Mamedyarov, Nakamura, Svidler, Vachier-Lagrave Reach Quarterfinals

Mamedyarov, Nakamura, Svidler, Vachier-Lagrave Reach Quarterfinals

| 25 | Chess Event Coverage

Today four players reached the quarterfinals of the FIDE World CupShakhriyar Mamedyarov, Hikaru NakamuraPeter Svidler and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

They eliminated Fabiano Caruana, Michael AdamsVeselin Topalov and Wesley So respectively.

On Monday there were only a few spectators in the playing hall, but Shakhriyar Mamedyarov's biggest fan was there, as he is every day: his father.

He, and the Baku organizers, are obviously dreaming about crowning “Mamedyarov junior” on October 5, and that dream is still alive. The Azeri GM qualified for the fifth round today by holding Fabiano Caruana to a draw.

After his crushing win in the first game he needed to draw as Black, so one would expect something solid: a Berlin, or even the Petroff. Instead, Mamedyarov chose the Open Ruy Lopez, an opening he used to play when he was younger.

Right after the opening it seemed that this choice had been too risky. Caruana had analyzed his game with Giri from Norway Chess, deviated and got an advantage. However, he failed to find the most dangerous moves when it mattered.

“Yesterday he played for attack and should have played positional; today he had to play for attack and yesterday for positional!” said Mamedyarov to


Mamedyarov survives and lives another round.

Peter Svidler kept his own dream alive: to become the first player ever to win the World Cup twice.

[Update: Viswanathan Anand won the FIDE World Cup both in Shenyang 2000 and Hyderabad 2002.] 

And for someone who has won the Russian championship seven times (and many more successes), that might not be so unrealistic.

Like Mamedyarov he needed a draw as Black, and he also played the Ruy Lopez — but the more solid Closed Ruy Lopez of course. In what was another complicated game, Topalov gained the advantage according to the computer.

Over the board it wasn't easy to get anything tangible, and when the time control was reached the Bulgarian still had a tough task ahead of him. But then he suddenly made two bad moves in a row (spending six and four minutes on them!) and basically could resign right there.

The top seed had completely missed that Black could put his queen on e1, and decided to offer a draw. Svidler accepted, and went through.

 “I don't care about the five ratings points,” said Svidler to “These points aren't getting me into the Candidates. Only if I had seen that it was totally winning I would have played on.”


Svidler hides his face at the start, but the game would end with
a remarkable example of chess blindness for Topalov.

The next to qualify was Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The Frenchman could hardly believe it, as he wasn't happy with his play in this game.

And indeed, it was Wesley So who was calling the shots out of the opening, a Symmetrical English. By move 17 the queens were traded and White was left with two isolated pawns against a doubled pawn and an IQP for Black.

The pressure on the b-file and his control over the d4-square gave White the advantage, but So suddenly missed a tactic that got him into big trouble. He ended up a piece down for two pawns: R + 4 vs RN + 2 on one wing.

In practice this endgame usually ends in a draw (examples are Hübner-Karpov, Belfort 1988, Salov-Piket, Amsterdam 1996, Van Wely-Carlsen, Schagen 2006 and Wang Hao-Shirov, Wijk aan Zee 2011), but So failed. Three top-10 players got ousted on one day.


So won the 2014 Millionaire Chess tournament, but he is out of this knockout.

This means that there's only one American player left in the World Cup: Hikaru Nakamura. While he went all the way to the Armageddon against Nepomniachtchi, he only needed two classical games against Michael Adams.

Nakamura won the first, and drew the second today, using the Berlin. The players followed one of the games between Carlsen and Anand from their 2014 world championship match, where Adams worked as a second. But like in that game, Black held the draw easily:


The penultimate handshake Mickey Adams would make at the World Cup.

Here's our interview with Nakamura, in which he looks back at round four and also comments on the Nepomniachtchi-Armageddon-appeal story:

Here's a nice anecdote he posted on his Facebook page:


Another match is in the books, as I found a way to defeat the long time British #1, Michael Adams in the 4th round of...

Posted by Hikaru Nakamura on Monday, September 21, 2015

We've dealt with the four players who qualified, and the four who go home — their prize is U.S. $20,000 (€17,870).

So... what about Wei Yi? Well, the 16-year-old Chinese player was the only one to win on demand!

In yet another fascinating game, Wei defeated his compatriot Ding Liren — but not just like that. From a Ruy Lopez he kept a small edge and eventually won a pawn, but most experts believed that it wasn't enough to win the game.

Somehow Wei managed to make progress. He reach a winning rook endgame, but missed one or two clear-cut wins and decided to go for a Q vs R+p endgame. Ding's pawn was one square from promotion, and according to the tablebase it's a draw, but Wei did win it:

Annotations by GM Dejan Bojkov


Who isn't looking forward to the tiebreak between these two great fighters?

Anish Giri got under some slight pressure against Radek Wojtaszek in a Slav, but around move 25 it was more or less equal. The Polish offered a draw “in a clumsy way,” as Giri put it, because the move 24.Qc3 lost some tempi.

The Dutchman saw a juicy square on b4 and decided to play on a bit, but then offered a draw himself on move 33. Right after the game Giri pointed out that he would have a fortress after a tactical sequence; this long line is included in the game annotations:


Today Giri taught the chess world that a draw offer can be “clumsy.” Laughing

Not only has Pavel Eljanov played himself into the world's top 20 in this World Cup, he is also back to being the highest-rated Ukrainian player. However, whether he will stay in the World Cup will become clear tomorrow.

His second game with Dmitry Jakovenko also ended in a draw. In a well-known line of the Closed Catalan, White's only achievement was the bishop pair. Black was too solid, and Eljanov stopped his attempts at move 60:


Jakovenko concentrated enough for a solid draw.

The shortest draw was again played in the all-Russian match between Sergey Karjakin and Dmitry Andreikin. These two need to decide the matter in the tiebreak, just like two years ago. Back then Andreikin won.

Will Karjakin get his revenge, like Andreikin got against Kramnik?


2015 World Cup | Round 4 Results

  Left Half       Right Half  
Svidler 1-0, 1/2 Topalov   Nakamura 1-0, 1/2 Adams
Ding Liren 1-0, 0-1 Wei Yi   Eljanov 1/2, 1/2 Jakovenko
Giri 1/2, 1/2 Wojtaszek   Mamedyarov 1-0, 1/2 Caruana
So 1/2, 0-1 Vachier-Lagrave   Andreikin 1/2, 1/2 Karjakin

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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