But with those ‘old hands’ leaving the arena, there’s now a golden opportunity for some fresh young blood looking to make a name for himself - most notably the 16-year-old Chinese sensation Wei Yi, who reached the final eight after an epic battle with Chinese No.1 Ding Liren, that almost went the distance in the speed playoffs. And should the teenage sensation now reach the World Cup final, he’s set to become not only the first Chinese player to make it to the Candidates but also the youngest player to do so since Bobby Fischer!
The quarter-final pairings are: Peter Svidler (Russia) v. Wei Yi (China), Hikaru Nakamura (USA) v. Pavel Eljanov (Ukraine), Anish Giri (Netherlands) v. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan) v. Sergey Karjakin (Russia). The full brackets and latest up-to-date scores from those critical matches can be found by clicking here.
Easily the most entertaining game of the fourth round surprisingly came in the speed play-offs between Wei Yi and Ding Liren, that featured a stunning queen sacrifice in an old opening that’s credited to the Dutch IM Willy Hendriks, who wrote all about his discover in an article for New in Chess magazine (NIC 2014/1), suitably entitled ‘My Most Beautiful Move’. He also wrote about 12.Qg3 in his acclaimed bestseller Move First, Think Later, which won the 2012 ECF Book of the Year Award.
Wei Yi - Ding Liren
FIDE World Cup Speed Playoffs
1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 The great Dane Bent Larsen is single-handedly responsible during the 1960s and 70s for reviving the Bishop's Opening at the top level; a long forgotten system first studied in the 16th century by the likes of Greco. 2...Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Nf3 d5 5.Bb3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Bxd2+ 7.Qxd2 dxe4 8.Nxe5 0-0 9.dxe4 Qe7 10.Qf4 Nh5 11.Bxf7+ Kh8 The critical move. In another encounter in this position, Hendriks' opponent played 11...Rxf7 12.Qxf7+ Qxf7 13.Nxf7 Kxf7 and White is slightly better, Hendriks-Spanton, Hastings Challengers 2005. 12.Qg3!! (See Diagram) And this is what Hendriks describes as 'my most beautiful move.' He discovered it by accident, while playing through some positions on the chess-playing engine 'Fritz'. 12...Rxf7 The point of this stunning queen sacrifice is that after 12...Nxg3 13.Ng6+!! hxg6 14.hxg3+ and mate soon follows; and if 12...Nf6 13.Ng6+ hxg6 14.Qh4+ wins the Black queen. Also, if 12...g6 13.Qc3! is winning for White. 13.Nxf7+ Qxf7 14.Qd6 Be6 15.Nc3 White could also trade queens here with 15.Qd8+ for a comfortable, winning game. However, Hendriks himself drifted into a difficult position by playing here 15.Nd2?! Nd7 16.0-0-0 Re8 17.f3 Nf4!? 18.g3 Ne2+ 19.Kb1 Bxa2+!? 20.Ka1 Re5 21.b3? Re6! and went on to lose after 22.Qa3 c5! 23.Nc4 Ra6 Hendriks-Kerigan, Hoogeveen Open 2013. 15...Nd7 16.0-0-0 Re8 17.Rhf1? After this, Wei Yi no longer holds the advantage in the position. Instead, he had excellent winning chances after the superior 17.Qc7! 17...Bc4 18.Rfe1 Ne5 The trouble now is that 'suddenly' all of Black's pieces have come alive and working together. 19.b3 Ba6 20.Kb1 h6 21.f3 Nf4 22.Rd2 Kh7 23.Red1 Re6 24.Qb8 Qf6 25.Na4! Be2?! 26.Rc1 Such is the vagaries of the speed playoffs - probably with little time left, Wei Yi also had to contend with devilish ideas after the natural 26.Re1, such as 26…Bb5 27.Nc5 Re7 28.Qxa7 Nd5!? 29.c4 (29.exd5?? Nc4!! mating.) 29...b6 30.Qa3 Bxc4!? - certainly not the sort of thing you want to be thinking too much about in a critical blitz playoff for a quarter-final spot in the World Cup! 26...b6 27.Nc3 Ba6 This time, the speculative 27...Nc4 is only drawing after 28.bxc4 Qxc3 29.Qxf4 Bxc4 30.Qf5+ Rg6 31.Rd3! Bxd3 32.cxd3 Qxd3+ 33.Rc2 with an equal position. 28.Rcd1 Nc4 29.bxc4 Qxc3 30.Qxf4 Qb4+ Another variation on a draw theme after ...Nc4 - this time a perpetual check. 31.Ka1 Qc3+ ½-½