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    Thursday
    Nov262009

    World Cup, Round 2, Day 3 (Tiebreaks)

    In round 1, 19 of the 64 matches went to tiebreakers; in round 2, it was 16 of 32. You'd think that with fewer mismatches in this round, we'd have some more mega-marathons, but it wasn't to be: 13 of the 16 tiebreaks were settled in the rapid games, and the three remaining matches finished after a single pair of blitz games. Here's a recap of the day's action, by matches:

    Svidler-Nyback: Svidler continued the momentum and asserted his dominance, beating Nyback 2.5-0.5 in the rapid games. The first tiebreak game was especially nice, the second a picturesque draw, and the finale saw Nyback have some chances before going down. Svidler, 3.5-1.5.

    Ponomariov-Akobian: Ponomariov won the first game with the sort of Karpovian chess that had people talking when he was a teenager, but Akobian toughened up, drawing the next two games. The fourth playoff game was imbalanced, but Akobian's 23.Qb6?? put an end to his ambitions. Ponomariov, 4-2.

    Eljanov-Inarkiev: A strange match. After a normal draw in the first game, game two saw Inarkiev lose (on time?) with White in a very promising, maybe even winning position. In game 3, Eljanov played very creatively, sacrificing a couple of exchanges, but failed to cash in on a number of opportunities. One clear case came after Black's erroneous 64...Kg8, when after 65.Ne6 Qf6 he should have played 66.Qc8+. If 66...Kh7, then 67.Ng5+ Kh6 68.Qg8 Qg7 69.Nf7+ is easy, while 66...Kf7 loses to the subtle 67.Ng5+ Kg7 68.Qb7+! when Black get to choose between seeing 69.Qh7#, 69.Nh7+ winning the queen and 69.Qb3+ picking up the rook. After all the adventures were over, the game wound up a draw. Game four could have been won by Eljanov too, after Inarkiev's blunder 25.Rc3??, but he was satisfied with a match-clinching draw. Eljanov, 3.5-2.5.

    Karjakin-Timofeev: Karjakin won fairly easily, drawing the first and third playoff games with Black without much trouble, winning game 2 with White in good quasi-Ruy Lopez fashion, and drawing the last game with ease (though he could have had more after Timofeev's 28...dxc5??). Karjakin, 3.5-2.5.

    Shirov-Fedorchuk: Mr. Fire On Board took out yesterday's angst out of his opponent's hide, whipping him in three convincing games. The last was especially humiliating. Fedorchuk produced a questionable novelty on move 7, definitely went wrong two moves later, blundered on move 10 and resigned on move 14. Ouch. Shirov, 4-1.

    Dominguez-Caruana: I have no idea what happened here, but it's either a mini-miracle or a scandal. The first game was a good draw, and game two was drawn as well, though here Caruana was pressing with Black. White held on the weaker side of an opposite-colored bishop ending, and while that imbalance doesn't guarantee the weak side a draw, it can certainly help. The third game was drawn too, and one would certainly have thought this about the fourth game as well. In the final position Dominguez, with White, has a rook and a pawn, Caruana a rook and the chance to regain that pawn on his next move. The result: 0-1. What?? I've looked everywhere I can think of, but haven't seen any explanation. I guess Dominguez must have lost on time, but with the increments it's hard to know where that could have plausibly happened. Could he have spent more than ten seconds considering 62.Rh6, then seen that it loses to 62...Rxf6+, and then played 63.Rxh2 as his flag fell? I could believe that from an 1800, maybe, but not (normally) a 2700. If anyone knows or finds out what actually happened, please let us know! Caruana, 3.5-2.5

    Vachier-Lagrave - Meier: With Black, Meier achieved "recipe" draws in the 3...dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 French, and although he only scraped out a draw with White in game 2 he had the match in his hands in the fourth playoff game. He had numerous winning chances, but when he chose 34.Qe3 instead of 34.Qb5+- and then played 35.Re2?? instead of repeating with 35.Qe2=, Vachier-Lagrave escaped with a very fortunate win. Vachier-Lagrave, 3.5-2.5.

    Fressinet-Alekseev: A pretty comfortable win for Alekseev, who won the first two games and probably could have won the third if he needed to. The second game was amusing: in an equal position Fressinet played ...h5, then ...h4, then ...hxg3. White recaptured with the f-pawn and promptly killed him with an attack on the f-file. Alekseev, 3.5-1.5.

    Khalifman-Tomashevsky: Khalifman did himself no favors, drawing with White in the first game with just 12 moves, and suffered his deserved punishment by losing a long and painful second game in an opposite-colored bishops ending. In game 3, Khalifman exerted himself, properly, and it was an exciting game...but ultimately drawn anyway. Tomashevsky could have won in the fourth game, had he found 37.Ne7, but he drew and that was enough. Tomashevsky, 3.5-2.5.

    Navara-Shabalov: In the first game, Navara won with White against Shabalov's English Defense-turned-Dutch, as Black's positional weaknesses proved weightier than his attacking chances. Navara won in game two as well, but the match wasn't over: Shabalov won with Black in the third game, and in just 17 moves! He gave it a great try in the last game, but Navara held the draw and pulled out the match. Navara, 3.5-2.5.

    Malakhov-Smirin: Malakhov had a bit of a scare in the first game, a thriller with passed pawns all over the place. White - Malakhov - wound up down three pawns but able to draw thanks to the miracle of opposite-colored bishop. In game two, however, he proved that opposite-colored bishops don't guarantee a draw, and he won that one. Finally, he won the third game as well, and this time opposite-colored bishops played no role whatsoever. Malakhov, 3.5-1.5.

    Areshchenko-Rublevsky: After the players took turns winning with White and Areshchenko pulled a Khalifman by drawing the third game with White in just nine moves (unless that's a relay problem), Rublevsky was in a good position to pull out the match. He was better in the fourth game, but 57.g3? got him into trouble, and when he pulled back to equality he blundered with 76.Qh2?? and was eliminated. Areshchenko 3.5-2.5.

    Vitiugov-Milos: A thriller! The younger and higher-rated Vitiugov was rolling: he out-techniqued his opponent to win in game 1 and then crushed Milos in game 2 after the latter's 19...Ng4(?). But the "old" guy (Milos is 46) fought back, winning games 3 and 4 to force a blitz playoff. The drama continued there too: Milos was better in the first blitz game, blundered, and still managed to hold a draw. The Rocky story came to an end in the sixth playoff game, however, when he blundered the exchange and, at the end of the game, the queen. Vitiugov 4.5-3.5.

    Bologan-Cheparinov: Another match with a mystifying result. The first game was drawn, but round 2 is given as a draw, even though Cheparinov is completely winning. If the result was given as a win for Bologan, I'd understand: it would mean that Cheparinov lost on time. But I don't know how to interpret this in any sensible way. Maybe the result was simply mismarked? In any case, Bologan won the next two games (game 3 in style, game 4 despite playing "Kramnik's" Center Counter with 3...Qd6 and 5...g6). Bologan 4-2 or 3.5-2.5.

    Li Chao-Pelletier: After a couple of draws, Pelletier managed to lose the third game, which was a remarkable achievement. The explanation, of course, is that he wanted too much to win, and "forgot" that he had an actual opponent. Fortunately for him, his opponent gave it all away in the sequel. Li Chao was better or equal through the fourth game, but 45...Bxa5? lost the game, and it was on to the blitz. Pelletier held the draw with Black in the first game, but in the very sharp sixth game Li Chao's defense was better than Pelletier's offense, and the Chinese player advanced. Li Chao, 4.5-3.5.

    Nisipeanu-Polgar: The two players had very similar ratings, and are also similar in that neither's openings are especially trustworthy. Game one was a clean draw, Polgar outplayed Nisipeanu in game 2, was crushed in game 3, and drew quickly in game 4, going to the blitz. In the first blitz game Polgar had pressure, but nothing more, until Nisipeanu went Santa Claus and started donating his pawns. In the finale, Nisipeanu pressed but could only achieve rook and bishop vs. rook. Defending this ending can be purgatorial, but I've never seen a player cause his opponent fewer problems in that ending than Nisipeanu did against Polgar. Even though she had to defend this ending for 77 moves, he still failed to win or even come close to winning, and so she advanced. Polgar, 4.5-3.5.

    Here are the pairings for Round 3, which starts tomorrow:

    Gelfand - Polgar (!)

    Vachier-Lagrave - Yu Yangyi

    Grischuk - Jobava

    Jakovenko - Areshchenko

    Bologan - Laznicka

    Mamedyarov - Wang Hao

    Vitiugov - Sakaev

    Karjakin - Navara

    Gashimov - Li Chao

    Alekseev - Caruana

    Ponomariov - Motylev

    Wang Yue - Bacrot

    Svidler - Naiditsch

    Shirov - Tomashevsky

    Kamsky - So

    Eljanov - Malakhov

     

    These pairings are given in bracket order, so you can figure out the subsequent pairings as well (e.g. the winner of Gelfand-Polgar plays the winner of V-L vs. YY). Care to make predictions for these matches and the tournament overall? Guess away!

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    Reader Comments (2)

    I think this answers the mystery Dominguez - Caruana

    "Eyal: Btw, regarding Dominguez-Caruana again - I suspect that all the discussions with regard to how White lost were superfluous, since Caruana's actual win was probably in this game: L Dominguez vs F Caruana, 2009 (the 2nd rapid), where the final position looks genuinely winning for Black. The official pgn (http://cup2009.fide.com/java/pgn/10...) also shows a win for Black in this game (though not the official results page). And note that if White really flagged in L Dominguez vs F Caruana, 2009, the last recorded move should have been by Black."

    November 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel

    Predictions:
    Gelfand over Polgar
    Vachier-Lagrave over Yu Yangyi
    Grischuk over Jobava
    Jakovenko over Areshchenko
    Bologan over Laznicka
    Wang Hao over Mamedyarov (at least I hope so--anyone but Mamedyarov)
    Sakaev over Vituigov
    Karjakin - Navara
    Gashimov - Li Chao
    Alekseev - Caruana
    Motylev - Ponomariov
    Bacrot-Wang Yue
    Svidler - Naiditsch
    Shirov - Tomashevsky
    Kamsky - So
    Eljanov - Malakhov

    November 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterUff Da

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