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Ian Nepomniachtchi vs Wesley So
Baku Olympiad (2016), Baku AZE, rd 8, Sep-10
Italian Game: Italian Variation (C50)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  PawnSac: Nepom is completely lost here and can resign. Qxc6?? Qc4+
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: We draw the match! Wesley's a stud! First loss this event for Nepo.
Sep-10-16  Ulhumbrus: The American team drew a match against a Russian team which had as many players capable of playing for the world championship and on average a higher overall rating. Not a bad result.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Is it Rex Sinquefeld's sponsorship that brought Caruana aboard? I'm not sure if he was the catalyst or not, but if so Rex deserves a BIG round of applause too!
Premium Chessgames Member
  PawnSac: < HeMateMe: Is it Rex Sinquefeld's sponsorship that brought Caruana aboard? >

His strong support, transforming St Louis into a center for strong events sure played a big part in Fab's jump to the USA. He was in Italy due to the larger chess activity in Euro, but that has all changed now. So in that sense, cheers to Rex! He certainly has improved USA chess

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Would anyone know, by chance if, Rex S is actually paying Fab a stipend to play here? Just wondering. I believe he gave up such a stipend in Italy, to come here.
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: Anyone else keep thinking it's a shame So came along shortly after Carlsen?
Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: <OCF> Plenty of time left, plenty of time for them two young men to meet. =)
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Wesley So with Daniel ♔ in a post-mortem analysis: ENJOY!
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: <Wassabi> well, Carlsen is in his own league right now. After a couple years of uninspiring results, So is on a rampage up the ratings ladder. But there's a huge roadblock ahead at #1.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <Ohio> - <Anyone else keep thinking it's a shame So came along shortly after Carlsen?> I'm not sure about the logic of this. Would you really prefer a system where an undisputed champion had ten or fifteen years on top (like Steinitz, Lasker, Karpov) before being replaced by a star from the new generation? Surely it's a good thing when two strong players compete at the top? Alekhine and Capablanca (apart from the fact that they only played one match, due to the ad-hoc nature of the WCC), or perhaps Karpov vs Kasparov?

I agree that So's rise has been impressive. Just a couple of years ago I didn't believe he could rise to the top, but he has proven me wrong. I look forward to his rivalry with Carlsen (even if a few other players, such as Karjakin, Caruana, Giri, and perhaps Nepo... are also up there).

Sep-10-16  Sokrates: Many thanks for this great link <Whiteshark>. Friendly guy, this Wesley So and a great victory as well.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: 42.e6? Rxh4! is a beautiful move by So. The obvious 43.e7 loses - Black lets the e-pawn promote but mates with ...Qh3 and ...Qh1.
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <OhioChessFan: Anyone else keep thinking it's a shame So came along shortly after Carlsen?>

Nope. Kinda like when Emitt Smith and Bary Sanders came into the NFL about the same tim. It was great!

Sep-10-16  Marmot PFL: <Wesley So with Daniel ♔ in a post-mortem analysis:>

Are those Wesley's relatives or female admirers?

Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <OhioChessFan: <Wassabi> well, Carlsen is in his own league right now. After a couple years of uninspiring results, So is on a rampage up the ratings ladder. But there's a huge roadblock ahead at #1.>

Karpov was a huge roadblock at #1 for a guy named Kasparov. What fun it was to watch him battle to take the crown from the force of chess that was Anatoly,

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gregor Samsa Mendel: White was caught with his pawns down.
Sep-10-16  kamagong24: i believe in Wesley!


Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: So is the real deal, I think he's converted all of the doubters, at this point. The closed USA championship is going to start looking like a 'flipping category 22 super GM event!
Sep-11-16  Sokrates: Sokrates: True, So is making progress of late, but let's not get carried away, huh? All in the top ten have had their moments of triumph (just recall Caruana's 7-0 streak) whereafter it usually evens out. MVL had a fantastic year until he played with a mediocre result in the Sinquefield. Where So won not entirely without luck (game Carlsen), whereas Bilbao ended 50-50 for him. Sure, So is now in the elite, but better than Caruana, Karjakin, Kramnik, Nakamura, Anand, Aronian? Substantial claims of this requiere more than a few olympiad victories.

I don't say all this to reduce the great player and sympathetic man Wesley So, but you get sort of annoyed by all the one-sided statements about his capabilities, conveniently emphasizing all the pros and ignoring all the cons.

Sep-11-16  Ulhumbrus: 12...Nfh5 challenges White to take advantage of the knight and perhaps White should accept the challenge by 13 Nxe5. After White declines by 13 Nbd2 Nf5 the knight on f4 hinders the move g3 as well.

After 19 dxe5 White's f pawn is obstructed but Black's c pawn is not.

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Would it be fair to say that Wesley is now a Rolling Stone, but he's not Elvis? I can live with that.
Sep-11-16  Ulhumbrus: 19...a5 fixes White's b pawn. If White cannot fix Black's queen side pawn majority he had better free his king side majority. This suggests 20 Kh2 preparing g3.
Sep-11-16  SimplicityRichard: An excellent defensive effort by Wesley. White's passed pawn on the e-file was a thorn on Black's back-side and also tied down a Black Knight. I expected White to win at the onset of the rolling passer. How Wesley was able to come out of that vice-like grip and create a passer of his own on the Queenside is the stuff of a World Champion in the making. I wish So all the best. He has the pedigree for World Championship; but Carlsen is his nemesis.#
Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: [Fritz 10]: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. 0-0 Nf6 5. d3 0-0 6. a4 d6 7. c3 a6 [last book move] 8. h3 Ba7 9. Re1 Ne7 10. d4 Ng6 11. Bd3 c6 12. Be3 Nh5 13. Nbd2 Nhf4 14. Bf1 exd4 15. Bxd4 Bxd4 16. cxd4 d5 17. e5 f6 18. Ra3 fxe5 19. dxe5 [19. Nxe5 Nxe5 20. Rxe5 Ng6 =] a5 20. Qc1 Qe7 21. Rb3 Bf5 22. Nd4 Ne6 [Weaker is 22 ... Nxe5 23. g3 Bg6 24. gxf4 Rxf4 25. N2f3 Nxf3+ 26. Rxf3 ] 23. Nxf5 Rxf5 24. Bd3 Rf4 [Not 24 ... Rxe5 25. Bxg6 Rxe1+ 26. Qxe1 hxg6 27. Re3 ] 25. Bxg6 hxg6 26. Qd1 Raf8 27. Rf3 Qb4 28. Rxf4 Rxf4 29. Nf3? [29. Qc2!? ] Qxa4 30. Qd3 Rf5 [30 ... Kh7 31. h4 ] 31. Qb1 [31. Qd2 g5 ] Qf4 [31 ... Qb4!? 32. b3 ] 32. Qc2 [ ] Kh7 33. Re3 Qc4 [33 ... Qb4 34. b3 ] 34. Qd1 [34. Qxc4!? dxc4 35. Ra3 ] Rf4 35. Rc3 Qb4 36. Qc1 [36. g3 Rc4 37. Rxc4 Qxc4 ] a4 37. h4 [37. Qd2 Re4 ] Kg8 [37 ... Nd4 makes it even easier for Black 38. Ng5+ Kg8 39. Re3 ] 38. Qb1 [38. Re3 Re4 ] Qe4 [38 ... Nd4 seems even better 39. Re3 Nxf3+ 40. gxf3 ] 39. Qd1 [39. Qxe4 Rxe4 40. Kf1 c5 ] Nd4 40. Re3 [40. Nxd4 Qxd4 41. Qxd4 Rxd4 42. Rc2 Rxh4 43. f3 ] Nxf3+ 41. gxf3 Qf5 42. e6 [42. Qd3 doesn't improve anything Qe6 ] Rxh4 43. Re4 [43. f4 is no salvation Qxf4 44. Qf3 Rg4+ 45. Kf1 Qc4+ 46. Qe2 Qxe2+ 47. Rxe2 Re4 ] Rxe4 [43 ... Rh6 secures victory 44. Rg4 Qh5 45. Kf1 Qxg4 46. fxg4 Rh1+ 47. Ke2 Rxd1 48. Kxd1 ] 44. fxe4 Qxe4 45. Qd2 [45. b3 doesn't change the outcome axb3 46. Qxb3 Qg4+ 47. Kh2 b5 ] Qxe6 46. Qa5 Qg4+ 47. Kf1 b5 48. Qc7 g5 49. Qb8+ Kh7 50. Qd6 [50. Qe8 doesn't do any good b4 51. Qe3 c5 ] b4 0-1.

Only a few years ago, the Giuoco Piano was a museum piece at the elite level, thought to be played out. With so many Ruy Lopez Berlins around, White is now trying again, which is quite refreshing, although notice there aren't so many top level Two Knights (3 ... Nf6) games lately, as White can play 4. d3 with a Giuoco Pianissimo. Here Black answers 10. d4 with 10 ... Ng6 which is a Strong Point variation where Black maintains the center Pawn at e5 (often with ... Qe7). After 25. Bxg6 hxg6, first we have another QRRN vs QRRN which can be tricky, and second Black's ugly doubled g Pawns are hard to attack. White seemed to be shuffling pieces around in the middlegame without accomplishing anything; guiding the game in this direction was a clever choice by So against the tactically sharp Nepo who was a red hot 7/7 in the Olympiad up to then. Black picked up the stray Pa4, then they traded into a major piece endgame where Black was better, then 42 ... Rxh4! deserves a diagram:

click for larger view

Now 43. e7? Qh3 mates the White King (44. e8=Q+ Kh7) after dealing with some spite checks, thus 43. Re4 Rxe4 (43 ... Rh6 per Fritz) 44. fxe4 Qxe4 with a won Q vs Q ending. White played on as it was a team tournament; 51. Qxc6 Qc4+ trades down to an easy win.

This drawn match result ultimately proved crucial in the Olympiad standings, as the US finished First with the Ukraine Second and Russia Third. Wesley So won First Place on Board 3 with an undefeated +7 score.

Juniors and students are invited to follow Wesley's games on his player page in real time. The Wesley So Forever Fan Club International (WSFFCI) turn his games into a live event with diagrams and analysis; this one starts on Page 7653 for further review. Even better, the entire anti-Wesley faction was banished from that page two years ago so the atmosphere is fun and friendly.

This is the first of three Wesley So games making the Top Ten for 2016. Go Wesley!

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