International Chess Federation
Friday, 13 Dec 2019 21:09
Grand Prix Jerusalem: MVL and Nepomniachtchi still in the hunt

Seven quarter-finalists were determined on tiebreaks today. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Dmitry Andreikin, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Wei Yi, Dmitry Jakovenko, David Navara and Sergey Karjakin advanced to the quarterfinals where they joined Wesley So who had already qualified for the second round one day earlier. The local hero, Boris Gelfand, fell in the play-off against one of the favorites, Ian Nepomniachtchi.

After losing a tiebreaker to Dmitry Jakovenko, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov has been knocked out from the competition and lost his chance to fight for the place in the Candidates Tournament 2020. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Ian Nepomniachtchi are still in the hunt.

Four matches were decided in two rapid games.

Dmitry Andreikin found a nice way to force a draw in the first game against Radoslaw Wojtaszek. After getting a serious advantage in the opening of the second encounter, Andreikin misplayed later on and lost control over the situation. Wojtaszek had good chances to win the battle but made a few mistakes in the time trouble, allowing his opponent to score a victory in the game and the match.

Things went smoothly for Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who convincingly won his rapid match against Veselin Topalov. The French grandmaster managed to get an advantage in Ruy Lopez Berlin after inaccurate 20…g5 and started the day with the victory.  The former FIDE World Champion was pressing hard in the second game but Maxime defended well then turned the tables and whitewashed his opponent.  

Boris Gelfand and Ian Nepomniachtchi had a breath-taking battle full of interesting ideas in the openings, unpredictable twists, and tactical motifs. After losing the first game the Israeli Grandmaster had good chances to level the score but could not find the precise way to finish his attack on the opponent's king.  Nepomniachtchi also won the match 2:0 and continues his quest for the place in the Candidates.

Similarly to the previous Grand Prix stages, Anish Giri failed to get through the first round and has to go home after falling to Wei Yi. After the opponents split the point in the first encounter, the second game was in the balance until Anish ventured upon a tempting 30…Nf4. According to Anish, he simply missed 35.Qe8 at the end of the variation and had to resign one move later. He called his participation in the Grand Prix Series this year as his worst performance. Nevertheless, his qualification for the Candidates 2020 by rating can be considered as good compensation for his hardships.

Dmitry Jakovenko was the only player, who managed to strike back after losing the first game in the match with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. In the second game, Shakhriyar played too aggressively, even though he needed just a draw, and allowed his opponent to get a decisive material advantage. In both games with Black, the Azerbaijani grandmaster didn't get enough compensation and lost the match - 1.5:2.5.  

David Navara and Wang Hao deserve praise for their fighting spirit, despite drawing the first five games today. The match was decided in the sixth encounter, in which Navara had white pieces and obtained an advantage right after the opening. David was steering his ship with a firm hand and gave his opponent no chance to survive.

Pentala Harikrishna and Sergey Karjakin played the longest match of the day. None of the opponents managed to win a game, even though they both had their chances in blitz. Karjakin made a decisive draw with Black in the last Armaggeddon encounter and claimed a victory in the match.

The quarterfinal matches will begin on December 14.

Round 2 pairings:
Vachier-Lagrave  - Andreikin
So - Nepomniachtchi
Karjakin - Wei
Jakovenko - Navara

Official website and LIVE broadcast:

FIDE Press officer for the event: Anastasiya Karlovich

Official Photographer: Niki Riga

World Chess contact:

Photos are available for the press from the following link to Dropbox.

Leading partners supporting the FIDE World Chess Grand Prix Series 2019 include:
Algorand as the Exclusive Blockchain Partner
PhosAgro as the Official Strategic Partner
Kaspersky as the Official Cybersecurity Partner
Usetech as the partner of the Jerusalem Grand Prix
Prytek as the Technology Transfer Partner