World Cup Finals G1: Svidler beats Grischuk, Ivanchuk draws Ponomariov

9/16/2011 – The first game of the finals and the fight for third place were not without drama. The primary battle for all the marbles Grischuk uncorked a strong novelty, but Svidler seemed ready for it and eventually it was Grischuk who lost his way. In a repeat match against Ponomariov, Ivanchuk generated chances in the endgame but failed to make the most of them. Will history repeat itself?

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The tournament is taking place in the Ugorian Chess Academy in the very heart of Khanty-Mansiysk, which has hosted three previous World Cups: 2005, 2007, and 2009. The 128 participants hail from 46 different countries, and are playing for a total prize fund of US $1.6 million. In addition the first three finisher get tickets to the Candidates tournament in the next World Championship cycle.

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Finals game one

The first game of the finals and the fight for third place were not without drama. The primary battle between Grischuk and Svidler was everything fans had hoped for and ended in a win for Svidler after a difficult game. Grishuck was White and had come up with a strong novelty, however it was one that Peter had clearly anticipated as he continued to play fairly quickly.

Grischuk struck first with a strong novelty...

The first and foremost question was whether the pawn White proferred could be taken, and while the answere seemed to be no, only post-mortem analysis confirmed the wisdom of this choice, The minute he got a chance, Black castled, giving up a pawn temporarily, and though some opined it was a poisoned pawn, the turth is that White didn't have any real alternatives. At this point, perhaps rattled by the move, Alexander began to err, and never really seemed himself as he lost his advantage. A few moves later, after two successive mistakes, he was just lost.

...but Svidler had the last word.

[Event "FIDE World Cup 2011"] [Site "Khanty-Mansiysk RUS"] [Date "2011.09.16"] [Round "7.1"] [White "Grischuk, Alexander"] [Black "Svidler, Peter"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B43"] [WhiteElo "2746"] [BlackElo "2739"] [PlyCount "60"] [EventDate "2011.08.28"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Nc3 b5 6. Bd3 Qb6 7. Nf3 Nc6 8. O-O Qb8 9. Re1 Bd6 10. e5 $1 $146 {A novelty and a strong one.} Bc7 {And now comes the first question: could the pawn not be taken? Considering the speed with which Svidler played at this point, it is fairly safe to assume he had already seen this move in his home preparation.} ({The answer is that taking with} 10... Nxe5 11. Nxe5 Bxe5 12. Rxe5 $1 Qxe5 13. Qf3 d5 14. Bf4 {could lead to near fatal issues with White declaring open season on the queen, as well as Black's terrible development.} Qf6 15. Qg3 h5 {with the idea of h4. However White would then have a winning assault starting with} 16. Nxd5 $3 {Since this is still early opening preparation, one can be certain this had been analyzed in advance.} exd5 17. Re1+ Kd7 18. Be5 Qd8 {The only move to not lose the rook on h8.} (18... Qe7 $4 19. Bc3 Qd8 20. Qxg7) 19. c4 $3 bxc4 (19... dxc4 20. Be4 {Threatening the rook on a8 now as well as Re1+.}) 20. Bxc4 {Now White would win back his investment with while maintaining the pressure. For example} Ne7 21. Bb3 Rh6 22. Bc7 Qxc7 23. Rxe7+ Kxe7 24. Qxc7+) 11. Bf4 Nge7 12. Qe2 Ng6 13. Bg3 Bb7 14. Rad1 Nce7 15. Be4 Bxe4 16. Nxe4 O-O $5 {A bold move, inviting Grischuk to take. Black sweeps the king away to safety and if the pawn is taken, will trap the rook.} 17. Rxd7 {White doesn't really have any choice since there are no better alternatives.} Nd5 18. Nd6 $2 {A mistake, throwing away any chance of keeping an edge.} ({The attacking attempt with} 18. Nfg5 $5 {doesn't quite do it and after} h6 19. Nxe6 fxe6 20. Qg4 Qe8 21. Rxc7 Nxc7 22. Nd6 Nxe5 23. Bxe5 Qe7 {is roughly equal.}) (18. Qd3 Qb7 19. Nc3 Rfd8 20. Rxd8+ Rxd8 21. Nxd5 Rxd5 22. Qe4 {and White resolves the problem with his rook and is ahead a pawn. Black has compensation, but there is no question who is fighting to win and who is fighting to save the game.}) 18... Nb6 19. Rxf7 $5 Rxf7 20. Nxf7 Kxf7 21. Ng5+ Kg8 (21... Ke7 22. Nxh7 $14) 22. Nxe6 $11 Qc8 23. Qg4 Ra7 24. Rd1 (24. f4 $2 Bxe5 $1 25. fxe5 Re7 $19) (24. h3 $1 {protecting the queen so the knight could leave its precarious position. Now if Black played} Na4 {as in the game, then} 25. Nxc7 Qxg4 26. hxg4 Rxc7 27. e6 $1 { should hold.}) 24... Na4 25. h3 $2 ({Though ugly, better was} 25. b3 Nc5 26. Qd4 Qxe6 (26... Nxe6 27. Qxa7) 27. Qxc5 Rb7 $16) 25... Nxb2 26. Rd5 $4 $19 { Grischuk collapses and it is over.} Bb6 27. Rd6 Nc4 28. Qf5 Rf7 29. Qe4 Nxd6 30. exd6 Nf8 0-1

The question in everyone's mind was: would history repeat itself?

Ivanchuk-Ponomariov also promised to be an interesting encounter as this is their first match since the Ivanchuk's World Championship fiasco in which his nerves single-handedly lost to Ponomariov. The game was an interesting one though seemed headed towards a draw until imprecisions by Ruslan, and sharp technique by Vassily, gave Ivanchuk reasonable winning chances. Whether or not it was a case of nerves or not, he missed the best chance to pressure Ponomariov and a draw was agreed upon.

Praying for inspiration

[Event "FIDE World Cup 2011"] [Site "Khanty-Mansiysk RUS"] [Date "2011.09.16"] [Round "7.1"] [White "Ivanchuk, Vassily"] [Black "Ponomariov, Ruslan"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A29"] [WhiteElo "2768"] [BlackElo "2764"] [PlyCount "90"] [EventDate "2011.08.28"] 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e5 3. g3 Bb4 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O Bxc3 7. bxc3 Re8 8. Rb1 e4 (8... b6 9. d3 e4 10. Nd4 Nxd4 11. cxd4 Bb7 12. d5 c6 13. dxe4 Nxe4 14. Bb2 cxd5 15. cxd5 d6 16. Rc1 Nc5 17. Re1 Ba6 18. Qd2 Qe7 19. Bf3 f6 20. Bd4 Bb5 21. h4 {1-0 (37) Christiansen,L (2530)-Silman,J (2410) San Mateo 1989}) 9. Nd4 d5 10. cxd5 Qxd5 11. Nb5 Qd7 12. d3 a6 13. Nd4 Nd5 14. Bb2 Nxd4 15. cxd4 e3 16. Qc1 c6 17. Be4 Qg4 18. f3 Qe6 19. Qc5 b6 20. Bxd5 cxd5 21. Qc7 Re7 22. Qd8+ Re8 23. Qc7 Re7 24. Qf4 f6 25. Ba3 g5 26. Qd6 Qxd6 27. Bxd6 Rb7 28. Rfc1 Bd7 29. g4 Kf7 30. Kg2 h5 31. h3 Rh8 32. Rb2 Ba4 33. Bh2 hxg4 34. hxg4 Kg6 35. a3 a5 36. Bd6 b5 37. Rc6 Ra8 38. Be5 Rf7 39. Rb6 Rc8 40. f4 gxf4 41. Kf3 ({Ivanchuk had excellent chances to play for a win here with} 41. Bxf4 Rc3 {Black has little choice and must try to create counterplay to compensate his doomed e3 pawn.} 42. Ra6 Rxa3 43. Rxa5 Rb7 44. Ra6 Kf7 (44... Kg7 45. g5 {and Black is lost since White pieces gang up on the king.}) 45. Rb1 $1 b4 46. Rh1 $1 $16) 41... Rc1 42. Bxf4 Rf1+ 43. Kg3 Rg1+ 44. Kf3 Rf1+ 45. Kg3 Rg1+ 1/2-1/2

Results of the finals

 Grischuk, Alexander (RUS)
 Svidler, Peter (RUS)
 Ivanchuk, Vassily (UKR)
 Ponomariov, Ruslan (UKR)  

Remaining schedule of the World Chess Cup 2011

Date Day Time   Rounds
17.09.2011 Saturday 15:00 Round 7, game 2
18.09.2011 Sunday 15:00 Round 7, game 3
19.09.2011 Monday 15:00 Round 7, game 4
20.09.2011 Tuesday 11:00 Tiebreaks, Closing
21.09.2011 Wednesday   Departure


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