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Candidates Matches 07

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Here's the full schedule and other info about the candidates matches that start this week. The first games of the first set of eight matches begin on May 27. Then it's three days, a rest day, and three more days. Tiebreaks, if needed, and they will be, are on the next day, June 3. Then there is a two day break and the second set of four matches begins with the same format. Each match has a tasty $40,000 prize fund thanks mostly to FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. Another sponsor is an industrial tech company, Rosenergomash.

The games are classical, and not FIDE faux-classical. 40/2, 20/1, g15'+30". The tiebreak is four rapid games of 25'+10", then two blitz games, then armageddon. They haven't put up a bracket, but it's standard KO pairing. Full regulations here.

The winner of 1-16 (Aronian-Carlsen) faces the winner of 8-9 (Adams-Shirov).
Winner of 2-15 (Leko-Gurevich) meets winner of 7-10 (Polgar-Bareev).
Winner of 3-14 (Ponomariov-Rublevsky) versus winner of 6-11 (Grischuk-Malakhov).
Winner of 4-13 (Gelfand-Kasimjanov) versus the winner of 5-12 (Bacrot-Kamsky).

The final four go to Mexico City to play in the FIDE world championship tournament they have turned into a candidates tournament (if anyone other than Kramnik wins). Kramnik, Anand, Svidler, and Morozevich are already seeded.

Time to start playing favorites and making guesses? Who's in your final four? Make sure to check it's a legal final four. So pick one name from each line above. The Elo slaves will pick Aronian, Leko, Ponomariov, and Gelfand. My heart says Shirov, Polgar, Grischuk, Kamsky. My head says Shirov, Leko, Ponomariov, Bacrot. My stomach says mmmm, nachos.


The first group (Aronian,Carlsen,Adams,Shirov) seems to have at least 3 -maybe 4- out of 5 best players in the whole field. Both Adams, Carlsen and maybe Shirov would be the favorites in groups 3 and 4. Leko seems to have the easiest road to Mexico city as he is the only heavyweight in his group.

I predict the following final 4

Aronian will beat Adams
Leko will beat Polgar
Ponomariov will beat Grischuk
Gelfand will beat Kamsky

And doesn't Rosenergomash sound cool? I wonder what would be the company name if Rosenergomash merged with Vostsibneftegazgeologiya and Arktikmorneftegazrazvedka.

Aronian, Polgar, Ponomariov, Kamsky.

I'll play this game:


Am I crazy?

I'm rooting for Mig'g head (Shirov, Leko, Pono, Bacrot) to win. No Aronian, no Polgar and Vishy will win in a canter...

Aronian, Polgar, Grischuk, Bacrot

Aronian, Leko, Grischuk, Kasimjanov

The draw is highly unfair as most of the heavyweights are in group 1. Leko, Kamsky and Pono are lucky ones and won't have a tough grind as Aronian.


Go Carlsen, Go !!

My mind says:

Aronian, Leko, Ponomariov and Kasimjanov.

My heard says:
Adams, Leko, Grischuk and Kasimjanov.


Head: Aronian, Leko, Ponomariov, Kamsky

Heart: Aronian, Bareev, Grischuk, Kasimdzhanov

Stomach: Sirloin steak

Head: Aronian, Leko, Ponomariov, Kamsky

Heart: Aronian, Bareev, Grischuk, Kasimdzhanov (who doesn't want a guy who brings Lewis Carroll and no seconds to San Luis to win?)

Stomach: Sirloin steak

Bad luck for Aronian, Carlsen, Adams and Shirov; it really feels unfair that only one of this four can qualify. Leko and Ponomarjov will have an easy walk, while the last four will have no significance, since none of them will be able to compete for the title.


You can't go wrong if you pick four Russian-sounding names.

Aronian, he is simply the best of the four
Leko, he will have almost a 50/50 match against Polgar, but has played more frequently and probably has more experience of match play
Ponomariov, he has been good in match play before

So. Only the Elo guys so far.

The last four is interesting.Gelfand is of course a great player, and so is Bacrot. Kamsky seems to have a little extra strength and resilience when he really needs it. Kasim has been a surprisingly good match player before.I'll go with an upset from Kasim.

The first bracket is "cruel". I'll go with Aronian. In the second bracket it's Leko, third and fourth ones are hard to tell. Pono is all way downhill recently, Grischuk will fold, I'd pick Rublevsky with his weird Sicilians.
Fourth bracket...Kasim or Kamsky. As I have to pick, I'd pick Kamsky.


A small addition to what Mig wrote:

If Kramnik wins Mexico he will have to face Topalov in a match in 2008. If another player wins Mexico then this winner will face Kramnik.

So Mexico is not a Candidates Tournament but a fully legitimate World Championship event. The new World Champion (whoever that is) will have to defend his title in 2008 against the immediately previous World Champion.

All the above is explained by FIDE itself here: http://www.fide.com/news.asp?id=1277

Carlsen, Polgar, Pono (or maybe Malakhov) & Kamsky

This is just hart and gut feeling, my head is busy right now...



Mig, does a correct prediction win a ChessNinja T-shirt? ;o)

Giuannis, The new World Champion (whoever that is) will have to defend his title in 2008 against the immediately previous World Champion.

Don't think that will happen. If Kramnik wins, Kasparov has retired...

Well Al, according to FIDE it's not Kasparov but Topalov. Live with that.

I love candidates matches. Even if the games are boring, there is the drama that someone has to win the match...no ties. And moreso than tournaments, it's fascinating to watch the selection of openings, novelties, and overall match strategy used by the players.

Did I say it already? I love candidates matches.

I love candidates matches. Even if the games are boring, there is the drama that someone has to win the match...no ties. And moreso than tournaments, it's fascinating to watch the selection of openings, novelties, and overall match strategy used by the players.

Did I say it already? I love candidates matches.

Giannis, the document you are linking to is way too old by FIDE standards (just kidding), the latest version was given 1 month later during Euro 2007 in an interview with Ilyumzhinov conducted by Kohlmeyer, the relevant part of which has been translated on DD, see link below. Basically he says Topa's only chance is through World Cup 2007. Maybe there are still negotiations going on. I still refuse to accept the fact that Kramnik wants to ridicule himself in front of the world by participating in a candidates tournament as a title holder only to lock out Topalov.

Aronian-Carlsen Aronian is heads (but maybe not yet shoulders) above all the other players in the field. At Linares where Carlsen played his best, he still did not beat Aronian. ARONIAN

Adams-Shirov I wonder if all the people who are picking Shirov with their head have let their eyes on the two guys' classical chess record against other 2700 players over the past year. Adams (+4-1=15), Shirov (+1-7=16). ADAMS

Leko-Gurevich Leko won Corus 2005 and Tal Memorial. Gurevich is an interesting trivia question. LEKO

Polgar-Bareev Bareev is dangerous but hasn't played well lately, not even against competition a level below this. He might get his head in gear for this. However, Polgar has not played enough recently to have an idea of her current level. But she has the edge in age, natural talent and rating :) POLGAR

Ponomariov-Rublevsky Ponomariov tends to do fairly well against under-2700s. (13th in the world according to Stefan Fischl) PONOMARIOV

Grischuk-Malakhov I don't remember the last time Grischuk didn't do subpar. Malakhov is perhaps the most dangerous underdog in the tournament--really impressive stuff at European championship and elsewhere, and very match suited style. MALAKHOV

Gelfand-Kasimzhanov We know Kasim can beat anybody in a short match with rapid tiebreaks. Gelfand is the better player. No face-to-face record. Kazimdzhanov rating is falling way down since Libya. GELFAND

Bacrot-Kamsky Bacrot has the worst face-to-face record against other 2700s of all 2700 players. KAMSKY

Aronian-Adams May be the two best players in the candidates. Youth vs experience. Only two draws on record. Got to go with the ELO of the guy who just beat Kramnik in a match, but an upset here wouldn't surprise me too much. ARONIAN

Leko-Polgar Polgar hasn't played much lately and has 0-3=2 record against Leko since 2003 (one game is rapid) LEKO

Ponomariov-Malakhov Dark horse wins this one. I just don't think Pono has the mental toughness and Malakhov definitely has the skills. MALAKHOV

Gelfand-Kamsky Was all ready to pick Kamsky to win this bracket but his Mtel performance left me less than inspired. I don't think anybody in this bracket deserves to be playing in Mexico. GELFAND

Heart: Adams, Polgar, Malakhov, Kasimdzhanov

Poisoned Pawn,

I think you have misunderstood that part in Kirsan's interview. Kirsan says that Topalov will have to start all over IF Kramnik does not win Mexico. Otherwise Kramnik, as winner of Mexico, plays Topalov in 2008.

Hmmm, now that I'm looking at it again you seem to be right.

But my guess is that Kirsan got confused by the journalist's questions. The official announcement is the one on the FIDE website, otherwise Danailov would have been jumping up and down! :-)

Mig, any thoughts on the passing of Alexander Roshal? Did you have any dealings with him?

Aronian, Leko, Rublevsky, Kasimdzhanov.

Without Topalov, this cycle loses a lot of legitimacy. I say that despite my abhorrence of Danailov's tactics.

Yuriy: half a point from shared first in such a strong tournament may not be inspiring, but is it really a good basis for predicting his loss in the candidates???

Head: Aronian, Leko, Ponomariov, Bacrot

Heart: A. Kournikova, J. Biel, K. Knightly, some other hot chick

Stomach: follows the heart

top bets:

Aronian 7:4 Adams
Aronian 7:3 Shirov

Leko 7:2 Polgar

Pono 5:4 Grischuk
Pono 9:2 Malakhov

Gelfand 5:6 Kamsky
Kasim 8:9 Kamsky


some bets:

Aronian Leko Pono Kamsky 5.0
Aronian Leko Pono Kasim 7.0
Aronian Leko Pono Gelfand 7.5
Adams Leko Pono Kamsky 10.0
Adams Polgar Malakhov Gelfand 20.0
Shirov Polgar Malakhov Bacrfot 80.0


He didn't do any worse than the other guys, but he is the one whose play I heard praised the least and he also didn't get any wins till the second round, when stamina becomes more a factor and skill less. (MTel has only one day off, and on that one they played soccer) Kamsky looked back last summer after Olympiad and Mtel, so this result even if relatively good, is disappointing. Gelfand's two matches, however, are the two I had the most difficulty predicting :)


Adams beats Carlsen
Polgar beats Leko
Grischuk beats Ponomariov
Kamsky beats Kasimdzhanov


Shirov beats Aronian

Polgar beats Leko

Don't Care! Hard to get passionate about the fate of any of those 4. It's a pity one of them will get a slot at Mexico City...

Gelfand beats Kamsky

"Leko-Polgar Polgar hasn't played much lately and has 0-3=2 record against Leko since 2003 (one game is rapid) LEKO"

Didn't Fischer have a dismal record against Spassky, prior to the 1972 WC Match?
Polgar has surprised before, by coming back stronger from her hiatus. So, I won't bet against her.

Re Carlsen beating Aronian: Carlsen is young, comnfident, and with nothing to lose. If it were a long match, Aronian would solve Carlsen, but this mini-match will be decided by one bad move.

If Polgar had played Fischer 1971-like chess in the past year, all talk of past record would have gone out the window. That's without even considering the fact that psychological tricks had at least as much to do with the outcome 1972 WC as onboard stuff.

Carlsen did not seem particularly comfortable playing with the lead in Linares.

I do think Giannis is right about that. A Kirsan interview is not an official FIDE statement.

Has anyone actually contacted FIDE to clear that matter up?

Aronian, Leko, Ponomariov and Kasimjanov.

Same as Duncun

Aronian, Leko, Ponomariov and Kasimjanov.

Same as Duncan

My 2 cents:

Aronian wins against Shirov
Polgar wins against Leko
Grischuk wins against Rublevsky
Bacrot wins against Gelfand

same (at least, I got to know most of them and those are also the most likeable guys (my opinion ;-) )

By the way, did anybody count the cotes on this site? Might be interesting...


Head: Aronian beats Shirov
Leko beats Polgar
Ponomariov beats Grischuk
Kamsky beats Gelfand

Tails: (just kidding:))

That's going to be interesting. I'd love if Polgar qualified, but I think Leko is too solid for her style.

Surprised for the preference for Shirov to beat Adams. Shirov's been in freefall lately; it's true I think that he will be more focussed on this event than Adams and also that ten years ago he did better in matches than Adams, but still I think it would be a shock if Adams lost this one.

I thought Malakhov was an amateur (isn't he a physicist?) who had now semi-retired. Although mind you so has Grischuk.

Pono and Leko seem like the obvious favourites. Personally I make Aronian-Carlsen and Gelfand-Kamsky the two toughest to call. I was very impressed with Carlsen at Gausdal. He spent a lot of time watching his friend's games, fooling around with the young ladies outside the tournament hall (this most delicate of all tests for a young western player is about to hit him, I guess), and still managed a 2700 performance, turning it on the only two times he was threatened. To be sure beating Aronian is a step up, but I don't know....

And Gelfand has been focussed very seriously on this event for a long time, or so he says. Kamsky's a good player, but has he quite got the tools, I wonder? Ramshackle openings won't do in matches: maybe he's been saving it.

I guess I'd go with everyone else and say Aronian and Kamsky, because Gelfand's too old and Carlsen's too young. But these two are the toughest to choose IMHO.

rdh, what an informative post!
Didn't know Malakhov is an amateur. Grischuk is known for his addiction to poker. Don't understand the remarks about Shirov though. I mean if he was that way freefall he would have lost many rating points, but has he? I remember him being much lower in the rating list and then coming back with some remarkable performances. Though I'm not so sure and I'm so lazy to lookup his FIDE card.
To me Carlsen is too young for taking up against Aronian. He's talented indeed, but is Aronian less talented? He is on his raise, full of concentration and ambitions, with a killer team of coaches-friends helping him, a whole country cheering for him (really). He just has won the rapid match against Kramnik, so he must be full of confidence. Carlsen has all of these to some extent, but hmm.
Have to admit that Carlsen has a tought luck-was he in the last bracket he would have much better chances for qualifying.

I think the format will favour cold hearted street fighters, who don't go to pieces after a defeat.

Adams, Leko, Pono and Kasim.

Aronian is the class act in the field, and I'd love to see him in Mexico) but I wonder, if tested, how he will perform. He's won the World Cup (the last 16 match was the key and I'm sure some players took their foot off the pedal after that) and Corus, Linares, but I think that he may struggle with the intensity of a proper match against Adams, who seems to be great at qualifying for later stages, but just doesn't have the ability or stamina to finish the job. Carlsen and Shirov have the tools to cause damage, but I don't know if they have the mental toughness. Shirov will be motivated by injustice, but I think that this does him harm and I can see him getting distracted by off the board issues.

Leko is class and very difficult to beat. I can't see him losing out and he alone has the experience of a real (Steinitz Line) WCh match.

The third quarter will bring one undeserving player into the last 8. I'd back whoever gets through this one (Pono?) to come last in Mexico.

Kasim always plays above his ability and seems to have nerves of steel when it comes to rapids.
Kamsky has been there before and has the mental toughness to be there, but maybe not the opening repertoire.

Here is Shirov's FIDE ratings card: http://www.fide.com/ratings/id.phtml?event=2209390
See my comment above for his performance against 2700+ players, two of whom he would probably have to beat to qualify.
I know very little about Malakhov the individual, but his record suggests he is playing a lot more in the past year than he has before, so maybe he is only a little retired? :) Here is the game that turned me into a fan of his: http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1457634

OK, fair enough, more of a steady decline the last four years than freefall. But there's something wrong there just the same - that 0/9 in that rapid event, losing to Peter Wells in thirteen moves at Gibraltar. And I'm inclined to agree with - was it Al? - that he may not find it easy to shut out a sense of injustice or to find motivation from it. Look at the way his record against Gazza nosedived after 1998.

I agree neither Gelfand-Kasim nor Kamsky-Bacrot is easy to call either. Bacrot doesn't quite strike me as having what it takes to beat the top players, but Kasim is a stern opponent for anyone in this kind of match and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see him come through this bracket. I just took Gelfand-Kamsky because most people seemed to be.

The only official wording regarding a Topalov-Kramnik 2008 match comes in the obscure "Proposal A" document on the next cycle. It states only that Topalov ("the previous world champion") will have "the right to challenge" Kramnik should Kramnik win Mexico City. This was later unofficially ignored by Ilyumzhinov and was also not included in the regulations for the next cycle. So I'm assuming it's ad hoc on the "anybody can challenge" proposal they used before. As usual, they don't see any advantage in transparency or clarity. They don't want to guarantee Topalov anything without having some money in their pockets.

I think Shirov has been making a comeback lately, if an uneven one. His chess over the past year has been his best in a long time. Adams will still be a huge problem but I think Shirov is ready to get it together. Aronian is still an x-factor to me. He can play rubbish sometimes and inconsistency doesn't do well in match play.

@ Yuriy

Malakhov is professionally employed and used to play chess only part time a la Alexander Fishbein. Now , he maybe taking his chess more seriously as he has qualified for the World Championship cycle.

@dirtbag--thanks a lot, I have been able to find very little biographical info about the man online. His record suggests he has become more active--it will be interesting to see if this indicates a greater focus on chess and results in improvement.


Go Sasha!


Well I think that Aronian will be not only the winner of this Match but he will be the next World Chess Champion, just look how he destroy Kramnik.
But my heart is on for Polgar or Carlsen. Look what Polgar did today!!! And Carlsen it looks that Aronian is too much for him, I wish I can be wrong with Carlsen and with Polgar but the day speak by itself.

After three days of play, I go for this shot:

Aronian (he's the best, and even though I hope for Carlsen, I don't think Aronian will lose him. And Shirov and Adams are past heir highdays)

Bareev (he seems to be handling Polgar very well, and he could surprise against Leko, even though Leko is very strong and very well prepered, I go for the russian underdog and a surprise in this one!)

Grischuk (nice to have him back, and especially if Rublevsky now beats Ponomariov Grischuk will have very good chances)

Gelfand (the last group annoys me a bit, holding out strong players as Radjabov, Ivanchuk and Karjakin and others, and also very lucky with the drawing of lots. I guess any other player here would have switched place with any other in this group! But Gelfand will beat Kasimjanov before the tiebreaks, and Kamsky won't scare Gelfand as easy as Bacrot, and Gelfand will make it to Mexico as well)

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on May 21, 2007 5:42 PM.

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