Not Over Yet: Karjakin Extends World Cup After Svidler Blunder

Not Over Yet: Karjakin Extends World Cup After Svidler Blunder

With qualification for the 2016 Candidates Tournament already secured via their semifinal wins, you might expect the dramatic moments to ebb in the 2015 World Cup finals meeting between GMs Peter Svidler and Sergey Karjakin.

All photos courtesy of FIDE.

Nothing could be further from reality, as for the second game in a row, an egregious oversight cost one finalist the game. This time it was Svidler committing the crime, without which he may have already been boarding a plane home with the cup in hand.

Down 2-0 after being outplayed in game one and blundering in game two, Karjakin had no choice but to try to win as Black, and he did just that!

The third decisive game in as many tries came after the match leader played the Chekhover Variation of the Sicilian Defense. In classical games, it doesn't appear Svidler has played the variation in this millenium!

He last used it in Linares, 1999, losing there too (although his opponent was GM Garry Kasparov). The games differed right away as Kasparov chose the supposed main line with 4...Nc6 but Karjakin kept more pieces on the board with 4...a6, preventing that same knight from being pinned and traded.

GM Peter Svidler is still in the driver's seat, but now he only has one hand on the wheel.

"It was a completely crazy game," Karjakin said at the press conference afterward. "I had to try to win and I went into the most complicated position I could have done."

He explained that after 22. Qc5 he ran the risk of mass exchanges leading to a draw. "But I was trying to create something and I went with this ...Ne5, ...Nd3. I think White is better but the position is complicated."

Four of GM Sergey Karjakin's seven lifetime wins against Svidler have come as Black.

He guessed that Svidler thought White was winning after 28. Rxf2 (which he is not; he must then defend the pawn-down ending after 28...Qh4 29. Qxe8 Qxf2+ and the knight falls on b6).

Instead, after the howler 29. Qd2?? Rxf2 and "it's all over" as Karajkin said.

Annotations by GM Dejan Bojkov:



"I think we are both under a big pressure," Karjakin said. "Also we are tired because it has been a difficult tournament already...I am happy that I am still in the tournament."

The two have now been playing in Baku for more than three weeks. If you're inclined to count who's had more rest days, it's Svidler. He has required tiebreaks three times in the first six rounds, giving him four rest days (there was no play at all for a full day preceeding the semifinals). Karjakin has required four tiebreaks in his six matches, giving him only three rest days.

Svidler and Karjakin will switch sides of the court at least once more.

Sunday they will repeat the same ritual with colors reversed -- Svilder will play for two results; Karjakin only one. Should Karjakin pull out another one, the two will play tiebreaks Monday with no rest day.

Karjakin's tweet is translated by Kenyon College Russian Professor James McGavran as: "The Chinese wise men were right: The temptation to give up will be especially strong just before you win."
That's about as deferential as Karjakin's been to the Chinese lately!
 

2015 World Cup | Round 7 Results

Name Name C1 C2 C3 C4 TB Score
Peter Svidler Sergey Karjakin 1-0  1-0  0-1     2.0-1.0

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