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Topalov: "No Fischer"

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With some overheated fans comparing Veselin Topalov to Kasparov, Fischer, and Thor, the new FIDE champion downplayed such talk himself after his draw with Leko in round eight. "Please don't compare me to Fischer. I wouldn't even dare to say I'm superior to my rivals here. I'm just in good form right now, that's all." This in Spanish, as Topalov lives in Salamanca, which delights the Argentine journalists. (Anand also lives in Spain.)

Anand said that he's in a better mood now, after scoring his second win over Polgar, but that "oceans" still separate him and Topalov, and that even if he beats him in their individual game he would still probably have to win his five other games to reach the title. Yup. No reason to believe Topalov won't win another game.

If Topalov finishes with +6 or +7 it will definitely be one of the great tournament performances, although it's a bit early to chisel him into Rushmore with the likes of Fischer and Kasparov. At Linares, 1999 Kasparov scored +7 in a tournament a little stronger than this one (swap Polgar and Kasimdzhanov for Kramnik and Ivanchuk), with an oddly similar dominance with black. Adams finished -3 there too... Some are making hay out of the way some sort of torch seems to have been passed when Topalov beat Kasparov in the latter's last game before retirement. Don't know about that, but as I mentioned in the comments, I don't think it's a coincidence either. Kasparov himself said that some of the other players might have seen him as a "boulder in the road" that is now gone. I.e. it's hard to work 24/7 when you can only hope to be #2. The irony is that now Topalov is playing well enough to be a real match for Kasparov. Sac of the Magi.

At first I was thinking that Topalov's San Luis is even more impressive considering the circumstances, that it's a world championship and not just another tournament. Probably, although the situation seems to have negatively affected some of the other players.


I don't know Topalov personally but he has always struck me as a humble guy, though I believe Ivanchuk referred to him as a "vampire" when he was seconding for Ponomariov during Ponomariov's FIDE Champion streak. At the same time, Topalov has had an acute sense that given his age, this is his peak time. Maybe being unattached is something that has allowed him to devote more time than others to study. I'm rooting for Topalov to continue his amazing streak. His next two games are really going to be a trial, against Anand as Black and then against the unpredictable Morozevich. Part two of this tournament could turn into the "revenge against Topalov" section.

Impressive has been the way Topalov has won the games.

If you look only statistics, the key game was Topalov-Svidler. If Svidler would have won that game with white, Topalov and Svidler would be at even score. Even losing to Anand at first round wouldn't have been so bad for Veselin.

I agree. I watched his video interview after beating Kasparov, he said that he did not feel happy to have beaten Kasparov specially that it was his last professional game. He also said that chess is going to miss Kasparov greatly and that it cannot be lead by players like himself or Anand. On the spetember issue of New in Chess Topolov branded himself as: "The only difference between me and others is that I am not afraid of losing". Pretty humbling stuff when you think about it.

I haven't seen it mentioned, so it's worth remarking that this is not the first time Topalov has gone on a tear in a world championship. I'll grant that the Libya knockout was not of the same caliber, but still we know that Topa can kick his game up a notch at key moments. Think how the world might be different if he'd won in Libya.

Only six rounds to go...
Think more or less the whole chess world wants Topalov to win the title now.
Wonder what has been the profession or activity in Topalov's civil life.
Heard that he was a postman. Can that be true?
On the official site I can not find the scheme for the prize distribution. Anyone knows?
If the first prize is 300 K USD, it should be ok for a postman with the bulgarian cost level of daily products and services.
Haidressing for men takes 2 USD in the outskirts of Sofia.
Man can voyage to the moon now, even as a tourist.
Chess Base can not produce a report from San Luis 15 hs. after last move being made in round 8. Even if they pay for it.

The prize fund in San Luis goes like this:

1st 300,000
2nd 200,000
3rd 140,000
4th 100,000
5th 80,000
6th 70,000
7th 60,000
8th 50,000

20% from the above is deducted and kept by FIDE.

oh stany relax. chessbase gives us the games live for free, they have nigel short giving witty commentary, and the best consistent coverage on a daily basis, seven days a week. maybe you should consider that they might want to sleep in on an off day?!

Here is a little collection of puzzles from Fischer's games: http://www.wtharvey.com/fisc.html

Well Nigel Short is probably all tied up with his Thesaurus looking up big words. He is not allowed to post a report with less than 12 unimagineable words. Right now it is after 9 am New York time and still no report. Oh Well. wake up Nigel and take something for the hangover.

I have been watching all the games. lucky me in my retirement. I never was a Topalov fan. but now I am rooting that he wins all his games.

I came into the tmt hoping to finally see Anand become world champion and also rooting for judit polgar who I would love to see become the world champion.

But now I am rooting for Topalov to win them all and for Judit to win some more games and do well.

I am really enjoying this tmt. this is great chess. I wanted to see Topalov challenge Leko a bit more but then Topalov does deserve a bit of a rest. I hope he comes out for the kill in his remaining games.

And I hope everyone is really enjoying the games.

I agree with Susan Polgar in her ChessCafe article that the winner here is the real world champion and not kramnik. and that the winner here does not need and in fact should not play kramnik.

Tommy, Nigel Short's report is already on the official site. It just takes chessbase a while to copy it. This happens every day.

Great, Giannis. Thanks!
Then everybody has really something to play for.
And one better understands the heavy blood shed in most of the rounds.
The prize money will assure a throught cutting second half of the tmt.
To the pleasure of all of us.

Yea, Nigel's 'reports' are a bit of a shamble. Instead of telling how much wine he had to embrine the night he'd better get down and do some proper analysis. For decent analysis ChessPro is the best at the moment.

i must say i'm also impressed by Toppy's humble attitude. Maybe i should give him more credit.

In addition to the prize money, there is the admirable fact that where a player finishes in this event DOES have a meaning in the next cycle.

This is the first classical time control championship for a long time when we already knew on day one what the qualifying process would be for the NEXT championship. That in itself is a huge step towards ending a lot of the confusion in professional chess. Good for players, good for sponsors, good for fans.


Places 3-4 in this event will be automatically seeded into the first round of the Candidates matches for the 2007 WC. (That's a match event with only 10 players.)

The 5 winners from the first round of Candidates matches will go on to the quarterfinals where they will be joined by place 2 from this event.

The 3 winners of the quarterfinals will proceed to the semi finals, where they will be joined by place 1 from this event. The 2 winners of the semi finals then play a final match to determine the 2007 World Champion.

ALL of the above mentioned events are played at the same classical time controls as this event.


There are two other ways to get into the first round of Candidates Matches--scoring high in the World Cup knockout event, or scoring high at the Last Chance Super Tournament.

But placing 4th here instead of 5th means an automatic invitation to the classical time control portion of the next championship cycle.

And placing 2nd instead of 3rd means being able to skip the first round of candidates matches, and go directly to the quarter finals.

So while the money is undoubtedly of interest, this event is also set up so that players are fighting to place 4th instead of 5th, and 2nd instead of 3rd. Thatís a good thing.


Oh, and FIDE has now added the WCC cycle regulations to the handbook on the website, so you no longer need Word to read them.



Drugs -

I think Topalov is on Monafidil or some performance-enhancing drug. I know they're going to test him after the event, but what for? The above-mentioned, or just Steroids, to comply with Olympic regulations? They should have tested him after the hot streak in the middle of the event to see if any was in his system. What drugs are banned from use in such an event?

Sure there was the +7 linares, but Topalov is right that even a massive result in a tournament does not guarantee long-term domination. These guys are awesome at learning from each other and the next linares Kasparov tied with Kramnik on + not very many(2??).

They have found out now how US Postal could cheat the drug controllers in Tour de France.
It was easy.
But please drop the drug talk about chess players. Funny one or two times. Not more.

N. Short is - to my knowledge - analysing the games on the spot for the audience. He is going in and out of the Press room, mingling with strong players in the audience, computers everywhere...He himself a GM.
And never gives analysis in his reports.
The grape Malbec is much used in argentine wines.

I for one appreciate Nigel's writing. It adds a bit more color and personality than just variations and analysis. Perhaps it's time that chess journalism also start being about the ambience and personalities and drama of top-level competitive play.

If you want to make chess more popular, then it is our responsibility to show the social and human aspects of the game.

Some idle rating calculations on the free day:

Topalov gained so far 25 rating points.
Anand, in spite of his lukewarm performance, lost only one point (in such a strong field, even a score of +1 is good enough...).
Svidler gained 10 (but a score of +2 is much better...)
Leko also lost 1 point, and his compatriot Polgar lost a whopping 19 points.
Another big loser is Adams - minus 13 for him.
Finally, Morozevich +2, Kasimjanov -2.

So, here are the new ratings and rankings of San Luis participants. I am taking the October 1 FIDE rating list as a baseline (obviously already innacurate, since it doesn't account for the European team championship). Also, I'm not taking into account the retired Kasparov.

1.Topalov 2807
2.Anand 2787
3.Leko 2750
-.Svidler 2750
(Ivanchuk might be above Leko & Svidler, given his recent performance)
12.Polgar 2716
13.Morozevich 2709
17.Adams 2705
36.Kasimjanov 2688

Daaim and others,

As you may have already seen, FIDE has decided that as of October 8 they will begin transliterating his name as Kasimjanov instead of Kasimdzhanov.

Note that neither of these is a "spelling." You spell in the original language. You transliterate into others. In many cases more than one transliteration is considered correct. However, the FIDE choice tends to drive database entries.

Kramnik who???

I too quite like Nigel's commentary. It adds colour to the tournament and the players, and makes for very enjoyable reading. If I want analysis I can find that on several other websites (or try and do it myself...with rather mixed results, but still fun :-)

And at my playing level, the live commentary by Andrew Martin and Yasser Seirawan on chessbase.com is also quite good. Andrew has some instructional DVDs out, and I hope Yasser will also consider such a project. He too would do an excellent job.

Nigel's reports are okay, but not great. At least he's not bragging about sleeping with the players' wives, girlfriends, seconds, etc.

But I am eagerly awaiting Jeff Sonas's latest update on the probabilities of who will win. Exactly how big IS Topalov's margin? And has Morozevich's chances improved any now that he's running hot? ENQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW!

Another great performance to compare Topalov's with - Karpov's incredible 11/13 in Linares 1994. +9 against an incredibly strong field.

Jai, Topalov's first half compares favorably with Fischer's second half in the Second Piatigorsky (sp?) Cup in 1966, as well. And didn't Fine rip off a great half during the first leg of the 1938 AVRO tournament? (Not at home, so I can't look it up.)

Topalov's first half probably beats both of those accomplishments, but only Jeff Sonas knows for sure!

Here's a partial list of accomplishment's Tops first half can be compared to. Please add anything I'm missing.

Fine's first half (?) at AVRO 1938

Fischer at the 1963-64 US Championship

Fischer's second half at the Second Piatigorsky Cup in 1966

Fischer's three Candidates Match victories in 1971

Karpov at Linares 1994

Kasparov at Linares 1999

I don't think any of Fischer's or Kotov's Interzonal victories were this impressive. Did the Tal ever have a tournament where he ripped off a bunch of wins without his customary loss? And Alekhine had at least a couple of monster results, but I don't remember where or when. (San Remo, 1930?)

I think the only ones in Tops class are Karpov's and Kasparov's Linares victories, and Fischer's Candidate Matches in 1971.

Icepick, are you thinking of Alekhine at Bled in 1931? He scored an incredible 20.5 out of 26, 5.5 points ahead of Bogolubov. Wow!

I'm sorry, my math was off. Alekhine was only 4.5 points ahead of Bogolubuv. Alexander the Great was +15 for the tournament. Has that been equalled?


Thanks. I did read that report. I will do the same to be consistent. I really wanted to start when we had this conversation a week ago, but the point you brought up about databases was key.


We discussed on the other thread the difficulty of writing quality reports onsite. I would imagine that Nigel Short has not been in such a situation and is finding it difficult to know how organize his information. What he is doing is normally done by 3-4 people.

It's nearly impossible to be effective as a journalist, a commentator, color analyst, etc. Believe me... just covering the games and writing round reports would be enough for one person alone!

Short has a unique style and of course there is room for many different interpretations of this event. As I mentioned to sacateca (who also prefers Short), it is good that we have these choices.

As a lucky one who personally knows Vesko Topalov, I just wanted to add, that he is not only humble, but also very nice, cheerful person. I would explain his recent surge in performance, with his considerably more serious approach to his preparations.
We all would expect that players on the Top, play chess and prepare constantly, but they do not.
About 7 years ago I remember asking him, how many hours does he spend per day, and does he hope to become better than Kasparov, does he want to be a world champion.
His response was, that he spends in preparation the average of 4 hours a day, but in order to become the best, he will have to learn to "work" for 8-10 hours a day, and even then there will be no guarantee. At that time he was feeling tired and fed-up.
I have a feeling that with the years that came, he has changed his attitude. Probably there are players more talented than him (Moro, Anand?), but it definitely looks like he is more serious than the others - always prepared, bringing novelties, organized.

I wish him all the luck, and hopefully in 1 week both the men and women's world titles will belong to Bulgaria.

voss, I really didn't know what I had in mind. I know Alekhine had a couple of monster results in tournaments, but I pulled site and date out of my hazy memory, expecting it to be wrong. I'll look a few of these things up now that I'm home.

Here's one that shouldn't be forgotten: Lasker scoring 7/8 in the 1914 St. Petersburg final against Capablanca, Alekhine, Tarrasch and Marshall.

Kasparov at Tilburg in 1989 scored 12/14 in a Cat 16, which was pretty powerful at the time.

Another Kasparov result would be the 9.5/11 at Belgrade 1989.

Hot damn, I was right! Alekhine scored 14/15 at San Remo 1930, ahead of Nimzovitch, Bogoljubov, Rubinstein, etc. Not all of my brain cells are shot!

Alekhine at Bled 1931 was only 19.5/25(!), so I'm not sure if that measures up! Wiat a minute, I see voss has different numbers. Maybe my database is incomplete.

Anyway, that's it for now, and that should be enough!

Okay, last one, I promise.

At The Hague/Moscow World Championship Tournament in 1948, I believe Botvinnik scored 7.5/8 in the first two cycles. I'm not sure if that is exactly correct, because of possible adjournments and postponements. Anyone have better info?


I dont want Nigel to do any analysis in his reports. but I do want him to spend more time on human interest items. tell us about the people and what is happening.

there are plenty of places to get analysis. and Shipov does a great job although his English postings are a bit late.

go Nigel. tell us all about the people. that is the interesting stuff. for the analysis I can turn on Fritz. HAHA.


Issue of Drugs goes unaddressed - Veselin Topalov, who couldn't win in Dortmund, shows up and takes 6 out of 7 from the world's 7 (or so) top players. He's played through 6-8 hour games with full intensity, day after day.

Bet he's on dope. Speed, adderol, or one of the new 'concentration' drugs like Monafidil.

Unaddressed, no. The top three finishers will be tested, as mentioned here and elsewhere. Plus a randomly selected player. The test for literally hundreds of things in the IOC tests. And if any drug, especially the common ones you list, could turn a 2700 into a 3000 player everyone would know about it by now.

What, you have to win every single tournament? Topalov also played spectacularly well at the Mtel at times and won three games in Dortmund, but lost two. He was showing an upturn in Linares as well. 6-8 hour games?!

i find this drug-suspicion much more absurd than Leko's "superstitions" (i don't know why it couldn't be beneficial to sleep under apple trees, and in the Fischer-era there was much more fuss about chairs et al, though perhaps this was to disturb psychologically the opponent). "Healthy lifestyles" (whatever they may be, very individual thing) do wonders to ability to have energy to spare when really needed. Not everyone is like Kramnik. Kasparov's performances, considering his age, in Linares and Russian Champs were as impressive in this respect...it's such an individual thing how far one can stretch. Garry could probably do the same when he's 50, as someone aptly noted before, he's "a tank".

svilen: Thanks for the added insight to Topalov.


You're missing the point though. The argument is that Short certainly can speak on the 'human interest' things, but he is a strong GM and has access to analysis not available anywhere... not even from Shipov. He participates in analysis sessions with the eight players. This is a gold mine. Let us hear what the players are saying about the games. No one else can provide this.

However, the point I'm making is that he is probably overwhelmed and pressed for time. He's found a way to get his reports in... writing short entries in a timestamped diary. It's actually an interesting idea.

Daaim: Postmortems would be interesting indeed, but since Nigel is the official commentator, maybe it's just not in his job description? i could imagine his job is to talk about chess to the general public, to keep it somewhat accessible. i doubt the general public got a lot out of Leko-Kramnik match post-game press conferences, though it was of course wonderful for (us) competent chessplayers who could somewhat follow the lines.
Though, i doubt it would've crashed the economy of the tournament had they hired another hand to handle stuff Nigel can't/isn't supposed to.

IOC tests? So they still hope to get chess into the Olympics. Are chess players and athletes tested to the same standards?

I hope I didn't miss the answer in another post, but what is the highest performance rating ever achieved by a player? I'm sure 3000 performances have been reached a couple of times but has anybody hit 3100 or 3200?

Topalov's performance has been phenomenal, but it should also be considered in the context of the low percentage of draws in the tournament. For whatever reason the players are taking more risk, and so the probability of extreme scores must be higher than it would otherwise be in a more "sedate" tournament.


I suppose I was referring to the fact that some of the analysis he is observing can be folded into his reports. I would be interested to know what the players are saying about their games. We're not talking about any deep analysis, but just the reactions of the players, their impressions of the games and key moments. This adds quite a bit that no one else can provide.

We'll see how the second half goes.

modafinil isn't a new drug--it's a mild stimulant that's been used for narcolepsy for several years. The only thing new about it is that some military forces are now issuing it to promote wakefulness instead of the dexedrine that used to issued in the same circumstances. So NEW YORKER MAGAZINE, among others, did an article to say maybe it has uses for the general population.

That said, all the known stimulants, including modafinil, are already on the Olympics testing list. I know there was at least one runner who tested positive for it at the track World Championships last year, although apparently in that case it had indeed been prescribed for narcolepsy.

So anyway, any of the known stimulant drugs, including adderall and modafinil, will show up in a standard Olympics drug test.


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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on October 7, 2005 5:53 AM.

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