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Jeffery Xiong vs Wesley So
"So Xiong, Farewell" (game of the day Jul-26-2021)
US Championship (2017), St Louis, MO USA, rd 9, Apr-07
Catalan Opening: Closed Variation (E06)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Apr-12-17  scholes: But certainly very beautiful game
Apr-12-17  gopi11: <Imran>, like what's everybody's been chirping, the 1963 Byrne vs Fisccher game would be my choice. I sure there's a lot of games worth considering, just can't find the time to do so...
Apr-12-17  Sally Simpson: Hi southeuro,

click for larger view

<"instead of 28..Rd8 couldn't black take on d1 and push c2 next?">

There are a few plausible blitz moves for Black to choose and go wrong in this game.

After 28...Qxd1+ 29.Qxd1 c2 White plays 30.Qe1

click for larger view

And suddenly White is winning. 30...Rb1 is answered with 31.Rc4.

Apr-13-17  Imran Iskandar: <gopi11> We might have had a misunderstanding. What <clement11> said was that he couldn't help but treat this game as the 21st century equivalent of M Ortueta Esteban vs J Sanz, 1933, or Tylkowski vs A Wojciechowski, 1931. He was a bit vague; did he mean that this game resembled those games based on the theme of pawns overpowering heavy pieces, or on the extraordinary endgame skills shown?

I assumed it was the former, and gave my example of Nisipeanu vs Caruana, 2015 which also showcased the theme of pawns overpowering heavy pieces.

In any case, Robert E Byrne vs Fischer, 1963 wasn't in the 21st century, so couldn't have been a 21st century equivalent of the two games <clement11> mentioned.

Premium Chessgames Member

[Fritz 10]: 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 Be7 5. Nf3 0-0 6. 0-0 dxc4 7. Qc2 a6 8. a4 Bd7 9. Rd1 Bc6 10. Nc3 Bxf3 11. Bxf3 Nc6 12. Bxc6 bxc6 13. Bg5 Rb8 14. e3 [last book move] Opening Explorer c5 15. dxc5 Qe8 16. Rd4 Opening Explorer Nd7 17. Bxe7 Qxe7 18. c6 [18. f4!? =] Ne5 [ ⩱] 19. Qe4 Qc5 20. Nd5 Nd3 [Not 20 ... Nxc6?! 21. Rxc4 exd5 22. Rxc5 dxe4 23. Rxc6 Rxb2 24. Rxa6 ⩲] 21. Nxc7 Nxf2 22. Kxf2 Rxb2+ 23. Kf1 Qh5 24. Qg4 Qxh2 25. Qf3 c3 26. Rc1 [26. Nxa6?? c2 27. Rb4 Ra2 -+] e5 27. Rh4?? [27. Rg4 e4 28. Rxe4 ∓] Qd2 [-+] 28. Rd1 Rd8 29. Nd5 [29. Rxd2 hoping against hope Rdxd2 30. Kg1 Rb1+ 31. Qf1 -+] Rxd5! 30. Rd4 [30. Qxd5 Qf2#] Rxd4 [30 ... exd4?? 31. c7 +-] 31. exd4 Qxd1+! 0-1 [32. Qxd1 c2 -+]

Coaches should teach juniors and students about Black's opening play here against 1. d4 (d5/e6/Nf6/Be7/0-0 in some order) as a sound and solid set-up for starters, then later they can choose whatever Black defense matches their style and taste. This Catalan line with 6 ... dxc4 is a Wesley So specialty Repertoire Explorer: Wesley So (black) . After 12 ... bxc6 Black has tripled c Pawns (the Irish Pawn Center) but open lines on the Queenside, then a Pawn break with 14 ... c5 15. dxc5 Qe8 and chances are even. With 17. Bxe7 Qxe7 they enter the tricky QRRN vs QRRN situation which can be extra sharp. 21 ... Nxf2! is a nice and unexpected sacrifice where Black owns the second rank; 23 ... Qh5 forces 24. Qg4, then 24 ... Qxh2 forces 25. Qf3 and White just made two defensive Queen moves. Fritz suggests 27. Rg4 as holding out longer. 28 ... Rd8! is a great finesse; after 29. Rxd2 Rdxd2 White's weak back rank is fatal.

<if So had played 30...exd4?? then Xiong wins with 31.c7!> Nice swindle.

For those following the action in real time, the two star moves 21 ... Nxf2 and 28 ... Rd8 don't earn any "!" from Fritz but at least 29 ... Rxd5! and 31 ... Qxd1+! did. The first three games on the list featured smashing sacrifices without any punctuation from Fritz the anti-human cyborg. This is also the first Black win.

This game finished at #9 in IM Danny Rensch's rundown of 2017's best games over at <>.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: Yes. Quite an ingenious game by So. I saw it when the US Champs were on...last year. Good commentary by Seirawan and the others.
Feb-10-18  Ironmanth: Brilliant attack by Wesley. Enjoyed this game; thanks!
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: This game truly is a brilliancy. I looked over it before, and yet it was still just as enjoyable today.
Sep-22-18  Walter Glattke: Black also wins with 32.Qxc2 Rxc2 33.d5 f6 34.d6!? Rxc6 35.d7 Rd6
Sep-22-18  Walter Glattke: Symmetry possibility: 21.Nxe6 fxe6 22.Qxe6 Kh8 23.Rxc4 Nh3+ 24.Kg2 Qh5 25.c7 (24.-Rbe8 25.Qxe8 Rxe8 26.Rxc5 Nd3 +-) so better 21.-Nxe4 22.Nxc5 Nxc5 23.Rxc4 Ne6 24.c7 Rbc8 25.Rc1 f6 black advantage
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: Recalled looking over this game last year. So I remembered the first two moves of today's Saturday (21...?) puzzle began with the demolition tactic 21...Nxf2!! 22. Kxf2? Rxb2+ -+ (-2.61 @ 45 ply, Stockfish 9).

For me, the best part of going back over the game again was seeing <tpstar>'s excellent analysis and commentary from his February 2018 post. I'll definitely ask my 9-year-old Grandson, who is actively involved in scholastic chess competition in Texas, to look over this game for ideas to use as Black against this popular White d4 opening set up.

P.S.: So where did White go wrong?

Things started to unravel after he left theory and the opening book with 18. c6?! Ne5 ∓ (-0.72 @ 32 ply, Stockfish 9).

Instead, 18. Rf1 Ne5 19. f4 Nc6 20. Rxc4 Na5 21. Rd4 Qxc5 22. b4 Rxb4 23. Rxb4 Qxb4 24. Ne4 = (-0.08 @ 34 ply, Stockfish 9) would have given White drawing chances.

According to the computer, the losing move was 22. Kxf2? Rxb2+ -+ (-2.61 @ 45 ply, Stockfish 9). Instead, White could have secured drawing chances with 22. Nxa6 ⩱ (-0.38 @ 45 ply, Stockfish 9).

Earlier in the opening, I prefer the popular move 9. Qxc4 = as in the drawn game Aronian vs W So, 2018.

Sep-22-18  Akabara: I found the openings 3 moves, not taking the knight is suicidal, taking it leads to a strong but ultimately very open and with lots of variations… that I never calculated.

To me it's more of a strategic sacrifice, and the piece down is justified by a strong attack. But I don't think it's a good puzzle position, there's no killer in there (or maybe at the end) only good coordination of pieces bearing down on white's king.

Makes it even better that Wesley So committed to it!

Sep-22-18  Walter Glattke: Yes, I see, with Nxa6 instead of Nxe6 there is no -Ne6 to stop c-pawn, that symmetry manoeuvre is better.
Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: Black is one pawn down.

White threatens Nxa6 and Rxc4.

White's second rank is very weak. Therefore, 21... Nxf2:

A) 22.Nxa6 Nxe4 23.Nxc5 Nxc5 24.Rxc4 Na6 - + [n vs 2P].

B) 22.Rxc4 Nxe4 23.Rxc5 Nxc5 is even worse for White.

C) 22.Kxf2 Rxb2+

C.1) 23.Ke1 Qh5 24.Qg4 (or 24.g4) 24... Qxh2 25.Qf3 Qg1+ 26.Qf1 Qxe3+ 27.Kd1 Qxd4+ and mate in two.

C.2) 23.Kf1 Qh5

C.2.a) 24.Qg4 Qxh2 25.Qf3 c3, unclear.

C.2.b) 24.Qg2 Rxg2 25.Kxg2 Qe2+ 26.Kh3 (26.Kg1 Qxe3+ wins; 26.Kh1 Qf3+ 27.Kg1 Qxe3+ wins) 26... Qxe3 seems to win decisive material (27.Rxc4 Qe5 threatening Qxa1 and Qxc7).

C.3) 23.Kg1 Qh5 24.Qh4 (24.h4 Qe2 wins) 24... Qf3 25.Qh3 Qxe3+ 26.Kh1 Qxd4 - + [r+2p vs N].

C.4) 23.Kf3 Qh5+

C.4.a) 24.Qg4 Qxh2 with many threats (25... Rf2+ 26.Ke4 f5+, 25... Qg2+ 26.Kf4 Rf2+ 27.Ke5 Qxc3, 25... f5, etc.) looks very good for Black.

C.4.b) 24.g4 Qh3+ 25.Kf4 Qxh2+ 26.Kg5 Qh6#.

Sep-22-18  messachess: More intricate and confusing than difficult. Friday's was difficult.
Sep-22-18  Moszkowski012273: Doesn't 27.Rc4... draw?
Sep-22-18  Junbalansag: Could be Wes' all time great game thus far. From the Knight sacrifice onwards, every move is a delight to behold. :)
Jul-26-21  Ironmanth: Brutal game! Two great competitors. Y'all STAY SAFE out there today.
Premium Chessgames Member
  ClassZPlaya: After 21. ... Nxf2 I would have tried 22. Nxa6 Nxe4 23. Nxc5 Nxc5 24. Rxc4 Na6 25. c7 Rbc8 26. Rac1 and with 2 passed pawns for the Knight I think White has good chances to hold the game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Teyss: Superb game and good analyses above about potential pitfalls for Black notably 28… Qxd1? (too early) and 30… exd4? (wrong capture), both losing.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Teyss: Great play by Wesley So.
28. "Sure, take my Queen."
29. "C'mooon…"
30. "Just do it!"
31. "Alright I’ll take your Rook then."
Premium Chessgames Member
  raymondhow: After the first two moves, I wanted to play 23...c3. The engine agrees, but says it leads to equality. Don't feel like I really solved much, on the other hand I did not go wrong.
Jun-12-22  Brenin: Not having seen this one before, I got the sacrifice 21 ... Nxf2 and the follow-up as far as 26 ... e5, decided that Back was winning, and stopped analysing at that point. <agb2002>'s analysis from 2018 seems to say most of what needs to be said, except that his line C2(a) looks to me like a win for Black, as in the game.
Sep-22-22  Cassandro: This was a good game by Wesley So. The still rather young (20,21?) Jeffrey Xiong is a very talented player, but with uneven results. In this particular game, 27.Rh4 seems to be White's decisive mistake. Instead, White should still be in the game if he had played 27.Rd4. I would have still preferred Black, though.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <Junbalansag: Could be Wes' all time great game thus far. From the Knight sacrifice onwards, every move is a delight to behold. :) >

That is true, but his previous moves were strategic (and calculating) gold too... Bxf3 and c5 are irrevocable decisions that in this case work out well. Catalan players are familiar with these themes, but they do not always work out well tactically. So made sure they would.

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