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Better than ChessBase

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I've found something much better than ChessBase or Playchess.com for watching live games. Even the new ChessBase 9 coming out next week doesn't come close. It's watching games live with Garry Kasparov in the room making comments. Really, ChessBase needs to incorporate this feature. Watching game one of Kramnik-Leko at Playchess.com with Garry in the room is a great user experience. He's reasonably user friendly, his graphics aren't bad for 41, and his endgame evaluations are much better than Fritz's.

We had the game on in the background as Garry packed to leave New York for Turkey, where he'll play in the Euro Team Championship next week. Every once in a while he'd wander by the screen, work through a few lines in his head, render a verdict, and go back to packing. For the record, Kasparov pronounced Leko "dead meat" when he played 44.Qf4 instead of taking on g6. (Kramnik won with black, analysis and report coming at ChessBase.com.)


Who could have ever thought that Mig would be more enraptured with Kasparov packing his clothes than with the wonderful first game of the Kramnik-Leko championship match?

Mig you are really just showing off now cos you have the best job in the world. Well you do so there.

Great work guys

Why not be openly honest about your Kasparov bias and your dislike - in chess terms - for these guys, Mig?

You are paying disrespect for their match. Why, exactly? That was a good game of chess with a decisive result.

Let's not forget the most negative and cynical draw master of all times. Kasparov in 1984-85 when he decided to change tactic and style.

after Karpov went to 4-0 lead it was _only 2_ decisive games in _around 40_ games before Karpov collapsed?

When players get stronger the amount of draws increases. It's always been that way. In 1980's there were two top top players around. Now there are several. That's the main difference, isn't it?

Which bias do you mean? The bias when I said "In a tremendous game Vladimir Kramnik sacrificed his queen and then squeezed a win in a difficult ending"?

Or the bias when I wrote "It was everything a world champion's game should be. Superior opening preparation, an excellent queen sacrifice, and total precision in the endgame."

You're right, clearly I'm biased in favor of Kramnik. Sad, I know, but I'm shameless.


More on bias:


Mig, you're biased?? And even worse you have a bias towards your friends? i.e. GK. You are shameless. How can I ever read your columns again? (ouch, I bit my tongue while it was firmly embedded in my cheek).

BTW, that lewislosers link is a must read. Very informative.

Keep up the excellent and entertaining columns Mig.

I just love the video reports, but i wonder if it isn't too much trouble to convert the stream to downloadable avi or mpeg or wmv files? the stream can get pretty laggy.

This is not the first time I have heard of GK glancing at the position of a top game and making a quick and precise judgement of the position. I think I also remember a similar story about Tal commenting on a fantastically complicated Kasparov v Karpov game where GK was attacking.

But does Kasparov actually say much about the game to you (or is it just in his head) whilst it is in progress, for example giving a few lines. And do you ever have the nerve to ask for further explanations (in a very polite manner of course!!) or maybe you don't need any - you are a stronger player than I - but still GK's additional 500 points probably counts for something! For myself I know I rarely have the nerve to question mere mortal GMs when I talk to them about a game and have to spend ages looking at the position afterward to try and work out what they meant - by which time of course it is too late to quiz them further.

Also have you ever seen GK or another top GM give one of these pronouncements and turn out to be totally wrong - kind of like I do all the time to my team mates? So I guess what I am asking is do they sometimes get these snap pronouncements wrong but we just don't hear about it? Only curious to know how good the worlds top are when looking at other peoples games. I remember Short commenting at Kasparov v Kramnik 2000 saying that the only players that really knew what was going on were sitting on the stage (and Short is not such a patzer!)

I wish I'd been a fly on the wall for Garry's "dead meat" comment. I'll bet that was funny to see. I can picture him kinda rolling it out in a droll, offhand manner. LOL


One example of your bias is your active and continued support in Kasparov's campaign for rematch as opposed to a qualification cycle.
Every attempt was made to put down Kramnik and the Dortmund cycle? Didn't you justify Kasparov not playing in the Dortmund qualifier and support his short-cut attempts at a rematch?

Despite its flaws, the Dortmund qualifier was much fairer than Kasparov hand-picking a challenger who had lost. It is also far better than FIDE KO (that Kasim won to challenge Kasparov) which you both had termed a lottery (and this one was the weakest of all with most top players absent).

Finally, do you think that the winner of Kramnik-Leko is the world champion (do remember your arguments during the discussion on the legitimacy of Anand vs Kramnik's titles circa 2000)?


How about having Vishy do the same ?

Continued support? Kapalik, are you posting this in 2001? Time warp? I haven't mentioned a rematch in over TWO YEARS. Back in 2002, with the FIDE KO cancelled and Braingames/Einstein dropping out or dropping the ball, a rematch seemed quite reasonable. Prague changed all that and that was in May, 2002.

You talk about the FIDE KO not having the top players, but Kasparov, Anand, Ponomariov, and Ivanchuk weren't in Dortmund, which also used a randomizing mini-match KO format. I thought it was a shame to qualify for the classical title using the same flawed methods as FIDE.

All this has been dealt with before, as has your definition of fair. Is hand-picking the #2 player on the rating list unfair? Any qualifier, including a blitz tournament, is de facto more "democratic," but that doesn't necessarily mean fairness, especially with mini-matches. Was Dortmund fair to Anand? I'm equally interested in rigor, so the winner can say he's the best.

The current "cycle" is flawed just about everywhere you look. The FIDE KO is obviously a lottery but that's what FIDE wants to do. The idea of Prague wasn't to conjure a perfect solution. It was to quickly unify the title so we could all benefit down the road. The "quickly" part obviously failed, but the goal is still a good one.

In that spirit I (unlike Kasparov) will, with qualifications pending the unification plan, recognize the winner of Kramnik-Leko as the classical chess champion, although it will be much easier to swallow if it's Kramnik, I admit. His validity still comes from beating Kasparov in 2000. With Anand the most successful player in the world right now and Kasparov still the highest rated, Kramnik beating Leko, while still admirable, doesn't convince on its own.

I'd much rather wait for the unification to run its course, just to do my part to help things along. But if Kasparov-Kasimdzhanov doesn't happen by, say, summer 2005, just skip it and start a qualification system that will bring Kramnik into a FIDE event, or visa-versa!

JayPBee: Kramnik-Leko was already past the queen sacrifice by the time I got there. And we came and went from glancing at the board since we were supposed to be working on something else. Garry immediately thought that Black had 50/50 chances win or draw after the queen sac. He would run through a few lines that I didn't have much trouble following in my head because there were so few pieces on the board, but the evaluation of those lines is of course another story.

He wasn't sure whether or not the various 2R vs Q endgames should be won or drawn, although he did give the entire plan Leko ended up playing up until the blunder with 44.Qf4. He was immediately impressed with Kramnik's 32...Rd6, which, it was apparent from his reaction ("Ah, rook d6, strong move, strong move"), he hadn't foreseen.

I'm shy about asking questions in these situations, but not just with Garry of course. Unless I need to get the lines right for a report I'm as hesitant as anyone to admit I don't understand something a stronger player is saying. As long as I have enough of a picture of what he's talking about I don't interrupt. After all, it's more a case of his talking out loud. It's not as if he's asking me to share my opinion; he knows my level probably better than I do! (I was used as his crash test dummy for his handicap match with Chapman a few years ago.)

GMs are wrong all the time in blind analysis, but it's not like I'd always be aware of it. I remember going over some lines post-game with a GM at the 2003 US Championship. I'd been watching the game and had a good idea of what he was talking about. So then I went with my notes and entered the analysis into ChessBase, probably for Black Belt, and found that he'd blundered a piece in one of his main lines. Nobody is perfect. And players get very optimistic about their own positions.

My favorite story about this is from the Polugaevsky Sicilian Thematic tournament in Buenos Aires, 1994. Most of the players were in the press room watching the remaining games on the monitors. Anand and Piket were shooting lines back and forth across the room and it was all I could do to "see" the positions, let alone understand them. Suddenly Ivanchuk, sitting meters away in the front, shouts "No Vishy, that loses because blah blah blah blah" with this long line. -Pause- Vishy: "Okay, yeah, but only you see stuff like that, Chucky!"

Actually, a story I've told many times comes from that same event. I was standing there watching Kamsky-Ivanchuk on the monitor and Vishy walks up to see the monitor. After a few minutes he says (to nobody in particular but I was the only one near him) "Look, do you see it?" "Huh?" "Chucky, you genius! Look, if blah and blah, Kamsky queens first, but blah and blah and blah and Black wins! Brilliant!" And he walks away still smiling while I stand there for five minutes trying to figure out what the hell he's talking about.

Finally I DO see it! Brilliant! I walk back to the tables and find Najdorf, Polugaevsky, and Piket going over the game on a board. They're looking at the same line that looks like a winner for Kamsky. So of course I lean over and say "no no, because blah blah blah" and show Anand's brilliant refutation to these three greats, who all look at me dumbfounded. It was a marvelous moment and I owed it all to Vishy!


Thanks for presenting your views and arguments in detail.

I agree that Dortmund qualifier could have been better both in terms of participation and rigor. However, it wasn't as bad as FIDE KO - most big players were there (Topalov, Adams, Bareev, Svidler, Moro etc.) and for those who skipped -Anand, Ivanchuk were bound to FIDE and Pono was a nobody at that time while Kasparov was more intent on a rematch than on qualification and was looking for excuses to not play.

I would disagree on the legitimacy of a Leko victory. I feel that WC Leko (if he beats Kramnik) would have greater legitimacy than WC Kramnik (if he beats Leko). That is because Leko would have beaten Kramnik, who beat Kasparov, who beat Karpov and so on. While Kramnik would be beating someone who has come through a not-so-perfect qualification cycle. The same applies to Kramnik-Kasparov (Kramnik didn't qualify and others like Anand, Shirov, Ivanchuk etc. were left out). It had more legitimacy because Kramnik won (remember Shirov's accusation?).

I hope my logic isn't too twisted.


Hey Mig, Many thanks for such a detailed (and fascinating) reply to my earlier post - it really was very kind of you - I take it all back about you copying my hairstyle now!


If you would write a book about all your chess stories I would be the 1st person to buy the book.

Ditto what Titu says!

That story just made me spit my coffee on the screen, thx MIG.

Biased? Yes, Mig and the rest of us are biased because we love chess.

Hey Mig, crash-test dummy for the Kasparov-Chapman match? Did you keep gamescores of those training games? Would you be willing and able to share some of them with us?

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on September 25, 2004 3:48 PM.

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