18 August 2013

Chess World Cup 2013

Terrific chess is on display at the FIDE World Cup, taking place in Tromsø, Norway. Play began Sunday, 11 August 2013 and continues until September 3. At stake are two slots in the Candidates Tournament, scheduled for March 2014. The winner of the Candidates will become the challenger in a World Championship match.

Interview with Mikhail Markov
I have been following the games on the official website where there is exceptional commentary by GM Susan Polgar and IM Lawrence Trent. Polgar and Trent offer their own analysis without reference to engine evaluations. Their analysis emphasizes aspects of the battles that are instructive to average players: main ideas in the openings, common tactical motifs, checkmate threats, and basic principles in the endgames. As games finish, they often interview some of the players. They answer some questions that viewers Tweet to #chessworldcup.

The event is a 128 player knockout. Each pair plays a mini-match of two standard games of 40 moves in 90 minutes, 30 minutes for the rest of the game, and 30 second increment beginning at move one. If tied after these two, they play two rapid games of 25 minutes, plus increment of 10 seconds per move. If still tied, two accelerated games at 10 minutes with 10 second increment; then two blitz games at 5 minutes with 3 second increment. Finally, if still tied, an Armageddon game where White gets 5 minutes, and Back 4, with 3 second increment beginning at move 61. Black has draw odds in the final game.

In the first round, two matches went as far as the Armageddon game. Tomashevsky -- Ramirez was won by Tomashevsky; Melkumyan -- Granda Zuniga was won by Granda Zuniga, who won with Black. There were many notable upsets through the course of the first three days, and in a few cases the higher rated player did not advance to the second round. More upsets ensued in the second round, where there was a single Armageddon game. In that game, former FIDE World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov fell to Daniil Dubov after eight draws between the two players.

The initial group of 128 players included most of the world's top players matched with a truly global list of competitors. Only one player is untitled, Mikhail Markov (2304). Markov qualified by placing second in the FIDE Zonal tournament in his hometown, Osh, Kyrgyzstan. During an interview after his loss to Levon Aronian (2813) in the first game, he expressed his sense that he was privileged to play in such an event and to be able to play a match with Aronian. He lost 2-0. Women's World Champion, Anna Ushenina (2500) stung Peter Svidler (2746) in their second game, but then fell in the rapid games, losing both. She will be defending her title against former Women's World Champion Hou Yifan (2609) next month. Hou took Alexei Shirov to the tie-breaks before being knocked of of the World Cup.

Selection criteria for players is evident from a document on the FIDE website: four semi-finalists from the 2011 FIDE World Cup, the Women's World Champion, the Junior World Champions of the past two years, 18 players based on average rating on the FIDE rating list (March 2012 to January 2013), 46 players from the European Championships 2012 and 2013, 20 players from the Americas, 20 players from Asia/Oceania, six players from Africa, six nominees of the FIDE President, and four nominees of the local organizing committee.

After the first two rounds, when the field had been narrowed to 32 players, most of those remaining are rated over 2700. A few strong players have been eliminated. More were eliminated in round three, including the top seed, Aronian. He lost with White against Evgeny Tomashevsky (2706). After needing to go to the Armageddon round against Alejandro Ramirez (2588) in the first round, Tomashevsky dispatched Wesley So (2710) 1 1/2-1/2 in round 2. Then, he won with Black in the first game with Aronian. Needing only a draw with White, he sacrificed a pawn to create disharmony among Aronian's forces. Then, he sacrificed a knight to lay bare the Black king.

White to move

Tomashevsky played 19.Nxh7!

The last game of round 3.2 lasted 154 moves, with Alexander Grischuk (2785) finally reaching a Lucena position against Quang Liem Le (2702).

A few sub-2700 players are going home. India's Baskaran Adhiban (2567) was defeated by Hikaru Nakamura 2-0 after Abhiban made it to round three with upset victories over Evgeny Alekseev (2710) and Alexandr Fier (2595). Alexander Moiseenko (2699) lost 1 1/2 - 1/2 to Boris Gelfand. Norwegian Jon Ludvig Hammer (2605) fell 1 1/2 - 1/2 to Gata Kamsky after Magnus Carlsen's former schoolmate knocked out Sergei Movsesian (2699) and David Navara (2715) in rounds one and two.

The current youngest Grandmaster, fourteen year old Wei Yi (2551) held Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2775) to two draws in the classic games, and will be struggling with his formidable opponent during tomorrow's tie-breaks. Wei defeated Ian Nepomniachtchi (2723) and Alexei Shirov (2696) enroute to round three. Daniil Dubov (2624) will be playing tie-breaks with Anton Korobov (2720). Others going to tie-breaks: Alexsey Dreev (2668) has two draws with Dmitry Andreikin (2716), Yuriy Kryvoruchko (2678) has two draws against Vassily Ivanchuk (2731), and Julio Granda Zuniga (2664) exchanged wins with Anish Giri (2737).

Tomorrow's tie-breaks promise more exciting chess. Perhaps another match or two will remain tied through the rapid, accelerated, and blitz. Perhaps a few of the under-2700 players will advance to round four: Chess's Sweet Sixteen!


  1. Well they certainly fooled you. Just like Short and his Dutch friend, Trent and Polgar had the computer assessments in front of them whenever they wanted to look. And look they often did. For example, check out when Polgar suggests the computer move Qg7 at the very end of the Kamsky-Mamedyarov game instead of the more obvious winning checks and captures.

    1. I stand by my description. It matters not whether they were looking at engine evaluations. Polgar and Trent were focused on explaining the ideas, and they did this well. The phrase "without reference to" does not mean that they could not or did not see these evaluations, but rather that their analysis was not referring to engine assessments.

      Nigel Short and Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam, editor of New in Chess offered higher level commentary. In a few cases, it was obvious that Geuzendam was looking at computer evaluations, but even then, the focus was on the ideas. Short often missed the critical line that would have been suggested by computers.

      This post was written while Polgar and Trent were still offering commentary, so, of course, it does not reference the commentary in the later rounds.