World Cup 2015 – Round 3

Round 3 saw the crashing out of the Russians – Grischuk and Kramnik go home.

In retrospect, perhaps that is how it should be. After drawing 6 games in a row against the fantastic Atabayev, it was obvious that Grischuk’s form and confidence were far from the desired optimum. Yet the way he lost the first game to Eljanov does make it even harder for him – he was completely winning. Perhaps not so easy to see in time-trouble, but still I’d expect him to nail it. And then after the turn of events he missed several ways to put up stiffer resistance:

The second game was a desperate attempt to win with black which backfired, something seen countless times. The win in this match made Eljanov The Man – he has 6/6, winning all his matches 2-0! Crashing out from the World Cup rounds off a very bad period in Grischuk’s career – after the Petrosian Memorial in November last year, when he started with 3/3 and 4.5/5 and confidently crossed 2800, he hasn’t had a decent result! His rating came down very quickly and instead of qualifying for the Candidates via rating, as was expected at the beginning of the year, now he’s out of the cycle. Too bad, as I always like how he plays, the ideas he demonstrates, but he is his worst enemy with the eternal time-troubles.

Kramnik beat Andreikin in the final of the last World Cup in 2013, but this year’s revenge seems sweeter for the latter. Making it to the final secures a place in the Candidates, so the loss in 2013 wasn’t that important for Andreikin, but this year’s loss means Kramnik is definitely out. I don’t know whether it’s time to write an obituary for Kramnik’s career, but this loss definitely will shape things up for him. He placed big importance on qualifying here and now that he cannot do it anymore, I don’t think he has a lot of incentive of playing on. Just like Kasparov when he couldn’t play for the highest title, Kramnik also finds it difficult to motivate himself with the “usual” tournaments. The way he went out is similar to Grischuk’s – to make things even more unbearable, Kramnik was winning in the first game of the tie-break after Andreikin blundered an exchange in 1 move:

The resilience and resistance shown by Andreikin in this game is worth all the respect! Not many people can put up that kind of resistance after blundering an exchange in 1 move, and to make it even more heroic, he was playing one of the best technical players of all time! The second rapid game saw Kramnik sacrifice a pawn for which he didn’t get compensation and Andreikin was merciless. This win sets up another Russian blockbuster match-up between Andreikin and Karjakin, who continued his Chinese extermination by eliminating Yu Yangyi by 1.5-0.5.

The Russians are the not the only ones who play between themselves – the Chinese Wei Yi, who beat Areshchenko, and Ding Liren, who beat Guseinov, play against each other. In view of Lu Shanglei’s loss to Topalov, there is one Chinese player guaranteed to go through and he will play against the winner between Topalov and Svidler.

The crazy match of the round was Nepomniachtchi-Nakamura. It went all the way in the tie-breaks. This crazy match started calmly with 4 draws, but then all hell broke loose – 5 decisive games in a row! First Nepo came back in the 10’+10” games, then Nakamura in the 5’+3”. The match also had a peculiar development – after scoring his first win it seemed Nakamura was going to win the match, as he got completely winning in the second game. But then he blundered in 1 move and lost! This seemed to affect him and he lost the first game of the next 2 games! And now it came to the fore Nakamura’s ability to come back, something I have written about him not so long ago – he pulled himself together and won a good game, thus forcing the Armageddon. Now the tendency was again in his favour and he won, playing black. After the game Nepomniachtchi on Twitter expressed his “disgust” at Nakamura, who apparently made a castle with two hands, but as usual these things are solved during the game, not after it. If you are unhappy with something you react and complain immediately, because if you don’t then it gnaws at you and it prevents you from playing.

I must mention Giri’s impressive win against Leko. In a symmetrical Catalan position he very confidently outplayed Leko, a win that reminds me of his technical win against Topalov from the same structure. You can see that game in the comments and also the final part here. Is Giri the new Kramnik in the Catalan?

Round 4 is tomorrow, with Topalov-Svidler, Wei Yi-Ding Liren and Andreikin-Karjakin my favourites for interesting matches.

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