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FIDE World Cup Tromso 2013 (6.2)

Vachier-Lagrave escapes to World Cup semi-final tie-breaks

Vachier-Lagrave and Kramnik discuss their game after it eventually finished in a draw. Photo ©

Vachier-Lagrave and Kramnik discuss their game after it eventually finished in a draw. Photo © |

The FIDE World Cup semi-finals will see two rapid tie-breaks on Wednesday as both matches finished 2-2 although only after a marathon 125 move game between Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Vladimir Kramnik.

First of all Evgeny Tomashevsky had a very hard time showing any real advantage against Dmitry Andreikin's Queen's Gambit and agreed a draw after 29 moves in a position with absolutely no advantage. As a side-note the Poikovsky tournament that Tomashevsky was supposed to be playing in will be well under way tomorrow by the time he plays the tie-breaks (10am BST start I believe).

Vladimir Kramnik however came very close to winning his match against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in a Slav Defence. That Vachier-Lagrave's 10...Qb8 seems new didn't seem to disturb Kramnik who got a small edge to grind away with. It's possible Vachier-Lagrave didn't find quite the best follow-up to his freeing pawn sacrifice around move 25 (maybe N7b6 on this or the following move for instance) and in the end had to defend an ending with 3 vs 2 pawns on the kingside which both players considered theoretically drawn but in practice black has to be tough because it's a very unpleasant task to hold as white can try a number of ideas. Vachier-Lagrave eventually cracked. 49...Ne4 already complicated things for him and drew special criticism by Vachier-Lagrave. The computers say formerly that 58...Rf1+ was the decisive error but then something strange happened. It turned out that although Vachier-Lagrave had lost an entire piece the win was not easy to see both over the board and even after the game both players didn't find it in the post-mortem. 62. Nd7 Rf5 63. Rf8+ Kg6 64. Rg8+ Kf7 65. Ke4! ("it's the only way" - Short) is the key.

Kramnik didn't seem too upset afterwards and in fact it might be Sergey Karjakin who would have been a Candidate had Kramnik won that has more of a sleepless night.

Nice jokey exchange in the post-mortem: MVL: "I was just panicking for no reason..." Kramnik: "There was a good reason, you were playing me!"

4-1Round 6, Semifinals, Match 1
4Andreikin, DmitrygRUS2716½½1
1Tomashevsky, EvgenygRUS2706½½1
2-3Round 6, Semifinals, Match 2
2Vachier-Lagrave, MaximegFRA2719½½1
3Kramnik, VladimirgRUS2784½½1

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