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Adios 2006!

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This is it, the official end of 2006 beginning of 2007 thread. It was another fascinating year of chess, the first complete one of the post-Kasparov era. On the board the usual suspects of Topalov, Anand, and Kramnik were joined by newcomers like Aronian, Radjabov, and Mamedyarov. It also saw the return of a former world championship contender, America's Gata Kamsky. He became one of the stories of the year when he nearly won the powerful MTel Masters in May and then helped lead the US team to a bronze medal in the Olympiad.

A 2006 supertourney recap in vaguely chronological order, ignoring system tiebreaks for the sake of expediency and irrelevance, skipping various rapid events. Fill in the blanks in the comments and I'll move them up here.

Corus Wijk aan Zee A Group: =1-2 Anand, Topalov =3-4 Adams, Ivanchuk
Corus Wijk aan Zee B Group: =1-2 Motylev, Carlsen 3 Almasi
Keres Rapid: =1-3 Ivanchuk, Karpov, Kasimdzhanov
Linares/Morelia: 1 Aronian =2-3 Topalov, Radjabov
Cuernavaca Young Masters: =1-2 Ponomariov, Vallejo Pons 3 Nakamura
Amber Rapid (not blindfold): 1 Anand =2-3 Topalov, Aronian
Karpov Poikovsky: 1 Shirov =2-5 Ponomariov, Zvjaginsev, Dreev, Bareev
Bosnia: =1-3 Nisipeanu, Carlsen, Malakhov
MTel Masters: 1 Topalov 2 Kamsky 3 Anand
Aerosvit Foros: 1 Rublevsky 2 Ivanchuk 3 Bologan
Tomsk Izmailov Rapid: 1 Karjakin 2 Rublevsky 3 Kasimdzhanov
Biel: 1 Morozevich =2-3 Carlsen, Radjabov
Leon Rapid: 1 Anand
Sparkassen Dortmund: =1-2 Kramnik, Svidler =3-5 Adams, Leko, Gelfand
Villarobledo Rapid: =1-4 Anand, I Sokolov, Korneev, Ponomariov
Staunton Memorial: 1 I Sokolov, 2-3 Timman, Adams
Rishon FIDE Blitz WCh: 1 Grischuk 2 Svidler =3-4 Radjabov, Anand
Essent Hoogeveen: =1-2 Mamedyarov, J Polgar
Cap d'Agde Rapid: 1 Radjabov 2 Karjakin
Capablanca Elite: 1 Ivanchuk 2 Bareev 3 Miton
Tal Memorial: =1-3 Leko, Ponomariov, Aronian
Russian Ch Superfinal: 1 Alekseev 2 Jakovenko 3 Inarkiev
Torre Memorial: 1 Ivanchuk 2 Bruzon
Pamplona: 1 Morozevich 2 Jakovenko 3 Shirov

Major opens: Gibtelecom Masters won by K Georgiev. Aeroflot won by Jobava. US Ch won by Onischuk. EU Individual Ch won by Kozul. World Open won by Kamsky. Ordix Open won by Kasimdzhanov. Russian 1st League Ch won by Inarkiev.

Major team events: 05-06 Bundesliga won by OSC Baden-Baden. 37th Olympiad Turin: 1 Armenia 2 China 3 USA. Euro Club Cup won by Tomsk-400. NH Tournament won by "Rising Stars" - Carlsen best score.

Matches: Unified world championship: Kramnik defeated Topalov. GrenkeLeasing Mainz Rapid match: Anand def. Radjabov. FIDE Presidential election: Ilyumzhinov def. Kok. RAG Man vs Machine: Deep Fritz def. Kramnik.

Off the board, a few cases of amateur cheating with rumblings of Topalov cheating culminated in outright accusations of cheating by Topalov and his camp against Kramnik during and after their Elista world championship match. This pathetic saga will no doubt continue. FIDE delayed, fudged, and proposed changes to the world championship system. As currently scheduled there will be candidates matches in Elista in May 2007 to decide the final four participants in the September 2007 Mexico City world championship tournament. According to a current Ilyumzhinov proposal the next championship after that will be decided in a match.

What was your favorite moment in the chess world of 2006? Favorite or most memorable game? Tidbit we shouldn't forget?


I think the death of Bronstein (and also Unzicker) should also be mentioned.

Favorite moments:
Kramnik returning to form at the Olympiad
Kramnik beating Topalov in tiebreak
Kramnik standing at the press conference: why am I not being allowed into the bathroom?
Kramnik's press conference fighting for match defenses at his conference with Zhukov
Topalov's night dreams of walks with Kramnik by himself
Topalov's ABCs of baseless allegations interview
Moro winning Pamplona
Kasparov asking FIDE to make the right choice

Never forget Vallejo's win over Topalov at Linares, with Mig's immortal comment to the kibitzers: "Shut off your Fritz and see how hard this game is."

In a runaway, the story of the year has to be the Unified World Championship: Kramnik defeated Topalov.

I propose a year end toast to Mr. Wojtkiewicz...

For me the most memorable is my first W Ch match, Elista.

Tal Blitz Cup, 1 Anand 2 Aronian 3 Radjabov should be added to Mig's list for consistency (he has Rishon, which was much weaker).

Kramnik had the best moments 2006. He took part in the 2 major events: WCH and Man versus Machine. He also cashed in the biggest paycheck.

There's only one game this year which will go down in history (or so one hopes) and that's Kramnik-Topalov, fourth rapid play-off game, Elista. Only game whose result's ever sent me out of the office for a bottle of champagne, anyway.

Leko and Karpov played a so-called match as well.

My vote for combination of the year is Ponomariov - Morozevich, Tal Memorial, R3.


analysis from chessbase:

White is better, but it seemed unclear if he could win. After 46.Rxd7 Bxd7 or 46.Rd1 Rxd1 47.Bxd1 it is hard to find a breakthrough. So what does Ruslan Ponomariov, 23-year-old former FIDE world champion do? To the abject horror of the chess engines kibitzing on the Playchess server he plays 46.Kf4! threatening 47.Rc6+ and 48.Rxc8. 46...Rxd6 47.exd6 Kxd6 All of this is forced. It looks like White simply dropped a pawn, but here comes the punchline: 48.c5+! Kxc5 (48...Ke7 perhaps offered chances of survival) 49.Ke5 Ba6 50.Kf6 Kd6 51.Be4 Be2 52.Kxf7 Bg4 53.Bxg6 1-0. Beautifully thought up and executed by Ruslan, who deservedly took the lead in this tournament.

My favourite moments were:

1. Kramnik refused to play, because he wanted his own toilet (biggest laugh - still can't believe it happened)

2. Kramnik blundered a mate-in-one against a machine (biggest shock - can't believe thist either)

3. Topalov missed a mate-in-two (or was it three?) against Kramnik in WC game (biggest ouch - almost as hard to believe)

4. Kramnik wanted to continue WC games after losing one game without playing (bravest move - and also not very likely ...)

So it was definitely one year of chess with full of drama, I would say. Return of the Judit Polgar, raise of the Carlsen, fight of the Gata, and so on... you just could pick up your favourite movie-title and put it on the year 2006.

For me Armenia's win of the Olimpiad, and then several thousand people went to square of liberty in Yerevan to meet the team. It vas very late, but ppl stood until boys came.
Then my friends and I stayed to the very end and photographed with team members, and the Olimpic cup.
That was something I will remember!

Laugh of the year: Kramnik missing a mate-in-one in an equal position, and not in time-trouble!! In fact, laugh of the Century (and the previous one, too). Can't wait for Kasparov's book 'My Weak Successors'.

Disaster of the year: Re-election of Ilyumzhinov.

I think Short won the EU (European Union) Individual. Kozul won the actual European Championship.

For the most remarkable person of 2006 my vote goes, without hesitations, to Danailov.

He rose to international fame and became the center of debates amongst chess buffs without playing a single game. His character is so bad that he succeeded to make, by contrast, Kramnik appear as a likeable person, that is being dull and boring to appear as virtues when contrasted with being active and obnoxious.

For the best game it goes to Toplaov-Ponomariov,
Mtel Masters, Sofia, 2006.05.19.

[it made me remember Fischer-Benko 1963,
but this one is more complex and Topalov took risks

[Result "1-0"]
[White "Topalov"]
[Black "Ponomariov"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8.h3 Bb7 9. d3 d6 10. a4 Na5 11. Ba2 c5 12. Nbd2 Nd7 13. Nf1 Nb6 14. Bd2 b4
15. c3 bxc3 16. Bxc3 Nc6 17. a5 Nc8 18. Ne3 N8a7 19. Nf5 Bc8 20. Nd2 Rb8 21. f4 Bxf5 22. exf5 exf4 23. Qg4 Nd4 24. Ne4 Nab5 25. Bd2 Nc2 26. Bxf4 Kh8
27. Qh5 Nxe1 28. Rxe1 Qxa5 29. Ra1 Rbd8 ?! [29..d5 -/+] 30. f6! gxf6 31. Kh2 d5 32. Nxf6!!Bxf6 33. d4! Qxa2 34. Rxa2 Nxd4 35. b4 Ne6 36. Be5 Bg7 37. bxc5 Rc8 38. Bd6 Rfd8 39. Ra5 Kg8 40. Rxa6 Rd7 41. Qxd5 Bf8 42. Qf3 Bxd6+ 43. cxd6 Rcd8 44.Qd5 Ng7 45. Ra8 Ne6 46. Rxd8+ Rxd8 47. g4 h6 48. h4 Rb8 49. Kg3 Re8 50. Kf3 Nf8 51. Qd2 Kg7 52. Qd4+ Kg8 53. Qf6 Re6 54. Qe7 Kg7 55. Qc7 Kg8 56. d7 Nxd7 57. Qxd7 Kg7 58. Qd4+ Kg8 59. Kf4 Rg6 60. Kf5 Re6 61. Qd7 Rg6 62. h5 Rg5+ 63. Kf6 Kh8 64. Qe8+ Rg8 65. Kxf7 1-0


1. The way in which Fritz beat Kramnik. Human's may never again be able to win a game under traditional match conditions.

2. Bronstein's death.

3. Proliferation of the Mon Roi devices. Some revolutions sneak up on you .. we've only seen the beginning of the potential value of this type of technology.

There were a number of big chess stories in 2006: Man versus Machine match, Bronstein's death, Kasparov (and Karpov?) dropping out from the FIDE list because of inactivity. But the biggest one has to be the World Championship match in Elista.

The match itself had a number of great stories withing itself:
-the great start by Kramnik,
-the toilet/Game 5 scandal
-Kramnik agreeing to play with game 5 counted as a loss. It was a smart decision since after Kramnik agreed to play, he pretty much could not lose. Even if he lost, it would be obvious it was because of the Team Topalov's dirty off-the-board tactics. Also the very fact that he was de facto giving Topalov 1 point (and a game with white) odds gave him psychological edge.
-games 6 and 7, which were in my opinion the key in the match since Kramnik had to play a rested Topalov after days of long negotiations with Danailov and Kirsan. Kramnik had to play two games with black (after playing with black in game 4), and managed to draw in what I thought was a gutsy performance.
-cheating accusations.
-a win in game 10 which was pretty much a must win by Kramnik.
-a dramatic tie-break win where Kramnik unified the title (even though some of us felt that he already secured the Classical title even before the tie-break - by the virtue of winning the Classical games).

Overall, 2006 will probably be remembered as a year where Topalov turned top level chess into a circus, but was punished in the world championship match. Karma and all that.

Some of the most memorable images of 2006:


Bingo, Ovidiu!

Danailov is a KGB operative assigned the task of discrediting Topalov and transforming Kramnik into a popular and sympathetic figure.

The only people who haven't fallen for the "Kramnik is a helluva guy" baloney are the Bulgarian people, Kasparov, and Mig.

The man-machine match was unquestionably the most significant event of the year. Here a world champion was convincingly defeated by a PC, not a mainframe, despite his having several advantages in the match conditions (no 6-man EGTBs, opening book exposed, prolonged access to the program beforehand, etc.). Moreover this was done by software that was itself not #1 by a fairly wide margin in the rankings.

It was a triumph for the machines and I suspect there will no longer be much doubt that the best human play cannot hold its own against everyday hardware paired with the latest chess software. That would have been almost unthinkable several years ago. To me it is the biggest event of the year, in terms of its long-term ramifications.

For me the best moment was Kramnik agreeing to play on, with game 5 counted as a loss. That took courage and sportsmanship.

Next was the 4 rapid games to determine the WC. The tension was unbelievable!

Third for me was the Fritz attack in the Sicilian, with Re3. Things that make you go hmmmm!


I'm not as sure of the importance of the Kramnick-Fritz match as some of you seem to be. Six games is not statistically significant, especially with one of the games ending with K's missing mate in 1. Except for the last game, Kramnick was equal or slightly winning every game.

Yes, some other programs are rated 50-100 points or so higher than Fritz, but Kramnick did not play them, he played Fritz. I'm not sure we can predict anything based on ratings of computers playing only other computers, since they get tweaked to beat specific programs, but may not be significantly stronger than Fritz against humans. Maybe Jeff Sonas can tell us whether ratings based on computer-computer play accurately predict their performance against humans. (I know, you'll say, just ask Michael Adams!)

Kramnik was worse in game 3 and 4, in game 4 much worse, he was even reported to say that Fritz must have had a win somewhere.

Why am I almost alone in finding man v. machine matches irrelevant? We have built machines that can do many other things better than people can, not just chess. Big deal. We don't follow chess solely for the strength of the play, do we?

When they disassembled Deep Blue, did we care even a little? No. But when Bronstein died, we mourned.

When Kasparov played the Dragon against Anand in 1995, was that not a shock we all talked about for days? Of course it was. After all, Kasparov had never played it before in any event but a simul! But when Fritz plays the Dragon, it's only executing a stream of data. There's nothing to talk about - Fritz is not an "expert" with the Dragon, and nor is it "rusty" with the Dragon. It just plays the moves.

When machine battles machine, is there any possiblity of Toiletgate? Bribery or threats for opening systems? Yogurt codes? Tainted chairs? Collusion? Will Deep Junior ever say, "To you, Herr Fritz, I have only three words: check and mate!" Would that ever mean anything if it did?

Chess as I know it encompasses everything: brilliancies, personalities, blunders, tournaments, literature, champions and so much more. Chess by computers strips everything peripheral away from the game but the moves themselves. Speaking for myself, I wouldn't give a damn about chess if that's all there was to it.

Hundreds (thousands?) of chess fans who aren't Kasparov or Mig woke up this morning to discover they must be Bulgarian. After all, no rational reason or even personal preference can be a basis to think Kramnik isn't one helluva guy. Everybody who thinks otherwise is clearly bious.

A lot of memorable stories happened in Chess'07. What comes to my mind:

Kramnik vs. Topalov
Man vs. Machine
Iljumzhinov vs. Kok
Danailov vs. Putin

The Way of Levon Aronian
Two Azeris
Missing in Turin & Migthy in Moscow: the Young Russians
Armenia's Olympiad
The Comeback Kid - Gata Kamsky
Chucky Reloaded
The Best of the Rest (Twice): Alexander Morozevich

The Courage of Streetfighter Veselin Topalov
The Dark Side of Streetfighter Veselin Topalov
The Tallest Champion: Vladimir Kramnik
Strong & Fast: Vishy Anand

There were a lot of dramatic moments in chess this past year, and we lost some people who were legendary (RIP, Bronstein) and some who were of less professional prestige but who some of us knew personally (RIP, Wojo). No single moment, however, can trump Topalov's final blunder and Kramnik's swift reply in the final tie-break game in Elista. That had to be the biggest moment in all of chess last year - we finally had a single champion. My relief after the match was so great that I almost felt like I had been threatened with defeat myself!

RE: Tidbit we shouldn't forget?

From the December 30th, 2006 episode of Saturday Night Live--Weekend Update segment:

Seth Meyers: "The World Chess Federation announced plans to conduct drug testing at this year's Asian Games, where chess is one of the sports. In case you're wondering what drug they're testing for, it's the one that makes you so high you think chess is a sport."

Clearly, the notion that Chess is (or can hope to become) a sport is so patently ridiculous that the writers for SNL thought that the Drug Testing story would be a sure bet for a quick laugh, even for a mainsteam audience that has no in depth knowledge of the chess world. People who have no emotional investment in the game of Chess can see it for what it is: A game (with some manifestations of Art). It is time for people who truly care about Chess AND about keeping a sense of intellectual integrity to unhesitatingly put down the noinsensical notion of "Chess as Sport", whenever it is promoted by foolish chuckleheads and self-serving hucksters.

That means no Drug testing (until some proof exists that there are drugs that enhance chess performance, which are ALSO hazardous to one's health), and an end to silly attempts to become an Olympic Sport. Chess is a niche endeavor, and it is pathetic to think otherwise, and worse than useless to try to tart up the game in order to contort chess into being something that it isn't.

Maybe somebody ought to give a shout out to th Comedy writing staff, and let them know about Khan Kirsan, who is a ready made parody.

There was also a Carlsen - van Wely match.

Reading the posts here I am amazed how much good stuff happened in 2006. It looks unreal thus so as to make sense I propose to rename the thread as : "2006, an eulogy"

2006 was the year that I started looking at chess again. The end of the Cold War politics diminished the title's symbolism that peaked with Fischer and continued on with Korchnoi's struggle. I lost interest completely when Kasparov's dominance became unshakeable and all other players looked like midgets. It was hard to follow who is who and what matters anymore. Got awakened to chess only shortly during the second Deep Blue battle in 97, which Kasparov lost. The sport needs excitement and exposure. I believe that the strongest champions are also strong and colorful personalities that attract attention. The sport needs to move away from the nerdish as much as possible even at the price of a little scandal, or perhaps a fistfight at the end. Give extra points for victory or penalize consecutive draws, early draws, whatever. Chess is a gladiator sport, the truest one and it needs to live up to its reputation of a merciless clash of minds. Betting along the way of a chess game would be a great way to attract attention...


Yuriy, you are right. I was amazed to wake up this morning to discover that I am Bulgarian.
Greg has thrown me into serious doubt as to my competence at doing genealogical research.

Hell, and Paul Truong was Filippino according to Greg.

My silly error about Paul Truong being Filippino was corrected in another thread a few days ago. As everyone knows, Truong was born and raised in Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan. Hmmm. Maybe we need to ask Susan Polgar so as to be able to get to the bottom of this matter.

If only all of Greg Koster's silly errors were corrected by himself.. perhaps he might need to revisit every post..

i'm surprised nobody mentioned the Caolli affair.

At the end of the day, maybe Morozevich was the man of the year. He won the Amber tournament(I appreciate those blindfolded games too) and also led Tomsk to the European Club Championship with great individual result.

Well, John, I'd completely forgotten about the Caoili affair, but that was quite odd. Then again, if everyone else can fight over women (even women who aren't with them and have no interest in them at all), why can't chess players?

Some days ago I downloaded the ringtones ringers from the zz top ringtones corporation and was completely happy.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on December 31, 2006 10:54 PM.

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