WR Chess Masters 2023 R7: Gukesh bests Esipenko, joins Aronian in the lead
D Gukesh had played only two Classical rated games against Andrey Esipenko until yesterday. Both shared a win each with the black pieces. In the seventh round of WR Chess Masters 2023, the 44th Chess Olympiad individual Gold medalist, just simply outsmarted his opponent on the board. He realized when his opponent had no idea what to do and showed the lack of understanding of where to put which piece, unlike Gukesh who exactly knew how to improve his pieces' position. R Praggnanandhaa drew against Wesley So after nearly a seven-hour-long battle. Round 8 starts today from 2 p.m. local time, 6:30 p.m. IST. Photo: Lennart Ootes/WR Chess Masters
First win with black pieces of the event
Ian Nepomniachttchi refused a threefold repetition thrice against Levon Aronian and beat the tournament leader eventually when he blundered a piece. Gukesh scored the first win of the event with the black pieces and Nepomniachtchi scored the second. It is astounding that no wins were scored with the black pieces for six rounds.
Esipenko - Gukesh: 0-1
Andrey Esipenko (2675) opted for the Catalan opening against D Gukesh (2718). The latter did not remember 9.b3 line well. He decided to play some logical moves.
Position after 11.e4
White decided to sacrifice his pawn at c4. Black took it 11...dxc4 12.Rfe1 e5 he played this after 20 minutes of thought and admitted missing 13.Ne2.
23.Qe2 was played with the idea of transferring the queen to the kingside and launch an attack there. After 23...g6 24.Nh6+ Kg7 25.Ng4 Bd4 26.Rd1 c5 Black has suddenly shifted things in his favor and got a firm grip of the position. 27.Qf3 h5 28.Nf2 Ne3 only worsened things for White.
Aronian - Nepomniachtchi: 0-1
The last time Levon Aronian (USA, 2736) won against Ian Nepomniachtchi (2793) in a Classical rated game was Sinquefield Cup 2017. It is safe to assume that the world championship contender was aware of this fact. Thus, he declined the threefold repetition not once or twice, thrice in the game.
19...Bd8 20.Qc5 is the first instance where Black could have gone for a draw 20...Be7 21.Qb6 Bd8 as the queen is virtually trapped, due to the lack of enough safe squares. After repeating twice, Nepomniachtchi realized that he should go for a win 23...g5 24.Bg3 and after one more repetition, he went 26...g5 27.f3. After one final repetition, he went 30...f4. White was unable to make any progress, Black did and soon Aronian blundered.
White's position was already not easy to play. 38.Nd4 only worsened things for him. Find out how.
Replay Round 7 games
The total prize fund - €130000. Top three prizes are: €40000, €25000 and €15000 each respectively.