Reports | August 26, 2013 16:02

World Cup semi-finals start with two (very) quick draws

World Cup semi-finals start with two (very) quick draws

The first day of the World Cup's semi-finals was a very short one: Dmitry Andreikin and Evgeny Tomashevsky drew in 14 moves while Vachier-Lagrave and Vladimir Kramnik drew in 16 moves.

Photos by Paul Truong

It's the final four, the semi-finalists, the ones who survived five gruelling knockout rounds! Two "Cinderella story" players, Evgeny Tomashevsky and Dmitry Andreikin, and two Parisians, Vladimir Kramnik and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

Both games on the first day were drawn after about an hour of play. Disappointing for the fans, but understandable at the same time since there is so much at stake: not just the final, but a place in the Candidates as well.

The first game to finish was Vachier-Lagrave vs. Kramnik.

PGN string

I thought my opening choice would surprise Vladimir but it turns out he is prepared [for] a lot of lines,

said Vachier-Lagrave after the game. Both players joined the commentators, and during their brief analyses, Andreikin and Tomashevsky also drew their game. Kramnik was surprised:

The position is full of life and White is slightly better. I think Andreikin is more in the mode of rapid, he just doesn't want to play classical chess anymore!

Tomashevsky said:

During my preparation I planned this setup. I think Black is fine and the position is about equal.

He added that he could understand his opponent, who had been played for something like 15 days in a row:

The schedule of the tournament forced him to get some rest.

PGN string

Here are a few tweets that reacted on what happened today:



(During the broadcast, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Vladimir Kramnik said they wouldn't mind playing the World Cup with the 30-move rule in effect, and that there are few players who would object.)


Results round 6


Videos courtesy of the official website


Part 1:



Part 2:


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.


hansie's picture

Waiting for a better tomorrow ...

Zeblakop's picture

I like these professional quick draws, I could do that without hesitation.

Anonymous's picture

me too :)

Arjo's picture

Both players that had to play a tiebreak yesterday had white today. So i can understand they wanted a 'rest day' today. While the other two also won't mind drawing with black in a two games match.

iLane's picture

...and it's also a good way to underline the problems with this format.

Thomas Oliver's picture

Which problem with this format? It might be that the white players today believe in their chances in a rapid (or blitz) tiebreak - a risky strategy as they still have to survive with black tomorrow. It might also be due to the relative lack of rest days - easier to change this, but would players really want to spend more than three weeks in Tromso, or at any other place?

There were actually differences between the two games: MVL-Kramnik was already pretty "dead", even if just 16 moves were played - so even under different circumstances the players might have called it a day, or would have played 14 more symbolic moves if draw offers before move 30 are prohibited. In Andreikin-Tomashevsky, just one pawn had been exchanged, and the position was (albeit slightly) asymmetric.

Anonymous's picture

"Which problem with this format?"

That it sucks big time?

Vde's picture

This format has no problems at all

Casey Abell's picture

And people wonder why classical chess is a tough sell. If this stuff is going to happen - and without full Sofia rules, it's inevitable - let's just skip to the rapid/blitz tiebreak. At least those games might be somewhat interesting.

By the way, I've seen lots of conspiracy theorizing about Karmnik not wanting to make the finals and give a place in the Candidates to Karjakin. (Vlad has his own place in the Candidates already wrapped up, of course.) Sounds silly to me, but I can understand why the theories fly after a day like today.

Casey Abell's picture

Sorry I misspelled Kramnik. I wasn't trying to make a pun on karma.

Thomas Oliver's picture

I had suggested that Kramnik might have mixed feelings about "qualifying" Karjakin for the candidates event - not only because he is a dangerous opponent with decent chances for first place, but also because he would compete with Vlad for Russian sympathies, media attention and resources. But not as a conspiracy theory (Kramnik will lose on purpose), rather wondering how motivated he will be consciously or subconsciously. Now he can "choose" between Karjakin and Vachier-Lagrave (living in Paris just like Kramnik ....), with a different quarterfinal result the choice would have been between Karjakin and Caruana - in both scenarios he can still get both if Caruana qualifies via the GP Series.
But getting a quick and easy draw with black today seems pretty inconsistent with such theories, conspiracy or not?

Harry_Flashman's picture

Are you preparing excuses if Kramnik would lose?

Thomas Oliver's picture

Maybe I am "preparing excuses if Kramnik would lose" ... . Fact is that his (and Aronian's) situation at the World Cup is different from all other world-top players: all they had to do to definitely qualify for the candidates event is simply show up, while many others with realistic chances to qualify are under pressure. It may be an advantage or a disadvantage for Kramnik, we don't know yet. It was possibly a disadvantage for Aronian.

If Kramnik blunders against Vachier-Lagrave tomorrow or in a tiebreak, he can shrug shoulders and say "so what, I earned 40,000$ prize money" (significant also by his standards?). If MVL loses by a blunder, rather than being outplayed, he may curse himself for missing a golden opportunity - possible but by no means sure that he will get another opportunity in forthcoming WCh cyles.

Esalen's picture

This is rather silly. The world cup has some prestige in itself, and a lot of money is at stake. So Kramnik will do his best. Besides, normally players are considered to favour other from their own country. This is first time I see a suggestion of someone wishing participants from other countries, to avoid competing for "Russian sympathies". That's just too much.

Anonymous's picture

Of course, he is just worried that someone will think that Kramnik wasn't the best player in case he loses, so he wants to point out that he might prefer to see a non-Russian rather than Karjakin in the Candidates, damage control in advance apart from just being wrong.

Thomas Oliver's picture

"normally players are considered to favour other from their own country"

Are you 100% sure in the case of, for example, Nakamura and Kamsky?

Even if it's an advance excuse in case Kramnik doesn't win the World Cup semifinal, it's nothing compared to all the excuses by Carlsen fans already before and even more so during the candidates event when it looked as if their hero might not win: Soviet collusion allegations, "noone wants an Anand-Kramnik WCh match", "Anand would be extremely happy if he can avoid Carlsen", ..... .

Randowan's picture

There may be academic problems with the format, but I can't remember when I enjoyed a tournament this much (with the obvious exception of the candidates).

Anonymous's picture

Plus one

Anonymous's picture

"I can't remember when I enjoyed a tournament this much"

Seriously? Compared to events with classical top games between players like Carlsen, Anand, Aronian etc this blitz feast would really be sad as more enjoyable.

Anonymous's picture

seriously ? YES ! SERIOUSLY ! we are many to enjoy this tournament, and we enjoy many other formats. But this was a great three weeks chess tournament, like it or not. You don't have to watch it if you dislike it. Just go play tennis or get tanned.

Niima's picture

I agree. It has been exciting - the most fun I have had following a tournament. I can understand if some players do not find it the best format, but as an spectator, I have had a great time following the games and the commentary.

wortwart's picture

After two weeks of great fights with two of the most thrilling matches I've ever seen we have two (2) short draws. And the chess trolls whine and complain about boredom and the end of chess. Sigh.

Anonymous's picture

It really is a sign of the times when people enjoy joke "matches" between players that never would be invited to a top event more than real chess between great players without endless blitz blunders.

wortwart's picture

You mean the joke matches between those patzers who took out all the great players?

Niima's picture

@ worwart

Exactly :-) To this guy (Anonymous), people like Vachier Lagrave, Andreikin and Tomashevsky are jokes that do not play “real chess” (whatever that is).

Shows you what a patzer he is.

Anonymous's picture

These guys are no jokes, and I didn't say so, but calling two game jokes "matches" and this one's favourite event ever shows that one doesn't appreciate real chess and top players. Nothing against Tomashevsky and MVL playing a blitz minimatch final here, but ranking this ahead of Kasparov vs Karpov and Wijk, Linares etc really is a sad sign of the times.

Thomas Oliver's picture

In case you didn't know: the three outsiders in the World Cup semifinal already got top event invitations. Vachier-Lagrave played Wijk aan Zee A in 2011 as well as Alekhine Memorial this year (the latter probably because he's French, but - despite losing his last two games - scoring 50%). Andreikin just played Tal Memorial and Dortmund, Tomashevsky also played one edition of Tal Memorial. The other surprise Korobov didn't yet get top event invitations, but that may now change.

dina's picture

Next candidates
Wild Card
Will it be stronger than the last candidates?

Anonymous's picture

"Will it be stronger than the last candidates?"

Hardly, it will have an Anand that is even weaker than today but no clear #1 like Carlsen. The rest will be pretty much the same, even if there will be some weaker player in 2710-20 Toma/Andreikin. Last time Gelfand was clearly weakest at 2740, and he was still good enough to just have drawn a title match and recently win Tal Memorial. You will never find a player like Tomashevsky in the top half of such a strong event.

Rana's picture

Next candidates
Anand/Carlsen - Same as last time
Aronian - Same as last time
Topalov - better than unpredictable Ivanchuk?
Vachier-Lagrave/Karjakin - Gelfand is more stable
Andreikin/Tomashevsky - Not better than Svidler?
Mamedyarov/Grischuk/Caruana - Same as last time
Wild Card - definitely better than out of form Rajdabov

Overall last candidates was a little bit stronger.

Anonymous's picture

"Wild Card - definitely better than out of form Rajdabov"

It's easy to say after the Candidates that the next wild card definitely will be stronger, but Radjabov was #4 and 2793 after finishing second in Wijk and Tal Memorial, so it won't be easy to find someone that will have better credentials than that.

Unanimous's picture

I nominate Caruana as the wildcard, provided he doesn't win the Grand Prix spot. But if Mamedyarov wins the Grand Prix spot, its hard not to invite Grischuk. That's the problem with this format, just hope Mamedyarov doesn't win so both can play.

Unanimous's picture

Also I nominate Peter Svidler as a commentator in the next Candidates.

Niima's picture

I second that!

Anonymous's picture

Agreed, Wild card may be Naka, Not by rating or any others credentials but by the brand of chess. He and Topalov will the spice the things up..

septimus's picture

A complete disgrace. All four players should be disqualified immediately.

septimus's picture

Also, there should be at least 3 rest days to allow the players to recover.

RG13's picture

You can't punish players who haven't broken the rules.

Thomas Oliver's picture

I looked for previous games between Tomashevsky and Andreikin - not too many but they already met in round 2 of the 2011 World Cup, with colors reversed i.e. Tomashevsky had white in the first game. The first game was drawn in 22 moves from a Benoni - doesn't look prearranged, rather that neither player liked his position? In the second game, Tomashevsky won a lengthy queen ending.

Will 2013 become some sort of mirror image? The other notable rematch was Gelfand-MVL. Two years ago, Gelfand won the tiebreak "by a millimeter" (end Kramnik quote), now Vachier-Lagrave got his revenge.

Anonymous's picture

2 amazing games!
Draw in 14 moves and draw in 16 moves.
Chess....what a profession!

septimus's picture

Well played sir, well played indeed! :)

Niima's picture

I would fill out a complaint if I were you septimus.

And remember to ask for your money back.

Sarunas's picture

Such days are complete disgrace to audience, even a commenting team took it as a blot on their neckties. However the blame for ignorance cannot be laid entirely on 2 White players. It would suffice one clause in World Cup Regulations to forbid this unsporting behaviour with 30 or 40 move limit for draw offers. I cannot get any logic -at European Individual which is a preliminary door to World Cup, 40 move no draw rule had been implemented few years ago and strictly monitored ever since, claiming quite a few victims. Then in World Cup, which undoubtedly must serve as a higher stage WCC qualification tourney, FIDE suddenly abolish that ethical decency rule and downgrade to Open Tournament 2 game per day level. What a shame!

Remco G's picture

The European Individual is a giant Swiss, where the first 30-odd players qualify. If you don't have anti-draw rules there, the top boards will always just draw and draw and draw...

Here it's different, it's one on one. The two players agreeing on the draw are also the only players affected by the draw. Every short draw is in principle a minor victory for the black player.

They're sportsmen, not gladiators -- they do whatever they think gives them the best chance of going through to the next round, they're not there for your entertainment. In every world championship match ever there have also been short draws. Part of the game.

And we've had 15 days of chess now, with the stakes constantly very high and no rest days except when you manage to avoid a tie break.

Anonymous's picture

sometimes it's raining, so what ???

Anonymous's picture

These two games were not quick draws. Quick draws are draws in one, two, or three moves.

Greco's picture

I commited suicide after this comment...

Casey Abell's picture

Sorry to plug a competitor, but the Chessbase report on the round today is hilarious. The site just gives the moves of the games and suggests that you play them over in your head.

Anonymous's picture

Who are members of ACP working for Chessbase?

Anonymous's picture

The two happiest people today were the commentators, trying to close the session as soon as games were over.


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