The semifinal tie-breaks started with 2 matches on the 21st of September at 3 pm local time.
Ding Liren-Wesley So
In the first rapid game Ding Liren had absolutely winning position against Wesley So.
In the current position White Knight is pinned and Black does not need to force anything but can improve the position of his King. Ding Liren let his opponent to regroup his pieces and Wesley So managed to survive.
Ding Liren and his coach could not hide their disappointment after the first rapid game.
The Chinese Grandmaster felt frustrated after the first game and was surprised when So accepted his draw offer after 9 moves in the second rapid game. He thought Black had already slightly better position and So could have tried to use his psychological advantage.
During the long break Ding Liren came back to his room and prepared first for the second game with 10min+10sec time control in case if he needs to win on demand and only after that he checked some lines with Black for the first game.
The Chinese Grandmaster defeated the American in the first game and it was Wesley So who had to equalize the score. In the second game Ding Liren played very confidently and didn’t give his opponent any chance to play for victory. After 46 moves the game finished in a draw and Wesley So was eliminated from the World Cup.
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave – Levon Aronian
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave outplayed Levon Aronian in the first rapid game.
Qe6! The final position looks really nice.
Levon Aronian won the second game game on demand and their match went to the games with 10min+10sec time control which finished also in a draw.
The fate of the match was not decided in blitz as well. The evaluation in the first blitz game changed two times from winning for Levon, to winning for Maxime until the game eventually finished in a draw. The French Grandmaster was pressing in the second game but it finished in a draw too.
The first “sudden death” game of the World Cup became a reality.
Levon had White pieces and 5 minutes in the last game of this dramatic match and had to win the game, while Maxime had 4 minutes and would win the match in case of a draw. “You have to be lucky. There are no recipes!” commented Levon Aronian on his victory in Armageddon. He also added it would be a disaster for him to be eliminated on the Independence Day of Armenia.
Ding Liren and Levon Aronian will play in the final of the World Cup. Both of them have qualified for the FIDE Candidates tournament which will take place on March 2018. The winner of the Candidates tournament will play in the World Championship Match against Magnus Carlsen. 22nd of September is a free day.
The final of the World Cup will be held in the Biltmore Hotel in Tbilisi. Levon Aronian has White pieces in the first game which starts at 3 pm local time on 23rd of September.