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World Cup 07 R3

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And then there were 32. The third round started today in Siberia and it was cold. How cold was it? So cold everyone was huddling around Shirov's board for warmth! So cold the yaks were knitting sweaters from other yaks! So cold the yaks in sweaters were huddling around Shirov's board for warmth! Ba-dum-bum! I'm here all week folks, try the chess pie. It's going to get up to -6C (20F) tomorrow in Khanty-Mansiysk before dropping down to -15C later in the week. Thank goodness it's not winter yet.

It wasn't exactly fire on board at the start of round three. But first let's take a look back and see who was left off the World Cup bus in round two. The tiebreaks were fast and furious with two going to armageddon blitz -- both won by white, which is notable. Kiril Georgiev took out former KO winner Kasimjanov. The lowest-rated player left, Zhou Jianchao (of whom I don't believe I'd ever heard before), held on against Volokitin and then won the sudden-death game out of a drawn bishop and pawn endgame. I recall Jonathan Rowson writing in NIC recently about the tenacity and perspicacity of the Chinese players in dynamic endgames. They do seem to be winning more than their share of such games in Khanty-Mansiysk. Zhou must have been lost in the second rapid game. Volokitin lost the first blitz game with white but won on demand to equalize before losing the last game with black. The 19-year-old Zhou lost game one of round three to Spiderman Adams.

Ivanchuk ko'ed Galkin in rapids with the help of a very nifty bishop drop. 16.Bc6! lodges the bishop on a powerful square followed by d5. Black was understandably startled and reacted poorly. Ponomariov completed his second comeback in as many rounds by eliminating Wang Hao. Their first rapid game was notable because the Chinese player decided to imitate Anand's catastrophic opening with black against Kramnik at the world blitz championship just a few days ago. Pono happily played Kramnik's queen sac and got a good position despite Wang Hao's computer-recommended improvement 16..Bd3. (I doubt he missed the Kramnik-Anand game.) Pono was cruising to a win, but a queen in rapids is worth more than a queen in classical chess. Black got play and a few pawns and it was was anybody's game for a while near the end. That end came when Black's pawns became blockaded and Ponomariov's pieces picked them clean. The Ukrainian, another former KO WCh winner, held the draw in the second game easily with the Najdorf, no small statement these days.

The celestial kingdom did better elsewhere. Bu Xiangzhi eliminated Motylev in blitz (with the Dragon, no less, but actually in another endgame) and Wang Yue eliminated Tiviakov. Yes, in another equal endgame. I'm starting to think Rowson was on to something. Rublevsky, my hot pre-event underdog pick, eliminated Navara in blitz after they swapped brutal attacking wins in rapids. Fan faves Carlsen and Sasikiran both advanced as well.

Round three kicked off with only five decisive games from the sixteen played, though most of the draws were hard-fought. The upset, if not much of one, was Mamedyarov losing to Cheparinov with black. He seemed to have a decent position out of the Ragozin but meandered around for too long on the queenside and Cheparinov broke through with a nice pawn sac. The computer sez 30..Rh8 is a possible defense. The Bulgarian is better known as Topalov's second and if he finishes off Shak tomorrow it won't be his first World Cup upset. During my ICC Chess.FM commentary during the Mexico City world championship, the most popular question was "why isn't Ivanchuk playing?" The answer is "because Cheparinov knocked him out of the 2005 World Cup in the second round."

Kamsky rolled over Georgiev in a nice effort and is looking every bit the former FIDE world championship finalist he was over a decade ago. After they played some 25 checks in the last 30 moves Jakovenko finally beat Almasi in an eternal increment endgame. Wang Yue beat his countryman Bu Xiangzhi in one of the many opposite-colored bishop endgames we've seen in the last day or two. Onischuk turned in some great defensive work to fend off Shirov for a draw with black. The round saw 1.e4 nine times, 1.d4 four times, and three 1.Nf3. Only one Sicilian (Alekseev) and one Caro-Kann (Bareev, of course), the rest were Spanish games with one wandering Italian from Rublevsky against Svidler. No Petroff! Nisipeanu held off Ivanchuk and Inarkiev battled Aronian to an interesting draw.

Tomorrow's second half promises many more draws but at least we're getting some chess. Svidler, Carlsen, and Aronian will be going for knockouts with the white pieces.

[By the way, I'm trying to fix the template error (I hope that's what it is) that occasionally causes the main page to show just the first item and the banner ad. The problem is it can come or go each time someone posts a new comment because of the "recent comments" list on the left. So I don't always notice it. I just tweaked a few things so please email me if you see it again. Thanks.]


Mig, yeah, it was soooo cold that oustside the playing hall no one was able to hear what the other person was saying. As words came out of their mouths, it froze and fell to the ground. What the players had to do then was to collect those frozen things and take it to their hotel room and fry it in a pan to finally understand what the other person had said!

Good to see Sasikiran quietly making his way through!

{"The tiebreaks were fast and furious with two going to armageggon" (sic)}

So again Armageddon Chess helps determine who the World Chess Champion is.
Aramgeddon changes the very goal of the game. Armageddon is a huge rule change.

Armageddon is the biggest rule change in formal or official chess since the pawn was allowed to advance two squares on its first move. Seriously.
Can anyone think of a bigger rule change?

The settling of the stalemate rule in the early 1800's was not as big a change; since lots of normal draws occur either way.
Even the officially USCF rate-able B.A.P. ruled games partially retain the draw concept.
Chess960 (FRC) is not as big a change as Armageddon.
Staunton played some of his match games where Black made the first move; but that is a much smaller change than most.

We tend to think the world is now permanently different from ancient times. History shows the rules of chess change dramatically every 500 years or so; with ongoing minor changes in-between. The "modern" world is not really so different. More changes will continue to occur; and Armageddon is only the latest.

Is 'armageggon' any way for the Chess Journalist of the Year to spell? ;-)

"So again Armageddon Chess helps determine who the World Chess Champion is.
Aramgeddon changes the very goal of the game. Armageddon is a huge rule change."

Indeed it is! But would you prefer if a tied match was settled by the spin of a Roulette Wheel, or by Coin Flip?

True, the Armageddon Chess game does change the goal of the game, since the Drawn result is no longer of equal value for each player--it is valueless for White.

The advent of Time Controls was a pretty major change to the rules of chess, as it effectively added a 3rd dimension to the game. At least with the Armageddon game, you could lose the coin flip, and still have a reasonable chance of advancing, even if your opponent had the Black pieces, and had the draw odds.

Even Soccer has a way of breaking ties: the Penalty Kick shoot-out. The Penalty Kick is a much more profound change in the way that the game is usually played.

I don't see it as significant only because it's only a way to decide a winner quickly. I barely consider it chess at all. By that point, the theory goes, the players have proven themselves of equal strength. But someone must move on, so let's get it over with. Having them play pairs of blitz games until somebody won wouldn't be any more valuable. A coin flip would be just as good but without the tiny bit of extra show. They are making chess moves, at least.

Sasi is a fan fave?!

All 5 of yesterday's winners have done the needful with black and are through to the last 16. Mamedyarov is out.

Danailov and the Armenians will be happy...

Why not jaideep? Super GM Levon Aronian was a fan of Sasikiran once!

Carlsen and Adams ready to face off in round 4. :-)

Cheparinov is still alive and doing well. A bizarre remote possibility, then, is a Cheparinov - Topalov match. Anyone know of an actual case of a player facing their recent second/trainer in a match?

Mig, now it doesn't show the first page. Still some tweeking left, but seems you are getting closer.

Sasikiran played what looked like a speculative exchange sac againt Bartlomiej and is now having a piece up! Bartlomiej would have been under time pressure. Still win would not be that easy for Sasikiran in the R+N+Ps vs R+P ending.

Not looking at these games with an engine, so could anyone try and explain why Dominguez went for that speculative queen sac (Rxe1) instead of just going Qd8?

Interesting position in Svidler-Rublevsky. I think the latter may have the better passed pawn (d versus a).

Mamedyarov didn't seem to put up much of a fight in his must-win game against Cheparinov. Couldn't he have played on, or does he think they are playing four games?

Just looking at the position Carlsen-Dominguez what I would think is after Qd8, rc1, bc1 and Qf1. Attack on c1B and f7 pawn. I think the game is resignable after f7 is gone. ...Qxd7 results in Nf6 fork.

You're right. Qf1 would decide instantly. This was a very long forcing line, so perhaps it was already critical for black after 24. fxg6.

Svidler has saved the critical endgame against Rublevsky. I didn't necessarily like Rublevsky's plan with h5 as it took too long collecting the white h-pawn. But I guess he wanted to get f5 in to handicap the knight and create some play against the white king. He must have missed a win somewhere.

Was that a display of awesomeness by Shirov or a major goof-up by Onischuk? That kingside attack seemed to come out of nowhere.

"Mamedyarov didn't seem to put up much of a fight in his must-win game against Cheparinov. Couldn't he have played on, or does he think they are playing four games?"

Yeah, he is facing elimination and he draws in less then 30 moves with a lot of material still on the board? I don't quite get that. Zhou did something similar with his draw against Adams.

"Was that a display of awesomeness by Shirov or a major goof-up by Onischuk?"

It was awesomeness. Shirov has been on form for the second half of 2007. Nice to see.

To Vxqti The only one I can recall, is of course the Kasparov/Kramnik match 2000. I believe Vlad worked extensively with Garry thru the late 90's, and was Garry's 2nd in his match with Anand in 1995.

Mamedyarov's decision is quite easy to understand. Have you tried counting the pieces? He is completely lost in a position with very little chances to complicate, so he decided at least to save 5 rating points.

Adams has cruised through to R4 and can easily beat Carlsen.

...because all those 2700+ players put up so little resistance. right guys? ...guys?

easily beat Carlsen?? lol

Message to Mig: Strangely enough you are the only chess journalist on the planet giving the spectators what they want: A full report/impressions from each round in this thrilling event. Thanks a lot. Like seeing water in the desert. Analysis are not most important. Analysis are very interesting, but not crucial.
Many sites give results and some few, obvious comments ( which is nothing for all of us who "were there").
The KO Cup in K-M is first of all a big sports event with all it's human drama. That is the REAL journalistic point. And you have understood it. Everybody having attended a soccer match - leaving full of impressions - is starving to read what does the press say, immeditaly after? In chess: just a thundering worldwide silence. If not for Mig.

>In chess: just a thundering worldwide silence.

Maybe it's because everybody is at a loss of words for the beauty of Shirov's win :-)

If this is going to turn out him against Topalov the organizing site better make prearrangements with the responsible fire department :-)

I note that no match reached 1-1 through a pair of wins, only by a pair of draws. No trading of wins. It's getting tighter and tighter. I hope Grischuk can out-rapid or out-blitz Bareev, but it is much closer than the ratings indicate. Mig, keep up the good work, you are highly valued out here. Thanks.

Carlsen should play his match against Admas with a T-shirt that contains the "Hydra logo". :)


Did you see Aronian's black win against Inarkiev? Spectacular..

aronian blasted inarkiev to the moon! my oh my. i don't understand chess! wins without a queen like it was nothing!

Ivanchuk selfdestructed once again. Are we witnessing his last attempt to be WC?

any news from Khanty ? what is Ivanchuk doing ?

It's propably his nerves. He can't stand the strain when it really matters.

chess is 40% exactly memorized opening theory and 60% nerve testing gambling psychology

Ivanchuk has been eliminated by drawing his second blitz game against Nisipeanu. The former was trying to force a pawn ending in which black (Ivanchuk) would have the advantage, so he forced a rook exchange, but after Nisipeanu accepted the exchange, Ivanchuk spent a lot of time realizing he chose the wrong plan and the pawn ending was in fact drawn. To be fair, I was watching the game and Nisi made a good choice by choosing a opening which led to early simplifications; after move 20, the position looked already drawn. Of course anything could happend in blitz, but the position was quite balanced and it seemed difficult to take advantage of a blunder.

It is a shame Ivanchuk (the winner of the recent blitz championship) blundered in the previous blitz game. Despite this, I hope he can get the opportunity to play for World Championship tournaments if he continues his good performance in classical chess.

[White "Ivanchuk,V"]
[Black "Nisipeanu,LD"]
[Result "0-1"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 Bb4+ 4. Nbd2 b6 5. a3 Bxd2+ 6. Qxd2 Bb7 7. e3 O-O 8. Be2 d6 9. O-O Nbd7 10. b4 Ne4 11. Qc2 f5 12. Bb2 Rf6 13. d5 Rg6 14. Rad1 e5 15. Bd3 c6 16. Bxe4 fxe4 17. Qxe4 cxd5 18. cxd5 Nf6 19. Qc4 Rc8 20. Qb3 Qd7 21. Ne1 Ba6 22. f3 Bc4 0-1

Is there any web site we can replay finished games and watch them?

Once again we are graced with the perfect science of the tooth doctor, Ovidiu. We all thank you for your profound insight on chess and how it is only memorization and nerves. Of course, who'd guess it had anything to do with understanding and tactical calculations?!

> who'd guess it had anything to do with understanding and tactical calculations>

relax stendec, today we mourn Ivanchuk's lack of luck ( or Nispeanu's superior schooling and "understanding" if you prefer)

"The ultimate truth about chess is that it is a game of chance. All a chess player can do is react to opportunities and possibilities which are provided from outside and for which he can only hope and wait. This profound understanding of chance as a factor in the game of chess, this realization of one's actual passivity, is only given to the very strong and even to most of them only when they begin to be advanced in years.
...Naturally, they will keep silent about this so as not to confuse the broad masses of the poor in spirit. For they, the common chess players, will gladly admit with great modesty that chance plays an important part in their games, but they always hope that this is not the case with grandmasters, the infallible ones, who see everything and know everything. I won't rob these innocents of their illusion, but there is no need for us to fool each other."

J.H. Donner

Ok, Ovidiu, pay off USCF executives to get your rating to 2800. Spend 6 months doing nothing but memorizing theory. Don't, however, do any endgame/middlegame work or tactics. Go play in the Open section of the World Open. By your theory, you should score 9/9.


Excellent quote.

When the very top players are so evenly matched skill-wise, when 80% of games between them are draws, elements other than chess-skill are bound to determine the outcome.

Who has better nerves than Kramnik? After the Game Five forfeit at Elista he came out for the press conference as relaxed as if he was on holiday at the beach. Who has worse nerves than Ivanchuk?

Between the two of them it is unclear who has more "chess-skill", but going into any competition the former is always a solid bet and the latter is always a high-risk one.

>When the very top players are so evenly matched skill-wise...elements other than chess-skill are bound to determine the outcome.>

yep, their skill, "understanding and knowledge od strategy", cancel eachother to zero by pre-emptive moves...and they are back to club-player level where determination, fortune, and tactical shots decide the game.

I'm sure that's all Rybka looks at: opening lines and probability. That's why everyone with an opening book and a Dummy's Guide to Probability can score 50% against it.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on November 30, 2007 4:58 PM.

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