One of the most dramatic moments of this year’s World Cup happened early on, in the first rapid playoff game in Felgaer – Malakhov match. The Russian grandmaster is known as an endgame expert, but and here he found a miraculous defensive resource in what kept looking like a hopeless endgame.
Black to move. His position looks completely hopeless, but since the king is stalemated, he can try to play for a draw with 116. ... Rb5+!? Of course White does not accept the sacrifice, which would have lead to immediate draw.
117. Kc7 Rd5!
White to move
118. Rh7 ?? One move before victory, Felgaer crumbles under immense pressure. The rook is unprotected on ‘h7’ and this makes all the difference. Correct was 118. Re7! Rd7+ 119. Kb6!, and White wins.
118... Rd7+ !
White is forced to take the rook, since otherwise his own rook on h7 falls. But now this is stalemate.
119. Kxd7 1/2-1/2
Malakhov just played Re7+, and you can see that GM Alekseev is the first one of the spectators to react with a grin, all others are still trying to figure out what’s going on for another couple of seconds.
A few seconds later – Felgaer can’t believe that 120 moves into this game, victory just escaped!
The shock of this draw had an interesting effect on the two players, as in the second game Malakhov lost quickly as White and was eliminated.