Anish Giri played the longest tiebreak and eventually defeated Evgeniy Najer in the armageddon game. The third round of the FIDE World Cup starts on Monday.
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GMs Yasser Seirawan, Eric Hansen and Aman Hambleton are covering the tournament each day on their channel Twitch.tv/Chessbrah. Play starts at 3 p.m. local time, which is 12:00 (noon) CEST, 6 a.m. Eastern and 3 a.m. Pacific.
It was the first armageddon of this World Cup. Dutch GM Giri and Russian GM Najer needed a total of nine games before it was finally clear who had to go home. They played the longest of all on Sunday, from three in the afternoon to 10 past nine in the evening.
When both the two rapid games and the two 10+10 had ended in draws, just like the classical games, some people started joking that Giri, who still hasn’t fully lost his reputation as a drawish player, might reach the third round by drawing all his games in this match—including the armageddon game.
But that minor flaw in the system wasn’t disclosed. The Dutchman won the first 5+3 game beautifully when his opponent played a bizarre looking move that was just begging to be refuted by a pretty queen sacrifice.
The match seemed over, with the solid Giri playing the white pieces in a game where he needed a draw. However, nerves outweighed other factors here and he actually misplayed the position and lost. Najer wasn’t completely calm either, as can be seen in the double rook endgame where he almost let it slip away.
That meant armageddon, with five minutes for White and four for Black who had draw odds. After move 60, both players would receive an increment of two seconds per move but it didn’t come that far.
The drawing of lots, performed by chief arbiter Ashot Vardepetyan who held a white pawn in one hand and a black pawn in the other, led to some confusion. The regulations say that the player who wins the drawing of lots may choose the color, but they don’t say which player gets to perform the drawing.
Giri got to pick, drew the right pawn and chose black. However, then the arbiter told him that another drawing was needed because the first one was only to determine which player got to perform the draw.
That seemed to be an ad hoc decision by the arbiter right then and there, and Giri argued that this was not how it was done normally. Since Najer didn’t protest, the arbiter accepted this and Giri got to play black right away.
In an obviously tense game, Najer blundered in an equal and sharp position:
Lots of drama was seen in the match between England’s Luke McShane and Daniil Yuffa of Russia as well. McShane started with losses in both the 25-minute and 10-minute games but managed to win on demand twice, and was very close to doing it for a third time to force an armageddon. However, he missed the win and then lost on time in a position he wouldn’t have won anyway:
Remarkably, these were the only two matches that were not decided yet after the two rapid games. 13 other matches were done much quicker.
Four players won both the rapid games: Leinier Dominguez (vs. Nijat Abasov), Peter Svidler (vs. Andrey Esipenko), Nikita Vitiugov (vs. Niclas Huschenbeth), Dmitry Jakovenko (vs. Gawain Jones) and Jeffery Xiong (vs. Amin Tabatabaei).
In the second rapid game, Esipenko lost a pawn and Svidler might have offered him a draw soon but suddenly the 17-year-old missed a back rank mate:
Having knocked out the 19-year-old Cuban player Carlos Daniel Albornoz the round before, Svidler (43 himself) tweeted the following:
Footage of rounds 1&2 of my World Cup campaign pic.twitter.com/MxdWMzRL8X
— Peter Svidler (@polborta) September 15, 2019
McShane doesn’t need to fly back to England alone. The other English grandmaster, Gawain Jones, was well prepared against Dmitry Jakovenko in the first rapid game and probably saw White’s piece sac on g5 coming, but ended up a pawn down anyway. The rook endgame might have been a draw, but the Russian player made life hard for Jones:
More excellent rook endgame technique was shown by Teimour Radjabov, who won the second rapid game against Russian GM Sanan Sjugirov this way:
The World Cup also said goodbye to 51-year-old Boris Gelfand of Israel, who probably could live with it as his opponent played a truly excellent first rapid game. Russia’s Maxim Matlakov chose to go for a trade of two minor pieces for a rook and pawn, which is often hard to estimate. His demonstrated its value thanks to his piece activity and the use of many pins:
Top seed Ding Liren had survived a lost position vs Sergei Movsesian and then drew the second classical game quickly. He won a very smooth first rapid game where he won a pawn and then countered all the attempts for tricks:
Dutch GM Benjamin Bok can be satisfied about his World Cup. Reaching the second round and holding Alexander Grischuk two three draws means a fine performance. It went wrong in the second rapid game, where Bok got outplayed in the opening with the longest name: the Tartakower-Makogonov-Bondarevsky system of the Queen’s Gambit Declined.
Nihal Sarin‘s blunder the other day turned out to be an expensive one, as he didn’t survive the tiebreak against Eltaj Safarli. This was an excellent first rapid game by the Azerbaijani:
FIDE World Cup | Round 2 tiebreak results
Bracket: (click on image for bigger version.)
(Click on image for bigger version.)
The FIDE World Cup takes place Sept. 9-Oct. 4 in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. Each round consists of two classical games and a tiebreak on the third day. The final consists of four classical games. Both finalists will qualify for the 2020 Candidates’ Tournament. The total prize fund is $1.6 million (1.45 million euros). Sept. 19 and 29 are rest days. You can find more background info in our preview article.