Hainan Danzhou Masters: Vidit Gujrathi holds Wei Yi in tepid draw; Yu Yangyi jumps to top spot
After six rounds, Vidit still remains in the bottom-most spot with a score of 2.5/6 along with Shankland, Wei and Fedoseev. Yu leads tournament with a score of 4/6
In stark contrast to the quiet round 6, the penultimate round of the 9th Hainan Danzhou Masters completely unravelled the leaderboard standings with its gruelling battles. After the dust settled, the tournament witnessed a new leader emerge in Yu Yangyi, who defeated Russian GM Vladimir Fedoseev in a very complicated Queen’s Gambit.
Yu’s compatriot, Bu Xangzhi, who had been leading the tournament so far, seemed badly out of shape. In his game against Jan-Krzysztof Duda, the Chinese grandmaster erred on multiple occasions, trying to get an attack going against his opponent’s king. Duda did not find the best refutation but still managed to win the game and catch up with Bu in the second place.
In comparison to the other games of the day, Wei Yi’s game against Vidit Gujrathi was a rather tepid one. Vidit went for the Open variation of the Ruy Lopez with the black pieces and managed to equalize very comfortably out of the opening. Starting at around move 17, a long series of exchanges liquidated the position into a rook and pawn endgame where Wei had an extra pawn. However, Wei did not push very hard for a win in this endgame and a draw was agreed one move after the first time control.
So far, Vladimir Fedoseev had drawn every game in the tournament. But in round 6, this streak of draws came to a crashing halt as Yu scored a crushing win over him. Yu chose a sharp line in the Queen’s Gambit with the white pieces and uncorked a novelty on his 9th turn.
Fedoseev continued actively but soon began to go astray. Perhaps, this was because he wasn’t well acquainted with the position. On his 17th turn, an unfortunate blunder lost the Russian grandmaster a full piece.
At this point, Fedoseev had found his knight caught in an annoying pin and breaking this was necessary. But instead, he tried to seek counter chances and after a simple defence by Yu, Fedoseev’s counter-attack had dissipated while Yu’s threats still remained.
Fedoseev looked to wriggle out by creating complications but Yu ensured everything was under control. After the tactical skirmishes had fizzled out, Yu liquidated an endgame where he had an extra exchange. It took him some time to force a resignation but finally made it on the 69th move.
Like Yu, Bu Xiangzhi also went all out against his opponent, hunting for a win. In a Classical Nimzo Indian, he generated a dangerous looking kingside attack with the white pieces after his opponent, Duda, leaned with most of his pieces towards the queenside.
On his 21st turn, Bu came up with an enterprising bishop sacrifice. If the bishop had been taken, Bu would have got a strong attack against the black king. Duda decided not to play with fire and declined the sacrifice. But despite this, Bu seemed to have a strong initiative. Duda kept things under control by keeping his pieces centralized and soon Bu began to push too hard.
By the 29th move, the position had already begun to tip in Duda’s favour when Bu blundered. At this point, Duda could have delivered the knock-out punch when his opponent would have been forced to give up an exchange without any compensation for the material deficit. Duda, instead, decided to liquidate into an endgame where he had better chances. Within a few more moves, Duda was two pawns up and had no problems converting the endgame.
Le Quang Liem might not have been at his most impressive so far, but in round 6, he feistily went after Sam Shankland to score his first win of the tournament. In a middle game that arose from a Queen’s Indian Defence, the Vietnamese grandmaster gave up a couple of pawns to generate play against the black king and won an exchange on the 33rd move. Having lost an exchange, Shankland began to seek counterplay in his queenside pawn majority when another oversight lost him the game instantly.
After six rounds, Yu leads the tournament with a score of 4/6. Bu and Duda are trailing by half-a-point at 3.5/6. Liem, with his win against Shankland has moved to the sole third place with 3/6. Vidit still remains in the bottom-most spot with a score of 2.5/6 along with Shankland, Wei and Fedoseev.
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