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Aronian Running Blind

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Levon Aronian ran away with the Melody Amber tournament. Well, mostly he stayed steady while everyone else took turns being bashed. Aronian had a tepid showing in 2007, but this time he was firing on all cylinders in both the rapid and the blindfold sections. With one round to play, Armenia's finest has a share of first in the blindfold with 6/10 along with Kramnik and Morozevich, who typically dominate the sans voir section. It's in the rapid where Aronian is running away. His 7.5 is two full points ahead of the rest of the field. That gave him the tournament win in the combined standings with a round to spare. He's leading the combined standings by two and a half points. Kramnik, Topalov, Carlsen, and Leko follow. The surprise of the event is Vishy Anand's mediocre play. He usually doesn't enjoy the blindfold very much, relying on his rapid chess dominance to keep him in contention for the top spots. Right now he's in equal 8-9th in the rapid with a relatively respectable 5.5 in the blindfold. He's played a couple of truly horrid games, prompting Kasparov to wonder if the world champ is ailing in Nice.

Leko and Carlsen drew their two games in the 10th round. It was a preview of this year's Miskolc rapid match, which has become an annual affair for Leko on his home soil. This year's opponent in the eight-round affair is Magnus Carlsen. The match opens on May 27. Last year Kramnik beat Leko by the narrowest margin. It should be an interesting test for both players. Leko has been a problem for Carlsen, notching three wins in the past year against no losses. Barring oddities, Carlsen will be ahead of Leko on the rating list by the time the match takes place.


"He's played a couple of truly horrid games"
That Anand-Gelfand Slav game was disgusting! ugh...know its not his home turf n all...but it was nassssty!! Maybe he is too focused on the Kramnik match?

I don't know. When Anand won Linares, didn't everyone say it was a "statement" to Kramnik? At the moment, when Anand wins, he's throwing down the gauntlet; when he loses, it's because he has his sights set on higher things.

Heads I win, tails you lose...

Anand is not physically ailing here, if that's what Kasparov meant.

The next time Kramnik wins something, it will also be hailed as a statement to Anand. Not our fault it doesn't happen too often. And I like how when Anand doesn't win a multiplayer event, he is said to have "lost" it.

"God don't like ugly." - Imus

I seriously doubt Anand is 'too focused on the Kramnik match'. That match is not scheduled to take place until October/November in Germany(?), and in general, serious preparations don't begin until about 3 months prior, if you believe Topalov.

If he is thinking about Kramnik now, he's finished before he starts. Tehre is a full 6 months to go...

How serious are the players about this event? Why waste an opening novelty on a blindfolded unrated match?

Some players might actually "waste" opening novelties there, while some others might be waiting for other players to. How many novelties did Anand play? How many did Aronian? Do we have stats about this?

I mean if they had taken 2 days (or 2 weeks) to prepare a secret move, I'm not sure all players would play it on such events. Some players are maybe just testing if they are able to win with "standard" opening moves.

Some other players might be in a different situation: they don't have a million dollar match this year and wants to win this.

Every time Kasparov played Kramnik classical, rapid, or blitz in 2001-2002, it seems like he was trotting out novelties he wished he'd have played in the London match.


White I win, Black you lose might be more appropriate.. (or other way round)

Kasparov was probably trying to prove he was worth a rematch.

I'd be surprised to see number of times a players plays a novelty versus % of wins, versus % of wins of players that plays against novelties.

Gelfand-Mamedyarov (rapid) was pretty.

I think Anand's horrible performance might have to do with fatigue. He has played in both Wijk and Morelia-Linares (two continents) and Amber followed soon after. As you get older, you take longer to recover and need more rest/breaks. The other reason could to be the need to save novelties for the Kramnik match (I am sure many were already used up in Wijk and Linares).

I can't remember Anand ever doing so badly in Rapid. Does anyone else?


The last time i remember was him losing to Milov in the finals of the corsica rapid. but that was after he had already slaughtered his way to the final.

my guess is its just fatigue.

Does anyone know what events Vishy will be playing before the match? Kramnik has Dortmund and thats about it i think.

"my guess is its just fatigue."

Or maybe other people played better this time, nothing more or less. Leko outplayed him in the rapid, for example. Or maybe he just coasted after crushing Kramnik. I sure would. Still, there were great moments: the blindfold novelty against Gelfand was stunning.

On the other hand, if you believe Kramnik, he lay down on his bed six months before the Kasparov match and thought of nothing else for a week but what his strategy should be. Maybe that's why he won the match. If Anand isn't already thinking at least generally about the Kramnik match, I'd say he's unwise.

Yes. There's no need to make excuses for Anand, just like we don't make excuses for Gelfand or Van Wely when they turn in a sub-par performance. Anand has always been a bit streaky; and besides, who said he's the world's best at this crazy amalgam of blindfold and rapid? He might just be #3 or #7.

Well, the general opinion has been that he is the best rapid player, but he didn't do that well even in the rapid part of the tournament.

Anyways, this is a show more than a serious tournament, anyway, so the players are probably there to have fun and enjoy the location, not to play the best rapid/blindfold chess they can.

If only the match between Kramnik and Anand was longer than the 12-game mini sprint. Historically, it is so significantly less important who wins this or that super-tournament, compared to who wins the world championship matches. If there is one point that Kasparov's series of books has brought, it is that the only real test are World championship matches!

TM is dead-on.

Anand still needs to win a MATCH to prove to me he is deservedly champion.

Mexico was, well, Tequila-chess.

That still doesn't address the point of why we make excuses for a sub-par performance by Anand, but not for Gelfand or Van Wely (relative to their presumed "normal" levels). You're just observing different statistical points along a general trend ("Anand is better"). Some will conform to the general trend; others will not.


Your site hasn't been working properly the last few weeks (if not more). Even when I refresh your page, I rarely get to see your latest posting. [I'm using Firefox --- don't know if that makes a difference.]

Clubfoot: "Leko outplayed him in the rapid, for example."
Leko did NOT outplay Anand. He only managed to outprepare Anand. There is a big difference, IMO. And other Anand losses were due to his own blunders (I think), if it were, then it just tells he wasn't too focussed in Amber.

TM: "If there is one point that Kasparov's series of books has brought, it is that the only real test are World championship matches!"
Here again, note the point world championship MATCHES. These matches or match system are different from a world championshiop match (a single match) where randomness, more chances than you deserve (50% chance of winning) are obvious than a Mexico type tournament to be considered a true test. Also, if an unqualified and undeserved player plays in it, I don't know what kind of test is that?? Apparently, Kasparov doesn't mean a "single" match like others would want it to believe for whatever reason.

Mark : "Anand still needs to win a MATCH to prove to me he deservedly champion".
Before Anand does that, Kasparov and Kramnik still have to win matches against Anand to prove to me that they were in fact the champions after 1997. We are not in a monarchical rule to consider, "Once champion, Forever champion!"

Anand is already a world champion and his win against Kramnik would only confirm the fact that he is the greatest ever chess player in the history of chess!

I mean if Anand wins his match against Kramnik...


I believe we all realize what you are saying, but it may be better if you sent a personal e-mail to Mig instead of posting here that the site isn't working. Those of us who come here know that he is probably addressing more pressing issues in life. This is perhaps the best chess blog (or at least the most active), but there are others as well if you need to feed your chess blogging appetite. I would suggest an RSS feed update so you'll know about the updates (when they become regular once again).

Anand is NOT the World Champion, Kramnik IS the World Champion. Anyone who is a serious fan of chess knows that only matches are a serious test or proof of who is the better player. Anand is a pretender at best. FIDE certainly has proved conclusively that it is not the custodian of the title. That honor will always and only belong to the lineage of individuals who've earned the title in head-to-head combat. A tournament may be necessary for when a reigning champion dies, but then only. If Anand wins vs. Kramnik this fall, then fine, he's legit. But if Kramnik wins, Anand will merely be an asterik next to the 14th World Champions entry on the role of World Champions.

"Leko did NOT outplay Anand. He only managed to outprepare Anand."

So if a player is outprepared in the opening and defeated over the board, he's not outplayed? Preparation and OTB both involve playing chess -- who knew? Funny little man, your fellative Anandophilia may be clouding your already-terminal debating ability. Leko outplayed Anand in the Rapid (and Morozevich outplayed Anand in the Blindfold).

"Kasparov and Kramnik still have to win matches against Anand to prove to me that they were in fact the champions after 1997"

You think Kasparov has anything to prove to Anand (or to you)? He already defeated him in a match -- oops, sorry McPirc, I meant Kasparov OUTPREPARED him in a match.

That's it, time for the next baby with candy....

"Funny little man, your fellative Anandophilia may be clouding your already-terminal debating ability."

"That's it, time for the next baby with candy...."

Wow, did I really just read that? Is anyone supposed to be impressed? You really told him, hey?

I liked this blog until I opened the comments section. The last post was full of it too. Will you guys stop your bitching? Oh, and using long words doesn't make it any less childish.

Keep it up Mig :)

Sorry Tom, but a life spent pleasuring yourself to UFC videos doesn't make you the arbiter of maturity around here.

Perhaps a clue to the paucity of sponsorship for chess development lies in the attitude of chess players and fans. Taking pride in scurrility and downright unpleasantness in communication cannot endear us to decent money-wielding people. The tenor of this blog is headed downwards and the last few comments must fill reasonable people with despair. Where's Ovidiu when we need him so desperately?

Off-topic question addressed to Russianbear and others; how come all Soviet and ex-Soviet players seem so familiar with the short stories of O.Henry?? Kotov quotes him the whole time; I've just read Eingorn quoting him and I'm pretty sure he's in one of Roshal's Karpov books somewhere. Just a coincidence, or is there a reason?

Friends of mine from St. Petersburg LOVE O'Henry. Also Ray Bradbury. I guess that when they lived in the then Soviet Union, certain authors were available in translation and became popular?

Well in keeping with the "high-brow" tenor this blog has taken, it's nice to see that the inmates haven't ceased flinging the simian primate feces...

Kramnik won some private event b/w himself and Garry. Kasparov wasn't as strong or motivated in 2000 as he was in 93 or 95and probably didnt mind losing to his protege.

For someone to be considered World Champion, he should have beaten some challengers, before being 'granted' a win. :) . I'm not sure if Kramnik ever overcame Kamsky or Shirov. Oh sure, he will anytime some will say, but let him DO it first. There are no privileges associated with WC title, beating everyone else is also part of the classical title.

There were Russian movies based on those stories.

"Leko did NOT outplay Anand. He only managed to outprepare Anand. There is a big difference, IMO. And other Anand losses were due to his own blunders (I think), if it were, then it just tells he wasn't too focussed in Amber."

if Anand blunders, that means he IS outplayed. LOL.

"Before Anand does that, Kasparov and Kramnik still have to win matches against Anand to prove to me that they were in fact the champions after 1997."

Anand has to prove first he deserved such a match. against Kasparov. As far as I remember, he hasn't done it.

"Anand is already a world champion and his win against Kramnik would only confirm the fact that he is the greatest ever chess player in the history of chess!"

If Anand wins against Kramnik, it will prove he is the champion after Kasparov left, tired of beating him. Ha ha.

"Kasparov wasn't as strong or motivated in 2000 as he was in 93 or 95 and probably didnt mind losing to his protege."

My impression was that he did mind, actually.

In the New York Times Magazine Funny Pages, the current serialized graphic novel, "Low Moon," has to do with chess:


"Kramnik won some private event b/w himself and Garry."

Really? Then why did Kasparov give up his title and acknowledge Kramnik as the next world champion? Sounds like more of a public event, doesn't it? Or perhaps someone should wake up Garry and tell him it was all a terrible dream.

This is eerily reminiscent of what you said on this blog back in 1927, that Alekhine didn't deserve to challenge Capablanca and their match score should be withdrawn...hmmm....

"For someone to be considered World Champion, he should have beaten some challengers, before being 'granted' a win."

Kramnik was "granted" the win by defeating the World Champion in a match for the World Championship. The fact that he didn't play through a long cycle to get there only made his victory more astonishing, but also deserved because no human has defeated him in a match since.

Kramnik walks the walk while people like GS whinge the whinge. Whatever the chance or probability involved, champions eventually lose their titles, just as people will always lose to other people; try reading O Henry and you'll understand it better.

Kasparov tired of beating Anand?? Henry, you gotto be kidding! How many times Kasparov beat Anand after 2000?

The evidence against that is circumstancial. Here is one Mr Keene. What would have left in the breakaway, had Anand, who was only giving a lukewarm support, played Kasparov and won in 1999? A broken breakaway? That is why he wasn't chosen. Instead the chance went to a "well deserved!!!" disqualified Kramnik, an asset to breakaway, who was afraid playing and losing in a FIDE knockout. That is the whole problem with the breakaway (sham championship) when no sponsorship was available and that is why I think Kasparov considers it a mess.

Another evidence is Kasparov himself. When Kramnik asked Kasparov to play Anand to qualify to play him. I don't think he considered his chances very high. He was looking for an easy way out.

Anand was always willing to play chess anytime and in any format but that was not the case with Kasparov or Kramnik.

rdh, they used to say in the Soviet Union that USSR was the country that read the most. I don't know if they calculated it based on the number of newspaper and magazine subscribers or on the number of books printed and sold, but it seems very likely, given how cheap the books were. (Btw, even relatively obscure chess books, like volume 5 of Averbakh's Endgame Series would be printed in 100 000 copies). Some American writers were (and are) popular in the country. Also, like someone mentioned, movies and miniseries were produced in Russia for a great number of literature classics, including the American ones. I wouldn't be surprised if an average Russian had greater knowledge of American literature than an average American. So in that sense, it is not a coincidence. But if you got the impression based on chess literature that O.Henry was somehow disproportionately popular in Russia, compared to some other American writers - that probably IS a coincidence. Soviet/Russian hierarchy of American authors would probably differ from that of the English speaking public, but I would probably estimate that Mark Twain, Hemingway and James Fenimore Cooper are probably more popular. Of course, O.Henry is probably up there in terms of popularity, too.

I don't understand most of what PircAlert was trying to say. Kasparov has only beaten Anand twice since 2000, but what does that tell us? Kasparov didn't play that much from about 2001 on, so they didn't play that often. As for Anand being ready to play anytime - that's just not true. Anand got spanked by Kasparov in 1995 and from then on he went out of his way to avoid playing a classical match against Kasparov or Kramnik. Anand declined to play Kramnik in 1998, so Shirov took his place. He then declined to play Kasparov when Kasparov-Shirov match didn't happen. Then Anand declined to play in the Dortmund qualifier. Sorry, but the idea that Anand "was always willing to play chess anytime and in any format but that was not the case with Kasparov or Kramnik" - is nonsense.

Why do none of the reporters of chess tournaments discuss what each person won in dollars.

Russianbear, it seems like you keep a blind eye to the facts. Let us keep the 1995 aside for now.

There is a difference between unwilling to play and unable to play. Kramnik was a loser in FIDE but Anand was among the winners and he had contract/committment to fulfill, in 1998. Therefore he didn't play. He was no longer under the commitment in 1999 and was willing but then things got postponed indefinitely and God knows why. Then he became wary with the way things went with him and with Shirov and asked for bank guarantees in 2000. That is how you should deal with it and that is understandable. In dortmund, first he had contractual obligation. Once that sorted out with FIDE and Prague plot was conceived and Anand being actively #1 was opposed to the idea of giving peferential treatment to Kasparov. When that preferential treatment was ruled out, Anand was willing. Dortmund sponsors could very well have made room for Anand but they opted not to.

If Kasparov's word is truth and he considered Kramnik champion, he calls Anand - an even more deserved one - a world champion. Why is that too hard for people to accept?

If I remember correctly, Korchnoi, too, named O. Henry as one of his favourite authors.

rdh, I have also had an impression that Russians do value short story genre very high ( maybe that's inevitable when you have Chekhov ). I.e I have Catherine Mansfield's book of novels ("A cup of tee") in Armenian.

Also - O. Henry has a quite distinct style; and for this he was quite often presented to school age readers-short, easy-to-read, politically neutral and stunning novels-what do you need more for a youngster to read? I remember at least two O. Henry short stories(abridged) in my English book. Let me remember. One was The Capitolium Venus. The other was "No Story".

"Russianbear, it seems like you keep a blind eye to the facts. Let us keep the 1995 aside for now."

PircAlert, the second sentence of that is even funnier once you consider the first.

Speaking of pretending not to see the facts: Anand was NOT Active number 1 in 2002. He wasn't even #2.

"Commitment", "God knows why", "became wary", "Dortmund sponsors" - aren't there too many excuses for him to not play right after you claimed "Anand was always willing to play chess anytime"? The multitude of excuses only highlights the fact that your original claim (of Anand always welcoming a chance to play Kasparov or Kramnik in a match) was wrong.

And noone said Kasparov's word was the truth. Nice logical fallacy there. But remind us - when did he call Anand the world champ? Even if Kasparov had said something so obviously silly as that, that would tell as more about Kasparov's honesty than about Anand's status.

Russianbear, it is going to be difficult to reason out with you if you are going to argue like this. I clearly pointed out how Anand was willing and but was unable to play. You refuse to accept. The discerning members would understand anyway.

Let me try again. Say, a cow from one country is willing to immigrate to another for greener pastures. For some reason, the cow was denied a visa. What would the bear say to the cow? I know, I know, you are unwilling! If you are truly willing, you should illegally immigrate!!


How many times did Anand beat Kasparov after 2000?
It's exactly ZERO.

In fact, even we extend the period to after 1995, it is still ZERO.

Even in his whole life, Anand beat Kasparov only 3 times.

I'm not going to defend Kramnik's qualifications in becoming the world champion challenger. It was a mess allright. However, at least in one respect Kasparov's choice did make sense. Kramnik did have the best lifetime score against him. Before the 2000 match Kramnik was 3-3 against Kaspy, better than Anand's meager 3-14 at that time.

Kasparov did not consider his chances very high against Anand? With the convincing 14-3 score over 10 years between them, your statement is just hot air. It even makes more sense to say Kasparov considers the challenge too weak compared to Kramnik who had consistently kept an equal score against him. Kasparov always goes for the challenge. On the other hand, he often got tired with weaklings :-).

And by the way, Anand was invited in 2000, but HE declined. Learn your history.


"Let us keep the 1995 aside for now."

Yeah, right. Haha. Nice way to get away from hard facts. How could the "greatest chess player in history" lose 4 games within the space of 5 games? In fact, it could've been 5-0 out of 5 games, if Kasparov didn't miss the win in the 12th game. After that, Kasparov went for short draws - as I said, Kasparov got tired of beating Anand :-).

I must say, I am really impressed by Aronian's play. Brilliant achievement to trounce this field by 2 whole points. Nice thank you speech at the end as well! Well done old son!

Anand may well still be the best rapid player in the world; that doesn't mean he can't have a bad event, and a rapid event is always going to have a larger deviation-form-the-mean factor anyway.

I contest the contention that Kasparov was a weaker chessplayer in 2000 than in 1995. The difference between the Kramnik and Anand matches was mostly preparation. Kasparov has said he was underprepared for the Kramnik match.

Also, Anand was nowhere near the player he is now in 1995. In 1995 he was the equivalent of Topalov or Leko, and had only been getting elite invites regularly for a couple of years.

Yah, infact after losing the title Kasparov went on a blue streak winning everything in sight.

And before losing the title Kasparov, guess what, won everything in sight. An unprecedented streak of 10 supertournament victories in a row - and a match loss in between.

Kasparov said he was underprepared in '00?? So there you have it -- he was both outprepared and outplayed by Kramnik, who didn't drop a single game. A next to unbelievable result.

Future chess journalists may question whether it really happened at all. They'll call it a Y2K sham. Sooner or later chess will have its negationist historians; blog denial of the sort practiced here is only the first wave.

bobmutch, you asked:

"Why do none of the reporters of chess tournaments discuss what each person won in dollars?"

I think they probably will for the new FIDE Grand Prix.

The reason they don't for many top events is that a large part of each player's compensation is in the form of "appearance fees," which are negotiated privately and confidentially as part of that player's contract.

The prize money does matter, but the overall compensation is not usually available publicly.

Again, I hope to see that change with the Grand Prix, which will make the standings a little more exciting for the casual fan.


Kasparov said he had been outprepared by Kramnik precisely so he wouldn't have to admit he was outplayed by Kramnik. That was the whole point of the "idea fund a little low" theory of his defeat he ran with while he tried to arrange a rematch.

(And would have gotten one if FIDE had put together a match with Ponomariov. That would have been the easiest trip back to a World Championship match since Botvinnik.)


"Anand may well still be the best rapid player in the world;"

I agree Anand is a very strong rapid player. However, whether he is in fact the "best" in rapid/blitz is also subject to arguments. He has a negative score against Kasparov even in rapid/blitz games (not to mention in classical games, where he lost 3-15).

As for Kasparov in 2000, I don't think Kasparov is weaker or stronger. Kramnik is just strong, and had always been a tough opponent for him. Kasparov had never dominated Kramnik they way he did others, even when Kramnik was still a teenager. Apart for the fairness or legalities of Kramnik's challenger status, Kasparov correctly said Kramnik was the toughest possible challenge in 2000. And in fact, he lost. Against anybody else he would've had an easier time, including Anand or Shirov.

I don't agree Anand was less strong in 1995. He was already very strong and by 1995 already was a regular at elite events. And his results after 200 0 are actually not more spectacular than before 2000. I could give examples and numbers if you want.

Perhaps people say Anand is getting stronger because his rank became stable at 1st - 2nd recently. But the fact that Anand was not 2nd ranked before 1995 was only because Karpov was still pretty strong, and Ivanchuk was at the peak of his career. Not that Anand was still weaker. He was already as strong as he is now. But now Karpov and Kasparov have gone, and Ivanchuk is not as bright he was in early 1990s, so Anand got his best chance to be the no. 1 rank.

More on Anand.

For those who say Anand has less experience or was less strong before 1995.

Anand has been a regular at Hoogovens since 1989, Linares since 1991, Tilburg since 1991. Plus all the other supertournaments such as Reggio Emilia, Moscow, etc, before 1995. Plus the intense string of candidates matches he played before 1995.

The frequency of elite tournaments/matches Anand played per year in 1991-1995 is not less than what he played per year in later periods.

And in fact, Anand already did well in those pre-1995 tournaments. I would say: arguably as well as he did in later periods.

The fact that Anand was not 2nd rated in 1990-1995 is only because both Kasparov and Karpov was still superbly dominating. Later Anand got the chance to go up the ladder just because Karpov went down.

How many elite tournaments did Anand perform great in since 2001, especially when Kasparov was still around? A good number, but perhaps not as many as some would think.

In 2001-2005, Anand had great performances in the following elite events:

Corus 2002,
Enghien les Bains 2003,
Corus 2004.

Count them: just 3 elite tournaments in 5 years.
In addition he did very well in various team & club tournaments, but against weaker opposition.

That's not a bad record, perhaps better than most other top players, but also not significant enough to argue that he is stronger after 2000 than before.

Ah yes, after 2005 he won Linares twice, but only when Kasparov is gone. He even admitted that himself.

I don't see a good reason to say Anand is stronger now compared to 1995. He is probably already as strong in 1995 as after 2000. His results are not really more spectacular after 2000. And his rank is now tops because Kasparov and Karpov are gone, not because he got better.

Sorry I made a mess with Anand's tournament performances in 2001-2005. But my point still stands.

Here are the elite tournaments Anand performed great at in 2001-2005

Corus, 2003
Corus, 2004
Corus, 2005 (2nd place but high performance).
WC San Luis, 2005 (again 2nd, but high performance).

OK, the rest of my argument is the same, and is still valid.

Basically, it seems like you don't want to accept Anand a better player than Kasparov or Karpov.

Ok, you say Kasparov correctly said Kramnik was the toughest possible challenge in 2000.

Do you mean to say, Kasparov was always looking for the toughest possible challenge? Or is it that he was not keen on it, but it just happened to be that way by chance? Something is wrong either way.

If it is the former case, the offer should not have gone to Anand. Quite a bit of mischief right there. You have some one in mind and you make an offer to someone else, how sincere are you with that offer? But you are still harping on that Anand declined.

If it is the latter case, if he wasn't keen on who your opponent is, the offer should have gone to Shirov.

Or is it just to justify his playing Kramnik? That doesn't sound correct as well.

The problem with Anand in 1995 before and after during that time for match situation is, he didn't have in-depth opening preparation. He lacked some powerful computer/software I think. Also, he didn't have multiple seconds at that time. These are all essential for match play. Kasparov or Karpov would never trust their seconds.

You say Karpov went downhill. But Anand just stayed the same even with his now 2800 rating and he never went uphill. Nice attempt!

Whatever Anand admits doesn't matter. He wants to play chess so he just doesn't want to get into some controversies. He just goes with the popular opinion. Can't you understand that?


I don't know what you're trying to prove here.

It is clear Kasparov is always ready to face any challenge. No single case proves otherwise.

That having said, however, of course he also considers taking challenges that others might consider fair, to make it credible for the public, although it might be not the strongest challenge to him. For example he played match with Short, who never had any chance before, during, or after their match, just because Short after all won the candidates so at least he had an official credibility to play.

So the fact Kasparov also invited Anand in 2000 is no contradiction to saying that Anand might not be the strongest challenge. Both could be valid at the same time: that Anand's invitation is justified, and that he is not the strongest challenge. Anand was 2nd in the ratings at that point, so based on that fact, most people might consider it fair to invite him. At the same time, it could still be true that apart from ratings, based on individual encounter scores, Kramnik has the best chance. So he was invited as well. No contradiction there. Each is invited based on a different criteria, which are both valid.

The fact that Anand is 2800 now is NOT a proof that he improved. It is well known that FIDE Elo ratings overall have been increasing. The average Elo of the top-10 and top-20 (and even top-100) have been improving since around 1990. In the 1980s, if you are 2700 you could be the no. 1 ranked, sitting at the top of the world. But in 1999 if you are 2700 you are just around top 10, and nowadays a 2700 is not even top 20. Which means Anand is NOT improving RELATIVE TO the top 10 or top 20 at the moment.

Check the Sonas rating system which does not have this problem. There, Anand is already 2800 in 1995, and more or less stayed around 2800 afterwards. In fact, he went DOWN slightly since 2001 in that rating system.

Another way to measure performance is the number of tournaments where a player gets a rating performance that's comparable to (or better than) the ratings of the top 5 players AT THE TIME of the tournament. That's how I came up with the 4 tournaments where Anand did well in 2001-2005. Those are tournaments he did great at, relative to the top rating levels at that time.

Based on such measurements, the number of events Anand performed well at (and the level of his performance) is not better in 2001-2005 compared to in 1996-2000, or even 1991-1995. For example, his results at Reggio Emilia 1991 (above Kasparov, Karpov and Ivanchuk), and Linares 1998 (above Kasparov, Kramnik, and Ivanchuk) are arguably better than anything he did after 2000.

Again: As far as RESULTS are concerned, Anand already showed his best since early 1990, and he has been showing more or less the same level since. He is not getting better recently, as far as RESULTS are concerned.

And yes, again: Anand's rank went up (from 3rd to sometimes 2nd, since around 1995) only because Karpov went downhill, and later, (from 2nd to sometimes 1st recently) because Kasparov retired.

But people like you don't check the hard fact, and play with speculations with distinctions of words like "outprepared" or "outplayed" which you cannot even define properly. I am just looking at results and hard facts.

By the way, now you are saying that the difference with Anand after 1995 is that he now has better opening preparation, software, and seconds. Aren't those all preparation issues which you said are not counted as part of talent?

Ah really, "Anand goes with popular opinion". So now you are even saying he doesn't have integrity?

I'm sure everybody has seen the latest FIDE ratings.

Carlsen in the top 5. I am not aware of anybody else reaching that level at that age.

In a few years, we might have a true champion, just like Kasparov, Karpov, Fischer, etc at their peak. Not just several pretty strong but not-quite-convincingly-dominating players like the trio Anand-Kramnik-Topalov that we have now.

Also, the average age in the top 10 is coming down closer to 25 again, with Radjabov finally joining the pack, and probably it will come down more with Karjakin already knocking at the top 10 door. Finally, a whole new generation is coming up. Just like what happened in the early 1990s.

Sometimes when I visit this blog I see rather old news items on the top of this page over and over again. Other times there is a new issue but just a day later the old news reappeared. Looks like the "newer" version of the website was not cached properly.

Is this a bug on my part or on the daily dirt server side?

It's a bug, a few people have mentioned it. I get it too now and then.

I don't know what you are talking?
What is "Anand going with popular opinion" has to do with his integrity? He has not done anything remotely close to that that I know of to harm someone siding with majority. You seem to prefer to talk about Anand integrity while there are others whose integrity you can clearly question.

What is a hard fact? Someone like Karpov exploiting a situation and gets a match with Anand. The match result you take it as "hard" fact? That is not hard fact to me. In private championships like 1995, there is no place to complain player's off the board behavior. The result is a "hard" fact to you?

"Outprepared" and "outplayed" are two different things. If you study the game, you can make out which one is what.

As for 2000 ch, invitation was not enough. Libya also send out invitations. so..? The least thing that they could have done was to give bank guarantee. Anand was unwelcome in 2000 for political reasons.

I don't want to dwell in the past. I am looking forward to a future, where, like some/many other sports, we can see more fairness and less politics in choosing a champion. For that, people expectation will have to change. Then the rules and laws will change. Otherwise, crooked laws will remain and under the shadow of the those laws, people would boast themselves doing legal things and would call themselves law abiders!

You said Anand "going with popular opinion" when I quoted him admitting Linares was much easier for him to win only after Kasparov is gone (see the previous postings). So when I quoted Anand himself implying that he was not the greatest, against your opinion, you take the easy way out by saying he was only following popular opinion, instead of taking it seriously.

The result of 1995 is hard fact. Look at the games. Except for his one win, Anand didn't have a serious chance in any of the other games. I don't remember any particular complain from Anand's side at that time.

A lifetime score of 15 - 3 (Kasparov-Anand) is a hard fact. Anand never winning even a SINGLE game after 1995 against Kasparov, in all tournaments they played at, is hard fact.

How would you make out convincingly whether a loss is a case of being "outprepared" and "outplayed"? If Anand comes up with an opening novelty, is that prepared at home or found on board by fast thinking? You would never know, unless you can read his mind.

And the bigger point is this: even if we accept you criteria of being able to "outplay" as a mark of genius, we could say the same with games by Kasparov. He often "outplays" his opponents as much as Anand did, even more, including outplaying Anand himself. So that makes him a bigger genius.

"Anand was unwelcome in 2000 for political reasons". Prove it!

The last paragraph is irrelevant. The main issue in our discussion is whether Anand is really the greatest, which was convincingly proven false, by hard facts. You haven't proven otherwise.

Results are just one thing, there are number other things to be considered as well, IMO. Let me list whatever I feel is approriate.

1. Results (of course)
2. Rating
3. Performance in fast time control games
4. Opening preparation
5. OTB play
6. End game skills
7. Random chess
8. Play against computers (if available)
9. Simultaneous
10. Blind fold
11. Match play
12. Tournament play
13. Dominance

Like the Anand-Karpov match I quoted, you can list a number of reasons and make a case why results alone (or any single criteria for that matter) cannot be the deciding factor for who is the greatest player. Sometimes players dominate because of lack of competetion. Anand beat 2 russians gms in less than 15 min in classical time controlled games in his teen years. These are unique for Anand. Don't think anyone emulated that.

Having said that, Anand is like a complete package. He excelled in all departments. And he didn't shy away from playing. That is why I consider him the greatest. Anand really didn't play any match to assess him in that department, so the Anand-Kramnik match is likely to throw light on that. Even now, Anand is willing to take on Kasparov to clear the air.

As for 2000 ch, I gave enough evidence to prove that the intent was to not play Anand.
1. Shirov match didn't happen.
2. 1999 match didn't happen and Anand lost money.
3. 2000 match offer made and then the deadline advanced.
4. No bank guarantees.
5. No compensation made for Anand's earlier losses.

So, with the bad track record, it is upto the organizers Keene-Kasparov to prove and to make every effort to convince Anand that they are in fact serious with this offer and that this was not just another attempt to damage his career, while furthering their political agenda, by making him sign a contract thereby not letting him play in the 2000 FIDE cycle.

You can't play in joke championships with these sort of uncertainities.


In any point on your list, Anand is good, alright, perhaps better than most players. But it could be argued Kasparov has better proven performance than Anand, in basically all of them. So Anand is not the "greatest". He is just very good.

Not only as far as results, but also in rating, dominance, tournament play, match play, simultaneous, etc, etc, most of the things you mentioned, clearly Kasparov is better than Anand.

Even in speed play, Kasparov's lifetime record against Anand is overwhelming. Not many people realize this. They keep saying Anand is the best in speed play. Well, he lost against Kasparov.

Only in random chess and blindfold, which Kasparov refused to play, we cannot make comparisons. So they are not applicable. But by the way, Anand doesn't seem to be the greatest in blindfold in any case. His blindfold results at the annual melody Amber are not spectacular.

In fact, going down your list, I don't think there's any point on your list where you could argue convincingly that Anand is greatest in history. For every point, there are several players I could think of(and not only Kasparov) who might be better than Anand.

A couple of unique results do not make somebody greatest. You should see the results in all fronts. Many top players have certain unique results. Anand won miniatures agains GMS, but he also lost once in 17 moves against Kasparov. As far as winning as a teenager, how about Kasparov's unique wins against several GMs when he was only 15 - including super GMs Polugaevsky and Beliavsky? How about his unique miniatures against a lot of top players? Other greats, including Kramnik and others, could also boast of certain unique results. But that's not enough to make anybody greatest.

As for 2000:
1. As far as Kasparov is concerned, there is no reason for him to avoid anybody. He had superior results against anybody, except Kramnik. If Kasparov wanted to avoid anybody, Kramnik should be the one to avoid. But in fact he is willing to play Kramnik as well, thus confirming his readiness to play anybody.
2. Kramnik-Anand 1998 match (to find a challenger) didn't happen because Anand felt bound to his FIDE contract and refused to play. So whose fault was that?
3. If anybody had a right to play in 1999, it was Shirov, who beat Kramnik (after Anand refused to play Kramnik). But after that failed, Kasparov himself proposed Anand (based on ratings, I presume). Agains it shows Kasparov was ready to play anybody. Anand didn't have the right to play in the first place. Only Shirov could mention rights.
4. Anand's results in 1999 - early 2000 (while match arrangements were made) were not convincing. He did not produce any single tournament win, and even got a LAST place in Dos Hermanas. So as far as recent results, he might not have a strong claim in the first place.
5. The Kasparov-Anand 1999 match failed because at the beginning Anand didn't respond, and later on sponsorship failed (none could be found). Nothing here shows that the intention was to avoid Anand.
6. For the 2000 match, the bank guarantee was given (contrary to your statement), but Anand demanded an advance payment, which was considered unnecessary with the existence of the bank guarantee.
7. If the funding didn't come through for a match, why is Kasparov responsible? Come to think about it, why should the champion be held responsible for the funding at all? He is playing in the match himself, not the funding resource.
8. Cancellation of matches also meant losses to Kasparov. For instance, the time and cost spent in months of preparation, with reduced chance to play in tournaments.

By the way, Karpov-Anand 1998 match is not part of my argument. I only said Karpov was better until early 1990s. After that, he declined, so Anand got the chance to move up in rankings. I didn't say that Karpov-Anand 1998 proved Karpov was better in 1998. Whatever happened in the Karpov-Anand 1998 match is not part of my argument.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on March 27, 2008 6:01 AM.

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