World Cup 2011: Round 7 (Finals), Day 2: Svidler-Grischuk Draw, Ivanchuk Wins
Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 1:00PM
Dennis Monokroussos in Grischuk, Ivanchuk, Ponomariov, Svidler, World Cup 2011, World Cup 2011

In game two of the match for the World Cup championship, Peter Svidler and Alexander Grischuk made a short draw, preserving the former's lead at the halfway point of the match. It may have looked like Svidler was content with a day off, but he insisted at the press conference that it was just him failing yet again in this tournament to get anything with the white pieces. Tomorrow, obviously, is Grischuk's last best chance to keep the match alive.

In the battle for third place and the final spot in the Candidates matches, Vassily Ivanchuk continued the tournament trend and won with Black, taking a 1.5-.5 lead over Ruslan Ponomariov. The game had two especially odd moments. The first came early, when Ponomariov played 13.Nxe6?! after thinking for about 13 minutes in an extremely well-known position. Whether this was some sort of bluff or not I don't know: he burned another 25 minutes on his next two moves, which is a pretty big commitment to play-acting if that's what he was doing. On the other hand, it's pretty unbelievable to think that he hadn't prepared for the position after Black's 12th move, as there are almost 200 games in the database with it, featuring many of the world's top players. After Black's 4th move, all of Black's moves had been the number-one choice except for 10...Nbd7, but 10...Bd7 is only very slightly more popular - the two moves can be considered co-main lines.

Anyway, not only was 13.Nxe6 a sideline on which Ponomariov burned lots of time, it also quickly left him with a chronically inferior endgame thanks to Black's queenside majority. Ivanchuk maintained some advantage for a long time, and was squeezing as the players neared the time control. White was under some pressure when facing his 37th move, but normally five and a half minutes would be plenty of time for Ponomariov to find 37.R1xe2 Nxe2 38.Nd3!, with very good drawing chances. Instead, he uncorked 37.Rxf5??, which lost to a series of obvious forcing moves. (It would be interesting to know what Ponomariov missed, but - understandably! - he didn't show up at the press conference.) Time trouble wasn't a factor, but exhaustion probably played a role.

Tired or not, Ponomariov and other three remaining contestants continue their battle tomorrow. For now, chess fans can replay the video coverage on the official site, and/or have a look at today's games, with my comments, here.

Article originally appeared on The Chess Mind (
See website for complete article licensing information.