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Levon Aronian Wins 2017 FIDE World Cup
Levon Aronian wins in Tbilisi. | Photo: Anastasiya Karlovich, official website.

Levon Aronian Wins 2017 FIDE World Cup

Some 12 years after his victory in Khanty-Mansiysk, Levon Aronian has won his second FIDE World Cup title and the $120,000 first prize. In today’s tiebreak against Ding Liren he won both rapid games. 

After almost a month, the 2017 FIDE World Cup has come to an end. Starting with 128 players on  September 3, now 24 days later we finally have a winner.

Aronian is having one of the best years of his career, as he clinched the World Cup after winning the St. Louis Rapid and Blitz in August, Norway Chess in June and the Grenke Chess Classic in April.

FIDE World Cup Final | Results

Fed Player Fed Player Classical Rapid Blitz Arm. Score
Aronian (2802) Ding Liren (2771) ½-½, ½-½, ½-½, ½-½ 1-0, 1-0  4-2

Chess.com's Maria Emelianova asked the same six questions to Aronian and Ding after they had just won their quarterfinal matches.

"This was a very special moment for me," said Aronian. "Just a dream." His win in Tbilisi is definitely one of the biggest in his career.

It was all over after what was the shortest possible tiebreak. Despite the four draws in the classical games, Aronian's victory can still be called quite convincing as he won both rapid games today. OK, there was one blunder in the second, but how he continued after that showed his class as well.

Aronian set the basis for his victory with his crushing win in game one, where he managed to surprise his opponent in the opening.

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Aronian got Ding thinking early in the game. | Photo: Anastasiya Karlovich, official website.

However, right after delivering the blow Ne5-g6, and Ding responding with Qf4-d2, something happened.

As it turns out, some loud construction noise could be heard in the playing hall, and on that moment Aronian lost all his focus.

"The first game was kind of not so difficult until the moment where the construction noise started," he said. "Then I lost my concentration and I allowed some unnecessary things because of the noise."

It rarely happens in rapid games, but Aronian even left the playing hall for a moment. "Then I went to the bathroom, washed my face, just relaxed and I think I played a decent game later on," he said. Eleven moves later it was over.

Annotations by GM Dejan Bojkov

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Except for a small moment of lost concentration Aronian was in total control in game one. | Photo: Anastasiya Karlovich, official website.

The second game was kind of an Armageddon game for Aronian, who suddenly had draw odds to win the whole tournament. The nerves started to play a role again.

Ding pushed his g-pawn after castling kingside and then also e3-e4. Aronian routinely took on e4, with the idea to regroup his knight on e8 via c7 to d5 and everything would be all right. But then, to his horror, he noticed that Ne8-c7 failed tactically, and so taking on e4 was bad.

"I thought, oh my God, how can somebody blunder such easy things!" he said. 

Suddenly there were problems to solve. He played 21...Nef6, even though he saw it should lose. "But otherwise I am just gonna die slowly."

Practically it was a good decision. "I managed to confuse my opponent I think. He allowed me to play 26...Rg4 after which I am back on track," he said.

Annotations by GM Dejan Bojkov

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Game two went far from smooth, but a "practical" decision was the right decision for Aronian. | Photo: Anastasiya Karlovich, official website.

Peter Svidler got very close two years ago, but now it is Aronian who has become the first player to win two World Cups. Comparing this one to 2005, he said, "It's a similar feeling because it's a very tough tournament and winning it is very difficult so I'm very happy."

He said he was supporterted by his "wife to be" Arianne [Caoili], his parents, his sister and his team, emphasizing his gratitude to their work and their commitment to his goals.

"Being a family and a team of a chess player can be very tough because we're traveling all the time and then you take a leading role, and somebody has to submit to your needs. I am very grateful that in my life I have exactly the people that are sacrificing their well-being for me. I am very blessed in that context."

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Tension in the press room, with among others Georgian chess stars of the past Nona Gaprindashvili, Nana Alexandria and Maia Chiburdanidze. | Photo: Anastasiya Karlovich, official website.

At the closing ceremony, Ding said he was proud of his result. About his opponent, he graciously said: "I was a little bit upset but now I feel much better because throughout the match Levon Aronian played better than me so he deserved the win."

Aronian returned the favor: "I would like to compliment my opponent in the final. He's a player I could learn a lot from. His resilience, especially in the fourth game, was something very, very impressive. I don't think there are many players of the world elite that can hold that game with that ease."

All that's left for Aronian is three days until his wedding, for which he has little time to prepare ("I'll play blitz!") but surely the future Mrs. Aronian to be will gladly accept this "time trouble" as funds for a nice honeymoon have been secured.

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The World Cup trophy. | Photo Anastasiya Karlovich, official website.

Download all games in PGN

Games from TWIC.

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


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