After Svidler went 2-0 ahead, and firmly in the driving seat in the best-of-four-game final, after a series of blunders from Karjakin, and coming extremely close to winning game three - that would have ended the match - the St. Petersburg grandmaster dramatically choked big-time, to somehow snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
But there was worse to come - and more blunders galore from both players. Svidler then went on to also lose again for the match to go into overtime and a day of speed tiebreaks - and even all of those games (a further four decisive rapid games and two blitz) were decided by blunders, before Karjakin finally robbed Svidler of the title, by a winning score of 6-4.
It was a particularly cruel way for Svidler to lose a match that everyone believed he was easily winning, after he sensationally streaked to an easy 2-0 lead and set to capture a second World Cup title. The turning point dramatically came near the end of today’s game three, with Svidler winning, and by now probably beginning to wonder about what sort of hero’s welcome he’d receive in St. Petersburg when he returned with the cup.
But as the other saying goes, it ain’t over till the fat lady sings…
Peter Svidler - Sergey Karjakin
FIDE World Cup Final, (3)
Sicilian Defence, Chekkover Variation
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 This line is named after Vitaly Chekhover (1908-1965), who seems to have originated it in the game Chekhover-Lisitsin, Leningrad 1938. Checkover is best remembered today as an endgame composer and writer and was also a professional musician and pianist. 4...a6 5.c4 Nc6 6.Qe3 Nf6 7.h3 g6 8.Nc3 Bg7 9.Be2 Nd7 Also an option was 9...0-0 - the text move, though, has to be played sooner or later, as Black has to open lines for his dark-squared bishop. 10.Rb1 Nde5 11.0-0 0-0 12.Rd1 Nxf3+ 13.Bxf3 f5 A typical thrust in such positions, aiming to breakdown White's grip in the center, and particularly the hold over the d5 square. 14.exf5!? A novelty from Svidler. Previously seen here was 14.Nd5 e6 15.Nf4 e5 (If 15...Bh6 16.Nxe6! is winning.) 16.Ne2 f4 17.Qa3 Qg5 18.Rxd6 Bxh3 with a complicated game, Szymanski,R-Chomicki,H, ICCF 2011. 14...Bxf5 15.Be4 Qd7 16.Nd5 Qe6 17.Bxf5 Qxf5 18.Bd2 Of course not 18.Nxe7+?? Nxe7 19.Qxe7 Rae8! 20.Qxd6 Qxf2+ 21.Kh1 Re1+ 22.Rxe1 Qxe1+ 23.Kh2 Be5+ which picks up the queen and with it the game. 18...Rae8 19.Bc3 e6 20.Nb6 d5!? In order to survive in the match, Karjakin has to complicate the game, otherwise the position will become sterile and give Svidler the draw he needs to win the title. 21.Bxg7 Kxg7 22.Qc5 After 22.cxd5 exd5 23.Qc5 Re2! Black's 'heavy furniture' of rooks and queen will soon prove decisive. 22...Rf6 Risky, but then again Karjakin couldn't allow the exchange of queens and the game likely 'petering' out to a draw after 22...dxc4 23.Qxf5 exf5 24.Nxc4 Re2 25.Kf1. 23.b4 Threatening b4-b5. 23...Ne5 24.cxd5 Nd3 25.Qe3 Nxf2 26.Rf1 The knight is trapped - and with it, everyone sat back expecting Svidler to claim his second World Cup title. Easier said than done. 26...Qe4 27.Rbe1 exd5 (See Diagram) 28.Rxf2?! Not quite a complete blunder as yet, but how can anyone miss the winning plan of 28.Qc3! pinning just about every Black piece on the board? 28...Qh4 29.Qd2?? Karjakin probably couldn't believe his luck here, as this was an outright blunder that does lose on the spot. Instead, Svidler would have easily held after 29.Qxe8 Qxf2+ 30.Kh2 Qxb6 31.Re7+ Kh6 32.Rd7 and it is difficult to see any result here other than a draw, as Black's king is easily susceptible to a perpetual check. 29...Rxf2 30.Qc3+ Svidler had missed the fact that 30.Qxf2 allows 30...Rxe1+ easily winning. 30...d4 0-1