28 September 2015

The Russian Speakers Advance into the Semifinal

Eteri Kublashvili reports of the Quarterfinal of the World Cup.

Having defeated one of the major favorites Hikaru Nakamura in the Quarterfinal of the World Cup, the Ukrainian grandmaster Pavel Eljanov has further cemented his status of the tournament’s hero. Indeed, Pavel came to display a phenomenal result: 7 wins out of 10 in the classical games, with the current rating of 2751 and an exorbitant performance.

On his Tweeter page the Fabiano Caruana’s manager, an International Master Lawrence Trent, has nicknamed Pavel’ surname to Elojanov, whereas Hikaru Nakamura noted after his defeat in the match that “When your opponent plays better than you in a short format like this, there's not much one can do but move on to the next event!”

The awe-inspiring chess Samurai was defeated as soon as the first game. 

Eljanov – Nakamura 
Quarterfinal, Game One 

Black just completed his development by committing his knight to а6. The American must have underestimated the consequences arising after 20. Nxb7! Qxb7 21. Bxc6 Qc7 22. Bxa8 Qxc3 23. bxc3 Qxa8 24. Nc6 Bd8 25. Nxd8 Rxd8 26. f3, etc. 

White’s rooks proved superior in this ending due to a poor coordination of Black’s pieces that were scattered all over the board. Having grabbed the b-file, White went on to win the a5-pawn, upon which he built up a well-thought play on the kingside that yielded its fruits in the form of having the black king caught into a cage. 

After 58. Rd7 Nakamura resigned the game. 

Eljanov’s solid play in the second game provided his opponent with no chances of gaining any sort of advantage. After Black forced the trade of queens Nakamura failed to pry open the defensive formations of his opponent no matter how hard he tried and the opponents agreed to a draw, which counted as good as a victory for Pavel and meant his subsequent qualification into the semifinal. 

The games of the "West European" match between Anish Giri and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave also progressed no further than the classical stage. The first game saw the Petroff Defence and ended in a draw.

In the return game MVL sacrificed a pawn in one of the lines of the Grunfeld Defence. 
Giri – Vachier-Lagrave 
Quarterfinal, Game Two 

9…c5 10. dxc5 Nxc3 11. Bxc3 Bxc3 12. bxc3 Nd7 13. cxb6 axb6 14. Qd4 

Although the unforced pawn sacrifice yielded no compensation, the Frenchman put up a stubborn resistance and the rook ending started to feel like a draw was going to be agreed in the near future. However, the tiredness took its toll and Maxime committed a strategic blunder. 

50…Kd3?! This allows the white king to get access to the black pawns via the center. 

51. Kf3 Kc2 52. Ra1 Rxb4 53. Ra5 Rb3+ 54. Ke4 h4 55. Kf5 Kd3 56. Kxf6, and White won the game in a few moves. 

According to Anish he has remained “a sole representative of the higher-rated chess circle at this tournament”. 

Sergey Karjakin and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Peter Svidler and Wei Yi shifted the burden of their struggle onto the tiebreak. 

In the first encounter of the Svidler - Wei Yi match the Chinese fought back cleverly as Black and then in the return game introduced complications in the Italian game by opening the g-file. The struggle failed to blossom out into a dangerous attack as Peter handled the position in a very accurate manner, and it all ended in a peaceful agreement being concluded on the 28th move.

The first game between Sergey Karjakin and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov saw a complex type of struggle with a non-standard material balance. 

Mamedyarov – Karjakin
Quarterfinal, Game One 

In response to 14…Ne4 Shakhriyar came up with an extremely fascinating central blow 15. Nxd5! 

This approach awarded White with a long-term compensation after 15…Bxd5 16. Qxd5 Nc3 17. Qc6 Nxe2+ 18. Bxe2 Nb6 19. e4 a5!, generating a rather tricky type of play. 

In the final run a position featuring two white minor pieces versus the black rook arose, in which Sergey managed to find a spectacular way to bail out: 

87…Rg1+! 88. Kxh2 Rxg4 draw. 

The second game ended in a short draw. 

The tie-break turned out to be rather brief and successful for the Russians. The rapid games and the first ten-minute game against Wei Yi developed under the Peter Svidler’s dictation, although the native of St. Petersburg would somehow fail to find an approach to the devious Chinese.  

In the second game featuring 10’+10" time control it was the Chinese who succeeded in gaining an advantage, but let it evaporate and… ended up losing the game after all. 

Wei Yi – Svidler 
Rapid, Game Four 

The queens were exchanged off several moves before and the Chinese must have pinned his hopes on the notorious bishop pair advantage. However, Caissa had envisaged it all otherwise and endowed the black knights with an exceptional might. 

Trying to cash in on his bishop pair Wei Yi embarked into opening up the center: 31. d4?!, but after 31…exd4 32. Bxd4 Rxb4 Black ended up being up a pawn and went on to convert his pawn majority on the queenside. So, the 2011 World Cup winner is in the semifinal. 

Sergey Karjakin and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov also ended their first rapid games in draws, whereas it was the Russian who prevailed in the section of the ten-minute games. 

Karjakin – Mamedyarov 
Rapid, Game Three 

Black’s position is not a cup of tea. Shakhriyar preferred to get himself untangled in a rather radical manner by opting for 19...Bb4, upon which he lost a pawn after 20. Bxc6 bxc6 21. Bxb4 Qxb4 Nxe5

The Azerbaijani grandmaster finally lost on time in a difficult rook ending. 

In the return game, being up a pawn, Mamedyarov attempted to break through the stone wall, but committed a blunder at the moment of a sharp time trouble and resigned the game. Thus, Sergey Karjakin has become the last semifinalist of the World Cup in Baku. 

September 26 is a scheduled day off at the tournament, after which the semifinal games will take place in which Peter Svidler is going to face Anish Giri, and Pavel Eljanov will face Sergey Karjakin. All of them are representatives of the Russian chess school, as was noted in one of the Twitter posts by Rustam Kasimdzhanov.