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World Cup 09 r4.2: Tiebroken

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Only one decisive game today and it put Sergey Karjakin through to the quarterfinals. He beat Vitiugov to join Svidler and Mamedyarov, who drew with white against Shirov and Laznicka to clinch their matches. The other five all drew again to head to rapids tomorrow, though there was more fight in a few than I expected. Countrymen Grischuk and Jakovenko played the expected perfunctory draw to complement yesterday's, the two games totaling 26 moves as original as an Andrew Lloyd Webber piece. But Ponomariov broke the compact with Bacrot and went, well, Ponomariov, playing 93 moves before ending with bare kings. That's definitely the way I like to be proven wrong! Caruana-Gashimov was also a long one, when the bishops of opposite color provided an easy excuse to take a half-day and rest up for the rapids.

Speaking of rest, Laznicka must really need some to agree to a draw in 13 moves in an elimination game. Sure, beating a 2700 with black on demand isn't easy, but it's got to be better to play the Benoni or the Dutch and go down in flames with your internal organs hanging out and your wife and family cringing in horror and your friends pointing and laughing than to play 13 moves of QGA theory in 20 minutes and head to the airport. Horrible. Is he ill? Eager to get back to opens and team competitions? This isn't the first time we've seen this in the KOs and it's always a shock and a disappointment to the fans. (Not in the "these guys owe us something" way you have in elite invitationals, but in a "what a joke" way.) Then we always get some sage (or worse, the players themselves) telling us to respect the player's decision to "be realistic" or "save a few rating points" or "act like a timid field-mouse." Bah. Unless he's got swine flu or the score is wrong, it's simply pathetic. It's supposed to be "come back with your shield or on it," not "come back with your shield carved into feminine jewelry and a little case for your balls."

Speaking of players whose cojones are not in doubt, 2007 KO runner-up Alexei Shirov did not go gentle into that good Siberian night after losing to Svidler with white yesterday. Shirov knows it's possible to win back with black because he did it himself ten years ago against Ivan Sokolov in the second round of the 1999 Vegas KO, and in just 24 moves! (Yes, I actually remember this. It was the first major event we covered at the new "Club Kasparov" English website.) Russian champion Svidler is made of sterner stuff, despite his less-than-rigorous tournament preparation routine of Skyping with his family and playing online poker. Oops, giving away trade secrets again. It was surprising to see Shirov opt for a Ruy Lopez instead of a Sicilian. He plays both regularly and while the Spanish might promise a longer fight, there's little reason to cast doubt on the conventional wisdom that says the Sicilian is as close as we come to a guarantee of a sharp battle. Easy for me to say in hindsight, naturally, and Svidler made it look easy to get symmetrical pawns and opposite-colored bishops for a trivially drawn endgame. I guess if you don't have anything new cooked up in the Najdorf and don't see 2..Nc6 3.Bb5 as good for winning chances, you've still got to play something.

The charmingly eccentric coverage at the official site seems to ambush Shirov about his female companion at the event in a post-match interview, then fails to follow up on "Olga." I assumed it was Ukrainian/Spanish IM Olga Alexandrova since she's one of the few WGMs in the world Shirov hasn't dated, but last I knew she was married to Miguel Illescas, so that would be a little awkward. Regardless, Olga is a great name for a GM's companion to have, if Capablanca is any measure. (No so much with David Bronstein, whose first wife (of three) was an Olga.)

Karjakin won with black against Vitiugov, one of the unheralded young players in the 2650-2700 range Russia always has a surplus of. It's an instructive game in the stereotypical sense in that it gives you what look like clear trade-offs. White gets two bishops vs two knights in exchange for a structure that would make any pre-WWII champion throw up. White pitched a pawn to get some space for his bishops but couldn't back it up against Karjakin's accurate play. Still playing for Ukraine, according to FIDE, while living in Russia, Karjakin hasn't been solid but has shown flair and determination when needed. The cute finish to his comeback win against Navara in round 3.2 is a bon-bon highlight. Here he basically overpowered a 2700 with black and made it look like technique.

Top seed Boris Gelfand got about nothing against Vachier-Lagrave and will go to tiebreaks for the second match in a row. The Frenchman's 11..Bb6 looks odd but if he can get in ..d5 so quickly it's all good. Caruana-Gashimov was a great battle again. The best Italian representative since Gioachino Greco showed no interest in a safe draw with white and tiebreaks tomorrow against the second-seeded Azerbaijani. He got a solid plus and milked it into an endgame where he was slowly but steadily outplayed until Black reached a draw. He might have gone through had he had time to find 42.Rc7! with the blunt threat of 43.Rc6. E.g. 42..Be5 43.Rc6 Rxc6+ 44.dxc6 Bc7 and the white king walks up. Not so simple, but not so simple to defend against either. The uninspiringly passive 42..Nd7 43.Rc6 Bf8 44.Bd4 gives up a lot of turf. The other teen survivor, giant-killer So, handled Malakhov quite well again. A nice sequence of knight moves by Black at the end liquidated to a draw he doesn't have the worse end of.

There's no playing favorites in crunch-time rapids. Anything can happen, especially if you go out for a smoke. Elo favors Gashimov and Malakhov against their young opponents, though it would be a shame to lose both the wunderkinds. Grischuk and Jakovenko, meanwhile, share the exact same rating. Ponomariov and Bacrot are old sub-x rivals from a dozen years ago. Now they are both 26 and trying to get back to the top 10. Several players I'm regularly down on for having results and ratings higher than their visible chess quality and commitment did or are doing quite well in Khanty-Mansiysk (Eljanov, Mamedyarov, Bacrot, Gashimov) so I'm staying away from even heavily disclaimered predictions. And since I already mangled the mere rules several times (apparently confusing two players qualifying from the Cup with two qualifying from the Grand Prix), I'll leave well enough alone for now. Plus, I once got 1/8 correct in predicting the results of a KO final 16 and I'll never be able to top that.


Clever and smart comments, as usual.
Thanks Mig

There are also many forced book draws in the Najdorf - Nakamura-Ponomariov from San Sebastian is just one example. Regarding "Olga", Shirov was clearly reluctant to answer that (such a) question, I guess we might as well respect his privacy. If her last name is relevant - she is presumably the dark-haired woman next to him on the main interview page

Grischuk and Jakovenko have the same official/classical rating, but from past results I would favor Grischuk in rapid, certainly in blitz. We will know more in a few minutes to hours ... .

Olga is Shirov's official second, or is it third or fourth or.......

Tie break 1, Caruana-Gashimov going to be decisive..

Apparently she is his current #1 and has been #2, 5 or 10 before ("we know each other for a long period"). Such things can change - in both directions - also on ELO rating lists ... .

And Wesley So is the latest Exchange sac afficiando it seems!

aficionado even. He went into wild complications from a seemingly innocuous position. This guy has come to play ..

And duly lost...

The interviews on the tournament website are great! Two not yet translated at the moment are Radjabov's, "A six-year-old child would play better than I did" and a wonderful long interview with Tkachiev (in his best interviewee form) entitled, "It would be good to dress female chess players in miniskirts" :)

What or who will be next? An interview with Mamedyarov - "Should players smoke during or between games?" ??

Malakhov-So 3-0 (or 4-1) - seems like Malakhov found the right way to play against So: don't do anything special, just let him self-destruct (at least in rapid game 2)?!

"Who is Malakhov by the way?" Another Russian player who has been around for quite a while, has a respectable rating (2706) but has never really been in the spotlights - or am I missing something?

So long, So.

Grischuk insists to play on in a drawish endgame. Now they are both in time trouble...

And ciao Fabiano ... .

Trying to beat Gelfand's Petroff seems like trying to penetrate a concrete bunker by throwing rotten apples at it. The ghost of e4 will haunt the chess world for generations.

Wasn't Shirov married to Victoria C. some time back? It is sad to see him leave so early but then he was up against the solid Svidler. Theirs was probably the only part of the draw where there were no upsets. If he had been paired against one of the lesser players, the result might have been different as he has been playing well and winning convincingly so far.

Good to see Caruana gets eliminated. He has been playing too safe and insipid (game 2 this round was probably the only exception) and depending too much on the tiebreaks. Today he paid the price.


I was only able to predict 2/8 for the finals! Pono and Karjakin.

Indeed Thomas : unlike "young phenoms" So,Caruana,Carlsen players like Malakhov don't have free pr-sites (for instance the polgar blog)
but he turns out to be a beast in rapid : 3-0 against Eljanov and 3-0 against So.
If i'm not mistaken, Malakhov is a chess amateur since he has a normal 9 to 5 job in a nuclear power plant (i believe he's an engineer).

Malakhov is working full time at the very prestigious Joint Institute For Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia: http://www.jinr.ru/

Oh thats Malakhovs secret...the russians are bombrding him with gammarays to make him the world'sstronges tblitz player...ingenious...
Looks like goodbye to Grischuk, no Joke

Amusing end to the second Jakovenko-Grischuk blitz game, but big OUCH for Grischuk.

>> There's no playing favorites in crunch-time rapids.

Mig, I think 4 rapids are less of a lottery and more predictable than 2 classicals.


interesting that there is a possibility of an all-Azeri or all-Russian or all-UKR final.

"4 rapids are less of a lottery"

At least no lower rated player eliminated a higher rated player in the five rapid matches today. In all there are few surprises left. OK, Malakhov, but he is after all 2700+ and will probably be eliminated by Svidler in the next round.

Interesting to note that the players left are all from former Soviet republics - so the good old Soviet Chess School is very much alive... ;-)

Gee, where are all the Wesley So fanatics now? Amazing how quick some folks jump on and off shooting starts... lol

Wasn't Malakhov a top 10 player a few years back? Or at least very close, like no. 11..

While he never was of the spectacular kind, and (maybe because of that) didn't get invites to the "grand slams" of chess, certainly not a player to dismiss easily.

So did well to beat both Ivanchuk and Kamsky without tiebreak, even drawing both games against Malakhov (2706) was impressive. Even if he was eliminated in rapid chess he showed that he is very promising.


I'm not so sure what you want people to say about So. He played well, defeated two of the strongest players in the world and has a bright future. What more could you want? He met a very solid Malakhov who has been around a long time with a steady 2700 rating. His style is not spectacular and he doesn't get the attention of some of the other 2700 players, but is definitely a gamer.

What we can say about So is something that most have overlooked for too long... that he should be mentioned in conversations pertaining to the brightest chess talent today.


About 50-60% of the 128 players were from former Soviets Republics (including most all players from U.S. and Israel) so the law of averages were there to begin with. However, I'm not sure what the term "Soviet School" means in 2009.

Wesley So fans are now drinking post-mortem with Morozevich's, Shirov's, Ivanchuk's et al...

I'm not a So fan, but one has to give him credit for his play at the Cup (often better and way more spirited than many other higher ranked opponents') and for his demeanor (quite gracious, especially after Ivanchuk's elimination he didn't gloat or anything like that, which would have been quite understandable given Chucky's disparaging remarks.)

This kid is (supposedly) working on his own, no formal coach or federation program behind... so it's not hard to imagine where he could go with proper training and guidance...

Some fun statistics about FIDE knockout events: Who made it into the quarterfinals? Numbers reflect seeding, the eventual winner is mentioned by name behind his number:

1999 - 1,2,5,16,27,31,36(Khalifman),46
2000 - 1(Anand),3,4,7,8,21,26,46
2002 - 1,4,5,6,7,9,15,19(Ponomariov)
2004 - 1,3,4,11,18,28(Kasimdzhanov),58,73
2005 - 2,3(Aronian),4,5,9,17,38,39
2007 - 5,8,10,11(Kamsky),13,14,17,31
2009 - 1,2,3,7,9,12,13,22

Conclusion and suggestion:
- While much has been said about favorites who were eliminated, their overall "survival rate" in 2009 is at least not worse than for earlier events
- If the past is a key to the present, anything can happen in the remaining rounds!? Malakhov(#22) has a reasonable chance to win the event!!??

2009 looks like a 2002 sort of year.

"What we can say about So is something that most have overlooked for too long... that he should be mentioned in conversations pertaining to the brightest chess talent today."

But he hasn't been overlooked. He's had pretty much the same press as any other young prodigy. Reports when he became a GM - http://chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=4313

And when he's won or played in key tournaments: http://chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=4570

His games in Wijk aan Zee were followed, and of course now he's getting a lot of headlines.

Absolutely standard for any player of his age and ability - in fact if anything maybe his easy name and not coming from the former Soviet Union helps him. Other promising youngsters - e.g. Le Quang Liem, Sanan Sjugirov and Ding Liren - aren't getting any more publicity. (This section of the Chesspro forum has interesting "dynamic" ratings, generally based on the last year - http://chesspro.ru/guestnew/looknullmessage/?themeid=110&id=1&page=17 - though they do count blitz as equal to classical chess!)

So by all means praise So but don't act as though there's some conspiracy of silence against him. And there's not much point talking about him as a future champion until he breaks 2700 and we see how his career develops.

For a surprise winner one of the remaining two players closest to Malakhov in the seeding could be a better bet. The one of Mamedyarov/Karjakin that will reach the semi should have decent chances to beat Gelfand/Jakovenko.

Amazing how some folks like yourself are just plain out and out morons. Why not keep bathing in that monkey poo of yours instead of posting rubbish? Wesley So at 16 years beat both Ivanchuk and Kamsky in classical in a pressure cooker atmosphere. Better than you will ever do in a million years.

1 Boris Gelfand
9 Dmitry Jakovenko

13 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
12 Sergey Karjakin

2 Vugar Gashimov
7 Ruslan Ponomariov

3 Peter Svidler
22 Vladimir Malakhov

I predict a Gelfand-Mamady & Pono-Svidler semifinal lineup..

Mig criticized the men who play short draws by claiming they are effeminate - Mig that is an old sexual stereotype, unworthy of you, and lame and... false! The women chessplayers are the biggest fighters around, and rarely if ever play short draws. Come into the new century/millenium, and leave the gay jokes at home.

Ok, I reread and maybe you are simply making a castration joke - mini-haha. Also unworthy of you.

I'll go with Pono to be the first repeat winner. Like I mentioned above, it looks like a 2002 sort of year.

Of course Svidler is the favorite against Malakhov, but I wouldn't put all my money on him (nor on anyone else). Svidler already had "minor" problems against Nyback (#67) and "major" ones against Naiditsch (#30) ... .

If I were to put "some" money, I would choose Malakhov - because betting on him would probably yield the largest winning margin!?

You almost had me DS and then you jumped in the deep end!

"What we can say about So is something that most have overlooked for too long... that he should be mentioned in conversations pertaining to the brightest chess talent today."

Hilarious! You drank the Kool-Aid too...

He hit a three game lucky streak, 'Nuff Sed...

The person responsible for the next utterance of "nuff said" or any variant thereof will face our mighty wrath.

Okay Mig, having thought more about it, I suppose you can have your quick draws = castration joke. There is scientific evidence linking aggression and testosterone, and scientific evidence that testosterone in men is the cause of war, vengeance, massacres and other violent crimes. Also, long history shows gelding gentles horses and bulls.

I suppose an interesting study could be carried out with testosterone patches, placebos, and men and women's chess ratings (or draw rates), to see whether it makes any difference. Also, one could look at those with prostate and testicular cancers who've had testicalectomies, and see whether their chess ratings or draw rates decrease. Also, women who are considering "trans" operations, who are taking testosterone supplements, could be tested regarding chess ratings and draw rates.

I suppose the sentence, "Testosterone is helpful in chess," could be tested in other ways, too. It has been shown in other games that winning gives men a testosterone boost, but it is unclear whether this makes them play better, or avoid draws.

On the other hand, one must account for women GMs, and that the top 100 women are better than 98% of men at chess. Even if testosterone is helpful, it is not required. Rybka and Fritz do it without testosterone.

Despite our views that chess is an intellectual game, chemicals and hormones must play a large role in our thinking and acting, and we don't often acknowledge the role of the reptilian brain in chess.

I guess I was a little hasty in unzipping my criticism, but for someone who has championed Hou and women's chess, it seemed out of character for you to be so quick to link effeminance and short draws.

Are they going to play the sixth Grand Prix event? This whole candidates thing is such a convoluted process. Next time, they should just have a big Swiss style tournament to whittle the competition down to eight or whatever.

So if people don't make a comment about Wesley So finally getting eliminated, does that mean they're jumping ship? Utter nonsense. He's not a sinking ship to begin with considering the 16-yr old eliminated Kamsky and Ivanchuk in two games each without a trainer in tow. So has arrived. Take note.

secret police: 'The person responsible for the next utterance of "nuff said" or any variant thereof will face our mighty wrath.'

You forgot to say "Nuff said!"


Word of the day: testicalectomy;

Wouldn't it be "testiculectomy" though? It's 'testicular' when referenced, so just sayin' ...


Current Wch cycle is too complicated/variable. 128 player World Cup doesn't make sense, lots of lucky.
I would suggest the following way:
1.two Swiss groups for any players 2600+
top-6 of each group go to next round
2.12-player single round-robin, top-4 go to next
3.8-player double round-robin(candidate tournament)
winner plays the WCh match
1=last WCh loser
2=by rating
1=FIDE nomination
4=from round-2

congrats dima!what a surprize!one of the best blitz players in the world-grischuk-lost 2-0 against a rather average blitz player?in the second blitz game in a must winn with black he outplayed nicely jakovenko but he could not see a obvious one move win at 58th move.58..kf2 wins on the spot,instead he got mated a few moves later.at this level if u can't see a one move winn i guess u deserve to go home!better opening prep 4 dima.gris was a big favorite to go all the way,i doubt dima could go to the final.

See the interview with Grischuk on the tournament homepage (latest one in the collection):

Q You were working with Jakovenko before. Did this fact influence the match against him here?
Grischuk: "Of course. We both knew what we can do. However it turned out that Dmitry knew more of my secrets than me."
Is this a correct translation from the Russian original? Jakovenko knows more about Grischuk than Grischuk knows about himself?!

On the question whether Jakovenko can (now) win the cup, Grischuk said: "Perhaps. But our performance during the match did not impress me."

"Is this a correct translation from the Russian original?"

I think he is actually saying roughly "However, it turned out that Jakovenko knew my secrets better than I knew his"

Your version is the logical one, but the literal version - the way I understand it, while not a native English speaker - would be great and subtle irony!?

The Russian's unambiguous: "...знал больше моих секретов, чем я его!

"...knew more of my secrets, than I [knew of] his!"

By the way, the Tkachev interview's up in all its glory: http://ugra-chess.ru/eng/interv_21.htm

"Thank goodness you caught this, and not Chess Auditor!" When I read this comment above I thought someone had already provided a link to the interview :)

Actually it is ...Orchidectomy.

Tkachiev should get drunk even more often than he does now. This way he would fall asleep more quickly (on the board or away from it, let him choose) and spare us this kind of interview.
Pretty frustrating, in fact, since we're clearly talking about a very talented player with many brilliant results to his credit (e.g. European Champion).


Yes, of course, but you asked a question and I answered it. Trust mishanp on it more than you trust me though. (Btw, why I changed "Dmitry" there into "Jakovenko" is beyond me)

"why I changed "Dmitry" there into "Jakovenko" is beyond me"

You feel unworthy to address him with his first name, maybe? ;o) I bet there is some deep, well-hidden pscyhological explanation that would take weeks of psychotherapy, the uncovering of childhood trauma and a bottle of whiskey to pinpoint.

Or maybe it happened by accident.

Funny stuff. I would have added an overly friendly uncle. The internet is so educational. Today at Chessvibes I learned from a Russian poster that there were no gulags or corruption in the Soviet Union/Russia after 1960. He wrote "I’m talking about the country where I was born in 1961. No Stalin, the scale of Gulag is unclear, possibly already about zero. No hypocrisy, neither corruption." Apparently Garry Kasparov is messing with perfection. :rolling eyes:

Hardyberger: "Actually it is ...Orchidectomy.";

Knallo: "Orchiectomy";

There is also an oophorectomy.

You can also use gonadectomy, but that term would also include a ovariohysterectomy (or ovariectomy, as the case may be).

End of Medical Observations :)


That's quite enough on that topic thanks all round.

"Clever and smart comments, as usual. Thanks Mig"

Agreed. Best written and funniest chess news on the web. Since Gelfand is originally from the FORMER USSR, it's basically an all Soviet quarterfinals. I'm rooting for "Mr Nice Guy" Peter Svidler.

There's so much young talent. There are 35 2700 rated players and 21 are under 30. They may be top 10 someday, but it's difficult for me imagine anyone outside the top 20 surpassing talents such as Carlsen, Aronian, Gashimov, Radjabov, Ponomariov, Grischuk, Jakovenko, Yue Wang, Eljanov, Karjakin, and Mamedyarov. Aronian won't turn 40 until 2022!

I'm doing a little research and discovered that with Black Gata Kamsky beat Magnus Carlsen 6 to 4, with 6 draws. Here's nice win by Vladimir Malakhov over Francisco Vallejo-Pons. The game is FIDE World Cup 2005 Sicilian Defense: Najdorf. Zagreb (Fianchetto) Variation (B91) 1-0. http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1378789

"Carlsen, Aronian, Gashimov, Radjabov, Ponomariov, Grischuk, Jakovenko, Yue Wang, Eljanov, Karjakin, and Mamedyarov"

There are lots of young, exciting, up-and-coming players that may pass those guys: Nakamura, Vachier-Lagrave, Caruana, So, Robson, Nepomniachtchi... Great chess.

"There are lots of young, exciting, up-and-coming players that may pass those guys"

By saying "may" you're not expressing an opinion either way, just stating a possibility. My opinion is they won't. Don't be scared. ;)

No problem acirce - I had just assumed that, like me, you were merely guessing. I didn't know that you know (at least some) Russian - either you never mentioned it before, or my memory is leaky ... .

grischuk missed not only the 1/4 but i dare to say de semis,because he is a tough nut to crack for gelfand,especially in match play,u can check their previous encounters at the w ch.and world cup,inspite of gris not showing his best form,missed a easy winning manouver against jobava in their first classic game,and twice the same winning move 56..kf2,58..kf2 against dima.-last blitz game-so he was right when he said their games didn't impress him.

Nakamura fan: You've softened your stance! In your last post you virtually rule all of them out. My "may" is indeed soft, but that's all it takes to refute your earlier post. If you now allow that it is not unimaginable that one in my list may beat out one of the U30s near the top, then I'll go a step further. It think it is highly likely that in the next few years, at least one in my list will crack the top ten.

"It think it is highly likely that in the next few years, at least one in my list will crack the top ten."

"Permanently", or just for a brief visit?

Lots of players has touched top 10 without being top 10 material. Movsesian for example.

cool! I've got 0/2 right so far, lets see what happens to the other two..

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on December 1, 2009 11:21 PM.

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