World Cup Shock: Carlsen, Kramnik, Nakamura Out

World Cup Shock: Carlsen, Kramnik, Nakamura Out

| 187 | Chess Event Coverage

A huge shock was felt at the FIDE World Cup today as some of the biggest names in the tournament got knocked out: Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik and Hikaru Nakamura.

Carlsen couldn't beat Bu, and is packing his bags. | Photo: Emelianova.

The other players leaving the World Cup after today are Alexander Onischuk, Vladislav Artemiev, Paco Vallejo and Yuryi Kuzubov. Anton Kovalyov had already left Tbilisi yesterday.

Bu Xiangzhi, Peter Svidler, Vassily Ivanchuk, Daniil Dubov, Wesley So, Vladimir Fedoseev, Maxim Rodshtein and Wang Hao have advanced to the fourth round without needing a tiebreak.

One player who lost yesterday levelled the score: Maxim Matlakov, vs Levon Aronian. Of the 16 matches in this round, eight went into tiebreaks.

2017 World Cup | Round 3 Results

Fed Player Fed Player Classical Rapid Blitz Score
Carlsen (2827) Bu Xiangzhi (2714) 0-1, ½-½ ½-1½
Onischuk (2682) Svidler (2756) ½-½, 0-1 ½-1½
Lenderman (2565) Vachier-Lagrave (2804) ½-½, ½-½ 1-1
Grischuk (2788) Navara (2720) ½-½, ½-½ 1-1
Ivanchuk (2727) Kramnik (2803) ½-½, 1-0 1½-½
Giri (2777) Sethuraman (2617) ½-½,½-½ 1-1
Aronian (2802) Matlakov (2728) 1-0, 0-1 1-1
Artemiev (2692) Dubov (2666) ½-½, 0-1 ½-1½
Vallejo (2717) So (2792) 0-1, ½-½ ½-1½
Nepomniachtchi (2741) Jobava (2702) ½-½, ½-½ 1-1
Nakamura (2781) Fedoseev (2731) ½-½, 0-1 1-1
Rodshtein (2695) Kovalyov (2649) 1-0, 1-0* 2-0
Caruana (2799) Najer (2694) ½-½, ½-½ 1-1
Li Chao (2745) Rapport (2675) ½-½, ½-½ 1-1
Wang Hao (2701) Kuzubov (2688) ½-½, 1-0 1½-½
Ding Liren (2771) Vidit (2702) ½-½, ½-½ 1-1

"Then he raised a cry throughout the city, and as they heard it the mighty Laestrygonians came thronging from all sides, a host past counting, not like men but like the Giants. They hurled at us from the cliffs with rocks huge as a man could lift, and at once there rose throughout the ships a dreadful din, alike from men that were dying and from ships that were being crushed. And spearing them like fishes they bore them home, a loathly meal. Now while they were slaying those within the deep harbor, I meanwhile drew my sharp sword from beside my thigh, and cut therewith the cables of my dark-prowed ship; and quickly calling to my comrades bade them fall to their oars, that we might escape from out our evil plight. And they all tossed the sea with their oar-blades in fear of death, and joyfully seaward, away from the beetling cliffs, my ship sped on; but all those other ships were lost together there." (Homer, Odyssey, 10.120-10.134)

Anish Giri died a thousand deaths today. Several times he was about to resign his game with S.P. Sethuraman, and say goodbye to the World Cup. He had already worked out the first thing he would do: go to the room of his second GM Erwin l'Ami—not his own, where wife and son were waiting—and kick Erwin out.

"I wanted to be alone," said Giri.


S.P. Sethuraman eliminated Harikrishna and got very close to eliminating Giri. | Photo: Emelianova.

But the Dutchman did not resign. He sailed his ship through all the dangers, missed a forced draw along the way, sailed further, and a bit further than necessary with his safe haven already in sight, but made it in the end.

"I messed up in the opening," said Giri. He had also missed 24.Rg3 and 25.Rxg6, but by then he didn't have faith in his position anyway. From that moment it was survival mode for the Dutchman. Because of all the turmoil he completely missed a queen trade on move 64, but he got the needed draw a bit later anyway.


Anish "Odysseus" Giri while "messing up the opening." | Photo: Emelianova.

Tomorrow Giri and Sethuraman will play a tiebreak for a match in round four against Vassily Ivanchuk, who defeated Vladimir Kramnik with the black pieces today. Kramnik, who won the World Cup in 2013 in Tromsø (beating Ivanchuk 1.5-0.5 along the way!) couldn't cope with the unpredictable Ukrainian this time.

"He played in a very aggressive way with 13.h4 and 14.c4," said Ivanchuk. "It gave me some counterplay, but the position was very complicated. I don't know where he made a mistake, or where I made a mistake. It was a big fight."


Kramnik played aggressively, but Ivanchuk found a good response. | Photo: Emelianova.

Ivanchuk suggested an alternative for his opponent on move 21, because it was there that Kramnik had sacrificed a pawn which he would never see back. The winner wasn't sure from which point he was winning.


The old rule still applies for The Mighthy Chuky: on a good day he can beat anyone, with either color. | Photo: Emelianova.


Kramnik offering his hand. After signing the score sheets, Kramnik shook hands with Ivanchuk again, showing even more respect and perhaps wishing him good luck in the remainder. | Photo: Emelianova.'s interview with Ivanchuk.

He might be the best player in the world, but beating an in-form Bu Xiangzhi with the black pieces turned out to be a mission impossible. Magnus Carlsen could not level the score today, had to settle for a draw and is out of the World Cup.


Ironically, he had stated before the tournament that he likes the fact that it's a mixture of classical, rapid and blitz. Carlsen never got to play rapid or blitz. | Photo: Emelianova.

The world champion spent almost two minutes on his second move. How to deal with the ultra-solid 1.Nf3 e6 2.c4 if you need to win? Most players have trouble drawing this against this system.

Well, Carlsen equalized quickly in a Semi-Slav but not more than that. Bu's control of the d-file and the seventh rank meant control of the game. An impressive small match victory for the Chinese player, who is the first to beat Carlsen in a "match" since Gata Kamsky in 2007. That was also in a World Cup.


Carlsen agrees to a draw, and is out. | Photo: Emelianova.

Another unexpected result today was Hikaru Nakamura's loss and early exit from the World Cup. Unexpected to everyone but Vladimir Fedoseev: "It's not a big surprise. This year I play fantastic chess!"

The American grandmaster "forgot his analysis in the opening probably," according to Fedoseev, who had surprised his opponent with the Four Knights—something he never plays.

"It was hard for him to remember, and he decided to play some dynamic option but I was simply prepared better and he got a very bad position," said Fedoseev. His trainer Alexander Khalifman, who famously won the FIDE Knockout World Championship in 1999 in Las Vegas, joined him today and can surely give him plenty of advice.

The elimination must have been a bitter pill for Nakamura, who spent 13 minutes mostly looking at his score sheet before resigning.



Nakamura took some time to think things over... | Photo: Emelianova.


...before resigning his game... | Photo: Emelianova.


...and exchanging some smiles and some variations. | Photo: Emelianova.'s interview with Fedoseev.

Today's losses of the top guys has a few consequences. For starters, there won't be a match for third and fourth place, now that both Carlsen and Karjakin are out. Besides, the fight for the Candidates' remains a thrilling affair since So today took over Kramnik's place in the average ratings.

It would be very welcome for Kramnik if Caruana or So would reach the final (both is not possible), so that they don't take a rating spot. Alternatively, they can be successful in the tournament in tiebreaks, as long as they'll lose some classical Elo!

Speaking of losing classical rating points... At the moment the live ratings can be called the "Tbilisi Massacre," with the top 13 players in the world all losing rating. And there is only one player above 2800 now. per 10 September 2017, 18:42 GMT


One man's loss is another man's gain. The more top guns are knocked out of the World Cup, the stronger the Isle of Man Tournament will be. For instance, Kramnik, Anand, Nakamura, Adams, Gelfand, Eljanov, Vallejo, Howell are all on the list, and can play now.

Especially after playing such a good game yesterday, everyone expected Levon Aronian to advance to the next round today. But perhaps it was the quality of that game why Maxim Matlakov could live with it: "Yesterday Levon played brilliantly. At one point I thought my position was good but move by move [he] outplayed me, on both flanks."


Matlakov needed to win, and he did. | Photo: Emelianova.

Today Matlakov played a topical line (7.Rb1) against the Semi-Tarrasch which he had also played in a game with Shimanov recently. Besides, his good friend Svidler used it to beat Hou Yifan at the Geneva Grand Prix.

"I know that after some strong moves the position should be good for Black," said Matlakov, who probably meant to say OK for Black there. "Levon of course knows these moves so after 11.a4 [cxd4 12.cxd4] 12...Bd7 I have to sacrifice my pawn and after 15...exd5 16.exd5 Bb5 it should be a draw but maybe Levon wanted to beat me twice."


Aronian has to play more chess tomorrow in his battle with Matlakov. | Photo: Emelianova.

On what was a good day for the new generation of Russian chess, two exponents were paired against each other: Danill Dubov vs Vladislav Artemiev. After their draw in the first game anything could happen, because the board caught fire right in the opening.

It was Dubov's stunning novelty 13.Bb5, reminiscent of the Gothenburg Variation, that made this Najdorf with opposite-castling an edge-of-your-seat affair. Computers want to take the bishop immediately; Artemiev waited a few moves.

One critical moment was move 20, when Dubov refrained from taking on e8 and g4 which is close to equal. His statement after the game explained it all: "Basically my strategy for this match and for this tournament is gambling. He is an extremely talented player. You could see what he did to Radjabov. His technique is kind of perfect. I thought I need to create some extremely complicated positions, maybe even worse positions, to make him feel uncomfortable."


Daniil Dubov decided to gamble, and not only today. | Photo: Emelianova.

And it definitely got complicated. For quite some time Artemiev found his way through the myriad of possibilities, and was much better, but in time trouble he let it all slip away. Dubov: "Obviously I got lucky very much."


Artemiev spoilt a big advantage and even lost. | Photo: Emelianova.

Two more players qualified today, winning their second game after a draw yesterday. First, there was Peter Svidler slowly outplaying Alexander Onischuk. The early endgame had queens and two knights for both, and a remarkable pawn structure: a doubled e-pawn for both sides. But by this time Svidler already had a big advantage.


Peter Svidler, still in contention for winning a second World Cup. | Photo: Emelianova.

Without getting much attention from the media, Wang Hao quietly advanced as well. The Chinese grandmaster, who knocked out Boris Gelfand in the previous round, defeated Yuryi Kuzubov after the latter made a remarkable decision on move 26: The Ukrainian player gave up a bishop for three pawns

It seemed quite interesting as White was left with a pawn phalanx a2-b3-c4-d3-e4, which included two passers. However, Kuzubov might have underestimated Black's control over the dark squares. His pawns would hardly move for the rest of the game while Wang's extra piece did make a difference.


Wang Hao is also through to the next round  where he'll play the winner of Ding vs Vidit. | Photo: Emelianova.


Maxim Rodshtein signs his score sheet without making a move and wins 2-0. | Photo: Emelianova.


At some point during the round world champions Carlsen and Kramnik, who spent some time outside, were locked out. Meanwhile their door to the World Cup is firmly closed. | Photo: Emelianova.


A young spectator enjoying the chess today. | Photo: Emelianova.


Ivanchuk almost looks like James Bond in this selfie, doesn't he? | Photo: Emelianova.

Games from TWIC.

The World Cup takes place September 3-27 in Tbilisi, Georgia. Each round consists of two classical games (four in the final), and possibly a rapid and blitz tiebreak on the third day. The total prize fund is $1.6 million, including a first prize of $120,000. The top two finishers will qualify for the 2018 Candidates' Tournament. relays the games at You can watch also live commentary on provided by the Chessbrahs, which includes some of the best commentators on the planet: GM Eric Hansen, GM Robin van Kampen, GM Yasser Seirawan and IM Aman Hambleton.

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