Gelfand and Ponomariov in the final quartet.

Malakhov and Karjakin know who to prepare for! Three rapid games were sufficient in each of the matchs to determine a winner. Gelfand eliminated Jakovenko 2.5-0.5, and Ponomariov knocked out Gashimov by the same score.

After starting with a draw in the rapids, Gelfand won the following two games whereas in the other tie-break Ponomariov took the advantage even earlier, winning the first two rapid games.

There was a hint of tiredness in these rapid play-offs as the players have now been going for two weeks of highly tense encounters.

NameCountryRatingAgeClassical game 1Classical game 2Rapid game 1Rapid game 2Rapid game 3
Boris GelfandISR2758410.50.50.511
Dmitry JakovenkoRUS2736260.50.50.500

After getting nowhere against Gelfand's Petroff in the first game, Jakovenko opted for a reputedly solid line of the Ragozin in the second of the rapids. However his position collapsed too easily suggesting a major oversight on his part.

The Russian then decided to select a sharp variation to aim to equalize with his last White, and although g2-g4 against the Semi-Slav led to complications, they favoured his opponent!

So Boris Gelfand (now of Israel) will take his place in the Semi-Finals.

NameCountryRatingAgeClassical game 1Classical game 2Rapid game 1Rapid game 2Rapid game 3
Ruslan PonomariovUKR2739260.50.5110.5
Vugar GashimovAZE2758230.50.5000.5

In this match Ponomariov's first win was unconvincing. From the English opening, Gashimov had a reasonable position all along and only right at the death when Ponomariov sacrificed a piece (under highly speculative circumstances) did things go wrong. I presume that a lack of time led to confusion on the Azeri's part because otherwise he should probably have been better.

As White in the following game, Gashimov's desperate attempts to obtain winning chances (in order to bounce back immediately) were met by cynical efficiency by Ponomariov who just exploited Gashimov's self-weakening attempts.

In both matchs the most experienced player came out on top.

The semi-final pairings will be the following

NameCountryRatingAgeOriginal seedClassical game 1Classical game 2
Boris GelfandISR2758411
Sergey KarjakinUKR27231912

A clash of the generations as the top seed, and oldest player (in the top third of the original line-up), plays against the second strongest junior (behind Carlsen) in the world.

NameCountryRatingAgeOriginal seedClassical game 1Classical game 2
Vladimir MalakhovRUS27062922
Ruslan PonomariovUKR2739267

The last Russian, Vladimir Malakhov, is the least well-known of the survivors and he will play Ponomariov who has an impressive pedigree and plenty of experience despite his relative youthfulness.

More details are available on the official site

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