2017 World Chess Cup: Finals

2017 World Chess Cup

September 2nd-27th, 2017 (Tbilisi, Georgia)

FINALS

Levon Aronian vs. Ding Liren
 
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11
pts.
Aronian
ARM
½
½
½
½
1
1
4
Ding
China
½
½
½
½
0
0
2
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/

Daaim Shabazz

Dr. Daaim Shabazz is the creator and webmaster of The Chess Drum. He serves as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds an MBA in Marketing and a doctorate in International Affairs & Development. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

6 Comments

  1. 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/

  2. 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/

  3. 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/

  4. 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

  5. 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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