World Cup 2015 – Semi Finals

It’s funny how everybody that could have helped somebody else qualify, didn’t. Nakamura could have helped Jakovenko, Giri could have made Kramnik a lucky loser, but none of them wanted to do any favours. Not that they wanted to lose, but still…

Giri played an uncharacteristic game 1 against Svidler – I think it was his great preparation that led him astray. He obtained a very promising position, but a position that wasn’t entirely in his style. The position required controlled aggression, but Giri went for pure aggression and was duly punished.

The second game was even stranger – needing to win to level the score Giri went for… the Caro Kann! The only plausible explanation I can find is that he expected Svidler to go for his usual 3 e5, when indeed there are chances for black as well. But Svidler understandably went for 3 Nd2 and then even for 6 Nh3, the most solid of lines. In spite of the whole 51 moves played the draw was “as natural as baby’s smile.”

The other semi-final was the end of the road for the hero of this World Cup, Pavel Eljanov. His magnificent form brought him more than 30 Elo points (which currently makes him 12th in the world!) and he was also on the verge of eliminating Karjakin. He could have struck in the first game when he couldn’t realise his advantage of a pawn. The second game was quickly drawn and then in the third, the first with the 25’+10” Eljanov won. He only needed a draw in the second rapid game, but Karjakin played an excellent technical game:

After a comeback the player who made it is always a huge favourite to progress. Eljanov overpressed in the first 10’+10” game and lost but then Karjakin gave way too many chances in the second game and should have lost…

A nervous match and this time Karjakin went through. Too bad for Eljanov, who played excellent chess, but KOs are called KOs for exactly that reason – one bad day and you’re out.

I would have written that the final Svidler-Karjakin should be interesting, but with their main goal achieved, qualification for the Candidates next year, and the result being 2-0 in Svidler’s favour at the time of writing, perhaps the players are already in unwinding mode (especially Karjakin). It will probably all end tomorrow.

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