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Corus 08 r9: Home Stretch

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Five rounds to go! Can Carlsen hold on? Can Aronian, Kramnik or Anand make a move? Will Kramnik wipe his nose with his hand before shaking Topalov's hand? Today: Ivanchuk-Mamedyarov, Polgar-Radjabov, Topalov-Kramnik, Gelfand-Anand, Leko-Carlsen, Adams-van Wely, Aronian-Eljanov.

Update: Holy heck, Topalov just sacrificed a knight on Kramnik's f7 in the Semi-Slav! Remember when he did that against Kramnik's Petroff, playing the Cochrane quite a few years ago? Nasty stuff from Topalov as usual. Cool.

By the way, nice long (and free) show on Fischer with John Watson and Andy Soltis on Chess.FM here. Also a video piece by Macauley Peterson called "Fischer Remembered" with comments from various Corus GMs on the main page.

Topalov's Masterpiece

Why me? The day I have to get ready to go boat-plane-plane-taxi back home is the day Veselin Topalov plays one of the most remarkable games in years to defeat his arch-enemy Vladimir Kramnik at Corus. It started with an explosive knight sac novelty in the hot Semi-Slav anti-Moscow line that has been all the rage lately. Kramnik had the position after move 11 himself against Aronian a few days ago, in fact, and introduced a great knight sac novelty of his own. Radjabov has played it twice at Corus. But Topalov's amazing 12.Nxf7 is a shot to the heart of the entire system.

The official site quotes Topalov making what is now an almost routine admission, that the novelty was the product of his second, Ivan Cheparinov. More surprising is that they looked at it years ago. That's quite risky these days, as with so many top players (and their identical computers) working on the same line it's unlikely any strong shot will remain undiscovered for long. Topalov played this line occasionally in 2000. He tried it again in 2006 and lost to Vallejo. After that it was adios to Bg5 until today.

One of the measures of a great game is the level of the opponent. Topalov himself has been on the wrong side of what must be a record number of fantastic games in the past decade. His undying fighting spirit and love of complications often lead him to accept unacceptable risks. Of course this philosophy has also given him many days in the sun as well. This win against Kramnik epitomizes Topalov's brilliantly speculative attacking style even if some lines had been analyzed out to move 40 at home. Sure, a computer might point out that 17..Rhg8 offered much better defensive chances for Black, but that's practically the point of Topalov's concept. His opponents aren't computers. They are humans and Topalov believes he can outplay them in dynamic positions where he get a king in his sights. Usually he's right.

I won't waste time with variations Fritz can cut through in a minute. Just play over this game and marvel at the power of the white pieces and the weakness of the black king despite the optically impressive barrier of pawns and the black knight on d5. Turn off your engine and work through the dozens of fantastic lines. Kramnik's defense was not up to its usual caliber, but no one is at his best under siege. (Maybe Anand, probably the best tactical defender in the history of the game.) Kramnik missed several chances to test Topalov's idea and by the time his king came under direct assault his clock was a major factor.

Moving in for the kill, Topalov played for the gallery with a queen sac, 27.cxd5!?, where the prosaic 27.h3 would have done the job efficiently. But with the white king perfectly safe, white pawns on the move in the middle, and the black king still under fire, the result wasn't really in doubt. Truly a gorgeous game. And no, they didn't shake hands. And after this game maybe FIDE should quickly pass a new rule banning handshakes entirely.

While all this was going on, Leko scored his first win by handing Carlsen his first loss. A Breyer exploded into tactics and Leko came out with a strong rook and pawn versus two knights with queens still on the board. Black looked to have enough checks and pressure for good drawing chances, but Carlsen blundered a piece on move 39 and resigned. Adams surprised van Wely with a Sozin but didn't get much. Steady pressure and the neat move 33.Qc3! won a pawn and eventually the game for the Englishman's first win after eight consecutive draws.

Speaking of draws, Ivanchuk somehow managed not to beat Mamedyarov's lousy Grunfeld and so fall to his ninth consecutive split point. Radjabov's Jaenisch Lopez held up to the scrutiny of classical play against Polgar. Anand looked a little better with black against Gelfand and, as usual, that meant a short draw. Similar scenario in Aronian-Eljanov. White was slipping into inferiority and rescued himself with a timely draw offer. Ban the draw offer!


Topalov just sacked his knight on F7 and has an outpost on d6 at move 16. However, it appears as though Kramnik can hold on and make Topalov's pawn structure fall by a simple c5 forcing the exchange of pawns and a weakened knight. I think Kramnik can hold on and win on material.

Topalov-Kramnik looks like a dull one then......

Very tongue-in-cheek humor, rdh.

wow, what a game. Surely Topalov has at least a draw? what do the engines say? Man, Topalov came to play!

Kramnik is great, but we must notice that 1) He started the tournament with 5 out of 8 Whites, and 2) He is playing everyone immediately after Anand tires them out. So perhaps he is not having as good a tournament as some might suggest. We will see how he finishes.

According to a kibitzer on ICC this was first played by Harikrishna (vaguely recall it). can anyone confirm this?

omigawd, queen sac!

It's all over but the crying.

Topalov is frying Kramnik's behind.
He might not be the nicest person in the world, but he surely can play chess.

queen sac was no good. Kramnik just missed 29...Qe2!! with the thread of Qxf1+ and b2!

Eduard, there's a black-squared B on g3. This is nuclear stuff, has Topy been reading Tal's best games collection by any chance??

sorry Eduard, I misunderstood you, yes, that's an interesting line

I don't have a computer to check the analysis but to paraphrase GM Shipov, 29.... Qe2, if sound, is the kind of move that will get you banned from tournament play!

Kramnik is running out of pieces to move.

Instead of cxd5, the simple h3 seemed to win on the spot (so say assorted kibitzers). however, cxd5 certainly is more artistic - if topa wins. if he goofs up, then it is one of those "showy" gestures.

Kramnik is waiting for the audience to leave the room before he resigns.

Anyone have a Rybka eval for the Topalov-Kramnik game?


What a shake by Topalov!

What a shake by Topalov!
-- Posted by: raindeer at January 22, 2008 10:56

Is the game over?

What a beautiful game by Topalov!

After 45 Ng5-e6, -all- the White pieces are converging on the Black a8-king -and- Black has to deal with the White e7-passed pawn.

now it is.
so did they shake hands?

Topalov won. Wow.


Kramnik resigned after 45 Ng5-e6!

What a -MASTERPIECE- by Topalov!

This game is clearly the favorite to win the Best Game Prize for Chess Infomant 101.

"Kramnik is great, but we must notice that 1) He started the tournament with 5 out of 8 Whites, and 2) He is playing everyone immediately after Anand tires them out. So perhaps he is not having as good a tournament as some might suggest. We will see how he finishes."

ROFLOL...this is the newest and most innovative of all excuses I've heard from a Kramnik fan!!

Great game by Topalov today!!!

SUPERB! Well played old boy, good on yer Topy! He must have been saving up this novelty, hadnt got White against Kramnik in a while me thinks. Very well played game.

Can anyone tell me what's going on in the Leko-Carlsen game? It looks as though Magnus is winning! How about 33) ... Ne4

What a great game by Topalov!!...its been a while Kramnik has been beaten like this or has there ever been a game like this against him? No shaking hands and all other side shows are irrelevant, it boils down to who's king on the chess board and cetainly it was Topalov today....freakin awesome stuff.

I am not a Kramnik fan. Those were observations to consider before reaching a conclusion that a 2800 at 5 out of 8 was a good result. You completely misinterpreted my comment. And what is with all the exclamation points?

What a pitty! Carlsen threw away the draw at move 39.. Qd4! would have saved it all. Now it seems he's going down:
Analysis by Fruit 2.2.1:

1. +- (6.51): 41.Kg2 Qg5+ 42.Kf1 Qc1+ 43.Re1 Qc8 44.Kg2 Nd7 45.Qd4+ Nf6 46.Kg1 Qa8 47.Ra1 h6 48.Ra6 Kf8 49.Rxf6 Qc8 50.Qb4+ Kg7
2. +- (5.91): 41.Kh1 Qc1+ 42.Kg2 Qg5+ 43.Kf1 Qc1+ 44.Re1 Qc4+ 45.Kg1 Qc3 46.Qb1 Qc8 47.Qb8 Qc3 48.Rf1 Nd7 49.Qd8 Nb6 50.Qxb6

Topalov should dedicate this game in memory of Fisher

i meant Fischer

Has anyone seen the chessvibes video on the start of Topalov-Kramnik? See the way Topalov "nonchalantly" stares at the bulletin as if he is trying to memorize it! Priceless!

What a shame!! Leko tried as much as possible to force the draw ( :) ), Carlsen rejects it and avoids a repetition and blunders... sad.

Congratulations to Mr. Topalov, I am sure he was waiting a long time for this, especially with a Kramnik in good form (who explicitly said he wants to win this Corus). Unfortunately for him, this didn't happened in the WCC match.

After Carlsens loss its now anyones pick. Even Topailov (even score) have a decent chance of winning, hope he wont though.
We are in for an exiting last 4 rounds.
Kramnik white against Gelfand and Carlsen and black in the last round against Anand, where i do predict a handshake.

Today's performance by TOPA THE GREAT was just a reminder about who is the REAL BOSS :))

Isn't the real boss the one with the world title?

Good game by Topalov. Shows that the fortress can be taken down with
the right mindset and preparation.

Good to see Cheparinov win too.

Sad to see the no handshake again. Reading through the Bulgarian
forums, the patience is wearing real thin with this stupid display of
past grudges.

Reading through the forums, see a lot of negative, ugly comments
directed at Kramnik today. This is sad and comes from the kind of
miniature brains that love to pour their live frustrations on the
players and the game. For the record - IMO, Kramnik is a favorite in
his match against Anand. He gets most dangerous when underestimated.


It is worth noting at this juncture that Kramnik is +1 and Topalov is even.

Games remaining become a factor:
vs. Radjabov (5)
vs. Mamedyarov (4.5)
vs. Eljanov (3)
vs. Adams (5)
Total: 17.5

vs. Gelfand (3)
vs. Leko (4.5)
vs. Carlsen (5.5)
vs. Anand (5)
Total 18

Although only 1/2 point difference, I'd say Kramnik has the tougher road to walk...

Very impressive game by Topalov.

All computer home prepared ofcourse, but that's something we must get used to in modern chess.

I'm no Topa fan, but you've got to give the guy his due for today's victory. I'd call this game the Bulgarian Evergreen.

Before move 1 Kramnik should have offered a Handshake Gambit--that may have forestalled Topa's knight and queen sacs.

With look at all upcoming ( remaining) games. I think its Aronian who has the easiest task. So he can be a real winner at the end. His opponnets are at 17.5 and he is already half point ahead of anand and kramnik. Carlsen has toughest opponents. he will be playing both Anand and Kramnik. So I think it will be Aronian who will win this one.

Anand has white against Kramnik & Leko and black against van Wely and Carlsen. He has a decent chance of tieing for first perhaps with Aronian. Topalov has a potential bakra (goat) in Eljanov. Kramnik and Carlsen have the toughest draws.

God, please make me play chess like topalov!!
your humble servant,

Agree with Mark. Kramnik's got the tougher road compared to Topalov. That man's got cojones, by the way, to try such stuff against Mr. Cool himself. Topalov's got genius, no one can deny that. He's the closest to Tal among this bunch.

I too have to give Topolov accolades for his performance today. My question is: What was Kramnik thinking by playing that variation of the Slav against a sac meister and aggressive player like Topolov? Who wants to give home field advantage to your opponent otb? Imo, Kramnik was asking for it and Topolov said...all right then.

Those two have been slugging it out in the Semi-Slav Botvinnik system for years. One of my all time favorite games is


when the two of them drew in one of the craziest games I've ever seen on a chessboard. So no surprise that they still are going at it. They'll probably keep at it when they're both in the Veteran's category.

Simply great chess!

Only sad that nationalism and chess politics come in to pollute our esthetic enjoyment of it. I hope (without hope, as JRRT would say) that everyone will calm down now.


I know and agree with you. I just can't figure out why Kramnik wants to continue to play something that is the antithesis of his style of play. I'm a technical player (why I like him so much) and I too tried that variation as black a few times (what was I thinking). It was a study in sorrow for me.

After round 9 the field has panned out nicely with a pleasing symmetry, to wit: there are two players leading on 5.5 (Aronian and Carlsen), four players following with 5 (Anand, Adams, Radjabov and Kramnik), four more behind at 4.5 (Topalov, Leko, Mamedyarov and Ivanchuk), two players at 4 (Polgar, van Wely) and lastly two more bearing the wooden spoons (Gelfand, Eljanov).

"The two [Kramnik, Topa] did not shake hands before the game, as neither one offered his first, but they would have obliged if one would have been offered."

Maybe God is Bulgarian after all? Great game.

Well, he does play like a chess god sometimes. Amazing to see Kramnik (in good shape lately) looking so lost, so early in the game...

Great game by Topalov. These Semi-Slav positions make my head spin. Seems to me that Semi-Slav players, however technical-minded they be, are forced to play sharp positions after Bg5- I have rarely seen QGD Orthodox or Cambridge Springs transpositions at this level. I'm surprised that you guys are paying so little attention to Carlsen and Aronian? They ARE in the lead...or does nobody think they will hold on? My money is on Anand :)

Pressconf shows that cheparinov prepared to move 40 in some variations!!

If God was Bulgarian, why would he haven invented Bulgaria?

Kramnik has to blame himself. If he managed to distribute his time properly, he wouldn't miss a beautiful draw: 29...Qe2!!

>Pressconf shows that cheparinov prepared to move 40 in some variations!!>

Chess is dead, as Bobby would have it if he could.

My understanding is that those deeply analyzed lines were not played today. Deep analysis, for sure, if that's what it takes to have any degree of clarity on such a nasty and early sacrificial novelty in order to play it against someone like Kramnik at such a venue. Kramnik’s repertoire with Black is so carefully selected and refined over a decade of play that it would take who knows what kinds of novelties and alternative lines to break that fortress. Probably, the only way to succeed is to drag him into a FischerRandom type of position. I am sure Anand realizes that and probably nobody will crack something interesting in these tournaments, considering the matches that are coming up in the Fall.


Nice video from Peterson. I found Anand's remark about Fischer still using a pocket chess set when they met two years ago amusing but sad. Time (technology) stops for no man, especially when one is set in his ways.

People seem to forget the whole game (Kramnik-Topalov) was preparation.

By Cheparinov.

In the video analysis, Topa refutes . . . Qe2, no? He says the R goes from c6-c3-b3 and the black b-pawn is under control.

Topa also says that he (and Cheparinov!) were saving this line for so long that it was impossible for him to remember all the variations at the board.

I believe that Topalov had to do a lot of work at the board. In my view, his victory is in no way diminished because he had prepared a lot of the ideas ahead of time.


"Veselin Topalov gave the press conference of the day and he attributed his win against Vladimir Kramnik to a three year old novelty 12.Nxf7! which was found and been developed by Ivan Cheparinov. He said he didn't have any involvement in its creation. Topalov has been waiting for the right moment to unleash this novelty and today was it. Cheparinov was in the press conference later on and he said that some of the lines go to move 40."

Great game by Topalov. He has now won 3 games equal with the leaders, he might just be able to catch them if he has a good run home.

Here is list of how many games each of the players has won:

3 wins
Aronian, Carlsen and Topalov

2 wins
Kramnik, Radjabov, and Anand

1 win
Adams, Mamedyrov, Leko, Polgar, Van Wely

Yet to chalk up a win
Ivanchuk, Gelfand and Eljanov

And here is the score board:

1. Aronian 5½
2. Carlsen 5½
3. Kramnik 5
4. Adams 5
5. Radjabov 5
6. Anand 5

It's not so romantic, but this sort of deep home preparation is now a big part of chess at the top, and I wouldn't call Topalov's roll only one of moving the pieces. Besides, I seem to recall a few days ago Kramnik catching Aronian with a nice prepared novelty (though he didn't finish so cleanly).

As expected from Chessbase, their report was something like: "Topalov used a novelty from someone else, so he didn't have to make extra work and he won just because Kramnik -who was better during the game- fell in time trouble and missed draws in several moves."

What would be said in Chessbase if Kramnik or Anand would have won that game. Or if Topalov would have won this game in 2005?

Cheparinov + 3-year old novelty = win for Topalov over Kramnik

So now that this novelty is out of the box, any analysis on whether Black does have any chance at all?

It should be called "Variation Cheparinov" from now on. It may turn out to be shallow, or probably deep -- but regardless, unless we direct the computers through human creativity we won't be able to know more...


Mig wrote: {nice long (and free) show on Fischer with John Watson and Andy Soltis on Chess.FM here.}


- - - - - -
Soltis mentioned that Peter Faulk and Milos Forman wanted to make a movie about Spassky-Fischer 1972, and they wanted both Spassky and Fischer to portray themselves. Spassky agreed. Fischer wanted to see the movie set. When they arrive at the set, Fischer spent the whole time hiding in a trailer.

- - - - - - -
Soltis and Watson disagreed whether the modern PC and chess database would have been more of a help to Fischer than it is to today's grandmasters. Watson argued that Fischer's exceptional memory would have had more info to devour. Soltis counter-argued that Fischer's preference for a narrow but deep opening repertoire would be a failed strategy in today's environment.

- - - - - - -
Soltis noted that several of the longest games ever(?) played have occurred recently. Soltis says the Fischer delay clock is the reason.

- - - - - -
Regarding today's game Topalov-Kramnik...
David Long wrote (20:04): {It's not so romantic, but this sort of deep home preparation is now a big part of chess at the top}

At the 1:25+ mark Andy Soltis predicts that 30 years from now half of the big money tournaments will be Fischer Random.
Watson says it does not matter whether chess or FRC is better. The accumulation of opening knowledge de facto makes chess better because it has turned chess into a "science".

Watson says "modern players have to spend sooo much time on openings, which is too bad in some ways".

Soltis says "vested interests" resist FRC.
Watson says planned opening preparation is necessary for chess play so good that it reaches the level of being "profound". (Dvoretsky/Jan 2008 only half agrees with Watson.)

I would argue that while prepared chess opening play is extremely precise, 98% of those precise moves are repetitive among games year after year.
Topalov's great move today 12. Ne5:f7! gave us one very great and exciting move in the opening. But did it really give us excitement during the whole opening? Was not most of the opening reasonably familiar?

How often do we see a grandmaster spring a strong new opening 'system' that starts on say move-pair 4 or 5, and which then runs as planned for several move-pairs?: Extremely rare.

(The ensuing middle game was sharp and a pleasure to replay. But surely the chess realm has plenty of exciting middle game play beyond moves foreseen at home. Great middle game play is not dependent on deeply home-prepared moves.)

- - - - -
chesstraveller wrote (14:26): {What was Kramnik thinking by playing that variation of the Slav against a sac meister and aggressive player like Topolov?}

Maybe Kramnik was thinking "I should use this opportunity to flush out any novelties Topalov has, in case he beats Kamsky and I beat Anand".

It should be called The Bulgarian Variation ... discovered by one, and played by another.

A great game but sadly only adds to the mounting evidence of the demise of chess as a competetive sport. The fact is that technology has caught up with chess and it is dying a slow death between the double blows of computer-aided cheating and computer-aided analysis.

The game played by Topalov is spectacular and an immense pleasure. It is also virtually meaningless as a measure of his playing ability. The appropriate analogy is with the world of pop music where employing a great producer and the latest tricks can ensure at the very least a solid album and from time to time some great music, regardless of the supposed performance talent or lack thereof. By way of a controversial point, Paris Hilton's album is quite good pop music (and I do acknowledge that this is not great and the real action in music these days is in electronica, disco revival, mnml tecno and what not, but for its genre Paris's album is awesome). Why is this different from Topalov who goes out and employes a great researcher, Cheparinov, and a get himself a good computer?

A beautiful game, yes, but to call Topalov a great player on this kind of evidence is ridiculous. The problem modern chess faces that this goes for almost everyone, possibly Moro excluding - great computers, lots of prep, deep memory: where is the love?

FischerRandom is indeed starting to makie sense, good old Bob had his moments of insight after all.

I'd like to see detractors of Topalov's performance try and play the white side of this opening (after Nxf7) against a very strong opponent. There was no certainty of a white win against a super GM like Kramnik. The risks were enormous and full credit to Topalov for the gamble and the follow up play. A beautiful game and a modern classic for sure.

For goodness sake, Alekhine won many game through opening surprises - it's nothing new.

Anybody who thinks that the latest Engine running on a fast computer and an ordinary chess talent makes for a super GM is sadly deluded. I do agree that it has become easier for folks to analyse, and the general knowledge of the game has increased. The difference with your Paris Hilton analogy is that Paris wont be able to sing live. Topalov can play live, and with the best of them, even in lines where he doesnt have any competitive edge from preanalysis using an engine.

So Eli, if your theory is correct, why not set yourself a target, such as become a GM in 6 months perhaps? Let us know how that turns out.

I agree that the level of opening preparation is quickly reaching a stage where the whole thing becomes ridiculous.
But I also think Watson has a very good point in that opening preparation is necessary for high quality games. That's the reason why I'm a bit sceptical towards FischerRandom (or Chess960).
I like working on openings. It's not so much about learning moves - it's about plans, the right squares for the pieces, about generally understanding the type of position at hand. I would miss this in FischerRandom.

That's why I favor an old proposition by Kasparov: Just pick another fixed starting position.

It's not clear to me what this has to do with the problems of modern chess preparation. Obviously the computer took part in the analisis, but the idea did not came orignially from it, or otherwise any of the other top players playing the line would have also found it. Regarding the fact that it was Cheparinov and not Topalov the one who found it, do you think all the novelties by Kasparov, Karpov or any other were found by themselves, while their seconds just prepared dinner? Moreover, from the end of the preparation (don't know at what point), Topalov continued to play superbly.

Look at Timman-Ljubojevic!
Timman is playing the same knight sacrifice as Topalov.
I wonder if Ljubojevic has found the refutation during his sleep.

The time usage in Timman-Ljubojevic is bizarre. Ljubojevic has spent almost an hour before making one new move (the 17... Rhg8 suggested by Topalov) and even Timman has wasted about 20 min.

Not on the same level as Topalov-Kramnik, perhaps, but Ljubojevic-Korchnoi in the Honorary group yesterday was also quite a bit of fun (all four knights attacked by pawns at one point, with general insanity).

absolute mad g4 pawn on the Van Wely - Carlsen board!

nigel wins again w/ one of his playchess openings...

Poor Vav Wely! What a turn of events. Credit Magnus for confusing the issue and giving Loek a chance to go wrong.

Magnus is enroute to win Corus but he still have some tough opposition for the next three round (Anand, Kramnik and Radjabov).

d_tal 06:54 wrote: {Anybody who thinks that the latest Engine running on a fast computer and an ordinary chess talent makes for a super GM is sadly deluded.

Chatting with Watson, Soltis said that Fischer disputed and challenged the then prevailing theory that grandmasters must strive to find the single best move in each position. The Soviets were striving for perfection.
Instead said Soltis, Fischer argued that he could win at the elite level just by making 40 consecutive good moves, and avoiding mistakes.

That describes my understanding of why computer chess engines now routinely defeat grandmasters: they do not make mistakes. Computers are now king even tho they more-than-rarely make moves that grandmasters consider to be suboptimal.

GM Susan Polgar recently told me (at her Univ of Wash. visit) that she and other grandmasters are confident that Rybka would lose to a human grandmaster aided by itself. If true, we can deduce that there are moves that computers play that are subpar by GM standards or are not quite great, yet apparently they are moves good enuf to defeat an unaided GM.

That sounds like Soltis' description of Fischer's theory.

I don't understand Soltis's quote of what he thinks Fischer was arguing as reported by GeneM.

Fischer wasn't one to "make 40 consecutive good moves" and not look for the very best move. He was very much into accuracy and precision. He wanted to kill the other player and do it as brutally and accurately as he could.

It wasn't Fischer was anti-precision and Soviets were pro-precision at all, that's a gross misstatement in my opinion. In fact, within the Soviet ranks, there were some deep thinkers and some pragmatists - not a Fischer vs "them".

I really enjoy this kind of unbalanced chess which we observe in Corus.
Carlsen lost a very interesting drawn game against Leko yesterday and today he emerged as the winner in a completely lost and ridiculous position out of a Volga gambit.
Excitement is in its highest level possible.
Chuky is not exactly in a fighting mode these days and I think his main goal in Corus was not to shed more rating points as he was busy doing in recent months. Today he showed some nice technique against his countryman.

It has been years since any one referred to Volga gambit as Volga gambit. Thanks Artin.

If Carlsen does win this tournament finishing against Anand, Kramnik and Radjaov, then I would consider it one of the greatest performances ever by a young player. Every bit as comparable to what Kasparov and Fischer accomplished at a similar age.

Absolutely. Even if he ends second, the impact Carlsen already has in these tournaments sets him up as the new Fischer/Kasparov type of 800lbs. gorilla to be reckoned with... The game against Van Wely looked almost easy on replay...


>GM Susan Polgar recently told me (at her Univ of Wash. visit) that she and other grandmasters are confident that Rybka would lose to a human grandmaster aided by itself. >

The human grandmaster won't be able to held himself back and just watch be he will start interfering with Rybka decisions.
No matter how good Rybka is she can't draw
herself when hampered.

An interesting finding from a german computer chess forum: 12.Nxf7 has been played before, in an ICCF correspondence chess game, in 2005 or 2006:

[Event "ICCF XVII Olympiad Preliminaries - Sect"]
[Site "ICCF"]
[Date "2006.01.10"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Nacu, Miron"]
[Black "Brodda, Wolfgang"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D43"]
[PlyCount "99"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bh4 dxc4 7. e4 g5 8. Bg3 b5
9. Be2 Bb7 10. O-O Nbd7 11. Ne5 Bg7 12. Nxf7 Kxf7 13. f4 b4 14. f5 exf5 15.
Bxc4+ Ke7 16. Rxf5 bxc3 17. bxc3 Rf8 18. h4 c5 19. dxc5 Qc8 20. Bd6+ Kd8 21.
Bb5 Bxe4 22. Bxd7 Qxd7 23. Bxf8 Bxf8 24. Rxf6 Bxc5+ 25. Kh2 Rb8 26. Qxd7+ Kxd7
27. Re1 Bc6 28. Rd1+ Kc7 29. Rf7+ Kc8 30. Rf6 Rb6 31. Rb1 Ra6 32. Rxh6 gxh4 33.
Rb2 Be7 34. Rh8+ Bd8 35. Rb4 Kc7 36. Rh7+ Bd7 37. Rc4+ Rc6 38. Ra4 a6 39. Rd4
Rd6 40. g3 hxg3+ 41. Kxg3 Kc6 42. Rxd6+ Kxd6 43. Rh6+ Be6 44. c4 Bb6 45. Kf4
Bc5 46. Ke4 Kd7 47. Rh7+ Kd6 48. Rh6 Kd7 49. Rh7+ Kd6 50. Rh6 1/2-1/2

ICCF game archive:

Yes, Marin mentioned that. Interesting that the follow-up, in that game as well as in another correspondence game afterwards, was 13.f4 instead of the "obvious" and natural 13.e5.


d_tal, no one is arguing I could become a GM, let alone in six months. Topalov is obviously an incredibly talended chess player. (It would however be interesting to see what your views are with regard to the second echelone of grandmasters - is say Boris Avrukh + computer prep a better chessplayer than say Cheparinov w/o one? Or vice versa).

The point about the slow death of competitive chess is that the ubiquity of computer analysis is a net negative. I take fully the point made by chessplayer: of course Kasparov was not coming up with his novelties alone, that is precisely my point - the current situation is indeed a continuation of the process set in place by Fischer, Karpov and especially Garry w/r/t to extreme levels of prep. The problem now is that at least before it was Kasparov et al whereas now we have no good way of knowing whether it was Cheparinov's genius or his computer. How do we even know he came up with Nxf7 based on his assessment of the position i.e. talent or whether he simply put in random moves into Rybka and let it sit there for a few hours or days crunching the lines? With Nxf7 being one of dozens of silly-looking moves that were simply crunched thorugh by a computer and happens - completely fortuitously - to be a good move? What stops you from doing that?

So, in the end, to become a mid-level grandmaster takes less talent than before and more grit and memorisation of lines analysed by Rybka or Fritz.

Not to mention that this is an extreme turn off for kids: what you are saying is that you may work on your game for decades, be as talented as Kramnik and come up agains computer analysis to move 40 where you have no chance. Why would you want to become a chessplayer then? Again, where is the love/soul in that?

P.S. As I say it is a double whammy: consider computer-aided cheating too.

P.P.S. So, do you think I could learn to sing like Paris in six months then? :)

"The game against Van Wely looked almost easy on replay..."


I believe some people is overestimating the effect of knowing opening novelties (either found by a computer or just by the imagination of a human player) in chess. Besides, since when hard work (to work and came up with opening ideas) is not "fashionable"?

I remember a game in a friendly game I played eight years ago, my friend who came up with a interesting sacrifice in a Ruy Lopez ... I spent a lot of time trying to decide what to do, I played on and at the end I won the game. Then, when I asked my friend how did he get the idea (which by judging from the game I believed it was unsound), he said that this was a novelty Kasparov used against Anand in the 10th game of the WCC match in 1995, but he said that I made very different moves compared to Anand's ... we analyzed (and I did that recently with a computer) and of course my moves were inferior ones but my opponent didn't knew what to do...

This is for saying that you can't expect to become a top player by memorize opening lines. If you analyze several lines after a novelty with great depth, what would happen if your opponent play different moves (even if they are inferior)? You need to understand the positions and calculate well in order to improvise and refute your opponent's ideas and plans; having this ability and understanding takes years or decades to develop, and this is what makes you a good player.

On the internet, for example, nowadays we see people playing the opening like GMs after learning some of the latest developments of opening theory ... but when you leave theory and memorization, you often see a lot of terrible moves (aka "Van Wely moves" :) ) from the side who had a conclusive advantage -or even a forced mate- and it end up losing.

Sorry about the typos, I was writing (and "correcting" what I wrote before) too fast.

Topalov said that all moves from this game up to move 21 were part of analysis, and only after that he started his calculations OTB. At that moment Kramnik had already spent 1:30 and forced himself into huge time trouble.

Sandor - of course, I agree with you. Memorising opening moves does - in and of itself - make you a great player.

To state the obvious, chess has always had an aspect of reliance on memorisation, home preperation and the like. This applies to all three of opening theory, endgame play, and strategy. Now, my argument is that with the introduction of computer-aided analysis, two things have suffered:

(1) reward for true raw talent has diminished since computer-derived novelties and endgame preparation mask players' lack of actual playing ability - take sandorchess's own example of 'Van Wely' moves - and at the top level creates a degree (a degree I stress, my argument is not an absolute one) of competition w/r/t whose computer's computational power is superior rather than pure playing ability. It is naive to think that you could get away from prepared lines by simply 'playing something else': that assumes Topalov memorises computer lines for Semi-Slav only but the fact is that he does so for a wide variety of opening lines, endgame positions, typical middle game set ups and so forth. The difference between Topalov and your game with your friend is that if your friend was Topalov who would have run the alternative lines through a computer as well, that's all.

Not even Morozevich can get away from it: he is brilliant at taking people to position to that are less likely to have been analysed prior by the opponent, not positions who has not analysed with a computer himself.

(2) Chess is slowly becoming hollowed out making it at even more esoteric, ascetic and, for lack of a better euphemism, loveless. Innovation / brilliance at the board is becoming progressively rarer: the simple fact is that the line or the position type has probably been analysed to the death back in the lab. To say as someone in the thread did that Topalov took huge risks is blind to the fact that actually he and Cheparinov and Fritz analysed all or almost all of it three years ago at home and the risk of Topalov failing was minimal. Yes, Kramnik could have through genius, luck or superior prep come up with a superior line - ask yourself about the likelihood of that.

This is not about hard work not being 'fashionable', with respect that line of argument is a misinterpretation of what I am saying, it is about finding realy beauty in chess - and beauty resides in suprising, innovative, creative chess and not in computer prep (I know that the Topalov game is beautiful - but it is also a symptom). I direct you here to Herman Hesse' 'The Glass Bead Game'.

Of course, we patzers are still enjoiyng our chess - but we find our novelties at the board mainly and we derive pleasure from that. What pleasure Topalov had from playing out computer analysis is not clear to me (other than the malicious pleasure of beating Kramnik).

Not to mention questions w/r/t to whether chess is approaching a point where it will become progressively more and more 'solved'.

>"Kramnik is great, but we must notice that 1) He >started the tournament with 5 out of 8 Whites, >and 2) He is playing everyone immediately after >Anand tires them out. So perhaps he is not having >as good a tournament as some might suggest. We >will see how he finishes."

"ROFLOL...this is the newest and most innovative of all excuses I've heard from a Kramnik fan!!

Great game by Topalov today!!!"
-Posted by: Anand Nair at January 22, 2008 11:10

Please learn to read. If anything, that was a dig at Kramnik. And I won't even bother saying anything about this 'ROFLOL' crap.

That should be 'memorising opeining lines' does NOT make you a great player in teh first line above...

Sorry about my typos too :)

Eli, your concerns are valid, but misplaced in this context. A computer would never play Nxf7-- a piece sac for, let's face it, rather vague compensation.... the sort of compensation a computer does not compute, if any exists. Such a move is a step away from the "loveless" dried out boring style of chess that you condemn so harshly. Such a move is a counterexample to the theory that chess is becoming "solved".

Besides, Topalov played the very Romantic and "human" move cxd5, unnecessarily sacrificing his queen. A computer would have won in clinical fashion. Did you even look at the game???? It was anything BUT sterile and loveless.

I think this particular game undermines your point, which is generally valid.


Why do you care so much about the influence of computers on high level chess? As far as I'm concerned, high level players are entertainers and I am a consumer of chess entertainment. I don't give a rat's ass on how strong GMs play the way they do -- I just sit back and enjoy artistic creations like Topalov's sacrificial game.

As far as my play is concerned, I am not affected in the least. Since I will never be in the top 0.01% of chess players where your argument may hold, I will continue to make unsound, but fun sacrifices, play suboptimal, but playable opening moves -- and enjoy doing it.

If anything, the strength of chess computers makes you appreciate that chess is far from a dead game, that there is enough complexity in chess. That not even strong GMs can hold their own against computers shows that there will always be interesting positions to play -- and this is certainly true at lower than GM level.


Alex, extremely well said, I agree 100%.

Oh boy. Alex, of course you enjoy your chess. I do mine. See with regard to that toward the end of the post at 22:09. The whole thread applies to top level, competetive chess only anyway - I made clear at the beggining I thought :)

And of course the Topalov game is beautiful - I thought I started with the premise that it gives us, chess enthusiasts (consumers of chess entertainment, eh) immense pleasure - again, see above.

On the other hand, I enjoy cycling too. I appreciate Lance Armstrong's achievements. I am not so sure about the health of cycling, the sport though.

I am just not sure it is particularly entertaining seeing 40-move preparation put into practice. Try selling that to ESPN if you believe in the chess as entertainment argument.

Say, they created a tennis machine played like Federer, or better. Would you want to watch the machine or Federer the man? And hey, the machine would even play some interesting rallies. And you would still enjoy playing tennis yourself on Sunday mornings too. But you would stop being interested in watching top level tennis and that is what may happen to chess.

Think of the Topalov game as this beautiful, unbelievable 40-shot rally. And now think that every shot in that rally was preordained, that it involved no creativity, no split second decision-making and no real risk taking. All that it leaves me with is a shrug of the shoulders.

This is where we are heading, gradually.

Eli, darling, relax. -- you can spend every minute until your last
breath analyzing the game with the most powerful computer at your
disposal and you won't even come close to scratching the surface of
exhausting the possibilities. Particularly if you inject some human
creativity in the process. The mathematics here are astrophysical...
Chess played by humans will not become predictable anytime soon.
Human relations can be disgustingly predictable, but Chess no,
never... Enjoy the game and stop dwelling on irrelevant concerns.


@Eli: You may be correct in general, but on this one novelty you got it wrong: Computer analysis is not likely to find it. The idea is too deep, too positional.
Having seen how Topalov won, the knight sac now seems convincing and strong. But that has much to do with Topalov's playing ability, and it has to do with his professional approach to prepare and choose lines. In the last few years he showed many stunning ways to load normal lines with complicated positional sacrifices. That's a rare ability in itself.

Fischer Random: I don't see the point in it. It just would start a new arms race. The chess computers now are not big enough to deal with the extra bit of complexity. So they would use supercomputers again, for some years, until the software is smart enough, and/or the hardware cheap enough, to do it with a PC program. In the meantime, those GMs with access to a big machine would have an edge. The influence of the computer will probably be higher, because no one could learn from past games, just from (computer) analysis. The best way to find out about specific start positions would be to do big computer tournaments to get insights how lines develop.

The knight sac is frontpage news on today's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of Germany's most serious newspapers. I wonder if that ever happened before...

Chessmaster XI says black draws if white sacrifices the knight:

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 dxc4 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 9.Be2 Bb7 10.O-O Nbd7 11.Ne5 Bg7 12.Nxf7 Kxf7 13.e5 Nd5
14.Ne4 Rb8 15.Bh5+ Ke7 16.f4 Qb6 17.fxg5 Rbf8 18.Qd2 Kd8 19.Nd6 Kc7 20.Nf7 hxg5 21.Bg4 c5 22.Nxh8 Rxh8 23.Rf7 Bf8 24.Bf2 Kc8
25.Rd1 Qc6 26.a3 Bh6 27.Kh1 Kb8 28.Kg1 b4 29.axb4 cxb4 30.Qc2 b3 31.Qg6 c3 32.bxc3 Nxc3 33.d5 Qa4 34.Qxe6 Nxd1 35.Rxd7 Nc3 36.h3
b2 37.Qd6+ Ka8 38.Rd8+ Bc8 39.Rxh8 b1=Q+ 40.Kh2 Qf4+ 41.Bg3 Qxg3+ 42.Kxg3 Ne4+ 43.Kh2 Nxd6 44.exd6 Qb2 45.Rxc8+ Kb7 46.d7 Qe5+
47.g3 Qb2+ 48.Kh1 Qa1+ 49.Kg2 Qa2+ 50.Kf3 Qxd5+ 51.Kf2 Qd4+ 52.Ke2 Qe5+ 53.Kf3 Qf6+ 54.Ke4 Qe7+ 55.Kd5 Qf7+ 56.Ke4 Qe7+ 57.Kd5
Qf7+ 58.Ke4 Qe7+ 1/2-1/2

Dimi just called me darling... I think that effectively puts an end to the debate... :)


Getting back to my view of why Kramnik shouldn't play that variation of the semi-slav against Topolov.

Looking through a database back to 91, he does okay with it against lesser Gm's and IM's but is -4 with it against more formidable opposition. Top 20 or so. Why he chooses to play something as sharp and tactical as that, especially against someone like Topolov is beyond me but he must have his reasons?


I think the idea of Fischer Random is tha there is no way a GM couldn't possibly memorize opening lines for all the possible starting positions so the computer analysis wouldn't be that useful if there is simply to much memorize.

You never what starting position you wil get.

chesstraveler, Don't know if that's the case here, but if the variation virtually guarantees him a draw, the cumulative score would be misleading. It might be a line he would never play when in need of a win, but a very solid one if he is playing for a draw? Does it have a very low decisive percentage?

Hello Yuriy,

The draw rate is higher than both win rates-white being somewhat higher than black-but not enough imo to guarantee a draw; but apparently enough that Kramnik feels comfortable playing it. Still, those wild positions, once again imo, do not suit his style of play. Then again, he's world class and I'm, according to x y, an amateur who shouldn't be entitled to these opinions.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on January 22, 2008 7:26 AM.

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