Reports | August 23, 2013 20:00

Kramnik beats Korobov in first game World Cup quarter-finals

Kramnik beats Korobov in first game World Cup quarter-finals

Vladimir Kramnik took the lead in his minimatch with Anton Korobov. The 14th World Champion defeated his Ukrainian opponent from a typical isolated queen's pawn position with the untypical plan of running with the a-pawn. Vachier-Lagrave vs. Caruana, Tomashevsky vs. Kamsky and Andreikin vs. Svidler all ended in draws.

It must be getting quiet in the playing hall, on the ground floor of the Scandic Hotel in Tromsø. We were there when the venue was just packed with players, and now, before you know it, there are only four boards left! However, this is the real deal, this is the really important stage, where the winners will reach the semi-finals, and suddenly you'll have a serious chance of qualifying for the 2014 Candidates Tournament!

Which brings us to the following point: if Vladimir Kramnik reaches the final, and therefore qualifies for the Candidates via the World Cup, it is Sergey Karjakin who will qualify on rating. According to FIDE regulations, two players will qualify on the average rating of the twelve rating lists between August 1, 2012 and July 1, 2013. Here are the numbers:

Player August Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Average
Aronian 2816 2816 2821 2815 2815 2810 2809 2810 2809 2813 2813 2813 2813,09
Kramnik 2797 2797 2795 2795 2795 2802 2810 2809 2801 2811 2803 2784 2800,18
Radjabov 2788 2788 2792 2793 2793 2793 2793 2793 2793 2745 2733 2733 2777,18
Karjakin 2785 2778 2780 2775 2775 2780 2786 2786 2786 2767 2782 2776 2779,18

(Note that if you take away the July 2013 list, Radjabov would beat Karjakin! His period of inactivity basically kept him on third place until June 30th.)

This scenario is not unrealistic as Kramnik is now close to reaching the semis after beating Anton Korobov with the white pieces on Friday. He wasn't fully satisfied, though.

It was not a great game. I made several mistakes,

said Kramnik, although he was mostly referring to an opportunity on move 38 to decide the game immediately.  

PGN string

Kramnik also said something else during the commentary with Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam and Nigel Short, which we would like to share. Short asked him:

Do you study tactics?

and Kramnik said:

Only on ChessVibes!

The round started with a very quick draw between Evgeny Tomashevsky and Gata Kamsky. It was a welcome half point for the American grandmaster, who played with black, while Tomashevsky was probably still shaking a bit from his tiebreak match with Alexander Morozevich...

PGN string

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave had good reason to be a bit disappointed about his draw with Fabiano Caruana. Thanks to good preparation, the Frenchman reached an excellent position with an extra pawn, and he also had much more time on the clock.

I'd say it was a sixty per cent chance to win,

said Vachier-Lagrave.

PGN string

Yesterday Dmitry Andreikin was successful with the Torre Attack against Sergey Karjakin, and so it was not a bad idea to try it again, was it? The players quickly reached a queenless middlegame that was fairly equal, but White's 21.Rg1 allowed tactics that favored Black. Svidler grabbed his chance, and the computer likes Black at the end, but the grandmaster from St Petersburg forced a draw.

PGN string

Results round 5



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.


Vde's picture

Tomashevsky must have been exhausted and needed a rest day so badly to play like this with White.
Kramnik's game would have been a positional masterpiece if it didn't have some big tactical errors.

Frits Fritschy's picture

With the first rest day after 18 days of chess, I can understand a quick draw. Tomashevsky played a lot of moves, Kamsky played very intense chess. Svidler might also have played on his position after a day of rest. They are excused!

Anonymous's picture

This is why we will make rules so they can never make draw, tired or not.

Michael Lubin's picture

What they need is not rules but arbiters armed with whips screaming, "Play on! Play on!"

Morley's picture

I didn't get a chance to watch the post-game to the Andreikin-Svidler game. Why did Svidler repeat and draw?

Unanimous's picture

In the final position, black has an edge but its not serious enough to win.

Morley's picture

True, but the position wasn't going to be liquidated immediately and Svidler had plenty of time. His rooks were significantly better ... I don't think you could ask for a better chance to win with Black barring a huge blunder.

Anonymous's picture

Svidler was probably very tired, and maybe thought that he could be the one falling into the blunder fields

Sarunas's picture

Andreikin -Svidler repetition issue. The outcome is fair. White has many more trumps -the knight dominates bishop which is badly blunted by all b7, b5, d5 pawns. It's perfect embodiment of bad bishop, all the endgame books can tell this. Furthemore to Black's misery he's got crippled h5, h7 pawns too. Strategically it's almost lost position for Black. However Svidler excells in tactics so he can persevere with his rooks active on f3. Maybe White could still give a try at 30.Rag1 Ra8 (d4 31.p:p Be4 32.Ne5 Rf2+ 33.Ke3 B:R ( 33..R:a2 34.Ra1) 34.K:R) 31.Nb4 R:f2+ 32.Ke3 Rf7 33.Rh3 R:g7 34.Rhg3, but he decided to call it a day

Frits Fritschy's picture

Svidler could have played 29... Rxh1 30 Rxh1 d4 where his bishop has a save position, none of his pawns are weak and all white pawns can come under attack. Of course the g7 pawn is dead wood. He might not have had enough to win - it's two doubled pawns. But black was better - by computer evaluation and common logic.
In your variation - I'm pleased to see you didn't use an engine - on my own I would suggest (30 Rag1) d4 31 cxd4 Rd8!, but my engine (which I use to check my gut feeling) says 30... Ra8 31 Nb4 Rxf2 32 Ke3 Rf7 33 Rh3 Ra3! with a big black advantage.

Chris's picture

Andreikin is playing here extremly strong. Svidler was afraid probably.

Thomas Oliver's picture

Next ones by average rating (August 2012 - July 2013) are Caruana (2773.83) and Nakamura (2772.17) - at some stage, Nakamura could have hoped for a rating spot if Aronian and Kramnik both reach the World Cup final, while Caruana and Karjakin qualify via the GP Series ... .

All pretty close, certainly compared to the stable pole positions of Aronian and Kramnik with respect to anyone but Carlsen. Radjabov benefits from the fact that he was (well) ahead of the three next ones until April this year - due to results before August 2012 (among others, the 2011 World Cup!!?). Karjakin was the most constant player - he had just one dip in May this year and immediately recovered by winning Norway Chess. Caruana's and Nakamura's Elo lows lasted a bit longer.

RG13's picture

So Radjabov actually benefited from his inactivity. There ought to be some kind of fix for that but I am not sure what it might be.

Thomas Oliver's picture

One could increase the required minimum number of games per year - currently 30, Radjabov played 49 (15 in the second half of 2012 to defend his 2790ish rating, 34 in the first half of 2013 when his rating went way down). Or one could only consider rating lists where Radjabov (or anyone else) actually played in the previous month. Based on the August 2012 list and later ones where he was active, Radjabov's average would be (2788+2792+2793+2745+2733)/5 = 2770.2 - still pretty high but now behind Caruana and Nakamura.

Two things I wonder about:
1) Exactly why was Radjabov relatively inactive? He mentioned family reasons (his right to keep nasty[?] details for himself), but which invitations did he decline? Did these include any of Biel, Bilbao, Kings Tournament, London Classic or Tata Steel - played by some of his rating competitors? For lack of supertournament invitations, should he have played some 'random' Swiss events??
2) People somehow seem to think that Radjabov's current rating reflects his real strength, and his earlier Elo (about 2790, world #4) was some sort of fluke? In the first half of 2012, he did pretty well in Wijk aan Zee (8/13, behind Aronian, tied with Carlsen and Caruana) and Tal Memorial (5/9, behind Carlsen, tied with Caruana, ahead of Kramnik and Aronian). His recent decline had a bit of "when it rains it pours" - three strong events (candidates, Zug GP, Norway Chess) in short sequence. It remains to be seen if he can recover - will he still get invitations thus a chance to come back?

Anonymous's picture

"He mentioned family reasons (his right to keep nasty[?] details for himself)"

His wife was pregnant

Soviet School's picture

Rg13 is exactly correct, it makes no sense to have a qualification system on rating that encourages 'players' to not play in oorder to preserve their rating.

Anonymous's picture

Am glad to hear Nakamura quieted down Sutovsky after the latter started unsolicited commenting on Nakamura's chess.

Axel's picture

Can you give us a link?

Anonymous's picture has everything, in two languages.

Anonymous's picture

Link, please?

RG13's picture

Anonymous forgot the hyphen in the url:

Thomas Oliver's picture

Yeah, but (at least in the English section) I couldn't find anything - even when searching for "Sutovsky Nakamura".
Besides, Sutovsky or anyone else has the right to make 'unsolicited' comments about Nakamura or anyone else - or was it something particularly outrageous or insulting? And Nakamura cannot quiet him down - Sutovsky has the right to have an opinion (and is the type of person to share it frequently in public).

Anonymous's picture

Sutovsky on the question "Who is the most irritating opponent you have faced?":

"I have never seen anything like Nakamura’s behaviour. Now it has improved a bit, but still . . . I believe being a top player means some sort of responsibility"

Chris's picture

No one has a right to offend other.

WladK's picture

Peter, what about point 2.6 in regulations:

2. 6 Replacements - If any replacement is needed due to withdrawal or refusal of participation, the first reserve player from the
final standings of the FIDE Grand-Prix 2012/2013 will be invited. Any futher replacement needed will be fulfilled from the
average rating list described in article 2.4 above.

Why everybody talks about Kariakin after that?

Unanimous's picture

We don't have withdrawal or refusal. QED.

WladK's picture

Ок, then according to which paragraph extra-candidate will be chosen by rating? I simply do not see it in the regulations.

Thomas Oliver's picture

The regulations are pretty clear, also regarding "order or priority":
2.4 "Two (2) players qualify to participate by rating (excluding the players who qualify from articles 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3 above).

2.1, 2.2 and 2.3 are loser of the WCh match, World Cup and GP series qualifiers. If any of these five would also qualify by rating, their rating spot goes to the next player in line - indeed Karjakin. 2.5 (wildcard) obviously goes to someone who needs it; 2.6 (last in the list!) only applies IF someone declines to play the next candidates event despite having qualified.

Anonymous's picture

Thank you. I read it many times but always missed what is written in parenthesis :)

Anonymous's picture

Anand has about the same rating as 13 years ago. Does that mean he is stagnating or maybe no? Rating is very confusing item to me.

RG13's picture

No he has not stagnated because rating has inflated very much since 13 years ago when he actually won tournaments. It's like having the same dollar amount of salary after 13 years of inflation - it is a decline in wealth.

Anonymous's picture

"No he has not stagnated because rating has inflated very much since 13 years ago"

He has not stagnated because ratings have inflated very much and he has the same rating now as then? Doesn't make much sense. If ratings have inflated very much but his rating is the same he must have stagnated.

Martin Matthiesen's picture

Obviously he must be worse now - not just have stagnated.

RG13's picture

Thank you Martin, that is what I meant. I should have been more clear.

Alexander's picture

Kramnik is a monster. I bet he will be in the finals and I am glad that Karjakjn will join them in the candidates. I missed him in the last candidates.

A Simple Pole Etc.'s picture

I have just watched the entire transmission and am impressed by Mr. Short. As much as I liked the Polgar/Trent team, Mr. Short makes it perhaps even better. He seemed to be up there with Mr. Kramnik, following the elaborate variants. Well, he used to be a 2700 player. Of course, he likes to talk too much, but has a decency to defer to the guests.

In fact, I enjoyed the second post-game interview even better. Mr. Vachier-Lagrave is noble in his humility (quite un-French like, ooops), and Mr. Caruana is brilliant.

Thanks to the Norwegians! A fantastic job.

Bonjour's picture

"Quite unfrench like" totally free French hating/bashing remark from somebody who obviously doesn't know the country. Besides, In the french chess world MVL is not known for being humble...

Anonymous's picture

well, it depends sir ! i'm french and Maxime always been a humble type of person to me

Bonjour's picture

Being french is not enough, you have to know about him. I said "he is not known to be humble" it means "il n'est pas connu pour son humilité" = he is not particularly more humble than most people. Actually in the interview he cut off Caruana a couple of times even contradicting him on the eval, which i found a bit rude.
Donc tu es français mais une remarque anti française ne te dérange pas?

Anonymous's picture

being french is not enough, i agree ! as a matter of fact, i KNOW HIM ... which is not enough you might say, and you will be right ... UNE QUESTION D'APPRÉCIATION PERSONNELLE J'IMAGINE ... and what is wrong with " contradicting " someone when you're right ?

Bonjour's picture
Berliner's picture

I dislike the fact that the players hardly get a chance to get a word in edgewise with Nigel commenting. He keeps interrupting them, seemingly thinking his jokes are way more important than whatever the players have to say. This was especially obvious yesterday with MVL. Nigel, it's not your stage! I liked Trent's more humble approach a lot better. I also liked Susan's woman's touch, although she must have said "wow, that would be a huge upset" every day 10 times. She also simply spotted citical lines quickly, where as Nigel spends too much time explaining the basic principles of chess. I think most people watching an chess event online for hours know all the basic stuff. Just my 2c.

Reyk's picture

You are absolutely right. Short constantly interrupting the players explaining the games is really annoying ("This is exactly what I showed the audience" Who cares?). He even manages to interrupt Svidler and Kramnik which is telling. With more chary players like MVL it gets much worse obviously.

RG13's picture

Perhaps part of Nigel's huberis is due to having gone farther in the world championship cycle than most GM's, ever will but I agree with you.

mouna's picture

Korobov played very badly yesterday .Mostly the moves that I didn't like were 21..b*a6 and 23.. h5. I hope that we can see a tie break match, but it looks very hard because kramnik when wants to make draw it was hard to beat him.

Anonymous's picture

there will be no tie breaks for Korobov, Kramnik is in such great shape, not even a tank could stop him

tamz29's picture

Come on Kamsky!!!

Sarunas's picture

Korobov has made himself an easy prey to any rival in his interview to SP, referring to his discomfort still to be in Tromso and chess in general. Had he said it before his match with Nakamura, he would've gotten wiped off easily by American.Now Kramnik is taking advantage of his outspokenness easily. Even I would manage this when your supposedly heavy -armoured opponent all of a sudden exposes his wounds publicly. If one doesn't need chess, chess doesn't need him -it's as simple as that.

Berliner's picture

Huh? I think Korobov has a Bareev-like kind of humor, you can't tell when he is joking or not. Anyway, I think chances are he would whip your pants, no matter how much he dislikes to play chess.

Fishy's picture

Dirk-Jan seems to be a tourist?


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