World Cup starts tomorrow

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Tomorrow the first round of the FIDE World Cup will be played; a knockout tournament with no less than 128 players that runs November 23 till December 17 in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. Seven round of two-game matches, except for the last round (the final) which will have four games. Total prize fund: 1,600,000 US dollars.

Let's first make clear where exactly that is, Khanty-Mansiysk:

The first three round (23 November-2 December), with first 128, then 64 and then 32 players, will be held in the Big Hall of the Concert Theater Center "Ugra-Classic":

The last four rounds (3-16 December) will take place in the Arts Centre:

A total of 128 players will travel to Siberia, who qualified from national championships, zonal tournaments and continental championships (from which 45 players from Europe could qualify, 19 from the Americas, also 19 from Asia and 6 from Africa). For this World Cup all Mexico participants had qualified but of course current world champion Anand doesn't have to play, and neither does Kramnik who already has his match. By the way this also holds true for Topalov, who... indeed, will play the winner of this World Cup. And if we're not mistaken, the winner of this "Topalov-World Cup winner" match will play a match for the world title in 2009 against the winner of Anand-Kramnik.

So the strongest players we're missing in this World Cup are Gelfand, Leko and Morozevich. Who knows more about this, please leave a comment to this article. Also qualified is the current women's world champion (Xu Yuhua, and she's participating), the junior world champion under 20 of 2006 (Zaven Andriasian, also playing), and then the 20 best players on average from the July 2006 and January 2007 rating list, then 89 players from continental championships, 5 FIDE President nominees and 4 nominees by the organizers. This leads to the following list (pairings for the first round):


So eventually we'll have one winner from this long list of players. But only after six rounds of two-game matches and a four-game final. The time control shall be 90 minutes for the first 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an addition of 30 seconds per move from move one. After a 1-1 score there will be tiebreaks on the next day, with first two rapid games of 25 minutea and 10 secondes increment, then two 5-minutes games (also 10 secondes increment) and if needed, a sudden-death game. The player, who wins the drawing of lots, may choose the colour. White shall receive 6 minutes, Black shall receive 5 minutes, without any addition. In case of a draw the player with the black pieces is declared as winner.

The total prize fund is 1,600,000 US dollars, divided like this:


The schedule for the tournament:


FIDE has punt an Excel file online with the full pairings tree for rounds 1-7. I've put that one as a PDF here. That's about it as far as the information is concerned and the official website isn't looking very promising yet. As soon as we've discovered the link for live games, we'll add it to the grey column on the right.

Of course first-seed Vassily Ivanchuk is the favourite, but everything can happen in such a tournament. Energy and stamina are important, but from former FIDE knockout tournaments we know that rapid or blitz capacities are important as well. One thing is certain: the chess fans won't be bored in the coming three weeks.

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