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If that field looks roughly like what I predicted (the only known qualifiers thus far are Aronian, Ding and Karjakin), I'd cheer for Lev obviously, but with the exception of So, there's hardly anybody I really dislike, well except maybe Karjakin. Ok, I wouldn't be too thrilled if the second GP qualifier went to Radja either, but he's not anywhere So on my dislike list.

The biggest question marks to me are who misses out on the rating qualifier (Caruana, So or Kramnik), which has implications on the Wildcard (I am assuming this one goes to Big Vlad as there are rumours that he has the backing of the Russian sponsor, but if he qualified by virtue of rating, then I've no idea who will get that), and the second GP qualifier, as either Radja or Max can overtake Sascha.


I guess I could also add and explain the rating qualifier.

As we all know it's the rating average for this year.

Let's look where the relevant players stand (courtesy to wikipedia), I'll take a slightly different approach however to explain why MVL's chances are rather slim.

1. So has an accumulated rating for the past 9 months of 25.313 (average 2.812,555)

2. Caruana's accumulated rating for the past 9 months: 25.311 (2812,333)

3. Kramnik's accumulated rating for the past 9 months: 25.281 (2809)

4. MVL's accumulated rating for the past 9 months: 25.173 (2797).

I used the accumulated ratings to illustrate the following point. During the next three rating lists Max has to make up ~150 rating points on Caruana or So. (an average swing of 50 points in his favour if you will). That's why this is a long shot for him.  On the other hand, big Vlad just has to make up around 30 points, so 10 points per list. It's tough, but not undoable.

Now let's take a look at the live ratings. (I'll leave out the irrelevant players)

Max, Fabiano and Vlad are all rated around 2.794

So's liverating is as of now 2.788.

If no more games were to be played this month, Fabio overtakes in the table above. Vlad would make up 6, and would have 2 more lists to find the other point's he needs. Vlad has quite a busy October schedule (for the November rating list). So isn't playing anything for the rest of the year afaik. Caruana's last event is the Isle of Men open (with quite a nice field including Kramnik and Carlsen).


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The World Cup Final goes into the tie breaks, after the 4 classical games drawn.

Meanwhile on the Isle of Man.

Big Vlad has started his bid to overtake So on the rating qualifiers by dropping  Elo points left and right, while Caruana is more or less on course

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Yes, that route has become much more difficult for him, but as that tournament will (afaik) not appear on the October list (it will bite him on the November list), I think he still retains some small chances. Like I said, October is quite a busy month for big Vlad.

He could still salvage something from the Isle of Men (of course losing to Tarjan hurt as did not winning against Laurence Tren (yes, Laurence effing Trent)), by salvaging I mean minimizing his losses. And then he could still excel at the European Club Cup, picking up double elo points in the double digits there (also November list event). Apparently the Russian federation has not listed Kramnik for the ECU in Crete. That would have been even for the December list. It's basically grasping for straws (and me hoping for some miracle to eliminate So), but yeah, Kramnik is basically down to Wildcard or spectator. And Caruana and So (sigh) are on their way to the candidates.

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Well, even if he qualifies for the candidates, So isn’t a shoo in to win it. Which, of course, you know. I’d much prefer the candidates without him, but hes good enough right now to have earned his spot.

In other news, Magnus looking good when his opposition isn’t 2750+.

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Well, Carlsen dominated at the Isle of Man.

Vlad somewhat minized damages with dropping just 8.4 Elo points. But for the sake of it, let's look at the rating qualifiers and do some math.

1. Caruana Sum of Elo points (Jan. to October) 28.105; Projected sum (Jan to December) 33.695; Proj. average 2.807,916*

2. So Sum of Elo (Jan to October) 28.101; Projected sum (Jan to December) 33.677; Proj. average 2.806,416*

3. Kramnik Sum of Elo (Jan to October) 28.075, Sum of Elo points needed to catch up with So 5.602. Since the tie breaker rewards active players, and Kramnik has played way less than So, he needs to overtake him. Kramnik would need to be rated at least 2.802 on the last two rating lists to overtake So. His current liverating is 2.785.6. So he has to pick up 17 rating points from the European Chess Club Cup, which starts October 7th. It's not impossible, just very unlikely.

*Caruana and So won't be playing any more rated games as far as I know.

Edited because of the tie breaker.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Happy for big Vlad, and for the texture of the tournament. An inform Vlad adds to any tournament.

Doesn't change the fact I'll be an Aronian fanboy at the candidates.

But I quite like 4 of the 6 players who are already qualified.

Aronian, Caruana, Ding, Kramnik. If one them wins it, I'll be quite happy. Again preferably Aronian.

I am less fond of Karjakin and So (please literally anybody but him).

I'm somewhat indifferent towards the GP qualifiers.

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  • 4 weeks later...

So, final candidates confirmed now.

Aronian (#2 on the live rating list at the moment)

Mamedyarov (#3)

Caruana (#4)

So (#6)

Kramnik (#7)

Ding (#10)

Grischuk (#11)

Karjakin (#13)

A pretty strong line up, I guess: MVL the only person in the top ten who stands out to me as missing.

Thinking about the wildcard announcement a bit more, I'm slightly annoyed on MVL's behalf.  Think he'd have been a much fairer wildcard pick (if 'fair' and 'wildcard' make sense together) and pre-announcing Kramnik just makes it explicit that MVL never had even a chance of getting this despite outperforming Kramnik in pretty much every measure this year.

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Well, MVL simply lacked the backing of a sponsor. Big Vlad had the backing from that Russian sponsor early on. So it's true MVL never had a chance of getting the wildcard - that was however clearly from the get go. But it's kinda tough to argue that Kramnik is an undeserving - a look at his resume puts that argument to rest quite easily. True MVL had an impressive year, it was just not impressive enough, to beat out Caruana and So on the ratings (I think with regards to the average rating,MVL is even below Kramnik for the past 12 months), or to clinch qualification by normal means (World Cup or Grand Prix series). As far the second GP qualifier, I am just happy it's not Radja. I am a bit surprised Grischuk made it, I thought MVL or Radja would be able to catch him.

As for players who missed out and will be unhappy spectators, I guess Giri and Nakamura won't be too happy watching from the sidelines (neither will be Svidler probably). Not that Giri, Naka or Svidler would win that thing. Anand's also forced to watch this time. So you can always make a case for a player you like to see at the Grand Prix (likesay Svidler's score in games against Grischuk).

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I’m happy Giri watches from the sidelines. I just don’t find his style of play engaging at all. Svidler would have been fun, but he’s more fun as a commentator. MVL ... I would have loved to see him, rather than Karjakin or Ding (or So), but Ding and So were better in what mattered this time, and Karjakin was an automatic qualifier.

I’ll join Notone as an Aronian fanboy when the candidates start.

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13 minutes ago, Rorshach said:

.. I would have loved to see him, rather than Karjakin or Ding (or So), but Ding and So were better in what mattered this time, and Karjakin was an automatic qualifier.

This ia bit unfair to Ding, as he can be quite fun to watch (plus although I no longer play King's Indian, it's nice to have the leading expert in a tournament). I can see, where the dislike for Karjakin and So comes from. As they tend to play pretty dull/boring chess.

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30 minutes ago, Rorshach said:

Perhaps. I’ve never fallen for Ding myself, and I tend to like MVLs style better. 

Also prefer the Najdorf :)

Well, Najdorf is fun, but most people I face over the board play anti-sicilians. And Alapin is way less fun than Najdorf.

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  • 1 month later...


From outer space, this kid comes along. Wins the rapid chess world title, and is now head of the pack at Wijk after dismantling world number two Fabiano Caruana with the white pieces. 

Vishwanatan Anand. Remember the name, folks, this kid will go places!

Also in the slightly shocking department, Anish Giri, chess-world-famous for his draws, has won two of three at Wijk so far, including against Challenger-qualified (well, wild card, anyway) Vladimir Kramnik. 

What a start to the chess year, ladies and gentlemen!

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Yes, I should really take a look at the Giri-Kramnik game. I am curious where big Vlad went wrong in that Nimzo-Indian. It just seemed like a very unpleasent position for a while after Giri's queen entered black's back rank.

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  • 1 month later...

So the candidates started today. And as a surprise we got three decissive games.

Shak just finished his game against Karjakin. Nice technique (as expected from a world class player) in the ending. Those Queen endgames are a pain, with all the potential perpetuals. But a victory with black against Karjakin is a very good start for him.

The American encounter was won by Caruana. A really neat positinal game in which he outplayed So in Catalan/Bogo-Indian.

Kramnik won the Russian encounter against Grischuk. I am not sure where Sascha went wrong there. It looked fairly even to me for a good while. Did he get into zeitnot again? But well, that's big Vlad. squeezing blood out of a dry stone.

Aronian-Ding was the sole draw in this round. The Mikenas variation in the English opening was up for discussion. That's a game I will most def look into later. The draw is a good result for Ding. probably not so much for Lev. Ding as the least seasoned player in that field is probably supposed to be "weakest link" (as far as prey goes in such a field).

Oh, and in other news, Carlsen managed to pick a twitter fight with Giri over big Vlad's abilities. Is it just me or is Magnus really becoming a proper c... He really shouldn't look up to Kasparov as a role model for off the board behaviour.

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The second round just started.

Mamedyarov-Aronian had the potential to be interesting (Nimzo-Indian). However, I am not really convinced Lev's 7...h6 is the way to go there. The mainline is 7...dxc4 and 7...c5 is a very intersting but double edged alternative. Probably a bit too early to go for broke with that. Now after 8.Bxf6 Qxf6 9.Nf3 c6 Aronian's position looks solid but somewhat passive. Unless Lev has found some deep opening idea in his prep this looks like a very long and tedious game for him, with Shak trying to grind something out of it.

Vlad - Karjakin is a Ruy Lopez Berlin how fitting, and not really my cup of tea.

Ding - Caruana looks like a good candidate for game of the round. It's a catalan and Caruana has essentially challenged Ding and essentially offered an exchange very early. In return for the exchange Caruana has gained a lead in development. This game will probably not end in a draw.

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Well, and Lev and Shak settled for a rather dull draw.

I think Shak could've kept the game going on for a bit with 18.Qd1 (to prepare b3) instead of playing 18.b3 straight away, which allowed Lev to play that 18...a5 19.Qxa5 Bxb3 continuation. Once the Bishop returned to c4 Black's just too solid for White to make any progress.

But the Ding-Caruana game is turning out to be really interesting. I bet Ding wants his light squared Bishop back badly now.

Grischuk-So is an interesting positional game.


It's been hour since I made this post, and since I don't want to spam this thread more than I already do (and it feels kinda sad when you're the sole poster). Small update

Ding - Caruana still remains extremely interesting, although it looks like Ding has managed to have taken out immediate mating threats, he still has be very careful, but at least he still has that exchange for his pains, Although Caruana has collected a pawn for that. Dynamically even game, or unclear is probably the phrase used to describe the position.

Grischuk has outplayed So and is clearly winning, he even managed to beat his fiercest adversary, the clock. Grischuk's time management has been interesting, once again. So So will start with -2, and Grischuk is back to 50%.

Kramnik-Karjakin is heading for a draw. I will act totally surprised. A draw in the Berlin. Who would've thought. Although I still think big Vlad has a very slight pull, but it will be a draw regardless.

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