World Cup, Round 3, Day 2: Carlsen, Kramnik, and Nakamura Out
Sunday, September 10, 2017 at 12:59PM
Dennis Monokroussos in 2017 World Cup, Vassily Ivanchuk

If you're not a fan of Magnus Carlsen or Vladimir Kramnik, Vassily Ivanchuk is your man. While it has never been safe to root for him directly - his nerves have killed him at some crucial points in his career, most especially at the end of his 1991 Candidates match with Artur Yusupov and in the finals of the 2002 FIDE Knockout World Championship against Ruslan Ponomariov - but when it comes to ruining other people's events he's got a special knack. Since 2013, he has practically become Carlsen's and Kramnik's personal angel of death. First he beat both players at the end of the 2013 Candidates, and he has beaten Carlsen at least three more times in rapid and blitz tournaments since then. (His draw with Kramnik at the end of the 2015 World Blitz Championship prevented Kramnik from taking second or maybe even first - I forget how the tiebreaks stood.)

Today, it was Kramnik's turn to get punished by Ivanchuk. Kramnik had White and got a bit too ambitious. He overextended on the queenside and lost a pawn, and Ivanchuk ground out the victory in 71 moves. Having done his duty, Ivanchuk can now lose in the next round, probably to Anish Giri, who was dead lost against S.P. Sethuraman but eked out a draw to make it to tomorrow's tiebreaks.

Carlsen is also out. The damage was done yesterday, but if he could win with Black against Bu Xiangzhi he could push the match to tiebreaks. It didn't happen: Bu played well and kept Carlsen safely at bay.

Another big gun heading for the exits is Hikaru Nakamura. The Spanish Four Knights is probably underappreciated, at least as an occasional weapon, and with a very few exceptions its theory is largely unexplored. Nakamura played an unusual line on move 6 and a novelty on move 7. Was it intentional, and if it was, could he have possibly remembered his preparation? Whatever the case, he was lost or at least much worse after a mistake on move 10. It wasn't a straight line win after that, but White was always better, and eventually Fedoseev broke his opponent's resistance.

Yet another big name that took it on the chin today was Levon Aronian. He was crushed by Maxim Matlakov in a Semi-Tarrasch, but as he had won the day before they're headed for tiebreaks.

Other decisive games: Wang Hao beat Yuriy Kuzubov with Black, Daniil Dubov beat Vladislav Artemiev with White, and Peter Svidler ground down Alexander Onischuk on the white side of an Anti-Marshall.

Americans: Wesley So is through, drawing with Francisco Vallejo Pons today after beating him yesterday. Nakamura and Onischuk are out, and Fabiano Caruana and Aleks Lenderman will play tiebreaks tomorrow after drawing both their games against Evgeny Najer and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, respectively.

Headed for round 4: Bu Xiangzhi and Peter Svidler (who will play each other), Vassily Ivanchuk, Daniil Dubov, Wesley So, Vladimir Fedoseev and Maxim Rodshtein (they'll play in round 4; Rodshtein, recall, was the recipient of a couple of points due to Shortsgate), and Wang Hao.

Tomorrow's tiebreaks: MVL-Lenderman, Grischuk-Navara, Giri-Sethuraman, Aronian-Matlakov, Nepomniachtchi-Jobava, Caruana-Najer, Rapport-Li Chao, Ding Liren-Vidit Gujrathi

Finally, here are a few of today's games, with comments.

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