The knockout format of the World Cup, currently taking place in Tbilisi, Georgia, was always going to be unforgiving, but the list of big names out in the first 3 rounds is staggering…
Carlsen, Kramnik, Nakamura, Hou Yifan, Karjakin, Radjabov, Michael Adams, Vishy Anand, Boris Gelfand and Wei Yi are all heading home after being unceremoniously dumped from the competition.
After getting crushed in just 24 moves by a player rated 200 points lower than him, prodigy Wei Yi bounced back to earn a place in round 2 against Richard Rapport.
Their 25 move draw in the first game was justified, but the following game saw a draw agreed after just 8 moves! Rapport clearly willing to give up his chance with White to get Wei Yi to the rapidplay tie-break. His gamble paid off as he dispatched the prodigy 1.5-0.5.
Anand suffered too, his attempt at a brilliancy nearly worked.23.Nc5?!! a pure sacrifice aimed at restricting Black’s pieces and turning the b7 pawn into a thorn in Black’s side after 24.d6+ and 25.Bf3. However, GM Kovalyov moved his king to f5, enabling …e4 and …Bf6-c3. Ultimately, Kovalyov was able to convert his material advantage and held the second game to eliminate the former World Champion.
And the shocks continued in the third round with Magnus Carlsen losing as White against China’s #5, Bu Xiangzhi (2714). Xiangzhi was in no mood to let Magnus grind him down and sac’d a bishop on move 15, forcing White to find accurate moves to keep the advantage.
The pressure was soon too much even for the ice-cool Norwegian and he had to resign after a nice finish (see this week’s tactic!) Xiangzhi forced perpetual check in today’s game to knock out the World Champion.
Some people argue that the top 20 players are protected by only playing against each other most of the time, keeping their rating from taking big hits. With so many stars falling in Tbilisi, do you think these players are so much stronger than the “average” GM?
This week’s free video:
While most of the top 20 players have seen their ratings take a battering over the last few days, Peter Svidler has stayed strong with 4 wins and no losses. It seems only right to choose one of his videos for this week and we’ve found a great one!
Svidler is a lifelong fan of attacking genius Mikhail Tal and, in this video, shows just how great Tal’s play was – and reveals a few of his secrets in the process!
Last week’s puzzle solution:
Tal-Suttles, 1972. White to move.
Did you manage to find Tal’s spectacular continuation?
27. Bxa5 deflection! …Rxa5
28. Rd8+ Bf8
29.Qd2! (threatening the rook and Qh6) Qc7
31.Qg5! and there’s no good defense to Qf6+ and Ng5.
This week’s puzzle:
Carlsen-Xiangzhi, 2017. Black to move.
Can you find the move that beat the World Champion?
Answer next week!