Nepomniachtchi Wins Jerusalem Grand Prix, Qualifies For Candidates
Winner Ian Nepomniachtchi with his second, Vladimir Potkin. Photo: Niki Riga/World Chess.

Nepomniachtchi Wins Jerusalem Grand Prix, Qualifies For Candidates

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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104 | Chess Event Coverage

Ian Nepomniachtchi won the 2019 FIDE Grand Prix in Jerusalem. The Russian grandmaster defeated Wei Yi 1.5-0.5 in the final and qualified for the 2020 Candidates' Tournament by finishing in second place in the Grand Prix series behind Alexander Grischuk.

The dream scenario for Nepomniachtchi was the nightmare scenario for Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, the player who was in second place in the Grand Prix until two days ago. A win for Wei in the final would have sent the Frenchman to Yekaterinburg, but, yet again, it wasn't meant to be for him.

The first game of the final, played on Saturday, must have been especially frustrating for MVL. Perhaps feeling the pressure of playing with the white pieces, Wei took some risk in a position where he could have repeated moves.

Nepomniachtchi was forced to give an exchange, but it was not a problem at all. Soon Black's play for two results became clear. Objectively the game should have ended in a draw, but after grinding for hours, the Russian GM saw his opponent finally err on move 87.

Wei Yi Nepomniachtchi Jerusalem Grand Prix 2019
Wei and Nepomniachtchi starting their first game. Photo: Niki Riga/World Chess.

The second game was a rather short affair. Wei had to win and played the Hippopotamus, but it backfired. Nepo was basically winning out of the opening. Needing only a draw, he went for a line that forced Black to take the repetition:

Nepomniachtchi Jerusalem Grand Prix 2019
Nepomniachtchi got the draw he needed. Photo: Niki Riga/World Chess.

Nepomniachtchi said he had mixed feelings after winning this event as it was "a very busy and tough year." Then, probably not 100 percent serious, he revealed a remarkable strategy to deal with that:

"Actually my strategy was not to qualify for London in the Grand Chess Tour because I knew that London almost clashes with the last leg in Jerusalem which, I supposed, would be very important."

Nepo also suggested (and this time definitely as a joke!) that by playing well in the blitz in Kolkata, he made sure Anand would not overtake MVL to go to London, so that the French GM had to play in London and tire himself there.

Asked about his chances in the candidates, he said: "First of all, I should play better than here!"

He added that he was happy to have the experience of the Grand Chess Tour this year against a lot of his opponents in Yekaterinburg but then refrained from giving a strong answer, saying: "I can't make a good prediction."


Nepomniachtchi interviewed after the game.

A spokesperson of the Russian Chess Federation confirmed to Chess.com that the main sponsor of the candidates' tournament, Andrey Simanovsky (president of the Sverdovsk regional chess federation), wants to have a Russian player as a wildcard. Following FIDE's criteria for the wildcard (see regulations here), the only Russian player still eligible is Kirill Alekseenko.

2019 FIDE Grand Prix | Final Standings

# Fed Player Moscow Riga Hamburg Jerusalem Pts TB1 TB2 TB3 Prize money
1 Grischuk 7 3 10 20 1 1 12½ €48,000
2 Nepomniachtchi 9 0 10 19 2 0 9 €29,000
3 Vachier-Lagrave 8 5 3 16 0 1 11½ €24,000
4 Mamedyarov 0 10 0 10 1 0 €29,000
5 Duda 0 1 7 8 0 1 8 €27,000
6 Wei Yi 2 0 5 7 0 1 6 €13,000
7 So 1 3 2 6 0 0 7 €18,000
8-9 Dubov 2 0 3 5 0 0 6 €23,000
8-9 Wojtaszek 5 0 0 5 0 0 6 €15,000
10 Navara 0 1 4 5 0 0 €13,000
11 Svidler 2 0 2 4 0 0 €21,000
12 Topalov 1 2 0 3 0 0 €16,000
13 Nakamura 3 0 0 3 0 0 4 €20,000
14 Karjakin 0 1 1 2 0 0 €13,000
15 Yu Yangyi 1 1 0 2 0 0 4 €16,000
16 Jakovenko 0 0 1 1 0 0 3 €10,000
17-19 Giri 0 0 0 0 0 0 €10,000
17-19 Vitiugov 0 0 0 0 0 0 €15,000
17-19 Harikrishna 0 0 0 0 0 0 €10,000
20 Radjabov 0 0 0 0 0 2 €10,000
21 Aronian 0 0 0 0 0 €10,000

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