FIDE World Cup 2017: Aronian, So, Ding are in the semi-finals

by Sagar Shah
9/17/2017 – Four semi-final spots were at stake. Three of them have been filled. Levon Aronian drew his game against Ivanchuk after beating him yesterday, while Wesley So and Ding Liren beat Vladimir Fedoseev and Richard Rapport respectively. One remaining spot will be filled by the winner of Peter Svidler and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave encounter. The duo will fight it out in the tiebreaks on Sunday and the winner will take on Aronian. We have photos, analysis and video interviews that will give you a complete feel of round five, game two, from Tbilisi, Georgia.

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Ding Liren becomes the first Chinese ever to reach semi-finals

World Cup

Ivanchuk vs Aronian

Ivanchuk had lost the first game against Aronian and was trailing in the quarter-finals by a full point | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Chucky came to the tournament hall extremely focussed, with a no-nonsense attitude. He sat down at the board with a serious face which could be miscontrued as one being dejected. Aronian on the other hand, entered the room with his charismatic smile. He high-fived some of his friends in the crowd and then took his chair on the chess board. Watch all of this unfold in the video below:

Video before the start and initial moments of the round

"I wanted to fight my demons!" is how Levon Aronian described this game. He played active chess, but consumed too much of his time on the clock. He had a very comfortable position out of opening, but after the 40 move mark, gave his opponents some chances to play for an advantage. As it turned out, Aronian managed to hold the position without too many difficulties and took home the match, also qualifying for the semi-finals.

After Baadur Jobava's elimination, the player whom Georgians mainly come to support is Levon Aronian | Photo: Amruta Mokal


The opening that was played by Levon Aronian is the same one that is recommended by GM Daniel King in his excellent DVD, Powerplay 24 — A repertoire for Black against the Catalan.

Power Play 24: A repertoire for black against the Catalan

On this DVD Grandmaster Daniel King offers you a repertoire for Black against the Catalan, based around maintaining the rock of a pawn on d5. Keeping central control ultimately gives Black good chances to launch an attack against the enemy king.

The final tense moments! Vassily looking for his chances, but Levon game him none!

That's the World Cup — one guy qualifies and the other one is eliminated!

 Arianne Caoili, Aronian's to-be wife, drove for nearly four and a half hours from Yerevan to give Levon a pleasant surprise. And the good news is that Levon gets two rest days to spend with her now! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Arianne Caoili speaks about her life out of chess, following Levon's tournaments and the upcoming wedding on 30th of September

Levon Aronian talks about his game against Ivanchuk and tells us how it feels to have his to-be wife by her side for the weekend

Vassily Ivanchuk knocked out Kazghalayev, Duda, Kramnik and Giri. He showed some excellent chess and entertained chess fans all over the world with his play. Thank you, Vassily for treating us to some high class games. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Ding Liren vs Richard Rapport

Once Richard Rapport didn't press with the white pieces in round one, it was clear that Ding Liren was the favourite to win the match. The main reason being that the Chinese player's white repertoire is extremely solid. While Ding focused on main lines, his coach Xu Jun made sure that Rapport could spring no surprises in the side lines. Together they prepared hard and came up with a new opening idea:


Richard Rapport couldn't contain his creativity as he faced a new line. He played the move 9...a6. Ding Liren proved once again that he was not a person that you mess with. With simple and strong moves he got a winning position. From there on he calculated accurately until the very end and converted his advantage into a full point.


You can usually find Ding Liren in his national sports jacket, but today he arrived in a formal shirt and suit. Watch the interview below to learn why. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Ding Liren speaks about his match with Rapport, washing clothes on the previous rest day, and why Zurab Azmaiparashvili asked him to reconsider his wardrobe.

Richard Rapport entertained his fans with some exciting chess before leaving Tbilisi | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Wesley So vs Vladimir Fedoseev

Vladimir Fedoseev came to the board very well prepared in the Petroff. He played fast and at one point he had one hour thirty-seven minutes, seven minutes more than when he started. Already a pair of rooks and two pairs of minor pieces had been exchanged. It seemed as if Fedoseev would exchange a few more and the players would go back to their rooms to prepare for the tiebreaks. As it turned out, the Russian made some inaccurate moves, enough for So to push him on the backfoot. After gaining an advantage, Wesley did face difficulties in converting it into a full point, but in the end he managed, thus avoiding the tiebreaks and also ensuring that he gets two rest days!


If there could be an award for the most promising player of this tournament, or even 2017 as a whole, it has to be Vladimir Fedoseev | Photo: Amruta Mokal 

Wesley winning this match means that he would now face Ding Liren in the semi-finals | Photo: Amruta Mokal

What is Wesley's secret ingredient of success? | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Wesley So explains his win over Vladimir Fedoseev

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs Peter Svidler

The only match that has gone into the tiebreaks is Peter Svidler against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Maxime had his chances today if he had found this amazing resource with the move Qd2. But, neither he, nor his opponent had seen that move. In the final position Svidler was slightly better, but he was unsure of how to continue. The players agreed to a draw and will now fight it out in the tiebreaks. It promises to be an exciting match. Will the younger of the two players succeed, or will Svidler's experience hold him in good stead against the Frenchman?


Thoughts of both Svidler and MVL on the game

One incident that is worth mentioning is the fire alarm going off on many occasions today during the game. The players were quite disturbed and distracted because of it and the organizers were unable to pin down the reason why the alarm was going off.

As you can see from the pictures above, the technicians had suspected an issue in the press room, but they couldn't find it | Photo: Amruta Mokal

What are your predictions for the tiebreaks?


Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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