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Corus 2008 Is Here!

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Almost. Saturday marks the start of my favorite event of the year that doesn't involve nudity. The Corus tournament in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands is a true chess fest and a true chess feast. Three groups of fourteen players each, plus assorted amateur events, add up to plenty of drama and at least a few good games every day. They also provide adequate and reliable web coverage. The Dutch site ChessVibes has been running little group previews and we hope they provide the post-mortem videos everyone enjoyed so much last year.

Of course most of the attention is on Group A and in that, the top three players in the world: Kramnik, Anand, and Topalov. All three participated last year as well. Do you remember which of them was one of the three players who tied for first? Moving down the rating list, new Russian champ Morozevich is sitting this one out, as is his compatriot Svidler. Then we come to Mamedyarov, who has yet to really impress in a supertournament, Leko, a former Corus winner, and the ever-unpredictable Ivanchuk. Radjabov and Aronian tied for first with Topalov last year and are back again. Both will find it very hard to match their +4 scores of a year ago.

Boris Gelfand's 2735 rating marks the start of the second half of the field, an impressive stat. And you can't have a tournament without Magnus Carlsen, who will surely improve on his atrocious -4, no-win performance here a year ago. It will be interesting to see Adams and Polgar in action. They had one supertournament between them in 2007 and despite their well-known quality it's getting harder every year to say they still have what it takes to make it back to the top ten with the youngsters coming up. Ukraine's Eljanov won the B Group last year to qualify. He's a hacker who won't go winless but could put up losses in streaks. Sticking with that topic, van Wely is about the only Dutchman who can play in the A Group without getting pawn odds these days. The hosts are still praying for Stellwagen and L'Ami to make a move before Sokolov and van Wely start collecting pensions. At least Tiviakov isn't here. He used white to play one short draw after another last year.

Radjabov's King's Indian rocked the Wijk last year and he jumped out to an early lead. Then his incomprehensible conservative streak showed up and he needed a late win over Motylev to take a share of first. If he's going to win more of these events and get back into the top ten to stay he's going to need more killer instinct. Or never lose, but only Kramnik can get away with that. And speaking of Big Vlad, he made it look very easy at the Tal Memorial in November. He's always had trouble, relatively speaking, at Wijk because the large field means someone is always going to get hot and put up +4, a number that is usually outside the range of his conservative style. But that's just what he scored at the Tal, so we'll see.

Anand, oddly enough, seems like the wildcard to me. He's won this event four times and it's easy to say that the world champ should score +3 just by getting up every morning, and +5 is clearly in his range. But these long events get tougher every year for the older generation, although 2007 was practically a victory march for veterans. (A point Garry Kasparov expounds on in his upcoming review/preview article in New In Chess.) Vishy finished a full point behind the winners last year and he'll have to show more fire to keep up the pace.

With all the top stars showing such good form lately it's hard to imagine any breakouts this time. If you're looking for surprises and big scores you might be better directed to the B and C, where massive scores are routine. Several veterans of the A Group are down there, including Bacrot, Short, and Krasenkow. You might remember the rainbow hair of Dimitri Reinderman in the A Group in 1999 (scoring 3 points); This year he's back and in the C Group. Everyone will be watching supertots Caruana, Negi, Nepomniachtchi, and Hou Yifan. And of course Black Belt newsletter annotator extraordinaire Irina Krush! Go Brooklyn!

I'm going to brave the vagaries of the Bahamian internet to attempt some live commentary at ICC Chess.FM, which is always a good time, at least for me. Games start at 13:30 local time, that's 7:30am EST, bright and early. Yawn.


Yes Corus is here! It will be an exciting tournament. As usual I wanna provide a series of links where info can be found

http://coruschess.com/ official site
http://www.chessvibes.com/ post mortem vidos
http://www.chessdom.com/ live commentary
http://susanpolgar.blogspot.com/ possibly more info on Krush or Fabiano
http://www.chessgames.com/ discussions on the competition

I am sure there are a lot more resources out there. And that makes corus even better ;)

The usual fine combination of information, insight and entertainment - unique in the Chess Blogosphere. Thank you.
May I encourage you to publish a book of your best pieces?

Actually, yes, that's a good idea! I printed out a copy of your classic MoC (Mig-On-Chess) article about Short with the yellow hair when it appeared and have read it evey now and then for a pick-me-up! Its a positive gem. Mig, a book from you is long overdue..

Can we have a link to Short with yellow hair? Or the text?

Just read Anand's bio on the Corus website. I already knew he was a very strong player but his score in the German league is just out of this world ;-)

" ...and scored a strong 4.5/4 in the German league, but had to settle for a tie for second in Dortmund."

what happened to "corus won't bore us"?
i recall that was recycled over the ages.

Greater participation from India!

There are 4 players from India and 11 players from Netherlands participanting in the three groups at Corus. Of these, 8 Dutch players are rated below the average strength of the respective groups! But I don't grudge the players from the host country getting more participation, I only wish that three equally or higher rated younger Indian grandmasters would have replaced players from other countries. Krishnan Sasikiran (rated 2677, born in 1981) could have replaced Sergey Movsesian (2677, 1978) as the 3rd seed in Group B and Sandipan Chanda (2593, 1983) and Surya Shekhar Ganguli (2579, 1983) could have replaced Efstratios Grivas (2509, 1966) and Li Shilong (2502, 1977) in Group C. After all, Corus is now part of Tata Steel, an Indian Company. Naturally, underpriveleged but deserving Indian chessplayers would hope for better opportunities.

I hope that at least in Corus 2009, we would be seeing greater participation from India.

Are Tata Steel and Corus organisers listening!

do the games start tomorrow or just the opening ceremony?


"Don't *#?! with our chess tournament" was one of the key points of the Tata takeover negotiations.

Hansie, A very interesting observation indeed. Corus is now an Indian company. It looks like Tata Steel, the acquirer of Corus are not looking at this even very seriously. After all, in India Cricket is the only game on the planet. Even though Anand is God to chess players, he is as well known as probably the 100th ranked Indian cricketer. Hope they listen to you :-)


I don't know what you're complaining about : 4 Indian players seems more than reasonable to me.
What about Russians : 1 in group A, 1 in group B;
that's it !
Russia is a much stronger chess nation than India.
And no Russians in Linares, neither in M-Tel.
In Sofia , there's clearly a ban on russian players. When reading interviews with Danailov/Topalov, one understands easily the strong dislike they have for the leading russian chess players.
Regarding Corus and Linares, it's more coincidence i suspect and not deliberately.

Kramnik, Anand and Topalov all have only 6 whites.

Tata's too busy promoting its new $2500.00 "automobile" to focus on Corus at this time. A 50mpg, 60mph deathtrap.

It doesn't look like ICC aka Chess.FM will be covering this event, is there a reason for this?

Are you calling Mig a liar?

Winning the B-group in 2005 to qualify for the A-group in 2006. 7/13 in 2006, 6,5/13 in 2007. Why didn't they invite Karjakin?

I guess this slipped under the Tata's radar. Hopefully they will add more Indians and start weeding out the Dutch in the future.

"g" wrote:

"The usual fine combination of information, insight and entertainment - unique in the Chess Blogosphere. Thank you.
May I encourage you to publish a book of your best pieces?"

I'll second that!...thx Mig for a wonderful blog and all the trouble you go to for the chess community...double those thx given the personal tragedy you've gone through...case of cyber-beer on its way...

What personal tragedy?! I hope the cats are well.

India getting 4 players is incredible representation. Expecting to get more than that is a complete joke.

I predict Anand score +5. With lack of Russians on the field, Kramnik will have tough time scoring and he should be happy with a score like +0.

Speaking of Indian players and Indian cars...
Sasikiran must be getting married.
Tata Nano touches 70kmph which would be like 45mph. :( It looks good though and will definitely impact the world with its incredibly low price of $2500!

"It looks good though and will definitely impact the world with its incredibly low price of $2500!"

Sorry, but it's the impact part, if you know what I mean, that should concern people. The report I watched last night about Tata Nano's unveiling said it can reach 60 mph has a speedometer, odometer and gas gauge. It holds 5 people, 3 children in the back and two midgets up front. =8-) One does have to like the price though. My apologies for not sticking to the blog at hand... but it is Tata

Where's Hikaru, at least in the "B" group? If they have room for Krasenkow, needless to say they should have room for the guy who crushed him with a queen sacrifice that might have been the sac of the year last year.

Hikaru, Hikaru! Where are U?
Shame on Corus for not inviting America No. 2 player.

After Corus, Irina is off to Moscow to play in the Moscow Open! Let's hope she comes home with those GM norms she needs!

gossiper wrote "What personal tragedy?! I hope the cats are well."

Mig is posting from the Bahamas. He went there to support his sister. As I understand it her husband drowned.

Yes we would all enjoy watching Naka play more. But Onischuk might be the number two in USA at the moment.

"He's always had trouble, relatively speaking, at Wijk because the large field means someone is always going to get hot and put up +4, a number that is usually outside the range of his conservative style."

This statement and different versions of this statement appear on this blog every few months--take this the right way, Mig, keep it fresh :)

This year I wouldn't be surprised if Kramnik goes for the kill more often. He has the best face to face record among the top, now I think he wants to prove he is among the best at ranking up 1s against the lesser beings. And he can--few GMs out there match his technique.

"Shame on Corus for not inviting America No. 2 player."

Nakamura was invited to Corus B(=4th)the same year that Magnus Carlsen was invited to Corus C(1). I was under the impression that Naka was invited back to B in 2005 but declined - can anyone confirm that?

Why Naka over Kamsky?

Ugh, I can't believe Jaideep and other Indians so eagerly desire the ethnic cleansing of Dutch and their replacement with slightly less mediocore indians.

Having sucky locals around to make world class players look good is part of the Corus appeal. One doesn't appreciate a Mariah Carey until their shower songs are recorded and played.

I'm not advocating wholesale de-Dutching - but with Indian sponsors there should be more young Indian players. The tier-3 Indians don't have many opportunities to play top-level competition early on which is indispensable to grow as a player. Now we have the economic clout why not use it?

I would argue for a new India-based Corus-style tournament then. It's unseemly and probably bad publicity to suddenly pack co-ethnics into a traditionally Dutch tournament.

This is especially so since European tournament organizers have been very generous in the past in inviting promising non-European players.

Yah, I agree, it will be bad form to shortchange the Dutch who have been generous supporters of the game. However, players like Chanda, Ganguly, Kidambi all have to fight to play top-level opposition. When Goodricke was still happening in Calcutta, the situation was better.

As for some reason the Nano is making waves here, a link on how they go the cost down:


Oscar: "Winning the B-group in 2005 to qualify for the A-group in 2006. 7/13 in 2006, 6,5/13 in 2007. Why didn't they invite Karjakin?"

My guess: at the time they invited the Group A players, Karjakin was still 2680 or so. Apart from Eljanov (who won Group B last year) and Van Wely (who happens to be Dutch) they wanted no players rated under 2700 for the A Group.

Hm. Kramnik as usual.

"This year I wouldn't be surprised if Kramnik goes for the kill more often."

Maybe later in the year.

What happened in the Shak-Carlsen game? Could white not save the g2 bishop or did shak's flag go down?

I think he cannot prevent the black rook from coming fatally via d8 to d2.

I was following live commentary of Aronian-toplaov on chessdom.com and became really disappointed by the poor choice of this site by assigning Milena Stefanova to analyze the game. She has apparently no concept of what was going on in the game and gave ridiculous comments several times, only to realize how stupid and out of the line they were few seconds later herself.

for example:
"Topalov chose another possibility for a draw by going into a Rook endgame. That is the advantage of being an exchange up, you can always sacrifice it and enter in the final position with equal material or maybe some advantage. In that case it is an easy draw. Or is it??"

Topalov resigned 6 moves later!

The 3 youngest players are in the lead after the first round. Could it be that the "times they are a changing"?

?" aarrrgh.

In looking over the "biographies" I see that both Eljanov and Mamedyarov are younger than Aronian. Still, it's an impressive start for the young players.

I am thankful for any commentator who tries. I watched the Aronian-Topalov endgame without comments, and without an engine running, and was surprised by what was going on in a way very similar to your commentator. Rook endgames can be mysterious beasts. That is one reason why wise players choose to draw early instead of risking to look silly.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on January 11, 2008 12:37 AM.

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