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M-Tel Masters Announced

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Below is the full press release for the M-Tel Masters. (Verbatim and sic.) It's a double round-robin that runs from May 11-22 in Sofia, Bulgaria. (Mentioned earlier here.) The players are Anand, Topalov, Kramnik, Adams, Polgar, Ponomariov. In earlier items Leko was mentioned as a replacement for the invited Kasparov, but now it's Adams. Ponomariov is/has been, like Topalov, a client of Silvio Danailov, who is organizing the event.

The regulation of draws is innovative and I hope it is enforced. We know there is a deadly problem, but won't know what works until organizers experiment like this. Players claim draws to the arbiter and only in two cases (they say three, but perpetual check is just a type of repetition): Repetition and theoretically drawn positions.

This is great news. Precedent includes Maurice Ashley's "Generation Chess" event in NY that had a 50-move minimum. (More of my comments here.)


The competition is part of the
"Ten Years of Mobiltel" Anniversary

(Sofia, March 23 th, 2005)
"Mobiltel" and "Kaissa Chess Management" ,Agency of Silvio Danailov, Manager of the best Bulgarian chess player Veselin Topalov, are going to organize an international Super chess tournament May 11th-22nd, 2005 in Sofia.

The event constitutes a part of the festivities on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the biggest Bulgarian mobile operator(www.mobiltel.bg)

The competition will be attended by 6 of the best chess players on the planet: Viswanathan Anand (India), Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria), Vladimir Kramnik (Russia), Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukraine), Michael Adams (England) and Judit Polgar (Hungary).

The tournament belongs to the 20th Category of FIDE. According to average ELO this will be toughest tournament in the world for the current year. The Tournament's Regulation provides for the holding of 2 rounds with seven-hours' time control, classical chess. This way every participant will be able to play two games against the others. If there is a draw at the top, a tie-break will be provided for which has to determine the winner in the Tournament of Sofia.


The Draw by mutual agreement between the players is forbidden. It's not allowed to offer a draw or speak to your opponent. The player can clam the draw only to the Arbiter in 3 cases: A) Perpetual check ;B) Triple repetition ; C) ; Teoretical draw position.
Only the Arbiter can fix the result of the game. The Arbiter will be advised of GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili,FIDE Vice President (Silvio Danailov rule for professional chess)


Chief Arbiter: Joaquin Espejo (Spain),Deputy arbiters: Boris Postovski (USA),Panaqiotis Nikolopoulos (Greece).

The venue is the five-star luxury Grand Hotel Sofia(www.grandhotelsofia.bg) where the opening and the closing ceremony of the Tournament will be organized.

During the rest day Grand Master Veselin Topalov will give a simul to chess fans at the garden in front of the National Theater. Mobiltel will provide and set up 10 marble chess play tables in the garden.
For a second year in a row Mobiltel has been sponsoring our best chess player. In February last year the mobile operator organized a demonstration TV match between the rapid chess World Champion Viswanathan Anand and Topalov.

Tournament Director :Silvio Danailov


Well, it's certainly worth a try. Of course, I need hardly point out that two players who know that they want to draw beforehand can easily steer the game towards the dozens of triple-repetition positions in opening theory.
But I am most certainly not insinuating that we can expect many such cases.

This is a respectable lot and I think we will see a nice tournament. Less incentive to trade pieces because they still have to play the position. My only question is what constitutes a theoretically drawn position and what does claim a draw mean. There a few drawn positions that are not always drawn by supergms such as R and B vs. R or R and f+h vs. R. Also, some not fully simplified positions may be drawn in theory but with room to play. Of course players can argue the initial position is also drawn in theory! However, I do not think these guys will be so desperate to acheive a draw and I hope it will work nicely.

Well, even if it's a theoretical draw I imagine both players still have to agree to it!

Wonder why Leko's missing.

Anyone even THINKING about a draw will, by arbiter Zurab Azmaiparashvili, be headbutted.

It will be INDEED very interesting watching Topalov and Judith force themselves or the others to commit blunders.

If fighting chess is indeed to be promoted with these rules, Anand vs Kramnik will show it. If after twenty moves their situation is unclear, they will probably try to find a way to draw the game, and if they do, well, we'll get a good show with some more moves played but probably no action on the board. It will also be very interesting to see the others in similar situations, looking for or avoiding draws when playing with black pieces, when wanting to draw, etc. At least players will be forced to think about a way to draw, not just get up, shake hands and go to the bar. That's more chess-like.

I would LOVE to see a couple of GM's trying to force a draw by repetition and then suddenly receiving a death blow from their opponent. That would teach them!

What about the 50 moves rule?

Anyone who has played serious tournament chess knows how much draw offers weigh on the mind, in both directions. Taking it off the table is a big deal in many ways and can't but help. The "strategic draw offer" should be as doomed as the "GM draw" and other modern terms of disgrace. Many players have written about how much better they played when they decided before an event, or at least a game, that they would not accept or offer a draw, period.

I wonder how many players will turn to the Recidivist Variation, as ponted out by the marvellous Tim Krabbe. Check out his column # 268. Here's a sample:


"268. 30 November 2004: The drawing championship

Aidan McGee called my attention to what he calls the Recidivist Variation. Its premiere was:

Adorjan - Karpov, Groningen 1967
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.O-O Bg4 6.h3 h5 7.c3 Qd3 8.hxg4 hxg4 9.Nxe5 (see diagram) 9...Bd6 10.Nxd3 Bh2+ draw; a little joke that was first shown by Fischer in an analysis in My 60 Memorable Games. This game is an argument against the sometimes proposed rule that would forbid draw offers before move 30 or 40; it can hardly be demanded that the Bishop goes to h2 twenty times more.

As McGee discovered, it is a very popular draw. In my database, I found ninety-two draws of 16 moves and less that began with these moves. Sometimes a draw is agreed immediately; sometimes the moves are repeated a few times. There are a few recidivists. Grandmaster Donchev played this draw three times; twice (with different colours) in the Bulgarian championship of 1981. Gufeld played the Recidivist Draw four times, but one figure stands out here; Russian grandmaster Shtyrenkov with six; two with Black and four with White; and one time two in consecutive rounds. "
Wonderful stuff: Who will dare play this in the M-Tel Masters??

"Only the arbiter can fix the result of the game". Then I'm pleased to see that the arbiter will be advised by Zurab Azmaiparashvili, a leading expert in the field of fixing results.

Presumably stalemate is still a draw - is that covered by "theoretically drawn position"?

Mig, how about asking this around? Asking GM's how much time do they spend during a classical game weighing a draw offer? I know how much time it takes from my game: A LOT, but I'm wondering and guessing, and I'd think that it takes a lot less time from players like Topalov, Morozevich and Shirov than from others like Gelfand. I guess it also depends on the situation, I'm sure Kasparov spent a LOT of time weighing the possibility of drawing, packing and going home in the last game against Junior.

Happens to me often that you spend so much time thinking "to draw or not to draw", that you lose the winning sequence right in front of you. Have seen it happen to GM's, too.

How 'bout it, Mig? Think you can get some insider info for us on this? Or at least post the examples you know?

I'll certainly ask, and perhaps some of the GM readers can comment on their own.

I think it was Sosonko who wrote about Spassky advising him to play his next tournament without offering or accepting any draw offers. I believe he said it was the most focused and/or the best result he'd ever had. Probably in NIC in the past few years.

This looks very interesting, but could there be a loophole with non-forced triple repetitions? For instance, the Leko-Kramnik, Brissago (m/11) abortion seems possible under the stated rules. Also the wimpy repetition in the Ruy Lopez Zaitsev after ...Rf8-e8 Nf3-g5 Re8-f8 Ng5-f3 Rf8-e8 Nf3-g5...

However, I expect the players in this tournament would be ashamed to play such draws. Maybe that's why Leko wasn't invited. ;-(

The next step is to make threefold repetition a loss for the adminstering side and stalemates a loss for the player with no legal moves.

Let's not make all the old chess books obsolete. Didn't Kasparov propose introducing one or two new Fischer-random opening setups into chess each year? Sounds good to me.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on March 23, 2005 5:35 PM.

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