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    « World Cup, Round 4, Day 1: Ivanchuk and Fedoseev Start with Wins | Main | World Cup, Round 3, Day 2: Carlsen, Kramnik, and Nakamura Out »
    Tuesday
    Sep122017

    World Cup, Round 3, Day 3 (Tiebreaks): Most Favorites Advance, but not Caruana, Nepomniachtchi, or Li Chao

    What a brutal third round it was for the favorites! Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik, Hikaru Nakamura, Fabiano Caruana, Ian Nepomniachtchi, and Li Chao are all out of the tournament. (The 2700-rated David Navara and Maxim Matlakov are as well, but they lost playing up, to Alexander Grischuk and Levon Aronian, respectively.) The first three lost during the classical stage, the last three in today's rapid and blitz playoffs.

    Let's begin with the biggest upset, Caruana's loss to Evgeny Najer. Caruana drew the first rapid game on the black side of a 5.Re1 Berlin without any real trouble. So far, so good for his fans in the U.S. and Italy. In game two it was another Ruy, and since Caruana failed to get anything against Najer's Open Ruy in the first game of the match, he switched to 5.d3 this time around. Najer seemed to be better prepared in this game as well, and was soon fighting for an advantage. Caruana's decision to give up the right to castle was playable but dangerous, and it soon backfired on him. Najer had the advantage from move 17 on, and while his play was occasionally imperfect his sustained initiative was more than his opponent could manage. In a position that was already hopeless Caruana blundered into mate in one, and was eliminated from the competition.

    Nepomniachtchi also left the competition after a blunder in his second tiebreak game against Baadur Jobava. He had been suffering all game, but wasn't too far from escaping with a draw when he blundered a rook to an elementary two-move combination. Score one for the home team, as Jobava is the only remaining Georgian in the competition.

    Li Chao also exited, but without making any gross blunders. His 27th move in game one was an error, and from there Richard Rapport slowly took advantage, winning after another 88 moves. Rapport was winning the second game as well, but allowed Li to save some rating points with a mercy draw. (Normally I'm not a fan of such draws, but the game had been equal most of the way and Li could have forced an immediate perpetual on moves 29 or 30. The match situation forced him to play something absurd, so Rapport's action could be seen as an acknowledgement that his advantage wasn't due to anything relevant to the players skill or understanding in that game. I'm not sure I agree with the decision, but I'm not sure that it's inappropriate, either. Maybe someone will persuade me one way or the other in the comments.)

    Another match that was decided on a blunder was that between Ding Liren and Vidit Gujrathi. The Chinese super-GM stood better, but Vidit didn't have to make the win so easy by allowing the obvious combination beginning with 19.d5. Perhaps he thought that his mass of central pawns would afford him good compensation, but White didn't have much trouble blockading them.

    Grischuk and Navara went to the second round of tiebreaks, and the former did a better job of navigating a long tactical flurry to win the last game and the match.

    Aleks Lenderman's impressive run was ended by Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The first game was a good rock 'em, sock 'em battle that was headed for a draw until Lenderman tried too hard to squeeze something out of the position. The second game was drawn, so Vachier-Lagrave moves on.

    Anish Giri was lucky to make it to the tiebreaks, and even reaching them didn't end the drama. He beat S.P. Sethuraman in the first rapid game, but was clobbered in the rematch. Giri kept coming, though, and he won the next two games to advance.

    Finally, Levon Aronian had all he could handle against Maxim Matlakov. They drew the two rapid games, and then exchanged victories in the next set of tiebreaks. Aronian finally got through after the next pair of games. Matlakov remained optimistic with White a little too long in the 5th tiebreak game, and Aronian kept control to draw in the 6th.

    Top players have not been doing well, to put it mildly - have a look at all the red at the Live Ratings page. Some favorites remain, for now; let's see what's on tap for round 4. In bracket order, we have these matches:

    • Bu Xiangzhi - Peter Svidler
    • Maxime Vachier-Lagrave - Alexander Grischuk
    • Vassily Ivanchuk - Anish Giri
    • Levon Aronian - Daniil Dubov
    • Wesley So - Baadur Jobava
    • Vladimir Fedoseev - Maxim Rodshtein
    • Evgeny Najer - Richard Rapport
    • Wang Hao - Ding Liren

    I'm guessing that no one on the planet predicted this bracket for round 4. For a closer look at some of the carnage, have a look here, at some annotated games.

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    Reader Comments (4)

    Given the results so far, can a case of too much 'inbred' playing amongst the elite players be made?

    [DM: I'm not sure what you're asking. Do you mean that more outsiders should be permitted into the hallowed events of the elite? Or that the elite should "get out more"? (Or both, or something else?)]

    September 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPedro

    "I'm guessing that no one on the planet predicted this bracket for round 4."
    One would have to predict _exactly these_ upsets ... . Personally, I expected Fedoseev to do well, didn't rule it out for Rapport but didn't expect it from Jobava (gut feeling while both are similarly unpredictable). And, unlike his younger Russian compatriots, I didn't have Najer "under consideration".

    [DM: Sigh. The statement wasn't, "I'm guessing that no one on the planet predicted that any of these underdogs would have made it to round 4", or (since your statements are hedges) "I'm guessing that no one on the planet thought that any of the underdogs here might have made it if things went their way."]

    Some World Cup history: A pairing similar to Bu Xiangzhi-Svidler (#33 vs. #16) occurred similarly (once with #32, once with #17) in 2007, 2011 and 2013. The top seed made it to round 4 only twice since 2005 - in 2009, Gelfand went all the way, in 2015 Topalov lost in round 4 against Svidler. Once upon a time in 2005 a player from the lower half of the 128-player field reached round 4: young Magnus Carlsen, seeded 97th. In 2011, 94th seed Zherebukh (from Ukraine) did the same, eliminating Eljanov and Mamedyarov.

    [DM: Likewise, my statement wasn't, "I'm guessing that no one on the planet predicted that one or more top seeds would be upset. When your comments don't pertain to what I write, please stop using them as a point of departure.]

    MVL-Grischuk (#8 vs. #9) occurred "identically" in 2009, 2011 and 2013.

    So-Jobava (#2 vs. #47) occurred similarly (#2 vs. #50) also 2009/2011/2013.

    The only near-unprecedented pairings are Fedoseev-Rodshtein and Najer-Rapport - two nominal underdogs in round 4, thus one will reach round 5. Last time it happened somewhat similarly was in 2005.

    September 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterThomas

    Regarding the live ratings (and rounding to the nearest whole number), it seems odd to me that, on the one hand, Anand loses 11 while Kovalyov gains 14, and on the other hand, Carlsen loses 1 while Bu gains 15. Perhaps I don't understand the calculation, or perhaps the ratings are not reflecting these particular games between these respective players in some way (for example, are some of the games classical time controls and others rapid and thus showing up on a different live rating list), but I don't understand the disparate losses of rating points suffered by Anand versus Carlsen.

    [DM: If the only games they played were the ones in the match in question, then you'd be completely right. But remember, there were multiple rounds. Kovalyov's first round performance was about 3 rating points better than Anand's was bad. Likewise, Bu picked up more points from his first and second round matches (plus the first game with Svidler, today) than Carlsen did for his first two matches. If you're checking all this on the 2700chess.com website, click the little magnifying glass icon to the right of the player's rating/gain loss, and it will expand to show how he did against every player in the active rating period.]

    September 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTEF

    Probably both, I guess.

    Or rather, how protected is the elite (its cadre's ELOs, at least) by a system which keeps their members largely playing among themselves over and over? Maybe my perception is wrong.

    [DM: That concern has been voiced from time to time, but overall it seems that the top players are the top players because on balance, they have better TPRs than the lower-rated guys, even in mixed events. Even here, where it seems like the top players are having a terrible time, it's still the case that 7 of the top 16 are still alive. But the difference between the absolute top players and "ordinary" 2700s isn't that great - all it takes is one bad day, or sometimes just one bad move, and a player is gone.]

    September 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPedro

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