World Cup Day 3

by admin on August 13, 2013

As expected, the playoff day for Round 1 of the World Cup was full of drama, with unbelievable reversals of fortune, controversy, and yes, two Armageddon games.

The most unbelievable shift of fortune occurred in the match between #27 Evgeny Alekseev and #102 Baskaran Adhiban. According to the broadcast team of Susan Polgar and Lawrence Trent, the Russian’s flag fell in a position where he had mate-in-three! When I play over the game it doesn’t look quite that extreme, but it looks as if Alekseev could have easily queened a pawn and had mate in a few moves.

By the time his flag fell, I think Alekseev was still winning but it was not so easy. I think he had to play for a zugzwang, which is a very tricky thing to work out when you have only 3 seconds per move. Maybe while he was doing these computations, he “froze” long enough for his flag to fall. In any case, he was a beaten man in the next game, which Adhiban also won to complete a shocking upset.

The controversy came in the match between #20 Teimour Radjabov and #109 Jorge Cori. In one of the rounds Cori was not certain of the starting time — he thought it was xx:50 when in fact it was xx:15. When he saw the players heading back into the tournament hall on a TV feed, he rushed back to the playing hall, but he was one minute late (or perhaps two, depending on whose account you read). According to FIDE’s ridiculous “zero tolerance rule,” this meant that he was forfeited. He filed an appeal with a required fee of $500, which Susan Polgar offered to pay for him. (I’m not sure whether she actually did or not.) Nice gesture, Susan, but you have a little bit to learn about so-called journalistic objectivity. The appeals committee’s decision was swift and merciless. Because Cori did manage to draw his next game, the forfeit ended up costing him the match.

It’s very sad, but there is no one to blame here except the FIDE leadership, which implemented the stupid rule. It’s not Radjabov’s fault, not the appeals committee’s fault (they are charged with enforcing the rules, nothing more) and especially not Cori’s fault. But the result is that we were all deprived of what might have been the biggest upset of round 1.

The Armageddon games were Tomashevsky-Ramirez and Melkumyan-Granda Zuniga. In each case the higher-rated player (Tomashevsky and Granda Zuniga) won. I unfortunately could not watch because I was, get this, recording a ChessLecture! It’s a regular recording time for me, and I didn’t want to mess around with the schedule. So I can’t tell you much about what happened, but I’m sure it was exciting.

So round one is history and the field for round two is set. How did my predictions do? In a word, pretty badly. I did only one thing right — I correctly predicted the number of upsets (14). Unfortunately, I did not predict the right upsets. Here are the underdogs who won in the first round, with the four whom I predicted in boldface:

  • #105 Wei Yi
  • #102 Baskaran Adhiban
  • #94 Ruben Felgaer
  • #91 Alexandr Fier
  • #89 Jon Ludvig Hammer
  • #87 Isan Reynaldo Ortiz Suarez
  • #85 Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son
  • #83 Ray Robson
  • #82 Evgeny Postny
  • #80 Rafael Leitao
  • #75 Daniil Dubov
  • #71 Anton Filippov
  • #68 Dariusz Swiercz
  • #67 Mikhail Kobalia

Of course it doesn’t really matter whether I predicted them or not. The one great thing about this event is that it allows fair-to-middling grandmasters (what a concept!) a rare chance to show how they can do against the elite super-GMs. The fourteen listed above have done their job, and now we’ll see if they can keep it going.

Looking ahead to round two, because of my mistakes in round one I already have predicted 7 out of 32 matches wrong. Here are the underdogs whom I have predicted to win in round two:

  • #33 So over #32 Tomashevsky. A very mild upset indeed.
  • #45 Bruzon Batista over #20 Radjabov. Radjabov didn’t show much in round one, winning only on a technicality, so this is looking somewhat possible.
  • #39 Moiseenko over #26 Bacrot. How will Moiseenko perform after being the only person to win round one by forfeit? (His opponent never showed up.)
  • #55 Onischuk over #10 Dominguez. This was a very bold prediction, and likely a case of letting my heart choose instead of my head.
  • #75 Dubov over #11 Ponomariov. My boldest prediction of all for round 2. (Well, #73 Smeets over #9 Mamedyarov was perhaps even bolder, but it’s now no longer possible because Smeets has been eliminated.) Let’s hope that Dubov is ready for the big time.

The matchup I’m really looking forward to is one that I didn’t foresee — #83 Ray Robson against #19 Vassily Ivanchuk. It goes without saying that I’ll be rooting for Ray, even if it ruins my predictions. Another match to look forward to is the one between two “Cinderellas,” #91 Alexandr Fier and #102 Baskaran Adhiban. One of their dreams will stay alive! Also I’ll be very interested in #105 Wei Yi versus #41 Alexei Shirov. Shirov absolutely had his hands full in round one with Hou Yifan, and now he gets to play another super-talented young Chinese player, even younger and perhaps even more talented than the last one.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

JG August 13, 2013 at 3:51 pm

I didn’t see what Polgar did as breaking journalist objectivity. In fact, I don’t even really see her as a journalist for the event. She’s the broadcaster of the event for the event, that’s definitely not a journalist, that’s a host. If anything I’m surprised that she would do anything to upset the organizers.

The only person who could be upset is Radjabov, but while he may be upset, it wouldn’t shock me if he weren’t. I don’t think he was appealing on the grounds of the zero-tolerance rule, but on the grounds of an honest misunderstanding (possibly a translator error). There are lots of difficulties at an event when there are players from so many different countries.

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Panu Helke August 14, 2013 at 5:21 am

Hi Dana,

thanks for the report! Lot of excitement going on in the World Cup.

With regard to the Alekseev-Adhiban endgame you mentioned, I don’t think White anymore has a win in the end position, because Black can get 61…e4 in immediately. After that zugzwanging Black fails because of the threat of the e-pawn advance. Let’s look at some variations:

A. 62. Bh6 Ka2

a. 63. Kd4 Kb3 64. Kxe4 (Bd2 loses to …a3 65. Bc3 a2 and it’s White who is in zugzwang) Kxb4, Black changes off White’s last pawn drawing;

b. 63. Bc1 Kb1 64. Bb2 e3! This is the point. Now only 65. Ba3 saves White … Ka2 66. Bc1 Kb1 or 65…e2 66. Kd2 Ka2 67. Bb1 Kb1 68. Ba3 and so on;

B. 62. Bd4 Ka2 63. Kc2 Ka3 64. Bc3 Ka2 65. Bb2 e3 (…a3?? 66. Bd4! wins) 66. Bd4 Ka3 67. Bc3 Ka2 68. Bb2 e2 (…a3?? 69. Bd4! e2 70. Bc3) 69. Bc3 Ka3 70. Bd2 Ka2 71. Kc3 Kb1 or 71. Kc1 Kb3 or 71, Kd3 Kb3. I cannot see how White would make progress. Black must just keep his cool, threaten the b-pawn whenever possible and not play a3 prematurely.

White did have a win earlier after 56…Ke6, but in order to win, his King has to take the e-pawn on his way down:

57. Kg5 Kd5 58. Kf5 Kc4 (…e4 59. Be3 changes nothing; …Kd4 60. Bg7 Kc3 61. Kxe5 Kb3 62. Kd4 Kxa3 63. Kc3 Ka2 64. Kc2 Ka3 65. Bc3 Ka2 66. Bb2 transposes) 59. Kxe5 Kb3 60. Kd4 Kxa3 61. Kc3 Ka2 62. Bc1 Kb1 (…Ka1 63. Kc2 transposes) 63. Bb2 Ka2 64. Kc2 and now Black is in zugzwang- …a3 65. Bc1 Ka1 66. Bxa3 and wins.

A tricky one.

Regards from Finland!

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