Tournament report

David Navara Secures His Place in Semifinals

David Navara is the first semifinalist of the Jerusalem Grand Prix, after defeating defeated Dmitry Jakovenko with White in the second classical game of their match. His next opponent will be the winner of the match Karjakin – Wei Yi.

The Head of the Administration of the Ministry of Sports of Israel, Mr Ofer Bustan, was the special guest today at the Jerusalem Grand Prix, organized by World Chess. Mr Bustan made the first symbolic move in the game Navara-Jakovenko, which turned out to be the only decisive game today. David Navara got an advantage right out of the opening and was slowly but surely increasing the pressure on his opponent’s position. A well-played game by the Czech grandmaster, where the final result was never in doubt.

Wesley So chose to play the Classical Ruy Lopez, which is the main opening weapon of the Grand Chess Tour Champion Ding Liren. “I decided why not to copy him while he also defended very comfortably against Maxime in London”, said Wesley So with a smile. Wesley was still on his home preparation when Ian Nepomniachtchi offered him a draw. Both players believed the final position was close to equality. “This line is all about 16…Qc8 move, if black knows it, he is equalizing. It’s difficult to play on this position, it simplifies very quickly,”- added the Russian grandmaster.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave pointed out that the line which happened in his game today is usually played between Russian-French grandmasters. He was obviously referring to the game between Kasparov-Lautier from Tilburg 1997, which followed the same path until the 20th move. With his last move 20.Rc7, Joel Lautier blundered a pawn but Garry Kasparov accepted a draw without thinking. Dmitry Andreikin chose a stronger continuation, 20.Kf1, but it didn’t affect the final result and the peace was signed a few moves later.

Wei Yi and Karjakin played a very complicated tactical game, with plenty of sacrifices. For those who were wondering how far the preparation of Karjakin went today, the Russian Grandmaster gave a surprising answer: “I had some notes after 9.Ne5 but didn’t remember them well. I just played some natural moves. Later on, he played 12.Ng4 and I answered with 12…Nd7 which looked interesting as I want to continue with h5 or f5. I saw this line after 13.Nh6 but I stopped calculation after 18…Nf3 and 19…Rg8, thinking I’m just crashing my opponent. I was shocked when I realized he has 20.Ng4 with an idea Bc3! Fortunately, I found 20…Be5.” Wei Yi could have created more troubles for his opponent in the endgame which appeared after numerous exchanges. According to Wei Yi, he could have had more chances if he kept his h-pawn by playing 28. Kg2. After 28.Kf1 Sergey Karjakin found a precise way to keep the balance in the game.

Three matches will continue on tiebreaks on December 16:

Vachier-Lagrave vs Andreikin
So vs Nepomniachtchi
Karjakin vs Wei Yi