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I voted for Tecumseh, but Vishy Anand has won the CNN-IBN "Indian of the Year - Sports" award. I honestly have no idea how prestigious or not this is, or how long it's been going on, and he's won similar things in his home country on numerous occasions in the past. But I'm a sucker anything "of the year" and Anand should be feted for his 2007 Mexico City win. Has a chessplayer ever won a national sports award in your country? Zarnicki won one in Argentina after winning the world junior ch, I recall. The Armenians went nuts when Aronian and crew took gold at the 2006 Olympiad.

Tangenting away from that tangent, everyone knows how delighted I am to have an undisputed champ again at last. However, as we're seeing in Corus, the ephemeral nature of tournaments as compared to matches rears its ugly head as soon as you play in another strong tournament. Familiarity breeds contempt and we have a good number of elite tourneys these days. If Anand finishes fourth at Corus or, worse, in Linares 2008, the Aztec gold loses a little of its shine. True, winning when it matters most is a worthy thing, but long matches were special not only because of the format but because the format was rare, pretty much exclusive to the world championship. Ah, you say, but does it make sense to have an entirely different format for a sport's world championship? Yes, as long as it adds more than it subtracts. There are differing schools of thought on that regarding match vs tournament, of course.

Anyway, maybe Anand will win the award again this year if he beats Kramnik in their October match in Bonn. And as much as these goofy extra matches risk trivializing the title and giving unfair perks to those with good political ties and deep pockets, a big extra payday isn't bad at all. The problem is the "extra" part. If Anand and Kamsky get less for losing to Kramnik and Topalov, respectively, than they would have gotten for losing the originally planned match of World Cup winner vs WCh, it's a tricky bet.


I guess they wanted a relief from the usual cricketers.

It would be interesting to see if those people who argued so passionately that Kramnik's poor tournament results in no way detracted from his WC status will bring up similar arguments now, in support of Anand. Or perhaps they still believe Kramnik is WC?

Well, actually people who argued that Kramnik's tournament results had nothing to do with his World Championship status - until he played in a World Championship tournament - were simply people with common sense who said the obvious.

Anand could get a negative score in every single tournament he plays and still remain World Champion until he has actually lost the title in an event (match, tournament, KO spectacle) specifically designed as a World Championship. To me and to most sensible people that is just self-evident.

"If Anand and Kamsky get less for losing to Kramnik and Topalov, respectively, than they would have gotten for losing the originally planned match of World Cup winner vs WCh, it's a tricky bet."

obviously, you have to be an expert in Fide Match regulation history (already a bachelor course in this matter available?)to understand this, which I am not

acire, you amaze me! Something consistent and reasonable from you!

I should have thought we had a less undisputed champion now than after Elista (ref Mig's results above). AFAIC we have another ludicrous interregnum caused by FIDE's stupidity, until we have another match in October, after which we shall again have an undisputed champion, be it Anand or Kramnik.

Tournament results in the meantime have nothing to do with it, of course: never have; never will.

The fact is just now there isn`t a player clear ahead of the others, like Fischer, Karpov or Kasparov.
I mean Anand and Kramnik are almost equal (tied 2799), and a very little advantage over Topalov, Aronian, Carlsen, Kamsky, Leko, etc., etc.).

Well, some are aware that a tournament, by definition, cannot be a World Championship. This is a match title, always has been and always will be. Having a Zukertort Title for Anand, Topalov, &c. is fine and good, but it's not THE World Championship. That will be held this year. I have to hope for Anand to finally win the title at long last: the Steinitz title, not the Zukertort title.

The chess world championship title is very much similar to boxing championship titles.

In boxing, if the bout is a non-title bout, the world champ retains his title even if he loses. He can only lose his title if he's defeated in a title bout. The same goes to chess. If the tournament/match is a non-world championship tourney/match, the world champ retains his title.

In contrast, in tennis there's no world championship title but a world number 1. the world number 1 has the highest rating points and accumulates this through tournament wins.

Both systems should work for chess, but you'd expect heavy resistance to change to a tennis-type ranking because of the traditional view that the world championship title is some sort of personal possession to those who have held it.

"It would be interesting to see if those people who argued so passionately that Kramnik's poor tournament results in no way detracted from his WC status will bring up similar arguments now, in support of Anand. Or perhaps they still believe Kramnik is WC?" - Well, it would only be logical for those people not to recognize Anand as the world champion. They said match title was all that mattered before, why should they change their view now that Anand won some tournament? In any case, even if one does recognize Anand's tournament title as a title of some kind (even if it is not the title in the line of classical world champions), then tournament failures ARE harder to dismiss than those of a match champion. I guess that's what Mig's point was, too.

I agree with rdh. We had a unified champ atfer Elista, but it is split again after Mexico and will be split until the Kramnik-Anand match

A wonderful subject for a day without games -- a splendid invitation
to bang our heads on a pretty worn out subject. Anyway, Anand is a
Champ right now, widely recognized. A few don't like it, that's fine
-- there is a match scheduled for October that will right things up
and the World will be merry again. Then another match in 2009, etc.

The only thing that went wrong with the match tradition is the fact
that it went out of control in the period 1993-2007. And I don't care
who is to blame, but the bottom line is that there needs to be a
system of checks and balances -- otherwise, relying solely on the
ethics, scruples and goodwill of the existing title holder to manage
the challenge process has led to some pretty unconvincing situations.
Matches are great if we have an organization that can manage the
process the way it was done in 1975 when another legend went mad...


Given the forthcoming match between Anand and Kramnik in October, it is not fair to expect either of them to play their pet lines. I mean it is obvious from Kramnik's play that he is eschewing any line that he might play in Bonn. He is actually playing Anand's lines. That is why Danailov was confident Kramnik will play the Anti-Moscow. Kramnik did the same before his match with Leko and the match with Topalov. Anand will probably do the same.

As such Corus, Linares, Dortmund etc. are no reflection of Anand / Kramnik's strengths. I think Mig's comment about the gold losing its shine is perhaps premature. The winner of Bonn will have to play Kamsky / Topalov soon after .. so I think we can safely say these guys will play their best chess during their matches and, in tournament only after that. Gone are the days when you could win the title and not worry about defending for the next 4-5 years like 1995-2004.

Yes, Kramnik did play pretty badly after the match with Leko and with no other match in sight, but that can be attributed partly to his illness and partly to his opening (mis)experiments.

It is pretty unfair for Anand to have to defend his title in 08 just one year after winning it and again in 09 against Kamsky/Topalov when contrasted with the long intervals for the other champions.

Well, Anand hasn't won THE title yet, so it is not there for him defend and it makes no sense to compre his defenses with those of other clasical champions. But if you do recognize the FIDE titles, then it isn't any more unfair to ask Anand to defend it in 2008 after winning it in 2007 than it was to ask Kramnik to defend in 2007 after winning it in 2006 or to ask Topalov to defend in 2006 after winning it in 2005.

And the 2009 match against Kamsky/Topalov should be the last thing for Anand or his fans to worry about. Kasparov looked past Kramnik in 2000 with his no-rematch clause, Topalov has done the same with "loser doesn't get to play in Mexico" clause and with the whole Radjabov match being pretty much scheduled. The only one who didn't take his victory over Kramnik for granted was Leko, who was also the one who done the best against him.

Relax, guys. This is all temporary. In another 4-5 years no one will be arguing about who is the world's strongest player. Carlsen will become completely dominant, a la Fischer, Karpov, or Kasparov. I'm not a "fan" of Carlsen, or of anyone else, it's just something that's obvious from how fast he's progressing. In the meantime, though, it would be awesome if Ivanchuk, Shirov, or Kamsky managed to grab the world championship title before old age takes hold. Just watch, Ivanchuk will win the last 3 games at Corus. Just kidding... it would have been cool though...

You are probably right, chuddog. Carlsen does seem to be the most amazing young talent the game has ever seen. He is probably BETTER than Fischer, Kasparov or Kramnik were at his age. If he keeps improving for another 2-3 years, he will truly be unstoppable.

Well, except that with Carlsen being so talented, people forget about the other child prodigy, who is only a little older and who is right close to Carlsen on the rating list. Karykin also looks like he is on schedule with the Kasparovs and Kramniks of the world. So we may be entering the Carlsen/Karyakin era. We will see how Carlsen does tomorrow (vs. Anand) and the day after tomorrow (vs Kramnik). He will be having white against the world's best player with black pieces and black against the world's best player with white pieces in the two concecutive games over the next two days, so that should give us a good idea of his real current strength. For all we know, the new era in chess has already begun, but with the handshakes, Topalov's Immortal game and obligatory "who-is-the-champ" argument, we have missed it.

RB, you bring a good point about Kramnik being underestimated. Topalov
greatest blunder ever was just that - a cocky attitude and
underestimation of Kramnik for which he paid a very dear price. I
suspect Kasparov was guilty of the same in 2000 and quite under
prepared for what he faced. Kramnik should be treated as a favorite in
these matches, based on past performance. The preparation against him
needs to be profound for anyone to even have a chance to crack that
fortress. I believe though that through solid preparation, once taken
out of his comfort zone of "deep understanding", big Vlad can be
brought down to a pretty ordinary status. Anyway, it will be
interesting to see the last hooray of this generation before the
Carlsens take over from the roof...


Kramnik defended in Mexico City after Elista 06 although one can argue he had to make up for past inertia :) and the fact that the defense was a precondition to unification.

Overall, there does appear to be a reluctance on the part of Kramnik, Kasparov and Karpov to defend and instead ask for special privileges - while Topalov and Anand just come and play.

Anand defended his FIDE title the very next year too - although Pono and Kasim did not. Even now, Anand was within his rights to ask for (i) draw Odds and (ii) some kinda protection in the next cycle a la Topalov .. but gave it up just to play and for a nice fat paycheck. In many ways either Anand has a poor manager or just doesnt care for politics.

Many people forget that Kramnik needed Topalov more than Topalov need Kramnik in 2006. Topalov showed up to play (and claim a nice paycheck) in '06 and was willing to play Radjabov in '07.

But as far as us chess fans are concerned, we cant really argue with a match like Anand - Kramnik, can we? The more this guys are willing to come and play and less they indulge in politicking, the better for chess and the better for all of us.

Agreed, Dimi.

jamie is right about "Kramnik is playing Anand lines" - at least to a degree. If it turns out that Topalov's Nxf7 refutes the whole line, it perhaps will help Kramnik as much as it will hurt him as far as the match versus Anand is concerned. If I remember correctly, that Anti-Moscow line seemed to be like the alternative defense against Kramnik. It was either the Catalan or this Slav line. And Kramnik is so amazing in the Catalan some people (like Anand in Mexico) have chosen the Ant-Moscow Slav against him as the lesser of two evils. But now if it turns out this line is refuted, all of a sudden Kramnik looks even more dangerous with white...

Oh sure, now everyone is singing Carlsen's praises. 2-3 years ago when I started saying he will be as good as any of the greats and become the youngest World Champion yet, I got my nose busted by quite a few people on this blog. That's okay, I forgive everyone and my nose has healed...somewhat. =8-) I'm still saying he will be the youngest World Champion (sorry Garry) and if someone wants to take issue with that, feel free. Remember though, it will come back to bite you in the butt.

my predictions for the morrow:

Carlsen - Anand

Semi-Slav or Ruy or Sicilian

would be cool if Anand plays the Anti - Moscow line and Carlsen goes Nxf7. Will be real cool if Anand plays something off beat .. but wont probably happen.

Leko - Kramnik

Normally I'd predict a Petroff - but this may turn out to be a Marshall with a Berlin being the dark horse since Kramnik doesnt want to go into the Petroff lines.

If it is a Petroff, it is a draw - Leko has no new ideas .. does anyone remember the Giuoco Piano at Mexico City? Marshall also is likely a draw although I think Kramnik won in a black Marshall rapid against Leko (if memory serves me right). Berlin may he best chance for a non-draw result.

Dimi said:

..."Matches are great if we have an organisation that can manage the process the way it was done in 1975 when another legend went mad..."

This wouldn't be the same organisation that denied Fischer's demands for an unlimited match against Karpov - then agreed to Karpov's demand to have an unlimited match against Kasparov is it?

FIDE has been every bit as part of the problem as everyone else. There's plenty of blame to go around when the topic of the messed up match system is discussed.

In my opinion:

We need some type of zonals/qualifying tournaments to narrow down the top contenders -

Then a small 4 cycle canidates tournament of 5 players to select the #1 challenger.

A 16-20 game match for the title - first to 6 wins, or 'best of' if 6 wins are not reached by either player. Draw odds for the champ.

loser seeded to the candidates tournament - everyone else must qualify for the remaining 4 spots.

Quick question: does Anand's outcome in the match with Kramnik have any effect on his eventual reputation by posterity? Does he "need" a win to cement a place as one of the great players -- or does it make no real difference? (Kramnik's place in the pantheon, it seems to me, is secure, by virtue of his longish stint as title-holder).

"This is a match title, always has been and always will be."


Jeez, folks.

Ok. About half of us have a not unreasonable appreciation for the fact that the WC was a match-play event, dating back centuries, and that's what they're going to acknowledge.

About the other half of us have a not unreasonable dissatisfaction with the last 10 years of watching no one be able to agree on who "owns" the championship, and are going to hang their hat on an agreed-upon dominating performance by Anand.

Both of these groups are going to agree with each other 100%, when Anand and Kramnik play a match later this year.

Both of these groups will separate back into their unruly factions when that winner loses the next big WC tournament.

There's really not much point in name-calling and sniping at the other camp, whichever camp you're in, though I acknowledge that often we have nothing better to do. Each camp has a *completely* reasonable basis for their opinion and they're sticking with it, folks.

But don't worry, our computer overlords are working extra hard to make it all obselete. Just be patient. :)


I think that Anand's legacy as a great player in chess history is secure. Defeating or losing to Kramnik won't matter in that regard. Morphy, Rubinstein, Keres and Korchnoi among some others were never official world champion title holders (I'm not saying Anand isn't) and I don't believe that anyone would argue that they weren't/aren't great players.



Alekhine DIED.

Fine and especially Keres, were ROBBED of their AVRO result - they should have played a match to detemine the champ. Or Keres and Euwe if Fine declined.

FIDE and its internal politics have been helping muddy the waters of the Championship since it first started adminisrating it.

A lot of blame can be laid at the feet of Botvinniks constant meddeling.

Mig, I think we need another official thread for this kind of thing. It's getting out of hand.

"I voted for Tecumseh" wins Funniest Blog Aside of 2008.

But then you hadda go and rattle the cage of the tired old world championship discussion, eh. Sigh.

I think it was Karpov, who in an interview got to the heart of the matter. We currently don't have a player who completely dominates the field. We had one in Fischer, Karpov, and Kasparov. But we don't have that situation right now. That's the reason why people are fighting over these things so much.

Once we realize that Kramnik and Anand are not the same type of world champions like some of their predecessors, I think we won't have this ridiculous squabbles. We are in an age of 1 year world champions until a new giant emerges (Carlsen? may be - it's too early to tell).

So stop fighting about this world championship thing. Anand is the current WC and come October we may have a new one.

Chess sportsman honor... of course.

IM Amon Simutowe won the Zambian Sportsman of the Year


and IM Kevin Denny won the Barbados Sportsman of the Year.


In many respects Anand's rise to the top was under even more difficult circumstances than Fischer's. Don't forget that when Anand started playing the strongest player in India was an IM - in the US at least there was a solid pool of world class players like Reshevsky, Byrne etc
Also the US was the world's wealthiest nation in the 50s, India during the 80s was dirt poor. In the entire country there used to be one or two Informators - Anand has described the struggle amongst the players for this "treasure". The Soviet school was alive and well and Anand was a double outsider - not from their bloc, and a non-Westerner to boot. That is why Reggio Emilia 1991/92 was so special - Anand ahead of nine ex-Soviets. https://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=4363

Here is something on the quest for Informators:

Well jaideepblue similar is the story of Topalov. Before him there
were some non- or semi-descript Bulgarian GMs that rarely if ever made
a mark on any major tournament. Nobody remembers who GM Ermenkov or GM
Pudevski were. Then came GM Kiril Georgiev, still very active, but
he didn't quite shoot through to the super-GM level.

Anytime a talent comes from an unusual place it's a story.

In that respect consider Carlsen's story and be amazed - I mean, from
which deep fjord did they dig this guy out. Norway has never had, and
certainly does not have anyone at the moment who can even be a second
to that teenager. Very, very, unusual.


Helgi Dam Ziska won sportsman of the year of the Faroese Islands in 2006:

(In Danish - it should be possible to find a link in Faroese too)

I think the next generation of peers - Carlen, Karjakin, Caruana, Negi is rising - am not sure if Carlsen will be head and shoulders above the crowd.

Falling into the cracks are players like Harikrishna ,Nakamura etc who are "too old to rock n roll too young to die" - not of this generation or the next.

Those dissing Anand, Kramnik, Topalov as not "standing out" fail to realize that we are fortunate in living in a generation that happens to have some of the strongest players who have ever lived.

To complete the list of the "Sportsmen of the Year", Svetozar Gligorić was elected as national sportsman of Yugoslavia in 1959. By the way, today he is turning 85 - happy birthday!

And of course, for the sake of fun, one should mention Claus-Peter Schoschies ;-). He was elected (local) sportsman of 2004 in German`s norteast district Mecklenburgh-Pomerania - during a couple of years, he was able to convince the whole region that he was a world top solver of chess problems who even competed in the Olympic Games in Athens, 2004 - see the Story (in dutch) at TK


at Süddeutsche (German)


or a collection of repective articles at the local chess federation:


(and choose "alles" left from the "Anzeigen"-Button).

Indian Idol is a popular television show on Indian television, a singing talent

contest to determine the best undiscovered young singer in the country. It is

based on the international Idol series format, launched by UK show Pop Idol.
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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on January 24, 2008 2:00 AM.

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