Wesley So Is the Last American Standing at the World Cup

One loss sent Magnus Carlsen from a perfect score to packing his bags. Photo: Maria Emelianova
Round 3 has left the chess world in shock as many favorites and top 10 players have been knocked out, including Magnus Carlsen. In game 1, Carlsen played the rare Bishop's Opening (most likely to avoid theory), and his opponent, Chinese #5 Bu Xiangzhi, sacrificed a pawn with 10...d5 reminiscent of the Marshall Attack against the Ruy Lopez. Later, Bu also sacrificed a bishop to build up a very challenging kingside attack.
[pgn][Event "World Cup"]
[Site "Tbilisi GEO"]
[Date "2017.09.09"]
[Round "3.1"]
[White "Magnus Carlsen"]
[Black "Bu Xiangzhi"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C55"]
[WhiteElo "2822"]
[BlackElo "2710"]
[PlyCount "72"]
[EventDate "2017.09.03"]1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 Nc6 4. Nf3 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. Bb3 d6 7. c3 Be6 8. Re1
Qd7 9. Nbd2 Rab8 10. Bc2 d5 11. h3 h6 12. exd5 Nxd5 13. Nxe5 Nxe5 14. Rxe5 Bd6
15. Re1 Bxh3 16. gxh3 Qxh3 17. Nf1 Rbe8 18. d4 f5 19. Bb3 c6 20. f4 Kh7 21.
Bxd5 cxd5 22. Re3 Rxe3 23. Bxe3 g5 24. Kf2 gxf4 25. Qf3 fxe3+ 26. Nxe3 Qh2+ 27.
Kf1 Rg8 28. Qxf5+ Rg6 29. Ke1 h5 30. Kd1 Kh6 31. Nc2 h4 32. Ne1 h3 33. Nf3 Qg2
34. Ne1 Qg4+ 35. Qxg4 Rxg4 36. Nf3 Rg1+ 0-1[/pgn]
Before this loss, Carlsen was the only player with a perfect 4-0 score. This left Carlsen in a must-win situation for the second game, but he could only manage a draw. Carlsen's unexpected early knockout demonstrates how intense the World Cup format is---One untimely loss can send even the World Champion home.
After a tumultuous round 3, all hopes of an American winner depend on Wesley So. Photo: Maria Emelianova
Out of the five Americans that entered round 3, only Wesley So has made it the next stage. So defeated Vallejo Pons Francisco in game 1 after his opponent tried a very risky opening variation against the Caro-Kann and drew to seal the match in game 2.
[pgn][Event "World Cup"]
[Site "Tbilisi GEO"]
[Date "2017.09.09"]
[Round "3.1"]
[White "Francisco Vallejo Pons"]
[Black "Wesley So"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B12"]
[WhiteElo "2717"]
[BlackElo "2810"]
[PlyCount "60"]
[EventDate "2017.09.03"]1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. g4 Be4 5. f3 Bg6 6. h4 h5 7. e6 Qd6 8. exf7+
Bxf7 9. Be3 hxg4 10. fxg4 Nf6 11. Nc3 Qe6 12. Kd2 Nxg4 13. Bg5 Nf2 14. Qf3 Nxh1
15. Qxh1 Qd6 16. Bh3 e6 17. Rf1 Be7 18. Bf4 Qb4 19. Nge2 Nd7 20. a3 Qxb2 21.
Rb1 Qxa3 22. Rxb7 Qa6 23. Qb1 Rxh4 24. Bf1 Rxf4 25. Nxf4 Qa5 26. Qe1 Bg5 27.
Qg3 Bh6 28. Bd3 O-O-O 29. Rb3 e5 30. dxe5 d4 0-1[/pgn]
At the 2015 World Cup, Nakamura was the last American standing, making it to the quarterfinals. Photo: Anastasia Karlovich
Hikaru Nakamura and Alexander Onischuk were knocked out in the classical time control games. Nakamura lost to Vladimir Fedoseev, Russia’s 6th highest grandmaster, drawing the first game with the white pieces and then losing the second with black.
[pgn][Event "World Cup"]
[Site "Tbilisi GEO"]
[Date "2017.09.10"]
[Round "3.2"]
[White "Vladimir Fedoseev"]
[Black "Hikaru Nakamura"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C48"]
[WhiteElo "2731"]
[BlackElo "2792"]
[PlyCount "85"]
[EventDate "2017.09.03"]1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bb5 Nd4 5. Bc4 Bc5 6. d3 c6 7. Nxe5 O-O 8.
Nxf7 Rxf7 9. Bxf7+ Kxf7 10. Be3 Ne6 11. Bxc5 Nxc5 12. e5 Ne8 13. d4 Ne6 14. O-O
d6 15. f4 dxe5 16. fxe5+ Kg8 17. d5 cxd5 18. Nxd5 N8c7 19. c4 Bd7 20. Qg4 Nf8
21. Qf3 Ng6 22. Rad1 Ne6 23. h4 Nxh4 24. Qf7+ Kh8 25. Nf6 Qb6+ 26. Rf2 Ba4 27.
Rd6 Ng5 28. Qe7 Nf5 29. Rxb6 Nxe7 30. Rxb7 Ng6 31. Nh5 Ne6 32. Rff7 Be8 33.
Rxa7 Rd8 34. Rf1 Kg8 35. Ng3 h5 36. Nf5 Kh7 37. b4 h4 38. b5 Rd2 39. Nd6 h3 40.
gxh3 Bd7 41. Rxd7 Ng5 42. Rf5 Nh4 43. Rxg7+ 1-0[/pgn]
Former U.S. Champion Alexander Onischuk had the unfortunate task of facing one of the most consistently strong World Cup players, Peter Svidler. Photo: Anastasia Karlovich
Onischuk played against Peter Svidler, a tough pairing for the World Cup in particular. While many grandmasters struggle with the severe pressure of this large-scale knockout event, Svidler seems to thrive in these conditions, winning the event in 2011 and making it to the finals in 2015. In addition, out of every player in the top 20 competing in the World Cup, Svidler is the only one who's managed to gain rating points.

"At the moment the live ratings can be called the "Tbilisi Massacre," with the top 13 players in the world all losing rating. And there is only one player above 2800 now."

-Peter Doggers, "World Cup Shock: Carlsen, Kramnik, Nakamura Out"

Puzzle #1

Peter Svidler vs. Alexander Onischuk

How did Svidler deal with Black's threat of 49...Nxe3?
White to move.
Show Solution
[pgn][Event "World Cup"]
[Site "Tbilisi GEO"]
[Date "2017.09.10"]
[Round "3.2"]
[White "Peter Svidler"]
[Black "Alexander Onischuk"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C84"]
[WhiteElo "2751"]
[BlackElo "2682"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "6k1/6p1/4p2p/P2np1q1/2N1n3/3NP2P/2Q3P1/6K1 w - - 0 49"]
[PlyCount "31"]
[EventDate "2017.09.03"]{He ignored it!} 49. a6 $1 Nxe3 50. a7 $1 Nxc2 51.
a8=Q+ Kh7 52. Qxe4+ {and White went on to win:} Qf5 53. Nd6 Qxe4 54. Nxe4 Kg6
55. g4 Kf7 56. Nxe5+ Ke7 57. Kf2 Nb4 58. Kf3 Nd5 59. Ng6+ Kf7 60. Nf4 Nf6 61.
Nxf6 gxf6 62. Kg3 f5 63. gxf5 exf5 64. Ng2 1-0[/pgn]
Fabiano Caruana is out of the World Cup but has decent chances of qualifying for the 2018 Candidates Tournament by rating. Photo: Maria Emelianova
Fabiano Caruana and Aleksandr Lenderman made it to tiebreaks but lost in the rapid playoffs. Caruana leaves the World Cup from one loss after 11 undefeated games.
[pgn][Event "World Cup"]
[Site "Tbilisi GEO"]
[Date "2017.09.11"]
[Round "3.4"]
[White "Fabiano Caruana"]
[Black "Evgeny Najer"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C77"]
[WhiteElo "2807"]
[BlackElo "2707"]
[PlyCount "82"]
[EventDate "2017.09.03"]1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. d3 b5 6. Bb3 Bc5 7. c3 d6 8. Nbd2
Bb6 9. Nf1 Ng4 10. d4 exd4 11. h3 Nge5 12. Nxd4 O-O 13. Ng3 Nxd4 14. cxd4 Ba5+
15. Kf1 Nc4 16. Kg1 c5 17. d5 f5 18. exf5 Bxf5 19. Nxf5 Rxf5 20. Bc2 Rf7 21.
Qe2 Qf8 22. Be4 Re8 23. f3 Qe7 24. Rb1 Qe5 25. b3 Nb6 26. Qd3 Bc3 27. Be3 c4
28. Qd1 Nd7 29. bxc4 Nf6 30. h4 Nxe4 31. fxe4 Qxe4 32. Rh3 bxc4 33. Rc1 Be5 34.
Qa4 Rc8 35. Qxa6 Rff8 36. Qa4 Qxd5 37. Qc2 c3 38. Rd1 Qc4 39. h5 Ra8 40. Ra1
Rab8 41. Bc1 Qf1# 0-1[/pgn]
Alexandr Lenderman greatly outperformed his rating. Photo: Maria Emelianova
Despite leaving in round 3, Lenderman has had an exceptional tournament for a player starting as the 104th seed out of 128 players, knocking out #27 in the world in round 1 and Norwegian prodigy Aryan Tari in round 2. This round, Lenderman faced one of the highest rated players in the world and World Cup favorites, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Lenderman held his own in the classical games, but lost the first game of the playoff and drew the second.
[pgn][Event "World Cup"]
[Site "Tbilisi GEO"]
[Date "2017.09.11"]
[Round "3.3"]
[White "Aleksandr Lenderman"]
[Black "Maxime Vachier-Lagrave"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A33"]
[WhiteElo "2565"]
[BlackElo "2789"]
[PlyCount "94"]
[EventDate "2017.09.03"]1. Nf3 c5 2. c4 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. a3 Be7 7. e4 O-O 8. Nf3
Qc7 9. Be2 b6 10. O-O Bb7 11. Bg5 Ne5 12. Nd2 Ng6 13. g3 Rad8 14. Rc1 h6 15.
Be3 Bc5 16. Bxc5 bxc5 17. f4 d5 18. cxd5 exd5 19. e5 d4 20. Na4 Nd5 21. Rxc5
Qe7 22. Qc1 Qd7 23. b3 Rc8 24. Bf3 Nc3 25. Rxc8 Rxc8 26. Nxc3 Rxc3 27. Qd1 Ne7
28. Bxb7 Qxb7 29. Qe2 Nf5 30. Qe4 Qxe4 31. Nxe4 Rxb3 32. Rc1 Rb2 33. Rc8+ Kh7
34. Rc7 Re2 35. Nc5 Rc2 36. Rxf7 Kg6 37. e6 Rxc5 38. g4 Ne3 39. f5+ Kh7 40. e7
Re5 41. f6 Kg6 42. Rf8 d3 43. fxg7 Kxg7 44. Rd8 Rxe7 45. Rxd3 Nxg4 46. Rg3 h5
47. h3 Re3 0-1[/pgn]

Round 4 Pairings

Bu Xiangzhi (2714) vs. Peter Svidler (2756)

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (2804)  vs. Alexander Grischuk (2788)

Vassily Ivanchuk (2727)  vs. Anish Giri (2777)

Levon Aronian (2802) vs. Daniil Dubov (2666)

Wesley So (2792) vs. Baadur Jobava (2702)

Vladimir Fedoseev (2731) vs. Maxim Rodshtein (2695)

Evgeniy Najer (2694) vs. Richard Rapport (2675)

Wang Hao (2701) vs. Ding Liren (2771)

https://twitter.com/USChess/status/907426813340561409 Games start at 7 A.M. EST. Watch live games on Chess24.com, Chess.com, and the Official Website.

Comments

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Wesley will win this tournament

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

May the wisdom and power of our almighty be upon him,God blss you wesley.

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