Baku 5.2: Eljanov, Giri advance

by Alejandro Ramirez
9/25/2015 – It's the end of the road for the last 2800 remaining in the tournament: Nakamura was simply unable to create any real chances to win against Eljanov today and he gracefully exited the tournament. The Ukrainian, now number 14 in live-rankings, is one of two people already in the semis. The other is Giri, who managed to outplay MVL in a long endgame.

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World Cup

10th September – 5th October

Baku, Azerbaijan

Round Five - Game Two

Two matches have ended with a winner, the other two matches will be decided in a tiebreak on Friday, starting 15:00 local time.

Follow the tiebreaks of the quarterfinals live on

The local hero has a tough match up tomorrow

The first game to end in a draw was Karjakin-Mamedyarov. The game was actually just heating up as the position on the board was unclear and, as far as I can tell, had never been played before in practice. Black had active pieces but White's slight lead in development and pressure against the weak c4 pawn might have given Karjakin some chances. Alas, the players agreed to a draw before move 20 and will be going into tiebreaks. This will be Mamedyarov's second tiebreak, in the first he eliminated Hou Yifan.

Karjakin is clearly trying to keep his energy and betting on the tiebreaks

Perhaps trying to avoid an ultra-solid Spanish, Wei Yi employed the Italian Game against Svidler. That didn't bring much, though, and the Russian had few reasons to complain about his position. Even opposite-side castling did not add much excitement to the game as many pieces came off the board. The players agreed to draw on move 28 to battle it out in the tiebreaks.

Too solid! Svidler defends easily with the black pieces.

Nakamura found himself in a must-win situation to reach the tiebreaks, but he never stood a chance. Eljanov's position was simply too hard to penetrate, and the Ukrainian kept playing passively and defensively, without giving the American any chance to create complications. More and more pieces gradually left the board and eventually it was clear that Nakamura was making no progress at all. The final position was very drawish and Nakamura accepted his fate. He went out like a gentleman:

The last 2800 leaves the stage

Lastly, Giri played a long game against MVL and broke his opponent's defenses:

[Event "FIDE World Cup 2015"] [Site "Baku AZE"] [Date "2015.09.24"] [Round "5.2"] [White "Giri, Anish"] [Black "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E60"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "137"] [EventDate "2015.09.11"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. e3 {This is definitely one way of avoiding the Grunfeld complications. Giri just wants to play some chess.} O-O 5. Be2 b6 6. O-O Bb7 7. Nc3 d5 8. cxd5 Nxd5 9. Bd2 {The structure is Grunfeld like anyway. Black will soon try to break with e5 or c5.} c5 $5 {But he didn't have to do it right away. This is a pawn sacrifice.} (9... Nd7 {looks playable, MVL was probably trying to avoid something like.} 10. Nxd5 Bxd5 11. Qc2 {with a quick e4 coming.}) 10. dxc5 Nxc3 11. Bxc3 Bxc3 12. bxc3 Nd7 (12... bxc5 13. Qa4 {leaves Black in a rather bad position. White will soon take control of the d and b files, resulting in a clear advantage for him.}) 13. cxb6 axb6 {In exchange for the pawn Black has an open a-file, a target on c3 and a nice anchor square for the knight on c5. I would rather playing white nonetheless, but Black has chances.} 14. Qd4 Qc7 15. Rfb1 Ra5 16. Qb4 e6 17. Qe7 $5 {Making Black's life difficult. There are some issues with the pin on the seventh rank and the f7 pawn.} Qd8 (17... Bxf3 $5 18. Bxf3 Rc5 {seems to solve some problems, but giving up a bishop for a knight isn't the easiest thing to do.}) 18. Qxd8 Rxd8 19. Rd1 Bc6 20. Nd4 Ba4 21. Rdb1 e5 22. Nb3 Ra7 23. Nd2 {Now in the endgame Black retains some compensation, but it is clear that White will be the one pressing for a win.} Rc8 24. c4 Bc6 25. Rb2 Kg7 26. f3 Re8 27. Kf2 e4 {Trying to create something, but this does weaken the d4 square.} 28. Nb3 exf3 29. gxf3 Ba4 30. Rd1 Re5 31. Rd5 $16 Rxd5 (31... Re8 {was probably better in hindsight.}) 32. cxd5 Bxb3 {A necessity. Black can't allow White to setup his pieces in all the right squares and push e4.} 33. axb3 Kf6 34. f4 {Black's only hope of surviving is to create some kind of blockade. Giri makes sure that the darksquares are under his control.} g5 (34... Nc5 35. b4 Ne4+ 36. Kf3 $18) 35. Rc2 $6 (35. Kf3 gxf4 36. Kxf4 Ne5 37. Ke4 {lets Black blockade on e5 for now, but I wonder if he can really hold this position. I like this better than what Giri did.}) 35... gxf4 36. exf4 Ke7 37. Rc6 Nf6 38. Bf3 Rd7 39. Rxb6 Nxd5 40. Bxd5 Rxd5 {This is a difficult position to assess. My intuition says that it is closer to a draw than anything else, but in practical chess it isn't easy to hold by any means.} 41. Kg3 h5 42. Kh4 Rf5 43. Rb4 Rd5 44. Rc4 Kf6 45. b4 Kg6 (45... Rb5 {would prevent the maneuver that White played in the game, on the other hand the rook looks passive on b5.}) (45... Rd2 46. Kxh5 ( 46. h3 Kg6 47. b5 Rb2 {rook from behind}) 46... Rxh2+ 47. Kg4 {was perhaps the way to go for MVL.}) 46. Rc6+ f6 47. Rc2 Rb5 48. Rb2 Kf5 49. Kg3 Ke4 50. Rb1 Kd3 {Black is pretty active, but to get to the b4 pawn he will have to give up his kingside position.} 51. Kf3 Kc2 (51... f5 52. Kg3 {makes h5 rather weak. After for example} Kc2 53. Ra1 (53. Rf1 Rxb4 54. Kh4 Kd3 55. Kxh5 Ke2 $11) 53... Rxb4 54. Ra5 h4+ 55. Kxh4 Rxf4+ 56. Kg5 Rf1 57. Rxf5 Rg1+ 58. Kh5 Kd3 { And my trust computer says this is a draw. However that is not so obvious to a human: after Re5 it looks scary.}) 52. Ra1 Rxb4 53. Ra5 Rb3+ 54. Ke4 {The king's intrusion looks fatal.} h4 55. Kf5 Kd3 56. Kxf6 Ke4 57. f5 h3 58. Ra4+ Kf3 59. Kg5 {Now the ending is winning. Giri converts precisely.} Rb5 60. Ra2 Rb4 61. f6 Rg4+ 62. Kf5 Rf4+ 63. Ke6 Re4+ 64. Kd6 Rd4+ 65. Ke7 Re4+ 66. Kf8 Rb4 67. f7 Rf4 68. Rb2 Ra4 69. Rb6 1-0

Giri seems to be in strong form. In his two tiebreaks (against Motylev and Wojtaszek) he won 3-1,
and decided his other matches in classical chess.

Both Giri and Eljanov were heavily searched with metal detectors after the game, but of course nothing was found. Eljanov made some remarks that he supported any kind of anti-cheating measure, and did not know what Ms. Sandu was complaining about (regarding the incident at the Women's European Championship) on Facebook.

There was also happier news: Azerbaijan has issued a postage stamp dedicated to the World Cup 2015:

Two more giants will go home on Friday. After a rest day (the first in this long event) on Saturday, the semi-finals will begin on Sunday!

All Round 5.2 Games

Round five pairings

Player Rtg
G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Peter Svidler (RUS) 2727
Wei Yi (CHN) 2734
Player Rtg
G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Anish Giri (NED) 2793
M. Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) 2744
Player Rtg
G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 2814
Pavel Eljanov (UKR) 2717
Player Rtg
G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
S. Mamedyarov (AZE) 2736
Sergey Karjakin (RUS) 2762

Photos and information from the official website and their Facebook page


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Topics Baku, World Cup

Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.
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Timothy Chow Timothy Chow 9/27/2015 07:12
As suggested, I contacted the Operating Committee and they said that unfortunately, at the moment there is no provision for selling the postage stamp outside Azerbaijan. This seems like a good opportunity for an enterprising stamp dealer to step in and act as a middleman.
GregEs GregEs 9/26/2015 11:07
Regarding the postage stamp for your collection, just go to official site of World Cup then email the officials there.

The Organizing Committee -
Please, use this email address for career enquiries as well.

For any press related questions refer to
Sidnei Sidnei 9/26/2015 06:06
Please, how could I get to purchase this Azerbaijan postage stamps? Thank you!
Timothy Chow Timothy Chow 9/25/2015 07:13
How can one purchase a copy of the Azerbaijan postage stamp?
imdvb_8793 imdvb_8793 9/25/2015 07:03
"If you see something suspicious" - yeah, the problem is there was absolutely NOTHING suspicious. Even the result itself was plausible as a slight anomaly, coming from a rather strong and always dangerous player such as Mihaela Sandu. There was absolutely no reason to be suspicious, except for pure paranoia or, worse, for reasons relating to psychological warfare (which I believe was probably the case, as these are clearly intelligent, calculated people we're talking about here - the people who wrote/signed the letter).

There are other points to be made, but I don't want another gigantic discussion on a subject I already debated extensively earlier this year. If you tell me what the concrete reasons for being suspicious of the performance were, we can keep talking, otherwise I'm not interested. And please don't tell me we should be checking everybody who strings together a few wins against players rated less than 200 points higher! Every Chinese and Indian player not previously known internationally, every talented junior in the world, and plenty of other players, would have to be checked and harassed constantly, and could never play any tournament in peace. But I guess that's not an important consideration, for some reason...
hpaul hpaul 9/25/2015 06:32
The Soviet school of chess strikes back. All four semifinalists, 2 born in Russia and 2 in Ukraine, come originally from countries of the former USSR.
tigerprowl2 tigerprowl2 9/25/2015 05:41
Stoja, I have no problem being checked and released. Your brain problem is you don't want to be checked for fear of not being released.

I fully support police actions within their country's borders, but I do not support military action outside of the country.
Stoja Stoja 9/25/2015 05:25
Have you some brain issues tigerprowl2? If anyone should be pusnihed here it's you for your ignorance.
tigerprowl2 tigerprowl2 9/25/2015 04:50
I think Eljanov's comments should come as a reality check. Was Mihaela Sandu actually "punished"?

If you see something suspicious and you take measures to deal with negative outcomes this isn't a sign of discrimination. If I were here, I would have stated, "Yes, I am playing better. Do your checks and move on."

I personally have to do this when I go through airport security. I had some questionable guitar cords and parts in Incheon, Korea once. They took me aside, did a security check and then even apologized afterwards.

Recently, I had a battery pack/charger in China when returning to the USA. They didn't allow it onboard, so I just chucked it and boarded my flight.

Why are people so paranoid about being "singled out"? Is it a way to get attention? I could understand this for those people who lie around all day and want to gossip with their daily soap operas.

The reality check is you are not a princess or a prince. You should not be handled with fragility. If you do something good or bad, people will see it.

So, do the security check and move on. I again ask, was this person, Mihaela Sandu, actually punished?
imdvb_8793 imdvb_8793 9/25/2015 04:42
"Eljanov made some remarks that he supported any kind of anti-cheating measure, and did not know what Ms. Sandu was complaining about (regarding the incident at the Women's Europan Championship) on Facebook."

Oh, so he's one of those... Come on, Sergey! We don't want to see such people in the Candidates! Maybe this is harsh, but I don't care! I have zero sympathy for people who show any kind of support for what happened there...
johnmk johnmk 9/25/2015 03:13
@oputu said: Previously, they were the first......all the time!!!

Maybe that is part of the problem. Chessbase rushes to be first but analysis is often sloppy, and that's usually Ramirez. With engines it's true that one can produce analysis of a game much quicker than the old days. But for me, I'm willing to wait for Daniel King's video that comes out later but is usually more considered.
Noschessdamus Noschessdamus 9/25/2015 12:39
While we are on the subject of "Cheating in Chess". Of course, am not in anyway suggesting that a Cat Scan should be conducted on Eljanov's brain to determine if implanted therein is Fritz 100, deeply imbedded in his frontal lob, transmitting to his state-of-the-art contact lens, by an accomplish surreptitiously located at Area 51.
yesenadam yesenadam 9/25/2015 11:31
i also thought Eljanov's comment/attack aimed at Sandu the other day was pretty disgusting, I entirely sympathize with her and her response. (Although I'm not sure where 'discrimination' comes into it; it was just a lynch mob without any justification, nothing personal.) Maybe he didn't know so much about the case; I guess not. But really, he should apologize, as the whole thing must have been awful for Sandu; to have people still ignorantly denigrating her some time later makes it worse. I guess when you have mud thrown at you, some of it sticks.
yesenadam yesenadam 9/25/2015 11:19
I came first to the comments part to read the daily anti-Ramirez comment. Sure enough... lol.
Are they all the same person?! Can there really be so many nutty conspiracists out there? Hmm.. well, they all seem to say 'previously I have been silent but'.. Very suspicious. (Finegold)
p.s. oputu, that's an exceedingly bizarre accusation.
oputu oputu 9/25/2015 11:05
Okay, I have always been silent when Ramirez is accused of being bias but now I know its true. After Nakamura's exit, news to him became less appealing and this was one of the last sites to produce a news report on the games. Previously, they were the first......all the time!!!
GregEs GregEs 9/25/2015 04:56
Was disappointed to see GM Hikaru Nakamura of US playing very safe and silent position on his last game against GM Pavel Eljanov of Ukraine. I thought it was going to be messy and complicated game, that's a basic rule in chess, to complicate and make position as messy as you can if you're behind.

nicholasj nicholasj 9/25/2015 04:40
luishon luishon 9/25/2015 03:05
The world title is becoming a hot potato
Vladimir Kramnik and Vasily Ivanchuk
are having fun in less stressful tournaments