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Carlsen Leads Biel

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Magnus Carlsen is on track to improve his 2006 Biel result. Last year he finished equal 2-3 with Radjabov far behind Morozevich. But the Norwegian teen beat the winner twice and showed flashes of the tenacity that led to his breakout performance in Linares this year after two earlier rough supertournament showings. This year Carlsen is leading the Biel GM Group by a full point after five rounds with a 4/5 score. In round five he beat his co-leader, America's Alexander Onischuk, in an excellent effort. Onischuk gave up a pawn for compensation but never managed to get it back. When he tried it meant stepping into a permanent pin that led to resignation.

The other decisive game of the day was Bu Xiangzhi's win over Motylev. In an amusing sequence, Bu moved his queen five times in a row after poaching a pawn on a7. It went from b5-a6-a4-h4-d4 while Black moved just about every piece he had, and White had a plus! The move back to d4, with the threat of Qd6 that eventually won, was an alert pick-up. After the queen got to safety on h4 it takes some effort to play it right back into the middle of the black forces. The a-pawn was the righteous winner in the end.

The Chinese star was on the wrong side of another interesting queen adventure in the fourth round. It looks like a completely busted opening for Black, bordering on suicidal. But Black looks to be getting excellent compensation with the Bb7 and the open f-file. But Avrukh saw deeper and found a lovely way to extricate the lady tactically to win. Carlsen had a piece of good fortune against Motylev in the 4th. Carlsen was defending and Motylev, in his usual time trouble missed several knock-out blows. Then the Russian missed a lot more than that, hanging his bishop in mid-air and resigning. Horrible.

The Rodina has a chance for revenge Sunday as Grischuk takes white against Carlsen. Radjabov, the top seed, is holding with his King's Indian but is unable to score with white. I expect he'll make something happen in the final four rounds, but it's probably too late to catch Carlsen. They meet in the final round, Carlsen with white. Onischuk has white on Sunday against Bu Xiangzhi. Polgar has black against Motylev in what could be a wild one. Nobody has played 1.e4 against her yet.


After drawing Grischuk with black today, Magnus is one point ahead of Radjabov, Polgar, and Onischuk or Bu (currently engaged in a game) with three rounds to go, and with two whites and Pelletier and an out of form Van Wely left to play, chances are he'll win the tournament, though a loss to Radja in the final round might change that.

Poor Motylev, looks like he's about to collect his third straight loss after blundering in what was probably a winning position against Magnus in round four.

I'm still sticking with my prediction that Magnus will be the youngest World Champion to date. If I catch heat again for that...I don't care.

Carlsen seems the beneficiary of a disproportionate number of blunders - remember that resignation by Topalov in a drawn position? As long as he can keep the "Magnus field" working ... good for him, I guess.

It would be interesting to know the difference between the young talent that pushes for perfection and that which peters out. We certainly see a lot of the latter...


I wish I had an answer for that but I don't. As I read your post I thought of Carlsen as an example of the former and (with no disrespect) Nakamura as the latter.

Ashish, remember your Capablanca:

"The better player is always lucky."

Or was that Alekhine? I'm too lazy to look it up.

Where's the Korchnoi love, Mig? +3 and undefeated at Banja Luka.

Where's the Korchnoi love, Mig? +3 and undefeated at Banja Luka.

Definitely Capablanca, Buckwheat. And I think it was, "The good player is always lucky."


Hikaru is still young. The idea that one must become 2700 right out of the cradle nowadays is quite misguided. Seriously, if Hikaru took his entire college career off from chess (which he hasn't), he would re-emerge in his early 20s, and you are speaking as though the world will have passed him by at that point.

Throughout his career, Hikaru's progress has never been linear; he improves in leaps and bounds, so there is really no telling if he will have another such leap, and if so, at what point. He has taken time to develop a more well-rounded life, but he still has the potential to be a 2700+ player, and never should it be said that one who reaches such heights has "petered out"! The main question with Hikaru is what he will choose to do, not whether his talent has reached the peak of its powers. "Potential" is still a word that is allowable when discussing him.



Once in a while a player who "almost makes it" to the highest levels in chess will reveal publicly what it is like at the rarified heights, and often the story is similar. They will play a game or two against someone at the bery top, and lose, and form an opinion that they just aren't good enough. In a way this is unfortunate, because these younger players will continue to improve - looking at an average lifetime rating curve shows most players peak just after 30 years old, so to decide you're not good enough when you are in your early 20s is unfortunate, and poignant. It must be difficult for a good player to come to that point.

A good example is found in this months Misha Interviews over at Chess Cafe, where interviewee Mikhail Golubev says in part:

Other things also influenced my future decision: Mikhail Podgaets invited me to a training session with Anatoly Karpov in 1996-97, then I played a training match with thirteen-year-old Ruslan Ponomariov, winning with enormous difficulty 3.5-2.5, and I played a game with Korchnoi, which he later included in his book. This gave me the opportunity to see the difference between myself and these players.

Somewhere around that time I realized that I could hardly make any significant progress in chess. I tried to play professionally for a couple of years, but then ... let's say I ran out of motivation. All the disadvantages of the professional player's career were there, and when you don't believe in a brighter future, it is hard to find any advantages in such a life. The perspective is critical.

end quote

Perhaps some of these young players reach this decision unnecessarily, they will get better just by accumulating experience. Korchnoi has spoken of what he does when he plays a new young player for the first time - he tries to not merely win but crush them, and he claims this gives him an advantage over them for many games, they still feel the sting, and play poorly.

It's tough at the top.


You need not put words in my mouth, I never mentioned anything about 2700 and his potential of reaching it. Nor did I use the term "petered out." "My reply to "STENDEC" was in regards to "pushes for perfection" in chess. Personally, I believe in time he has the capibility of reaching 2700.

In the past he has already indicated the possiblity of quitting chess for a more lucrative career. In his case, I believe that his choice of university and a more well rounded life is a correct one. It's my opinion that to reach the very top of world class chess today, you have to be totally dedicated to that pursuit. The young man has an incredible amount of talent for the game and will always be a very strong grandmaster if he so chooses. My point is that I believe he will never be in the top ten or 15 in the world with the alternative choices he has made for himself.

A person can have all the talent in the world, but without total dedication, passion and inspiration he will not reach his full potential in any singular enterprise.

"A person can have all the talent in the world, but without total dedication, passion and inspiration he will not reach his full potential in any singular enterprise."

Euwe and Spassky excluded....

Euwe might not have had as much genius as other champions, but was lack of dedication/passion/inspiration really his problem? As for Spassky, perhaps with greater mental toughness and work ethic, he would have beaten Petrosian the first time and Fischer in 72 and had achieved his full potential of being world champion for more than 1 cycle. Many reviews of his career and games suggest that.

I believe you are right--it would be nothing but miraculous these days for a player to simply be talented enough to be one of the best in the world (like, arguably, Capablanca was). The role of knowledge and honed technique is vital and requires a lot of effort and time to maintain (I guess I'm really just assuming what it's like for the top echelon because as a B-Class player I can maintain my rating by just a few dozen ideas like putting my rooks behind my pawns and distant opposition).

Speaking of love... Mig, where is Hou Yifan love? Girl should indeed stop playing these women events... and go learn some stuff.

Yuri and Bill,

I'm speaking in the present tense not the past. As stendec indicated above, Capablanca is the prime example of what talent could accomplish at that time. Euwe could have achieved more in chess but his lifestyle was too diverse (nothing wrong with that). The same with Spassky, but the main reason was procrastination...self acclaimed.

The chess environment at the top is so much different today than at that time. The information age (I believe) "playing" the most signiicant role. As the saying goes..."that was then, this is now."

chesstraveler, I thought I was agreeing with you in the above post--and I still think that I am. Bill was suggesting that Euwe and Spassky reached the pinnacle in spite of lack of dedication, passion and inspiration. I think that Spassky could have been champion a lot longer with those qualities, as for Euwe, opinions differ as to whether work ethic was his problem, but if he was able to become champion without these qualities, god knows how much he could have accomplished with them. To sum up, I don't think simply becoming a champion is reaching a pinnacle of one's potential. Kasparov dominated for 15 years. Karpov for 10. Fischer had 3 of the most sensational years in history. Those are much loftier accompishments than simply having been champion.

"Those are much loftier accompishments than simply having been champion."

Are you making the argument for Aronian?


"To sum up, I don't think simply becoming a champion is reaching a pinnacle of one's potential. Kasparov dominated for 15 years. Karpov for 10. Fischer had 3 of the most sensational years in history. Those are much loftier accompishments than simply having been champion."

I definately agree with your above assessment. It wasn't so much that you were disagreeing as the fact that Euwe's teaching career conflicted with his total "dedication to chess" from my perspective and it was a different era in chess. All three of your examples above were totally dedicated to chess at the time of their accomplishments. I believe that is what it takes today to reach the top dozen or so players in the world. It wasn't always as such, but technology has made it so. I think Nakamura may have too many irons in the fire, so-to-speak, to accomplish that pinnicle. In time, if he were to prove me wrong I wouldn't feel bad about it.

something is wrong with grish!he had such a promising pozition against polgar and like usually he started to play bad,big time!instead an active move like 28rc1 conseving the advantage,he plays 28g3 and 29kf1,even a 1600 player woldn't play that bad and passive.he missed radja,now polgar,badly.if he misses the same in mexic he might 0 wins

Yes, Polgar against Grischuk managed to draw(!) the knight endgame down by a pair(!) of connected passed pawns.

Grischuk's technique sux. How anyone thinks he will become the World Champion when he could not convert the winning endgame he had today is beyond me.

good game grischuk!!!what is next???missing 3connected pawns and knight against knight?i thing he shouldn't bother to go to mexic.probably he has some mental problems cause a superGM wouldn't miss that win in a 3 min blitzgame.he fall for the only trap polgar could find,probably even a1700-1900 could see that stalemate.and no he wasn't in zeitnot,it was at the 61 move so he had plenty of time.61f5 wins within 10 moves,but 61 kf3 is a blunder.probably his phisical condition is bad too.grish said he studies alot lateley!!!!!he should..elementary endgames.even a 2400 im could win easely that position,but a pretendent to a world ch...he like moro is one of a guy who plays terible when is not in good mood.i remember it was a time when his tehnique it was highly aprecated by other GMs.back to the basics!!!

Get real, people. It wasn't that easy. Try it yourself. By this I mean yes, a strong GM should of course win it, but everybody makes mistakes. It's not like he missed mate in one like some random patzer or World Champion.

Besides, he probably cares a lot more about Mexico than about Biel.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on July 29, 2007 5:01 AM.

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