World Cup R5: Kramnik Beats Korobov, Other Games Drawn
Vladimir Kramnik has excellent chances to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup in Tromsø. On Friday the Russian top grandmaster defeated Anton Korobov of Ukraine with the white pieces, and only needs a draw tomorrow to qualify. The other there games, Tomashevsky-Kamsky, Andreikin-Svidler and Vachier-Lagrave-Caruana, ended in draws.
"Svidler and Kramnik are big favorites in their matches against Andreikin and Korobov, respectively. This is partly due to the level of chess shown so far in Tromso and partly out of respect for the rating system and what we might call regression to the mean for the underdogs. It is cumulatively less and less likely lower-rated players will continue to play above level, even in a single event and even in a relatively random one like a knock-out tournament. (An exception is very young stars, who are often underrated.) But surprises are really no surprise in this format, even with only four matches!
Kamsky is a slight favorite versus giant-killer Tomashevsky (before beating Morozevich he eliminated world #2 Aronian). The match closest to being a toss-up is Italy's Caruana versus Vachier-Lagrave of France. Caruana is higher rated and capable of the better chess, but he has not been convincing in Tromso. And fate may yet demand compensation for the huge gift Caruana received in his match with Malakhov! A certain loss with white in their first tiebreak game in round two turned into a win for Caruana. While there is no luck in chess, I do believe in good fortune and the goddess Caissa often demands payment sooner or later. We will see that was "winner's luck" for Caruana or if the bill will come due against Vachier-Lagrave."
These were the predictions of none other than 13th World Champion Garry Kasparov, posted yesterday on his Facebook page. His successor, 14th World Champion Vladimir Kramnik, seems well on his way to confirm his part of the predictions. A win with White was a great start, although it didn't go as smoothly as he would had liked. Kramnik:
"I am not fully satisfied. It was not a great game; I made several mistakes."
Well, it wasn't that bad. OK, after reaching a strategically winning position out of the opening, 29.Rb7? spoilt everything as Korobov could have picked up white's crown pawn on c6 with the move 32...Ne7!. After that, Kramnik was in control for the rest of the game and only missed a quicker win with 38.Qb4.
In the other three games it was Maxime Vachier-Lagrave who came closest to a victory. After eliminating Boris Gelfand, the French GM again played an opponent who has "his" Grünfeld on his repertoire. Vachier-Lagrave managed to get a clear advantage on the board (in the form of an extra pawn on the queenside) as well as the clock. Especially on move 16 Fabiano Caruana spent a lot if time.
"I'd say it was a sixty per cent chance to win,"
said Vachier-Lagrave, who couldn't avoid that his opponent's pieces became very active in the ending; active enough to hold the draw.
Dmitry Andreikin repeated his Torre Attack against Peter Svidler, who had prepared a very solid setup. On move 12 the queens were exchanged and White traded his dark-squared bishop for a knight to play with his own knights and to make Black's light-squared bishop bad. Svidler's logical counter plan was to break open the center for his bishops, and with this he reached a comfortable draw.
Evgeny Tomashevsky and Gata Kamsky played a very quick draw. Normally Thomashevsky wouldn't "give up" his white game so easily, but considering the gruelling match he played with Alexander Morozevich the other day, it might have been a wise choice...
Answering a question that appeared in yesterday's comments: ChessVibes reports that if Kramnik reaches the final, and therefore qualifies for the 2014 Candidates Tournament via the World Cup, it is Sergey Karjakin who will take his spot as the second rating qualifier (besides Levon Aronian). According to FIDE regulations, two players will qualify on the average rating of the twelve rating lists between August 1, 2012 and July 1, 2013. Aronian's average rating is 2813,09, Kramnik's 2800,18 (but that would be irrelevant), Karjakin's 2779,18 and Radjabov's 2777,18.
FIDE World Cup 2013 | Round 5 Results
Held every two years, the World Cup is part of the World Championship cycle. The winner and the runner-up will qualify for the 2014 Candidates Tournament. The World Cup takes place August 10th-September 3rd in Tromsø, Norway. Photos by Paul Truong courtesy of the official website; games via TWIC.