World Chess Cup 2015 final: Karjakin vs Svidler – highlights

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Today, I’d like to share with you an interesting article prepared by Srikanth G, a professional chess player and a friend of the RCA Academy Manager. This article is about the recent World Cup final match between Karjakin and Svidler.


So, let’s begin the ride! 🙂

“For me, the most important thing was the inner contents of the fight, the inner state of the two opponents at the board.” – Tigran Petrosian


The prophetic words of the great master of strategic play studded with great deceptive dynamism, is the underlying factor….chief one in determining success. Stress, the oft mentioned term in modern days, is the chief component of this inner state!


Simply put, “stress refers to that quality of experience, produced through a person-environment transaction, that, through either over-arousal or under-arousal, results in psychological or physiological distress” – the best description of the term that I’ve come across.


Without getting into the science of it, suffice to say that it is merely a perceived sense and the protagonist in the ‘act of stress’ is Mr. Mind!
stressStress can be “experienced” either through over-arousal or under-arousal and Svidler exemplified both in two games! It can be psychological and physiological and we could see these manifest clearly in Svidler’s moves as well as bodily movements, clutches, blushes, twitches….and eyes.


Stress, necessarily need not carry only negative connotation, at times stress can trigger positive action and responses and probably that is what transpired in Karjakin’s psyche in his fourth game, where he nurtured his small pluses, especially after the way he rose like a phoenix in the third game.


In the previous game, when Svidler was on the threshold of a World Cup victory, the over-arousal clogged his rational thought process resulting in…..first 28.Rf2? and then 29.Qd2??
chessFor a grandmaster of the class of Svidler, these are pretty elementary and would haunt him for ages.


And in the fourth game, it began with….

White to play

…..this position, where Svidler just played 12…..g6 13.Nd6!?


What this move ensures is that the position gets imbalanced irrevocably. And this is a crucial factor in the state of the match where Karjakin requires a win and Svidler a draw!


We shall follow the game quickly and delve only on decision of important nature.


13……exd6; 14.Bxf6 Rg8; 15.e4 Be6; 16.Kb1 Kd7; 17.Nd5!

Black to play

A nice move to have, especially when you are in a must win position!  A well drafted knight on d5 square gives a great feeling!


The point is not that this move ensures a great advantage, but in Capablanca’s parlance an enduring ‘small advantage’!  The Knight on d5 can be evicted only by conceding the Bishop, which at this moment, is the only effectively developed Black piece. Also, after, and if, White plays Bb5, this option will no longer be possible after having put his King on the d7 square.


White will bring in his other Rook too to the center and all his pieces would be harmoniously placed. 17…..Bg7 18.Bxg7 Rxg7


Grandmaster Abhijeet Gupta tweeted, “The Rook fianchetto might do the trick…”  and you cannot discount this factor that this Rook must have caused some nagging concern in Svidler’s mind on how to make it effective.


19.Bb5 Kd8; 


Prelude to the next move


20.Rd2 Bd5; 21.Rd5 Kc7; 22.Rc1! Re8; 23.Rd4 
chessThe other option is to double the Rook on d-file and tie-down Black’s Rook and try and fix Black’s Kingside pawns on white squares and attack them subsequently.


Such considerations are simply said over the board, but hard to decide while sitting across the board with the clock ticking and the ‘carrot’ dangling!


I am reminded of the following position (how can I afford not to bring in Zurich into the scheme of things!):

Gligoric – Smyslov, Zurich, 1953


Bronstein commented:


There is a widespread and therefore dangerous misconception that an extra pawn leads automatically to a win. Black’s main advantage in this position, however, is not so much his extra pawn, which is a long way from being exploited, but his control of many squares in the center: Q4, Q5, Qb4, Kb4, Kb5.

White’s counter chances lay in his pawn majority on the Queenside and the open d-file. How many such games end up as draws by accurate play! But Smyslov holds the reins with an iron hand. His plan can be broken down into the following parts:

1) The immediate exchange of one Rook, leaving the other one for the possible fight against White’s Queenside pawns and to attack the KP and QBP.

2) The threat to create an outside passed pawn to deflect White’s Rook to the h-file so that his own Rook can take control over the d-file.
3) The advance of King’s knight pawn to g4 to undermine White’s f-pawn which supports his e-pawn.
4) An attack on the e-pawn, tying down White’s pieces.
5) The dispatch of the King to win the opponent’s weak pawns.

As we can see, it is a simple winning plan – simple for Smyslov, of course.

One of the finest readings of a Grandmaster’s mind…..thinking process!


<<<To be continued>>>

P.S. Did you like this article from a “new person”? 🙂 Please write your suggestions and feedback in the comments below. We’ll be glad to know your thoughts.
Comments: 4

Comments 4

    1. HI William,
      We are looking to make more courses available on Udemy.
      Please follow our blog for information about any release of a course in Udemy.


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