18 June 2021

Nepo at the World Cup

In last week's post, Nepo as a 'Young Star' (June 2021), I covered the period when Ian Nepomniachtchi was earning his FIDE titles. While working on that, I discovered that his Wikipedia page is only an outline of his career and reads like an incomplete laundry list.

Perhaps his Russian language Wikipedia page was better constructed. After running the Russian page through Google translate, I decided, 'No', it wasn't much better, but it had links to other Russian language resources that might prove to be more comprehensive. The following paragraph is from Biography of Ian Nepomniachtchi (ruchess.ru; July 2020), translated by Google:-

In recent years, Nepomniachtchi has been working together with the famous theorist grandmaster Vladimir Potkin, who in 2011 replaced his ward as the European champion. The tandem of Nepomniachtchi and Potkin, which began with Ian's victory in the 2008 Aeroflot Open, has repeatedly proved its effectiveness. 2010 was a triumphant year for Nepomniachtchi: he successfully performed in all tournaments in which he took part, won the European Championship, and then in the Major League and the Superfinal of the Russian Championship, showed excellent results in team competitions. That year, Ian met the expectations of coaches and fans, declaring himself as a great chess player capable of high achievements.

None of those sources mentioned that the 2010 European Championship was a qualifier for the 2011 World Cup, which was itself a qualifier for the subsequent candidates tournament in London. The following chart adapted from one of my pages shows the World Championship events in which GM Nepomniachtchi has so far participated:-

Index of players (N-S), with links to the different events

I added the codes in red to differentiate the five cycles. Nepomniachtchi qualified for the 2011 and 2015 World Cups by a good finish in a European Championship. He qualified for the 2017 and 2019 World Cups by a high rating. According to my page Zonal Qualifiers 2012-2013 (C26) [NB: TWIC 967 data is wrong for the corresponding clippings page], he qualified for the 2013 World Cup by rating, but The chess games of Ian Nepomniachtchi (chessgames.com), says,

In May 2013, he placed =1st (8th on tiebreaker) in the European Championship (2013), the result qualifying him to play in the World Cup (2013).

That appears to be correct. I'll have to look at this in more depth at another time.

In World Cup play, Nepomniachtchi has not been particularly successful. In 2013 he was eliminated in the 1st round (of seven) by Wei Yi, and in 2019 he was eliminated in the 4th round by Yu Yangyi. In the other years he was eliminated in the 3rd round by Kamsky (2011), Nakamura (2015), and Jobava (2017).

GM Nepomniachtchi qualified into the 2020 Candidates Tournament via the 2019 Grand Prix. There he finished a point behind GM Grischuk, but three points ahead of third place GM Vachier-Lagrave.


Later: Re the comment 'I'll have to look at this in more depth at another time', I took two additional steps. First I added a clipping for the correct crosstable for the 2013 European Championship to Zonals 2012-2013 (C26). Then I compared the corrected crosstable to the list of 'Zonal Qualifiers 2012-2013 (C26)', as given by FIDE.

Three of the top 26 finishers in the 2013 European Championship were not listed as qualifiers by FIDE. Vallejo Pons and Dreev were not listed because they were already qualified from the 2012 European Championship.

The document 'Regulations for the FIDE World Chess Cup 2013' specified,

3.1. Qualifiers – There are 128 qualifiers (in order of priority): World Champion + four (4) semi-finalists from the World Cup 2011, Women's World Champion, World Junior U-20 Champions 2011 & 2012, eighteen (18) rated players as described in 3.1.2, ninety (92) players from Continental Championships, six (6) FIDE President nominees, four (4) organiser nominees.

3.1.1. Replacements – World Champion, semi-finalists of the World Cup 2011, Women's World Champion, World Junior U- 20 Champions and rated players can be replaced only from the average rating list. Continental and Zonal qualifiers will be replaced from their respective events, except that in the Zonal Tournament, the replacement must have scored 50% or more in the Zonal event. Otherwise the place passes to the Continental Championship. The average rating list has priority if a player qualifies either from the rating list or a zonal/continental event.

In the exceptional case that the zonal/continental event is organized before the publishing of the January 2013 rating list, then the zonal/continental event has priority over the average rating list for qualifying purposes.

The operative sentence appears to be 'The average rating list has priority if a player qualifies either from the rating list or a zonal/continental event.' Nepomniachtchi qualified from both, meaning that the rating list took priority over the continental event

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