2015 Chess World Cup (Round 2)

The first round is over and we have some interesting results. There were some notable upsets in the first round. A few of the players considered to be the “old guard” have been eliminated. Before we get started with the upsets I just wanted to make the comment that the repartee between GM Emil Sutovsky and GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko is amusing. They tend to disagree a lot which poses some amusing if not awkward moments. In one particularly amusing exchange Sutovsky claimed that there was no perpetual in the position and Miro thought that there might be. They went back and forth and eventually Miro relented. Let’s have a look at the upsets:

The Upsets:

  • GM Alexander Moiseenko (2710) was knocked out by GM Lu Shanglei (2607)
  • GM Boris Gelfand (2741) was knocked out by Chilean IM Cristobal Henriquez Villagra (2511)
  • GM Hua Ni was knocked out by Argentine GM Sandro Mareco (2605)
  • GM Igor Kovalenko (2702) was knocked out by GM Wen Yang (2618)
  • GM Ruslan Kasimdzhanov (2704) was knocked out by GM Anton Kovalyov (2616)

Perfect Scores (ones in bold were a bit of a shock):

  • GM Veselin Topalov (2813) defeated IM Oladapu Adu (2241) 2-0
  • GM Levon Aronian (2765) defeated GM Michael Wiedenkeller (2453) 2-0
  • GM Wesley So (2779) defeated IM Parham Maghsoodloo (2416) 2-0
  • GM Hikaru Nakamura (2814) defeated IM Phiri Richmond (2291) 2-0
  • GM Pavel Eljanov (2723) defeated GM Rinat Jumabayev (2600) 2-0
  • GM Bassem Amin (2640) defeated GM Ivan Saric (2661) 2-0
  • GM Fabiano Caruana (2808) defeated IM Amir Zaibi (2330) 2-0
  • GM Pentala Harikrishan (2740) defeated IM Max Illingworth (2514) 2-0
  • GM S.P. Sethuraman (2635) defeated GM Sanan Sjugirov (2664) 2-0
  • GM Vladimir Kramnik (2777) defeated IM Cori Deysi (2426) 2-0
  • GM Sergei Karjakin (2753) defeated FM Ermes Espinosa Veloz (2495) 2-0
  • GM Yangyi Yu (2726) defeated GM Viorel Iordachescu (2589) 2-0

Most anticipated match ups of the second round:

1. (21) Maxime Vachier-Lagrave Vs. (44) Gabriel Sargissian

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is a French Super GM who we covered in the previous round.

Gabriel Sargissian is an Armenian GM. He won the Armenian championship in 2000 and 2003.

Why this match matters: These two have played 11 times in my database. If you include rapid and exhibition games MVL is 3-1 with 8 draws against Sargissian. This is the grudge match of the round as these two have played more frequently than any other pair in the round. I’ve chosen MVL once again as one of my featured match-ups and I don’t think he’s going to disappoint us.

Likely Outcome: I believe that MVL should win this match. As of the time of me writing this the first game of the second round has been completed and they played to a draw. I think it’s going to come down to tiebreaks but that eventually MVL should eek out a win.

2. (11) Sergey Karjakin Vs. (54) Alexander Onischuk

Sergey Karjakin is an elite GM from the Ukraine. He’s one of the best players in the world and has won many top tournaments including Noway chess in 2014 and 2013.

Alexander Onischuk is an American GM who qualified via the US Championships. He’s been on the scene here in America for a long time and has been on the Olympiad teams for a number of years. He’s currently the coach of the college team Texas Tech. He doesn’t really play in high level events anymore but does play periodically in US Open events.

Why this match matters: These two have played the second most games against one another in the tournament. In my database it shows that they have played 9 times with Karjakin winning 2-0 with 7 draws. At the time of my writing this, Onischuk won the first game which makes this match all the more intriguing.

Likely Outcome: If you had told me yesterday that Onischuk would be able to defeat Karjakin I would have been very surprised. This seems like a foregone conclusion at this point as I believe that despite having the black pieces tomorrow that Onischuk is solid enough that he should be able to hold a draw. The one thing about Onischuk is that he’s predictable, he tends to play the same stuff over and over again. I believe that Onischuk should be able to draw tomorrow and should advance to the round of 32.

3. (17) Teimour Radjabov Vs. (48) Ilya Smirin

Teimour Radjabov is an elite GM from Azerbaijan. He’s an incredibly dynamic player and on a good day he can beat anyone in the world. He’s won dozens of high level tournaments but recently was in a bit of a slump. It’s entirely possible that he could win this tournament and I look at him as a bit of a dark horse that could sneak up on the rest of the field.

GM Ilya Smirin is a GM from Israel and noted chess author. In the early 1990’s he was a force to be reckoned with. At this point it seems that he’s slowed down a bit.

Why this match matters: So this is the third grudge match of the round. In total these guys have played 4 times against one another; the first time being in 2001.

Likely Outcome: I believe that Radjabov should be able to dispose of Smirin. At the time of me writing this, they drew their first game, with Radjabov having the black pieces. As white Radjabov is a terror. I think that tomorrow will be a decisive day and we will see the elimination of one of the oldest competitors in the field, Ilya Smirin.

4. (52) Julio Granda Zuniga Vs. (116) Cristobal Henriquez Villagra

GM Julio Granda Zuniga is back at it! Currently he is the oldest competitor in the field. He is playing one of the youngest competitors in the field, who managed to upset Boris Gelfand in the first round. As some of you may recall Granda Zuniga had a fantastic world cup the last time around and this year if he can get past either Artemiev or Wojtaszek he’ll have another chance to make a run.

IM Crostobal Henriquez Villagra is having a great tournament thus far. He managed to defeat a former World Cup champion in Gelfand and I’m sure at least a few of the top players are breathing a sigh of relief. I had Gelfand playing Giri in my bracket with Giri coming out on top. Vallagra is a young player from Chile, who earned his spot at the world cup via the 2.5 zonal.

Why this match matters: This is one of the oldest competitors playing against one of the youngest competitors in the classic youth vs experience match up. For guys like Zuniga you have to imagine that this could be one of the last times we see him playing at this level.

Likely Outcome: I would have chosen Zuniga before today’s round but after today I believe that Zuniga should cruise to victory over Villagra. If he can get past this round Zuniga is going to have a tough go of it next round when he could potentially play Wojtaszek or Artemiev. I like his chances better against Artemiev but you never know.

5. (27) Dmitry Andreikin Vs. (38) Anton Korobov

Dmitry Andreikin is an Elite Russian GM and former Russian Champion. In 2013 he earned second place behind Kramnik in the World Cup. He’s another player to watch out for in this event as he’s proven that he’s somewhat unshakable and can perform at a very high level for long periods of time.

Anton Korobov is another player who had a fantastic result at the 2013 World Cup. After eliminating Nakamura he made it all the way to the final four before losing to eventual champion Kramnik.

Why this match matters: This match is cool, we get to see the pairing between two players who had fantastic results from 2013. Both of these guys are incredibly solid players and it’s somewhat frustrating as a fan that they are meeting this early in the tournament. This section of the bracket is incredibly interesting because, in the next round one of these guys could end up playing Kramnik. So here we have a condensed version of the 2013 World Cup all in one bracket!

Likely outcome: Before today, I would have told you to flip a coin. At the time of me writing this piece Andreikin won the first game and frankly I don’t see him losing. I believe that Andreikin should come out of this round tomorrow where he will likely face off against his 2013 foe Kramnik.

And that’s all folks, tune in again on Thursday as I will attempt to have my predictions up before the results come pouring in.

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