Ding and Radjabov Advance to World Cup Finals

Ding Liren and Teimour Radjabov will meet in the finals of the 2019 FIDE World Cup beginning Monday at 6am EDT. Radjabov defeated Maxime-Vachier Lagrave in the second game of their semi-final mini-match to advance by a score of 1.5-0.5, while Ding had to go to the tiebreak round against Yu Yangyi, winning by a final score of 2.5-1.5.

Radjabov advanced on Friday after Vachier-Lagrave made an error in the opening, giving Radjabov a long-lasting initiative that eventually bore fruit.

[pgn] [Event "FIDE World Cup 2019"] [Site "Khanty-Mansiysk RUS"] [Date "2019.09.27"] [Round "6.2"] [White "Radjabov, Teimour"] [Black "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A34"] [WhiteElo "2758"] [BlackElo "2774"] [Annotator "Hartmann,John"] [PlyCount "89"] [EventDate "2019.09.10"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e3 Nxc3 6. dxc3 Qc7 7. e4 e6 8. Bd3 Be7 9. Qe2 Bd7 10. O-O O-O $2 11. e5 Bc6 12. Ng5 h6 (12... Bxg5 13. Bxg5 Nd7 14. Rfe1 $1 (14. Qh5 $6 h6 15. Bxh6 Qxe5 16. Bg5 Nf6 17. Qh4 Qd5 18. Qg3 $11) 14... Nxe5 15. Qxe5 Qxe5 16. Rxe5 f6 17. Bxf6 gxf6 18. Rxe6 $16) 13. Bh7+ Kh8 14. Bc2 c4 {Denying White the d3 square for the queen.} (14... hxg5 $4 15. Qh5+ $18) (14... Bxg5 15. Bxg5 Nd7 16. Qd3 f5 17. exf6 Nxf6 18. Bxf6 gxf6 19. Rad1 $16 (19. Qe3 $5 Qg7)) 15. Re1 Qd8 16. Nh3 (16. Ne4 Nd7 17. Bf4) 16... Qd5 17. Nf4 Qc5 18. Bb1 Bg5 19. Nxe6 $5 {Winning a pawn.} (19. b4 $1 cxb3 (19... Qe7 20. a4 $1 {aiming for b4-b5 to take the e4 square for the queen}) 20. Qd3 g6 21. axb3 {with tremendous initiative}) (19. Qc2 g6 20. b4 Qe7 21. a4) 19... fxe6 20. Bxg5 Qd5 ({MVL can't win a piece with} 20... hxg5 $4 {because of} 21. Qh5+ Kg8 22. Bh7+ Kh8 23. Bg6+ Kg8 24. Qh7#) 21. Qg4 (21. f4 $5 Qxg2+ 22. Qxg2 Bxg2 23. Kxg2 hxg5 24. fxg5) 21... Nd7 (21... Qxg2+ 22. Qxg2 Bxg2 23. Kxg2 hxg5 24. Bg6 $16) 22. Be4 Nxe5 23. Qh5 Qb5 24. Bxh6 Bxe4 25. Bf4+ Kg8 26. Qxe5 Bd5 ( 26... Qxe5 27. Bxe5 Bc6 {lets White play for two results - not ideal in a knockout situation.}) 27. Re2 Rf5 28. Qe3 Qe8 29. f3 Qg6 {Perhaps threatening 30...Bxf3 31.Qxf3 Raf8.} 30. h4 Raf8 31. Bg5 a6 32. Rd1 Qe8 33. Rd4 Qc6 34. Rg4 Kh7 (34... e5 {is an interesting attempt at counterplay:} 35. Qd2 e4 36. fxe4 Rf1+ 37. Kh2 Be6 38. Rg3 {and White keeps control.}) 35. Bf4 $1 {Radjabov switches gears and targets. Now g7 is in his sights.} R8f7 36. Be5 b5 37. Qf2 Qd7 38. Qg3 Rh5 39. Bd4 Qc7 40. Re5 Rhf5 (40... Rxe5 41. Bxe5 Qc5+ 42. Kh2 $16) 41. Rg5 Kg8 42. h5 Rxg5 43. Qxg5 Qe7 44. Qg4 Rf5 $2 45. Qxf5 1-0 [/pgn]

Saturday’s decisive game in the Ding-Yu match was a fantastic fight, especially when one realizes that most of the key decisions were made quickly given the rapid time control. IM John Watson unpacks all of the hidden ideas and themes in his notes to Ding-Yu, written exclusively for CLO.

[pgn] [Event "FIDE World Cup 2019"] [Site "Khanty-Mansiysk"] [Date "2019.09.28"] [Round "6.4"] [White "Ding, Liren"] [Black "Yu, Yangyi"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A21"] [WhiteElo "2811"] [BlackElo "2763"] [Annotator "John Watson"] [PlyCount "85"] [EventDate "2019.??.??"] 1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Bb4 3. Nd5 a5 {A later development in this line. Black has played several moves here, including} (3... Bc5 {and}) (3... Be7) 4. Nf3 ({ Yu defended the position after} 4. a3 Be7 5. d4 d6 (5... exd4 6. Nf3 Nf6 7. Nxe7 Qxe7 8. Nxd4 O-O 9. e3 d5 $11 {Aronian,L (2797)-Nakamura,H (2767) Saint Louis 2014}) 6. e4 Nf6 7. Nxe7 Qxe7 8. f3 Nfd7 $5 9. Ne2 O-O 10. d5 Nc5 { in Matlakov,M (2700)-Yu,Y (2764) Caleta 2019}) 4... d6 (4... e4 {and}) (4... Nc6 {have also been played here.}) 5. a3 Bc5 6. e3 Nf6 (6... c6 7. d4 $5 Ba7 8. Nc3 Nd7 {was Nepomniachtchi,I (2751)-Anand,V (2776) Moscow 2018; when 9 Be2 or 9 b4 give White a comfortable game.}) 7. d4 Nxd5 8. cxd5 (8. dxc5 Nf6 9. cxd6 cxd6 $11 {gives White the bishop pair, but in return for the central majority.} ) 8... exd4 9. exd4 Bb6 10. Bg5 f6 11. Be3 O-O 12. Bd3 f5 $1 13. Qc2 Nd7 $1 { An ingenious pawn sacrifice, undoubtedly prepared.} ({There has been two previous games with} 13... h6 14. O-O (14. h3 Nd7 $5 15. Bxf5 Nf6 16. Be6+ Bxe6 17. dxe6 Qe8 $11) 14... f4 15. Bd2 Bg4 {, e.g.,} 16. Rae1 Nd7 (16... Bxf3 17. gxf3 Nd7 $5) 17. Bc3 Bxf3 18. gxf3 Qh4 19. Bg6 (19. Re6 $14) 19... Rf6 (19... Nf6) 20. Kh1 Nf8 21. Be4 Qh5 22. Rg1 $14 {Morley,P (2368)-Biedermann,T (2433) ICCF email 2017}) 14. Bxf5 Nf6 15. Bd3 $1 {A terrific reaction, keeping the pieces on.} (15. Bxc8 Rxc8 {must have been tempting, but there's no way to hold onto the d5-pawn and e6 is not really weak:} 16. Ng5 $5 (16. Qc4 Qd7 17. O-O Qf5 $11) 16... Qd7 {, and ...Qf5 follows, while} 17. Ne6 $6 Rfe8 {already favors Black.}) 15... h6 {This attacks d5 by protecting h7; furthermore, Ng5 was threatened in some lines.} 16. Nh4 $5 {Ambitious.} (16. O-O Nxd5 17. Bc4 c6 {is solid.Then the forcing} 18. Bxh6 {can be met most easily by} Bf5 (18... gxh6 $5 19. Qg6+ Kh8 20. Qxh6+ Kg8 21. Qg6+ Kh8 {probably draws, but White has various attacking chances}) 19. Bd3 Bxd3 20. Qxd3 Rxf3 $1 21. gxf3 gxh6 22. Qg6+ Kf8 23. Qxh6+ Kf7 24. Qh7+ Kf8 25. Qh6+ Kf7 26. Qh7+ $11) 16... Nxd5 $1 { Yu sacrifices the exchange. This was a 25-minute game with a 10-second increment, and the high quality of play which follows for both sides is astonishing.} 17. Bh7+ Kh8 18. Ng6+ Kxh7 19. Nxf8+ Kg8 20. Ng6 Qf6 { Threatening ...Bf5.} 21. Qe4 $1 Be6 22. O-O (22. Nf4 Nxf4 23. Qxf4 Qxf4 24. Bxf4 Bxd4 25. O-O-O Bxf2 $11) 22... Re8 $1 {Black chooses not to recover a pawn, but to keep the pressure on (...Bf7 is threatened). His bishop pair and active knight and rook give plenty of compensation, especially when combined with White's bad bishop.} (22... Bf7 {looks adequate, but} 23. Nf4 Nxf4 24. Qxf4 Qxf4 25. Bxf4 Bxd4 26. Rac1 $1 {isn't so easy:} Bxb2 $1 (26... Rc8 $2 27. Bxd6) (26... c5 27. Bxd6 Bxb2 28. Rb1 Bxa3 29. Rxb7 $14) 27. Rxc7 Bxa3 28. Rxb7 a4 29. Rfb1 Bb3 30. Be3 {and it may still be ddrawn, but White has the chances. }) 23. Nh4 (23. Nf4 Nxf4 24. Qxf4 Qxf4 25. Bxf4 Bxd4 26. Rac1 b5 $1 27. Rxc7 Bc4 28. Rd1 Bb3 29. Rf1 Bc4 $11) 23... Bf7 24. Qg4 h5 $5 {Courageously playing for complications.} (24... Be6 {was safe and equal:} 25. Qg6 (25. Qe4 Bf7 26. Qg4 Be6 $11) 25... Qxg6 26. Nxg6 Nxe3 27. fxe3 Bf7 28. Nh4 $1 (28. Nf4 Rxe3 29. Rae1 Rb3 $17) 28... Rxe3 29. Nf5 Rb3 {with multiple threats;} 30. Ne7+ Kf8 31. Ng6+ Kg8 32. Ne7+ $11 {might well follow.}) 25. Qg3 (25. Qh3 $1 {is risky-looking but gives more winning chances, e.g.,} Re4 26. Nf3 Nxe3 27. fxe3 Rxe3 28. Rad1) 25... Re4 26. Bg5 ({Or} 26. Nf3 Rg4 $1 27. Qh3 Be6 $1 {, when White should bail out with} 28. Qxh5 $1 Qxf3 29. Qe8+ Kh7 30. Qh5+ $11) 26... Qe6 $6 {The first inaccurate move in the game by Black (and White hasn't missed much either!).} (26... Qxd4 $1 {looks risky at first after} 27. Nf5 { , but Black stops the threats and gains the upper hand after} Qe5 $15 {. This would be no fun for White.}) 27. h3 Bxd4 28. Nf3 Bxb2 29. Rab1 {Black has gotten two pawns for the exchange, but notice that for the first time, White pieces are all active.} Re2 $1 (29... Bxa3 30. Rxb7 $14) 30. Bd2 $1 (30. Bc1 Bf6 $1 31. Rxb7 Qc8 32. Rb3 a4 33. Rd3 Nc3 {with considerable pressure.}) 30... Qf6 $1 {Accurate throughout.} 31. Bxa5 Nf4 $5 {Enterprising and perfectly playable, but with so little time left, Black could also have played it safe by } (31... b6) 32. Bxc7 Rc2 $1 {Threatening ...Ne2+, and eyeing the c7 bishop.} 33. Kh2 $1 h4 $6 {An ingenious move, played with less that five seconds on the clock! But it's a mistake. Black was undoubtedly aware of the tactic} (33... Nxg2 $1 34. Kxg2 (34. Qxg2 Bd5 $17) 34... Rxc7 {with plenty of counterplay, but this is hard to play with just a few seconds to think, and Black wanted something more forcing.}) (33... Rxc7 34. Rxb2 Qxb2 35. Qxf4 Qf6 {was also better than 33...h4, but with little time left, it might not be easy to defend the position after} 36. Qd2 (36. Qxf6 gxf6 37. Nd4 $14)) 34. Qg5 $1 {The refutation. Black's idea had been} (34. Qxh4 Qxh4 35. Nxh4 Be5 $1 {(hitting c7) } 36. Ba5 Ng6+ 37. f4 Nxh4 (37... Nxf4 38. Kh1 Ra2 $13) 38. fxe5 Rxg2+ 39. Kh1 Bd5 40. exd6 Rg3+ 41. Kh2 Rg2+ {with a draw.}) 34... Rxc7 $4 ({Panic. Having missed 34 Qg5, Yu didn't realize that he could stay in the game with} 34... Ba2 $1 35. Qxf6 gxf6 {, and White might try} 36. Rxb2 $5 ({or} 36. Bxd6 Bxb1 37. Rxb1 Nd3 38. Nxh4 Rxf2 $16) 36... Rxb2 37. Nxh4 Bc4 38. Rc1 b5 39. Bxd6 Nd3 40. Rc3 Rxf2 41. a4 $16 {, but neither ending is easy.}) ({Even} 34... Qxg5 $5 35. Nxg5 Ba2 {survives, but runs into} 36. Rfe1 $1 {with a mate threat, e.g.,} Ne2 (36... g6 37. Rxb2 Rxb2 38. Re8+ Kg7 39. Bxd6) 37. Rxb2 Rxb2 38. Bxd6 Bd5 39. Bb4 {, which is going to be very hard to hold.}) 35. Rxb2 Qxg5 {Suddenly the game is over. Black probably missed} (35... Qxb2 36. Qd8+ {, e.g.,} Kh7 37. Qxc7 Bd5 38. Qxd6 {, etc.}) 36. Nxg5 Bc4 37. Re1 g6 38. Re4 Nd3 39. Rc2 Rc5 ( 39... d5 40. Re8+ Kg7 41. Ne6+) (39... b5 40. Re8+ Kg7 41. Ne6+ Bxe6 42. Rxc7+) 40. Rcxc4 Rxg5 41. Re7 Nc5 42. Rxh4 Rf5 43. f3 {A titanic battle. Keep in mind that after the opening, there was hardly a second for either player to be able to relax and gather their wits.} 1-0 [/pgn]
With their victories, both Ding and Radjabov have secured seats in the 2020 Candidates Tournament, although it is unclear as to whether Radjabov (who has been described as “semi-retired”) will accept his bid, as this video interview shows. Vachier-Lagrave and Yu will meet in a match to determine the 3rd place finisher, also beginning Monday. Like the Ding-Radjabov match, theirs will be played over four classical games followed by a tiebreak round if necessary. Live coverage will be 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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