The second games of the World Chess Cup Quarter-Finals were played on Saturday, September 10th, in Khanty-Mansiysk. Yesterday Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine) defeated Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan), and three other games were drawn.
Today Radjabov made a fairly quick comeback, beating his opponent in about three hours. Ivanchuk has a reputation of an incredibly knowledgeable player, so Radjabov wisely decided to avoid theoretical discussions, and selected a modest setup, aiming for a lengthy maneuvering battle. However, already on the 10th move White exploded the position, sacrificing a piece for two pawns. It is hard to say if the sacrifice was objectively correct, but it worked excellently in the game.
Such turn of events was a very unpleasant surprise for Ivanchuk. The Ukrainian started to make mistakes. First he made a wrong bishop trade, giving up the dark squares, and then made a poor choice on the 16th move, selecting the worst recapture on c6. Soon Radjabov obtained material advantage and successfully converted it. The players will continue fighting on tie-breaks.
Peter Svidler was the first to advance to the Semi-Finals, defeating Judit Polgar with Black pieces. In the Scheveningen Sicilian Black quickly won a pawn, but White’s compensation was sufficient, as she had a strong bishop and good pieces arrangement. According to Svidler, draw would be a logical conclusion to this game, however, Polgar overestimated her chances and was caught into one of the traps created by her tricky opponent. Black’s passed pawn gained a lot of strength and decided the outcome of the battle.
David Navara (Czech Republic) was also very close to his goal. He obtained a small advantage after the opening, increased the pressure and eventually won a pawn. However, he made a single careless move, and Alexander Grischuk (Russia), known for his amazing defensive skills, found a saving resource and, instead of losing two pawns, equalized the material balance. The game ended in a draw.
The former World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukraine) selected the Berlin Variation of the Ruy Lopez against his opponent, Vugar Gashimov (Azerbaijan). It was a typical game for the Berlin: White maintained the pressure, Black patiently defended and traded pieces. Vugar Gashimov probably made a mistake by trading his second knight for a bishop, after which Black seized the initiative.
The game was very nervous, both players made mistakes, but Gashimov made the last error and eventually succumbed. Ruslan Ponomariov advanced to the Semi-Finals, where he meets Peter Svidler.
The tie-breaks will be played on Sunday, September 11th. The last two Semi-Final spots will go to the winners of Ivanchuk-Radjabov and Grischuk-Navara matches.