Baku Finals g2: Massive Blunders

by Alejandro Ramirez
10/2/2015 – It started out as a classical struggle between titans. Long things with calculations, backed by positional prowess. Karjakin played his typical 1.e4, while Svidler contended with the solid Breyer defense in the Spanish. Svidler was doing an excellent job of holding on, Karjakin couldn't find a way through. It all seemed headed to a draw... when Karjakin blundered horribly... twice!

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World Cup

10th September – 5th October

Baku, Azerbaijan


Watch it live on Playchess!

Finals - Game Two

Things went all kinds of wrong for Karjakin today

What a blow to Sergey Karjakin! Peter Svidler came in with his usual: a very solid Spanish defense (that is not a Berlin!). This time he chose the Breyer, a defense that has been reliable for black decades. It's so good the guy that got third/fourth place in this tournament made a brand new DVD on it!

Pavel Eljanov:
The Ruy Lopez Breyer Variation

The Spanish or Ruy Lopez is often called the "Queen of Openings". If you master it you understand a lot about chess.

One of the most popular systems in the Ruy Lopez is the Breyer Variation in which Black retreats his already developed knight from c6 to b8 to relocate it via d7 to better squares. The Hungarian chess master Gyula Breyer recommended this move in 1911, but was far ahead of his time with this idea. It took decades before the power of this move was understood, but now the Breyer variation, which begins with 9...Nb8, is part of the repertoire of many top players, among them the last four World Champions Kasparov, Kramnik, Anand, and Carlsen.

On this DVD, Pavel Eljanov, one of the greatest experts of the Breyer Variation, shows all important lines of this system. In 14 video lectures he gives an overview of the current state of theory. Eljanov shows the moves and explains the ideas behind them while evaluating the arising positions from a black perspective and with a view to the coming middlegame.

  • Video running time: 5 hours 13 min (English)
  • With interactive training including video feedback
  • Training database with 50 essential games and analyses
  • ISBN 978-3-86681-493-6
  • Delivery: download, post
  • Price: €29.90; €25.13 without VAT (for customers outside the EU); $28.41

Karjakin couldn't crack the Breyer

Svider definitely knows about solid Spanish set ups. And about cricket.

[Event "FIDE World Chess Cup 2015"] [Site "Baku"] [Date "2015.10.02"] [Round "7.2"] [White "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Black "Svidler, Peter"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C95"] [WhiteElo "2762"] [BlackElo "2727"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "76"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventCountry "AZE"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. c3 d6 9. h3 Nb8 {The Breyer system. An ultra-solid defense where Black tries to create a position with no weaknesses and that is simply very difficult to penetrate. For a game in which a draw is an excellent result, the Breyer must always be considered.} 10. d4 Nbd7 11. Nbd2 Bb7 12. Bc2 Re8 13. a4 (13. Nf1 { is the main line, but recently a4 has been getting plenty of attnetion. In this tournamnet Radjabov played Nf1 against Svidler, Saric against Radjabov while a4 was played by Dominguez against Adams.}) 13... Bf8 14. Bd3 c6 15. Qc2 (15. b3 {is the most popular move, and Qc2 is actually rather rare, but it is the move that is "trending" and Karjakin had used it before against Ponomariov. }) 15... Rc8 {Played after an eight minute think, perhas Svidler was trying to remember his preparation.} 16. axb5 axb5 17. b4 c5 $5 $146 (17... Qc7 18. Bb2 Ra8 {was Karjakin-Carlsen from Norway 2013. The World Champ (who wasn't the World Champ just yet back then) won that game.}) 18. bxc5 exd4 $1 (18... dxc5 19. Bxb5 cxd4 20. Bc4 $1 {gives Black just a slight headache with the f7 pawn and some sacrifice ideas on that square.}) 19. c6 (19. cxd4 dxc5 20. Qb1 c4 $1 (20... cxd4 21. e5 Nd5 22. Bxh7+ {starts to look dangerous.}) 21. Qxb5 $1 Bc6 22. Qxc4 Bxe4 23. Qb3 Nc5 24. dxc5 Qxd3 {and this looks close to a draw to me.} ) 19... dxc3 {Played after 30 minutes of thinking. Svidler had options, but this looks convincing.} (19... Bxc6 20. Nxd4 b4 $1 $11 {was the best alternative.}) 20. cxb7 cxd2 21. Qxd2 (21. bxc8=Q dxe1=Q+ 22. Nxe1 Qxc8 23. Bxb5 {is similar to the game, but with less pieces.} Qb8 $11 (23... Qxc2 $11)) 21... Rb8 22. Bxb5 Qb6 23. Rb1 (23. Bd3 Qxb7 {leads to the game.}) 23... Qxb7 24. Bd3 Qa8 25. Rxb8 Rxb8 26. Bb2 {White's pair of bishops and slightly better structure gives him a tiny edge, but with Black's active major pieces and the overly simplified character of the position, winning is going to be very difficult for Karjakin.} Qa2 27. Re2 h6 28. Qc1 Qb3 29. Bc4 Qb7 30. Qd1 (30. e5 dxe5 31. Nxe5 Nxe5 32. Bxe5 Qb1 $11 {seems like nothing to me, despite the computer evaluation of +0.6}) 30... Re8 31. Bxf6 Nxf6 32. e5 dxe5 33. Nxe5 { Trying to force some kind of attack on the f7 square, but Svidler has it covered.} Re7 34. Qd4 Nd7 35. Nxf7 {Anything else basically leads to a draw, but this also gives no chances.} Rxf7 36. Rb2 Qc6 {A high percentage of moves here simply lead to a draw, including most random rook moves, taking on f7, etc.} 37. Rb5 $4 {A bad blunder. It's not clear what Karjakin missed... it's also not clear what the purpose of this move is.} Kh8 $1 {Now White is down a piece since the bishop is overloaded.} 38. Rd5 $4 (38. Bxf7 Qxb5 39. Be8 (39. Qd5 $1 {Would make Black's task of winning very difficult. Any queen trade goes into an endgame I am not convinced is winning for Black, despite the extra piece (the opposite colored bishops help White in this case as it can cover penetration squares and keep the knight out). It would be an annoying defense, but Karjakin could still realistically hope to hold on.}) 39... Qb1+ 40. Kh2 Qb8+ $19) 38... Nb6 {Now White loses an exchange (at least) on top of the piece he is already down. Karjakin resigned since the position is completely hopeless.} 0-1

With this result Svidler only needs one draw from the next two games to crown himself World Cup 2015 Winner!

An empty stage considering how this tournament started with 128 people.
Svidler is only half a point away from being the last man standing.

Final results

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

Photos and information from the official website and their Facebook page


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 13 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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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sco-ish sco-ish 10/5/2015 01:51
Svidler committed seppuku in the 3rd game, allowing a typical tactic to occur, then - due to the psychological damage of going from winning to losing in a matter of two moves, collapsed in on himself in the fourth game. Props must be given to Karjak's though for squeezing that point!
KevinC KevinC 10/3/2015 01:21
@wowbagger, if you think those were competitive, then we have different ideas about that. Game 1: Karjakin was blown off the board. Game 2: He blundered. That is not competitive. If you are happy with this match so far, good for you, but I think is has sucked so far.

wowbagger wowbagger 10/3/2015 09:28
@ KevinC
> neither game has been competitive

Both games had been competitive. In both game, one player slowly outplayed the other, and faced the challenge to increase the advantage against an able defender.
Svidler managed to keep up the pressure and convert his advantage into a full point, and made it look easy.
Karjakin was impatient, wanted more than the decent edge he had, saw that most continuations would give Black drawing chances, searched for the move that keeps the pressure (compare Svidler's Re1-c1 in the first game), forgot to double-check and triple-check, and horribly blundered.

Maybe you should switch to another commentator. Ramirez sees the computer evaluation first, and thinks nothing really happened, everything drawish, and then there was the blunder out of the blue. Not much of a storyteller. Listen to Gustafsson telling the same game.
bronkenstein bronkenstein 10/3/2015 05:12
@ Logos

Tiebreaks certainly didn't help, furthermore Svidler seems to be in an excellent form, unlike Karjakin IMO - Sergey started with classical loss to Onischuk thus being almost eliminated in the very first round, and had much more nervous and uneven tournament overall. And besides that, many of his games leave quite unhealthy impression, certainly not of someone with 2800+ potential or WC caliber (which I believe he is).

To me it seems that Karjakin reached finals rather "on class" and utilising rapid strength (he was the very first world rapid champ, ahead of Magnus) mixed with some necessary luck. But the fact that he survived all that impresses me more than Pete's "cleaner" games and rather smooth tournament overall.

My point is that Pete in Sergey's current form would likely be eliminated after couple rounds, thus both in candidates and in possible WCh match I would still rather put money on Sergey. That is, I see this final as a player playing one of the best tournaments of his life beating the one of, arguably, higher class and potential.
Logos Logos 10/3/2015 02:23
@ bronkenstein

Interesting observation about older versus younger players. Both Svidler and Karjakin seem cool under pressure. Perhaps the latter's fatigue could be due to more nerve-wrecking tiebreaks?
Logos Logos 10/3/2015 02:18
@ KevinC

Staying in the trenches for 35 years must take a toll on the soul. Makes one grumpy and hard on others ;-)
KevinC KevinC 10/3/2015 01:57
@Logos, it takes two to play a good game of chess, or we would be watching GMs vs. 1400s and saying "ohhh".

Your comment about filing a complaint, well, bite me.
bronkenstein bronkenstein 10/3/2015 12:06
I must admit I considered Sergey a slight favorite before the final. Even now I believe that the first game could really go both ways, and it's outcome certainly influenced tis one.

PS It's kinda strange that much older finalist seems to show better focus and endurance in the end of a very long, nervous and exhausting tournament!?
Petrosianic Petrosianic 10/2/2015 11:42
"I wanted Svidler to win, but this final has been a real letdown so far."

You've got to be kidding. The first game was great, and this one was, at least, memorable.
Logos Logos 10/2/2015 11:35
@ KevinC

According to GM's (i.e. those who managed to climb out of the trenches), Svidler played decent chess in both final games (particularly the first) . As for Karjakin, fatigue could explain his blunders in the second (Svidler himself claimed today that he feels like dropping dead at any moment). The first game's loss could have happened to other top GM's as well.

Regarding your disappointment, I suggest you file a complaint.
KevinC KevinC 10/2/2015 09:07
@Aighearach, I have been a tournament player for 35 years, and an ordinary national master for 30, so I know a bit about the trenches too. So far, neither game has been competitive, and I don't think that it is out of the question to expect better play from a guy, who is rated over 2750. What differentiates them from us is PRECISELY that they don't play horribly on any given day. What gets them where they are is consistency, and Karjakin is not had that at all lately.

So far, the final has stunk.
Aighearach Aighearach 10/2/2015 07:55
Svidler is just such a humble gentleman! It shows something of his character that he looks happy and generous when he's losing, and very serious and solemn when he's winning.

He wasn't in the top 5 that I was pulling for as a fan, but it is still great to see him win. There won't be any scandal or nonsense.

@KevinC: as a tournament fish down in the trenches, I have to say I can really sympathize with this final. Not a letdown at all, this is how chess happens. It doesn't matter what moves you make on your best day, it matters what moves you make at the board during the critical games. This isn't the game to plan to use for theory, but that is always true of these types of games. And sometimes these "blunders" aren't even blunders, they saw something deeper in another line that the commentator didn't see to explain to you, and the computer didn't go deep enough in, or saw some gimmicky way out of that a human couldn't find. And then they make a "bad" move that loses sooner, but it might not really be a blunder. They might have just seen the other moves not working, either. In this case that probably doesn't explain Rd5, but it is good not to be too credulous about the evaluations. Modern evaluations of games from just 30-40 years ago often change ? to !? and ! to ?!, or worse.
daftarche daftarche 10/2/2015 07:44
svidler definitely was the favorite and he proved it. he played a great tournament with a solid performance reaching to final while karjakin was in must-win situations in this tournament not to mention he was and a little lucky in his games against eljanov.
KevinC KevinC 10/2/2015 06:52
I wanted Svidler to win, but this final has been a real letdown so far.
ff2017 ff2017 10/2/2015 06:35
It's funny, from these pictures, you'd almost think Peter is losing!
Logos Logos 10/2/2015 06:27
Amazing to see only two fighters left after many battles between giants. I thought Karjakin was going to win the final, but now it seems impossible. Having said that, I am happy for Svidler. He is not only a great player but also an excellent commentator. It would be great if he could win the event without losing a game.
gmwdim gmwdim 10/2/2015 06:27
Maybe too many tough tiebreaks for Karjakin