Favorites Falter: Adams, Anand, Karjakin Knocked Out

Favorites Falter: Adams, Anand, Karjakin Knocked Out

| 44 | Chess Event Coverage

On a dramatic day in Tbilisi, three big names had to leave the FIDE World Cup after the second game of round two. The reigning champion Sergey Karjakin lost his black game to his compatriot Daniil DubovVishy Anand got eliminated as he had to settle for a draw today vs Anton Kovalyov and Michael Adams was knocked out by Maxim Rodshtein.

An early exit for the 2015 winner Sergey Karjakin. | Photo: Emelianova.

After just seven decisive games yesterday many matches were expected to go to tiebreaks. The number of matches we'll see tomorrow is very high: again 22, just like in the first round.

Just 10 out of 64 players have directly qualified, and one has done so by winning all four classical games: the world champion. Of the people who lost yesterday, only Cheparinov managed to win on demand, vs Navara.

2017 World Cup | Round 2 Results

Fed Player Fed Player Classical Rapid Blitz Score
Dreev (2648) Carlsen (2827) 0-1, 0-1 0-2
Bacrot (2728) Bu (2714) ½-½, ½-½ 1-1
Svidler (2756) Erdos (2619) ½-½, ½-½ 1-1
Onischuk (2682) Wojtaszek (2739) ½-½, ½-½ 1-1
Vachier-Lagrave (2804) Grachev (2654) 1-0, ½-½ 1½-½
Tari (2588) Lenderman (2565) ½-½, 0-1 ½-1½
Cori (2648) Grischuk (2788) ½-½, ½-½ 1-1
Navara (2720) Cheparinov (2695) 1-0, 0-1 1-1
Kramnik (2803) Demchenko (2650) 1-0, ½-½ 1½-½
Duda (2698) Ivanchuk (2727) ½-½, ½-½ 1-1
Motylev (2668) Giri (2777) ½-½, ½-½ 1-1
Harikrishna (2741) Sethuraman (2617) ½-½, ½-½ 1-1
Hou Yifan 2670) Aronian (2802) ½-½, ½-½ 1-1
Matlakov (2728) Andreikin (2708) ½-½, ½-½ 1-1
Karjakin (2780) Dubov 2666) ½-½, 0-1 ½-1½
Artemiev (2692) Radjabov (2742) ½-½, ½-½ 1-1
So (2792) Bluebaum (2633) ½-½, ½-½ 1-1
Tomashevsky (2710) Vallejo (2717) ½-½, 0-1 ½-1½
Adhiban (2670) Nepomniachtchi (2741) ½-½, ½-½ 1-1
Yu Yangyi 2750) Jobava (2702) ½-½, ½-½ 1-1
Bruzon (2651) Nakamura (2781) ½-½, ½-½ 1-1
Fedoseev (2731) Inarkiev (2694) 1-0, ½-½ 1-1
Anand (2794) Kovalyov (2649) 0-1, ½-½ ½-1½
Rodshtein (2695) Adams (2738) ½-½, 1-0 1½-½
Lenic (2646) Caruana (2799) ½-½, ½-½ 1-1
Vitiugov (2728) Najer (2694) ½-½, ½-½ 1-1
Wei Yi (2748) Rapport (2675) ½-½, ½-½ 1-1
Sevian (2610) Li Chao (2745) ½-½, ½-½ 1-1
Mamedyarov (2797) Kuzubov (2688) ½-½, ½-½ 1-1
Wang Hao (2701) Gelfand (2737) ½-½, ½-½ 1-1
Kravtsiv (2670) Ding Liren (2771) ½-½, ½-½ 1-1
Le (2739) Vidit (2702) 0-1, ½-½ ½-1½

Unsurprisingly, day two of the second round saw a number of quick draws: Rapport-Wei Yi, Erdos-Svidler, Bluebaum-So and a bit later also Nakamura-Bruzon, Ivanchuk-Duda, Andreikin-Matlakov, Radjabov-Artemiev and Bu-Bacrot. Often players prefer to go into tiebreaks over taking risks.

Rapport and Wei Yi leaving the playing hall brought a smile on Carlsen's face. Later he would explain why: it was the irony of two of the most exciting players going for a quick draw.


Svidler and Erdos drew after 11 moves, which wasn't the shortest draw of the day! | Photo: Emelianova.

However, the quickest draw was a big surprise as Anton Demchenko, who needed a win to stay in the tournament, offered peace as early as move 10. Vladimir Kramnik accepted this welcome gift, and advanced to the next round effortlessly.

"Maybe he didn't feel well, maybe he was just very impressed by me," said Kramnik, who will play the winner of Duda-Ivanchuk.

Demchenko had immediately escaped to his hotel room, but over the phone he explained to "Yesterday I was exhausted after the tiebreak. In the evening I felt ill, but in the morning it seemed to be going better. I was going to put up a fight. However, during the game I felt ill again and I realized it was impossible to play any good chess, so I offered a draw."


Demchenko felt too bad to play chess today. | Photo: Emelianova.

Playing his first World Cup, Demchenko added that reaching the second round wasn't a bad result. "I had a busy summer chess-wise so I didn't have enough time to rest. I prepared, also physically, but I still have something to improve."


Kramnik was the first player to reach the third round. | Photo: Emelianova.

That was only the start of what was the most dramatic day so far in Tbilisi. Two big favorites (as far as anyone can be a big favorite in this grueling tournament!) got eliminated: The 2015 winner Sergey Karjakin and the five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand.

The latter had to win on demand, after his pretty but incorrect sacrifice yesterday. But he failed. Seeing no winning chances left, Anand offered a draw on move 31, signed his score sheet and sealed his fate.


The handshake that confirmed Anand's elimination. | Photo: Emelianova.

Anand did not play in the Grand Prix, did not lose the last title match and will not have a high enough rating to qualify for the 2018 Candidates' Tournament. Still, calling it "the end of an era" is too early, as Anand could get the wildcard.

But the Indian legend leaving the hotel the same night, and getting an early Friday-morning flight back home, was sad to watch. 

Anand's early elimination is good news for the organizers of the Isle of Man tournament, which runs Saturday September 23 to Sunday October 1. The Indian legend is on the participants list, under the condition that he could withdraw if he made it to the World Cup semifinal. (This is also the case for e.g. MVL, Caruana, So and Nakamura.)

Kovalyov was happy obviously, but again said that this tournament is also tough because he needs to combine it with his computer science studies. "I will be really stressed now. But for now I will try to enjoy and worry later," he said.'s interview with Kovalyov.

Shortly after, another chess giant had to leave the tournament. Sergey Karjakin lost to the 21-year-old Daniil Dubov, and with that suddenly the match was all over. Karjakin will be going home early, much earlier than last time.

"This 6...Bc5 stuff is becoming extremely popular," Dubov said about the opening; an English with 1...e5. "10.b4 was first played by Gelfand but I managed to find it even before Boris played it."

After his novelty 12.Ba3 he thought that "Black has to remember a lot of stuff." Karjakin later explained via a tweet that, even though he had looked at everything in the morning, he mixed up things on move 18. 

"I was actually happy that I managed to out-prepare him because I had an extra half an hour and when I got a big edge; I had some time to calm down, calculate and recheck some lines," said Dubov.

He isn't planning to watch the tiebreak between Artemiev and Radjabov, because his next match "will be a roulette anyway" and that he's "not afraid of either player." Instead he will watch his two friends Gelfand and Matlakov.

Dejan Bojkov's Game of the Day


The arbiter Faik Gasanov of Azerbaijan looking at the position. | Photo: Emelianova.

Another great player, with a rich history as it comes to knockout tournaments, will be leaving Tbilisi: Michael Adams. The English grandmaster lost to Maxim Rodshtein of Israel but the Englishman graciously congratulated his opponent, and shook hands for a second time after discussing variations at the board.

"I am very happy about this of course. I couldn't even imagine that I would manage to outplay Michael, especially with Black in such position," said Rodshtein. "I think he mainly got overambitious maybe at some point; he lost the thread of the position. I felt White is doing something wrong, I played some natural moves and then I really liked my position."


Losing with grace: Michael Adams, co-winner of the 1993 Groningen Interzonal (with Vishy Anand!), to name just one achievement. | Photo: Emelianova.

Besides Kramnik, two other favorites qualified smoothly for the third round. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave achieved a relatively easy draw, which was just what he needed after winning yesterday's game against Boris Grachev. Magnus Carlsen maintained his 100 percent score so far with a second win over Aleksey Dreev

"I kind of wanted to play," said Carlsen, who had no intention of going for a draw right from the start. "I didn't particularly mind a draw, but I didn't go for it."

He was surprised that Dreev didn't sac an exchange which was very logical considering his previous moves. "The way he played just loses trivially."


A brief interaction between Carlsen and Nona Gaprindashvili, who was playing blitz with Baadur Jobava's brother Beglar in the press room. | Photo: Emelianova.'s interview with Carlsen.

Good news for the Spaniards, as Paco Vallejo advanced as well. He eliminated Evgeny Tomashevsky by using the not-so-popular Worrall Attack. Black seemed fairly OK in the early middlegame, but his plan of pushing the b-pawn somehow didn't work. White won the a6-pawn, remained a pawn up and got a decisive passer on d7.

nullVallejo seems to have outcalculated the solid Tomashevsky. | Photo: Emelianova.

Whereas the "Holy Trinity" (as Yasser Seirawan calls them) of Caruana, Nakamura and So needs to play tiebreaks, the fourth American grandmaster is already safely in the third round. Aleksandr Lenderman won a model endgame with White against Aryan Tari of Norway, who was helpless against White's activity on the queenside.

Lenderman told "I went for this endgame, which has been featured in a couple of top games. I thought this was an interesting practical choice for this game and it worked actually really well." 

Lenderman revealed a small secret to in our interview.

As mentioned in the intro, seven players lost yesterday and one of them is still in the race. Ivan Cheparinov managed to level the score against David Navara with the white pieces. The Bulgarian player won a pawn when his opponent weakened his king too much.

Cheparinov then didn't have to fulfill the technical task in a queen endgame, because Navara allowed a trade of queens, miscalculating the pawn ending. 


The comeback kid Cheparinov is still alive in Tbilisi. | Photo: Emelianova.

Of the 22 tiebreaks tomorrow you might want to keep an eye on Yuriy Kuzubov vs Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. They didn't leave their classical segment as the world's best friends after Kuzubov maneuvered too long without making progress, in Mamedyarov's opinion, and the latter refused to offer a draw in an opposite-colored bishop ending that a club player can draw with Carlsen.


Mamedyarov and Kuzubov called it a day on move 130. | Photo: Emelianova.

S.P. Sethuraman managed to upset Pentala Harikrishna two years ago, also in round two, by beating his opponent as White in a Berlin endgame. This time the seven-years-younger Indian played 1.Nf3, and the game became super sharp. Just went Sethuraman seemed to be getting the better chances he decided to play it safe and offer a draw. Live Ratings


Almost the whole top 20 is losing rating points, except for Carlsen and Svidler (and Topalov and Dominguez, who aren't playing in Tbilisi.)

Games from TWIC.

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. relays the games at You can watch also live commentary on 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.

Previous reports:

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

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