Baku Finals g1: Svidler Flawless

by Alejandro Ramirez
10/1/2015 – He simply played a perfect game. His development was good, his pawn breaks timely, and Karjakin simply couldn't cope with this precarious position. Despite Black's extra pawn, Svidler's pieces coordinated much better and created real pressure all over the board, especially on the long white diagonal. Karjakin blundered in an already very difficult position, and Svidler leads one to nothing.

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World Cup

10th September – 5th October

Baku, Azerbaijan


Watch it live on Playchess!

Finals - Game One

Reporters from around the World trying not to miss the action

Peter Svidler came in with an interesting approach. He repeated Eljanov's 1.Nf3 2.g3 3.Bg2 setup, and actually ended up in a position that he had already played against Sergey Karjakin last year, in the Russian Team Championship. This decision paid off beautifully. After the character of the position was changed slightly, Karjakin was unable to properly keep the position closed and Svidler played a flawless game:

Sergey Karjakin loses his first game against Peter Svidler

[Event "FIDE World Chess Cup 2015"] [Site "Baku"] [Date "2015.10.01"] [Round "7.1"] [White "Svidler, Peter"] [Black "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C00"] [WhiteElo "2727"] [BlackElo "2762"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "57"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventCountry "AZE"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 d5 3. Bg2 {Svidler actually repeats Eljanov's approach in the rapids against Karjakin. In that match, Black's positions out of the opening seemed a little suspicious to say the least. Karjakin comes up with a different approach, going for a more classical and conservative set up than what he did against Eljanov.} e6 4. O-O Be7 5. d3 (5. c4) (5. d4 {usually lead to the Catalan positions, though White has managed to side-step the new Bb4+ ideas, Black also is doing quite solidly well in the Open Catalan with an early dxc4, which was probably what Karjakin was going to do.}) 5... O-O 6. Nbd2 {Everything indicates that Svidler is going to go for an early e4 and Re1, known as the King's Indian Attack set up. The computers hate these kind of positions for White, but they rarely understand just how dangerous this can be for Black's kingside.} c5 7. e4 Nc6 8. Re1 b5 9. exd5 $5 {Actually rather rare, though playable. This move changes the character of the position.} (9. e5 {has been seen many times... including Svidler-Karjakin 2014 (!) and Karjakin-Dominguez from the first tiebreak game in their match this World Cup!} ) 9... Nxd5 (9... exd5 {Is waht almost everyone plays (Topalov-Caruana 2014, Movsesian-Karjakin 2013, among others). Karjakin decides to take with the knight, which is also viable.}) 10. Ne4 Bb7 11. c3 a6 {Black's position out of the opening seems to be good. He has decent development and his piece placement is not bad.} (11... a5 $5 {was also possible, trying to expand further in the queenside.}) 12. a4 {After a nearly 20 minute think. It's honestly not so easy for either side to figure out a continuation path. Both Black and White have difficulties putting their pieces in optimal squares. Breaking the queenside is obvious, but allows b4 which weakens c3.} b4 13. Bg5 f6 {This is not a move Karjakin wants to play, but its better than exchanging the dark squared bishops and leaving c5 weakened.} 14. Bd2 e5 {A Maroczy type of structure.} 15. Rc1 $1 Rf7 $6 (15... Qd7 16. d4 cxd4 17. cxd4 exd4 {gives White compensation for the pawn, but still Black's position looks ok.}) 16. d4 $1 {This move is now very uncomfortable to deal with. It is known in chess that when one side spends resources to prevent a pawn break, and the opponent executes it successfully regardless, bad things can happen.} bxc3 $2 {in my eyes opening the b-file only helps White.} (16... exd4 17. cxd4 cxd4 18. Bh3 Bc8 $1 {White retains some pressure, but this looks acceptable.}) 17. bxc3 cxd4 18. cxd4 Nxd4 19. Nxd4 exd4 20. Qb3 {White is down a pawn, but his pieces are coordinating much better than Black's. All of Karjakin's pieces are a target now, and the potential pins on the d5 knight are difficult o deal with. Already Black has to be careful of not losing material, but honestly he might already be worse.} Rb8 (20... Qd7 21. Ba5 $1 Rc8 22. Rxc8+ Qxc8 23. Nxf6+ Bxf6 24. Bxd5 Bxd5 25. Qxd5 {is very unpleasant for Black to say the least.}) 21. Rb1 Qd7 22. Rec1 $1 {Wonderful patience from Svidler. He is not in a rush to recover material, but simply improves his pieces. Black is completely tied down and his extra pawn is just for show.} Qe6 $2 {Losing a piece, though it was already hard to suggest a move.} (22... f5 23. Nc5 (23. Ng5 $5) 23... Bxc5 24. Rxc5 Nf6 25. Bf4 Rc8 26. Rxc8+ Bxc8 27. Qc4 {Looks ugly. Rb8 is coming, among others.}) 23. Nc5 Bxc5 24. Rxc5 Rd8 25. Ba5 Rd6 26. Qc4 {The threat is Rxb7 and Bxd5. Black has no answer at all against this.} Nc3 27. Rxb7 {Other moves won as well.} Qe1+ 28. Bf1 {The rook on b7 cannot be taken, so the game is over.} Ne2+ 29. Qxe2 (29. Qxe2 Qxe2 30. Rb8+ Rf8 31. Rxf8+ Kxf8 32. Bxe2 { is two extra bishops.}) 1-0

With this Svidler gets a nice lead. In 2013 in Tromso, this was sufficient for Vladimir Kramnik to win against Dmitry Andreikin: after striking the first blow Kramnik confidently drew three games in a row to win the title.

Karjakin has had his back against the wall several times in this tournament, and tomorrow is not yet a must-win game because of the four game format. That being said, he better try to put some pressure with one of his only two whites remaining!

Will Svidler repeat Kramnik's path?

These spectators reportedly bet on the Russian. They have good odds.

A little post-mortem, but not much, tomorrow is another round between them!

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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Rfield Rfield 10/2/2015 10:58
Neither I has a favorite on the Russian and Ukrainian bouts. Both care less of the 2700 top ten rating list for they played extra better. Eljanov deserves a break in the candidates berth.
Peter B Peter B 10/2/2015 05:30
For those wondering, cricket would call this a "first innings lead".
hpaul hpaul 10/2/2015 04:05
Great game by Svidler. I love to see him back at the top.
Bojan KG Bojan KG 10/1/2015 10:24
For me it is irrelevant who is going to win this. Peter has not been beaten the whole tournament. On the other hand Sergey came back from brink of elimination twice so mentally he is very strong and can bounce back after this defeat. Nice to see both in Candidates where they can play major role and even take the win there. After all, it had been their main aim before this World Cup started. If Kramnik or Grischuk get wild card there will be three Russian players there with nice chances one of them winning and challenge Magnus.
HubertKnott HubertKnott 10/1/2015 09:06
I love how chessbase sometimes puts comments like "Reporters from around the World trying not to miss the action" in order to "prove" the worldwide "media frenzy" around this contest
I bet if someone stepped a few paces back from the photographer, we would see a lot of emptiness, lol. I love chess and I love this final, so there's no need to convince me of the appeal of this event. Chessbase is just preaching to the choir, LOL.
MortalWombat MortalWombat 10/1/2015 08:58
That pawn break on d4, with a pawn sac, was just the thing to play. Mind over matter, way to go Svidler!
Truffaut Truffaut 10/1/2015 07:49
Nice analysis by Alejandro Ramirez. Playing over this game reminded me of how Bobby Fischer played! Put all of your pieces on the right squares.
Truffaut Truffaut 10/1/2015 07:40
I'm guessing that ChessBase 13 doesn't have a spell-check function.
SriramGirish SriramGirish 10/1/2015 06:25
I just had to say it! Svid, you are AWESOME.
KrushonIrina KrushonIrina 10/1/2015 05:48
I don't know what they'd say in cricket, but in tennis they'd say:

Advantage Svidler

Textbook victory.

But don't get Sergey mad!
qiqiangzhu qiqiangzhu 10/1/2015 04:52
Russian is still strong on Chess, no doubt!