Sunday, August 28

2011 FIDE World Cup Begins

Bay Area star GM Sam Shankland (right) stunned super-GM Peter Leko (left) in round 1!

The FIDE World Cup has evolved into the largest and one of the most prestigious chess tournaments. An incredible 128 players arrived in the remote Russian oil town of Khanty-Mansiysk for a Wimbledon style knockout championship. Each mini-match consists of two classical games, one per day. If still tied, the match goes to a third day of tiebreaks, first rapid, then blitz and, if necessary, an Armageddon finale. Only one competitor can advance, meaning the competition is both grueling and nerve-wracking. The field shrinks in half after every round; round 2 has 64 players, round 3 has 32 and so forth.

The participants play for a huge prize fund of $1.6 million and three spots in the next World Championship cycle. Most players qualified either by rating (top 20) or by placing near the top of a country or continental championship (e.g. US Championship). The winner takes home $96,000; each of the 64 losers in round 1 gets $4,800. The two finalists plus the winner of the third place match advance into an 8-player Candidates Tournament (2013) to determine the challenger for a World Championship match (2014).

Considering these stakes, it seems a little surprising that only half of the top 10 rated players chose to participate. Of course, Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand are already busy preparing for a title match in May 2012. Then Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik probably expect to be invited to the Candidates Tournament by rating (top 3). However, the absence of Veselin Topalov and Hikaru Nakamura is more difficult to understand.

Six Americans made the lengthy trip to the middle of nowhere, or more precisely, 500 miles due north of Kazakhstan. Gata Kamsky earned his spot by rating; he actually won the 2007 World Cup. The other five (Alexander Onischuk, Yury Shulman, Ray Robson, Sam Shankland and Alexander Ivanov) all qualified at the 2011 US Championship in St. Louis.

Official website: (very good site!)
Games also available on ICC. Type "/finger WorldCup11" with library links at bottom.

American Results: MAJOR UPSET! Shankland eliminated Leko in round 1!!  Click here to view his win.  Unfortunately, only Kamsky managed to get past round 2.  Kamsky was knocked out by Svidler, who subsequently won the entire tournament!
  • #8 Kamsky - eliminated by #9 Peter Svidler (Russian champ) 0.0-2.0 in round 4
  • #51 Onischuk - eliminated by #14 David Navara in round 2
  • #83 Shulman - eliminated by #43 Vladimiir Potkin in round 1
  • #103 Robson - eliminated by #26 Etienne Bacrot in round 1
  • #111 Shankland - eliminated by #82 Abhijeet Gupta in round 2
  • #112 Ivanov - eliminated by #81 Igor Lysyi in round 2
Schedule:40/90, G/30 + 30 sec/move added from move 1
  • Opening ceremony, August 27
  • Round 1, August 28, 128 players
  • Round 2, August 31, 64 players
  • Round 3, September 3, 32 players
  • Round 4, September 6, 16 players
  • Quarterfinal, September 9, 8 players
  • Semifinal, September 12, 4 players
  • Rest Day, September 15
  • Final + 3rd place, September 16 (two 4 game matches)
  • Closing ceremony, September 20

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