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WR Chess Masters 2023 R7: Gukesh bests Esipenko, joins Aronian in the lead

by Shahid Ahmed - 24/02/2023

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.

D Gukesh is certainly well-placed to win his super tournament of his career | Photo: Lennart Ootes/WR Chess Masters

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.

Position after 23.Qe2

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.

Final moments: Andrey Esipenko - D Gukesh: 0-1 | Video: ChessBase India
Gukesh beats Esipenko, becomes coleader with Aronian | Video: ChessBase India
D Gukesh analyses his game with Yasser Seirawan | Video: WR Chess Masters

Andrey Esipenko - D Gukesh: 0-1 | Photo: Lennart Ootes/WR Chess Masters

D Gukesh mediates and gets himself in the zone before the game | Photo: Lennart Ootes/WR Chess Masters

D Gukesh - Nodirbek Abdusattorov (UZB): 0.5-0.5 | Photo: Lennart Ootes/WR Chess Masters

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.

Position after 20.Qc5

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.

Position after 38.Nd4

White's position was already not easy to play. 38.Nd4 only worsened things for him. Find out how.

The psychological warfare around the threefold repetition between Aronian and Nepomniachtchi | Video: ChessBase India
Final moments: Levon Aronian - Ian Nepomniachtchi: 0-1 | Video: ChessBase India
Ian Nepomnniachtchi analyzes his game with GM Elisabeth Paehtz | Video: WR Chess Masters

Levon Aronian ended his win drought of the event | Photo: Lennart Ootes/WR Chess Masters

R Praggnanandhaa drew his after almost a seven-hour-long battle against...| Photo: Lennart Ootes/WR Chess Masters

...Wesley So | Photo: Lennart Ootes/WR Chess Masters

Vincent Keymer (GER) - Anish Giri (NED): 0.5-0.5 | Photo: Lennart Ootes/WR Chess Masters
Interview with Anish Giri | Video: WR Chess Masters

Nodirbek Abdusattorov (UZB) - Jan-Krzysztof Duda (POL) : 0.5-0.5 | Photo: Lennart Ootes/WR Chess Masters

ChessBase India cofounder and CEO, IM Sagar Shah capturing some crucial moments | Photo: Lennart Ootes/WR Chess Masters

Dusseldorf Chief Minister of Sports made the ceremonial first move of Round 7 | Photo: Lennart Ootes/WR Chess Masters
Replay Live commentary of WR Chess Masters 2023 Round 7 by GM Yasser Seirawan and GM Elisabeth Paehtz | Video: ChessBase India

Replay Round 7 games

Prize fund

The total prize fund - €130000. Top three prizes are: €40000, €25000 and €15000 each respectively.

WR Chess Masters 2023 complete prize fund distribution | Photo: Official site

Round 7 results

Gukesh and Nepomniachtchi scored wins with the black pieces | Photo: Official site

Standings after Round 7

Gukesh joined the lead with Aronian 4.5/7 | Photo: Official site

Round 8 pairings

Round 8 pairings | Photo: Official site


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