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Dresden Olympiad r9

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The gold rush is underway at the Dresden Olympiad. Armenia started the round in the clear lead but Israel could swap places with them with a match win today. Israel played the Swiss gambit by drawing with Latvia in the first round. They didn't face any team seeded higher than 30th until the sixth round. Then they beat Spain (12) and Germany (11) before meeting Armenia (9) today. Meanwhile Armenia has faced Ukraine, Netherlands, Russia, France, and Azerbaijan, seeds 2, 20, 1, 7, and 4.

The games are well underway and Israel has scored first blood with a win by Maxim Rodshtein over Petrosian. That's Armenia's first loss of the entire event. Armenia is trying to repeat their 2006 success of finding four in-form players and basically jettisoning the reserves. Last time they ditched Lputian and Minasian after the fourth round. This time, with only five players on the team, Minasian has played just one game, a round 3 win. Hard to argue with their success in 06 and again here, but it does seem pretty brutal.

The other big medal match, Ukraine-Russia, has also seen an early loss. Morozevich got a little carried away with his own bad self and left a piece sac on offer a bit too long against Efimenko and lost. Kramnik-Ivanchuk is a crazy battle with distant passed pawns for both. Hikaru Nakamura bounced back by beating Harikrisha with 1.g3 and playing his knights out to a3 and h3. That's what hanging out with Canadians will do to you. You start eating poutine and playing like Duncan Suttles! [Update: Kamsky and Akobian have also won to complete a 3.5-0.5 demolition of India. A pity this idiotic match point system makes such tremendous performances irrelevant.] More updates later.

Update: Razik Khaled Abdel alert! The Egyptian FM reserve just beat a Bosnian IM to move to 7/7. He has played some very weak opposition, but he's also defeated two IMs and Israel's 2674 GM Postny. Wonder if they'll pull him out now to guarantee an individual medal, as goes the usual method. They are still giving medals out based on scoring percentage, right? Or did the push to get it changed to rating performance stick? Both?

Update: Aronian steps it up big time and beats Gelfand with black to level the match. Oops, Gelfand won. Too many live viewers open, it seems. Didn't notice the little boards flipped the colors. So Israel is up 2-0. Two Armenia-Israel games still in progress. -- Kramnik-Ivanchuk drawn, Svidler-Karjakin drawn. Grischuk has ye olde f+h drawn rook endgame against Eljanov. We can assume he knows how to draw it, but doing so on increment can be tough.

Update: Israel beats Armenia and takes over clear first place with 16 match points. Ukraine beats Russia and is now equal second with Armenia on 15 points. China beat France and has 14, along with England, who beat Vietnam. Thanks to these goofy pairings the English may yet find a way to medal without beating any of the top teams. They've faced two teams seeded higher than their own 15th spot, a draw with Azerbaijan and a loss to Russia. But with two rounds to go here they are in the top four.


"swiss gambit" is a cool name, for a very bad thing.
I am completly upset (Israel is winning in this very moment against Armenia) about it.
Israel will be sole leader after todays round, without facing any really strong team so far(except Armenia of course). They saved a lot of energy with their strategy (if it was really intended) to draw 1st and 3rd round and roll up the field from behind.
Armenia in the meantime played all strong teams (and beat them all, except the 2:2 against the Ukraine) and had to play at the very limit in every round (and with the weird 5 man a team system you cannot change your team a lot).
Today the looked really exhausted and got punished for playing serious from the very first round and dominating the Olympiad.
I don't have anything personal against Israel, but they do not deserve to win the Olympiad!
Really ridiculous pairing system, to allow such a jeopardy result.

Mig, you got it wrong, its Gelfand who won with black and that means a very probale defeat for Armenia.

Ya, just noticed that. Was wondering how they could have white on boards 1 and 4...

Kramnik-Ivanchuk draws after both queen-ed their pawns. Aronian lost to Gelfand in a nice R+2Ps vs R+P endgame.
Vietnam will lose to England. However Adams is having a hard time converting his R+B vs B+N endgame against Nguyen (it's 72nd move already).

oops ... It just indicated that Nguyen won against Adams. How? Did Adams lose on time?

Raffael you are wrong. i believe that the Armenians made a mistake because they were the only top team who played all the time with only 4 players. as for Israel they still have to play Russia. if they win that game too then they will be deserved champions.

I don't think Israel has to play Russia unless the pairings say so?

Nah, Mickey won. Just another wrong result report on the official site. He was winning all the way, never in bad time trouble, and white is in zugzwang in that final position.

Assuming they do win, and probably even if they only draw, Israel will play the winner of Ukraine-Russia. Looking like Ukraine unless Eljanov has a meltdown.

Sargissian just won again, incredible run and performance!
Talking about performances there are a lot of strange things happening in the Olympiad as well.
Bulgaria for example seems do do everything to get opponents for Topalov with a 2600 Elo (+/-80 points) so he can play one masterpiece after the other.
After todays win he is in live ratings again above 2800!

We will see how Israel is going to defend first place tomorrow, but they have by far the worst tie break results (thanks to the "swiss gambit" strategy) and if they lose tomorrow, they should not even be in first 3, which would be some justice in the end.
If they win the next 2 matches they would win Gold medal and I wouldn't say it is completly undeserved in this case, but something feels wrong, to win with the swiss gambit, at least to me...

I don' see anyting wrong with the swiss system being used...everyone started knowing the rules. No one stopped other teams from doing it like Israel though i don't think it was deliberate by them...i mean you can not guarantee future results - you could end p drawing with some "weak teams". Give Israel its due.

Of course other systems have their drawbacks too, but the system used in this Olympiad is by far the most unfair I've ever seen.
The main problem is the number of rounds played.
With 150 teams a 11 round swiss tournament (with 1st round pairing being split in 3 groups, like in other big opens ( 1 vs. 50, 51 vs. 100 and 101 vs. 150) is just way too long (let alone a missing 2nd rest day) and leads to the following setup:
The group of top seed will face each other after a very few rounds (Armenia faced 2nd seed Ukraine already in round 4, 4th seed Azerbaijan in round 6, 1st seed Russia in round 7). So the tournament is basically over 4 rounds too early. If Armenia would have won today and tomorrow, they would play in the final round a team that is placed most probably in the mid 20s in the final round! Absurd, isn't it?
On the other hand, because the strong teams will face each other in the early rounds, it is clear that they must lose some points against each other.
So it is possible for a good seeded team (like Israel) to lose points very early, (as they did) not to be in the top group that faces each other and just win against weaker teams and avoid playing the heavyweights.
Imagine it was just a 9 round swiss tournament - Israel would be Olympic champion, with only 1 real heavyweight match. Insane!
Because there are still 2 rounds to go Israel might end up missing the medals after all, because of their bad tie breaks, which speaks also against an intentional "swiss gambit" but nevertheless, the possibility to get a good final result without facing the really strong teams is something that should not be tolerated imho.

Swiss gambit is worth what it's worth. As was said before, you have to win everything because your tiebreak is just too bad. It's used in normal swiss tournaments, why not use it at the olympiad? It's a risk to be taken. Not sure if Israel really planified the whole thing or just got a lucky pairing. What strikes me is the good performance by Armenia (well, not that much) and the quite bad one by Russia. Even if they win matches, they don't look as strong as they used to by, not only by performance, but also by their play. Hard to understand, because to me they still seem the strongest team, and by quite a good margin. There's some kind of vacuum at the top of national team chess, the place left by Russia is not being taken clearly by anyone.

Israel beat Germany and Armenia something even the super strong Russian team failed to do. and besides in the last two rounds Israel will get 2 super strong oponents. so stop b*tching about the pairings.

Pairings in this format seem to have stabilized only in the seventh or eighth round.

In the old format, two rounds of 4-0 shutouts gave way to medal contender versus medal contender from the third/fourth round to the thirteenth.

Virtually impossible to win gold in the old format without facing at least six or seven top ten teams (I recall the eventual winner often facing eight or nine.) If Israel wins it'll face three (Armenia plus its next two victims).

Something about the old points format:
Teams which won 4-0in the last round leapfrogged a lot of teams. Actually a team could win a medal that way, after losing the 2nd last round and getting a relatively weaker team in the last round.

Can you explain exactly what is Bulgaria doing to get weaker opponents for Topa?
Is that possible? Like having Morozevich in board 3?
just asking, though.

I don't like counting the board points instead of match points. Better might be the following:

In Dresden (funny enough) they have played a very interesting new format in the last years.
A KO tournament and a swiss tournament in one!

It works very easy. It is a classic KO tournament, same way as the FIDE World Cup, but the losers of each round don't go home, but keep playing in a swiss tournament and they take the points from the KO with them.
So let's say it is 7 round swiss and KO tourney and you win the first 3 KO matches, just to lose the 4th one, you will play round 4 of the swiss open starting with 3 points.
You'll get a undisputed winner and the swiss tournament has also the strongest players in the first places in the end.

Maybe FIDE should think about such a system for the Olympiad as well, would be much better than the current one me thinks.

@ Manu

Bulgaria keeps losing or playing draw all the time if they are about to reach the top rankings (and opponents) so their opponents in next match all the time have a rating at board one between 2550 and 2630 all the time.
And Topalov (with his 2791) keeps smashing them and is currently at +2800 ELO again in the live list.

Might be a coincidence, but it seems really strange to me and one could think Bulgaria is "team Topalov" which is trying to play for their board one Elo performance and not their final result...

actualy the biggest anomaly are these weird tie-breaks they use. for example the situation in the women section is downright absurd. Ukraine is classified first in front of Poland on tie-breaks (both have 15 match points)

Ukraine 268,0
Poland 249,5

so that would mean that Ukraine faced much stronger opposition. but is that really so? lets check. if we look at the current standings and check against how many top 10 oponent they played then we see that Poland played against:

3rd Serbia
4th China
5th Georgia
7th USA
8th Russia
9th Hungary

and how about Ukraine? well they faced

4th China
6th Armenia

how the hell do Ukraine have so much better tie-breaks than Poland is beyond me.

Double #1 seed Russia cratering again for the second Olympiad in a row (men #7, women #8). High probability neither team will medal, even with 2-0 finish in final rounds. Double #2 seed Ukraine is #2 in men, #1 in women.

Topalov is performing at 2992 over his last 6 games! This is 5.5/6 against 2591 average.

However adding the win against the 2289 paradoxically lowers the average so much (to 2547) that the performance rating drops to 2969.
I just wanted to make that point as the olympiad use this measure to decide board medals. It should be made so that wins can not lower performances!

Onto the chess- Topalov is back to his best, and Gelfand is on form too (Gelfand is already in his 40s by the way) (yes, performance rating again) 2875 performance after 8 games.

Israel have a good chance to win the olympiad, while Russia are out of it- who would have thought it?

Just a funny fact:

Canada is presently *fourth* on game points.

Maybe that is the only way we could get an Olympiad medal, have them awarded according to game points but still have the matchups done according to match points. Maybe it is not too late to have Kirsan change the rules...

yeah, ratings and performances can be really queer sometime.
I remember in my early years I played a club championship (7 round swiss) with a lot of really weak (and low rated) opponents.
I was at 6/6 and played in last round against a friend of mine, who was more or less same level as me.
Of course we made a draw, I won the championship, but to my surprise I lost 4 rating points!
That's sick isn't it? 6/6 and draw against an opponent who is same rated as you and losing rating points. Sound impossible, but it happened to me :-)

It is not so much the seeds you play but the in-form teams that you play.
For example Russia are seed 1 in the Open but from the way they are playing, they are not the strongest/in-form team.


The tiebreak is Sonnenborn-Berger, so it's not just the strong teams you meet, it's how you do against them. Poland scored only 1/2 point against China. Ukraine racked up huge 3.5 point wins against Armenia and Netherlands.

Game points *do* matter. Sorry for repeating myself. Again.

Netherlands isn't in the top-10, but they do have 12 matchpoints, just one less than some top-10 teams have. For 3.5 against a 12-pointer, you get a lot better tiebreak than 2.5 against a 13-pointer. 3.5 x 12 = 42; 2.5 x 13 = 32.5. That's a difference of almost 10 tiebreak points! This suggests a way one might retool the tiebreaks for a future version of this pairing system.

I invented the Haida Pairing System
(warning: no pictures!) in the 1970s. It recognizes in the game points (no tiebreak needed) that a win against Russia is worth more than a win against Papua New Guinea. I believe it would also also save us from mismatches, certainly near the top. No Ukraine vs. New Zealand in round 8, for example. But it is not a zero-sum system. That is a big leap, which FIDE has ventured only in tiebreak systems up to now.

I'm still in the dark about why in Dresden, odd-man teams are floated to play the team that is *bottom* in the next lower score group. Anybody?

> how the hell do Ukraine have so much better tie-breaks than Poland

It's those funny old thing, board points.

The teams up to rank 50 have 10 match points or more. That's why it doesn't make much of a difference against who you played. Of all 18 matches played by Poland and Ukraine so far, all but three give a tie-break rating in the range 21-39.

The three exceptions are:

Poland lost to China 0.5:3.5
That's only 7 tie-break points.

Ukraine beat Armenia 3.5:0.5 = 49 tie-break points
Ukraine beat Netherlands 3.5:0.5 = 42 tie-break points.

That's the big difference.

I wouldn't call the match point system idiotic as Mig did. It is, say, comparable to the game point system. It prevents from leapfrogging and brings a bit of team spirit in to the game. On the other hands teams are squashed like hell especially while number of rounds has been reduced. And the pairing system is just goofy. There is simply no other word.
But the real answer is that Swiss system is ****. No better system than an old, well-proven round robin was ever invented by the mankind. Why not making sort of hierarcic league system, like
TOP league of 16, 2 relegated
two level 2 leagues of 16, 1 promoted, 2 relegated
four level 3 leagues of 16, 1 promoted, 2 relegated.
Makes a total of 112 teams. The rest could well be splitted to play some bottom tier leagues.
That would make total of 15 rounds, nothing to be unaffordable even those days. If that would be to long, then you simply truncate 4 (or 2) teams in each division.

Raffael, I vaguely remember that there is (was?) a rule that a tournament winner can never lose rating points. Maybe I am wrong, or the rule has been abandoned, or it is not applied to 'small' events such as club championships ?

Not anymore , i remember Topa winning Mtel (2 years ago) and losing rating points.
By the way , thinking that Bulgarians woul lose games to increase Topas rating is preposterous .

Wojtek, your suggestion _may_ be the best way to objectively determine the overall ranking.

However, the special thing about the olympiad is that 'weaker' teams get the chance to play some of the top nations (at least in the first round[s] - if they do well against 'their kind', maybe also later on. The same holds true for other Swiss system open tournaments.

The main problem may be that 11 rounds are not enough. On the other hand, even in the present situation Israel still has to justify their present standing in the final round, same for England.

Another problem with the 'Wojtek system' (of course you could not claim copyright, it is commonly applied at many occasions) is that, with the Olympiad held every two years, it would take quite some time for rising nations (such as China and maybe now Vietnam) to make it into the top group.

It may of course well be that Cheparinov and especially Kiril Georgiev are simply out of form. In any case, tomorrow Topalov should play Shirov, which will be his first opponent rated above 2700.

Topalov is at 2801,9 in live ratings!

Good reason to take a break tomorrow and let Shirov prepare for nothing ;-)

Raffael, if Topalov wanted to play low-rated opponents to increase his rating, he could do it by playing in any open tournament.

Jeesh, watch the conspiracy theories fly. I guarantee that if you calculated the probability of at least *one* team drawing with a weaker team in Round 1 (despite their best efforts to win), you'd find that it's pretty high. That team would then be accused of playing the "Swiss Gambit," even though they had no intention of doing so.

Conspiracy theories are no substitute for a rudimentary understanding of statistics.

Homer Simpson - "Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. 14% of people know that."

So far, Topalov has not been playing "a typical open" (Aeroflot is not typical ...) but rather a category 14-15 tournament. And even his strongest opponents (Nisipeanu and now Shirov) suit him well because they play fighting chess and are not afraid of losing. "Less ideal" were Nicaraguan IM Canda (rating too low) and Beliavsky (solid, experienced and hard to beat, he also drew against Naiditsch, Sasikiran and Carlsen).

Reliably beating weaker opponents is also a quality, particularly for team commpetitions. And doing so in style - rather than playing long maneouvring games, eventually exploiting inaccuracies or blunders - is appreciated by the public. On the other hand, taking each game individually, Topalov's result cannot be called surprising. And based on his performance, it is / would be somewhat ridiculous to claim that he is indeed clearly stronger than his competitors for the #1 spot on the (live) rating list.

Somewhat related: The performance of Egyptian FM Abdel Razik Khaled is of course remarkable. But one cannot (at least not yet) infer that he is seriously underrated, should now receive invitations to supertournaments and will soon reach the top 10 or even top 100 on the world rating list.

Topa got 1st in rankings playing in Bilbao , which i remind u was one of the strongest tournaments of all times.
The previous time he got first was San Luis , another super tournament.
Topa is like Moro he does very well against weaker oposition , the thing with Topa is that (unlike Moro) he is also good against his kind.
And somewhat is not ridiculous to claim that at this moment he is stronger than his competition.
BTW is a pity that Anand didn´t play , i think the applause from his camarades would have been epic.

Slight clarification: My comment was only attempting to put Topalov's Olympiad performance in context. I do not question his recent achievements against world-top opposition. At the moment, he may well indeed be stronger than his competition - "a bit" stronger, I think the days of one or two players (Kasparov, Karpov) far better than the entire rest are definitely over.

So "Topalov as a chess player" is beyond any doubt. As a person (including behaviour off the board by himself and/or his team), that's a different story. Manu, maybe inadvertently you gave a keyword ... : Let's assume Topalov had beaten Kramnik in Elista (under the circumstances) and played an Olympiad a few weeks later. Would the applause be as loud and as unanimous ?? I think my question more or less includes the answer !?

As a follow-up on my previous post - and for the fun of it - I would like to propose a poll: Who should be offered Topalov's spot in Linares ? 1) Of course it should be someone with a reasonable chance of scoring at least, say, 30%. As additional criteria I would prescribe that it should be 2) a surprising choice - i.e., someone who has not played (m)any supertournaments before and 3) preferably someone from a less established chess country.

Abdel Razik Khaled is not eligible I guess, to give some other names: The Vietnamese first board would be interesting, and a direct consequence of the Olympiad. Sargissian, Jakovenko, Nakamura - well at least the first two names don't fit the third criterion above. Caruana probably is not yet strong enough to fulfill criterion #1. Anyone else, any other names ?

@Thomas, if you want a surprising name in Linares I have one for you.
He would for sure score more than 30% even without any preparation and doing politics when he is not at the board :-)

Seriously I'd like to see an "old name" against the ELO monsters. So what about Nigel Short? He is playing above 2800 atm, so he might be a really interesting opponent.

Is true what u say: Topalov wouldn´t be applauded as much .
But one should be very aware of the reasons behind everybody hating him so much.
You say that he is a bad person because he acused Kramnik of cheating , i think you are wrong.
He received lots of acusations from guys like Morozevich and Leko , cheap acusations i must say because they never made the claim .
Korchnoi said that his comebacks were a tactic for computer asisted comebacks.
GM Short said that something sinister was happening in San Luis,after eating with him and Danailov in the same table almost everyday .
Not only that , a hole campaing against him from chessbase acusing him of receiving help.
All of them WITHOUT PROOF!
And you state that Topa is bad person because he made his claim pubic ?
The guy was really convinced that Kramnik was receiving some kind of help , and i must say that he is not so alone as you think on that.
If you dont consider that a great mayority can be wrong look at history and you will find a lot of material to work with .
And also i don`t recall of Kramnik getting applauded after Elista in the way Anand was after Mexico.
Even though it was only a tournament, like Kramnik said.

no matter what....claiming that your opponent is cheating without clear proof in the middle of a (WC) match, and when losing to booth....it was just extremely ugly. Topalov and his camp is forever tainted of course. I understand Kamsky who is extremely careful in his dealings with them.

no matter what.. most used phrase in kinder.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on November 22, 2008 12:41 PM.

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