Khanty Mansiysk, Russia: Peter Svidler signed peace with Ruslan Ponomariov and Alexander Grischuk drew with Vassily Ivanchuk as the semi-finals of the Chess World Cup started off with two tame draws here.
Russian Champion Svidler could not break the ice with his white pieces and signed peace with former World Champion Ponomariov of Ukraine while the other game between Russian Grischuk and Ivanchuk of Ukraine met the same fate.
The World Chess Cup, that started with 128 players including three Indians, is now down to last four and in the first game apparently none of the contestants were willing to take any risk.
This being a two-games match, the tension is high especially in the semifinals as one of the four contestants will be out of the next World Championship cycle.
Also at stake is high prize fund. With a total of USD 1.6 million at stake, the winner will take home USD 96000 after a 20% deduction in prize money that goes to FIDE, the apex chess body.
Svidler was up against the Berlin defense of Ponomariov who has been finding some great results in this opening as black.
In the quarter-finals too, Vugar Gashimov of Azerbaijan had tried to dismantle it against Ponomariov and found himself on the receiving end.
Not wanting to play long-drawn endgames typical of the opening, Svidler went for a closed set up and won the Bishop pair in the ensuing middle game.
The resulting position however was only optically better for the Russian as Ponomariov quickly neutralised white's initiative with a timely central pawn thrust leading to further simplification.
As the drawn result became imminent after the likely trade of queens, Svidler took the draw in just 20 moves.
Grischuk tried harder by investing more time in his clash against Ivanchuk but the French defense by the latter proved impregnable.
Obtaining slightly better prospects in the early middle game Grischuk tried to break through the centre but Ivanchuk was well armed and found all the equalizing manoeuvres.
Grischuk could not find anything better than going for exchanges and took the draw in 21 moves.
In the return games on Monday the two Ukrainians will have white pieces against their Russian opponents. If the games are drawn two games under rapid time control of 25 minutes each will be played.
If still tied there will be two more games with 10 minutes to both players and if the scores are still level a further two tiebreaker blitz games shall be played.
Should the deadlock continue a final Armageddon game will decide the winner. In this case white will have five minutes and black four but white must win to advance to the next round.
Results Semifinal game 1: Peter Svidler (Rus) drew with Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukr); Alexander Grischuk (Rus) drew with Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukr).