26.Qg8+ Kd7 27.c6+ bxc6 28.dxc6#) Black is forced to play 24…dxc5 25.d6! Qxd6 26.Bd5+ Re6 27.Bf8! Qxf8 28.Bxe6+ Ke7 29.Nd5+ Ke8 30.Nxc7+ Ke7 31.Qh7+ White mates.

Teimour Radjabov won the battle of Azeris by prevailing over Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 3.5-2.5 Radjabov (born March 12, 1987) is a former child prodigy who gained international attention at the age of 15 by defeating Garry Kasparov in the 2003 Linares tournament and then following it up with victories over Vishy Anand and Ruslan Ponomariov, both at the peak of their powers, later in the year. In recent years though he has not been very active and, despite his high rating, it was frankly a surprise that he has lasted this long in the World Cup. The decisive game featured a nice escape:

Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar (2767) — Radjabov, Teimour (2758) [D36]
FIDE World Cup 2019 Khanty-Mansiysk (4.6), 22.09.2019

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bg5 Be7 6.e3 0–0 7.Bd3 c6 8.Nge2 Nbd7 9.Qc2 Re8 10.0–0 Nf8 11.f3 g6 12.Bh4 Ne6 13.Kh1 b5 14.Rac1 Bb7 15.Nd1 Rc8 16.Qd2 a6 17.b4 Ne4 18.Bxe4 Bxh4 19.Bb1 a5 20.a3 axb4 21.axb4 Qe7 22.f4 Nf8 23.Ng1 Nd7 24.Nf3 Bf6 25.Ne5 Nb6 26.Nb2 Nc4 27.Nbxc4 bxc4 28.e4 Bg7 29.Rce1 Qc7 30.h4 Ba6 31.Rf2 Rb8 32.h5 Qd6 33.Qd1 dxe4 34.Bxe4 Rxb4 35.Nxf7! Kxf7 36.f5 Bf6 37.fxg6+ Kg7 38.gxh7?

Turns the win into a loss. He should have gone 38.h6+! Kxh6 (38…Kg8 39.Bd5+; 38…Kh8 39.Rxf6 Qxf6 40.g7+ Kg8 41.Bd5+) 39.gxh7 Bg5 (39…Qg3?? 40.Rxf6+ Kg7 41.Rg6+ White wins) 40.Qf3 the attack is winning.

38…Qg3 39.Rf3 Qh4+ 40.Rh3 Rxe4! 41.Rf1

[41.Rxh4 Rxh4+ 42.Kg1 Bxd4+ 43.Kf1 c3+]

41…Rb3 42.Rxh4 Rxh4+ 43.Kg1 Bxd4+ 44.Rf2 Rb2 0–1

The leader of the Saint Petersburg School of Chess, Peter Svidler, also got eliminated in the 4th round. He thought he had a winning attack, but overlooked one small thing …

Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime (2774) — Svidler, Peter (2729) [C99]
FIDE World Cup 2019 Khanty-Mansiysk (4.1), 20.09.2019

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0–0 8.c3 d6 9.h3 Na5 10.Bc2 c5 11.d4 Qc7 12.Nbd2 cxd4 13.cxd4 Nc6 14.Nb3 a5 15.Be3 a4 16.Nbd2 Bd7 17.Rc1 Rac8 18.Bd3 Qb7 19.Qe2 h6 20.a3

[20.Bxb5? Nxd4 21.Nxd4 Rxc1 22.Rxc1 exd4 23.Ba6 Qb6 24.Bf4 Qxb2 Black has an extra pawn with a better position.]

20…exd4 21.Nxd4 Nxd4 22.Bxd4 Rxc1 23.Rxc1 b4 24.Nc4

Svidler at this point decided to give up a pawn to free up his position.

24…bxa3 25.bxa3 Bb5 26.Nxd6! Bxd3 27.Qxd3 Bxd6 28.Bxf6 Bf4 29.Rb1 Qc7 30.Bc3 Rd8 31.Qf3 Rc8 32.Bb4 Qc1+ 33.Qd1 Qc4 34.g3 Qxe4?!

Part of his plan. Now after 35.gxf4 Rc6–g6 he would have a decisive attack.

35.gxf4 Rc6 36.f5!

Obviously overlooked by Svidler.

36…Qxf5 37.Bd6

Now the bishop gets to defend his king.

37…Qxh3 38.Rb4 Rc3 39.Rd4 Kh7 40.Qxa4 Qf3 41.Qd1 Qc6 42.Qf1 1–0

On Thursday we feature the very exciting Duda versus Xiong match!


Bobby Ang is a founding member of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and its first Executive Director. A Certified Public Accountant, he taught accounting in the University of Santo Tomas for 25 years and is currently Chief Audit Executive of the Equicom Group of Companies.