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Shirov Is Back!

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Alexei Shirov today won the Poikovsky (Karpov) tournament with a steady +3 undefeated, beating co-leader Dreev in the final round to escape the very tight field (with one exception). Viktor Bologan played his only draw in the final round, with white against US champion Alexander Onischuk. Eight of the tournament's anemic total of 15 decisive games were played by Bologan, who started out by losing four in a row. Half the field had only two decisive games; ten games were drawn in fewer than 25 moves. Bleh.

It wasn't Shirovian sturm und drang, but it was a solid win over a strong field in which wins were hard to come by, unless you played Bologan early on. Shirov's second win came in a bizarre game in which Najer gave up a queen for two minor pieces on move 11 of a Four Knights game! Amazing. Adams had a good showing at Corus, so it may be that the two fallen veterans are rounding into shape to make their candidates match a real clash.


Man, Bologan has made the quickest retreat from 2700 I've seen since Van Wely a couple years ago.

On the draws: I don't know what the remedy is, or how you 'make' top players play to win or play stuff out when they think the position is drawn. But there did seem to be games in this tournament where people were just taking draws for reasons other than the position. And the organizers can't be too happy with that.

Kind of depressing to see our new US champion go +0 -2 =7!!! I understand that AO was probably tired after the tourney and travel, but I suspect we would have seen at least a couple of wins from Nakamura. Perhaps something like +3 -3 =3. AO=zzz.

TC Reynolds:

Just to put things in perspective, Onischuk is one of the most technically solid players (along with co-finalist Shulman and Dmitry Gurevich). One can learn a lot by studying their games. As for Nakamura's 2) Qh5 nonsense, I wouldn't touch with a bargepole.

Shirov and Morozevich, you just never know? Up one day and down the next, but always exciting! Nakamura may turn out that way too.

I'm not sure exactly what peach believes he put in perspective.

bmajors wrote:

I'm not sure exactly what peach believes he put in perspective.


LOL! Very true, bmajors.

Win or lose, sound or unsound, great or not-so-great, Nakamura MUST be praised for trying. That's the most we are entitled to ask from anyone.

Mrs. Peachy:

Are you AO's mother? If so, I agree that...

1) Your son is technically solid.
2) One can learn alot from your son's games.
3) 2) Qh5 is nonsense.

Now, that being said, it's kind of depressing to see our new US champion go +0 -2 =7!!!

Well, in the just concluded US Championships, where Nakamura and Onishcuk were in the same championships and were, in fact , in the same group, Nakamura finished with 6/9 and Onischuk finished with 7/9.

Onischuk acted as a second for Karpov during the Karpov-Kasparov rapid match held in New York city. Imagine Nakamura being a second to Karpov. The thought gives me shudders.

In the 2004 Olympiad, he drew with Kazimdzanov, Anand, Ivanchuk,Akopian,Gelfand , Radjabov defeated Shirov and Carlsen, and lost only to Svidler.

My $0.02 : Even if Kamsky and Nakamura are playing in the 2006 Olympiad, Onischuk should play top board.

As for the 1500 patzers on chessninja who don't know anything about chess, the lesser said the better.

Wow! A certain type of person never ceases to amaze me.

Mig, when you say Adams and Shirov are "rounding into shape to make their candidates match a real clash", what exactly do you mean? I thought the format for the Fide championship was a roundrobin tournament, with no candidates matches (as of the current setup)?

The second stage of the current FIDE cycle, the World Cup was the first stage - is a set of eight candidates matches. The top four finishers will play in the round robin along with the top four finishers from San Luis. Adams and Shirov are paired together in the candidates matches. Of course they've changed things so many times I may have mixed things up, but I'm pretty sure that was the latest.

You wrote >

It's "sturm und drang," not "un."

In New In Chess 2006 #1 on page 54 there is a picture of Khalifman laughing at 2.Na3 in reply to his Sicilian, he went on to lose the game. In an article written by Viktor Korchnoi on page 81 he refers to Nakamura's 2.Qh5 as either an attempt to overthrow the existing canon of opening theory or a desire to revive certain themes from Japanese mythology, then champions Nakamura's move as impressive! He expressed admiration for Nakamura and his questioning of the status quo. Morozevich annotated his game against Khalifman in the same tournament following his loss against 2.Na3 (1.e4 e5 avoiding 1...c5 2.Na3!). Nakamura isn't the only player trying to break out of 20 move analysed opening sequences and Korchnoi saluted him for it! He concluded his article expressing hope that Nakamura and his contemporaries would bring hope to his generation of GM's that find the state of the game to be rather depressing.

I'll take my chances with his opinion rather than one of the 1500 patzers or some guy named after a fruit. Long Live 2.Qh5!

I can't say that I'm all that convinced by Shirov's triumph, but it is impressive. Certainly, it does demonstrate psychological resiliancy, but his best years might still be behind him. It's a bit strange not to see him compete in the Melody Amber. Dodn't he win it once? Of course, given his recent disaster in the Rapid tournament, it was probably better for him to play in a gritty Round Robin with Classical Time Controls. He really gained his points through solid play, and counter-attacking when the opportunity presented itself, or defending, then consolidating, as against Najer.

The problem with the event is that there were too many solid players: Bareev, Ponomariov, Dreev, and Zvjaginsev seemed happy to finish at +1 (good enough for equal 2nd). Most of the games were fairly hard fought, so the draw percentage is a bit misleading. The problem is that the positional grind might be good enough for an edge, but not good enough for a win.

Excuse me, but why should there be such high expectations today ( and also disapointments ) over a US Champion's performance in a strong round-robin in Russia, be it either Nakamura, Onischuk or whoever else ? There must be a dozen countries out there, besides Russia, who can field a stronger national championhip than the US but nobody there considers the winner as a contender for anything significantly higher than the title he has just won. What is all the fuss about ? Naka is a talented guy with guts and willingness to fight, and who also happens to play some great blitz, while Onischuk is a very solid player with a fine technique. That's all. It is great, but not really very special. We're not talking about Fischer here or anything.
Everyone in Poikofsky was a class above Onischuk and he should be glad he even got 3.5 points out of that field.

@tashko: well said. It seems that Americans like to celebrate winners and love to bash somebody loosing...

What was so well said? Everyone who expresses National pride opens themself up to criticism from those with an opposing view(anyone read the posts about Armenia?) big deal. Who was really surprised by Onischuk's performance? To be dissapointed because your national champ can't hang with the big boys is natural and doesn't label you as anything except dissapointed. There is nothing wrong with national pride whether it is American or Armenian if you can't love your country or your home without getting put down that is just too bad.

Oh and before I get blasted for this I know these are transplanted players that have adopted a new home but I would hope that Onischuk would love his new home while keeping a love for his birthland and you could wish the same for Topalov or Shirov or Anand or DeFirmian

Axl says..."Americans like to celebrate winners..."

I say...So does everyone else in the world.

Axl says..."[Americans] love to bash somebody loosing..."

I say...I can't speak for all Americans as you obviously can, but *I* don't love/relish bashing someone's loss. I merely said "it's kind of depressing". That is, it's a little disappointing. No big deal, no big insult. Just that it would have been nice to see one win out of nine tries. I understand it's a strong round robin, but it's not like he was facing the top five players in the world.

I had no intention whatsoever ( well ok, perhaps only a tiny one :-) ) of touching upon national sensitivities when I posted the previous mesage. It was more like a crying out for poor Onischuk, who draws the straw that lands him somewhere in Siberia to face a bunch of 'Russian' assasins ( who all of them outrate him btw ), and he is deemed a failure simply because he didn't perform a miracle there - because that is exactly what it would have been had he come up with something better.

But I honestly feel sad about the state of chess in the US, as reflected by their national championship. A bunch of imported talent that is OK or even prety good ( Kamsky of course excluded ) but no more, coupled with veterans of the days long past and everyone hanging upon a talent that deems it more worthwhile to be the ICC bullet chess champion than spending his time in developing some serious opening repertoire.

And upon that specific matter, I would like to add a brief comment : all this talk about his Qh5s and Na3s being 'creative' and 'exciting' is just bull. It is nothing more than a declaration of limited ambition and/or lack of work ethic - or even dissapointment at one's own prospects. I can't be better so let me at least be unique. What can that approach bring you other than the occasional odd point against a good player who ends up with a better position and then mishandles it ? Is that a 'creative' approach ? Playing dice then is more creative if you can do it with a delicate swing. There is nothing there to be gained, and all this whinning about the supposed
excessive theory that is impossible to be mastered today is very-very annoying, especially if one reckons all the oceans of time spend by many of those people in blitz and bullet playing when some others take seriously to their study and make progress.

Onischuk is a good player, but he was only invited to Siveria because he is a friend of Karpov, and thats Karpov's tournament. He definitely is not as strong and as experienced as the rest of the field. To expect him to kick ass simply because he won a lottely at US Championship is strange. However, one must not forget that he is a very strong player and probably the strongest in the US right now.

Tashko, Amen. Sort of. At least I agree about this idea that only hard work can bring long term success. But, I don't think it is fair to blame Nakamura or even claim that he is not one of the world's greatest prospects for the moment. Just because he has not played as well the last few months compared with his explosion a year back doesn't mean one should write him off. That is also not to say that it is clearly his ambition to become a world class GM. But there is obviously no need for people to start bashing because he chooses to live one way or another. I wish people would just wait rather than watch his every step for a sign of success or failure.

Daniel Pomerleano

I thought I read that Onischuk was a founder of that tournament.

2.Na3 was played against Khalifman but not by Nakamura it was by Zviagintsev in the recent 58th Russian Championship (Zviagintsev finished in a tie with Svidler and Bareev for 4th-6th). The point about it was that Nakamura isn't alone in playing a move like Qh5 and that it is possible to win games even against former world champions with moves like Na3 or Qh5. Also, I quoted Korchnoi, and his comments regarding Nakamura should have more weight than those of an anonymous poster in a blog. Why does it follow that because a move like Qh5 is played a lack of work is implied? Korchnoi pointed out that common wisdom says most gm's should have 1 maybe 2 opening systems in their repertoire while Nakamura was able to play 4 openings in response to 1.e4 last year. The ability and confidence to do that in games that count for something not just ICC games points to hard work not a lack of it! If a player of Korchnoi's caliber can praise the player of a move like Qh5 perhaps there is merit that is going unrecognised in the rank and file players and fans.

Kasparov, who joined the critical bandwagon of Qh5 (against 1...c5) was complimentary of Hikaru's experimentation in general. In particular, he singled out his unusual retro line against Felgaer (4.a3) in Cuernavaca in his latest New In Chess article and encouraged Nakamura to continue looking for such "old/new" ideas.

Of course Onischuk is going to be under more scrutiny and receive more support than before he became US champion. Otherwise the title is worthless. He had a bad tournament in Poikovsky, even for the underdog, but there's no reason for so much hand-wringing. You can't win'em all. I'm quite looking forward to an Olympiad team with Kamsky, Nakamura, and Onischuk on it in Turin. Add Ibragimov, Akobian, and ? and it's a relatively young and strong team.

It is obvious Kamsky will and probably "should" be board 1 but which list they use and which events are counted will probably determine who plays 2. My guess off hand is Nakamura, due to his performances in Cuernavaca and Las Vegas, but he lost some points in Seattle so it seems unclear.

OK guys, you're probably right in saying that I may have been too harsh to Nakamura in my previous comments. At the very least his approach adds colour and variety in the chess world and why shouldn't chess fans find that aggreeable ? I think that if he was the champion of say, Spain or Holland nobody would really be buged by all this. Its just that one would really like to see chess taking off in the US through the emergence of some true elite contenders, and thus even a slight suspicion of underachievement on a prospect's play arouses criticism that is stronger than merited. I really wish Naka success, don't care if he does it with c4 c5 Qa4+ or lines involving an early Ke7.

Subconsciously I may have been affected by the the general attitude that is prevalent in the chess world today. It seems like in 2 out of 3 GM interviews ( especially of the <25 generation ) the central theme goes something like this : I have made it to here through my great natural talents ( implied ), without really knowing or planning to seriously study any theory ( and also endings, as attested by numerous examples in tournament practise ), because of my lazy creative nature. What a cruel world this is where us chess GMs have to actually work to keep ourselves at the top of the competition instead of simply playing out our lovely game 'purely', without all that dirty work imposed upon us by the despicable fact that chess develops continuously. Hey, there might actually be some hope though ! - why not scrap good old chess entirely and start playing random positions or something, thus creating for us the truly perfect world of all play and no work. Something like those lucky fellows who are into cards or backgammon or Nintendo get to have.

I don't know about you but this thing really starts getting to my nerves.

I think Nakamura is overrated. He will never go 2700.

Kamsky may not play at the Turin Olympiad. There are some date clashes between Turin and MTel Masters. That is the reason Aronian declined his invitation to Sofia.

Kamsky could arrive in time to play in round 3 or 4, and I expect he will.

The US Olympiad team has 5 definite members (if they accept their invites) Nakamura, Onischuk, Kamsky, Ibragimov, and Kaidanov. The 6th person will either be Akobian, Shabalov, or Gulko. The team is chosen based on a very complicated ratings formula, plus other nonsense. I think Akobian will be the sixth player, but only John Donaldson knows for sure!

The board order is chosen by the team (not sure how the team members decide, but that is their problem) and has nothing to do with ratings.

Also, I do not think Onischuk had a bad tournament at all, and I am guessing -2 was his expected score. In my opinion, he was totally winning versus Dreev and blew it, but otherwise he had a lot of solid draws, and lost two tough games. He was the lowest rated player, and flew from an exhausting tournament in San Diego several thousand miles on only a couple days rest, so obviously he is at a disadvantage.


In a post that was supposed to be about Shirov, I have some kind of feeling that you, American people, talk really TOO MUCH about your top players. Anyway, your top players, Kamsky and Onishuk, are equally russians, and Nakamura is japanese.

Speak as much as you want of Nakamura's merits, of Onishuk strengths, of Kamsky's comeback, but why do you all talk about that in Shirov's post? Are Nakamura, Onishuk or Kamsky so stronger than Shirov? Who amongst them did broke the 2750 bareer, like Shirov did ?

Such a shame to see the same names again and again on this site... Am I permanently talking about Lautier, Bauer, Dorfman, Fressinet, Tkachiev or Bacrot because I'm french? No way, I talk about Aronian and Radjabov because they are the (close) future of chess, about Anand, Topalov, Kramnik and Kasparov because they are today's best players, about Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Botvinnik and Karpov because they are huge champions from the past...

We are lucky enough to have Spassky, Smyslov, Korchnoi, Fischer, Karpov, Kramnik, Kasparov, Anand, Topalov, Aronian, Radjabov and Carlsen, all alive, chess legends from the past, present and future. What do you permanently speak about? Nakamura...

I just talk about talent. You Americans, unfortunately, didn't even want to accept the greatest chess legend ever back on your soil... By the way, I'm almost certain that even 100% nuts, even at 64 years old, Fischer would be able to defeat Onishuk in a match... :o)

Love and peace, dear friends. Bravo Shirov for his victory in a strong tournament. Shirov used to be a huge player(I say used to be because attacking players, like him, tal, Spassky or Morphy don't play more than 4 or 5 years at top level) and deserves lots of respect for his work, achievements, style and guts (this goes together), and books as well because "Fire on the board 1 & 2" are both state of the art for the real chess lovers.

I don't want to get into details with any of Rouslan's posts but Onischuk is Ukrainian.

Speaking of which among France's top players, Dorfman is Ukrainian, Tkachiev is from Kazhakhstan and Lautier was born in Canada.


What does it take to be "American" in your view? Nakamura came over to the U.S. when he was two. He can't be elected president, but he's as American as anybody else.

I admit we have our odd quirks, like prosecuting people who break laws. Fischer and Roman Polanski will both be warmly accepted upon their return: free room and board!

We welcome folks from all over the world even if they play chess. It's one reason our demographics are going so well as opposed to, say, France's.

Why don't you just talk about what you want to talk about, Rouslan, instead of whining about what other people want to talk about? Have you noticed you talk about "you Americans" all the time? I'm sure that obsession means something.

People post about what is interesting to them. Over half the visitors to this site are American. The US championship just finished and the new American champion just played in the tournament under discussion. As for Nakamura, among other things he's a contributor to this site and occasionally to this forum. (Which, you might have noticed, is in English.)

Whenever someone starts a sentence with "you Americans" or something similar (you women, you French) he is usually about to say something stupid. There wasn't a national referendum on what to do with Fischer. All Americans don't think the same. Fischer would have been arrested in France for hate speech, by the way. Same in Germany.

Oops, I just saw Peach beat me to it on pointing out that Lautier is Canadian by your xenophobic "only birthplace counts" standards. Silly.

I.e., if this site were in French and over 50% of the visitors were French, I'm sure they would be at least as interested in Bacrot's results at Linares as Topalov's. This is easily confirmed by looking at the Linares threads in French forums. It is also obvious.

Nakamura's mother is American I thought. If he was born "American" and has an American passport, the fact that he was born in Japan may not prevent him from being US President. If he is a naturalized American citizen born abroad, I believe he can still be President. I think if my brother reads this post, he would be able to give a more accurate answer. This is VERY VERY important, as I am sure Naka will run for Prez some day. ;)

Doesn't Shirov live in Spain?? :)

I think at one point or another (or now?) most GMs lived in a European country they were not born in or are citizens of at the moment (like Kaspy, Topalov, Anand, etc)


In the future, perhaps the best way to deal with a perpetual emotional sabotuer is not to respond at all. I know (from personal experience) that this would not be easy, but this particular type of personality can feed on any and all negativity received. I think by now most of us know where he's coming from, so why continue to play his game? By the way, Fischer is 63, and this will be my last response to this individual.

To become President of the USA, you have to be born in the USA. (Section I, Clause 5, of the Constitution.)
[For anyone here with a long memory, Barry Goldwater, who ran for President in 1964, was eligible although he was born in Arizona before it became a state. I haven't yet been able to find out why.]

I am quite in favor of all this, of course. I do want GM Nakamura to play chess beyond the age of 35 (minimum age for Presidents)!

No, Article II, Section 1 says to become President, you have to be a "natural born citizen". Whether that includes those born abroad but to American parents has apparently never been tested; but it seems likely. See http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/article02/03.html#1

Golwatter was not only born to American-citizen parents, but Arizona was already US territory, was it not?

-ed g.

Hey Ben...just wanted to let you know that I repented of my sins (specifically, "Ben Blog Bashing" during the USCCs) and voted for you on the best bloggers vote. Your comments about the "hate" from chess ninja fans cut me to the quick. You were right, I was overly judgemental jumping on the "Ben's fishing for votes" bandwagon. I appreciated your attitude in the reponse and I'm glad you got a few extra nickels for you and the misses.

This issue has never been tested in real life, and is a matter of dispute among legal scholars.

The Constitution says "natural born citizen." Some scholars interpret that to mean that you must have been born in US territory (not necessarily a state--even being born in a US embassy would count for that interpretation). Others say that if you were a US citizen at birth, like Nakamura, then you are a "natural born US citizen."

John McCain, by the way, was born in the Panama Canal Zone, which was US territory, but not a state.


The one group that is clearly excluded is those who were born citizens of another country and then changed citizenship during their lifetimes. Many people feel this should be changed.

There is even an "Amendment for Arnie" movement to get the constitution amended so that the current governor of California would be able to run.

So as of today, yes, most legal scholars believe that Nakamura, as someone who had US citizenship at birth, could be President of the US without violating the Constitution. But there are some who argue differently.


So then, who is more likely to become president of his country, Garry or Nakamura ?

Some remarks about answers made to my post :

"Onishuk is Ukranian" : Ukraine does not exists. Ukraine is just a stalinian creation, with no historic, political or philosophic existence. Ukraine is the place where Russia is born, and has been used by US and western foreigh policies as a way to divide Russia for the last 15 years.

"Nakamura is as american as anybody else" : well that's just now and today. 60 years ago for instance, he wouldn't have been american like anybody else.

"What does it takes to be american to your views" : in USA (today as yesterday) I can see no black, yellow, indian or latino people at the power. When at the US senate there will be 15% of black, 3% of indians, 10% of yellow, 20% of latinos, then yes, I will call all those minorities Americans. Till then I can only consider them as how you treat them : 2nd category citizens (same thing as in a lot of other countries and civilizations by the way). As long as you'll need to be part of a very precise social, religious, cultural and ethnic group to become part of the political elites, then yes I think I'll be right saying that those who are not WASP (or at least W something) are a little bit less americans than the other ones.

"prosecuting people who break law" : ok dude, then please tell me about the law that was broken by Fischer. Is spitting on an illegal paper "breaking the law" ?

"we welcome people from over the world even if they play chess" : not precisely, unless I have some false views on what's going on US borders. The Rio Grande, for instance, the mexican border, look more like a barricade... but yeah, I forgot, those guys are NOT chess GMs, are not white, and so on.

"people talk a lot on french threads about Bacrot's results" : Yes, and I find that quite annoying.

"Dorfman is ukrainian, Lautier is Canadian, Tkachiev is from Kazakhstan" : I wouldn't say that. I'd say that Dorfman is russian, as is Tkachiev, and Lautier is half french half japanese, and raised in France. Which means that 7 parents of those 6 top french players are french, from french origines. France is 1% of human population, and 3% of the top 100 players are french from french origines. Armenian people are 0.2% of the planet, and 6% of the top 100 are armenian. Jewish people are 0.2% of the planet, and more than half of the chess geniuses are jewish. USA are 6% of human population, and USA produce very few good chess players.

This does not means that Jewish people are all geniuses, and that french, english, german, ukrainian or russian people are more talented for chess than US ones. This just means that when a kid comes with some chess talent, in France, England, Russia, Ukraine, and some other countries, he will be able to use his talent, while I don't have the feeling that the US chess federation is doing a fantastic job to promote chess.

Mig, my xenophobic "only birthplace counts" is first part of the law of most countries on earth (including the united states of america), and second is just NOT my xenophobic thing, since I was not talking about where people are born, but about their origines. Historically, a lot of indo-european waves came and did settle down in europe and in India, Iran, and so on. Greek people, viking, celtic, german, slavian, hungarian, a lot of those ethnic groups came with their language and have created what we call now a country. Hungary today is a country, Ireland is a country, and even if nowadays some people travel, even now there are high chances that people living in Hungary today will look like hungarian, that people living in Ireland will look like Irish ones (and will drink Guiness), and that chinese will look like chinese, japanese like japanese, Masais like masais and pygmees like pygmees.

So Mig why do you say that I'm xenophobic? Xenophobic people do not like foreigners, but I'm french, have russian, italian, armenian (and a lot of other) origines, have traveled to 45 countries, have been living in a lot of different places, am fluent in 5 languages and consider myself as a citizen of the world. I love geography, history, I very certainly know more about US history, geography and litterature than the average US kid (history and geography are a big weak point in US education), so why do you say that I'm xenophobic when my only idea, in my first post, was to say "hey guys your views are a little bit too much patriotic" ???

Ben Finegold:

What about the US Women's olympiad team? I think Zatonskih, Krush and Goletiani would most likely qualify. The 4 th spot could be a tossup between Shahade, Baginsgate, Chimi and Abrahmyan. But wouldn't Shahade keep out for the same reasons she skipped the US championships ?

I'm joining chesstraveler's club.

Good points so far....but I am wondering how can you be a citizen of the world if you have so much of hatred towards other citizens? Tell me, what is your vision of the world? Why do you think we hate Fischer? We had great champions as well. Morphy, Pillsbury and Fischer..... You must be knowing all of this.

It is indeed funny how those who immigrate to the U.S. can apply for citizenship and become "American," but an American-born person going to China or a place like Finland would not be considered Chinese or Finnish. Many of these labels carry more of an ethnic meaning than of nationality and many countries protect this identity. It would be an interesting study for an ethnographer.

This comment is not directed at any particular post. Just a thought.

I like how a thread about Shirov winning a tournament can turn into a discussion about Nakamura becoming President! :-)

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