FIDE Chess World Cup Quarterfinals Start Peacefully
MVL and Aronian were in good spirits after their game. Photo: Kirill Merkuryev/FIDE.

FIDE Chess World Cup Quarterfinals Start Peacefully

| 21 | Chess Event Coverage

All four games on the first day of the FIDE World Cup's quarterfinals ended in draws. Both Russians, Alexander Grischuk and Nikita Vitiugov, were an exchange up, but the two Chinese GMs Ding Liren and Yu Yangyi were helped by their bishop pairs.

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.

After all the drama we've had so far, the FIDE World Cup was bound to have a quiet day—especially with just eight players left. But despite the peaceful results, there was definitely some fighting chess today.

The most interesting encounter among the four was Grischuk vs. Ding. It was an Open Catalan where the top seed was following a game he played himself as White, against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov two years ago. 

Ding sacrificed an exchange, while he could have forced White to do that instead:

Here Black played 14...Rb6 where it seemed that Ding couldn't foresee all the consequences of 14...Bd5 ("Maybe I will be positionally worse," he said) when the following is possible: 15. Rxd5 cxd5 16. Qxd5 Qf5 17. Qc6+ Kd8 18. f3 Qc2 19. Nbd2 Qd1+ 20. Nf1 Nxh2! 21. Kxh2.

And here Black can take on f1 and go for a perpetual, or play for a win with 21...Rh6!?.

Grischuk said 14...Rb6 was "an excellent move." As it went, he successfully found a setup for his king by playing his queen to h1 followed by f3, but his extra exchange was never worth much more than Black's bishops.

"It’s a bit like my game against [Benjamin] Bok," the Russian player said. "Maybe I should study some Catalans with ...dxc4 because he played ...c6 against me and quickly got a one-hour advantage and a great position, and today Mr. Ding played ...a6 and also got a one-hour advantage and a very promising position."

Grischuk 2019 FIDE World Cup
Grischuk joked that he needs to study the Open Catalans better. Photo: Kirill Merkuryev/FIDE.

"Positive thinking is very important."

—Alexander Grischuk

The middlegame position was hard to assess.

Grischuk: "I think objectively maybe I was better somewhere but I don’t know. I thought the position is unclear but I’m very likely to lose because I have a weak king and no time. Positive thinking is very important. At the end I made a draw from a position of strength even."

Coincidentally, in Vitiugov vs. Yu White also ended up with an extra exchange with Black having the bishop pair. Vitiugov thought that the position after the opening was about equal but probably easier to play as White; he decided to play on when his opponent tried to repeat the position on move 25.

Vitiugov-Yu 2019 FIDE World Cup
Vitiugov-Yu. Photo: Kirill Merkuryev/FIDE.

It soon became quite complicated, with Black giving up his rook for a knight.

"Probably I was better but how exactly I should play, I don’t know," Vitiugov said. "It was always a bit scary for me so I think probably a draw is a deserved result."

FIDE's interview with Vitiugov.

What to do against the Gruenfeld? That question is on every grandmaster's mind in the morning before having to play Vachier-Lagrave with the white pieces.

Aronian decided to test MVL's memory and played the 5.Bg5 variation, after which the players followed the game Carlsen-Grischuk, Norway Chess 2014 for 19 moves.

MVL's memory served him both well and not: He found the correct moves and then held the draw quite comfortably, but in the post-game interview it turned out he remembered the Carlsen-Grischuk as being from "10 years ago" and that Black lost. Oh well, at least he remembered the important part.

Aronian Vachier-Lagrave 2019 FIDE World Cup
Aronian-Vachier-Lagrave, a Bg5 Gruenfeld. Photo: Kirill Merkuryev/FIDE.

"I was aware of the potential dangers and I made sure to be accurate," MVL said. "When I found this 25...f5 idea I went for it. It gives up a pawn but it gives me enough activity or opposite-colored bishops as it happened in the game."

Aronian: "I thought it was generally a solid game, something to be expected in the quarterfinals. I was trying to pose some problems; Maxime I think played in a respectful manner and the game ended in a draw."

FIDE's interview with Aronian and MVL.

Xiong and Radjabov were the first to end their game and that was understandable: Both had played a long tiebreak the other day. They probably had little energy and also not much time to prepare.

The young American said that he used a line that he had seen in one of the other games from yesterday.

"I tried this 7.Na3 system which Le Quang played yesterday," said Xiong, "and he was very close to knocking Levon out so I thought I’d give it a try. Teimour reacted in the most solid way with 8...Bd7 and there I didn’t have too many ideas. I didn’t look at 15...Qb2 but I’m sure that it’s around equal all the way through."

Xiong-Radjabov 2019 FIDE World Cup
Radjabov was well prepared for Xiong's Na3 Catalan. Photo: Kirill Merkuryev/FIDE.

Radjabov agreed that 14...c5 and 15...Qb2 gave him equality, but not more.

"At some point I thought there is maybe a slight chance to create something because sometimes these positions can be tricky for White if they don’t play right," said Radjabov, "but I think I play correctly and I think nobody had any chance. So the draw is the right result there."

FIDE's interview with Radjabov and Xiong.

FIDE World Cup | Round 5, Day 1 Results

Seed Fed Title Player - Seed Fed Title Player G1 G2 TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4 TB5 TB6 TB7
1 GM Ding Liren - 9 GM Grischuk Alexander ½-½ . . . . . . . .
3 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime - 6 GM Aronian Levon ½-½ . . . . . . . .
10 GM Radjabov Teimour - 31 GM Xiong Jeffery ½-½ . . . . . . . .
12 GM Yu Yangyi - 20 GM Vitiugov Nikita ½-½ . . . . . . . .

2019 FIDE World Cup bracket quarterfinals

(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
Honorary Grandmaster Title Posthumously Awarded To Sultan Khan

Honorary Grandmaster Title Posthumously Awarded To Sultan Khan

Wei Yi Wins 2024 Tata Steel Chess Masters In Thrilling Tiebreak

Wei Yi Wins 2024 Tata Steel Chess Masters In Thrilling Tiebreak