World Cup 2015 – Round 1

The first round of the World Cup is behind us and already there are some fascinating stories happening in Baku.

The main shocker is of course the elimination of former winner Boris Gelfand against IM Henriquez Villagra, rated 2511. What is amazing is that Gelfand first missed a win in the first game of the match by offering a draw in a winning position!

Then he was technically winning in the first rapid game, playing black, but failed to win. In the second rapid game, playing white, he got a better position, but Henriquez defended well and then Gelfand seemed to lose his patience and lashed out with an incorrect sacrifice, which was calmly refuted and this sent the Chilean IM to the second round. An incredible result!

Another player who suffered a lot from failure to win winning positions was Grischuk, who made 6 draws in a row against IM Yusup Atabayev, rated 2428. What were the odds for that?! Only in the 5’+3” blitz did Grischuk finally prevail, winning 2-0. But how is it possible not to win any of these, playing a player more than 300 points less than you? At least one?!

Game 1 of the match, technical, bishops, surely a win?!
Game 3, again bishops and all, and missing 16 Re6!
Game 4, a clear exchange up!
Game 5, strategically winning basically, and missing 24…Bc3!
Game 6, pure domination, now 31 Rc1! is best

OK, embarassing, but at least Grischuk still won the match.

Peter Leko won his match against Goganov thanks to his win in the first game. But I was very surprised to see Leko, needing a draw, play the Najdorf with black! He was lucky not to lose though, as he made a mistake in the middlegame. But since Leko’s preparation is legendary, it is worth noting the way he played in one of the most topical lines:

Round 2 already sees some tough pairings, so things are heating up in Baku. Should be fun to watch!

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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