The 2015 FIDE World Cup final has come down to an all-Russian affair with Peter Svidler taking on Sergey Karjakin. Over the course of three days beginning Sunday, the two Russians defeated their opponents in contrasting styles after the return games and rapids. Svidler was already sitting pretty after he beat Netherlands’ Anish Giri on Sunday playing with Black pieces. Therefore all that the Russian required on Monday, was a draw that he duly obtained by playing a solid game with Whites. In the other semifinal, another Russian Sergey Karjakin had to contend with the guile of Ukraine’s Pavel Eljanov, who had never lost a single game in the long-drawn tournament. On Sunday and Monday’s classicals, Karjakin and Eljanov drew their games and the result rested on the rapids on Tuesday evening. In the first set of two 25-minute rapids, Karjakin and Eljanov traded wins playing with Whites and the result could come only in the next set of two 10-minute rapids. After the Russian took the first with Black pieces, it was all over as Eljanov could only manage a draw. Svidler and Karjakin, who have already qualified for the 2016 FIDE Candidates Tournament, will take on each other for title games that start on October 1, 2015. Unlike other rounds, the final will have four games until October 4 and if necessary, the tiebreaks could be played on October 5.
Peter Svidler played white with inherent advantage and he was never in danger of getting pushed to a worse position. For the must-win game, Anish Giri played Caro-Kann as Black while Svidler probably expected a Najdorf or even a Pirc. Svidler had a good response as he moved 6.Nh3 line against the 4…Bf5 and secured himself. The evident ending of all these moves was RRB vs RRN and Svidler took a passive position that was the safest under the circumstances. Giri tried to do something but couldn’t succeed. The game ended in a draw just as Svidler wanted and the Russian sailed through the World Cup final and qualified for the 2016 FIDE Candidates Tournament. Giri, however, is still in a position for qualifying in next year’s Candidates Tournament by average rating.
In the other semifinal’s classical return game on Monday, Sergey Karjakin had played with while against Ukraine’s Pavel Eljanov. Beginning with an English opening, Karjakin employed a new move 12.Nh4 but Eljanov calmly replied with 13…Ng6. The two players swapped the knights before Karjakin offered a draw. On Tuesday, the Ukrainian and the Russian continued with rapids.
In the first set of the rapid games Eljanov played brilliantly and scored a beautiful victory with white pieces. In the return game, Karjakin had a must-win situation but he didn’t panic. The Russian mounted pressure on Eljanov and shattered his defense. With the victory, the scores remained tied. The next set of rapids had only 10-minute time control. In the first game, Eljanov played with white pieces in a similar opening to the one that they had played earlier in the day. Eljanov obtained some positional advantage and pressed for a win. However, he erred in making a needless pawn advance and that proved fatal as Karjakin retaliated by claiming a number of pawns.
With Karjakin scoring a victory with Blacks, he obtained the advantage going into the return game of the 10-minute rapid. It was now Eljanov, who had been forced into a must-win situation playing with Blacks. The Ukrainian began well and sacrificed both his bishops in exchange for immobilized white’s pawn structure. Karjakin looked in trouble against the smart play by Black. Eljanov won three pawns and White was in a shattering position. However, Karjakin stood up bravely and found a counter-play with the queen and opposite-colored bishop. There were massive piece exchanges and during all this, Eljanov missed a chance to create a second passed pawn in the ending with opposite-colored bishops. Karjakin had seen this and he blocked Eljanov’s attempt. Despite Eljanov trying his best, the game ended in a draw and that sent Sergey Karjakin into the final. He not only qualified for the World Cup final to play against compatriot Peter Svidler, but also joined Svidler in the 2016 FIDE Candidates Tournament.