World Cup 2015 – The Final – Blunderfest in Baku

It is difficult for me to say whether the players relaxed too much or tensed up too much or just were dead tired once they reached the final. In any case the result is a full scale blunderfest that is never seen from players of this caliber. The games reminded me of one of the Rocky films, when in the final round the boxers hit each other and each hit is a knock-out.

In game 1 everything was normal until Karjakin started to crumble at the first sight of tension on the board.

In game 2 Karjakin was pressing and Svidler was defending well, quite a good game actually, but then Karjakin spoilt everything with a major one-move blunder.

Being 2-0 up, playing white in game 3 and needing a draw to win the match and the Cup, surely an easy task for a powerhouse like Svidler? Almost. Svidler played the way he should have, keeping things under control, running no risks and basically getting there. And then something inexplicable happened.

So instead of winning the match 3-0, Svidler was now forced to try to make that draw with black, after losing like that! I can only imagine his state of mind, but the way he played the fourth game gave a pretty good idea of it.

The tie-breaks didn’t change the overall tendency to blunder big time. After letting the 2-0 advantage slip, there had to be some higher justice to punish Svidler. And the punishment was very painful as he lost the 5’+3” games 2-0. The first one of those games was the pinnacle of the whole match:

42…Kg8?????? 43 Qb8

Losing the final like this will leave a mark on Svidler’s psyche and confidence. Yes, there is the consolation of the qualification for the Candidates, but it fades in comparison to the atrocious blunders he committed. As for Karjakin, he can just be happy now.

So the World Cup is over and we have another fresh KO experience. The final match was the ultimate reason why we don’t need knock-outs. Do we really need to put the players go through all this and feel like complete idiots who don’t know how to play chess so that a lot (I suppose) of people watching at home and understanding only the numbers of the engine evaluations have some fun yelling at the monitors? Going back to Carlsen’s proposal to call these types of KOs the World Championship, this final makes the whole proposal even more ridiculous. The bottom line of the whole issue is whether we want to preserve the quality of the games played in the World Championship. If yes, then the current format with the match is the perfect one. If not, then sure, play the knock-outs and have fun, but there are much better ways to have a show. You can mix up various elements based on your imagination; as for me I’d prefer scantily-clad women, the casino in Monaco and the (Russian) roulette.

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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  • […] no choice but to play the Sicilian. Karjakin came back from being 0-2 down against Svidler in the final of the World Cup in Baku in 2015, so Carlsen needed to be careful. Carlsen again managed to […]

  • Anonymous
    Oct 6,2015 at 8:23 am

    Nice and correct conclusion.

  • Anonymous
    Oct 6,2015 at 12:56 am

    I agree with you completely. The world championship should be about quality games not blitz blunderfests.

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