World Cup (English)

 Kamsky (right) against Mamedyarov, the game of the tournament?!

The World Cup is getting more and more exciting! First of all it is important to notice that the World Cup is not determining the World Champion. The winner of the World Cup can only call himself, well, World Cup winner. However, he qualifies for the next Candidates Tournament and the winner of this tournament will then eventually challenge the World Champion. Long, long way to go for someone, who wants to become World Champion! Interestingly, chess is the only sport I know, where the World Champion has a very huge privilege. He doesn't need to go through this whole cycle, but only has to play one match to either retain his title or lose it. Imagine, in soccer for the next World Championship Spain would already wait in the final and play only one match, while the challenger goes through a whole exhausting tournament. It sounds absurd. In chess it is based on a long tradition. It was introduced somewhere in the late 19th century, that the World Champion keeps the title until a challenger takes it away from him. In my opinion, it wouldn't hurt to break with the tradition and change the modus, which would make it fairer to everybody.

After this "short" introduction, let's get into the games. The field of the World Cup started out with 128 players, but since every round half of the players drop out of the tournament, already only 16 players are left. There is only one player left with a rating below 2700, which is the Peruvian Granda Zuniga (Elo 2679). Since he lost yesterday to Fabiano Caruana, he is now on the brink of leaving the tournament, too. There were other decided games as well yesterday and one of these was called the game of the tournament by the commentators Susan Polgar and Lawrence Trent (who, by the way, do an excellent job in commentating the tournament). As you might have guessed, I was very tempted to analyze this game, which was played between Gata Kamsky and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov:

Now, while I am typing these lines, Mamedyarov is trying to come back with the White pieces and gain a full point. I really recommend checking out the live broadcast, which is very clearly presented and is provided with a nice commentary.

After I now took a look at the maybe best game of the tournament, I will also show you a part of what was from many called the worst game of the tournament. Funnily enough, Kamsky participated in this one as well:

Shimanov - Kamsky World Cup

Black to move

White just played 20.Rf1-f2??, seemingly completely overlooking Black's response. I think every amateur player, with maybe 1600 rating or even less, who did some tactic exercises in his life, will spot 20...Qxh2+, which is just winning. The queen cannot be taken, because of 21...Ng3+ 22.Kg1 and Rh1 mate. So 21.Kf1 is forced, but then 21...Ng3+ 22.Ke1 Qg1+ is already winning the exchange. After 23.Rf1 Nxf1 24.Qxf1 Black even has the blow Bxd4, which opens up White's position completely and Black is totally winning. For me, rationally not explainable how not only one, but both players overlooked this standard motif. Instead, Kamsky played 20...Ng3??, which is losing, because now White can play 21.Nf3 and after Qg4 take on g3. 22.fxg3 and White has a winning position. There were more mistakes to come on both sides, but eventually Shimanov won the game.

So far, so good. What I find especially interesting about this tournament, is that it is very difficult to predict the winner. Due to the character of the modus, every mistake can already be the last for a player and he has to go home. Before the tournament I would have voted for Aronian, but he already had to leave the tournament.

I will now continue watching the games. See you later!