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Wow. Looks like Carlsen got a bit more of a challenge than he asked for. Very nice win for Bu.

What I found interesting was Carlsen playing 2.Bc4. I know it's not that unfashionable atm. But it appears Carlsen and his team haven't found anything that promising against the Petroff. Though, I can't help to wonder why didn't he simply sidestep it and picked 1.Nf3 or 1.d4 or 1.c4

Also Aronian scored a nice win against Matlakov.  Though I would've been more interested if he had played more main line stuff with 4.g3 and the game could've gone for the reversed Dragon or a more traditional English four knights.

Oh, yeah. Paco played a total train wreck of a game against So.

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I didn't like Carlsen's position after Bu crashed in with 16...Bxh3.

The engines might like white, but in practical play this is (imho) way more pleasent to play for black. White must keep at least one eye on his king not getting mated, while black always has a fair chance to escape with a perpetual somewhere.

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Wow, quite a bit of results today.

Carlsen out, after he was comfortably held to a draw with Bu. (Ok, trying win with Black was going to be tricky anyway).

Nakamura is out. Four knights opening? Well, not my cup of tea. But my guess is, it's been a while since that stuff had been played on that level. Anyway, way to go Fedoseev.

Big Vlad is also out. Looks like planet Ivanchuk came to play.

Matlakov forces Aronian into the breaks after really crushing him today. Very nice game. Must have been a while since Aronian was miniaturized like that.

Dubov eliminated Artemiev, that was a bit surprising to me, as I rate Artemiev higher as a player. And I am not exactly sure where things got wrong for Artemiev. Suddenly he was just down a rook. Looks like he made a fingerfehler or something.


Somehow I missed the controversy in the Rodhstein match (because that match did not interest me). But at least it served as a reminder what a piece of work Azmaiparashvili is.

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And we also lost Caruana today. This round felt a bit like the hunger games for top ten players.

Carlsen, Kramnik, Caruana, Nakamura out. With Anand getting knocked out the previous round, it's gonna be interesting who misses out on the candidates tournament. My money is on Nakamura and Anand being a mere spectators then. Caruana has a fair chance to get there by average rating (Nakamura probably, too. I just fancy Caruana's chances more). Kramnik has a chance to get there by wildcard or as the second rating qualifier.

Anyway, round of the last 16. We can finally draw some sort of play off tree. Anybody else in for predictions?

Bu - Svidler

Interesting encounter of two very strong players. I fancy Svidler a bit more, due to his experience.

MVL vs. Grischuk

Real heavyweight clash. I think Max will come out on top, due to his recent form.

That would mean MVL vs. Svidler in the QF


Ivanchuk vs. Giri

Ivanchuk is unpredictable. I think GIri will win this in the tie breaks.

Aronian vs. Dubov

on paper one of the easier ties. But given how Aronian stumbled a bit in the last two rounds. Well, my inner fanboy sticks with Levon anyway.

So it's Aronian vs. Giri in the QF.


Jobava vs. So.

This match up is tailormade for So imho. So is super solid, so I don't see Baduur overcoming that wall.

Fedoseev vs Rodshtein

Usually I'd pick Fedoseev. But since Rodshtein had a few rest days, this tie has become a bit trickier for me to predict. I go with Rodshtein.

QF So vs Rodshtein


Najer vs Rapport

I am pretty impressed with Rapport in this tournament. He has been very disciplined no opening experiments that backfired badly.  I pick rapport

Ding Liren vs Wang Hao

The Chinese Chess Story. I go with China's #1 player.

QF Rapport vs. Ding Liren.

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I don't mind predicting. I'm supremely likely to be wrong, however :)

So: Bu - Svidler: I like Svidler. Perhaps even more as a commentator. He's solid, and he's got experience .. but he tends to draw too much, and Bu has been solid in this tournament. I think I'll go for Bu. 

MVL - Grischuck: Depends a bit on which Grischuck who shows up, but I think MVL will take this. They are evenly matched both in classical, rapid and blitz, but Grischuck is more likely to run into time trouble, and MVL is in good shape. MVL moving on.

QF: Bu - MVL

Ivanchuck - Giri: Can go either way. Chucky has looked good thus far, however, and we're not yet at the point where nerves will put him out. I think he'll go through, but not before rapids/blitz. 

Aronian - Dubov: Should be easy for Aronian, and I think he'll go through - but Dubov has been well prepared and has played well so far. Uncertain about this, but I can't go against Aronian. He's my favourite among the top players.

QF: Ivanchuck - Aronian

Jobova - So: I really can't see how So is going to lose this. Finished after classical, So through.

Fedoseev - Rodshtein: I don't really know enough about the players to predict anything. Will pick Fedoseev just to be contraty :)

QF: So - Fedoseev

Najer - Rapport: Najer is another one I know little about. Rapport has been solid. Impressed that he knocked out Wei Yi. He looks good, so I'll back him.

Ding Liren - Wang Hao: *flips coin* *Tails* Wang Hao.

QF: Rapport - Wang Hao.

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On 9/10/2017 at 6:37 PM, Notone said:

But at least it served as a reminder what a piece of work Azmaiparashvili is.

Azmaiparashvili's ongoing involvement in chess, at any level, is pretty depressing.     

15 hours ago, Notone said:

Anybody else in for predictions?

Hmm.  Let's go with:

Bu - Svidler

MVL - Grischuk

QF1: MVL - Bu

Ivanchuk - Giri

Aronian - Dubov

QF2: Aronian - Giri

Jobava - So

Fedoseev - Rodshtein

QF3: So - Fedoseev

Najer - Rapport

Ding Liren - Wang Hao

QF4: Wang Hao - Rapport

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Now, it may have been hard to see over the board, but I was glancing at Dubov - Aronian before I left work, and Rxb2 seemed very natural. Might be Qf6 looked eqally good for Aronian, but - for once - the computer agreed with me.

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Just checked today's games.

Ding showed off his endgame technique to eliminate Wang.

On the other hand, watching Aronian failing to convert his won endgame is kinda embarassing. Not as bad as Anna Ushenina (?) being unable to mate a few years ago with K+N+B vs K, but it's pretty close. And yes, this K+R+p vs K+B+p is winning for the side with the rook. It's really just a matter of technique - it's not trivial as Dubov apparently knows what he is doing, but atm it doesn't look like the same can be said about Levon. Around move 50 it started to look quite a bit like clueless woodpushing what Aronian's doing.

Giri's out.

And Rodshtein managed to force Fedoseev into the tie breaks.

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So, let's take a look at the QF. I'll at my picks.

Svidler vs MVL

Arguably the Super Heavy Weight pairing of the round. I pick the inform MVL over the experienced Svidler. On the bright side, that increases the chances of Peter commentating the candidates tournament somewhere.

Ivanchuk vs Aronian

The only QF pairing with an extra rest day for both players, and a modern classic. It looks like Vasyl is really in planet Ivanchuk mode (yes, that can change every game) and actually wants to play. While Aronian was a bit hit and miss in his games againt Matlakov, and I was not too impressed with his technical conversion against Dubov, yesterday (as mentioned above). So I go heavy hearted with Ivanchuk (a bit in the hope of jinxing it, since I can't predict Ivanchuk).


MVL vs. Ivanchuk

The other half of the bracket feels a bit less crowded.

So vs. Fedoseev

So will win it, as much as I may dislike him, but he can play chess.

Rapport vs Ding

Ding, Ding, Ding. Rapport is out. While Rapport has been really impressive, I still think Ding is simply the better and more experienced player. Besides it's nice to have the leading authority in the King's Indian still around in the tournament.


So vs. Ding

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So my picks for QFs were better than I expected. Luck hasn't abandoned me.

QF predictions (haven't looked at the games yet. ETA: I'm an idiot. The games haven't started yet):

Svidler - MVL: I think MVL is just too good for Svidler atm. Of course, it doesn't pay to underestimate Svidler - he's still a great player - but I feel he falls through a bit more in the super tournaments these days. Against, among others, MVL. So MVL through.

Ivanchuck - Aronian: I kind of like Chucky in this tournament. Hasn't put a pawn wrong so far. He keeps that up, and I don't think Aronian can stand up to him - not least since Aronian himself has looked wobbly. 

Semi: MVL - Ivanchuck

So - Fedoseev: American all the way. So really has had the luck of the draw so far, and I just can't see him losing this.

Rapport - Ding: Hard to bet against Ding here. However, Rapport has looked really good - he may be in with a (long) shot. I ten d to recall the game he should have won against So earlier this year (where was that again?). 

Still... nah. Will be Ding, I guess.

Semi: So - Ding

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And Lev landed the first blow. Really impressive game (no other way to put it).

At least I find it kinda tough to point out where Ivanchuk went wrong.

It looked like things went downhill for him real quick after 10...c5!?

But if such natural move in the position is bad, then something else must have gone wrong earlier. Maybe he should have developed his kingside first 10...Nf6 or something. Or the idea to get his queenside counterplay going early on beginning with 7...Nbd7 was simply bad. Again, just a very impressive game by Aronian.

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And Ding is the first player to qualif for the semi-final.

Once again very clean endgame technique. It's really quite instructive how he converts his extra pawn in the double rook ending.

First step he forced to exchange of one pair of rooks.

Second step he created a that remote passed pawn on b-file away from the main pawn mass on the king side.

third step that passed pawn was used to create play.

fourth step he exchanged his b-awn for black's d-pawn and that way he cut off the black king from the action (the whole point), which could no longer help defend the kingside. Here Rapport resigned.

fifth step would have been create a passed pawn on the king side and slowly but surely push it down the board.


Meanwhile in So-Fedoseev

So is pushing, and it looks quite uncomfortable for black, it's not lost. But it's clearly playing for two results there.

MVL and Svidler have already agreed to settle their match in the tie breaks.

Ivanchuk - Aronian looks unclear to me. No, idea what's going on there.


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So I haven't had a chance to follow the matches live, but we're going for rapids in both semis. No idea what that will bring, but I do feel So's form in rapid and blitz hasn't been all that this year. Chance for Ding?

Meanwhile, Aronian - MVL is the toss-up of toss-ups. And, luckily for me, I like both players, so it doesn't matter which one pulls through. 

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Ding is the first player to make it to the World Cup final, and thus the second player to qualify for the candidates (the first being Karjakin obviously). And deservedly so. He should have scored the full point yesterday against So, and he was even closer in the first game of the tie breaks today. No idea, how and why he's let So escape into a draw.

Anyway, Ding qualifying through the World Cup route has some interesting implications for the other qualifiers.

Ding has just increased the chances for Mamedyarov and Grischuk with regards to the GP tickets a bit. Shak is pretty much through anyway, while Grischuk's chances are still rather slim imo. But at least he doesn't have to worry about Ding pushing him out with the last Grand Prix.

Meanwhile the rating qualifier is still a three horse race with Caruana, Kramnik and So. Big Vlad and Fabi would've prefered a different result in that Semi-Final.

The other Semi-Final is still going on with Lev and MVL. It's with regards to the GP qualifiers only interesting with regards to MVL. Max qualifying would be good news for Grischuk, as it means Max could/would no longer overtake him.

The most desevering final pairing would probably be MVL vs. Ding.

Having that said. Go Lev.

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2 hours ago, Notone said:

Go Lev.

I agree that MVL would probably have been a more deserving winner, but I'm very happy that Aronian won.  Hope MVL can get to the Candidates too, though I'm not sure what his chances are.

(Pretty pleased with the result of the other semi-final too, actually.)

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Max simply has to win the last GP in November, that would be enough for him to clinch his ticket for the candidates.

The other paths look pretty unlikely. The rating qualifier will very likely go to two of Kramnik, Caruana and So (the two Americans being in a better position). Max chances are more of a theoretical nature to oust So.

The Grand Prix Standings atm.

1. Shak with 340 points (3 GPs played)

2. Grischuk 336 Points (3 GPs played)

3. Radja 241 Points (2 GPs played).

4. Ding 240 points (2 GPs played) [irrelevant since he qualified through the WC]

5. Max 211 points (2 GPs played)

Anybody below has either played 3 GPs (Nepo) already or is mathematically knocked out already (Nakamura).

The top two qualify for the candidates.

The points for an individual GP.

1. 170 points

2. 140 points

3. 110 points.

4. 90 points

Finishing outright second would be enough for Max.

Shared 2nd/third would give Max the same amount of GP points Sascha has, again no idea what the tie break rules are. And that's assuming Radja doesn't finish higher than him in the GPs.

Shared 2nd-4th would not be good enough for Max.

Shared 1st/2nd with Radja would be funny, as that would kick both Shak and Sascha out.  Same story with shared 1st-3rd.  (Pretty much the only scenarios in which Shak gets knocked out involve Radja and Max finishing 1-2).

Then there's still the wildcard. I go out on a limb here and predict either Kramnik (if he fails to get there by virtue of rating) or Anand will get that spot. Well, I could also name Svidler to have pretty much all the bases covered, but my gut feeling says Kramnik.

So the candidates will imho look like something like this

1. Karjakin (loser of the WC match)

2. Aronian (WC qualifier)

3. Ding (WC qualifier)

4. Caruana (Rating)

5. So (Rating)

6. Shak (Grand Prix)

7. One of Grischuk/MVL/Radja [alphabetical order] (Grand Prix)

8. Kramnik (Wildcard)

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