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Notes and Notitas

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Just tying up some loose ends here and there before moving on to new horizons. The "most brilliant game" prize of Linares 2007 went to Aronian's win over Anand. That's the one I voted for by proxy, btw. I also got a lot more out of Anand-Carlsen than I thought was there at the start when I annotated it the other day. There was a strange mix of great games, bad play, and short draws this year.

Linares commentator Leontxo Garcia has an interesting post-Linares inteview with Magnus Carlsen in his paper El Pais. Carlsen talks about his innate talent and desire to be treated like other kids. He says his chances of reaching the Mexico City world championship tournament "aren't better than 35%." (He plays Aronian in the first round and then either Shirov or Adams.) He says the thought of going back to Mexico for more spicy food will inspire him. A man after my own heart(burn)! I'll translate more later. Links posted below to a video of a Norwegian TV interview with Carlsen. Subtitles in English by simsan. Good stuff!

China's Wang Yue won Cappelle la Grande on tiebreaks. It's a massive open that lets you learn how many GMs there are in the world you've never heard of. And how many more there will soon be thanks to all the norms. A remarkable nine GM norms went out this year.

Garry Kasparov's blitzkrieg of the German-speaking world is underway. I just spoke to him in Cologne, where's he was headed off to talk about Strategie und die Kunst zu leben, or How Life Imitates Chess in its English title (which isn't the same title, I know). ChessBase has his itinerary here along with some pics of Garry in Hamburg, where he was recording more DVD lessons.


Well, as for post-Linares interviews with Carlsen, here is the real thing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N003wIDsiCc

Uploaded, and subtitles added, by simsan.


that was indeed hilarious! thanks for the link, acirce. I wonder what topalov and danailov's reactions would be to it...

Magnus's sense of humour seems pretty well honed too !

Hey Mig!

You picked up the link to the video already. Cool! :-)

I thought about sending you the link.

Anyway, I spent some time translating it, so I'm glad you guys enjoyed it. :-)

Simsan - that was truly excellent - thanks!

liked Carlsen's answers, but more than that liked the questions a lot ..

mig, do you know if Garry will be doing a book signing in the UK for his new book?

Yep, on to England right after Germany. Then France, Poland, Czechoslovakia... Wait, that's not the right order. But the UK is mostly TV from what I know. I'll try to post a schedule or have another one at ChessBase for the UK TV appearances.

Ah, actually I'd just been sent Garry's UK schedule. Doh. Lots of radio and TV from March 31 to April 4. Other things may be added, although it looks packed. He's on every BBC from one a hundred it seems, plus al Jazeera with David Frost. Heavens. The only signing open to the public I can see is Tuesday, April 3 at Waterstone's Piccadilly starting at 18:30.

This is his personal schedule for appearances and not a schedule of when things air so I'm not sure what's live and what could run hours or days later. Most of the items have web links so we can find out eventually. I'll post the schedule at the end of March.

Simsan, very good translation, thanks for uploading this to YouTube. I think Magnus handled it very well, not easy to be on national television.

Simsan, thanks! Nice interview. But what was that talk about strange Eastern Europeans and mafia connections? I have to say, I am offended as a Russian and as a mafioso. Maybe I should go troll Magnus's father's blog.

Seriously though, knowing the history of the only other Western chess prodigy - Fischer, and his statements about "the Russians" and the later antisemitism that was perhaps inspired by playing the Jews representing USSR, some statements in Carlsen's interview seemed bizarre. I hope he won't be doing hate interviews on Philippines radio in 40 years.

It's just a comic stereotype and Magnus pretty much had to go along with it. Tough trying to keep up with a witty and experienced host.


I guess the kicks against Eastern Europeans require an explanation.

a) This is a comedy talk show which tries to appeal to a wide demographic segment of the population. They therefore exploit some simple stereotypes to make things funny. Right now a common conception is that there is a lot of people in eastern europe (oligarks etc.) whose rise to wealth is hard to explain.

b) Part of the funny nature of the statements might have gotten lost in my translation

c) The host is know for his somewhat weird/bizarre/dark humor. Two years ago he did a funny monologue in which he took criticizm of US policies in Irak to an extreme. At the end of the monologue he physically burnt an american flag which upset a lot of viewers with connections to the United States.

Read more about him here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_Jespersen_(comedian)

Good points Simsan, Otto Jespersen was actually very polite and considerate in this interview, he can be MUCH more sarcastic and controversial than this, which is one of the reasons that I like him.

Needless to say Magnus know all about Otto Jespersen and he was simply playing along, this was not an interview that was aimed at the chess world at all, it was entertainment for the norwegian masses, nothing else.

However, I'm impressed that Otto invited Magnus because his success has mostly been overlooked in Norway, norwegians prefer winter sport "heroes" (that are totally unknown outside of Norway) with lots of snot hanging out their noses, the more the better...

The only other Western prodigy was Fischer?! (choke, splutter).

Capablanca, anyone? Reshevsky?

And as I wrote on chessgames.com I wouldn't be surprised if Jespersen's questions were in fact written by Eilif Skodvin (who is credited as producer of the Rikets Røst show). Eilif is one of the stronger chess players in Norway (top 50?). Additionally he has written material used by some of Norway's most popular stand-up comedians (e.g. Thomas Gjertsen).

What a great little interview...you played Na6--what were you thinking? Magnus seems like a great kid, I really like the host and the translation was wonderful.

Dodgy weird-acting Eastern European who speaks an incomprehensible language,


I understand the jokes in the Eastern-Europeans-as-mafioso genre. And I like the controversial jokes myself, as I do spend a lot of time on Mig's blog. But as a chess fan, after what happened to Fischer, I can't help but be a bit worried about the kid. There are some definite parallels with Fischer - in that both were GREAT at chess very early in life perhaps at the expense of other things.

"The only other Western prodigy was Fischer?! (choke, splutter).

Capablanca, anyone? Reshevsky?
Posted by: rdh at March 19, 2007 06:15 "

Well I guess I meant "west" in the cultural, not geographic sense. Capablanca was from a 3rd world country himself, so if there was any bigotry, it seems more likely it was directed at him, not by him. And one can hardly expect Reshevsky to hate Eastern Europeans or Jews, as judging by his last name, he was of Eastern European/Jewsih origin himself (I looked it up and his was actually born in Poland). There were Morphy and Pillsbury, too but they played at a time chess wasn't dominated by Eastern Europeans.

Anyway, I don't think Carlsen will turn into another Fischer (as far as bigotry goes) - I sure hope he won't. I just thought it was a little strange and that it sounded like something young Fischer would say.

Russianbear, Fischer's madness probably arises from the fact that he was the child of a brilliant but strange mother, and had no father figure in his life. These facts probably also contributed to the fact that he conquered the world at chess despite all the odds stacked against him.

Anyway, Carlsen appears to have a good family background, and apart from being fantastic at chess seems to be a fairly normal teenager under the circumstances. From other posts here, he knew what he was getting into by doing this particular interview. As a Norwegian, the interviewer himself speaks an incomprehensible language ;-)

Madness in top chess players is not confined to Fischer. Korchnoi appears to believe in all sorts of conspiracy theories, Botvinnik believed in the superiority of Communism to his dying day, and Salov formed the World Players' Council (see http://ajedrez_democratico.tripod.com/). On the other hand most top players seem reassuringly sane, e.g. Anand, Leko, Kramnik, Svidler etc.


I haven't talked to Magnus myself, but from what I gather he is apparently a nice balanced kid with a good set of values. I don't think you need to be worried.

However, I know absolutely nothing about the pros and cons of living with the kind of mental capacity that both he and other great chess players have.

Sometimes it's nice to be able to forget things (to remain sane).

But then Magnus do admit to forget things. Even such "obvious" things as Qe7 rather than Na6 in that variation of the qeen's indian :-)


No need to worry.

Most western europeans and americans think of eastern europeans and people from the former soviet union as pretty backwards, both culturally and economically. For example: what's the difference between Kazakstan & Cuba? Or between Georgia and Argentina?

Having attended many tournaments, I can tell you that the average eastern-european/soviet player is a smelly peasant with chronic halitosis, living in abject poverty.

Thus the jokes in the Carlsen interview.

It's silly to believe that Fischer's madness has anything to do with chess. It's almost certainly genetic, though perhaps exacerbated by circumstances of his upbringing.

It doesn't make sane people mad, it keeps mad people sane.

As they say.

Congratulations to our own East Bay chess hero, David Pruess, for having a great tournament in France and earning his first grandmaster norm. The first of two more to come, I'm sure!

A 35% chance for Carlsen to qualify for Mexico? No way! That would imply his chances to beat Aronian are around 60%, and to beat the winner of Shirov-Adams are 60% as well (60% * 60* = 36%). He's not that good yet. At his age very good (Morelia/Linares) and very bad (Moscow, Corus) take turns. Who knows what it will be in Elista?

Aronian, the most underestimated player of the world, will beat him, is my prediction.

Magnus is a sensation! He is like Sachin Tendulkar in cricket. He is cute and innocent. I don't know how Topalov or an east european will take it but he was so cool in the interview. It will be hard to dislike him!

An entertaining interview. Thank you for the translation.

These Scandinavian languages are quite unintelligible to me, despite having trained my ear to deal with various tongues. Still, they call the game like we do: ‘shah’.

The Eastern European stereotypes tend to be slightly irritating at times. But I prefer not to be too thin-skinned about it. I myself am a purveyor of Eastern European jokes, despite being one of such origin. I only offer a fitting response when some loser takes me personally for a dartboard, which happens very rarely.

But if an arrogant attitude is detected along the way, he may shed a few fans. Everybody can get sensitive – we saw how the Carlsen folks reacted recently.

Otherwise he seems one very confident and mature kid. Kid is not even the right word anymore.

As far as Topalov's dressing code -- the jokes are well placed at times. But I wouldn't call any of the chess players sharp dressers. In fact, quite the opposite, they represent the kind of mentally engaged people (researchers, professors in that group) who pay very little attention to the aesthetics of their outfits and often look like caricatures.

Was this really Adgenstein on the training video – a funny excerpt…


I see that many find the eastern-euro stereotypes offered in the Carlsen segment a little distubring, but it did in fact serve to raise a valid question: What it must be like for a western-euro teenager to spend so much time away from home, surrounded by all these "rugged eastern-european types", and with no people at his own age to hang out with...

He *has* to feel like an outsider at times, and while the format of the show doesn't allow for this to be given any sort of serious discussion, the "problem" was at least hinted at.

The thing is that I'm not sure who on the circuit can be deemed a "rugged" type by any stretch of the imagination. I understand that the show pushed the joke for non-chess audience, but for those who have seen the personalities it isn't exactly a crowd composed of school-yard bullies... Kramnik? Svidler? Topalov? Aronian? None of them strikes as the type you would hire to do a "job". Who are the tough guys: Leko, Navara, Karyakin? Would you hire any of these to 'protect the shipment and get the cash'? With some effort Moro can pass as Ustap Bender, someone who'd sell you a burned light bulb on a Moscow rail-station, but that's about it... In reality these are probably the most tamed types you can find in the region…



Yes it is Agdestein. He has a somewhat excentric appearance :-)

"" The thing is that I'm not sure who on the circuit can be deemed a "rugged" type by any stretch of the imagination. ""

Ivanchuk? Danailov? ;)

I put rugged in quotes as I agree they don't appear all that menacing. Still, I think I might have found it difficult to strike up a casual conversation with, say, Kramnik at the tender age of 16... Staying several weeks in Siberia (as one of very few western-europeans present), as Carlsen did for the candidate match qualifiers in 2005, might also have been a somewhat outlandish experience for me...

While he wasn't exactly staying in gangland territory, taking some poetic license with the portrayal of his surroundings isn't totally unjustified.

Yes, congratulations to David Pruess. Not that I know the man, but he's been the only voice of sanity I've seen on the Tim Taylor non-affair.

Well, at 16, being surrounded by the foremost minds of my profession, had all of them looked like whoever you would consider to be an example of friendly face, I would have found it difficult to strike up a conversation. I think maybe I could see Ivanchuk being slightly scary, Kramnik imposing and Danailov shifty...but honestly, Aronian I have heard great things about as far as friendliness, Vlad seems very polite, Anand is a great guy, Leko is nice, Moro as the kind of guy who shows card tricks to teenagers and teaches them how to pick up girls...Svidler is also reported to be very nice, with always a smile on his face.

I think the entire exchange was just a joke and we would be fools to make something out of it.

"" The thing is that I'm not sure who on the circuit can be deemed a "rugged" type by any stretch of the imagination. ""
Ivanchuk? Danailov? ;)

How about Azmaiparishvili?? He's been involved in fisticuffs.

The Norwegians are notoriously xenophobic, and frankly have biases against Southern Europeans as well. With respect to the 3rd World, the Norwegians adopt a patronizing attitude, where (say) Africans aren't even worthy of disdain.

I wonder if it would be deemed a "comic stereotype" if this Jespersen were to have a sketch featuring a "Stepn'FetchIt" routine? The comments about the Eastern Europeans were ugly and bigoted, and reveal much about the mindset of Norwegian society.

regarding the stereotyping of Eastern-Europeans:

even if Simsams translation was very good;as he himself said - some points of the funny nature of those questions might got lost in the translation.

And indeed:Otto Jespersen starts his questions to Magnus about these "skumle kiser"[transl. as "dodgy east-block guys"] - a closer translation would be "scary dudes".
In Norwegian "skumle kiser" is (in this setting) functioning as an oxymoron - a hint that it should not be taken too literally.
(And also making the joke that Magnus is easily intimidated(he still looks young for his age))

The general,public image of chess in Norway is simply that it is a bit nerdy(but also very honest,including easterners)sport with
limited money involved - certainly not filled with gold-carrying oligarks!

Another joke was that raisin(not rasin!)thing.
In Norway Magnus has for years been remembered as the little kid with his head barely above the chess pieces,munching raisins as he's trashing his opponents in no time..

"even if Simsams translation was very good;as he himself said - some points of the funny nature of those questions might got lost in the translation."

If we take this interview seriously, our sense of humor might be lost. It's obvious that the interview is not meant to be taken seriously, almost every question had a large dose of humor in it. Of course, it's not a good thing to create negative perception of Eastern Europeans in Scandinavia, but considering the tone of the piece (simsan even mentions that he is a comedian who often plays a heel role) and the general lack of problems with treatment of Eastern Europeans in Scandinavia, this interview probably has all the impact of a "hockey-playing, maple-worshipping Canadians" comment.

They play hockey in Canada?

Russianbear, Reshevsky was indeed born in Poland and lived there until he was about 11. He was a strict Orthodox Jew who never played on the Sabbath.

I was surprised rdh didn't mention Nigel Short. Perhaps because of the infamous remark about slavery?

Must have missed Nigel's slavery remark, but he was surely far less of a prodigy than Capa or Reshevsky; barely more so than Adams, I would have thought, and certainly less than say Bacrot.

"" The comments about the Eastern Europeans were ugly and bigoted, and reveal much about the mindset of Norwegian society. ""

Surely, you jest?

If you seriously want to lament the stereotypes against eastern-european, be advised that what was levelled at the eastern bloc in that segment is /absolutely nothing/ compared to what the host regularly dishes out. The host swings in all directions, and has slagged off (among others) the Norwegian PM and royal family in terms /far/ more vicious than the obviously light-hearted "jab" at eastern-europeans being discussed here. If that show reveals anything about the norwegian society, it doesn't reveal what you think it does... sheeesh!

Perhaps its just me but the Carlsen interview seemed so obviously scripted ie they had run through all the questions before so Carlsen knew what was coming and had his answers prepared in adnvance. Bit like miming really but it was ok.

I suppose it depends how you define a prodigy: he qualified for the British Championship just before his 12th birthday, came joint first with Nunn and Bellin at 14, and became the second youngest IM ever at the time (after Mecking). It took him quite a long time to progress to GM (19), which is almost a veteran by today's standards, but made him the youngest GM in the world at that time (although not of course the youngest ever).

The slavery comment is quoted here, although it has been removed from the linked original Telegraph article:

I'd forgotten about Adams, since I wasn't following chess during his rise, but he seems very well-adjusted from what I've read.

I did think of Bacrot, but I don't know anything about him apart from a few of his games.

Going back to Reshevsky, it's generally believed he was born in 1911, making him 9 when he emigrate to the USA.

Must be an old capture of Agdestein, let say 20 years ago?

About Eastern European joke; Westerners has endured chess dominance from east Europeans for so many years, nothing else

On a completely different topic:

Some people may have noticed the recent book Kings of New York, by Michael Weinreb, about the chess team from Edward R. Murrow High School.

Here are the editorial reviews, from Amazon.com:

From Publishers Weekly: Weinreb, whose work has appeared three times in The Best American Sports Writing, offers the story of a year spent with Brooklyn's Edward R. Murrow High School chess team as it strives for a national championship. Weinreb makes several choices that work well for a year-in-the-life account. For one, he eschews unnecessary speculation about the teen chess prodigies' psychology, a strategy that taken with his deft reporting of how they view themselves and one another renders them more accessible, more natural and consequently more interesting. Weinreb also expands his arena by investigating the cultural milieu of the modern chess world. He describes what it takes to be a successful high-level chess player, the difficulties women have in this world, the very nature of the game and the phenomenon of the chess prodigy, using the experience of Josh Waitzkin, who has now retired from competitive chess and was the subject of the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer. All this is supported by well-chosen detail, intelligence and terrific writing. Weinreb clearly develops an affection for the eclectic members of the team, and because of the skill he brings to his project, so will his readers.

Chuck Klosterman: Writing with the deft, propulsive style of a young Frank Deford, Michael Weinreb has captured both the intellectual insanity-and the curious normalcy-of what it's like to be a teenaged super-genius. The Kings of New York is the Friday Night Lights of high school chess.

Mark Kriegel: The Kings of New York is about chess in the same way that Darcy Frey's The Last Shot was about basketball. Michael Weinreb's real subjects are the nature of talent, the onset of adolescence, and the kingdom of Brooklyn. This is a wonderful book.

L. Jon Wertheim: Michael Weinreb has done a heroic job doing something once thought impossible-making an eminently readable topic out of chess. Part Word Freak, part Season on the Brink, The Kings of New York is a gripping inside look at an endearingly quirky subculture.

Adrian Wojnarowski: The Kings of New York isn't so much a book about high school chess as it is an unforgettable journey into the blessing and curse of adolescent genius. With a narrative rich in voice-a gathering of intoxicating characters-Michael Weinreb has delivered nothing short of a generational classic. This is a stunning book. You won't soon forget it.

Book Description: An award-winning sportswriter takes you inside a year with the nation’s top high school chess team. With strict admission standards and a progressive curriculum, Brooklyn’s Edward R. Murrow High School has long been one of New York’s public-education success stories, serving a diverse neighborhood of immigrants and minorities and ranking among the nation’s best high schools. At Murrow, there are no sports teams, and the closest thing to jocks are found on the school’s powerhouse chess team, which annually competes for the national championship. In The Kings of New York sportswriter Michael Weinreb follows the members of the Murrow chess team through an entire season, from cash games in Washington Square Park to city and state tournaments to the SuperNationals in Nashville, where this eclectic bunch competes against private schoolers and suburbanites. Along the way, Weinreb brings to life a number of colorful characters: the Yale-educated calculus teacher (and former semipro hockey player) who guides the savants while struggling to find funding for his team; an aspiring rapper and tournament hustler who plays with cutthroat instinct; the team’s lone girl, a shy Ukrainian immigrant; the Puerto Rican teen from the rough neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant who plays an ingenious opening gambit named the Orangutan; and the Lithuanian immigrant and team star whose chess rating is climbing toward grandmaster status. In the bestselling tradition of such books as Word Freak and Friday Night Lights, The Kings of New York is a riveting look inside the world of competitive chess and an inspiring profile of young genius.

Rob Erl.: I concur that "scary dudes" would probably (in hindsight) have been a better translation.

Disclaimer: I'm a software architect and not a linguistic scholar. This was my first ever go at doing subtitles (regardless of language).

Having spent several hours doing these subtitles (and getting the timing of them OK) I have gained an increased respect for the people who do this professionally.

Translating humor is tricky.
The one sentence which I believe I translated most creatively was when OJ said "A knight on the edge is a knight in the sand". The problem is that this sentence is a rhyme in Norwegian.
That's why I gave the translation as being "A knight on the flank - will soon walk the plank" even though I knew (from the game) that the knight survived long after that move.

A couple of other corrections: Raisins are spelled with two i's.. and there's a superfluos "that" in there somewhere :-(

Great interview and our huge thanks for the subtitles! Also it should be "genius", not "genious"...


They should add a spell checker to Windows Movie Maker. I'll write an angry complaint to Bill Gates immediately.

My only comfort is that my "genious" mistake has been done by 1 620 000 people before me (google estimate)

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on March 18, 2007 3:34 PM.

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