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China Goes Super with Pearl Spring

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I would like to have seen some more, say, Szechuan spice in this event instead of what is basically a copy of so many other super GM events on the schedule, but it's always great to welcome a new top-level event. I previewed this Nanjing tournament here a few weeks ago. Official site here and TWIC links to a few other Chinese sites covering it. The first has some fun pictures up of the players at the opening ceremony. Here's one of Aronian probably desecrating a sacred symbol, observed with horror by one of China's gold medal winning Olympic gymnasts.

Photo from blog.sina.com.cn/chessnews

I'd like to be optimistic about the web coverage, but that would be against both my nature and our years of long-suffering experience with chess websites in general. Or maybe it's because after the latest updates to the site, the HTML title on every page has been changed to "PEARL SPARING." I hunted down a live link here, so cross your fingers. (And I hope this doesn't mean I'll have to unblock the .cn domain from my server's spam filters, because it cuts my spam around 70%.)

The cast: Topalov, Ivanchuk, Aronian, Svidler, Movsesian, Bu Xiangzhi. Format: fast classical-ish control of 40/90' + g/30'+30". (I'm assuming this is what they mean; the description isn't clear.) This is sadly fast for a non-FIDE event. The Bilbao control, without increment, wreaked havoc. Amusingly, the official site schedule doesn't just list the start time, but the end time (1500-1900). That's Chinese efficiency! 1500 local time, which is 0800 CET, 2:00am EST; double round-robin. Schedule: Game 1 on Thursday the 11th; the one free day at the half on Tuesday the 16th; final round on Sunday the 21st. Prize fund: 250,000 euro with 80K for first, 20K for last. Sofia no draw offer rules in effect (yay).

Note that round one of the Doha Elista Grand Prix is on the 14th. Happily, at five time zones away the games there probably won't begin until the Nanjing games are over. Akopian has parachuted in to replace Carlsen.

It will be interesting to see if Movsesian has just been on a hot streak lately or has really raised his game. Now representing Slovakia after first leaving Armenia for the Czech Republic, he's a fun and emotional fellow who seemed destined for eternal B-list status, finishing in the lower half of most of the few supertournaments he was invited to and hanging on the periphery of the top 20. But his recent excellent results have put him close to the top ten and he can really make a statement by just keeping his head above water with this crowd. It would be refreshing to see an old guy (30!) make a move. New blood doesn't always have to be young blood, as Bologan proved at Dortmund in 2003.

This is also an important test for the local hero, Bu Xiangzhi. He got mauled in his first big supertournament appearance at the MTel this year, but was clearly playing terribly. Maybe some home cooking will help him keep form, though the additional pressure of playing in front of the massive home town audience -- not the mention being the lowest-rated player in the field -- might hurt instead of help. The other guys we know well and all have shown flashes of good and bad form this year. Topalov is coming off great performances in Bilbao and at the Olympiad and a strong result here might even tip him over Kasparov's retired rating of 2812 on the January list. Aronian, Ivanchuk, and Svidler are coming off of emotionally draining Olympiad experiences for very different reasons. If I have to make a prediction, my money is on Michael Phelps.


i liked the bit about the horrified expression on the little girl's face; gymnasts being young, wot wot! but actually, i have a bit of a correction. i drew a set of perspective lines, one from each of the girl's eyes and extended them to their intersection point, and the fact is that they are converging not on the desecrated artifact, but rather on aronian's comparatively large nose. the amazement on the youngster's face is merely a result of the bamboozling effect aronian's schnoz elicits on all asian children.

in other childish news, if the ukranian championship webpage is to be trusted, that Iлля Нижник kid just missed his GM norm by 6 performance rating points. a sad day for diminutive giants everywhere. but chin up Iлля; i'm sure you'll still beat that hou yifan girl's record long before your nose is anything of note.

Cool, Svidler plays twice? That's another Fide trick to favour russian players... Which opening would he play on himself?

Oops, the hazards of editing on a tiny screen. I started that item on my G1...

The live link seems to work, thanks Mig. The players are listed mysteriously as player1, player2,..., player6. Anybody out there know which player is which?!

Hmmmm... judging by the moves that are coming out, it looks like the playerNs are just for testing the board sensors.

Plus, if Mig's timing for the event is correct, real play is still a few hours off.

lol, your interpretation is in complete contrast with the chinese version:

chinese caption literally reads: amicable big brother aronian

I imagine they were just testing the boards.

My interpretation was entirely meant as satire, so I very much hope it's not what was really happening. Of course in the chess world, real life is often stranger than satire. One word: Ilyumzhinov.

uh i feel all warm and fuzzy everytime i hear that name

Aronian is probably smiling looking at the carving of Chinese monkeys seemingly playing something on 8x8 board in the ice age..

I still don't like Aronian.

That makes you quite unique I guess.

Only one win, by Bu

I agree that the tourny offers only two minor stories, Movsesian and Bu. Has Las Vegas "tourist" Movesesian really become an insider? Has former prodigy Bu peaked at #20-30 in the world, around ~2700-2710 elo, doomed to remain stagnant for maybe ten years and then decline with brain cell count?

Micheal Adams has withdrawn from Grand Prix.
Source: Chessbase

Aronian is not on the list players in the Elista Grand Prix either, after mentioning 'loss of motivation' in his open letter.

I am totally digging the Chairman Mao jackets the players got. I didn't realize at first . . . I thought Movsesian was wearing a leisure suit.

Topalov has already passed Kasparov's 2812 once in 2006 when Topa reached a published rating of 2813.

Movsesian dismantled Svidler with black, Aronian crushed Chucky with white.

Incredibly only one site reported about Svidler's missed win in round 1 against Chucky.
(chessvibes did in the commentated games)

I was following the games live and saw the on the spot winning Rh5 (instead of Qh1+ and take the perpetual) within 2 sec.
Later I checked with engine and at least 5 moves there win for black!
How could both GMs miss this?!
The live broadcast had Chucky with 10 min left, Svidler 7min. So it was not even (real) timetrouble.

Either Qe5 from Chucky was never played and is a transmission error (if he had played Qe3 instead, the game makes much more sense...), or this is one of the most strange blunders/missed wins in super tournaments I've ever seen...

and the most weird thing is nobody seems to notice it.

Kasparov also once passed Kasparov's 2812.

Hm. 2 1/2 hours, all games drawn. Wasn't there an anti-short-draw-rule in place?

Bartleby, did you see the final positions, and do you really think it would make sense to play on in any of them? Bu and Svidler could theoretically be forced to play on 'forever' with queens, rooks (which would probably be exchanged on the next move) and same numbers of pawns on both wings; the other two games were dead-drawn opposite-colored bishop endgames.

Maybe lots of pieces were exchanged rather quickly because, once both players thought there were no more winnning chances, they speeded up things to reach positions where noone could expect or force them to play on .... . But let's not forget that a draw is a rather normal result, at times including short draws.

I promise I won't forget: Probably I won't be able to use the word "normal" without thinking "result" ever.
They drew without too much fighting. No big deal, such days happen, especially with so few players.
Today I don't have to work, and was looking forward to watch the action. But now I have to go out shopping or something, I'm afraid.

Well, briefly Movsesian-Aronian looked like it could become some sort of a fight ... but then the players found a somewhat unusual way to exchange lots of pieces. Maybe one (or both) players thought to have the better end of it, whereas in reality it was just dead equal.

With Ivanchuk-Topalov, Chucky used only eight minutes for 22 moves, and Topalov more than an hour (not excessively much despite the fast time control, and already after 15 moves it was clear that there was no real danger of time trouble). BTW: Since when does Topalov play the Caro-Kann, and why? Is he simply up for a change from his trademark Sicilian, or does even Topalov want to cut down the risk against strong opponents? [Against Shirov at the Olympiad it 'made sense', he could expect his opponent to go for a sharp line with white].

And as far as I am concerned, I used my free day to sleep out in the morning (it was late last night) and saw the games only when they were already finished .... . And this afternoon I was supposed to play chess myself, but the team match was cancelled at short notice: I am living on an island, and the other team cannot come because the ferry is not operating at the moment [too low tide]. So I also have to think about shopping or whatever for the remainder of today ... .

when you get 20,000euro (~$27,000) for coming last, i think pushing the peices for 20-odd moves and then shaking hands is pretty smart. i'd rather see lower appearance fees and more money for top finishes and a fan-voted game of the day.

Heck I'll do 40 moves for EUR 10,000, tell 'em to give me a call.

I think the grandmasters would be willing to make another 10 or 20 moves in a totally drawn opposite-colored bishop endgame "if required" (if no draws were permitted prior to move 40) - but I doubt whether this will make us spectators happy or happier ... .

Concerning today's round,I would say things like this can happen - it was a somewhat disappointing coincidence that all three games ended in rather short draws. But I don't think any player was aiming for a short draw from the very start, and Movsesian-Aronian was not without interest after all - it will/would probably be the fan's and ICC's game of the day (admittedly, rather by process of elimination). Bartleby is of course right: the more games to watch, the less likely it becomes that all are boring or end with early draws ... .

Organizers tried various measures to reduce the number of short draws: more prize money and lower appearance fees, 3 points for a win, anti-draw rules, inviting only players known for their fighting spirit, .... . This can reduce the number of 'premature' draws (when there is still life in the position); but today's games were drawn because the positions on the board were totally drawn.

Ivanchuks line against the caro was surely just for a draw - it offers not the remotest prospect of a white advantage with good chances to chop wood. Perhaps Topalov is saving the sicilian for Kamsky? He has played the Caro recently though. All the same pretty disgusting game not real chess at all. Obviously if Ivanchuk was trying to win he would try something like the advance. On the other hand I did enjoy Aronians dismantling of Ivanchuk in a Maroczy bind yesterday - in a tabiya that can arrive from several openings including the accelerated dragon. Just from a quick play through Ivanchuks h5 move looked unusual in that game

I think that when the opponents are of around equal strength (and both 2700+), and if white wants a draw, then there is a very limited chance that the game ends in a victory for either side.

This no-Sofia rule helps against the case when in time trouble folks agree to a draw in a completely wild and unclear position, "to avoid risk". Those draws are the sad ones: when Movsesian plays 3Bc4 against Aronian and Aronian equalizes...well what can you do?

[Had another look at the game ...] OK Ivanchuk was probably aiming for a draw from move 1 - and the fact that he used only 8 minutes for the entire game indicates that he did not really look for more ambitious alternatives but "did not mind an extra rest day". Can we really blame him?? He may simply be exhausted as he had very few rest days during the last several months ,:) and/or felt the need to stabilize after the first two rounds: a losing position against Svidler followed by a quite one-sided loss against Aronian.

Even Ivanchuk is "human" and cannot treat himself and the spectators to some sort of drama in every single game. From what we have seen so far, maybe he should have taken a break and skip this strong tournament - but he didn't know when he signed the contract and is addicted to chess after all ... . And it is probably to early to write him off, there may well be some more drama and some success for him in the next rounds.

And about Movsesian-Aronian: Maybe Movsesian's opening repertoire is not yet 2700+ - but if he had entered the Ruy Lopez, we might have gotten a standard Marshall draw, or an anti-Marshall where the game may last longer without being more eventful.

Never been against sofia rules, but never been a big fan either. Today shows why.

You can't invent rules to avoid games like we saw today.

Even 3-1-0 doesn't change anything. Maybe if you put all the money in prizes, but I have my doubts.

In chess you gonne get draws, no matter what you do, deal with it.

No matter what kind of opening, Movsesian-Aronian was destined to be draw!
Remember the Dire Straits song "Brothers in arm"!

what, only one arm?... movsesian's arm is a slovakian arm now my friend. i don't think aronian is too keen on giving up anything to slovakia, and his 3:1 tournament record against movsesian speaks louder than both the arm and dire straits. who knows? maybe aronian pictures movsesian and benidict arnold having tea together every time he sits across the board from him.

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    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on December 10, 2008 2:11 PM.

    Hou's a GM Now was the previous entry in this blog.

    Highs and Lows in Nanjing is the next entry in this blog.

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