Ding, Radjabov, Vachier-Lagrave, and Yu in World Cup Semis

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Yu Yangyi won in Wednesday’s quarterfinal playoffs, joining Ding Liren and Teimour Radjabov in the semi-finals of the 2019 FIDE World Cup. Ding meets Yu in the first semi-final matchup, while Vachier-Lagrave plays Radjabov. With so much on the line – semi-finalists receive a minimum of $50,000 in prizes, and the two finalists earn seats in the 2020 Candidates Tournament – and already so deep into the tournament, there is an immense level of pressure on the fatigued players. Combine that with fast time controls, and the result is what we saw today: fighting chess marred by uncharacteristic blunders.

The first came from Levon Aronian, who lost to Vachier-Lagrave in the G/25 round by a score of 1.5-0.5. He could have resigned after 38…h4, but perhaps out of inertia, played on for another https://twitter.com/olimpiuurcan/status/1176831316593037312
[pgn]

[Event "FIDE World Cup 2019"]
[Site "Khanty-Mansiysk RUS"]
[Date "2019.09.25"]
[Round "5.4"]
[White "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"]
[Black "Aronian, Levon"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C50"]
[WhiteElo "2774"]
[BlackElo "2758"]
[Annotator "Hartmann,John"]
[PlyCount "105"]
[EventDate "2019.09.10"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. c3 a6 6. O-O d6 7. a4 O-O 8. Re1
Ba7 9. h3 h6 10. Nbd2 Re8 11. b4 Be6 12. Bxe6 Rxe6 13. Nf1 Qd7 14. Be3 Bxe3 15.
Nxe3 d5 16. b5 Ne7 17. c4 d4 18. Nf5 Re8 19. N3h4 Ng6 20. g3 Nxh4 21. Nxh4 Qe7
22. Qc1 Nd7 23. Qa3 Nc5 24. f4 exf4 25. Nf5 Qf8 26. gxf4 Rf6 27. Rf1 Rxf5 28.
exf5 Re3 29. Rae1 Qe7 30. Rxe3 Qxe3+ 31. Kh2 Qe2+ 32. Kg1 Nxd3 33. bxa6 bxa6
34. Qb3 Qe3+ 35. Kh2 Qd2+ 36. Kg1 Qe3+ 37. Kh2 h5 38. Qd1 h4 $4 39. Rf3 $18 Nb2
40. Rxe3 Nxd1 41. Rd3 Nb2 42. Rxd4 c5 43. Rd5 Nxa4 44. Kg2 Kf8 45. Kf3 Ke7 46.
Kg4 Nb6 47. Rxc5 Kd6 48. Ra5 Nxc4 49. Rxa6+ Ke7 50. Kxh4 Nd6 51. Rxd6 Kxd6 52.
Kg5 Ke7 53. f6+ 1-0

[/pgn]

Yu Yangyi had to go to the Armaegeddon round against Nikita Vitiugov to advance, having drawn the G/25 games, traded G/10 wins, and drawn the blitz round. With three arbiters surrounding the table, Yu proceeded to drop two pawns on move nine. Vitiugov returned the favor, letting Yu back into the game with multiple errors, eventually losing on the 40th move. Post-resignation he sat dazed at the board, his face saying more than any words could. https://twitter.com/olimpiuurcan/status/1176881584357593088
[pgn]

[Event "FIDE World Cup 2019"]
[Site "Khanty-Mansiysk RUS"]
[Date "2019.09.25"]
[Round "5.9"]
[White "Yu, Yangyi"]
[Black "Vitiugov, Nikita"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C00"]
[WhiteElo "2763"]
[BlackElo "2732"]
[Annotator "Hartmann,John"]
[PlyCount "79"]
[EventDate "2019.09.10"]

1. e4 e6 2. f4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. c3 Nh6 6. Na3 Nf5 7. Nc2 d4 (7... Be7
8. d4 cxd4 9. cxd4 Qb6) 8. Bd3 Nh4 9. Be4 $4 {An inexplicable blunder. Black
wins two pawns.} Nxg2+ 10. Kf2 Nxf4 11. d3 Ng6 12. cxd4 cxd4 13. Bg5 Be7 14.
Bxe7 Qxe7 15. Ncxd4 Ncxe5 16. Nxe5 Nxe5 17. Qh5 Nd7 (17... Qc5 $1 {and White
can resign - the knight is lost.}) 18. Rhg1 Nf6 $6 (18... Qf6+ 19. Nf3 Qxb2+
20. Ke3 g6 $19) 19. Qe5 Nxe4+ 20. dxe4 f6 $6 {Vitiugov has let Yu back into
the game.} 21. Qh5+ Qf7 22. Qc5 Qe7 $2 23. Qxe7+ Kxe7 24. Rxg7+ Kf8 25. Rag1 {
Incredibly White is now ahead!} e5 26. Nb5 a6 $2 {The Black position is
collapsing.} 27. Nc7 Rb8 28. Nd5 f5 29. Nf6 fxe4 30. Rc7 Bf5 31. Rgg7 Bg6 32.
Rgd7 b5 33. h4 h5 34. Rg7 Rc8 35. Rg8+ $1 Rxg8 36. Rxc8+ Kf7 37. Nxg8 Ke6 38.
Ke3 Kd7 39. Ra8 Bf5 40. Rxa6 1-0

[/pgn]
Afterwards Vitiugov took to Twitter to share his pain at the loss, and his pride in his overall tournament performance. https://twitter.com/N_Vitiugov/status/1176893069842702336 The semi-final round starts Thursday at 6am EDT. Like the previous rounds, it consists of a two game mini-match followed by a playoff day if needed. The four players will have Sunday off as a rest day before the Finals and 3rd/4th place matches (four games plus a playoff) begin Monday. 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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