They’re already two rounds into chess’ version of March Madness – in November and December … in Siberia (Khanty Mansiysk, Russia) – but I figured I’d post my predictions for the remainder of the brackets. The only American player left is GM Gata Kamsky, and while I expect him to get past GM Wesley So without too much trouble, he might well face a recent nemesis of his (GM Pavel Eljanov) after that. Kamsky won this thing the last time around.
The best brackets I’ve seen are at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess_World_Cup_2009
Based on that, here are my predicted winners of each section:
Section 1: Maxime Vachier Lagrave (isn’t there always a dark horse who makes it this far?)
Section 2: Alexander Grischuk
Section 3: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
Section 4: Sergey Karjakin
Section 5: Vugar Gashimov
Section 6: Etienne Bacrot
Section 7: Peter Svidler
Section 8: Gata Kamsky
After that, I say Grischuk, Karjakin, Gashimov, and Svidler all advance (with wins over Vachier Lagrave, Mamedyarov, Bacrot, and Kamsky, respectively). Then, in the final four: Grischuk over Karjakin and Gashimov over Svidler, with Gashimov winning it all in the finals. Amusingly, if Gashimov wins the World Cup, he’ll qualify for the Candidates final which he probably will already be in based on his FIDE Grand Prix results and the fact his home country (Azerbaijan) gets to nominate somebody.