Eljanov, Giri Through To Semis; 2 Tiebreaks Tomorrow

Eljanov, Giri Through To Semis; 2 Tiebreaks Tomorrow

| 41 | Chess Event Coverage

Yesterday only one victor emerged in the 2015 FIDE World Cup quarterfinals, and today in round 5.2 there was again one win.

All photos courtesy of FIDE.

That was just fine for GM Pavel Eljanov, whose draw today with GM Hikaru Nakamura puts him through to the semifinals. The other happy customer was today's winner, GM Anish Giri, who knocked out GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in a technical rook-and-pawn ending.

Eljanov had won several of his early matches 2-0, but today practicality was needed. His split point with the world number-two after 43 moves and neither player wavering too far from stasis.

The longtime Ukrainian national team member also got some small revenge for Nakamura's USA squad's fantastic upset in the final round of the 2008 Olympiad (the 3.5-0.5 loss that Eljanov's team endured cost it a medal and the two teams have yet to meet since then in the Olympiad).

The first man to reach the round of four: GM Pavel Eljanov.

The unlikely semifinalist now only needs to win one more match to the reach the finals, after which he will qualify for the 2016 FIDE Candidates’ Tournament. Or maybe he's not so unlikely — Eljanov moved up yet another spot in the live ratings (#14) and of the five other players alive in the tournament, he outrates more than half of them!

Nakamura's loss also eliminates GM Dmitry Jakovenko from the Candidates‘ consideration (except as a possible wild card). His third-place finish in the FIDE Grand Prix made him first alternate in case either GM Fabiano Caruana or Nakamura became a finalist in Baku, but both have now been eliminated.

Update by Peter Doggers:

“I think my [play] was solid enough. It's not always pleasant to [play] without two bishops but today was not the case because all my piece were fine,” Eljanov told Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam in the official broadcast.

“I didn't expect something special. In both games in the first round I was worse at some point. In the last coupled of games I'm quite satisfied with the level of my play.”

About his real strenth, Eljanov said: “There are many chess players now about 2750 and I can't say concretely but I don’t consider that I’m weaker than most of them, so maybe...I hope it’s more or less my level but we'll see in next tournaments.”

And that was it for Hikaru Nakamura.

Eljanov will move on to play hometown hero GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov or GM Sergey Karjakin; the two drew again today in a much shorter game than yesterday.

Update by Peter Doggers:

Yes, this wasn't much of a game. Generally players seem to be taking even less risk in the second game of their mini-match. In this case it resulted in a 14-move draw even though the final position is still full of life. Maybe the long and tense first game played a rule here! 

At the end Mameyarov had 59 and and Karjakin 39 minutes left to reach move 40.


Giri was up a pawn for the better part of 50 moves before converting it in the endgame. It's well known the f- and h-pawns in rook endings are often not enough to win, but the Frenchman's king had to travel too far to grab White's extra b-pawn and was out of position as a result.

Like Napoleon, Vachier-Lagrave found that a French general can sometimes journey too far into Russian territory and leave his army out in the cold.

A dressed-for-the-occasion GM Anish Giri, whose part-Russian
descent helps make the historical allusion work.

Update by Peter Doggers:

Giri won the game in a rook ending where both had an f- and h-pawn, and the Dutchman an extra b-pawn. That one was protected by a rook on the wrong side though. 

“I thought this should be a draw on the spot, but then I remembered Peter Svidler beating me once in a same endgame,” said Giri.

Here's the instructive(!) game, annotated by Dejan Bojkov but also with notes by Giri himself provided in the press conference right after the game, and some extra insights from a few hours later:

Annotations by GM Dejan Bojkov


Giri is through; MVL is out. There can be only one.

Peter Svidler played Black, but had some small chances to score a win and decide the match against Wei Yi. He like his position after 17 moves, especially if the black knight reaches f4, its dream position. But that didn't happen.

“He created all those small issues with my plan on every move and maybe I misplayed it somewhere,” said Svidler. “I should have played Kf8, I was obsessed with having Rg8 in reserve. I am not very hope with how I approached this particular sequence.”


“He has already shown that he's a very good tiebreaks player,” said Svidler
about his opponent. “Against Yuri Vovk... that was the stuff of legend.”

2015 World Cup | Round 5 Results

# Name Name C1 C2 TB Score
1 Wei Yi Peter Svidler 1/2  1/2   1.0-1.0
2 Hikaru Nakamura Pavel Eljanov 0-1  1/2  -- 0.5-1.5
3 Sergey Karjakin Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 1/2  1/2   1.0-1.0
4 Anish Giri Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 1/2  1-0  -- 1.5-0.5

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