FIDE World Cup 2017: Caruana bows out

by Sagar Shah
9/12/2017 – Round three tiebreaks saw great excitement. Evgeniy Najer scored the biggest upset of the day, by knocking out Fabiano Caruana. Ian Nepomniachtchi and Li Chao were two more elite players who were sent back home by Baadur Jobava and Richard Rapport respectively. As we enter the round of sixteen, one can clearly see how the tournament is shaping up. The upper half is filled with super-strong players, while in the bottom half Wesley So is the clear favourite to keep advancing. Tiebreak report filled with pictures, videos and more. | Photos: Amruta Mokal

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Down to the last 16!

World Cup

Tiebreak results:

Let's start this report with the man who has won the hearts of all the chess fans in Tbilisi: Maxim Matlakov.

In the last two rounds Maxim has played 16 games! Eight against Dmitry Andreikin and eight against Levon Aronian

In both the matches, against Andreikin and against Aronian, Maxim Matlakov was the underdog, but he fought like a champion. Every time he was down in the match, he would mount a comeback. I observed the way he played very closely and came to the conclusion that he has extremely strong nerves. On Monday, he fought tooth and nail against one of the best players of our generation: Levon Aronian. Aronian's every victory would be matched by Matlakov's comeback. A lesser player would have succumbed to Maxim, but Aronian was able to maintain his balance and went through.

Aronian's pawn sacrifice — launching a kingside attack in game one of the 5' + 3" blitz — is quite cool!

Game two of the 5'+3" blitz

To wear spectacles, or not. That is the question!

Aronian with his physical trainer after the game. It's only the third round of the World Cup. But these pictures show how difficult this tournament is.

The biggest winner of the day Evgeniy Najer with Ian Nepomniachtchi, who lost his match to Jobava and decided to go back home immediately

Najer played a fantastic game against Fabiano Caruana in their second 25'+10". Earlier their first game had ended in a draw. As commentator Ivan Sokolov put it, "Najer played the second game with such great energy. Fabiano just needed one move to consolidate his position, but he never gave him that oppotunity. In the end, after being under grave pressure, Fabiano blundered which meant that he was knocked out from the tournament and Evgeniy advanced to the fourth round.


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Evegeniy Najer was very tired after his win. He agreed to one question being asked to him, and he explains the game in one minute!

The Georgian air

"It's the Georgian air," says Richard Rapport who is playing some of the best chess of his life

Rapport is slaying one Chinese opponent after the other. He beat the super strong Chinese youngster Wei in round two and now Li Chao in round three. Rapport played enterprising, but at the same time accurate chess and Li Chao was unable to cope with it. Richard next will face Evgeniy Najer.

Li Chao couldn't really find his stride in this match

That's what this victory means to Richard Rapport!

Richard Rapport speaks about his win, and his wife helping him in preparation.

Alexander Grischuk beat David Navara with a score of 3½-2½

In the first rapid game, Grischuk was clearly losing. He had two pieces for a queen. However, David missed his chance and let his opponent make a draw. The next 25' + 10" and the first 10' + 10" game also ended in a draw. In the second short rapid game Grischuk was able to make inroads and took the match.

Alexander Grischuk speaks about his win over David Navara and also how the the tournament format needs to be changed. The first rest day is after 15 days!

Baadur Jobava is playing some inspired chess in Tbilisi and beat his opponent Ian Nepomniachtchi

Ivan Salgado Lopez was not an easy opponent, nor was Yu Yangyi. And Ian Nepomniachtchi is a world class player. But for Baadur Jobava, title and stature mean nothing. He is in his home town and he is extremely focused. He wants to do well and with focus and discipline he is showing the chess world what he is capable of.


Baadur Jobava's next opponent is Wesley So. Jobava said in an interview with ChessBase that things are not going to be as easy for his opponent as they were in Leuven. Baadur is in good form and he can beat anyone here.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave had to fight hard, but eventually made it through to round four

MVL's opponent Aleksandr Lenderman played a great tournament. He was able to knock out Pavel Eljanov and Aryan Tari and played the classical section of the game against MVL very well.

Lenderman speaks about his tournament in Tbilisi

Ding Liren was able to outplay Vidit Gujrathi and win the second game of 25' + 10" rapid


Anish Giri had a very topsy turvy match against S.P. Sethuraman

After two draws in the classical section, it seemed as if Anish Giri had the upper hand. This was because in the second classical game, the Dutch GM was completely losing, but managed to save his skin. Coming to the rapids, Anish began with a win. But in the next game Sethuraman equalized the score by lauching a mating attack against Giri's king in a Sicilian Najdorf. With the score tied at 1-1, Anish once again pulled out ahead with a fine win with the white pieces in the 10' + 10" game. In the second game, he decided to chuck his Najdorf and chose the solid 1.e4 e5 which turned out to be a good decision as he managed to beat his opponent and qualify to the fourth round.

Anish's second Erwin l'Ami describes Giri's win as the miracle of Tbilisi!

Giri's chat with Anastasiya Karlovich:

Giri wondered about Magnus: "Does he still find it fun? I'm curious -- it was all fun while he was winning."
"Kramnik -- such confidence and ease, he was giving interviews with his sunglasses and cigarette and saying 'yeah nobody is fighting against me', you know, he is so great…but one mistake by Kramnik and he's also out."
"It absolutely doesn't matter here who is in good form, it doesn't matter who is strong, who is weak. Everybody is fighting. You have to really be lucky. It helps to have good nerves -- it helps but it's not necessary -- just be lucky I think. I mean myself, I'm here just purely by accident. I'm not going to lie and kid myself, I know that sometimes people get lucky and I just got lucky."


Vladimir Fedoseev who has already qualified to round four watches the games. With him is Fabiano Caruana's second Rustam Kasimdzhanov.

"Rustam, you look like a Gypsy", says Anish!

Volunteers who are enjoying a cup of tea and the live games

Boris Gelfand with his second Alexander Huzman

"My table tennis Elo should not be more than 2000!" says Boris Gelfand!

Harikrishna Pentala rooting for his European Club Cup team mate David Navara

A strong top half

If you look at the upper half (8 players), from the absolute elite you have Peter Svidler, MVL, Vassily Ivanchuk, Anish Giri and Levon Aronian. And in the bottom half, there is just Wesley So who is a regular participant in the super-elite events. Assuming that the higher rated players win all the matches, while Wesley's road to the finals is not going to be easy (with players like Jobava, Fedoseev etc. in his path), I am sure the American is relieved that he doesn't have to play guys like MVL and Aronian.

In the current scenario, the matches will be unpredictable, but Wesley So is surely a favourite to reach the finals.

Replay the games of round three:


Correction: The initial version of this story stated Rapport's next opponent is Ding. It's actually Najer.


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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