2015 World Chess Cup: FINALS

2015 World Chess Cup
September 10th-October 4th, 2015 (Baku, Azerbaijan)
Match Scores (FINALS)
1 Karjakin, S
Svidler, P
Drum Coverage
| Round 1 | Round 2 | Round 3 | Round 4 | Round 5 |
| Semifinals | Finals |

Official Website: https://www.bakuworldcup2015.com/
All PGN Games (TWIC): https://www.theweekinchess.com/
Rules and Regulations: https://www.fide.com


  1. Finals – Game #1
    Thursday, 1 October 2015

    Svidler keeps winning… runs over Karjakin!

    Sergey Karjakin falls behind again.
    Photo by FIDE.

    What’s more amazing than Peter Svidler winning is that fact that Sergey Karjakin is playing in the final. The Ukrainian-Russian has not played particularly solid in the last couple of rounds and was close to being ousted by Pavel Eljanov on a couple of occasions. This time his lackluster play was punished in 29 moves.

    A key position… Svidler’s 16.d4 gave white favorable complications.

    Appropriately, Svidler used Eljanov’s of 1.Nf3, who used it effectively against Karjakin. Instead of a Reti or an English, it turned into a type of King’s Indian Attack… only the center was wide open after 9.exd5!? Given that unique character of the position, black misjudged the position and after 13.Bg!? f6 14.Bd2 e5 15.Rc1! Rf7 black’s queenside is already under pressure.

    Ultimately, white’s 16.d4! amplified black’s problems and 20.Qb3 Rb8 21.Rb1 Qd7 22.Rec1! black’s game was on edge. In a mode of panic 22…Qe6? lost immediately to 23.Nc5! and after a couple of spite checks, Karjakin resigned. Karjakin has not impressed in the last two matches, but he has qualified for the Candidates which was the ultimate goal. There are three more games in this mini-match, but things look very grim for Karjakin.

    Peter Svidler analyzing his game versus Sergey Karjakin

    Video by chess24.com.

    Replay of Final, Game #1

    Video by chess24.com.

  2. Finals – Game #2
    Friday, 2 October 2015

    Karjakin blunders… now at the brink

    Karjakin and Svidler in post-mortem analysis.
    Photo by FIDE.

    The World Cup took a drastic turn when Peter Svidler capitalized on two consecutive blunders by Sergey Karjakin. Just when it seemed that the game was headed for a draw, Karjakin uncorked two gross blunders ending the game abruptly. Svidler is now up 2-0, an almost insurmountable lead since only a draw is needed to clinch the match. While Karjakin has advanced to the Candidates tournament, he has been in bad form the last two opponents. However, he will have enough time to recover before the tournament in March. Svidler on the other hand has been solid and has taken what his opponents have given him. He cited his match with Wei Yi as the toughest. Svidler was unable to explain the blunder of Karjakin, but agreed that perhaps he was fortuitous in winning the game.

    Analysis of Karjakin-Svidler

    Video by GM Daniel King.

    Replay of Final, Game #2

    Video by chess24.com.

  3. Finals – Game #3
    Saturcday, 3 October 2015

    Svidler returns favor…blunders in winning position… Karjakin cuts lead!

    Peter Svidler is on the verge of winning the World cup and decided to sidestep mainlines with a line that does not received much action in the top level of chess. Commentators were shocked when Svidler threw 4.Qxd4!? on the board, but it is a line that bears little risk for white.

    Peter Svidler had a huge letdown in game three. Photo by FIDE.

    There are a number of main lines stemming from 4…Nc6 5.Bb5 Bd7 6.Bxc6 Bxc6 but the game went into a type of Maroczy Bind after 4…a6 5.c4 Nc6 6.Qe3!? (6.Qd2!? is common). Sergey Karjakin opted for a dynamic position with a a Dragon bishop, but in the middlegame unfurled the combative 13…f5!? While black had some play, his position did not offer him any initiative. In fact white was never in danger.

    In a moment of opportunity, Karjakin played 25…Nxf2? A bad move, but may have invoked a bit of panic and Svidler collapsed in two moves after 26.Rf1 Qe4 27.Rbe1 exd5. Now the evaluation was +3.20 with 28.Qc3, but he opted for the gross 28.Rxf2?? and resigned after 28…Qh4 29.Qd2?? (29.Qxe8 is good for a draw) losing a rook. With his head in his hands, Svidler bolted back to the board, sat down and resigned before Karjakin could play the winning move. Yikes!

    Analysis of Svidler-Karjakin

    Video by GM Daniel King.

    Replay of Final, Game #3

    Video by chess24.com.

  4. Finals – Game #4
    Sunday, 4 October 2015

    Karjakin roars back from 0-2… forces playoff tiebreaks!

    After resigning, Svidler (far left) may be wondering “What is going on??”
    Photo by FIDE.

    Certainly… fatigue has officially set in the finals of the 2015 World Cup as the match is now tied after both players have traded blunders in the match. The games have been of an uncharacteristic nature given the tension of the moment. Both players have qualified for the Candidates, but there is an extra US$40,000 on the line… US$120,000 for the winner and US$80,000 for the runner up.

    After Peter Svidler’s tragic loss yesterday, he still had a good opportunity to clinch the match with a draw. Perhaps there was a bit of a shock when Sergey Karjakin traded queens in the opening and went into the middlegame with a slight advantage. It would be difficult to squeeze the position against a quality opponent, but maybe Karjakin has spotted a weakness. After 13.Nd6+! white saddled black with an isolated d-pawn and bore in on the d5-square. These types of positions are very difficult to defend for black, but there was no reason to believe that the 7-time Russian champion would not hold it.

    Karjakin’s 37.Kd4 muscled more space from black.

    Things must be bad if you have to fianchetto your rook. After Svidler’s 17… Bg7 18.Bxg7 Rxg7 (ugh!) Karjakin played 19.Bb5! and continued his work on the light squares. Black’s rook would become the bane of his position remaining in a defensive stance. Fast forward to 37.Kd4 It is clear that white has a large advantage in space. In addition, Svidler nerves are completely shattered at this point. It was actually 44.Kd4! that showed the critical nature of black’s position.

    As play continued, it was clear that he was not only trying to salvage a draw and the match, but was seeking to avoid the tiebreak which would find the momentum swinging in Karjakin’s favor. However, the house of cards fell on black’s position. Black dropped a kingside pawn, the white king and rook were dominating the black king and the passed g-pawn was sprinting toward the queening square. Too much.

    Replay of Final, Game #4

    Video by chess24.com.

  5. Finals – Tiebreaks
    Monday, 5 October 2015

    Karjakin wins 2015 World Chess Cup!

    It was a tortuous path, but Karjakin would be reward in the end.
    Photo by FIDE.

    Sergey Karjakin wins the 2015 World Chess Cup, but not before a thrilling tiebreak match of twists and turns. However, this tiebreak session explains clearly why the knockout format is inappropriate to determine the world championship title. Imagine… the world’s highest chess title decided by a comedy of errors (including Svidler’s dropped rook)?? World Champion Magnus Carlsen had not promoted many new ideas since becoming world champion, but one idea he had was to use the knock-out format for the title. Carlsen opined:

    I have long thought that moving to an annual knock-out event, similar to the World Cup, would be more equitable. This change would in effect improve the odds of becoming World Champion for nearly every chess player, with the exception of the reigning World Champion, and potentially a few other top players who would no longer be favoured by the current format.

    What a horrible idea! The 2015 World Chess Cup should put an end to this debate for awhile. This tournament demonstrated the reasons why… short matches, inevitable fatigue and poor quality of games unbefitting of world champion are main reasons.

    An absolutely forgettable chess experience for Peter Svidler.
    Photo by FIDE.

    One things for sure is that Karjakin was dressed for the moment as he headed in to the tiebreaks after staging a miraculous comeback. His composure was more evident in handling the time pressure in the tiebreak matches. Svidler on the other hand, had poor composure and had a “double match point” only to lose two games in a row! After losing two classical games, he came to the board and promptly dropped the first tiebreak game when he simply lost in a completely drawn position.

    Rapid Game #1 (25+10)

    White’s king literally took a roundabout path to victory.

    Karjakin marched his king from 56.Kg5 and finally to 85.Kf6. No… not Kg5-f6 in one move, but g5-f4-e3-d2-c2-d3-c2-b2-a3-b4-a5-a6-a7-b8-c8-d8-e7-f6 and after 85.Kxg6, black resigned!! It is funny that the white king played 56.Kg5 to pressure g6, but had to take a circuitous path to finally collect. As the saying goes, if you want something done, do it yourself! To be fair, Svidler could have draw rather effortlessly as GM Alejandro Ramirez points out in his notes. This was the third loss in a row for Svidler.

    Rapid Game #2 (25+10)

    Forced in a must-win situation, Svidler essayed the King’s Indian Attack and got a strong initiative on the queenside. The game ultimately ended with white tying down black’s defenses and attacking a pinned bishop. This forced black to donate an exchange and Svidler wrapped up the point to force two 10+10 games.

    Rapid Game #3 (10+10)

    In this game, Karjakin played badly with the white pieces allowing black to equalize easily. White pieces were caught flat-footed and a huddled mess on the first two ranks. Under several constriction, white blundered with 23.Rxc4?? losing a piece after 23…Rxd2! Svidler had pulled again at 4-3! Wow. The commentators started analyzing the games as if two 1500 ELO players were playing and wondering when the players would hang a piece next. Fatigue had won the battle.

    Rapid Game #4 (10+10)

    Again… all Svidler needed was a draw to clinch the match. This would be the third time he had “draw odds” but he had not had much success with securing a draw with white. The notion of white-black colors means little in these fast time controls. In this Rossolimo, white got a Maroczy Bind setup again, but overextended his queenside play. Black looked for weaknesses, a well-known motif in Sicilian play. Svidler’s a4-b5-c4 structure collapsed and forced him to donate one pawn after 17…Nxa4 and then another with 24.Nxd5. With no compensation, Karjakin had pulled even again!

    Blitz Game #1 (5+3)

    Peter Svidler had many chances to win… and just as many face palms.

    This game will be the target of criticism for a long time. This theoretical Marshall Gambit was exactly what Svidler needed and it worked like a charm. Karjakin erred with 18.Bc2? on which 18…Nxc3 would’ve been decisive. However, this is blitz. Svidler missed the shot and opted for 18…b4 with some dynamic play. As the pace quickened, Svidler hit Karjakin with a body shot 28…Bh5! forcing a weakening of the kingside with 29.g4, BUT white decided to play 29.Rb1?? which loses a piece to 29…Bxf3! Again… it’s blitz and the quality is not to their normal standards.

    Instead Svidler took an exchange with 29…Qxb1 and after 30.Bxh5, arrived at a completely winning position. That is when disaster struck. With a time advantage, Svidler was in full control and seem to be on his way to victory. Karjakin had mere seconds left. Svidler gave a spite check 41…Qd7+ and after 42.Kh2. Of course, any move here for black wins except… 42…Kg8??? which leaves the rook unattended. Karjakin snapped off the rook with 42.Qxb8+ and Svidler grimaced in disgust, resigned and snatched his jacket off the back of his chair. Is this what the World Cup comes down to… who makes the fewest blunders? Certainly not fitting for a world championship.

    Painful aftermath of Karjakin-Svidler (Blitz)

    Video by chess24.com.

    Blitz Game #2 (5+3)

    Svidler had one more chance and trotted out the ancient Guioco Piano. It appeared that he had developed a good attacking formation and GM Alejandro Ramirez pointed out a nice maneuver of 21.Re3-h3-h7xg7 winning. Not sure what black could have done to stop this attack. Svidler tried another way with 21.g3 with the idea of bringing the rook to h1. Black broke in the center and the queens came off stunting white’s attack. The only thing left was to play for tricks. This time there were no blunders and Karjakin closed the deal.

    Replay of Final, Tiebreaks

    Video by chess24.com.

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