Americans on the Brink in Khanty-Mansiysk

UPDATED - all three games annotated by IM John Watson! After yesterday’s Rest Day, the only one on the 2019 FIDE World Cup schedule, sixteen players returned to their boards today to play the first leg of their fourth round mini-matches. The three Americans in the field – Leinier Dominguez, Wesley So, and Jeffery Xiong – all lost, which means that without wins tomorrow, their tournaments will end. The good news for all three players is that they will have the White pieces to make their stands.

Jeffery Xiong was the first to fall, losing in 42 moves to Jan-Kryzsztof Duda in a fiendishly complicated battle. International Master John Watson provides exclusive annotations of the game to CLO.
[pgn]

[Event "FIDE World Cup 2019"]
[Date "2019.09.20"]
[Round "4.1"]
[White "Duda, Jan-Krzysztof"]
[Black "Xiong, Jeffery"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A35"]
[WhiteElo "2730"]
[BlackElo "2707"]
[Annotator "Watson,John"]
[PlyCount "83"]
[EventDate "2019.09.10"]
[EventType "k.o."]

1. c4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. g3 d5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. Bg2 Nc7 {Sidestepping
Nxd5 and increasing Black's control over d4.} 7. O-O g6 ({Over the years, the
Rubinstein System with} 7... e5 {has been far more popular, but 7...g6 is a
respectable alternative. Black avoids creating any central targets, but also
falls behind in development.}) 8. Na4 {Aggressive, trying to get Black to
commit to a defence of the c-pawn as soon as possible. This slightly unusual
move has scored well for White.} (8. d3 {is normal.}) 8... Ne6 ({The line} 8...
b6 $5 9. d4 $1 cxd4 10. Bf4 $1 Bg7 11. Nxd4 (11. Rc1 $14) 11... Nxd4 12. Bxc7
Qxc7 13. Bxa8 O-O {leaves Black with some compensation for the exchange, but
as shown by various games, White should keep some advantage with accurate play.
}) (8... e5 $5 {looks inconsistent with 7...g6, yet holds the center and seems
playable. Perhaps} 9. d3 Bd7 10. Be3 b6 11. b4 $5 {is the most challenging
response, intending} cxb4 12. Rc1 (12. d4 Bg7) 12... Rc8 13. d4) 9. d3 Ncd4 {
A new move, and probably not a very good one. Jeffrey's openings have been
well-conceived for this event, but in this case I wonder if he underestimated
8 Na4 and failed to prepare for it.} (9... Bg7 {runs into} 10. Ng5 $1 {, when
Black can hardly defend his c-pawn, e.g.,} Nxg5 (10... Ncd4 11. Nxe6 Nxe6 12.
Be3 Qa5 13. Rc1) 11. Bxg5 Qd6 12. Rc1 O-O 13. Be3 $1 b6 14. b4 $1) (9... Rb8 {
prepares ..b6 by removing the rook from the long diagonal. Then White can keep
the advantage with} 10. Ng5 Ncd4 11. e3 $1 Nxg5 12. exd4 Nh3+ 13. Kh1 cxd4 14.
Nc5) 10. Be3 {Threatening Nxc5.} Bg7 11. Rc1 {White will win a pawn. It's to
Black's credit that he makes things difficult for his opponent.} O-O (11... Nf5
12. Nxc5 Nxe3 13. Qa4+ $1) 12. Nxc5 Nf5 13. Nxe6 $5 (13. Bd2 $1 Bxb2 14. Rb1 {
yields more advantage, e.g.,} Nxc5 (14... Bf6 15. Nxb7 Qd7 16. Na5 $16) 15.
Rxb2 {gives White the bishop pair and central majority}) 13... Bxe6 14. Bc5 $6
(14. Bf4 $1 {gives White powerful queenside pressure after} Bxa2 (14... Bxb2
15. Rb1 Bg7 16. Qd2) 15. Qd2) 14... Bxb2 $1 (14... Bxa2 15. Qd2 b6 16. Ba3 Qd7
{favours White, although Black is back in the game in that case as well.}) 15.
Rb1 Bg7 16. Rxb7 $2 {The pressure at these events is immense, and White misses
something in his calculations.} (16. e4 $1 Nd4 17. e5 Nxf3+ 18. Qxf3 Qc7 19.
Qe3 b6 $1 20. Bxa8 Rxa8 21. Bd4 Bxa2 22. Ra1 Bd5 {gives Black decent
compensation for the exchange.}) 16... Qc8 {Double attack.} 17. Rb5 a6 18. Ra5
Bc3 {Black wins the exchange for a pawn, and achieves excellent activity at
the same time. Maybe Duda simply overestimated his chances in the resulting
positions.} 19. Qa4 Rb8 $1 20. d4 Bxa5 21. Qxa5 Rb2 $5 (21... Bd5 $1 {would
prevent central counterplay and produce a clear advantage. From now on it's
never easy.}) 22. e4 $5 Nd6 (22... Rxa2 23. Qc3 Nd6 24. Ng5 {gives some
counterplay.}) 23. Qa3 $5 ({Or} 23. Qc3 Rxa2 24. Ng5 {. Duda prefers to scare
up some kingside threats.}) 23... Rxa2 24. Qe3 f6 $6 {Apparently fearing Qh6
followed by Ng5, but} (24... Qb7 {with the idea} 25. Qh6 (25. d5 Bd7 26. Qh6 f6
$1 $17) (25. e5 Nf5) 25... f6 {defends comfortably and keeps the advantage.})
25. Rc1 (25. h4 {is a computer suggestion, but Black is able to untangle after}
Bf7 26. e5 (26. h5 Qg4) 26... fxe5 27. Nxe5 Nc4) 25... Qd7 $6 {Probably both
players were already in time pressure. It's a tribute to the large mobile
center that Black has to defend so accurately.} (25... Qb7 $1 {was correct,
when the tempting} 26. d5 Bd7 27. e5 fxe5 28. Qxe5 {fails to} Qb2) 26. d5 Bh3
27. Bxh3 Qxh3 28. Bxd6 $5 (28. Nd4 $1 {and with ideas of Nc6 and Ne6, White
has more than enough for the exchange.}) 28... exd6 29. Nd4 {As it is, the
knight outposts give sufficient counterplay.} Rc8 (29... Rb8 30. Qf4 Rbb2 31.
Ne6 {sets up the repetition} Rc2 (31... Rxf2 $4 32. Rc8+ Kf7 33. Ng5+) 32. Rb1
Rab2 33. Rf1 Rxf2 $1 34. Rxf2 Rb1+ 35. Rf1 Rb2) 30. Nc6 {Threatening Ne7+.} (
30. Ne6 $5 Rcc2 $1 (30... Rxc1+ $4 31. Qxc1 $18) 31. Qd2 $3 Rxd2 32. Rc8+ Kf7
33. Rc7+ Ke8 34. Rc8+ {etc. is another nice draw. This would have been a
fitting result for this hard-fought game.}) 30... Re8 31. Nd4 $1 Rc8 32. Rb1 $5
{Bold.} (32. Nc6 {would draw.}) 32... Ra4 $2 (32... Qd7 $1 {, when} 33. Ne6
Rac2 34. Qd4 Qe7 {is still balanced, e.g.,} 35. Rb6 a5 36. Ra6 R2c4 37. Qb6 Rb4
38. Qe3 Qb7 39. Ra7 Qb5 40. Qh6 Rb1+ 41. Kg2 Qf1+ 42. Kf3 Qd1+ 43. Kg2 Qf1+ 44.
Kf3 Qd1+ $11) 33. Ne6 Rac4 34. Re1 $1 {Amazing. Now Qa7 is a threat, as well
as Qf4, and it's hard to see how Black defends.} g5 $6 {But it's a logical
move, in view of something like} (34... a5 35. Qa7 Qh6 36. h4 a4 37. Kg2 {
and Black is in zugzwang, so it's very likely that both the a- and d-pawns
will fall.} g5 38. h5 $1 {doesn't help. A remarkable position.}) 35. e5 $1 dxe5
(35... Qh5 36. exd6 Qf7 37. Qf3 a5 38. d7 (38. Kg2 $1) 38... Qxd7 39. Qxf6 {
and the d-pawn is too strong.}) 36. Qa7 Qh6 37. d6 Rc1 38. Rxc1 Rxc1+ 39. Kg2
g4 40. h4 gxh3+ 41. Kh2 Qg6 42. Qa8+ {What a battle! A sad finish for Black,
who fought back strongly after a poor opening. Duda deserves credit for his
attacking creativity and accuracy, not to mention being able to keep his head
after blundering in the early middlegame.} 1-0

[/pgn]

Nikita Vitiugov downed Wesley So in a game that dazzled the commentators and Twitterati. https://twitter.com/olimpiuurcan/status/1175060003645874176 https://twitter.com/romain_edouard/status/1175044315187437571
[pgn]

[Event "FIDE World Cup 2019"]
[Site "Khanty-Mansiysk RUS"]
[Date "2019.09.20"]
[Round "4.1"]
[White "Vitiugov, Nikita"]
[Black "So, Wesley"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C43"]
[WhiteElo "2732"]
[BlackElo "2767"]
[Annotator "Watson, John"]
[PlyCount "119"]
[EventDate "2019.09.10"]
[EventType "k.o."]

{A well-played game in which Black did nothing dramatically wrong, but was
faced with pressure throughout. Vitiugov brought home the point in fine style.
} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. d4 Nxe4 4. Bd3 d5 5. Nxe5 Nd7 6. Nc3 (6. Nxd7 Bxd7 {
has been played and analysed for decades. With 6 Nc3, White tries to resolve
the central situation.}) 6... Nxe5 (6... Nxc3 7. bxc3 Bd6 {is a playable
option.}) 7. dxe5 Nxc3 (7... Bb4 8. O-O Nxc3 9. bxc3 Bxc3 10. Rb1 O-O 11. Bxh7+
Kxh7 12. Qd3+ Kg8 13. Qxc3 {has been played in several games. White hopes for
attacking hances based upon opposite-colored bishops, but they are easily
neutralized.}) 8. bxc3 Be7 9. O-O (9. Qh5 {has been popular here, but White
hasn't achieved much after} Be6) 9... O-O 10. f4 f5 11. Be3 Be6 12. a4 Qd7 ({
A couple of games saw} 12... c6) 13. Qf3 Rfd8 14. Rfd1 c5 15. Kh1 (15. Be2 $5
Qc7 16. a5 {is slightly awkward for Black, who lacks a plan, even if his
position is solid. White would probably shift his bishop to f3, as in the game.
}) 15... g6 16. h3 Qc7 17. Qf2 b6 18. Qe1 Kh8 19. Be2 Rg8 20. Bf3 Rad8 21. a5
$1 {Opening lines or exposing Black's center.} b5 22. a6 Rd7 $6 (22... Qc6) 23.
Rdb1 (23. Be2 $1 Rb8 24. Qf1 c4 25. Qf2 {is better still, with considerable
pressure.}) 23... Rb8 24. Bf2 Rdd8 25. Qe2 Qb6 (25... d4 $5 26. cxd4 cxd4 27.
Rd1 Bc5 $14) 26. Rb2 Rd7 $5 27. Qf1 $1 {An excellent move. Black's pawns on
the 5th rank will eventually have to advance, creating weaknesses.} (27. Rab1
Qxa6 28. Rxb5 Rxb5 29. Qxb5 Qxb5 30. Rxb5 Rc7 31. Ra5 Kg7 32. Ra6 Kf7 {isn't
clear.}) 27... Rc7 28. Be2 (28. Qd1 $1 Rd7 29. Be2 Qc6 30. Qf1 b4 31. cxb4 cxb4
32. Bd4 $16) 28... Bd7 29. Qd1 Qe6 $6 (29... Bc6) 30. Ra5 (30. Bf3 $1 Bc6 31.
Qg1 Be8 32. Rd1 $16 {with the idea} Rd8 33. c4 $1 dxc4 (33... bxc4 34. Rb7 $1)
34. Rxd8 Bxd8 35. Bxc5) 30... Kg7 31. Qa1 g5 $5 {A practical diversion in a
deteriorating position.} (31... c4 32. Qg1 Ra8 33. Bd4 {is quite passive for
Black; objectively, however, White has difficulties making progress so this
was a reasonable option.}) 32. Bxb5 Rxb5 $6 (32... Bxb5 33. Raxb5 Rxb5 34. Rxb5
{transposes to the game without allowing White any options.}) 33. Raxb5 Bxb5
34. Rxb5 $5 (34. Qa5 $1 {is even stronger:} Rc6 (34... Rc8 35. Rxb5 gxf4 36.
Rb7 $1) 35. Rxb5 Rxa6 36. Qc7 Rb6 37. Ra5) 34... gxf4 35. Qa5 Qxe5 $2 (35...
Qc6 {is sounder}) 36. Rb7 $1 {The key move in breaking down Black's defenses.}
Rxb7 (36... Bd6 37. Rxc7+ Bxc7 38. Qxc5 {exploits both Black's weaknesses and
his exposed king.}) 37. axb7 f3 38. gxf3 (38. Qxa7 $4 Qe2 $1 $19) 38... Bd6 39.
Kg2 Qh2+ 40. Kf1 Qxh3+ (40... Qh1+ 41. Ke2 Qb1 42. Qxa7 {is no improvement.})
41. Ke2 {White has too many threats, foremost among them Qxa7 and promotion of
the pawn.} Qh2 42. Qxa7 Kf6 43. Qb6 Ke7 44. Qc6 Kd8 45. Qc8+ Ke7 46. Qxf5 Kd8
47. Kf1 Qh1+ 48. Bg1 Bh2 49. Qg4 Bd6 50. Ke2 Ke7 51. Bxc5 Qh2+ 52. Bf2 (52. Kd3
$1 $18) 52... h5 53. Qf5 (53. Qg5+ Ke6 54. Qg8+) 53... Kd8 54. Qc8+ Ke7 55. Qf5
Kd8 56. Qf7 h4 57. Qg8+ Kd7 58. Qg4+ Kc6 59. Qc8+ Kb5 60. b8=Q+ ({Mate follows
} 60. b8=Q+ Bxb8 61. Qc5+) 1-0

[/pgn]
Leinier Dominguez (Kiriill Merkuryev)
Perhaps the most tragic loss belonged to Leinier Dominguez, who worked his way to a drawn bishops of opposite colors ending, but made a critical error in his customary time trouble and lost to Alexander Grischuk.
[pgn]

[Event "FIDE World Cup 2019"]
[Site "Khanty-Mansiysk RUS"]
[Date "2019.09.20"]
[Round "4.1"]
[White "Grischuk, Alexander"]
[Black "Dominguez Perez, Leinier"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A14"]
[WhiteElo "2759"]
[BlackElo "2763"]
[Annotator "Watson,John"]
[PlyCount "175"]
[EventDate "2019.09.10"]
[EventType "k.o."]

{The result of the following game was strongly influenced by the previous
round, in which Dominguez Perez and Wang played an exhausting 8-game match. As
players on all levels know, exhaustion can lead to wholly uncharacteristic
blunders, and Dominguez Perez showed that he was not immune, hallucinating
terribly at the very end of this lengthy battle:} 1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 e6
4. O-O Be7 5. c4 O-O 6. d4 dxc4 7. Qc2 a6 8. a4 Bd7 9. Qxc4 Bc6 10. Bg5 {
White develops quickly and doesn't mind ceding his bishop pair in return for
space.} (10. Bf4 Bd6 {is another main line}) 10... Nbd7 (10... h6 11. Bxf6 Bxf6
12. Nc3 {was Ding-Carlsen, Saint Louis 2017, a game in which Black stood a
little passively.}) (10... a5 {with the idea ...Na6 is also popular.}) 11. Nc3
h6 12. Bxf6 ({Aronian had played} 12. Bd2 {versus Kramnik in Paris 2016, a
game which continued} a5 13. Rfd1 Bb4 14. Qd3 Qe7 15. Be1 Rfd8 16. Qc2 Nb6 $11)
12... Nxf6 13. Rfd1 Bd5 14. Qd3 Bxf3 {A safe decision.} 15. Bxf3 c6 16. Kg2 ({
At this point three games in my database proceeded with} 16. e3 {, with White
achieving little.} {Then} a5 {is one good move.}) 16... Qa5 17. e3 Rfd8 18. Qc4
Rac8 {Black has fully equalized. That assessment doesn't change much for the
20-30 moves, but White manages to keep some play on the board.} 19. Rab1 Nd5
20. Qb3 Qb4 21. Qc2 a5 22. h4 Nf6 23. h5 Rc7 24. Ne2 Qb6 25. Nf4 Nd5 26. Rbc1
Bd6 27. Nd3 Nb4 28. Qb3 Rcd7 29. Be4 Qc7 30. Rh1 Nxd3 31. Bxd3 Be7 32. Bb1 Qd6
33. Qc2 Bf6 34. Qc5 Qxc5 (34... e5 $1 {clarifies the equal nature of the
position, e.g.,} 35. Bf5 Re7 36. dxe5 Rxe5 37. Qxd6 Rxd6 $11) 35. Rxc5 Rd5 36.
Rc4 e5 $5 (36... Be7 $11) 37. Be4 R5d7 38. dxe5 Bxe5 39. b4 (39. Rb1 {with the
idea b4 has the idea} Bd6 40. Bf5 Re7 41. Rd4 Bc7 42. Rxd8+ Bxd8 43. Rd1 Bb6
44. e4 f6 45. f4 {with a little pressure, but Black is well within drawing
range.}) 39... axb4 40. Rxb4 Ra8 $6 (40... Bc3 $1 41. Rb3 Ba5 {, e.g.,} 42.
Rhb1 Re7 43. Bf3 (43. Bf5 b6 44. Rc1 Rc7) 43... Rdd7) 41. Rhb1 Ra7 42. Bf5 {
Suddenly White has some pressure, although nothing that should lead to a win.}
Re7 (42... Rc7 43. Re4 Re7 44. Rd1 Ra8 45. f4 Bf6 46. Rxe7 Bxe7 47. Rd7 $16)
43. Bc8 c5 44. Rb5 $5 (44. Rc4 $16) 44... Rc7 45. Bxb7 Rxa4 46. Bd5 Kf8 47. f4
Bc3 48. e4 Bd4 {Keeping the c-pawn mobile.} (48... Rb4 $5 49. R1xb4 cxb4 {
is still a bit tricky, e.g.,} 50. e5 f6 51. e6 (51. Rb8+ Ke7 52. e6 f5 $1)
51... Ke7 52. g4) 49. e5 c4 (49... Ke7 50. Rb8 c4 51. R1b7 {transposes}) 50.
Rb8+ Ke7 51. R1b7 Ra7 52. Bc6 {Threatening mate!} f5 53. Rxc7+ Rxc7 54. Ba4 Ra7
$6 55. Rb4 Rc7 56. Kf3 (56. Bc2 $1 Ke6 57. Ra4 {and the f-pawn will fall.})
56... Ke6 57. Bc2 Ba7 (57... Bc5 $1 58. Rxc4 (58. Rb8 Ra7) 58... Bb6 59. Rxc7
Bxc7 {will draw.}) 58. Ra4 Bb6 59. Ke2 Kd5 $5 {Giving up a pawn to achieve a
bishops-of-opposite-colors ending, but} (59... Ra7 60. Rb4 Bd8 61. Rxc4 Rc7 {
looks better.}) 60. Bxf5 Ra7 61. Rxa7 (61. Rb4 $5 Bc5 62. Rb8 Ra3 63. Rd8+ Kc6
64. g4 (64. e6 Re3+ 65. Kd2 c3+ 66. Kc2 Bb6) 64... Re3+ 65. Kd2 Rg3) 61... Bxa7
62. Kf3 Bc5 63. Bh7 c3 $6 (63... Bb4 $1 64. Kg4 Be1) 64. Kg4 Bf2 65. Bg8+ Kc6
66. Bb3 Kd7 67. Kf3 Be1 68. g4 Bd2 69. Ke4 Ke7 70. Kf5 Be3 71. g5 hxg5 72. Kxg5
(72. fxg5 Bd2) 72... Bd2 73. Kg4 Be3 74. Kf3 Bd2 75. h6 $5 {A last attempt
which shouldn't worry Black too much, but miraculously succeeds.} gxh6 76. f5
c2 $4 {A completely irrational move, obviously a product of tiredness at the
end of a long and arduous struggle.} (76... Bg5 $1 {(preventing f6+) draws
easily:} 77. Kg4 (77. Ke4 h5 $11) (77. f6+ Bxf6 78. exf6+ Kxf6 $11) 77... Be3
78. Kh5 Bd4 79. f6+ (79. e6 Kf6 80. Kxh6 Bc5 81. Bc2 Bd6 $11) 79... Kf8) 77.
f6+ Kf8 78. Bxc2 {Now White simply marches up and wins:} Bc3 79. Kf4 h5 80. Bd1
h4 81. Bg4 Ba5 82. Kf5 (82. e6) 82... Bc7 83. e6 Bd8 (83... Bd6 {also loses
after} 84. Kg5 Bb4 85. Kxh4 Bc5 86. Kg5 Ke8 87. Bh5+ Kf8 (87... Kd8 88. Kg6 Ke8
89. Kg7+ Kd8 90. Kf7) 88. Kf5 Bd6 89. Ke4 Bb4 90. Kd5 Ba3 91. Kc6) 84. Bh5 $1
h3 (84... Kg8 85. e7) 85. Bg4 h2 86. Bf3 Kg8 87. Kg6 (87. Bd5 Kf8 88. Bc6 Kg8
89. e7) 87... Kf8 88. Bc6 1-0

[/pgn]
Of the remaining five games, four were drawn, with the only other decisive result being Maxime Vachier-Lagrave’s win over Peter Svidler. Complete results for Round 4.1 Ding Liren – Alekseenko 1/2 Duda – Xiong 1-0 Vachier-Lagrave – Svidler 1-0 Vitiugov – So 1-0 Nepomniachtchi – Yu Yangyi  1/2 Le Quang Liem – Aronian  1/2 Mamedyarov – Radjabov 1/2 Grischuk – Dominguez 1-0 Pairings for Saturday’s Round 4.2 Alekseenko - Ding Liren Xiong - Duda Svidler - Vachier-Lagrave So - Vitiugov Yu Yangyi - Nepomniachtchi Aronian - Le Quang Liem Radjabov - Mamedyarov Dominguez – Grischuk Play resumes tomorrow at 6am EDT. Live coverage is available at the FIDE YouTube Channel.
FIDE World Cup Quick links 2019 World Cup Official Webpage Pairings and Results Live YouTube Coverage (daily, 6am EDT)  

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