DOHA, December 06, 2014 – After eight hard-fought rounds, there was still a ninth and final round to be played on Thursday here in Doha, Qatar. The leader going into the last round was former World Champion GM Vladimir Kramnik, who was simply rampaging through everyone after a slow start.
This was evidenced by his six game winning streak, which put him on an astronomical 7.0/8! Top seed, GM Anish Giri, who had started off with a phenomenal 6.0/6, one win short of a “caruana,” had slipped to joint third after sudden back-to- back losses against Kramnik and Yu Yangyi, a talented Chinese junior who rejoined the 2700 club last month.
This all resulted in a final round showdown between Kramnik and Yangyi, to determine the winner of the strongest open tournament ever.
Kramnik needed only a draw to secure the victory, and so, as expected, he played his trademark Berlin, a line knows for its solidity. Yangyi responded with a quiet positional line 5.Bxc6!?, a move which is probably not sufficient for an advantage, but is just aiming to get a playable position without much risk (Magnus Carlsen-esque).
It seemed harmless enough for Black, when suddenly things started tilting in White’s favor as Yangyi built up a pleasant positional advantage. A few moves later Kramnik made an erroneous recapture which gave White a strong advantage. Knowing it was only a matter of time before his position collapsed, Kramnik gave up material to try and generate some play on White’s king.
But with surgical precision, Yangyi navigated through the minor complications and emerged victorious. After uprooting the two top seeds, Yu Yangyi became the deserving winner of the Qatar Masters 2014!
This victory must have felt extra special for Yangyi, as he had narrowly missed out at a chance for first place at the Millionaire Chess tournament in October. With this result, he adds 25 rating points, and is now number 24 in the world in the live ratings, at a hefty 2730! None of the bookmakers saw this coming at the beginning of the tournament, and Yangyi turned out to be the surprise winner.
The Dark Horse from the Chinese city of Huang Shi swept in and took away the beautiful first place trophy, and a rewarding $25,000 prize for his efforts.