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World Cup 2007 Begins

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The first international step on the road to the world championship begins Saturday in Khanty-Mansyisk, Russia. The 128-player knockout event sends the winner into a match with Veselin Topalov, who "earned" this privilege by winning the world championship tournament in San Luis in 2005 and then losing the title to Kramnik in 2006. The winner of that match will face the winner of the Kramnik-Anand world championship match, which is to take place in 2008. If you think all those matches are going to go off without a hitch you are smoking some fine Kalmykian yak dung. Speaking of hitches, my attempt to reach the official English site resulted in a 404, so keep your fingers crossed and pass the yak dung. The Saturday forecast for Khanty-Mansyisk is for a high of -6C (21F) [Excruciatingly slow and oddly empty official site is up here. Other coverage links below.] The games begin at 1500 local time, 1000 GMT, 5am EST, 2am PST. Live game links here.

FIDE has the list of qualifiers and the first-round pairings up here but Mark's list is better. Who will no-show this year? You can download the complete pairing tree there as well. The rating favorites for the final four are Ivanchuk, Radjabov, Mamedyarov, and Aronian. Aronian has Jakovenko and Shirov in his bracket. His countryman Akopian can also be dangerous. Mamedyarov has Adams and Carlsen. Radjabov has Svidler, Kamsky, and Ponomariov. Ivanchuk has Alekseev and Grischuk in his group, as well as Karjakin and Bacrot. Name your final four now. Also pick someone not in the top 40 who will make it to the final eight. I'll plump for Alekseev, Aronian, Radjabov, and someone from China. PS: beware Rublevsky! For potential collapses I'll contradict myself and say Aronian. He's been wild lately and I could easily see him losing to Vallejo or Jakovenko. Mamedyarov is also a basket case at times with the black pieces and is surrounded by aggressive players like Cheparinov and Motylev.

How many Americans will get out of the first round? We have Onischuk-Andriasian, Roiz-Akobian, Shabalov-Pavasovic, Kamsky-Adly, Kudrin-Vallejo, Gurevich-Kaidanov, Shulman-Leitao, and Ivanov-Navara. We look set for four Yankees into the second round, five with luck. Onischuk could meet Shirov in the 3rd round but might be set for a deep run. He's been in great form lately and has been working hard. These KO events are all about nerves and form. Chess Life Online has various items on the World Youth event in Turkey but doesn't seem to have noticed yet that eight Americans are playing in Khanty-Mansyisk. Maybe Jen is headed there from Antalya?!

Update: To answer my own question above on no-shows, the official site now lists match 31, Cheparinov-Gonzalez Zamora and match 53, Izoria-Ghaem Maghami, as won on disqualification. Nigel Freeman below says Izoria and Gonzalez Zamora dropped out at the last minute and Svidler's opponent Iturrizaga of Venezuela appears to be a no-show after getting lost between Russian airports! acirce and others have quotes below on why some of the elite aren't playing. A month ago ChessBase ran items with comments from Leko and Morozevich saying that Topalov's absurd presence in a spurious final match put them off.


Try again: http://www.ugra-chess.ru/eng/main_e.htm or just http://www.ugra-chess.ru which redirects to the english version (with JavaScript enabled).

Hard to tell which one is the Yankee in some of those pairings. Speaking of "Gurevich," whatever became of Dmitri and Ilya?

Damn Mig! Kalmykian Yak Dung!? There's got to better s*** than that around?

Speaking about Americans at the world cup, the game Kamsky-Adly will have live comments on http://www.chessdom.com/world-chess-cup-2007/kamsky-adly-live
They also claim Cheparinov goes to round 2, no official site confirmation.

I think the final four are going to be Ivanchuk, Aronian, Radjabov, and Grischuk. But where are Polgar and Moro?

Looks like the Mexico top-4 are not playing here. Do they have(or going to have) some new deals with FIDE? Anybody knows?

Officially, there are deals only for Kramnik and Topalov.

offTopic, just read somewhere that Kirsan invited Steven Segal to play chess in Kalmikya. LOL

No idea about Polgár. As for Morozevich, it is because of the changed rules of the cycle that gave Topalov his big privileges:

Vasiliev: Many of your followers are very disappointed that you have opted out of the forthcoming World Cup, the winner of which will play a match against Topalov, for the right to play a world championship match in the next cycle. Why did you refuse to play?

Morozevich: Several months ago, FIDE changed the rules yet again, to give Topalov the immediate right to play the final candidates match. And in Sofia at that. I do not understand the reason for this; it looks ridiculous. Given my relations with Topalov, such a match in Sofia is never going to happen, and I cannot play the tournament without being motivated to want to win it.


I would guess Lékó has similar reasons, going by what his manager Hensel said in July:

"However, the privilege that Topalov is getting, to play against the winner of the World Cup or to immediately challenge Kramnik in a world championship match, must be of concern to the other top players. I expect all top grandmasters, including Peter Leko, to protest against this special privilege. Possibly the world chess federation is risking a boycott of the World Cup. This must not be allowed to happen."


Gelfand was considerably vaguer:

Schachlinks: You reached the World Championship tournament through the long road of Candidate Matches, and in the end you finished 2nd/3rd with Vladimir Kramnik, one point ahead of place four! For the next cycle you are empty-handed, while other players have privileges. What are your intentions in the next cycle? Do you hope to make another big assault?

Gelfand: It is very important for me to have a proper World Championship cycle, and that’s why I did my best to use this opportunity, as it was first real cycle since 1995. I am very disappointed that FIDE decided to keep the tradition of a world championship match and abandoned tradition of a world championship cycle. I don’t think that it is less important tradition. But I am very glad that at least once in ten years the chess world has witnessed a real qualification, like it was decades ago, and I am sure that the chess public enjoyed watching chess, in different formats, like a knockout World Cup, Candidates Matches and World Championship tournaments. I also hope that everybody will enjoy the Anand-Kramnik match next year.


Obviously there is a "deal" for Anand as well.

I think no single player has more than 5% chance to win it all and no more than 20% to get to the final four. So I wouldn't even dare to predict what's going to happen. Interestingly, Ivanchuk can meet Nisipeanu in the 3rd round if I'm not mistaken.

The only deal for Anand so far has been that he was shunted out of the Prague Agreement and missed a legitimate shot at the world title.

Final four are onischuk, Kamsky, karjakin, and mamedyarov. Khalifman(rated 52) will get to final 8.

The format of the World Cup is great for the public. There is always a fighting match going on and the knockout system makes it easier to explain to the non chess public how the champion is determined. However a short two game match introduces a degree of randomness that is just unaceptable at this level. Fide should have given more consideration to Khalifman's double match knockout system. Four games is still not ideal but if one cannot play four games well one should not be in the world championship!

This format would be "great" except that there's no news of it, anywhere, and I can't seem to find first-day results. Typical FIDE efficiency.

I think Cheparinov, Kasimdzhanov (is he playing?) and Sasikiran are the dark horses.

Somehow, clicking on the games link on the ugra-chess website, I got a page of results from the first game. It took me about 2 minutes to realize it was results from the previous world cup tournament that was like two years ago.

"Someone not in the top 40 who will make it to the final eight..."

Roiz has been good lately.

I wonder if the loser of the Anand-Kramnik match will play the winner of the Topalov-WC champ? Is such a formulation possible?

You can find the games live via www.fide.com

Izoria and Gonzales Zamora pulled out at the last minute. Itturizaga appears not to have turned up.

I'm impressed, all 63 (Svidler's opponent didn't show up, it seems) live games work!


Itturizaga has been discovered, he apparently has spent the last day and a half at Sheremetyevo 2 and has been advised to go to Vnukovo for this evening's flight.

Radjabov's game seems broken after a few erroneous moves.

They seem to have just switched java game viewers in the middle of the first round! I just refreshed a game page and got an entirely different viewer.

Thanks for the updates, Nigel. Terrible for Iturrizaga. Anything on why the other two dropped out so late?

New viewer a major improvement.

Oops, Adams' game looks broken too.

Why no one of Kramnik's friends (Leko and Morozevich), instead of whining about Topalov, aren't complaining about Kramnik getting a free rematch with Anand?

Gonzalez Zamora for personal reasons. Izoria visa problems.

rasi: Because it doesn't add to their workload. The winner of the World Cup will play Anand or Kramnik, not Anand AND Kramnik, just as if there hadn't been a special rematch. The Topalov match added an extra step out of nowhere, turning the World Cup into a qualifier to play Topalov instead of the world champion. Kramnik's rematch clause was outrageous privilege, but on a scale of 1 to 10 it was a 6 while Topalov's is at least a 9.5. Kramnik got a huge and unnecessary gift but it didn't directly screw everyone else's chances of winning the title.

Itturizaga hasnow apparently reached Domedevo (or however you spell it)still yet to find Vnukovo!

Mig: Being good at chess does not make Moro or Leko moral philosophers. This looks much more like a good chance to fire at a hated opponent than a moral stand. First play in the WC and win, THEN argue your case.


Mig: Why should the winner of the World Cup play directly the World Champion? From where does this come from?

Last time the World Cup winner qualified for Candidates Matches, not for a title shot. This time the winner gets to play directly a semi-final match against Topalov instead of going through Candidates cycles. It sounds even better for the winner of Khanty-Mansiysk than 2005.

To put it in another way, the winner of the previous World Cup 2005 only qualified to the 20 players still fighting for the title (16 candidates + 4 Mexico qualifiers). There was no special privilege for the winner to qualify directly for a World Championship match.

This year the winner of the World Cup qualifies to the final FOUR players fighting for the title. So there is a significant decrease in "workload" compared to 2005.

Mig wrote: "Kramnik got a huge and unnecessary gift "

What do you mean unnecessary? Without that "gift", Kramnik wouldn't put his title on the line in Mexico, I think it's pretty obvious. IMHO it was a reasonable decision to avoid the split title again.

What is this Kramnik-put-the-title-on-line? Did anyone care about the dubious title when he played unification? (normally you annotate the moves, here the title?!)

what is the time control they are using at the world cup?


This item is out of place, but I just noticed a BBC article about Kasparov being arrested in Russia today.


The article is linked by slashdot.org. Never mind that they call Garry the Russian chess champion and take the opportunity to mention Deep Blue.


Four Americans into the second round? I don't see that happening. Did any of them even win a first round game? Not even Kamsky won. I say 2 move on; 3 if VERY LUCKY.

Much better would be to select top 14 from the World Cup and add Topalov and loser of Anand-Kramnik match to conduct candidates matches that will produce a challenger.

www.fide.com is down, cup2007.fide.com is down. Any local tournament in the USA has much better coverage than the World Cup. Sad indeed.

Totally agree with Amit this time. Too much is left to a chance in these 2 game matches. FIDE should use these 20% fee that it gets from WC match to fund the candidates matches. Elista candidates were really cool.

I have tried for the last week to get some decent information about the World Cup... including some pictures and a nice banner. I guessed I'll have to wait.

Off topic: Gary arrested in a demonstration again.


Looks like Ponomariov lost his first game. He had black, but wow.

Final Four predictions:

Ivanchuk: Why not? He's actually made it to the finals before in one of these KO events (only to lose to Ponomariov). He's capable of going all the way, and his nerves seem to be holding up better.

Carlsen: This is a close call, since Adams might be a bit more likely to advance in this bracket. But, Carlsen is afraid of nobody, is improving from tournament to tournament, and will be tougher yet if a mini-match goes to tie-break rapids and blitz.

Aronian: He is well suited for this type of event, and it is about time for him to shake off the poor result in Mexico City.

Kamsky: Opening preparation is somewhat less important in a KO event. Fighting spirit and nerves is somewhat more important. Kamsky was rather unlucky to be paired with the World Junior Champion, adly--who is obviously much stronger than his 2494 rating. If not Kamsky, then Radjabov, although I suspect that Timor will fumble away his chances through over-aggression.

I'd be looking forward to seeing any Radjabov vs. Any Armenian Match-up.

Outside the Top 40 seeds, who will make it to the Final 8? I'd be inclined to select Sutovsky, whose tactical skills are well suited to a KO type of event. But he is seeded #39.

So, I'll go with Sergey Volkov, seeded #44, at 2648. There are always a lot of Russians who are keen to break out of the pack and make a name for themselves.

Alekseev also got beat.

I think that players that do not lose are more dangerous in such format than the guys with firepower like Sutovsky or Navara. Of the KO world champions only Kasim was a tactical player. Both Khalifman and Pono were of the solid variety and Anand was Anand. IMO the best chances have Svidler, Radjabov, Carlsen and, hopefully, Chucky. Outside of top 40 nobody will be in the last 4. IMO Sasikiran at #35 is the last guy who has an outside chance to do well.

Off-topic, but does anyone (mig?) have any news on Kasparov. Just saw find a small notice in a Danish newspaper. here are some pictures from the demonstration where he was arrested http://galleri.tv2.dk/index.php/category-Nyhederne/id-9492907/page-1.html

Off topic as well, but as an admirer of Kasparov's efforts I would like to wish him well, and a return from prison with redoubled energy. Thanks

In 2002, for purposes of the classical title, Kasparov was no longer "the man." It was thus unnecessary for the classical title to air drop Kasparov into a FIDE WCC. Some even found it outrageous. But not Mig:

"If Kasparov wields his fame and ranking like Thor with two hammers, why not? What's the point of smashing everyone and becoming famous if you can't leverage your gains to further improve your lot? True, he's not going to win any popularity contests with his colleagues, but he doesn't seem to care as long as he's still winning tournaments."

In 2007, the Mexico City tournament had been sold to the sponsors as a WCC event. To preserve the Classical title, it was necessary that Mexico City be followed by a) a match, b) with the last classical champion, Kramnik. Most or all Classical title supporters found this necessary and reasonable, but not Mig:

"Kramnik's rematch clause was outrageous privilege... a huge and unnecessary gift..."

Greg, don't you ever get tired of moaning about Kasparov?

Kramnik is 7th champion in the sub-classical line. Actually this hand-picking monarchical rule ended long ago and there is no need to revive this tradition. (See, we can't erase a fact that there were kings ruled before, but can we accept someone claims/acts like king in a democracy today?)

Since there was no true champion due to split, one time tournament is ok to find a champion. And now we have Anand as champion! Let us have a proper qualifier that culminates in a match with the champion.

Let us imagine/think - Anand is censoring Kramnik! No challenge issued!!


Sorry if my writing wasn't clear...I was moaning about Mig.

My god greg, why can't you just give it up and take your moronic comments somewhere else?

Common sense: Kasparov was better than everybody else, arguably better than Kramnik. Common sense: give him a match. Same with Kramnik, he deserves a shot at regaining. Then there can be no more arguments... ?

To clarify: there seem to be four players who have a chance to take the crown at the moment, well three if you say that Anand could retain it. Kramnik will (hopefully) play a match against Anand soon. Topalov gets another shot later, and so the only one who could have an axe to grind is Ivanchuk. On rating, anyway. It was different before, when it was clear that Kasparov was (Kramnik match loss notwithstanding) the best.

Greg Koster, your animus towards Mig is astonishing -- and I suspect you need help of some kind. What kind of person trawls through chess blogs from five years ago to try to make a trivial point? (One, by the way, that doesn't even make sense: at least in the portions you extracted, Mig doesn't appear to be lauding a corrupt system, but simply acknowledging, even admiring, a certain effective Realpolitik in Kasparov's actions; but don't let subtlety stand in your way...).

Please find something else to tilt your lance at; this cause is sad beyond belief.


Mig's is by far the best blog on the net. The chess world should be deeply grateful to him for providing such an excellent forum. Particularly impressive is the lack of censorship, even when his own ideas come under heavy fire.

But it's not clear that he's always aware of how much the Kasparov association impacts his otherwise excellent perspective. When it does, it's only considerate to bring it to his attention.

If we're applauding "Realpolitik", then we applaud Kasparov and Kramnik. If we don't, then we applaud neither. But on what basis do we give Kasparov's air-drop a pass, and label Kramnik's as "outrageous and unnecessary?"

You think discussing whether this or that chess personality acted properly, and what standards should be applied is a "trivial point." I think it's at least as interesting as discussing the 30th move in a Najdorf sub-variation, which just goes to show I'm in need of professional help.

Adams reached th final in Libya and can do so again!

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on November 23, 2007 7:01 PM.

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