Pavel 'Elojanov' Beats Nakamura In 1st Game World Cup Quarterfinals

Pavel 'Elojanov' Beats Nakamura In 1st Game World Cup Quarterfinals

| 50 | Chess Event Coverage

Pavel Eljanov seems unstoppable at the FIDE World Cup. The 32-year-old Ukrainian grandmaster beat U.S. #1 Hikaru Nakamura today and has won a staggering 33 Elo points so far.

Anatoly Karpov often won in such a way that his opponents had no idea where they went wrong.

Pavel Eljanov's win over Hikaru Nakamura was something like that, with the difference that even the Ukrainian wasn't exactly sure what his opponent's decisive mistake was.

Eljanov got a slight edge out of the opening, an Open Catalan. At his press conference he expressed his doubts about (the novelty) 15...Bh7. “Taking on f3 could be critical.”

That was the approach of Michael Adams, who took on f3 in a similar position in the last round of this year's Biel tournament against Eljanov. The Englishman won that game.

Eljanov felt that, after the queens went off, it should be a “technical win” so perhaps we know where Nakamura went wrong after all? Was 19...Na6 really losing already?

According to GM Dejan Bojkov the problems for Nakamura started later. His annotations:

Yet another impressive win by Eljanov!

Eljanov started with six straight wins in his classical games, then drew twice with Jakovenko and now added another win. This amazing score of 8.0/9 netted him 33.1 Elo points. He has 2750.1 now in the live ratings and is the world #15.

Man in black: the new #15 in the world.

Another thing to mention is that after eliminating Jakovenko from the World Cup, Eljanov will also keep the Russian out of the Candidates if he beats Nakamura. Jakovenko would be a qualifier via the Grand Prix if Caruana or Nakamura had reached the final.

In other words: the American fans and at least one Russian player will be rooting for Nakamura tomorrow.

Can Nakamura keep his and Jakovenko's dream alive?

The other three games ended in draws. Two finished rather quickly, while the third was a fantastic fight that ended after five hours and 15 minutes — undecided, to the disappointment of the local fans.

Only Hou Yifan drew him as Black, but Shakhriyar Mamedyarov started his three other matches with a win as White: versus Pouya Idani, S.P. Sethuraman and Fabiano Caruana. Sergey Karjakin was almost added to that list.

Mamedyarov strolling through the playing hall before the game. The one who
decided on that tagline certainly didn't “take” the language peak.

In the opening, a Nimzo-Indian, he created and solved the famous “which rook problem:” instead of playing Rf1-e1, he went Ra1-a2-e2! Karjakin figured that this rook on e2 allowed him to put his knight on e4, but then Mamedyarov played an interesting exchange sacrifice.

With precise moves Karjakin held the balance, but he spent a lot of time on the clock. Four moves before the time control the Russian player erred, and Mamedyarov won two minor pieces for a rook. Whether it was really won is hard to say, but it was close.

That was close! Splendid defense by Karjakin saved the day for him.

The other two games finished around the same time. The shortest was Peter Svidler vs Wei Yi, who reached a rather typical Isolated Queen's Pawn position from a Symmetrical English.

Black was a bit passive, and it seemed that White still had an edge after taking on d5, which transformed the structure back to a symmetrical one. However, when Wei Yi started repeating moves, Svidler decided that avoiding it would be too risky.


A draw in the first game of this small Blue Men Group.

Anish Giri managed to surprise Maxime Vachier-Lagrave by playing the Petroff; the Frenchman had expected the Najdorf. “I guess I should have expected the most unexpected, but that's not so easy!” he told

After thinking fo a minute he decided to go for the current main line: 3.Nxe5 and 5.Nc3. Giri turned out to be very well prepared, and we know he is solid. You can do the math.


Anish Giri plays 2...Nf6.

This means that tomorrow there is one player who needs a win to stay in the World Cup: Hikaru Nakamura. The starting move that scores best against Eljanov according to the database is 1.Nf3. Who knows what the American will be cooking in his laboratory as we speak.

2015 World Cup | Round 5 Results

# Name Name C1 C2 TB Score
1 Svidler, Peter Wei Yi 1/2     0.5-0.5
2 Pavel Eljanov Hikaru Nakamura 1-0     1.0-0.0
3 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar Sergey Karjakin 1/2     0.5-0.5
4 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave Anish Giri 1/2     0.5-0.5

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