24 September 2015

Shall I Sing a Song About Wei Yi?

Final 16 of the World Cup in the report of Eteri Kublashvili.

Time runs so fast that very soon we are going to witness the World Cup Quarterfinal. Final 16 of the World Cup saw a delicate split as half of the matches were decided in the classic games, whereas the other half went into tiebreaks. 

The classical games saw Peter Svidler outplaying Veselin Topalov, the favorite of the Baku audience Shakhriyar Mamedyarov knocking Fabiano Caruana out of the tournament, Hikaru Nakamura outperforming Michael Adams within two days in an obvious desire to avoid tiebreaks yet another time, and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave prevailing over Wesley So. All matches finished with a 1.5-0.5 score. 

In the first game Peter Svidler succeeded in achieving a sizeable amount of advantage in the Hedgehog system, winning a pawn, but the Bulgarian grandmaster managed to create his own passed pawn and make the game complicated. 

Svidler – Topalov 
Round Four, Game One 

54. Rc1 with the inevitable 55.с7 was a decisive continuation in the position on the diagram, but Peter moved his rook in another direction – 54. Rde1, and the struggle resumed.

54…Qc4 55. h5 gxh5 56. Qh6+ Kg8 57. g6 fxg6? 

57…f5! was a saver, when the d5-pawn is hanging and the Black’s initiative is on the verge of becoming dangerous. Following the move in the game the advantage started belonging to White once again. 

58. Qxg6+ Rg7 59. Qxh5, and Peter Svidler mated his opponents in a few moves.

In the second game the position of Svidler conveyed a serious amount of concern to his fans, but Topalov, being under serious time pressure. let his edge go first, then went on to commit a blunder and offered a draw altogether. Peter agreed out of professional considerations, preferring a bird in the hands to an unclear line featuring a piece sacrifice for the sake of an attack.

In his game against Michael Adams Hikaru Nakamura succeeded in winning the ending by converting his advantage in the form of an extra pawn that he emerged with as early as out of the opening. In the second game the American managed to hold his ground as Black and thus qualified into the quarterfinal.

Tournament number three Fabiano Caruana fell victim to the opening preparation of Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and had to stop the clock shortly prior to the time control move. 

Mamedyarov – Caruana 
Round Four, Game One 

Whereas White features a clear-cut game on the kingside, Black’s pieces are cuddled together on the other part of the board.  The long and the short of it is that the situation on the board is ripe for precise deadly strikes, while Shakhriyar is a recognized master when it comes to delivering such blows.  

28. Nh5 Ne8 29. Nxg7 Nxg7 30. Bxh6 Nh5 31. Ng5+ Kg6 32. Rg1 Qe7 33. Nf7+ Kh7 34. Bg5 Qe8 35. Qe2 Ng7 36. Rf6 Rf8 37. Rh6+ Kg8 38. Bf6 Rxf7 39. Qh5, and Black resigns.

In the return game Caruana went on to obtain a very promising position out of the opening, but failed to squeeze as much as possible out of it and the game petered out to a draw, which counts as the Shakhriyar’s overall victory. 

Having prevailed in the second game of the Final 16, the French Maxime Vachier-Lagrave qualified into the Quarterfinal and provided himself with a full day off. 

So – Vachier-Lagrave 
Round Four, Game Two 

White captured a pawn in a greedy manner and ended up losing his piece as a result. 

22. Bxd5?! Ne5! 23. Re4 Ng6 24. Bxf7+ Kxf7 25. Nd6+ Kg8 26. Nxb7 Bc6, and the piece proved superior to the pawns in the endgame.

The following pairs went into tiebreaks: Sergey Karjakin – Dmitry Andreikin, Anish Giri – Radoslaw Wojtaszek, Dmitry Jakovenko – Pavel Eljanov, and Wei Yi – Ding Liren. Whereas the European players ended all their games in draws within the regulation time, the Chinese boys continued fighting for life and death. Ding Liren prevailed in the first game, which started off to an immediate tense struggle right out of the opening, whereas in the second match the youngest participant of the Final 16 managed to fight back by converting his extra pawn in a rook ending. Frankly speaking, the Chinese version of chess is distinguished by some unearthly clarity and harmony, which is especially evident during the internecine fights between the representatives of China. 

In fact, we have come to know Ding Liren for a long time now and have become accustomed to his participation in the top tournaments, but Wei Yi seems to be a man without nerves and featuring a remarkable talent at the same time. Magnus Carlsen has undoubtedly started getting the measure of the 16-year-old Chinese.

The final 16 tiebreak has turned out to be the shortest in the tournament so far as it didn’t even come to playing the blitz games. 

Sergey Karjakin has prevailed in the Russian derby by taking revenge from Dmitry Andreikin for the defeat in Tromsø. 

Karjakin – Andreikin 
Rapid, Game One 

In this position with a non-standard material balance Black started giving away his pawns in somewhat too generous a manner.

40…e5? 41. Ne3 d4 42. Ng4 Qg5 43. Nxe5 R8c3 44. Qh8+ Kxh8 45. Nxf7+, and Sergey Karjakin went on to win the game. 

In the return game Dmitry attempted to seek his game on the kingside, but the Black’s counterplay on the other side of the board proved superior. The opponents agreed to a draw in a position that featured advantage for Black, and Sergey Karjakin has thus advanced to the Quarterfinal. 

Anish Giri outplayed Radoslaw Wojtaszek in both games. In game one Anish caught his opponent on a variation and won in a confident manner. In game two Radoslaw won a pawn in the opening but missed a tactical blow later in the game. 

Wojtaszek – Giri 
Rapid, Game Two 

Sidestepping the king, e.g. to b2, would have retained the edge. White went 23. g4?! instead, and after 23..Rxc7 24. d6 Rxc4+ (with check!) 25. bxc4 Nc6 Black managed to extricate himself from the squeezed position and his two minor pieces proved superior to the rook. 

Dmitry Jakovenko and Pavel Eljanov made a draw in their first game. In the second game the Russian player committed a blunder and lost. According to the Ukrainian grandmaster, the first player always used to have an edge throughout the entire course of the match both in classical and rapid chess, but the meticulous play of the opponent would not allow to bring it home. In the second 25-minute game Eljanov managed to break this pattern.

Eljanov – Jakovenko 
Rapid, Game Two 

This is an extremely unpleasant position for Black as the d6-pawn and the c6-bishop have him completely tied down. Dmitry attempted to disrupt the harmony of White’s setup at the cost of his c-pawn, but failed to attain this goal: 25…c4 26. Ne3 c3 27. Rd4 c2 28.Kd2 Be2 29.g5! Bg4 30.Be4 Ke8 31.Kxc2, and Jakovenko failed to hold out in a same-colored bishop ending being down a pawn.  

The Chinese displayed not only a more stubborn chess, but probably the most inventive one. The first two rapid games ended in draws. In the first ten-minute game Wei Yi managed either to come up with or to recall a study-like move. 

Wei Yi – Ding Liren 
Rapid, Game Three 

12. Qg3!

This is an incredibly spectacular move, although Black managed to hold his ground and make a draw in the final run. 

In the second game Wei Yi survived an extremely precarious position and went on to win as Black, becoming the last quarterfinalist.

Ding Liren – Wei Yi 
Rapid, Game Four 

The three-time China Champion traded queens at the most awkward moment and ended up in a lost ending. 

53. Qe7? Qxe7 54. dxe7 Kh7 55. Bf5 Bc6 56. Be4 Be8 57. Bb7 Kf6, and White recognized his defeat in a few moves.

The quarterfinal will see the following pairings: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov – Sergey Karjakin, Anish Giri – Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Hikaru Nakamura – Pavel Eljanov, Peter Svidler – Wei Yi.