Jerusalem GP: Short draws

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
12/15/2019 – The first classical games of the quarter-finals at the FIDE Grand Prix in Jerusalem all ended in short draws. The longest game of the day lasted 23 moves and a little over an hour and a half. In the key encounter between Wesley So and Ian Nepomniachtchi, it was the American who conceded a draw with the white pieces. | Photo: Niki Riga

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The fourth leg of the FIDE Grand Prix is being played in Jerusalem, Israel. The 16-player knockout has a €130,000 prize fund, with the series as a whole having an additional prize fund of €280,000 plus two qualifying spots for the 2020 Candidates Tournament. The tournament takes place in the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Centre from December 11th to 23rd.

The stakes are as high as they can be at the top of the bracket in Jerusalem, a situation that resulted in the players taking pragmatic decisions in the first games of the quarter-finals. At this point, taking risks apparently seemed unjustified for Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Wesley So, who both had the white pieces in game one. Dmitry Jakovenko and Sergey Karjakin, albeit not in the fight for the Candidates, also decided to call it a day quickly. Karjakin, who signed an 8-move draw against Wei Yi, explained:

It's more or less two reasons why it finished so quickly. First of all, I had a difficult match yesterday, but not only this, it's also that my opponent was very well-prepared for the sideline, which is not popular at all. 

In fact, the former World Championship challenger only defeated Pentala Harikrishna at the Armageddon stage on Friday, while regarding the situation on the board he was talking about the following position:


Wei Yi played the novelty 6...g5 here, which according to Karjakin means he certainly looked at the line, as nobody would play such a compromising advance without being confident about the ensuing variations. The Russian recounted how it only dawned on him why his rival knew this line over the board. He remembered that Anish Giri had played this with White, and the Dutch grandmaster was Wei Yi's opponent in round one.

Sergey Karjakin, Wei Yi

Eight moves passed and the game is over — Sergey Karjakin v Wei Yi | Photo: Niki Riga

The longest game of the day, in terms of moves, was Wesley So v Ian Nepomniachtchi. The American pretty much blitzed out all his moves out of a Grünfeld Defence before agreeing to a draw in a queenless position with a typical Grünfeld pawn structure imbalance — Black had a passer on the a-file. Nepomniachtchi considered his opponent's bishop pair to be a strong asset and decided he will try his chances when he gets the white pieces on Sunday. For So, winning this match would give him an outside chance to reach the Candidates, especially if Vachier-Lagrave is knocked out by Dmitry Andreikin. 

Wesley So, Ian Nepomniachtchi

We might still see Wesley So in the 2020 Candidates | Photo: Niki Riga

Games from Round 2


All games available at

Match results - Jerusalem GP


Commentary webcast

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Previous reports:

Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.
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AidanMonaghan AidanMonaghan 12/16/2019 03:26
Sponsors may someday stop investing in such disappointing events. Some seem to take for granted that such sponsors will continue doing so.

Which is more important - mere rating points or funding that rewards people for playing a game that is supposed to at least provide entertainment?
Peter B Peter B 12/15/2019 11:36
Obviously the players have worked out that the best way to play these events is by conserving energy. FIDE needs to change the format. The "2 game minimatch plus tiebreaks" format is overused. It is fine in the World Cup; but it was a bad choice to also use it for the Grand Prix.
svr svr 12/15/2019 01:26
They should have them play the tiebreaks before the classical games. That way one player will always have to play for a win.
s8977 s8977 12/15/2019 12:57
30 move rule or no draw by agree should be applied in all games. fide should consider it.
AidanMonaghan AidanMonaghan 12/15/2019 12:10

In the event of a draw:

1. Give 1 point to the player with the highest engine evaluation accuracy.


2. Give 1 point to the player with the final position engine evaluation advantage.

Either way, players will be compelled to play longer and better as opposed to leaving a game outcome decision with an engine.
NeoGeo NeoGeo 12/15/2019 11:21
8-move draw?! Pathetic!
mc1483 mc1483 12/15/2019 11:10
You want less draws? Less matches, less rapid playoffs. They are like penalties to decide the outcome of a football match: both players prefer penalties/rapid games to regular footrbal/classic chess. So no player tries to win when playing extra time or classical games.
Most boring draws occur in matches and especially mini-matches. Just check that.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 12/15/2019 10:01
Chicken chess
Lilloso Lilloso 12/15/2019 08:35
Sad to see such games.