World Cup 2019 Rd.3.2: The end of India's journey at Khanty Mansiysk
India's journey at the World Cup 2019 has come to an end after two classical games in the third round. Harikrishna in his bid to win against Alekseenko, overpressed and lost the game and the match 2-0. Vidit tried his best, but couldn't get anything substantial against Wesley So and lost the match 1.5-0.5. India began with 10 participants in Khanty Mansiysk. Five of them were eliminated in round one, three in round two and finally Harikrishna and Vidit in round three. Not the best result, but as Vidit wrote after the event, "I am down but not out. The spirit is still high." We have a look at the two critical games from round 3.2 and also try to understand whether Harikrishna's daring sacrifice actually worked or not.
After losing the first classical game, coming back and equalizing is always difficult. But both Harikrishna and Vidit had the white pieces, so it was surely a high possibility that they could beat their opponents.
Harikrishna vs Alekseenko, Game 3.2
So what is the assessment of this position? Is White better? Well, he definitely has compensation, but things are not at all simple. The bishop attacks the rook on c7 and later it wants to move in order to make e5 possible. However, the Black queen is always swinging over to the g6 square to not only avert the mate but also create some chances of his own. At the same time the c3 pawn is also quite a trouble because the moment the bishop moves from c2, the pawn advances and forks the two rooks! Objectively White seems to be better if he finds the most critical line here after ...Rc8 g4! but the ideas and moves after it are quite complex. I have analyzed them in the ChessBase India replayer below.
When that moment of elimination arrives, it's the worst feeling for a sports player. For players like Harikrishna and Vidit (in the picture) it is the end of their chance to qualify for the Candidates which will have to wait for another two years.
In many ways a serious chess player is akin to a soldier on the border. They sit at the board calculating for hours. They don't eat their food well because they are stressed about their next game. They do not rest well because the tension of the game gives them sleepless night. They don't talk to their near ones because they want to conserve every ounce of their energy. They lose weight after such an event because chess is after all a brutal sport.
In spite of all of this, these players love chess. They live the game. Chess is not just a sport or a game for them, it is a lifestyle. Elimination from a tournament is the end to all of this torture. They can now finally go back home, sleep well, eat well, speak leisurely to their near ones. But their mind is fixed as to when would they compete again. When will they be back on the field once again to showcase their talent.
Packing their bags, they make a solemn pledge to themselves that they are going to fix their weaknesses and come back stronger in the next event. That's the reason why they are champions and that's the reason why every Indian is proud of them! The World Cup has ended for Harikrishna and Vidit, but these guys will soon come back stronger than ever!
And the good news, they still have another shot at qualifying for the Candidates in just 20 days from now - at the FIDE Grand Swiss 2019! The winner of the event gets a direct entry into the Candidates. Wishing them the best!
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