FIDE Chess World Cup: Radjabov Strikes Back
Radjabov beats Ding on day three of the final. Photo: Kirill Merkuryev/FIDE.

FIDE Chess World Cup: Radjabov Strikes Back

| 28 | Chess Event Coverage

Teimour Radjabov bounced back with an excellent win against Ding Liren today to level the score in the FIDE World Cup final. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was in trouble but held the draw against Yu Yangyi in the third-place match.

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.

Radjabov has done something today that few top grandmasters managed in recent years: getting a clear advantage in the Marshall endgame, and even winning it.

The Azerbaijani grandmaster was the first to admit that his opponent could have drawn at several moments, and so it was both a good effort from himself, and not a great game by Ding. It was the first game the top seed lost in this World Cup.

Ding Liren 2019 FIDE World Cup 2019
Ding Liren was undefeated for 22 games at this World Cup, until today. Photo: Kirill Merkuryev/FIDE.

Radjabov repeated the line he played two days ago in the Marshall Ruy Lopez, but deviated on move 16 by putting his bishop on e3, before developing his queen's knight. In this line, also played by Sergey Karjakin against Ding in St. Louis last month, White gives back the extra pawn in return for a positional advantage.

"Actually, I almost didn’t prepare at all," Radjabov revealed. "I had this line for the first game but it seemed drawish to me because there is this direct stuff there, so I decided to see if I can find something else. For today’s game, somehow, you know, I just woke up and said: 'OK there is nothing else to play so we’ll just try this line.'"

Radjabov 2019 FIDE World Cup
Radjabov on trying the Marshall again: "There is nothing else to play." Photo: Kirill Merkuryev/FIDE.

On move 21, Radjabov stopped following Karjakin as he traded queens. After Ding missed the most straightforward way to a draw ("I am sure he has 22...c5! in the notes"—Radjabov), suddenly the board was on fire as White planted a knight on e6:

The point was 26...Bxe6 27.Rxe6! fxe6 28.Bxe6+ Kh7 29.Bxc8 (played), and there 29...Nc2 would have been good for a draw, as Radjabov pointed out afterward. 

In the game, he remained a pawn up and converted it surprisingly quickly as Ding never tried to trade the bishops and go for the rook endgame. 

"I think he completely misplayed the position," said Radjabov. "I would say I was shocked. I didn't expect this kind of easy play in this endgame."

"I was caught by the preparation," Ding said. "The endgame is very difficult to defend. I don't know where I went wrong."

Radjabov showing his game in the live broadcast.

FIDE's interview with Ding.

The third game between Yu and Vachier-Lagrave was another draw, but it was the most interesting of the three so far. The French GM was definitely under serious pressure today, in his beloved Gruenfeld.

An interesting novelty on move 12 didn't bring the desired effect, and Yu was clearly better out of the opening.

Yu Vachier-Lagrave 2019 FIDE World Cup
Yu missed a good chance vs. Vachier-Lagrave. Photo: Kirill Merkuryev/FIDE.

Vachier-Lagrave: "I felt like I was in big trouble. I underestimated how dangerous my position was."

Yu: "I know I had a chance."

That chance was 25.Qa3, to keep both rooks on the board. "I didn't actually find a continuation for me. It very possibly could just be lost," said MVL.

FIDE's interview with MVL and Yu.

The score is 1.5-1.5 in both the final and the match for third place. One more classical game is scheduled for Thursday, and in case of a draw the players will decide matters in a tiebreak on Friday.

The winner of the final 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 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 1-0 0-1 . . . . . . . .
3 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime - 12 GM Yu Yangyi ½-½ ½-½ ½-½ . . . . . . . .

2019 FIDE World Cup final bracket(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.

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