World Cup Day 6 — Youth Prevails

by admin on August 16, 2013

Today the second round of the World Cup finished, with playoffs for the 15 matches that were tied 1-1. This time there were surprisingly few lengthy playoffs. Thirteen of the fifteen playoffs were decided in the first two games, another was decided in the next two games, and only one went all the way to Armageddon. This was the match between the 75th seed, 17-year-old Daniil Dubov, and the 11th seed, former FIDE World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov.

It was a surprisingly quiet match, with both players content to make short draws — an especially surprising decision for Ponomariov, who of course was a big favorite. And the decision came back to bite him in the end, because in the Armageddon game Dubov beat him in stirring fashion. Dubov was White, of course, so according to the Armageddon rules it was win or go home for him. Ponomariov resigned when Dubov was about to queen a pawn. His resignation saved us from the mother of all time scrambles, because Dubov had only 13 seconds left at that point. He would have had to make 20 moves in 13 seconds before reaching move 60, when a 2-second-per-move time increment would have kicked in. Still, I suspect he would have made it, and Ponomariov probably did not want to go out that way.

[Note added later: It was actually 13 seconds for 12 moves, with a good chance that Dubov would simply win by checkmate before then. So Ponomariov’s decision was quite reasonable, although I probably would have played it out.]

So! Another tremendous triumph for youth! Ponomariov is the highest-rated player to be eliminated so far, and Dubov joins 14-year-old Wei Yi of China as the two biggest junior success stories at this year’s World Cup. (Some of you might ask, “What about Baskaran Adhiban?” Well, Baskaran’s 21st birthday was yesterday, so he is no longer a junior! Happy birthday, Baskaran!)

Here’s a list of all of the underdogs who prevailed in round two. Again, the upsets that I predicted are in boldface. You can see that once again I did pretty badly, but at least I had the satisfaction of predicting the biggest upset.

  • #75 Dubov over #11 Ponomariov
  • #53 Dreev over #12 Wang
  • #51 Kryvoruchko over #14 Adams
  • #50 Granda Zuniga over #15 Leko
  • #89 Hammer over #25 Navara
  • #39 Moiseenko over #26 Bacrot
  • #37 Eljanov over #28 Jakovenko
  • #105 Wei over #41 Shirov
  • #102 Adhiban over #91 Fier

I suspect that my entry into the Prediction Contest is pretty close to being out of the running by now. I already have five mistakes in my bracket for round three, because the people I predicted to win have already been eliminated from the tournament. Perhaps I can take some solace from the fact that in 10 of the 11 remaining games I picked the higher-rated player, so I have pretty good chances of winning those games. However, the one upset I have predicted for next round is massive: I picked #31 Malakhov to beat #2 Caruana. If that prediction comes true, who knows — I might be in the running to win the Prediction Contest after all.


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Ashish August 16, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Your email from FIDE provides a list of links to see your own performance and ranking, as well as the overall rankings:

I have 48 points – not among the leaders. Polgar and Nepomniachtchi let me down, among others.


admin August 16, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Yup, I checked that out last night. At that point I was doing even worse than you — 45 out of 64, which tied me for 662nd place (out of 809). Round two was even worse, only 34 points out of 64 (if I’ve counted correctly). I will probably say something in my next post, after they update the standings to include the results from round two.

Yes, I fell into the Polgar/Nepomniachtchi trap, too. And this round, I fell into the Akopian and Jobava traps — I had them going quite a long way. So it’s not looking too good.


Ashish August 16, 2013 at 2:22 pm

I entered in a bit of a rush – call it “blitz panic.” Now that I think of it strategically, the best shot at winning one of these things is to choose an unexpected winner – i.e. not Aronian. Oh well.


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