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    Entries in Shankland (2)

    Monday
    Aug292011

    World Cup 2011: Round 1, Day 2: Leko, Wang Yue Eliminated

    Most of the favorites continued smoothly along, qualifying for round 2 on Wednesday. Most, but not all! The two big upset victims from day 1, Peter Leko and Wang Yue, were unable to take revenge today against Sam Shankland and Alexandr Fier, respectively. Wang Yue did have his chances, but Fier escaped with a draw to advance. As for Leko, he tried to mix things up with the Modern Benoni, but was outplayed and wound up the recipient of a charity draw in a lost position.

    Another noteworthy upset victim was Gata Kamsky. Diego Di Berardino ground him down, but fortunately for Kamsky that means playoffs tomorrow rather than his elimination. Another 2700 suffering a similar fate was Francisco Vallejo Pons, who lost today to the very young Peruvian GM Jorge Cori. They were almost joined by Michael Adams, who got into enormous trouble with White against Mark Paragua, but Adams held on to draw in over 100 moves, and thus won his match.

    No Americans have been knocked out so far: Shankland, Alexander Ivanov (by forfeit over Wang Hao) and Alexander Onischuk (1.5-.5 over Ivan Ivansevic) advanced; Kamsky, Ray Robson (two draws vs. Etienne Bacrot) and Yuri Shulman (two draws with Vladimir Potkin) are headed for playoffs.

    Viorel Iordacescu lost today, so he's off to playoffs as well.

    Now for some links. The event website is here, and those with the time and opportunity should check out their live coverage, complete with lots of high-def webcams, commentary in both Russian and English, post-game interviews and even, on occasion, some winners demonstrating their games. Better still, you can watch it even now - just click the play button (the video is near the top of the linked page).

    TWIC has good coverage, and you can see the report on today's games here.

    The clearest bracket can be found on the event's Wikipedia page (scroll down).

    Finally, my own contribution today: a couple of games I found of interest, here.

    Sunday
    Aug282011

    World Cup 2011: Round 1, Day 1

    Given the pairing system, this round is set up to have the biggest mismatches, and most of the top boards were very efficient in polishing off their opponents. There were a few draws here and there, especially when the higher-rated player had Black, but only two of the 31 2700s were upset.

    The first one to finish was Brazilian GM Alexandr Fier's victory over Chinese GM Wang Yue (2709), and indeed the Chinese have in general been having a tough time of things so far. In addition to Wang Yue's loss, Wang Hao had to withdraw due to heart problems (shocking, as he just turned 22 a few weeks ago) while  Yu Yangyi, Zhou Jianchao and Hou Yifan all lost. Li Chao, Ni Hua and Ding Liren all drew, and only Bu Xiangzhi managed to win.

    The second upset, which was the last game to finish, saw American Sam Shankland beat Hungarian super-GM Peter Leko. What was even more remarkable about the game was that Shankland had an chronically unpleasant position in the early middlegame. He wasn't losing, but it was the sort of situation where Leko could torture him with the bishop pair/"extra" bishop forever, without any real risk at all. Leko may not be as technically proficient as Vladimir Kramnik or Magnus Carlsen, but he is considered adept at grinding opponents down.

    Against Shankland, he didn't even come close, though he was in no danger at all for a long time. This started to change a little past move 50, when he failed to prioritize the task of getting his bishop back into play. By move 62, he was in trouble, but the game could still be saved.

    Leko-Shankland, position after 62...b4-b3

    The b-pawn is obviously a huge problem for White, and he was unable to solve it. Leko played 63.Rb7+?? and resigned after Ke6 64.g5 Kf5 65.Rb5+ Kg6 66.Be1 b2, as there's no sensible defense to the simple threat of ...Ra1 followed by queening. Back at the diagram position, however, Leko could have drawn with 63.Be1, taking advantage of the threatened fork on b4. If 63...Ra2+, White holds with 64.Kh3! b2 65.Bc3. Note that Black can't win White's bishop with 65...Ra1 66.Bxb2 Rb1(??) because of 67.Bf6+. (Or if you prefer, Black has "won" White's bishop in return for a rook - not a good deal.)

    Leko is not thought of as the sort of player who can win to order with Black, but with his strength and experience it would be wrong to count him out. Anyway, at this point things are looking uncharacteristically good for the U.S. contingent. Gata Kamsky won, of course - that's no surprise from the #8 seed, playing down 261 points and with White. Shankland won, as we saw, while Alexander Ivanov also "won" against a 2700 - in the Pickwickian sense that he was the beneficiary of Wang Hao's withdrawal. Ray Robson had a fine result too, drawing with Black against Etienne Bacrot (2710). (Bacrot may very well be exhausted from the French Championship and the subsequent long trip, which may give Robson a much better chance than he would otherwise have to pull off a big upset tomorrow.) The other two results were neutral: Yuri Shulman drew with White against the somewhat but not tremendously higher-rated Vladimir Potkin, while Alexander Onischuk drew with Black against the relatively slightly lower-rated Ivan Ivanisevic.

    Official site here, games available here, brackets and results most easily viewed here.