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Cuernavaca 2006 Ends

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Sorry for not keeping up with this and various other things. Been terribly busy on another project this past week. Today's snowstorm makes it a good day to stay in and get caught up. First off, this excellent event came to an end yesterday. A blackout in the eighth round interrupted two key games, which had to be continued later at the hotel. (A bus crashed into a streetlight, knocking out power to much of the town.) ChessBase has a final report up now. IM Ocampo Vargas has some detailed color reports up at NotiChess. In Spanish, but you can look at the pics and the notes if you don't habla.

First place was shared by Francisco (Paco) Vallejo Pons of Spain and Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine with powerful +4 scores. These two had by far the most top-level experience in the field. Ponomariov has been playing in supertournaments regularly since winning the FIDE world championship KO in Moscow, 2001. Vallejo Pons, by virtue of his nationality, has been a regular at Linares. They displayed their precocious solidity by going undefeated in a very combative field. They drew with each other in the final round to finish 6.5/9. (According to the rules on the official site, they are using Koya for first tiebreak. That means best score against those with 50% or better scores. This should mean Ponomariov wins the tiebreak, for what it's worth.)

US champion Hikaru Nakamura came very close to their pace by winning in the final round to reach +3 and clear third place despite an earlier loss to Dominguez. He won as many games as the leaders, his four wins including impressive victories over Volokitin and Cheparinov. Nakamura's 2750 performance should add another pile of rating points on the next list, along with his 6/7 at the North American Open. He won his final game over Topalov's second Ivan Cheparinov in the most theoretically dense line in chess, the Botvinnik Semi-Slav. If 19..Rd5 was a product of Topalov Labs, Cheparinov's boss will be glad his second played it and not him.

Karjakin was either tired out by his fine Corus Group A run or Cuernavaca just isn't his town. He lost as many games in this event than he did in Wijk aan Zee! (3, and he was in serious trouble in two others.) It was a good event for the Cubans. Dominguez was by far the more solid of the pair, winning two and going undefeated. Bruzon won his last three in a row and moved to a plus score by beating Karjakin in the final round. The tail-enders unbalanced the event dramatically, unfortunately. The -5 of IM Leon Hoyos wasn't much of a surprise and at least he got a nice win over Volokitin. He missed at least one other win. Argentina's Felgaer collapsed entirely, drawing his first three games and then losing six in a row! Obviously he's not that weak, but he's likely somewhat overrated at 2600. This effect was commonly discussed in Argentine chess circles. A small, isolated group of players can produce players with substantially higher ratings than they would have were they playing regularly against wider competition.


Looks like Nakamura's headed toward 2700 this year. An excellent result in this tournament.

Nakamura can play unconventionally to beat the average players and solid in theoretical lines to match up with the big guns. 2006 should be a breakout year.

pons drew ponomarjov in their last round game.

Yah, I had just annotated that game and still managed to type that. Sunday.

"A small, isolated group of players can produce players with substantially higher ratings than they would have were they playing regularly against wider competition."

I believe this is known as the Bloodgood Effect. Funnily enough, it seems Claude had previously warned the USCF about the faults in "closed pool" ratings.

A nice result for Vallejo Pons and Ponomariov. Both are getting accustomed to breathing that rarified air...

Using the ratings calculators at the Fide web site I have Naku gaining 21.4 points, rising to 2665. In the current list 2665 is place 35-36, occupied by Rublevsky and Volokitin (who will probably drop). Cracking the top 40 is a pretty nice achivement.

Hikaru had a plus score in Stepanakert in October, now this. That was a category 17, this one 16, plus the 6/7 Open. It's clear there's no reason to make a big deal about a one game misstep in the FIDE KO. And with Kamsky flashing returns to form at Corus, who would take bets on the USA having two players in the top 20 by the end of 2006? Maybe a little optimistic.

I posted it on the wrong thread(rd.6) but didn't Felgaer win a Dos Hermanas( I mean the actual tournament not the internet thing) a year or two ago? If that's the case then he probably has to be at least 2600 level and he just had a bad event.

did Claude Bloodgood get his rating higher than bobby fischer.

and how come we never talk about Claude in a list of the highest rated American players.

I have to do a google search on this one.

My memory seems to tell me that USCF took some kind of official ruling against him.

For those not knowing about Claude Bloodgood he was in prison and he set up players in prison to play chess and get their ratings up there. I never understood exactly how he did it.

Maybe USCF did not want everyone to know how to do it. haha.

I found some great reading on him in Wikipedia.


here is a small part from Wikipedia. but read the entire wikipedia.

Bloodgood organized chess games within Powhatan Prison, primarily with inmates who were, for the most, very weak players. He got USCF memberships for them and, with his intimate knowledge of the rating system, rigged their ratings. He arranged for new prisoners to play rated games against other prisoners, who would deliberately lose, thus giving the new inmate an inflated USCF rating. Bloodgood then played rated games against the new highly rated prisoner, and each time he won, gained a few more rating points. He continued this scheme for several years, and by 1996 his rating rose to 2702, making him the second highest rated player in the nation. In comparison, at his retirement Bobby Fischer's rating was 2760, and several leading grandmasters were in the 2600s. And here was a 59 year old inmate (with no title from the World Chess Federation) a heartbeat away from the top! This of course was not acceptable. His true strength is not knowable but was likely to be in the USCF Expert (2000-2200) range.

Bloodgood previously warned USCF its system was prone to "closed pool" abuses, but nothing was done until his own ranking skyrocketed. He even qualified for entry into the U.S. Chess Championship, a prestigious closed invitational event intended for only the best 16 players in the country. His manipulations caused a crisis in the USCF, which debated extensively what to do about him. In the end, he wasn't invitated to the event (which he could not have attended anyway), and USCF had to change its rules to attempt to prevent further abuses.

Just to correct - Hikaru is +13.5 in Cuernavaca.

I think the earlier poster may have been including the points from the NAO in December.

And the opening stuff is an interesting question. Many doubted that Hikaru would be able to survive at the next level with his blatantly provocative (occasionally) opening play. It was one thing to be winning big opens, so the argument went, but this combative, objectivist approach would be punished by the 2650-2700 crowd. I remarked in 2004 that "maybe they'll have to get used to him instead of the other way around" and there seems to be some truth to that. Of course his style will adapt to stronger competition too, but he played some wicked offbeat stuff in Cuernavaca and scored something like 1.5/2 from two dubious opening positions and Karjakin barely escaped him. (32...Re4! would have made it rough.)

Sure, Felgaer isn't Anand, but this was +3 in a category 16 field and a solid +1 against the guys who didn't tank.

Speaking of Felgaer, no, he didn't win Dos Hermanas, but he had a good performance. He's had quite a few good performances, often over 2600 and one or two over 2700. But these were mostly big scores against sub-2600 opposition. He has barely any wins against 2600+ players. I remember an Evans Gambit win against Harikrishna and an Olympiad win over Nisipeanu, but mostly he's had trouble against the guys he should be rising above if he's still improving. It's tough to find strong competition in South America. He's the only 2600 in Argentina and to be 2700 you have to play 2700's.

I understand that Kamsky's openings held him back from a great performance at Wijk aan Zee. Yet the other top American continues to do quite well playing (I'm told - who am I to judge?) total POS openings against 2650-2700 opposition. What to make of this?

My guess is that the H-bomb is going to have a hard time against truly world class opposition - right out of the opening. But H-bomb versus Kamsky - now that would be quite a match! A real chess match - not one decided in home preparation.

Karjakin was disappointing but I have noticed that the highly talented players of his generation (Lahno, Carlsen, Koneru Humpy etc) tend to play too many and too much of torunaments/games. You will find them in almost every noticeable tournament (they definitely get more invitations than other juniors). But they must understand that in a professional sport conserving energy is as important as using it. I don't know if they are pushed by their parents/coaches. But the bad thing is they don't gain anything from playing too much. Look at katerina Lahno's score at WAZ and even Carlsen played a large number of tournaments in 2005 and suffered bad results. In addition to these tournaments they also have to take care of their studies. May be their coaches/parents need to adopt more professional approach in accepting the tournament invitations.


I firmly believe that Naka has the God-given ability to be top five but the rigorous "Russian-model" training element is lacking. If he had the old-school training to go along with his natural brillance he would be almost unstoppable. Once he gets them out of well- trodden theory- when the opponents are forced to play chess, they routinely get spanked.

Yeah, after playing in the "A" group in Corus, Karjakin should have sat this one out. But what's the old expression about hindsight always being 20/20. The interesting question is whether he will ever play in Mexico again, or just say adios?

Regarding Nakamura, it will be interesting to see how he does in the next few years. He certainly an original, but will that be enough in the long term? You just never know, I use to think what Fischer would have been like with soviet school training at a young age, until I realized he wouldn't have been Fischer...he's too damn independent, and in this case that was a good thing. At least through 72.

I think you are right. My guess is that Karjakin was tired in Mexico. But then maybe he learned a lesson. when we are young we think we can never run out of energy. I always thought it was smart to burn the candle at both ends in my own private life. I felt that was the way to get things accomplished in the least amount of time. of course my body took the long hours of work.

all through high school for 4 full years, I had a full time job ( a dollar an hour ) and only slept 4 hours a day. I would never do that again. nor would I allow my kids to do that. too hard. waking me up in the morning was like bringing a dead zombie back to life every school day. My poor mom suffered too.

IM Leon Hoyos at -5 actually scored a few points above his rating. nice going Leon. a nice performance in a difficult tournament.

I was present in some of the post mortem analysis for the audience and Felgaer is very good at that: talking to the non gm in the public, guiding through such and such idea in a particular position. Among all the players he was the only one who really talked to the audience. I also want to congratulate GM Sisniega and IM Ocampo for a very nice job doing the live commentary. Hope to see you in Morelia

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on February 12, 2006 7:58 AM.

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