Who Won Recently? Wesley won So much!
On October 9th-13th, the most glamorous and arguably the strongest high-stake chess open in the world took place in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. The Millionaire Chess(MC) Open has a total prize fund of a million dollars drawing a total of 550 players from all over the world. Among the strong titled players were 34 GMs, 3 of whom were 2700 players.
The Millionaire Chess(MC) Open tournament was as eventful as it was competitive. It started with players receiving the MC "Goodie Bag" after registration, followed by a "Welcome Breakfast" and a short comedy show the next morning! Another notable & unique perk the players received during the event was free massages at the VIP room.
After a bit enjoyment, the intense play and preparation ensued for the players while their families, friends and fans awaited and followed the entertaining & instructive media coverage of each round.
As a serious participant of this event, I'd like share with you what I believe is one of the critical wins, if not the most important one, by the winner of the event: #2-ranked player of the USA Wesley So.
So, Wesley - Gareev, Timur
Millionaire Chess Open 2014.10.12
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Bc5 6.c3 b5 7.Bc2 d6
Theoretically speaking, a much better move to achieve equality is d5!? 8.d4 dxe4 9.Nxe5 Nxe5 10.dxe5 Qxd1 11.Rxd1 Ng4 12.Bxe4 Nxf2 13.Bc6+ Ke7 14.Rd5 Bb6 15.Bg5+ f6 16.exf6+ gxf6 17.Bh4 Ng4+ 18.Kh1 Rb8 19.Nd2 Be6 20.Rh5 Nf2+ 21.Bxf2 Bxf2 and this complex ending was eventually drawn in the battle between the #1 players of Cuba and Hungary: 1/2 40-1/2 40 Dominguez Perez, L 2757-Leko, P 2730 Loo 2014)
8.d4 Bb6 9.h3 O-O 10.Be3 Re8 ( releasing the tension early also gives White an edge. exd4 ( A more logical set-up than what Black chose in the main game was Bb7 11.Nbd2 Re8 12.d5 ( 12.Re1 Rb8 13.a3 h6 14.Qe2 d5 15.Nxe5 dxe4 16.Ng4 Nh7 17.Bxe4 Rxe4 18.Nxe4 f5 19.d5 Qxd5 20.Bxb6 cxb6 21.Nxh6+ gxh6 22.Qh5 Ne5 23.Rad1 Qf7 24.Ng3 Qxh5 25.Nxh5 Be4 26.Re3 Kf7 27.f3 Nc4 28.Re2 Bc6 29.b3 Nxa3 30.Rd6 Rc8 31.Rxh6 Nf8 32.Rf6+ Kg8 33.Re7 Nh7 34.Rg7+ 1-0 34 Nunn,J 2600-Hector,J 2510 Oxford 1998)12... Ne7 13.Bxb6 cxb6 14.Qe2 Nd7 15.c4! 15... Rc8 16.Rfc1 but White still maintains superior chances mainly due to his space advantage. 1-0 39 Kryvoruchko,Y 2598-Fedorchuk,S 2618 Ustron 2007) 11.cxd4 Nb4 12.Bb3 Bb7 13.a3 Nc6 14.d5 +/= )
11.Nbd2 h6 12.Re1 Rb8 13.a3 Bd7 ( Bb7 14.Qe2 transposes to Nunn's game above.)
14.Bd3! Improving the bishop's placement.
White already has a better position. White can afford to slowly improve his pieces owing to his better central control and space advantage.
14... Qc8 15.b4 gaining more space on the queenside and squashing any counterplay Black could come up on that side.
15... Qb7 16.Qc2 Qc8?! Unfortunately, there's not much Black can do to but wait...
( Ra8 ( Qa7 17.Nb3 don't help at all because Black still doesn't have real counterplay in a cramped position.) 17.Nb3)
17.Bf1 ( It was also good to improve the a1R immediately with 17.Rac1!? 17... Qb7 18.dxe5 dxe5 19.c4! leading to a favorable opening of the c-file for White.)
17... Qd8 18.Rac1!
An important prophylactic move. Remember Caruana's 23. Re2-e3! against Topalov in this year's Sinquefield Cup?
18... d5? Black got impatient. This is the very move that White is prepared to meet after Rac1
19.dxe5 Nxe5 20.Nxe5 Rxe5 21.Bd4!
the point. Now Black cannot trade off White's powerful centralized B because it'll open up the Q+R battery on the c-file.
21... Re6 (21... Bxd4 22.cxd4 Re7 23.e5 Ne8 24.Nb3 +/- Diagram Black is saddled with weak squares and bad pieces.)
Black tries to drum up some counterplay against the White king. Unfortunately, such attacks almost always do not work because White is strategically better and has enough resources to defend his king.
( 22...Nh7 23.Nb3 is depressing for Black)
23.g3! keeping the N from the active f4 square
Wesley thinks about his next move as MC Organizer GM Maurice Ashley watches the game.
23... Rg6 24.Bg2 ( 24.Kh2! +/- is also good, leaving Black with no trace of counterplay and awkwardly placed pieces.)
24... Nf4!? the last practical try
25.gxf4 Bxh3 26.Qxg6!! 26... fxg6 27.Bxh3
Materially, White has 2 minor pieces and a rook for a Q and a pawn. Positionally, White has a passed e-pawn and better placed pieces. Therefore, we can say that White is almost winning.
27... Qh4 28.Bg2 safe and solid
( There's also nothing wrong with grabbing a pawn right away with 28.Be6+ Kh7 29.Bxb6 Rxb6 30.Bxd5 Qxf4 31.Re3 +- )
28... Qxf4 (28... c6 29.Nb3 Qxf4 30.Bxb6 Rxb6 31.e6 Rb8 32.e7 Re8 33.Re3 Qf6 34.Rce1 and Black cannot do anything to stop White from bringing his N and B to get rid of his blockading R.)
29.Bxb6 cxb6 and the rest was a matter of smooth GM technique.
30.Rcd1 doubling up on the e-file is also strong 30.Re3
30... Rf8 31.Re2 d4 32.cxd4 Qxd4 33.e6 a5 34.Rde1 Re8 35.Nf3 Qd6 36.e7 g5 37.Re6 Qf4 38.Nh2!
releasing the e8-R's assassin and safeguarding the king from any future checks on the kingside.
38... axb4 (38... g4 39.Bc6 g3 40.fxg3 Qxg3+ 41.Kh1 +- Black runs out of checks while he loses his rook.)
39.Bc6 Rxe7 40.Rxe7 bxa3 41.Bd5+ Kh7 42.Be4+
and Black resigned as mate is coming soon e.g.
42... Kg8 43.Bg6 a2 44.Re8+ Qf8 45.Rxf8+ Kxf8 46.Re8#
With this win, Wesley automatically qualified for "Millionaire Monday," which was a rapidplay K.O. event among four players on the last day. During the interview, Wesley expressed his plan to push for a win in this round in order to avoid the playoffs involving other strong GMs which could prove draining in the end. Consequently this win also pushed him in the World's live Top Ten ranking list.
Overall, Wesley's great preparation, high energy-reserves, and will to win carried him through from the 1st round til the last game that won him the Final Four event. Congratulations to the well-deserving winner of the 1st Millionaire Chess Open and current #10 ranked player in the world!
All photos by Billy Johnson.
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