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Corus 08 r4: Hits and Misses

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We got some decisive games today and the quality of play at Corus was a mixed bag all round. The match-up between the leaders was a fascinating encounter with divided evaluations. Carlsen didn't seem to get much against Aronian with the Ruy Lopez. Black had at least equality and it wouldn't have surprised anyone had they agreed to a draw. But Aronian had other plans and played a speculative exchange sac to open up the white king despite having few attacking forces in the area. The debate over the correctness of 20..Rxf3 raged for a long time during the game, with titled players on both sides. The majority, including Chess.FM analyst John Federowicz, thought that Aronian had overreached (or lost his mind) and that Carlsen was going to move to 3.5/4 without too much effort. After the game Aronian opined that in fact it is White who is lost after the sac, but it's hard to back up that traditional post-game optimism with analysis. The white a-pawn is speedy and it's much easier to find improvements for White than for Black. Carlsen's lovely 26..e5 idea (played almost instantly) slowed Black's play and should have made the game hard to save for Aronian. The obvious 35.Rxa6 looks like a win. Carlsen got caught up playing quickly in his opponent's time trouble and allowed an immediate repetition draw.

Leko-Ivanchuk was another draw with lots of action in the notes. Apparently Ivanchuk decided he liked what he saw after watching Leko bash Bareev's Caro-Kann in last year's candidates match. Leko loves grinding these positions. Black is basically playing most of the game a rook down, so what's not to love? Leko girded his forces for the inevitable penetration against the black kingside. Just when the position was screaming for more more more, the Hungarian's resolve went limp. 21.Nxg6! is a pretty shot, and not a rare one in such positions (often it's the bishop instead). The tactics are not at all easy, however, so we shouldn't be too harsh. White was still much better, but now he was in bad time trouble. Leko tried to cash in with 32.Rf5!?, sharpening play with just a few minutes on his clock. White still has chances after 35.Qc7+, but he practically chose to force a repetition instead.

Gelfand-Polgar was an entertaining battle right from the start. Polgar had prepared an aggressive (surprise) idea in what might be called the "Grunfeld Declined Anti-Catalan Variation." Gelfand skipped d5, allowing Black to capture on d4. Then Black uses the threat of check on a5 to push ..d4, ..e5, overextending the pawns. This is a well-known line and Gelfand has faced it before. Black's new idea was 13..Ne4, sacrificing a pawn for activity. It doesn't look like the d3 pawn can possible survive, but even the computers call the position about even, confirming the tangible compensation. Gelfand started sliding into time trouble just as he went on a pawn hunt, a dangerous combination against Polgar. She has a unique ability to whip up tactical complications out of nowhere and she showed that again in this game. Polgar will sacrifice and attack out of positions of weakness, something that violates general principles. She relies on her ability to outplay her opponents in complications and more often than not she's right. 26..Ne6!?? sacrificed a piece to turn the d2 pawn into a real threat and Gelfand didn't play the necessary 31.Rab1. He blundered with 31.Bf3 and Black won the exchange. Polgar finished off neatly with more help from Gelfand, by then down to seconds. She is really something special.

Significantly less special was the draw between Radjabov and his countryman Mamedyarov. The 8..e5 trick goes back to Flohr in 1950. Black played a useful pawn sac to break up the White structure. Simplifications ensued with a clean draw on move 28. Adams outplayed Anand on the black side of a stonewall Queen's Indian and held a small edge in a B+Q endgame that he was unable to convert well into the second time control. Black could have won material with 22..Bb4, although White's minor pieces are impressive after 23.Rxc8 Bxd2 24.Rxd8+ Qxd8 25.Rxd2. Adams has lost so many games against Vishy he probably isn't sure if it's safe to play for a win.

Kramnik beat Eljanov in vintage fashion, with active play in the center leading to structural weaknesses he later picked apart. He won with surprising speed in a R+N+3p vs R+N+2p. Lots to learn from in games like this from Big Vlad, as usual. He makes this sort of thing look easy, the way Karpov used to. He sees weaknesses with x-ray eyes. Topalov lost his second game of the event by biting off even more than he can chew in a Benoni against van Wely. The dynamic Bulgarian has outplayed many players from these tangled positions but this was too much to ask. van Wely may only be 2681, ceding 100 points to Topalov, but the Benoni is tough enough in its dubious theoretical lines. Here Black gave up a lot of time and put his pieces on unusual squares. 15..g4 was a sad necessity by process of elimination. White was threatening Nxe5 and e5 with major atrocities. Topalov gave up the exchange without much to show for it. White's king was safe and van Wely played accurately to swap down and clinch the full point.

Carlsen and Aronian lead with 3/4. Polgar, Kramnik, van Wely, and Radjabov trail on +1.


Well summed up Mig. I think yesterdays games were very entertaining though not sure which i prefer, the slugfest that Queen Judith won or the Boa constrictor like qualities of Vlad the Impaler!

I guess I will give it to Judith as I greatly liked the Chessvibes video showing her after game analysis..lets hope she wins some more!

Kramnik's way of winning those end games is spectacular, instructive and flawless, but... you get bored watching them sometimes.
I prefer more vivid games like the ones Polgar and Carlsen (look at that 26.e5! against Aronian) play.
I like the entertaining (and not always perfect) side of the game rather than its downright and rigid principles.
It should be more than cool to play against Kramnik and everybody will jump at such an opportunity, but personally I do not envy Eljanov in this particular occasion!

i disagree with artin - I prefer watching kramnik's grinds to the messes you get with topalov or judit. It's personal preference of course.

Is it wrong of me to delight in topalov's failures? He's the bad boy of top chess following toiletgate and other unsavoury stuff. Doubtless he'll finish with 8 wins on the trot.

Technical players never seem to receive their just due (from the masses) as opposed to those with more flamboyant styles.

Like WHIC stated, it is personal preference and I too enjoy Kramnik's games very much. Probably due to the influence of Capablanca, Karpov and some Petrosian during my early years of chess. I never could understand Alekhine's games, Tal's were fun but difficult. Kasparov's games always gave me headaches, but I'm sure that I'm not alone. =8-)

All this said, I can appreciate Artin's viewpoint.

>Is it wrong of me to delight in topalov's failures?

Far from it. I would call it more of a duty.

If it troubles you, though, why not rejoice in van Wely's most recent success instead?

My biggest chess idol is Tal, and I just love the games of Kasparov, Moro, Topalov and Judith, but I also loved Kramnik's win against Eljanov. It is something remarkable, this complete mastery of the Catalan. Although there isn't any tactical madness, there is considerable tactical content, and the way he skates through these and breaks through unnerringly at the right time is just awesome. Its like a sonorous Miltonian poem, rather than the raw, edgy, intellectual beauty of a Donne composition, that Moro's or Tal's games usually resemble. If you love Poetry, you have to love both, although you may prefer one or the other for your own writing style. I now fear for Anand in their match, because Anand quickly loses patience in positions he doesnt like, and when Kramnik plays White, Anand wont always get positions he likes...

A friend of mine once suggested to me that Kramnik's games are undervalued by chessplayers for the same reason that chess is undervalued by the general public.

An excellent comment, netguy. I wish I had thought of it.

Kramnik is a Karpov for our time. He has that special "something" that only great players like Kasparov, Fischer, Karpov, Capa had.

He is so special that many people still consider him the "real" World Champion; something similar to the position he was in after beating Kasparov!

Luckily, Irv's subjective definition of "specialness" does not determine the World Chess Champion under the game's administrative body, FIDE. That champion is a gentleman called Vishvanathan Anand, who wrested the title from Kramnik in a tournament held for the purpose.

d_tal - by that logic anand's title has as much legitimacy as khalifman's in 1999. Which is to say, it is completely legit under FIDE law.

Significant differences in the two old son. Do some research on the two and come back, and we'll discuss again.

wow, Topalov takes apart Gelfand's Petrov!!

d_tal wrote:
".. who wrested the title from Kramnik in a tournament .."

The title in question is gained and lost in matches, not tournaments.

yes, well

1. Any game has a governing body, and the rules are set up by them
2. If you are referring to THAT title (whatever it is), and apply the full set of rules, Kramnik was never champion. Why bother, we have been through all this?

Anyway, just played through the Topalov game again, and not knowing much Petrov theory, I am bemused. It looks like a Master vs Amateur game. Seems effortless! Did the real Gelfand turn up? What's the verdict on this line, can somebody with a profound knowldge of the Petrov please explain??!!??

d_tal, you are quite right of course. But I hope you are not seeking to diminish khalifman's title? I would be me most outraged, being a big khalif fan.

"1. Any game has a governing body, and the rules are set up by them
2. If you are referring to THAT title (whatever it is), and apply the full set of rules, Kramnik was never champion. Why bother, we have been through all this?" - the item 1 is questionable, simply because the tradition of world chess championships is older than FIDE. As for the second one, wasn't Kramnik the champion before the Mexico tournament? We may have been through all this already, but even if your item 1 wasn't incorrect, it seems like it contradicts your item 2.

I am with WHIC and rdh. Maybe we can form a Topalov anti-fan club.

Regarding Kramnik: c'mon, his style is not all that bland. Against Eljanov, the knight on b5 was living life on the edge! For several moves, it was very close to being trapped.

A tremendous amount of tactics goes on behind "quiet" play. Back in the day, a friend of mine (with an expert rating) had played Joel Benjamin in a tournament. After the game, GM Joel was kind enough to do a post-mortem, and my friend was flabbergasted by all the tactical lines Benjamin revealed having analyzed during the game, even though he beat my friend in quiet, positional style.

"1. Any game has a governing body, and the rules are set up by them
2. If you are referring to THAT title (whatever it is), and apply the full set of rules, Kramnik was never champion. Why bother, we have been through all this?" - the item 1 is questionable, simply because the tradition of world chess championships is older than FIDE. As for the second one, wasn't Kramnik the champion before the Mexico tournament? We may have been through all this already, but even if your item 1 wasn't incorrect, it seems like it contradicts your item 2.

>Is it wrong of me to delight in topalov's failures?

rdh: Far from it. I would call it more of a duty.

...low class... (as usual).

rdh, check your karma...


I left my desk for an hour and when I came back I just couldn't believe what these guys have done to their relatively reasonable positions.

Maybe this is irrational to say, but Eljanov can solely serve as an adequate reason to prove Elo rating inflation. They should strip him of his GM title!!!! (I'm just kidding, but it's an interesting idea, isn't it?)

And also Smeets. OMG! He just got mated! maybe it was a suicide attempt in a desparate position or severe time pressure.

Topalov's queen hunt was quite entertaining. I don't like this guy as most of the chess fans (except maybe Dimi) in this blog, but.. c'mon! He is an original and adventurous chess player and DO NOT forget his legendary come backs when he touches the bottom of the table. This has been his habit for a while now.

Kudos to L'Ami for his win over top seeded Cheparinov and Negi (I had given up on the Indian teenager after his two defeats in the beginning).

"Karma": Another valueless precept of man that has managed to garner too much significance and has nothing whatsoever to do with chess.

It seems that every time a new item is posted by Mig it turns into a debate about who is, is not- but deserves to be, or will be the world champion. Everyone wants to argue about the virtues (or lack thereof) of each "champion". Really, it starts to sound like a bunch of teenage girls arguing about which boy is cutest.

What I would really like to see is how you all think the world champion should be determined. Or, does that title really have any true value anymore? Would chess be better off with a ranking system, based on performance in events during a set "season" (much like golf or tennis)? Then everyone starts fresh each year, earning their position, and those who do not play enough events cannot achieve a higher ranking.

Topalov in better days: "In chess 60 Elo points means a different class altogether.". The difference with Van Wely was 100 Elo points. Does that imply Topalov is in one class, then there is a class below him, and only then there is the class with Van Wely? Or is Van Wely just a single class below Topalov?

The new world champion, Anand, would never make a remark like that.

d_tal I know a bit about the petroff. The line topalov played 8 Nc3 (8 c4 is the main line) he has used before (lost horribly to Polgar with it after blundering in good position) and Gelfand followed his game with Anand (which he lost) "improving" with 12 ...cxd6 just as well as 12 ..Qxd6 appears to lose a pawn to Bxh7 (anand played Re3 - a blindfold game!)his position is ok but he let topalov grab the f5 square which he could have prevented with 15 ..f5 instead of 15 ..Rae8 16 Nh4! Perhaps Gelfand has bad memories of playing f5 as he lost to Grischuk in this same line: 8 Nc3 f5!? The simplest way to play the position after 8 Nc3 is just 0-0 and after 9 h3 Be6 but you need good nerves and preparation as the 2 white bishops are focussed on the k side. The truth is that despite all the moaning the petroff is not that easy to play - its just the great Vlad makes it look that way!!

Thanks Andy, great play by Topalov here as well of course, me thinks. I just read Mihail Mirin's analysis on Chessbase, which is great. It seemed to me that throughout the game, white seemed to be better, and black playing catchup, until the blunder, and I think this is indeed a fair view.

It has just been announced that Robert Fischer died today.....

Define Irony: Dimi invoking karma when RDH is happy about Topalovs failures...

So Dimi, you're a Carson Daly fan too?

Too bad for Pontus..blundering in a dragon position where he was better. Missing the tactic Nf4...Qc4...Bd4...with the knight fork if white captures the bishop..A typical tactic in the fianchetto kid...sicilian dragon..positions. Tactics...tactics... Musta been in time trouble.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on January 16, 2008 3:07 PM.

    Corus 08 r3: Drawfest Monday was the previous entry in this blog.

    Corus r5: Arriba Azerbaijan is the next entry in this blog.

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