SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
The Candidates mini-matches this Thursday!
They’re almost here – just a few days away! Eight players will face off in a series of knockout matches in Kazan, Russia for the right to face world champion Viswanathan Anand for the title in early 2012. there will be three rounds of matches: four-game quarter-finals, four-game semi-finals, and a six game final. The the winner of the first match plays the winner of the second, and so on:
■(1) Veselin Topalov (BUL, 2775)■(8) Gata Kamsky (USA, 2732)
■(4) Boris Gelfand (ISR, 2733)■(5) Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE, 2772)
■(3) Levon Aronian (ARM, 2808)■(6) Alexander Grischuk (RUS, 2747)
■(2) Vladimir Kramnik (RUS, 2785)■(7) Teimour Radjabov (AZE, 2744)
Regardless of what you think of the pairing system, how the players qualified or the element of luck involved in short knock-out competitions, you have to admit that atleast FIDE is not backing down or changing the rules mid-flight.
Here are my predictions:
Topalov over Kamsky: Close match and both are experienced competitors, but Kamsky has serious opening limitations. Topalov is the ‘mr. theory’ of the elite grandmasters. Kamsky’s play at the recently held US Championship reminds me a lot of how Reshevsky used to dominate US chess…and then get knocked down at the international level because of his openings. So I pick Topalov as winner…
Gelfand vs Mamedyarov: Boring match! Probably goes down to the play-offs. Gelfand is playing well in recent years, but Mamedyarov is a relatively unknown animal…so Boris will likely be cautious and try to drag out the match to the rapid games (where he is a specialist). I am evenly split on this one: though if push turns to shove then I have to pick Gelfand.
Aronian vs Grischuk: Great match-up! Both are hungry and capable of going all the way. Aronian has had more success in recent years than his Russian counterpart, but is this a factor here? Grishcuk is all emotion and talent; Aronian is logic and science. I pick Grischuk (from the heart!) and hope he goes all the way!
Kramnik vs Radjabov: A great match player vs a great tournament player. But wait: this is a match here! So I pick Kramnik…
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS