Baku Final G3: Svidler blunders, Karjakin wins

by Alejandro Ramirez
10/3/2015 – After getting crushed in game one of the World Cup final, and blundering badly in game two, Sergey Karjakin was a hair's breath away from booking his ticket back home. But then in a very promising position (move 28) Peter Svidler blundered and Sergey was able to clinch game three. The score is now 1:2, and in the must-win game four he has white. Game three report.

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World Cup

10th September – 5th October

Baku, Azerbaijan


Watch it live on Playchess!

Finals - Game Three

Another incomprehensible game in the finals of the World Cup. Peter Svidler's play today was very sedate, trying to trade off pieces and not creating complications. Sergey Karjakin desperately went for the throat, a move that usually doesn't work in top level chess. Svidler comfortably defended against the threats and it was clear that Karjakin's knight had overstepped his boundaries and was now stuck in the enemy camp. Svidler had more than one move to capture it, or at least get a decisive advantage, but instead of that he horribly blundered and Karjakin simply picked up a free rook:

Karjakin catches a break: if he wins tomorrow he forces rapid playoffs

[Event "FIDE World Chess Cup 2015"] [Site "Baku"] [Date "2015.10.03"] [Round "7.3"] [White "Svidler, Peter"] [Black "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B53"] [WhiteElo "2727"] [BlackElo "2762"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "60"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventCountry "AZE"] 1. e4 c5 {Certailny no Spanish will do when you must play for a win, but even in the Sicilians White can try to play a relatively dry variation.} 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Qxd4 $5 {Of course not the main line, but completely possible. Honestly I expected some king of early c3 Sicilian, but Qxd4 with the idea of going into a Maroczy structure also seems like a good idea.} a6 5. c4 Nc6 6. Qe3 Nf6 7. h3 g6 8. Nc3 Bg7 9. Be2 Nd7 (9... O-O {is certainly the main line. There have been many games from this position, though most end in White wins.}) 10. Rb1 Nde5 11. O-O O-O {The Maroczy structures all share similarities. White is trying to prevent Black from creating any counterplay, which Karjakin desperately needs. For this reason Black chooses to put his pieces in such a way to allow an early f5, even if it weakens his position.} 12. Rd1 Nxf3+ 13. Bxf3 f5 14. exf5 Bxf5 15. Be4 {The more pieces are traded off, the happier Svidler is. If he is able to develop his bishop on c1 it is difficult to imagine that Black can create something concrete.} Qd7 16. Nd5 Qe6 17. Bxf5 Qxf5 18. Bd2 Rae8 19. Bc3 {Still trying to trade pieces, though this one is a bit too straightforward. White had other moves that didn't sideline his knight. } (19. Qe1 e6 20. Ne3 Qf7 21. Ng4 $5 {Trying to trade pieces on h6.}) 19... e6 20. Nb6 d5 21. Bxg7 Kxg7 22. Qc5 {This looks natural as Black doesn't want to advance the d-pawn and trade queens.} Rf6 23. b4 Ne5 24. cxd5 Nd3 {Trying to go for some counterplay, but it isn't much yet.} 25. Qe3 Nxf2 $6 {Objectively a bad move, but Karjakin can't afford to trade queens.} 26. Rf1 Qe4 27. Rbe1 ( 27. Rfe1 $1 $18 {Is unnatural but much stronger, with the threat of Qxf2 (with the other rook this is not a threat)} exd5 28. Qxf2 Rxf2 29. Rxe4 {in the case of the b-rook moving to e1, Black here would have Rxf1+, turning the tables.}) (27. Qxe4 $6 Nxe4 28. Rxf6 Kxf6 29. dxe6 Kxe6 {gives Black some slight edge in an endgame.}) (27. Qc3 {Also looks strong, preserving all the pins, threatening Nd7 for example.}) 27... exd5 $6 28. Rxf2 $2 (28. Qc3 $1 {and the game is basically over. Black simply loses material, the variations are not even difficult to calculate.}) 28... Qh4 29. Qd2 $4 (29. Qxe8 Qxf2+ 30. Kh2 Qxb6 31. Re7+ Kh6 32. Rd7 {will probably end in a draw. Black's king is too weak to win.}) 29... Rxf2 {To me it is unclear what Svidler missed. Of course White is just lost in this position as the R on e1 is hanging in the case of Qxf2.} 30. Qc3+ d4 {White is simply down massive amounts of material and is getting mated.} 0-1

A determined Karjakin beat Svidler. Or rather he was gifted a full point...

The finals become more interesting as Karjakin schemes his way of defeating Svidler with white

As you can see from this picture, Svidler wasn't in
particular time trouble to have blundered this way

Personally, the quality of the games that we have seen on this final show why the massive KO format is a poor way of determining a World Champion, as it did in the past. The players are clearly beyond exhaustion, outside forces are influencing the quality of the game to a greater extent than acceptable. I cannot imagine Svidler and Karjakin, such prominent and powerful players over the board, playing at this level with so many blunders in only three games in any other tournament.

In a completely unrelated note, Nicholast Pert just came out with a wonderful DVD!

Nicholas Pert:
Typical mistakes by 1600-1900 players

As the National Head Coach for the English Chess Federation I train many improving players, and see some typical mistakes that repeat themselves. In this DVD I have taken a large collection of games played by players, predominantly in the rating range 1600-1900, and I have looked for typical mistakes. I have broken these examples into various themes such as “Miscalculating Forcing Lines”, “Being Too Materialistic” and “King Safety” amongst others. Each theme has several examples to demonstrate typical mistakes, and there are various test throughout the DVD so that the viewer can try and find the best move in certain positions. This should be a great tool for players to use in order to improve their middlegame and endgame play. It will hopefully also highlight any areas that you need to work on in order to improve quickly. Enjoy the DVD!

  • Video running time: 4 hours 05 min (English)
  • With interactive training including video feedback
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The Odyssey continues tomorrow from Baku.

Final results

Player Rtg
G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8 G9 G10 G11
Peter Svidler (RUS) 2727
Sergey Karjakin (RUS) 2762

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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.
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Rational Rational 10/4/2015 10:18
Some excellent , thought provoking comments here. I think Carlsen chose a similar Maroczy set up to close out a WC match with Anand . Despite criticism These
KO tournaments do tend to produce exciting games and an high class winner.
yesenadam yesenadam 10/4/2015 09:35
If "the massive KO format is a poor way of determining a World Champion", then how isn't it an equally bad way of determining 2 candidates?
Denix Denix 10/4/2015 08:48
I'm excited about the blunders at high level chess. It gives me a dream of becoming the World Champion.
Emil Cabagay Emil Cabagay 10/4/2015 05:18
I bet for Karjakin but i don't want him to win this way nor Svidler to lose this way also! For a top players to play this way it's either they're both physically & mentally exhausted!
Petrosianic Petrosianic 10/4/2015 12:24
I give up. Nobody deserves to qualify from this tournament. Take the candidates spot back and assign it by rating.
bronkenstein bronkenstein 10/3/2015 10:59
It looked like improvised early deviation, but they actually played correspondence chess theory at least untill 16th move, thou based on time spent - it's even possible that one or both didn't know that!?

Karjakin was "gifted" (to use Alejandro's word) again (note the "again" - isn't it strange that others somehow, magically picked him to shower with gifts?) - based on such comments people might think (and they quite often do, in fact) that he is some kind of spectator, not much more than a lucky passer by? I, for exampe, disagree.

In Russian post-mortem, Sergey explained to GM Shipov in detail how and why he avoided the "right" equalising continuations in the critical moments. It was much easier in the beginning, closer to 30th deviations from optimal moves became very dangerous, but he gambled and won - and deservedly so.
Logos Logos 10/3/2015 10:51
@ Aighearach

Good point. How motivation translates to performance is uncertain. Could additional motivation lead to self-imposed pressure and blunders? Sure. But not necessarily. Just because a person is motivated, it does not mean he won't be able to relax and do his best. Motivation matters in the long-run (i.e. in training as you discussed), but it also matters on stage, and it includes the ability to relax and bring out the best when most needed.

The flip side of the above is giving in to fatigue as it creeps in, wishing it all to end and go home. The money for second place is not bad, and a place in the candidates is guaranteed. That is also real. Anyone who has competed knows such thoughts and emotions. I do not believe they contribute to success.
KevinC KevinC 10/3/2015 10:19
I still swear that Svidler should have played that line: 27.Qxe4(?!) Nxe4 28.Rxf6 Kxf6 29.dxe6 Kxe6, and then Rd1 and I don't think that there is a prayer that Karjakin wins that, especially considering how strong Svidler is in the endgame.
Aighearach Aighearach 10/3/2015 09:05
@Logos: I've heard that theory before, but I don't think it is a scientifically valid hypothesis that "craving" a goal "more" than another person makes the human mind less prone to mistakes. I think if you did some experiments you'd find that person who is less physically tired will have a huge advantage; think exercise, not cravings.

Any advantage from being more obsessive comes during training. Once you're at the event, whoever is better able to relax is getting an advantage. Obsessive desire to win doesn't help at all at the board; stubborn refusal to accept a bad position is surely an advantage, but the best players at doing so are very relaxed at the board.

Simply craving to be the winner more strongly than the other guy... that actually sounds exactly like a formula to increase blunders! "Whoever wants it more" is not a real thing, it is a prep-talk for physical team sports where the players are kids who are almost ready for nap time, but have a little more game to play first.
Aighearach Aighearach 10/3/2015 08:47
That last half point can really be a bear, even for a Russian.

Luckily for Svidler he has black next game, which seems to be an advantage in this tournament.

Logos Logos 10/3/2015 08:44
Karjakin looked tired at the press conference. More blunders are creeping in. It is now down to who more craves the title and extra cash. I predict a decisive game tomorrow.