SO vs. Ipatov, Barbosa vs. Le and Paragua vs. Jakovenko.
Published : Sunday, August 11, 2013 

Written by : Ed Andaya

These three exciting first-round matches will capture the hearts and minds of the local chess fans as the 2013 FIDE World Cup chess championships begin at 3 p.m. today in Tromso, Norway.

Kazan Universiade gold medalist GM Wesley So opens his campaign against reigning world junior champion GM Alexaader Ipatov of Turkey in one of the keenly-awaited first-round matches in this prestigous, 128-player tournament which offers a guaranteed prize fund of $1.6M.

Barbosa will battle GM Le Quang Liem of Vietnam, while Paragua will meet GM Dmitri Jakovenko of Russia.

The three Filipino players, whose campaign is being supported by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), arrived in the famous Norwegian city north of the Arctic Circle last Aug. 9.

So came from Toronto, Canada where he briefly stayed following his successful campaign in the Kazan Universiade in Russia last month.

Barbosa and Paragua both came from Manila.

“It will be a tough assignment for me against Ipatov, but I’ll do my best for the country,” said So, who made history by winning the country’s first-ever gold medal in the 27th Summer Universaide in Kazan, Russia last month.

“He (Ipatov) is a very talented player, who just won the world junior championship in Athens, Greece last year,” added So, who is also hoping to duplicate, if not surpass, his smashing showing during the 2009 World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

The 19-year-old Filipino champion created a stir in 2009 World Cup when he defeated GM Gadir Gusienov of Azerbaijan and former world championship candidates Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine and Gata Kamsky of the United States in the first three rounds before losing to GM Vladimir Malakhov of Russia in the fourth round.

In 2011, So defeated GM Ling Diren of China in the first round but lost to GM sergey Karjakin of Russia in a hard-fought rapid-game tiebreaker in the second round.

In Tromso, So is lined up to meet top seed GM Levon Aronian of Armenia in a possible explosive third-round encounter.

But first, So must hurlde Ipatov.

Considered as a ‘live-for-chess guy’ by several chess analysts, Ipatov was born in Lviv, Ukraine, represented the country of his birth in several world youth competitions (under-10, under-14, under-16 and under-20) before moving to Spain in 2008.

Last year, Ipatov changed affiliations again and represented Turkey in the world junior championship held in Athens, Greece.

Last week, Ipatov topped the DSK Chess Classic in Cape Town, South Africa.

If successful against Ipatov, So will meet the winner of the match between No.32 seed GM Evgeny Tomashevsky (ELO 272) and No. 97 Alejandro Ramirez (ELO 2583) of the United States.

In the third round, So’s possible opponents are top seed GM Levon Aronian (ELO 2816) of Armenia, GM Igor Lysyl (ELO 2656) of Russia, GM Andrei Istratescu (ELO 2651) of France and GM Mikhail Markov (ELO 2305) of Kyrgyzstan.

Awaiting So in the fourth round are GM Alexander Morozevich (ELO 2736) of Russia, GM Nikita Vitiugov (ELO 2734) of Russia, GM Marcus Ragger (ELO 2660) of Austria, GM Ernesto Inarkiev (ELO 2680) of Russia, GM Rafael Leitao (ELO 2632) of Brazil, GM Ivan Popov (ELO 2632) of Russia, GM Bator Sambuev (ELO 2530) of Canada and GM Conrad Holt (ELO 2530) of the United States.

But while So is given by experts an equal chance to advance, Barbosa and Paragua face an uphill battle.

Barbosa’s rival, Le, is regarded as the strongest-ever player from Vietnam with an ELO of 2712.

The 22-year-old Le rode to prominence by topping the Aeroflot Open, reputedly the strongest open tournament in the world, for two successive years in 2010 and 2011.

He also finished second to GM Vladimir Kramnik in the 2011 Dortmund Super GM tournament.

“Magaling ang kalaban, pero laban lang,” said Barbosa, who has yet to win over Le in six head-to-head encounters.

Paragua is in similar tight situation.

Jakovenko (ELO 2713) is considered one of the finest endgame players in the world.

He was once coached by former world champion Garry Kasparov’s trainer, Alexander Nikitin.

He tied for first place thrice in the Russian SuperFinals in 2006, 2008 and 2012 and bagged the individual gold medal in the 2008 Dresden Olympiad in Germany.


Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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