Nepomniachtchi Beats Wojtaszek To Reach FIDE Grand Prix Final
Wojtaszek resigns the last, decisive game vs Nepomniachtchi. | Photo: World

Nepomniachtchi Beats Wojtaszek To Reach FIDE Grand Prix Final

| 14 | Chess Event Coverage

Ian Nepomniachtchi will be Alexander Grischuk's opponent in the final of the FIDE Grand Prix in Moscow which starts on Monday. Today, the Russian grandmaster defeated Radoslaw Wojtaszek of Poland in the fourth game of their tiebreak.

It was a tough elimination for Wojtaszek, who had chances in the first and second rapid game as well as the first blitz game and then lost the fourth due to a terrible blunder. Chess can be so cruel!

The Polish GM started the first rapid game with a variation on his Anti-Gruenfeld setup from yesterday and got a clear advantage with a better pawn structure and more space. Nepomniachtchi decided to give an exchange, but with accurate play that shouldn't have worked. 

"I think I was very lucky in the first game because this was more or less lost, I believe, at some point," said Nepomniachtchi. "I found this exchange sacrifice and I thought, maybe it’s not that bad, but actually I think the endgame is very poor for Black. But somehow I managed to escape."

Wojtaszek FIDE Grand Prix Moscow 2019
Wojtaszek came close to a win in the first game. | Photo: World

Nepo then failed to surprise his opponent with the Moscow varation in the Sicilian, but his 26th move did come unexpected: an amazing bishop sacrifice on h6. That was quite a decision, especially since engines didn't approve of it.

With all the tension and pressure it was fully understandable that Wojtaszek didn't go for 28...Qd8, but it might have been his second chance for more than a draw.

Audience Wojtaszek Nepomniachtchi FIDE Grand Prix Moscow
Just two players, but four games today for the spectators. | Photo: World

In the first of two games with a faster time control (10 minutes plus 10 seconds increment this time), Wojtaszek finally allowed the Gruenfeld, played the fianchetto variation and also here managed to get the better chances, this time late in the endgame. It's not clear if he was winning, but if he hadn't allowed that tactic at the end he would have had good chances once again.

"If not for 39.Kg2 there’s a lot of work to do to defend this," said Nepomniachtchi.

Wojtaszek-Nepomniachtchi FIDE World Cup Moscow 2019
The start of game three. | Photo: World

And then the last game, which all came down to one tragic moment for the Polish player. He had somehow managed to find an interesting new idea in the little time there was between the games, but a tactical error spoilt this prep, and the whole match.

"In the last game I was extremely lucky because Radoslaw played a nice idea, but he probably didn’t know the next few moves which are necessary for Black," said Nepomniachtchi. "And then 18…Bc5 is like blundering a queen or something because after 19.b4 and 20.c4 I think there is no way to escape for Black. So this game was also some sort of luck."

"It was extremely tense and obviously I was struggling, with Black especially, because somehow I got surprised both times in the opening," said Nepomniachtchi.

Wojtaszek: "I should probability convert the first game especially, and if you don’t do it then normally it will go against you. I think it was purely about my skills; if I would be stronger then obviously I would win the first game and then to play 18…Bc5, it shouldn’t have happened of course. If there are nerves then such mistakes happen sometimes."

Nepomniachtchi Wojtaszek FIDE Grand Prix Moscow 2019
Nepomniachtchi and Wojtaszek in their post-match interview. | Photo: World

He does leave the tournament on a positive note: "Obviously I am quite upset about what happened but on the other hand the whole stay here was fantastic and I will also have some good memories from here."

On the final, which starts on Monday (Sunday is a rest day), Nepomniachtchi said that he is mostly looking forward to "some press conference from Alexander after the game. Just to stay near to him is already an honor to me."

An interview with the players after the end of the tiebreak. | Video: World Chess.

The 2019 FIDE Grand Prix series consists of four knockout tournaments, with 16 players each, who play two classical games per round and if needed a tiebreak on the third day. The other three Grand Prix tournaments are Riga/Jurmala, Latvia (July 11–25), Hamburg, Germany (November 4–18) and Tel Aviv, Israel (December 10–24).

Each of the four tournaments has a prize fund of 130,000 euros ($145,510). Prizes for the overall standings in the series total 280,000 euros ($313,405), making the total prize fund of the series 800,000 euros ($895,444).

The games start each day at 3 p.m. Moscow time, which is 14:00 CEST, 8 a.m. Eastern and 5 a.m. Pacific. You can follow the games here as part of our live portal. The official site is here.

The official WorldChess broadcast with GMs Evgeny Miroshnichenko and Daniil Yuffa.

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