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Candidates 07 R1 Day 1

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More of a squib than bang, but they're off! I do love me some match play. The drama and intrigue of the same two players battling it out day after day, three whites and three blacks, great stuff. It wasn't a bloodbath, but we didn't have the short draws I was fearing. Only two of the eight games were decisive after several players let solid advantages dwindle away. Aronian outplayed Carlsen on the black side of a Spanish in what Garry Kasparov called a very nice game by the Armenian. 26..Rf3! was quite a blow, although 27.Qd5+ Kh7 28.Rad1 looks a lot more active than what Carlsen tried. Grischuk stuffed and mounted his countryman Malakhov after a miserable opening by Black. Great to see Grischuk in action again. Remember when he used to be the great hope of dynamic attacking chess? For some reason it seems like I haven't seen a Grischuk game in a long time, but the databases say I'm wrong. He turned in several nice efforts in the Russian Team Championship a few weeks ago.

Gelfand kept a pull against Kasimjanov into the endgame but couldn't convert his extra pawn. Kasim is as tough and sharp as they come. It looked like Gelfand still had some squeezing chances when Kasimjanov pulled the brilliant (Kasparov) 44..Nd4! out of his hat. Adams must have been much better against Shirov, at least judging by the disgust with which Kasparov met the news of Adams only drawing! Larry Christiansen also thought Adams was sure to score the full point in the heaviest of heavy QRR vs QRR positions. But the Englishman went up the hill and came down the mountain with just a draw, apparently deciding the position was too risky to press on. Kasparov wondered why Shirov didn't play 33..Rd1, eliminating a pair of rooks. As a suggestion for White he tossed out 39.Qe6 and the a-pawn is falling. (39.Ra4? 40.Rd2! with the deadly threat of Rxg7+.) Still a lot of work to win of course.

Bareev outprepared Judit Polgar in his favorite Caro-Kann, blasting out 20 moves in less than ten minutes and going up well over an hour on the clock. He was also better on the board with three pawns for the exchange and excellent winning prospects. Instead the Russian veteran decided to push pawns and try to blitz Polgar on the clock, a strategy that backfired completely. By the time she reached control her rook was very active. Bareev still had chances but White held on in the final game to finish. (Note there's no increment until the third control.)

Of less interest, Gurevich played very well out of his beloved French to even have the better of the early draw against Leko. Rublevsky looks to be putting his seconding work for Kramnik to good use and willingly suffered through a cramped, Kramnikian opening to hold off Ponomariov, who couldn't find a plan. I thought only Kramnik could hold these positions so easily! (To quote Mikhail Marin in the ChessBase MegaBase 2007, on Kramnik holding Topalov in this line: "I would like to comment here on Kramnik's strategic vision that enabled him to understand that Black can afford to play like this and stay alive.") Kamsky didn't look too ambitious against Bacrot, who returned the sentiment. The Frenchman played the ..a6 Slav that Kamsky himself plays, an annoying tactic.

A tentative but interesting first day in Elista, if not as interesting as the livestock-themed opening ceremony. Ah Elista, where men are men and the sheep are used in chess ceremonies. You've got blaaa-aaa-aa-ack in game one!

On to the meta-coverage, since apparently the only thing worse than my complaining about something is my not complaining about something else. The official site at globalchess.eu was slapped together in a hurry and is a joint effort of the new Global Chess BV FIDE spinoff run by Bessel Kok and the Turkish Chess Federation, which has emerged as a powerhouse under the aggressive leadership of Ali Yacizi. The site also being hosted in Turkey, which, while of course servers anywhere can be hammered to the ground, isn't exactly near the spine of the internet backbone last I checked. (It's more of a kneecap.) They do have the best pipe in the region (Bahrain, oy), with long shots to London and New York, but I'm not sure why they wouldn't rent a monster server on a fat pipe for such a big event. I say this because so far the reports on the official live broadcast have been a tad critical.

When your server is being hammered there are a couple of ways you can have your system deal with it. Option One, it can give the tiniest bit of access to each new visitor, guaranteeing that everyone has a miserable time but at least gets somewhere. You know, maybe a logo or a board after ten minutes. Option Two, it can deny any new visitors when things get heavy, only letting in new ones after someone else leaves. This gives some (maybe many, maybe most) people a slow but functional experience and nasty error messages to everyone else. Most webmasters know their bosses don't like to see (or hear about) nasty error messages, so they go with Option One. From the descriptions I've heard, this site went with Option Two. Which do you choose? Correct! You choose Option Three, which is to cut second dessert from the FIDE VIP menu in Elista and spend the $500 you save on a month's rental of a multi-core machine sitting on a pipe that Tony Hawk could skate in.

It's also confusing to have most of the official info about the event at the FIDE site instead of the event site. There are frogs in the Costa Rican rain forest that have mastered copy-paste, people. I wouldn't even know where to find info to send to the mainstream media about this event. Where is a handy downloadable press kit? Dr. Peter Rajcsanyi is press officer, but how to reach him? The only releases so far are about a plane change and a bus crash. What is this, a Steve Martin and John Candy movie?

The bios on the event site are nice though, and I hope we get at least some token on-site reports with photos. Some of the Russian-English sites excel at quirky on-site reporting, especially during the Topalov-Kramnik match. (I've often said that Russian chess reporting and writing is so much better on the whole than everything else because their chess culture was/is deep enough to produce good writers and reporters who wrote about chess instead of chess players writing and reporting.)

ChessBase has a fairly info-free round one item up and TWIC has notes from Markie Mark and IM Malcolm Pein. Susan Polgar liveblogged her sister's game with comments ranging from "black is better here but it's possible to draw" all the way to "black is better but a draw is still possible." Hey, it was true! Magnus Carlsen's dad, Henrik, is blogging the event I'm very happy to see. If you thought coverage was rough on the internet, you should try getting to Elista! Carlsen's trainer, GM Nielsen, is playing in Havana now and Norwegian GM Lie (pronounced "Lee" I'm told) is there in Elista. Opening prep is the lifeblood of match play.


Grischuk got lucky in the pairings. He's going to make it to Mexico for sure, which is good. He hasn't played in a super tournament in quite a while now.

Grischuk has been Ponomariov's client lately. I wouldn't bet on him playing in Mexico. IMO Grischuk and Pono have roughly equal chances to emerge from that 4-some (based on the fact that Rublevsky is probably tougher than Malakhov).

Mig, let us not forget that Rublevsky was in Kramnik's Elista team and therefore probably privy to tons of analysis of these positions. Anyway, I think we can expect him to try his beloved QGA in the next two games, especially in he finds himself behind in the score.

Mig, let us not forget that Rublevsky was in Kramnik's Elista team and therefore probably privy to tons of analysis of these positions. Anyway, I think we can expect him to try his beloved QGA in the next two games, especially in he finds himself behind in the score.

plane crashes, bus crashes, and website (relay) crashes?! What should we expect next?

Just seeing a match called the "Candidates" match fills me with nostalgic joy. Doesn't even matter too much what the field is, they could have taken the Puerto Rican championships and renamed them "World Candidates Matches," and I'd still be happy. The fact that there's 16 awesome players assembled here is more of a bonus.

As for "I thought only Kramnik could hold these positions so easily", Shirov on his Slav DVD point blank claims that this line equalizes for black and white will stop playing 6. Ne5 soon. This is probably exaggeration, but the idea is clear: this sort of position is quite tough to crack against patient defense.

IMO Kramnik's magic is not even holding these positions, but recognizing how solid they are for black (both here and in Berlin). That is something that Marin points out as well.

I mentioned Rublevsky has been working with Kramnik. Rather the point.

I haven't seen the Shirov DVD. Interesting. Did he discuss 8..Bg6 or did this come out after Topalov-Kramnik in Elista? The pros will go with results and comfort level. Strong players are still beating strong players with 6.Ne5 (Aronian beating Kramnik, albeit in rapid) so it will continue to be played.

I'm not sure that's really a distinction, osbender, other than a semantic one. Once the moves are made we recognize that anyone can make those moves. But to believe such a position is solid you have to find those moves. If you can't find the moves you won't think it's solid. I'm not sure the two concepts (finding/recognizing) are really separable, especially when you think about the thin line between finding things at the board or at home.

Lie is pronounced "Lee", as any math or physics guy or gal will know (e.g., Lie groups).

Let the unfortunate bus incident remind us to slow down in school zones. Kids are crazy.

Sheep, eagles, cows, camels, natives in festive dress - sounds fun, hope the participants have some free time to soak it all in: cultural things can be really fun.

Regarding the DVD. Shirov says that after Elista game he analyzed the whole 8...Bg6 line in depth. He thought that he had some interesting ideas, tried them against Gelfand in Tal memorial, but Gelfand refuted them easily (Shirov counted on 11...Nh5 instead of Nfd7). After that Shirov lost the confidence in the whole Ne5 line.

As for Aronian beating Kramnik in rapid, it's a weird game. Everybody thought that 23...Rb8 was an easy = (instead of g6). Perhaps, Kramnik blundered something, or maybe he wanted to test the limits of black position. Hard to say really, but it's hardly convincing for white.


Frankly, from Switzerland we could access the official site all right, see all moves, good refresh, etc. I get the impression that T3 connected guys in the US think it's worldwide standard.

Only comments: the site does not show the time controls, and after draw agreement, the kings appear in the middle of board (as often with electronic boards and no human beeing checking the games data base).

I believe that today's game (Polgar-Bareev) shows the harm of "hard-stop" time controls: one side might blitz out moves in the hopes of winning. That would produce inferior games. Why don't they use a 150 + 30 min time control or something like that instead?

What do you know, we're well in the third hour and relay is still working.

Does anybody know if Bacrot lost on time at move 39? He does not appear to be lost, just a pawn down!

And Polgar. Can she come back? Bareev was having such a good game and now the f6 pawn looks week.

Xtra, yes, Bacrot didnĀ“t make the time control.

@Zombre, thanks for the confirmation.

Poor Bacrot, I'd prefer to blunder terribly instead of loosing on time at move 39.

Poor Polgar, she is getting owned really badly.

I don't know what qualities are required for becoming a top-level GM, but among them have got to be that when your opponent has a better position you continue to play well, making the best moves possible, posing complications and setting traps for your opponent, making the opposition's job as difficult as possible. Bareev was down to less than a minute on second time control today. He played better and won, but Judit played really well. And she has a good chance of getting her revenge tomorrow, with white.

Good start for Aronian eh? Well, there is an Aussie connection!



Yes - I feel for Polgar!

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    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on May 27, 2007 3:42 PM.

    Candidates 07, Elista Smackdown was the previous entry in this blog.

    Candidates 07 R1 Day 2 is the next entry in this blog.

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