The round of 64 got underway at the World Cup, and once again there were few upsets: only one, to be precise, if for an upset we require the lower-rated player to win. In fact, the pattern on the first 11 boards was predictable and amusing: if the higher-rated player had Black the game was drawn, and if he had White he won. Those winners were Fabiano Caruana, Alexander Grischuk, Hikaru Nakamura, Gata Kamsky and Leinier Dominguez.
From boards 12-15 there was a different story. The favorites didn't win with White, and the one upset took place on board 15 where Julio Granda Zuniga, undeterred by having to play all the way through the Armageddon game yesterday, defeated Peter Leko all the same. There was almost an upset on board 12, too, as Aleksey Dreev missed out on an excellent chance to defeat Wang Hao - and with the black pieces. In fact, he might have been winning in the final position, but his best chance was the beautiful 46...f5!! Taking the pawn allows Black to win the knight on d2, and the main tactical point is that 47.Rbxd3 (either rook, really) 47...Re2+ 48.Kf3 Rf2 is mate, and 48.Kf1 Rf2+ followed by 49...Rc1+/# isn't any better.
Another missed chance came on board 16. Alexander Morozevich won, and one must say that it was mostly deserved, as he dominated the chances for a long time. However, we all know that we don't get any points on the scoretable for games that we dominated but lost, and on move 35 Rafael Leitao had his chance to steal the game. Morozevich's careless 35.Qb4?? allowed the fairly simple shot 35...Ng3+!, when the best White can do is 36.hxg3 Qh6+ 37.Kg1 Be3+ 38.Rf2 Bxf2+ 39.Kxf2 Qf6+ 40.Kg1 Qxa1, and that's not saying very much at all. All the moves are forcing and ...Ng3+ is a move one would expect a good club player to find, let alone a strong and experienced GM like Leitao. Even in time trouble I'd expect him to find that - it's an obvious move and the follow-up is so forcing that it's very easy to work it out.
So what happened? My guess is that ...Ng3+ had been impossible for so long that Leitao's mental "suspector" was no longer attuned to such an idea. What I mean by a "suspector" is nothing literal, of course. When we see tactical possibilities, we're generally attuned to it by familiar features of a position or by typical series of moves. In other words, when certain conditions are right we suspect that certain motifs will be available, and to start to look for and calculate them. By contrast, when a pattern is extracted from its usual settings it's easy to miss, and all the more so when it becomes possible not after one's own move, but the opponent's.
Anish Giri was the next player (going in board order) to win, defeating Li Chao. Today was another bad day for the Chinese contingent as Yu Yangyi also lost and Wang Hao survived by a thread against Dreev, as already noted. Only Wei Yi can feel good about his performance, as he defended nicely and cleanly with Black against Alexei Shirov. Back to Giri: one funny aspect of his game is that although it was one of the longest in terms of moves, it was one of the first games to finish and the first one with a decisive result.
Other winners: Vassily Ivanchuk (who defeated Ray Robson; the Americans went 2-2 on the day as Alexander Onischuk also lost [vs. Dominguez]), Anton Korobov, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Evgeny Tomashevsky. About Vachier-Lagrave's game: he was utterly busted against Isan Reynaldo Ortiz Suarez, who had defeated Judit Polgar in round 1. Ortiz Suarez was up the exchange and had made the time control, and needed just a bit of accuracy to handle Black's mass of central pawns. Unfortunately for him, he let things get completely out of control, and what would have been a very well-deserved victory speedily turned into a loss.
In sum, there were 12 winners from the 32 games, and all but two (Ivanchuk and Vachier-Lagrave) won with White.
Here's a long and interesting interview with Vladimir Kramnik that is enjoyable in most every respect but one: he, like Gata Kamsky, renewed the "threat" to retire from chess at 40. (He's 38 now.) Why not keep going as long as you can seriously compete for the world championship, enjoy it and have the strength to keep up the lifestyle? Oh well. I wonder what would happen if he won the next Candidates event and then defeated Carlsen. Would he retire even then?
Anyway, the rest is enjoyable, and if you're not a Kramnik fan you might enjoy that part too.