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GM Joel’s Chess Week Recap - Episode 136

Opening: D85, E04, C00, C54, A34, A21, C97, D85:

Player(s): Radjabov, Xiong, Grischuk, Ding, Yu, Vitiugov, Vachier-Lagrave, Aronian, Robson, Smirin. Koneru. Stefanova

The World Cup is down to its final two survivors - this week I will recap the critical fifth and sixth match rounds from Khanty Mansiysk. Teimour Radjabov ended Jeffery Xiong's fairytale run through the World Cup in emphatic fashion, winning the second game to advance. It was a sharp battle with Xiong in a characteristically combative mode. Grischuk was also eliminated in two games by Ding Liren. The second and decisive game showed Ding winning in a style we often see from Grischuk. He obtained a slight advantage which the Russian could never quite neutralize and won a pawn. A disheartened Grischuk resigned a bit early given the situation, but the result was not in doubt. Yu Yangyi and Nikita Vitiugov contested a marathon that went down to the Armageddon game, concluding in one of the worst grandmaster games I have ever seen. The pressure had its effects initially on Mr. Yu, but Vitiugov's nerves completely gave out. Levon Aronian should have eliminated Vachier-Lagrave in the fourth match game. He sacrificed the exchange for massive compensation, with a draw in his pocket for several moves. Then things went horribly wrong. But MVL's luck ran out against Radjabov, who came well-prepared in an English/anti-Grunfeld line that sent the Frenchman into early difficulties that he could not quite pull out of. The other lucky winner from round five met a similar fate in the second playoff game. In an experimental line of the English, Yu seemed to be surviving in the middlegame but blundered and saw his position disintegrate. So it will be Ding against Radjabov in the final, longer match. Both players are assured a spot in the Candidates' tournament. Ding would have qualified by rating, so a spot there will be passed along, with Anish Giri expected to take it.
Ray Robson's 7-2 score in St. Louis apparently included a forfeit win in the last round against Jordan van Forreest; I don't know what happened there, but without it, Ray still had four wins a row. In most of them, he was maintaining and took advantage of his opponent's overenthusiasm.
I would also like to have a quick look at a game from Humpy Koneru who also used a four-game win streak to take the Skolkovo Women's Grand Prix. A long layoff did not dampen Koneru's ability to find accurate moves in a sharp position!

Check out ICC's article on the World Cup!
Download Joel's annotated games HERE!

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