FIDE Grand Prix
(The Philippine Star) - December 15, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Top seeded Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France reached the quarterfinals at the Jerusalem FIDE Grand Prix by beating former world champion Vaselin Topalov of Bulgaria, 3.0-1.0, in speed chess.tie-breaks.

MVL, who was held off in two classical games, is looking to win his first Grand Prix title and an outright qualification in next year’s Candidates tournament.

He will meet Russian Dmitry Andreikin, who defeated Poland’s Radek Wojtaszek, 2.5-1.5.

Also, fourth-seeded Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi advanced, beating Israeli stalwart Boris Gelfand, 3.0-1.0 in tie-break play-off.

Nepomniachtchi will next face American Wesleo So, who ousted China’s Yu Yangi, 1.5-0.5 in two classical games.

In other matches, Wei Yi upset third-seeded Dutchman Anish Giri, 2.5-1.5 to advance. The 20-year-old Chinese will next play Russian Sergey Kariakin, who beat Indian Pentala Harikrishna in Armageddon tie-breaker. 

Russian Dmitry Jakovenko recovered well to beat Shakriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan, 3.5-2.5 and will take on Czech David Navara, who moved into the last eight by beating Wang Hao of China, 4.5-3.5.

Quarterfinal matches are underway at the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center as we go to press.

* * *   

Jerusalem Grand Prix 2019

Classical Game Two

W) W. So (USA)

B) Y. Yangi (China)

Petroff Defense

1. e4                         e5 

2. Nf3                       Nf6

The solid Petroff Defense, which has become quite usual lately.

3. d4                         .....

3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. 0-0 Be7 leads to equality,. Jakovenko-Yangi, Hamburg Grand Prix 2019.

3....                                     Nxe4 

4. dxe5                     ....

The game Predke-Yangi, 2019 Chinese Chess League, continued 4. Bd3 d5 5. Nxe5 Bd6 6. 0-0 0-0 7. c4 c5 8. cxd5 Nf6 9. Bg5 cxd4 10. Nf3 Be7, and the game is about even.

4....                          d5 

5. Nbd2                    ....

Both players followed the game Grischuk-Caruana 2018 Candidates Tournament.

5....                          Nxd2 

6. Bxd2                     Be7

7. Bd3                      c5 

8. c3                         Nc6 

9. O-O                       Bg4

10. Re1                     Qd7 

11. h3                       Bh5 

12. Bf4                      Qe6 

13. Be2!?                  ....

And here’s White’s improvement from the above-mentioned game that had gone 13. a3 0-0 14. b4 h6 15. Bg3 b6 16. Nd4 Bxd1 17.Nxe6 fxe6 18. Raxd1 c4. with Black seizing the initiative, 0-1, 69 moves. One of the points of the move is to remove away the Queen from the unpleasant pin.

13....                         O-O 

14. Qd2                     Bg6 

15. Rad1                   Be4 

16. Ng5                     Bxg5 

17. Bxg5                   h6 

18. Be3                     d4 

19. cxd4                    Rfd8 

20. Qc3                     Qg6

21. g3                       cxd4 

22. Bxd4                   Qe6 

23. Kh2                     Rac8 

24. Qe3                     Bf5

The text is hardly commendable. The engine’s 24...Nxd4 is better as after 25. Rxd4 Rxd4 26. Qxd4 Qd5, White’s advantage is only minimal.

25. Bc3!                    ....

Now White, in a slightly better position, retains the Bishop pair.  

25....                         Rxd1

26. Rxd1                   Qxa2 

27. g4                       Be6 

28. Qe4                     Ne7

29. Qxb7                   Nd5 

30. Bd4                     a5

31. Bf3                      Qc4 

32. b3                       Qc2

After 32....Qc6 33. Qxc6 Rxc6 34. Be3!, White wins material.

33. Bxd5!                  ....

A brilliant idea. White is happy to give away the exchange in order to penetrate and choke the Black King. This sounds cruel, but as the French used to say, you cannot play at chess if you are kindhearted.

33....                         Bxd5?

33...Qxd1 probably offers a longer resistance, e.g., . 34. Bxe6 Rf8 35. Bc5 fxe6 36. Bxf8 Kxf8, though White is a healthy Pawn up, the game continues.

34. Qxd5                   Qxd1 

35. e6!                      ....

The point, as this sharp Pawn stab, opens up Black’s King position.

35....                         Qc2 

White obtains a huge advantage in either 31....Rc7 32. Qd8ch Kh7 33. Qxc7, or 31....Qe1 32. exf7ch Kf8 33. Qf5.

36. exf7ch                 Kh7 

Or 36....Kf8 37. Qd6ch Kxf7 38. Qd7ch Kf8 39. Qxg7ch and White’s material plus should win.

37.Qe5                      Qg6

38. Qe7                     1-0 

Solution to last week puzzle

Black to move and win.

White=Kf3, Re7, Be5, Pd3, Pg5, Ph4

Black=Kg8, Ra4, Ne6, Pa7, Pc4, Pd4, Pg7, Ph7

1....                          cxd3!

2. Rxe6                     Ra1!

0-1

The threat is 3....d2 followed by  4....d1Q. . For instance 3. Bf4 Rf1ch 4. Ke4 Rxf4 ch and wins.

* * *

White to play and win.

FIDE GRAND PRIX MAXIME VACHIER-LAGRAVE
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