FIDE World Cup: Dominguez and Xiong win on demand

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
9/22/2019 – It was an action-packed day in Khanty-Mansiysk, as Leinier Dominguez and Jeffery Xiong bounced back from losses; Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Nikita Vitiugov drew to get 1½:½ victories in their matches; and Yu Yangyi managed to win after having drawn game one, thus reaching the quarter-finals. Also noteworthy was Ding Liren's stubborn defence against Kirill Alekseenko — the top seed drew the underdog, which means the match will be decided on tiebreaks. IM LAWRENCE TRENT recapped the action of the day. | Photo: FIDE

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Yu Yangyi knocks out Nepomniachtchi

The FIDE World Cup is taking place in Khanty-Mansiysk. It is a seven-round knock-out event for 128 players, with a total prize fund of US$ 1.6 million and a first prize of US$ 110,000. The matches consist of two classical games with a time control of 90 minutes for 40 moves plus 30 minutes for the rest of the game, with an increment of 30 seconds per move. The finals consist of four classical games. Full schedule.

Chinese players tend to get in and out of the spotlight rather quietly. While Ding Liren has managed to become a household name, Yu Yangyi is still looking to get a big break in the elite, despite currently being the tenth highest-rated player in the world. In the rematch game of round four at the World Cup, the 25-year-old knocked out fifth seed Ian Nepomniachtchi, and, given his track record, we should not be too surprised if he gets a spot in the Candidates.

Meanwhile, two out of three American representatives won on demand to stay in contention — Leinier Dominguez and Jeffery Xiong got full points on Saturday and will try to reach the quarter-finals in what will be a third consecutive play-off for both of them. Wesley So, on the other hand, lost his match against Nikita Vitiugov after signing a 30-move draw with the white pieces.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave also qualified to the next round, after holding Peter Svidler to a comfortable draw with Black. Another favourite — top seed Ding Liren — also drew with Black, but only after tenaciously defending an inferior position against Kirill Alekseenko. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov v Teimour Radjabov and Levon Aronian v Le Quang Liem will be decided on tiebreaks as well.

Le Quang Liem

Le Quang Liem might knock out defending champion Levon Aronian on Sunday | Photo: FIDE

The (mild) upset of the day

The last couple of years, Ian Nepomniachtchi has become a constant feature in top events, a player totally capable of beating the very best in the world when having a good day. The Russian won the first leg of the Grand Prix this year, which puts him in third place despite not having participated in the second leg. Good performances in Hamburg and Tel Aviv later this year will put him in a good position to fight for a spot in the Candidates, while he apparently has not yet confirmed his participation at the Isle of Man Grand Swiss qualifier

His attempt to qualify by reaching the finals of the World Cup finished in round four though, after he missed chances to take down Yu Yangyi in both classical encounters.

In game two, an ambitious Yu Yangyi gave up two queenside pawns in order to quickly coordinate his initiative on the opposite flank. Nepomniachtchi pushed for a queen trade while up material, but failed to react correctly to his opponent's threats:


Black was better advised to keep his dark-squared bishop on the long diagonal, taking it to g7 where it would defend the king's position. Instead, 24...a5 was played, which prompted Yu Yangyi to fearlessly advance his kingisde forces — there followed 25.e6 fxe4 26.g3 g8 27.f5 and it is hard even to find defensive tricks for Black. When the f-pawn reached the sixth rank, there was no way out:


After 35...g4, Yu simplified his task with 36.h8+ xh8 37.fxg7 xg7 38.xg4, and Nepomniachtchi resigned five moves later.


Yu Yangyi

Will we see Yu Yangyi in the next Candidates Tournament? | Photo: FIDE

Americans bounce back

Getting three of their representatives in the round of 16 was a good partial outcome for the United States delegation, but game one saw all three of them losing with the black pieces. Would the 2016 Olympic champions be left without representatives in the classical phase? Fortunately for the Americans, Leinier Dominguez and Jeffery Xiong are still in the race, as they both won on demand to take their matches to tiebreaks.  

Dominguez played the Giuoco Piano against Alexander Grischuk. The Russian ace advanced his kingside pawns early on, but the complexity of the position exposed one of his biggest defects to the fore: a proclivity to get in deep time trouble. Grischuk had five minutes on his clock with about twenty moves to go before the control. This led to almost inevitable mistakes, which allowed Dominguez to create an overwhelming attack:


This is already the culmination of the onslaught. The game continued 39.g6 bb7 40.xc6 e3 41.xh4 and Black resigned with mate-in-eight on the board.

Alexander Grischuk

Both Grischuk and Dominguez are former world blitz champions | Photo: FIDE

In the meantime, Jeffery Xiong used the rarely seen Bishop's Opening to surprise Jan-Krzysztof Duda from the get go. The young Texan later confessed that he was still in his preparation after sixteen moves, and mentioned that his opponent was already worse soon afterwards. The infiltration of White's rook on the seventh on move 23 was already a strong sign that things could only get worse for Black:


After 23.e7 f8 24.de1 Duda went for the sad-looking 24...xc5 25.dxc5 (forking rook and knight) ♜d7, and here Xiong got two pieces for a rook with 26.xf7+ xf7 27.cxb6. Much like Grischuk, Duda continued playing in a losing position until past the time control, only resigning after his opponent made his 41st move.

Jeffery Xiong

Jeffery Xiong is a fighter at heart | Photo: FIDE

Dominguez v Grischuk and Xiong v Duda


The draws of the day

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Nikita Vitiugov did not get themselves in trouble before signing draws with Peter Svidler and Wesley So, thus qualifying to the quarter-finals. This is the second World Cup in a row that Svidler gets knocked out by Vachier-Lagrave — in 2017, the Frenchman did it in the quarter-finals though.

Levon Aronian v Le Quang Liem and Teimour Radjabov v Shakhriyar Mamedyarov lasted around 30 moves and did not see the balance of the positions greatly disturbed at any time. But that was not the case in Kirill Alekseenko v Ding Liren, as the Russian was the one pushing in an endgame with two pieces for a rook and a pawn:


Not only does White have the initiative but also has his pieces nicely centralized on the fifth rank. Nonetheless, Ding Liren demonstrated that converting this advantage against such a strong defender is no easy task  — the top seed eventually equalized and got to split the point after 60 moves.

Kirill Alekseenko

The only player not in the '2700 club' still in contention — Kirill Alekseenko | Photo: FIDE

Key draws of the day


Round-up show

IM Lawrence Trent reviews the highlights of the day:

Commentary webcast

Commentary by GMs Evgeny Miroshnichenko and Daniil Yuffa

All results


All games from Round 4



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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