World Cup Day 2: My Predictions Bomb

by admin on August 12, 2013

After a good first day, my predictions did not do so well in Day 2 of the World Cup. Let’s recap the results:

Upset Specials: Six players pulled upsets without even needing to go to the playoffs. I picked only one of the six, Dubov (75), who beat Fedorchuk (54). The other surprise winners were Filippov (71) over Romanov (58), Robson (83) over Volokitin (46), Nguyen (85) over Akopian (44), Ortiz Suarez (87) over Polgar (42), and the biggest shocker, Wei (105) over Nepomniachtchi (24).

I already wrote about Robson yesterday. Today he played fantastically again, and he was the only lower-rated player to not only win but win by a 2-0 score. His reward is a date with Vassily Ivanchuk next round. Wei Yi, who has just turned 14 years old, is the world’s youngest GM and the youngest player at this tournament. Moral: You totally have to take these phenoms seriously. His win is a real disaster for my predictions, because I had Nepomniachtchi going all the way to round 5, and instead he’s out of the tournament. By the way, lovers of the Dragon Variation (for Black) should be very happy with the Nepomniachtchi-Wei game.

Comeback Specials: A few players lost in the first round but managed to come back and win in round two and thereby force a playoff. The biggest shock in the early going was Anna Ushenina (116)’s victory over Peter Svidler (13). If Svidler loses the playoff then it’s really curtains for my predictions, because I had him going all the way to the semifinals. The other backs-against-the-wall winners were Morozevich (16) against Sambuev (113), Ragger (48) against Popov (81), Kryvoruchko (51) against Negi (78), and Safarli (59) against Amin (70). The last three of these were all disappointments to me, because in all three cases the losers were people I had picked to win the matches. They still have a chance, of course, but it just got a lot tougher.

Houdini Award: The greatest escape of day two was surely Gelfand (7) against Rahman (122). The Israeli GM, whom I picked to finish second in this tournament, got to a dead-lost endgame with two rooks against a queen and pawn. Rahman’s two passed pawns were mobile and dangerous — but they were not connected. Houdini (the computer, not the great escape artist) showed Rahman as being +5 or +6 pawns for about 40 consecutive moves, with a couple brief excursions into the +11 range. Even though it was an obvious win to the computer, it was never obvious to human eyes. Gelfand hung on and hung on, and finally Rahman allowed him to activate his rooks and set up a a perpetual check. Their game was the last one to finish, on move 103. Gelfand breathes a big sigh of relief and moves on.

Let the Nerves Begin: Although Day 2 was pretty tense, the really nerve-wracking games will take place tomorrow, when the 28 matches that are deadlocked at 1-1 go to playoffs. They play two 25-minute games first, then two 10-minute games, then two 5-minute games, and finally an Armageddon game if necessary. Mistakes will happen. Dreams will be crushed.

Out of the 14 upsets I predicted for round 1, one has happened already (as I mentioned above) and eight are still possible. I will be rooting for Beliavsky (66), Swiercz (68), Amin (70), Negi (78), Melkumyan (79), Popov (81), Fier (91) and Felgaer (94).


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