The World Cup has begun! On the first day, my predictions did all right. In the 64 games, the lower-rated players scored +9 -27 =28, which I think is probably a little bit more upsets than you would expect. The nine “full point” upsets were:
- Sambuev (113) over Morozevich (16)
- Paragua (101) over Jakovenko (28) [Correction added 8/12: The website showed the result incorrectly. Actually, Jakovenko won.]
- Ortiz Suarez (87) over Polgar (42)
- Nguyen (85) over Akopian (44)
- Robson (83) over Volokitin (46)
- Popov (81) over Ragger (48)
- Negi (78) over Kryvoruchko (51)
- Dubov (75) over Fedorchuk (54)
- Amin (70) over Safarli (59)
The 14 players whom I predicted to score an upset did quite well: they went +4 -3 =7. So 11 of them are actually in fair-to-good position to win their matches! I’m especially glad to see Popov and Dubov do well, because I predicted them to go far in the tournament.
Of course, I had some failures. My sentimental picks for upsets, Conrad Holt and Larry Christiansen, went down in flames. On the other hand, I should have picked Ray Robson and I didn’t. I really vacillated a long time over that one, but finally I didn’t pick him because I felt I had picked too many Americans to win already. As it turned out, I was right. For that reason, I should have crossed out Holt or Christiansen!
As for the other upsets that I missed, the most damaging ones for my “bracket” were the losses by Polgar and Akopian, because I had them going to round four. Now both of them will have to work hard to make it to round two. Of course, none of the matches have been decided yet, because there is another game to play, and then the matches that are tied 1-1 will go to a playoff. So it’s much too early to pass judgement on my picks. The ones that look good today may look bad tomorrow, and vice versa.
As for the games, I really liked Robson’s win against Volokitin. He had White in a Petroff Defense, an opening I find very confusing, and he knew exactly what he was doing. Before you knew it Volokitin had a pawn hanging. Rather than just let it go, Volokitin played a whole series of in-between moves that were designed to obfuscate the issue, but they didn’t work. Somehow Robson’s win of a pawn morphed into a piece sacrifice that lured Volokitin’s king into a mating net. A great start for one of our boy wonders!
Sixty-four more games tomorrow (well, 63 actually, because one of the players was a no-show)… The official website is http://www.chessworldcup2013.com, and I think you can also follow all the action live at ChessBase (www.chessbase.com).