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Leko-Karpov Rapid Day 1

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I know, I know, you'd think "Leko-Karpov in a Caro-Kann" would have all the excitement of leftover microwave nachos, but at least today you'd be wrong. The Hungarian #1 and world #6 Leko and former world champ Karpov drew the first two games of their eight-game Miskolc Rapid match. Karpov is ranked #40 at 2668, which might be high for classical chess, which he rarely plays, but may be low for rapid, which has been his focus for several years and at which he can still shine despite the inconsistency that plagues the 50+ set.

The first game had Leko as white and the expected Caro-Kann. Karpov looks to have been doing some homework because they went through 17 moves of theory, following Karjakin-Riazantsev from earlier this year until Karpov went for 17..0-0, allowing the 18.Nf5 temporary sacrifice Black probably wanted to avoid in that first game. But it's hard to say for sure if it was all preparation because Karpov's subsequent play didn't look computer prepared. Karpov isn't a fan of the machines, but has resigned himself to using them on occasion. When I asked him in 2003 whether he now used them for preparation he gave a pained "sometimes." This game shows why, to a certain extent. If your opponent is preparing with an engine and you aren't you can get slaughtered in short order in a sharp line, even in the Caro-Kann. One of the reasons Karpov has increasingly relied on the Caro is because it is less susceptible to that sort of thing, but there really isn't anywhere to hide anymore.

Getting back to the game, it looks like Karpov could have grabbed the exchange and kept a plus with the natural 21..Nd5. 22.Nf5 looks like the only reply and White's attack isn't that fearsome. (His avoiding it is why I doubt he prepared to this point.) Karpov instead went for counterplay with a queen infiltration and this paid off when Leko, after an impressively aggressive opening, backed off from further sacrifices and accepted the repetition. The key test is 24.Bxh6!? with an incredibly complicated and forcing position. You'd think this would be just the sort of thing the younger player would like to push Black into here, but Leko wasn't convinced. After 24..c5 25.d5 (or 24..gxh6 25.Nxh6+ (or 25.Qd2)) White's chances look better. But 24..c5 25.d5 Nb6 looks a bit scary for any mortal. In the game, White can still play on with 25.Bg5 and it's quite sharp and unclear. A pity, and 24.Bxh6 is the sort of chance White has to take when he gets that sort of double-edged position.

The second game was the also-expected Nimzo. It's hard to see Karpov's 8.a3 as an improvement over the usual 8.dxc5. Queens came off and while the players deserve credit for playing it out, there was never much of an imbalance in the endgame and the game was drawn on move 30. White could try 25.Rxc4 Nb6 26.Nb7 but Black shouldn't have any trouble with his a-pawn and blockading knight. If Leko can continue to get sharp positions with white you have to like his chances, but he'll have to go for the gusto at some point. If he holds back and waits for Karpov to blunder we could have eight draws. ChessBase will be on the scene for the second half so we'll have pics and reports coming.


My perception may be skewed, but it seems like brief time control chess is becoming more frequent every year.

It boils down to efficiency and ultimately to money: same number of "games", much less time.
Another thing the players like about it is they can play without risking their ratings. Nor do they risk their ego, since no deep emotions are on the line in these exhibition atmosphere events (just a higher or lower paycheck).

But I am not holding my breath for books like "Karpov's 60 Best Games Under Brief Time Controls".
Few people would prefer to study quick games when they could instead study games with better moves made.

Are brief time control events beginning to CAUSE a reduction in the number of long time control events, or in the level of participation long control events obtain? Or are these quick events just added onto the otherwise unaffected schedules?

Gene Milener

Sure, Karpov is drawing his games, but Kasparov drew some games too!!

"'Leko-Karpov in a Caro-Kann' would have all the excitement of leftover microwave nachos"
"Karpov is ranked #40 at 2668"
"Karpov's subsequent play didn't look computer prepared."
"Karpov isn't a fan of the machines"
"It's hard to see Karpov's 8.a3 as an improvement over the usual 8.dxc5."

I can't believe Mig keeps taking cheap irrelevant disgusting dangerous derogatory out-of-date out-of-order out-of-change-please-insert-exact-amount cheap shots at Karpov. When will this stop?

Mig, I also noticed you used some sort of number-letter system to support your arguments, especially re chess players strengths and weaknesses. Is that something new? Is it legal?

And the nachos are stale, STALE I TELL YOU!

"Leko-Karpov in a Caro-Kann" is to 'stale nachos' as "Leko-Karpov in a Petroff" is to ___?

Now what could be worse than stale nachos... any suggestions?

It's a pity that Anatoly didn't play classic chess regullary. I'd prefer Leko - Karpov match with 2h/40 time control :)

It's a pity that Anatoly didn't play classic chess regullary. I'd prefer Leko - Karpov match with 2h/40 time control :)

I'd prefer classic match with 2h/40 :)

I know it's your blog, Mr. Mig, but does that give you the right to indiscriminantly disparage leftover microwave nachos? I can just picture you and Garry sitting around with your Chopin and schmancy zakuska saying, "Leftover microwave nachos, we spit on you!" I believe I speak for chessplayers the world over when I say, "Leftover microwave nachos are a staple of my diet, and they deserve better treatment at the hands of so-called chess journalists."

Well the question of stale nachos has been a controversial one, and although Mig denies his obvious bias against stale nachos, we all know what is going on. His love for cold pizza clearly takes precident over nachos, as if cold pizza was teh number 1 food choice for 20 years... and stale nachos was playing second fiddle the whole time.

I would like to request that the tags for this blog article are updated so as to include "cold pizza", "stale nachos", "fiddle, second" and "schmancy zakuska"

But seriously, folks,

Is Caro Kann less susceptible to engine-based counter preparation because it is under researched less popular opening or because it is more positional, less dynamic and thus less susceptible to computer analysis?

The following are absolutely true:
1) I had cold pizza for breakfast this morning.
2) I know a guy with a tattoo that is a chess knight surrounded by flames and emblazoned with the legend "Caro Kann." He is a great guy. He got that tattoo long before tattoos became mainstream.

Jobava-Bareev (Rethymnon 2003??)

From a couple drawn rapid games arising out of conservating openings and played between conservative players comes an interesting report. Nice.

Worse than stale nachos ???

Stale nachos without any hot sauce.

If Kasparov had eaten stale nachos, no doubt Mig would be singing their praises right now.

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    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on August 30, 2006 5:22 PM.

    The Kids Are All Right was the previous entry in this blog.

    Leko-Karpov Day 2 is the next entry in this blog.

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