Ian Nepomniachtchi won the first game against Wei Yi in the final match of Jerusalem Grand Prix. The Russian plays with White in the second game tomorrow and needs just a draw to win the tournament and get a spot in the Candidates 2020.
Yoav Evenstein, Consultant and Analyst in Evenovate and Tel Aviv University made a first symbolic move in the first game of the final Wei Yi – Nepomniachtchi.
Both players were smiling when they saw 1.Nc3 on the board and a few seconds later playing White Wei Yi, chose 1.Nf3 instead. Four knights variation in English Opening was played in what turned to be the longest game of Jerusalem Grand Prix so far.
After quite a rare 12.Rb1 Ian chose 12…Qb4, proposing the queen’s exchange. Even though It was the first key moment in the game, surprisingly it took Wei Yi record-breaking 53 minutes to play 13.Qd1, avoiding the exchange.
On the 31st move, the Chinese grandmaster had a choice of finishing the game or playing on. Ian Nepomniachtchi expected his opponent to end the game, thinking the position was balanced but with only a few seconds on his clock, Wei Yi spurned the repetition, tempted by a risky 32.Nb5. He entered a forced double-edged sequence where every move could have been a decisive one. According to Wei Yi, he simply missed the strong idea of exchange sacrifice after 32.Qb2.
Being short on time, Wei Yi failed to find a precise 34.Ra1 and ended up in a difficult position where only Black was playig for a win. Ian Nepomniachtchi didn’t want to force the issue and kept putting pressure on his opponent waiting for the best moment to push d4. White's position collapsed a few moves after Ian has finally advanced his passer with 84...d4. Only 87.Qa3 could have given White some hopes to save the game but it was not played. In the post-game interview, the Chinese grandmaster said he was not sure if he could have held his position by playing precisely but it was definitely hard to defend it for so long. The game was over after 96 moves with Ian scoring a very important victory with black pieces.
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