FIDE Chess World Cup: Perfect Prep Prevents Poignant Play
Two theoretical draws on day one of the World Cup finals. Photo: Kirill Merkuryev/FIDE.

FIDE Chess World Cup: Perfect Prep Prevents Poignant Play

| 24 | Chess Event Coverage

Two cases of successful preparation led to quick draws on Monday in both Teimour Radjabov vs. Ding Liren, who started their FIDE World Cup final, and Yu Yangyi vs. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who are playing a match for third place.

You can follow the games here as part of our live portal There is daily coverage by our Twitch partner, the Chessbrahs.

GMs Yasser Seirawan, Eric Hansen and Aman Hambleton are covering the tournament each day on their channel Play starts at 3 p.m. local time, which is 12:00 (noon) CEST, 6 a.m. Eastern and 3 a.m. Pacific.

Even the biggest lovers of opening theory will not have enjoyed the first day of the World Cup finals too much. Both games followed home analysis of the players for quite some time, and in both cases there was nothing new under the sun: Black is OK in both the Marshall endgame and the Russian System of the Gruenfeld.

Radjabov and Ding repeated their game from the 2019 Gashimov Memorial in early April for no fewer than 27 moves. Back then, Radjabov had followed one of his own games (against Levon Aronian, in 2015) also for 27 moves and failed to get anything significant after deviating. Today he tried even less hard.

Radjabov FIDE World Cup 2019 final
Radjabov couldn't come up with anything serious today as White. Photo: Kirill Merkuryev/FIDE.

"I prepared some line actually before the game. I didn’t like it and decided to call it a day. Just a normal day for me," Radjabov said.

"I didn’t expect he would go for this line again at all. But 27.a4 is not such a serious try," said Ding.

FIDE's interview with Radjabov and Ding.

In the first game of their match for third place, Yu and Vachier-Lagrave played out a similar battle of memory. In a Gruenfeld, the Chinese GM chose the Russian System, which involves playing the queen to b3 on move five.

In the big tabiya of this opening, after White's seventh move, Black has several respectable systems. Vachier-Lagrave chose 7...Nc6, which is doing well theoretically at the moment. In the last encounter at the highest level, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov scored an easy draw against Anish Giri in Wijk aan Zee this year.

Yu Vachier-Lagrave 2019 FIDE World Cup
Vachier-Lagrave had oceans of time to defend an only slightly unpleasant endgame. Photo: Kirill Merkuryev/FIDE.

At top level it was just waiting before someone would play Yu's novelty on move 15, the natural 15.e5. MVL must have had it in his laptop. He replied after just two minutes of thinking; he only really went into the tank 11(!) moves later. His homework had paid off.

So how long was Vachier-Lagrave's preparation?

"Until this two rooks against rook, bishop and knight," he said, "which is a bit unpleasant for me. But the good thing for me is I basically played 25 moves in five minutes, and then I have 15 moves to make with a lot of time to be accurate and to avoid troubles."

FIDE's interview with MVL and Yu.

The final consists of four classical games and only then, if needed, a tiebreak. The winner will earn $110,000; the runner-up, $80,000. The winner in the match for third place will earn $60,000; the loser gets $50,000.

FIDE World Cup | Finals, Day 1 Results

Seed Fed Title Player - Seed Fed Title Player G1 G2 G3 G4 TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4 TB5 TB6 TB7
1 GM Ding Liren - 10 GM Teimour Radjabov ½-½ . . . . . . . . . .
3 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime - 12 GM Yu Yangyi ½-½ . . . . . . . . . .

2019 FIDE World Cup bracket semifinals
(Click on image for larger version.)

The FIDE World Cup takes place Sept. 9-Oct. 4 in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. Each round consists of two classical games and a tiebreak on the third day. The final consists of four classical games. Both finalists will qualify for the 2020 Candidates' Tournament. The total prize fund is $1.6 million (1.45 million euros). Sept. 19 and 29 are rest days. You can find more background info in our preview article.

Previous reports:

More from PeterDoggers
Nepomniachtchi Repeats Levitov Chess Week Victory

Nepomniachtchi Repeats Levitov Chess Week Victory

Nepomniachtchi, Svidler Lead As Levitov Chess Week Becomes Two-horse Race

Nepomniachtchi, Svidler Lead As Levitov Chess Week Becomes Two-horse Race