I have to say that I was hoping that the knockout format of the World Cup would grip me in the days leading up to my holiday to America (just 27 days to go!). However, much like the big tennis events, the thrills and spills have kind of passed me by in the first week. There has just been too much action to really soak it all up, and I've rather preferred the edited highlights that I've seen on the chess news sites, like TWIC or Chessvibes. However, now that we're down to the final 16, I've taken a bit more interest. With only 8 matches on the go it is easier to keep up with all the action. I guess it is a bit like trying to follow all the action of a large Swiss event, compared with a 12 player Round Robin.
Anyway, now that it's been established that I have a limited attention span, the 2013 World Cup. My impressions of the first week have been:
- Boris Gelfand has been in amazing form so far
- Alexander Morozevich continues to be one of the most exciting players on the circuit
- No one can play their best if they're ill (unlucky to Aronian, though he will qualify for the next candidates)
- China has the potential to be the powerhouse of chess in the next 10 years
- Even the best of the best can blunder, especially under pressure (Grischuk, Svidler, Kamsky spring to mind)
- There's a great deal of young talent around, and events like this are where they can progress.
Australia's Igor Bjelobrk stood little chance against top 10 player Alexander Grischuk in round 1, but put up a brave fight. English hopes also didn't last long. Gawain Jones went out after play off's in the first round. I guess that his hectic schedule leading into the event wasn't the most conducive to a strong campaign. Michael Adams managed to get through the first round, but lost on tie break in the second round. I was a bit surprised by this, especially after his Dortmund form, and the fact that Adams is an excellent fast player. I can't say that I'm in to making predictions but I'll give it a go after this round, when the excitement should move up a notch. The second games of round 4 are due to start in less than 2 hours with Caruana, Kramnik and Kamsky holding one point leads while all the other games were drawn. Kamsky, in fact, came out with one of the games of the tournament yesterday, with a sacrificial attack against Mamedyarov (look for the piece sac on move 18 which gives white amazing chances. Black could defend but it's practically very difficult).