Negi, Wei Yi and the Poisoned Pawn

Rising Chinese star (and future World Champion?) Wei Yi is now in the last 8 of the World Cup after beating his compatriot Ding Liren.

In the last 32, Wei Yi had faced Alexander Areshchenko. The Ukrainian GM has a fixed repertoire: Grünfeld against 1.d4 and Najdorf against 1.e4. So where would the 2734-rated youngster seek his chances with White? Answer: By following a Negi suggestion against the Najdorf from his GM Repertoire 1.e4 vs. The Sicilian

Wei Yi (2734) – Alexander Areshchenko (2661)
FIDE World Cup 18.09.2015

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Qd2 Qxb2
The Poisoned Pawn is Areshchenko’s usual choice.

9.Rb1 Qa3 10.e5 h6 11.Bh4 dxe5 12.fxe5 g5 13.exf6 gxh4 14.Be2 Qa5 15.0–0 Nd7 16.Rbd1
“Rare but potent” was Negi’s description. Later adding: “I find it staggering that this move has only been played in four games.”
Negi also covered the usual 16.Kh1.


Negi also covered two other options, 17.Bg4 and 17.Qd3. “Any one of these moves could serve as an excellent practical weapon.”

A novelty when Negi analysed it as his main reply to 17.g3. This is its first over-the-board test.

18.Qe3 Bxc3! 19.Nxe6

Areshchenko found the best move (according to Negi) twice in a row, but falls at the third hurdle.

Negi’s line was: 19…fxe6 20.Qxe6+ Kd8 21.Qe7+ Kc7 22.Qd6+ Kd8 23.f7 Bg7 24.Bg4 Qb5 25.f8Q+ Rxf8 26.Rxf8+ Bxf8 27.Qxf8+ Kc7 28.Qd6+ Kd8

“We may conclude that 17.g3 is a reasonably safe move that could easily catch an unprepared opponent, but it is not too difficult for Black to find a path to safety.”
It was for this reason that Negi ranked White’s other two 17th move options as even more dangerous weapons, but maybe Negi’s idea of what is “not too difficult for Black” is slightly off. A 2661-rated Najdorf specialist found it too difficult. (Perhaps Wei Yi might have tried 29.Bxh3, but Negi’s verdict was that White had only a draw.)

20.Nc7+ Kf8 21.Qxe5 Bxe5 22.Nxa8±
Wei Yi converted his material advantage convincingly.

22…Nxf6 23.Nb6 Kg7 24.Nxc8 Rxc8 25.Rf5 Bb8 26.Rdf1 Ba7+ 27.Kh1 Bd4 28.Bd3 Rc6 29.g4 Rc7 30.g5 hxg5 31.Rxg5+ Kf8 32.Rg3 Nd5 33.Rxh3 Ne3 34.Rf4 Ba7 35.Re4 Nd1 36.Rh8+ Kg7 37.Rh7+ Kf8 38.Rc4 Bc5 39.Bg6 1–0

Negi’s third-string weapon proved highly effective.

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