Karjakin, Svidler Reach Semis After Tiebreak Victories

Karjakin, Svidler Reach Semis After Tiebreak Victories

| 45 | Chess Event Coverage

Sergey Karjakin and Peter Svidler reached the semifinals of the 2015 FIDE World Cup today. The two Russian GMs beat Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Wei Yi respectively. Saturday is a rest day in Baku. 

All photos courtesy of FIDE.


Whereas the number of players in the playing hall can now be counted with the fingers of one hand, the number of spectators on Friday was bigger than ever. There were so many local fans who wanted to watch Shakhriyar Mamedyarov's tiebreak that the organizers had to add two rows of chairs.

But despite this big support, the Azeri grandmaster didn't make it. After two draws in the rapid games, he played one very bad game as Black and could not recover as White in the next.

For his first black game Mamedyarov had prepared the Berlin, and Karjakin was happy to enter the famous endgame. For 18 moves a game from 2011 played in Baku by Baku-born Emil Sutovsky was followed. A short but interesting rook ending was played without mistakes:

The tiebreak started with a correct Berlin endgame.

In the second rapid (25+10) game, a 4.Nf3 Nimzo-Indian, Mameyarov got a slight edge in the endgame and even sacrificed an exchange at some point. Karjakin was never in serious trouble though.

The first 10+10 game was a disaster for Mamedyarov. Before move 20 he had used up most of his time, and by then his position wasn't looking great either. Karjakin won a very healthy pawn and didn't need to play the technical phase when his opponent's flag fell on move 36.

The next was a must-win game for Mamedyarov, but he never really got close. Sure, he won a pawn, and closed off the opponent's queen for a long time, but his bishop was bad — Karjakin was just too solid today.

At the end Mamedyarov even blundered material. He took one last sip of his Red Bull before resigning.


The last Azeri player leaves the Baku World Cup.

“It was a really tough match,” said Karjakin at the press conference. “Maybe it was the most difficult match for me so far. Of course I am very much happy.

“I can [tell] one funny episode. When I came on the first day, I was playing Black but when I came to the playing hall I was comple sure I was White. So I prepared for White for two days in a row.”

Asked what he felt about playing with dozens of local fans rooting for his opponent, Karjakin said: “Well of course it wasn't very pleasant but I must admit that all of his fans were very correct, and also Shakhriyar, his sister and his manager congratulated me, they were very polite, very correct, so I have nothing to say.”


Sergey Karjakin: among the final four.

The other match was a great fight right from the start, and far less one-sided. It was 39-year-old Peter Svidler's experience that made the difference, but 16-year-old Wei Yi certainly had his chances.

The first game reached a quiet ending which quickly became interesting when Svidler played a positional exchange sacrifice. After many adventures this game ended in a draw, but it's quite possible that Svidler was winning somewhere: 

The tiebreak about to start for Wei Yi and Svidler.

Also in the second game it was Svidler who was dealing the cards. Surprisingly, Wei Yi went for the same variation that gave him nothing as White in the classical game.

This time Svidler even got his knight to f4 (which he failed to realize the other day), but the Chinese player yet again defended stubbornly. 

The third game was the same story, with the difference that Svidler's advantage was even bigger! In this game Wei Yi's opening was a complete failure, and his position on move 18 was a positional nightmare.

“If Peter won't win this one I'll be rooting for Wei Yi!” said GM Hikaru Nakamura, who joined the commentary for a bit. “I have nowhere to go anyway!” (Earlier in the day Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was in the studio too.)

Hikaru Nakamura in the studio with Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam (l.) and Evgeny Miroshnichenko (r.)

But...Svidler again didn't win this one. He missed some nasty tactics and even was in trouble for a while. 

Wei Yi: a tactical monster.

In the fourth game Wei Yi finally got a promising position out of the opening — for the first time in the whole match. And this turned out to be the game that got him eliminated. The Chinese prodigy spoiled his advantage, lost a pawn and even the bishop pair couldn't help him:


Svidler: still in the race to win his second World Cup.

“The first two games were decent and I had my chances,” said Svidler in the official broadcast. “Three and four were just horrible and he made the last mistake. The quality dropped signficantly. People are tired. Mistakes start creeping in!

“I had so many chances in the first three games. It's kind of ironic that the game I won, strategically the position was just awful.

“People start to lose their minds. As the match progressed, it became more evident that we're not in control of what's going on. I got very lucky in the final one.”

The two winners at a joint press conference at the end of the day.

In a joint press conference the players were asked what they were planning to do on the rest day.

Karjakin: “I am going to sleep a lot and then I will find out what to do.”

Svidler: “He knows that life is all about. That is very correct.”-- 

The semifinals, which start on Sunday, will see two matches: Anish Giri vs Peter Svidler and Pavel Eljanov vs Sergey Karjakin. The winner in each match not only reaches the final, but also qualifies directly for the 2016 Candidates’ Tournament.


2015 World Cup | Round 5 Results

# Name Name C1 C2 TB Score
1 Wei Yi Peter Svidler 1/2  1/2 1.5-2.5 2.5-3.5
2 Hikaru Nakamura Pavel Eljanov 0-1  1/2  -- 0.5-1.5
3 Sergey Karjakin Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 1/2  1/2 3.0-1.0 4.0-2.0
4 Anish Giri Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 1/2  1-0  -- 1.5-0.5

Previous reports

More from PeterDoggers
Gender Bias Research Shows Parents, Mentors Shortchange Girls’ Chess Potential

Gender Bias Research Shows Parents, Mentors Shortchange Girls’ Chess Potential

Nepomniachtchi Repeats Levitov Chess Week Victory

Nepomniachtchi Repeats Levitov Chess Week Victory