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Win With White; Draw With Black; Aronian, So, Ding Advance

Three victories with White secured semi-final slots for Levon Aronian, Wesley So, and Ding Liren in the World Cup. Aronian was the only player to win yesterday; a draw today (though not quickly achieved) was sufficient for him.

Both Wesley So and Ding Liren had drawn comfortably with Black yesterday, so today they made the most of their white pieces, convincingly outplaying Vladimir Fedoseev and Richard Rapport to claim their berth in the semifinals.

So surveys the board like a deity contemplating grand maneuvers. | Photo: Chess.com/Maria Emelianova
Only Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Peter Svidler will have to play a tiebreak tomorrow to decide their match. An exciting pawn grab that promised rich play actually lead to early peace as the neither player seemed comfortable staking it all on the resulting sharp complications.

The most promising game of the day was Ivanchuk vs Aronian. Having lost quickly yesterday, a win was essential for Ivanchuk. Fortunately for him, he had the White pieces, but unfortunately he was not able to generate much with them.

Out of the opening, Radjabov declared Ivanchuk's chances to fend off elimination to be virtually nil.

With 33.d4! Ivanchuk did open the position for his bishops, securing real prospects to fight for a win, but 36...f4! from Aronian secured the necessary counterplay. Facing a perpetual soon after, Ivanchuk chose to sac a pawn to keep playing. He had enough for it, and the engines even preferred his position at points. However, with 37...Re5! Aronian returned the pawn to reach a thoroughly drawn endgame. Despite his best efforts, Ivanchuk had to concede on move 71, acknowledging his World Cup elimination.

The next game to finish was Vachier-Lagrave vs Svidler. There was nothing "Piano" about this "Giuoco" as Vachier-Lagrave found an innovative and aggressive approach. However, the analysis showed it to be the wrong one. He missed the very subtle 20.Qd2!! which was nearly winning and instead played 21.b4?!, a dubious pawn sacrifice. After natural defense from Svidler, Vachier-Lagrave seemed to lack a plan, but it was then that the draw was agreed on Svidler's proposal.

Vachier-Lagrave should be a bit relieved to go to tiebreaks as Svidler was better in the final positions of both their drawn games. While wins were by no means assured, he could certainly have pressed each position.

Asked who he'd rather play in the semis, Aronian was humorously ambivalent:

Ding Liren's opening promised a similar sort of aggression to Vachier-Lagrave's. In both games, White was threatening various N(x)h6+ sacrifices. Rapport (the only sub-2700 player to make the quarter-finals) avoided various beautiful winning variations but reached a lost endgame that Ding converted flawlessly.

Wesley So has been said to have a Karpovian style. Today it was on full display. In a symmetrical Petroff that many would have drawn quickly, he collected small advantages that soon compounded.

The same-colored bishop endgame he then won was masterful; in particular, the Bd6-a3-c1-d2-e1 maneuver was highly instructive, a perfect addition to a Shereshevsky endgame book.

Author: PeterDoggers
Source: https://www.chess.com/news/view/win-with-white-draw-with-black-aronian-so-ding-advance-8594

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