General Jun 12, 2014 | 7:54 PMby Colin McGourty

chess24's World Cup tips

The FIFA World Cup takes place in Brazil from the 12th June to the 13th July. The hype surrounding one of the world’s biggest sporting events has also reached the chess24 headquarters in Hamburg, although it strikes me that it wasn’t with quite the same force as in the rest of the country.

by (Greek) IM Georgios Souleidis 

The World Cup wall chart on our white board seems only to have interested our Chilean cleaner

No wonder, when we have so many developers on the team: “What about the World Cup?” “Not interested!”

Strange, since football unites nations and FIFA is one of the most democratic and progressive organisations in the world…

Ok, let’s not spoil the fun. At least nine chess24 renegades got together to try our luck at Kicktipp. Compared to life in the average German office that probably didn’t break any records, but it’s something… 

However, if you think it’s only the majority of programmers that are barely interested in the round ball you’re in for a surprise. We asked some of our video authors about the World Cup and got some amazing responses.

That football will never hold pride of place for Peter Svidler should be clear to everyone by now:

As is well known, football is not my thing – I'm much more of a cricket nerd. Having said that, here goes: I support Russia (obviously) and England. I expect both of my teams to do quite badly :D I expect one of Brazil, Argentina, or Spain to win - with Belguim as the dark horse. Sorry to be so brief, but it really isn't my main game. Not even in the Top 3, probably...

Rustam Kasimdzhanov’s interest was even more obvious … 

I had no idea that the World Cup was about to start; I’m no football fan :(

and Jan Gustafsson

I support Germany, Brazil will win. Sorry, football isn’t my world.

Niclas Huschenbeth, meanwhile, showed more enthusiasm...

Of course I’m interested in football. So then, I’d say Brazil will win, Germany will make the semi-final (where Brazil will knock them out, if I’ve calculated correctly). Of course I support Germany and not the USA :D

and Melanie Ohme

I really support Germany and think we’ve got realistic chances of winning. I’ve also got a soft spot for the Netherlands as well as the Greeks (the author will be happy!), because I live in Groningen  just now and will spend some of the World Cup in Greece :-) Unfortunately I’m no football expert, so I can’t make any further predictions :-)

We’d like to take this opportunity to introduce our new star author from Austria, Markus Ragger, who will soon be filming a video series on the Slav. Austria isn’t that close to Sugarloaf Mountain, but you can also glimpse some enthusiasm in his comment: 

I’m only moderately interested in football, but of course I follow major events. I’ll watch the World Cup, but I don’t have any particular favourites.  I just like to watch exciting football and to experience an exciting World Cup. But it can’t be ruled out that during the course of the tournament I’ll be particularly impressed by one of the teams and take them as my favourite. I’ll give a tip for the World Cup winners in any case: Brazil!

We’re delighted to be able to welcome Markus Ragger as a new chess24 author | photo: Georgios Souleidis

Now we come to the real experts, Lawrence Trent and Ilja Zaragatski. Neither of them minced their words:

I support England, of course! We won’t make it past the group stages. We simply don’t have a strong enough team, and haven’t had for about 20 years. My bets are either Brazil or Germany, while my dark horses are France and Belgium. Can’t wait for the action to begin!! (Lawrence Trent)

I support Germany. What a surprise! This time round there are no clear favourites, but a lot of teams with a shot at the title. My tip would be Brazil, though, due to home advantage. Germany – like a lot of other top teams – have some issues to deal with. Unfit players, injuries (Reus) and no real striker. We also need to find a defence; we don’t have any attacking full backs who can be dangerous on the break. I’m afraid the semi-finals will again be our limit. Apart from that I’m looking forward to the World Cup and if I’ve got the time I’ll at least try to follow all the more interesting games. (Ilja Zaragatski)

Those answers didn’t satisfy us so at the last minute we decided to send one of our top men, Macauley Peterson, to the supertournament in Stavanger in order to survey the opinions of Carlsen and co. – ok, Macauley may also have had a few other missions there... 

Since Armenia is no footballing power Levon Aronian had to seek out another team a long time ago:  

I traditionally root for England. I don't know why, but ever since childhood... so I guess I’ll root for them, but they're not going to win.

Veselin Topalov was just as emotional when asked about his favourite team:

I like Spain, but somehow I don't think they will repeat. It's just statistics, or rather probabilities.

Anyone who found that a little curious will enjoy the following dialogue:

Macauley Peterson: "Say, who do you like in the World Cup?"

Magnus Carlsen: "Uhh...The Ivory Coast."

Macauley Peterson: “No, seriously.”

Magnus Carlsen: "Seriously."

Macauley Peterson: "Why?"

Magnus Carlsen: "Why not?"

Errr, thanks for that, Magnus!   

But that still left Simen Agdestein. The Norwegian grandmaster once played for his national team, as this top-secret footage proves (ok, maybe fast forward to 0.50, when you can at least see a ball)…

…but even Simen wouldn’t give us a decent tip:

Simen Agdestein: "I have no clue."

Macauley Peterson: "But surely you're uniquely qualified to have a clue."

Simen Agdestein: "But I don't."

So what about you, who do you think will lift the cup? Let us know in the comments!

P.S. ah, before I forget.  Just in time for the World Cup we’ve brought out a set of specially-themed pieces and a chessboard that you can unlock simply by changing the settings in your profile! (Settings/Game)

As you can clearly see, here Black (Topalov) is much better against Agdestein, although he’s yet to cross the half-way line. A good omen for the World Cup? Catenaccio and so on… that wouldn’t be so bad for the Greeks :-)

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