Greetings everyone, Round 3 has come to a close and we are now in the sweet sixteen. The fourth round should be full of intrigue as we watch the best players in the world duke it out. Worth checking out are the interviews between Nakamura and Kamsky with Polgar. You can sense a certain disdain and a desire to keep their distance from an American chess pariah.
GM Levon Aronian (2813) (the number 1 seed) was knocked out by GM Evgeny Tomashevsky (2709).
GM Alexander Grischuk (2780) was knocked out by GM Quang Liem Le (2712)
GM Anish Giri (2734) was knocked out by GM Julio Granda Zuniga (2679)
GM Hikaru Nakamura (2775) defeated GM Baskaran Adhiban (2567) 2-0
Most Anticipated Match-ups of the fourth round:
1. (3) Kramnik Vs. (19) Ivanchuk
Vladimir Kramnik is a former world champion (2000-2006) and is one of the few people who can say that he beat Kasparov in a match. As a boy he trained in the chess school created by former world champion Mikhail Botvinnik and in 1992 he made headlines when (while still not having earned the GM title) he earned a gold medal in the 1992 Chess Olympiad in Manila where he went an amazing (+8 =1 -0). Amazingly enough he has been able to adapt to the new generation of young and promising chess players better than most top GM’s of today. His play in the candidates tournament was phenomenal and hadn’t it been for a final round loss to none other than Vassily Ivanchuk he would be challenging Anand in India for the world championship (for the second time).
Why this match matters: Perhaps this match more than any other of this round has two players competing who have fantastic chances at becoming the winner of this whole tournament. This is one of those critical match-ups that people in the future will look back on with delight. In addition to that stylistically both of these guys are quite different. Kramnik is known (although he is changing) for his technical abilities and his ability to grind down wins in the endgame against the best players in the world. Ivanchuk is almost known for his inconsistency, he can churn out brilliant games one moment and fall apart disastrously the next. In addition to that these two guys have serious history, they’ve played ~98 games together since 1993 (according to my db). The classical score is 9-5 Kramnik at the moment with 27 draws between them. Just to give you non players some insight essentially 98 games means that at ~3 hours per game (conservative estimate very low) they have sit across from each other for 294 hours which is the equivalent of ~12 days. So, to summarize they have sat in front of one another for TWELVE DAYS of their lives.
Likely outcome: I like Kramnik’s chances in this match. He’s super solid and more importantly he’s consistent (or at least more consistent than Chuky). This one is going to come down to the wire though, and it’s going to be one for the ages. Look forward to seeing some crazy opening play by Ivanchuk trying to catch Kramnik out of his element.
2. (7) Gelfand Vs. (23) Vachier-Lagrave
Boris Gelfand is a Belorussian born GM who now lives in Israel. In 2011 he won the candidates championship and faced the world champion Viswanathan Anand in 2012. No stranger to this knockout style even Gelfand has been making headlines since the early 1990’s Like Ivanchuk and Kramnik he is a stalwart in top level events and remarkably solid in every aspect of his game.
Why this match matters: This is a chance for Lagrave to take revenge on Gelfand for his defeat in the 2009 knockout tournament. Interestingly Lagrave has had a similar tournament to that 2009 tournament where he also played Yu Yangyi (and won). This is also a classic “Youth vs Experience” match-up. Gelfand could be headed for another trip to the candidates tournament if he can continue winning in the manor to which he has grown accustom.
Likely outcome: I really like the way Lagrave has been playing this tournament. He’s gone a remarkable 5.5-0.5 in 6 games (which btw is tied for the best result of the tournament so far (with Nakamura)). Gelfand is Mr. Reliable though and doesn’t lost often and thus far his form has been quite good as well. I like Gelfand’s chances to win this match although not without great trepidation.
3. (2) Caruana Vs. (50) Granda-Zuniga
Grandmaster Fabiano Caruana is one of the most promising juniors in the chess world today. Born in America he left the U.S. for Europe to pursue his dreams of becoming the world champion. Thus far his tournament has been the most successful knock out tournament in his career (in 2011 he was knocked out in the third round by Peter Svidler). His chess has been good and his matches have been fairly smooth.
Why this match matters: Last round I completely slept on Granda-Zuniga. He proved fairly decisively that he is a high quality player and that he can compete with the big boys at the top level. Caruana has a serious chance now to get to the elite 8 and pursue his dream of being invited to the candidates tournament. These two have met before with the score being 1.5 – 0.5 in favor of Caruana.
Likely outcome: I love the way Granda-Zuniga has been playing the last few rounds. Aside from a hiccup against Giri last round where he made a simple miscalculation and played the wrong move order he hasn’t ever really been in trouble in any game. Dubov in the interview today said something to the effect of, “His luck will run out” which I thought was a bit unfair, although he’d know better than I would. Despite his wonderful play thus far I still have to go with Caruana on this one, although I think it’s probably going to go into rapid tiebreaks.