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Harikrishna enters top 20 in world rankings with a win over Wei Yi

by Sagar Shah - 20/08/2019

On 20th of August, Harikrishna played at the 12th round of the Chinese League 2019 for his team China Mobil Shanghai. He played on the top board and faced one of the China's finest players Wei Yi from team Jiangsu. Recently Surya Ganguly had got the better of Wei Yi right out of the opening and had won his game in 16 moves. Hari scored quite a contrasting win where he ground down his opponent with slow and methodical play. There is definitely a lot to be learnt from the Indian no.2's play. IM Sagar Shah brings you the analysis of this game. Hari also gained 4.8 Elo points, taking his live rating to 2743 entering the top 20 in the world once again!

Harikrishna scored an emphatic win in the 12th round of the Chinese League 2019 for his team China Mobil Shanghai on board one against Wei Yi. This game has special significance as I am in Chens-Sur-Leman with six talented youngsters of Indian chess for the Kramnik training camp, and 20th of August being a rest day we could analyze the endgame in some detail. Also the fact that we were seeing a lot Kramnik's brilliant endgame grinds from equal/drawish endgames, helped us appreciate Harikrishna's win even more.  

Youngsters Leon Mendonca, Gukesh, Iniyan and Praggnanandhaa analyze Harikrishna's endgame against Wei Yi at the Kramnik training camp

Let's have a look at some of the most important positions of the game:


Harikrishna vs Wei Yi, Chinese League, Round 12

Wei Yi played the Queen's Gambit Accepted, which was not the best idea as the opening suits Harikrishna's positional style quite a bit

b4!? is an interesting pawn sacrifice and Black should accept the pawn at his own peril

Very soon the queens were exchanged and we reached this queenless middlegame where White has a definite pull thanks to the lead in development and also because of his space advantage on the queenside

This endgame should be closer to a draw than White's win, but it goes without saying that against a technical expert like Harikrishna black has his task cut out

Harikrishna built up his position and gained space on the kingside with his pawns

The move f5 by Harikrishna was very well calculated. The point is that ...Kf6 looks dangerous for White has then the knight on d3 and the rook on g7 are hanging. However, Harikrishna had seen a bit deeper

h6! was a very powerful move. The entire point is that the rook is defended and after Rxd3+ Ke4 there is no way to prevent a mate with g5 without the loss of heavy material

Harikrishna managed to convert the last phase of the game without too many difficulties

A similar endgame was once won by Anatoly Karpov against Judit Polgar. This game was pointed out by Leon Mendonca in the analysis:

With this win Harikrishna now reaches a live Elo of 2743 and has entered the world top 20

If you would like to improve your handling of the rook versus minor piece endgame then you should go for Karsten Mueller's Endgame 9:


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