World Cup: Nakamura Wins Armageddon, Nepomniachtchi Appeal Rejected

World Cup: Nakamura Wins Armageddon, Nepomniachtchi Appeal Rejected

| 158 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Ian Nepomniachtchi appealed against GM Hikaru Nakamura's Armageddon victory in today's tiebreak at the FIDE World Cup, but it was rejected. The Russian GM claimed that his opponent had broken “the basic rules.”

In most cases the members of an Appeals Committee don't have anything to do at a tournament. They spend some weeks in a hotel, enjoy the chess and go home with substantial pocket money.

Jorge Vega, the Chairman of the Committee in Baku, receives U.S. $10 000. The two other members, Hesham Mohamed Elgendy and Zurab Azmaiparashvili, receive $14,000 in total.

This time they actually had to work for their money. Ian Nepomniachtchi today filed a written appeal against his loss in the Armageddon game with Hikaru Nakamura.

What happened? After eight games the score was still equal, so an Armageddon was needed. Nakamura won the toss and chose black, needed a draw but won.

But, as it turned out, he had used both hands when he castled on move five.

A screenshot of the official broadcast, which shows Nakamura castling.

Only Russian commentator Sergey Shipov seemed to noticed it. The arbiters (there were several close to the board, as all other matches were finished) did not intervene and Nepomniachtchi did not claim anything and eventually lost the game:

Shortly after his loss, Nepomniachtchi tweeted:

Castling with two hands? Not Nepomniachtchi's cup of tea.

He didn't leave it at that. The 25-year-old Russian GM wrote the following letter of appeal [his English slightly corrected]:

To Appeals Committee

During the tiebreaks blitz and “Armageddon,” my opponent has broken the basic chess rules. Several times he castled using both his hands (see art. 4.1 of the FIDE chess rules: Each move must be made with one hand only). He also touched his pieces many times, and made a move with different ones afterwards (also breaking a basic rule — if you touch, you move).

I ask you to review the result of the tiebreak, e.g. my opponent gets a technical loss, and also a lesson of chess and human culture.


“I did not stop the clock, maybe that was my mistake,” Nepomniachtchi told “But why didn't the arbiters do anything?”

Nepomniachtchi's second Vladimir Potkin, always by “Nepo's” side.

Nepomniachtchi correctly pointed out that Article 4.1 of the FIDE Laws of Chess states:

4.1 Each move must be made with one hand only.

However, the regulations do not exactly specify that the arbiter should intervene, and the exact penalty isn't specified either. A warning would have been the most likely penalty in this case.

“The player should stop the clock if the arbiters don't see it,” was the first comment to by Chief Arbiter Faik Gasanov. “But the arbiters must act.” Asked why all four arbiters (including himself) did not, Gasanov replied: “I don't know... I don't know...”

Nakamura's player's badge.

The Appeals Committee got together and decided to reject the case. They could hardly act differently, taken into account Article 4.8 of the rules:

4.8 A player forfeits his right to claim against his opponent’s violation of Articles 4.1 – 4.7 once the player touches a piece with the intention of moving or capturing it.

While rejecting Nepomniachtchi's appeal, the Committee also warned Nakamura. They had looked at the video, and came to the following verdict:

  1. The committee decided that the result of the match shall stand in favor of Mr. Nakamura.
  2. According to article 4.7 of the FIDE Laws of Chess (A player forfeits his right to a claim against his opponent’s violation of Article 4 once he deliberately touches a piece). So the applicant has no right to ask to change the result of the game.
  3. The committee recommended that the chief arbiter has to give a warning to Mr. Nakamura and assure him to follow the article 4 of FIDE Laws of Chess (4.1 using one hand to do all his moves in all games and not to touch a piece to adjust it without informing his opponent or the arbiter or he will be forced to move the piece he touches without such necessary notification).
  4. The committee decided to return back the appeal fees (US $500) to Mr. Ian Nepomniachtchi and to assure him that in such cases he has to stop the clock at once and inform the chief arbiter to apply the Article 4 before he himself touches one of his own pieces and of course not after the game.

The tiebreak had started well for the American, who profited from a huge blunder by his opponent in the first 10+10 game (the two rapids had ended in draws). Nakamura could decide matters in the very next game, where he reached a winning position.

However, just when it looked like he could resign, Nepomniachtchi found a devilish defensive move that won on the spot:

A pic of the first rapid game of what would become the longest tiebreak match of the day.

Nepomniachtchi then also won the next game. In an ending where he was an exchange up for a pawn, Nakamura misplayed it, lost one pawn after another and then the game itself.

But he won the last regular blitz game on demand to secure the Armageddon:

After the game Nakamura posted on Facebook:

Through to round 4 of the Fide World Cup. Coming into this event, I felt that Grischuk and Nepomniachtchi were the two...

Posted by Hikaru Nakamura on Saturday, September 19, 2015

(Just to be sure: Nakamura was obviously referring to the players here at the World Cup.)

Nakamura reaches the 1/8 finals after a long day.

Nakamura's opponent in the next round is Michael Adams. The English GM did not have to play an Armageddon (like in round two), but it was close.

The rapid and 10+10 games ended in draws. Then, in the first 5+3 game he ended up a full exchange down, managed to hold on by controlling all the entry squares and even won:

Also in the next game Dominguez would eventually lose on time in a lost position.

Michael Adams does well in yet another knockout tournament.

Amongst all the drama drama, Peter Svidler reached the 1/8 finals rather smoothly — or so it seemed. After holding the draw with Black, he felt he played a great game as White where he left Teimour Radjabov no chance.

To his horror, at his computer screen he discovered that he had made a big mistake which went unpunished:

Svidler showed some self-mockery after the game when he mentioned to “the importance of looking convinced in your actions.” He added: “Of course it helped that he had seconds left. But I wasn't bluffing. I was sure it worked.”

Svidler, who is now the last remaining former World Cup winner, felt that he played well in both games. “But it does spoil it quite a bit.”

Except for one move, Peter Svidler played well in the tiebreak.

2013 winner Vladimir Kramnik did not survive his third round. Whereas he beat Dmitry Andreikin in the final two years ago, it didn't work out this time for the 14th world champion.

It was especially tough for Kramnik because he was completely winning in the first rapid game. Andreikin blundered a full exchange and soon lost a pawn as well, but Kramnik's nerves got the better of him:

That was a game Kramnik should have won.

In the second rapid game Andreikin used an interesting idea in the Scotch: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.Qe2!?. Kramnik didn't respond well, and his play was refuted beautifully. Andreikin quickly reached a winning ending:

Andreikin gets his revenge for the lost 2013 final.

Just like in Tromsø, Andreikin's opponent in round four is Sergey Karjakin. “At the last World Cup I managed to beat him in the tiebreak,” Andreikin said to “But now he is in good shape. Let's not predict, we will see.” 

Veselin Topalov only need two rapid games to eliminate Lu Shanglei. The Bulgarian, who is the top seed in Baku, outplayed his opponent in the first game (another Dragon) and forced resignation on move 26.

The Chinese player fought like a lion in the next, but all he got was an ending RN vs BN which Topalov held without problems:

Veselin Topalov puts an end to Lu Shanglei's dream.
The Chinese is likely to get more opportunities.

“I never imagined I would qualify for the fourth round!” said Topalov to

The match between Wesley So and Le Quang Liem seemed destined to become a long one. They were both in good shape, and the two classical games had ended in correct draws. However, after a draw in the first rapid game, Le suddenly collapsed in the second:

Wesley So found a mating net and it was suddenly over!

“It was a very tough match,” So told “I expected the last game to draw, but he blundered in the end. He started using up a lot of time; I am not sure why.”

The last match not mentioned yet is Evgeny Tomashevsky vs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. They started with two draws in the rapid segment, but then the Frenchman won both 10+10 games. Here's the first:

Tomashevsky reached the semifinals two years ago, but now he's out.

2015 World Cup | Round 3 Tiebreak Results

Name G1 G2 R1 R2 R1 R2 B1 B2 SD Total
Veselin Topalov 1/2 1/2 1 1/2 2.5
Shanglei Lu 1/2 1/2 0 1/2 1.5
Peter Svidler 1/2 1/2 1/2 1 2.5
Teimour Radjabov 1/2 1/2 1/2 0 1.5
Wesley So 1/2 1/2 1/2 1 2.5
Le Quang Liem 1/2 1/2 1/2 0 1.5
Evgeny Tomashevsky 1/2 1/2 1/2 1/2 0 0 2
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 1/2 1/2 1/2 1/2 1 1 4
Hikaru Nakamura 1/2 1/2 1/2 1/2 1 0 0 1 1 5
Ian Nepomniachtchi 1/2 1/2 1/2 1/2 0 1 1 0 0 4
Michael Adams 1/2 1/2 1/2 1/2 1/2 1/2 1 1 5
Leiner Dominguez Perez 1/2 1/2 1/2 1/2 1/2 1/2 0 0 3
Vladimir Kramnik 1/2 1/2 1/2 0 1.5
Dmitry Andreikin 1/2 1/2 1/2 1 2.5


2015 World Cup | Round 4 Pairings

Left Half Right Half
Topalov vs Svidler Nakamura vs Adams
Ding Liren vs Wei Yi Eljanov vs Jakovenko
Giri vs Wojtaszek Caruana vs Mamedyarov
So vs Vachier-Lagrave Andreikin vs 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.

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