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Nakamura Rocking the Rock

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In the immortal words of Public Enemy LL Cool J, don't call it a comeback! After slowing to a halt with two draws and then a loss in the fifth round, Hikaru Nakamura won five consecutive games at the powerful Gibraltar Masters to force rapid tiebreaks against Bu Xiangzhi going on now. His last three wins, against GMs Hebden, TL Petrosian, and today against Efimenko, were typical of Nakamura's ruthlessly sharp style. Bu Xiangzhi looked to be coasting home to the $24,000 first prize after scoring an amazing 7.5/8. But he lost to Efimenko in the 9th and made a brief draw (27 moves, 22 minutes) with countryman Ni Hua in today's 10th and final round. That allowed the charging Nakamura to catch up with 8/10. It seems the full £12,000 goes to the winner of the tiebreak, leaving the loser with the £8000 ($16,000) second prize. You have to like Nakamura's chances both for momentum and well-known prowess at fast controls.

The official site has been doing a great job of keeping the homepage and other areas updated.

Update: Nakamura wins! After winning the first rapid game with white, Nakamura was defending R+N vs Q until Bu Xiangzhi avoided the repetition by walking into mate in one in the middle of the board. Bu-yah!


LL Cool J first spit that rhyme dude...not P.E.

2nd Tiebreaker: can Nakamura hold with N+R v Q..and a few pawns thrown in.

Wow, he mated him. Freaking awesome.

Way to go, Hikaru. A few days ago I thought he was an also ran in this tournament. Wow.

Hmm, I thought "Fear of a Black Planet" predated "Momma Said Knock You Out." Regardless, the LL version is certainly canonical.

Yes, Hikaru wins! Comical finish to the entire tournament, a knight mate in the middle of the board. Way cool.

ChessBase definitely jinxed Bu.

Tried unsuccessfully to find the last round games, especially Naka's win over Efimenko, on the site.

And the template bug is back in full force...

"ChessBase definitely jinxed Bu."

I think Bu jinxed himself, he was probably very confident during the tournament, but started to think more in the trophy than the games to play. He played passively against Efimenko and well... making a prepared quick draw with a compatriot is not precisely the attitude of a winner but from someone who became afraid to lose when he was in top form.

Congratulations to Hikaru for such a remarkable comeback (he needs to say "I am present" in the chess world if he wants to achieve more important goals and get invitations to top tournaments) and hopefully, this will be a learning experience for Bu in the future.

Hikaru is cool, even if he doesn't smile very often. He won on his own great playing, not because ChessBase jinxed his opponent. I'm sure Frederic wishes he had that kind of power. ;)

was I the only one who noticed nakamura isn't on the scoreboard in the chessbase report? http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=4422

I see several reoccuring patterns and lessons in a tournament post-mortem:

1. Never play passively for a draw. (Lesson from Bu's pathetic 9th round game against Efimenko.) Against Capablanca in a famous classic, some lady player tried to trade down to a draw, got deservedly killed; leading in Linares, Leko tried to coast, also to ruins; in the final round of the World Teams, needing just a draw, Ni Hua tried to exchange down to opposite bishops in the early middle game against Grischuk, was crushed; and so forth. Can't play chess scared, or without passion.

2. The top 4-5 players from China usually take a short draw against each other in overseas tournaments, even in Opens where a draw hurts almost like a loss in pursuing a top prize (such as Aeroflot.) This happened in maybe 49 of the last 50 games I've seen. (The impression is they're bored of playing each other to death in national tournaments and in training for team events.)

3. Don't play Naka blitz if possible. Even if you're Kasparov (last I checked, he has a fine record even Kasparov on Playchess.) Bu should have saw going into the final round a ~50% chance of a Nakamura win as white against a lower-rated Efimenko.

>>"ChessBase definitely jinxed Bu."

I think Bu jinxed himself,<<

Bu Jinx-i?

Sandorchess wrote:

"Congratulations to Hikaru for such a remarkable comeback "

I second that! A fantastic finish by Naka....and some beautiful games too. All along Bu seemed to be coasting to an easy win of the tournament.
He got Knackered in the playoff games (sorry!)

Naysayers of Nakamura should consider themselves owned!

If Bu had beaten Ni Hua in the last round, one could easily made the accusation that the game was thrown by a compatriot to ensure that Bu won the first prize. Wouldn't that be the first thought to come to the minds of many people if that happened? A short draw was one way out of this conundrum, setting up a fair chance for the first prize if a playoff occurred...

Congrats to Nakamura for making a remarkable comeback and displaying the fighting spirit that this game so sorely needs! Bu can take some solace in the fact that he gained enough rating points to go past 2700.

"If Bu had beaten Ni Hua in the last round, one could easily made the accusation that the game was thrown by a compatriot to ensure that Bu won the first prize."

The audience would probably have much preferred a genuine hard-fought game. Anyway, any two players in such a situation might advantageously so collaborate, co-nationals or not.

It's a big crowd-displeaser not to play out a final-round game: Gibraltar tournament rules explicitly state 1) no draws under 30 moves, and 2) no pre-arranged draws, tacit or otherwise.

Most "naysayers" of Naka, myself included, simply note that since he's self-admittedly not "going pro" -- engaged in f/t training, the Top Ten -- the only worthwhile goal for him at this point -- is out of reach. It matters little if he bounces closer to 2640 or 2700, his current peak range, or even if it's upped to 2670-2730.

What if his goal is to make some spare cash and play some badass games?

"What if his goal is to make some spare cash and play some badass games?"

Your attitude is much too sane for you to be posting on chess forums... ;-)

From the career-kibitzers perspective we're only interested in whether this kid

1. makes top ten
2. is world champion material

Whether he starves or can afford an Xbox isn't of interest to us.

To the above I should add..

3. become USA #1 above Kamsky

Though that's far less prestigious a goal it makes for max bragging rights... and maybe xtra tourney invites.

It's a same that we cannot find a sponsor in this country to put together a Nakamura vs Kamsky match.

It is strange that Nakamura doesn't get invites to the elite rapid events, I for one would love to see an 8game match with Anand at Mainz.

Great video of the two playoff blitz games at chessvibes. So interesting to watch Nakamura at the board. He does a little Ivanchuk thing at times, looking away from the board when it's his move.

Naka vs Anand? LOL, do you really want to see the kid killed? It's a great success for American talant, but it takes a bit more than this to get invitations.
Jean Piert

Strange that (English version) Chessbase site hasn't run a report yet.

Jean Piert,

We are talking about top *rapid* events, not top regular time control tournaments.

I think your comment tells us more about how little you know about Nakamura's blitz strength than it does about how Nakamura would perform vs. Anand. Anand is probably the world's quickest player, but Naka would very likely be in the World's top 5 if chess was strictly blitz.

Except Naka didn't make it to the blitz world championship finals....

By which I mean to ask, why did he never (?) participate in finals or qualifiers?

Nakamura is the best American blitz player and one of the top (oh) ten or so blitz players worldwide. Maybe. In Rapid his advantages are not nearly so high, and in classical chess he's a relatively ordinary Grandmaster (second or third in the States depending on one's opinions of a few ex-Soviets)

Anand is the best rapid player. Ever. Mainz would not be pretty.


When is a 2670-2690 an ordinary GM?? No... a 2500-2600 is an ordinary GM... huge difference. Nakamura is only what, 20?

Help me gmc.

Nakamura would be a threat to win any blitz tournament he enters, regardless of the competition. He is definitely top 5 here. Please name the top ten or so blitz players that might be/are stronger. He is regularly superior to the strongest players in the world when playing on ICC, which is the de facto world circuit for blitz.

While his rapid strength would arguably not be so high, what evidence is there that is not among the best in the world at rapids? In what events has he reached his ceiling and been handled by superior players?

Ordinary in classical chess? Might be wrong here, but he has won the last 2 classical European events he's entered, against world class (though not elite) competition. The other 1 or 2 "American" GMs you say are above him have done this when? The last European GM to win the last 3 Euro events he's entered would be who?

For all Nakamura haters who will attack me instead of the above argument, what about what I have said is incorrect?

Nakamura is an excellent tactician and a tremendous fighter. He's not an average GM, he's well above average. That does not mean that he is elite. I'm confident that in a classical match of any reasonable length he'd have trouble against any of the top 10.

He probably has the potential to be a top 10 player, but to contend for the championship he would have to surpass Carlsen, Karajakin, Radjabov, Mamedyarov and Aronian, all of whom are players of his generation who are currently stronger. I can't claim to know why (or even if, it's just what I've heard) he isn't pursuing chess as a career, but I wouldn't blame him if he felt his financial options were brighter in other fields. A pity. Talents like him are rather rare. I wish chess could support them.


You ARE aware that Nakamura smashed Karjakin in a match, yes? It was 4.5-1.5 and Karjakin was supposed to smash Nakamura. What happened?

Yes... Aronian is stronger, but I'm not so certain about the others. Carlsen may have an edge because he has been invited to every major tournament in Europe (for the past three years) even when he did poorly. He has valuable experience. However, Nakamura's speed and unpredictability would would rattle Carlsen a bit.

Out of the others you mentioned Mamedyarov would give Nakamura the most trouble because of style issues. Radjabov-Nakamura would be very exciting and a match I'd love to see.

Daaim, it was a very impressive performance by Nakamura in Cuernavaca 2004 against Karjakin. But Andrew did say "currently stronger". In Cuernavaca 2006 Nakamura drew both games against Karjakin. From 2004 to 2006 Nakamura gained 24 rating points and Karjakin gained 84. In 2007, Nakamura gained another 4 rating points while Karjakin gained 34 more rating points. Just based on this rather circumstantial Elo evidence I suspect Nakamura would have difficulty with Karjakin now, and would be at the bottom of the cross-table against the top 10, and I'd bet on any of the top 10 over Nakamura in a match.

However, he surprised us once before.....

I do hope he gets to play some of the more elite GMs now. Exciting games indeed.

Eh, the point is Naka doesn't do chess professionally, so he's not ever mounting the top. I don't blame him, there being 1,000,000,000,000 better things for genius to do in the United States than live as a radically underpaid chess bum.

This is the point - there is a lot of uncertainty on his "true" strength so why not a match against Anand in Mainz? The same old players are invited there year after year and none of them seem to offer much of a challenge to Anand. However Nakamura's speed and offbeat openings can perhaps ruffle Vishy. In any case it will be a lot better than the routine stuff.


The fact that Nakamura being at that time 16 years old beat Karjakin that he was at that time 12 years old is not such a great achievment. At this age 4 years does matter... Take what was naka's rating when he was 12. It is completly missleading to refer at that match. Nowdays there is no doubt that Karjakin is better player. Btw, Nakamura in Gibraltar was very lucky.. Did you see for example his victory against Hebden (8th round I think)?


Sure, if your aim is to make the biggest amount of money in your life I agree. However, if this is not your first priorrity... And Nakamura, playing chess could make a more than decent living. So, ultimately is matter of priorrities. It is pointless to ask where Kasparov would be if he hadn't work hard, or if he became a businessman instead of chess player for example. And with Naka's priorrities, he is nowhere close the top 10. (btw he is currently no 47 so not really top 20... )

His current victory at Giblartar, was not spectacular, since he didn't face tough opposition because he lost games at the beginning. His performance was 2747, i.e. an average (or even bad) performance by a top 10 player. So which are his real achievements?

Finally, ICC blitz is indicative but not fully representative of how he would perform in real life blitz. Let alone how he would do in rapid.

I don't think skill in ICC blitz can be "ported" to the "real" world.


Nakamura was 17 and Karjakin was 14. Karjakin made GM at 12. However, age has nothing to do with this. They had the approximately the same ELO.

What you all do not understand is that Karjakin was supposed to be better than Nakamura THEN. Almost everyone thought Karjakin would win big... except those of us who knew Nakamura. Karjakin had played stronger competition and had extensive training, but that was conventional thinking. Nakamura is not a conventional competitor. He rattles opponents with his style of play and intense determination to win while Karjakin will be content with draws. Nakamura would still beat Karjakin if they played a match starting tomorrow.

I'm not sure how you are saying a 2747 is a bad performance by a top 10 player. Makes absolutely no sense when the #10 player is rated less than that. Performance ratings are not nearly as concrete as you make them.

You say what are Nakamura's real accomplishments? Well... what are Karjakin's real accomplishments (at 2732 ELO)? Can you list them derida?


Couldn't agree more. It is the same 10 permutation of players in the top tournaments. I'm glad the Chinese players are starting to get invites... and look at Gopal's performance in Corus B!

"The fact that Nakamura being at that time 16 years old beat Karjakin that he was at that time 12 years old"

Nakamura born Dec 9, 1987
Karjakin born Jan 12, 1990

There's about a 2 year age difference. I think they were closer to 17 and 15 respectively at the time of the match.

I think Nakamura should be invited precisely because of his different playing style and fighting spirit. So as long as players of his rating are invited then debates about his performance are irrelevant. For example, Tiviakov (as honorary Dutch presumably) was invited last year to Corus. What did he do? Desperately go for draws in every game. So for every Tiviakov invites there should be ten Nakamuras.
And the argument is stronger for rapid events where Nakamura seems to be very formidable.
Does anyone know about Nakamura's score against the super elite? Has he ever played Anand, Kramnik, Topalov, Leko?

"Nakamura got lucky in Gibraltar!"

Very good!! He got lucky several tournaments in a row. Not bad for a player who does not work hard.

Napoleon demanded that his generals be lucky!

For what it's worth, Karjakin was asked about the Nakamura match in this interview (in Russian): http://chesspro.ru/inter/karjakin.shtml

Interviewer: Your first and completely inexplicable failure was in the match with Nakamura. Could you explain what happened in that match?!

Karjakin: To be honest, I was just as suprised myself! Perhaps I didn't manage to acclimatise. After all I'd only just flown in and the next day there was a game. The time difference was 8 hours, so when I sat down at the board, in Kiev it was midnight. I lost the first two games, and when I recovered a bit it was hard to play - I had to make a come back. What really knocked me off track was the 4th game: I got a won position and had plenty of time - if I'd won the score would be 2:2 and there'd still be two games to go! It ended up a draw, and I lost heart...

- From the sidelines it made a strange impression: you were playing normal, human chess, and your opponent was doing the lord knows what. Didn't you have the urge to punish him for such computer-like, artificial play?

- I did. In almost every game I had a won or close to won position - and every time I played only to win. Perhaps it would have been worth being more practical: making one or two draws, stabilising. But I couldn't stop myself.

Well, if a player has rating x, this means that on some tournaments he will have x+100 performance and some x-100 performance.

Therefore if Karjakin has 2732, it means that many times in his life he had performance higher than 2800. Just try to make the calculation of his last tournament for example.

If the top 10 is at 2730 and no1 at 2800, it means that a person in top 10 has on average 2775 rating. But even if all top 10 was at 2730, i.e. 20 points below 2750 that was Naka's performance, still a performance of 2750 would not be considered a success by any of those players. Me for example I have a rating of 2200 and definetely, I do not consider a success performing 2220...

Therefore, if you comparing Nakamura's best performance you have to do it with Karjakin best performance and not his average performance which is his rating...

Not sure I understand all the anti-Nakamura sentiment. He's a young and aggressive player and he's a lot of fun to watch. Why not give him a shot at the big guys? It's a real shame he wasn't in the Corus B group this year - he would've had a shot at winning and even if he didn't he would've got a lot of exposure.

The interview from Gibraltar was pretty good - he just wants to win, a bit different from most of the 2600s out there. Any volunteers to start a "get naka to Corus 2009" campaign? :)

Re-reading this thread I don't see much "anti-Nakamura sentiment", or many "Nakamura naysayers" or still less "Nakamura haters" (except in the eyes of his more rabid fans).

I think most chess fans would love to see Nakamura given a chance against the real elite, but he's going to have work hard and boost his rating. He's too old for the "prodigy" tournament invites, but if he can get his rating up above 2700 his style of play should make him more attractive to organisers than many similarly rated players.

I would love to see Nakamura get a Corus (or other elite closed tournament) invite. When his position is better, he plays to win. When the position is equal, he plays to win. When his position is worse, he plays to win. That type of spirit is not a universal attribute of players who consistently get coveted tournament invitations (Leko, for instance). I would think he would seriously prepare for such an event as well.

Anecdotally, I've had the privilege of getting thrashed by him a few times in 15 0 on ICC. I've never played a human opponent who generated similar tactical pressure across the board (though I've never played a top 20 player). I'm biased in his favor due to this I'm sure.

By the way, congratulations to him on this excellent result in Gibraltar!

Why the implications that Nakamura is a sheer natural talent and Kajarkin is trained by some Soviet-type super machine?

For one thing, Nakamura did have a living in chess coach from birth.

And anyone who says they never work or study .. if they are over 2600 I don't believe it. Nakamura has the resources to do the type of work he needs to allow his particular type of talent to flourish.

By the way, I don't think Fischer was such a lone wolf either.

Mig - what`s Garry`s take on Nakamura? Is he just "a tourist"? I was delighted to see him win at Gibralter - served Bu right for such a wimpish last round - team orders though?
I haven`t played there yet but I lived in Gib for two years. It has the scariest airport I`ve ever seen. You`re not really aware of the danger when flying in but if you watch planes arriving you think f**k! - and you don`t want to do it again!

"Carlsen may have an edge because he has been invited to every major tournament in Europe (for the past three years) even when he did poorly."

This statement is very untrue. Are you saying that the reason Magnus is higher rated than Nakamura is all because of opportunities? Ask yourself, WHY was he invited to these tournaments? He earned them!

The thing is, in order to get invitations for the tournaments in Europe, you have to earn them. Nakamura winning Gibraltar was a great achievement, no question about it. However, let's try to make a comparison between Nakamura and Carlsen:

Getting invitations to major tournaments is a combination of several factors. The most important factor, is obviously RATING. Being below 2700, won't get you any invitations to Linares, Corus or MTel, unless your name is van Wely, Naiditsch or Cheparinov. The second important factor is obviously AGE. Being the youngest grandmaster in the world, gives great publicity for the sponsor, no matter if you have a slightly bad period. In fact, to get to 2700, Magnus "risked" his rating several times as the highest rated player, something not many top players do. That made him start climbing up the ladder based on wins in opens.

Nakamura is surely a very talented player who could reach the top as well, but does he even care enough to want it himself? In order to do so, he has to risk his rating by playing in open European tournaments such as Aeroflot, or at least accept the invitations he gets from Europe. Then the invitations will surely come.

I agree with Andrews, Nakamura should be invited at least once to one of the big tournaments, he almost always plays to win. Let's see if he can stay there then, but come on give him a chance to try sponsors!

Tarjei, Nakamura won in Barcelona in October, Corsica in November, and Gibraltar in January, so he is playing and winning in Europe--not sure what you mean by "risk...playing" in Europe. Aeroflot would be great, but he would still be the highest rated player in the A1 group!

And his rating does need to come up, but it has been stuck in the mid-2600s for three years. Rumor has it that he hasn't been working hard enough to push it over 2700, but that may be changing (as evidenced by his recent work in Europe).


Carlsen has gotten his high rating primarily by the privilege of playing in elite tournaments. He got the invitation after invitation because he is an attractive draw, has an good style and has been marketed as the "Boy Wonder." You have even admitted his drawing power as a young GM, but why did Bu Xiangzhi not get these invites? Carlsen was favored and had better marketing.

His results were good in 2007, but prior to that, he got the benefit of strong competition and good training from GM Simen Agdestein. Corus "C" was his breakthrough. To me, Nakamura has more talent and a stronger spirit, but Carlsen has had the benefit of a better chess environment.

Ahhh, I see. An Aeroflot win is a ticket to Dortmund (and 1st place is $30,000, which ain't too bad!). Is it too late for Naka to sign up?!

Winning Aeroflot would be difficult for Nakamura. Heck, Anand or Kramnik would find it difficult to win at Aeroflot.

Of course winning Aeroflot would be difficult--even for Kramnik or Anand who are over 100 Elo points higher than anyone else in the A1 group. But they'd certainly be favored to win, as would Nakamura. And with a win comes an automatic invite to Dortmund.

I thought Naka did get an invite to Corus, but chose Gibraltar instead. I freakin' have no idea what I'm talking about, but based on the conjecture loaded atmosphere of this thread, I'm not sure it's totally inappropriate to talk a little bit out my ass.

Congrats to Naka. It's been nice to see him prove himself in Europe. And it's always nice to see lame draws by communists get punished. ;)

Ok, while Naka, is obviously good player with interesting playing style and it would be good to see him in some strong closed tournament (not of Grand-Slam level though), he obviously has underperformed in comparison with Carlsen and Karjakin independent of oportunities.

How well did he do in the last two world cups for example? The tie breaks are rapid and blitz so according to you he should do well... Hmmm... He didn't qualify for the last I think and got kicked out early at the other. Carlsen got his invitations when he reached 2690. He hadn't played top opposition till then. But to do so, he qualified for the candidate matches for example. Both him and Karjakin where at semi-finals at the last World Cup (the one that Naka failed to qualify).

So, all good, Naka is great, but just please, put some perspective at your statements....

Btw, his 2747 performance was obviously not spectacular. Bu did better (he is not the winner only due to blitz which is hardly relevant for your true level). In any (strong) tournament some player do as well. In the european team championship alone, there were 12 players with higher performances (including Carlsen, Karjakin incidentaly). Even in the Greek championship the winner (19 years with only 2440 elo) did a performance of 2730 (with 7.5/9 as opposed to 8/10 of Naka's)...

If Nakamura, performes as he did in Gibraltar consistently (without a disaster tournament in between), then his rating will go up at 2700 and he will get his invitations. Simple :-) No need for special treatment!

User "frogbert" has an interesting breakdown of the perfomances of Bu and Nakamura on


The conclusion is that they really played in two different tournaments: Naka in a category 11 and Bu in a close to category 15.

User "sapfy" also claims that Naka said on ICC that he turned down an offer to play in Corus because the conditions he was offered was unaccetable. Not such a good idea to refuse prestigous tournaments if you really want to get better opportunities.

"Carlsen has gotten his high rating primarily by the privilege of playing in elite tournaments. He got the invitation after invitation because he is an attractive draw, has an good style and has been marketed as the "Boy Wonder." You have even admitted his drawing power as a young GM, but why did Bu Xiangzhi not get these invites? Carlsen was favored and had better marketing."
Sure, being marketable gets you somewhere, but without enormous talent Carlsen would just have faded like other "cute" prodigies like Luke McShane and numerous others. Nakamura was/is also marketable as a young US talent (thin on the ground since Fischer).

The Bu Xiangzhi comparison is a bit bizarre, frankly. Compare their rating graphs: http://fide.com/ratings/id.phtml?event=8601445

Bu's developed slowly (perhaps from a lack of opportunity in China), is now 22, and hasn't really given anyone any reason to expect great things of him. That's not to say he can't improve (someone like Aronian shows you're not out of it if you can't reach the top 10 in your teens), but there's no reason to suggest Bu was unfairly dealt with by tournament organisers.

"To me, Nakamura has more talent and a stronger spirit, but Carlsen has had the benefit of a better chess environment.

Posted by: Daaim Shabazz at February 2, 2008 22:36"

I suppose you're entitled to your opinion, but there's absolutely no objective reason to think you're right.w

"To me, Nakamura has more talent and a stronger spirit, but Carlsen has had the benefit of a better chess environment."

thats just flat out ridicules.

you are making a circular argument, moron.
norway is a better chess enviorment than us?

Hello everyone! Sadly, I do think that almost every other country currently has a better chess environment than the US. When you look at the fact that Chess Life is now chopping off pages in each monthly magazine (they were planning to not have a story on Gibraltar, but this probably changed since I won) virtually every issue these days due to budget problems, how can one even think chess here is doing well? Until the USCF starts being financially stable there will always be a high chance that either Kamsky will change his federation to Russia or I will change to Japan. Op, whether I like it or not, the fact remains that there is no support for top chess players in this country from the national federation.

I will not even attempt to discuss who is better or not since I rarely bother to read this forum; however, all I care about is winning right now.

Congratulations Hikaru.
But I have a question:
The U.S. has one of the strongest teams in the world according to top-10 average rating, but I am sure that a few of those country top-10 are truly a U.S. chess player, like, say, Fischer...
Then, if the federation doesn't even care about those people...why so many strong players switch!??

Well congrats to Nakamura!

But I don't get why people drag Carlsen into this. The guy is talented and apparantly gets a lot of support from his country, so good to him.

And he has clearly showed that the tournament organisers were right to invite them by winning Wijk Aan Zee. If Nakamura gets invited to the big league he'll have to edge out other players because it seems Carlsen is here to stay.

That being said: I think that if Nakamura can keep preforming like this he'll get invited for sure.


Yes... Europe is a better chess environment than the U.S. Magnus has primarily played in Europe with a GM trainer, support from the government and sports academy, support from chess federation, better media marketing (including a book), stronger regional competition, region with more appreciation for chess and I could go on. Nakamura had none of those, except for his Samford Fellowship. Heck, this is a federation that didn't even put him on the 2004 Olympiad team??? How ridiculous was that?

If you disagree, then you are not from the U.S., don't know much about U.S. Chess or how chess struggles here. Nakamura has thrived despite these hurdles and a poisoned chess environment. With that said, to be 2670 is a miracle and a testament to his talent and drive.

If Nakamura declined an invitation to Corus, all other talk is irrelevant.

He is, as of today, an ADULT, PROFESSIONAL chess player. His destiniy is in his own hands.

Nakamura doesn't owe anything to any "chess environment" and the "chess environment" doesn't owe anything to Nakamura.

If Naka wants to be part of the elite, he knows what he needs to do.

Can he do it?

Will he do it?

Time and Naka will tell.

In the meantime, we can enjoy our time looking at some of his nice games and unquestionably attractive playing style. The guy is good, in his own right. No need to engage in stupid comparisons - yes it is obvious that Carlsen has the better career and higher profile. So what? Carlsen deserves what he's got and Naka deserves what he's got. As simple as that. Who gives a f*ck?

Daaim, what you are saying about Magnus is not really true. Magnus has had no support from the government (where in the world did you read that?), and no support from the chess federation to speak of. The national team in the last European Team Championship had to pay themselves to take part, as the federation couldn't afford any support, they were lucky to find their own sponsor.

It is true that Norway as a European country makes it easier and cheaper to travel and take part in tournaments, but I am sure that Nakamura with the money prizes, he could use some of that to travel in Europe as well.

The Norwegian chess federation has around 3000-4000 members. Comparing Bu with Magnus is not right, especially since Magnus is 5 years younger and rapidly improving, while Bu has been more or less stable in the 2600's for some time, until just recently when he got close to 2700, which is why he started getting invitations!

"His results were good in 2007, but prior to that, he got the benefit of strong competition and good training from GM Simen Agdestein."

Keep in mind that the "training" they had, was once a week (sometimes even less than once a week), and you can hardly call him a trainer. Agdestein has followed him to ONE tournament as a second(FIDE WC in Libya 2004), but that's about it. Long after he became a GM, he got Peter Heine Nielsen, but as far as I know, they are not working together anymore, as Nielsen is more Anand's second.

"Tarjei, Nakamura won in Barcelona in October, Corsica in November, and Gibraltar in January, so he is playing and winning in Europe--not sure what you mean by "risk...playing" in Europe"

Yes, those were all great performances, but he should play more of those if he wants to progress. He needs to "risk" more by playing more. Mangus played several tournaments as the highest rated player. Nakamura would be one of the highest rateds, but I'm sure there will be higher rated Russians in Aeroflot (just as an example).

I think Nakamura is a great player, and can reach the very top, but he needs to show that he is serious about chess by playing in more tournaments. Once he gets anywhere close to 2700, then the invitations will come faster than you can speak out "Hikaru"!

Bu has the strangest trajectory I've ever seen. He hit 2570 by 13, did not improve for maybe five years, then reappeared and continued a slow ascent to his current 2690-ish position.

I kinda wonder if he went to school during that time, or simply stagnated.

Lol. This running argument is like a bunch of street cleaners trying to decide whether The Flash has a right to be in the Justice League or not.

Lol. This running argument is like a bunch of street cleaners trying to decide whether The Flash has a right to be in the Justice League or not.

Posted by: Pale Morning Dun at February 3, 2008 11:15

True, but then what would be better? If only super GMs can comment on chess, or if only top-ten tennis players can have an opinion on Nadal and Federer? That way madness lies...

Interesting comments from Nakamura. I don't doubt it's true, but then chess federations are generally only there for the grass roots (if that). I remember Nigel Short complaining about the situation in English (and it doesn't sound like Norway is much different).

The risk is to get too caught up on it. Chess is an individual sport and real talents shouldn't expect or need the support of any organisation after the early years. I can understand switching to Japan to "punish" the US federation, but other than that what would it achieve? Japan's also not an ideal spot geographically for the chess world. Perhaps they can provide a little cash, but surely it's about investing a little now (if necessary) and going for the best tournaments to try and boost your rating. If that works invitations and sponsorship should flow.

What's the worst that can you happen? You might fail, but at least you know you gave it a chance and you're still a very clever guy with the rest of your life ahead of you. There's no point wallowing in resentment now.

Hikaru could be in a worse country for chess than the U.S. He could be in Canada. Better health care, mind you, but it really says something about our chess support when our professionals leave for greener pastures, like the U.S. :-)

But, Go Hikaru! Win away! We'll cheer you on! Us Canucks don't have anyone from our own country at top levels to cheer on, so we'll cheer for our cousin down the street. Should you leave professional chess though, most of us will completely understand and be sympathetic, but see if can give the top dogs a good ass-kickin' before you go. :-)


I'm not merely speaking financial support, but support in general terms. I should have said "national" support. I mispoke. Nevertheless, a small federation not being able to afford to send an entire team (at considerable expense) is understandable.

Nakamura is an individual who has done some incredible things in American chess. He has gotten very little support here and the media is clueless. I read Scandinavian news and they are always talking about Carlsen, Carlsen, Carlsen. That's the type of support that can get you invitations. However, U.S. is isolated from international chess activity and has not learned the importance. Given the stupidity of the American media demonizing Fischer (in his death), there is little chance for any chess players to get positive attention now.

My comparison with Bu was based on your assertion that being the youngest GM in the world gets a player invitations. I'm saying that it depends on who it is. Bu didn't get many based on your definition. Carlsen has gotten a lion's share and I cannot remember anyone outside of Radjabov to get the same quality of invites as Carlsen... not even Karjakin.

The comments about Nakamura's record were not mine, so will not address those. Here is an interesting article by Macauley Peterson:



Maybe Carlsen got his high rating by playing good moves:

"Carlsen has gotten his high rating primarily by the privilege of playing in elite tournaments."

Maybe Bu did not get early invites because his path to GM gave a strong appearance of being 'accelerated' by his Federation.

"but why did Bu Xiangzhi not get these invites?"


Carlsen got his high rating by improving his game against tough competition. I am not trivializing his strength at all, but he has had the opportunities. Henrik should be applauded for how he has managed his son.

I would agree with your statement about Bu... that was the perception, but it turned out that he was as talented as expected. Many tried to say he skated into his GM title, but if you are not truly a strong talent, you don't get to 2692. He didn't get the invites for reasons we've already mentioned.

Nakamura has the talent to go all the way, he is erratic and in this regard his style is more akin to morozevich. His legendary blitz skills are comparable to Anand's in his youth, but Anand no longer has any interest in blitz so all we can do is speculate on who was more impressive.

You should know that Anand when he was in his teens was beating GM's using only 10 mins on his clock at Classical time controls.

As far as Blitz goes Bobby Fischer was probably the best of all time, this is subjective of course but those that knew him in his heyday would testify to this.

Naka's biggest problems should he reach the elite level will be his rubbish Openings, which simply aren't good enough to compete with the best consistently. By the way Kamsky suffers from the same affliction, and in the end it will also cost him darely as it is not possible to become World Champion by relying on winning equal positions as White out of the opening.

The USA should sponsor Nakamura now that he is reaching his peak and Hire trainers that are reknowned Opening specialist to correct this handicap before it is too late. However it seems that the USCF for many years have considered themselves equal to Fide and arrogantly place far too much importance on their own National ratings and titles such as NM SM instead of focussing on making it easier for players to earn the titles and rating that really matters, that is those awarded by the World Chess body.

I eagerly look forward to seeing Naka's next move, he is an amazing talent and very self confident. Unfortunately such self confidence often breeds jealousy and alienation from ones peers, Lets hope that he manages to rise above these petty biases and put chess back on the map outsite of Europe.


Nakamura changing federation to Japan?! According to the FIDE website, there are no Japanese grandmasters but there is an IM who hales from Japan. Maybe Hikaru could give him a call... Otherwise, maybe one of the five other titled players would work with him.

Don't believe everything you read...

Could Naka specify what he thinks we shouldn't believe?

Obviously he doesn't agree with something in this long, long thread, but we're not mind-readers... especially us brain-cell deficient street-sweeping sub-GM riffraff.

I think if it was really Hikaru posting, he was being a bit facetious about changing federations, but he does have a point. Having a USCF membership as a regular member is almost pointless. The magazine is getting more worthless every month, and I feel like I'm wasting $40 or whatever a year on it. That's probably why Hikaru is in Europe playing chess, to get a feel for what is actually out there for professional players, rather than the feeble attempts by the USCF to organize events... I mean, it's pretty sad that the US Championship cannot even be ran by an organization that collects so many dues from players, only to see the money sunk into a crappy building, and an even crappier magazine.

Didn't Caruana move to Hungary to further his career? Maybe Nakamura should contemplate a stint in Europe to play more and get more visibility. Someone said his openings were rubbish - I don't think you can get to 2670 with "rubbish" - his strength is playing wild positions and the openings seem to be designed to play to his strengths.

Daaim Shabazz wrote:

Carlsen has gotten his high rating primarily by the privilege of playing in elite tournaments.

I don't get it. Are you contending that improved rating is something that inevitably follows from playing in elite events?

If so, why hasn't Vallejo and Van Wely established themselves as super GMs? And how about Bacrot, who crossed 2700 in 2004 by playing mostly lower rated opposition. He then played a number of elite tournaments in 2005/2006, and yet for the past few rating quarters his rating has been at it's lowest since before he crossed 2700.

What gives?

Btw, Carlsen was 2698, higher than Nakamura has ever been, before he played his first elite event.

Now, has Carlsen benefitted from playing in these elite tournaments? Of course, but only because he is talented enough to benefit from it!

I'm assuming what Daaim Shabazz meant is that Carlsen's rating has been boosted because the average rating of his opponents is quite high and elite level events are more draw friendly . For example, in a "shark tank" environment like the Aeroflot open, even the lower-rateds can cause serious damage. In the elite levels most players would be ok with draw as black. This provides you with a cushion. However, it must be said that once the elites smell blood they can be quite ruthless and there are some players like Anand who specialize in hammering the tail.

Hello everyone! I would first like to start by saying that the first post early in this thread was me. Whoever decided to be a complete idiot and write that 2nd post about "not believing everything" is an impostor.

On another note, Dan, I am not being facetious. First of all there is a high likelihood Kamsky might be changing his federation to Russia or Spain, and I very well might do the same in order to get sponsorship. Chess players do not get respect in this country.

I would appreciate it if people did not attempt to imitate me in the future.

Let me start by saying I wrote the first post, but not the 2nd post. I really do not understand why someone thinks they have any right to imitate me.

Secondly, Dan, I was hardly being facetious. Considering the fact that Kamsky might be changing federations to Spain or Russia due to lack of sponsorship, the same could very easily happen with me. All I due in the end is give, give give to the chess culture here in return for...?

If Nakamura had the talent and determination of Carlsen, he would be in the top 10 long ago. This talk about Carlsen having "better opportunities" is just laughable. Carlsen is obviously a better and player and a greater talent, and he has proven that deserves to compete in the most prestigeous tournaments.

Nakamura's result in Gibraltar is good but nothing special. He scored 8/10 against opponents with an average rating of 2507, of which only two were rated above 2600. What is so fantastic about that?

Sorry about that. It looked to me like the first post had never been posted!


Have you ever scored 8/10 with an average opposition rated of 2570?

Nakamura played the people he was paired with. The issue in not his Gibraltar tournament... it is the support (or lack thereof) to achieve his goal. Carlsen has it... Nakamura doesn't. We're not just talking about money, but overall support, invitations and adequate conditions.

Carlsen is better trained, but I would not say he is more talented. Of course, talent is worth little unless it is reaped. Again... if you make it to 2670 with the poor infrastructure of U.S. chess and North American region, then your talent is something to speak of! I'm afraid FM Ray Robson will suffer the same fate.

U.S. Chess Federation had better get on the ball... and fast!! Are you listening U.S.C.F.??

Giants : Super Bowl :: Hikaru : Gibraltar

Mr. Smallville: Was that Carlsen (under the guise of Nielsen) you were playing the other day on ICC?

Daaim Shabazz:

"Have you ever scored 8/10 with an average opposition of 2570?" Now, that is a completely ridiculous question. But to be honest I am 100% certain that I could not have achieved that kind of score. I guess Nakamura is a better player than me! LOL.

The average opposition was 2507, not 2570, and my point was that 8/10 against an average of 2507 is not spectacular at all. Some players who are good at beating lower-rated players would most likely do even better; for example I would expect Morozevich to score at least 9/10 against the same opponents.

This is an interesting and important issue, Hikaru. There are American players with world championship potential (albeit only two, perhaps), but the US chess establishment doesn't know how to support them or doesn't have the will. My impression is that to come up with an organization like USCF, just mix one part corruption and two parts incompetence together in a pot of acid for seven decades.

I'm new to chess (and sporting world in general). I can see that there is great chess talent in Spain and Russia, but how would "sponsorship" there be different from here?

And how does Magnus Carlsen do it? From what I understand, his help has been Norwegian (his dad, Agdestein, Ringdahl-Hansen, Nielsen), and his sponsorship has been his dad and his winnings.

There is more talent in the US to work with than there is in Norway. Is the problem that there isn't a realistic way to fund talent for support? Or are you looking for airline tickets and per diem?

The US gained a lot of good players, if it gives a few back to other countries that's fine. The players don't vanish, they will still be out there playing games. You can enjoy the show no matter what FIDE federation is tagged on their name.

I could be wrong, but it seems the question "Did Hikaru Nakamura receive an invitation for the Corus B tournament and turned it down subsequently?" was not answered yet. If that would be true (until now it is only a rumor), I don't understand the fuss. It would be a great possibility to show the world what he is capable of. And playing 13 rounds in a field of average 2600 is something else than 10 rounds against 2500, good for chess as well.

Carlsen (actually his family) took a big step by touring around Europe for a year. In the end it paid off; not only because he played many games against strong opposition, but also because people got to know his name. And that is a huge benefit when you're looking for invitations.

Now we can chat about all the things the USCF should do to help Nakamura, but isn't that the wrong approach? I wonder if he would accept a trainer, remembering an interview where he said he's afraid that a trainer from the former Soviet Union would pass his opening secrets to his friends.

I think the solution, as often in life, is "Do it yourself.". Looking at others for help, complaining they don't give it, that the infrastructure for chess is bad in the US - it doesn't improve the situation. Maybe taking fate in own hands, live and play in Europe for a year, does.

IIRC, Carlsen has/had sponsorships from companies like Microsoft. With the USCF being dead broke, obviously they really don't have the resources to really help our top players, but I thought that's why Polgar/Truong/etc. were elected to the EC? It's quite sad that an American company like Microsoft would decide to support a Norwegian but not American chess players.

gyc, Carlsen signed a sponsorship deal with Fast, a Norwegian software company that was later bought by Microsoft.

I think The Flash has every right to be in the Justice League, but I have my doubts about Plastic Man. He has barely shown his stuff to date. I mean has he taken on the likes of Braniac? General Zod? Bizarro?! I think not. Perhaps Plastic Man needs more financial support. I heard he had to take a loan out for his costume.

I don't know if this will catch on, but let's say that Bu pulled a New England. Or rather, he Patrioted.( meteoric start followed by a crash at the end)

Bureaucrat: To be fair, Microsoft has certainly played along with the Carlsen deal. He flew to the USA to play chess with Microsoft bigwigs last year. Nice thing about a software company: a few chessplayers around...

Dan Miller: What a time for Tom Brady to turn back into a pumpkin, eh?

All: Nakamura is very talented but just not in the same class as Carlsen, Radjabov, et al. He won't scale Olympus, and has shown little interest in trying until very recently. I'd like to see him get a Sofia level invite, but I doubt he'd perform well. A Shirovesque flameout is probable.

There are surely enough chess fans in the USA to start some sort of sponsorship fund for extremely gifted players. Hundreds of thousands of fans, and just tens of sufficiently gifted players. If someone had the initiative to get a few rich chess fans get the ball rolling...chess fans and players have to get things moving themselves. I see many complaints about how chess is ignored by the media etc. and few concrete moves to counter that. Evans had an idea, a dollar a tournament, for some kind of GM retirement fund; what happened to that?

It's great to see lots of enthusiasm and great fun to read lots of things about my son I wasn't aware of :-)
He was sponsored by Microsoft Norway from 2003-2005 and is indeed sponsored by FAST Search & Transfer now ( and FAST is in the process of being bought by Microsoft), but he has neither played chess in the US nor with any Microsoft bigwigs.

Thanks for the clarification, Henrik. I'm glad to hear he got financial support from Microsoft and is now getting help from FAST.

The support you have given him is more valuable. He's not only a great chess player, but also seems to be a developing into a great man. In particular, the impression I get is that he doesn't have the "I am the world" attitude that a lot of top-level performers have. He seems like a genuinely nice guy with a down-to-earth perspective on the world. I hope he can continue his meteoric rise to the top of the chess world.

Good discussion folks. Maybe somebody is paying attention and can help Nakamura! It's past time, but as someone said, the USCF is broke (after avoiding bankruptcy two years ago). Maybe Google can back Nakamura!! They'll need a boost in publicity if Microsoft succeeds in buying Yahoo! ;-)


You mentioned Hikaru not being in the same class as Carlsen and Radjabov, but you didn't mention Karjakin? Why the ambivalence?


I'm sure Nakamura, Radjabov, Bu, Karjakin, Carlsen will battling soon. How many Anand, Kramnik, Topalov, Gelfand, Leko, Ivanchuk games can we stand?? :-)

"Congrats to Naka. It's been nice to see him prove himself in Europe. And it's always nice to see lame draws by communists get punished. ;)"
-Posted by: Pale Morning Dun at February 3, 2008 01:11

That last sentence is flamebait if I've ever laid eyes on it. I'm pretty sure you're joking, but you do realize that a Bu win would have secured the tournament don't you? And if Bu had won, I guaran-friggin-tee the match fixing allegations would be running rampant in this thread right now.

How many Ivanchuk or Topalov games can we stand? Err, quite a lot!

"Carlsen has gotten his high rating primarily by the privilege of playing in elite tournaments."

Either I'm imagining things, or this line of thinking is popping up a lot these days, but what on earth is it supposed to mean?

Some sort of make it sound like the big tourney organizers had some free tickets to give away, and somehow, they all landed in Carlsen's lap. But is this the case?

Of course not. These weren't tickets to be handed out to "a" promising player, but to a 15 year old poised to break through the 2700 barrier. The biggest Western-European talent in years - maybe ever. A talent named by Kasparov as the cream of the new generation, along with Karjakin and Radjabov (these are all scary talents, and in my worthless opinion you could list these names in any order you like).

Nakamura is an exciting prospect, but noone should pretend or imply that it was a toss-up whether to invite Naka or MC to, say, Morelia/Linares. If anything, the choice was between Karja/MC/[insert name of established elite player here].

Certainly, noone can say that Carlsen's been unlucky with invites, but I fail to see what's supposed to be achieved by bringing this up. Hinting that other players could have done the same with the same invites is just playing the what-if game. It can't be disproved, and for each and every tournament you can say that "player X wasn't there but he could have done just as well as Y". But why do it? Just can't see it.

Intelligent children spending enormous amounts of time in such a useless activity as playing chess - what a waste!

sab, you are right that chess has very little "productive" value and is quite unlike growing food or working in a factory. But a world without artistic and cultural pursuits would be a mighty sad place.

Daaim shabazz wrote:

"Given the stupidity of the American media demonizing Fischer (in his death), there is little chance for any chess players to get positive attention now."

Lucky you that Fischer didn't find the time to "comment" on "Niggas" the way he "commented" on Jews...

If indeed Nakamura declined to play Corus B because the financial conditions were unsatisfactory and opted for Gibraltar instead, I am a little surprised (because with Tata sponsorship on the way I thought Wijk aan Zee could afford to be pretty generous with its appearance fees), but on second thought it looks like Hikaru's business instincts did not fail him. First prize in that big Open probably earned him more than a likely 3rd or 4th place in Corus B would have, and the tournament lasted a week less as well (presumably an important consideration for a college student). Also, that great comeback in the final rounds must have been good for his self-confidence.

The only thing I would like to ask the Naka-fans (if and only if the rumour is true, I repeat) is to stop complaining that he doesn't get enough invitations to closed events, when in fact he does but prefers to collect the cash in Opens...


First, notice the words "children" and "enormous" in the sentence I wrote. They were not used accidentally.

Second, the perception of chess as an artistic pursuit is arguable. With the advancement of chess software especially, to me professional chess looks more like a pursuit of errors. It is a fun game, but so are many other games.

Third, "productive" value can be found not only in production of goods. In my opinion, it is best for children to develop skills and knowledge that have wide applicability and/or are not of accidental value. This of course is not true if making money is of main importance.

The only thing I would like to ask the Naka-fans (if and only if the rumour is true, I repeat) is to stop complaining that he doesn't get enough invitations to closed events, when in fact he does but prefers to collect the cash in Opens...

Posted by: prugno at February 5, 2008 09:40

I thought something similar at first, but looking at the two tournaments I'm not so sure Nakamura made the wrong decision. The Gibraltar tournament was strong (I count 16-17 2600+ rated players). Being a Swiss of course you could end up playing weaker opposition, but if you post a 2700+ performance nothing's gone too wrong from a ratings point of view.

Corus B of course has the one big carrot of a ticket to Corus A for the winner - and then the lesser appeal of all the reflected glory/press coverage from the main tournment. But Nakamura had already played there as well - so it was a toss up between two tournaments he'd been to before. I can see how a nice hotel on a Mediterranean peninsula might win out, even if the grim North might have shown a touch more chess ambition :)

sab, even if you do not appreciate the beauty of the game, others do. You have different tastes, and that's fine. Please do enjoy what you enjoy!

Also, the discussion was about Nakamura and Carlsen, who did indeed spend an enormous amount of time learning chess when they were children, but they can hardly be called "children" anymore. It is up to them, not you, to judge whether their time was wasted.

prugno wrote:
First prize in that big Open probably earned him more than a likely 3rd or 4th place in Corus B would have, and the tournament lasted a week less as well (presumably an important consideration for a college student).

Nakamura hasn't attended college in a while, and apparently does not plan returning. This according to a ChessFM interview a couple of months back:

Dan, you are missing the gist of my comments. Apparently, even studying chess openings can be better than a discussion with you - still waste of time but at least enjoyable.

There seem to be a lot of Naka haters out there, most of whom are just jealous losers that argue all day on chess blogs.

He's won 3 fairly big tournaments in a row, probably won 75k+ in the last year. Ok maybe he's not top 10 material right now, but does a player have to be top 10 to get any respect? Just give him some props for his accomplishments.

Truth be told,

What does your statement have to do with chess?

Truth wrote:

"Lucky you that Fischer didn't find the time to 'comment' on 'Niggas' the way he 'commented' on Jews..."

So, Daaim asks:

"What does your statement have to do with chess?"

My point is quite simple: you accused the "media" of "demonizing" Fischer, only because the media is objective enough to recognize that his numerous baseless accusations and vile statements against Soviets and especially Jews were something that gravely tarnished Fischer's image and spoke volumes about his mental state and nasty personality. He rejected his own mother at 16!

Since you are a very proud member of the "African-American" community, I'm pretty sure that your idea of the "media" actually "demonizing" Fischer would be completely different if he had riled against "Niggers" instead of Jews.

That's all.

(I'm not a Jew, btw - so, I'm not being biased).

Because only Jews can be biased :-)

This will be the last time I post on here for some time so I would like to clear up a few issues. Let me start by saying that I was indeed given the opportunity to play in Corus B. That being said, the financial offer, quite frankly, was insulting. When you consider the fact that I got a better offer when I played back in 2004, it says a lot! Secondly, I am at the age now, where when I play chess tournaments I don't solely play because my only purpose is to bash in people's egos ala CrazyMan Fischer. I go to play good chess and enjoy myself. When I go to a place like Gibraltar where the weather is nice, (Wijk aan Zee is rain and clouds every day)I find the whole atmosphere entirely more relaxing.

Mishanp, I'm not quite sure what you refer to about invites when the only one I had last year was for Barcelona! Also, outside of the obvious incentive to play in the A Group, the winner of the B group in Corus made $3000 or 3000 Euros (don't remember right off which number is accurate), and when I compare this to Gibraltar where people are friendly,financial conditions are better, and the weather is nice; the choice becomes quite simple.

On another note, Brad, there are plenty of haters of me not just solely for my great results lately. Sure, I had my two years of internet insanity back when I was quite the arrogant bad boy, but times change and above all people change. Sadly, there are still people who like to hang onto the past then live in the present.

Lastly, I am around 2690 right now and my goal is 2730 by the end of the year. Hopefully the Armenian tournament in Karabakh which I finished second behind Aronian in 2005 will be rated at some point since I picked up five points there, but who knows since the Azeri's seem to have too much sway with Fide.

Peace out!

"I had my two years of internet insanity back when I was quite the arrogant bad boy, but times change and above all people change." Admitting earlier weaknesses, and a will to change. Man, for what it's worth, you have just gained some well deserved respect from a previous skeptic.

"Congrats to Naka. It's been nice to see him prove himself in Europe. And it's always nice to see lame draws by communists get punished. ;)"
-Posted by: Pale Morning Dun at February 3, 2008 01:11

That last sentence is flamebait if I've ever laid eyes on it. I'm pretty sure you're joking, but you do realize that a Bu win would have secured the tournament don't you? And if Bu had won, I guaran-friggin-tee the match fixing allegations would be running rampant in this thread right now.

Posted by: Cynical Gripe at February 4, 2008 18:30

Cynical Gripe, I was joking. I'm not sure what flamebait is. Anycase, hard to imagine a Bu win would be considered match fixing since he had been doing so well in the tourney up until he decided for the lame draw.

Naka's fighting spirit should be commended. Bu's lame draw should be made fun of. Why? Because none of this particularly matters except in the realm of sports-talk conjecture. So jokes here and there are part of the territory. We are not debating nuclear proliferation or Sudanese genocide here.

120 posts this has gone on....jeez.

Thanks for posting Hikaru and clarifying things for us. Good luck to you.


Just to clear one thing up - I was quoting "prugno" (& ultimately disagreeing with him) so the invitations comment wasn't mine. It's still weird that you don't get more invites, but I guess the chess world is bizarre in general!

Anyway, kudos for the tournament win, your balanced comments on here and also your website (which I just found recently). It'll be great if you can get up into the 2700+ realm!

"That being said, the financial offer, quite frankly, was insulting."

No mini-bar?

"Magnus has primarily played in Europe with a GM trainer, support from the government and sports academy, support from chess federation"

That sounds good. It fully explains why Carlsen got where he is. Except that the only really true thing in that quote, is the part about Carlsen mainly playing in Europe. Except, of course, if the writer with "support" meant something like "yeah, he's a nice lad, we wish him good luck". :)

If we're going to have a serious debate about this, then the Americans (or just everyone who thinks the quote above tells something true and significant) should begin by aquiring some good knowledge about Carlsen and his background. Reading Wonderboy is a good start, for those who have time and can afford it - by doing that, any belief that Carlsen was brought up and followed around by a GM will be falsified by GM Simen Agdestein himself. Or you can read Carlsen's father Henrik's great blog about his GM son - I'll refer you to the most relevant blog items if you like. Or you can ask me, I'm in many ways a "walking encyclopedia" regarding GM Carlsen, the chess player, if I can be so free. And unlike the writer of the quote above, I actually know something about the Norwegian chess federation, its economy (based on a couple thousand members and no real sponsor), the Norwegian government and its (non-existing) program for supporting young chess stars like Carlsen, the Norwegian "sports academy" and its (practically non-existing) role in Carlsen's rise to 2700.

Equally I'll listen to what you have to say about chess in the US, what works and what does not over there and so on. I've read quite a lot about it already, so I've got an impression, but there might be things I've misunderstood, and I'd be happy to let you enlighten me. I've also got a few theories why Nakamura has taken some of the choices he has, and some of those will surely be denied by him himself (and his greatest fans). While surely Mr Nakamura is the expert regarding himself, it's a strange thing when the topic of discussion comes very close to oneself - some times one would like the reality to be different from what it is. :)

One thing I'd like to say about Carlsen, though, is that he's a very humble, young man. Unlike young stars in Hollywood and many other places, he has no vanity or disproportioned pride. As a rising and improving chess player, I think that's a very healthy characteristic. And he's done good taking the opportunities that have opened to him.


"I think that's a very healthy characteristic."

Healthy for Magnus, maybe, but not for chess.
Please beg him to start whining about appearance fees, invitations, ANYTHING, so the rest of the players won't look bad.

"Carlsen has gotten his high rating primarily by the privilege of playing in elite tournaments."

This is just false.

"Carlsen got his high rating by improving his game against tough competition."

This moderation depends on your definition of "tough competition". But Nakamura would've met that "tough competition" needed (according to the writer of the quotes above) by playing Corus B. Consider these numbers:

Average opposition 2004
Nakamura 2563 (65 games +22 -12 =31 -> performance: 2617) rating: 2571 -> 2613
Carlsen 2564 (84 games +24 -25 =35 -> performance: 2559) rating: 2484 -> 2553
Yearly gain Naka: 42
Yearly gain Carlsen: 69

Average opposition 2005
Nakamura 2585 (65 games +25 -13 =27 -> performance: 2650) rating: 2613 -> 2644
Carlsen 2596 (90 games +24 -20 =46 -> performance: 2611) rating: 2553 -> 2625
Yearly gain Naka: 31
Yearly gain Carlsen: 72

Average opposition 2006
Nakamura 2579 (33 +15 -6 =12 -> performance: 2677) rating: 2644 -> 2651
Carlsen 2620 (86 games +32 -11 =43 -> performance: 2707) rating: 2625 -> 2690
Yearly gain Naka: 7
Yearly gain Carlsen: 65

November 2006: First elite tournament for Carlsen (Tal Memorial)

Average opposition 2007
Nakamura 2543 (55 +25 -9 =21 -> performance: 2643) rating: 2651 -> 2670
Carlsen 2678 (100 games +31 -16 =53 -> performance: 2730) rating: 2690 -> 2733
Yearly gain Naka: 19
Yearly gain Carlsen: 43

Gain 2004-2007 Naka: 99 points (2571 -> 2670)
Gain 2004-2007 Carlsen: 259 points (2484 -> 2733)

All sorts of (hasty) conclusions can be drawn from these data, of course. I agree very much that Nakamura needs to play stronger players to continue his rise. More about that in a second. Carlsen however, made it to 2698 (october 2006 rating) _before_ playing a single Elite tournament (category 19 events and higher, like Linares, Corus A, Dortmund, MTel, Tal Memorial), but by playing tournaments with an average strength like Corus B 2008 and weaker.

His two first experiences with elite tournaments didn't exactly help his rating, or his 2006 performance: without Tal Memorial, his stats for 2006 would've been these:

Average 2607 (instead of 2620)
77 games +32 -9 =36
Performance: 2717 (instead of 2707)
Rating January 2007: 2696 (instead of 2690)

Carlsen lost 6 rating points in Tal Memorial 2006, and lost 14,5 rating points in Corus A 2007, before he almost made up for it in Linares 2007. Bottom line, though, is that Carlsen made it to 2698 without playing a single category 19 tournament - he possibly played one (1) category 18 (I haven't checked).


Back to Nakamura:

Which tournaments should Nakamura play to up his rating and improve? He doesn't need to go to playing averages of 2670+ (like Carlsen did last year - in 2007), he needs to go from playing 2500-averages to facing 2600-averages first! What is that?

It's not US swiss opens
It's not European opens like these:
Gibtelecom 2007 - Naka faced a 2468 average
Gibtelecom 2008 - Naka faced a 2507 average
Even if you win every game in those tournaments above, you play at most 2-4 2600-players.

But rather opens like Moscow Open and Aeroflot Open (which you can play if you want to - you need no invitation), where Carlsen back in 2004 faced an average of 2580, scoring "only" 5,5 points. The winners usually face averages of about 2600. Two good things about Aeroflot A: it has a lower rating limit of 2550, and the winner qualifies for Dortmund the next year.

or invitationals like these:

Magistral Cuidad de Barcelona 2007 - Naka faced average of 2602
Corus B 2008, which had an average of 2618 - and which Nakamura declined to participate in.

I had planned to write some more, but now I've got to go - I'll play Carlsen OTB within an hour from now, wish me luck! :)


Your reasoned analysis and detailed figures are impressive.

But they violate the core principle of this blog, which is that empty opinions are advanced as fact, and vigorously defended with as much sarcasm as possible.

Hans et al., I think you are right that the way to improve your play the most is to play against tougher competition. That would explain why Magnus chose to play Corus C and B and Aeroflot a few years ago and then get crushed in Corus A and Tal Memorial a year ago. Playing against the strongest competition he could find has made him super strong.

Nakamura seems to have a different approach. He really enjoys playing, wants to keep winning, and likes big purses and comfortable surroundings (like Gibraltar)--enjoy! There's nothing wrong with that, but I'd think that to move to the very top would require playing against the toughest competition around as much as possible, whether you play for pennies in rainy Netherlands or in Moscow in the middle of the winter--not exactly comfortable surroundings and not great chances of winning and no big bucks if you do win. And even after going through all that, there's no guarantee of cracking the ranks of the elite and the shot at the big-time tournaments and matches. But the chances of breaking through without the rigors of the toughest competitions have to be slimmer.


of course you should enjoy playing and like winning - I'm sure Carlsen does both, as well as Nakamura :)

However, I think Naka is a bit shortsighted when he turns down Corus B and doesn't go to Aeroflot open - europeans in a similar situation would do that (the situation being, not longer a prodigy with special treatment due to young age, but still young and promising, and in lack of top invitations). Seek and play the best opposition you can get, improve your rating and you might have a chance.

In terms of money, it's beyond doubt that the top 15 players in the world make clearly more on chess than Nakamura (even though it seems quite easy for a 2670-player to get a place in the shared tie for first in most us opens where 4-8 gms often share the money - typically around $5000 since shared between so many). Some examples: Linares sports 8 players with €315 000 in prizes - last year Carlsen and Moro split the prizes for 2nd and 3rd, getting €62 500 each - or $90 000 (Anand got €100 000, roughly $145 000).

Not directly from the organizer, but based on some reliable input, the appearance fees for Corus A this year totalled something in the ballpark of $130-150 000 for the 14 players there, with single fees varying from roughly $5 000 to $40 000 depending on the player's market value - expect something similar for the other top tournaments with lower or no money prizes (Dortmund and MTel, typically).

But the road to those "golden" invitations goes via tournaments like Aeroflot, Corus B and similar. In Europe, the respect (and invitations) gained from bashing 2400- and 2500-players isn't overwhelming. If Nakamura still prefers to go pickpocketing in US swisses or play semi-strong European opens like Gibtelecom (due to the weather!), then I hope he and his fans understand the consequences. No organizer invites a person used to playing 2500s to an event with only 2700s.

Even Akopian, rated around 2700 "for ages" (exactly 2700 on the january list), isn't considered strong enough for the really elite events - right now he's trying his luck in the Moscow Open - I bet he's going to play in Aeroflot as well. The point is - European GMs don't have sponsors or get invited to the Elite tournaments due to being rated 2640-2670 like Nakamura has been for the last couple of years. In that respect Nakamura has no more reason to complain than 30 other players with similar strength (2655-2690) - remember that Naka only had the 68th strongest rating performance in FIDE events in 2007, and he was rated number 43 in the world in april 2005 - in january 2008 he's number 46...

Of course, I'd hope that Nakamura would challenge himself to see how far he can go in terms of chess. If the only motivation to become an elite player is the positive thing it would do for your bank account, then he might as well continue to pickpocket US master players in US opens :o) To me, Nakamura appears to be a great talent, even if not quite comparable to Radjabov, Karjakin and Carlsen, in my opinion (and most Naka fans will disagree, of course). But possibly Naka is too much a child of the society he's brought up in to become an elite chess player...

(How's that for an ending in a US blog mostly read (I assume) by Americans? :)

"(How's that for an ending in a US blog mostly read (I assume) by Americans? :)"

Hans, thanks for the informed and interesting posts.

AFAIK, the market value, in the US, for titled players to participate in a 9 round invitational FIDE "norm" tournament appears to be in the $500-$1000 range, which may not even be enough to cover travel and lodging. Reference: http://www.nachess.org

Truth is that most Americans don't value or appreciate chess. To most, it's just another game like checkers or darts (sorry if there are checkers and darts fans reading this...).


What do your statements have to do with chess??

Hans Arild Runde,

You missed a post of mine. I already admitted that mistake in the statement you referenced in your first post.

Interesting stats. Indeed Carlsen has improved dramatically and I still believe it is due to access to a more favorable environment and "elite" competition.

Need clarification on the stats...

In 2004, Hikaru's average opposition is one ELO point less than Magnus, he got a higher performance rating, a higher win percentage, yet he earned almost 30 fewer points. Same issue in 2005. Can that be???


So, Daaim asks:

"What does your statements have to do with chess?"

My point is quite simple: you accused the "media" of "demonizing" Fischer, only because the media is objective enough to recognize that his numerous baseless accusations and vile statements against Soviets and especially Jews were something that gravely tarnished Fischer's image and spoke volumes about his mental state and nasty personality. He rejected his own mother at 16!

Since you are a very proud member of the "African-American" community, I'm pretty sure that your idea of the "media" actually "demonizing" Fischer would be completely different if he had riled against "Niggers" instead of Jews...

"Truth" (telling falsehoods),

You sound as bad as Fischer. Nevertheless, he never had any beef with Blacks. Your point is moot.

Anyway he has passed on and let him rest in peace. Great, great player.

Of course its absolutely normal, Daaim, because Nakamura's Elo was 60-100 points higher to start with. The difference between rating and TPR was higher for Carlsen, and he played a lot more games.

By the way 'win percentage' is irrelevant, the information is captured in TPR.

"In 2004, Hikaru's average opposition is one ELO point less than Magnus, he got a higher performance rating, a higher win percentage, yet he earned almost 30 fewer points. Same issue in 2005. Can that be???"

And, Daaim, Truth does have a point, although I do not see any need for him to express it in terms of black people.

The media did not "demonize" Fischer, he did it to himself. If you were Jewish you would maybe be more sensitive to the bad side of Fischer.

"Truth" is far too sensitive and himself deliberately and repeatedly disrespectful to DS. Nobody here supported Fischer's remarks on Jews or even quoted them, whatever they may be. Some Jews are waaay too sensitive about these things.


We have allowed Truth (falsehood) an audience he did not deserve. This issue is not about Fischer actions against Jews. Who ever made any mention of that except Truth (falsehood).

The point was that the media has created negative impressions of chess (by lambasting Fischer) and have done so more in virulent fashion after Fischer's death than when he was living. To me that is cheap.

We went years without reading anything about Fischer even while these statements were being made. I remember his 9/11 comments and they received comdemnation, but it simply went away and he was written off as a bitter and a man in need of counsel.

It does a horrible disservice to chess in America and more damage to those like Nakamura who is forced into a position to condemn Fischer... since Nakamura's comparison to Fischer is to hard to ignore. Why should Nakamura but put in that position when people bring up Fischer?

Fischer has made comments for decades, but now they want to report on these (and write all types of reports and essays) with a frenzy now that he had died? These are people with no stake in chess and could not care less about the sport we love and enjoy.


I still don't see that rating difference as the factor creating such a difference. Certainly Carlsen would have gained more, but look at the difference. They seem a bit inflated. Notice... the gap is even wider in 2005 and the ratings are closer.

Maybe our Norweigen friend Hans can shed light on his figures. I'm interested.

Sorry. I'm meant "Norwegian" or perhaps I should use "Scandanavian."

Daaim said:

"The point was that the media has created negative impressions of chess (by lambasting Fischer) and have done so more in virulent fashion after Fischer's death than when he was living. To me that is cheap. "

Absolutely false. Fischer just died and, QUITE NATURALLY, the media will REVISIT his carrer and life. It happens with every person of noriety.

You chose to VERY ARBITRARILY categorize the media's fair assessment of Fischer good and bad sides as "demonizing" Fischer. In doing so, you belittle the great hurt that his insults and baseless accusations could have caused in other people (Kasparov and Karpov were not great players, the Holocaust didn't take plce, 911 was very good, etc., etc.).

Knowing how militant you are about all things "black", I reminded you that you wouldn't be so "forgiving" of Fischer if he had referred to backs as "Niggers" and proceeded to claim that slavery was a great service to backs because by becoming enslaved they had the privilege of coming in contact with superior people.

And no, portraying Fischer the way he REALLY was does not do a "horrible disservice to chess in America". Chess is great with or without people like Fischer.

In any case, what's the harm in saying - as any rational and fair-minded person would - that Fischer was one of the greatest players ever and also a derranged, vile human being?

Since when is the truth so damaging?

BTW, before you try to play the cheap racial card, let me tell you that I'm LATIN, not Jewish. I have black blood in me. That, however, does not blind me to the simple fact that utterly nasty, vile statements like the ones made by Fischer should NEVER be tolerated or glossed over as you just did. By adopting your morally bankrupt stance you are, in effect, creating the conditions that resulted some of the most horrendous crimes agains humanity: slavery, holocaust and racism.

As a well-schooled black person, you - of all people - should know better than abet Fischer's despicable actions.

Daaim Shabazz,

I'd be careful of using terms like "inflation" if I didn't even know how ratings are calculated, like it's become rather evident to me that you don't :) Excuse for being so direct, and of course, not knowing something is no crime at all. I'll try to get you up to speed in a flash!

First of all - there is no direct relation between performance ratings and rating changes. The performance measure is _not_ linked to the player's rating, while rating changes are. Based on the difference between you and your opponents, you are expected to score a certain amount of points. In the world cup 2005 for example, Carlsen (2570) played 14 rated games, was expected to score 5,44 points in 14 games against his 2652 opposition, but actually got 8 points in those games. The formula for gain/loss is (Score - Expected score) * Coefficient, or (S-E)*C. For players above 2400, the coefficient is 10, so Carlsen gained (8 - 5,44) * 10 points = 25,6 points for that event alone.

Regarding Carlsen's rating development in 2005, it was a bit strange: first he dropped from 2553 in january to 2528 in july 2005, having a quite bad period in terms of rating performance/development, where he even lost several games against low rated players. Then at some point around summer 2005 he started consistently performing 2700+ in almost all events he played, while being rated 2528 for 3 months and 2570 the next 3 months - in half a year he went from 2528 -> 2570 -> 2625, +97 points in two lists, and he actually continued performing around 2700, gaining 50 points from january to july 2006, reaching 2675 for a 147 point gain in 12 months.

The "delayed" effect on his rating all through that period (while he seemed to jump to 2700-level almost over night), made him keep scoring way over his expected score at 2528, 2570, 2625 and 2646. Also the stats above disguise the fact that carlsen played badly for the first half of 2005, but he ONLY played 37 games then, while after he started performing mostly at 2700, he played 72 games in the last two rating periods of 2005.

So, actually it was half a year with a performance of 2450-2500ish plus half a year with a performance of 2700ish, which in total became 2611.

Also, there is another confusing aspect above: The "rating year" is actually December to December, due to the reports for the January lists having to be sent in by December 1st, mainly including games played between September 1st and November 30th (but possibly also from before that period, due to late reports). However, the performance statistics above are calculated from when the games actually took place, so the stats are slightly skewed - which can be seen by comparing the game counts.

Let me point you to the really interesting stats, from 2006:

Nakamura 2579 (33 games +15 -6 =12 -> performance: 2677) rating: 2644 -> 2651
Carlsen 2620 (86 games +32 -11 =43 -> performance: 2707) rating: 2625 -> 2690

Like I said, disregarding Carlsen's "learning period" in elite tournaments, we can take out Tal Memorial to make things more comparable:

Nakamura 2579 (33 games +15 -6 =12 -> performance: 2677) rating: 2644 -> 2651
Carlsen 2607 (77 games +32 -9 =36 -> performance: 2717) rating: 2625 -> 2696

The difference in opposition is quite small, roughly 25 points higher for Carlsen. But still he scores 64,9% while Nakamura scores 63,6%. This equals a difference in performance of 40 points - 2677 vs 2717. More important, though, is that he plays more than twice the number of games at that _higher_ level (77 vs 33), therefore gaining many more points.

Remember the formula for gain/loss? Assume you're scoring 50% more than expected on average. If you play 10 games, your gain is (10*1,5E - 10E) * C = 5EC. If you play 20 games, your gain is (20*1,5E - 20E) * C = 10EC. Or twice as much. This is rather self-evident, of course, but this clearly shows that as long as you are overperforming, doing so for many games gains more rating than doing so for fewer games.

I hope this sorted out some of the confusion. I need to get back to you regarding Norway as a healthier environment for becoming a top chess player than the US, because that's only partly the case, the only advantage being geographical closeness to the rest of Europe.

In all other respects, the US should be better in terms of history and traditions, active players, number of strong GMs, potential for private funding and so on. Before 1985, Norway had never had a GM in chess, for instance, and the tournaments available nationally have declined in number and size for 20 years straight, and so on...

And while tournaments exist elsewhere in Europe, the Carlsen family couldn't exactly send their promising 11-year-old son on a trip around Europe alone to be able to compete and improve his game. First of all, skipping school for doing such a thing is illegal in Norway, unless alternative teaching has been approved and guaranteed, and then it's the money needed to travel around like that, for Carlsen and his company. When Carlsen did leave traditional school for one (single) year, it should be fairly well known that it was made possible by

1) The parents teaching their children themselves
2) The Carlsen family selling one of their two cars.
3) The Carlsen family renting out their house (!) for a year, living together with Carlsen's grandparents while in Norway.

I don't know what Nakamura has done in order to get where he is, but Carlsen's family surely had to provide the basic funding themselves to get the wheels turning in the first place.

"Maybe our Norweigen friend Hans can shed light on his figures. I'm interested."

Daaim, respectfully, any already explained this in general terms:

"the difference between rating and TPR was higher for Carlsen, and he played a lot more games."

In other words, a lower-rated player (eg, Carlson, 2553) will gain more rating points than a higher-rated player (eg, Nakamura, 2613) if they both achieve the same performance rating.

Also, a performance rating achieved over a greater number of games (eg, Carlson, 90) will result in a greater rating increase than the same performance rating achieved over a lesser number of games (eg, Nakamura, 65).

It's simply how the rating system works. It should be easy to find references on the web (as well as rating "calculators" where you could
simulate different scenarios).

I might also add that Nakamura's and Carlson's tournament results and rating histories are a matter of record on the fide.com web site-- easy to verify.

Another top-notch post by Hans, which I didn't see before posting my own...

Truth (falsehood):

I have not discussed Fischer's history nor condoned any of his comments. You should take your rancor, racial ephitets and bitterness to the other current thread on Fischer. In your statements, you reveal some of your own hatred while you are accusing someone else of theirs.


Fischer was the greatest. Shut up!

Daaim wrote:

"I have not discussed Fischer's history nor condoned any of his comments. "

By saying that Fischer was "demonized" by the media, you implied that the media was acting unfairly. That amounts to condoning Fischer's behavior.

The question is: why would you do that?

Knowing your militant history, I can only specualate as to the real reasons for your unethical position, but that will be material for another time...

"You should take your rancor, racial ephitets and bitterness to the other current thread on Fischer."

It is pretty clear that I'm not the one with the gigantic chip on the shoulder, if you know what I mean...

"In your statements, you reveal some of your own hatred while you are accusing someone else of theirs."

The truth hurts, doesn't it?


Thanks. You know a lot more than me about rating issues. I understand that performance ratings are only a measure of the games played in that tournament, but the numbers (rating differences, average rating opp.) still seemed to be a bit strange when presented. You admitted as much. Your explanation clarified matter.

It appears as if frequency of play is a big factor and thus, proximity is key. America (and Canada) are indeed isolated. Check out the map and where strong chess is played. Even in America, strong players are spread out widely around the country. You point out reasons why America SHOULD be a better environment, but it's not the case. Have you ever thought why America has gone decades without raising a top-50 GM before Nakamura (despite all the factors you are stating)?

Certainly Nakamura's family have made tremendous sacrifices as well. He also had a short stint when he focused on his college studies and was away from chess. In another American case, we can clearly see the case of Fabiano Caruana's family and what sacrifices can bring. They decided to leave America. IMHO, Fabiano would probably be a 2450-2500 IM if he had stayed here.

I have no doubt that Carlsen's family sacrificed for what he has accomplished. However, he is in a better place if we are discussing access to a suitable chess environment. He has taken advantage of the opportunity and his family has made the sacrifices to make him successful.

I AM Jewish, and I think "Truth's" campaign to brand Daaim's statements about Fischer and the media as somehow anti-Semitic, is really over-the-top.

Save your accusations for people that really deserve them, "Truth". It's not like real anti-Semitic invective is so rare - either here, on chess servers, or elsewhere on the Internet - that you have to go manufacture straw targets to lash out at (i.e., people who admire Fischer's chess without bringing up his views).

Just last week on a chess server, someone I beat in a single 2-minute game started off calling me a cheater, then followed up with, "You must be a fat Jew."

Anyway, an interesting sideline that occurred to me while reviewing Paul Hoffman's latest book is: chess players (as a group) and Jews (as a group) have a great many things in common. Mainly in terms of how the general public perceives each - and even how they perceive themselves in relation to the wider world.

Think about it: serious chess players mostly inhabit their own highly specialized world, many associate with (and even marry) primarily other chess players. The activity itself takes place indoors, is prone to be defined as excessively intellectual, and is not associated with ruddy health or physicality (i.e. the idea of a Jewish jock and a chess-playing jock sound about equally counter-intuitive). Both chess players and Jews subscribe to their own respective "holy" books, each written in a specialized language that's spoken or even understood by almost no one outside the group. Neither practice has any practical value; the benefits are spiritual/intellectual/internal, and invisible to the outside observer (well, any genuine anti-Semites reading this may dispute that last observation, which rejects the superstition of clandestine Jewish cooperation to benefit one another, the ZOG, or whatever).

Finally, the scorn of the masses has driven both Jews and chess players into a defensive mind-set, that makes the "clannish" stereotype a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. I don't know whether maybe Asian-Americans, socializing at a party, say, if they happen to see a piece of news might blurt out, "Is it good (bad) for Asians?" I'm pretty sure that African-Americans don't, except maybe their political leaders. But Jews routinely do: anything from a political development in the US or Europe, to an "incident" in the Mideast, that might happen to involve a recognizably Jewish figure or issue, usually sparks a flurry of "What will it mean for the Jews?" agonizing - not just among Jewish intellectuals, but among the hoi polloi.

AND IT'S THE SAME FOR CHESS PLAYERS! I became aware of this when I mentioned to a NY master named Oliver Chernin that I was reading Hallman's "The Chess Artist" and I really enjoyed it. Oliver immediately replied, "It's bad for chess."


Before accusing anyone of anything, a fair-minded person would certainly wonder why Daaim would consider the media's fair portrait of Fischer as "demonizing", in the first place...

Daaim, the US doesn't produce very many top 50s, but Yassir Seirawan is one who came after Fischer and before Nakamura.


He did, but how long ago was that? It has been about two decades. There were many talented players (and GMs), but many never threatened to break into the upper echelon of chess. Seirawan was one, but again... twenty years ago. I'm not sure the Benjamins, Fedorwiczs or the DeFirmians got much support either. Nakamura is quite special in realizing his talent inspite of the conditions.

Daaim, two decades?! Hmmmm....I guess you are right. My, how time passes!


Nakamura is a grown up now (and has been for a couple of years already). Just like anyone wanting to be a professional baseball player should leave where they are and move to the US, and like those who want to make the biggest money and play for the most famous teams in soccer will need to go to Europe (some might prefer South-America, but well...) - if you want to be a top notch chess professional, then Europe will be your workplace. Two chinese players have made 2700, Anand isn't exactly living or playing his chess in India, and even a number of the Russians and other East-Europeans have moved closer to where the tournaments are.

There was little "wrong" with Nakamura's development a couple of years back, but instead of opting for a logical transition from being a "young and promising" amateur to being a "young, but grown up professional", it seems Nakamura has preferred to "hang around" in the US, picking decent money prizes in relatively weak (compared to Europe) US swisses. This looks more like a way to fund a pleasant college life with great economical freedom, than a serious effort at becoming a chess professional. The latter desire would meant living major parts of the year in Europe, in my opinion.

Regarding sponsorship and invitations, I think Nakamura would do good realizing that he's not exceptional enough to receive a sponsorship for being an extremely promising youngster (at least not anymore), while he hasn't been successful enough (in events that European organizers value highly) to be offered other conditions than the typical European 20-year old with a 2650+ rating. There are at least 30-40 players around in Europe outside the elite (that participate in the top notch events) at a level comparable to Nakamura's. Roughly half of these are rather young players (still improving) born in the 80s and later. There are hardly anyone among those with significant sponsorship, and I don't see any of them asking for it, either.

Basically, it's down to becoming serious about having a chess career. The workplace is Europe, whether one likes it or not. The way I see it, Nakamura must decide for himself what he wants - the opportunities are over here, but it takes work and some sacrifices for an American to become top flight chess professional (as it does for an Indian, Chinese, Australian, and so on).

Talents in other sports often have to make this choice at an even earlier age - so the only real problem Nakamura possibly has, is that he can lead a rather pleasant life as it is, in the US, as a semi-professional. But it's (way) beyond the point where he can blame anyone but himself for any further opportunities spoilt...


Good post. I'm in agreement with your statements and I have no objections, but I will say this...

I'm a former baseball player and it possible to play in the Domincan Republic, Cuba, Panama and many other countries and still make it in the best baseball league (without moving there and working your way up). I doesn't make sense to do that in baseball. The key is there are all types of scouts scouring these countries for talent... even in the poorest parts of these countries. They will find YOU.

The structure is also very different in team sports... you can't as easily walk into a training camp and make a pro team. Sometimes it is more than talent, it is who you know. You're better off playing in European leagues or Asian leagues and contine dominating and hope to get a break playing in the NBA if a scout spots you. Get a publicity agent and tell them to get creative and earn their pay.

The problem with America is that the structure for chess is worse than the baseball structure in the resource-poor Dominican Republic, or the basketball structure in talent-rich China. There is little support and the federation almost went bankrupt two years ago. The most notable US-player to have tried the European circuit is GM Nick DeFirmian. He been a critique of American chess environment and the crap-shoot Swiss tournaments.

The conditions under which Chinese (Wang and Bu) made 2700 was very different... I'm sure you know this. They live in China where there is little chess for the masses, but the government support (literally) is tremendous for the national players. They have set up matches with strong federations, get conditions and have rigorous training. The Chinese women have thoroughly dominated chess for 20 years without playing most of their chess in Europe. Hou Yifan is a sensation and has only recently begun playing regularly in Europe. I'm going there in a month so maybe I see for myself.

I believe if Nakamura got a good corporate sponsor (like the Indian tech companies sponsor their players), then he could probably travel and spend more time in Europe. He couldn't merely move to Europe without a sponsor. It's not cheap there. I believe that if Sunil (stepfather) and Hikaru can keep searching for sponsors here to fund his efforts, they would be successful.

I hope for Naka's sake he does something better with his life (and brains) than play chess.

Specifically, he could walk in Maxim Dlugy's path and make billions in finance, right across the river in NYC. And then maybe sponsor chess. Or try to make millions in Silicon Valley.

The US probably has as much, if not more raw talent than Russia, except these would-be 2700s go into other, more attractive fields.

Fischer was a cowarx for what he did, If he had any cajones he would have defended the title but he knew his time was up, if he lost to Karpov would anyone be talking about him now?? He ran when competetion was there and then said unspeakable things about a people who have been persecuted 100 times more than blacks, who cry like babies by the way in comparison, he was a coward.

Fischer excelled at what he did, so his comments are accepted. And if he had been a reasonably talented but nothing too special GM, why then I believe his detractors would be far more numerous. Says a lot about the way our minds work. He advocated the destruction of his own country; his myth is so deep that even American chessplayers defend him. He was "sick"...well so was Hitler I guess.


chesschire cat,

I beg to differ. If Fischer was a lesser-GM, he would have FEWER detractors, not more. The social costs aren't as high and neither is the "perceived" credibility and status of his comments.

Nakamura stated something very interesting in one of his posts. He states that people still hold him to behavior when he was an obnoxious young teen and an ICC bully. However, Nakamura has moved on with life and is apparently adjusting quite well. I'm happy for him and believe that he (and Carlsen) is good for chess. However, I believe that Nakamura feels compelled to condemn Fischer's remarks because he is often compared to him (fairly or unfairly). This may be a question sponsors will ask because of what they read in the non-chess media about Fischer.

In Fischer's case, his comments were made in the last part of his life. However, we went decades without hearing anything of Fischer while he was making all types of inflammatory speeches. The media did not squarely confront him while he was living, yet they thoroughly lambaste him in his death. That is what I call a cowardly act.

Some of the things Fischer commented on were well-documented on his website. However, if people can sit at this blog and watch others make racial remarks (and say nothing... except for SH), yet point out that Fischer made hateful remarks, then I see hypocrisy.

Well, Daaim, SH contributed this nice one-liner:

"Some Jews are waaay too sensitive about these things."

Maybe you think you see hypocrisy, but you also exhibit hypocrisy.

Daaim wrote:

"If Fischer was a lesser-GM, he would have FEWER detractors"


Either you don't know the meaning of the word or you are being a hypocrite.

When the press, or anyone, portrays Fischer as a vile, despicable human being who nevertheless achieved legendary greatness at the chessboard, they are only telling the truth.

Fischer was great - one of the greatest players ever. He was also vile - a very nasty, dishonest, lowly human being.

What's wrong with portraying Fischer the way he really was? Maybe you don't think his actions away from the chessboard were reprehensible?

"The media did not squarely confront him while he was living, yet they thoroughly lambaste him in his death."

Once gain, the media did NOT "lambaste" him. They ony portrayed him the way he really was.

And the reason they are talking about Fischer now is because he just died. Doesn't that make sense to you? Let me give you an example:

Nobody is talking aobut Kortchnoi today. However, if he were to die tomorrow, all the stories about his matches with Karpov, his defection and everything else would become the topic of conversation...for a few days. Fischer stories have now disappeared from the press....

"That is what I call a cowardly act"

What's cowardly about presenting Fischer's life the way it really was? Has the media lied about Fischer?

I think you need to become a bit more objective. It does wonders for your credibility and the credibility of your opinions.


This should be on the other thread, but...

Read the entire context of that statement that I addressed.

"chesshire cat" states that if Fischer were a "non too special GM," he would have more detractors. I'm saying if he were a "non too special GM," he would have fewer detractors. You took the statement out of the context of the discussion with chesshire cat.

Nothing is wrong with presenting Fischer the way he was, but how one writes depends on which part one wants to emphasize. That is journalism. However, there was very little balance in the articles coming over the wire. I know because I read many of them and most came from non-chess sources written by people who understand nothing about his chess contributions. That's what the public was fed and if you read the reports, all you would remember is that he was World Champion who made vicious anti-Jewish remarks and praised 9/11. Again all true statments, but what is the impression?

Do you understand journalism? The tactics used in journalism are likened chess and I have worked in the industry. You can take a boatload of facts and assemble them in a way to convey a particular view... either positive or negative. Politicians do this as well and we have been seeing it in American politics recently. The statements are 100% true, but the impression can go in a particular diretion. So did the mass media lie about Fischer? No. Neither did the chess media, but we focused more on his chess contributions... naturally. I enjoyed listening to the top GMs at Corus speak of Fischer. Also Kasparov's comments were interesting.

Why was Fischer so vile? Why did he turn that way? To me, that would be more interesting question. People don't turn into a foul-mouthed, 9/11 celebrator for no reason. Why did he say those things? What was he so bitter about? If we contend that he was mentally insane, then can we hold him accountable for his comments? If he was not mentally insane, then we have to hold him accountable, but then examine why he said those things. That is what is happening now. Books will be written about him and of course these things will come out and not be clouded by his rants.

There are many articles still being written about Fischer, but I will say that most are now focusing on his playing career as opposed to his bizarre behavior that the articles were emphasizing shortly after his death.

All the Amercian weaklings like Benjamin, Fedorowitz, Cristiansen, and Sirewan NEVER DID ANYTHING ON THE INTERNATIONAL SC3NE IN THEIR WHOLE CAREER...never mention them with Fischer, Kamsky, and Nakamura who are as superoior to them as man is to a monkey.

Not completely true statement of Mr. Peters
Christiansen two times winner of the Linares, one time ahead of Korchnoi (79) and second time tied with Karpov (81), Seirawan two times World Championship Candidate, winner of Wejk-an-See (80), de Firmian quailifaied for second GMA World Cup which was later failed, after two very strong Moscow grandmaster Swisses in 1989 and 1990, sure the current Nakamura sussceses still below the picks of the previous native american GMs

I am not sure what racial remarks you are referring to, so I won't comment on that.
I believe that you would not defend some 2500 American GM who exhibited precisely the same behaviour as Fischer. Fischer has dismissed the following groups:
1. Weakies (non players and weak players)
2. Jews
3. Americans
4. Cheating Russians

That leaves a very small part of the world's population to defend him. His remarks should be focused on because pushing them aside because of his greatness in any activity is well and truly overshadowed by his behaviour. This man showed no respect; why should he get any? Regarding your question about why he was this way, I am no psychiatrist, but I suspect the inward nature of chess coupled with his unhappy life story led to a very unhealthy obsession. Chessplayers are constantly stating how chess improves logical thinking; the man who took chess to the ultimate extreme ended as hate filled, obnoxious, and with the world view of a 10 year old. It's an embarrasment, frankly. What I find most interesting is how people will defend this man to the death because he excelled in a beautiful but not all-important game. There is no "yes, but...". The logical reasoning is that as he played better chess than anyone else he is allowed to do/say what he likes. That argument is horribly dangerous.

chesshire cat,

I'm not sure of your points. I never defended or made mention of Fischer's comments... it was never part of the discussion. This thread was about Nakamura and some troll hijacked this thread into a discussion about Fischer's views being defended... and you jumped in. The comments I referred to were the obvious race-baiting above by a couple of trolls. That's all.

chesshire, part of the fascination of Fischer is exactly that he was so superior in one form of intelligence, and so mediocre in another. It's not just his Chessplaying ability that is an indication of the almost incomprehensible ability of his mind in certain genres. He had an out of sight IQ, and a memory that was truly phenomenal. The story of how he repeated word for word, including every inflection, sentences spoken in an unkown language a day later in order to understand them, how he quizzed a reporter about news reports she had done on radio some 10 years later, asking details of why she was out of breath on certain sentences etc, bear testimony to the latter. Coupled with this "pure" intellectual ability that one can only be born with, he was quite mediocre in the realm of "social" intelligence, if you will forgive the coining of the term. This void was not filled to some extent because of his single-minded, unbelievable devotion to a purely logical pursuit. Now nobody EXCUSES Fischer for his rants. However, that doesnt mean somebody cannot try to interpret them in view of the circumstances of his existence, something that is routinely done in courts of law. To dismiss the whole man because of his mental disintegration is to belittle the wonder of the human mind, and can only perpetuate a form of ignorance.

The chess world in general seems sees Fischer as a brilliant man, who happened to make a few nasty remarks on the side. I say that Fischer was a horrible human being who was good at chess. With due respect, d_tal, by your pointing out of yet more of Fischer's intellectual abilities, while treating of his wholly inadequate social persona in a couple of dismissive sentences, you have merely confirmed this. The chess world should be horrified that a man who took chess study to the ultimate extreme turned out like he did. The media should vilify Fischer, and any other human being who makes the sort of remarks he made, to the maximum extent possible. And so should we all. If not, then why don't we start searching for excuses for every anti-semitist? My point is, there is no yes....BUT for such people, and I have yet to hear an argument to the contrary.

I am pretty sure Christiansen was a top 50 player, whatever that meant at that time.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on January 31, 2008 9:19 AM.

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