Reports | September 14, 2011 14:49

Grischuk reaches World Cup final after thrilling tie-break

Grischuk reaches World Cup final after thrilling tie-break

(FULL REPORT) Alexander Grischuk is Peter Svidler's opponent in the final of the FIDE World Cup which starts on Friday in Khanty-Mansiysk. Today, in a thrllling tie-break semi-final, Grischuk defeated Vassily Ivanchuk, who will play against his compatriot Ruslan Ponomariov in a match for 3rd and 4th place to decide on the third spot in the next FIDE Candidates tournament.

General info

The 2011 FIDE World Cup is a 128-player knock-out taking place August 27-September 20 in Khanty-Mansiysk, Siberia. The tournament delivers three participants for the next Candidates tournament/matches, as part of the new World Championship cycle. Except for the final, all rounds have 2-game matches at the FIDE time control: 90 minutes for 40 moves followed by 30 minutes to finish the game, with a 30-second increment from the first move. In case of a 1-1 tie, on the third day of the round there's a tie-break with rapid games and if necessary blitz games and an Armageddon. More info here. Tournament bracket

Tie-break round 6

You don't know what you've got until it's gone. We've been spoiled with such brilliant video coverage of the World Cup in the last few weeks. Then, when it's not there, you suddenly realize that you're so used to it, and really don't want to miss it!

After both Alexander Grischuk and Vassily Ivanchuk had won one rapid game in their semi-final tie-break, at the start of their first 10 minute + 10 seconds increment game suddenly the live video feed crashed, probably collapsing under the tremendous amount of fans who were following the game live. Unfortunately the crucial moment of the tie-break, where Chuky blundered in a won position, could only be followed the old way: with 'only' the board and the moves...

But let's start at the start, which was pretty dramatic already.

Khanty-Mansiysk (tie-break, game 1) 2011


Ivanchuk, with enough time on the clock, pushes the pawn to g4 instantly.

This game showed once again what everyone already knew: Ivanchuk, one of the most brilliant players who ever lived, always had, and always will have difficulties keeping his nerves under control during very important events, while Grischuk is just very fond of quick play and is at his very best in these circumstances.

However, at first the Ukrainian countered this theory:

Khanty-Mansiysk (tie-break, game 2) 2011


A superb game by Ivanchuk. But things went horribly wrong anyway:

Khanty-Mansiysk (tie-break, game 3) 2011


Peter Svidler, reading book during the final (well, probably during one of the breaks)

And so Ivanchuk was again in a must-win situation, but this time he didn't come close to winning chances:

Khanty-Mansiysk (tie-break, game 4) 2011


The end of this last game saw a strange little incident. When the players were repeating moves, and a position was reached for the second time, Grischuk looked at the arbiter and without stopping the clock he asked to see the score sheet, as he apparently wanted to find out if he could claim already.

The arbiter showed it, Grischuk played a few more moves and then Ivanchuk accepted the draw, as he couldn't avoid it anyway.

At the press conference Grischuk was asked:

You're not only a professional, but also lucky. Do you agree?

Grischuk answered:

No. I consider my wife Natasja very lucky. She always beats me in card games! I think I was lucky with Navara. Today was very tough; in the first game I got a very good position and in the second a very bad one. In the third game I was playing Polgar style, an absolutely unsound combination, all pieces were hanging, typically Judit! I was really looking forward to this tie-break; everyone knows that I prefer these tie-breaks over classical chess. I'm not thinking about Svidler yet; I don't want to spoil this very nice day.

The results of yesterday and today mean that the organizers can be happy with a full Russian final between Alexander Grischuk and Peter Svidler. These two players have also already qualified for the next FIDE Candidates tournament. The final will be played over four classical games and a possible tie-break. At the same time a match for 3rd and 4th place will be played between Ukrainians Vassily Ivanchuk and Ruslan Ponomariov and the winner will also qualify for the Candidates tournament. Tomorrow is a rest day; the finals start on Friday.

Finalists Grischuk and Svidler chatting after the tie-break has just finished

Tie-break games round 6



FIDE World Cup 2011 | Round 6 results


Name G1 G2 R1 R2 r3 r4 B1 B2 SD Tot
Semifinal Match 01
Svidler, Peter (RUS) ½ 1               1.5
Ponomariov, Ruslan (UKR) ½ 0               0.5
Semifinal Match 02
Grischuk, Alexander (RUS) ½ ½ 1 0 1 ½       3.5
Ivanchuk, Vassily (UKR) ½ ½ 0 1 0 ½       2.5

Photos © FIDE | Official website


Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


Stephen's picture

Congratulations to Grischuk. Commiserations to Ivanvhuk. Thanks to both players for a very exciting semi-final.

ebutaljib's picture

Unfortunately I was right about Ivanchuk's nerves. GM's of his caliber just don't miss such things as Bxc1, not even in bullet games. His nerves just aren't cut out for this high pressure games. This has been established already after 1991 Candidates. And he really didn't prove them wrong in those 20 years since then. I'm afraid this match against Ponomariov is his last chance to fight for the Championship. It would be great if he finally made it.

sab's picture


jo's picture

sure if heads comes up three times in a row it proves heads will come up fourth time and likely fifth.

On that logic he should have lost second game... in fact he should have been knocked out earlier.

Crap like this is for the journalists - at least they get paid to write this nonsense.

saturnz's picture

I don't think anyone will look down on Ivanchuk though, most chess fans will always have a soft spot for him simply because we appreciate the talent that he is. If he has an issue with nerves, then so be it, non of us are perfect.

Daaim Shabazz's picture

I was hoping that Ivanchuk would get through, but it wasn't to be. Grischuk was very fortunate in this tournament (against Navara and Ivanchuk). Not sure what happened in the moments leading to ...Rc7. Well... we've all read books where GMs have had gross oversights. Let's hope we see some good matches on Friday.

ebutaljib's picture

If there is no 35.Bxc1 then black checkmates white in few moves.

ebutaljib's picture

If there is no 35.Bxc1 then black checkmates white in few moves.

ebutaljib's picture

If there is no 35.Bxc1 then black checkmates white in few moves.

AljechinsKater's picture

..but there is.

iLane's picture

Ivanchuk will beat Ponomariov easily and he will qualify to the candidates with World Cup 3rd place anyway...

ebutaljib's picture

He couldn't beat him in 8 game match when Ponomariov was only 18, so what makes you think he will beat him easely now in a 4 game match?

ShockeR_40's picture



now I want Ivanchuk in candidates

sorry Pono...

chessfan's picture

HI ebutaljib,

I agree with you. Chucky does not have the nerves to pull off wins when it matters most. Alas, such a great player but he does not have the required mental resilience to pounce in such crucial matches. Showing mental resilience also is part of a great sportsman's life, and this aspect is clearly missing in Chucky.

Ultimately, the killer instinct is the one which separates the legends from the rest. Young Anand, too did not have the killer instinct to pounce in critical situations but slowly he matured and became invincible in his play in critical matches like World Cup matches.

History will judge Chucky along with Paul Keres, Korchnoi, Bronstein, Rubinstein as really talented players who had it all but the WCC.

Thank you.

christos's picture

No, it is simply a matter of luck as well, not only nerves.
How do you think Ivanchuk reached in the quarter finals, did he not have to win "crucial matches" on his way there? Just in the previous round he defeated Radjabov, an excellent rapid player, in the tie-break.
Also, do not forget who his opponent was. Grischuk has won the world blitz championship, precisely because he blunders so rarely in blitz. He also defeated Kramnik in a tie-break in Kazan. Would you go on to say that Kramnik, too, does not have the required mental resilience in crucial matches? That would be a far-fetched thing to say for an ex world champion.

ebutaljib's picture

He is already extraordinary in this World Cup. In all other instances he was eliminated way earlier. Looks like he has extraordinary performances every 10 or so years: 1991 Candidates, 2002 FIDE World Championship, 2011 World Cup. He is not constant.

Anonymous's picture

Well, maybe that is so because this format of two-game matches involves a lot of luck. One cannot reach the final every time. That is why Kasparov always refused to take part in it. That is why Kramnik only reached the quarterfinals the one time he participated (Las Vegas 1999).

ebutaljib's picture

And why did Anand win it in his first two attempts, and "only" came into the semi final in 3rd atempt? Also why is Ponomariov again the semi final? Adams had some constantly good results also (not in this World cup though). Pure luck? I don't think so.

S3's picture

Gelfand is another one who proves by example that this is much more about good chess and nerves than about luck. An endless streak of wins in minimatches in the world cup and the wcc -this is no coincidence.

Chessfan's picture


I'm a huge fan of Chukcy, but will stick to my opinion, he doesn't deliver when it really matters. Performing under intense pressure and time in and out is, what matters. All can perform when conditions are cosy and easy, but will crumble when pressure is intense. Take for example some of our jobs in IT, we have tremendous pressure when attending a critical client call on malfunction of a software code/program, than when we are working on a software enhancement, where we are given a comfortable stipulated timeline to complete.

Again to reiterate, ability to perform when it really matters separates the legends from others. You can win "n" no. of other tournaments but being a WC is a truly different matter. Not anyone can be World Champion, it requires tremendous mental resilience apart from the talent. That is why, WC deserves all our kudos!

Thank you.

Thomas's picture

Regarding your implicit praise of Anand ("WC deserves all of our kudos"): Of course he is a great player, so is Ivanchuk, so are a few others. It depends on what one considers enough to be great rather than simply good - and I consider discussions on who is the greatest active player, let alone the greatest ever player rather futile. Besides issues of nerves and stability, there is another key difference between Anand and Ivanchuk: Chucky LOVES playing chess, hence he plays all the time everywhere and always gives 100% or more. This inevitably leads to some bad results, but also (given his undeniable talent) to great ones such as a crushing win in MTel. I don't mean to imply that Anand does not love chess. Still, he seems to select his events a bit more carefully, and sometimes to conserve energy in "insignificant supertournaments" to focus on what matters most (to him): WCh matches. Nothing wrong with that, maybe there's something 'wrong' with Ivanchuk's way - but it is one, if not THE reason why he is a fan favorite.

effebi's picture

Actually, for some technical reasons, it was (and it still is) possible to see the dramatic third game of the Tie-break on the Russian "channel".
I hope Ivanchuk will recover fast after that terrible blunder.

ivanchuko's picture

Oh no!!! not again... Chucky please win a spot in the cycle...
I have been following Ivanchuk since the 90's. I always liked him.

Please consider some mind control techniques for the future. We know you can do wonder stuff at the chessboard, just take control of your primeval fears.

Damian's picture

I would like say thanks!, for the players, the workers of beautiful pieces of art,
the prove of a amazing capacite of human criation.
I would like say somes names, but I will forget many, so for justice I muste be silent.Though, as a lover of chess I can't to keep silence a name:Rússia.

TMM's picture

"At the press conference Grischuk was asked: You're not a professional, and very lucky. Do you agree?"

Wow, what a stupid question.

mishanp's picture

TMM (and Peter if you read this!), the interpreter simply translated the sentence incorrectly. In Russian he said something more like: "You're not ONLY a successful professional, but also very lucky. Do you agree?" Which explains why Grischuk wasn't offended :)

Peter Doggers's picture

Thx, corrected.

Ken Chamberlain's picture

Chucky has one more chance. Hoping he makes it.

Vhomas Topalov's picture

давай Россия!
sorry for Chuck, but it's alway fun to see someone act like a tourist (got the reference? eheh) and get to the final!
Go Grisu!!!!!!!!

Vhomas Topalov's picture

joking aside, at least he speaks honestly:

"In the third game, I played in Polgar style, I started an absolutely unsound combination, but... all pieces became hanging on the board, and in three moves the opponent resigned;
it's tipical Judit"

well my odds svidler 60% - grisu 40%

adam's picture

peter, could you please let the translation checked by someone? to me it seems highly unlikely that grischuk would have said "unbelievably ridiculous" on judit...

Amos @adam's picture

You are right, he did not say anything like that.
He said that he undertook an absolutely dubious combination, all the pieces where left hanging and three moves later opponent resigned - typical Judit.

Michel83's picture

Thanks guys for correcting; I was a bit shocked that Grischuk would use the word "ridiculous" linked to the play of another professional player.
Peter, please correct in your article. :)

vhomas topalov's picture

he said "absolutely uncorrect/unsound combination"
"absolutno nekorrektnuyu kombinazyu"

Peter Doggers's picture

Thx, corrected.

Bartleby's picture

Congratulations to Grischuk.
So sad for Ivanchuk.

What are the empty white boxes in the report supposed to contain? Some sort of video for which I have to install something first?

Hughbertie's picture

He was sick as a dog when he got up from the chair after game 3....but thats part of the game I guess, no one to blame bar himself.
Hes still my favourite player and on his day the best in the world.
Hope Grischuk beats the sumo with the earring.

adam's picture

i wished for a pono-gris final before the semis; well, half fulfilled. congrats; the games were crazy :)

unknown's picture

Hope Vassily will finish 3rd.

Good luck, Chucky!

WladK's picture

Do not trust English translation at the press-conferences. It is absolutely terrible ))

Actually, if you saw the video, Grischuk spent around 50 seconds before his move Rh2, and then Ivanchuk spent 17 seconds and made two moves in a row instantly.
Hence, the critical position had been on the board for more than a minute.

Peter Grahn's picture

Yes i hope Ivanchuck will win over Ponomariov and get trough to the Candidates.But if he he not win over Ponomariov he is not Worthy.Al is not about nerves he can come through rating but havent succeeded.So if he not win over Ponomariov he is not god enough.But i really like Ivanchuck he is so original and a genius.The only player i think is better in rapid/blitz then Grischuck is ANAND

S3's picture

Spot on! Trying to qualify by rating is a good path to choose if you don't have the nerves to play (succesfully) in qualifiers.
But I think Ivanchuk isn't that cynical. He might have qualified in an earlier cycle if he just would have sat on his rating-or by selecting his tournaments better. Unfortunately for him he loves chess too much and kept playing.

Anyway, I think he has good chances to win against Ponomariov.

S3's picture

By the way, I think vibes would provide great service to some of it's visitors by re-introducing the thumbs down button. I bet a lot of people have itchy thumbs right now.

fen's picture

Thumbs Up! Also bring back the emoticons!

choufleur's picture

in my opinion these blitz games are nonsense, it is better to toss a coin, at they used to, in the good old days.

Septimus's picture

I agree. Blitz and rapid have their own place, which is definitely not classical chess. This format is complete rubbish.

andreas's picture

You are still, and will always be my favourite player Vassily.

Peter Grahn's picture

Yes if Ivanchuck had played Grishuck for a 12 game-match i am shoore that Ivanchuck had wone!!!

Nima's picture

I think the comments about Ivanchuck's breakdown are premature. What happened to him against Grischuk could have happened to other top players as well. He is calmer and more mature than he was 20 years ago. The match with Ponomariov will tell us more.

Ruben's picture

Chuck can still beat Pono now. Succes Chucky dont let you make mad.
Just play your strong chess and you will see!


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