Lindores Abbey QF: Dubov and Ding go through

5/28/2020 – Daniil Dubov and Ding Liren won their third, deciding mini-matches of the Lindores Abbey quarter-finals and are set to face each other in the semis. Dubov won three in a row to take down Sergey Karjakin in an 11-game match-up that had 11 decisive results, while Ding drew with black in the Armageddon tiebreaker to move on to the next stage of the knockout, leaving his compatriot Yu Yangyi out of contention. | Photos: FIDE / Lennart Ootes

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The Final Four


The Lindores Abbey Chess Challenge started on May 18th. Twelve players are taking part. After a three-day preliminary, the best eight players will advance to the deciding knockout section. The time control is 15 minutes for the game, with a 10-second increment per move.


Everything is set up for the semi-finals of the Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge, as the last rubber of the quarter-finals were played on Wednesday. The last two players to reach the semis — Daniil Dubov and Ding Liren — will have no rest day before facing each other in the second-to-last stage of the knockout.

Dubov defeated Sergey Karjakin three times in a row to win the all-Russian match-up. He had also defeated his fellow countryman 3:0 in the first rubber and had barely lost in Armageddon in the second mini-match. Dubov was very fortunate in game two, when his opponent blundered after failing to make the most of a superior position, but the 24-year-old did not feel bad about it, as he had been the one missing chances the day before. He told the commentators afterwards:

Yesterday I missed like ten opportunities to finish it, so I probably deserved to be lucky.

While it was all ups and downs in the battle between Russians, Chinese stars Ding and Yu played a distinctly tense match from start to finish. The third rubber, like the first one, was decided in Armageddon. Once again Ding chose black, but learning from his previous experience — when he lost on time while having a completely winning position — he played quickly and managed to hold a draw after having gamely defended a worse position for the better part of the game.

Dubov and Ding are paired up against each other in the semis starting Thursday. While this will certainly be an exciting match-up, most eyes will likely be focused on the Magnus Carlsen v Hikaru Nakamura confrontation.

Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge 2020

Dubov 3:0 Karjakin

Playing white, Dubov came out of the gate with all guns blazing, quickly advancing his kingside pawns with 8.g4 and 9.g5. A wild struggle ensued, with White giving up a piece and looking for a way to mate his opponent's king with his heavy pieces along the h-file. Karjakin, while material up, traded his queen for a rook to keep up the defence.

The attack looked menacing, but Black' resignation came rather abruptly:

 

There is only one reasonable move for Karjakin here, 30...Rf6, and it probably would have been worth it to play it. After 31.Rh8+ Kf7 32.Rxc8 Nxc8 33.Bxf6 Kxf6, White has a queen for two pieces and two pawns, but still needs to avoid blundering in order to score the full point. Strangely, Karjakin simply gave up, despite this being a rapid online game, in which even a "mouse slip" is a real possibility.

Staying true to his strategy, Dubov played the Philidor with black in game two, leaving theory early in the game and creating a unique position on the board. White was better in the middlegame, but needed to find precise continuations in uncharted territories. Karjakin kept his cool for a while, reaching a visibly winning position, but faltered at the last hurdle, blundering his rook by taking a wrong step his king:

 

With 32.Kf3 the king escapes the checks and White can convert his advantage without much hassle, while Karjakin's 32.Kf1 gives way to 32...Qa6+ losing the rook at once. Resignation came shortly after.

Dubov won game three in 39 moves, securing his pass to the semis. By that point, the Russian did not know whom he would face in the next stage, but confessed that he has a terrible score against all Chinese players, so he does not think he will have a good result — he went as far as to say that he would prefer to face Carlsen!

 

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Ding 2:2 Yu

After playing a number of balanced games, Yu decided to step away from theoretical lines against his strong opponent on Wednesday. The strategy worked well in general, as Yu was the one putting pressure in game one — which finished drawn — and got the first win of the day in game two. 

Given Yu's strange opening choice, Ding overextended on the kingside. This led to the loss of a couple of pawns and, more importantly, to the weakening of his king's position:

 

Black has a knight under attack, but the vulnerability of White's king is a much bigger factor at this point — thus 26...e5, opening up the diagonal for the infiltration of the queen via h3. The game continued 27.Bxc5 Nxc5 28.Rxc5 Qxh3+ 29.Kf2 Qxb3 and Ding resigned after 30.Nc3 Nxf4 31.Qxe5 Qxd1.

Yu was up on the scoreboard and had white in game three. Once the opening phase was over, the commentators were wondering what was White's plan, as Yu continued with his strategy of playing non-theoretical lines. Ding showed his class while refuting his compatriot's play and evened the score with one rapid game to go. The fourth encounter also finished drawn, which meant everything would be decided in sudden death.

Much like in the first rubber, Yu chose to play white. Having lost that tiebreaker four days ago, Ding adjusted his style, playing logical moves as quickly as possible while trying to avoid any sort of blunder. Yu got the upper hand, but the clock times were close to equal once the players reached the middlegame:

 

Ding had played 24...Nf5, missing 25.Nxe6. The commentators first thought Ding was in deep trouble but quickly noticed that his position was more than defensible — especially in a blitz game — after 25...Qb6 26.Nc5 Bxc5 27.dxc5 Qxc5.

White was better, but Ding never stopped making sound moves. Yu could not break through in time, and his higher-rated opponent finally managed to set up an unbreakable fortress.

 

Draw.

 

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