Khanty Mansiysk: Russian Grandmaster Alexander Grischuk and Ukrainian stalwart Vassily Ivanchuk made it to the last-four of the World Chess Cup, defeating David Navara of Czech Republic and Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan respectively in the tiebreak games of the quarterfinals on Sunday.
After Peter Svidler of Russia and Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine had made to the semis following normal time-control games, Grischuk and Ivanchuk rose to the occasion to make it a battle between Russia and Ukraine only in this knockout event that started with 128 players.
Grischuk had his task cut out as he won the first game of tiebreaker with black pieces and the Russian had little difficulty in obtaining the needful draw in the return rapid game. That signaled the ouster of David Navara, who had not only played terrific chess but showed excellent gamesmanship during the course of the event.
Ivanchuk had to work harder in both the games. Teimour Radjabov is famous for his skills in the faster versions and kept Ivanchuk under pressure in the first game that started off with an English opening.
The Azerbaijani got a slightly better position and kept pushing hard to finally win a rook for a Bishop. However, Ivanchuk came up with some dogged defense to keep white forces at bay.
Radjabov tried for the kill by transposing to the endgame but Ivanchuk`s defense was perfect and he got the draw after 120 moves.
In the return game, Radjabov was black and Ivanchuk called the shots in a Neo-Grunfeld defense. Going for the trade of queens early in the middle game, Ivanchuk got a better endgame and nurtured his advantage to make life difficult for his opponent.
As it turned out, the under-pressure Radjabov could not find the right path to recovery and blew it away with a blunder that cost him a piece. The game lasted 54 moves.
Grischuk won the first game after Navara went for unwarranted complications in a Caro Kann defense. The middle game was quite complicated after Navara decided to lose his right to castle and Grischuk worked on a remarkable tactic to outwit the younger player in just 43 moves.
In the return game, Navara went for the Bogo Indian defense and won a pawn but the resulting position remained within the boundaries of a draw. The game was drawn after 59 moves.
Peter Svidler will clash with Ponomariov in the first semifinal while the two winners today will take on each other in the second clash in the USD 1.6 million prize money competition.