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Radjabov Squeaks

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Since it's moving into other posts, here's a place to talk about Teimour Radjabov's shot about how Garry Kasparov "uses his name, his influence in the chess world to persuade tournament organizers not to invite me to play."

Really I think discussing this sort of silliness gives it attention it doesn't deserve. What tournaments has he been kept out of? Why would organizers listen to Kasparov about Radjabov playing, especially since it's hard to find any events Kasparov played in where this would even be relevant. You'd think the kid would be happy with his +1 =3 score against Kasparov. But this has little to do with Kasparov.

Radjabov is probably talking about Linares, where he played in 2003 and 2004 and wasn't invited this year. His performances were okay, but the bottom line is that he was invited as a youthful novelty to an event that usually only includes members of the top ten, plus local player Paco Vallejo now that he's top 30 (now 20). Now that Radjabov is no longer the youngest and fairest (see Karjakin and Carlsen), it's all about rating and there are 35 players ahead of Radjabov on the list. (Radjabov scored -3 total in his two Linares appearances.)

That's not to say that Kasparov didn't stop treating him like a kid brother after he lost a bitter game to him in Linares 2003. No more ice-cream and pats on the head after you show you are a big boy. Kasparov can be spiteful and hates having a minus score against anybody. But Radjabov is likely frustrated by his effortless rise slowing, as it always does for top juniors. His rating went up a dozen points in 2004. Even Leko and Ponomariov had their plateaus, although Karjakin and Carlsen's current vertical charts gives pause.


Hello Mig.
Is it necessary to defend Kasparov at any occasion? :-)
Well, it is a bit strange that it is Teimour who complains now. But if organizer gives possibility to Kasparov (or to anyone else) to choice his opponents, is it not shameful?

Well, my usual position about this kind of stuff is "we will never know the truth, so it is better to think about something else" :) Anyway I would better take your point of view, Mig.

Especially with Carlsen having been playing so badly for several months now, it may be time to start talking about Yuriy Kuzubov as well, Ukrainian soon-to-be-15 boy rated 2563 (but still only IM). Although he doesn't seem to have been playing against as high-level opposition as the other prodigies yet so it's not 100% clear what his rating really means -- a notable exception is of course knocking Karjakin himself out of the Ukrainian Championships.

There is no real evidence that Kasparov had anything to do with Radjabov not being invited to Linares so it just seems like sour grapes. I am sure Kasparov would love and not fear a chance to get even. Radjabov is acting just acting like a spoiled little baby.

I agree with Mig, here.It sounds silly that Kasparov fears Rajdabov.He never fears anybody.As simple as that.There are scores of issues I hate in Kasparov.But this is certainly not among them.He didn't play(for ex. Shirov) with few , but the reasons were different.

"Why would organizers listen to Kasparov about Radjabov playing...?"

Maybe for the same reason organizers gave Kasparov a pass when they caught him sneaking off to his hotel room twice for fiteen minutes in the middle of a tournament game. Sucking up to Kasparov in hopes that he'll grace your enterprise with his cooperation is a high growth industry.

Was there ever a more exciting and rewarding period in Kasparov's life than his teens and early twenties when he was the rising star from Azerbaijan, beloved by all? In succeeding years, dominating tournaments, squeaking past Karpov in long matches every few years, destroying Short, Anand, and the world championship cycle, Kasparov probably never imagined that he'd ever lose his "boy wonder" aura or lose his title in a match. More fitting for such a supernatural career would be, following the Virgin Mary's example, bodily assumption into (chess) heaven.

But then, in London, Kramnik dominated and demoralized Kasparov so completely that rather than fight for his title he gave up two 15-move draws with white while behind in the match. And now when someone mentions the "boy wonder from Azerbaijan", chances are they're forming a mental picture of the 15-year-old kid who, at Linares, beat Kasparov.

Kramnik took away Kasparov's championship crown and Radjubov took away his "wonderboy from Azerbaijan" title. Could anyone offer a prediction as to whom those who hope to profit by their association with Kasparov will choose as their favorite targets?

But let's be fair.

If, after his Linares 2003 tantrum, the World's Crybaby #1 wanted to exclude Radjubov from Linares then what's Radjubov doing playing in Linares 2004? As Mig pointed out, Radjubov was invited (twice) to Linares based on his novelty status, not his rating. His rating hasn't improved and his novelty status has dissipated. No reason to look for conspiratorial reasons to explain why Radjubov will be watching Linares 2005 from the sidelines.

Rather than plotting to exclude Radjubov from Linares, Kasparov is probably staying up nights dreading that Radjubov might get run over by a truck before Kasp has a chance to even the score. Surely Kaspy welcomes any opportunity to put this "pup" in his place.

Hey Radj! Why not challenge the great one to a grudge match!

When have organizers allowed Kasparov to pick his opponents, Mikhail? Saying it doesn't make it so. The 2000 Kramnik match is the only occasion I can think of, and that was when Kramnik was next on the rating list (Anand had declined) and obviously the toughest possible opponent.

If Kasparov had such influence and cared so much to act on it, Radjabov wouldn't have been invited to Linares LAST year. Garry hates having a negative score against anyone and if he could pick his opponents his next tournament would be a quadruple round-robin against Gulko, Lautier, and Radjabov!

Well maybe you are right. I am unable to prove that what Radjabov said is true. At the same time, it is true that many players have complained in the past that GK prevents them from obtaining invitations. E.g., last year, Ponomariov said similar things publickly.
The question is: are the Linares organizers asking Kasparov's opinion about invitations to other players, or not? If yes, I do not think that it is fair. There is to much protectionism in chess anyway.

About the negative score, I agree. In 1990s I even suspected that Boris Gulko was invited to play in PCA Classical GP partly because of his famous positive score against Kasparov (who certainly hoped to revenge but had not too many opportunities to play Gulko). A pure speculation, of course.

Mikhail, Greg, Mig -

This WHOLE THREAD is pure speculation. Just like Radjabov's fine whine...

Don't forget, it was Radjabov who tried to ground down Karpov in the drawn K+B+R vs Karpov's K+R endgame. That sort of behavior against the world's elite doesn't win you friends. Karpov blew his top after the game (drawn).

If I recall correctly, that was in the 2002 Corus, not Linares, where Karpov finished with 6 pts (for 11th) while Radjabov finished with 6.5 placing 9th. Karpov didn't play in the 2002 and 2003 Linares, according to this site:


The funny thing was, Radjabov was invited back the next year, for 2003 Corus. It seems to me, the organizers will do what they like, independent of anybody, including anything from Kasparov. Afterall, the legendary Karpov blew his top and yet Radjabov was still invited back the next year.

If there are any facts in this speculative thread, the increasing supply of interesting, talented players vs diminishing sponsorship moola is one fact that stands out. Somebody is going to be left out in the cold and Radjabov is it. He got his share of the small chess pie, noting a number of premiere events he had been invited to (Corus 2001 B, Corus 2002 and 2003, Linares 2003 and 2004), and he didn't do anything special, save defeating Kasparov in 2003 and finishing second in 2001 Corus B group, to catch the attention of organizers and sponsors.

Furthermore, according to Chessbase records (search Linares 2003, 2004), Radjabov beat Kaspy in 2003 and drew him last year. If Kasparov was upset enough to want Radjabov out of a tournament, why was Radjabov invited back to play in Linares 2004? The simplest reason I can think of is the organizers want to invite someone more interesting/deserving than Radjabov, given the constraint of limited sponsorship moola.

So yeah, Mig is right on.

What on earth is wrong with trying to win R+B vs R? That one offers good practical chances, despite being well-known as a theoretical draw.

Here the defence was misplayed by Van Wely:

by Bronstein:

by Short:

by Short again:

Not to mention that the player on the winning side of the first game was none other than...Anatoly Karpov.

At least Radjabov got what he wanted: he is looking for tournament invitations and at least he got his name in the headlines again.

Hopefully (for him) tournament organizers now remember who he was...

"What on earth is wrong with trying to win R+B vs R?" [acirce]

The main issue is to accord your fellow players a decent amount of common courtesy and respect. You don't want to annoy your opponent by playing out a position s/he would normally draw, so you agree to draw to save some effort for you and your opponent.

Typically, you resign positions a piece down to save your opponent the ennui of converting, which your opponent is likely to convert probably 99% of the time. By doing this, you hope that your fellow players also resign against you when you are a piece up. Thus, effort and energy is not wasted converting positions where swindling chances are slim to none. Also, it is an insult to your opponent to play on in hopeless positions. It makes for a better playing environment if you respect your opponent and s/he respects you.

You do the same for draws. Once you and your opponent reach a certain level, it is an insult to play on when you have a rp + wrong color b vs opponent's king in the corner. It is a draw and playing on will only annoy your opponent. Similarly, it is bad form to play on in many r+p endings because the drawing techniques are so well-known.

In the case of K+R+B vs K+R ending, sure the draw is not easy, but I trust most GMs will draw that ending if they put in the effort. That, as you pointed out in your examples, some top GMs were not able to draw does not mean they were incompetent. Maybe they lost because of fatigue or time pressure. Maybe they lost because they were annoyed of having the ending played out in the first place. GMs are known to blow positions far more routine than K+R+B vs K+R. In fact, GMs are known to blow routine wins. Just because we know a few cases of GMs blowing K+R+B vs K+R does not mean those endings are worth playing out. Similarly, just because we know of a few cases of GMs blowing routine wins does not mean it is profitable to play out those lost positions.

The bottom line is, is it really worth pissing off your opponent in the hopes of harvesting that 1% chance of converting a draw to a win or converting a loss into a draw? Would you be happy if your opponent plays on to win against you? Why not call it a day and when you are in the receiving end, perhaps your opponent returns the favor and call it a day also.

There are many examples of GMs playing on against their fellow GMs with R+B vs. R. I would guess that the stronger side's winning percentage in this particular ending at the GM level is much higher than 1%, probably higher than 20%. This seems high enough under normal GM vs. GM conditions to justify playing on for a win, especially if a win is needed.

I think Karpov's unhappiness with Radjabov was more likely connected with the fact that Radjabov thought he might win this ending against a former World Champion and one of the greatest endgames players of all time, if not the greatest. I would tend to agree with Karpov there. Although Radjabov has a right to make Karpov prove he can draw that position, it shows a certain lack of respect to exercise that right. But since when have young, up-and-coming players showed respect for older, fading players?

My personal feeling is that Radjabov is suffering the fate of a lot of promising juniors in chess: his earlier years were a sort of fairy tale story of success after success, and he received a great deal of attention and even adulation because of his youth and promise. But new young and promising players are always coming along, and at some point in the process these juniors stop getting attention and perks because of youth and promise, and have to prove themselves among the older, stronger players to pay the rent. I think this can become a great psychological let-down, and Radjabov would not be the first GM to show a little paranoia as a result. It's almost like a formula for creating mental illness: lavish praise and attention on the kids, and then make them struggle to get invitations and make a living as a young adult. You could call it the "child star" syndrome.

I think Radjabov is very likely to eventually become a top-10 player and get the invitations and the money that will satisfy him. But he may be in for some relatively lean years first. Time to pay some dues, I guess, and no sense blaming Kasparov or anyone else for that fact.

"In the case of K+R+B vs K+R ending, sure the draw is not easy, but I trust most GMs will draw that ending if they put in the effort."

Certainly *most* GM's will do that. That is entirely beside the point. As long as there is a realistic winning chance, and there is, play on. The chance is much bigger than 1% I can tell you that. That particular endgame is infamous exactly because while it is well-known as a theoretical draw, and not very hard to defend if you just know by heart how it's done, the number of games in which the defender still somehow manages to fail is big, even on high levels.

"Would you be happy if your opponent plays on to win against you?"

Huh, chess isn't about making your opponent happy. Of course I would be happy if he agreed to draw without effort even though he had the advantage and decent winning chances. Showing respect should only mean that you don't cheat, don't make annoying sounds and such. What happens on the board is your business.

I certainly don't understand your reasoning in this particular endgame. R vs N would be one thing (Nakamura played that one for 50 moves once). There the chances of winning IS probably around 1% or less. R+B vs R does give good practical chances and that is a known fact.

Kasparov even played out R+N vs R against Polgar, which is regarded as even easier to hold. Guess what, he won.

BTW it's funny how Chessbase attacked Radjabov for lack of fighting spirit and how he's attacked for too much fighting spirit.

Kasparov is a lot of things, and he does a lot of things (right and wrong, appreciated and unappreciated), but wanting to keep Radjabov out of Linares? The kid`s on drugs. If anything, Kasparov would probably pay money out of his own pocket to have Radjabov invited, hoping to go 2-0 with him. That`s how Kasparov works, for any flaws he may have, he wants to win, against everybody, always.

1. I remember reading somewhere recently that this ending is won about 50% of the time according to the databases. It is impossible for the stronger side to lose, so you would be stupid to agree a draw without playing on for a while. I think that this whole thread is ironic - so many people whinge these days about GMs agreeing short draws, and now the same people are whinging about one GM who wouldn't agree a draw and wanted to keep on playing?! Radjabov was completely within his rights to play on against Karpov. I think it shows good fighting spirit.

2. This whole thing about Kasparov keeping people out of tournaments appears to be pure speculation. Does anyone have any evidence that this is the case?

3. As an aside, I didn't get invited to Linares either. Kasparov obviously has a vendetta against me. It can't be because the organisers looked at the rating list and discovered that I'm not rated in the top ten in the world.

Okay, just to back up my prior somewhat off-topic remarks with a little bit of incomplete data, I did a database search for GM losses in R+B v. R endings. I confined my search to the year 2003 (the latest year for which my database is even moderately complete), eliminated the blitz games, and found the following losses:

Sargissian-Dizdar, ADCF Masters 2003, 1-0
Borisek-Mitkov, Vidmar Mem. 2003, 0-1
Lesiege-Rozentalis, Montreal 2003, 0-1
Shirov-Atalik, Jahorina BIH 2003, 1-0
Kulaots-Smirnov, Istanbul 2003, 0-1
Svetushkin-Grigore, Bucharest 2003, 0-1
Tirard-Baburin, France 2003, 1-0

None of the losing GMs above are what might be called "weak" GMs, they are all strong players. Obviously, the time control/time remaining may have had some influence on the result. But it is pretty clear that it is still possible to score points in this ending even against strong GMs.

I would also note that in the 35 examples of this ending in 2003 that show up in my database (including all games, not just GM losses), in 26 or more than 75% of the games the stronger side won!

None of this is really much on-topic but I found it interesting, possibly because I lost to Nick Defirmian in this ending in an adjourned position (!) at the U.S. Open in Pasadena in 1983, a rather traumatic experience. I still remember vividly how, hungry, sleep-deprived and frazzled (having spent most of the night trying to learn from Fine's BCE and Keres' Practical Endgames, the only 2 endgame books I had access to, how to defend the ending), I showed up to the adjournment at the scheduled early morning hour, only to wait about 20 minutes for a obviously well-rested and relaxed DeFirmian to show up with his coffee and croissant. About 20 moves into the R+B v. R ending, I made a mistake which lead to a forced loss in roughly 12 or 13 moves, moves which DeFirmian played rather confidently. I also remember how, after the game, he graciously tried to make me feel better by citing to some games in which GMs had lost the weaker side. Of course, I doubt there are many examples of GMs losing in this ending after the position had been adjourned!

It's certainly normal to play this endgame out. It is also not unreasonable to agree to a draw when the defender has demonstrated he knows the defense. This is true in just about any theoretically drawn endgame at the GM level. There is a difference between playing for a win and playing for a blunder. But you can go wrong in R+B vs R at almost any time.

Atalik on his loss to Shirov, after blundering after 20 moves of defense: "Now I have pushed the self destruction button. It is disgusting and worrisome to lose such an elementary ending like R+B vs R no matter if one is low on time etc..."

I watched a GM lose this ending with an audience at the 2000 National Open in Las Vegas. I think it was on board six, round 4, at about 1:00 A.M. with both players down to less than five minutes.

The really bizarre thing is that Baburin was the GM who won that game. And upthread it says that Baburin lost to Hugo Tirard (2399 Elo) on Feb 2, 2003 in Drancy in the EXACT SAME ENDING.

I haven't opened BCE yet, but I don't think this one is very easy to draw.

Going to a different OT idea:

It seems that nobody wanted to organize the Kasimdzhanov-Kasparov match in the indicated timeframe. So, using the abortive Kasparov-Shirov match as a precedent, does this mean that we can now pass along to a Kasimdzhanov-Kramnik match for the unified title?

This has several advantages:
--it would unify the title right now;
--the next cycle could start ASAP;
--I suspect that Kramnik would be more likely to actually play the match, regardless of what he said at a press conference a few months back.

All we need is an organizer, money, and the "conceptual blockbuster" to see that Kasparov is out of the picture, just like Shirov was when an organizer could not be found for his world championship match.

To Geof Strayer, good post. I am very surprised at the numbers, 26 wins out of 35 samples. The sample size is decent so I accept the idea of >1% chance of winning such endings. I therefore also accept the idea it is worth playing out R+B vs R endings.

I learned to draw that ending from a New in Chess article (sorry, can't quote the exact issue as I'm too lazy to dig out the mag that is buried somewhere under piles of junk). The article demonstrates the drawing idea of sac'ing the rook to get stalemate when the king is forced to the side (not corner). I figure most GMs would be aware of this idea and so save them much distress/anguish/analysis when they think over the board.

Anyway, thank you for your research. The surprising numbers are certainly useful.

As yet another case in point.. Kosteniuk beat Onischuk in a R+B vs R endgame in Corus B today. I hear they were both in bad time trouble during that phase of the game, but didn't watch it myself.

Radja said he was kept out of Linares because of Kasparov. Many here say he is crazy. Does anyone knwo if kasparov in fact said he didn't want him in? Does kasprov admit it or deny it? This obvious question seems to be missed.

The irony is that Kasparov spoke about it in 2004, when Radjabov was invited back despite a -3 performance the year before. It seemed obvious he was invited back only because of the win against Kasparov. But I don't think said anything after the 2004 event, especially since Radjabov made an even score. But I think it's more up to Radjabov to present a case for why he should be invited. He would be by far he lowest-rated player there and he's no longer a wunderkind.

It seems quite probable that, if asked, Kasparov would say Radjabov shouldn't be in Linares. But it wouldn't be about him personally (again, Kasparov would love to even the score). It would be the same for any player not in the top 10. Linares has always been for the elite of the elite, although you can make a good case that this is why it has been so boring lately. Radjabov's win over Kasparov in 03 was the biggest story out of Linares in years, which isn't hard when +2 wins the event!

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on January 8, 2005 2:48 AM.

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