World Cup Day 3 (End of Round 1)

by admin on September 13, 2015

As I write this, the first round of the FIDE World Cup is still not quite over. One out of 64 matches has gone to the Armageddon tiebreaker — the match between #85 Mateusz Bartel of Poland and #44 Gabriel Sargissian of Armenia. But the other 63 matches have finished, so I’ll write my quick summary.

The biggest upset of the round was #13 Boris Gelfand’s loss to #116 Cristobal Henriquez Villagra of Chile: a complete unknown who is “only” rated 2500 beating a former world championship contender. Wow! It looks as if Gelfand just completely self-destructed in the rapid chess (25-minute) games, getting only a draw out of a winning position in the first game and then playing a dubious pawn sac in the second. Gelfand is, I believe, the highest seed ever to lose in the first round of a World Cup.

The highest seed who was playing today was #7 Alexander Grischuk against #122 Yusup Atabayev. I wrote yesterday that I didn’t sense an upset in the making, it was just Grischuk being Grischuk. In the past, in these knockout events, he has been very content to draw his longer games and play for a win at the active or blitz stages. Sure enough, after four straight draws in the rapid chess stage he destroyed Atabayev in the blitz (5-minute) games.

There were a few other noteworthy upsets besides Henriquez Villagra’s. A big one that I predicted correctly was #97 Lu Shanglei over #32 Alexander Moiseenko. Lu won both of his first two rapid chess games to close out the match decisively, 3-1. The next biggest was when #94 Anton Kovalyov of Canada slew former World Cup Champion, #35 Rustam Kasimdzhanov. As far as I know, the only two other upset winners today, pending the Armageddon match, were #89 Gadir Guseinov over #40 Maxim Matlakov and #65 Sergei Zhigalko over #64 Ivan Bukavshin (but this last one is an upset in name only, as they were adjacent seeds). Combining with yesterday’s results, there have been 12 upsets in 63 matches with one still undecided.

My picks for the rest of the tournament are still doing pretty well. For the next round, 28 of the 32 winners I predicted are still alive. And for the third round and beyond, all of the winners I predicted are still alive.

I will now “take a mulligan” and re-pick the four matches in the next round that I have already gotten wrong. In the match #25 Navara vs. #89 Guseinov, I predict Navara. In the match #24 Wei Yi against #88 Yuri Vovk, I’m going with the favorite, Wei Yi. In the match #50 Viktor Laznicka vs, #15 Michael Adams, I’ll take Adams. And finally, in #30 Sandro Mareco vs. #94 Kovalyov, I’m taking Kovalyov. What a wild and crazy guy I am, huh?

So the complete list of seeds I’m expecting to win in the next round is: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27, 29, 34, 37, 45, 46, 52, 90, 94, and 97. A good year for players seeded in the nineties!

Update: Sargissian won his Armageddon game against Bartel, so round one is now in the books.

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