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2005 Russian Superfinal R9

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It's going to be hard to stop Sergey Rublevsky from winning the Russian championship superfinal in Moscow. He has a full point lead and has white against one of the tail-enders tomorrow. The favorites have mostly disappointed, at least result-wise. There have been many spectacular games (far more than in the World Cup, certainly). Bareev-Morozevich is worth the price of admission alone, as are, as usual, most of Moro's games, although he lost that one. There was a brief interview with Rublevsky before he sprinted from Siberia to Moscow.


Chessbase opines that "Kramnik seems to have made his peace with a 50% score."

If so, how many elo points would he lose? Will he drop below his current #7? Was Euwe really the least dominant World Champion?

Why does Botvinnik always get exempted from these comments about non-dominant world champions? From 1949 to 1963 he played seven matches ( +2, =2, -3 ) and not much else. Hardly dominant, yet he is accepted, rightly I think, as one of the all-time greats.


I'm sure FIDE would be most upset by your claim that the World Cup did not contain much exciting chess. There were numerous examples of gross blunders caused by the FIDE time control, which is their definition of a spectacular game.

If you cannot appreciate the entertainment they strive to provide it is hardly their fault.

Chess statistian Jeff Sonas evaluates that Botvinnik`s strenght (as assessed by his ChessMetrics rating) in 1945 was the third highest of all time, and the highest up to then. It was surpassed only by Fischer and Kasparov at their peaks.


It was also the fourth biggest lap in history between #1 and #2, at par with Morphy.


So Botvinnik was certainly one of the all-time greats. But I agree that his best years were not his years as champion.

An interesting and spectacular fact about the Russian Superfinal is that *all* 12 participants are set to gain rating points on the next list according to the "Expected Rating Change" fide.com published a few days ago:

Kramnik +2.2
Morozevich +14.4
Svidler +24.6
Bareev +23.4
Dreev +2.9
Khalifman +6.6
Rublevsky +12.9
Motylev +6.1
Zvjaginsev +5.3
Jakovenko +18.1
Volkov +14.6
Tomashevsky +22.1

So you could probably say that the tournament is somewhat stronger, measured by current strength/form, than the current rating of the participants indicate.

I just reviewed Bareev-Morozevich on round 7. Wow.

Look at black`s position on move 20. Could it be true that the best way to be a 2700 nowadays is to ignore things like "castle early" and "develop all your pieces quickly"?

Just kidding, of course. Morozevich`s win over Dreev in round 9 shows he is no patzer.

I can't understand why kramnik is playing so unambitiously. He is at 50% and still accepting easy draws. It's getting tougher for him to claim he is number one (not that many people support that idea, anyway).

Sakaev's comment on round 10 at e3e5.com:

"Three games just ended in draws. Draws in two of them are obvious, but Kramnik's decision is something I just don't want to comment on..."

What garbage from Kramnik. If he doesn't want to play, why did he enter?

What garbage from Sakaev and Spud. Draw was a perfectly natural decision in that position, unlike in many of the short draws in this tournament -- the 12-mover Volkov-Svidler, or Khalifman-Rublevsky, and several others that never get as much negative attention as every time Kramnik makes a draw.

Rublevsky is at least in a tie for first place now, as only Jakovenko can win his last round and Rublevsky lose and both will have 7 points.
Good going Sergei Rublevsky for his great performance.

Rublevsky is at least in a tie for first place now, as only Jakovenko can win his last round and Rublevsky lose and both will have 7 points.
Good going Sergei Rublevsky for his great performance.

By the way, I think Kramnik is keeping his innovations to himself in case someone does get another chance at his Classical Title. He reminds me of Petrosian as WCC. Great players, but not the type to win most tournaments.

Take a look, on Jeff Sonas' chessmetrics website, at Botvinnik's rating history. While world champion, Botvinnik spends an awful lot of time rated 11th-20th in the world.

Any number of world champions have muddled along...and suddenly come to life for their championship matches.

At this point one must give the devil his due: Even while champion, Kasparov kept firing away, doing his best to win, and dominate, every tournament.

That's right, Greg. Kramnik isn't Kasparov, he isn't even Karpov, but until someone manages to beat him in a long match he will still be the classical world champion.

As usual, I fully agree with acirce above. Kramnik absolutely does not deserve all the "negative attention" he is getting. He is obviously a strong grandmaster, not too many players would be able to achieve an even score in a Russian Superfinal. Therefore Kramnik clearly belongs in, say, top 50 in the world.

acirce, I criticised the Khalifman-Rublevsky draw in the other thread. The Kramnik-Dreev position might have been equal, but there were plenty of pieces still on the board. Surely the world champion should always play on in positions like that? At least wait until the position is really drawn (I've just done a couple of engine shootouts from the final position, one was a white win, the other a black win). Why bother playing at all if you agree draws in positions like that? [I will say this about any player, not just Kramnik]. My criticism of Kramnik stems not only from this game, but the whole tournament. It looks like he isn't even trying.

Unlike said Khalifman-Rublevsky and many other examples, Kramnik-Dreev was a well-fought game brought all the way to its logical conclusion. Yes there were "plenty of pieces" left, what does that have to do with anything? The position was sterile and there was nothing Kramnik could realistically try any more unless he wanted to end up worse.

Just occurred to me: what's the "over-under" on the number of moves in Khalifman-Kramnik tomorrow, before they agree a draw? Khalifman hasn't had a good tourney, and will probably be eager to leave, while Kramnik hasn't exactly been draw-averse. I say 18.

"What garbage from Kramnik. If he doesn't want to play, why did he enter?"

I would presume that, like everyone else in the field, Kramnik is doing his best. Unfortunately, his "best" is no longer what it used to be. If anyone needed evidence of Kramnik's decline, it's here on display. In a field where he out-rates every player but one (Svidler), the best he's managed so far is an even score. Even with wins in the final rounds, it would hardly be an impressive performance.

"Kramnik isn't Kasparov, he isn't even Karpov, but until someone manages to beat him in a long match he will still be the classical world champion."

Kramnik's most ardent supporters must acknowledge that, at some point, his title becomes irrelevant unless he successfully defends it against credible opposition. The question is, who would want to pay big money to sponsor a long match involving Kramnik, when this is the quality of the chess that he produces?

Obviously, he is still a super-GM who could beat the crap out of 99.9999% of humanity. But nobody could claim that his recent results are befitting a champion.

"Any number of world champions have muddled along...and suddenly come to life for their championship matches."

The trouble is, even when Kramnik had a match to defend his championship, he didn't exactly "come to life," unless you define an even score against Peter Leko as lively play. In modern times, no champion has rested on laurels as thin as these.

Khalifman-Kramnik is indeed quite likely to be a NOT very well-fought draw. Kramnik rarely plays this kind of short non-game draws (of the type "let's just make some theory moves, agree to a draw and get out of here") but when he does it's often in situations like this, final round, very little at stake..


Kramnik defended his title a year ago. He put together a million-dollar prospective Kramnik-Topalov match and FIDE nixed it, remember?

If a drawn match is evidence of an unworthy champion then Kramnik joins Lasker, Botvinnik (2) and Kasparov in that category.

But if you're seriously searching for thin laurels, Marc, I really wish you'd do some research on Botvinnik's playing record while he was champion and let us know what you find.


Kramnik defended his title last year.
He put together a proposed million-dollar Kramnik-Topalov WCC match, nixed by FIDE, remember?

If a drawn match is the mark of an unworthy champion then Kramnik joins Lasker, Botvinnik and Kasparov in that category.

"In modern times no champion has rested on laurels as thin as these." Marc, if the topic of thin-laureled champions interests you, I suggest you do some research on some of the thin years Botvinnik put together while he was champion. Let us know what you find out.

I find it interesting how people are writing Kramnik off based on his current performance, when he hasn't really played in a while and is coming off a big slump. He's probably just trying to get his "sea-legs" under him.

I'm not a Kramnik Fan, but I'm at least willing to wait to see how he performs in a few more tournaments before I pass any truly scathing judgements.

I'm not defending Botvinnik (never liked him), but he also had a interesting career as an engineer and was awarded commendations for his work in that field. "A man cannot serve two masters..." and there had to be some overlap involved during that time frame. Also, I'm not sure whether his playing strength declined as much as Kramnik's. From what Greg is posting, there's certainly a good possibility that it did. However, I can't get past the feeling that Kramnik has been going through the motions for some time now. I know I've come down hard on him in previous posts and I guess it's out of disappointment. He was my favorite player from sometime in 94 until sometime after his match with Kasparov. After that, it's like a Kafka novel, a metamorphosis if you will and obviously not for the better. He's still a great player, but I believe his best is behind him, and at his age that's a loss for all of us.

Kramnik is CLASSICAL WORLD CHAMPION of what? Not chess, for sure. Is champion of a system that does not have an organized system of qualifiers (what are the "qualifiers" for the next cycle)? A system in which somebody who wins lose his right (Shirov) and a player who lose is a contender? A system in which the "champion" just sits and pick his opponent when and how he wants? That "classical title" was just a commercial stuff, nothing serious.

People who say that Kramnik reserves his energies for matches and not for tournaments. People often forgets that he already have faced FIVE matches for "World titles" (LOST Gelfand, Kamsky, Shirov, Adams) and just won once, against a rival in special circunstances, so he is not a "player of matches". He always was a player of tournaments, but right now, he just has psycological problems and lack of motivation. I hope he will recover and don't start acting in a Fischeresque way, claiming that is still a world champion because nobody defeats him...

Currently, there is no serious system to say who is a world champion. No Topalov, not Kasim, not Kramnik, etc. So, the only way to see who is the best player of the world is to look the rating every year (and see the Oscar awards). So Topalov is the best now, Kramnik was, Kasparov was, nobody nows what will happen in 2006. Period.

Chess needs to be a professional sport activity, with serious systems, because there is a huge mass of players needed to be respected. People often refers to the past, but is past a good example? There happened incorrect hidden things, that today, in a mass media world, with millions of fans, would be unacceptable. Just read the history. Now, as I said several weeks ago in a posting, chess is like boxing... please, somebody stops that!!

I don't remember Botvinnik's career very well, but I don't think he ever ducked anybody. Did he?

I don't remember Botvinnik's career very well, but I don't think he ever ducked anybody. Did he?

I don't remember Botvinnik's career very well, but I don't think he ever ducked anybody. Did he?

First of all, this discussion is boring. There is great chess being played at the Russian Final, and we should not forget it and be obcessed with one player only.

But OK. It happens that I am interested in chess history, so I am joining the boring discussion.

The topic here is Botvinnik`s tournament record as champion. In the 15 years from 1948 to 1963, if we exclude World Championship matches and team events, Botvinnik played in only 10 tournaments.
Out of those 10 tournaments, Botvinnik took first place in seven of them.

The tournaments were:
Moscow (URS Championship), 1951 (5)
Moscow (URS Training), 1951 (1)
Budapest, 1952 (4)
Moscow (URS Championship), 1952 (1)
Moscow (URS Training), 1952 (1)
Moscow (URS Championship), 1955 (2)
Moscow (Alekhine Memorial), 1956 (1)
Wageningen, 1958 (1)
Hastings, 1961 (1)
Stockholm, 1962 (1)

Jeff Sonas`s excellent Chessmetrics website estimates that Botvinnik dropped from the top 10 in 1960.

As Jeff himself explains, his formula punishes for inactivity (as opposed from FIDE ELO ratings). It seems to me that Botvinnik`s fall in the Chessmetrics rating has to do more with a low level of activity than with poor results.

You can check all this at http://www.chessmetrics.com/CM2/PlayerProfile.asp?Params=199510SSSSS3S015154000000131000000000000010100

Thanks edu, That's interesting.

Indeed, edu, although let's forget the training tournaments. Any top player with only this to show nowadays would be booed off the stage. Wrongly, but times change.

I wish people would stop talking about Kramnik's claim to be the world's top player. He doesn't claim this, because he isn't. He claims to be the reigning classical World Champion, because he is.

Well, nick:
You state the bare truth but... reigning over what? Nothing and nobody. He is the owner of that empty, made up ("Classical"?) title, that is all.

"Kramnik is a match player, and not a tournament player" : that's probably why he has lost or drawn almost all his matches (apart from his match against Kasparov). And yes, he's not a tournament player : he only won Dortmund 6 times.

About Russian superfinal : last year, Kasparov played, and won convincingly this tournament. Kramnik will end the tournament with a weak 50%. That's about their respective strengths.

Some ideas about Kramnik's level : today, he is able to loose a petroff with black. Today, he's able to make a draw in a king's indian with white (remember, Kramnik is the guy who killed the king's indian at top level and made it impossible for Kasparov to play his favorite defense any more). And last but not least, Kramnik is able to loose a 1)d4-d5 game with white, commiting 1600-level blunders (38-Ra2 against Bareev is the kind of blunder I haven't played for the last 5 years, and I'm only 2200).

Within a few days, Corus will start, and here is my bet : Kramnik will score one and a half points in his 5 games against Topalov, Anand, Ivanchuk, Leko and Aronian. But maybe he'll feel so weak that he won't even come...

Little remark to Nick Faulks : Kramnik claims to be "world chess champion". Just go and have a look on www.kramnik.com by yourself. World chess champion is NOT classical chess champion. World chess champion means that the fide title has no value.

The main concern about the previous world fide champions was that they all came from a cup system. Therefore, their title had no value. Let's have a look at the players involved in the matches for the upcoming cycle :

Topalov, Anand, Svidler and Morozevitch are qualified for the next 8 player double-robin tournament.

Leko, Adams, Polgar, Shirov, Ivanchuk, Aronian, Ponomariov, Bacrot, Grischuk, Bareev, Guelfand, Rublevsky (russia champion 2005 !!!!), Gurevich, Kamsky, Carlsen and Kasimdjanov will fight in matches for the last 4 spots in the 8 player tournament.

So? Have a look at the fide's top players list : apart from Kasparov and Kramnik, everybody's here. Every player in the top 10 will defend his chances. So finally the new system decided by fide is not that bad. Of course, with a match between Topalov and Kramnik, it would have been even better, but FIDE is doing much better today than they did for the last 10 (or 20) years.

acirce, are we looking at the same game? To me a sterile position means there is a less then 1% chance of a decisive result. I don't see how any position can be considered sterile after 20 moves with an unbalanced pawn structure and 12 pieces on the board. Even for super GM's, I'd say there is at least a 10% chance of a result from that position. These guys aren't perfect. This year we have seen plenty of mistakes in simple positions.

Kramnik attitude seems to be: if I can't get an advantage out of the opening, then I don't want to play! I'm not suggesting he plays recklessly, but that he just makes his opponents earn their draw (he is supposed to be a world champion!).

I want to congradulate Rublevsky for a fine first place clear in the 2005 Russian Championship.

Yeah, enough about Kramnik. Congrats to Rublevsky for an excellent performance.

Last year Rublevsky beat Kasparov in Cesme, and Kasparov went on to win the Russian Ch in convincing style. Fitting in a way that Rublevsky does the same this year. Congratulations!

Rublevsky has an impressive end of year 2005. He has done quite well at the world cup, has qualified for the world championship matches, is russian champion, wins some points on january list and won't be far from 2700 on april fide list.
All this is normal : he's born in 1974 and therefore is at his peak. At almost 30 years old you're producing your best chess : just look at Topalov for instance, or just look at Kramn... eh eh.

Sorry for the digression, but...
My "over-under" on the # of moves before a draw agreed in Khalifman-Kramnik was 18. The actual number was 16, so the under wins. Congratulations to the uncompromising chess fighters!

Greg Koster wrote:

"Kramnik defended his title a year ago. He put together a million-dollar prospective Kramnik-Topalov match and FIDE nixed it, remember?"

When Kramnik put together his title defense a year ago, he was playing much better chess, and it was part of the now-defunct Prague agreement that was supposed to unify the chess championship. I don't think Kramnik will be able to pull that off again. As far as I can tell, FIDE didn't nix the Kramnik-Topalov match altogether, but the money wasn't good enough. That match could still happen, assuming there's anybody who'd pay to watch Kramnik play a lot of draws.

"If a drawn match is evidence of an unworthy champion then Kramnik joins Lasker, Botvinnik (2) and Kasparov in that category."

In my original post, I was responding to the claims that Kramnik's best play comes in long matches. As others have noted, aside from his +2 against Kasparov (a result that's now half-a-decade ago), Kramnik's performance in long matches has been unimpressive.

It's not that he's the only champion ever to play a drawn match; he is clearly not. It's that his overall level of play, aside from a comparatively brief period that included his defeat of Kasparov, is not championship-calibre by any conceivable measure.

I heard Kramnik is talking to Fischer about a match for title!?


I heard Fischer is talking aloud to himself quite often ;)

The Corus Chess Tournament 2006 will be held from 13-29 January 2006. Well, a nice opportunity to clear dirt will be presented in few days ;-)

Happy New Year to everyone!

GM Viswanathan Anand IND 2788
GM Veselin Topalov BUL 2782
GM Peter Leko HUN 2751
GM Vassily Ivanchuk UKR 2748
GM Vladimir Kramnik RUS 2739
GM Etienne Bacrot FRA 2725
GM Levon Aronian ARM 2724
GM Michael Adams ENG 2718
GM Boris Gelfand ISR 2717
GM Sergey Tiviakov NED 2700
GM Ivan Sokolov NED 2696
GM Gata Kamsky USA 2690
GM Sergey Karjakin UKR
GM Loek van Wely NED 2648

Average rating : 2720
Category : 19

FIDE-ratings of 1 October 2005

"As any self-respecting amature writer, I have approximately half-dozen novels in progress."

Perhaps he can learn how to spell "Amateur" and we might consider reading one of his stories.


Ah, but if they spell "amateur" correctly that means that they are actually not. At least that has been my experience with videos.

oh wow, Moro appears to be back to almost his best. Armed with that alarm clock he got from Father Christmas, he'll soon be challenging for the top spot..

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on December 28, 2005 7:19 PM.

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