World Cup 2015 – Round 2

Round 2 in Baku saw most of the favourites go through. But their ways were different. And there were upsets.

There are too many games and matches to pay close attention to all, so I’ll write about those that made impression on me. Nakamura, for example, decided to draw quickly twice against Shankland and try his luck in the rapids. It is said that faster time controls favour the stronger player, but I’ve always suspected these “strategies” when you decide not to play. It just goes against the spirit of the game. But it did work for Nakamura who won the rapid 1.5-0.5.

For me the most striking episode in this round happened outside the board – in Twittersphere. Karjakin made an amazing comeback in the classical part of the match against Onischuk, beating him with white in the second game. The impressive part was that he played a slow game, fearlessly transposing to an endgame with opposite-coloured bishops.

Enter Carlsen. From the height of his abode he found some time to pay attention to the “common folk” and shower them with a bit of courtesy. So he tweeted: “@SergeyKaryakin shows how to win ob demand! #class #chessworldcup”. I guess “ob” is a spelling mistake, instead of “on.” Probably Carlsen was typing too fast out of excitement. And then Karjakin made an appaling mistake, which showed why he will never take Carlsen’s place. He tweeted back and if only he stopped after “thank you” everything would have been fine. But he continued and spoilt everything: “@MagnusCarlsen thank you Magnus! Well, I used your idea from the game against Alekseev, but still was not very impressed with my position ;)”. The need to say anything more than “thank you” is a sign of a need to explain yourself, feeling of discomfort that needs to be eased by the words you say (or, in this case, type). And that is a sign of lower stature. Even the not-so-subtle hint at the low quality of Carlsen’s idea goes against him here – he tries to belittle Carlsen, but again it’s the need to explain, to offend (in this case), to do anything really, that is the mark of a lower status. People with a high status are comfortable just being themselves, never having to explain anything to anyone, saying “thank you” when receiving praise is enough for them. And when you feel like you need to explain yourself you never get to become king. To his merit, though, Karjakin managed to win the 10’+10” games 2-0 and go through.

Areshchenko eliminating Aronian is a fresh blow for the Armenian, who after his superb triumph in St. Louis seemed to have put the misery of the last year and a half behind him. Now he’s out of the next year’s Candidates, and out of the World Championship cycle for the first time since 2004. A good moment to think things over and a fresh start. Aronian can still do it, as shown in St. Louis, but whether he can do it on a constant basis like he used to is another question.

A crazy match Adams-Laznicka, with 6 decisive games in a row followed by 2 draws and an Armageddon, won by Adams. By contrast, Fressinet and Nepomniachtchi drew 7 in a row and the first win decided the match in favour of the Russian. And of course the Chinese march on in the tie-breaks – Yu Yangyi beat Lysyj and Wei Yi eliminated Vovk.

In Round 3 last year’s U20 World Champion Lu Shanglei plays Topalov. A sensation in sight? Of the other matches I’d single out last year’s World Cup final Kramnik-Andreikin, Leko-Giri, Karjakin-Yu Yangyi (perhaps time for a revenge for the Chinese after Karjakin beat them single-handedly 4-0 earlier in the year?). Great stuff coming.

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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  • Sep 18,2015 at 3:28 pm

    Haha, yes, the comment on chess strength and intelligence was written somewhere in Russian, I also read it. Quite witty. 🙂

  • Anonymous
    Sep 18,2015 at 12:14 pm

    Nice and accurate ascertainment. I recently read that Karjakin "… actively and constantly recalls that there is no direct correlation between the chess strength and intelligence."

  • Sep 18,2015 at 12:23 am

    Interesting take on the Karjakin – Magnus convo. I had actually seen the tweet in real time, but hadn't put it in the context you did. Enjoy your blog, thanks.

  • Sep 18,2015 at 12:23 am

    Interesting take on the Karjakin – Magnus convo. I had actually seen the tweet in real time, but hadn't put it in the context you did. Enjoy your blog, thanks.

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