World Cup madness

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Bobby Ang

Chess Piece

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

Results of Round 2 (winners)

Ding Liren CHN 2811 vs. Sergei Movsesian ARM 2654 2.5-1.5

Daniil Dubov RUS 2699 vs. Alireza Firouzja IRI 2702 0.5-1.5

Kirill Alekseenko RUS 2671 vs. Johan-Sebastian Christiansen NOR 2558 2.5-1.5

Penteala Harikrishna IND 2746 vs. Vladimir Fedoseev RUS 2664 1.5-0.5

Nijat Abasov AZE 2632 vs. Leinier Dominguez Perez USA 2763 1-3

Wang Hao CHN 2726 vs. Maxim Rodshtein ISR 2684 1.5-0.5

Alexander Grischuk RUS 2759 vs. Benjamin Bok NED 2640 2.5-1.5

Ernesto Inarkiev RUS 2693 vs. Xu Xiangyu CHN 2570, 0.5-1.5

Antom Demchenko RUS 2655 vs. Wesley So USA 2767, 0.5-1.5

Vidit Santosh Gujrathi IND 2718 vs. Aleksandr Rakhmanov RUS 2606 1.5-0.5

Sergey Karjakin RUS 2760 vs. Samuel Sevian USA 2654 2-0

Niclas Huschenbeth GER 2620 vs. Nikita Vitiugov RUS 2732 1-3

Ian Nepomniachtchi RUS 2776 vs. Alexandr Predke RUS 2657 1.5-0.5

Chithambaran Aravindh IND 2609 vs. Evgeny Tomashevsky RUS 2718 0.5-1.5

Baskaran Adhiban IND 2639 vs. Yu Yangyi CHN 2763 1.5-2.5

Wei Yi CHN 2721 vs. David Anton Guijarro ESP 2674 2.5-1.5

Evgeniy Najer RUS 2635 vs. Anish Giri NED 2780 4-5

Jeffery Xiong USA 2707 vs. M.amin Tabatabaei IRI 2642 3-1

Dmitry Andreikin RUS 2741 vs. GM Rinat Jumabayev KAZ 2630 1.5-0.5

Tamir Nabaty ISR 2658 vs. Jan-Krzysztof Duda POL 2730 0-2

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov AZE 2767 vs. Rustam Kasimdzhanov UZB 2657 1.5-0.5

Nihal Sarin IND 2610 vs. Eltaj Safarli AZE 2593 1.5-2.5

Sanan Sjugirov RUS 2662 vs. Teimour Radjabov AZE 2758 1.5-2.5

Daniil Yuffa RUS 2577 vs. Luke McShane ENG 2682 5-3

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave FRA 2774 vs. Igor Kovalenko LAT 2674 2-0

Gawain Jones ENG 2688 vs. Dmitry Jakovenko RUS 2681 1-3

Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu GER 2656 vs. Hikaru Nakamura USA 2745 1.5-0.5

Peter Svidler RUS 2729 vs. Andrey Esipenko RUS 2624 3-1

Parham Maghsoodloo IRI 2664 vs. Levon Aronian ARM 2758 0.5-1.5

Maxim Matlakov RUS 2716 vs. Boris Gelfand ISR 2686 2.5-1.5

Vladislav Artemiev RUS 2746 vs. Ivan Cheparinov GEO 2670 1.5-0.5

Anton Korobov UKR 2679 vs. Le Quang Liem VIE 2708 0.5=1.5


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

After the first week of play in the FIDE World Cup the 128-player field has been whittled down to 32:

RUSSIA (12 players). Ian Nepomniachtchi 2776, Sergey Karjakin 2760, Alexander Grischuk 2759, Vladislav Artemiev 2746, Dmitry Andreikin 2741, Nikita Vitiugov 2732, Peter Svidler 2729, Evgeny Tomashevsky 2718, Maxim Matlakov 2716, Dmitry Jakovenko 2681, Kirill Alekseenko 2671, Daniel Yuffa 2577.

CHINA (5 players). Ding Liren 2811, Yu Yangyi 2763, Wang Hao 2726, Wei Yi 2721, Xu Xiangyu 2578

USA (3 players). Wesley So 2767, Leinier Dominguez 2763, Jeffery Xiong 2707.

AZERBAIJAN (3 players). Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2767, Teimour Radjabov 2758, Eltaj Safarli 2593.

INDIA (2 players). Penteala Harikrishna 2746, Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 2718.

ARMENIA. Levon Aronian 2758

FRANCE. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 2774

GERMNAY. Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu

IRAN. Alireza Firouzja 2702

NETHERLANDS. Anish Giri 2780

POLAND. Jan-Krzysztof Duda 2730

VIETNAM. Le Quang Liem 2708

The 32-year-old GM Anton Demchenko hails from the Black Sea port city of Novorossiysk, Russia. This is the base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. It has the rare status of “Hero City.” Back in 1942 the German army occupied the city but a small unit of Soviet sailors refused to give in and defended its port for 225 days from February 4, 1943 up to the time that the town was liberated by the Red Army on September 16, 1943. This heroic defense prevented the Axis Powers from using the port for supply shipments. In commemoration of this heroic feat Novorossiysk was awarded the title Hero City in 1973. But I digress.

GM Demchenko is no stranger to Filipino players. He played in and won the PSC/Puregold International Chess Challenge in Quezon City in 2014. This was a pretty decent tournament with 13 GMs including Ivan Popov, Mikhail Mozharov (both from Russia), Levan Pantsulaia and Merab Gagunashvili from Georgia, and Avetik Grigoryan from Armenia. What we noticed back then was that Demchenko has a kill or be killed attitude to chess — he doesn’t go for draws and fearlessly stirs up the hornet’s nest every time. Out of his winning score of 8/10, for example, he won 8 and lost twice and not once did he agree to a draw.

Wesley So was not having any of that nonsense, however. In the decisive game two of their mini-match he showed ruthless efficiency. First he exchanged off the queens, second saddled his opponent with doubled pawns, third won one of the pawns, and then cashed in. Black was not given a chance to come back.

So, Wesley (2767) — Demchenko, Anton (2655) [D31]
FIDE World Cup 2019 Khanty-Mansiysk RUS (2.2), 14.09.2019

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 a6

[Not as eccentric as it looks. Black’s idea is to play …dxc4 followed by …b7–b5, which explains White’s next move]

4.cxd5 exd5 5.Nf3 Nf6 6.Bg5 Be6 7.e3 Nbd7 8.Bd3 c6 9.Qb3 Qb6 10.Qxb6 Nxb6 11.Bxf6 gxf6 12.Nh4 a5 13.0–0–0 Bb4 14.Ne2 Nc4 15.Nf4

[Played not to exchange knight for bad bishop but to prepare Nh5] 15…Bd6 16.Nh5 Be7 17.Nf5 Bxf5 18.Bxf5 Nd6 19.Bd3 Rg8 20.Rhg1 [Wesley will be following up with g2–g4, h2–h3 and then reposition his knight to f5] 20…f5 21.Ng3 Bh4 22.Rdf1 Bxg3 23.hxg3 h6 24.Rh1 [White will win either the h6 or f5 pawn] 24…Rg6 25.Rh5 Rf6 [25…Ke7!? 26.Bxf5 Rg5 27.Rxg5 hxg5 28.Bc2 Rh8 might put up more fight] 26.Rfh1 Ke7 27.Rxh6 Rxh6 28.Rxh6 Rg8 29.Kd2 Kd7 30.Ke2! [White will be bringing his king to e5] 30…Ke7 31.Kf3 b6 32.Kf4 Rg4+ 33.Ke5 f6+ [Black’s most logical move is 33…Rg6 but then Wesley’s rook will transfer to the queenside and wipe out the pawns there, e.g., 34.Rh8 Ne4 35.Rb8 b5 36.Rb7+ Kf8 37.b3 Nxf2 38.Bxf5 Rxg3 39.Kf6 threatening a back rank mate 39…Rxe3 40.Rxf7+ Kg8 (40…Ke8 leads to similar lines) 41.Rg7+ Kf8 42.Rc7 Re8 (42…Ne4+ 43.Bxe4 Rxe4 44.Rc8+ Re8 45.Rxe8+ Kxe8 46.Ke6 game over) 43.Rxc6 Ne4+ 44.Kg6 this is an easy win] 34.Rxf6 Nf7+ 35.Rxf7+ [Wesley avoids the trap 35.Kxf5?? Rg5+! 36.Kf4 Kxf6 and Black is the one who wins] 35…Kxf7 36.Bxf5 Rg7 37.g4 Ke7 38.f4 Rg8 39.g5 Re8 40.Be6 1–0

Also in game 2 of his own mini-match the Iranian GM Alireza Firouzja showed some brilliant play to oust Daniil Dubov. White’s 37th move should qualify the following game for the brilliancy prize or at least the “move of the tournament.”

Firouzja, Alireza (2702) — Dubov, Daniil (2699) [B31]
FIDE World Cup 2019 Khanty-Mansiysk RUS (2.2), 14.09.2019

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6 4.0–0 Bg7 5.c3 Nf6 6.Re1 0–0 7.h3 Qb6 8.a4 a6 9.Bxc6 bxc6

[Back in 1999 when we were preparing for GM Joey Antonio’s world championship tournament in Las Vegas we spent a lot of time on the Sicilian Rossolimo as he had intended to use it with White. GM Joey was a firm believer in the weakness of Black’s doubled c-pawns and in the period between then and now I have seen nothing to dispel that judgement] 10.e5 Nd5 11.a5 Qd8 12.d3 d6 13.Qa4 dxe5 14.Nxe5 Bxe5 15.Rxe5 Qd6 16.Re1 Bf5 17.Na3! Rfe8 [17…Bxd3 is too dangerous because of the open d-file: 18.Bh6 Rfe8 19.Rad1 Bb5 (19…c4 20.Nxc4) 20.Qb3 with c3–c4 coming] 18.Nc4 Qc7 19.Be3 Nxe3 20.Rxe3 Rad8 21.Ne5 f6 22.Qxc6 Qd6 [22…Qxc6 23.Nxc6 Rd7 gives White the tempo for 24.d4] 23.Qxd6 exd6 24.Ng4 Rxe3 25.fxe3 Rb8 26.Nxf6+ Kg7 27.Nd5 Rxb2 28.e4 Bd7 29.Rf1 [Intending Rf1–f6xd6] 29…Be6 30.Nc7 Bd7 31.Nxa6 Rb7 32.c4 Be8 33.e5 Ra7 34.Nb8 Rb7 [34…Rxa5 35.exd6 Ra7 36.Rd1 Rb7 37.Na6 Rb6 38.Nxc5 Rxd6 39.Ra1 White has a decisive advantage] 35.Na6 Ra7 36.Nb8 Rb7 <D>


Firouzja was down to just over a minute on his clock but now unleashed …

37.exd6!! Rxb8 38.Re1 Kf8?

[It is counter-intuitive, but now the king gets stuck on the 8th rank. Better would have been 38…Kf6] 39.Re7 Rd8 40.a6 Rxd6 41.a7! [This is the point of GM Firouzja’s combination. All of black’s pieces will be stuck defending the queening white pawn and White will then be able to happily march up the board with his king] 41…Rd8 [41…Ra6 42.Rc7 Ra2 (42…Bc6?? 43.Rxc6 Rxa7 44.Rxc5) 43.Kh2 Ra3 44.Kg3 Rxd3+ 45.Kf4 Ra3 46.Ke5] 42.Rb7 Bc6 43.Rc7 Be8 44.Kf2 g5 45.Ke3 h6 46.g3 Bg6 47.Rb7 Rxd3+ 48.Kf2 Ra3 49.Rb8+ Kg7 50.a8Q Rxa8 51.Rxa8 Bd3 52.Ra4 Kf6 53.Ke3 Bf1 54.h4 gxh4 55.gxh4 Ke5 56.Ra6 Bxc4 57.Rxh6 Be6 58.Rg6 Bf5 59.Rg1 Kf6 60.h5 Bh7 61.h6 Bg6 62.Kd2 Kf7 63.Kc3 Kf6 64.Kc4 Bf7+ 65.Kxc5 Bg6 66.Kd6 Kf7 67.Ke5 Bd3 68.Rg7+ Kf8 [A beautifully played game, Let us see what magic Firouzja will come up with next round when he faces the tournament’s top seed Ding Liren!] 1–0

20-year-old GM Xu Xiangyu (2576) has not had the most outstanding performances compared with the other hopefuls in the seemingly endless Chinese stable of prodigies. In fact, last year, he was chosen to represent his country in the India versus China summit in Bhubaneswar, India. There, the Indian squad of Srinath Narayanan, Chithambaran VR Aravindh, Chopra Aryan and Murali Karthikeyan squared off against the Chinese team of Lu Shanglei, Bai Jinshi, Xu Yinglun and Xu Xiangyu in a Scheveningen system where each player on one team played all the others in the opposing team twice. Scoring was on a match point system and India won 9-7, their first victory in three tries. If the Chinese were looking for a scapegoat it would have been Xu Xiangyu who lost 3 games and drew 5 without a single win. He was the only one on their team who had a negative score.

Anyway, Xiangyu finished second behind former World Junior Champion Lu Shanglei in the 2018 Chinese Zonal Championship, which qualified him to the 2019 World Cup. He was the lowest-rated Chinese player in the field but turned out to be the revelation of the tournament. He ousted Bu Xiangzhi (2721), someone who outrated him by 145 rating points, in the first round and now pulled off another upset by showering the Russian GM Ernesto Inarkiev with tactical shots. You should take a look at the following game. This was Xu Xiangyu’s first really big international event playing against the elite 2600+ and 2700+ players, an adult tournament and not one of those Under-20 and other youth events he used to participate in. Somebody forgot to tell Xiangyu that usually the first-timers are cowed and play timidly, afraid to make a mistake.

Xu, Xiangyu (2576) — Inarkiev, Ernesto (2693) [E21]
Khanty-Mansiysk FIDE World Cup (11.24), 14.09.2019

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 b6 5.Bd2 0–0 6.e3 c5 7.Bd3 Ba6 8.a3 Bxc3 9.Bxc3 d5 10.dxc5 dxc4 11.Bc2 Nbd7 12.cxb6 axb6 13.h4!? Qc7 14.Qd4

[Seriously threatening g2–g4–g5 or h4–h5–h6] 14…Rfd8 15.h5 h6 16.Rh3 Kf8? [Inarkiev is the one to lose his composure. He could have immediately countered with 16…e5! 17.Nxe5 Nc5 18.Qh4 Nd3+ Black is giving as good as he is getting] 17.Rg3 Bb7 18.Qh4 Qd6 19.Rd1 Qe7 20.Qxc4 [Both players missed the combinatiion 20.Rxd7!! Nxd7 (If 20…Rxd7 21.Bb4 Rd6 22.Rxg7! Kxg7 23.Qg3+ followed by Bd6; 20…Qxd7 21.Bb4+ Ke8 22.Qxf6! gxf6 23.Rg8#) 21.Bxg7+ Ke8 22.Qf4 with a winning attack] 20…Nc5 21.Rxd8+ Rxd8 22.Qh4 Be4 23.Rxg7!! [Having missed the brilliancy on the 20th move Xu does not miss this second chance] 23…Kxg7 24.Bxe4 Ncd7 [24…Ncxe4 25.Qxe4 Qd6 26.Qd4! Qxd4 27.Bxd4 the pin on the long diagonal is too strong. Black probably has to give up the exchange by 27…Rxd4 but then White will be 2 pawns up in the knight endgame] 25.Ne5! Rc8 [25…Nxe5 26.Bxe5 Rc8 27.Qg3+ Kh8 28.Qf4 Kg7 29.g4 followed by g4–g5] 26.Nxd7 Rxc3 27.Qg3+! Kh8 28.Nxf6 Qxf6 29.bxc3 Qxc3+ 30.Ke2 f5 31.Bd3 Qb2+ 32.Kf3 Qxa3 33.Qe5+ Kh7 34.Qc7+ Kg8 35.Qd8+ Kf7 36.Bc4 Qa4 37.Qc8 Qd1+ 38.Kf4 Qd6+ 39.Kf3 Qd1+ 40.Be2 Qd5+ 41.Kg3 Qe5+ 42.Kh3 Qb2 43.Bc4 Qe5 44.Qd7+ Kf6 45.Qd8+ Kf7 46.Qxb6 1–0

There are still 5 rounds of action in the ongoing FIDE World Cup. I guess we should be thankful that having the games in Khanty-Mansiysk means that each round starts at 6 p.m. (Manila time) and by 10 p.m. most of the games will be over. Imagine what havoc it will cause your body clock if held in Saint Louis, Missouri where in Manila the games will start at 3 am!


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.