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That Other Chess

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The chess world has resumed its revolutions. Tomsk-400 repeated as Euro Club Cup champions, led by Morozevich this time instead of Aronian. By the way, what happened to the mighty NAO team, winners in 03 and 04? NAO won the French league again this year so should have been there, but they didn't participate. Much of the team were in Elista, at least briefly in some cases. Did the Mad(ame) money run dry? Anyone know?

From the rich get richer dept: Zaven Andriasian of Armenia - Olympiad gold medal winning Armenia - is the new world junior champ. This event lost its luster when super-teens like J Polgar and Leko started ignoring it. Nowadays you will rarely find any of the top 20 juniors participating.

Meanwhile, a couple of interesting events coming up. Topalov is right back in action on Oct 20 in Essent, which continues their tradition of world champ (oops), junior champ (Mamedyarov), top woman (aka Judit Polgar) and top-rated local, Ivan Sokolov.

A stealth event, the Tal Memorial, is coming to Moscow in mid-November, but no confirmation of date or field yet. Supposed to be a 10-player round-robin. This Indian page lists some players, this Norwegian page others. You correctly surmise that Magnus Carlsen will be there, but you would be wrong to assume Anand is. (Ganguly will second Shirov.) Svidler, Leko, Aronian, and Morozevich are also mentioned, but we'll have to wait and see.


Well you almost got it Mig; Wang, Yue(6) Wang, Hao(12), Pantsulaia, Levan (15) and Vitiugov, Nikita(16)-the number in parenthesis is their current junior top-20 rank.
It was a very strong tournament with 20+ GMs particupating, and almost everyone playing fighting chess.
Zaven is a very strong player. Remember that name, in 4-5 years he will be a top-tenner I guess.

Yes, Mig. Mrs Najeh has decided not to support anymore the NAO chess club, and we hereby won't see anymore this team in competitions.
You can find more informations about that in the archivs of the newspaper "Le Monde", but in french of course. I have read that the club had to leave the beautiful appartment they were playing in, and has just found a more modest place in another less expensive Paris sector.All the best,

>Tomsk-400 repeated as Euro Club Cup champions

a hypergame from this tournament to keep alive your faith in chess, Enjoy !

Georgiev,K (2680) - Nisipeanu,L (2690)
22nd European Club Cup 2006 (6), 13.10.2006

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 c5 4.d5 b5 5.dxe6 fxe6 6.cxb5 d5 7.g3 a6 8.bxa6 Bd6 9.Bg2 0-0 10.0-0 Nc6 11.b3 Bxa6 12.Bb2 Qe8 13.Nbd2 Rd8 14.Re1 Ng4 15.h3 Nxf2 16.Kxf2 Nd4 17.g4 h5 18.g5 Qf7 19.e3 Nxf3 20.Nxf3 Bh2 21.Bf1 Qc7 22.Bxa6 Qg3+ 23.Ke2 Qg2+ 24.Kd3 c4+ 25.Kc3 Rxf3 26.Qd4 Rf2 27.Qb6 Be5+ 28.Kb4 Rb8 29.Bb7 Bxb2 30.Qxe6+ Kh8 31.Kc5 Bxa1 32.Bxd5 Qxg5 33.Rxa1 c3 34.h4 Qxh4 35.e4 c2 36.Rc1 Qg5 37.Qh3 Qxc1 0-1

Morozevich has so much style, it's amazing. Always a pleasure replaying his games.

Tal Memorial is supposed to be a Category 20 event, a well informed person posted the following list a while back on chessgames:

Svidler (2750)
Aronian (2741)
Leko (2741)
Gelfand (2733)
Shirov (2720)
Grischuk (2710)
Ponomariov (2703)
Carlsen (2698)
+ two more players

If the Indian source is correct, Morozevich and Gelfand appears to be the last two players in this strong field.

Sry, Gelfand was already there...

Wow! So Karjakin had his "babtism of fire" at this year's Corus, and this will be Carlsen's. Then Corus next year and in April the Candidate's match against Aronian. Tough Schedule...

"The chess world has resumed its revolutions."

Not quite yet. Danailov issues challenges from Bulgaria. Kramnik holds a press conference in Moscow. And the chess world watches and waits.

>Danailov issues challenges from Bulgaria.

It is over but Danailov is still in denial.
One way to keep yourself away from facing the bitter reality is to think the match is in fact still on and Elista was only the first round.

..poor Topa..I can't say that he deserves to be
world champ but he certainly deserves other manager.

Mrs Najehh has decided to stop sponsoring chess events.
This leaves Cannes-Echecs and CLichy as the top clubs now, as NAO will continue under a different leadership but less money in the coffers.
This happened after Monaco decided to stop presenting a top team in the french league, only playing second and third leagues.

Morozevich keeps playing amazing chess, his style is very unique but he keeps doing 2800/2900+ performances , which is incredible.
Ivancuk was very strong but much more unstable at the top.
I can only see Aronian in the same league as Morozevich.

>Mrs Najehh has decided to stop sponsoring chess >events.

Do you know the reason for this decision ?

I recall a picture with Mrs Najehh
smiling out of control and looking up all melted at the big tall Vlady. What happened ?

I love Morozevich's style but it seems to me that he generally gets his good scores against lower rated opponents. It seems to me that he's exceptionally good at beating 'average' GMs (2500-2600) while he does struggle a little against the top guys. In the European Club cup his opponents had an average rating of 2643 and he scored 5/6 to get his stellar 2916 rating performance.
I don't have the statistical evidence for this, it's more of a feeling, so please someone correct me if I'm wrong (or confirm me if I'm right).
All that being said I would love for the guy to take that last step up and seriously challenge for the world championship. How about a Kramnik-Moro 20 game match in 2008? Sounds entertaining to me.

I bet Moro would win the two most beautiful games, but would lose about 6-2, draws not counting. He would be a mini Topalov and Kramnik would eat him for breakfast.

I think it will be a fearless, next generation player who will dethrone Kramnik. I wish I could say it would be Anand (who really deserves a shot at the title), but he has a soft underbelly and would fall apart after a defeat.

I agree al. If you took Moro and Kramnik today and matched them up it would be a fairly lopsided match. From all that I know Moro is fairly casual about his chess (as casual as you can be at 2700+). Maybe if he put in the same amount of work that Topalov does he could take that final step and become a serious contender. If you compare the two I think Moro is the most talented, so maybe he too can 'come of age'.
Ok, I don't seriously think that will happen but it would be fun.

"I love Morozevich's style but it seems to me that he generally gets his good scores against lower rated opponents. It seems to me that he's exceptionally good at beating 'average' GMs (2500-2600) while he does struggle a little against the top guys. In the European Club cup his opponents had an average rating of 2643 and he scored 5/6 to get his stellar 2916 rating performance.

I don't have the statistical evidence for this, it's more of a feeling, so please someone correct me if I'm wrong (or confirm me if I'm right)."

Stefan Fischl's statistics site has this: Compare



Morozevich's performance rating in classical games 2000-2005 against players *under* 2700 = 2735

Against players *over* 2700 = 2684

It's a striking difference. When you look at for example Kramnik it's the exact opposite.

Moro does have a respectable score against at least some of the top guys though. I'm not sure, but I think he's only 1-2 against Kramnik in classical games, draws not counted. He was the first one to beat Kramnik after becoming WC, and that with black.

I think Kramnik, Anand, Topalov and Leko would all beat morozevich in a match. But Moro is probably the best blindfold player in the world, even better than Kramnik. Check this out:


To complete the picture- for rapid, as expected, Anand is on top, but maybe not by as much as expected


Rapid chess ranking:

1. Anand
2. Kasparov
3. Kasim
4. Kramnik
13. Topalov

Tal, Petrosian, and Fischer were great speed-chess players. Aside from Topalov, how many world champions or challengers were NOT outstanding rapids or blitz players?

Botvinnik, for a start!

Are Essent and Tal rapid or classical chess?

Moro is playing chess for fun--would rather play interesting weird moves than try hard to win--the anti-Kramnik. Considering that he still finished third in San Luis, that's saying something.

Essent and Tal are both classical chess. Essent is 40/2 + g/60. Not sure of the time control in Moscow. There's been no formal announcement of that event at all from what I've seen. But two of the players have confirmed their participation to me.

As far the World champions' blitz skills go, I don't know about all of them, but I can comment on some.

Kramnik, Kasparov and Karpov were all great. Kramnik has just proven it. Kasparov won his share of rapid/bliz events. Karpov tied Kasparov in their recent match - and that is very impressive, given Karpov's age and the fact that Kasparov is much younger and only retired not so long ago. I remember reading that Fischer was outstanding at blitz. Also, I've recently watched a dosumentary on Tal and it mentioned that Tal won the first "blitz world championship", ahead of Kasparov and Karpov, and Tal was up there in years, and in very poor health. If I am not mistaken, one of the games between Tal and Kasparov involved an incorrect queen sacrifice by Tal, but Kasparov (who was in like his mid 20s, it was late 80s) could not solve all the problems that Tal posed, and lost.

As for the early champs, I remember a report on some friendly fast games between Lasker and Capablanca - not sure if they were rapid or blitz, must have been blitz, though. Capablanca dominated and Lasker was reported to said his famous: "remarkable. You make no mistakes at all."

I suspect that Alekhine was not that good at blitz - somehow I feel he was so much into classical chess that he would not even play blitz just for fun as some other would champs would do.

I also remember reading (in Kramnik's predescessors article) that Kramnik was really impressed with Spassky's feel for the game - 15 seconds was enough for Spassky to figure out the way the game would flow, even though Spassky would occasionally miscalculate. Kramnik was not as impressed with Botvinnik who was sometimes off in his suggestions.

I think the general tendency must be that the world champions who reached the top at early age were generally better at blitz than those that didn't.

Very interesting! Rating performance 2887 for Finland's Tomi Nyback in Euro-cup! He played seven games and only one draw, also including wins over Bareev and Malahov...

He was perhaps a bit lucky, but that is propably the best rating performance for Finnish player ever.

"Essent, which continues their tradition of world champ (oops)"

Actually, the tradition at Essent is that a former worldchampion plays. A cheer to Topalov for doing everything he could to keep this tradition alive!

From http://www.veselintopalov.net/article/developing-story

"Developing story · Oct 17, 10:35 AM

The reaction to Kramnik’s press conference from yesterday came this morning from Zhivko Ginchev.Since Topalov and Danailov are on the way to Hoogeveen, he was the one to make the statement.
He said, that they expected the reaction of Vladimir Kramnik, but that does not change the situation in any way. According to him the documentation for the official request of rematch is being prepared and in a week or two will be presented to FIDE.
Ginchev’s words were reported by topsport.bg. At the same time, Gazeta.ru cited by focus-sport, gave Kirsan’s view on the suggestion. The FIDE president has said that Topalov has the right of a rematch according to the official regulations and that the main conditions are that the player has 2700+ rating and a total prize fund of not less than 1,5 million euros."

Think that qualifies as other chess. It's played in another dimension.

1) I found impressive how Morozevich is achieving a very high Elo rating by beating 2500-2600's GM; it seems that he can outplay them tactically much easier that any other grandmaster. But if you check the above tournament, you will find that he only faced two 2700+'s players and among them, he lost to Radjabov... typical Morozevich. I also praise the strong performance of Shirov; he has had a good year (remember he won the Karpov tournament) but for some reason he is still "banned" from the biggest tournaments.

2) I am happy to see the achievements of Armenia this year... not only Aronian victory in Linares, Sargissian victories in open toournaments, Akopian return to the 2700's, but also the Gold Medal in the Olympiad and now they have the World Junior Champion. Of course, now this World Ch. U-20 is devaluated for the fact teenage stars are already among the top players, but is quite an achievement. And as a common characteristic, in those tournaments, they weren't the top rated players, which indicates that other factors such us strong mentality and national pride are having an important role.

3) To complement Mig, the well known Hou Yifan (the chinese 12 years old prodigy) almost win the girls section of the World Junior Championship; she scored the same amount of points as the winner, but had worse tiebreak criteria.

3) Finally, I guess this victory of Kramnik among the youngest people could stimulate and emphasize Kramnik's "approach" to chess in a similar way that Kasparov created fans in the 80's (including myself at that time). It is possible that Topalov could beat Kramnik in a rematch, but Topalov before the match didn't appreciate clearly Kramnik's merits (so he used to quote that "I always had the initiative", etc) and this is a important lesson for the future. Also, is an opportunity to remember Smyslov, which can be considered the patriach of Kramnik's style (I don't know why people compare Kramnik with Petrosian just for the alleged "drawing tendencies", when Petrosian was more a tactician than a positional player and not quite remembered for his endgame technique as Smyslov).

Sandorchess is correct. Kramnik states in his review of world champions (http://www.e3e5.com/eng/petersburg/creativity/article.html?12) that Petrosian's style is somewhat incomprehensible to him.

Botvinik voiced his dissatisfaction with blitz and rapid (and rarely played; especially in his later days) because of his ‘role’ as a teacher. He believed that a lot of blitz leads to superficiality in assessing any given position, especially with younger players that need to take their time develop concrete plans instead of just rattling out moves. Than put aside he was an amazingly gifted player who beat Capa in a blitz match in Moscow 35. Just ask Larsen how how he fared against Botvinik in blitz.

A lot of people divide chess players into two categories: dynamic and positional--which reveals lack of chess understanding. Karpov and Kramnik are both positional--but I would hardly accuse the former of being passive. Are Kasparov and Korchnoi both dynamic? Perhaps, but the latter is much more of a defender. Kramnik and Petrosian both are accused of being defensive wizards, but whereas Tigran choked the position down, I feel that Vladimir takes out the initiative itself--his Berlin is a classical example of situations where it's not that the pieces have nowhere to move...it's that there is no path of offense for opponent to follow.

The time control used to be 40 moves in 2 1/2 hours followed by the rest of the game at about the same rate. How is it that 40/2 followed by 60 for the whole endgame is called classical?

Blame the Americans; they certainly think that's a classical time control. =P

To Yuriy
When somebody says that about Petrosian I have only one thing to say, please take a look at game # 10 from his match with Spassky. People still say ‘exchange sacrifice a la Petrosian’. That guy was operating on a different plane, level of thought. It’s a pity that he never reached his full potential.

And talking about Karpov, he sought the initiative any and every time he had the opportunity to do so (and to a certain extent he still does). The fact that his greatest strength lay in developing strategic plans, all based on a correct positional ideas, doesn’t necessarily mean that he was not an attacking player. He just didn’t do it the swashbuckling style, think of a slow river that builds up force.


On Karpov we completely agree--that was part of the point of my post, sorry if that didn't come across.

On Petrosian, I am sure he had a sacrifice or two--just like I am sure there have been games where Ivanchuk ground down his opponent or Morozevich played orthodox chess or Leko had a spectacular queen sacrifice. But in terms of style, when one tries to demonstrate a chess game ala Tigran, one usually shows one of the ones from the first Spassky match with nice long pawn structures...

I know about the Lasker-Capablanca speed match. Kasparov mentions it in Predecessors. I haven't heard about a Capablanca-Botvinnik blitz match from 1935. What all can you tell us about it?

I doubt the blitz match Boitvinnik-Capa really took place.
1. I couldn't find any info in Botvinnik's books about this period.
2. I don't remember Capa ever mentioned playing in any blitz match.
3. There is a book in Russian, written by A. Sizonenko, "Capablanca. Meeting Russia", 1988, where all his visits to Russian are described in detail, including which opera and balet performances he attnded, and results of his simuls with Russians, including many names of winners. It does not mention any blitz games played by Capa.
4. All Botvinnik's foreign travels are well known, and during tournaments he had never played friendly games in principle.
4. Knowing Botvinnik's very low appraisal for fast time controls, and how important was the psychological preparation to any game for him, I doubt he would ever agree to play blitz, especially vs. Capa in 1935 in light of future possible WC match with him (he was laready thinking about the crown).

Botvinnik said that he played only one fast game in his life. In the train when he was young and he was bored.

...and he swears the man he played was a devout communist.


My memory may be off, but in Kramnik's very interesting interview about his great predecessors, I remember him saying that he considered Karpov to be a positional genius but he wasn't very impressed with his strategical thinking. Karpov saw chess in small increments (improve this piece, create a weakness, gain space, etc.), not in long-term planning. Anyways, I think that's Kramnik's opinion, but it would be worth looking at that interview again.

Here's a quote from Kramnik's site on one of Karpov's weaknesses:

"Probably, he did not have a sufficiently deep strategic thread of the play. Karpov is a chess player of a great number of short, two to three move combinations: he transferred his knight, seized the space, weakened a pawn . In my view, he was not a strategic player by nature"

Otherwise, he is extremely complimentary on Karpov. I suppose this topic also depends on the definition of chess strategy compared to positional play, etc. Nonetheless it is very interesting.

Sandorchess ... Moro lost to Radjabov , but win very nice and clear to Gelfand. To me ..it seems he play better chess against 2700+. U most not forgat San Luis where finish 4 .. in front of 4 players 2700+( he even beat Anand :) )

I think Moro is stronger than most of 2700+ ppl, he is just very unsystematic. If he feels like in shape, he can beat anyone. I remeber Moro once said he is retiring from professional chess because he sees no future there without a clear WC cycle. I asked a GM friend of mine what was the matter and he said "he had just fallen in love":)

Anand's official schedule lists the Corsica Rapid as his only tournament for the rest of this year.

The rich may get richer with Armenia's victory in World Junior, but look at China's performance with no less than five players in the upper echelon. On the women's side China took the top two places and India had four in the upper echelon. To me this is far more telling.

With 2 highest rated players coming from China their no-medal finish appears "disappointing" to me. At best disappointing.
By the way, Levan Pantsulaia from Georgia played some very interesting chess in Yerevan, he has a nice positional style. Had he better tiebreaks he could be III or II.

To me, the sentence "Nowadays you will rarely find any of the top 20 juniors participating." is far more telling. Reflects the fact that just like in many other events, the teams' relative focus on event and relative interest in them back home determines results in these things a lot more than the country's crops' strength.

Certainly if you only look at medals, then it could be perceived as a failure, but if you look at the long term, China definitely has momentum and a groundswell of talent that will be unmatched in coming years.

I’ll have to look up the book where I read the thing about the Capa-Botvinik match and when I find it I’ll give you guys the details. What I do remember, and what I should have clearly stated, was that the match was not a ‘semi-official’ match a la Lasker-Capa. If memory serves me right, it was played after the tournament was over and it was one of those ‘friendly, hey there is an empty board, first till 8’ kind of things. I think that the info on the match came from Flohr.

And speaking of Moscow 35 and our recent Toilet/Bathroom/WC-gate match. Do you guys know that during the Moscow tournament (played at the Museum of Fine Arts, later the Pushkin museum) the organizers build a special Toilet, WC for Lasker? (none of the other participants was allowed to use it - the regular bathroom was a good stretch away and was too far for him)

Another anecdote I know about Botvinik and blitz comes from Larsen. In a 5 minute game after c4, e5 a kibitzer suggested that black should take his move back. ‘The Sicilian is so strong you cant allow your opponent to play it with an extra tempo at hand’. Nobody objected because the kibitzer was -Botvinik.


Its hard for me to argue with Kramnik about Karpov (or anybody else who ever played chess) as his (Kramink’s) grasp of the game is a lot better then mine. But that comment has a familiar ring. I think it was Botvinik (I talk a lot about him today) who when asked about Fischer said something like ‘Yeah, good combinations!’ to which Tal later remarked that Fischer should have replied ‘I am just a poor improviser your excellency’. To say that Karpov just shuffled pieces around and played against weaknesses in his opponents position is to miss the mark.

To put a more positive spin on Kramnik's view (which I agree with) of Karpov, I'd say that Karpov was a (slightly) better tactician than Kasparov. But Kasparov was his superior in the strategy of the attack, of welling up an attack from deep resources. I base this on the work I did while editing Yasser's book Five Crowns.

If you're looking for a player who has incorporated the ghost of Petrosian in his style, how about Kevin Spraggett, who recently at age 51 became the first Canadian to exceed 2600. I'm not sure why that didn't happen in 1988 around the time of his drawn matches with Andrei Sokolov and Artur Yusupov (as he then was), but there you are.

I think that one factor which influenced Petrosian's style was that in the early years when he was already one of the top players in the USSR, he would still, more often than you might expect, suffer catastrophes in the Openings. He developed an opening repertoire that would guarantee survival. After that, he was one of the great tacticians, up there with Karpov in the pantheon.

As a young player, I loved the games of Alekhine, Smyslov and Petrosian. I never understood Keres or Botvinnik. Who? Me? Confused? Yes. And Life is too short for Chess.

Has anyone told Jonathan Berry there's a chess-columnist vacancy at the Guardian? I hereby nominate the Canadian sage. Life's Too Short would be a cool byline, right up there with the all-time byline greats As I Please, Call Me Madam and Beat The Devil.

Actually the Guardian contacted me, of all people, before moving on to Nigel last time. (True.) Unfortunately I had to turn it down when they told me I couldn't include assassination photos. (Not so true.)

Of course, Topalov is not going to play in the Swiss throwing his rating down the toilet.

He is in the crown group.


Ah, of course. My bad.


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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on October 17, 2006 12:05 AM.

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