Not Giri, Not Kramnik, But Yu Yangyi Wins First Qatar Masters Open

Not Giri, Not Kramnik, But Yu Yangyi Wins First Qatar Masters Open

| 22 | Chess Event Coverage

With two rounds to go, nobody thought that someone else than Anish Giri or Vladimir Kramnik would win the first Qatar Masters Open. But Yu Yangyi defeated both to clinch the $25,000 first prize!

It was a most surprising end that gave the first Qatar Masters Open a worthy apotheosis. Anish Giri won six games in a row, but went down against Vladimir Kramnik. The 14th World Champion also won six games in a row, but didn't stand a chance in the final round after blundering a pawn against 13th seeded Yu Yangyi.

The Chinese GM can look back at a fantastic 2014, in which the first ever gold medal for China at the Olympiad was the absolute highight. Yu also won gold for his 9.5/11 performance on board 3.

So maybe it shouldn't have been that much of a surprise... But wasn't a quick draw on board one in the final round a likely scenario?

Instead, Yu went for a “real” game, played 4.d3 against Kramnik's Berlin, and it was a middlegame that could go either way. But then a big mistake came: 19...f5 allowed a simple double attack, and Black never got any serious compensation.

All three protagonists captured in one photo by Maria Emelianova.

In the post-interview Yu revealed his admiration for his famous opponent. His approach for the game was as simple as “I will give it my best shot, I will play a normal game.”

Below you can watch full interview, with Danny King and Will Liang, the father of the talented Awonder, acting as interpreter. (An earlier attempt without an interpreter had led to somewhat comical ‘interview’!)

Yu was certainly a well-deserved winner because he did not only beat Kramnik, but also Giri the day before! That was a tough experience for the young Dutchman: losing two games in a row after making the headlines for six days.

In this game he was lost at some point, then came back into the game only to spoil it at move 87.

The start of the penultimate round. Photo Maria Emelianova.

Kramnik started with two draws but seemed destined to win the tournament after his sixth win in a row on Wednesday against Saleh Salem. The young GM from the UAE played a fantastic tournament and won the $3,500 prize for best Arabic participant.

His game with Kramnik — more specific, the pawn structure and Black's king march — was quite similar to the classic Cohn-Rubinstein, St Petersburg 1909 (embedded in the game below):

Yu started with wins against Lela Javakhishvili and Sebastian Bogner, followed by draws against Salem Saleh and Milos Perunovic. He then beat Vasif Durarbaiyli and drew Sam Shankland before finishing with three out of three: Aleksandr Lenderman, Anish Giri and Vladimir Kramnik. A score good for a 2905 performance!

Yu Yangyi with the winner's trophy. Photo Maria Emelianova.

Giri and Kramnik eventually tied for second place, and both took home (or rather, London) half of what Yu pocketed: $12,500. Sanan Sjugirov, Vasif Durarbayli and Zahar Efimenko could be happy too with $6,000 each.

There was a special women's prize of $5,000 which went to Bela Khotenashvili of Georgia. She defeated several strong grandmasters, such as Baadur Jobava, Gabriel Sargissian and Chanda Sandipan. Here's her game from the first round:

The Open winner, the best lady and the best Arab player. Photo Dmitry Rukhletskiy.

This report should also include a game from Salem. It's not easy to pick, as he played several nice ones!


Qatar Masters Open 2014 | Final Standings (Top 10)

Rk. SNo Title Name FED Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 13 GM Yu Yangyi CHN 2705 7.5 2905 47 50.0
2 1 GM Giri Anish NED 2767 7 2870 48 52.5
3 2 GM Kramnik Vladimir RUS 2760 7 2829 48 52.5
4 19 GM Sjugirov Sanan RUS 2673 6.5 2774 43.5 47
5 42 GM Durarbayli Vasif AZE 2621 6.6 2734 43.5 46.5
6 28 GM Efimenko Zahar UKR 2644 6.5 2733 42.5 46
7 62 GM Salem A.R. Saleh UAE 2586 6 2775 48 51
8 39 GM Volokitin Andrei UKR 2627 6 2753 45 47.5
9 4 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime FRA 2751 6 2743 44 48
10 10 GM Tomashevsky Evgeny RUS 2714 6 2734 44.5 47.5

Full standings here.

A true chess couple at the closing: Anish Giri and Sopiko Guramishvili. Photo Dmitry Rukhletskiy.
Main organizer GM Mohamed Al Modiahki didn't get much sleep but can certainly be satisfied with the first edition. Rumours say the sponsors will be trying to get half of the world's top 20 to Qatar in 2015!
Chess giants cutting a giant cake. Photo Dmitry Rukhletskiy.

The Qatar Masters Open 2014 was a 9-round Swiss. It took place November 26-December 4 at the business center of the Crowne Plaza hotel in Doha, Qatar. The total prize fund is $110,000, with a $25,000 first prize.

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.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

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