The Last Time Svidler won the World Cup

The Last Time Svidler won the World Cup

NM SamCopeland

As I write this, GM Peter Svidler and GM Sergey Karjakin are perparing to do battle on the finals of the 2015 chess World Cup. In my opinion, winning the World Cup is one of the most impressive achievements in chess in any given year. There are so many entrants and the format is so short that any slip will end a player's tournament. This year Fabiano Caruana, Levon Aronian, Veselin Topalov, Hikaru Nakamura, Vladimir Kramnik, Alexander Grischuk, Teimour Radjabov, Anish Giri, Wesley So, Vassily Ivanchuk, Ding Liren, Boris Gelfand, Maxime Vachier Lagrave, and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov are just some of the clearly elite players that have already been knocked out.

The difficulty makes Peter Svidler's second entrance into the finals particularly impressive to me. Peter made the finals once before, in 2011. He overcame GM Grischuk in their four game match. His victory there contained many impressive games, including his stunning victory against Kamsky that was one of the best games of that year. 
Interestingly, Svidler won 6 games as Black in the tournament while winning only 3 whites. Svidler is an incredible player, but perhaps the most common criticism of him is that he too readily concedes draws in favorable positions and losses in poor positions. This seems to be less of a concern for him in knockouts and is perhaps why he has performed so well in the format.

Let's look back at some Svidler's highlights from the 2011 World Cup in which he defeated Fabiano Caruana, Judit Polgar, Gata Kamsky, Ruslan Ponomariov, and Alexander Grischuk - an incredible run! I've provided brief annotations to some of the more interesting moments from the game, but particularly in a knockout format, the competitive elements are critical so I've focused more on the concepts than the alternative variations, of which there are many.

Round 1.2 - Svidler vs. Darcy Lima

Round 3.4 - Caruana vs. Svidler

Round 4.1 - Svidler vs. Kamsky

Round 4.2 - Kamsy vs. Svidler

Round 6.2 - Ponomariov vs. Svidler

Round 7.1 - Grischuk vs. Svidler

Round 7.4 - Svidler vs. Grischuk