Round Report: Wesley So and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov are in the semifinal!
Round Report: Wesley So and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov are in the semifinal!Wesley So defeated Sam Shankland in the rapid tie-break games with 1.5-0.5 score to reach the semifinal of the third stage of the FIDE Grand Prix Series organised by World Chess in Berlin. The tiebreak games were played with the quicker time control of 15 minutes per game with an increment of 10 seconds per move starting on the first move.
Pierre Adenis / World Chess
In the second tie-break match, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov won the first game against Vincent Keymer but the 16-years-old local hero managed to win on demand and equalized the score in rapid chess. The tiebreak continued with a shorter time-control of 3 minutes per game with an increment of 2 seconds per move. Shakhriyar was dominating in blitz and outplayed his less experienced opponent in both games, finishing the match with 3:1 score.
Thus, Welsey So will be playing a two-game match against Amin Tabatabaei while Shakhriyar Mamedyarov will face Hikaru Nakamura on the 30 and 31st of March. Both American players Nakamura and So will play with white pieces in the first game.
Wesley So – Sam Shankland 1,5:0,5
Sam Shankland got a nice position with white in the Catalan Defense in the first game against Wesley So. With a pair of bishops and perspectives to open the center, he was planning to fight for an advantage but Wesley had a solid position that was not easy to crack. After losing the central pawn, Sam was hoping his a-pawn will play a decisive role in the endgame but Wesley’s pieces surrounded the white’s king creating dangerous threats which were not possible to stop without losing material. After 54 moves Shankland had to resign.
In the second game of the mini-match, Sam got really good chances to equalize the score. He sacrificed an exchange and developed a strong initiative on the king’s side. Wesley So felt he was in trouble and gave the material back, moving the game to the winning ending with an extra pawn for Black. The only problem of Black’s position was a Rook on g5 which suddenly got stuck on the king’s side. Sam didn’t find the precise way to activate his rook and missed all his advantage. The game finished peacefully after 40 moves.
Sam Shankland on his overall FIDE Grand Prix performance: “On paper it was fine. I came in seeded number 3 in a group both times and I finished in second both times and I gained rating. But I am sort of annoyed with myself that I never managed to get through.”
“Sam is a very strong player and also very hardworking. He’s got a strong will to improve,” said Welsey So after the game. In a post-game interview the American player noted, he is looking forward to the match against Iranian Grandmaster Amin Tabatabaei who represents a new generation of Iranian players and showed good play in the tournament.
Mamedyarov -Keymer 3:1
All the games of the tiebreak match between Mamedyarov and Keymer finished decisively. “It was a very fighting match – no draws. I tried to play for a win with both colours and I think we had good tactical games,” commented the winner Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Certainly, all the games were full of fight and Mamedyarov was the first one to open the score. A very sharp position with opposite castling appeared on the board and known for his aggressive style Shakhriyar definitely felt like a fish in water in this position. He managed to open the files on the king’s side, brought his pieces and developed an unstoppable attack on his opponent’s King.
It was a first-ever tie-break match for Vincent and he managed to put his strength together and came back to the match by defeating Mamedyarov in the second game. “I know myself; I cannot play for a draw in such situations when I need to make a draw”, commented Shakhriyar on his opening choice in the second game. Vincent knew the Botvinnik Variation in the Semi-Slave Defense quite well and thought it was a pleasant position to play with White. In an unbalanced position with chances for both sides Vincent played accurately and managed to transfer the game into the ending. It turned out that the pass pawn on h-file, created in the opening, played a significant role in the endgame.
The first blitz game was a crushing win for Mamedyarov! In Anti-Meran variation, both players developed their pieces preparing for the fight in the center. After numerous pawns exchanges, it turned out Black pieces got lots of space and became powerful. Mamedyarov won in style after sacrificing his knight on g2.
After the loss in the first blitz game, Keymer was in a must-win situation to force Armageddon but the second game went also wrong for the German Grandmaster, who found it hard to defend the open king with a few seconds on his clock.
“I think in our pool he showed the best play ... He is fighting, he’s very good and still young. I hope he will be 2800 – I think he can do it. His only problem, I think, is school, university. If he can solve it somehow, he can be the very top player,” said Mamedyarov after the match.
Pairing for the first game of semi-finals:
Hikaru Nakamura – Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
Wesley So – Amin Tabatabaei
Leading partners supporting the FIDE Grand Prix Series 2022:
Kaspersky as the Official Cybersecurity Partner;
Algorand as the Official Blockchain Partner;
Prytek as the Technology Transfer Partner;
FIDE Online Arena as the official Partner.