16 year old Filipino GM Wesley So is on a tear in the 2009 World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk (one of several odd locations our UFO-abducted FIDE president favors for big events). The 128-man knockout tournament is significant because the winner secures the final qualification spot to the eight-man candidates tournament to determine the challenger to the winner of the Anand/Topalov world championship match. The format for the World Cup is 2-game matches to be followed (in the event of a tie) with rapid and blitz tiebreaks. The short matches are highly conducive to upsets, creating a 'March Madness' atmosphere. This year, Wesley So is making the most of this unusual opportunity, having progressed to the fourth round after having notched some impressive upsets. In the second round, So knocked off evergreen GM Ivanchuk, 6th seed of the tournament, due in part to Ivanchuk's trying to turn a draw to a win against Wesley's French Defense, the game can be seen here:
The mercurial Ivanchuk was so dispirited that he let loose several gems in an interview, the best of which was "Chess is playing against me! Chess is destroying me.....my loss was so stupid, it is a sign of destiny, which screams: 'Vasya, leave it, it is not your business'."
Vassily is a little bummed out
Possibly more surprising was what happened in the third round, where Wesley won another game with Black in the French Defense, this time against even-keeled former World Cup champ Gata Kamsky. For all you Francophiles, scroll to the bottom of:
Wesley held on with a draw in the second game, putting him into the fourth round of the seven round event. Stay tuned...
How did I forget the French Defense is unbeatable?