Anyway, back to prognosticating. I’ll go out on a limb and say: Anand will win the match (possibly in tiebreaks), he will use both 1.e4 and 1.d4 as white, and will largely use a Nimzo move order of 1…Nf6 and 2…e6 as Black against 1.d4.
– Vinay Bhat, before the Anand-Gelfand World Championship Match in 2012
Not a bad prediction, if I may say so myself. The Nimzo move order didn’t quite come true for much of the match, as he only played it twice as opposed to the Semi-Slav four times in the regular portion. However, Anand did win in tiebreaks, so that’s not so bad.
In that post, I also wrote “Either way, I think this [the Gelfand one] is the last World Championship that Anand can win, so if he has to pass the baton, I’d rather it go to one of those two (Carlsen or Aronian) than to anybody else.”
Some time has passed since then and Anand definitely has been making some improvements in late 2012 and through much of 2013, but I don’t think it’ll be enough to offset Magnus’s simply better form now. So my brain says +2 for Magnus (6.5 – 4.5, over in 11 games), and I have some worries that it’ll be a bit like the Kasparov – Kramnik match from 2000 in that Kasparov made no headway really and was never in the driver’s seat. In fact, Kasparov was somewhat lucky that the score only ended as +2 for Kramnik and didn’t even seem to be fighting in some of the games.
That said, I’ve always been an Anand fan and I’m hoping for a great match. I think there’s a pretty short list of people who – at the height of their powers – could play with Magnus when Magnus is in best form (or whatever 2870 buys you these days). Anand is one of them, and if he can get himself back into physical and mental shape, then who knows.
Some of my colleagues have been asking me more about chess recently – some even showing up to the USCL games at the Mechanics Institute which is just a few blocks from our office. One analogy that I tried to make was that this is a bit like LeBron and Kobe going at it one-on-one now, with Magnus as the younger, stronger, and better player, but Kobe as the aging and wounded “Lion in Winter” who can still put together a brilliant performance but can also turn in a real clunker from the field as well.
The Candidates Matches are going on right now (the 2nd round will start tomorrow with Gelfand-Kamsky and Kramnik-Grischuk), but there was one game from the first round that caught my eye.
5rk1/1q1nbppp/rpp1pn2/2Pp4/1P1P1B2/2N1PN1P/2Q2PP1/1R3RK1 b - - 0 15)
This was the position after 15.Qc2 from the 4th rapid (tiebreak) game between Grischuk and Aronian. The match featured a bunch of various QGDs, but this was one was interesting to me because I have played this line from both colors and spent some time making a more thorough study of the position last spring before the US Championship (where I played the QGD for the first time).
The US Championship started yesterday, and since I’ve gotten into the prognostication business, I might as well continue.
One round is already in the books, but I made some predictions a couple weeks ago (I’m on the record elsewhere!), so I’ll post them here: Kamsky and Shulman from Group A, and Onischuk and Christiansen from Group B, with Onischuk winning the title in the end.
The highest rated player in the country is not playing, which should open up the field a bit. Given that Nakamura lives in St Louis and seems to be sponsored by the Chess Center there, I’m chalking it up as another reason to think Kasparov is working with him. He does have a couple super-tournaments lined up in the next few months, though, so he can try to build on his Wijk aan Zee success.
The Tal Memorial started today in Moscow, and it’s a great lineup. In fact, I can’t remember a top round-robin with as exciting a field in the past few years. As much as I’d like to see Anand play well, he hasn’t been a very compelling tournament player recently, so I’ll happily take Aronian, Kramnik, and Grischuk representing the 2770+ crowd here.
The rest of the field with Mamedyarov (2763), Karjakin (2760), Eljanov (2742), Gelfand (2741), Nakamura (2741), Shirov (2735), and Wang Hao (2727) is filled with a nice blend of young fighters and grizzled veterans.
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.
Two World Championships are going on these days, one in the chess world and one in the baseball world.
The Tampa Bay Rays lost again today, 10-2, to the Philadelphia Phillies. That brings Philly a 3-1 series lead, and with their ace Cole Hamels going tomorrow, I’d expect them to finish it out. Philly is swinging better bats right now and their bullpen is much more of a shutdown unit than Tampa Bay’s. The Rays need to win the next 3 games to win the series.
Viswanathan Anand managed to draw today as white against Vladimir Kramnik in the chess world championship, which is being held in Bonn, Germany. That brings him to a 6-3 match lead, and with only 3 games to play, Kramnik also needs to win the next 3 games to avoid defeat. Of course, that would only take him to a 6-6 tie and the rapid chess playoffs would ensue. Kramnik has had the lion’s share of the chances the past two games, but after only coming away with draws in both games, I don’t expect him to win his first game of the match tomorrow.
These two series also showcase my poor prognosticating abilities – I predicted a Rays win in 5 and Kramnik to win 6.5-5.5. Not only did I not pick the right score, it looks like I predicted the wrong winner in both. Oops.