Chess Notes

Weekly chess column

The 2013 World Cup might be described as a deluge of chess or a spectator’s paradise. It is the latest event in the 2012-2014 world championship selection cycle. It is certainly a mammoth affair, held at Tromso, Norway, 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Tromso is the largest metropolis in northern Norway, and the second-largest city inside the Arctic Circle. It has extremes of 24-hour days and 24-hour nights, but has a relatively pleasant climate due to the Gulf Stream. The World Cup is entertaining 128 of the mightiest players in the world from Aug. 10 to Sept. 3, using a savage elimination schedule designed to find a single winner.

Each player in the World Cup plays a two-game match with an opponent, and tiebreak games. The loser is eliminated and the winner moves on. Looking at the math, the number of players round by round will be 128-64-32-16-8-4-2-1. To put it another way, the final victor must win seven matches. Games chosen from the hundreds were broadcast live, and spectators enjoyed the excitement of following and guessing the elimination. Every two days the field of survivors becomes smaller.

The 2013 World Cup is also a candidate’s tournament. Players who place 1st and 2nd will qualify for the 2014 Candidates’ tournament, which will determine the next challenger to the world champion. The US has been represented by Alexander Shabalov, Conrad Holt, Ray Robson, Alejandro Ramirez, Larry Christiansen, Gregory Kaidanov, Alexander Onischuk, Gata Kamsky, and Hikaru Nakamura. The latter two will return to the States on Sept. 9 to play in the Sinqefield Cup in St. Louis.


It is a tribute to the International Rating System that in the first round practically all of the higher-rated players defeated their opponents. However, there were a few upsets. Robson eliminated the Ukrainian Andrei Volokitin; while Judith Polgar was surprisingly eliminated by I.R. Ortiz Suarez of Cuba. We will review the Robson game on Saturday. Only Robson, Kamsky, Nakamura, and Onischuk made it to the second round. However, only Kamsky and Nakamura survived to round 3. Levon Aronian world No. 2, was eliminated in the third round by the Russian Evgeny Tomashevsky.

Get The Weekender in your inbox:
The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

In the fourth round, Nakamura was surprisingly outplayed and eliminated by Anton Korobov, a former Ukrainian champion, and Kamsky became the only remaining American. However, after round 5 Kamsky was out, due to a loss to Tomashevsky. The semifinals consist of the giant killers, Tomashevsky and Dmitry Andreikin along with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Vladimir Kramnik. At this writing, Kramnik and Andreikin have advanced to the final match.

Brevity: Van Wely vs. Ivanchuk (2008) 1.Nf3 g6 2.c4 Bg7 3.e4 e5 4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Nc6 6.Be3 Qf6 7.Nxc6 dxc6 8.Nc3 Qe7 9.Bd3 Nf6 10.h3 Nd7 11.0–0 0–0 12.Qc2 Ne5 13.Be2 g5 14.Rad1 Be6 15.b3 Rfe8 16.Bh5 g4 17.Bxg4 Bxg4 18.hxg4 Nxg4 19.Bf4 Be5 20.Qe2 Qh4 21.Qf3 Nh2; 0-1

Winners: Seacoast Open, NH — 1st, David Vigorito 3.5-.5; 2d-3d, Christopher Lees and John Gaspar 3-1. Boylston August GP — 1st, Eric Godin 3.5; 2d-3d, Henry Terrie and Carey Theil 3-1.

Coming Events: Wachusett’s Jonathan Yedidia Quinquagenarian Open, Sept. 4, 11, 18, 25, Oct., 2, McKay Campus School, Room C159, Fitchburg State University, 67 Rindge Road, Fitchburg,; Boylston Thursday Night Swiss, Sept. 5, 12,19, 25 and BCC Quads, Sept. 7, both at 240B Elm St., Somerville,