Anish Giri and Shakhriyar – among the favourites for the crown, were eliminated in the tiebreaks of the third round at the FIDE World Cup in Sochi.
Azerbaijan’s World’s number six Mamedyarov was unable to straighten out the 1-1 tie in the classical games and was eventually knocked out of the tournament by Haik M. Martirosyan, the former under-16 world champion, and currently Armenia’s number seven.
In the first game, Mamedyarov, playing with White, sacrificed a pawn out of the opening for some compensation but Martirosyan defended well and outplayed his opponent in the endgame. Not wanting to play for a draw in the second game with White, Martirosyan went all-out for a win against Mamedyarov’s very dubious opening set-up.
In a highly complex position, his superb move 35.Kf2! blocking the f-pawn and preparing an assault on Black’s king was enough for Black to realise that he had to exchange pieces and simplify to an easily drawn rook ending.
The other major upset of the afternoon was the elimination of Dutchman Giri. Both of the classical games against his opponent, seventeen-year-old Nodirbek Abdusattorov, ended in a draw and things seemed to be safe for the world’s number eight player.
However, the Uzbekistan prodigy played really well in the two 25/10 tiebreak games, first defeating Giri in a tricky rook + knight ending and then holding an extremely difficult position in the second game, until Giri over-pressed an equal ending and eventually lost.
Among those, who survived the tie-break in the first two 25/10 games to advance are Vladislav Artemiev, Radoslaw Wojtaszek, Praggnanandhaa R, Pavel Ponkratov. They were all able to defeat their opponents by a clear 2-0 score, while Etienne Bacrot, Sam Shankland, Peter Svidler and Pouya Idani advanced to the fourth round with a 1.5-0.5 margins.
Another young player to qualifiy for the fourth round is 21-year-old USA grand master Jeffrey Xiong currently, number 33 in the world, who took down Sweden’s number one player Nils Grandelius after a really tough match that went back and forth.
Two matches went full throttle to the end. Santosh Gujrathi Vidit defeated his Indian teammate Baskaran Adhiban in the second blitz game for an overall score of 4.5-3.5, giving you an idea of the resilient nature of “The Beast”.
The only game that went the full distance to the “Armageddon” was between Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and David Paravyan, who gave the Frenchman the match of his life. After many missed opportunities, in addition to an incorrect 3-fold position draw claim in the second blitz game, Vachier-Lagrave played a great attacking “sudden-death” game, winning by a total score of 5-4, and will now face India’s prodigy Praggnanandhaa in the next round.
There were four tie-breaks in the women’s competition and the only one ended in the first two 25/10 games with Nana Dzagnidze defeating Carissa Yip.
The experienced Georgian player won her second classical game and forced the tie-break in which she clearly outplayed her younger opponent, winning the two games.
The other three qualifiers were twenty-year-old Polina Shuvalova, who defeated her even younger teammate Leya Garifullina by 3.5-2.5. Also advancing to the fourth round was 17-years-old Bibisara Assaubayeva ,who defeated the very experienced Georgian grandmaster Bela Khotenashvili 4-2.
Mariya Muzychuk was able to join her sister in the fourth round after defeating her teammate from the Ukraine Olympic team Anna Ushenina 4.5-3.5 in the by far most exciting women’s tie-break of the day.