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Harikrishna holds Karjakin to a draw at Jerusalem GP

by Shahid Ahmed - 12/12/2019

The fourth leg of the FIDE Grand Prix Series organized by World Chess started in the Notre Dame Center Jerusalem on December 11. All eight games finished in a draw and all players keep chances to win their matches if the second games have decisive results or go for tie-breaks in case of another draw. After three major tournaments in Moscow, Riga and Hamburg earlier this year, the Grandmasters have arrived in Jerusalem for taking part in the final leg. This part of the Series will determine two participants of the upcoming Candidates 2020. The prize fund in each leg of the Grand Prix amounts to €130000, with an additional €280000 for the top ten finishers in the overall standings. Thus, the total prize fund of the FIDE Grand Prix amounts for a total of €800000 euros. Photo: Niki Riga / World Chess

All eight games end up in a draw

The official Opening Ceremony was held at the Notre Dame Center Jerusalem. State Officials, FIDE representatives, key members of local community and, of course, and all participants assembled at a single place together with other chess devotees to capture the moment of the tournament’s starting. Chief Arbiter Almog Burstein drew lots at the technical meeting.

The playing arena | Photo: Niki Riga / World Chess

The games Nepomniachtchi - Gelfand and Harikrishna - Karjakin finished after less than one hour of play and both Karjakin and Gelfand, who had Black pieces expressed their satisfaction with the outcome.

Harikrishna made a quick draw with Karjakin in just 21 moves | Photo: Niki Riga / World Chess

Pentala Harikrishna decided to play a solid Ruy Lopez Berlin against Sergey Karjakin, and after Grandmasters traded most of the pieces, the draw was agreed on move no.21

Nepomniachtchi drew with former World Championship Challenger Boris Gelfand in just 10 moves | Photo: Niki Riga / World Chess

Ian Nepomniachtchi went for a well-known theoretical line in Sicilian Anti-Sveshnikov but according to Gelfand, his opponent quite misplayed it, so the final position was very dry and none of the sides had real chances to play for something.


“First of all, I'm happy to play in Jerusalem Grand Prix tournament as Grand Prix events are one of my favorite tournaments. I had so many memorable games. It's also nice to play especially in Jerusalem in front of the local public", said Boris Gelfand after the game.

Veselin Topalov chose to play 1.c4 against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, since he has unsuccessfully tried 1.e4 and 1.d4 in the previous mini-matches against the same opponent. “It was a good choice, as at least I manage not to lose the game. It's a good start, compared to my usual first matches”, said Veselin at the postgame interview. 

Topalov - MVL game 1 witnessed a fighting draw | Photo: Niki Riga / World Chess

A symmetrical English was played and, in fact, the former world champion got an advantage right after the opening. He put a lot of pressure on his opponent today and the French Grandmaster, who came directly from the Grand Chess Tour finals in London, had to defend “a very suspicious position”.  Veselin Topalov missed his opponent's counterplay with a piece sacrifice, which turned to be good enough to keep the balance in the game.

Topalov - MVL

How should black continue after 32.Kh1

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov recalled his memories from the last stage of Grand Prix in 2017, when he was watching from his house the last game between Jakovenko and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. In case of victory, MVL would qualify for the Candidates 2018 instead of Shakhryar. Jakovenko won that game and helped Shakhriyar to proceed to the Candidates 2018. Ironically, Shakhriyar was paired against Dmitry Jakovenko in the first match of the fourth stage of Grand Prix and needs to win the match to keep his chances to play in the Candidates 2020.

Shakh needs to overcome Jakovenko to advance | Photo: Niki Riga / World Chess

Shakhriyar had quite deep preparation in the opening today and remembered the line in the Nimzo-Indian till the endgame. In the post-game interview, he pointed out that 22.Kf1 was a bad move and he had to play Re1, Nf1-Ne3 instead, keeping good chances. Dmitry Jakovenko agreed his position was unpleasant and was happy with the result.

Catalan Opening appeared in the game Yu Yangyi vs Wesley So. The American Grandmaster went for a pawn sacrifice and suddenly the position became very complex and tactical. Wesley thought there was enough compensation for equality and was not sure if Black could get a better position.

Yangyi - So game also witnessed a short draw | Photo: Niki Riga / World Chess

Wang Hao misplayed in the opening and let his opponent David Navara to get an advantage. David had more active pieces and was trying to use the weakness of b7 pawn but Wang Hao defended it quite well and managed to hold a draw.

Wang Hao has already for the Candidates 2020 | Photo: Niki Riga / World Chess

Radoslaw Wojtaszek had a well fought draw with former World Cup runner-up Dmitry Andreikin, where the Russian opted for QGD with the black pieces.

Andreikin had a solid draw in the game 1 of round 1 | Photo: Niki Riga / World Chess

Anish Giri mixed up the move order at the opening and decided to give an exchange, remembering the same idea in a different line. He thought his position is lost after c3 but nevertheless managed to defend after a long fight.

Even after messing up in the opening, Giri managed to save the game against Wei Yi | Photo: Niki Riga / World Chess

As Anish Giri and Wei Yi were the last to finish the game, Anish was asked if he thought It would be unfair to lose his game since other games finished in a draw. “That was the only thing that kept me going. I saw that everybody else made a draw. I thought maybe it`s today's magic so I have to try to use it,” answered Anish.

The participants of the Jerusalem Grand Prix passed their warm wishes to the former World Champion Viswanathan Anand, who turned 50 on 11th December 2019.


Source: Press Release


The game 2 of round 1 will start today at 3 p.m. local time, 6:30 p.m. IST

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