Baku Finals G4: Karjakin forces TB

by Alejandro Ramirez
10/4/2015 – It won't go down in history as one of the best games of chess, but at least there weren't any major blunders in the fourth game of the finals of the World Cup. Svidler's choice of opening left him in a passive position and shortly after concluding theory his position deteriorated. Karjakin's pressure and Svidler's missed chances mean that tomorrow we go into Tie Breaks!

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World Cup

10th September – 5th October

Baku, Azerbaijan


Watch it live on Playchess!

Finals - Game Four

It certainly won't go down in history as one of the best games of chess, but at least there weren't any major blunders in the fourth game of the finals of the World Cup. Svidler's choice of opening left him in a passive position in which he had few weaknesses, but shortly after concluding theory his position deteriorated. He was saddled with a weak d6 pawn, and problems with one of his rooks. Karjakin's technique was not a masterpiece, and Svidler had chances to equalize later on, but he did not take advantage of them. When given the opportunity, Karjakin correctly simplified into a winning rook endgame and capitalized on his opponent's mistakes, forcing the tiebreak playoff tomorrow.

FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov came for the last two days

Karjakin forces the tiebreaks after being down 2-0

[Event "FIDE World Chess Cup 2015"] [Site "Baku"] [Date "2015.10.03"] [Round "7.4"] [White "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Black "Svidler, Peter"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D06"] [WhiteElo "2762"] [BlackElo "2727"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "111"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventCountry "AZE"] 1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 c5 3. c4 cxd4 4. cxd5 Nf6 5. Qxd4 Qxd5 6. Nc3 Qxd4 7. Nxd4 { Karjakin has shown in this World Cup that he is not afraid of going into symmetrical positions in must-win situations. He holds a slight advantage in this position due to his superior development.} Bd7 (7... a6 {is certainly considered the main line.}) 8. Ndb5 Kd8 {The king does not feel comfortable here, but this seems to be part of Svidler's idea considering how much time he used on the clock.} 9. Be3 Nc6 {There's only a handful of games in this positions, surprsingly two of three o them from this year. None of them continued with f3, though.} 10. f3 (10. h3 a6 11. Bb6+ Kc8 12. Nc7 { Heimann-Ulibin, 2015. White eventually won this game.}) 10... h5 {I assume this move is to prevent g4, but it seems rather drastic and it weakens g5.} ( 10... e5 11. O-O-O Kc8 12. g4 h6 $14) 11. O-O-O Kc8 12. Bg5 g6 13. Nd6+ $1 exd6 14. Bxf6 {Now Black is saddled with a permanent weakness on d6, and also on d5. Karjakin can be very happy with this position. After only 14 moves he has a clear positional advantage.} Rg8 15. e4 Be6 16. Kb1 Kd7 17. Nd5 Bg7 18. Bxg7 Rxg7 19. Bb5 {Black isn't losing anything right now, but his awkward rook on g7, problems with d6 and lack of a plan make his position very unpleasant.} Kd8 20. Rd2 {Meanwhile, White's play is rather obvious.} Bxd5 21. Rxd5 Kc7 22. Rc1 Re8 23. Rd4 {I'm not sure I understand moving the rook back.} (23. Ba4 { immediately with the idea of b4 looks more active.}) 23... Re5 24. Ba4 b5 $1 25. Bb3 Rc5 $1 {Getting some activity while he can, Svidler tries to push back White's pieces and force some trades.} 26. Rd5 Rxc1+ 27. Kxc1 a6 28. Rd3 g5 { it is intuitive to keep the pawns on black squares, but here it was more important to liberate the rook.} (28... f5 $1 {I think would have solved most of Black's problems. The pawn structure after} 29. exf5 (29. Kd2 fxe4 30. fxe4 Re7 $11 {Black will have a superb knight on e5.}) 29... gxf5 {looks ugly, but Black's activity is strong:} 30. g3 h4 $1 31. gxh4 Rh7 {with equality.}) 29. Kd2 h4 30. Rc3 Kb6 31. Rd3 Kc7 32. Ke3 f6 33. Rc3 Kb6 34. Rd3 Kc7 35. Rc3 Kb6 36. Bd5 Ne7 37. Kd4 {Now White can continue pressing. Black's rook is still quite bad, and it was not too late to play f5, trying to get some activity.} Rh7 38. Be6 Rh8 39. a3 Rd8 40. Rc2 Rh8 41. Rf2 Ng6 42. Kd5 Rd8 43. Bf5 Nf4+ 44. Kd4 {Black is in trouble. He is quite passive and g3 is coming, but he still has resources.} Re8 (44... d5 $1 45. e5 $1 (45. g3 dxe4+ 46. Ke3 (46. Kxe4 Re8+ 47. Kd4 Ne2+ {picks up g3.}) 46... Nd5+ 47. Kxe4 Rd6 {close to equal.}) 45... fxe5+ 46. Kxe5 d4 47. Rd2 Kc5 {White is still better, no doubt, but there isn't anything clear yet.}) 45. g3 Ne6+ 46. Bxe6 Rxe6 47. Kd5 $18 {Black loses a pawn and because of the difference in activity the endgame is simply hopeless.} Re5+ 48. Kxd6 hxg3 49. hxg3 g4 (49... a5 50. g4 {White eventually swings the rook to attack f6 and wins.}) 50. fxg4 Rxe4 51. Rf4 $1 {The last detail to win the game.} (51. Rxf6 Rxg4 {should be winning but it's not as clear.}) 51... Re3 52. Rxf6 Rxg3 53. Ke5+ Kb7 (53... Kc5 54. b4+ Kc4 55. Rc6+ Kb3 56. Kf4 Rg2 57. Rxa6 {is equally bad.}) 54. Kf5 {The pawn supported by the rook and the king easily advances.} Rb3 55. g5 Rxb2 56. g6 {Black won't create any kind of activity, the passed pawn is unstoppable.} 1-0

Svidler really doesn't have anyone to blame but himself. Yesterday he had a chance to win the game, and today he had a couple of opportunities to come close to equalizing, if not equalizing fully in the endgame.

The action will continue tomorrow at 12:00 European Time. The tiebreak rules are the same as the previous matches, only two games per time control. No matter what, tomorrow we will finally have a World Cup winner declared.

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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PhythonMython PhythonMython 10/7/2015 11:22
Svidler lead by 2-0, and is therefore the world cup winner. Had he met Karjakin in the earlier rounds Karjakin were knocked out! Strange event playing table tennis until the finals. Then decide the Championship in the final by playing tennis?!
KingDom64 KingDom64 10/5/2015 06:55
Maybe Svidler switch off is mind after 2-0 never able to come back into the match, he cleary lost concentration, can´t believe is just old and tired
kachazo kachazo 10/5/2015 02:06
Awsome!!!!!! both great players!!!!
Aighearach Aighearach 10/5/2015 01:14
If Svidler isn't prepared to win, how is he in the final at 2-2-0? In hindsight, maybe he needed a different opening with less imbalances, instead of just near equality.

Karjakin is 70 points higher rated at rapid, but only 30 points higher in blitz.

It is impossible to judge from a press conference or photograph, but whoever is more tired will likely lose.

It is funny the huge significance people place on the two wins, forgetting that Svidler also had two wins in a row, and the third game had blunders on both sides and showed little difference, other than who blundered last and who got the point. The last game was a close game, where white enforced a small advantage and converted with a pawn. It was a good game by Karjakin, but nothing spectacular, forceful, or telling. It could have been any random tournament game. Without mistakes or brilliancies, white might still enforce and grow an advantage that size.

Karjakin should have a psychological advantage; unless he is exhausted. Then he won't. So it won't matter. Plus, Svidler is an old dog, with an even temper. There isn't much advantage to get there. If he's tired, he might blunder; otherwise it is unlikely.
Bill Alg Bill Alg 10/5/2015 12:27
I think Svidler will win the cup
KingDom64 KingDom64 10/5/2015 12:18
Svidler isn´t prepared mentally to win, like a tennis match when the underdog have 2 matchpoint... Karjakin did nothing extraordinary to stay in the match, anyway he´s a great fighter, especially in rapid games.
Bojan KG Bojan KG 10/4/2015 10:11
Awesome Karjakin, nerves of steele. Now he is in driving seat but who knows, maybe Peter has ace in sleeve.
skakistis64 skakistis64 10/4/2015 08:18

After 4 games played in this match, the score is currently 2-2 (not 4-4).

Omoplata Omoplata 10/4/2015 07:42
Respect to Karjakin for winning on demand twice in a row in must win games; an unbelievable feat.
MelBlazer MelBlazer 10/4/2015 07:30
What a comeback by Karjakin. Down 2-0 and now equalizes at 4-4
Shurlock_V Shurlock_V 10/4/2015 05:26
Greg Norman-esque.
bronkenstein bronkenstein 10/4/2015 05:23
Impressive. Sergey now has clear psychological advantage. Anyway, I hope we will see more than just two games tomorrow.