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FIDE World Cup 2011

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Hurricane Irene won't hit New York until Sunday afternoon but I figured I should get this thread up now just in case. I'm on the highest ground in Brooklyn so I'm not terribly worried, though a power outage would be annoying. Two days trapped inside with kids aged one and three is scarier than a hurricane, so I hope it passes quickly.

Round one kicks off on Sunday in the ever-yaktastic Khanty-Mansiysk. Play starts at 5am NY time, which is when the aforementioned one-year-old wakes up anyway, so there's that. 128 players in the field, cut in half every three days. Both finalists and the third place finisher get spots in the next candidates event. Many of the world's top players are there, but I reiterate that I'm a little surprised at how many top-tenners are giving it a miss. Either they believe something we don't know about the road to the world championship or the cycle and title are more thoroughly debased than I thought. To clarify, with the caveat that such clarifications are often rendered meaningless by the ever-shifting sands of Kirsan's FIDE misrule, there are eight candidate spots. Three from this KO event, the loser of the Anand-Gelfand match, three rating spots (avg. of July 11 and Jan 12 lists, though I could see these changing), and, ridiculously, a wildcard.

All this is to say that with Carlsen, Kramnik, Aronian, Nakamura, and Topalov not playing in the KO, only four of them can get in by rating and the wildcard. I'm sure they all have different reasons for not playing, but it seems notable that at least one will be missing. The top seeds in Khanty-Mansiysk are Karjakin, Mamedyarov, Ivanchuk, and Ponomariov. Karjakin was a semifinalist at the last KO in 2009 and Ponomariov was a finalist; both were beaten by Gelfand. Other top contenders are Svidler, Grischuk, Radjabov, Gashimov, and former KO winner Kamsky. There are usually at least two "outsiders" in the quarters in these things. Last time Malakhov and Jakovenko were there, although since both were top 20 it's hard to call them outsiders. ("Very strong Russians who don't get invites" maybe.) Then there are veterans who have dropped down the rating list, like Leko, Morozevich, Adams, Polgar, and Shirov and energetic youngsters like Caruana, So, and Nepomniachtchi.

But the KO system is ruthless and a look at the brackets shows quickly that only a few of your favorites have a real chance at a deep run, which I define as making it to the quarters. As designed, the middle brackets are tough, with, for example, Svidler and Kamsky in the same group fighting for a spot in the quarters. Meanwhile, top seed Karjakin can't hit anyone before the final eight higher rated than Dominguez at #16. Having crowd faves Grischuk, Shirov, and Moro in the same eighth is a little tragic. And Vitiugov is there with them and he's been playing incredibly solidly for months.

So, upset picks for the first round? How high will you go? An upset on the top 20 boards is exceedingly rare since they went to 1 vs 128 pairings. Still, there are a few inconsistent types up there this time. Navara and Wang Hao have shown the capacity for very bad days, but a few hundred points is a lot to make up, especially since it takes two games to do the trick. Anand and Leko have both lost on the very first day only to come back the next and destroy their opponents and win the rapids. (Touzane! Kobese! Both in Moscow, 2001. The post-game picture I took of the delirious Touzane with Tkachiev is a treasure.) And of course the ever-upsettable Ivanchuk is an exception. He's lost his first match several times and also made it to the final.

I tried to get Jan Gustafsson to go out on a limb with some picks but, jetlagged from his return from a brutal Goichberg event in NYC he said he barely knew who was playing. (He missed qualification himself by two places.) We agreed that Giri's absence and Feller's presence say a great deal about the state of the chess world and the federations that seem to do little more than stagger from blunder to blunder. Let's hope the games in Khanty-Mansiysk pass without incident.

At least I'm sure to get the first day in before the hurricane hits. As long as our food supply and Dora episodes hold out we'll be all right.


World Cup preview: http://www.whychess.org/en/node/1555

Points of interest - both Vladimir Akopian and now Wang Hao ("heart problems"?!) have withdrawn. They don't get replaced e.g. by Giri and instead their opponent go straight through to the second round.

There's going to be commentary in both Russian and English, and I think a similar broadcast to the Candidates Matches/Russian Championship etc., but not sure about that.

As a grandpa let me tell you..."terrible twos", bah. Three year olds are way more challenging. Never ever argue with them, just give them choices. Example: "I don't want to wear that shirt" statement regarding the one picked out for them. Just lay three out on the bed for them and let them choose. Makes them feel like they have the power and the rest of the day goes smoothly. Enjoy! Before you know it they will be in college.

Erm, something to do if you're stuck inside waiting for a hurricane!? The FIDE World Cup opening ceremony's live now :) http://chess.ugrasport.com/

The good news is they are using the same high-quality broadcasting system as the Russian Championship and Kazan etc.

All odd numbers in the pairing tree start with black in game 1 http://www.chessdom.com/world-chess-cup-2011-opening-ceremony-photos-and-info

Nice pairing in the first round:

33 Polgar, Judit GM HUN 2699 97 Hou, Yifan GM CHN 2575


That pairing is only if each win their first round matches.

My pretourney picks:

Top 3:
Kamsky, Ponomariov, Grischuk

Karjakin, Kamsky, Ponomariov, Gashimov, Vachier-Lagrave, Jakovenko, Malakhov, Grischuk

> So, upset picks for the first round?

I'll pick Jorge Cori (against Vallejo). The Coris impressed me deeply in Cappelle-la-Grande last year. Calm, confident, focused. They seem to know more about chess. And now that his sister has picked up another world championship it's his turn to strike.

I thought the same thing Bartleby.

I finally got round to finishing translating a couple of interviews I meant to do ages ago:

Peter Svidler: "The circus is moving to Khanty" - a long interview he gave on the day the Russian Championship finished: http://bit.ly/r8kTxV I also added Morozevich's commentary on his win against Svidler: http://bit.ly/pyg38j

Interview with Peter Leko - this was hidden away in a Russian report from the World Team Championship, but it's the only place I've seen where Leko's explained his decision to take a break from chess - and that he now wants to return. I like how he talks about it being nice to work on chess without knowing you have to sit down opposite Anand, Carlsen and co. the next day :) http://bit.ly/nbjfjV

Both Svidler and Leko are playing in the World Cup. You can see how things are going at a glance, with Houdini analysis, at WhyChess:


Not very stable but brilliant when it's working... you can watch the video here: http://livegames.fide.com/km2011/round.php

In case the FIDE site crashes the video's also being broadcast at Crestbook: http://crestbook.com/ (Sergey Shipov is one of the Russian commentators)

Shipov is commenting? And we don't get a translation? Awww, we're missing all the fun.

Leko is toast...go Shankland!!

Its official: Leko-Shankland 0-1

Yes, fine win by Shankland with black! His N dominated the Leko B which was unable to get into the game.
Listless performance by Leko after a layoff: is his campaign over?

Wonder if Shankland will hold tomorrow, or become a future Touzane-style trivia question?

Well, Leko's (2800+) result at the World Team Championship wasn't that bad ... . And he isn't the only world-top player who ever lost, and might get eliminated by an underdog at the World Cup.

Bad day also for China: Wang Hao forfeited. The other Wang (Yue) lost - his opponent Fier managed what Topalov could hardly ever do against Kramnik and Anand: break through against a solid but extremely passive line of the Slav defense. Rising star Yu Yangyi also lost.
And it may well be that Feller, for the time being, will play just one more game of chess.

Its a shame that Karjakin and Kamsky are in the same quarter of the field -- only one will even get a chance to qualify for the top 3 places.

Shame that Yifan lost...I was hoping that she would get a chance to play Polgar in round 2.

Svidler just hung a rook in a completely won position and had to settle for a draw...but it could have been worse (he still has W tomorrow).

#1 Karjakin
#2 Ivanchuk
#3 Ponomariov

I feel a bit guilty about posting the Leko interview :) He said this about the World Cup: http://bit.ly/nbjfjV

"But still, the matches in Kazan reminded me of the World Cups in Khanty-Mansiysk, where you only have two games and then it’s rapid and blitz. You don’t even understand why you’re advancing or getting knocked out. You seemed to have been playing well, but you lost one blitz game and that’s that – out! Or perhaps you were winning but you made a one-move blunder – and you’re out!"

Young Brazilian GM Alexandr Fier completely outplayed Wang Yue in a beautiful strategic game.

As I mentioned before, Wang Yue played a 'topical' line of the Slav previously used by Kramnik and Anand against Topalov. The Panda himself got a rather straightforward draw against Grischuk at the World Team Championship in the same variation.

What went wrong this time? I am not a GM, but the first key moments might be 14.-a5?!, 16.Nb5 (now black would like to play a5-a6 ...) and 17.Bc3 - white keeps the dark-squared bishop and eventually exchanges his black brother. Extreme accuracy is required to handle black's passive position devoid of any counterplay, and one "invisible" inaccuracy might be too much? Did anyone else (Shipov?) comment on that game?

Wow, Leko drew, Adams and Kamsky both in some trouble! Even the big guns can have trouble pulling out wins in such short matches.

As far as the "Why did the top 10ers ignore this event?" question, I have some enormous recollection that the original dates of both this and the grand slam event were in conflict. They aren't now, though.

Wow. R1 good for the American kids, and for Brazil, but terrible for China.

Mig's joke about Shankland upsetting Leko came true.

What a memorable accomplishment for Shankland.

Wow shankland is sooo good!

i think Ruben missed a chance to win against Malakhov at move 111, instead of 111.Nb4, i propose 111. Nc7+ followed by Rd8 with the aim of Ra8+, Rb8+ and promoting the a-pawn.

Can anyone tell me who are the English language commentators?

Who the heck is Mig kidding by putting Nakamura in the same list as Aronian, Carlsen, Kramnik and Topalov. He's not even remotely in the same league as those players.

I do agree that his decision to not play in the world cup is very strange though... I don't understand how he expects to qualify otherwise. He won't qualify by rating, and counting on being the wildcard would be ridiculous.

Naka is in the bracket of "top 10 players not participating in the WC"... Why he doesn't play? Who knows, but the decision was taken at a time when things were looking a lot rosier rating-wise.

@phx: For some reason I believe the female commentator is Pogonina. The male commentator I've heard several times doing live commentary on ICC, but for the life of me I cannot put a name to that voice.

The English commentators are Anna Sharevich and Konstantin Landa.

Anna Sharevich!

Terrible for China, but of course Russia lost 10 ten players as well. Fortunately, most of their strongest players are still standing.

Yes, but some losses were unavoidable (two Russians facing each other), and in other cases the Russian player was the underdog. Basically, only Malakhov and to a lesser extent Motylev were "unexpected losses".

the US lost Shulman though!

Thanks mishanp.

I'm so grateful to people who do real-time commenting and analysis in chess. I think it must be a pretty thankless task, and take a lot of energy.

Landa is often willing to quickly walk through a line that might seem obvious to strong players but is very useful for the rest of us.

They also have good chemistry working together. Sometimes one might step on the others remarks but it's not a big deal.

She's pretty deferential in terms of evaluation of a position, which seems right given their respective ratings. But now and then she goes out on a limb to disagree, and you gotta respect that. Great skills.

It's a lot easier for me to do metacommentary than it is to comment on the games obviously.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on August 27, 2011 2:37 AM.

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