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    « 2013 World Cup: Round 6, Day 1: Two Short Draws | Main | Kasparov On The World Cup »
    Sunday
    Aug252013

    2013 World Cup: Round 5, Day 3: Andreikin, Vachier-Lagrave Advance on Tiebreaks

    The tiebreaks at the World Cup are getting shorter. There were Armageddon games in the first two rounds, while rounds 3 and 4 made it through the 5" minute games. (And with an 80-90 minute "ten minute" game in round 4 it took longer than a normal series making it to the Armageddon game.) Today, the tiebreaks finished as quickly as possible; to wit, after the initial pair of 25-minute games.

    Dmitry Andreikin was the first one through, and a very convincing winner over Peter Svidler. In the first game Andreikin played one of his typical low-theory lines, in this case a Tromp-turned-Torre Attack, and it was a twofold success. Andreikin did obtain a small advantage, and Svidler was forced to solve problems over the board rather than relying on prep or anything like it. Svidler did manage to equalize at one point and perhaps got a bit too bold. 20...f5 seems to me a very risky move to make in a rapid game, as it offers White various opportunities to open the game up when Black will be short of time. A safer way was 20...Ne7, aiming to trade all the rooks on the c-file and go for the quick handshake. That inaccuracy was compounded by 23...Nxa2 - 23...Rxc1 and only then taking on a2 seems more accurate, as Svidler's version allowed 24.Rxc8 Rxc8 and now, as advertised, 25.e4. After 28.Re6 Black was still objectively okay but as a practical matter it was starting to look dangerous. 28...Kg8 was an error, and after 29.Qg3! Black has some annoying threats to deal with like 30.Nh5 and 30.Rxh6. Svidler's reply, 29...Nd5 was natural and logical...and an absolute blunder. After the sneaky shot 30.Qb3! there was nothing for Black to do but resign, as the knight is lost - at least it is unless Black wants to lose the queen, e.g. 30...Nxf4 31.Re7+.

    The rematch didn't go any better for Svidler, except insofar as he received a charity draw offer in the end. For a few moments Svidler looked as if he might get to enjoy a relatively safe extra pawn in another Advance Caro-Kann with 3...c5, but the critical moment came on move 18. Had Svidler played 18.a3 he would have enjoyed some advantage. He chose 18.Nf3 instead, and while this is a move White wants to play it's too soon. After 18...axb4 19.cxb4 Ra3! followed soon by ...Qa6, ...Rd3 and ...Qa3 Black managed to infiltrate and regain the material (with positional interest) without allowing White any real attacking chances on the kingside. Had Andreikin needed to win he probably would have played differently on move 34; instead, it was enough to force a draw with 34...Rg4 35.Rf2 Qe1+ 36.Rf1 Qe2 37.Rf2 Qe1+. The draw was agreed and the match was over, earning Andreikin the chance to play his friend and teammate Evgeny Tomashevsky for a shot at the finals and an automatic berth into the next Candidates' event.

    In the other quarter-final Vachier-Lagrave was a nominal underdog against Fabiano Caruana, but the former's play in both the classical and rapid disciplines in the event rendered the rating difference immaterial. In the first game Caruana had White and was the one pressing, at least in theory, but Vachier-Lagrave defended so accurately that Caruana never came close to a genuine edge. In game 2, however, the Frenchman called the tune from early on. Caruana played the Dutch, which isn't normally part of his opening repertoire, and while both players occasionally seemed a little unsure of themselves Vachier-Lagrave's play came across as more purposeful and coherent. There was never any question about who stood better, only whether White's advantage would grow into something major. Practically speaking, the decisive error may have come at move 33 when Black played 33...Bf6. The upshot was that after 34.b3 Black's knight could no longer safely retreat to d6, and after 34...Na5 the misplaced knight and Black's weak dark squares were a serious problem. The last chance, objectively speaking, came on move 48. Caruana, who was very short of time and way behind on the clock, needed to take the knight. Vachier-Lagrave would soon regain the piece and maintain an advantage, but it was a small chance for Caruana. He declined the sac with 48...Qg7, and the rest was a rout. In the final position the d-pawn can't be captured without allowing the h-pawn to queen, and if 66...Kf8 67.Kd4 Kg7 68.Kc5 Kh6 69.Kxb5 Kxh5 70.Kb6 followed by 71.Kc7 leads to the knight's elimination and the d-pawn's promotion. That means that Vachier-Lagrave will face Vladimir Kramnik in the other semi-final.

    Who will win these matches? At this point it's crazy to pick against any of these guys. Kramnik is surely the strongest player of the four, but he's also the oldest and possibly the most tired. He has less motivation, as he has already qualified for the Candidates', and if it comes down to tiebreaks one might wonder if he's (that much) better than Vachier-Lagrave in rapid and blitz. In the other semi Andreikin has been an absolute assassin in the rapid tiebreaks, going 3.5/4 against Sergey Karjakin and Svidler combined - and it could have been 4-0. On the other hand, his play in the classical games hasn't been as out of this world, while Tomashevsky has been playing like a super-hero, rising to the occasion every time. I am going to go with Kramnik and Tomashevsky, with a codicil: if they don't win in the classical stage I think they will lose in the tiebreaks.

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    Reader Comments (7)

    I think at this point that all of these guys are playing well. They may be tired, and Kramnik may be the old man of the bunch, but I don't think you can pick against any of them. Funny how the Trompowsky gets brought out in rapids and tiebreaks by some of these world class players but they don't play it in regular games that often. Makes me think about taking it up again.

    Obviously, the two players that make it to the final are in the Candidates tournament but I think it matters for others who makes it as well. I forget the details but I know Kramnik is in anyway due to rating as well as Aronian. Not sure how it plays out but I think it affects Karjakin and possibly Caruana as well.

    [DM: As I explained in the preceding World Cup post, Karjakin is in if Kramnik makes the finals. Kramnik gets into the Candidates either way, but qualification through the World Cup supersedes rating, and the next rating spot would go to Karjakin. As for Caruana, he has a chance to qualify for the Candidates' tournament but that has nothing to do with having one of absolute top ratings. His way of qualifying would be by means of his overall results in the FIDE Grand Prix cycle. If he takes clear first in the final tournament of the cycle, in Paris starting in September, he would be the second Grand Prix qualifier, behind Veselin Topalov.]

    August 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNeal Bonrud

    At the start of the World Cup, when you asked for predictions, I wrote saying that Andreikin & MVL would be two to watch. The comment was made on my phone, and it crashed when I clicked to submit. Was not very happy. I'd also said how much I was looking forward to the event - always a great mix of quality chess, unexpected upsets, and clashes between players who are both on form. Which has happened again this year.

    In the interests of full disclosure I should add that in my "phantom post" I also predicted that Grischuk would win, so not exactly accurate there.

    Well done Dennis for the daily updates. Interesting and enlightening, and always much appreciated.

    August 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

    Andreikin was really strong in the tiebreak. Qg3 and then Qb3 to the other wing is exactly the kind of stuff you easily miss.
    Btw: I switched back to russian live commentaries as DJTG does very little and Short's self-manifestation (permanently interrupting the player's when they explain the game) annoys me.

    [DM: I agree. The role of the commentator is not to be the star of the show, and I found Short's practically arguing with Kramnik about the ending of the Korobov to be extremely off-putting. Inviting Eva Repkova into the broadcast booth was ridiculous as well, and then mentioning that she was Kramnik's ex-girlfriend was incredibly unclassy as well. Then again, apparently Kramnik went to dinner with Short and Repkova that evening, so who knows what is going on. I'm sure Kramnik's wife found that delightful.]

    Shipov didn't see 30.Qb3 in the first rapid - only 30.Nh5 which is good too, but not winning instantly. After ...g5 by Andreikin in the second game he was really flabbergasted and said something along the line "Now he is getting nervous". In fact ...g5 was a good move. These were interesting moments when the classical educated player (Shipov) meets the computer-educated concrete approach, not thinking about king safety when he might win a pawn (back). How quickly he turned the tables on the kingside! Impressive.

    [DM: Short is older than Shipov and not really a computer guy, and he found both Qb3 and ...g5 without engine help. The first is a matter of tactical alertness, while the latter is a logical move, too. Pushing g-pawns has been around for decades - there's the Keres Attack against the Scheveningen, and Botvinnik devised systems in the Exchange QGD with Bf4 involving a quick g4. Lately it has become commonplace with g4 everywhere, and for a French player like Andreikin his openness to and tolerance for such moves will be a bit greater than it would be for a classical player. Bear in mind that Andreikin is about 200 points stronger than Shipov now (though the latter was a mid-2600 player in his heyday about 15 years ago, before sublimating his playing career to other modes of participation in the game) and fully concentrated on the game, so his ability to assess the risk of a move like ...g5 is going to be far greater than Shipov's.]

    I'm still rooting for Tomashevsky in the semifinals by the way. But this might have to do more with the fact that he gave some very likeable interviews - likeable despite or because of some difficulties with the english language. Andreikin on the other hand had no interview at all if I'm not mistaken. So his success so far is more 'impersonal'.

    August 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterReyk

    It is a fundamental flaw in the design of this event when a player, in this case Kramnik, has already qualified for the Candidates tournament before playing. The reason is that he has the possibility of allowing his opponent in the semi-finals to go through and qualify as well if he intentionally loses in this round. If, for example, Kramnik has an excellent personal record against his semi-final opponent, Vachier-Legrave, then it is in his best interest to lose in this round and let him qualify for the Candidates tournament. I am not saying that that is the case here, or accusing Kramnik of anything. I am only saying that a player should never be put in the position where it may be in his best interest to lose a match. That is just inviting problems. Any player who has already qualified for the Candidates tournament by rating should not be allowed to play in the World Cup.

    [DM: In fact it's more complicated than that, because it's not just Kramnik's score (or Aronian's, had he also reached this stage) against his semi-final opponent that matters but also his score against the alternative qualifier, and the other known and expected candidates' scores against both players. Nevertheless, I agree that forcing Aronian and Kramnik to play doesn't make much sense, especially as they are already guaranteed to qualify by rating. If that were still up in the air it might make sense, but not now.]

    August 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterScott R Parker

    One of the commentators made the point that it is easier to find sponsors for a candidates event if Kramnik and Aronian participated as they are #2 and #3.

    [DM: Do you mean for the World Cup? They're already qualified for the Candidates.]

    August 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Karen

    Even though Andreikin is obviously stronger player now, I don't think his peak strength is higher than Shipov's, both in terms of rating (2727 is hardly better than 2662 15 years ago) and world rank (Andrekin's best is #29 I think and Shipov's best was #23).

    [DM: Always good to hear from you, Andrey. I have a great deal of respect for Shipov, whose books and commentaries (especially the prepared ones) are really top-notch. Still, while there may have been a little rating inflation over the past 15 years, I don't for a moment believe that there has been more than 65 points' worth. That is a huge number for which I am unaware of any evidence-based argument. (See the various posts here by Ken Regan on IPRs, for instance.) As for world rankings, when there are so many more players today, players who have been able to benefit from the explosion of available information provided by the internet, there's nothing close to a guarantee that #23 back then would be #23 today.]

    August 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrey

    Andreikin and Tomashevsky already met at the previous World Cup - with less at stake as their match happened already in round 2. Their current match could become a mirror image of the one in 2011. Back then, Tomashevsky had white in the first game, which was drawn in 22 moves - the final position (from a Benoni) looks pretty unclear to me, maybe both players didn't like the outcome of the opening? Tomashevsky then won a lengthy queen ending with black.

    As to Aronian and Kramnik. The new rule (a rating spot has to be 'validated' by playing GP Series and/or World Cup) seems to be some sort of present to the Norwegian organizers - actually, Carlsen would have been forced to play if he hadn't won the candidates event. But the situation would have been the same if either player participated "voluntarily": no need to qualify, but interested in earning prize money. Then their situation would have been a little bit similar to the one of many players (random name Ray Robson) who couldn't reasonably expect to reach the World Cup final. The only way out would be to ban Aronian, Kramnik, (Carlsen and Anand) from the World Cup.

    Repkova and Kramnik: One can discuss why Repkova (after all, a relatively weak player) was invited to join the live commentary. But once she was there, IMO it would have been odd not to mention that she is Kramnik''s ex-girlfriend. And a joint dinner, why not? It seems that they parted as friends rather than enemies. I don't think Kramnik's wife has reasons to fear anything or to be offended - but of course that's a private affair between three people, the only unclassy thing might be to mention this dinner in public.

    August 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterThomas

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