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Russian Team Spirit

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Forget the top-ten stars like Svidler, Morozevich, and Ivanchuk in action in the Russian Team Championship in Sochi. The big sight is seeing Karpov and Korchnoi on the same team. Who woulda thunk it? Actually they both played for Southern Ural Chelyabinsk last year too, but I don't think I noticed. Was that the first time? (Not including their many USSR appearances of course. Post-defection.) This year Karpov is still on board one while Korchnoi is up to board three instead of board five. Korchnoi will probably play more games though. Riazantsev is the board 2 meat in this legend sandwich. He's also having a terrible event so far. No pressure, sitting there between Karpov and Korchnoi... They have Sveshnikov on board five, so maybe they were going for a Rolling Stones 70's reunion tour vibe with the team. The format is 12 teams in an all-play-all that ends April 13.

USAian Onischuk is holding down board one for his Moscow team like a rock. So far he has draws against Gelfand, Ivanchuk, Ponomariov, and Svidler. Kamsky is also there, playing board three no less. He's played 3/3 games with black, including a nice win over van Wely. Radjabov and Shirov are ahead of him on the mighty Ural Ekaterinburg team. Grischuk is down on board four. Yikes. I haven't had more than a glance at the games, which usually provide plenty of action. Grischuk-Timofeev was violent good fun. I'd be up for a Nxf7 thematic tournament any time. Gashimov-Ponomariov was a triumph of greed over initiative. There was so much wood-grabbing in that game it should be up for a trophy at next year's AVN Awards.

I haven't seen a list of individual scores, but as far as I can figure out from the game file, Motylev is the only one with a perfect score: 3/3 on board 8 (!) for Ural Ekaterinburg. Quite a few players have 3/4. Timofeev might be tossed overboard by his Tomsk-400 teammates soon. He's 0/4 on that star-studded team. (Stupid ChessBase Tricks Dept: Select all the games from a team event and press T to make a results table of the entire thing to show you the individual scores.)


The Southern Ural team also had somebody named B. Spassky in their application for the championships (http://russiachess.org/content/view/2061/), but he isn't playing. :(

Sveshnikov was actually the one to pull off this "Karpov and Korchnoi in one team" stunt last year. Sponsors probably liked it. :)

"There was so much wood-grabbing in that game it should be up for a trophy at next year's AVN Awards."

Oh no you didn't, Mig.

the terrible Ks must have played alongside for the USSR in the olympiads?

AVN awards....

The chess journalist of the year (decade? millenium?) shows us how its done!

Yes, '72 Skopje and '74 Nice. Korchnoi 2nd board both times, Karpov 5th (on his first olympiad) and 1st board. '76 Korchnoi defected and from '78 onward played for Swiss team.

It's kinda nice to see some non-Russians "invading" a Russian event. It's been so many years now of having Russians dominate American chess. Anyone even remember the last time an American-born GM was dominant in this country? I think I remember there was some guy back in the 60's...


Even if those non-Russians are more Russian than any other nationality, so-to-speak.

You think it's difficult for American-born GM's now, wait a decade or two when the Chinese players start defecting.

At the rate Ben is going in a decade there will be no reason whatsoever to migrate from prosperous China to the US.

There's Ben and there's personal freedom, I'll choose the latter. Besides, all the Ben in the world can't untarnish the upcoming Olympics.

Well, blaming all America's economic problems on "Ben" is I guess a less aggressive display of ignorance than blaming everything on Bush (or whatever president happens to be in the White House at any given time). The Fed after all really does have something (quite a lot, actually) to do with the nation's overall economic performance, both in the long and short term.

Still, the Fed isn't and can't be responsible for everything - they don't control China's own monetary policy (keeping their currency pegged to the dollar, and artificially weak to create manufactured prosperity), nor do they or can they tell Wal-Mart to buy everything from China rather than from someplace else.

And even the expertly run Fed under Greenspan and Bernanke didn't abolish the business cycle. All they did was make it orders of magnitude more manageable, and less volatile (i.e. made the periodic contractions less painful).

That last isn't a controversial or opinionated statement, since it can be easily verified by anyone who takes 60 seconds to look at something as basic as historical GDP statistics. (They show that GDP usually contracted by several percentage points a quarter for several quarters in recessions pre-1990, but since then even in recessions it hasn't contracted more than 1 or 2 percent in any quarter, and even then not for more than 1 or 2 quarters in a row).

Unless of course you believe all the U.S. government's statistics are fabricated. (There must be readers here who do, if that belief is correlated with the belief that either Bush or Israel destroyed the World Trade Center, or that it wasn't destroyed at all but was all manipulated with holograms like the moon landing.)

I wrote only one line and yet you tried to read between lines ;) I don't blame anybody. In the long run the Fed can only play the cards they were dealt. Spending more money than you produce value tends to be unsustainable. People less ignorant than me will perhaps point out that privatising the defence sector makes sense economically only if you actually are able to win the resulting wars so you can rob the corresponding countries. Or they will - somewhat embarrassed - cite dropout rates from elementary school hinting that the average American work force is too stupid and/or lazy to stem the inverse age pyramid.

The correction will come. The middle class will be abandonded in the midst of the rioting mob that cannot afford the chow due to inflation and unemployment. CT will have the personal freedom to chose between the cold rat on the garret and the dog carcass in the mud of the backyard :) Meanwhile JJ will go back to the numbers released at the brink of collapse trying hard to find suitable definitions that bring them into accordance with the actual reality :)

And no Chinese GM in his right mind will want to live in the USA.

s/defence sector/national defense

I was going to respond, but after a second read of poisoned pawn's latest, I conclude he's exposed himself and his agenda (dominated by cheap sound bites) so clearly that a response isn't even necessary.

For readers interested in any substance behind the USA vs China economics question, the short answer is that the likelihood of China surpassing the USA on various measures of standard of living within a decade or three, has far more to do with what's going on in China than with anything being done by or in the USA.

I'll leave the political judgments out of it, so that field will properly belong to rabid patriots on either side who enjoy debating that sort of thing. (The pro-US people - regardless of the merit of their arguments - at least have the virtue of being FOR something they're personally connected to, rather than railing against something that happens to be a popular target. Come to think of it, building one's public identity around gratuitously attacking a target that's fashionable to attack, is a cyber-lifestyle that one or two other individuals practice here - in relation to, not America, but chess and the culture that takes it seriously. I'm thinking of Stern.)

The phenomenon of a moderating business cycle, mentioned in several previous comments, is widely recognized in the economics profession. Since this is not directly relevant to chess, I won't go into much detail here. Instead, for anyone who is interested, here is the link to Ben Bernanke's recent speech on The Great Moderation. An internet search on this topic will bring up several other analyses of interest.


"poisoned pawn" is certainly aptly named, isn't he!

The Fed is too busy getting ready for the U.S.Championship and working on the Benko Gambit to have any time for the economy at present.

CentrKentr--"The Fed." That's a good one!

Where is Ken Rogoff when you need him? http://www.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/rogoff/Biography_Rogoff

On Economics: What dave50 said.

On Mig's links: You click on them? And haven't been arrested?

On the Fed: He still plays?

On the Benko Gambit: Lots of fun in rapid.


If your young, I must attribute your pontifications to a still prevalent amount of naivete. If your middle aged, I believe there's still hope and time. If your elderly and that bitter...my condolences. Most likely the first, and regurgitating some "progressive" university professor's psycho-babble.

"That last isn't a controversial or opinionated statement, since it can be easily verified by anyone who takes 60 seconds to look at something as basic as historical GDP statistics. (They show that GDP usually contracted by several percentage points a quarter for several quarters in recessions pre-1990, but since then even in recessions it hasn't contracted more than 1 or 2 percent in any quarter, and even then not for more than 1 or 2 quarters in a row)."

The fallacy in Jacobs' analysis is that the Bush fiscal policies (i.e. massive deficits) have led to the "moderation" the business cycle. We've reaped the benefits--such as they are--and now we are on the cusp of the largest economic contraction since the Great Depression. Huge deficits, which serve as steroids for the economy, can smooth over the worst parts of the cycle--but only for a while. The day of reckoning is about upon the US; Bush's only goal is to defer the precipitous collapse until after November, in order to preserve his legacy.

The Fed--especially under Greenspan--has done a disasterous job. Essentially, Greenspan subordinated what was in the long term interests of the US to what was in the short term interests of the Republican Party. Thus, he allowed the housing and credit bubbles to grow unchecked, because it led to a short-term, ersatz "boom" prosperity, which bolstered Bush's (and the GOP's) popularity. Even more cynically, he has exploited "Guns AND Butter" spending to continually prime the economy.

It should also be mentioned that the GNP has grown at a tepid pace, and in a distorted and uneven way. If it weren't for the bubbles, the economy may have already begun to register a deeper and sharper contraction. As it is, under Bush, the average annual growth in GNP has been lower than it was under Carter. Overall growth is what is important--and if that means that it is necessary to suffer through the ups and downs of a cycle, so be it.

Now Bernanke has already had The Fed lend 300+ Billion to bail out the sub-prime loans. That was unprecedented. The Prime Rate has already been reduced down to 2.25%: Bernanke can't reduce it to much lower than Zero. So, there are no Monetary policy tools left to be deployed. And Bush has squandered the Fiscal resources needed to cope with a recession.

Let's wait another 2 years to see how this all unwinds, before we close the books on The Feds performance this decade. My bet is that we'll see a contraction of more than a few percentage points a quarter, for more than a few quarters...and you'll have your volatility, too!

Jacobs' statements may be accurate, but none of his claims are true.

Disclaimer: don't accept anything you see on a chess blog as economics gospel.

That said, DOug's last post is good political propaganda but does not resemble any facts.

Yes, gmc.

Assuming the DOug we just heard from is the same cretin who spewed forth on an earlier thread about chessboard misbehavior (touch-move shenanigans), it's no surprise to see DOug now issuing the sort of opinions on economic issues typically espoused by 8th-grade dropouts who get their facts from Fox News and their political analyses from Rev. Jeremiah Wright's blog.

From this second-paragraph howler:

"the Bush fiscal policies (i.e. massive deficits) have led to the "moderation" the business cycle" ...

(JJ: the cited moderation, analyzed by numerous non-partisan academic economists and policy analysts that Dave50 alluded to earlier, is widely recognized as having begun in the 1980s. Oh well, maybe DOug meant Bush's father when he referred to "the Bush fiscal policies". But Bush's father RAISED taxes to NARROW the deficit; which is what cost him re-election in 1992. Ironically, the trendy DOug's and poisoned pawns of that era - who were brainless Republicans because back then it was trendier to be a brainless Republican than a brainless lefty - howled that Greenspan had it in for Bush Sr. because he wasn't cutting rates FAST ENOUGH in the months leading up to the 1992 election. Later in the 1990s, those same brainless DOug's/poisoned pawns/Republicans called Greenspan a tool of Clinton because he cut rates in 1995 and 1998, and stopped raising rates in the months surrounding Y2K.)

...to DOug's mis-labeling the 2.25% fed funds target rate as the "prime rate"

(JJ: I haven't checked lately, but the latter must be at least 250 bps higher),

...to his asserting that: "Bernanke can't reduce it to much lower than Zero. So, there are no Monetary policy tools left to be deployed."

(JJ: Bernanke has not only written and spoken in detail about additional monetary policy options beyond lowering the funds rate - you can start by reading his widely quoted, controversial speech in 2003 on just that topic of how to apply further monetary stimulus once the funds rate reaches zero - he has lately been practicing some of those measures. Injecting large amounts of reserves via term lending, broadening the range of collateral the Fed will accept when lending to banks, and opening the discount window to primary dealers, are tentative steps along that road; each has been done in recent months. Japan had zero interest rates for several years, and applied further stimulus through a series of measures referred to as "quantitative easing.")

...DOug's last post provides us with a veritable Evergreen Game of thought-free and knowledge-free ecobabble.

For any readers whose interest in the subject has been piqued enough to seek information from a neutral (and qualified) authority, here's a wonderfully concise explanation in laymen's language that was one of the first links that came up in a Google search for "Great Moderation":


Jon Jacobs,

Thank you for your informative and educative posts.
You always make good reading.

As for this total f*ckwit who kept going on ad infinitum about monkey poo throwing, he seems to have an obsession with the stuff. I think he needs help.

"Damnant quod non intellegunt
- They condemn what they do not understand"

Sigh....typically, Jacobs misses the point: I wasn't denying the existence of this period of "Great Moderation". It is clear that various metrics of the state of the economy--inflation, unemployment, interest rates-- have stayed within a narrower range than previously experienced. However, I am arguing that the importance of that accomplishment ought to be discounted, and indeed, it is not worth extolling.

The problem is that some of these metrics have become decoupled from what they were originally intended to measure. Thus, they are misleading indicators. For instance, take the unemployment rate. It has indeed been "Moderate". However, even as unemployment rates have been low during the years of the Bush administration, the percentage of people who are employed has been far less impressive. The criteria and methodology for measuring joblessness have changed throughout the years. It has changed in a way that renders the statistic less meaningful than before. (A big part of the problem is that only those who are actively seeking jobs are deemed to be unemployed; those people who may be long-term unemployed, but discouraged to the point of giving up on an active job search, are simply not counted.) Even if one argues that the number of jobs have remained the same, many have experienced a degradation of job quality (i.e. going from a manufacturing job with benefits and higher salary to a lower paying job in the service sector).

Note that even with a "moderate" unemployment rate throughout his nearly two full terms in office, far fewer jobs have been created under his administration than during the Bill Clinton era.

Moreover, the Bush White House bragged at setting a record for the most months of consecutive job growth (something like 52 straight months), even though overall job growth has been anemic compared to Clinton (and most postwar Presidents, for that matter).

In any case, like the Great Depression, and the period of high inflation, "This, too, shall pass"! It is mere fanciful triumphalism to maintain that The Fed has "managed" the business cycle. The "Great Moderation", such as it is, will be coming to an end. Apparently, sooner than Jon Jacobs thinks....

Astoundingly, there were a few sensible points in that last comment of DOug's. The giveaway, though, is his continual obsessive harping on "Bush this" and "Bush that." Since I barely mentioned Bush or his administration in my first two comments, and went out of my way to take a longer-term perspective in everything I wrote, the observing Greek chorus is left to conclude, "How very interesting, Mr. DOug...."

I did defend the Fed, which is NOT part of Bush's administration, or any administration.

Greenspan, a Republican, brought to a successful conclusion the battle against inflation that was begun by Volcker (a Democrat?). Initially appointed by Reagan and re-nominated to his first full 4-year term by Bush Sr., Greenspan went on to be renominated for two further terms by President Clinton, and only then a final one by George W. Bush.

During the Clinton years, as I mentioned, Greenspan was often accused of being a Clinton crony and skewing his rate decisions to favor the Democrats' election chances (some conservatives even claimed he maneuvered to get Clinton elected in the first place, by not cutting rates faster in the summer of 1992 when the economy continued to look soft as the election loomed).

All DOug's complaints about the methodological problems with the employment rate (not to mention numerous related measures, such as background estimates and models like the new-business-formation "birth/death" model that are used to compute the more important nonfarm payroll jobs number), were heard throughout the Clinton administration, and probably even before that. The debate over methodology is worthwhile, although best left to those trained to understand the fine points, instead of having to crib sound bites from their favorite partisan blog. But it has little relevance for comparing the present Bush administration to prior administrations.

One other thing: DOug seems unaware that the "great moderation" is a global phenomenon. Swings in inflation, unemployment and GDP have become less violent during the past two decades or so, not only in the U.S. but throughout the industrial world (with the exception of Japan in the 90s). So if the numbers are faulty, it's misleading at best to focus solely on the Bush years when considering either the causes or the implications.

Everyone blames everybody, Ben, Greenspan, Bush, and even "some progressive university professor's psycho-babble."

How about a simpler explanation: pure greed and criminality - brokers collect $$ for every sale and somehow these junk bonds were rated AAA by the Bond Rating Service? Foreign banks are affected too. Do you not wonder how those bankers not directly involved in the sales not bothering to do their homework and trusting the rating service? We know of Bre-X and the lesson there was to check everything. Why investment institutions such as pension funds and banks not learn the lessons of Bre-X? An awful lot of financial pros DID NOT DO THEIR DUTY. Greed and criminality.

Oh, recall the lead paint on toys fiasco China suffered a while back? A Chinese CEO took responsibility by committing suicide. In the US many CEOs took "responsibility" for the current crisis by taking multi-million dollar parachutes and sacking 10% of the workforce.

The US Govt has no choice but to bail out the banks - with taxpayers' money. Had this occurred in China there would still be a bailout, only it would be partially funded with the ill-gotten gains of the criminals and financial pros and then having all of them shot! Lol!

I quite hated the DOug - JJ wars when they were slightly about chess, there is actually no words for what I think about the above BS.

Oh wait, there actually are some fitting words: STFU!


The Ken Rogoff link I gave above contains cool items like this photo: http://www.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/rogoff/files/karpovtrue.jpg

Is that Julio Kaplan in the background?


DOug and JJ's posts are perfectly appropriate. It's Mig who's screwed up (once again) by posting a lead article which has nothing whatever to do with the succeeding posts.

madness on a reasonable scale in Moro-Chuky right now in the Russian team championship.

Moro looks to be gone, but I dont have an engine. Some analysis please anyone?

Isnt 29. Qf6+ Kf6 30. Qd6 better than 29 Qd6 straight away, when the Black K is more exposed, and B rook is attacked? Or is there some variation where the K position on g7 is better for W?

d_tal, could you please post a link to that action?

1. On Moderation: The "great moderation" is a product of a number of things, but chief among them is probably the -stunning- liquidity of credit markets over the past ten years or so (which is, more or less, a direct consequence of financial deregulation and, yes, structured finance). The point is that you can now have a major crisis without major economic pain (what is happening now). We just had what will eventually be a multitrillion dollar asset disappearance (value equal to say 25% of the total yearly economy just went up in smoke, although we won't know until housing markets start clearing again - which won't happen until prices fall - which is why bailing out homeowners who never should have been homeowners and otherwise propping up prices is counterproductive)...

...and we may (maybe) be in a mild cyclical downturn, our first since 2001. Or it's possible growth has just paused a bit.

The credit for the moderation of the business cycle goes to (drumroll please) Alan Greenspan and his predecessor, Paul Volcker, who were willing to do what was necessary (basically, act with restraint) to rein in inflation and develop the respect the Fed now engenders in financial markets.

Not only that, they did it during a period when the Fed's traditional tools have become much weaker.

Another point: while I view American executive compensation practices as basically indefensible self-dealing (I'd love to see you come up with another way), sacking employees is what you're supposed to do when business goes south. Then they can go elsewhere and be productive rather than sitting around doing nothing because you no longer have a use for them.

Failing to do things like that (sack employees, let businesses fail, etc.) is why Japan is no longer even spoken of in world economic circles.

clubfoot, try http://www.russiachess.org/online/

Moro did lose, I guess all those variations were losing.

Thanks kindly d_tal...and you got a lotta nerve posting about chess on The Economist Teen Chat Blog.

Some finely calculated tactics by the Chukster there. If the time record was to be believed, both had seconds for the last few moves.

If the time record was to be believed, both had seconds for the last few moves.

-- Posted by: d_tal at April 9, 2008 12:22

What? Chucky in time trouble? What is this world coming to? :-)

Both were in serious time trouble. Moro was worse over the last 7 or 8 moves. I guess he worked out that he was losing :-/

Svidler - Moro today.. Will this be Moro's first non-decisive game?!!

To return to chess, after that digression on economics: One of the best games from the Russian Team Championship was Gata Kamsky's win over Van Wely (from an earlier round). The opening was actually a Grunfeld, but the position soon came to resemble something out of a King's Indian. Kamsky was able to set up an advanced pawn chain with f5-f4, and then mounted a powerful attack. Van Wely tried to break out of the bind with g4, but Kamsky responded by opening up the h-file. Very nice game.

Yes, Gata's chess approach is quite economical. His style of moderation shows that one can now create a major crisis on the board with little or no parsimonic pain whatsoever.

Alex Onishuk promotes Obama at the Russian championship:

For those who are afraid of cyrillic letters, links to pictures are:
(Still, some cyrillics can be seen on the pictures. Sorry.)

"America is ready to elect Obama" - Alex Onischuk.

I hope, he is right. The consrevative candidate looks like a monster. Clinton would be a continuation of the Bush-Clinton-Bush succession, also not so good. Something else is needed, IMHO. One way or another, I am supporting Onischuk.

Another nice Kamsky game from the Russian team championship was his victory over Korchnoi, on the white side of a Ruy Lopez. Several people have already commented on this one over at chessgames.com. Kamsky's astute play led to Korchnoi being saddled with too many weak pawns. At one point, Black's pawn structure was so bad that it almost hurt the eyes to look at it. Kamsky also realized that his knight would be much more powerful than Black's bishop in the endgame.

Kamsky seems to be on his game, although I still think he's a prohibitive underdog in a match with Topalov. Kamsky is every bit as strong as Shirov, or Radjabov, or Adams, but he's not a top five player anymore, and it's questionable if he ever was.

Good luck to him, but he's going to need it.

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