World Cup Round 3 Wrap-up

by admin on September 19, 2015

The playoffs for round three of the 2015 FIDE World Cup have just ended, with Hikaru Nakamura winning an Armageddon game as Black against Ian Nepomniachtchi to advance.

The big surprise of the day was Dmitry Andreikin, the #27 seed, beating #6 Vladimir Kramnik in a rematch from the 2013 World Cup. That year Kramnik beat Andreikin in the championship round, 2½-1½, and Andreikin looked totally outclassed. But this time Andreikin beat Kramnik 2½-1½, winning a Scotch Game where Kramnik (as Black) looked pretty befuddled.

In all, ten of the favorites won and they will be joined by six upstarts. All of the top five seeds are still alive, which is really good news for American chess fans because three U.S. players (#2 Nakamura, #3 Caruana, and #5 So) are in the top five.

The next round will feature two “expected” matchups, #1 Veselin Topalov against #16 Peter Svidler, and #2 Hikaru Nakamura against #15 Michael Adams. Each of the other six matches have one expected player and one Cinderella: #8 Ding Liren against #24 Wei Yi, #4 Anish Giri against #20 Radoslaw Wojtasek, #5 Wesley So against #21 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, #10 Dmitry Jakovenko against #26 Pavel Eljanov, #3 Fabiano Caruana against #19 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, and #11 Sergei Karjakin against #27 Dmitry Andreikin.

Because I have proved to be such a terrible forecaster, I will resist the temptation to make any predictions for the next round or for the rest of the tournament. At this point we could still have three Americans in the final four… but I’m not predicting that. We could still have three Russians in the final four… but I’m not predicting that. We could have a repeat winner (Svidler won the 2011 World Cup)… but I’m not predicting that either.

The round four match I will be most interested in is Jakovenko-Eljanov. Can Eljanov keep his improbable winning streak going?

The final match that I would be most interested in seeing would be #4 Giri versus #3 Caruana. That would perhaps tell us who will emerge as the best player younger than Magnus Carlsen, and who Magnus Carlsen’s next world championship challenger will be. But now that I’ve mentioned it, it probably won’t happen…

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