Reports Sep 14, 2015 | 10:01 PMby Colin McGourty

Baku World Cup, 2.1: Kramnik turns on beast mode

Vladimir Kramnik provided the most memorable moment of the first games of Round 2 by grinding away in a drawn ending until Lazaro Bruzon cracked on move 113 of the last game to finish - although that wasn't quite the end of the story, as Jan Gustafsson explains! Before that the headlines were that Mickey Adams, Sergey Karjakin and David Navara will all have to win with White tomorrow after falling to lower-rated opponents, while the Chinese triumvirate of Lu Shanglei, Wei Yi and Ding Liren turned on the style.

Is Vladimir Kramnik Chuck Norris in disguise? | photo: official website

An extra rest day for some

Every fourth day in the World Cup all the remaining players have the luxury of knowing they’re not going to get knocked out. Perhaps that was why some of the top seeds settled for early and uneventful draws, with the likes of Nakamura, Topalov, Aronian, Giri, Svidler and Vachier-Lagrave failing to make any impact – or ending up worse – and taking advantage of the lack of any Sofia Rules to agree draws. 

It could be the Sinquefield Cup again, with Giri, Vachier-Lagrave, Caruana and his manager Lawrence "rook odds" Trent all in attendance | photo: official website

In the latter case Maxime at least wasn’t punished for a lack of sleep after he watched the US Open tennis final between Federer and Djokovic in the early hours of the morning…

More memorable draws included Alexander Grischuk getting down to 12 minutes on his clock by move 17, though he emerged unscathed from a fiery battle with his young Russian compatriot Vladimir Fedoseev. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov could only draw with Hou Yifan in a Berlin Defence, but will no doubt be preparing the dogs of war for his game with the white pieces tomorrow.

It's two games, two draws now for Hou Yifan against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov | photo: official website

The Chinese charge on

In the end, though, there was no reason to worry too much about early or mass draws, since the decisive results inevitably came, until eventually almost half the boards were splattered with blood. As if we needed another statement of intent from the Chinese, three of their star players were among the first four to win (only Dominguez beating Melkumyan interfered with the exhibition). True, the first game also involved a loss for China’s previous top player...

1) Lu Shanglei 1-0 Wang Hao

Lu Shanglei’s 2599 rating should fool no-one. Until tomorrow he’s still the reigning World Junior Champion, he was the only player to beat Magnus Carlsen in the 2014 World Blitz Championship (21 games!) and in Round 1 of this World Cup he beat 2710-rated Moiseenko. He could now do the same to a 2712 player after making quick work of Wang Hao’s Caro-Kann. The final position is a strategic disaster for Black:

Not only is he down a pawn, his opponent has the f-file, the 7th rank and the threat of mate or a deadly check on b7. Computers confirm Wang Hao’s resignation wasn’t premature.

It didn't go smoothly for all the Chinese players: Wang Hao will be fighting for his life in tomorrow's return game against Lu Shanglei, while Yu Yangyi's imaginative king march almost got him into trouble against Igor Lysyj | photo: official website

2) Ding Liren 1-0 Ernesto Inarkiev

Ding Liren is China’s current no. 1, up at no. 7 on the most recent official rating list. As we noted in an earlier report he was gifted a quick draw in his second game in Baku, giving him almost two full rest days to prepare for Round 2. He certainly came out firing on all cylinders against Inarkiev, and won a quite beautiful game:

It looks as though Black might be holding, but here Ding Liren played the lethal 30.Bc2!! when after 30…Qxc2 (what else?) 31.Nd3! the h7-pawn can no longer be defended. Short on time Inarkiev went down in flames with 31…Kg8 32.Qxh7+ Kf7 33.Ne5+! Ke6 when the poor queen on c2 was lost while White’s attack still raged on.

3) Wei Yi 1-0 Yuri Vovk

Of course there’s one Chinese player everyone is talking about. 16-year-old Wei Yi is now up to 2739.2 and world no. 17 on the live rating list. A lot’s been said about his chances of challenging for the World Championship in the years to come, but could he rush the schedule and qualify for next year’s Candidates Tournament right now? On the evidence of today’s game you wouldn’t rule anything out.

Jan Gustafsson takes us through all the action:


Elsewhere things often weren’t so dramatic, with top players outplaying their opponents on sheer class. That applied to Caruana, Ivanchuk, So and 2013 finalist Andreikin, who all waited for mistakes and then outplayed their opponents with the black pieces.

Can Wesley So bounce back after his Sinquefield Cup disappointment? | photo: official website

No less than 11 games were won by White. Cristobal Henriquez had knocked out 47-year-old legend Boris Gelfand the day before, but could do nothing against the filigree endgame technique of 48-year-old Peruvian giant Julio Granda.

A few words of advice from the master!

Earlier this year we jinxed Polish no. 1 Radek Wojtaszek by asking if he was “the world’s most difficult player to face with the black pieces” in the wake of his victories over Carlsen and Caruana in Wijk aan Zee and beating Nepomniachtchi and having Kramnik on the rack in the Russian Team Championship. 

Is Wojtaszek ready to fully emerge from his role as Vishy Anand's second? | photo: official website

Games like today’s win over 17-year-old Vladislav Artemiev provide more evidence for that verdict, though. One mistake left Artemiev a pawn down for no compensation, and despite his famed technique he could do absolutely nothing as Wojtaszek eased to victory.

Vladislav Artemiev must now win with the white pieces in tomorrow's game | photo: official website

It was a good day for Poland, with their own 17-year-old star Jan-Krzystof Duda scoring his 7th win to take a half-point lead into tomorrow’s final round of the 2015 World Junior Championship. Only Russia’s Mikhail Antipov still has a chance to catch or overtake him.


Mickey Adams had every reason to look worried... | photo: official website

There were three notable upsets on the first day of Round 2. An apparently good position for Sergey Karjakin crumbled at an astonishing pace against Ukrainian-born US Grandmaster Alexander Onischuk. Mickey Adams’ opening went desperately wrong against Czech no. 2 Viktor Laznicka, while local hero Gadir Guseinov won his fourth game in five against higher rated opposition when Czech no. 1 David Navara made the curious decision to play 17.0-0:

This ran into 18.Bxh6! gxh6 19.Qg3+ Kh8 20.Nxe6 fxe6 21.Rxd8 Raxd8 22.Qe3 Ng8 23.Qxa7 and White went on to win. The surprise, though, is that only that last move deviates from Kokarev 1-0 Gavrilov (2014), which you can find and play through by clicking the result in our “Database” tab under the live broadcast… and Navara was aware of that fact! Guseinov explained to Chess-News that the position isn’t as easy to win as the computer evaluation suggests, and Navara felt he had normal compensation. He didn’t manage to prove it, though, and joins Karjakin and Adams in having to win with the white pieces on Tuesday.

Kramnik draws blood from a stone

And then there was Vladimir Kramnik. The defending World Cup Champion almost had to win his game against Cuba’s Lazaro Bruzon three times. He spoilt a good-looking position from the opening and gave his opponent chances to seize the initiative, spent a long time opting for a queen exchange that seemed to dramatically lower his winning chances, and then…

...he first stocked up on some power food as he headed for the famously drawn but difficult Rook and Bishop vs. Rook ending:

Photographic evidence in case any chess parents need help persuading their children to eat more fruit - here, a banana :)

Then Kramnik began to weave treacherous web after web around his opponent’s king, before lulling Bruzon into a false sense of security...

So far, so good for Bruzon...

...and the mistake came: 113…Kb7??

After 114.Ra1! the trap had shut and Kramnik calmly executed a few more moves while Bruzon writhed in his seat, instantly regretting what he'd done:

And then it was all over.

Don't mess with Kramnik!

But that's not quite all! Chess has been called a tragedy of a single tempo, and it turns out that even after his blunder Bruzon had a chance to save himself using the 50-move rule... with a tempo or two to spare. Over to Jan:

Don’t miss tomorrow’s FIDE World Cup action live here on chess24, when Bruzon and no less than 14 other players must go for a win at all costs if they don’t want to leave the competition!   

You can also watch all the games in our mobile apps:


See also:

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