Greengard's ChessNinja.com

Corus 2009: Who Are the Favorites?

| Permalink | 7 comments

Busy couple of days with a trip to DC with Garry and a couple of sick people here at home. And then there was always the possibility of my fingers freezing to the keyboard. Holy icicles it's cold.

It's the Corus chess festival again! So our last page of 2008 polling will have to wait for the first Corus off day next Wednesday. Aside from my live ICC Chess.FM coverage with a coterie of GMs (starting with Peter Svidler in, oh, eight hours or so) I'll be putting up my usual daily round reports here as well as video podcasts with animated game replays and trivia questions. (ICC members can win a House of Staunton chess set, one given out each round. How many times do I have to mention this before they send ME one, dammit?) Macauley Peterson is in Wijk aan Zee bringing on-site reports and audio-video goodness.

There's room at the top in the Corus A group this year, and usually it's not a good sign when who's not playing in a tournament is bigger news than who is playing. But that's the case this year, if only because Corus always puts together a fantastic field with most of the top ten, some hungry outsiders, and a few Dutchies praying for survival. Anand, Topalov, and Kramnik are absent this year. But all three of them played a year ago and none of them even had a share of first place. That was split between Aronian and Carlsen on a mere +3 score in a very hard-fought and balanced event. Every player had a win and only Ivanchuk went undefeated. Anand and Radjabov were a half-point off the lead. Kramnik, who rarely does well at Corus, only managed an even score. Topalov lost four games and finished -1.

So who's going to miss those guys? Certainly not the top seeds in this year's event, a list that includes both defending champions. Aronian also split first in 2007, with Topalov and Radjabov, who is also back. Ivanchuk and Carlsen are obviously top podium prospects. I'd have to give Carlsen the best odds and a decent shot at a big score in this lower-octane field. Speaking of people who put up big scores, Morozevich is back in Wijk aan Zee for the first time since completely bombing out in 2005, where he lost six games and only missed last place thanks to Sokolov. Moro had a mediocre second half of 2008 and as usual, could finish anywhere from last to first at Corus. Radjabov's solid results continue to impress. Though the Grand Prix leader can't count on +3 from his King's Indian every time out, he should be in contention for the top spot.

The second tier in the event, those who would be minor surprises to see on the podium, include Movsesian (last year's B winner and still sporting a spiffy high rating), Kamsky, Dominguez, Adams, and Karjakin. They all have the skills and have had the occasional great result, but can't be considered favorites on par with the other five. As these things usually go, however, at least one of them should get hot and get up there. Wang Yue belongs somewhere in between these two groups. His aura of invincibility fell away with his even score at the Elista Grand Prix, but there is no way his incredibly solid 2008 results were a fluke. He's a natural born grinder who seems impossible to ruffle. Stamina is very important in a 13-rounder like Corus.

Hometown hero van Wely is joined by two first-timer countrymen, Stellwagen and Smeets. They are mostly competing against each other to stay out of the cellar and to score an upset or two. Smeets and Stellwagen both finished -1 in the B Group last year. But stay positive!

The full schedule is up and the event starts with a bang: Carlsen-Radjabov. A Dragon, we hope? The rest: Stellwagen-Movsesian, Aronian-Wang Yue, Ivanchuk-Smeets, Karjakin-Morozevich, van Wely-Dominguez, Kamsky-Adams. Looking ahead, defending champs Aronian and Carlsen meet in round four. Final rounds are usually anticlimactic, but Morozevich-Ivanchuk and Radjabov-Wang Yue could be critical encounters.

The B group is again incredibly strong with a 2641 average. Let's see if Vallejo's ego-boosting in weaker events has put him in shape for a big result among peers. Reinderman! Young David Howell and even younger Wesley So are the top seeds in the C group, which is weird. They'll run the dreaded Nijboer Gauntlet along with India's world junior champion duo Abhijeet Gupta and Dronavalli Harika.

Games begin at 13:30 local, 7:30am EST. They have a new time control, finally adding increment to the third set. Off days are 21, 26, 29. Live java at the official site here. Add your finest coverage links for promotion tomorrow.


http://www.chessdom.com and http://www.chesspro.ru have live games commentary, Chessbase has reports with photos.
Let the show begin!

Granted Anand and Kramnik didn't do too well last year but that might already have been the shadow of Bonn looming. It is a pity they aren't here - just think of all that unused prep, esp Kramnik :) and Anand can show off his d4 skills.

Well, at least Kramnik and Anand have valid reasons for 'skipping' this year ... Kramnik of course already knew that he would become a father when he declined the [possible] invitation ,:).

And isn't it nice to see a few uncommon names in supertournaments? I mean Dominguez, Wang Yue and Movsesian - who would have been left out if any of the three recent world champions were participating?? [not Movsesian because he qualified by winning last year's B group]. The organizers' experiment with three far lower-rated local players is another story; was it planned from the beginnning or some sort of improvisation?

BTW, if Kasimdzhanov also counts as a recent world champion, he is playing in the B-group ,:)

Is the Corus site down?

"Harika Dronavalli" would be the more usual ordering of her name - that's how the Indian press does it.

Being a Telugu it would be surname first - Dronavalli Harika, but that causes confusion as how to address her.

I think (hope) this tournament could be Karjakin's loudest knock on the top-10 door but there are 3 or 4 good contenders for the top prize- Aronian, Radjabov, Carlsen and Dominguez. I don't think Ivanchuk is going to win.

Twitter Updates

    Follow me on Twitter



    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on January 16, 2009 7:03 PM.

    A Good Chess Set in DC? was the previous entry in this blog.

    Corus 09 r1: Top Seeds Planted is the next entry in this blog.

    Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.