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Quiet at the Top in Baku

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Several days of tense fighting haven't done much to the top of the crosstable in the Baku Grand Prix. Grischuk eventually outmaneuvered Inarkiev to move into clear first place in the 9th round. He's the only player to reach +3 in this very even event. The excellent Scrabble score pair of Vugar Gashimov and Wang Yue are still in an unlikely tie for 2-3 at +2. Mamedyarov has won two of his last three to move up to the +1 group. There he joins Carlsen and Mickey Adams, who beat fellow veteran Svidler in the 9th round in typically arachnid fashion. Kamsky continued to fall from his early state of grace with a loss to Radjabov in the 9th to land at an even score. Cheparinov deserves some credit for battling back to a -1 score after starting the event with four straight losses. True grit.

The games have been unusually long and hard-fought, with many positions you would expect to be drawn played out. This has been both instructive and entertaining and credit goes to the Grand Prix rules, section 4.4 to be precise.

4.4 The players are not permitted to speak to their opponents during the games. Appropriate sporting behaviour is expected from all participants and FIDE rules of conduct are to be strictly followed at all times.

Players will not be allowed to offer draws directly to their opponents. Any draw claim will be permitted only through the Chief Arbiter in the following cases:

* a triple-repetition of the position,
* a perpetual check,
* in theoretically drawn position and
* Applying the rule of 50 moves

The Chief Arbiter may consult with the Technical Adviser before accepting any claim by players for a draw. The Chief Arbiter is the only authority who can acknowledge the final result of the game in these cases.

4.5 The Technical Adviser must be a Grandmaster, rated at least 2500, who has held the title of Grandmaster for at least ten years and is an active player as defined by the rating system.

Allow me a hearty Boo-Yah. The draw offer, that bane of sporting professionalism and common sense (and symbol of opportunistic unprofessionalism), does not exist in the Grand Prix. Let's hope this continues to catch on. Thanks and congrats to Global Chess and FIDE for insisting on this. And a shout-out to the organizers in Corsica and Sofia (MTel) who pioneered anti-short-draw rules at the elite level. (By the way, MTel starts in a few days and they've done all sorts of interesting things to promote the event at the official website. Nice job.)

Another interesting rule is 4.1, which states: "A individual player's visits to the restroom are limited to 12 while his or her game is in progress. A 13th visit will result in the automatic destruction of the bathroom's ceiling."

The final three rounds in Baku contain a few key match-ups. Gashimov-Grischuk in the 12th should be relevant, especially since Grischuk has white against Carlsen and Radjabov in his other games. Wang Yue also has two whites. Adams has the chance to make a move, or at least be a spoiler, which his last three games against Mamedyarov, Carlsen, and Gashimov.


Inarkiev is a real warrior. It's good to have him in elite circle.
Grischuk has never been so solid. Is this a change of style?
A suggestion: Why don't they consider attaching a urine bag to players in top tournaments to eliminate the need to visit bathroom and solve the whole problem at once?

Ah, Mig, ever the jester. I refer, of course, to Rule 4.1. I suppose I can take toilet jokes again, but you will admit they were a bit boring not all that long ago.

I guess it is pronounced April the first rule.

The Gashimov--Grischuk game was indeed relevant. Whatever Grischuk missed, it must have been big.
So, two rather unlikely leaders of the tournament: Wang Yue and Vugar Gashimov. Is this a changing of the guard?

Carlsen sneaks up to +2, with a win over his "customer" Adams. Interesting game....Adams started off being the exchange up in the Middlegame, but Carlsen's rampaging minor pieces first cost Adams the exchange back, then the win of another one to boot.

Cheparinov and Karjakin had a unique solution to the "Sofia rules": they churned out 92 moves to finally reach bare Kings, about the time that other players reached time control.

Navara scores his first win against a suddenly out of form Radjabov. I liked Radjabov's attack, but I liked Navara's coolheaded defense even more.
Maybe the attack was unsound, but Timor had all 5 of his pieces aimed at the Black king, and Navara had cracked before. 28.Qg5 didn't have the expected shock effect.

Svidler salvages something from the tournament, by beating Kamsky. Rather enexpectedly, Kamsky fell apart just before time control. Hard to believe that with such poor form (according to Svidler himself) he is only -1. Kamsky has dropped 3 unanswered games, to join a 5 way logjam for =7th, at minus 1.

Too bad to see Kamsky in bad form. Doesn't bode well for the upcoming match with Topalov. Hopefully he'll take some time off and get straight.

Kamsky has usually performed better in matches than in tournaments. The severe defeat by Boris Gelfand last year was an exception. Topalov has to be the favorite, especially if the match ends up being played in Bulgaria.

One wonders whether his play in Baku was adversely affected by the ongoing negotiations concerning the Topalov match. In all probability, Kamsky will be in better form in November, and he'll have had months to hone his opening preparations specifically for Topalov, rather than for 13 different players.

The update on the Kamsky--Topalov match go no new information, save for stating that details would be forthcoming on May 12th. Is that a hard or a soft deadline?

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on May 2, 2008 3:31 PM.

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