Greengard's ChessNinja.com

MTel 2006 Round 10

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This is it! The pairings give a big advantage to Topalov, who has white against Bacrot while his co-leader Kamsky has black against Svidler. But this has been a topsy-turvy tournament and anything can happen. Anand popping back up with a win over Ponomariov would really cause havoc. As I mentioned here, two players tied for first will play rapid and blitz tonight to settle the title. If three or more tie for first, it goes to systems. On a karmic level Kamsky simply doesn't deserve less than at least a share of first after his amazing start. Update after the round, post results below.

Quick update: Topalov wins his fourth straight game and the tournament. Unbelievable. Stupendous. Just like last year, if not better. He finishes a half-point ahead of Kamsky, for whom this is still a sensational result. He did his "job" losing only to the host, Topalov! Anand missed a clear win against Ponomariov (37..g2) after playing an excellent game. Tiredness? He was in time trouble again, something almost entirely alien to him. Svidler and Kamsky played a turgid draw. Congratulations to Topalov and Gata. Everyone but Topalov and Ponomariov now race to Turin. Much more later. Lots of good info posted in the comments, don't miss.


If Kamsky and Topalov tie for first, who wins on tiebreaks?

They'll play rapid and then, if necessary, blitz. If three players tie for first it goes to system. Added link above.

I am not sure I am reading this right: from the regulations it appears that in a tie for first with 3 or more players the criteria (# of wins, head-to-head, Berger, etc) will be used to determine the first two players, and then rapid games will determine the winners. Am I reading this wrong?

I meant "determine the winner", not winners...

Twenty moves or so into the round-10, it looks like Anand and Topolov games will be decisive (no draw), while Kamsky game could also be a draw. Any comments?

How did Kamsky get back to the top after 10 years away?ICC blitz?Do you know what he did?

wow, both Topolov and Bacrot throwing everything at each other! both kings in the center, castling rights on either side forgone by both players, kings facing each other on an open file.. just 24 moves into the game. wild !

another madness by Topalov. Whatever I do, I mustnt make any predictions! This guy is on another planet. Full marks to Bacrot as well, definitely taking him on..

Topolov is a pawn to the good with the better position, it seems to this 1350 eye. Anand-Pono I am not able to judge it seems Anand with a plus pawn can withstand any attack pono can generate, and then bring on his own attack (starting with ...h4) to nip which pono might have to exchange his light-squared bishop for Anand's Kt, which will let Anand undouble his extra pawn..it is really fun to be a rank amateur and comment on 2800 vs 2700 game :)

To complete the rap, svidler-kamsky seems finely balanced, with two bishops on either side, and all three results still seem possible on this board.

Pono seems to be threatening 26. d6, Anand might play 25...Bd6, blocking it and threatening in turn ...h4. mighty fun, one of two results possible.

Topy is a pawn up, Bacrot has three isolated pawns, but one of them is advanced and passed (either a weakness or a strength) on the whole Topy seems to be heading for a win.

Svidler-Kamsky is dynamically poised, oppo bishops, Kamsky has a doubled pawn, svidler has a slight pull it seems, draw seems most likely.

well folks, with 26. Bf5, pono is threatening Nxf7, followed by Be6+, how is Anand going to parry that threat? I wish I had the time to load a free computer program and analyze the position. Any strong player has any comments to make?

Bacrot is lost! Topalov reigns!

It looks like wins for Anand and Topalov. Svidler-Kamsky I can't evaluate.

I'm using Shredder 9 for analysis. Ponomovariov-Anand is still drawish in this critical stage, unless somebody makes a mistake later on. The other game is swinging for Svidler. Unless Kamsky finds moves to make a strong counterplay, Svidler will slowly choke Kamsky's king.

An anonymous comment on the chesspro.ru chat:

"Topalov is playing like Kasparov -- which means Kramnik will win."

gerald: I think you meant Pono-Anand is EQUAL, 'cause it seems very far from drawish.

Svidler-Kamsky has just ended in a draw. Topalov will win the tournament, as Bacrot is now almost certainly lost. Kamsky will be second based on tiebreaks, regardless of what Anand does.

Bacrot resigns. Topalov wins the tourney. You've got to credit Toppy, cranking out five wins in the last six games.

I think Kamsky still has a ways to go before he will re-enter the elite. His opening repertoire is too predictable. At least two of his wins in this tournaments were lucky breaks (Bacrot's misplaying of a theoretical draw; Svidler's blunder). They still count in the standings, but he could very easily have been even, rather than +2.

What is the prize money for this tournament? I saw nothing on the tournament website about it. How does the payout break down? Does anyone know?


I cannot help but feel cheated somewhat by Ponomariov's meltdown against Topalov which denies Kamsky first place. Nevertheless, the winner of a tournament should handle the business on his own, and Topalov beat Kamsky in both games in this event, so Gata's fate was sealed by his own hand. (A draw in either game puts him in first place.) Regardless, what an exceptional and sensational return to elite status this tournament was for Kamsky, winning the mini-matches with Bacrot, Ponomariov, Svidler, and Anand! Surely, few thought that it was possible that he would be playing for it all on the last day, and that he would have gotten the better of four elite GMs in this way. Congrats to Gata Kamsky on declaring emphatically that the lion has returned to the plains!



hmm.. maybe Anand will pull out a win here. He has a license to win this, seeing as Topalov is already first. Yet another disappointing tourney by Anand. Why oh why does he lose nothing games, where he seems to turn up half asleep?

"I cannot help but feel cheated somewhat by Ponomariov's meltdown against Topalov which denies Kamsky first place."

Yes, but had that been the case, you could just as easily point to Svidler's meltdown against Kamsky. Kamsky had his share of "gifts" handed to him in this tournament.

What an amazing tournament for Topalov YET again. Takes the bull by the horns, and lives to tell the tale. You dont see me, but I'm bowing in homage to the king.. Really deserved clear first, didnt get any lucky wins, earned everything.

I normally steer clear of the both cheering section stuff AND the goat / "player hating" stuff .... yet Topalov's run here is compelling even to me. "Fischer-like dominance" the first phrase that came to mind. It makes me wonder about how the opposition Topalov has faced in his triumphs this year and last (such as San Luis, and here, and the other one, I forget which, where he started -2 or -3 and ended in 2nd place), would stack up against the quality of the opposition Fischer had in his heyday. I don't mean the chum that Bobby chewed up in the Interzonals, more the guys he played in the elite tourneys and Candidates' matches.

Of course, nothing any of you could say about that would be worth the bytes it's written on, even if you quoted stats from Jeff Sonas's site. It would, however, be interesting to hear Korchnoi comment on that question (I hope some interviewer will ask him). Kasparov probably will have something to say about it too. But I'd have a harder time trusting him, he seems too obsessed about his own place in chess history to be believeable when speaking about Fischer.

Kasparov has NOTHING to be worried about when it comes to Fischer. Only an 1800 patzer like Jacob would think that there is any issue as to who is the greatest player ever (Kaspy, you stupeeeed!)...

Anand has confirmed his status as a
"Draw master".

He is on a free fall for following

1. He lost to Carlsen in Blitz
2. He lost the rapid final in Corsica
3. He has not won the Linares for a long time.
4. When did he win Dortmund ?
5. Corus - he shared the first place with Topo
6. His so called FIDE title win against
Shirov is nothing compared to Topo's majestic
wins in last 2 years

Anand in his own words talked about critics
on his lack of "Killer Instinct".

Anand has been and will be "also ran" and
will finishing 2nd or 3rd in tournaments.

His best is behind him. He should retire.


Bala, Anand is one of the strongest players to ever live and will likely remain so for generations to come. The man is 2800 and rose there recently. Please save the ridiculous wailing about how he is on the decline for several years down the line, because he remains at the very top of the world's elite right now, along with Topalov, whom he split with in this tournament.



How is Pono-Anand a draw with two extra pawns??

Some joker was not impressed with the strength of the tournament earlier on, and was predicting that Kramnik could easily trash half of the invitees. Which ones, really? Svidler played solid and met (ELO) expectations. Ponomaryov finished ahead of Kramnik last year. So, where would have Kramnik finished this year, and how many points would have scored? I say no more than 3.5.

This was easily the best tournament of the year. Fights down to bare kings, inspired (but few, by comparison) draws, tons of wins for black, and NOT A SINGLE PETROFF.

"I cannot help but feel cheated somewhat by Ponomariov's meltdown against Topalov which denies Kamsky first place."

I cannot help but feel cheated somewhat by Kamsky's meltdown against Topalov which denies Kamsky first place. Not once, but twice!

Kamsky is making good on his return to the elite, but he's not quite there yet. Probably another year of working on his openings and then he'll be a steady top 10. I believe he has the talent to be a steady top three or four but with his other skills (law/medicine) I'm not sure he'll want to expend the energy necessary.

Topalov's determination and fighting spirit continue to impress. It seems to me that he has established himself as clearly the best player in the world now (2005 wasn't a fluke). Anand is a close 2nd, but definitely 2nd.

What separates Topalov from his peers is his willingness to take chances. Much like Kasparov before him, Topalov is not afraid of the occasional defeat in exchange for the many points that the constant pressure brings home.

That's the element missing in Anand's game. At times, it looks like he is just waiting for his opponent to make a mistake. I guess that's his nature: safety before anything else. Anand's lack of balls was evident in his match against Kasparov.

Well-deserved triumph by Topalov.

From chesspro.ru:


Во время турнира в Вейк-ан-Зее один известный менеджер (фамилию Сильвио не стал называть, но много ли у нас шахматных менеджеров в природе?), когда узнал, что директор софийского турнира собирается пригласить в состав Камского, сказал ему: "Зачем ты это делаешь? Он займет последнее место. С большим отрывом. И все над тобой будут только смеяться".

During the Corus tournament a well known chess manager (no names given), after learning that the director of the Sofia torunament Danailov was planning to invite Kamsky told Danailov: "Why are you doing this. He will finish dead last and by a big differential. And everybody will laugh at you"


Congrats to Kamsky, Topa, and Danailov, the 3 big, big winners.

I'm still sitting here stunned by what I've seen the past few days...Topalov's achievement has to rank with themost amazing comebacks in history. After losing to Svidler in Round 6, he's on minus-1, 2 1/2 points off the lead with four rounds to play - "mortuus et sepultus est"!

He's brought back the dimension tournament chess was lacking for some years, with +1 =11 or +2 =10 winning the big ones, - unflinching and sustained agression, basically telling every opponent they are in for total war, they're gonna have to find, like, 60 good moves in the next five hours. Gotta love it...

Kudos to Gata too - I think that even his biggest fans would have bought into his great result BEFORE the tournament started.

This one was really fun...

Can somebody explain how Pono-Anand game is a draw please??

Interview with Vesselin Topalov for TopSport.bg, right after winning the Mtel Masters 06:

"In the last two rounds, right after the opening I had a won position, but this was due to luck, as my opponents chose weak moves, perhaps due to nervousness. Now I want to give myself a short rest. Before the match with Kramnik, I will play only in Lyon (9 - 11 June). I am happy with the tournament result, although my last two wins do not really reflect my shape - they are rather due to bad opening preparation by my opponents. Regarding my losses - I had two, and escaped a third one by a narrow margin. I have to analyse these positions before the match with Kramnik, as I'm afraid to find myself in them once again. There is a contract signed for the match with Kramnik, but it is not 100% certain that it will happen - it has already occured before that matches of such level have been cancelled."

Asked whether he would join the Bulgarian olympic team, the Mtel Masters winner said:

"It seems to me that I can be of more help with my individual successes. We tried several times with the team to do something serious, but it didn't happen, although I can try again in some time. There is an olympiad every 2 years, but olympiads are not easy things, and I have already a lot of games for this year."

"Anand's lack of balls was evident in his match against Kasparov."

Let's not forget that this chessplayer who allegedly "doesn't have the balls" has been consistently in the top 3 for something like a decade, and is one of only four GMs ever to surpass 2800. If he never wins another game, he still will have achieved more than all but a handful of people who've ever played.

I'm just a patzer, but it seems the reason why Ponomariov is drawn is because you have opposite-coloured bishops, which makes it difficult to move the pawns ahead to a square controlled by the opponent's bishop. It could have worked if the two pawns were either:

a) next to each other, so they could protect each other.
b) so far apart that the oppponent would have to use his king to block one pawn and the bishop the other. And then you could force the opponent to give up his bishop to stop one pawn, and then just walk over and queen the remaining pawn later.

But in this position neither is possible, since the opponent's bishop and king can easily stand together and stop any progress.

Marc et. al.,

Anand, and all top competitors in all sports, open themselves for these sorts of comments by playing in this league. People will continue to mock the Lendls for not winning their respective Wimbledons or for not achieving a particular goal.

Fact: Topalov has more energy than Anand
Fact: Anand plays well when things have been going his way
Fact: Anan

Now all we need is for Topalov to beat Kramnik in a match and for Garry to front the $1M (very easy for him), come back and give us some more exciting chess.

Mig, would Garry be open to this?

"During the Corus tournament a well known chess manager (no names given), after learning that the director of the Sofia torunament Danailov was planning to invite Kamsky told Danailov: "Why are you doing this. He will finish dead last and by a big differential. And everybody will laugh at you"

Thanks, sofia_rules. Great quote. Think the "well-known chess manager" might have been Carsten Hensel? ;-)

A hearty congratulations to GM Gata Kamsky! Thank-you for finding the reasons to play again and I hope the return is a joyfull return for you. I hope the other tournament organisers show you the respect your class as a player deserves and rewards your hard work with lucrative offers so that you may concentrate on chess and put off for awhile yet your other career options!

Skmokalov, you may well be right about the reasons why Anand has never been the #1 player. These factors must weigh in any assessment of his achievement.

Nevertheless, there is a tendency on this blog to make sweeping statements based on selective evidence. Anand isn't in Kasparov's league, but he has accomplished far more in chess than most ever will. While others have come and gone, he has remained in the elite for at least a decade. That needs to be recognized.

"Now all we need is for Topalov to beat Kramnik in a match and for Garry to front the $1M (very easy for him), come back and give us some more exciting chess."

If Garry were going to front his own money, he could have done that a long time ago. I don't think we'll see him back in classical chess.

Kamsky didn't win this Super GM Tournament because he couldn't defeat the current best player in the WORLD. Gata finished a half game behind, after going 0-2 against that best player. That means he would have to pretty much dominated all the others, which he did! In my book he's back. Yes, he has to work on his opening preparation but after 8-9 years away from top level chess, who wouldn't? This is a great accomplishment for both Topolov and Kamsky, and the above detractors make me want to puke, including Anand's.

The torch he(toplov) got from Garry kasparov works very well for him. Now garry should be very happy to lose the final game of his career to topalov.
Well done Topalov , Keep it up.
Always motivate yourself that you had already defeated the greatest player in the history of the game.

Linares - considered the Wimbledon of
Chess: Anand an elite player won this
last in 1998 ! He has not been able
to come even 2nd in Linares after 1998.

No doubt, he is a great elite Super GM
with immense knowledge. No one is disputing
that. What is under attack - his attitude.
lacking the will to win, lacking killer
instinct, no fire in the belley, let me
secure myself first approach.

By the way, even now Anand has trouble
handling the Sicilian, Najdorf. Remember
Kaspy destroyed Anand with Sicilian, Najdorf.
What has this elite player done in last 10
years to improve himself in this opening ?
Topo smashed Anand again on this very

Perhaps Anand is lacking stamina/physical fitness? This could be important under the M-Tel rules. Anand does seem to blunder in endgames, and has rarely made late-round tournament charges a la Topalov. He definitely looks a bit soft and pudgy relative to Topalov or Leko, say (not that Leko's chess form has been great lately). And the pre-retirement Kamsky (dunno about Kamsky 2.0) followed a strict training regimen.


You may be on to something! When was the last time Anand was in time trouble? Normally he uses time to suffocate his opponents. He was twice in time trouble in Mtel -- in rounds 9 and 10. See http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=3121 -- in round 9 he did not record his last several moves, and in round 10 he missed, likely due to time trouble, the winning move 38..g2!

On a karmik level, Topalov's physical preparation is far above the field. His victories over Kamsky yesterday and Bacrot today are ... well I really had the feeling that it was a GM playing against amateurs !!! Maybe a lot of chess players aren't thinking as much as they should about physical shape, but Topalov's performances in end of tournaments shows that it's crucial in modern chess.

Bacrot showed really sad chess in this tournament. It will difficult for him to maintain over 2700 playing closed tournaments. He just hasn't the level.

Kamsky is clearly back.

And about such bad comments about Anand... well it's just hilarious to see patzers commenting the "balls" of a 2800+ GM. Maybe all those who criticize have bigger balls than Anand, but all your brains put together aren't worth 1% of his intellect... How is it possible to criticize a guy just because, for some reason, he does not succeed to seize the world champion crown?
Do you really believe that Anand was happy to have spent 15 years in his life dominated by Kasparov, and now that Kasparov has just left, to see another player (that he has dominated for years !!!) suddenly becoming stronger than him?


Believe it or not, I whole heartedly agree with you about Anand. It's good to know we can agree on something. Oh Yeah, on Kamsky too. A red letter day from our previous contention.


I understand. I hadn't had my morning coffee yet.

After his game ended, Kamsky was on ICC watching the end of the Pono-Anand game and chatting with the kibitzers. Someone told Kamsky it was a shame that Bacrot got crushed so easily, denying Kamsky a share of first-place. Kamsky then stated something to the effect that if he lost to one player twice in one tornament he didn't deserve to win the tournament.

Overall Kamsky seemed very pleased by his second place finish, and who could blame him? He won his mini-matches against Anand, Svidler, Ponomariov and Bacrot. Not bad!

He seems to have improved his opening preparation a great deal since CORUS, even if he is still weak in a couple of spots. (Gotta work on that Najdorf!) If he can iron those wrinkles out in the next few months it's hard to see how he won't be in the top five again.

It's amazing to me that his energy level still seems so high given that he is now in his early thirties. I guess we'll see how that turns out in the next couple of weeks at Turin. And it's good to see that he is actually enjoying the games now.

I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Kamsky's performance in Turin isn't any thing special.In horseracing it's called a "bounce" and basically it's when a horse has an exhausting race or "trip" against other horses in its class or above but still finishes in first (generally) or second by a nose or head. If he/she returns too soon, there's a very good chance it will "bounce" having a poor performance. I'm not saying that Kamsky is a horse, but when it comes to chess he's a "stud."

Again, how can the Pono-Anand game be a draw with two extra pawn is the end game - can anybody answer??

"Again, how can the Pono-Anand game be a draw with two extra pawn is the end game"

It's the bishops of opposite colors. Set up a board and play it out: White can set up a blockade on the dark squares and keep both pawns from promoting. Or look in some endgame books.

But it's funny: computer evaluations will give -+ (-2.00) forever!

There are plenty of positions in endgames where two extra pawns do not win. Bishops of opposite colour are, of course, particularly notorious in this respect.
If you have a chess program, try to win against it in that position...

It's a known draw, Devi. With opposite-colored bishops Black can't make any progress. White can set up a permanent blockade on the color of his bishop. The only way Black can make progress is to give up one of his pawns, but then the bishop can just give up its life for the other pawn to draw. For example, White puts his king on g3 and his bishop on f4 and never moves his king. The white bishop can just play between, say, b8 and c7 forever. Black can't advance. The most he could do is walk his king around to e4 and then push ..h4, giving up the h-pawn. After Kxh4 the pawn can advance with ..f4, but then Bxf4 is drawn.

Two pawns are usually drawn with opposite-colored bishops unless they are already in a dominating position. If there are three columns between the pawns it's a different story because the defending king can't cover them both. For example, if in the final position from the Pono-Anand game, there were pawns on c6 and g7 Black should win.

Gee, Geeker, Charles,

Thanks a lot for the responses!! An gee extra thanks for taking time to explain in detail. I guess, I should have looked at the pices a bit - crazily, never noticed the opposite clour bishops. And yes, if these pawns are seperated by at least two columns, then may be Anand could have tried!!


Bad comments about Anand :

- Has Anand ever said anything wrong, or bad, or agressive in press?

- How many bad actions commited by Anand do you remember?

- Have you ever met him in real life? If not, he's open, friendly, ready to sign any autograph you want, respects everybody. Since he shows respect to everybody, even to chess patzers, why do some chess patzers feel free to criticize the size of his balls?

- A few years ago, I was playing a game in french 1st league. I'm rated 2200, and so was my opponent. After the game, I was looking for a way to win. Then a little and modest guy came in my back, and said "maybe you can play this, and this, and this". He analyzed with us for a while, never pretending to hold the truth, showing us his lines. After he left us, I asked my team captain who was that guy. He answered ... Akopian.

Respect those great players. Behave. They are just chess lovers, like you. Being much less talented than them isn't a good reason to spend your time throwing mud on them.

Curiously enough, it was just a day or two ago that I again came across a study by Chekhover that shows the drawing potential of those Bishops:
White: Kd1; Bg6
Black: Kb5; Bd2; Bb3, d7,e3.
White to play and draw.

And here, even *three* healthy pawns are not enough.


topalov showed everyone thats he is the best!!
No doubts we will win against Kramnik,his is not from the same level.....

It seems I am posting about half the comments on this thread, but I simply have to say, "Bravo, Ruslan!"

There are literally dozens of GMs with whom I have very pleasant conversations, sometimes even a bit of analysis, although I was (need I say?) several hundred rating points below them. To cite but two (not to the exclusion of any others, of course!), I particularly remember John Nunn and Judit Polgar.
Oh, and Zoltan Ribli, and Mark Taimanov, and, oh well...



Interestingly enough, there are positions with opposite colored Bishops and one side having 3 pawns that are drawn! Generally, the pawns are on the f,g and h files or g and h with with two of the three pawns being doubled. It's never happend to me in tournament play, but never say never. Kinda like Mig's remark about Topolov being out of contention. Sorry Mig.

Opposite bishop endgames are often draw. But considering them as always dead draws usualy leads to bad surprises. Every chess position is different, and I've already seen GMs spending hours looking for an idea in endgames where most amateurs would have signed for a draw immediately.

Mr Milton, in your study Be8 forces an immediate draw, but even without this move I can't see any winning idea for black.

Drat. One last thing before I shut up for good tonight. Make that:
Black: Kb5; Bd2; Pb3, d7,e3

Ruslan, I wouldn't say "forces immediate draw". Be8 is correct, yes, but you have to find Ke2! after Kc6. Not terribly hard for better endgame players than me, I agree.

And now really to bed.


Be8, then I guess something like Kc6, then Bf7, then b2, then just keep the bishop on b1-h7, put the bishop on b1 when the black king is on b3 a3, and keep the king on e2 guarding either the king side or the d3 square. Is that a study???

But even without this idea, the only way to do something with black is to put the king on a1 and to push the pawn. The problem comes from the fact that to come to a1 you must enter either from b2 or a2. With Ka2 and Pb3 there is a pin, and with Kb2 and Pb3, simply threatening the b3 pawn with the bishop makes it impossible to advance the king. So how's that a study?

Well after Be8 Kc6 Bf7 I guess there is nothing else but b2. Then two possible positions, either the black king is on a3 or b3, then you just have to keep the bishop on b1 and play Ke2 Kd3 (and not Ke2 Kd1 because if the king is on d1, black pushing the pawn on d3 will win), and in the case the black king is anywhere else, the white king on e2 with the bishop moving along the b1 h7 diagonal seems to be enough as well.

Is there something I haven't seen? Then again, why would Ke2 be usefull instead of 2) Bf7 ?

Be8 Kc6 Bf7 d5
But we are boring people here, I fear. If you want to discuss this further (tomorrow) here's my e-mail address, already known to thousands of spammers, alas:

Good night, and thanks again for your comments!

Has Kamsky ever beaten Topalov. according to my database Kamsky is minus 3 with no wins.


Re your post beginning "Bad comments about Anand"...

Nicely done.

Regarding opposite-color Bishop endings, an excellent recent discussion of when they are and aren't drawn can be found here:

Also, thanks to all for ignoring the troll's attack that followed my previous comment in this thread. It is nice to see how we are all progressing in our troll-repellant skills!

Let's all remember that Kamsky beat Anand in an opposite colored bishop ending with only one extra pawn at Chorus this year. Seems relevant to much of the discussion.

Well, it's pretty dumb to ocmpare Anand with non-professional players.

When stating that Anand doesn't have any balls, he is being compared top his peers (like Kasparov and Topalov).

The fact is, Anand has never really risen to the occasion. He is very strong and talented, but lacks that "extra something" that truly great players bring to the table: the balls to put everything on the line; the balls to deliver when it counts the most. The balls to fight back when against the wall.

Examples of balls:

1. Kaspy coming back from 5-0 against Karpov
2. Topalov's tournament comebacks

Hell, Anand had a Bh7 against Kasparov in their World Championship Match and didn't have the balls to play it. Short lost badly to Kasparov, but he was widely praised for bringing fighting spirit to the games. Anand lost to Kasparov without a fight. Short had balls; Anand was born without them.

Sadly, that's the way it goes...

"When stating that Anand doesn't have any balls, he is being compared top his peers (like Kasparov and Topalov)."

Even if you construe it that way, the statement is bogus. During his long period of domination, Kasparov outclassed pretty much everybody. He was clearly in a class unto himself. Unless you are saying that nobody but Kasparov and Kramnik had any balls, it makes no sense to single out Anand for such harsh criticism.

At the moment, Toppy is clearly atop the chess world. His performance over the last two years exceeds anything Anand has ever done. But Anand's superior performance over a much longer period surely counts for something. For most of the last decade, the ratings list was dominated by KKA, and Topalov was an also-ran.

So what have we learned from Sofia:

1. Vesselin Topalov continues to win chess tournaments and should never be counted out, in spite of being a slow starter.
2. Kamsky is back.
3. People can be unhappy with a +1 result for a GM in a tournament of this caliber--if that GM is a 2800 plus. This is a testament to Anand's strength as a player that we expect better from him.
4. Svidler isn't winning these tournaments.
5. Bacrot and Ponomariov aren't not losing in these tournaments.
6. Chess is alive and can be fun to watch.

It's pretty obvious that some players are more ballsy than others. This is independent of chess strength. Some players will take risks and try to win whereas others will settle for a draw (in an average given position).

This is an objective fact, not a value judgement. The value judgement comes in when you say something like "Player X is not ballsy; therefore he is a bad person"

There's nothing inherently derogatory in noting that Anand is more risk-averse than some other players.

Personally, I think Anand ranks moderately on the ballsiness scale (although very highly on the talent and professionalism scales, obviously).


"A few years ago, I was playing a game in french 1st league. I'm rated 2200, and so was my opponent. After the game, I was looking for a way to win. Then a little and modest guy came in my back..."

Wow these chess tournaments are wilder than I thought. I guess one could say that Akopian sacrificed his piece for positional considerations. Or something.

As far as trolling goes, in this thread and another one that Ruslan was calling everyone a "troll" (in a chess politics thread, I believe)- realize that a person who disagrees with you or talks about something you don't have interest in (but is totally on topic) is not automatically a troll.

It really takes a hugely self-important ego to believe the he alone is the arbiter of this. Jon Jacobs definitely qulifies in this "I'm always right" catagory, as demonstrated here and elsewhere. There is no reasonable way tgg can be thought of as a troll in the 'Internet definition' sense. I remember when greg koster was labeled such as well, and I knew immediately which posts to ignore in the future (those quick to level this troll label) unless I wanted to waste time in closed-minded, self-absorbed lecturers who were in love with their own "voice" (words). Grow up.

Anand is one of the very best talents in chess. People who point to his third place finish at the Mtel as evidence of his failures do not see the forrest from the trees.

Kamsky had a good tournament, and has probably "won" in the sense that he will be put on more invitational lists, but I am not convinced that he has jumped back into the elite. The N vs R game he won is something that might not happen in his career again, and thus points to fluke more than skill.

I'm waiting for Topalov to string together a solid beginning tourny with his spectacular finishes. Something obscene like a +5 or +6. His winning streaks are the best things to watch in any tourny.

No Draw Offer + Private Invitations = Spectacular Games. All this talk about how to cure the draw problem in GM chess, and simply banning the offer, coupled with the 'threat' of non-invitation to those who would 'work around it', seems to work splendidly.

Agreeing to play in a FIDE knockout tournament with things loaded heavily in favour of the 'champion' (the winner had to play against a waiting and fresh Karpov in a 6 game match just a few days after... remember), starting as the top seed and finishing first, winning the last game against Karpov to tie it 3-3 was a pretty ballsy effort for me.

As Nigel Short described it: "He tried to climb Mount Everest with a man on his back and nearly succeeded"

I don't see someone like a Karpov or a Kramnik ever agreeing to play in a format so heavily loaded against them ... Kramnik did not even have the guts to offer a return match to Kasparov ... so who doesn't have enough balls? Surely not Anand - He is someone who has done his best to keep chess and politics apart, been a consistently strong player in ALL formats of the game for so long and has done everything he possibly could to try and resolve the split ...


I started to write some answer, but finally decided that it was useless, and that you were not worth it. Sorry.

Same comment to tgg, Stern, Bala iyer. Trolls. Useless words post after post.

And some comment to Sofia_rules : please stop trying to translate texts from russian to english, because you're pathetic. When no name is given by the original author, how do you manage to put Danailov's name twice in your translation???

Well put, Macuga.

What some people are missing is the fact that Anand receives the stiff criticism only because of his great talent. He has always shown the potential to be truly great, but his under-sized gonads hold him back.

Regarding the definition of trolls,

Stern -- before you put your foot in it again as you are so prone to do -- please go back and read tgg's specific comment I was referring to (on this thread, posted May 21 at 10:37) and mine that immediately preceded it. Then re-evaluate your own comment, and -- if YOU have any "balls" -- please post your apology here.

If you think the term "trolling" does NOT apply to:

1) posting a gratuitous attack on a named individual individual for no other reason than that individual has showed up your own fallacious thinking elsewhere;

2) proclaiming someone you disagree with to be a "patzer" in print, when all the while you know his real name and his rating(s) are a matter of public record -- yet keeping your own real name and ratings hidden even when challenged to provide them so your audience may properly evaluate who is really the "patzer";

3) procaliming someone to be "stupeed" (sic), for no apparent reason other than given in (1) above. I say that because tgg's offending comment voiced no disagreement with anything I said in my comment that preceded it and ostensibly provoked it;

then you, Stern, truly should go to an Internet site that offers help for newbie" and inform yourself about this term, "troll".

Regarding point (3), my earlier comment and tgg's that immediately followed, and it will be clear he didn't disagree with anything I said; he was simply looking for an excuse to troll. Is there anyone here who would dispute that Kasparov is "obsessed with his own place in chess history", and that it colors Garry's views about various historic and contemporary rivals (not only Fischer, I might add, but Topalov, as well)?

Come to think of it, Stern's own entirely gratuitous reference to me in his latest comment fits this definition of "trolling" too, doesn't it?

Note also that everyone else but Stern ignored tgg's earlier troll-comment about me; yet 50 or 60 comments later, Stern rushes in to defend the troll! (even while disputing the troll's substantive point, the one that attacked Anand!)

I guess you are known by the company you keep!

dear Jacob:

By your own definition, you are a silly trool, attacking Kasparov and assuming that everybody perceives Kasparov the way you perceive him.

In any case, relax. Stern is just being fair and seeing things different from the way you see them. You are obsessed with keeping everyone under the same "intellectual umbrella", ready to punish those who dare think different.

Jacob, it's ok to disagree. Relax, relax...take a nap.

You'll feel much better when you wake up.


When was the last time you took your medication?

Well, mea culpa. I succumbed to the temptation to feed the troll. So I guess I got what I deserved. I apologize for my role in subjecting my fellow Dirt readers to tgg's follow-up sputum. Before getting too upset, however, please bear in mind that I would not have done so had Stern not jumped in to defend the troll a few comments up from this one.

"Kamsky had a good tournament, and has probably "won" in the sense that he will be put on more invitational lists, but I am not convinced that he has jumped back into the elite. The N vs R game he won is something that might not happen in his career again, and thus points to fluke more than skill."

It's a fine line between fluke and skill. In the post-tournament interview, Topalov conceded that his opponents in the last two games (Kamsky, Bacrot) quite generously misplayed the opening -- soomething one usually cannot expect against GM opposition. Ponomariov also threw a game away that he should easily have held.

Although Kamsky may never again be in a position to win a N vs R endgame like that, he showed considerable skill in prosecuting it to conclusion once the opportunity was presented. Such "flukes" are what makes human chess interesting. People are still marveling at Bobby Fischer's elementary blunder at the end of Game 1 vs. Spassky in 1972.

Having said that, I do agree that Kamsky will need to show this kind of performance over several events before we can really say whether he's back in the elite. It has only been a couple of months since the U. S. Chess Championship in San Diego, where he could finish no better than 3rd against considerably lower-quality opposition.

"Kamsky had a good tournament, and has probably "won" in the sense that he will be put on more invitational lists, but I am not convinced that he has jumped back into the elite. The N vs R game he won is something that might not happen in his career again, and thus points to fluke more than skill."

Human chess is full of such "flukes". People are still marveling at Bobby Fischer's elementary blunder against Boris Spassky in 1972, Game 1.

I give Topalov a lot of credit. He conceded that in both of the last two rounds, his opponents (Kamsky, Bacrot) misplayed the opening, something that a top GM opponent normally will not do. Topalov alsk received an extraordinary gift from Ponomariov.

Yes, it's true Kamsky may never again see such a R vs N endgame, but there was still an element of considerable skill in time trouble to prosecute the opportunity that Bacrot had handed him.

Having said that, I agree that one tournament is not enough to show that Kamsky has truly returned to elite level. We are only two months removed from the U. S. Chess Championship in San Diego, where he could manage no better than a tie for 3rd against considerably lower-quality opposition.

There's something to be said for the concept of 'nothing to lose'...

In San Diego, Kamsky (and Nakamura, the 'Light' of American Chess) were widely expected to make impressive showings--and had the targets on their backs to match. With expectations so high, it's hard to hold up under the stress.

At MTel, Kamsky was supposed to regard an even score as an excellent result. When expectations are so low...little to no pressure.

That being said, I'd still like to see Gata in two or three more elite events before proclaiming his resurrection as a Tier 1 player.

I doubt that the opinions of patzers has much bearing on whether Kamsky is back or not, he left and he came back as he chose. He is a player of great class and we should celebrate the willingness he has to fight rather than reduce every game to a draw ala Kramnik. I for one am thrilled by his return.

Re: frequency of R vs N endings, Kamsky had R vs N against a 2200 (USCF) player in the first round of the November 2005 King's Island Open and the weaker player held the draw.

Anand once said that if a player doesn't play in or want to play in Linares, Wijk, Dortmund, etc., he has a serious problem with his motivation. Anand didn't play in Linares this year.

Go Figure.

Also, where IS Viswanathan Anand and what was Ivanchuk doing in an Anand suit in Sofia?

"It has been only a couple of months since the U.S. Championship in San Diego, where he (Gata Kamsky) could manage no better than a tie for 3rd against considerably lower-quality opposition."

Not true. Kamsky tied for 1ST in his section at the U.S. Championship (since he tied for 1st-3rd, saying "he tied for 3rd" rather than "he tied for 1st" shows the speaker had an agenda), and was undefeated in 9 rounds.

Of course the opposition was considerably below what he faced at M-Tel. But the U.S. Championship field were no slouches: 7 of Gata's 9 opponents there were GM's (he went 5/7 against them), and he I estimated turned in a (USCF) performance rating of about 2745. Yes that's well below a world championship performance rating, but the statistic is a bit misleading. Nobody -- not Topalov, not Kasparov -- ever wins every game when they play all GMs; four wins and five draws against such a field is certainly respectable even for a world-class player. Fischer of course did win some past US Championships with perfect scores; but his opposition back then was MUCH weaker than this year's event.

Even looking at the two non-GMs Gata played in San Diego, Perelshteyn is probably GM strength, while the untitled Tuvshintugs was carrying a 2770 USCF performance rating (3.5/5 against all GMs) in that event into her 6th-round matchup with Gata.

So, although fans and perhsps Gata himself may have been somewhat disappointed he didn't come out as U.S. Champion, it's hardly realistic to call his result there a poor performance.

"Kamsky tied for 1ST in his section at the U.S. Championship....saying "he tied for 3rd" rather than "he tied for 1st" shows the speaker had an agenda....So, although fans and perhsps Gata himself may have been somewhat disappointed he didn't come out as U.S. Champion, it's hardly realistic to call his result there a poor performance."

If I have any agenda at all, it's that I'm rooting for Kamsky all the way. I am just trying to be realistic about where he is at this stage of his comeback.

At the U. S. Chess Championship, he came in tied for 3rd. That seems to me an objective fact. In his group, he came in 2nd. He was tied for 1st on points, but lost the tiebreak. It may be a dumb way to decide a championship, but those were the rules this year.

I did not call it a poor result. Anyone who comes in 3rd in a field of 64 is obviously a very fine player. It's just not a result that would suggest he is back in top form.

This is the main problem with the Daily Dirt. The outcome is generaly :

1) far from the thread,
2) endless trollesque discussion,
3) centered around Kamsky and Nakamura,
4) cacophonic (if not terribly offensive) as soon as it goes about who is the legit world champion.

I guess that the Godwin law can be translated here by : after a while, any thread started by Mig will eventualy end up in an endless and deaf discussion centered either on top US players, or on who is legit WC.

1) Do you think that the US team will do good at Olympiads with Nakamura, Onishuk and Kamsky?

2) Who is the legit WC today ?

3) Is Anand a ballsy player ?

4) Is Kramnik a wimp ?

5) Who is the greatest player of all times ?

6) Is Topalov using Pocket Rybka ?

And now, instead of answering something like 1) wait and see 2) wait for the outcome of Kramnik-Topalov 3) I've never seen him nude 4) Feel free to tell him directly 5) It depends on your taste and 6) Only an idiot can ask such a question, you are able to fill up BILLION of TONS of pages about this few topics (who are generaly not the starting point of any thread here ...).

What's your point, exactly? That talking about how you only talk about the same things is better than talking about those things? If only I could figure out a way to monetize all this idiocy. Maybe a "pay to post" system? A penny per comment? That would net me, let's see, around $100 per month. Maybe ten cents per comment? Then people might put more thought into what they have to say. But probably not.

Here's the thing, if a person doesn't like the blog he or she can quit posting on it. No one here is holding a gun to anyone's head. Simple as that. Case in point, I quit posting at Susan Polgar's Blog because in my words I found it a little too fluffy for my liking. Nothing personal toward her at all, just my personal opinion and decision. I also know there are plenty of people who enjoy her blog just the way it is, as there are people that enjoy this one as is. What I didn't do was whine about it to her, you know, the I'm telling mom and or dad approach. Deal with it, make the decision and life goes on. Quite frankly Ruslan, you seem to find yourself in the middle of controversy quite often on this blog. It can't possibly always be the other person.

"Maybe ten cents per comment?"

I don't like it, those rich trolling sob's would force you to drive up prices. That would not be fair to us poor people now would it?

How about this: in order to make a post you would have to solve a number or puzzles first.

Let's say for instance a chess puzzle, a "correct this sentence", a general chess related question, a "does the eart revolve around the sun?" question, stuff like that, nothing hard, but the combined effect would be huge I'm sure. ;-)


Your idea is great! Make posting a privilege, not a right; make it something that must be EARNED.

Here's the first hurdle. Tgg must solve this before making his next comment on any Dirt thread: Give best play for both sides for 5 moves (i.e. next 10 plies) from this position, with W to move:

W: P on a2 b3 c2 g2 h2; B on c4 and e5; R on e1 and h1; N on d4; Q on g3; K on c1.

B: P on a7 b4 f5 g7 h7; B on b7 and h4; R on a8 and f8; N on e8; Q on d8; K on h8.

To make it realistic, you must solve it with less than 5 minutes on your clock, without using an engine.

Actually, this item should be filled with praise for Gata! I expect most of you (or us) are a bit disappointed because we saw a victory comming, but his result is excellent. And he should still be allowed some time to get up to speed.

One of the most enjoyable tournaments I've ever followed.


Well, I guess that Kamsky deserves credit for having guts. If one has the White pieces, a player ought fear no opening, no matter how sharp, as long as the resulting position is theoretically sound. Alas, Kamsky was clearly ill-prepared to play against Topalov's Najdorf. I can understand the desire to get revenge, and if Kamsky had won, he would have tied the mini-match vs. Topalov, and secured an epic + 4 result. However, if he simply held as White, the tournament was his for the taking. Why not open with 1.d4, and play for symmetrical equality. Or, he could have played a solid Anti-Sicilian line.

Despite Kamsky's gutsy choice, he ended up playing the opening rather meekly, simply throwing away several tempi making "solid" moves. Not to be too harsh on Gata, but it does seem that he did, indeed, "choke", in order to get beaten so badly. One hopes that Kamsky will not develop a Topalov complex.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on May 21, 2006 5:31 AM.

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