Ups and Downs in World Cup Part 2

Ups and Downs in World Cup Part 2‎

WIM energia
31 | Middlegame

                The World Cup is still continuing in Siberia. There are only eight players left. There are no Americans left as Gata Kamsky was eliminated in Round 3 by the young Filipino superstar Wesley So, whose exploits include a Round 2 victory over Ivanchuk.  Shirov, my pick to win the tournament, lost in Round 4 to Svidler, while Krush’s pick Mamedyarov continues to win impressively and moved on to Round 5.  I would like to show a few more games from the tournament highlighting piece exchanges.  Although every game does feature piece exchanges, not every game can truly be defined by the timing of the piece exchanges. Though it is possible to exchange pieces incorrectly while still managing to retain an edge, there are other cases in which a wrong exchange can cost the game.  It is interesting to notice that there were many games lost by White in this tournament. In my opinion, this is due to the knockout format-- if one does not win with White, then he has to defend the next game with Black to reach a playoff, which is rather nerve wracking. This leads White to push too hard and end up losing (particularly if White is the higher rated player).

                The first example is a game of Kamsky's. He plays against Wesley So with White, much lower rated player but who just won against Ivanchuk. There might be an element of luck but one cannot underestimate a young player whose progress is measured not by years but by weeks. Kamsky played for a win, taking risks. It might prove a correct strategy against a different lower rated player but So brought his best game. I am not sure if the opening choice was the best, since Kamsky ended up taking a worse position to avoid an endgame. When I think of Kamsky's style, he plays endgames very well, so it is hard to say what has happened.


                The second game I would like to show how Shirov, my pick to win the tournament, lost with White as well. As in Kamsky’s case he pressed too hard in a roughly equal position. Shirov’s attack looked dangerous, especially for a human defender, but Svidler found series of super defensive moves and brought the game home. Svidler had no problem drawing with White and advanced into the next round.


                The first two games saw the higher rated players losing with White.  Now I would like to present a game played by Mamedyarov. He is in amazing form, winning his matches in regulation and playing only once in tie-break games. In this game he opted for the advantage of the two bishops, even though in the short term he didn’t have a way to use it. He steadily, and with great patience, improved his position and prepared for a rook breakthrough that decided the game.

                Overall, this would be my last article on piece exchanges in the World Cup.  I hope that the players that remain produce great chess to show and that the games will be creative and full of original ideas. I wonder if in the remaining games White will be more careful and play as the position asks or if White will take risks and the risky decisions will pay off?

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