The 128-player Single-elimination Chess World Cup 2015 began in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku on September 10, 2015. The 26-day long tournament, which will conclude on October 4, has already reached a stage, where only 32 players were left before the third round matches. After three more rounds, two finalists will be decided, who automatically qualify for 2016 Candidates Tournament. World champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway and Viswanathan Anand of India are not participating in the event and Bulgaria’s world no. 3 Veselin Topalov heads a strong field that includes Americans Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So along with Italian Fabiano Caruna and Dutchman Anish Giri. The 7-round tournament is being played with two games in each round, except the final that will have four rounds. India was represented by six players, most of whom made first round exits. The last remaining Indian hope, Grand Master P Sethuraman also got eliminated by Azerbaijan’s Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who beat him solidly in the first game and followed that with a draw.
On September 17 and 18, 2015, 16 third round matches of the 2015 FIDE World Chess Cup were held at the Fairmont Hotel in Baku. Since seven first round matches were drawn after both games, the players will have to fight it out in tiebreaks on September 19. As per the tiebreak rules, two 25-minute rapid games will be played with 10-second increment. If the scores are still drawn, another two rapid games of 10-minute each with 10-second increments will follow. If the stalemate persists, two blitz games of 5-minute with 3-second increment will follow and if the round is still undecided, then the Armageddon will come into picture. In the Armageddon, White will have 5 minutes and Black 4. This will also have increments of 3 seconds per move and a draw will result in a win for Black.
As many as 12 first games in third round matches produced drawn results and only four matches resulted in outright decisions. Russia’s Sergey Karjakin played against former World Junior Champion Yu Yangyi of China. It was an interesting Sicilian plot, in which both kings left in the center. With Yangyi committing a tactical blunder, he had to resign soon. The Chinese forked out a draw in the second game but Karjakin entered the fourth round. Azerbaijan’s Shakhriyar Mamedyarov crushed India’s P Sethuraman in a sharp Caro-Kann line in the first game to record a brisk win. Although Sethuraman drew in the second game, Mamedyarov was through to the round-of-sixteen. Italy’s Fabiano Caruna defeated Canadian GM Anton KKovalyov in an intelligent game, which saw lot of maneuvers. The Italian finally broke through the defenses of Kovalyov to record a win. The draw in the second game was enough for Caruna to advance further. In the day’s most exciting game, Ukraine’s Pavel Eljanov caused a huge upset by defeating 7th-seed Alexander Grischuk of Russia. Despite playing with black pieces, Grischuk had a great chance but he spoiled it before the time control. In the resulting endgame, white ruled the roost and scored an outright win. The Ukrainian won the second game as well to advance ahead. Also moving to the round-of-sixteen on Friday were; Ding Liren & Yi Wei of China; Anish Giri of the Netherlands; Rodoslaw Wojtaszek of Poland; and Dmitry Jakovenko of Russia.
Other than SP Sethuraman, India was represented in the Chess World Cup by Vidit Santosh Gujrathi, Baskaran Adhiban, Pendyala Harikrishna, Surya Shekhar Ganguly and MR Lalith Babu. However Gujrathi, Adhiban, Ganguly and Lalith Babu lost in the first round itself and only two Indians; Sethuraman and Harikrishna could progress a little further. These two were drawn to play each other in the second round and Sethuraman won to set up a clash with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. With his exit from the tournament, the field is devoid of anyone else from India.