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Mtel Masters 2007

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The third edition of this supertournament in Sofia, Bulgaria, has been formally announced. The field was as advertised earlier with the PTBNL now named. That's Sasikiran, who joins Topalov, Adams, Kamsky, Mamedyarov, and Nisipeanu. That's category 20, a 2727 average. (That might not hold up because of all the points Topalov lost at Linares and Sasikiran lost in Spain.) As before it's a double round-robin. The dates are May 9-20. That means Adams and Kamsky will have to hustle to their candidates matches in Elista, which begin on the 25th.

Despite his dismal Linares, Topalov should be the favorite considering home-field advantage. He won both previous editions with identical 6.5 scores. Last year it was a narrow thing after Kamsky shocked the world by running out to an early lead. Topalov had to win his last four in a row to pass Kamsky and win by a half point. Kamsky is again something of a mystery because he hasn't played since winning the World Open last July.

Of course the "Sofia Rules" are in effect, with no draw offers. Yay. A recent Association of Chess Professionals poll suggested that a majority of top players are willing to have some type of limitation on draw offers, either move minimums or my preferred solution of banning draw offers entirely. It's encouraging that more are seeing the long view. Of course it's an easier life with the occasional (or frequent) non-game draw, but if we're to build sponsorship and professionalism, in theory eventually bringing more money to the players, the draw offer has to go. It's great to have an event as strong as the Mtel leading the way in this regard. I hope this also becomes a founding principle of the Grand Slam that Mtel organizer Danailov is working on.


I think this is Sasikiran's debut in the elite stage? He has a very uncompromising style of play so it should be interesting.

It's a strange field in several ways. Topalov and Adams are veteran top ten. Kamsky has that cred but doesn't play regularly. Mamedyarov has a very high rating but hasn't done much at the elite level yet. Still, the potential is clearly there. Nisipeanu has had a few shots and seems to have settled into that top-25 fringe. At 26 Sasikiran is no longer the young hope the official press release makes him out to be. After a few years banging around in opens he just did poorly at a strong invitational. And since Topalov did so poorly at Linares and is now playing at home, a majority of the players need this opportunity to stage a breakout. Contenders or pretenders?

Go Kamsky!!

No disrespect to the players in the field, but it's not quite the big-name event of previous years is it? It should be interesting nonetheless, but the absence of the likes Kramnik (not surprisingly!), Anand, Svidler, Leko, Aronian, Radjabov and Carlsen give it a slightly sub-super GM event feel.

Who was invited and refused?! Is Topalov being shunned by his fellow professionals?

Gooo Kamski!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
FInally you will show you are the best!!!

Nice to see Adams back in the ring. Seems ages since he last played a game!

this reminds me of Kramer fighting 12 year olds in his Karate class on Seinfeld.

Considering Topalov isn't getting any invitations to Elista soon, it's not surprising most of the GMs are avoiding this event as it's too close to the Candidate matches.

The 16 GMs playing in Elista are:
1. Levon Aronian (ARM)
2. Peter Leko (HUN)
3. Ruslan Ponomariov (UKR)
4. Boris Gelfand (ISR)
5. Etienne Bacrot (FRA)
6. Alexander Grischuk (RUS)
7. Judith Polgar (HUN)
8. Alexei Shirov (ESP)
9. Michael Adams (ENG)
10. Evgeny Bareev (RUS)
11. Vladimir Malakhov (RUS)
12. Gata Kamsky (USA)
13. Rustam Kasimjanov (UZB)
14. Sergei Rublevsky (RUS)
15. Mikhail Gurevich (TUR)
16. Magnus Carlsen (NOR)

And with only Kramnik, Anand, Svidler and Morozevich left, it's not surprising the turnout is so poor.

Was Ivanchuk invited? Anand and Radjabov apparently said no, as did Aronian - Kramnik, Svidler and Morozevich weren't invited, neither was Lékó. At least according to someone in the http://www.chessninja.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=6;t=001490;p=1#000012 thread who seems to know.

I can't wait till Kamsky disproves all haters and establishes beyond a doubt that he is still a badass world class super-gm!
Add Mamedyarov, Adams, and Topalov to the crosstable and you've got yourself one helluva super-elite event.

Anand or anyone in the WC tourney would naturally decline. How do you play elite players without using your preparation? Very difficult. Infact I think Anand may already be playing one tournament too many by choosing Dortmund. He needs to conserve his energy (and the TNs).

One Bulgarian paper reported that Topalov was supposed to play in Amber. Considering his form in Linares I was not looking forward to it... I would be interested to know if he bailed out in the last minute in the aftermath of the Linares showing.

The MTel crew this year is not the same as before indeed, but I do not think that chasing the top-ELO all the time is the only way to make a Tournament exciting. You need some local representation too, just like Corus does -- that's why it is good to get Nisipeanu (from a country in the region). Of course, I'd always like to see Radjabov or Anand. J. Polgar always adds spice to these tournaments. If Moro wasn't in such a hostile relationship with the organizer, I'd have loved to see him there too...


This should be a good event for Kamsky. It does look like some of the Top players are shunning the Sofia event. Probably more of the hassle factor, than anything else. Who wants to be stuck in Bulgaria, in case a vitriolic dispute arises?

For Anand, he probably didn't relish the idea of playing Kamsky twice! It would have been a good tournament for Ivanchuk, or even Karjaken. Actually, it is nice seeing Nisipeanu get a crack at a high Cat. event. And many of our curious as to whether Mamedyarov can continue to perform at a a 2750 clip.

Topalov rarely has two lousy events in a row, so I expect a credible result from him.

Dimi: From an e-mail I just received:

"Thanks for your message. The absence of Veselin Topalov at the Amber tournament is not in any manner connected to the controversies around his World Championship match against Vladimir Kramnik.

Topalov was invited to play in Monaco but asked to skip one year as he felt tired after Elista, Wijk aan Zee and Morelia-Linares. He explained that he needed to recharge his batteries and have some rest before he returns to competitive chess in Sofia. The organizers in Monaco understood his wish and granted his request.

Best wishes, Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam"

"a majority of the players need this opportunity to stage a breakout. Contenders or pretenders?"

Yes, both..

And who's going to be checking Topailov's bathroom in Sofia? Why will I not be surprised by a runaway series of tactical victories?!

"I can't wait till Kamsky disproves all haters and establishes beyond a doubt that he is still a badass world class super-gm!"

Which year do you expect him to do that?

Dimi wrote:
The MTel crew this year is not the same as before indeed, but I do not think that chasing the top-ELO all the time is the only way to make a Tournament exciting. You need some local representation too, just like Corus does -- that's why it is good to get Nisipeanu (from a country in the region).

Dimi, generally I agree with the point you are making but there is a nuance here: Mtel tournament is being presented more like an elite supertournament, similar to Linares, rather than a more democratic Corus. Consider even the number of players: Corus - 14, Linares - 8, M-Tel - 6. With such a small number of players you do need to go after the elite if you want to present your tournament as the "super" one. For the same reason, the discrepancy in the levels of playing strength is good for Corus, but with only 6 players you'd want them to be evenly matched, with no whipping boy(s).

I'm hoping this year is going to be all Kamsky. His one goal is the world championship title and I'm sure all the hard work and preparation he's been doing since his last appearance on the competitive scene (last summer's world open, which he won) is going to pay off.

By the time the second round of candidates matches starts, Kamsky will be deadly.

Unfortunately, he'll be knocked out in round 1.

so many haters. you'll see.

What gives you such confidence in Kamsky's prospects? Don't they all want to win? Don't they all work hard? Not hating. Just asking.

Yes they all work hard and anyone in the 2700 club is obviously especially motivated to win their games. I'm just rooting for my favorite player is all.

I feel extra confidence because not only is Kamsky a spell-binding attacker and endgame virtuoso (like most of the other top pros) but he is something of a dark horse. The outsider always has a special psychological advantage.

"so many haters. you'll see."

You keep using that word. I don't think you know what it means." -- Mandy Patinken

It doesn't have to be a bathroom, it could be a hidden door

Last year I underestimated Kamsky at Mtel. But then he performed very well in this elite tournament.

We make excuses for a lot of players not being at the top: lacks consistency, doesn't concentrate well under pressure, prefers aesthetic chess over results, doesn't work hard, etc...

But in Kamsky's case there is actually a very good excuse: for many years he did not focus on chess, I think virtually did not play at all? Before he left Gata was in top 4. When he came back, after a little practice, he was performing near the top in an elite tournament. Now because of his away status, Gata ends up with a low seed.

Perhaps a good equivalent would be that of a NCAA tournament team that was missing one of its top players during regular season and because of that ended up with a low seed (say 7 or 8). Now they are in the tournament but in fact are one of the strongest teams there.

Kamsky's bracket includes Bacrot, Gelfand and Kasimdzhanov. The second and third are hardly at the top of their game right now. The first never really did too well against other super-GMs. My money in this bracket would easily be on Kamsky.

I don't understand why Anand is not playing in MTel. He is not playing in Elista, right?
Is he uncomfortable going to Bulgaria or playing Topalov on his home turf?
On the other hand, maybe it's not too bad Anand is not there. He is already over his peak and having a young upcoming player like Mamedyarov instead should be more interesting to watch.

Dear Charles, i've it twice out of a total of almost 200 words.

I actually prefer that Kamsky does have his many detractors, because this lack of faith in his abilities contributes to his underdog status.

I like Kamsky too, but I wonder if he can keep steady enough mental balance and focus to win.

Remember his words on this very site, where he said that a nod, a smile and maybe a few friendly words between his opponent and another GM caused him to be so upset he couldn't play, and he is still angry years later.

He must not let his opponent's off-board moves rattle him so significantly. How would he respond to Topolov pretending to cheat, or Kramnick having the trots, or whatever "distractions" an opponent might (unintentionally?) create?

I hope his maturity in years is reflected in a new maturity of the man as a competitor, who will not be so disturbed by a wily or devious opponent.

Tournament reports for the April 2007 FIDE Rating List


I can't see Linares here, something wrong ?

Very good call, tjallen. And let's also hope that opponents do not resort to such tactics. Here is a question, have all the Elista players confirmed their participation? Are the brackets finalized?

Yes Miguel, wouldn't we all love to be 'over the peak' like Anand and YET become #1 on the rating list? Anand must be already a very uninteresting player indeed!

Hellloooooooo, Anand adds spice and interest to ANY tournament...and I mean ANY. Gimme a break! When Topalov was #1 the Topa-fans were chanting the '#1 player' like a choir, but guess what Miguel: Anand doesn't even need that. He could say what Karpov said a long time back: "My NAME is my ELO." So, Anand doesn't need any boost to his reputation from world rankings! His career is brilliant already as it is.

Oh, and when it comes to the tournament in Bulgaria, MTel this year is of course interesting, but not even close of being in the same interest category as Corus or Linares.

Does anyone know if they will be having one way glass seperating the stage from the players at the M-Tel tournament?

Gurevich is maybe the worst player in this passe-partout.

Charles, I see you have resurfaced? That was a neat duck after being exposed for somebody who makes up posts.

Here is the official announcement from the Mtel Masters web-site
The third M-Tel Masters starts May 9

Six players of the world’s chess elite to compete for the title in Sofia

(March 23, 2007) Six of the strongest GMs of the world will compete for the tile in the tournament M-Tel Masters 2007, which starts May 9 in Sofia. The Bulgarian fans of the ancient game will be able to watch live №1 in the world rank list Veselin Topalov (ELO 2783), the European Champion for 2005 Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu from Romania (ELO 2689), the youth World Champion Shakriyar Mamedyarov from Azerbaijan (ELO 2754). The other participants are the former World Vice-Champions Gata Kamsky from USA (ELO 2705) and Michael Adams from England (ELO 2735), as well as the young Indian talent Krishnan Sasikiran (ELO 2700).

„Along with the experienced fighters this year we invited the promising talents Mamedyarov and Sasikirian. We hope this will make the competition a spectacular one, shared the director of the tournament Silvio Danailov – the average ELO of the participants is 2727, the competition is FIDE 20th category”.

The tournament will take place from May 9 till May 20, 2007 and his patron for the third year in a row will be the President of the Republic of Bulgaria Georgi Parvanov. The six chess players will play in Sofia Hall of the luxury five-star Grand Hotel Sofia.

According to the rules there will be two rounds with 7-hour control. This way each participant will play two games against each of the rest in exchanged colors. In case of a draw in the end a tie-break will be played to determine the winner. Like in the previous two editions of M-Tel Masters the rule about the draws will be valid that was introduced exactly in Sofia. According to it the players do not have the right to agree a draw. This cab allowed only by the chef arbiter of the tournament.

In the rest day of the competition the 19th World Champion Veselin Topalov, who won the previous two editions of M-Tel Masters, will give a simul in the garden in front of the National Theatre.
This year the chess lovers will be able again to take part in the game Play like Topalov that runs on the official web site of the tournament – www.mtelmasters.com. Special guest of this year’s edition of the competition will be the winner of the game last year – the Italian Alex Brunetti, who guessed 209 moves of the Bulgarian GM for the ten rounds of the competition.

... and another cute option at the new Mtel Masters web-site is the pages with previous games played between the participants against one another, see e.g. "Mamedyarov vs others participants (classic chess)"
[url]http://www.mtelmasters.com/en/mamedyarov.html [/url]
games are avaible to "View" online and to "Download".

...Mr. Brunetti told in an interview what was the secret of matching so many moves by Topalov. He said that he was using some AI advisor, the name of which starts with "F" and ends in "z", to guess the moves. Mr. Brunetti had noticed an interesting tendency that his AI advisor was particularly effective in the second half of the tournament. "The hardest thing is to guess which engine is the player's manager using at the moment, then you can guess the moves pretty easily. My opinion is that Topailov team uses BamBam and GnuChess interchangingly for the first half of the tournament, and then they switch to Fritz."

A working Website -- you click, it responds... Wow, that's nice... Feels like a revolutionary concept after what we had been exposed to recently.


"Charles, I see you have resurfaced? That was a neat duck after being exposed for somebody who makes up posts.

Posted by: d_tal at March 27, 2007 04:40"

What on earth have you got to be upset about? I listened to everything you had to say, more than once, and confirmed that you had no arguments to suggest that you were right and every chess journalist and chess organization in the world was wrong about who the world champion was. You can't deny I gave you many opportunities to prove that. That's gratitude for you.

I did tell you (again, more than once), that I wasn't just going to sit and trade insults with you, but you seemed to have trouble hearing that too. I already told you what to do. You want to change my mind, then change the world's mind first, and I'll go along with them. As long as it's you against the world, you have no chance. Have you made any progress in the campaign to get FIDE or Wikipedia to withdraw their recognition of Kramnik's title? Or are you all talk and no action?

Mr X,
If Elo is not so important for Anand, why do you keep bringing it up in your post?
Truth is that Anand didn't become world's number one because he did something exceptional. It's Topalov who slipped and LOST the #1 ranking rather than Anand WINNING it.
Anand has always been the same type of player thoughout his career - pretty good but never quite on top of the world. He won a FIDE knockout, but has never been THE world champion and likely will never be. I said he is over the top because his years are piling up and he is not going to suddenly surge now and become world champ in his late thirties. Unfortunately he is already on the slow but steady way down.
The new generation of Aronian, Radjabov and then Magnus and Karyakin are knocking on the door!


"Truth is that Anand didn't become world's number one because he did something exceptional. It's Topalov who slipped and LOST the #1 ranking rather than Anand WINNING it."

Yup. Absolutely. Every #1 ranking leader so far didn't get their rank because the previous leader retired or slipped in ranking. Anand doesn't deserve to be #1 by becoming consistent.

"Unfortunately he is already on the slow but steady way down."

I concur. In the last 4 years, Anand has only won Corus another 3 more times, Linares once, and Rapid and Blitz games like the Mikhail Tal Memorial Blitz, World Rapid Championship (twice), Ciudad de Leon (twice), Amber Rapid (twice - although he'll probably win this current one in Rapid as well, the lucky sod), Dortmunder Schachtage once, Corsica Masters twice etc.

"The new generation of Aronian, Radjabov and then Magnus and Karyakin are knocking on the door!"

I absolutely agree. His overall win-loss record against them was exceptionally poor the last 2 years.

vs Aronian 2-2
vs Radjabov 7-2
vs Magnus 4-0
vs Karjarkin 2-0

He should have easily flattened them with more -0 scorelines.

Anand is definitely a has-been.


Nice work.

jmi, as long as you're also counting non-classical games, it's actually 4-2 against Carlsen. The Radjabov numbers are mostly chess 960.

Not that I'm disagreeing with the point you're trying to make.

jmi, your stats are very selective, it seems. Noone has suggested all those guys are better than Anand just yet, just that they are getting close to surpassing him. Do we really to compare Karyakin and Carlsen, 16-17 year old kids to Anand? As for Radjabov and Aronian, the picture is different if we only look at classical games. Anand's score against Radjabov is 6-3, not 7-2 by the way, but the last decisive classical game between the two (all the way back in Dortmund 2003) was won by Radjabov. The only classical decisive game between Aronian and Anand was Aronian's masterpiece in this year's Linares. So it is not like Anand is dominating the younger generation and these kids are going to get better.

Stats are always nice in a discussion but it helps to get them right.

Thanks for the updates, everyone.

So, jmi, will Anand do much better than that? Likely not. Become world champ some day? Odds are against him. Improve his score against the "kids"? Hardly. Just the other way around.
He's already reached his limit.
And just for the record, I believe Ananad will have a lower Elo as #1 than he did as #2. Hence the Topalov slippage comment rather than Anand destroying opponents.

Anand becomes No.1 because the previous No.1 slipped down while he went up.
Topalov became No.1 because the previous No.1 retired, another No.1 was fighting with illness, and he went up.
Anand is not a real WC because he won in a series of short knock-out matches.
Topalov is a real WC, because he won a strong round robin (not hosted in Linares).
Everybody can make their decision based on these facts ;-)

And Kramnik became world champion by losing the qualifying match to Shirov.

I coulda sworn Kramnik played some match after that with some other dude. No?

I always thought Kramnik won the Championship from the great Garry Kasparov in 2000...

In the match Shirov-Kramnik there was no Champion's title on the line. The winner became the challenger for the title, but because the final match Kasparov-Shirov fell through (and not in the least because of Shirov himself - declined certain offers I believe), Kasparov wanted (he needed SOME match after 5 years!) to play the most dangerous opponent: Anand (#2) declined so Kramnik as #3 on the rating list was the natural choice and for Garry personally a very tough opponent if you check the score between the two.

So to people STILL yapping about Shirov-Kramnik and the--match-that-never-took-place: get over it! Shirov missed his boat (I wish he hadn't) and that's that. Besides, no one with a clear mind could have expected (Shirov may disagree, but that is his right and obligation perhaps) a real fight between Garry and Shirov. When Short was playing in the candidates' Garry said 'it will be Short and it will be short', but with Shirov it could have been even shorter. So dismal is the score for Shirov against Kasparov. With that said and despite it, all my respect to Alexei, he is always one of my favorite players in a tournament. His style is simply astonishing.

It would be interesting to check what the score was between Shirov and Kasparov before, say, 1999. Certainly after that Shirov became unable to play against Kasparov - I suspect his objectivity was disturbed - but before that I'm not sure he had quite the same complex. He annotates a game in Fire on Board which doesn't suggest that at all, although of course it isn't a thing one would explain in annotations.

One does agree that the world would be a better place if dirtbag and others could get over their yawn-making obsession with misrepresenting this point, but clearly they aren't going to grow tired of it any time soon.

Actually, Kramnik didn't become World Champion simply by losing to Shirov. It's ridiculous to say that.

In fact, Kramnik became World Champion by losing to Kamsky, Gelfand, and only THEN against Shirov. It's amazing how history is being rewritten here.

The exhibition match against Kasparov in 2000, where Putin forced Kasparov to lose anyway, certainly didn't have anything to do with it, though.

Vlad, a lot of nonsense in your post. I understand your desire to express sarcasm, but I have never been even close to claiming the things you wrote.

"So to people STILL yapping about Shirov-Kramnik and the--match-that-never-took-place: get over it! Shirov missed his boat (I wish he hadn't) and that's that. Besides, no one with a clear mind could have expected (Shirov may disagree, but that is his right and obligation perhaps) a real fight between Garry and Shirov."

Shirov's record against Kasparov is something like 0-17, with 14 draws. I'm sorry he couldn't get funding for a title match, but gee, I think I see why.

Just a note: the interview posted by PlayJunior at March 27, 2007 10:02 is, of course, a fiction by him. I used Rybka for the middlegame, and preparation for the opening :)

So, Miguel, you are saying that Vishy is being consistent whereas Topalov's career is going down, right ? :=)

i think there are only two greatest player in all time.
1.garry kimovich kasparov
2.bobby fisher

There have been almost endless discussions about the greatest players of all time. One conceptual problem here is that the quality of chess improves over time. This upward trend is slow but discernible, and has recently been augmented by the arrival of computer technology. The result is that more recent players are generally better than their predecessors a generation earlier.

Given this, I think that a better measure is whether a player is the strongest of his time, not all time, with his time limited to a sliding window of no more than 30 years, and less in some instances.

Using a standard like this, one could argue that certain players were clearly dominant during particular periods. For example, in the mid-nineteenth century, Morphy was stronger than his rivals, Anderssen, Harwitz, Paulsen, and Kolisch.

From about 1895 until his defeat in 1921, Lasker was stronger than his rivals, although it is unfortunate that the strongest of his competitors, Pillsbury, died young, while a planned match against Rubinstein never took place. Notably, Lasker staged a comeback in his mid-50s, winning the strong New York tournament in 1924 ahead of Capablanca and Alekhine.

In the post-World War II era, there was no clearly dominant player until Fischer. Botvinnik, Smyslov, Keres, Bronstein, Tal, Petrosian, Spassky, Larsen and Korchnoi were probably all of comparable strength, relative to their competitors, separated only by age differences.

Using the FIDE rating system, Kasparov was the strongest player of the late twentieth century, with Fischer and Karpov a short distance behind in a statistical tie.

At the current time, Anand, Kramnik and Topalov all appear to be of roughly equal strength, a return to the situation that prevailed in the late 1940s.

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