Nepomniachtchi Qualifies for Candidates with Jerusalem Win

Ian Nepomniachtchi is through to the 2020 Candidates Tournament with his victory at the FIDE Jerusalem Grand Prix.

After knocking out Boris Gelfand and Wesley So in the first two rounds, Nepomniachtchi faced Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the semi-finals. Had Vachier-Lagrave won their match, he would have qualified for the Candidates, but Nepomniachtchi’s “Leela-approved” 8.Be3 in their first classical game helped him to eliminate the Frenchman without need for tiebreaks.
[pgn]

[Event "Jerusalem FIDE Grand Prix"]
[Site "Jerusalem ISR"]
[Date "2019.12.17"]
[Round "3.1"]
[White "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"]
[Black "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D97"]
[WhiteElo "2767"]
[BlackElo "2780"]
[PlyCount "71"]
[EventDate "2019.12.11"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Qb3 dxc4 6. Qxc4 O-O 7. e4 Nc6 8.
Be3 Ng4 9. e5 Nxe3 10. fxe3 Bg4 11. h3 Bxf3 12. gxf3 e6 13. h4 Ne7 14. f4 b5
15. Qc5 Nf5 16. Kf2 f6 17. Rd1 b4 18. Qxb4 Rb8 19. Qa3 fxe5 20. dxe5 Qe8 21.
Bg2 Bxe5 22. fxe5 Nxh4+ 23. Kg1 Nxg2 24. Ne4 Rd8 25. Rc1 Qb5 26. Qe7 Rd7 27.
Nf6+ Rxf6 28. Qxf6 Rf7 29. Qd8+ Rf8 30. Qxc7 Rf7 31. Qd8+ Rf8 32. Qe7 h5 33.
Qxe6+ Kg7 34. Rc7+ Kh6 35. Rxh5+ Kxh5 36. Qh3+ 1-0

[/pgn]
Not all hope was lost for Vachier-Lagrave, as Nepomniachtchi still had to win the Finals against Wei Yi to claim the Candidates spot for his own. The in-form Russian was up to the task, winning the first game with Black and then drawing Sunday without much difficulty.
[pgn]

[Event "Jerusalem FIDE Grand Prix"]
[Site "Jerusalem ISR"]
[Date "2019.12.21"]
[Round "4.1"]
[White "Wei, Yi"]
[Black "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A33"]
[WhiteElo "2725"]
[BlackElo "2767"]
[Annotator "Hartmann,John"]
[PlyCount "192"]
[EventDate "2019.12.11"]

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 e6 6. g3 Qb6 7. Ndb5 Ne5 8.
Bg2 a6 9. Qa4 Rb8 10. Na3 Bc5 11. O-O O-O 12. Rb1 Qb4 13. Qd1 d6 14. Na4 b5 15.
Nxc5 Qxc5 16. cxb5 axb5 17. Bg5 Ba6 18. Nc2 b4 19. Nd4 Bb7 20. Rc1 Qa5 21. Bxb7
Rxb7 22. Bxf6 gxf6 23. Qb3 Ra8 24. f4 Qa7 25. e3 Nd7 26. Qd1 Qxa2 27. Qg4+ Kh8
28. Qh5 Kg8 29. Qg4+ Kh8 30. Qh5 Kg8 31. Nb5 $5 {Spurning a draw by repetition.
} Rxb5 32. Qxb5 Qxb2 33. Rb1 Qc2 34. Rfc1 Qd2 35. Qxb4 Qxe3+ 36. Kh1 Ra2 37.
Rc8+ Kg7 38. Rb2 Qf3+ 39. Kg1 Qd1+ 40. Kg2 Ra1 41. Qb5 f5 42. Qe2 Qd5+ 43. Kh3
Nf6 44. Rbb8 Ra2 45. Rc2 Rxc2 46. Qxc2 Qf3 47. Rb3 Qf1+ 48. Qg2 Qe1 49. Qb2 Kg6
50. Kg2 d5 51. Rb8 Qe4+ 52. Kh3 Qf3 53. Rb3 Qf1+ 54. Qg2 Qe1 55. Qc2 Qf1+ 56.
Qg2 Qc4 57. Rb8 h6 58. Kh4 Qd3 59. Rb2 Ng4 60. Qe2 Qd4 61. Kh3 Qg1 62. Qg2 Qd4
63. Qe2 Qc5 64. Qc2 Qg1 65. Qg2 Qe3 66. Qe2 Qd4 67. Qc2 Ne3 68. Qb3 Nd1 69. Re2
Nf2+ 70. Kg2 Ng4 71. Qb8 Nf6 72. Qb2 Qc5 73. Rc2 Qe3 74. Re2 Qa7 75. Qa2 Qc5
76. Qc2 Qd6 77. Qb2 Ne4 78. Qd4 Qa6 79. Rc2 Nf6 80. Rd2 Qa5 81. Re2 Qa3 82. Qb2
Qa7 83. Qa2 Qd7 84. Qb2 d4 85. Rd2 Qd5+ 86. Kg1 d3 87. Qe5 Qe4 88. Qxe4 fxe4
89. Kf2 Nd5 90. Ke1 Kf5 91. Rd1 e5 92. Kd2 exf4 93. gxf4 Nxf4 94. Ra1 Ke5 95.
Ra6 h5 96. Ra8 f5 0-1

[/pgn]

[pgn]

[Event "Jerusalem FIDE Grand Prix"]
[Site "Jerusalem ISR"]
[Date "2019.12.22"]
[Round "4.2"]
[White "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"]
[Black "Wei, Yi"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B06"]
[WhiteElo "2767"]
[BlackElo "2725"]
[PlyCount "52"]
[EventDate "2019.12.11"]

1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. Nf3 a6 5. Be2 e6 6. O-O Ne7 7. Re1 Nd7 8. a4 b6
9. Be3 Bb7 10. Qd2 h6 11. h3 g5 12. d5 e5 13. Nh2 Ng6 14. Bg4 Nf6 15. Nf1 Nf4
16. Bf5 h5 17. g3 Bh6 18. f3 Rg8 19. Kh1 Bc8 20. gxf4 gxf4 21. Bf2 Nxe4 22.
fxe4 Qg5 23. Ne3 fxe3 24. Bxe3 Qg3 25. Bxh6 Qf3+ 26. Kh2 Qg3+ 1/2-1/2

[/pgn]
Seven of the eight Candidates are now known (assuming all accept invitations) after Jerusalem: Fabiano Caruana, Anish Giri, Alexander Grischuk, Wang Hao, Ding Liren, Ian Nepomniachtchi, and Teimour Radjabov. The eighth slot will go to the organizer’s wild card selection, and all indications are that Kirill Alekseenko will be nominated.
courtesy FIDE
For his part, Nepomniachtchi takes home €24,000 and 8 Grand Prix points for his victory, finishing second in the overall Grand Prix standings behind Alexander Grischuk. Jerusalem runner-up Wei Yi earned €14,000 for second place.
Wesley So (photo Niki Riga)
Wesley So was the only American in the field, and as alluded to above, he was knocked out by Nepomniachtchi 2.5-1.5. He did play an interesting game in his first round victory over Yu Yangyi.
[pgn]

[Event "Jerusalem FIDE Grand Prix"]
[Site "Jerusalem ISR"]
[Date "2019.12.12"]
[Round "1.2"]
[White "So, Wesley"]
[Black "Yu, Yangyi"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C43"]
[WhiteElo "2760"]
[BlackElo "2738"]
[PlyCount "75"]
[EventDate "2019.12.11"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. d4 Nxe4 4. dxe5 d5 5. Nbd2 Nxd2 6. Bxd2 Be7 7. Bd3 c5 8.
c3 Nc6 9. O-O Bg4 10. Re1 Qd7 11. h3 Bh5 12. Bf4 Qe6 13. Be2 O-O 14. Qd2 Bg6
15. Rad1 Be4 16. Ng5 Bxg5 17. Bxg5 h6 18. Be3 d4 19. cxd4 Rfd8 20. Qc3 Qg6 21.
g3 cxd4 22. Bxd4 Qe6 23. Kh2 Rac8 24. Qe3 Bf5 25. Bc3 Rxd1 26. Rxd1 Qxa2 27. g4
Be6 28. Qe4 Ne7 29. Qxb7 Nd5 30. Bd4 a5 31. Bf3 Qc4 32. b3 Qc2 33. Bxd5 Bxd5
34. Qxd5 Qxd1 35. e6 Qc2 36. exf7+ Kh7 37. Qe5 Qg6 38. Qe7 1-0

[/pgn]

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