Nepomniachtchi On A Roll In Danzhou

Nepomniachtchi On A Roll In Danzhou

| 12 | Chess Event Coverage

Ian Nepomniachtchi is doing very well at the “Super Grandmaster Tournament” in Danzhou in the Hainan province of China. The Russian grandmaster has scored 4.0/5 and is a point ahead of the pack.

To refresh your memory, it was just last year in this event that Wei Yi played his “immortal game” and Wang Yue returned to his former greatness.

The latter is defending his title against both international grandmasters and local players, and without exception, the participants have a certain greatness. Five players from China's current top six are playing: Ding Liren, Yu Yangyi, Wang Hao, the aforementioned Wang Yue, and Bu Xiangzhi. Women's World Champion Hou Yifan rounds out the Chinese field.

There's India's number two Pentala Harikrishna and from Europe the legendary Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine (coming straight from his win in Cuba), former World Championship contender Peter Leko of Hungary, and blitz specialist Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia.

The playing hall in Danzhou. | Photo Li Xin.

Nepomniachtchi (25) has had some individual successes (e.g. European and Russian Champion in 2010, Aeroflot Open winner in 2008 and 2015), but he is yet to break through to the absolute elite. He has hit his top rating of 2735 twice, in January 2012 and May 2014.

Having won four of his first five games, Nepomniachtchi might easily achieve his best career tournament in Danzhou. He is a point ahead of three Chinese players: Yu Yangyi, Bu Xiangzhi and Wang Yue. 

His first game might have predicted the things to come. He won surprisingly easily against the top seed, suggesting his good form (and Ding Liren's lack thereof).

After a loss to Yu Yangyi in round two, Nepomniachtchi won his next three. In round three, last year's winner, Wang Yue, cooperated a bit too much in an endgame, lost a pawn, and never regained it.

That was a bit cooperative by Wang Yue! | Photo

On the same day, Bu Xiangzhi won a good game against Ivanchuk, who missed a nice mating net at the end.

That was sharp calculation by Bu after several hours of play. | Photo

Ding got back into the tournament with a good win over Bu. Thus the players showed that there's excellent fighting spirit in the mutual games between the Chinese players.

Nepomniachtchi grabbed the lead in round four with a black win over Leko. The Russian feels very much at home in these Najdorf type of positions, but it looks like Leko's problems were based on a small miscalculation.

Today, the leader increased his lead. Nepomniachtchi beat Hou Yifan, who is now in last place with four rounds to go. They say that knight endings are the closest to pawn endings, and that was made quite clear in this game.

Nepomniachtchi's performance is close to 3000 after this win. | Photo

The tournament runs until July 17. It is a 10-player round robin with a total prize fund of 400,000 yuan (€54,000 / $60,000). The winner takes home 120,000 yuan (€16,000 / $18,000). The time control is 90 minutes for 40 moves followed by 30 minutes to end the game. There is a 30-second increment beginning on move one.

Danzhou Super GM | Round 5 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2725 2962 0 1 1 1 1 4.0/5
2 Yu Yangyi 2734 2800 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 3.0/5 8.75
3 Bu Xiangzhi 2723 2800 ½ 1 0 1 ½ 3.0/5 6.75
4 Wang Yue 2730 2786 0 ½ ½ 1 1 3.0/5 5.75
5 Harikrishna, Pentala 2755 2739 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 2.5/5
6 Ding Liren 2778 2663 0 1 0 ½ ½ 2.0/5 5.00
7 Leko, Peter 2712 2645 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.0/5 4.75
8 Wang Hao 2734 2666 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 2.0/5 4.50
9 Ivanchuk, Vassily 2728 2659 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.0/5 4.00
10 Hou Yifan 2653 2577 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1.5/5
Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

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