2013 World Cup: Round 6, Day 3: Kramnik & Andreikin Reach Finals; Andreikin & Karjakin Qualify for Candidates
Today's tiebreak session at the World Cup was a short one, as two 25-minute games were enough to determine the match winners. In the first session Evgeny Tomashevsky and Dmitry Andreikin had a fairly quick draw, but theirs was the marathon of the round. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave played like he had lost his mind in his white game against Kramnik, and had to resign after just 22 moves. After 16 moves of that game the position was level and sharp, and here Vachier-Lagrave's decision to bring the rook into play with 17.Re4 quickly backfired. After 20...Bf5 White was already in some trouble and the c-pawn looked likely to fall after a subsequent ...Bd3. That would have been a dream scenario for the Frenchman compared to what actually happened. After 21.Rh4?? Bc2 White's best would have been to surrender an exchange for less than nothing with 22.Qe2 Bd3 23.Qd1. Instead, he uncorked the even more disastrous 22.Qxc2??, hoping for 22...Qxc2 23.Be4. That also loses to 23...Qxd2+ 24.Bxh7+ Kh8 25.Bc2+ Qh6, which will leave Black a rook up, but Kramnik's 22...Nxf3+ was even simpler, winning the house.
In the rematch Kramnik was a little slack, and his whole plan to swap everything with 13.d5, 14.Ne1 and 15.Nxd5 gave Vachier-Lagrave a little pull, but when Black played the premature 23...b5 the game started to tip back in Kramnik's favor. By the end Kramnik was close to winning, but took the opportunity to draw by repetition. That won him the match and a trip to the finals, but it didn't win him a ticket to next year's Candidates' tournament. That's because he had already qualified. What it did do was switch his ticket. Rather than qualifying by rating he qualifies as a World Cup finalist, and that means that the player who was the #3 finisher (and thus non-qualifier) on rating has now qualified: Sergey Karjakin.
Today was an interesting day for Kramnik, and it's not clear that he really benefited. There's the prestige of making it to the finals of the World Cup, and even more if he wins it. There's the added payday, too. On the other hand, his score against Karjakin isn't fantastic, to put it mildly. Since 2010, taking all time controls into account, the score is 7-1 for Karjakin, not counting five draws. Even just taking classical games into account it isn't good news for Kramnik: 2-0 for Karjakin, plus four draws.
Meanwhile, the other semi-final was also bad news for Kramnik. Kramnik did lose a blitz game to Tomashevsky last year, but their classical record shows that Kramnik has won both of their games: one in 2004 and one in 2012. As for Andreikin, Kramnik has lost both games they've played, both in the last couple of months.
So who advanced? Andreikin, of course. Tomashevsky was doing pretty well with Black into the middlegame, but it all went downhill after 28...Re1? He apparently missed 30.Qd2 after the trade of rooks, and after that Andreikin whipped up an initiative that quickly decided the game. Tomashevsky should have traded queens with 28...Qxd3 and after 29.Rxd3 played 29...Re6 so as to defend the f-pawn if necessary. The position would have remained equal and the match unclear.
Tomorrow is the one and only absolute day off in the entire event, and then the best-of-four game final begins on Friday.