Friday 25 September 2015

Eljanov marches on

One of the criticisms of the World Cup format is that the matches (2 games) are too short to be a fair reflection on the strength of the respective players. A first game loss in a match between players of near equal strength is almost always fatal, while the safe option of draw-draw results in the lottery of rapid chess.
While this is true for most matches, one player is simply winning his matches and moving on to the next round. Pavel Eljanov started the event with 2-0,2-0,2-0 before easing up with in round 4, tying 1-1 with Jakovenko. However he won the first set of rapid matches 1.5-0.5, and then eliminated Nakamura 1.5-0.5 is round 5. He is +7 in the classical games (7 wins, 3 draws) , which is 4 points better than the remaining players!
Here is the first game of his match against Nakamura, where he gave up 2 pieces for R+2 pawns. To borrow from computer chess R+P v 2 minors generally favours the minors by half a pawn, but R+2P is around half a pawn better for the R. This seemed to be confirmed in this game, where Eljanov looked better after the swap, but still had to work to finally convert.

Eljanov,Pavel (2717) - Nakamura,Hikaru (2814) [E06]
FIDE World Cup 2015 Baku AZE (5.1), 23.09.2015

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