FIDE WCC R4-1: A black day in Tripoli

6/27/2004 – Heavy favorites Topalov and Adams confirmed their status by winning with black. Kasimdzhanov notched the third full point of the day when Almasi blundered. The other games were drawn. So far in Libya only one player has lost the first game with white and gone on to win the match. Will there be another tomorrow? Report, games, and photos.

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Heavy Hitters

Results of round four, game one

1 Kozul, Zdenko (CRO) Topalov, Veselin (BUL) 0-1
2 Smirnov, Pavel (RUS) Radjabov, Teimour (AZE) 1/2
3 Nakamura, Hikaru (USA) Adams, Michael (ENG) 0-1
4 Grischuk, Alexander (RUS) Beliavsky, Alexander (SLO) 1/2
5 Almasi, Zoltan (HUN) Kasimdzhanov, Rustam (UZB) 0-1
6 Krasenkow, Michal (POL) Akopian, Vladimir (ARM) 1/2
7 Dreev, Alexey (RUS) Dominguez, Lenier (CUB) 1/2
8 Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter (ROM) Kharlov, Andrei (RUS) 1/2

A knockout tournament isn't really like the cream rising to the top. It's more like something to do with sour cream, or maybe yogurt. Luck and nerves are as important as good moves and solid players who rarely blunder do better than the flashy guys whose well of fortune will run dry eventually. There are simply too many games and too many opponents to rely on them missing opportunities day after day.

So far in Libya Hikaru Nakamura has done a remarkable job of denying opportunities to his opponents and grabbing them with both fists when presented. In his fourth round as the underdog he has run into a man who gives nothing and takes everything, England's Mickey Adams.

Garry Kasparov is following the tournament closely, as you might imagine since he will play a match against the winner. "He's done well, but now Nakamura has to play the Spider," he said, employing the nickname Russian annotator GM Sergey Shipov gave Adams for his ability to weave positional webs around his opponents.

The world #1 also reiterated his preference for the favorites, predicting semifinals of Topalov-Grischuk and Adams vs either Dreev or Radjabov. "Dreev is tough, but Radjabov is great at hitting the clock, as in his win over Bacrot. It's like internet chess, but then Dreev is good at that too." Kasparov pays special attention to his teen countryman Radjabov's games. It's not really fair to look too closely at rapid chess, but he was incredulous at how Radjabov and Bacrot had missed wins on just about every move of the decisive game eventually won by the Baku GM.

Getting back to the Spider, Adams was well on his way to wrapping up Nakamura in the first game of the fourth round. The American, with white, had given up a pawn to free his pieces but Adams had consolidated in fine fashion. Then came a rare moment of mutual blindness. Both players had been very consistent so far in Tripoli.

Nakamura - Adams after 33...Qc6?

Adams moved his queen from d6 to c6, a remarkable blunder when 33...Qc5 would have kept winning chances in the queen endgame after 34.Nxd5 exd5. But now White can win a pawn with 34.Nxd5! since the queen isn't protected. After 34...Qxd5 35.Qc7+ Kh6 36.Qxb6 there is no reason for White to lose.

Nakamura missed it too and went on to lose in 66 moves after 34.Qd3?.

A loss with white in a two-game mini-match is almost always a death sentence. Only Kotronias managed to come back to win the match after losing the first game with white. (Azmaiparashvili won back with black in the second round but went on to lose the match anyway.) Even if he does bow out here, Libya still must be considered a fantastic result for the 16-year-old American. With the apparent return of Gata Kamsky to the board the US may have gained two world-class players in a single week!

And you have to cheer for Adams because the English need something to feel good about now that the phrase "bend it like Beckham" is being used as an insult. The English can now concentrate on rooting for their chess champ. After all, there hasn't been a world champion, to use the title liberally, from Albion since Staunton.

The other top favorite, Bulgaria's Veselin Topalov, was also in action with black and also scored the full point to practically guarantee his place in the quarterfinals. Topalov's record in these FIDE KO WCh events is almost as impressive as Adams'. Except for an early exit in the first KO in 1997 at the hands of Piket, Topalov has reached at least the fourth round each time. That said, he has never made it to the semifinals, his best result coming in 2000 when he was eliminated by Adams in the quarters.

Today Topalov played a masterful counterattacking game against the red-hot Zdenko Kozul. It looked like the Croatian was making progress in the center, but Topalov quickly showed that kings are far more important than pawns. He finished off with a pretty rook sacrifice leading to mate.

There was only one other decisive game today and it was another full point for the black pieces. It was hardly a smooth win, much more yogurt than cream. Hungarian Zoltan Almasi is a formidable player on either side of the Ruy Lopez. He had squeezed a pawn out of Rustam Kasimdzhanov and was making steady progress.

Suddenly Almasi blundered a relatively simple tactic, something we can only attribute to the horrid 90'+25" time control FIDE has favored in recent years. By move 30 the players are usually down to the 25 second increment and playing at a forced tempo that doesn't allow for any but the most superficial calculations. The number of blunders in this event has been similar to what you would see in a rapid chess event.

Kasimdzhanov certainly didn't mind. He went from facing a long torture to having a passed a-pawn that won a piece and the game in a dozen moves. You certainly can't make judgments about form or strength based on today's lucky win, but Kasimdzhanov did eliminate Ivanchuk in the last round and seems to be recapturing the level that put him in the 2700 club in 2001.

The other five games were draws of all different flavors. Grischuk-Beliavsky was a sharp Marshall Gambit duel. Beliavsky's rating makes him the underdog in this match, but everyone knows that the former Soviet champion can beat anyone in the world on any given day.

Michal Krasenkow of Poland played the g4 Semi-Slav he helped pioneer against Vladimir Akopian of Armenia. The players kept fighting well after the draw seemed apparent, to their credit. Akopian lost in the finals of the 1999 Las Vegas KO and Krasenkow was one of the surprises of the first KO in Groningen, Holland in 1997, where he made it the fifth round.

Speaking of Vegas, Romanian Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu was a semifinalist that year. It was all downhill after that and he lost his first matches in both 2000 and 2001. Now he's back on track, but he didn't get anywhere with the white pieces against Russian Andrei Kharlov today.

Dreev and Dominguez quickly traded all the pieces in an uneventful draw. The young Cuban will have the white pieces against the Russian veteran tomorrow. Smirnov allowed Radjabov to play 24 moves of the popular Sveshnikov Sicilian and agree to a draw. It had all been played before in Azarov-McShane, Bled 2002. Smirnov may regret his unambitious play tomorrow when he has black.

The above pictures are from the event's picture gallery page and are brought to you be courtesy of FIDE (© FIDE.com)


General information

The FIDE site, which is being hosted by Libya Telecom And Technology, looks well equipped to handle live coverage of the event. The schedule, list of players, results tree and games are all in place, there are reports and picture galleries. The start page is http://wcc2004.fide.com and http://wcclibya2004.com.

Live coverage

The live game transmission from Tripoli, apparently of all games, requires you to have Java Virtual Machine installed on your PC. This program is distributed free of charge by Sun Microsystems (and is useful for many other applications). Visit the Java check page to see if you have everything required for the live coverage and install Java if you don't. To follow the games click on "Live coverage" in the link list above. There is a "View" button behind each pairing of players. Many of the key games will also be covered and discussed on the Playchess.com server.

Schedule

Note that local time in Tripoli is the same as in Central Europe. The start of the games is generally at 14:30h, which is GMT + 2 and translates to 13:30 London, 8:30 a.m. New York, 16:30 Moscow, 18:00 New Delhi, 20:30 Hong Kong, 21:30 Tokyo, 22:30 Melbourne, and 03:00 a.m. (on the next day) in the French Polynesia-Marquesas Islands of Taiohae.

World Chess Championship 2003-2004
18 June - 13 July 2004 – Schedule
Date Day Events Games Time
18 June Friday Opening Ceremony
Players' Meeting
18.00
22.30
19 June Saturday Round 1 Game 1 14.30
20 June Sunday Round 1 Game 2*
14.30
21 June Monday Round 2 Game 1 14.30
22 June Tuesday Round 2 Game 2*
14.30
23 June Wednesday Round 3 Game 1 14.30
24 June Thursday Round 3 Game 2* 14.30
25 June Friday Rest Day
26 June Saturday Round 4 Game 1 14.30
27 June Sunday Round 4 Game 2* 14.30
28 June Monday Round 5 Game 1 14.30
29 June Tuesday Round 5 Game 2* 14.30
30 June Wednesday Rest day
1 July Thursday Round 6 Game 1 14.30
2 July Friday Round 6 Game 2 14.30
3 July Saturday Round 6 Game 3 14.30
4 July Sunday Round 6 Game 4 14.30
5 July Monday Round 6 Tie-Breaks 14.30
6 July Tuesday Final Match Game 1 14.30
7 July Wednesday Final Match Game 2 14.30
8 July Thursday Final Match Game 3 14.30
9 July Friday Rest Day
10 July Saturday Final Match Game 4 14.30
11 July Sunday Final Match Game 5 14.30
12 July Monday Final Match Game 6 14.30
13 July Tuesday Final Match Tie-breaks 12.30
13 July Tuesday Closing Ceremony 18.00
* Tie-breaks at 20:30h

 


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