Calmer day for the favourites.

On the play-off day it was notable that the big names were generally able to overcome the lesser lights without too much trouble. Svidler, Ponomariov and Shirov for example are now in the third round.

Yesterday the play-offs didn't throw up many surprises and Blitz games were only required to decide three of the sixteen matches. One of these was Judit Polgar's match against Rumanian No.1 Nisipeanu which she claimed 4.5-3.5. The other qualifiers in this manner were Li Chao (4.5-3.5 against Pelletier) and Vitiugov who won by the same score against Milos from Brazil.

Polgar always has been a dangerous Blitz player.©official site

In the rapid games Svidler overcame Nyback, and Shirov outpowered Fedorchuk after sharing the classical games one-win apiece. On the other hand several of the favourites have yet to lose an individual game, amongst these we notice Ponomariov (who downed first-round marathonian Akobian), Karjakin (who edged out Timofeev) and Vachier-Lagrave (who won the sixth game after Meier over-cooked his position).

Karjakin beat Timofeev in the rapids.
©official site

The names of the thirty-two players who will continue the competition are known and in the third round draw there are already a number of all-2700 battles to look forward to. One aspect of the tournament so far has been the success of some of the younger participants.

Caruana shaded Dominguez.© official site

Of course not all of the surprises were caused by the younsters!

Sakaev downed Radjabov in the classical games.©official site

Here are some notable games from the earlier rounds to what your appetite for the battles to come!

Tomi Nyback (2628) - Peter Svidler (2754)

Khanty-Mansiysk (World Cup 2.1) 24.11.2009

Gruenfeld Defence (D85)

1.d4 ♘f6 2.c4 g6 3.♘c3 d5 4.cxd5 ♘xd5 5.e4 ♘xc3 6.bxc3 ♗g7 7.♗g5 c5 8.♖c1 0-0 9.♘f3 cxd4 10.cxd4 ♗g4 11.d5 ♘d7 12.♗e2 ♘f6 13.h3 ♗d7 14.♗d3 ♕a5+ 15.♕d2 ♕a4 16.♖c4 ♕a3 17.0-0 ♖ac8 18.♖fc1 ♖xc4 19.♖xc4 ♗b5 20.♖c3 ♕a5 21.♗xf6 ♗xf6 22.e5 ♗g7 23.♗xb5 ♕xb5 24.♖c7 ♖d8 25.♖xe7 ♗f8 26.♖c7 ♖xd5 27.♕f4 ♖d1+ 28.♔h2 ♖d7 29.♖c8 ♖e7

White has a small pull, but at this point was tempted (naturally so!) by the following tricky line...

30.e6!? ♖xe6?

Here 30...f5 loses to 31.♕b8; but Rybka suggests superior 30...♕f5! which seems to hold.

31.♘g5 ♖e7 32.♘xh7! ♔xh7 33.♖xf8 ♔g7 34.♕h4!

The scorpion sting at the tail of the combination! Nevertheless Svidler finds a way to struggle on...


After 34...♔xf8? then 35.♕h8#.

35.♕h8+ ♔g6 36.f4

Simpler is 36.♖g8+ ♔f5 37.♕h5 ♕e5+ 38.g3 ♔e6 39.♖xg5 etc.

36...♔f5 37.♖d8?!

Slackening the noose! Instead correct is 37.♕h5! ♔e6 38.h4 and White is winning.

37...f6 38.♖d6 ♕b2

More resistant but still unpleasant was 38...♖f7! e.g. 39.♕h5 ♕c5 40.♖d1 etc.

39.♕h5 ♕e2 40.♖d5+ ♔xf4 41.♕g6

Black's king can no longer be defended.


Yu Yangyi (2527) - Sergei Movsesian (2718)

Khanty-Mansiysk (World Cup 1.1) 21.11.2009

Sicilian Taimanov (B48)

1.e4 c5 2.♘f3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.♘xd4 ♘c6 5.♘c3 ♕c7 6.♗e3 a6 7.♕d2 ♘f6 8.0-0-0 ♗e7 9.f3 h5 10.♔b1 b5 11.♕f2 d6 12.h3 ♗b7 13.♗d3 h4 14.♘xc6 ♗xc6 15.♖he1 b4 16.♘e2 e5 17.♗b6 ♕b7 18.♘c1 ♘d7 19.♗a5 0-0 20.♗c4

With White's minor pieces nestling down on the queenside Black's attacking chances are reduced. Furthermore Black has to be careful about his weaknesses on d5 and b4.

20...♖fc8 21.♘d3 ♗a4 22.♗b3 ♗xb3 23.axb3 ♕b5 24.♗xb4

Snatches a pawn but Black now gets some play.

24...a5 25.♗a3 a4 26.♘b4

Arguably 26.b4!? holds up the queenside, but the bishop on a3 may not be that happy with life!

26...axb3 27.cxb3 ♘c5 28.♘d5 ♗g5 29.b4


Instead after 29...♘a4!? Black (who will perhaps follow up by doubling on the c-file) is OK.


Snatching the exchange and forcing Black into dubious complications.

30...♖xa3 31.bxa3 ♖c3 32.♕b2 ♖d3 33.♘d5 ♘d4 34.a4!?

34.♘c7! ♕c4 35.♖c1 might be a simpler way to proceed but the game continuation seems to also work.

34...♕c4 35.♖c1 ♕a6 36.♖c3 ♖d2 37.♕a3

Messy looking but White seems to be on top.



White has a bizarre-looking way to an advantage: 38.♖b3 ♕c4 39.♖b2 ♖d3 40.♕a2 ♘c3+ 41.♘xc3 ♕xc3 42.♖h1 with the idea of then carefully pushing the queenside.


Movsesian should have repeated with 38...♘d4! and thus obliged Yu to find the less than obvious 39.♖c3 ♘e2 40.♖b3!.

39.b5 ♕a5 40.♕xd3 ♕xe1+ 41.♔a2 ♕f2 42.♖c2 ♘c1+ 43.♔a3 ♕g1

After 43...♘xd3 44.♖xf2 ♘xf2 45.b6 White promotes.

44.♕c3 ♕d1 45.b6 ♘d3 46.b7 ♕b1 47.♕xd3 ♗c1+ 48.♖xc1 ♕xd3+ 49.♘c3


Gadir Guseinov (2625) - Wesley So (2640)

Khanty-Mansiysk (World Cup 1.5) 23.11.2009

Sicilian Taimanov (B47)

1.e4 c5 2.♘f3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.♘xd4 ♘c6 5.♘c3 ♕c7 6.g3 ♘f6 7.♗g2 a6 8.0-0 ♗e7 9.♗e3 0-0 10.f4 d6 11.♔h1 ♗d7 12.♘b3 b5 13.a3 b4 14.axb4 ♘xb4 15.g4 h6 16.♘d4 ♖ab8 17.h4

White is ready to get his kingside attack rolling with g4-g5 but Black pre-empts this with his own counter.

17...h5! 18.gxh5

Now 18.g5 would be well met by 18...♘g4.

18...♖fc8 19.♗f3 e5!

A further shot at White's comfort zone.

20.fxe5 dxe5 21.♘f5 ♗xf5 22.exf5 e4 23.♗g2 ♕g3

Probing at White's vulnerable kingside.

24.♗f2 ♕e5 25.♗g1 ♗d6

Black has clearly seized the initiative.

26.♖c1 ♖c4 27.♕e2 ♖bc8 28.♕e3 ♘xh5 29.♘e2 ♖xc2 30.♖xc2 ♖xc2

Threatening ... ♖xe2.

31.♕g5 ♖xe2 32.♕xh5



A fine counterattacking game by So.

For further details see the

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