FIDE World Cup 2017: MVL's Narikala against Grischuk

by Sagar Shah
9/15/2017 – Round four tiebreaks saw five matches being played. Four of them were finished in the first two 25'+10" encounter.The winners were Svidler, So, Fedoseev and Rapport. The only match that went beyond the first two rapid games was the one between Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Alexander Grischuk. In the first 10'+10" game MVL was able to outwit the Russian super GM. In a must-win scenario Grischuk gave everything that he had, and came so close. But MVL showcased virtuoso defence to qualify to the quarter finals! In-depth coverage from Tbilisi. | Photos: Amruta Mokal

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So, Svidler, Fedoseev, MVL, Rapport advance

World Cup

Narikala Fortress is an ancient symbol of Tbilisi's defence | Photo: Eurasia travels

Yesterday we had the endgame masterclass in the game between Levon Aronian and Daniil Dubov, where both players had g-pawns and Aronian had a rook versus Dubov's bishop. Today, in the tiebreaks, the very crucial encounter between MVL and Grischuk saw the same material balance, just that instead of both sides have g-pawns, it was h-pawn and rook vs g-pawn and the bishop. The position is very instructive and something that we can all learn from. MVL setup a very nice fortress (hence, the title of this article!). But first let us understand the background.

MVL against Grischuk was the match that made day 12 at the World Cup very memorable | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The first two classical games of the match between MVL and Grischuk had ended in draws. The two 25' + 10" rapid games ended in draws as well, although it must be mentioned that in the first game Grischuk was clearly better with an extra pawn. As both the 25'+10" rapid games ended in draws, the action shifted to 10'+10" rapids. MVL was able to get in the first win of the match with the white pieces. All he had to do in the second game was to get the half point to qualify for the quarter finals. But MVL, being MVL, played the game in the most ambitious fashion. Grischuk won an exchange and extinguished his opponent's initiative. Finally we reached the following endgame:


In the above position if White plays h3, he is winning. The win is easy to demonstrate but requires some finesse. White first gets his rook to a6 cutting the black king. When the bishop moves from f4, the rook attacks the bishop (say Be3 Ra3 Bf4 Rf3!) Once the rook has an eye on the bishop, the king comes up via h6-h5 to g4 and then the bishop starts feeling uncomfortable. It's diagonal c1-f4 is too short because the rook attacks it and the h4 move prevents it from sitting comfortably on f4.

Grischuk did not play h3 and instead allowed Black to play g4 followed by g3. This was a substantial improvement for Black and after the game MVL thought that the following position was a fortess:


How should white win? A lot of schematic thinking is required here to win. Let's try to break down into steps:

1. Firstly White should get his king to f3 and rook to the g-file say Rg4. Now Black will have to keep his king on the h-file because if it goes to the f-file, then the h-pawn simply runs down the board.


2. Once the king is on the h-file, the rook must push the black king back to h7. This is possible because the white king can move to f5 and start threatening mates with the rook. Once the king goes to h7, the white rook must jump into g6 and cut the king off.


3. Now it is very important to get this position with black to play. If it is White's move he can move his rook to g4-g5- later g8 and get this position with black to play. Once you get the above position with black to play, it is zugzwang. I can see you asking zugzwang for what? Well, the reason is that white king must get to h5. If White is able to do that then he wins easily, as he gets his rook to g4-e4 and finally checking the black king from e7 and then penetrating to the g6 square with the king. So getting the king to h5 is very important. In the above diagram, black to move can either play Kh8 or Be1. Kh8 is met with Rg4 and Kh7 loses to Kg5 with Kh5 coming up. And if instead of Kh8, Black plays Be1, straightaway Kg5 is possible as g2 loses the pawn to Kh5. This means that you are able to get your king to h5. What next?


4. The black king can either go to h8 or the bishop goes to e1. Be1 is refuted with Re6! Bf2 Re7+ Kg8 Kg6 threatening a mate! So instead of Be1, Kh8 is possible, but White now chooses to push his pawn with h4 and Kh7 is met with Rg4. Black king going to last rank will lose to Kg6. And Be1 is met with Re4! Bf2 Re7+ Kg8 Kg6.


5. To...Kf8 in the above position, you must find the only move to win, Re2! Not so difficult. Now the king cannot move, the bishop has to and then White advances his h-pawn. 


There are so many subtleties and so many little moves that White has to make in order to win the game. One of the very important things that White must be careful about is not pushing his h-pawn. On h3 it is safe. And it helps to keep the pawn away from the radar of black's bishop.


In the game Grischuk couldn't understand that his pawn must remain on h3. He pushed his pawn to h4 and now it is a draw. The key line being ...Be1 Kg5 g2! Kh5 Bxh4. And there you see the downside of pushing the pawn to h4.

Replay the game with all the analysis: 


Some more instruction on this endgame by GM Effstratios Grivas will soon follow. ChessBase wants to ensure that you become an expert in rook vs bishop endgames!

The various expressions of Alexander Grischuk. Immediately after the game he knew that he was winning, but it was too late! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

We have the entire game on the ChessBase India Youtube channel in video. The game was 10'+10" but lasted nearly 45 minutes. The videos are split into five parts. Here is the first one:

This is the part I of the second rapid game. If you enjoy it, you can follow the next parts here.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was extremely tired after the game, but gave us a brief summary of his match with Grischuk

Wesley So vs Baadur Jobava

If there is one reason why we will see less chess fans at the playing venue from tomorrow, it is because Baadur Jobava was eliminated. Jobava is a big icon in the country and I realized this today when there was complete silence in the press room as he lost his match to Wesley So. Baadur with his solid play throughout the tournament had given Georgians a lot of hope. After all beating Yu Yangyi and Ian Nepomniachtchi was never easy. But Wesley So, proved to be a much harder nut to crack.

Every Georgian was cheering for their local hero Baadur Jobava! We show you the atmosphere in the press room while the game was in progress.

Baadur tried really hard, but Wesley showed his class in the first rapid game | Photo: Amruta Mokal


In the second game Wesley played the Petroff and was able to draw to qualify to the next round. Towards the end there was some drama related to three-fold repetition which we were able capture in a video:

The game that knocked out Baadur Jobava

The arbiters confirm that it is a three-fold repetition | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Wesley speaks about his win over Jobava, the resurgence of Petroff and what he thinks about his next opponent Vladimir Fedoseev

Richard Rapport vs Evgeny Najer

This was a battle of styles. While Rapport likes to play unconventional chess and goes for super complicated stuff, Najer has a much more controlled style of play. He likes to play logical chess and his moves usually follow a plan or a scheme that he has formulated. The match was hard fought with each and every game going down to the wire. After three draws (two classical games and one rapid), the deadlock was finally broken in the second rapid 25'+10" rapid game.


If you too would like to play this line with 1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 d4 3.b4!? then you must definitely have a look at Bologan's latest DVD on the Reti where he talks about this line. In general he presents a repertoire for White beginning with 1.Nf3.

Reti - A Repertoire for White

Starting with 1.Nf3 the Reti is designed for those players who like strategy, manoeuvres and plans. Bologan presents a repertoire based on 1.Nf3 giving you options for all major replies.


Richard Rapport has already beaten Wei Yi and Li Chao at this event. Can he beat his third Chinese opponent — Ding Liren? | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Evgeniy Najer beat Aleksandrov, Vitiugov and Caruana. A very successful World Cup 2017 campaign comes to an end. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Peter Svilder vs Bu Xiangzhi

Peter Svidler explained that beating Magnus Carlsen one game in a row doesn't make Bu Xiangzhi "a mythical beast which you need to be extremely afraid and totally alter your strategy," adding, "he remains an incredibly strong player, that I have the utmost respect for, but that was what I thought before." Svidler was able to beat Bu Xiangzhi 2-0 in the rapid and advance to the quarterfinals. Svidler beating his opponent with the black pieces was the most crucial result of the match. Bu was under too much pressure to win the second rapid game with black and collapsed.

He is 41 years old, and twelve days of gruelling chess is surely difficult. But Peter looks to be in good shape as he takes on Maxime Vachier Lagrave in the quarterfinals | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Peter Svidler talks about his match with Bu Xiangzhi

The disappointment of getting knocked out. Bu Xiangzhi with his coach after the completion of the match against Svidler | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Although he is out, Bu will cherish this tournament for eliminating Magnus Carlsen. Who knows he might be the reason for a reigning World Champion never again to take part in the World Cup!


Vladimir Fedoseev vs Maxim Rodshtein

After staging a heroic comeback in the second classical game, Rodshtein was unable to maintain his momentum and lost both the rapid games to Vladimir Fedoseev. "I was not able to think properly," said Rodshtein after the game. Rodshtein goes back home, but takes with him a lot of memories. The positive feeling of beating Michael Adams, and the not so positive one of getting a walkover against Kovalyov.


Watch out for this lad, he might just reach the Candidates. 22-year-old Vladimir Fedoseev | Photo: Amruta Mokal

"I was trying hard in 2015 and 2016 as well, but 2017 is the year when my real improvement took place"

Results of round four

Continental President for Americas Jorge Vega with European Chess Union President Zurab Azmaiparashvili | Photo: Amruta Mokal

In this picture you can see 30 years of Woman World Championship! Maia Chiburdanidze (right) was the World Champion from 1978 to 1991 and next to her is Nona Gaprindashvili who was the World Champion from 1962 to 1978! Also in the picture is famous journalist and author Genna Sosonko and former World Senior Champion Zurab Sturua. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Maia Chiburdanidze became the Women's World Champion at the age of 17 when she beat Nona Gaprindashvili. She held the title for 13 years and was the second woman in the world to become a full fledged grandmaster. She talks about the current state of women's chess, can women be equal to men, and how Georgia dominated chess for so many years. She also has a message at the end for Vishy Anand.

The initial moments of round four tiebreaks

Pairings for Quarter-finals

Peter Svidler vs MVL


Vassily Ivanchuk vs Levon Aronian


Wesley So vs Vladimir Fedoseev


Richard Rapport vs Ding Liren



Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He and is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India website, the biggest news outlet in the country related to chess.
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lajosarpad lajosarpad 9/17/2017 01:08

Chessbase does not have a tendency to take a side in controversial political issues. I agree with you that not letting people to play in tournaments, because of their religion, race or nationality is bad. A famous example of this is the 2004 FIDE World Championship, organized in Tripoli, when Jewish players were not allowed to enter into the country. In that case, Chessbase was clearly favoring moving the event to Malta, or another place, where nobody is discriminated:

So Chessbase was rooting for a possibility to allow Jewish players to play.

I have seen videos both with Gelfand and Rodshtein and a lot of pictures about Chinese and Israeli players. Examples:

So your claim ("Were pictures of all players that played but not of Gelfand or Rodshtein.") is baseless.

You claimed that when a Chinese or Israeli player wins, Chessbase editors are "obviously" not happy. Since you claimed this to be obvious, you need to show why, because for me it is not obvious at all. Take a look at the article where Ding Liren has beaten Rapport. His game was praised, thoroughly analyzed, his face was the main picture of the article and he was interviewed as well.

If you think that Chessbase favors Europeans over Israelis, then you agree with me that geographically, Israel is not in Europe, then you are probably as puzzled as I am about the reason Israeli teams are playing in European team events, including, but not limited to chess events. When I asked about this on Chessvibes in a comment, its owner, Peter Doggers got scared and was calling me a troll. Since then I have stopped visiting Chessvibes, as I am only visiting sites where a decent level of culture is shown and is maintained. Chessbase is among them.

Chessbase is not protesting against Israeli participations in European events, but it has clearly shown a desire to move the location of the 2004 FIDE World Championship to somewhere else than Tripoli. So Chessbase is more often than not contains correct journalism, with a few exceptions (one exception was a commentary written by Tiger Hillarp Persson where, in a chess article an anti Trump position was held, with visions about nazi concentration camps getting more probable, which was outside the bounds of chess and decency in my opinion).

Let's hope nobody will be destroyed. No Jews, no antisemites, no other people. Let's hope we all can peacefully live on this Earth somehow and people will finally accept that there are human beings not sharing their religion, race, opinion or nationality, but who are very valuable individuals as well. Gens una sumus.
Finrod75 Finrod75 9/17/2017 09:29
I cannot remember right now where, but several times when i read here articles with pictures, i got this impression. Were pictures of all players that played but not of Gelfand or Rodshtein. European playets got warm treatment while the chinese players, even those who passed the 2750 elo stayed rather anonymous.
Plus, from a respectable chess website I would expect to see a clear loud protest for the continues outrage of the arab excluding of israeli players who are not allowd to participaelte in big tournaments of Fide, held in their countries.

Anyway I am not worried, God will destroy all antisemitists. Actually it starts to happen with horricans, earthquakes and other nature disasters, and its only the beginning.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 9/16/2017 11:31
@Finrod75 You should show something in support of your claim. You are accusing Chessbase writers of being biased. I am sure they are rooting for their own nations, but did not see a tendency of favoring a given civilization or nation over the others, even though, Indian articles tend to do more interviews with Indian players, which is an obvious sympathy, but I have no problem with that. I expect journalists of other nations to interview more their own guys and girls as well. Also, the author of this article, Shagar Shah is an Indian guy who is very unprobable to be biased towards Europeans. So, I would like to see 10 different links to Chessbase articles along with quotes from those articles, proving your claim to believe you. On the other hand I would like to thank Chessbase authors, including, but not limited to Shagar Shah for their great work writing chess news, Caissa bless them.
rebellioness rebellioness 9/16/2017 10:35
Completely agree with you Michael Jones.
Michael Jones Michael Jones 9/15/2017 09:49
Finrod75 - you what? The article states that Rapport beat Wei Yi and Li Chao, and Rodshtein lost to Fedoseev. All that is simple statement of fact, which it is rather difficult to construe as implying any slight against their nationalities. It's well known that China has many top players, which is reflected in its success in team tournaments. ChessBase reports on the results of Chinese players, as it does of anyone else without showing any particular pleasure in either their victories or their defeats. You are essentially accusing ChessBase of racism, when there is absolutely no evidence to support such an accusation.
Rfield Rfield 9/15/2017 03:12
To anonymous, I was thinki'n, on the same thread on these two wood pushers. No, favorites here although the most prepared will get the upper hand. Of the two, one is showing the world that he's the supreme rated player and making a bold name. Ding could be the most improve of Chinese slays for Rapaport. Fedoosef style balances So's waiting move which is not in the temperament of Rapaport. Svidler, MLV, Aronian, Ivan should have played first Ding, Fedoosef, Rapaport, So. I'd like the chances of MLV, but Svidler is the most veteran in this format match. If it's time for the Armenian-US or Chinese match, vinniethepooh's prediction is fulfill.
Bojan KG Bojan KG 9/15/2017 11:26
So many Russians at the beginning of tournament - now only two in 1/4 finals. One experienced but hard to see as real threat in Candidates, our lovely Peter - on the other hand new blood in shape of Fedoseev who might be best Russia's player in years to come after big Vlad retires. Russia desperately need new SuperGM - Kramnik and Svidler are veterans, Grischuk is not getting any younger as Karjakin too. Fedoseev, Dubov and Artemiev will be the ones to rely on in near future.
Finrod75 Finrod75 9/15/2017 11:05
ChessBase likes mainly European origin players. It less likes Israeli and Chinese players, obviously when they win chessbase editors are not happy. The Chinese players conquere the top of chess, ChessBase must eat this hehe.
brabo_hf brabo_hf 9/15/2017 10:52
"Who knows he might be the reason for a reigning World Champion never again to take part in the World Cup!" I find this comment inappropriate.
geraldsky geraldsky 9/15/2017 07:42
Rapport is a Chinese dragon slayer
vinniethepooh vinniethepooh 9/15/2017 07:00
I predict Aronian-Ding in finals with Levon winning. Happy to see my pre tournament winner (Aronian) in the race!
ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 9/15/2017 03:49
interesting ...but maya had a personal coach eduard gufeld ....trainers Kuzmin etc., ....... she was the winner of Bhilwara grandmasters in the early eighties at new delhi ahead of men!
Manoj Hota Manoj Hota 9/15/2017 03:41
I would be happy if it is going to be a MVL Show (sans hw) finale.
anonimous anonimous 9/15/2017 03:32
All the matches out to be quite interesting. The most lopsided matches are clearly in the lower bracket, and I expect at least one surprise, that is to say: at least one between So and Ding will be eliminated.