The second games of the World Cup Semi-finals were played on Tuesday, September 13 in Khanty-Mansiysk. Peter Svidler (Russia) won as Black against Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukraine), and advanced to the final. Natalia Komarova, the Governor of Ugra, congratulated him with this achievement: "As a patriot of my country, I am happy for the six-time Russian champion, and wish him future success at the board". It is the first time when a player from Russia advances to the World Cup final.
Ponomariov-Svidler featured saw the Gruenfeld defense. On the 7th move the Ukrainian grandmaster selected a rather rare line, but, according to Svidler, was not quite ready for the opening dispute. Perhaps Ponomariov could obtain a comfortable position with a small but lasting advantage, if he played 13.Rc1. Instead he went for 13.Rb1, and after Black castled long (a rare scenario in this opening), the game became very sharp. Black's pawn phalanx on the queenside looked very promising, and Svidler declined a draw offer by Ponomariov without hesitation. White did not defend in the most tenacious way and resigned soon after the 40th move. "I can afford celebrating this success, – said Svidler. – Two holidays are coming, and my friends will not understand me, if I spend this time alone".
Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine) and Alexander Grischuk (Russia) played a very sharp but extremely well-studied Vienna Variation. In a dynamically balanced position Grischuk tried to seize the initiative, spent a lot of time, and missed dangerous counterplay by White. Black had to give up a queen for a rook and a bishop. The compensation was probably not completely sufficient, but Ivanchuk, also being in time trouble, allowed Black to stabilize his position. Grischuk exchanged all the queenside pawns and built a fortress on the kingside, making a draw inevitable.
On Wednesday, September 14, Ivanchuk and Grischuk will determine the second finalist on tie-breaks. The loser of this match will meet Ruslan Ponomariov in a match for the third place, which is played under the same rules as the main final – four classical games plus tie-breaks.
All games are relayed with live grandmaster commentary in English and Russian on the official site of the World Cup: http://chess.ugrasport.com
Use the following link for computer analysis of the strongest engine – Houdini: http://chess.ugrasport.com/houdini.html