Well, sports fans, Monday was a bad day for those of us who are hoping that Viswanathan Anand will win or at least be competitive against Magnus Carlsen in their coming world championship match. It would be wrong to draw too sweeping a conclusion from his ouster in the Corsica semi-finals at the hands of Sergey Fedorchuk, but it certainly doesn't lend itself to any optimistic scenarios either. Fedorchuk won the first rapid game with Black, and then drew from a position of strength with the white pieces - and he could easily have played for a win in that game too.
In the previous round Anand had blanked Pavel Tregubov 2-0 while Fedorchuk had struggled to overcome Csaba Balogh. They drew their rapid games, and the first blitz game was also drawn. Fedorchuk had White in the second blitz game but no advantage, but when Balogh went crazy with 17...Qh5? and 19...e5 he was quickly crushed.
In the other half of the draw, Hou Yifan made things as difficult for herself as possible before qualifying for the finals. As she did yesterday, she began her quarterfinal match with Martyn Kravtsiv by losing with the white pieces. As yesterday, she won the rematch and then won the blitz playoff 2-0. In the semi-final round she unexpectedly played Robert Ruck, who had defeated second seed Ivan Saric 1.5-.5, winning the second game with the pieces.
In the Hou-Ruck match Hou broke the pattern by winning the first game with White, but the overall pattern of needing to suffer continued intact. She lost the second game, and then lost the first blitz game to boot - both losses were with Black. She won the second blitz game, and then it was time for an Armageddon game. She had White and five minutes against Ruck's four minutes and draw odds, and she came through with a good win.
Tuesday will see the battle of the 2673s, and the silver lining for Anand is that he gets an additional day of preparation for the Carlsen match.