Ian Nepomniachtchi is one of a cadre of strong Russian players who sometimes are overlooked because there is so much talent in Russia. But at a recent super tournament in China, he reminded everyone of how well he can play.
Ian Nepomniachtchi, a Russian grandmaster, is one of the most creative chess players around. But because there are so many great Russian players, it is never easy for a Russian to regularly play in the super tournaments, unless his name is Vladimir Kramnik or Sergey Karjakin. Recently, however, Nepomniachtchi got a chance to play in the Hainan Danzhou tournament in China. Nepomniachtchi marked his return to super-tournaments in style by capturing first place, a full point ahead of his nearest competitors.
Usually, when a player wins a tournament such as Hainan Danzhou, he does it without losing a game. But Nepomniachtchi lost two! He more than made up for that by winning five games. His wins appeared to be almost effortless - like the way that Magnus Carlsen, the World Champion, regularly wins his games. That is not necessarily surprising as Nepomniachtchi is one of Carlsen’s seconds and regularly works with him. But it was also clear that Nepomniachtchi had many fine and subtle ideas. After all, no one expects a player rated 2700 to just collapse by shuffling pieces around, as appeared to happen to Bu Xiangzhi in the following game.
1. e4e52. Nf3Nc63. Bb5a64. Ba4Nf65. O-Ob56. Bb3Bb77. d3Be78. Nc3d69. a3This setup has become popular recently. It used to be that White would play c3 and Nbd2, and then bring the knight to g3 via f1. But then many players realized that the knight can go to g3 via e2 - and the bishop might also be well placed on a2. 9... O-O10. Re1h611. Ne2Re812. Ng3Bf813. c3Qd714. d4Na515. Bc2Now White needed to defend the pawn on e4. 15... Nc4
( 15... c516. d5c4seems a much more typical setup. Black would ideally like to have his knight to c5, but that can only be achieved in a few moves with Qc7, Bc8, etc. In the meantime, White will start playing on the kingside, so it is not clear how good it is to reposition the knight. Nevertheless, compared to the game continuation, it might have been better because I think White would have something to worry about on the queenside. )
16. a4Rad8Again, I feel like Black should have worried more about White's plan to close the center.
( 16... c6!?is a typical idea in such Spanish positions. Black seems to have shut in his bishop, but he also is preventing d5, which keeps more tension in the center. )
17. b3Nb618. a5Nc8The knight is not necessarily worse on c8, and perhaps Black thought that closing the queenside is no big deal. But the problem is that after 19. d5!the bishop on b7 is blocked for good. White's light-squared bishop isn't much better at the moment, but Whites extra space gives it better prospects. White also has more space to move his pieces around and shift them to the kingside, particularly now that the queenside is blocked. 19... c520. h3A typical move with the idea of Nh2-Ng4 in order to create some weaknesses in Blacks kingside position. 20... g621. c4Closing the queenside completely. This is a better way to do it than by playing b4 because White further supports the pawn on d5. Otherwise, Black could perhaps try to play f5 to undermine the d-pawn and gain some activity for his bishop on b7. Now that bishop is truly dead. 21... b422. Ra2!?At first, this move seems rather strange as it does not appear that the rook can do much on the second rank. But the ideal setup for White is not clear and it is impossible to foresee what will happen next in the game. So before beginning a concrete operation, White tries to improve the position of his pieces. And putting the rook on the second rank is certainly better than leaving it on a1. 22... Bg723. Bb1The bishops would be just as effective on d3 and e3, but, from an aesthetic point of view, they are nicer on b1 and c1. On those squares, they don't interfere with any of the other pieces, yet they are just as useful. 23... Ne724. Nh2g5?A surprising reaction. I think Bu was not comfortable with a slightly passive position. Black's position was not so bad so long as White continued to maneuver and slowly improve his position. But Bu underestimated or overlooked White's idea:
( 24... Kh725. Ng4Neg8would have been slightly passive, but it would been a typical defensive idea. )
25. Nh5!Bu obviously expected White to play
( 25. Ng4Bc826. Nxf6+Bxf6which would be similar to the game, but then Ng3 isn't very useful because Nh5 is hardly a big threat. By switching the typical move order, Nepomniachtchi left his other knight on h2. It is now perfectly positioned to go to g4 after White first plays Qh5. That is much more dangerous for Black. )
25... Bc826. Nxf6+Bxf627. Qh5!and Ng4 will be next. 27... Kg728. Ng4Rh8Again, if Black gets a few moves to regroup -- after Ng6, Qe7, etc. -- White may have a slightly preferrable position but not much more than that. 29. f4!gxf4
( 29... exf4runs into a cute mate 30. Nxf6Kxf631. Bb2# )
30. g3!Suddenly the rook on a2 is very useful! It is amazing how the decision to open the second rank really worked out! 30... Ng6
( 30... Rdg831. Rg2! )
31. gxf4Qe732. Nxf6Qxf633. fxe5dxe534. Rg2Qd635. Rf1Rde836. Kh1Re737. Be3Rc738. Rgf2The simplest plan is to play Rf6. Now it is all over. 38... Rh739. Rf6Qxf640. Rxf6Kxf641. Bxh6Rxh642. Qxh6Re743. h4Re844. Qg5+Kg745. h5Rh846. Bc2Rh647. Bd1f648. Qg1
Parimarjan Negi is an Indian grandmaster who is the second-youngest ever to earn the title (at 13 years 4 months and 22 days). Ranked No. 90 in the world, he just finished his sophomore year at Stanford University. He can be found on Twitter at @parimarjan.
FIDE and World Chess announces today that the 2018 World Chess Championship Match will take place in London in November 2018. The world’s most prestigious chess tournament is to be the climax of a season of high-profile activity to extend the sport’s appeal among global audiences – and make 2018 the Year of Chess in the UK.
After 9 days of intense chess battles at the last leg of the World Chess Grand Prix series 2017 in Palma de Mallorca, the two winners of the series were finally determined: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan, overall 340 points in the series) and Alexander Grischuk (Russia, 336,4 points). They qualified for the Candidates Tournament – the next part of the World Chess Championship cycle, which leads up to the Championship match.
The sole leader of the Palma de Mallorca Grand Prix Levon Aronian made a quick draw with Evgeny Tomashevsky today, inviting the group of rivals to join him at the top. But same as in the previous rounds all games on the top boards finished peacefully and not a single player came close to catching up with him.
After seven rounds Aronian is in the lead with 4,5 points. A group of 8 players is half a point behind, including Vachier-Lagrave. In order to qualify for the Candidates, the Frenchman needs to win at least one more game. Boris Gelfand defeated Alexander Riazantsev, Pavel Eljanov won against Jon Ludvig Hammer, while Teimour Rajabov outplayed Li Chao. After the victory the Azerbaijani Grandmaster still hopes to qualify, but in that case has to win both games.
Javier Ochoa, Honorary FIDE Vice President and President of the Spanish Chess Federation, made the first symbolic move to start the fourth round, which turned out to be the most exciting round of the tournament so far, with six decisive games out of nine.
In the Third Round of the FIDE Grand Prix in Palma de Mallorca games between the four leaders, Vachier-Lagrave-Aronian and Rajabov-Giri, finished in a draw. Peter Svidler joined the group of leaders by beating Jon-Ludvig Hammer in the third round.
The world’s best chess players and chess establishment came together in Bellver Castle to celebrate the opening of the final leg of the FIDE 2017 World Chess Grand Prix Palma de Mallorca – a prestigious qualifier for the World Chess Candidates Tournament.
Katerina Lagno, one of the strongest Russian women-grandmasters won the historic Moscow Blitz Tournament, beating her fellow Russian Olympic team members Alexandra Kosteniuk, Valentina Gunina and Olga Girya.
After a draw against Ian Nepomniachtchi, Teimur Rajabov won the tournament. One of the strongest players, Rajabov had not won a major tournament lately, but has shown phenomenal form in Geneva and managed to overpower some of top world’s players