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Leko Lives

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Draws on the the top boards in round eight of the world championship tournament in Mexico City. The key Gelfand-Anand match-up didn't last very long thanks to precise pawn breaks by Vishy and he remains the clear leader with Gelfand a half-point behind. Kramnik still lurks in striking distance a point off the pace -- remember he has white against Anand coming up on Monday. Saturday is an off day.

Sunday's round nine: Anand-Aronian, Morozevich-Kramnik, Grischuk-Gelfand, Leko-Svidler. LIVE.

Reports of Peter Leko being in an undead zombie-like state have now been shown to have been slightly exaggerated. He shook off a =6 -1 first half and came out of the gates with a win in the second half. He handed Alexander Grischuk his second loss in a row in the Anti-Marshall, dropping the youngest player to a negative score for the first time. It looked like Grischuk missed a chance to exchange some of his troubles with 18..Ng4 heading to e5 and Leko the quickly got in h3 to eliminate that possibility. After that it was a very Leko-like position and he slowly pressed the pillow down over Grischuk's face. After 30.f5 e5 first-time Chess.FM commentator Nick de Firmian didn't have much hope for Black. White has a ready-made kingside assault and there isn't enough room to get anything going on the queenside. 39..Nhg5 was a blunder that guaranteed the breakthrough would come with tempo. 39..Qf6 looks much better, preparing to meet 40.h4 with 40..g5!?

Leko: I'm happy because it was a good game. It was a line I had prepared and I kept up the pressure." Grischuk: "I felt confused, like someone who had come in off the street without knowing anything."

Aronian-Morozevich followed the pattern of their game from the first half. A long tense middlegame was followed by a tense endgame, although this one quickly became theoretical. Moro played the opening provocatively, offering a pawn for a somewhat nebulous initiative. The amusingly mysterious, in the Nimzo meaning, 23..Reb8 led to a pawn-down rook and pawn endgame, a classic 3 vs 3 on one side with a passed a-pawn for White. 24.b3 looks logical to neutralize those doubled rooks, but it cuts off the white queen. We've already seen one of these endgames, Kramnik's torture of Anand in round three. Here the black kingside pawns weren't connected, but it turned out not to matter. Moro simply ditched his e-pawn and the white king had no shelter from the checks. Some computers still shout +4 for white on move 66 when Kg5 wins the f-pawn. But 66..f4+ 67.Kxf4 is still a draw. Gimme shelter. A tough pill for Aronian to swallow and Morozevich survives another one of his entertaining experiments. Aronian was critical of his own play, saying he hadn't prepared anything for the line in of the QID Moro played and that he made many mistakes.

Svidler got a little something against Kramnik's Petroff, which is news in and of itself. Just making Kramnik take a very long think is a real achievement these days. White's new 18.Nd2, preparing f3-g4, was the new idea, hiding the queen on h2 to avoid the swap. Kramnik spend around 40 minutes on his response and what a response! 18..Qe2! looks horrible, allowing the white rook to move to the open file and then putting the queen on g4 anyway. Nick and I knew there must be some point to such a move, but it wasn't easy to fathom. It eventually became clear that the idea was to be able to play ..Rxe1+ and ..Re8 to liquidate attacking forces after ..Bd6 and ..Ng7. If the white rook is still on d1, then Bd4, threatening to eliminate the defending black knight on g7, is stronger. Black had other defensive ideas, but the depth of this one is really something. To his credit, Svidler (who may have seen ..Qe2 in his prep since he still moved fairly quickly) sacrificed a pawn with 24.c4 to keep fighting. GM de Firmian thought White squandered the last of his slim chances to keep a plus with the slow 26.Bc3. The game was drawn on move 29.

Kramnik, post-game: "This is the first time I've felt a little uncomfortable during the tournament, with a little bit of fear. Peter played very well."

Gelfand tried the Catalan, and he's not just jumping on the Kramnik bandwagon; he's been playing it for years and it fits his style well. Anand busted out on odd antique move, 10..Bd6, instead of the usual ..Ra7 or ..Ba4 (or ..10..Nbd7 or 10..Nc6) that have all seen top-level action this year, including this event. It loses a tempo, but at least the c7 pawn isn't going to be poached. Gelfand's 11.Rd1 turned out not to really threaten anything. Black broke free with quick play in the center, ..e5 and ..c5 and was probably a little better in the final position thanks to the potential weakness of the white e-pawn and the more open position of the white king. Gelfand offered a draw on move 20 and Anand took it.

Gelfand, when questioned after the game about the short draw (according to Macauley this is something the players are becoming visibly testy about since it's happening almost every round): "Everyone here is ambitious. Black gets good play in the Catalan after ..c5 and I wasn't able to prevent that move and that led to a draw." Anand: "I surprised Boris with the move ..Bd6. Black plays queen to b8 and e5 and later a knight can come to c4 with rooks on c8 and e8. Black doesn't have much to worry about in this position to reach a draw." Hmm, I wonder if we'll it against Kramnik on Monday. I doubt it.


"..remember he (Kramnik) has white against Anand"

Mig is sometimes a funny guy..he makes it sound as if Kramnik actually stands a chance to get something more than a draw against the Vish..

Anand on 10..Bd6 (from Rediff)

Speaking after the game, Anand said, ''I was able to use a new idea that I had worked with in May with Sandipan [Chanda] and it was a sort of surprise; it was not a complete novelty, but it is a rare move.
I am happy that I was able to equalise and finish it in 20 moves.''

Kramnik-Anand: Actually Anand is handling his Blacks very well so I don't know if it will be such big a deal. Witness his smooth equalizers against Leko, Gelfand and win against Aronian. He was inept with white against Kramnik and Gelf.

On the other hand Kramnik did win with white in Corus so that is there. I think it will be a draw.

A draw is always the percentage play. My point was that there is still a reasonable statistical chance. A full point lead looks impressive but when they still have to face each other it can disappear in one game. Anand has an excellent chance of beating Aronian tomorrow. Vishy's in form, Levon is not, and Aronian is the type to over-press to make up ground. Should be fun. The main question is whether or not Vishy will allow another Marshall.

Hopefully Aronian is recovering well. A free day should help.

Aronian called his 36.h4? against Moro 'a child's move.' Indeed; after this it's just clearly drawn.

It seems Svidler should have played on with 27.Qg2 (or 29.Qg2) as 27..hxg4 28.Ne4! gxf3 29.Qxf3 Nh5 30.Ref1! as pointed out by Rogers gives Black big problems. I suppose this means that Kramnik should not have "forced the draw" that wasn't there but played 26..Rad8 as I think Svidler suggests.

Well as it stands I'm pretty sure that Kramnik will feel he has to win against Anand and we'll see something quite sharp against him from Kramnik. Kramnik is playing for his place in history as is Anand I think it will be pretty tense to say the least.

I am struck by how virtually every single time people put the players' remarks from the press conferences in quotes, they are actually paraphrasing rather than quoting. for example, grischuk's comment above is not what he actually said in the press conference, though mig's paraphrasing is faithful to what grischuk said... isn't there some journalistic convention that says that when paraphrasing, don't use direct speech and don't use quotes ?

Mig has often disavowed the scurrilous accusation that he's a journalist.

In my dreamworld Anand and Kramnik dominate the tournament, Anand wins by a half point, and we finally get a great Anand-Kramnik match. (And it doesn't hurt that Topalov gets shut out of all the action.)

Yes Mig, I think tomorrow Anand has a great chance to seal things off by beating Aronian. Regarding Kramnik-Anand, I'd say 1/2, 0-1 and 1-0 have probabilities of 1/2, 1/4,1/4 respectively - given Vishy's prep, form, motivation for this event and understanding of the chess. Kramnik might be a close second to Vishy on the last one but not sure if he's even close for the first three..

"Just making Kramnik take a very long thing is a real achievement these days."

Which thing are you talking about, Mig? lol

If the bottom four doesn't score well against the top today the tournament will in practise be over for most of them.

A question:
Do the bottom four then have anything else than miracles and honour to play for? (Does no 5 get more $$$ than no 8? Does no 5 get seeded into coming tournaments while no 8 doesn't?)

I'm getting most of the comments I relay from the Mexican newspapers. Other than with Anand, I believe, they are translating from English to Spanish. Then I'm translating it back into English. That's why if you see a video or something of the same comment it's not going to be exactly the same.

World Champion: 390,000 2nd place: 260,000 3rd place 182,000 4th place 130,000 5th place 104,000 6th place 91,000 7th place 78,000 8th place 65,000.

Maybe if Vishy beats Aronian and basically locks up the title the other players will start slugging it out for cash and honor/Elo.

Mig meant very long think :-)

I am sure that the Anand kramnik game will be hard fought and both will be well prepared. While I expect to see great preparation/novelties, neither of them will take chances or play speculatively as that's not their style and they respect/fear each other too much for that.

Kramnik will know that pushing too hard may risk a loss and he wouldn't want to lose the mini-match with Anand (the mini-match will be an argument used by fans and players alike later) by taking chances even if it means trailing behind Anand in overall score.

I expect kramnik to push against Moro and possibly Grischuk and the ailing Aronian to try to catch up with Anand. In that context, today's Aronian-Anand is very critical. It depends on how much Anand will push and how well rested and healthy Aronian is.

I don't think Gelfand will win any in the remainder unless someone targets him (unlikely given his form) and could lose a game or two.


Another good thing about round 8 is that the unfortunate allegation of Russian collusion should die down. I have said earlier that Kramnik, Svidler and others have the integrity and won't stoop so low and Svidler's game against kramnik should convince the skeptics.

- Kapalik

I am hoping Kramnik manages to be clear second so that there is sufficient interest in the Anand-Kramnik match.. Although the result is a foregone conclusion (the Vish will win by +2 or better), at least it will help have some media hype and excitement buildup...

and what an anti-climax the 2009 WC final match (the Anand-Kramnik match had recently been relegated to a semi-final by including Topalov in the mix) is going to be..especially if Topalov loses to the World Cup winner. I dont see too many sponsors for a championship match between the Vish and say, an Adams. But with Kirsan at the helm, who needs sponsors?!

Initially my calculations said the most likely outcomes were:
43% Anand wins (either clear first or on scoring tiebreak)
19% Kramnik wins (either clear first or on scoring tiebreak)
14% Morozevich wins (either clear first or on scoring tiebreak)
7% Aronian wins (either clear first or on scoring tiebreak)
5% Goes to rapid games as a tiebreak
Grischuk, Leko, Svidler, and Gelfand each having a 2-4% chance to win clear first or on scoring tiebreak

Now after Round 8, it looks like:
75% Anand wins (either clear first or on scoring tiebreak)
11% Kramnik wins (either clear first or on scoring tiebreak)
6% Gelfand wins (either clear first or on scoring tiebreak)
6% Goes to rapid games as a tiebreak (likely including Anand)
1% Leko wins (either clear first or on scoring tiebreak)

I should point out that there's always a question in these mid-tournament updates about whether to adjust players' estimated strength mid-stream. Do we expect Gelfand to do better over the final several games than his pre-tournament rating would show, based on the evidence of the games so far? Probably, but I haven't accounted for that in my calculations. Also please note that all eight players still can win the tournament outright (either clear first or on scoring tiebreak) at this point. Something else funny is that Gelfand's chances to win the tournament actually went up after his draw with the white pieces against Anand last round. Gelfand has struggled so much with White at the elite level that a draw with the white pieces is actually a good result against Anand, who is definitely underrated by the FIDE/Elo formula, especially when you just look at results against elite opponents.

Jeff's calculations seem to be quite accurate for an event like this. However, I am not sure how well these 'objective' stats will do in say, an Anand-Kramnik 14-game match. Vishy's recent body language, confidence, motivation (he knows that 2-3 good years now could put him among the all-time top 3-5 greatest players), unclutered mind, etc. might not be accounted for. Therefore, Jeff's calculations might give Kramnik close to 50% chances of winning that match (which, of course, is nowhere close to the what the eventual winning margin for Vishy is going to be)..

Kramnik has to pick and target his opponents in the 2nd half. If it means taking a few risks so be it. Otherwise, Vishy can just shut shop and coast on draws and maybe another win somewhere.

Oh dear
what a sad tourna
no fight no guts
here th have no hopers in normal world champ tornrno have chance to win and what draw draw draw
bring back tha at cheat Topalov and add young guns
like carslen but I am sick of this farce
paid to have these boring sick draws

>"I am hoping Kramnik manages to be clear second >so that there is sufficient interest in the >Anand-Kramnik match.. Although the result is a >foregone conclusion (the Vish will win by +2 or >better), at least it will help have some media >hype and excitement buildup..."
>Jeff's calculations seem to be quite accurate for >an event like this. However, I am not sure how >well these 'objective' stats will do in say, an >Anand-Kramnik 14-game match. Vishy's recent body >language, confidence, motivation (he knows that >2-3 good years now could put him among the >all-time top 3-5 greatest players), unclutered >mind, etc. might not be accounted for. Therefore, >Jeff's calculations might give Kramnik close to >50% chances of winning that match (which, of >course, is nowhere close to the what the eventual >winning margin for Vishy is going to be)..
>Posted by: Anand Nair

I think I'll take statistical analysis of actual data over your biased predictions any day. Interesting that you never had anything to say until Anand had built up a healthy lead in the tournament, but now you spam every thread with brash predictions.

Mig, I'm sure Kasparov will have something scathing to say about Kramnik's performance so out with it!

Phew, Anand Nair. As an Anand fan I say let's wait till he actually wins before gloating about it.

Moro-Kramnik 1-0.

Moro, Moro, Moro !!!

Cynical Gripe: let's see how things go over the next couple of years..ok, I was quiet for the first few rounds but this was totally expected..also, if Jeff does factor the things I mentioned above, his calculations may be able to predict a result more in sync with the eventual outcome in the Kramnik-Anand match. For example, the fact that Aronian is on antibiotics and ailing should be accounted for in the calculations here, shouldn't they?

RR: I know Vishy and his nerves, lack of killer instinct, etc has let us down many times in the past. But I'm very sure it won't be the case this time. He will be World Champion this 2007 and will beat Kramnik in the semis and Topalov in the finals to be a 'true' World Champion in 2009.

ok, maybe I have have a bit over the top..but its only here, beacuase Mig has been trying to potray Kramnik as some invincible force.. e.g. "Just making Kramnik take a very long think is a real achievement these days". In cricket, if you don't go for 'on the up' drives, you won't get out caught behind or bowled through the gate too often. But you won't end up scoring too many runs either. For all his abilities to be able to 'draw at will' and 'uncatchable when ahead' (in a match), let it not be forgotten how he lost in the last round at Astana (2001) to Kasparov to lose the game and first place..

Argh! Great game by Moro though.

Nice reply by Moro to those who say he only wins against tail-enders. Anand should be careful when he meets him in Round 11 (Moro doesnt mind the black pieces). Grischuk-Gelfand is also 1-0, so Anand increases his lead.

If Anand wins then will Kramnik be the "challenger" again in his
guaranteed rematch? If so, then this will solidify the legitimacy of a
Chess Championship won in a tournament, wouldn't it? Kramnik, being
twice the challenger to people who won it in matches against their
peers... Now it seems very likely that this conversation will have to
take place.


P.S. People bitch against Topalov, but why is Kramnik guaranteed a
rematch? He is not that special after all, a mere mortal when playing
an assortment of his peers. It's pretty much reflected in the ratings
too. I predicted him to win because the hype was so enormous.

If Kramnik doesn't win tomorrow, the end-of-the-game handshake would signify the transfer of the title of "World Champion of Chess" from Vladimir Kramnik to Vishwanathan Anand!!

If only Kramnik had won today..it would have set things up beautifully for tomorrow's game between the two best players of today's chess world.

And Gelfand blunders and loses a drawn rook endgame. For someone who played a 21-move draw with White, it was a pretty good day for Anand.

But definitely not totally over. If Kramnik wins tomorrow it's still very open.

Anand Nair, Mig's praise of Kramnik's solidity was not intended to belittle Anand's abilities. By responding with the suggestion that Anand is a class above Kramnik, that Kramnik might avoid a match with Anand, and prematurely declaring victory in Mexico (and in 2009) you are doing your best to bait Kramnik fans into joining a shouting match. On this blog it was bound to start eventually, but usually it is towards the end of a tournament, by supporters of the 'losing' players who find they cannot live with the result. When you're supporting a player who has a +2 lead, you can afford some more dignity, sit back and let the results speak for themselves.

As it stands now (after Round 9), here are the most likely tournament outcomes:
82% Anand wins (either clear first or on scoring tiebreak)
9% Kramnik wins (either clear first or on scoring tiebreak)
4% Goes to rapid games as a tiebreak (probably including Anand)
2% Gelfand wins (either clear first or on scoring tiebreak)

Next round should clarify a lot. Obviously today was great for Anand, but if Kramnik can win tomorrow, then he catches up by a whole point and then some, because he wins the scoring tiebreaker too (based on head-to-head with Anand). If Kramnik wins tomorrow then he still has a 33% chance to win the tournament, but even a draw for Anand tomorrow would just about clinch it for Anand, with a 90% chance for Anand winning the tournament (either clear first or on scoring tiebreak) followed by 4% for rapids, 3% for Gelfand, 2% for Morozevich, and 1% for Kramnik. And if Anand beats Kramnik tomorrow, then he has a 99% chance to win the tournament, even with four rounds left!

Kramnik will pull the win tommorow, because he is so money in these must win situations. On the other hand he may be thinking he has the return match in hand and so who cares.

Kramnik-Anand in chess and India-Pakistan in cricket all on the same evening! Awesome :)

Oh my, a loss from Kramnick! And he played so bizarrely - didn't you ask yourself, what is he doing? What is he thinking?

And Grischuk wins too, after a pair of losses - was Gelfand trying too hard, pushing to win a drawn rook endgame?

Does anyone think it is possible Anand might refuse to play Kramnick? Anand could declare himself champion for the second time, and it won't be the first time a chess contract was not fulfilled. I suppose it is scurrilous to suggest Anand would behave that way, since we know he is a man of good character. It should be a great WC match worth looking forward to.


RR wrote, to previous poster Anand Nair: "By responding with the suggestion that Anand is a class above Kramnik, that Kramnik might avoid a match with Anand, and prematurely declaring victory in Mexico (and in 2009) you are doing your best to bait Kramnik fans into joining a shouting match. On this blog it was bound to start eventually, but usually it is towards the end of a tournament, by supporters of the 'losing' players who find they cannot live with the result."

My sentiments exactly.

Yesterday I was even thinking of posting something to the effect that Anand Nair's post was even slightly reminiscent of what Topalov's fans were spewing at times last year (minus the hostility, paranoia and general nastiness and looniness of the latter group; while Anand Nair's entirely needless hyperbole about his hero comes off as a bit silly, at least his tone is civil and pleasant).

Mig , You prolly need to be more objective in ur views . But other than that you doing a fine job .
Nice commentary on ICC ...

I'm quite surprised by Kramnik's collapse in the second half. I'm not talking even about the score, anybody can lose one, it's about the quality of the games. In the first half Kramnik didn't have a single inferior position. In the second half he had scary positions in 3 games out of 3. Moreover, some of his decisions were outright weird: Ra5 yesterday, Qe8 today. It seems to me that he tried to revert to more dynamic style in this tournament and it turned out to be a total disaster, just like his experiments around 2004-2005 did.

That's a very unfortunate turn of events, since more dynamic Kramnik was definitely interesting to watch. Now I expect him to return to what works for him: grind with white, simplify and draw with black.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on September 22, 2007 2:14 PM.

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