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Mint Juniors

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The Lausanne Young Masters is underway in Switzerland. It's a KO again this year and the first games of the second round are already in the books. US champion and Black Belt contributor Hikaru Nakamura and Ukraine's Andrei Volokitin are both rolling so far, winning with white against Mamedyarov and Harikrishna, respectively. They'll meet in the final if they hold with black today.

Another junior in the news lately is Chinese 16-year-old Wang Hao, whose name is an Abbott and Costello skit waiting to happen. He scored an impressive 10/11 at the Malaysia Open a week ago. In April he won clear first in the Dubai Open ahead of some 50 GMs.

Maybe I've become jaded, but in the past few years I've started to feel like "wake me when you hit the top 40" when it comes to all the so-called prodigies coming down the pipe year after year. Sergey Karjakin set the gold standard and it should stand for a while. And if you aren't in the top 50 by the time you're 18, you're just another player trying to make it to the top. Still, Hao is not just playing well or making contrived norms, but winning tournaments.


Oh well. There are sevaral examples of players who were not in the top 50 at 18, but then made it to the top years later. It kind of sounds like it's impossible to make progress after reaching the age of 18. One very good example of this, is Levon Aronian. He was around 2550 and out of the top 100 list, but since then made some serious progress and is now expected to get 2755 on the next list.

Sorry to be off-topic, but speaking of rating changes, Tiviakov goes from 2678 to 2748! :-O

Here is the old top 20, and their expected rating for the next list.

1 Kasparov, Garry g RUS 2812 2812
2 Anand, Viswanathan g IND 2788 2791
3 Topalov, Veselin g BUL 2788 2792
4 Leko, Peter g HUN 2763 2751
5 Ivanchuk, Vassily g UKR 2752 2757
6 Kramnik, Vladimir g RUS 2744 2730
7 Svidler, Peter g RUS 2738 2754
8 Polgar, Judit g HUN 2735 2738
9 Bacrot, Etienne g FRA 2729 2722
10 Aronian, Levon g ARM 2724 2755
11 Gelfand, Boris g ISR 2724 2728
12 Grischuk, Alexander g RUS 2720 2716
13 Adams, Michael g ENG 2719 2699
14 Morozevich, Alexander g RUS 2707 2697
15 Shirov, Alexei g ESP 2705 2699
16 Akopian, Vladimir g ARM 2705 2710
17 Ponomariov, Ruslan g UKR 2704 2713
18 Bologan, Viktor g MDA 2700 2678
19 Kamsky, Gata g USA 2700 2690
20 Dreev, Alexey g RUS 2698 2687

My point wasn't that you can't make progress, only that going crazy over teens doesn't make as much sense as it used to when there were so few. Bacrot is another early/late bloomer. Youngest GM ever, then very little for quite a few years, then jumps up to top 10. Only Leko and Ponomariov really went straight to the top 10 without interruption.

The published provisional rating from FIDE, seems to be wrong, taking into account tournaments already computed for the July list.

Sergey Karjakin set the gold standard for child prodigies? Compared to Robert James Fischer? I'd be interested in seeing a detailed comparison of the performance of the top prodigies, similar to the comparison of World Champions that ran on the ChessBase site earlier this year. From what I know now, Fischer raised the bar to a level that hasn't been topped yet.

I was referring to his age. Karjakin was an accomplished international player at 12. Getting excited about the latest 16-year-old pales in comparison. They are just strong, young players, not prodigies by today's standards. That term has to be put into the context of the era.

Of course no one has matched what Fischer accomplished in Portoroz for sheer junior achievement. Kasparov in Banja Luka is also up there. Kasparov's junior record is often overlooked since he wasn't really "let out" early. His 9/17 at the 78 USSR championship at age 15 compares to Fischer's US championship win at 14 on sheer strength of opposition. Heck, the 1977 USSR Under-20 championship he won at the age of 14 was probably stronger than that US championship. Certainly more GMs! Yusupov, Lanka, Efimov, Kengis, Starua, Pigusov...

Hikaru just made it into the finals in Lausanne. Mamedyarov won back with white to force a tiebreaker. Hikaru won the first and drew the second and will face Volokitin in the final.

That must have been a show. Mamedyarov and Nakamura are two of the highest-rated blitz players online.

For those who do not know, we might also note that GM Mamedyarov won the World Junior Championship in 2003. Last year he was the favorite to win this event, but lost to Luke McShane.

But his rating is down a bit from 2004, when he was consistently the #2 junior after Radjabov, and meanwhile some of the other top juniors, notably Radjabov, Volokitin and Nakamura, have gone up.

they mention on the chessbase.com site that karjakin was pono's second for his title match. out of curiosity, anyone know exactly what role karjakin played as pono's second?


Rockrobinoff, Karjakin was, according to Pono, one of the individuals who was most relied upon to catch tactical possibilities in analysis. At the time, Pono said that this young IM was quite tactically sharp, and I remember shaking my head at the idea that a potential World Champion would take such a kid seriously. My, have I been rebuked by the facts! Aside from the drubbing he took from Hikaru, Karjakin has acquitted himself quite well on the chess scene, and it may soon be Pono who is the second to Karjakin in a title quest.



For the Lausanne Young Masters:
Time: start with 120 minutes, add 60 minutes after move 40
If tied: 2 games at 25 0
If still tied: 2 games at 5 0
If still tied white gets 5 minutes, black 4 minutes. Black wins the match on a draw.
The rapids clinched the Nakamura-Mamedyarov match. There was no Blitz.

The first Final round game, Volokitin-Nakamura, is fairly spectacular. (Black just played 21...Nd3.)

The match Volokitin -Nakamura has ended 2-0 I guess. Volokitin tore up the tournament. That Tiviakov thing is unbelievable! How strong is this guy really and what has he done to make his chess so impressive of late? This guys was down in the high 2500's about a year or so ago. An even more extreme Krasenkov.

Wondering if Nak's gonna retire 2. Qh5 after the shellacking Volokitin gave it in game 2.

Now Fide says their rating update file was incorrect, and should be completely ignored. As for Tiviakov, he was in WC candidates quarter-finals in the early 90's, so he is no spring chicken.


I thought it highly probable, that since pono was so young at the time himself (18 i believe) and would be working with adults much older than him on his team, that Karjakin was chosen so Pono wouldn't be the "baby" of the group.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on September 17, 2005 3:49 AM.

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