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Aronian Can't Crack Ding In World Cup Finals Game 1
Aronian, Ding Liren playing in the amphitheater of the Biltmore Hotel. | Photo: FIDE/Karlovich

Aronian Can't Crack Ding In World Cup Finals Game 1

After nearly three weeks of play featuring 128 players battling against elimination, the World Cup has been reduced to two players, Levon Aronian and Ding Liren. Today, they drew their first game to kick off their four-game finals match. With three games to go in the classical mini-match, the initiative now switches to Ding Liren who has two Whites in the three remaining games.

Fed Player Fed Player Classical Rapid Blitz Arm. Score
Aronian (2802) Ding Liren (2771) ½-½ ½-½

In such a mini-match, the psychology and small ebbs and flows matter a great deal. Ding must be happy to have caught Aronian out in the opening, to obtain a relatively low-stress draw as Black, and to have started solidly in the first game to the biggest match of his life.

A solid start for the first Chinese candidate, Ding Liren. | Photo: official site/Anastasiya Karlovick

A good start for the first Chinese candidate, Ding Liren. | Photo: official site/Anastasiya Karlovich

Ding revealed that he was pleased to be playing Aronian (against whom he has a good score) rather than Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (a terrible score), but perhaps that doesn't factor in the Armenian's recent superlative form. Thus far, 2017 has been his year as 2016 was Wesley So's year.

Aronian confessed to being caught out in the opening, knowing he had nothing objective. "I wasn't expecting this d4. My reaction was a safe one, but I knew there was nothing. Black can play anyway. He can even make a long castle instead of Qe6."

However, Aronian did seem to generate some pressure in the middlegame. "I think I managed to create some chances. Perhaps the idea with b4 is not correct."

The repetition and draw in the end might have surprised some as White still looked to have the choicer position, but investigation reveals the inability of either side to make progress as White must tend to the b4-pawn and prevent the maneuver Ra8-a2.

Meanwhile Black must not allow Kf3-e4, perfecting the king's placement and putting Black under real pressure. The engine says 0.00, approving the cessation of hostilities.

Dejan Bojkov

As fashion has been a topic of particular interest in the 2017 edition of the World Cup, we would be remiss not to mention Aronian's stylish choice of shoes. Aronian has long been renowned for his distinct fashion style. Today, he sported a blue suit with a pair of black and white dress shoes that were quite eye-catching.

Aronian's unique black and white dress shoes. | FIDE, Anastasiya Karlovich

What type of shoes was Aronian wearing? | Photo: official site/Anastasiya Karlovich

The author's internet tailspin failed to put a certain name to the type of shoe, but it did lead him to extensive debates on the topic "Oxfords, not brogues" as inspired by the approved shoe stylings of the Kingsmmen in the popular movie franchise. These are definitely brogues (the term for the decorative perforations), but they do not seem to be Oxfords (also called Balmorals after Balmoral castle) due to the open lacings. The readers are invited to engage in a heated flame war on the topic in the comments

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The World Cup takes place September 3-27 in Tbilisi, Georgia. Each round consists of two classical games (four in the final), and possibly a rapid and blitz tiebreak on the third day. The total prize fund is $1.6 million, including a first prize of $120,000. The top two finishers will qualify for the 2018 Candidates' Tournament. 

Chess.com relays the games at Chess.com/Live. You can watch also live commentary on Chess.com/TV provided by the Chessbrahs, which includes some of the best commentators on the planet: GM Eric Hansen, GM Robin van Kampen, GM Yasser Seirawan and IM Aman Hambleton.


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