FIDE Chess World Cup Finals To Be Decided In Tiebreaks

| 13 | Chess Event Coverage

With two quick draws today in both Ding Liren vs. Teimour Radjabov and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs. Yu Yangyi, the stage is set for tiebreaks on Friday to decide on the FIDE World Cup finals.

You can follow the games here as part of our live portal There is daily coverage by our Twitch partner, the Chessbrahs.

GMs Yasser Seirawan, Eric Hansen and Aman Hambleton are covering the tournament each day on their channel Play starts at 3 p.m. local time, which is 12:00 (noon) CEST, 6 a.m. Eastern and 3 a.m. Pacific.

An already memorable World Cup, which has provided plenty of drama, will go down the wire in both the final and the match for third place. Whereas Ding and Radjabov will play for prestige and a difference of $30,000 between first and second place, Vachier-Lagrave and Yu Yangyi's battle could potentially be more important.

The reason for that is the qualification process for the Candidates' Tournament, and specifically the new criteria for the wildcard spot.

The tournament will be held in March 2020 in Yekaterinburg, and so a Russian player would be a logical choice for a wildcard. However, if we look at the regulations (here in PDF) we see that the organizers cannot just pick anyone they like:

The Organizer of the FIDE Candidates Tournament 2020 has the right to nominate a player who meets at least one of the following criteria (provided that he participates in at least two events listed below in b., c. and d.):
a. The player from the top-10 players by average FIDE rating as per Clause E;
b. The player placed third in the FIDE World Cup 2019 (if the third player is qualified - then the player placed fourth, but not any further);
c. The best non-qualifying player from the FIDE Grand Swiss 2019;
d. The best non-qualifying player from the FIDE Grand Prix Series 2019.

Right now, as we can see in Martin Bennedik's Google document, the two Russian players who will be in the top 10 over the average ratings between February 2019 and January 2020 are Ian Nepomniachtchi and Alexander Grischuk, but they might qualify via the FIDE Grand Prix.

So, the Russians might have to invite a non-Russian player and then the third-placed player in the World Cup is a likely candidate for this wildcard. MVL is still in the race in the Grand Prix as well, but getting third place in Khanty-Mansiysk cannot hurt the French number-one in his goal to reach the Candidates'.

Ding Liren Radjabov game four 2019 FIDE World Cup final
Ding Liren and Radjabov starting their last classical game. Photo: Kirill Merkuryev/FIDE.

As for the last two classical games of today, they were both over in about two hours of play. The encounter between Ding and Radjabov started with an interesting opening—If only because, as early as move seven, White played a move that had never been played by anyone rated 2200 or higher!

As it turned out, Ding went for a line where he won a pawn, but gave up the bishop pair very early. At first sight it even looked a bit risky, especially in a potentially all-decisive game, but Ding had prepared it well.

"I think we played the correct game and none of us made any mistakes so the draw is a very normal result," the Chinese player said.

Radjabov: "At this point it’s already kind of hard to calculate anything. At some point you’re questioning even your decisions, and so on, and especially in the crucial game. Generally it seems that Black can hold in many ways there but, you know, you make one mistake and then it becomes tricky. So I was kind of worried not to make a mistake simply."

FIDE's interview with Ding and Radjabov.

Yu again used the Petroff to draw his second black game with Vachier-Lagrave. This time he went for the 7...Nc6 system and, like two days ago, White's (potential) edge was perhaps bigger than it seemed.

"I was very close to being seriously better," said MVL.

He pointed out that the pawn structure that he got in the game (after Black's ...fxe6) is "fundamentally better for White" but that there were some concrete issues that prevented him from profiting. 

"In the game I couldn’t solve immediate problems, for instance when I had to allow 25...Re5 it’s clear I was not better anymore," said MVL.

FIDE's interview with MVL and Yu.

Both matches will now be decided in a tiebreak, planned for Friday. The winner of the final will earn $110,000; the runner-up, $80,000. The winner in the match for third place will earn $60,000; the loser gets $50,000.

It will be the end of a very long period of chess for MVL, who joked that by now he doesn't really care anymore. But he quickly added: "No, of course I care. Tomorrow is the last day and that will be very welcome!"

FIDE World Cup Finals Results

Seed Fed Title Player - Seed Fed Title Player G1 G2 G3 G4 TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4 TB5 TB6 TB7
1 GM Ding Liren - 10 GM Teimour Radjabov ½-½ 1-0 0-1 ½-½ . . . . . . .
3 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime - 12 GM Yu Yangyi ½-½ ½-½ ½-½ ½-½ . . . . . . .

2019 FIDE World Cup final bracket(Click on image for larger version.)

The FIDE World Cup takes place Sept. 9-Oct. 4 in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. Each round consists of two classical games and a tiebreak on the third day. The final consists of four classical games. Both finalists will qualify for the 2020 Candidates' Tournament. The total prize fund is $1.6 million (1.45 million euros). Sept. 19 and 29 are rest days. You can find more background info in our preview article.

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