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MTel 2006 Round 2

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What's a single rating point worth? Not much. World #2 Vishy Anand (2803) beat world #1 and FIDE world champion Veselin Topalov (2804) with black today. Anand moves to 2/2 after "losing" the draw and starting out with two blacks! Anand made tandoori out of Topalov in complications. Kasparov was kibitzing on Playchess.com (full disclosure: and I was on the phone with him part of the time) and he was stunned by "Topalov's failure to calculate." Still, it looked like White would have been worse anyway. Svidler beat Ponomariov and Kamsky is trying to grind Bacrot in a drawn rook endgame with some small chances.

Update: Brooklyn Rocks! Kamsky beat Bacrot in R vs N in mutual time trouble. They aren't using increment in this event and it showed. If you have time to look three moves ahead you can't lose this endgame. Tragic for Bacrot, but fully deserved by Kamsky, who played a very interesting opening novelty, 13.Rb1 in a popular Spanish line. Kasparov was watching and sounded impressed. (He played 13.Bg5 against Adams in Linares, 1999.) Todd reminds below that Kamsky and Bacrot are paired in the candidates matches that are supposed to happen this year.

Tomorrow we have Anand-Kamsky and we'll see if the spell continues. In January, Kamsky crushed Anand at Corus with supernatural ease. One conspiracy theory going around is that the Bulgarians invited Kamsky to MTel because of Anand's problems with him (these go back to the 1990's) and that this might help Topalov's chances! Okay, just a theory. Vishy has two great games in the bag already so just surviving him with black would be an achievement for anyone.


I know the attention today is going to be focused on Anand's win, but I just want to say that I was very impressed with Svidler's play. He smothered Ponomariov with flawless technique, without giving him a chance and without having Pono making any visible mistakes.

As for Anand, yes, he played extremely well, but his achievement is somewhat diminished by Topalov's weak play.

Kamsky-Bacrot as of move 50 seems to be heading toward a draw.

Is there a log of these Playchess kibitzes?

In a recent interview, Kasparov described Anand as a player who does well when things start out well but who is easily frustrated. Vishy's current play is outstanding. Let's hope it continues and he plays the winner of Topalov-Kramnik next year.

Gata wins! Trapped Bacrot's N with his R.

Yuriy: Amen.

Go Gata! If there were such a thing as a candidates match, I would love to see Gata wax Bacrot's forehead. Aren't they "paired" together? Things are looking good for the "most moves" tiebreak too after 103 moves!

I love that the online feed from the site shows all three live games in one pane. But I wish the clocks were shown. Watching the Kamsky-Bacrot affair, I couldn't tell what the time situation was.

Both Kamsky and Bacrot blundered (if you can call it that) TWICE in the so-called "simple" R vs N ending! Well, that's an argument for increments if we want to see high-quality chess, but it also shows that it's not all that simple to play it.

Svidler and Anand both impressed a lot.

Three cheers for Kamsky! He still has the fighting spirit and endgame tenacity that brought him to the elite and his openings seem to have caught up with modern practice. Ever since he has come back to chess, he's had great results when he gets decent positions from the opening. Great to see.

Oh, and Anand rules. Not sure what's wrong with Topalov. Anand made him look like an 1800 player today.

It's curious Topalov's 'habit' to start tournaments so badly, and the defeat today is going to be quite painful with rather weak play (relative to his standard, obviously). Anyway, hope he can recover, but things seem difficult against Anand this time.

I wonder how the no-draw rule affected the Kamsky-Bacrot game? After the endgame traded down to K+R vs K+N, I assumed a draw would be agreed.

Maybe Kamsky was thinking, "Okay, I'll chase you around for a while in time trouble, and see if you screw up."

Kamsky I think has spent enough time in the middle since his comeback; the rust seems to have burned off. Obviously, it was only going to be a matter of time before he regained his 2700+ rating and playing strength.
Dennis Monokroussos on chessmind hit the nail on the head when he said that -
"no-draw offer format will hurt Topalov....Anand, who is generally happy to agree to bloodless draws with the Black pieces against his peers, will be forced to play real games - and will probably achieve more wins as a result."

According to Mig, "Anand made tandoori out of Topalov". Had Anand made minced meat of Topalov, things would have been far worse. Anand appears quite gentle, so he may have intended only to make shishkebab out of Topalov. It's hard to determine Anand's intentions.

I'm not familiar with current theory in the Ruy, but I'll bet the first 15-16 moves are book. That being the case, it's kind of like losing a miniature. I don't believe that happens very often to the number 1 player (number 2 now I suppose) in the world. It did happen to Kasparov and possibly Karpov. My memory fails me, I can't remember if Karpov was still "at the top" at the time when he lost to Christansen? No biggee though, "Toppy" is still the guy to beat, but I'm rooting for Gata. Oh crap, I hope Ruslan doesn't see this.

chessplayer : "it's curious Topalov habit to start tournaments so badly". Yes yes yes, 6.5 out of the 7 first rounds in San-Luis wasn't a good tournament start.
"I hope Ruslan doesn't see this" : what can I decently answer to this?
"I'm rooting for Gata" : as you wish. Brasil will be the best team within a few weeks in Germany, but I will still support France.

Mig : "Anand made tandoori out of Topalov" :that's the sentence of the day. It seems like Topalov has lost again his radio transmiter (linked with Rybparinov) in his Gulash.

Why again? Last time the transmiter didn't resist in the guacamole plate, but worked quite well in the Paella.

Anand's play against Toppy felt sublime .
Seems an exceptionally good play by Anand in such a well-worn opening as Ruy
Lopez! I particularly felt vindicated when Anand played ...Nxh3ch,
since as early as around move 18 I myself was thinking that Anand had a
possible good king side attack if he played ...Qd7 and then ...Bxh3, ...Qxh3 then bring the rook into the attack via Re6 and Rg6. Later on, Anand did beautifully open the way for
his king-side attack with 22...e5 and then 27...Ng5. Both opening and middle
game phases were marvelously played by Anand. A Tal-like attacking
game, born out of Petrosian like positional manouvering (think of 11..Bf8 and
16...Bc8 retreats!!). THAT is a truely heady mixture of chess wizardry.

Topalov had a phenomenal start in San Luis and did as well in first four as in final four in Corus 2005, 2006, however:

Dortmund 2005, first 4 rounds: +1-2=1
Dortmund 2005, last 4 rounds: +2-0=2
Linares 2006, first half: +1-3=3
Linares 2006, second half: +4-0=3
Mtel 2005, first half: +0-1=4
Mtel 2005, second half: +4-0=1
Linares 2005, first half: +2-1=3
Linares 2005, second half: +3-0=3

Topalov is, in fact, often a slow starter, something I didn't realize until looking back on tournament results.

It seems that Kamsky play will justify my sayings in this blog. Some modernising of your repertoire , some goood form and psychology and ...you can occupy the second position in a Supertournament!
Todays Anand -Kamsky would be extremely interesting, do not think that Anad will have an easy-going game.....

Anand's game is an example of what it must have been like to face a rampaging Tal. If you're Kasparov or a Patzer with an engine, sure its easy to criticise Topalov's inability to calculate. But this was play of the very highest quality. Anand when he's in form often does this, plays moves that are very difficult to envisage (One example that springs to mind is a Nc6!?!?!!??!! against Kaspy in a QGD (I think) line which Kasp had heavily analysed beforehand, which seemed so outlandish that even Kasp had not looked at it, yet gave the best chances). Relentless pressure until the opponent cracks.. Lets see what he does against Kamsky.

As Yuriy explained, San Luis was rather the exception than the rule. And I still find remarkable that he has been quite a few times with a negative score after the first half and been able to fight for or win the first position in the end.

All this talk about Toppy shows the pitiable state of the psychology of the 'chess public' who are clamouring for a super-hero world champion, out of nostaligia for past champions. The simple fact is that Toppy, to his credit, found a tremendous burst of motivating creative energy to win the FIDE WC last year, and to no doubt have an overall quite an impressive year and a half. But to belong to the Chess Hall of Fame, one has to perform at the top for a looooong time, and be clearly superior to his opponents. On that score, Anand has a far greater claim to be a top player of his era than Toppy ever had or (IMHO) will ever have. I think Toppy has reached his peak, will stay around it for another year or so (most likely he will win against Kramnik, at any rate I hope he does! Kramnik is the worst pretender to fame in Chess we have yet had, he can easily win the prize for the worst player of his generation to have won the WC, via the worst possible route, to boot, and with the worst possilble post-WC 'dodging play' record; there, now that I have THAT off my chest :) ) but I very much doubt Topy is going to be at the top for a long haul, not like Kaspy or Anand (or, even Kramnik as a credible 2/3 for a while). However, whereas Kaspy coupled with a true 'killer or champion instinct' managed to truly enter the Hall of Fame, Anand despite having been truly at the top for so long, longer than anyone else currently active (I think except for Kramnik for a brief period, no one even comes close to Anand) somehow unfortunately not have or has not shown that 'champion's instinct' when it matters, in justttt a feeeew occassions. That has been enough to keep him off the top pedastal as the best player of the era while Kaspy was on, but I think that Anand (unlike Topy) might still actually climb the rating chart and go even up to 2820 if he maintains his current form. Now, if that happens and couples with some good chance to win another FIDE WC, and may be even a (talked about) first grand slam he can join the all-time greats. As for Kramnik, he has zilch chance, his best is behind him, and as for Topy if he can still go forward it will be good for chess (and of course him) but for some reason I don't think he will last. That is my summary of the situation right now.

I have had this feeling about Svidler and Topalov for a long time, that their time is going to come. I think they have something in common. Svidler seems to be a real talent, but like Topalov he sometimes lacks motivation. Occasionally they play the best chess in the world and sometimes they look like they are not interested in doing any work on the board.

I think Kasparov was the best because he never rested. It was his attitude.

These are just thoughts of a chess fan. I really enjoyed Anand beating Topalov. I like the mental aspects of the game. Topalov has been number one for some time and I believe that makes you over-confident. Anand takes advantage of this. He has been able to concentrate on Topalov's weaknesses. I believe it was Kasparov's tournament strategy, to choose your worst rival's weaknesses. Perhap's it's everybody's, but I remember many times Kasparov beating his worst rival in tournaments.

Anyway, Anand is really a great player. He's only problem seems to be that he plays seriously only when he is losing or has lost. Now he was a point behind Topalov so he want's to get the point back. That's the impression for me.

Gamsky is one persistent fellow. I like his style, it looks like his motivation is to find most bizarre playable situation and he gets plenty of satisfaction out of that.

However, this time against Anand it will be a usual story. The indian in top shape and angry, I would not like to be in Gata's trousers this time. He should be happy to survive this storm.


Anand-has-problems-playing-Gata theory has no factual basis. Here is Anand's lifetime score against Gata +11 -6 =13.

It is a shame Anand did not get a chance to play Gary during his peak years (2002-2004)

On a lighter note, anyone see the player caricatures on the MTel site? Hilarious.


It seems that Mig was right about Anand-Kamsky!
Untill now Kamsky seems to have a preferable position against the indian...Let' s see...

My man Kamsky does it again! With the black pieces no less.

An interesting read would be: Ideas and Methods for Overcoming the Psychological Trauma of a Chess Nemesis. Very little information on the subject that I know of. I think the majority of us have at least one that probably comes to mind rather quickly. I've had one for way too many years and to add insult to injury he's always been the lower rated player at the time of our pairings, which translates to the loss of numerous rating points. 1-4-2.

IM Tim Taylor did a 4 part series on THE DIFFICULT OPPONENT which was published on Jeremy Silman's site. It addresses some of the issues you mention.


"The phenomena of the difficult opponent is quite common: almost everyone has someone they just canít score against, even though he might have the same rating. I have such a person myself, the Armenian/American IM Andranik Matikozyan. Now Andranik is a very nice guy, and I have nothing against him personally: but the fact that I had played him nine times and scored exactly one draw and eight losses drove me crazy!"


"On that score, Anand has a far greater claim to be a top player of his era than Toppy ever had or (IMHO) will ever have. "

Unfortunately, Anand was never THE top player of his era, in rankings or as title holder. He was in Kasparov's shadow for much too long, and when Kasparov retired, Topalov was extremely opportunistic and timely to grab the vacant #1 spot. Will Anand be remembered in chess -- yes, he had an illustrous career, but never as a #1, not yet at least. It may be a philosphical question whether being #2, on average, for 20 years is better than being #1 for 1 or 2 years. But just like in basketball or soccer, there are outstanding athletes who never got to the very top (Kryuf, Platini, Zico, Socrates, Malone, Barclay). It will help if Anand captures the title and the #1 rating eventually, and if that happens, you will get not argument from me.

Kasparov was done being the best player in 2002.
Anand was the best player of 2003 and 2004. Topalov in 2005.


au contaire.

according to chassgames.com (and including today's game), the score between anand and kamsky (all games, not just classical) is:

anand 12 wins
kamsky 11 wins
draw 18


Very few players have such a respectable record against Vishy, and probably no one under 2700. Topalov himself is -1. So, Mig, you are perfectly right.

Wow, Kamsky beats Anand again!


Thanks Duif!


Maybe, you just are not in his league.

Anand vs. Kamsky :

Anand vs. Kamsky record in classical chess alone (excluding active, blindfold etc.)

+11 -7 = 13

(including today's game).

Source: Mtel Masters website.

If Anand has mindblock against Kasparov, Kamsky two of that era's top players, it makes you wonder how great a player Anand really is.

Methinks Anand should author the sequel to Adorjan's book: call it _Black is Better!_

Just a HUGE win for Gata! 3000 TPR so far.

Hard to believe white should lose that position
from the middle game, but no matter what mistakes Vishy has made, you must give Gata his due.

It's going to very interesting to see if Gata can maintain this energy level. I sure hope so!



I believe Duif was quoting IM Tim Taylor and not herself.

Athletes that never got to the very top in soccer like Cruiff or Platini, according to you, in fact were at the very top. Soccer is a game played with 11 players and not 1, and that's not because you don't play in the best team that you're not the best man on the field. Platini and Cruiff are both still remembered as THE top players of their respective eras, like Maradona, Pele, Zidane or Puskas.

Incredible. I take everything back :)

Chesstraveler and Librarian,

I can't help adding my 2 cents on the "difficult opponent" question, since given my own focus on competitive psychology, this is an area I will probably have to address in print some day not too far off.

First, I happened to catch one of Taylor's pieces about his running rivalry with Matikozian, and I second Duif's recommendation. (Librarian: Taylor surely is in Matikozian's league. And, I think it can be taken for granted that the situation he's discussing throughout his "difficult opponent" series is one where the protagonist and the "nemesis" are fairly close rating-wise.)

Having read more than a few of Taylor's jeremysilman.com pieces, I'm starting to think he did himself a disservice when he wrote that mammoth Chess Life 2-parter on his sexual-cum-chessic escapades in Hungary. It's becoming apparent that for most chess fans, that series will be his defining moment -- barring the unlikely event that Tim eventually achieves his ambition to become history's oldest first-time GM, which I guess would supercede the infamy he acquired through "My Hungarian Adventure."

I say Taylor did himself a disservice, because I have found just about everything else of his I've read to be straightforward, appropriate to his target audience, highly instructive, and even well-written. (The latter judment is in marked contrast with the hyper-ventilating, exhibitionistic, purple-prose writing style of "My Hungarian Adventure.) I've also found his chess play and explanations to be insightful and strong -- in my judgment he's above the mean strength among IM's, although obviously his quest for the GM title is an uphill battle. So, he deserves a better reputation, as a writer at least, than the one he seems to have bought for himself. Oh well, at least he was well paid for it. (A USCF insider once quoted me a figure for "My Hungarian Adventure" which I forget, but I do recall it was above Chess Life's standard rate of $100 per published page -- and that series filled 18 pages in total.)

My own emphasis is confined to the amateur context. I will address it if anyone is interested, but otherwise I will assume readers here are focusing on the "nemesis" issue in the GM-vs-GM context, which I can't presume to examine. I will remind though of two WC-level examples that cast doubt on the entire "nemesis" concept: Fischer was something like 0/6 in decisive games against Spassky up until their 1972 WC match; and Topalov as we know from reading here has a sizable negative lifetime record vs Kramnik, yet I assume is heavily favored to win their match.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on May 12, 2006 12:08 PM.

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