2009 World Cup: Round #4
Round #4 will feature a healthy dose of 2700 battles. We can expect shorter draws and perhaps longer matches. A few marquee matches are on tap including Svidler-Shirov, but Ruslan Ponomariov may be lurking in the wings hoping the field has forgotten that he has won this tournament back in 2002. The Azeri duo (Mamedyarov and Gashimov) look very strong. Wesley So (right) is riding a wave of success catapulting him into the international spotlight. He faces a super-solid Russian Vladimir Malakhov who crushed the strong Ukrainian Pavel Eljanov.
Photo by Galina Popova courtesy of FIDE. Gallery link, ugra-chess.ru.
Games (PGN): (all)
The Ukraine’s Sergey Karjakin strikes a pensive pose. The child prodigy has certainly grown up! Will he finally break through this year? Photo by Galina Popova courtesy of FIDE. Gallery link, ugra-chess.ru.
Round #4 got off to an interesting start with some interesting draws. One board #1, Israel’s Boris Gelfand trotted out his rock solid Petroff against French star Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, but was his king was chased around the board. In the end he was able to hold the balance despite white’s strong pawns for the exchange.
Wesley So tried in vain to break the wall of Vladimir Malakhov’s tough defense and had to settle for a draw after a slight advantage. It appears for many players that the strategy may be to draw the first two games and go with the longer matches in rapid and blitz.
In a marquee matchup, Peter Svidler put Alexei Shirov on the brink by beating back a blistering attack. After nearly being eliminated by Arkadij Naiditsch, Svidler has a chance to close out the match tomorrow and advance to the final eight. The other decisive game saw Shakhriyar Mamedyarov demolish Viktor Laznicka.
The game started out in a tremendous struggle, but Laznicka started to lose the thread on the position when black started to invade his camp. Mamedyarov took advantage of a tactical oversight and finished off his Czech opponent efficiently.
Czech Republic’s Viktor Laznicka’s came nattily dressed, but was ruffled by Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Photo by Galina Popova courtesy of FIDE. Gallery link, ugra-chess.ru.
Wesley So, the Filipino sensation in FIDE World Cup 2009 is young and shy guy but he has the heart of great fighter. I have no doubt that he will be around after Round 6. Go, Wesley, we are always with you and bring home the beacon.
Flash!! Svidler and Mamedyarov advance by holding 1-point lead. Karjakin beats Vitiugov to advance. The rest of the matches will go to tiebreaks.
Wesley So is out. Malakhov made no mistakes in the Rapids. My money is on Svidler or Malakhov winning this thing. So has a bright future ahead of him, in another 2 years he should be up there with the creme de la creme.
I haven’t looked at the games yet, but it appears that the tournament will have a thrilling ending. Here are the matchups:
All of these players are 2700, so there are no more “Cinderella” stories this tournament. Gelfand has played solidly thus far and has held his board #1. I don’t see Svidler winning this tournament, but at this point, any one of the eight players could win. I like Jakovenko, Mamedyarov, Ponomariov and Svidler for the semi-finals. Ponomarov is in great form. Is this the year Karjakin breaks through?
We move to the quarterfinals and eight strong players rated over 2700 will face off in FIDE World Cup for a chance at the championship cycle. The results on Wednesday should not have posed a surprise, but what a ride we got from the young star Wesley So. The 16-year old Grandmaster from the Philippines defied all odds by upsetting two world championship caliber opponents in Vassily Ivanchuk and Gata Kamsky.
Today So ran into a buzzsaw when facing the most unfancied 2700 player in the world in Vladimir Malakhov. So held even until Malakhov turned up his game in the rapid and blitzed his way to a 3-0 romp. He will returned to the Philippines to a hero’s welcome and perhaps he will begin to attract the attention of sponsors.
The day belong to the heavyweights. Boris Gelfand had to go blitz to eliminate French star Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The score was 4½-3½. Gelfand will play rising Russian star Dmitri Jakovenko who dispatched colleague/friend Alexander Grischuk 5-3 by winning two games in the blitz round.
Gashimov found the snappy 25…Qe8! to dash Caruana’s hopes of prolonging the match.
Another young star to exit was Fabiano Caruana who lost to Vugar Gashimov 3½-1½. In the first rapid game, Gashimov was facing a sacrificial attack and had trouble finding shelter for his king. It turns out the Italian missed his chance when instead of 21.Qb3, he could play 21.Qf5+! with counterplay. Black survived the onslaught and found the beautiful 25…Qe8! The queen sacrifice that couldn’t readily be accepted. White resigned a few moves later.
In the second rapid, Caruana seemed to have the iniative, but then begin playing loosely with 14…g5? After that, white solidified and took advantage of black’s weaknesses. After winning a pawn, then an exchange the Italian went out without much of a fight. The last game was drawn and Gashimov would advance.
The Ukraine’s Ruslan Ponomariov won his match against Etienne Bacrot keeping hopes alive of winning yet another Knockout tournament. He won the FIDE Knockout World Championship in 2002. He will be facing Gashimov.