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Winners and Losers

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Catching up a bit this week with various spring events. My old Kentucky homeboy Gregory Kaidanov showed he's still got the chops to mix it up on the international scene in Gausdal, Norway. He dominated the Norwegian round-robin event with 7/9, a full point ahead of India's Gopal. Erstwhile Ninja commentator Irina Krush got no love from her countrymen, losing to Kaidanov and giving up one of Erik Moskow's two draws. (Moscow, an esteemed Florida doctor and enthusiastic chess amateur and sponsor, has reinvented the pay-to-play model for the 21st century. He also tagged GM Lie for a half point.) Kaidanov played his usual steady chess, but no word on whether or not he wore an American flag lapel pin.

From an email from the winner (deleting my questions, which are obvious):

My first time in Gausdal was 1991. There were two tournaments in a row; I won one of them and also won the first prize on combination [of scores]. They also had a very nice seafood buffet back then, which turned me into a "fishetarian" (and I have stayed this way since then).

Not much has changed. The same hotel, the same (excellent) food and even my result was the same :) For the first time in many years I didn't have any jetlag. That helped :) I was very relaxed and played some good chess. People who know me don't hear those words too often. I am usually very critical about the quality of my games. Playing chess used to be very hard work for me. Now it's just a vacation from chess lessons :)

I like my win against Lie, when I improved on Aronian's play. Hard to believe, but I actually remembered his game against Carlsen, but thought that my move might be better.

(Aronian played 20.Re3 (and won a long game) against Carlsen in the first tiebreak rapid game of their Elista candidates match in June 2007. Game after the jump.)

Speaking of flags, 15-year-old Fabiano Caruana bounced back from a poor showing in the main event at the International Ruy Lopez Festival in Merida, Spain, to win clear first in the Ruy Lopez thematic rapid open that followed. All the games started with 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5. The big guns from the main event were there too, but Mickey Adams -- the winner of the round-robin, a Spanish expert on both sides, rapid chess stud, and the big rating favorite -- was slowed by four draws. He couldn't match Caruana's excellent 7.5/9 showing, which earned the Brooklyn native the 3,000 euro first prize. I haven't seen any games from the rapid event yet; I hope they make it into TWIC. The main event was neatly bifurcated. Four players on +2 or better: Koneru, Sargissian, Zhang Pengxiang, and Adams on +4. Then four players with -2 or -3, including Caruana and Hou Yifan.

This was an impressive showing for Humpy Koneru, who is concreting her 2600 status. 2700, her performance rating in Merida, is another story at an ancient 21 years of age. What do you think? I've said before that if you aren't in the top 10 by the time you're 21 you likely never will be. (Barring late jumps to edge in for a list or two, of which there are many, who mostly serve to prove the rule.) This doesn't hold quite as true for the top 20, of course. Still, not many late bloomers in that group either.

Perhaps the formulation "if you aren't in the top 20 by age 21 you'll never make it to the top 10" is more precise. Former world's youngest-ever GM Etienne Bacrot just creeped in under this deadline, I believe. He hit #17 at 21 after years of a plateau in the 30's and 40's and then got up to #9 before falling back. Aronian is the refutation of this theory, if not by much. He was #21, his highest yet at the time, at age 22. He's now been in the top 10 for three years solid, joining a very short list of people who can say that in this age of post-Kasparov parity. Anand, Kramnik, and Topalov are the obvious members. Topalov has been there straight since dipping out briefly in 2001. Kramnik fell to 9 during his health swoon. Anand has been 1, 2, or 3 since Karpov strode the earth. The other member, now a tenuous member, is Leko, the current #10. Polgar and Bacrot used to be top 10 but are no longer top 20. That's better than Krasenkow, who hit #10 in 2000 and now isn't in the top 100. USAer Nakamura is at his highest-ever spot -- #34 at 2686. Three years ago he was at #43, but he seems to be taking things more seriously this time around. He just added a few more points in the French team championship.

[Event "Gausdal Classics GM-A"]
[Site "Gausdal"]
[Date "2008.04.15"]
[Round "8"]
[White "Kaidanov, Gregory"]
[Black "Lie, Kjetil A"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A62"]
[WhiteElo "2596"]
[BlackElo "2558"]
[PlyCount "119"]
[EventDate "2008.04.08"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "NOR"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 c5 4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nc3 g6 7. g3 Bg7 8. Bg2
O-O 9. O-O a6 10. a4 Re8 11. Bf4 Ne4 12. Nxe4 Rxe4 13. Nd2 Rb4 14. b3 Bxa1 15.
Qxa1 Rxf4 16. gxf4 Nd7 17. Ne4 Qe7 18. Rc1 b6 19. Rc3 Nf6 20. Ng3 {
20.Re3 - Aronian-Carlsen, Elista 2007 (7)} Bb7 21. Re3 Qd8 22. Rd3 Rc8 23. e4
c4 24. bxc4 Rxc4 25. e5 dxe5 26. fxe5 Nxd5 27. Qe1 Qd7 28. Qd2 Rxa4 29. Bxd5
Bxd5 30. Rxd5 Qc6 31. h3 Qe6 32. Rd8+ Kg7 33. Qd6 Qxd6 34. Rxd6 Rb4 35. f3 a5
36. Rd7 Kf8 37. Ne4 Rb5 38. Nd6 Rxe5 39. Rxf7+ Kg8 40. Rb7 Re3 41. Kf2 Rb3 42.
Ra7 Rb4 43. Ne4 a4 44. Kg3 b5 45. Ra5 Kg7 46. Nd6 h5 47. h4 g5 48. hxg5 h4+ 49.
Kg2 Kg6 50. Nxb5 Kh5 51. Nd6 Rb2+ 52. Kh3 Rb3 53. g6+ Kxg6 54. Kg4 a3 55. Nf5
h3 56. Nh4+ Kf6 57. Kxh3 Ke6 58. Kg3 Kd7 59. Nf5 Rd3 60. Kf4 1-0


"Nakamura has now worked his way up to 2695,5 unofficially, after gaining 9,5 points in 7 games in the french league."

It's GauSdal, not Gaudal ;)

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on April 18, 2008 3:17 PM.

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