Khanty Mansiysk (Russia): Russian champion Peter Svidler made a giant stride forward towards lifting the World Chess Cup when he drew the third and penultimate game against compatriot Alexander Grischuk in the final.

Svidler, who had come with a fine win in the opening game of the four-game match, is now just a draw away from lifting the World Cup for the first time.

The six times Russian champion also plays white in the final game on Monday which should make his task a little easier.

The fight for the third place which is also the remaining qualifying seat for the next World Championship cycle, however, remained a little more complicated as former world champion Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine got a draw against his country-mate Vassily Ivanchuk.

Ivanchuk, the losing finalist of 2001 world championship which was won by Ponomariov, is also a draw away from making the cut but his task may not be so easy as he plays with black pieces in the final game.

In the event of a tied score, games of shorter duration will be played to determine the winner.

Svidler has been pretty predictable against queen pawn openings in the event, relying manly on the Grunfeld throughout the world cup, but his repertoire against the king pawn has been quite the opposite.

With his extensive knowledge in different kind of positions, Svidler has been baffling opposition and the third game was another such day.

Grischuk faced the Classical system in the Ruy Lopez after switching gears and going for the king pawn opening. Svidler's choice had some positive effect for black as Grischuk consumed a lot of time in the opening and yet could not find a way to get a better position.

Svidler did well for himself in the middle game by exchanging pieces at regular intervals and once the endgame was reached, the result of the game was never in doubt. The peace was signed in just 29 moves as the players were about to reach a rook and pawns endgame.

Ponomariov generated some chances against Ivanchuk but could not make the most of them. Playing white, Ivanchuk went for the complicated Hungarian variation against the Grunfeld of Ponomariov and ended up losing a pawn in the middle game.

However, the complications remained and though Ponomariov stood better he could not force matters in the minor pieces endgame. The game lasted 82 moves.

Result

Final: Alexander Grischuk (Rus) drew with Peter Svidler (Rus); Svidler leads 2-1.

Third place: Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukr) drew with Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukr); Ivanchuk leads 2-1.

(Agencies)