2017 World Chess Cup (Tblisi, Georgia)

Let the Games Begin!


Tbilisi Mayor Davit Narmania, First Deputy Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Akaki Lodia, Director of Organizing Committee of the 2018 World Chess Olympiad and President of European Chess Union Zurab Azmaiparashvili, President of Georgian Chess Federation Giorgi Giorgadze and Director of “Socar Georgia Petrolium” Levan Giorgadze spoke at press conference about the importance of the World Cup, the preparation and the participants of the tournament. Photo by Anastasia Kharlovich (fide.com)

All roads lead to Tbilisi in the Republic of Georgia for the 2017 World Cup, a qualifying event involving 128 players from around the world. The world’s top 16 will headline a field which include one notable inclusion. One shocking detail is that World Champion Magnus Carlsen is participating in the tournament for the right to challenge himself! What if Carlsen or challenger Sergey Karjakin (who has automatic qualification) make the final? There would be another match to clinch the second qualification spot. So why is Carlsen playing? He gives his answer to chess.com.


Video by chess.com/Peter Doggers

Those seeking to challenge Carlsen must win this spot if they haven’t already qualified through the Grand Prix series or by rating. Levon Aronian, who has had a sensational year needs one of the top two spots to qualify as does Hikaru Nakamura and Viswanathan Anand since they probably will not qualify via rating or via Grand Prix. Aronian told The Chess Drum after winning the recent St. Louis Rapid and Blitz that he did not feel any pressure to win, but “likes his chances.”


Former women’s world champion Hou Yifan is one of two women in the field. Photo by Anastasia Kharlovich (fide.com).

Out of the eight finalists to challenge Carlsen in the Candidates tournament, Fabiano Caruana and Vladimir Kramnik will most likely qualify through rating while Shahkriyar Mamedyarov and Alexander Grischuk will most likely qualify via Grand Prix. If any of these players make the finals, the spot will go to the next player. There is one wildcard nomination that could go to a deserving player.

As far as the rest of the field, there are many interesting figures from around the world. There are two women including three-time women’s world champion, Hou Yifan. Reigning women’s champion Tan Zhongyi declined her invitation. Each region of the world is represented, but there are some notable omissions such as Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria), Leinier Dominguez (Cuba), and Dmitri Jakovenko (Russia). The youngest player is 16-year old International Master from Australia, Anton Smirnov.

There was of course a drawing of lots resulting in Carlsen starting with the white pieces against Nigeria’s Oluwafemi Balogun (2255). Balogun called the pairing an “honor” and a “once in a lifetime chance” to play the World Champion in a tournament. There are brackets with all of the pairings here and there are also sites with “bracketology” contests. The tournament is now in full swing and at this writing round one has been completed.

Other Details

The total prize fund is $1,600,000 (about €1,400,000) and the winner and runner up will qualify to the 2018 Candidates tournament to determine who will compete in the World Cup. Each of the matches will comprise of two game matches, plus tiebreaks, if necessary. The last standing after the previous rounds will enter a seventh round of four games, plus tiebreaks if necessary. Players receive 90 minutes for the first 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game plus 30 seconds per move starting from move one.

Opening Ceremony


Video by Sagar Shah (ChessBase India)


Photos by Anastasia Kharlovich (fide.org).

Official Website: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/
All PGN Games (TWIC): https://www.theweekinchess.com/
Rules and Regulations: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/regulations/

39 Comments

  1. PARTICIPANTS of the WORLD CUP 2017

    1. GM Magnus Carlsen (NOR), 2822 (World Champion)
    2. GM Wesley So (USA), 2810 (R)
    3. GM Fabiano Caruana (USA), 2807 (R)
    4. GM Vladimir Kramnik (RUS), 2803 (R)
    5. GM Levon Aronian (ARM), 2799 (R)
    6. GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE), 2797 (R)
    7. GM Hikaru Nakamura (USA), 2792 (R)
    8. GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA), 2789 (R)
    9. GM Alexander Grischuk (RUS), 2783 (R)
    10. GM Viswanathan Anand (IND), 2783 (R)
    11. GM Ding Liren (CHN), 2777 (R)
    12. GM Sergey Karjakin (RUS), 2773 (WC)
    13. GM Anish Giri (NED), 2772 (WC)
    14. GM Wei Yi (CHN), 2753 (AS16)
    15. GM Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS), 2751 (R)
    16. GM Peter Svidler (RUS), 2751 (WC)
    17. GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek, (POL), 2745 (E16)
    18. GM Yu Yangyi, (CHN), 2744 (R)
    19. GM Li Chao, (CHN), 2744 (R)
    20. GM Pentala Harikrishna, (IND), 2743 (R)
    21. GM Teimour Radjabov, (AZE), 2742 (ON)
    22. GM Le Quang Liem, (VIE), 2739 (AS16)
    23. GM Michael Adams, (ENG), 2738 (R)
    24. GM David Navara, (CZE), 2737 (E16)
    25. GM Pavel Eljanov, (UKR), 2734 (WC)
    26. GM Vladimir Fedoseev, (RUS), 2731 (E17)
    27. GM Boris Gelfand, (ISR), 2729 (R)
    28. GM Vassily Ivanchuk, (UKR), 2728 (ACP)
    29. GM Maxim Matlakov,(RUS), 2728 (E17)
    30. GM Nikita Vitiugov, (RUS), 2724 (E16)
    31. GM Francisco Vallejo Pons, GM (ESP), 2717 (E16)
    32. GM Etienne Bacrot, (FRA), 2715 (E17)
    33. GM Bu Xiangzhi, (CHN), 2710 (AS17)
    34. GM Evgeny Tomashevsky, (RUS), 2710 (R)
    35. GM Evgeniy Najer, (RUS), 2707 (E16)
    36. GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda, (POL), 2707 (E17)
    37. GM Dmitry Andreikin, (RUS), 2706 (R)
    38. GM Wang Hao, (CHN), 2702 (AS17)
    39. GM Ernesto Inarkiev, (RUS), 2702 (E16)
    40. GM David Howell, (ENG), 2702 (E17)
    41. GM Ivan Cheparinov, (BUL), 2696 (E16)
    42. GM Maxim Rodshtein, (ISR), 2695 (E17)
    43. GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi, (IND), 2693 (AS17)
    44. GM Vladislav Artemiev, (RUS), 2692 (E17)
    45. GM Ruslan Ponomariov, (UKR), 2692 (PN)
    46. GM Liviu Dieter Nisipeanu, (GER), 2687 (E16)
    47. GM Baadur Jobava, (GEO), 2687 (E16)
    48. GM Alexander Onischuk, (USA), 2682 (Z2.1)
    49. GM Bassem Amin, (EGY), 2680 (AF)
    50. GM Baskaran Adhiban, (IND), 2677 (PN)
    51. GM Alexander Motylev, (RUS), 2675 (E17)
    52. GM Richárd Rapport, (HUN), 2675 (R)
    53. GM Daniil Dubov, (RUS), 2666 (E16)
    54. GM Martyn Kravtsiv, (UKR), 2665 (E17)
    55. GM Varuzhan Akobian, (USA), 2662 (Z2.1)
    56. GM Gawain Jones, (ENG), 2660 (E17)
    57. GM Boris Grachev, (RUS), 2654 (E17)
    58. GM David Anton Guijarro, (ESP), 2654 (E16)
    59. GM Yuriy Kuzubov, (UKR), 2652 (E17)
    60. GM Hou Yifan, (CHN), 2652 (PN)
    61. GM Alexander Areshchenko, (UKR), 2652 (E17)
    62. GM Laurent Fressinet, (FRA), 2650 (E16)
    63. GM Sandro Mareco, (ARG), 2650 (Z2.5)
    64. GM Aleksey Dreev, (RUS), 2648 (E16)
    65. GM Axel Bachmann, (PAR), 2648 (AM17)
    66. GM Luka Leni?, (SLO), 2646 (E17)
    67. GM Matthias Blübaum, (GER), 2646 (E17)
    68. GM Anton Demchenko, (RUS), 2645 (E16)
    69. GM Kacper Piorun, (POL), 2644 (E16)
    70. GM Sergei Zhigalko, (BLR), 2644 (E16)
    71. GM Lázaro Bruzón, (CUB), 2643 (AM17)
    72. GM Hrant Melkumyan, (ARM), 2642 (E17)
    73. GM Jorge Cori, (PER), 2641 (Z2.4)
    74. GM Anton Kovalyov, (CAN), 2641 (AM16)
    75. GM Igor Kovalenko, (LAT), 2640 (E16)
    76. GM Daniel Fridman, (GER), 2640 (E17)
    77. GM Jeffery Xiong, (USA), 2633 (J16)
    78. GM Emilio Córdova, (PER), 2629 (AM16)
    79. GM Nguy?n Ng?c Tr??ng S?n, (VIE), 2629 (Z3.3)
    80. GM Viktor Erd?s, (HUN), 2628 (E17)
    81. GM Yaroslav Zherebukh, (USA), 2627 (Z2.1)
    82. GM Ivan Salgado Lopez, (ESP), 2627 (E16)
    83. GM Samuel Sevian, (USA), 2620 (AM17)
    84. GM S.P. Sethuraman, (IND), 2618 (AS16)
    85. GM Benjamin Bok, (NED), 2615 (E17)
    86. GM Neuris Delgado Ramirez, (PAR), 2614 (AM17)
    87. GM Robert Hovhannisyan, (ARM), 2606 (E16)
    88. GM Dimitrios Mastrovasilis, (GRE), 2596 (E17)
    89. GM Aryan Tari (NOR), 2591 (E16)
    90. GM Mikheil Mchedlishvili, (GEO), 2590 (ON)
    91. GM Deep Sengupta, (IND), 2589 (AS16)
    92. GM Aleksey Goganov, (RUS), 2586 (E16)
    93. GM Levan Pantsulaia, (GEO), 2585 (ON)
    94. GM Aleksej Aleksandrov, (BLR), 2580 (E17)
    95. GM Mikhail Antipov, (RUS), 2580 (J15)
    96. GM Diego Flores, GM (ARG), 2580 (AM16)
    97. GM Alexandr Fier, (BRA), 2579 (AM17)
    98. GM Murali Karthikeyan, GM (IND), 2579 (Z3.7)
    99. GM Kaido Kulaots, (EST), 2577 (PN)
    100. GM Murtas Kazhgaleyev, GM (KAZ), 2576 (AS16)
    101. GM Julio Sadorra (PHI), 2575 (AS17)
    102. GM Kirill Stupak (BLR), 2573 (E16)
    103. GM Yusnel Bacallao Alonso (CUB), 2573 (AM17)
    104. GM Aleksandr Lenderman (USA), 2565 (AM16)
    105. GM Jóhann Hjartarson (ISL), 2556 (N)
    106. GM Tsegmed Batchuluun (MGL), 2555 (AS17)
    107. GM Vitaly Kunin (GER), 2551 (E17)
    108. GM Helgi Dam Ziska (FRO), 2545 (PN)
    109. GM Yuri Gonzalez Vidal (CUB), 2543 (Z2.3)
    110. GM Leandro Krysa (ARG), 2537 (Z2.5)
    111. GM Amirreza Pourramezanali (IRI), 2533 (Z3.1)
    112. GM Felipe El Debs (BRA), 2531 (Z2.4)
    113. GM Jahongir Vakhidov (UZB), 2529 (Z3.4)
    114. GM Mladen Palac (CRO), 2525 (E16)
    115. GM Bator Sambuev (CAN), 2522 (Z2.2)
    116. GM Nana Dzagnidze, GM (GEO), 2519 (ON)
    117. IM Anton Smirnov (AUS), 2508 (Z3.6)
    118. GM Mohamed Haddouche (ALG), 2487 (Z4.1)
    119. IM Yeoh Li Tian (MAS), 2478 (Z3.3)
    120. GM Essam El-Gindy (EGY), 2455 (Z4.2)
    121. IM Muhammad Khusenkhojaev (TJK), 2455 (Z3.4)
    122. GM Abdullah Al-Rakib (BAN), 2454 (Z3.2)
    123. IM Liu Guanchu (CHN), 2451 (Z3.5)
    124. IM Daniel Cawdery (RSA), 2449 (AF)
    125. Dai Changren (CHN), 2427 (Z3.5)
    126. GM Kenny Solomon (RSA), 2398 (Z4.3)
    127. IM Joshua Daniel Ruiz Castillo (COL), 2377 (Z2.3)
    128. FM Oluwafemi Balogun (NGR), 2255 (Z4.4)

  2. 2017 World Chess Cup
    September 2nd-27th, 2017 (Tbilisi, Georgia)
    Match Scores (Round #1)
    Bracket 1
    1 Magnus Carlsen
    NOR
    2-0
    Oluwafemi Balogun
    NGR
    2 Aleksey Dreev
    RUS
    2-0
    Axel Bachmann
    PAR
    3 Étienne Bacrot
    FRA
    2½-1½
    Alexandr Fier
    BRA
    4 Bu Xiangzhi
    CHN
    2-0
    Diego Flores
    ARG
    5 Peter Svidler
    RUS
    2-0
    Jahongir Vakhidov
    UZB
    6 Bassem Amin
    EGY
    2½-3½
    Viktor Erdos
    HUN
    7 Radoslaw Wojtaszek
    POL
    1½-½
    Felipe El Debs
    BRA
    8 Alexander Onischuk
    USA
    2F-0F
    Yaroslav Zherebukh
    USA
    Bracket 2
    9 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
    FRA
    1½-½
    Muhammad Khusenkhojaev
    TJK
    10 Boris Grachev
    RUS
    2½-1½
    Hrant Melkumyan
    ARM
    11 Pavel Eljanov
    UKR
    0-2
    A. Lenderman
    USA
    12 David Howell
    ENG
    2½-3½
    Aryan Tari
    NOR
    13 Alexander Grischuk
    RUS
    2-0
    Essam El-Gindy
    EGY
    14 Gawain Jones
    ENG
    ½-1½
    Jorge Cori
    PER
    15 David Navara
    CZE
    2-0
    Jóhann Hjartarson
    ISL
    16 Ivan Cheparinov
    BUL
    1½-½
    Dimitrios Mastrovasilis
    GRE
    Bracket 3
    17 Vladimir Kramnik
    RUS
    1½-½
    Dai Changren
    CHN
    18 Alexander Areshchenko
    UKR
    2-4
    Anton Demchenko
    RUS
    19 Vassily Ivanchuk
    UKR
    3-1
    Murtas Kazhgaleyev
    KAZ
    20 Jan-Krzysztof Duda
    POL
    2-0
    Levan Pantsulaia
    GEO
    21 Anish Giri
    NED
    1½-½
    Nana Dzagnidze
    GEO
    22 Alexander Motylev
    RUS
    1½-½
    Jeffery Xiong
    USA
    23 Pentala Harikrishna
    IND
    3½-2½
    Yuri González Vidal
    CUB
    24 Ruslan Ponomariov
    UKR
    ½-1½
    S.P. Sethuraman
    IND
    Bracket 4
    25 Levon Aronian
    ARM
    2-0
    Daniel Cawdery
    RSA
    26 Hou Yifan
    CHN
    1½-½
    Kacper Piorun
    POL
    27 Maxim Matlakov
    RUS
    1½-½
    Julio Sadorra
    PHI
    28 Dmitry Andreikin
    RUS
    3-1
    Aleksey Goganov
    RUS
    29 Sergey Karjakin
    RUS
    3-1
    Anton Smirnov
    AUS
    30 Daniil Dubov
    RUS
    3½-2½
    Daniel Fridman
    RUS
    31 Teimour Radjabov
    AZE
    1½-½
    Helgi Dam Ziska
    FIN
    32 Vladislav Artemiev
    RUS
    2-0
    Benjamin Bok
    NED
    Bracket 5
    33 Wesley So
    USA
    1½-½
    Joshua Ruiz Castillo
    COL
    34 Sandro Mareco
    ARG
    3½-4½
    Matthias Blübaum
    GER
    35 Francisco Vallejo
    ESP
    2½-1½
    Murali Karthikeyan
    IND
    36 E. Tomashevsky
    RUS
    1½-½
    Mikhail Antipov
    IRI
    37 Ian Nepomniachtchi
    RUS
    3½-2½
    Mladen Palac
    CRO
    38 Baskaran Adhiban
    IND
    3½-2½
    Nguyen Ngoc Truongson
    VIE
    39 Yu Yangyi
    CHN
    1½-½
    A. Pourramezanali
    IRI
    40 Baadur Jobava
    GEO
    0-2
    Ivan Salgado López
    ESP
    Bracket 6
    41 Hikaru Nakamura
    USA
    2-0
    Abdullah Al-Rakib
    BAN
    42 David Guijarro
    ESP
    ½-1½
    Lázaro Bruzón
    CUB
    43 Vladimir Fedoseev
    RUS
    3-1
    Yusnel Bacallao Alonso
    CUB
    44 Ernesto Inarkiev
    RUS
    1½-½
    Mikheil Mchedlishvili
    GEO
    45 Viswanathan Anand
    IND
    1½-½
    Yeoh Li Tian
    MAS
    46 Varuzhan Akobian
    USA
    ½-1½
    Anton Kovalyov
    CAN
    47 Michael Adams
    ENG
    2½-1½
    Tsegmed Batchuluun
    MGL
    48 Maxim Rodshtein
    ISR
    0-2
    R. Hovhannisyan
    ARM
    Bracket 7
    49 Fabiano Caruana
    USA
    2-0
    Kenny Solomon
    RSA
    50 Laurent Fressinet
    FRA
    2-4
    Luka Lenic
    SLO
    51 Nikita Vitiugov
    RUS
    1½-½
    Kaido Kulaots
    EST
    52 Evgeniy Najer
    RUS
    1½-½
    Aleksej Aleksandrov
    BLR
    53 Wei Yi
    CHN
    1½-½
    Bator Sambuev
    CAN
    54 Richárd Rapport
    HUN
    2-0
    Emilio Córdova
    PER
    55 Li Chao
    CHN
    1½-½
    Leandro Krysa
    ARG
    56 Liviu Dieter Nisipeanu
    GER
    3-5
    Samuel Sevian
    USA
    Bracket 8
    57 S. Mamedyarov
    AZE
    1½-½
    Liu Guanchu
    CHN
    58 Yuriy Kuzubov
    UKR
    1½-½
    Sergei Zhigalko
    BLR
    59 Boris Gelfand
    ISR
    1½-½
    Kirill Stupak
    BLR
    60 Wang Hao
    CHN
    1½-½
    Deep Sengupta
    IND
    61 Ding Liren
    CHN
    1½-½
    Mohamed Haddouche
    ALG
    62 Martyn Kravtsiv
    UKR
    1½-½
    Igor Kovalenko
    LAT
    63 Lê Quang Liêm
    VIE
    1½-½
    Vitaly Kunin
    GER
    64 Vidit Gujrathi
    IND
    1½-½
    Neuris Delgado Ramírez
    PAR
    Drum Coverage
    | Round 1 | Round 2 | Round 3 | Round 4 | Round 5 |
    | Semifinals | Finals |

  3. Round #1 Recap

    September 3-5, 2017

    Most favorites through… Egypt’s Amin misses 2700 barrier


    GM Bassem Amin (Egypt)
    Photo by Anastasia Kharlovich (fide.com)

    For decades there has been the question of when the African continent would see a breakthrough. Bassem Amin has been the closest thing. After a couple of sterling wins in the African Championships and Lake Sevan, he headed to Tbilisi with the idea of becoming the first player from the African continent to break 2700. He dreams were dashed in a most crushing way. The fateful moment came after he was coasting to a win in the second game of the classical games.

    Rook endings are the most common type of ending as perhaps the most difficult to win in technical positions. For the weaker side there are all types of methods to save the game despite a material deficit. The game against Hungarian Viktor Erdos.

    Meanwhile on the top board sat the World Champion. Magnus Carlsen decided to play in the knock-out and drew white against his Nigerian opponent Oluwafemi Balogun. Before the match, Balogun spoke about the opportunity to play Carlsen.


    Video by Sagar Shah (ChessBase India)

    After Balogun’s beneficent comments, he put up a valiant fight and the games were competitive. While Carlsen was never in trouble, his play was uninspiring and there were rumblings about the 2255-rated player dragging the game into the fourth hour. Indeed, it seemed like the Nigerian was holding the first game until a positional error allowed Carlsen to crash through. GM Daniel King gives commentary on the first game.

    Video by Daniel King

    While Carlsen advanced other top names made an early exit such as Ukrainians Pavel Eljanov, Alexander Areschenko and Ruslan Ponomariov. Wei Yi had to come back from an opening loss to win in tiebreaks. American phenom Samuel Sevian upset Romanian Liviu Dieter Nisipeanu who is now representing Germany. Viswanathan Anand got a scare from Malaysian national champion IM Li Tian Yeoh and almost allowed the equalizer, but the champion held on for the draw and advanced.

    Official Website: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/
    All PGN Games (TWIC): https://www.theweekinchess.com/
    Rules and Regulations: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/regulations/

  4. 2017 World Chess Cup
    September 2nd-27th, 2017 (Tbilisi, Georgia)
    Match Scores (Round #2)
    Bracket 1
    1 Magnus Carlsen
    NOR
    2-0
    Aleksey Dreev
    RUS
    2 Étienne Bacrot
    FRA
    1½-2½
    Bu Xiangzhi
    CHN
    3 Peter Svidler
    RUS
    2½-1½
    Viktor Erdos
    HUN
    4 Radoslaw Wojtaszek
    POL
    1½-2½
    A. Onischuk
    USA
    Bracket 2
    5 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
    FRA
    1½-½
    Boris Grachev
    RUS
    6 A. Lenderman
    USA
    1½-½
    Aryan Tari
    NOR
    7 Alexander Grischuk
    RUS
    2½-1½
    Jorge Cori
    PER
    8 David Navara
    CZE
    3-1
    Ivan Cheparinov
    BUL
    Bracket 3
    9 Vladimir Kramnik
    RUS
    1½-½
    Anton Demchenko
    RUS
    10 Vassily Ivanchuk
    UKR
    3½-2½
    Jan-Krzysztof Duda
    POL
    11 Anish Giri
    NED
    4-2
    Alexander Motylev
    RUS
    12 Pentala Harikrishna
    IND
    1½-2½
    S.P. Sethuraman
    IND
    Bracket 4
    13 Levon Aronian
    ARM
    4-2
    Hou Yifan
    CHN
    14 Maxim Matlakov
    RUS
    1½-½
    Dmitry Andreikin
    RUS
    15 Sergey Karjakin
    RUS
    ½-1½
    Daniil Dubov
    RUS
    16 Teimour Radjabov
    AZE
    3½-4½
    Vladislav Artemiev
    RUS
    Bracket 5
    17 Wesley So
    USA
    4-2
    Matthias Blübaum
    GER
    18 Francisco Vallejo
    ESP
    1½-½
    E. Tomashevsky
    RUS
    19 Ian Nepomniachtchi
    RUS
    2½-1½
    Baskaran Adhiban
    IND
    20 Yu Yangyi
    CHN
    2-4
    Baadur Jobava
    GEO
    Bracket 6
    21 Hikaru Nakamura
    USA
    2-0
    Lázaro Bruzón
    CUB
    22 Vladimir Fedoseev
    RUS
    3-1
    Ernesto Inarkiev
    RUS
    23 Viswanathan Anand
    IND
    ½-1½
    Anton Kovalyov
    CAN
    24 Michael Adams
    ENG
    ½-1½
    Maxim Rodshtein
    ISR
    Bracket 7
    25 Fabiano Caruana
    USA
    2-0
    Luka Lenic
    SLO
    26 Nikita Vitiugov
    RUS
    1½-½
    Evgeniy Najer
    RUS
    27 Wei Yi
    CHN
    1½-2½
    Richárd Rapport
    HUN
    28 Li Chao
    CHN
    2½-1½
    Samuel Sevian
    USA
    Bracket 8
    29 S. Mamedyarov
    AZE
    1-3
    Yuriy Kuzubov
    UKR
    30 Boris Gelfand
    ISR
    1½-2½
    Wang Hao
    CHN
    31 Ding Liren
    CHN
    1½-½
    Martyn Kravtsiv
    UKR
    32 Lê Quang Liêm
    VIE
    ½-1½
    Vidit Gujrathi
    IND
    Drum Coverage
    | Round 1 | Round 2 | Round 3 | Round 4 | Round 5 |
    | Semifinals | Finals |

  5. Round #2 Recap
    September 6-8, 2017

    Five-time World Champion Viswanathan Anand was bounced from the World Cup after losing to Ukrainian-Canadian player Anton Kovalyov. World Cup’s defending champion Sergey Karjakin also exited the competition by losing to compatriot Daniil Dubov. These were arguably the biggest upsets of the round after 22 of the matches went into tiebreaks.


    “It was totally uncalled for in a knockout format when there are perfectly good alternatives. What can I say? Sometimes your head isn’t just screwed on straight.”

    ~Viswanathan Anand after being eliminated by Anton Kovalyov


    Perhaps the exit of Viswanathan Anand was painful to his fans. Is this his last championship run? It remains to be seen. but of course he was critical of his play in the first game where he attempted a sacrifice for initiative. However, he was very gracious in the interview and gave his reflections on Indian chess and discusses his most immediate plans.

    Video by Sagar Shah (ChessBase India)

    While Karjakin still has a seat in the Candidates as Carlsen’s challenger. There were a couple of very fascinating games in the round including Dubov’s win over Karjakin. We pick up the analysis conducted by the winner with IM Sagar Shah (ChessBase India). Fascinating complications!!

    Video by Sagar Shah (ChessBase India)

    One of the other fascinating games occurred in Hou Yifan battle against Levon Aronian in an Italian game. GM Ivan Sokolov tried to wade through the complications in an extremely delicate position. Tactics flying throughout the board and one step could turn the tide. Check it out!

    Video by Georgia Chess

    In a scintillating sequence, the balance was held for the draw. Hou held Aronian in both classical games, both rapid games, but then drop both 10’+10″ games. Her next tournament is the Isle of Man. Shahkriyar Mamedyarov bowed out of the tournament, but it is possible that he may qualify for the Candidates match anyway through the Grand Prix standings. It was a rather ignoble ending for the Azeri player who dropped both of the rapid games to Yuriy Kuzubov. Apart from that, the favorites advanced and the field is whittled down to 32.

    Official Website: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/
    All PGN Games (TWIC): https://www.theweekinchess.com/
    Rules and Regulations: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/regulations/

  6. 2017 World Chess Cup
    September 2nd-27th, 2017 (Tbilisi, Georgia)
    Match Scores (Round #3)
    Bracket 1
    1 Magnus Carlsen
    NOR
    ½-1½
    Bu Xiangzhi
    CHN
    2 Peter Svidler
    RUS
    1½-½
    A. Onischuk
    USA
    Bracket 2
    3 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
    FRA
    2½-1½
    A. Lenderman
    USA
    4 Alexander Grischuk
    RUS
    3½-2½
    David Navara
    CZE
    Bracket 3
    5 Vladimir Kramnik
    RUS
    ½-1½
    Vassily Ivanchuk
    UKR
    6 Anish Giri
    NED
    4-2
    S.P. Sethuraman
    IND
    Bracket 4
    7 Levon Aronian
    ARM
    4½-3½
    Maxim Matlakov
    RUS
    8 Daniil Dubov
    RUS
    1½-½
    Vladislav Artemiev
    RUS
    Bracket 5
    9 Wesley So
    USA
    4-2
    Francisco Vallejo
    ESP
    10 Ian Nepomniachtchi
    RUS
    2½-1½
    Baadur Jobava
    GEO
    Bracket 6
    11 Hikaru Nakamura
    USA
    ½-1½
    Vladimir Fedoseev
    RUS
    12 Anton Kovalyov
    CAN
    0F-2F
    Maxim Rodshtein
    ISR
    Bracket 7
    13 Fabiano Caruana
    USA
    1½-2½
    Evgeniy Najer
    RUS
    14 Richárd Rapport
    HUN
    2½-1½
    Li Chao
    CHN
    Bracket 8
    15 Yuriy Kuzubov
    UKR
    ½-½
    Wang Hao
    CHN
    16 Ding Liren
    CHN
    2½-1½
    Vidit Gujrathi
    IND
    Drum Coverage
    | Round 1 | Round 2 | Round 3 | Round 4 | Round 5 |
    | Semifinals | Finals |

  7. Round #3 Recap
    September 9-11, 2017

    Carlsen crushed by Bu… ousted from World Cup!
    Four Americans also sent packing.
    “Shorts-gate” Controversy!

    The headlines of the World Cup tournament read that the World Champion Magnus Carlsen had been eliminated, but apart from the many other top players being eliminated from contention, there was also a controversy surrounding the dress code.

    Anton Kovalyov (left) amidst the controversy.
    Photo by Amruta Mokal (ChessBase India)

    Canadian Grandmaster Anton Kovalyov wore plaid knee-length shorts to the third round, but was approached 10 minutes before by the arbiter Tomasz Delega and told that his attire was inappropriate and he had to change. They cited the player’s contracts signed before the tournaments.

    According to the player’s contract (3.13.4.), “Players are requested to note the requirements of FIDE Regulations C.01 (Article 8.1) in respect of their dignified appearance at all times during the World Cup.”

    C.01 (Article 8.1) of the FIDE handbook mentions the following:The Commission on Chess Publication, Information and Statistics (CHIPS) stresses the need for all chess players to take more care in their personal appearance. The image of the chess player should be a dignified one, and dressing properly would not only show respect for the game, but also to sponsors, potential or otherwise, to make it worth their while to spend their money.

    For example, some federations have barred slippers, sleeveless T-shirts and vests in their tournaments. Those with unkempt and greasy hair should be admonished, as well as those wearing old or torn jeans and battered attire generally.

    In the process of discussing the dress code, Kovalyov also contested the color allocation. The arbiters checked and he was informed that the pairings were correct. Kovalyov contended that while he was fine with the basis of the rulings, there was another issue. When organizer Zurab Azmaiparashvili approached him, things became a bit contentious.

    Zurab Azmaiparashvili berating Kovalyov about his attire.

    Kovalyov walks away never to return to the venue.
    Photos by chess.com/Maria Emelianova

    Kovalyov stated that there were some choice words used in the exchange with Azmaiparashvili. Following is an excerpt from his Facebook page.

    The issue were not the shorts but how I was treated. I came to the game and was approached by the arbiter asking me to change (first time). I told him that I don’t have pants with me, and then I noticed that I was playing black instead of white, which came as a surprise for me and asked him to check that. He and the other arbiters checked and confirmed to me that I’m playing with black, we talked a little and everything was fine. Then came Zurab, he was very agressive, yelling at me and using the racial slur “gypsy” to insult me, apart from mentioning several times that I will be punished by FIDE. I told him that I had asked before at the previous world cup if what I was wearing was OK and I was told by somebody from the organization that yes. Zurab, in a prepotent way, said he doesn’t care, he’s the organizer now. At this point I was really angry but tried not to do anything stupid, and asked him why he was so rude to me, and he said because I’m a gypsy.

    After Rodshtein’s 1.d4, Kovalyov did not appear at the board
    and eventually forfeited both games.
    Photo by Amruta Mokul (ChessBase India)

    As far as the ruling, here is what Tomasz Delega explained the situation in an interview with ChessBase India’s Sagar Shah. Azmaiparashvili explained his view in two separate segments, also with Shah.


    Videos by Sagar Shah (ChessBase India)

    Some have offered that a warning should have been proffered if it was found that the player did not have alternate attire, then he should have been warned or even fined. Of course there may have been another way of handling the issue. The Association of Chess Professionals have filed a petition condemning Azmaiparashvili in his handling of the matter. The Canada Chess Federation have also filed a complaint.

    While Carlsen is already the sitting champion, Caruana and Nakamura have to become the challenger by other means. Caruana will most likely get in by rating while Nakamura’s chances will come down to a wild card spot. Disappointing round for the Americans.

    Let’s watch the Carlsen-Bu game which arose from a Bishop’s Opening to avoid the Petroff. However, white seemed to get caught flat-footed and will brutally crushed. In fact his a1 rook did not get into the game! Beautiful showing by the former Chinese prodigy.

    Video by GM Daniel King (Power Play Chess)

    Here is Bu’s impressions of the game…

    Video by Sagar Shah (ChessBase India)

    Peter Svidler, Bu’s next opponent went on record to say that the Chinese player’s win over the world champion does not make him a “mythical beast,” but it certainly does make a statement. Bu stated that he had a minus score against Carlsen and wanted to change the record. He certainly did it.

    Official Website: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/
    All PGN Games (TWIC): https://www.theweekinchess.com/
    Rules and Regulations: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/regulations/

  8. In my view, the point was posed by many that he was allowed to wear the shorts in the previous two rounds (and in 2015 World Cup), so he should have been allowed to continue. Unfortunately, this is a very shallow argument. It is indeed true that the arbiters were negligent for not bringing the rule to his attention earlier, but one cannot say that it is acceptable to continue to break the rules because they have not been penalized earlier. For example, if a driver makes an illegal turn with a police officer sitting there watching (and not punished), they cannot assume it is acceptable to continue to do it. Perhaps the next officer will enforce the law. That being said, the arbiters have to enforce the letter of the law at all times and hold themselves to the same standards they hold the players.

  9. 2017 World Chess Cup
    September 2nd-27th, 2017 (Tbilisi, Georgia)
    Match Scores (Round #4)
    Pairings
    1 Bu Xiangzhi
    CHN
    1-3
    Peter Svidler
    RUS
    2 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
    FRA
    3½-2½
    Alexander Grischuk
    RUS
    3 Vassily Ivanchuk
    UKR
    1½-½
    Anish Giri
    NED
    4 Levon Aronian
    ARM
    1½-½
    Daniil Dubov
    RUS
    5 Wesley So
    USA
    2½-1½
    Baadur Jobava
    GEO
    6 Vladimir Fedoseev
    RUS
    3-1
    Maxim Rodshtein
    ISR
    7 Evgeniy Najer
    RUS
    1½-2½
    Richárd Rapport
    HUN
    8 Wang Hao
    CHN
    ½-1½
    Ding Liren
    CHN
    Drum Coverage
    | Round 1 | Round 2 | Round 3 | Round 4 | Round 5 |
    | Semifinals | Finals |

  10. Round #4 Recap
    September 12-14, 2017

    Down to 16… elite still holding on

    The World Cup is coming down to the wire and fatigue may be setting in. However, there are still five top 20 players with Wesley So holding the top table at #2 in the world. He was able to sneak past hometown favorite Baadur Jobava and has been rather quiet. Rest assured he has rebounded from a rather poor showing at last month’s Sinquefield Cup.

    Peter Sidler ousted last round’s hero Bu Xiangzhi while Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vanquished Alexander Grischuk. Look at the exciting first game MVL-Grischuk. Mind dizzying complications. Also in this segment Daniel King shows the ending of Rodshtein-Fedoseev. Very creative attacking patterns!

    Video by GM Daniel King (Power Play Chess)

    Here is how Grischuk saw it…

    Video by Sagar Shah (ChessBase India)

    Richard Rapport of Hungary continues his march by upending Evgeniy Najer in the second rapid game. It’s very difficult to understand what’s going on in the game. Rapport played his usual unorthodox opening, but what’s amazing is that he is able to wade through the complications so effortlessly. Under pressure to get through the maelstrom of complications, Najer fell into time pressure and blundered horribly in the end.

    Can Ding Liren win this?
    Photo by Anastasia Kharlovich (fide.com)

    In the China derby, Ding Liren took control in a Catalan with a nice 15.b4! idea. When the smoke cleared, Wang Hao was tied up with a huge weakness on c6. It appeared that black’s position got even worse and finally the c-pawn dropped. It was a good bishop versus a clumsy knight and Ding converted the match point. Vassily Ivanchuk is the last 40-something player left and he spanked Anish Giri showing that he still has a trick or two.

    Levon Aronian will play Ivanchuk and clinched his victory in a cat shirt. This apparently received no warnings from the arbiters, but everyone knows that Aronian’s fiance’ has a pet cat and to ask him to remove that shirt would be a crime.

    Video by Sagar Shah (ChessBase India)

    On another note, almost every player in the top 20 lost ELO points in the World Cup. Aronian has gained two points and Svidler three. Bu Xiangzhi ousted Magnus Carlsen and gained a whopping 16. However, he crashed out the tournament against Svidler leaving Ding Liren to carry the China flag. In the final eight, there are seven federations represented.

    Official Website: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/
    All PGN Games (TWIC): https://www.theweekinchess.com/
    Rules and Regulations: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/regulations/

  11. Round #5-Game 1 Recap
    September 15-17, 2017

    Aronian dismantles Ivanchuk… other games drawn

    Levon Aronian got off to a good start by jumping all over Vassily Ivanchuk in a “Killer Catalan.” The Ukrainian seemed to get his preparation mixed up and ended up getting thoroughly crushed with 24.d6! splitting his position in half. Ivanchuk immediately resigned. Here was Aronian’s impressions on the game…

    Video by Sagar Shah (ChessBase India)

    Video by Georgia Chess

    Official Website: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/
    All PGN Games (TWIC): https://www.theweekinchess.com/
    Rules and Regulations: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/regulations/

  12. Round #5-Game 2 Recap
    September 15-17, 2017

    Aronian, So and Ding go through… Svidler-MVL tiebreaks on tap

    Vassily Ivanchuk couldn’t break through.
    Photo by Anastasia Kharlovich (fide.com)

    Today was quite a day with two decisive results and three players going through. In Aronian-Ivanchuk, the Ukrainian fought to save the match, but the in-form Armenian was able to wade through the complications. It appeared that Ivanchuk had developed a positional pull with his two bishops and doubled rooks after 37.Rbe1. However, the engines never gave him a definite advantage and sure enough, Aronian found the correct course despite his time deficit.

    To avoid the three-fold repetition, Ivanchuk played 43.Bd1 which is big concession. In fact, Ivanchuk jettisoned his d-pawn and tried to drum up play on the exposed black king. The truth was there was little left to bite on and the position was dead equal. At move 76, the two shook hands and Aronian advanced. There were at least two happy people in the building…

    Video by Sagar Shah (ChessBase India)

    In other games, Ding Liren ground down Richard Rapport in a very instructive ending. A Queen’s Indian appeared on the board, but Ding’s 16.d5 seemed to be a vie for a spatial advantage. Then came 16…Qc8 17.e5! This gave white a favorable structure after 17…exd5 18.exd6 cxd6 19.Qxe7 d4 20.Qe4. As the game transitioned into a rook ending, white definitely had a more active position and was cradling an extra pawn.

    The position proved to be a technical win with none of the tricks usually seen in rook endings. Guest commentator GM Gennadi Sosonko mocked Ding for being too precise in the end! Great run by Rapport who beat Wei Yi, Li Chao and Evgeniy Najer in the process. Quite a performance! Meanwhile Ding will face Wesley So who finally got the point from Vladislav Fedoseev after 83 moves.

    After 76.Bf8, black is in zugzwang as the king is frozen and white will shoulder the opposing bishop out of the way to attack the weak pawns.

    This Petroff went into a very imbalanced ending, but white had more space and a better structure. The bishops were the same color which meant that So (in this case) would use his better pawn structure to exploit weaknesses. Black was virtually without any moves, but it didn’t appear that So had a plan as the pieces shuffled for 20 moves. Then he decided to trade rooks. The engine gave this as only slightly better for white, but white had a much better bishop and black’s pawns were all weak. Fedoseev perhaps thought he could hold the position.


    “You can study from this game how to play as badly as possible
    when you must make a draw!”

    ~Vladislav Fedoseev


    So hatched a plan to maneuver his king and to tie down the defending bishop as the white king darted to the queenside to aid c3-c4. After 72…h5, it appeared that black was in zugzwang. So maneuvered his bishop so that he could attack the weak kingside pawns. It turns out that Black was helpless.

    Lastly MVL-Svidler battle was anticlimactic and they will head for tiebreaks. In an ever popular Italian Game, white sacrificed a pawn for a formidable center, but the game never got very far. After 27…Re8, a draw was agreed. After the game, Svidler had a tinge of regret for not playing on longer.

    Be that as it may, all eyes will be on these two gladiators. Just last month they were battling in the 2017 Sinquefield Cup, but this match will have much more importance. Who will get through?

    Video by Georgia Chess

    Official Website: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/
    All PGN Games (TWIC): https://www.theweekinchess.com/
    Rules and Regulations: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/regulations/

  13. Round #5-Tiebreaks Recap
    September 15-17, 2017

    MVL advances… vanquishes “Peter the Great”

    MVL roared into the semifinals after Peter Svidler played a disastrous black game in a theoretical English. After nearly breaking through in the first rapid game, the game repeated the line from the first classical game and MVL found and improvement with the improbable 21…Kc7! after which white was completely overextended. Here is what Gennadi Sosonko said about it.

    Video by Sagar Shah (ChessBase India)

    Viktor Korchnoi was famous for calling MVL, “the player with two names,” and said that he plays “fantastic” chess. Now we have another legend praising MVL’s play. That has to be a good thing. After Kc7, black seized the advantage Svidler collapsed into a heap and was sent home. Now two epic semifinal matches will commence after the rest day… Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs. Levon Aronian and Wesley So vs. Ding Liren. All players have a lot at stake as it pertains to securing a spot in the Candidates tournament next year. Four out of the top 11 players are still in. Should be a fun ride!

    Video by Georgia Chess

    Video by Daniel King (Power Play Chess)

    Official Website: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/
    All PGN Games (TWIC): https://www.theweekinchess.com/
    Rules and Regulations: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/regulations/

  14. It is unlikely that Maxime Vachier-Lagrave or Wesley So will be playing in the Isle of Man tournament which starts on September 23rd. So may have already withdraw while MVL’s name is still on the list.

  15. 2017 World Chess Cup
    September 2nd-27th, 2017 (Tbilisi, Georgia)
    SEMI-FINALS
    Levon Aronian vs. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
    Wesley So vs. Ding Liren
    Drum Coverage
    | Round 1 | Round 2 | Round 3 | Round 4 | Round 5 |
    | Semifinals | Finals |

    Photos by Maria Emelianova (chess.com), Anastasia Kharlovich (fide.org), Lennart Ootes.

    2017 World Cup Final Four… big guns
    locked and loaded!

    The 2017 World Cup is coming to a close and there are so many possibilities of how this could affect the Candidates tournament. Macauley Peterson actually discussed the possibilities of who could make the tournament.

    Of particular interest is the question of how the Isle of Man could potentially affect the average ratings of Kramnik and Caruana, who were elminated from Tbilisi after losing 9.2 and 5.2 rating points respectively. The pair are currently both precisely 2793.8 on the live ratings. But for the Candidates, the average of the monthly ratings over the entire calendar 2017 are what matter.

    As of today, if nothing else changed between now and December, the average rating list would be as follows:

    Caruana (2807)
    So (2806)
    Kramnik (2805)

    Interesting Interview with Macauley Peterson
    concerning the route to 2018 Candidates Tournament

    Video by Georgia Chess

    MVL will most likely miss the rating cut-off and will try to get one of the two spots in Tbilisi. One thing is for sure… there will be no easy outs in these two matches as all are elite players. In these matches, they will be tough to predict. It would be interesting to see if players will play it safe in the classical and go for tiebreaks or try to be aggressive in the classical and steal the match.

    In Aronian-MVL, both in great form and expect have their seconds working overtime to find a novelty. In So-Ding, the Chinese delegation is impressive and most likely are looking through So’s voluminous history. Many of the Chinese players still remain in Tbilisi to assist in that task. Both players still have a chance to qualify even if they don’t reach the finals.

    Official Website: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/
    All PGN Games (TWIC): https://www.theweekinchess.com/
    Rules and Regulations: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/regulations/

  16. SEMIFINALS-Game 1 Recap
    September 19-21, 2017

    Both games drawn, but some critical moments

    We’ve gone from 128 players to four. The hall has become very empty over the past two weeks. However, the World Cup seems to be shaping up into a epic ending. Both semi-final games had their moments, but if this is a sign of things to come, fans will be pleased at the action. Both MVL and Wesley So may have missed opportunities involving a sacrifice of an exchange.

    In Aronian-MVL, the game got extremely complicated with all kinds of twists and turns. Somehow MVL stated that he had lost the thread of the position and possibly missed a winning chances.

    Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

    In So-Ding, it was an Italian Game with So having obtained a grip on the position with a knight ensconced on d5. At a critical moment, he missed a chance to sacrifice the exchange with 41.Rxb3! In the ChessBase video IM Sagar Shah gave a challenge to the audience to determine whether the exchange sack gave white winning chances after 41…axb3 42.gxf6 gxf6 43.Rg7.

    Sure enough, a ChessBase reader (Mark S.) found a stronger continuation. The point is white increases pressure with 43. Rg8+! Kd7 44.Nb4! threatening a mating net whereby 44…Ke7 45. Rc8 Ra2 46. Nxa2 Kd7 47. Rxc7+! Kxc7 48. Nb4 +- would give white a decisive advantage. Not easy to see. Ding was a bit surprised at the Rxb3 possibility and could only grin and acknowledge that it would have given white winning chances.

    Ding Liren

    Sagar Shah’s post-mortem (Wesley So – Ding Liren)

    Videos by Sagar Shah (ChessBase India)

    Official Website: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/
    All PGN Games (TWIC): https://www.theweekinchess.com/
    Rules and Regulations: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/regulations/

  17. SEMIFINALS-Game 2 Recap
    September 19-21, 2017

    Aronian-MVL with 19-move draw… Ding misses chance…
    both matches go to tiebreak!

    While MVL-Aronian was a “damp squib,” Ding-So had a bit of drama. Many were predicting Ding would crash through when he got a nice grip on the position.

    Yesterday, So had a chance to get virtually a winning position but allowed Ding to escape. Today, it was Ding who let So off with a sigh of relief after the Chinese player had a chance to apply pressure with 37.Rh8! The point is not the h-pawn, but the dastardly idea of creating a mating net in conjunction with e4-e5. IM Sagar Shah gives some incisive commentary.

    Video by Sagar Shah (ChessBase India)

    With a spot in the Candidates on the line, these two will not be laughing tomorrow. Photo by Amruta Mokal (ChessBase India)

    Official Website: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/
    All PGN Games (TWIC): https://www.theweekinchess.com/
    Rules and Regulations: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/regulations/

  18. Ding Liren outplays Wesley So in the first rapid game only to allow a draw. In the second he agreed to a quick draw in the second, provoking derision.

  19. SEMIFINALS-Tiebreaks
    September 19-21, 2017

    The Queen reigns over Rook… Aronian and Ding advance

    The finals are set. Two players have punched their tickets to the Candidates tournament and ironically, this may have been the most important round of the tournament. Of course, both players are vying for the $120,000 first place, but to earn a coveted seat to challenge for the world championship is what dreams are made of.

    Wesley So vs. Ding Liren
     
    Flag
    1
    2
    3
    4
    5
    6
    7
    8
    9
    pts.
    So
    USA
    ½
    ½
    ½
    ½
    0
    ½
    Ding
    China
    ½
    ½
    ½
    ½
    1
    ½

    Ding Liren and Wesley So both seemed to be a bundle of nerves as both missed opportunities to apply pressure at key moments. In fact it was Ding who bungled not one, but two chances to go ahead in the match. However, all of the games were drawn.

    In the first rapid game, Ding played the decisive 38…f4! and after 39.Kd2, he could have responded with 39…fxg3 40.hxg3 h5 (diagram) and white has no moves.

    To recap briefly, So missed a chance to sacrifice the exchange in the first classical game which upon deeper analysis, would give him winning chances. In the second classical game, Ding had a chance to get a favorable ending with 37.Rh8! While black could stave off the mating net, the ending leads to a virtually lost ending. So the match remained knotted.

    Rapid (25’+10″) Game 1

    In the first rapid game, Ding faced the Catalan and snatched the c4-pawn. So played inaccurately in the opening and the Chinese player held onto the booty. In fact, white was completely tied up after 38…f4! but black missed a chance to put white in a state of zugzwang after 39.Kd2. However, he missed a couple additional opportunities to win. So simplified the position and held on to the draw in a rather uninspired performance.

    Rapid (25’+10″) Game 2

    Nine-move draw??? Triple question mark.

    Are the players getting weary or was this simply a case of hitting the reset button in order gain one’s bearing after three imperfect games. Perhaps, but of course, social media exploded. There is no 30-move no-draw rule in this tournament and it may be good for the players, but for those anticipating another fight, not so much. The players would take their chances in the faster formats.

    Rapid (10’+10″) Game 1

    This is technically the fastest rapid game you can play. In fact is a a hybrid between rapid and blitz and suits both of these players. The Chinese contingent were working hard to find a chink in the armour of So who has brought along his foster mother Loftis Key, but it is unclear who else he has in his team. Now is where the real preparation could come in handy.

    So is in zugzwang. If 41.g4 then 41…h4 seals the tomb.

    So had white again, but still was not sharp. Ding seem to get active piece play with a black knight planted on d3 and active pieces. So stirred the pot with 19.Ng5! which forced Ding to walk a tightrope to avoid losing a piece. He found 19…b2! 20.Rab1 Nxf2! The resulting exchange would give So two minor pieces for a rook.

    After 22…e5 (hitting the knight), So retreated with 23.Nh3 and offered a draw. Ding declined and won the psychological round. Having someone decline your draw offer is an unsettling moment, but So was also down on time. However, So gave back the two pieces for a rook, but his king was hopelessly exposed. Ding seized on this with 30…h5! In fact, Ding missed 33…Bxd4+! to immediately end the game.

    Ding kept up the pressure and white’s exposed king would lead to his undoing. White was completely tied up and to avoid zugzwang had to donate his queen for a rook. In these endings there are several defenses and a few Grandmasters have failed to win. There are a couple stalemating tricks, but typically the rook is forced away from the king and picked off. Ding deftly executed a staircase maneuver and So resigned one move from his rook being picked up.

    Rapid (10’+10″) Game 2

    Trying to save the match would be an uphill battle for So. He had not been sharp in the tiebreak games. He went for the Modern Benoni in the equalizer, a fair choice. Unfortunately, he was unable to create enough of an imbalance and Ding’s bishop pair was able to command control and without the queens, it was a rather routine task to make a draw. The American player had played well in the previous rounds, but had run out of gas.

    Thus, Ding Liren has become the first Chinese player to qualify for a championship qualifier… and there certainly will be many more. It’s been almost 30 years since Liu Wenzhe shocked the world at the 1978 Olympiad with a stunning win against Jan Hein Donner. One may argue that this was the beginning of China’s march to the elite levels of chess.

    Video by Sagar Shah (ChessBase India)

    Levon Aronian vs. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
     
    Flag
    1
    2
    3
    4
    5
    6
    7
    8
    9
    pts.
    Aronian
    Armenia
    ½
    ½
    0
    1
    ½
    ½
    ½
    ½
    1
    5
    MVL
    France
    ½
    ½
    1
    0
    ½
    ½
    ½
    ½
    0
    4

    Rapid (25’+10″) Game 1

    This was a heavyweight match. Both players went toe-to-toe in a match that went the distance. It was the first match to go to Armageddon. Both Aronian and MVL are friends and were seen exchanging warm words and smiles throughout their match. Their tiebreak segment started with a boom. MVL mercilessly crushed his comrade!

    Rapid (25’+10″) Game 2

    The thing about the tiebreaks is if you lose, you have to change your plan. In the words of Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan until they get hit.” Aronian had a plan… mix it up and hope MVL would dawdle. He did. The Armenian played a piece sacrifice that undoubtedly rankled MVL, but he took the piece and tried to hold on. Aronian kept plowing ahead and opening lines. MVL was doing well, but made a horrible blunder in trying to get the queens off the board with 24…Qd4?? After 25.Qe2! Qb4 white had a devastating knockout attack with 26.Qh5. Here is how it ended.

    Video Sagar Shah (ChessBase India)

    Rapid (10’+10″) Game 1

    The first game went 24 moves into Aronian’s preparation In fact he had played the position against Anish Giri and drew in 48 moves in 2015 Wijk ann Zee. Would he find an improvement?

    Video by Sagar Shah (ChessBase India)

    No improvement in a fairly uneventful game. Recalling theory is certainly within the realm of any professional in any particular field. However, the tension is so high and one tiny mistake in any line can be disastrous. The game was well-played and the match would continue.

    Rapid (10’+10″) Game 2

    The seconds of the respective players were certainly working hard to find a wrinkle. Now MVL would have a chance to win the match. Aronian would definitely have a load of resources with him. He went into the mainline with 9…Na5 played smoothly, but there were no surprises. White sacrificed his queen for two rooks, but there was no progress to be made.

    Blitz (5’+3″) Game 1

    Unbelievable game here. While watching the game, many thought that Aronian had an overwhelming advantage when MVL’s pieces got tangled. In fact, it appeared as if he was going to reel in the point, but the game got out of his control. Actually, he played a winning move, but thought he blundered the position. Watch his expression during the game. The action starts at 38.Bg5.

    Video by Sagar Shah (ChessBase India)

    Yes… in this game white had built up an impressive advantage out of the London System no less. Magnus Carlsen has used it on occasion with good effect. After 20 moves, Aronian had a comfortable edge. His advantage grew after 29.Bh6 with the bishop pair controlling affairs. Aronian also missed 34.Rd8! which was discussed in the broadcast.

    Aronian played 39.Rd8! perhaps not realizing that he was on the verge of winning. Shaking his head after 39…Bxd1, he played 40.Rxa8! but on 40…Qxa8 he missed 41.Bc4! He played 41.Bxd1 and got in trouble, but saved the draw.

    As time wound down, Aronian started to dawdle a bit shuffling pieces and allowing MVL to get a defensive posture. However, on 39.Rd8! he played the right continuation after 39…Bxd1 40.Rxa8! (40.Rxd8 loses material) Qxa8 41.Bxd1? (On 41.Bc4! white is on top) The commentators pointed out this line as well.

    After 41.Bxd1 Qe8, black got a slight advantage, but not decisive. It appears that black should play something like 48…Qc4 or 48…Qb4! to keep the game going. After 48…Qe5 white drew comfortably with 49.Qf1+ Kg7 50.Qxb5. Thrilling battle! Things are ratcheting up.

    Blitz (5’+3″) Game 2

    This game gave both players a “breather.” There was a repeat of topical line in the Ruy Lopez with 6.d3. It was actually black who had a bit of an advantage when white deviated with 12.Rxa2 in the opening. Seems like the rook was misplaced for several moves, but MVL got heavy pieces off and only had to deal with a passed d-pawn. In fact, white had to jettison a pawn to get some breathing room. On the last move of the game he played 41.Kxd3 and the tension was broken. They’d go to Armageddon.

    ARMAGEDDON!!

    So this is it. The final game to determine who would advance to the final and also who would secure the second spot in the Candidate’s Tournament next year. When asked by The Chess Drum if he felt a sense of urgency, Aronian stated that “he likes his chances.” Well… that confidence accounts for a lot and he has the entire nation behind him including the President. In fact, Independence Day of Armenia was on the day of Armageddon match.

    On the other hand, MVL had his own agenda. For the Frenchman, he seeks a passage into the Candidates, but can get in through the wild card or through the Grand Prix. However, MVL sought to get in directly and would be playing black with draw odds. In other words, all he had to do was to hold the draw and he’s in.

    Faik Gasanov (Azerbaijan) conducted the chosing of colors in the old-fashioned way. Aronian got the chance to play white and receive an extra minute. However, he needed a win to advance. MVL is playing for two results instead of one. Photo by Amruta Mokal

    In this game, Aronian repeated the unambitious London System he played in the first blitz game. He the same line, but MVL deviated with 9…b6 and got a playable position. In fact, it didn’t seem Aronian had any semblance of winning this one. MVL had an outside passed-pawn, but started sacrificing central pawns to activate his king. White’s pieces were passive, but two pawns are two pawns.

    54…Raa4! would’ve saved the game and put MVL into the finals and Candidate’s.

    The black king rushed up the board like a quarterback sprinting for a first down, but the white pawns started racing up the board as well. Since white had both rooks tied down, it became a game of kings… and of tempos. After 54.e6, MVL had to play 54…Raa4 with a cute draw. It was difficult to see it. After he retreated back to a8, then white had a tactical resource 55.Rf1+ Rf4 56.Rxf4+ Kxf4 57.Rxa2!

    The pawns were unstoppable now and we had another Q vs. R ending, but the difference is that Aronian had little time to execute the win. He used his king and queen to squeeze black. As in So-Ding Q vs. R game, the rook had to move away from the king and eventually had to fall on the sword and admit defeat. What a rush! Here are the final moments.

    Video by Sagar Shah ChessBase India)

    Official Website: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/
    All PGN Games (TWIC): https://www.theweekinchess.com/
    Rules and Regulations: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/regulations/

  20. 2017 World Chess Cup
    September 2nd-27th, 2017 (Tbilisi, Georgia)
    FINALS
    Levon Aronian vs. Ding Liren
     
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    pts.
    Aronian
    ARM
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    Drum Coverage
    | Round 1 | Round 2 | Round 3 | Round 4 | Round 5 |
    | Semifinals | Finals |

    Official Website: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/
    All PGN Games (TWIC): https://www.theweekinchess.com/
    Rules and Regulations: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/regulations/

  21. FINALS-Game 1 Recap
    23 September 2017

    Aronian and Ding starts out with an interesting draw

    The final of the World Cup moved to the opulent Biltmore Hotel in Tbilisi as all eyes were on the last standing competitors Levon Aronian of Armenia and Ding Liren of China. One of the major differences was the dramatically different ambiance. Sagar Shah actually gave a tour of the venue and Amruta Mokal captured the playing facility in all of its glory. Needless to say, it was much more than one could imagine for this final match.

    Biltmore Hotel (Ampitheatre)

    Biltmore Hotel Ampitheatre

    According to Zurab Azmaiparashvili,

    Gorgeous custom made table and chairs made during the dominant run of Georgian women. According to Zurab Azmaiparashvili, “During the period of Gaprindashvili and later Chiburdandidze eight such sets of table and chairs were made for the World Champinship Matches. Five sets were used by Nona Gaprindashvili, Maia Chiburdanidze, Nana Alexandria, Nana Ioseliani in their matches. This is the sixth one.” Thus, this gorgeous table and chairs are 40 years old! Photos by Amruta Mokal

    However, there were some technical issues. The crowd noise may be a factor in such a place and whispering and buzzing of voices is unavoidable. In fact, there was music playing after the ceremonial first move and Aronian, a jazz aficionado, was seen admiring the sounds. Ding was not enthralled and asked the arbiters if the music can be turned off. After ten minutes, the music was gone.

    Aronian seemed to enjoy the soft music in the background.

    While Aronian seemed to enjoy the soft music in the background…

    Ding was not a fan of music during the game.

    … Ding was not a fan of music during the game.
    Photos by Amruta Mokal

    Now to the game.

    After the stage was set and music turned off, the mood changed to one of tension. The opening has some opening intrigue and became rather unbalanced in the first ten moves. The game turned out to follow a theoretical path including Nakamura-Topalov, Grand Chess Tour. The truth of the matter was that the game was highly complicated with many imbalances and many questions that had to be answered.

    Aronian mentioned that he was surprised in the opening after 7…d4 and commented on the critical stage of the game, but decided to steer from the speculations so early in the match. One critical stage came when Aronian could have essayed 29.f5!? This move was the subject of discussion among the commentators and also mentioned by both Aronian and Ding in the press conferences.

    Video by Sagar Shah (ChessBase India)

    Video by Georgia Chess

    So the first game has been drawn and it appears as if this world championship atmosphere set in a beautiful venue is more than we can ask for. Looking forward to great chess in Tbilisi (pronounced be-lisi)!

    Official Website: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/
    All PGN Games (TWIC): https://www.theweekinchess.com/
    Rules and Regulations: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/regulations/

  22. FINALS-Game 2 Recap
    24 September 2017

    Aronian presses Ding, but match still knotted

    Aronian put Ding under tremendous pressure, but the 24-year old Chinese player refuse to buckle. Forced to find move after move, he was able to hold the draw and keep the match level. It may have been a miss for Aronian who has had the better chances in the match. Generally, it is not good to miss chances in a short match, but the Armenian has an even-keeled persona and will certainly apply pressure with white in game three.

    Ding reflects on the game… and the banana he brought to the board!

    Videos by Sagar Shah (ChessBase India)

    Official Website: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/
    All PGN Games (TWIC): https://www.theweekinchess.com/
    Rules and Regulations: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/regulations/

  23. FINALS-Game 3 Recap
    25 September 2017

    Will Aronian’s missed chances haunt him?

    Levon Aronian

    Levon Aronian may still be reeling from yesterday’s near miss.
    Photo by Anastasia Kharlovich

    While Levon Aronian did not seem to have overwhelming chances in this game, he held the initiative for quite some time before he could no longer hope for more than a draw. What is important to note is that Ding Liren must feel very fortunate to have remained equal in the match given the fact that the Armenian has outplayed him and was close to breaking through yesterday. There is one more classical game and if that is drawn, then they go to tiebreaks.

    As many have noted, the semi-finals was perhaps the most important round since it clinched two spots in the Candidates. So regardless of who wins both are in an enviable position while players like Fabiano Caruana, Vladimir Kramnik, Wesley So, Maxime Vachier Lagrave and Shahkriyar Mamedyarov must scramble to get in either by Grand Prix, rating qualification or by wildcard.

    Video by Georgia Chess

    Official Website: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/
    All PGN Games (TWIC): https://www.theweekinchess.com/
    Rules and Regulations: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/regulations/

  24. FINALS-Game 4 Recap
    26 September 2017

    Ding escapes once again… should Karjakin be worried?

    Earlier there were jokes that Ding Liren has taken Sergey Karjakin’s title as “Minister of Defense.” He did it again. After overcoming a crumbling position after 18…Qh4! Ding held enough activity to keep the balance. He flashed a wry smile and reflected again on his defensive skills.

    Video Sagar Shah (ChessBase India)

    So we go to tiebreaks. It is unclear who has the momentum. Levon Aronian has certainly played better, but he repeated missed chances could easily demoralize him. If he does drop the match, many will point to the missed chances. Nevertheless, Aronian is in magnificent form and should be favored going into the tiebreaks.

    Video by Georgia Chess

    Official Website: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/
    All PGN Games (TWIC): https://www.theweekinchess.com/
    Rules and Regulations: https://tbilisi2017.fide.com/regulations/

  25. FINALS-Tiebreaks Recap
    27 September 2017

    Aronian crushes in tiebreaks, wins 2017 World Chess Cup!

    Armenia’s Levon Aronian during tiebreaks.
    Photo by Anastasia Kharlovich (fide.com)

    All of Levon Aronian’s previous frustrations came out in the tiebreaks after two convincing wins in the rapid segment. Ding Liren, who was undefeated in the classical games throughout the tournament, admitted that Aronian was the stronger player in the match and had several opportunities to break out front including three games in which he was better or completely winning.

    After winning the St. Louis Rapid and Blitz, The Chess Drum asked Levon Aronian about a “sense of urgency” in his quest for the World Championship. He stated that there was no sense of urgency and added, “I like my chances.” He certainly backed up his confidence and on the eve of his September 30th wedding to Arianne Caoli, he donned the shoes she bought him as a gift. Earlier he said no amount of wins are enough for his fiance, but certainly this win will make things sweeter in the home of the newest chess couple.

    Rapid (25’+10″) Game 1

    In the first game, Ding surely got off on the wrong foot and got caught into the morass of unfavorable complications. Aronian had been playing the English, but this transposed into a Slav with the sharp 8.e4 line, but soon black punching in the center with 10…e5!? Aronian uncorked a novelty with 12.Rae1!? with the idea the light-squared bishop drop back and can clear the way for a battery on the b1-h7 diagonal.

    Now black had to have had extreme caution here, but he lost the thread quickly after 15.Qd3 g6 16.h4! Nf6 17.h5 pummeling the light squares. The onslaught continued with 19.Ng6! Watch how fluidly the attack unfolds. It was another piece of fine preparation by Aronian. Very impressive!

    Ding Liren in meditation before his tried to equalize. He had chances.
    Photo by Anastasia Kharlovich

    Rapid (25’+10″) Game 2

    Now Ding how to equalize the score. What would he play with the white pieces after 1.d4? He opted for a rather unambitious line in the Ragozin. He simply just wanted a game. It may have been the idea that Aronian has not been particularly alert in some of the black games. Ding did win the two bishops, but he needed a win. After 11.Nxg6 hxg6 black had a solid setup, but the Chinese player wanted to stir up things with 14.g4!? Indeed Aronian started stumbling. Ding had a nice attacking formation after 20.Bg4! putting Aronian into the think tank.

    Legends in the room!
    Photo by Anastasia Kharlovich

    Now with only five minutes left, Aronian decided to punch back with 21…Nef6!? 22.gxf6 gxf6 23.Bh2?! (23.Bg3! with a strong attack after 23…f5 24.Bxf5 gxf5 25.Nc3!) f5. After 24.Bxf5 gxf5 25.Qd1, Ding missed 25…Rg8+ 26.Kh1 Rg4! closing the door on white’s initiative. Now white’s king is suddenly in danger. Again, Aronian rushed in for the finishing blows with 30…Nf5! 31.Rfe1 Qh4 and there was no escape. Ding resigned a couple of moves later. Here was his impressions:

    Video by Sagar Shah (ChessBase India)

    Who are the legends in the room?

    Nona Gaprindashvili, Nana Ioseliani, Nana Alexandria and Maia Chiburdinidze assembled in the same room. Gaprindashvili and Chiburdinidze were both world champions (1962-1978) and (1978-1991) respectively. Classic photo!

    Video by Sagar Shah (ChessBase India)

    So Levon Aronian cemented a wonderful 2017 campaign with another victory and in a couple weeks he will be married. There is no better way to end one’s bachelorhood than in victory. He is a shoo-in to win the “Player of the Year” or Chess Oscar (if they still award those). For the Candidate’s tournament, there are a few more slots left, and with Vladimir Kramnik tumbling out of contention in Isle of Man, it will be an interesting field with new faces. Aronian will have the weight of support from the government of Armenia, his growing fan base and of course, Arianne. Congratulations!

    Photo by Anastasia Kharlovich (fide.org)

    Video by GM Daniel King

  26. Video Broadcasts (Final)

    Tiebreaks, Rapid (2:27:37)

    Full video of Closing Ceremony (1:08:15)

    Video by Georgia Chess

    Closing Ceremony (09:18)

    Video by Sagar Shah (ChessBase India)

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