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Bits and Pieces

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The American sports world has a famous lull between the Superbowl (New York!) and the college basketball "March Madness" playoffs. Chess doesn't suffer because we have Linares, which begins on February 15 in Morelia, Mexico. The first half of seven rounds runs through the 23rd and takes a five day break before going from the 28th till March 7th in Spain (leap year!). I'm a little surprised the split format continued this year, but I guess money speaks louder than the aggravation the two sides expressed with each other last year over broadcast rights and other details. This is coming out in little ways, it seems, such as maintaining entirely separate websites for the two tournament halves. The Mexican site doesn't even show the game schedule of the Linares half! [The calendar page has now been updated with a an incorrectly labeled ("Morelia") live link to the Linares half.] The players are Anand, Topalov, Ivanchuk, Leko, Aronian, Shirov, Radjabov, Carlsen.

I'll rub my lamp and ask for three Linares wishes. 1) That Shirov keeps his form up. 2) That Leko shows us something other than how to maintain a 2750 rating while asleep. 3) That Sergey Karjakin gets some good invitations so we can watch his duel with Carlsen continue to develop. They are the same age and have tracked each other up the rating list very closely (now Carlsen 2733 and Karjakin 2732, 13th and 14th). And yet in the past year and half Carlsen has played 56 games against superelite players rated 2750+. In that same time span Karjakin has played five such games. No, that's not a typo. (Carlsen directly earned a dozen of those by qualifying for the candidates where he faced Aronian.) So while it's true Carlsen has shown us much more, he's also had many more chances. Karjakin suffers from issues of nationality and geography since his Ukrainian compatriots Ivanchuk, Ponomariov, and Volokitin are also fighting for elite invites. And don't forget, blondes have more fun! This is no dig on the mighty Magnus of course, and after his amazing Linares show last year and equal first at Corus last month, there won't be any talk of an upset no matter how well he does this year, even though he's the lowest-rated player! Hmm, this wasn't supposed to be a Linares preview, but there ya go.

Timofeev just won the Moscow Open, taking clear first by beating the streaking (clothed) Inarkiev in the final round. There was some ugly time trouble in the bitter endgame, at least that's what I assume. Unless I've really lost it, 78..f4 forces the last white pawn off for a trivial draw. There were a few spectacular final-round games as the event lived up to the bloodthirsty reputation of these giant Russian opens. Moiseenko-Kuzubov, Efimenko-Smirnov, and Tregubov-Kurnosov were all great TOYE games (Turn Off Your Engine) games. Sit back and enjoy the wild complications for a full-brain workout. Chess is hard. Ninja commentator Irina Krush fell in the last round of the big women's open, dropping her back in the giant 6/9 pack after spending the entire event near the leaders.

My homeboy and regular ICC Chess.FM pilot Joel Benjamin is guest blogging over at the NY Times Gambit blog. Perhaps a permanent gig? I stopped reading it when it started treating the moronic Sloan lawsuit and similar USCF-related idiocy as regular chess news. Anyone can sue anybody. If someone wins or loses, that might be news. (Might.) Feeding a troll is feeding a troll whether it's in an obscure message board or the New York Times. I'd be happy to see a focus on bringing more chess to the masses instead of waving dirty laundry around every time a USCF politician soils his drawers. By the way, nobody has sent me a copy but I hear that Joel's long-awaited new book is a masterpiece.

Speaking of Dylan's blog, he points out that the FIDE Grand Prix won't be hosting its events in Asia or the Americas, as originally proposed. That's a valid complaint, although you go where the sponsorship is. If Global Chess couldn't find anyone they can't be expected to subsidize it entirely. But it reminded me that the old GMA World Cup cycle of the late 80's also had players from different regions, a valuable element for global promotion. Gambit also has an item on the new FIDE trainer titles with good legwork interviewing people about them.

HELP WANTED: I'm looking for help with two entirely unrelated items that have nothing to do with chess, or at least little. One, a Frenchperson to translate a brief text from English into French. (It's for the French part of my family so I can't ask them.) [Mercy buckets for the help, all!] Two, know anyone who is an expert at the online game Battlefield 2142? Know someone who is? A good friend's newbie son is looking to join up with some strong players. If you are someone you know can help out I can promise a reward any chessplayer would be delighted with.


Mig, how long is your text and when do you want it ready?


"alekseev" above must be some kind of typo, though... maybe you were thinking of eljanov (2692)? alekseev represents russia.

regarding karjakin and carlsen i agree that they are quite similar in both strength and age, and have been for a couple of years now (before that, karjakin was the stronger one, for "natural" reasons). but while karjakin became gm at the earliest age, carlsen is the youngest (by almost a year), has improved faster (in terms of rating) consistently since 2002 (except a period of roughly a year spanning part of 2004 and 2005), has been the (clearly = 20+ points) highest rated from october 2006 until january 2008 and is the more popular one among the chess audience. so it's not so strange that most organizers have picked carlsen over karjakin if they were to pick just one. and usually i think there's just one "youth spot" in super-events.

now, however, both are so strong (= highly rated) that there should be no problem inviting both to practically any event. the invitations for linares 2008 were probably out before people had realized (or it indeed was clear) that karjakin was going to be 2730+ in january.

anyway, we will most likely see karjakin in the fide grand prix, where he'll get 4 tournaments against rather elite opposition (slightly depending on how many will enter). if there will be an aerosvit this year, karjakin has a place if he wants it. and it would be very strange if the organizers of tal memorial wouldn't give him a chance, too, that is, if there will be such a tournament this year.

the field for mtel is already ready, featuring neither karjakin nor carlsen, while i'm not sure if the dortmund field has been announced anywhere yet.

in terms of closing the rating gap between carlsen and karjakin, it doesn't seem like karjakin suffered too much by playing a slightly lower average than carlsen last year - he seems to have improved very well. of course, during january carlsen has reopened the gap, according to the so-called live top (rating) list. going into linares, these are the current ratings:

01 Anand 2793,1 -5,9 (2) 15 1969
02 Kramnik 2788,0 -11 (1) 13 1975
03 Morozevich 2774,1 +9,1 (1) 11 1977
04 Topalov 2767,6 -12,4 (1) 13 1975
05 Shirov 2756,5 +1,5 (1) 2 1972
06 Leko 2755,9 +2,9 (1) 13 1979
07 Aronian 2752,9 +13,9 (2) 14 1982
08 Carlsen 2751,7 +18,7 (2) 15 1990
09 Mamedyarov 2751,6 -8,4 (1) 13 1985
10 Radjabov 2746,3 +11,3 (1) 13 1987
11 Ivanchuk 2741,5 -9,5 (3) 25 1969
12 Svidler 2740,0 -23 (2) 18 1976
13 Karjakin 2732,0 0 (0) 0 1990
14 Adams 2729,2 +3,2 (1) 13 1971
15 Kamsky 2726,0 0 (0) 0 1974
16 Gelfand 2723,0 -14 (1) 13 1968
17 Ponomariov 2719,0 0 (0) 0 1983
18 Grischuk 2716,3 +5,3 (1) 11 1983
19 Jakovenko 2711,2 -8,8 (1) 11 1983
20 Alekseev 2711,0 0 (0) 0 1985
21 Bacrot 2708,8 +8,8 (2) 20 1983
22 Polgar 2708,8 +1,8 (1) 13 1976
23 Bu 2707,9 +16,9 (2) 16 1985
24 Movsesian 2706,3 +29,3 (4) 24 1978
25 Cheparinov 2695,5 -17,5 (1) 13 1986

(see http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessuser?uname=frogbert for more information on the top list)

the linares field then looks like this (official ratings in paranthesises):

1. Anand 2793,1 (2799) 1969
4. Topalov 2767,6 (2780) 1975
5. Shirov 2756,5 (2755) 1972
6. Leko 2755,9 (2753) 1979
7. Aronian 2752,9 (2739) 1985
8. Carlsen 2751,7 (2733) 1990
10. Radjabov 2746,3 (2735) 1987
11. Ivanchuk 2741,5 (2751) 1969

8 players currently rated number 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11 with an average of 2758 sounds pretty good to me...

Actually I meant Volokitin, not Alekseev. Didn't notice Eljanov has actually moved past Volo on the list, but I would also say that's temporary.

Ray: It's a page of text, no rush. It's somewhat literary, so I'm looking for a French native with some writing chops if possible.

I have noticed that Svidler and Morozevich are no longer invited in super GM events. I can't understand why. Morozevich is currently #3 and will probably be #2 in the next list. Also they tend to play in the same events, if they are invited they are both invited!

My points about Karjakin's nationality are also relevant for his popularity with fans, whatever that might be. Despite our best attempts we have no way to measure such things. Certainly it has shown little or no effect on invitations, where ratings still rule and tournaments consider nationality far more than an intangible fan base. If Karjakin had played in Linares, the Tal Memorial, and Corus, and done well, I don't see him being less popular. (Again, whatever that means.) But certainly being the only star player from a European country and speaking perfect English isn't a disadvantage to being one of many strong Ukrainians. We all know invitations at elite events are often an old-boy network, so the young-boy network seems logical enough! It's also a form of momentum. Once they see Carlsen doing so great and getting so much attention, everybody wants him at their event. It happens with just about every new wunderkind. It's just that for the past few years there have been two of them. Anyway, it's great that Karjakin will be in the Grand Prix.

Speaking of Carlsen and Karjakin "tracking" one another, it wasn't that long ago that Nakamura was right in the middle of that too. Now, sad but true, he's not to be seen in that elite status. The difference between chess genius and chess brilliance is hard work. Something that, in my opinion, Nakamura doesn't want to commit to. I'm not finding fault with him for that, just expressing an opinion. I know that he has chosen an education in lieu of a professional chess career and I think that's the best way for him to go.

Carlsen is the only star player from a European country? Are Russia, Ukraine and Hungary in Africa now?

Anyway, it does seem strange that Karyakin doesn't get the supertournament invitations. In the latest New in Chess, Karyakin said he wants to play in Linares, but they didn't invite him and neither did Wijk. One can kinda understand Wijk not inviting him - even though he finished 2 points ahead of Carlsen in Wijk 2007. But he even didn't get invited to Tal Memorial where Carlsen played twice. I wonder if this will hurt Karyakin's development compared to Carlsen. It is rather bizarre that there are 2 great prodigies like these and one gets invited to all of the major supertounrnaments while the other only gets like 1 invitation a year.

From whom did you hear that Benjamin's new book is a masterpiece? The ICC has been sending around a newsletter stating that the book is (and I'm paraphrasing) "the best book of the year and it's only February." But how can one trust the ICC when Benjamin works for them, and they're affiliated with the Chess4Less people who are the only people selling the book in the states, so far? The ICC newsletter folks dish out exclamation marks like chocolate sprinkles and conserve their commas like they're hidden in bottles of Dom Perignon, so I wouldn't take their word on the quality of a book until I see it myself. Just whom did you hear this praise from, Mig?

Howard Goldowsky

If you're giving out that "Kramnik's Restroom" sign, I'll learn French.

As in "Norway is a European country and Carlsen is its only star player." That as opposed to "Karjakin is from a former Soviet country and is one of many star players from Ukraine."

I would love to see this natural rivalry played out on the board. It's not just that I'd like to see more invites for Karjakin, but that I'd like to see them play each other more often.

The next ten years (after the current generation - Anand, Kramnik et al leave the stage) will probably be a long Carlsen-Karjakin duel so no rush folks.


of course it's almost hopeless to measure popularity scientifically, but even counting from 2004 (after corus c), at a time karjakin had a decent lead on carlsen chesswise, it seems like carlsen has got more media attention in the west. even if my norwegian chess buddies would say about carlsen that "he's no karjakin yet". of course that changed during 2004.

www.chessgames.com - an american chess site (online database and forums) - hosts player pages about all the players in their database, open for kibitzing. well before carlsen had the better invitations (compared to karjakin), his player page had way more kibitzing than the page of karjakin - today it's no competition. strating from 0 in 2003, carlsen's page has overtaken all player pages (in terms of kibitzing), except those of fischer and kramnik. he used to be thousands of pages behind kasparov, for instance (whose retirement from chess has slowed the kibitzing about him quite considerably).

kramnik - 27 501 comments
fischer - 23 307 comments
carlsen - 20 504 comments
topalov - 15 504 comments
kasparov - 12 073 comments
anand - 9 130 comments
karjakin - 1 045 comments

of course the above shouldn't be taken too seriously (some devoted kibitzers can make a huge difference, directly and indirectly), but it's some sort of indication, still. more surprisingly maybe, from an eastern - western perspective ("carlsen gets the attention because he's from the west") - is the amount of positive attention carlsen gets in the russian chess media. i don't speak russian, but i've done quite a lot of "translated surfing" (thx to google), and to me it seems like the comments are generally more positive about carlsen than about karjakin, even there. i don't know too much about the relationship between russia and ukraine (a notable proportion of the ukraine population are russians, though), so it might come down to such matters as well. maybe you could ask your buddy kasparov about the coverage of karjakin/carlsen in the russian (as in language) chess media - do the average commentator believe more in carlsen or in karjakin, or is it equal?

anyway, like some commentators above have suggested - they are still young, and karjakin by breaking well into 2700 recently, will not be ignored by the top organizers for much longer. also, i think that their approach to chess training and improvement makes the top tournament participation much more important for carlsen than for karjakin. carlsen has traditionally devoted a much bigger part of his schedule for actually playing chess, while karjakin is a much more "classical" eastern chess student, who studies a lot and practices more seldomly. after having reached 2700, though, it's quite obvious that karjakin too needs matching of the highest quality to continue his rise. but in terms of improvement, i think karjakin has been set back much less due to the difference in tournament participation the previous year than carlsen would've been, if things would've been reversed.

a last point is this: among the top ten players, there are in fact very few players who would've _dared_ (or had the stamina) to play so many top events as carlsen did last year, even if they had the opportunity. for instance, both moro, topalov, leko and kramnik have been known to turn down elite invitations for various reasons.

when carlsen (in my opinion) run out of steam towards the end of the world cup last year, he'd been playing top events abroad for roughly 2 months straight. i'm not totally convinced that the us would've had a world championship semi-finalist if carlsen had conserved some more energy for the world cup, so maybe you (on behalf of kamsky) actually should applaud carlsen's many invitations? :o)

Isn't Karjakin even ethnically Russian, btw? I've read that and it fits statistically with his name and that he was born in the Crimea.

Sadly for Mig and Susan Polgar (who picked up your McClain screed on chessdiscussion) the journalist McClain is back. Chess promotion is what you are seeking, apparently, as opposed to coverage of news which includes the business affairs of the USCF. This is why McClains USCF articles are usually found in the business section of the Times.

Note to Mig: Journalism requires removing, or not putting, ones nose up another's ........well you know.
Cheers, :-)

May be, Crimea was a "gift" to Ukraina from Russia if my memory don't trick me

"I would love to see this natural rivalry played out on the board. "

And I am reminded of the Simpsons..."This match will determine once and for all, which is the greatest country in the world, Mexico or Portugal."

just a minor detail...

about eljanov being temporarily ahead of volokitin in the list: it's been like that since october 2006, but i guess that anything that doesn't last eternally is temporary in a way. :o)

here are rating numbers and diff from october 2006 to january 2008...

eljanov: 2658 (+13), 2675 (+30), 2686 (+41), 2701 (+20), 2691 (+13), 2692 (+18)
volokitin: 2645, 2645, 2654, 2681, 2678, 2674

or even compared to karjakin:

eljanov: 2658 (-14), 2675 (-3), 2686 (=), 2701 (+23), 2691 (-3), 2692 (-40)
karjakin: 2672, 2678, 2686, 2678, 2694, 2732

so while eljanov's tendency isn't so good compared to karjakin (despite being equal or ahead for half a year), it's not obvious that he'll be overtaken by volokitin sometime soon.

i crossed my eyes... :o) "2686 (+41)" was wrong, here it's been corrected:

eljanov: 2658 (+13), 2675 (+30), 2686 (+32), 2701 (+20), 2691 (+13), 2692 (+18)
volokitin: 2645, 2645, 2654, 2681, 2678, 2674

a last take (from me) on the issue of invitations:

regarding karjakin and carlsen, i thinks it's roughly like this: "without carlsen the chess phenomenon, karjakin would've got clearly more super-gm invitations".

radjabov was invited to such events from even a slightly earlier age than carlsen, and he's been invited more or less ever after, being the highest rated junior for several years. in a way, first radjabov blocked somewhat for karjakin, then karjakin started to get some invitations, but only for a short time, because carlsen suddenly was younger _and_ at least as good (counting from mid-2006). take away both radjabov and carlsen, and karjakin would've been loaded with invitations.

accordingly, it's not just about being from the west or not - considering how many top tournaments radjabov played from a very early age, this becomes quite obvious. mig is quite close i think, when he says that the current "problem" is there being _two_ amazing talents at the exact same time. his point about "momentum" also makes sense to me.

also, there is a slight pattern regarding "ordinary" invitations to super-gm events. it seems to be a bit like this: the corus organizer picks some players for corus in january (and they need to be first, due to the calendar), and then linares and dortmund go, "oh, we need to invite those, as well", "ok, they are the pick of the year...", or similar. :o)

still, unlike the popular belief that only about 10 players get invited to the elite events (i've seen that claim several times, also here in the comments to mig's blog), the truth is that somewhere between 20 and 25 players each year participate in the current top 5 events (i didn't count, but that should be easy - check out corus a 2007, linares 2007, dortmund 2007, mtel 2007 and tal memorial 2007). there are 14 + 8 + 8 + 6 + 10 = 46 places, so "on average" people only play 2 out of 5 events. however, this "average" is deceiving, because usually some players only play 1 event, while others play 2-4.

what the heck, let's check instead of guessing:

carlsen: iiii (4, 1 "semi-qualified" by finishing shared 1st in corus b 2006 with 9/13)

anand: iii (3)
kramnik: iii (3)
leko: iii (3)
mamedyarov: iii (3)
topalov: iii (3, but mtel is a given)

alekseev: ii (2, 1 qualified)
aronian: ii (2)
gelfand: ii (2)
ivanchuk: ii (2, invited to 1)
kamsky: ii (2)
shirov: ii (2)
svidler: ii (2)

adams: i
jakovenko: i
karjakin: i
navara: i
nisipeanu: i
morozevich: i (invited to 2)
motylev: i (qualified)
naiditsch: i (german)
ponomariov: i
radjabov: i (invited to 2)
sasikiran: i
tiviakov: i (dutch)
van wely: i (dutch)

i think for instance moro turned down corus, and radjabov was indeed laso invited to linares (while chuky wasn't originally). my initial guess wasn't too bad, though. 26 players, 13 played only one tournament (but two of those were invited to more than one), 13 played 2 or more events, carlsen being the only one with 4.

out-of-2700 invitations (except "qualified" or "local" players):

carlsen (2690, 2693): 2 (linares, dortmund)
karjakin (2678): 1 (corus a)
nisipeanu (2693): 1 (mtel)
sasikiran (2690): 1 (mtel)

(tal memorial 2007 only had 2700+ players)

the latter stats should convince people that invitations to top events are mostly about ratings and not very much else. carlsen has been 2700+ since july 2007 and only played one corus a event with a <2700 rating (co-winner in corus b the previous year), while karjakin has played two corus a events with a <2700 rating, for instance (by qualification from corus b the first time).

out of 46 places in 2007, only 5 of the (41) "open" places were given to players outside 2700, and of those 5, only one (1) went to a player rated below 2690, and that single player was karjakin.

americans should note kamsky's 2 invitations, despite being outside top 15 at the time he played/was invited. objectively, this is rather above the average than below the average. in tal memorial, kamsky was rated 2714 (october rating), while the average of the other 6 players with 2 supergm-tournaments in 2007 was 2741,5 based on october ratings (corresponding to place 8-9 in october 2007).

regarding nakamura, he was rated 2651 at the time of corus a and linares, 2663 at the time of dortmund and mtel, and 2648 at the time of tal memorial 2007. [the invitations for corus a and linares 2008 were already out at the latter point.] disregarding the 3 "local" players [being invited for being dutch/german - naiditsch 2654, tiviakov 2682, van wely 2683] and those 2 having qualified [from aeroflot open: alekseev, corus b: motylev], there are quite a number of players rated between nakamura's 2651/2663/2648 and 2700...

karjakin (2678) was probably invited to corus a 2007 due to his great +1, 7/13 score (5th place) in his corus a 2006 start (which he earned) - and for being the young, promising chess player he is. [kamsky scored 4.5/13 in 2006, but with many exciting games. the same year tiviakov (that pleased few in 2007) scored 2 points more, with 6.5/13.]

in conclusion, i think the invitations to top events make more sense and are more fair than they are sometimes made up to be. and whichever way invitations would be distributed among players, rating intervals, age groups and nations, i'm pretty much convinced it would always leave someone unhappy. :o)

Sorry for the delay in answering you. Was out of home and office the whole day. Emailed you now. Cheers.


By definition there is nothing fair about invitational system. Period. Fair system is impartial and invitational is as subjective as they come. In that regard Grand Prix is a great step forward. Frankly, IMO most top events would be both more exciting and fair if they were played World Cup style with 32 or 16 entries. Players would be chosen according to their current rating with 1 or 2 places being the organizers wildcards.

You are also mistaken that people in Russia are more positive about Carlsen than about Karjakin. I guess this is due to a language barrier. In fact, prior to Aronian-Carlsen match general perception over there was that Carlsen is overhyped, clearly inferior to Karjakin and gets invited everywhere because of his nationality, not because of his merits. After the match people realized that Carlsen can actually play and that perception changed, but not to the point to regard Carlsen as clearly superior.

It's true that people talk about Carlsen more than they talk about Karjakin either here or on Russian sites. However, the explanation is evident. People talk about top events. Put Karjakin in all 2008 top events and exclude Carlsen and people will talk about Karjakin.


just a little clarification - i never said anywhere that carlsen is superior to (or even better than) karjakin, and i never said that russian sites considered carlsen to be superior or even clearly better than karjakin. from my admittedly limited surfing of russian sites, i was slightly surprised at the amount of positive comments about carlsen, which i due to my perspective probably more easily noticed than similar comments about karjakin.

however, i was quite clear about not knowing precisely the russian commentators' stand on carlsen/karjakin, so i asked if they generally thought carlsen or karjakin was the most promising, or if they considered their chances to be quite equal.

the perception that carlsen was overhyped and clearly inferior to karjakin, if indeed the general perception, seems to have been an instance of being overly negative towards a young player from the west, though. but this might be due to a cultural barrier. :o) my stand on this, is that they have been pretty equal since early 2006 - as seen from the ratings as well - from a point in time where carlsen had not played a single category 18 event (or higher), while karjakin indeed _had_ played such a strong event. before that point, karjakin used to be stronger than carlsen, in my opinion.

lastly, i disagree that invitationals are unfair per definition. if they were totally unfair (as in: anybody the organizer liked, would be invited, strength completely disregarded), they would quickly lose their status among the players - linares has its reputation due to being a very strong tournament. however, invitationals aren't designed with the explicit purpose of being fair, of course, but to serve some purpose for the organizer and its sponsor(s). it's in many respects an instance of capitalism at work (which should be embraced by the capitalist and market driven usa, shouldn't it? :o) the interesting question is rather the end effect, in my opinion, not the ideology behind the system. :o)

designing a "fair" system is quite hard, because we won't agree about what is fair. is the world cup fair, for instance? from an european point of view, it could be claimed that too many weak players from other parts of the world get a spot among the 128 players, compared to the many strong european players that don't qualify from the european championship.

in snooker, the top 16 players from the previous ranking period are pre-qualified for all the top events for a whole year, including some invitationals specially reserved for them (plus some wild cards). the chances for collecting ranking points for the next 1-year official ranking are much better for the top 16 than the rest. tough luck if you by the end of the year only are ranked 17 (ok, there are some differentiation of privileges, meaning that the higher rank you have, the fewer qualification rounds you have to go through to get into the tournament, but still...) some would think that "the snooker model" would mean a step up in terms of fairness, compared to the current "model" (which just means "the market", right now, i guess). but others would probably disagree.

this year's implementation of the grand prix holds all the typical features of fide "regulations", with rules for qualification that are announced after most of the so-called qualification events are finished: they've chosen rating lists and criteria at a point where they knew which players would qualify according to their criteria. however, if they will keep these unchanged for the next cycle, it won't be too bad. unfortunately, lots of people are not convinced that this will happen.

my hypothesis is the following: if organizers like corus and linares would've made "fair rules" along the same "patterns" as fide's for the last 15 years, then the respect for these tournaments would've vanished long time ago. the question is if the guy that wanted to make the right move is able to do that, under the (assumed) influence of our current fide.

Please don't confuse the tripe the New York Times publishes as anything resembling journalism. that liberal rag lost the ability to be objective back in the days of 'McCarthyism' - I dare you to define that.

It publishes whatever fit's it's left-wing liberal bias needs at that point in time.

Just ask anyone living in Manhattan or Hollywood. Chances are, you'll have all those pots calling that kettle black.

"3) That Sergey Karjakin gets some good invitations so we can watch
his duel with Carlsen continue to develop."

If Shirov and Carlsen stay, who's linares 2008 spot does Mig suggest Karjakin get?

October 2007 FIDE list

1 Anand, Viswanathan g IND 2801 21 1969
2 Ivanchuk, Vassily g UKR 2787 20 1969
3 Kramnik, Vladimir g RUS 2785 21 1975
4 Topalov, Veselin g BUL 2769 0 1975
5 Leko, Peter g HUN 2755 21 1979
6 Morozevich, Alexander g RUS 2755 19 1977
7 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar g AZE 2752 11 1985
8 Radjabov, Teimour g AZE 2742 9 1987
9 Aronian, Levon g ARM 2741 14 1982
10 Shirov, Alexei g ESP 2739 11 1972
16 Carlsen, Magnus g NOR 2714 25 1990
24 Karjakin, Sergey g UKR 2694 11 1990

"They are the same age"

Currently, Karjakin is 18 years, while Carlsen is 17 years old.

"It publishes whatever fit's (sic) it's (sic) left-wing liberal bias needs at that point in time."

Do you mean stuff like Judy Miller's Iraq-has-WMD stories, or are you thinking of Billy Kristol's columns?

zero, i agree that the relevant rating list for your question to mig indeed is october 2007. that was the current list at the time the linares invitations went out, so that was the "view of the world" available to the organizers back then. :o)

karjakin and carlsen _are_ the same age......once each year during december and the first 11 days of january. :o)

seriously, roughly 10,5 months _are_ relevant and a difference at this age. exactly one year ago, carlsen was unofficially rated 2675 (after dropping 15 points in corus a, before regaining them in linares), while unofficially he's rated 2752 today, that is 2675 --> 2752 = +77 points in 12 months of play. rather heavy at this level.

frogbert your reasoning is a little bizzare if snooker system wouldn't be fair for chess it doesn't mean that chess couldn't have a fair or at least more fair system. the problem here is that we have 2 big talents Carlsen and Karjakin (they are probably the Anand and Kramnik of future) but only one of them is constantly given the oportunities to compete (and thus improve) against the world top players.

From the FIDE office : http://www.chessdom.com/news/topalov-kamsky-update

Topalov Kamsky will be in the USA, Bulgaria, Spain, or Russia! Chessdom say Russia maybe Elista!?!?!?! I am sur they will be the one with highest bid.

You guys remember the memories of Kamsky and Topalov from Elista?

You mean this Judy Miller?:

"The work that Judith Miller and Michael Gordon did in presenting the case for WMDs has been proven false. The New York Times apologized publicly for their poor reporting. Judith Miller lost her job over these reporting blunders..."

Note the 'poor reporting' reference. Nothing like making my point for me...hence, the 'tripe' reference.

Liberals should stick to writing children's stories instead of revisionist historical accounts of how Bill Clinton was innocent.

~~~~, don't expect logic from a self-identified troll like "Mark," who makes no bones about what he is.

If Mark says it's evidence of "liberal bias" that Ms. Miller and her employer publicly admitted being tools in the White House's successful effort to fabricate evidence in favor of invading Iraq, then it's "liberal bias." You and me and everyone else might call it an entirely different direction of bias...but we're just too dumb to see the liberal conspiracies that really went into it...that only Mark is brilliant enough to see.

"Liberals should stick to writing children's stories instead of revisionist historical accounts of how Bill Clinton was innocent."

Lying should be left to experts.

Ms. Miller was a tool of a well-known liberal Mr. Rove.

"frogbert your reasoning is a little bizzare if snooker system wouldn't be fair for chess it doesn't mean that chess couldn't have a fair or at least more fair system."

if it would've been my reasoning, i agree that it would've been bizarre, but what you suggest was obviously not my point. snooker was just mentioned as an example of a sport with much more clear and deterministic rules for tournament participation, supposedly designed to be "fair". if nothing else, it illustrates that just _any_ attempt at formalizing tournament activity doesn't necessarily yield a better "system" than what we have today. when some people think that the fide grand prix is great and clearly a step in the right direction, just due to rules being formalized, i do not necessarily agree.

of course a multitude of systems can be imagined for a grand prix system, a series of ranking tournaments (as in sports like tennis and snooker) - and each suggestion/system will have its pros and cons. bottom line, though, is that it's hard to agree upon what a fair system is, since people tend to value differenct aspects.

some examples - does fair mean that

1) "everyone" should have a theoretical chance to participate "anywhere"?

2) everyone should get to participate once?

3) everyone should participate the same number of times?

4) as in 1, 2, and 3, but "everyone" restricted to those above a certain rating limit

5) should number of participations be relative to (in other words, a function based on) the player's rating?

6) should there be formalized places/quotas for a) juniors b) seniors (like korchnoi) c) women? d) other imaginable category...

7) should organizers decide any wild cards?

8) should there be rules about which region (geographical) or sex or rating range or age group wild cards should be drawn from?

and so on...

regarding karjakin and carlsen, there are obvious reasons why carlsen got the upper hand during 2007, despite how "unfair" some people feel those reasons are. like i said earlier on, i don't think karjakin has suffered too much (in terms of chess development) so far, and from now on, i'd think he with a 2732-rating would be able to get invitations solely based on that, with his youth as an extra bonus.

also, if one consider the total amount of tournaments played, it's less skewed than mig's numbers of 50+ versus 5 above indicate. i'll need to elaborate on that later on - i'm off to the chess club! :o)

Speaking of prodigies, what happened to that Dutch hope, Rothuis? Last heard of him on the losing side in a spectacular against Olafsson.

There is and should be only one rule of deciding invitations to top class tournaments: WWTSD.

"What Would the Sponsor do?"

I find this discussion of "fairness" amusing, because I don't understand what is unfair about private organizers inviting whomever they want to participate in their private events.

puzzled pawn,

i guess someone wants an alternative to "private organizers" and "private events". :o) i'm not so sure there is any really viable alternative, though. at least it will be difficult to take the traditional organizer's money, while removing their rights to decide about participants.

what i personally find particularly amusing about the "fairness" angle, is that americans (us citizens) aren't happy with a system (the current "invitational model") with so much in common with the ideal of their entire society, whether we talk about education, politics or economy. my impression was that the us is a country that fully believes in letting the market decide what the right price is, who the strong and the weak are, who will be successful and who will not, and that each person/player is the one that at the end of the day decides if he or she will prevail or face defeat. :o)

anyway, with the exception of the few local players being invited to the topmost events, i currently find a quite broad, common base of interest between what serves the organizers, the sponsors, the top players and the chess audience. in theory, i'd preferred a system with some principles similar to for instance the snooker "tour". what i don't understand, though, is how such a system should've looked like to give for instance karjakin and nakamura better chances for invitations than they have today, compared to for instance carlsen.

invitations/spots per continent could've favoured nakamura compared to today, but such a system wouldn't be very fair, in my opinion. and accumulation of ranking points or similar (based on tournament activity like in tennis, snooker and so on) would only have favoured carlsen, as he's been the most active of the three since 2004. so i'd be very interested in an outline or a sketch of 1) what kind of fairness one would like to see, and 2) how it would be implemented.

unfortunately, quite often when chess geeks (like us) say "this isn't fair", then we're only unhappy that our favourite player has not been included somewhere, whether this player is navara, karjakin, nakamura, kamsky, or whoever. alas, any system that would change this, is deemed fair(er). instead of such an egotistical approach, it would've been much more interesting in my opinion with a good discussion about what, why and how things should be done, if one really were to schedule (from the ground up) a new "chess tour" or grand prix system.

the basic process of that kind of discussion is first to address the goals of such a series (in some detail), and only then address how it best should be implemented. (instead of: "quick, we need some supplement to the world cup for the world championship cycle - what can we come up with in the next two hours?" ... :o)


Mig's comment on giving Karjakin a spot at Linares 2008, is rather strange when remembering the Carlsen bashing he did a year ago... :)

"seriously, roughly 10,5 months _are_ relevant and a difference at this age. exactly one year ago, carlsen was unofficially rated 2675 (after dropping 15 points in corus a, before regaining them in linares), while unofficially he's rated 2752 today, that is 2675 --> 2752 = +77 points in 12 months of play"

Right, the rating of young players will often lag behind, but Carlsen gained only +16 Elo points, from Oct 2006 to Oct 2007 (2698 -> 2714), while it was +43 points if we use Jan 2006 to Jan 2007 (2690 -> 2733) FIDE list instead.

However, at some point players do drop in rating, in a year from now, it would not be that big suprise to me, if Carlsen drop below Karjakin's current rating (2732 Elo).

When and where did I say Karjakin should be in Linares 2008? By the time I see these comments again I'm sure you'll have me demanding Carlsen be ejected!


the above was mostly to illustrate the big changes possible in the span of a year - i do agree that ratings will inevitably tend to fluctuate some. also for carlsen. :o)

Osbender wrote:
You are also mistaken that people in Russia are more positive about Carlsen than about Karjakin. I guess this is due to a language barrier. In fact, prior to Aronian-Carlsen match general perception over there was that Carlsen is overhyped, clearly inferior to Karjakin and gets invited everywhere because of his nationality, not because of his merits.

Doesn't that say a lot more about these peoples ability to judge talent than anything else? The ultimate prediction blunder here has to be Khalifman who during last year's Corus wrote (according to Russianbear's translation) that he was far from certain that Carlsen would ever become an elite player.

Of course, there are Russians who disagreed. Niktin who already during Aeroflot 2004 judged Carlsen to be clearly more talented than Karjakin (according to an interview with JtG at ChessFM recently), and Karpov who has praised Carlsen while calling Karajkin's chess 'mechanical' (see interview from Cap D'Agde rapid chess tournament in 2006 at echecs.com)

A couple of ex-Russians too. Korchnoi even went as far as using a term wrt Carlsen that he would not bestow on Kasparov, 'genius' (see, among others, interview on e3e5.com). Karjakin he didn't care for. Ex-Kasparov second Vladimirov compared Carlsen to Kasparov (article in NIC from Dubai event where Carlsen got his third GM norm in 2004).

Also, if this was a general perception, why didn't Karjakin at the very least get the invite to Tal Memorial in 2006? Assuming the invites were sent out before October, Karjakin was even higher rated at the time.

When it comes to judging talent at this level, something which I am certainly not capable of, I find it quite useful to read what people who should be able to have to say.

For instance I found it interesting that when Anand and (Negi's sometime trainer) Short commented on Negi back when he became the youngest GM in the world at the time. They only mentioned things like his discipline, work ethic, ability to focus, and so on, but not a word about his chess.

"The Mexican site doesn't even show the game schedule of the Linares half!"

Yep, it does. At the botton of the Morelia Schedule you will find a link that says "Linares schedule".

Yes, but that link wasn't active two days ago! It was just plain text last I checked. Thanks for the update. (Amusingly, on the English site the link to the Linares half of the calendar is labeled "Calendar in Morelia". Oops. The Spanish site is correct.)

On the talent thing, so far we haven't see any of these super-kids reach their early twenties without hitting the top 10. Bacrot took longer than most but eventually made it, albeit briefly. Bu Xiangzhi is the least-accomplished of them so far but may still have room to grow. He's also living and playing in a very different environment compared to the others. I wonder if he (or the other young Chinese stars who are already at his level) would be allowed to have a non-Chinese full-time trainer. Certainly finding just the right trainer can be critical for some players.

The game evaluation topic is a tricky one, not least because few people on earth are qualified to evaluate chess at that level. I remember writing years ago, when they were both challenging the record books, that while Radjabov had played several brilliant games I'd yet to see a game from Bu Xiangzhi that really impressed. That is, without the "for his age" addendum. I said the same thing about Koneru when she was touted so highly for becoming a GM younger than Judit Polgar. Kasparov, annoyingly, sums up things like this by simply saying "so-and-so plays chess," or, occasionally, "so-and-so plays real chess." (I think there are maybe a dozen people on Earth who "play real chess" according to Garry, depending on his mood that day.) I do recall his being outspokenly impressed with both Carlsen and Karjakin, especially Magnus.

The related problem, which makes it a chicken-egg situation in many respects, is that to play impressive games you need to be facing top competition, with rare exceptions. Radjabov's Linares win over Kasparov wasn't a great game but it showed his fighting qualities and made his mark in a big way because of who he was facing. It's a shame that Karjakin has only had the one traditional supertournament, Corus 2007 (where he did well) and Melody Amber, which he qualified for. We should probably count Foros 2007 with Ivanchuk, Shirov, and Svidler, where Karjakin finished clear second with +3 undefeated. Koneru has a similar problem. I think she played ONE game in all 2007 against a player rated over 2620. She did play in the Corus B last month and went +1 in eight such games, but lost three to lower-rated players.

Coincidentally, in a post-World Cup interview in the latest New In Chess Karjakin says he would like to play in Linares!


just a technicality, but karjakin has two (2) corus a starts, actually doing best in 2006:

2006: 7/13 and a shared 5th place - very impressive!
2007: 6,5/13, more shaky play than in 2006, but still a good, solid showing

and i agree that aerosvit 2007 where karjakin did very well, finishing ahead of many strong players, was quite close to a supergm-tourney. in fact, i think his 2nd place there was a better achievement than those (including kamsky) that got 50% in mtel 2007.

if the organizers' noticed karjakin's post-world-cup wish, then their first opportunity to respond to it, will be for linares 2009, unfortunately. the linares field 2008 was ready well before the world cup.

I wonder if Karjakin may have received additional invites if he was as active as Carlsen.

Since Jan'04, Carlsen has played 404 games while Karjakin stands at 317. During this period, Carlsen has gained 249 points while Karjakin gained 166.

Perhaps Carlsens steeper curve and willingness to play almost everything he is invited to has something to do with the organizers willingness to include him.

And, please, Karjakin had every opportunity to match Carlsens number of games. It's not like there is or have been a lack of tournaments to enter profitably.

317 games in 4 years isn't bad at all. That's almost 80 games a year. In Karjakin does play a lot.

See http://members.aon.at/sfischl/cl2007.txt

In the top 40, only Jakovenko, Carlsen, Svidler, Shirov and Movsesyan played more games than Karyakin in 2007. Karyakin also had a slightly better performance rating in 2007 than Carlsen, but he played weaker opposition - average of his opponents is 42 points lower than Carlsen. So him not showing willingness to play or not performing as well as Carlsen is not the issue here.

The problem is he isn't getting invitations to the highest level tournaments. How can Karjakin express his willingness to play there by accepting the invites if he is not invited? Do you want him to crash Linares with his own pieces and a chess clock?


i agree with you that karjakin both played enough games and played well enough in 2007. that's not the problem, from karjakin's point of view. the problem is latency - you don't get those invitations before sometime _after_ your good performances, and karjakin only broke 2700 officially in 2008. at the point where invitations for linares and corus went out, he was still 2694-rated - lower rated than anyone invited to linares and corus a (disregarding van wely, where "normal rules" don't apply - he's dutch, and eljanov, who qualified by winning corus b 2007).

and since you refer to fischl's stats - consider 2006 for karjakin: he met practically the same average in 2006 as in 2007, but he performed about 60 (!) points better in 2007, compared to 2006 (2670+ vs 2730+). that's a major step forward for karjakin, so i think you should rest assured that this improvement will make the difference for karjakin with respect to invitations - we must just realize that the two first big tournaments in 2008 came too early to acknowledge karjakin's great 2007.

in conclusion, just give the organizers a little bit time - i'm sure they by now have noticed the new and stronger karjakin - the 2700+ version that belongs in supergm-tournaments. :o)

I knew that Magnus is an active player (too many days wasted watching his games :) but looking at Fischl's stats (http://members.aon.at/sfischl/cl2007.txt) it strikes me that of the 469 players on the list, Magnus was the third most active, only beaten by Jakovenko and Tiviakov!

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on February 10, 2008 2:40 PM.

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