World Cup 2015 – Round 4

The air is getting thinner in Baku and the pressure rises. The tournament reached a point where practically every player is a favourite to win.

Svidler eliminated Topalov by 1.5-0.5. An idea ran through my mind when I saw Topalov crashing out, after confidently marching up to this point – perhaps he heard that if he makes it to the final he will secure Kramnik’s participation in the Candidates on the basis of rating? Topalov lost the first game (although he had chances to save it) and had his chances to win in the second, but he didn’t take them. Svidler’s run reminds me of his magnificent victory in the World Cup in 2011, but let’s not jinx the man.

Another player to confidently go through after 2 games was Nakamura who finally put Adams out of the misery of playing non-stop way too many games in way too few days. Nakamura didn’t seem affected by the official complaint by Nepomniachtchi and the warning he received as a result of it. As a reminder, Nepo basically complained of Nakamura’s dirty play in the tie-breaks (touching pieces and not moving them, castling with two hands) and the arbiters’ lack of intervention. Nakamura’s win in the first game is another technical win that the American has been scoring lately.

Mamedyarov is the only local player left, but he’s on fire! The way he dispatched Caruana is enviable, but I cannot understand why Caruana goes for these closed structures when they don’t seem to be in accordance with his style? This year in closed structures he lost to Aronian and Grischuk in the same line of the QGD in Saint Louis and he was losing to Meier in Dortmund (but luckily won). Caruana failed to make the maximum of his good preparation in the second game and he’s on his way home now.

Andreikin followed his strategy from the last World Cup – beat them in the tie-breaks. He made two short draws against Karjakin in the classical games, but if in the previous round it was him who took revenge this time it was his opponent who took revenge – Andreikin beat Karjakin in the tie-breaks in Tromso in 2013, but this time it was the other way round. In fact Andreikin could have easily won, had he not missed his chance in the first rapid game:

In the second game Karjakin didn’t give him any more chances.

Giri beat Wojtaszek after the latter missed his chance to level the score in the second game. In the duel of the Chinese it was the younger, Wei Yi, who emerged victorious, and his next match against Svidler should be a real test of character for him.

So the quarter-finals look like this: Svidler-Wei Yi (I’d like to see the Chinese advance), Giri-Vachier (a curious match-up, my money would be on Giri), Karjakin-Mamedyarov (I’d go with Karjakin) and Eljanov-Nakamura (incospicuously Eljanov has gone so far, but I think Nakamura will send him home).

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