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 playchess.com...

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
G1
G2
G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Peter Svidler (RUS) 2727
½
½
              1.0
Wei Yi (CHN) 2734
½
½
              1.0
Player Rtg
G1
G2
G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Anish Giri (NED) 2793
½
1
              1.5
M. Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) 2744
½
0
              0.5
Player Rtg
G1
G2
G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 2814
0
½
              0.5
Pavel Eljanov (UKR) 2717
1
½
              1.5
Player Rtg
G1
G2
G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 Pts
S. Mamedyarov (AZE) 2736
½
½
              1.0
Sergey Karjakin (RUS) 2762
½
½
              1.0

Photos and information from the official website and their Facebook page

Links

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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.