Shakhriyar Mamedyarov hopes of a place in the 2020 Candidates Tournament goes up in flames after crashing out of the FIDE Jerusalem Grand Prix.
Seven others – Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Dmitry Andreikin, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Wei Yi, Dmitry Jakovenko, David Navara and Sergey Karjakin advanced to the next round after dispatching their opponents in playoffs.
They join Wesley So who had already qualified for the second round one day earlier. The local hero, Boris Gelfand, also fell in the play-off against one of the favourites, Ian Nepomniachtchi.
Losing to Jakovenko in the playoff meant that Mamedyarov cannot qualify for the Candidates Tournament but it opened the way for Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Ian Nepomniachtchi, who are still in the hunt.
Four matches were decided in two-game rapid playoffs.
Dmitry Andreikin found a nice way force a draw in the first rapid game against Radoslaw Wojtaszek. After getting a serious advantage after the opening in the second game, Andreikin misplayed later on and lost the control over the situation on the board. Wojtaszek had good chances to win the game but made a few mistakes in the time trouble, allowing his opponent to win the game and the match.
It went pretty easy for Maxime Vachier-Lagrave today, who won his rapid match against Veselin Topalov with 2:0 score. The French grandmaster managed to get an advantage in Ruy Lopez Berlin after inaccurate 20…g5 and started the day with the victory. The former world champion had his chances playing with White in the second game but Maxime defended well and even won the second game.
Boris Gelfand and Ian Nepomniachtchi had a breath-taking battle with interesting ideas in the openings, unpredictable turns and many tactical motifs. After losing the first game the Israeli Grandmaster had good chances to tie the score but could not find the precise way to finish his attack on the King of his opponent. Ian Nepomniachtchi won the match with 2:0 score and keeps fighting for the place in the Candidates.
Similar to the previous Grand Prix stages, Anish Giri could not manage to get through the first round and has to go home after losing against Wei Yi. After the first game which finished in draw, the second game was balanced until Anish decided to play a tempting 30…Nf4. According to him, he missed 35.Qe8 in the end of the variation and had to resign one move later. He called his participation in the Grand Prix Series this year as his worst performance. Nevertheless, his qualification to the Candidates 2020 by rating can be considered as compensation for his hardships.
Dmitry Jakovenko was the only player, who managed to strike back after losing the first game of the match against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. In the second game Shakhriyar played too aggressively, even though he needed a draw, and allowed his opponent to get a decisive material advantage. In both games with Black the Azerbaijani grandmaster didn’t get enough compensation and lost the match with 2,5:1,5 score.
David Navara and Wang Hao can be praised for their fighting spirit, regardless of the fact that first 5 games ended in a draw today. The match has been decided in the sixth game, where Navara had white pieces and got an advantage right after the opening. He played very precisely and didn’t give any chances to his opponent to survive.
The longest match of the day was Harikrishna-Karjakin. None of the players managed to win any game, even though they both had chances in blitz games. Sergey Karjakin made a decisive draw in the last Armaggeddon encounter and claimed a victory in the match, despite his concerns on playing on Friday 13th.
Round 2 pairings:
MVL vs Andreikin
So vs Nepomniachtchi
Karjakin vs Wei
Jakovenko vs Navara