FIDE World Cup 2017: Nasty 21...Kc7!! seals Svidler's fate

by Sagar Shah
9/18/2017 – The quarterfinal tiebreak was a short affair as Maxime Vachier-Lagrave managed to show some excellent bit of chess in the second 25'+10" rapid game with the black pieces. He beat Peter Svidler with an overall score of 2.5-1.5 and advanced to the semifinals. He will now face Aronian in the final hurdle for the qualification to the Candidates tournament. Wesley So will be pitted against Ding Liren. We bring you all the analysis of today's tiebreak and also what you can expect in the matches that begin on Tuesday.

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MVL through to the semis

World Cup

After MVL won his tiebreaks today against Peter Svidler, he was asked, "We spoke to Wesley So yesterday and for him the Candidates is a nice tournament, but there are other important events as well. Even if he doesn't qualify, it's not like the end of the world for him. What's your take on the Candidates. How important is the Candidates for you?" To which MVL replied, "I too had a similar approach a few years ago. But time is flying fast and I haven't played in a Candidates yet, so I would like to manage to make it there one way or the other, even though it will be an uphill battle starting from day after tomorrow."

This reply just showed the immense desire that MVL has within him to make it to the Candidates and challenge for the throne of the World Champion. And he put in all of his will power to use in his match against Peter Svidler. This has been MVL's ninth straight day on the chess board. He has gone into the tiebreaks in all of his last three rounds against Lenderman, Grischuk and now Svidler. "I was down to my last levels of energy," said Maxime. 

That's the view from the hotel. Yes, it's barren on the outside and with players getting knocked out each day, it is getting lonely inside as well! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Game 1

Peter and Maxime are good friends and this was quite apparent as they shared a few jokes before the start of the round | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Both the players had complete faith on their opening preparation. While Maxime employed the Giuoco Piano once again, the same line that he had tried in the second classical game, Peter repeated until move 11. The Russian was the first to deviate as he chose Grischuk's ...Na7 over his own ...Ne7. The game was a perfect example of high class opening preparation by both sides.

Vachier-Lagrave and Svidler blitz out their opening moves

Perfect opening play was followed by high class middlegame and endgame play. The players hardly made any serious mistakes. It's true that MVL was pushing throughout the game as White, but Svidler had things under control. After some good defensive moves, he was able to get his king stalemated and take home the half point.

 

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Game 2

This was the decisive game and the entire match was decided by one move that MVL made on move 21.

 
 

21...Kc7!! was a very strong move. Now let's understand why. The move was missed by Peter Svidler and also MVL spotted it only when it was his move. After the game Svidler said to MVL, "Kc7 is such a nasty move." This little king move, spoils all of White's plans on the kingside. His main idea is to take hxg6. But now that move will be met with ...hxg6 and after Qxh8 Rxh8 Rxh8 there is no check as there is no king on c8. On the other hand, the king supports the queen on d6 and Black now threatens to play gxf5. Another important point that must not be missed is 22.Rc1 looks strong, but Black nonchalantly goes ahead and plays 22...gxf5 and asks White where's your discovered check? White has no way to take advantage of the king's position as Bxf7+ (or any other bishop move) is met with Bc6 and Black is slightly better.

After Svidler saw the power of the move 21...Kc7, his faith in white's positon declined rapidly and within a few moves he landed in a completely lost position.

That moment when you know your journey at the World Cup 2017 has come to an end | Photo: Amruta Mokal

I was sitting in the press room when we reached the position after 21...Kc7. Famous author and journalist GM Gennadi Sosonko was nearby and I decided to ask him about the position. Check out what he has to say:

GM Sosonko understands the power of 21...Kc7 and speaks about it

 

Like a gentleman, Svidler analyzes the critical moments of his game against MVL | Photo: Amruta Mokal

MVL speaks about his tough match with Svidler, his next round opponent Aronian, and how reaching Candidates is extremely important for him

Etienne Bacrot was a participant in the World Cup 2017. He lost his second round against Bu Xiangzhi. After getting knocked out he has been helping Maxime to prepare for his opponents.

Maxime talks about his second Bacrot and you can also see how they relaxed after the victory

MVL's second Etienne Bacrot after winning the match, "MVL will have his first rest day after nine days, but I will be working!"

Looking ahead: Semifinals

When we were into the second and third rounds of the World Cup 2017, seeing the number of upsets it felt as if the underdogs and unheralded players would make it to the semifinals. But, as we move into the final four, we realize that these battle hardened top ten players of the world, are not going to let it go! After the third round we had only five players out of the top eleven in the world (Ding Liren is world number 11) who had qualified to round four. Now after five rounds four out of these five super elite players have survived and are going to fight it out in the semifinals. The two players who will move to the finals will also qualify for the Candidates 2018.

We would like to mention to all our readers that in the previous polls for the quarter-finals all the players who had received majority votes advanced to the next round! Congratulations! Let's see if your predictions prove to be right for the semifinals as well.

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Important statistics of the semifinalists:

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Sagar 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 is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India website, the biggest chess news outlet in the country.

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