Greengard's ChessNinja.com

Dashing Through the Snow

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Actually, the weather here in NY is warmer right now than it was most of the time in California. Go figure. Too tired from lugging baby and her haul of presents through airports to go through games now. Will catch up on the Elista Grand Prix tomorrow, though it looks like that will put me right back to sleep. Three decisive games from the 21 played in the final three rounds? Eh? Coincidence or were people coasting to the finish and/or eggnogged out?

Re my hazy Cali post on Nanjing: as various people pointed out, Topalov hit 2813 in 2006. Kramnik's peak was 2809 back in 01-03, when he was briefly removed from the list for playing only three games in a year's time. Anand is the fourth player to ever crack 2800, doing so three times and peaking at 2803. But as with 2700 just over a decade ago, the absolute numbers really don't matter much. It will be surprising if we don't have five or six players over 2800 in a few years. Funny, looking at Kasparov's first supertournament sporting a 2800 (exactly) rating, Linares 1990, the next highest-rated player there was Ivanchuk at 2655. Garry won with a +5, 8/11 score and lost a few points, hah. Karpov wasn't there due to his candidates final with Timman. Karpov and Timman were rated 2730 and 2680 at the time. Soon enough we'll be talking about 2900...

There have only been a handful of classical games between 2800s. I remember because I saw the first ones ever in Moscow. Four between Kasparov and Kramnik at the Botvinnik Memorial and two more a few months later in Linares , all drawn. (Plus six rapid and ten blitz, also at that 2001 Botvinnik Memorial event.) Two between Anand and Topalov, both wins for black at the MTel Masters in 2006. (Topalov scored +3 and gained quite a few rating points.) The 2803 Anand beat the 2804 Topalov in the Leon rapid final a month later.

Ivanchuk looked like a good bet to crack 2800 but will drop over 20 points on the next list. He and other 2800 contenders Carlsen and Morozevich will all be on the move at Corus in a few weeks. As for Topalov, we'll see if FIDE rates Pearl Spring for the January list. As it finished after the Dec. 15 cutoff, they aren't supposed to. He'd still stay number one by a good margin, however.

Speaking of the next list, two former great hopes who looked like they were becoming never-wases, Sasikiran and Vallejo Pons, are going to add tons of points to be in the top 20. Late bloom or fluke? I'd be stunned to ever see either of them in the top ten, but it can be a good thing to be stunned from time to time. Keeps life from getting boring.


Compliments of the season.

I wonder if anyone else has noticed how different this thread header looks in IE and Opera. In IE chunks are missing and all the paragraphs, except the firt and last, are indecipherable. Or is it just my software environment?

Have a look at the source, and see if there's anything on the web about the 'oddities' of IE and Opera.

Has anyone analysed the inflationary pressures on the ELO system lately?

"Has anyone analysed the inflationary pressures on the ELO system lately?"

Sure, but when it turns out that what people consider "inflation" is much, much less of an issue than commentators like Mig and others seem to think. And then people either

1) question the scientific evidence of the "refutation" of "huge inflation", or try to refute it by citing illogical and wrong articles on the net, claiming inflation rates of 10-20 points per year or similar nonsense.

2) just forget about the entire topic altogether.

I've had an ambition of writing a couple of thorough articles on Chessdom about the subject for a while, but there are too many things I'd like to do, and too little time to actually do them...

To me, Kramnik's peak rating is (or certainly should be) 2811. I think Puggy on the 'Topalov's Pearl' thread is right.
I think FIDE have the uncorrected historical ratings on their site. Let's see.

For Kramnik they have:
Oct 2000: 2772 (8 games played in period)
Jan 2001: 2772 (0 games)
Apr 2001: 2802 (28 games)
Jul 2001: 2802 (10 games)
Oct 2001: 2809 (10 games}
Jan 2002: 2809 (0 games)
Apr 2002: 2809 (0 games)
Jul 2002: 2807 (3 games)
Oct 2002: 2809 (0 games)
Jan 2003: 2809 (0 games)
Apr 2003: 2789 (25 games)

Kramnik's 4 classical games against Kasparov at the Botvinnik Memorial in Moscow were in December 2001. As Kasparov's rating at the time was 2838, and Kramnik's 2809 and the games were all draws, this should have been worth a couple of rating points to Kramnik.
But in the January 2002 and April 2002 ratings above they give Kramnik as unchanged with no games.
Going to the Oct 2002 rating, Kramnik goes up 2 points on no games. How come? This must be when the correction was put in. This is confirmed by checking Kasparov's rating for the same period which goes down from 2838 to 2836 on no games.

Now, it is to be noted that FIDE have changed what used to be on the ratings part of their site. A year and a half ago they had a 'Chess rating progress chart' for each player which included all historical ratings back to Jan 2000 and a graph. I printed out a couple of these at the time including Kramnik's, but now putting the address for this [ http://www.fide.com/ratings/id.phtml?event=4101588 ] into the Internet turns up 'Not found'.

On this Kramnik page, all the corrected historical ratings back to Jan 2000 were given, and with a specific note on the graph that Kramnik's maximum rating was 2811.
Kramnik's ratings on this page were:
Oct 2000: 2772 (8 games)
Jan 2001: 2799 (15 games)
Apr 2001: 2797 (13 games)
Jul 2001: 2802 (10 games)
Oct 2001: 2809 (10 games)
Jan 2002: 2811 (4 games)
Apr 2002: 2811 (0 games)
Jul 2002: 2809 (3 games)
Oct 2002: 2809 (0 games)
Jan 2003: 2809 (0 games)
Apr 2003: 2789 (25 games)

There were quite a few corrections put in for the Jan 2001 and Apr 2001 lists that are not there now either.
eg, the K-K 2000 match was originally not rated until the Apr 2001 list, but was later corrected, so the correct rating for Kasparov is 2823 for Jan 2001, not 2849 as is now given. The correct rating for Kasparov in the Apr 2001 list is 2835, not 2827 as is now given.
Karpov pointed out at the time that his Jan 2001 rating should be 2693, not 2679. This was corrected, but now 2679 shows there again.

Why FIDE delete the corrected ratings and retain the incorrect ones is beyond my understanding.
As usual, FIDE make a mess of everything they touch.

(It is to be noted that quite a few of these corrections did not make their way into Mark Crowther's TWIC site either, though the April 2001 ones seem to have.)

Hans Arild Runde ("frogbert") points out that a big chunk of Vallejo's gain has come from amateur events.

Correction: It seems FIDE have not deleted these graphs, but changed their address.
The Kramnik graph can now be found at: http://fide.com/ratings/id.phtml?event=4101588 (the page I printed certainly had an additional "www." in).

It seems the way to get to these graphs is:
Go to Ratings -->All Players. Then search for the name you want. Click on it. Then click on "See Ratings Chart" under 'Player Records'.

So it would seem that FIDE have two conflicting sets of historical rating info on their site.
Given that Kramnik's rating of 2811 in Jan 2002 and Apr 2002 seems to be an officially corrected one, I think it can be said that Kramnik's peak rating is 2811.

Correct address for Kramnik graph is:

Dump FIDE. Dump ratings. Everyone knows who the better players are. Play and have fun.

We many brothers play chess together. I'm a mean dude.

Only half of gain of Vallejo Pons was from his 18-0 in the amateur events and remainder from the Dresden. Don't think either is a top 20, maybe Sasikiran if Pamplona is rated. Strange to see a 27-year-old called a Late bloomer!

Chris B: Try http://ratings.fide.com/id.phtml?event=4101588 for Kramnik -- the links change!

Live Ratings are askew with the FIDE due to Bundesligas. official date for inclusion is not until the next July.

"Live Ratings are askew with the FIDE due to Bundesligas."

Live ratings are live, and not rated 8 months late. :o)

Btw, at the moment (before we see what FIDE decided to include and which reports that have been submitted, but so far not been reported/registered on the FIDE web site), the following events are included in the Live Top List but are not among the events so far published as rated:

* China vs Russia match [Svidler, Bu, Jakovenko, Alekseev, Ni, Wang Yue, Wang Hao]
* Chinese League Rounds 10-12 [Wang Yue, Ni, Wang Hao, Malakhov]
* Chinese League Rounds 13-18 [Wang Yue, Bu, Ni, Wang Hao, Malakhov]
* Elista Grand Prix [Radjabov, Leko, Jakovenko, Wang Yue, Mamedyarov, Eljanov, Grischuk, Alekseev, Bacrot, Gashimov, Cheparinov, Akopian]

Among these 4, I'm only sure that Elista will be rated now, while the remaining three finished before the deadline of December 15th and _could_ have been rated, if submitted in time by the organizer. For the rest of the events rated on chess.liverating.org and currently unrated by FIDE, I expect none to be included in the January 2009 list. This refers to the following events:

* Pearl Spring [Topalov, Ivanchuk, Aronian, Movsesian, Svidler, Bu]
* Reggio Emilia [Ni]
* Asian Club Cup [Karjakin, Wang Hao]
* Pamplona International [Sasikiran, Malakhov, Vallejo]
* German Bundesliga 2008-2009 [Carlsen, Movsesian, Mamedyarov, Svidler, Shirov, Eljanov, Vachier-Lagrave, Bacrot, Naiditsch, Vallejo]
* Austrian Bundesliga 2008-2009 [Movsesian, Nakamura]
* Hungarian League 2008-2009 [Polgar, Naiditsch]

So currently it's a lot more than the Bundesligas that make up the difference between the live list and the probable FIDE January 2009 list. FIDE is the best source for official ratings obviously, but those who care more for up to date and current ratings, can check the live list too. :o)

Dear Hans Arild, I check your site every day, many times per day, and I find it a tremendous piece of work that creates much enjoyment and is a great source of information. I wish FIDE had more people like you (or at least, one!). :-)
Keep up the great work!

"Only half of gain of Vallejo Pons was from his 18-0 in the amateur events and remainder from the Dresden."

To be exact:

20,2 points from that 18-0 in 3 amateur events.
17,3 points from ECC and Dresden.

Why anybody thinks "only half" is a good way to describe 20,2 points (out of 37,5) gained by playing 18 players on average rated MORE THAN 600 points below Vallejo's own rating, is something I don't quite understand.

Without the now archaic and pointless 350-rule (due to games now being rated one by one), Vallejo would've gained roughly 5 points instead of roughly 20 on those 18 games. Put differently, he gained an extra 15 points (enough to break 2700) due to something that most correctly would be described as a grave error in the current FIDE rating rules.

What did FIDE do to "amend" this situation during this year's FIDE congress in Dresden? They decided to increase the limit to 400 AND double the K from 10 to 20.

Hence, if these 18 games of Vallejo had been (played within one rating period and) rated with the rules effective from July 2009, he'd gained not 20,2 points by beating these players on average rated 2045, but incredible 30,2 points - or nearly 1,7 points for each win. Without the 400-rule, he'd gained about 11 points (as would be correct according to the real expectation table and the model of the system). Excellent work on that, FIDE.

The 350-rule (or 400-rule or whatever) should be extinct by now - it no longer serves any sensible purpose. If FIDE wants to encourage "rating doping", they should keep the 400-rule. Otherwise they should get rid of it during the next EB meeting.

The 400 (or 350) point rule does serve a useful purpose - it gives some compensation to high rated players for playing low rated players, for example in Swiss opens. Otherwise the risk of a disaster (draw or loss) is always there.

It applies at all rating levels - more common perhaps is a 2200 losing or drawing with a totally misrated 1600.

The use of English from me differs from that from you. Vallejo Pons gained 20.2 in the amateur events, and gained 20.7 from the Dresden. Comparing gives greater than half the "gain" from the Dresden. The Haldikiki was a loss of 3.4, not a gain.

"The Haldikiki was a loss of 3.4, not a gain."
This is a queerish accounting, as a loss is just a negative gain, no? Why don't you break it down even further into "gains" and "losses":

+20.2 from 18 wins in amateur events
+21.2 from 7 wins in Dresden
+1.1 from 2 draws in Dresden against superior competition
+5.8 from 2 wins in Halkidiki
-1.6 from 2 draws in Dresden against lesser competition
-3.7 from 2 draws in Halkidiki against lesser competition
-5.5 from 1 loss in Halkidki

So you could even claim that only 20.2 of 48.3 points gained were from the amateur events!

Yet another problem with the FIDE rating system is that they take the "average opponent" when computing a performance rating, rather than considering each game separately. This would have added about 8 points each to the performance ratings of Leko and Gelfand in Dresden --- but even more for Topalov (having played a 2289 to drag down the average), who would then have won the first board prize, probably with a 2850+ performance rating.

Incidentally, both Sasikiran and Vallejo Pons will be in the B-group at Wijk aan Zee.

Someone told me there's a lot of gay chess players among the elite, is that right? No offense at all.


@Cozzo: Lots of questions can be asked about your comment: What is 'a lot'?? Above average with respect to the total world population? How is 'elite' here defined?

But anyway, IMHO there is no correlation (or no reason why there should be) between sexual orientation and chess playing strength. Same applies to religion. Sex may be a different story [as extensively discussed here at earlier occasions] - but one very plausible explanation for a gap between men and women is that many women often play in women-only events and thus do not face the strongest opposition.

Yet, I am not aware of major chess events limited to gay or lesbian players, or Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, .... players ,:)

"Nevermore" already gave you quite a proper answer why it makes no sense to add up gains without considering losses.

My comparison was really simple:

Professional, "meaningful" events for a 2650+: +17,3 points
Amateur, "meaningless" events for a 2650+: +20,2 points

"The 400 (or 350) point rule does serve a useful purpose - it gives some compensation to high rated players for playing low rated players, for example in Swiss opens. Otherwise the risk of a disaster (draw or loss) is always there."

gg, I see no sensible purpose in removing the "risk of disaster". Like I've explained elsewhere, when tournaments were rated based on the average of your opponents, not game by game, the 350-rule made sense. Without it, you could risk LOSING rating points by WINNING a game. That's pretty counter-intuitive. Let me show you an example:

You are rated 2600. in the first 6 rounds you played an average of 2500 and scored 4,5 points. Let's calculate the rating gain (old-style) so far:

d=100 gives an expectation of 64% score. 6*0,64 = 3,84 points
gain: (4,5-3,84) * 10 = 6,6 points

Hence, you gained 6,6 points on the first 6 rounds. In round 7 you face a player rated 2000. Your new average becomes (6*2500 + 2000) / 7 = 2428,6
d=171 gives an expectation of 73% score. 7*0,73 = 5,11 points

Let's assume that you beat this 2000 player to arrive at a final score of 5,5 out of 7.
gain: (5,5 - 5,11) * 10 = 3,9 points

In other words, you in reality LOST 2,7 points by playing and winning round 7. It goes without saying that such a scenario would make many players want to default games against much lower rated players (5-600 points or more), instead of playing and being guaranteed to lose rating points no matter what - the question used to be how much. When games are rated one by one, this no longer is a problem.

In general, any gain should be in accordance with the general basis of the rating system - currently the 350-rule (or soon 400-rule) makes other effects possible. Rating bonuses for "charity" or anything else simply disrupts the system. Rating penalties for "unwanted behaviour" likewise. I'm completely against using the rating system itself to achieve "political" or other goals - the rating system should rank current chess players according to results and nothing else, imho.

[What about this: giving an extra 5 rating points for games won by beautiful sacrifices? It gives daring chess players some compensation for playing risky and entertaining chess for the public...

The logic (or lack of it) is analogous to "compensating" players for risking their rating against lower-rated players. If they score as expected based on the rating difference, they'll keep their rating. In the long run it just fuels inflation if we provide extra rating bonuses, whatever the reason.]

"The 400 (or 350) point rule does serve a useful purpose - it gives some compensation to high rated players for playing low rated players, for example in Swiss opens. Otherwise the risk of a disaster (draw or loss) is always there."

Actually, this point of view can be argued against in a slightly different way, too, as the 400-rule does very little to the (fair) rating "penalty" for drawing or losing against a much lower rated player in a SINGLE game.

With a 400 point difference, the score expectancy is already 92%. With a 700 point difference, the expectancy table prescribes a 99% score. Hence, the difference is "only" 7% higher score expectancy between someone 400 lower rated and someone 700 lower rated than yourself.

Accordingly, you need to play 6 games (and win) against players 700 points below you in order to be "fully compensated" the risk/damage of a single draw in the 7th game (92-50=42 and 6*7=42). To be "fully compensated" for a potential loss, you need to play and win 13 games first (13*7=91). On the other hand, if you also win the 14th game, you've simply gained an EXTRA 19,6 points (with K=20 and 9,8 with K=10) - for no very good reason imho.

The extra points are in addition to those "prescribed" by the rating system for winning against that kind of opposition.

I wonder why Vallejo played those 'meaningless' amateur events in the first place ... . Was it really to boost his rating above 2700 (which 'matters' in terms of tournament invitations)? Did he get a very attractive appearance fee, or a sky-high reward for winning? [more or less the same thing, "simply showing up" virtually guaranteed winning - probably he would have scored, say, 15/18 in a simul against those opponents]. Is he simply very good friends with the organizers?

In any case, it is true that he also performed "far"(!?) above his rating at the Dresden Olympiad, so viva_belize! has a certain point .... maybe Vallejo is a late bloomer, probably it is also didn't hurt to be Topalov's second.

I don't know what the best solution for amateur events would be, maybe "refining" the 350- or 400-rule so that games against far weaker opponents are not rated at all (just as, to my knowledge, games against unrated players "do not count"). After all, such games are as 'meaningful' as blitz or blindfold games !!?

Wow, I read the comments and saw the Fide chart for Vallejo (Individual Calculations)


and it is amazing the abuse of the 350 rule to get a lot of rating points. What I don't understand is why Vallejo was allowed to pley in such "amateur tournaments" in first place. Perhaps someone like Nakamura could do the same to be in the top ten!, jaja.

Certainly, I have seen Vallejo performing very well in the Olympiads, so he is certainly a strong player; I remember reading in interview to him several years ago where he claimed that didn't have the sponsorship to play more top events and he was playing only a few high rated games every year (so he considered it was difficult to live from chess in such conditions) ... is playing these low rated events the best he could do?

So, the chart shows how a player can make use of the 350-rule to gain rating points ... but also shows how difficult is for several players in the range 2600-2700 to make a living by playing chess, when the opportunity to play strong tournaments is available for just a few players.

Vallejo will not become world champ through such events. I'm sure the amateurs were delighted to have the opportunity to play such a strong GM, so see no reason why he should be condemned for it. Why should he or anyone else be "confined" to tournaments of his own strength? Weird idea.
Btw, anyone remember that time some US prisoner in a closed rating pool gotto 2700 or summat? He should've kept it up and challenged Kaspy.

I guess Vallejo was not only 'allowed' to play in those amateur events, but invited and more than welcome - making an 'ordinary' event something special ... [Hi chesshire cat, I think here we agree with each other ,:) ].

BTW, Vallejo was fluctuating between 2650 and 2680 over the last five years, so his recent rating increase is not as dramatic as it looks (except if 2700 is considered a magic boundary). Incidentally, without the amateur events - but including the rating points gained at the Olympiad - his new rating would be high but not unprecedented.

If 2702 yields him tournament invitations unavailable to players rated 2680-2699, he can confirm that he is actually worth it ... in that case, two or three years from now noone will care when, why and how he initially crossed 2700. If he falls below 2700 again - well, I don't think he could use the same "trick" 2, 3 or 5 times.

This also implies that maybe "the system" (excessive focus on ratings, including 'magic boundaries') is more to blame than the individual player !!?

There is an interview in the spanish chessbase webpage with Paco Vallejo where he says that the reason for participating in these amateur events was, besides the ELO points, sort of to give himself an inyection of self-esteem, increase morale and confidence and get used to winning. I might not have translated it precisely but it is something along these lines.


Long video interview of Paco Vallejo by Leontxo Garcia on November 24 during the Olympiad:


In the summary, ChessBase says

Además explicó que su participación en varios torneos con oponentes inferiores, más que para subir el Elo, que también, había sido para darse a si mismo una "inyección de autoestima" porque antes solo ganaba un 20% o 30% de los torneos y así un 70%.

Mig should be able to translate. For what it's worth, I'm sort of amused to see people ranting "get rid of ratings" after a period of "get rid of titles" in reaction to Larry Kaufman's earning the GM for winning the World Senior.

As much as I admire Frogbert for his technical expertise and willingness to work without compensation, the success of "live rating" exacerbates the excessive focus on numbers.

Being a gay man (out of the closet for several years) helped my chess enormously. I think many of the top grandmasters are like me but they are still in the closet. The only thing is that I get funny looks when I use the toilet.

Thanks to Paul Serrano for this interesting video (at that point he was scoring 7.5 out of 9 in the Olympiad and ended with a very strong 9/11), it has erased all my doubts about the reasons why Vallejo was playing such tournaments. I don't have too much time to translate literally every answer from the interview, but I can summarize the following points, which can be interesting for other kibitzers in this forum, who might have a wrong opinion about Vallejo:

1) After being asked if he considers this is a "sweet moment of his career", likely playing better than ever before, Vallejo says that he feels he is playing much better than the last three years and perhaps this is due to several changes in aspects of his training. He has a new groups of seconds, including the new Spanish Champion David Lariño.

2) On his work with Topalov, he considers that despite not being the most organized person in general, he is becoming very methodic in his work as a second and proceeds to emphasize how difficult is that kind of job; just remembering all these variants and theoretical analysis is an extremely hard task.

3) When asked if his "controversial" participation in amateur events in France and Italy is considered an strategy to gain ELO points, he answers that his main goal was to regain his confidence, which has been lost in the last years. He claims that his winning percentage was about 20 or 30 percent, which is very low for him, so he wanted to feel again accustomed to win and increase his winning percentage; in othr words, an injection of self-esteem.

4) He also says that he is aware that his status as a chessplayer has disminished in the last time and he is not a "star" in his country like a couple of years ago (when he was invited to Linares, for example). Consequently, he is not in the position of rejecting any invitation to a strong tournament. Then, if he is not playing stronger tournaments right now is simply because he has not been invited to them.

5) After being asked on what does it feel to see former rivals in junior championships like Aronian, Grischuk and Bacrot surpissing him (he won an U-18 World Championship), he feels that he wasn't inferior to them in those times, with the only exception of Bacrot. However, he considers that after being labeled as a future star of the game, he had problems keeping his feet on the ground and thinking in the present instead of dreaming too far ahead. Consequently, he is only trying to focus in the aspects of his game he needs to improve (like time management) as he should have done several years ago.

6) So, besides enjoying the game and working hard in order to be a better chess player right now, he is not pursuing any aspirations of being a top 10 player, or something like that; he is mainly thinking in the present and playing as much games as he can, in the past, he only played a few games each year in specific strong tournaments.

7) When asked on his medal aspirations in the Olympiad, he considered that it would be very petty to have a high percentage and TPR, then stop playing to ensure a medal. He says that the best he could do for him and his country is to play as much as he can if he is in a good form, so he had the intentions of playing every round of the event.

Finally (in the interview), Leonxto Garcia says that he always consider Vallejo as an underrated player, at least in terms of raw talent. Vallejo answers said that even if it is just a number, it would be very liberating if he arrives to 2700 in ELO for the first time and hopefully this would be the start of a great leap in his level and results. Of course, focusing in the present, as he said before.

By the way, he played a few days ago in Pamplona and won this beautiful miniature against Nepomniachtchi:


I guess I have some general ratings questions (probably mostly to frogbert):

*) Has a statistical study of the predictive value of the logistic curve been done, particularly in the extremal range?

*) Has a comparison of the predictive value of live ratings versus FIDE ratings been done? Either just in the 2700 range, or I guess (with superior effort) with a larger sample

*) Similarly with K=10 versus K=20 updating

*) Would FIDE be able to employ a statisician who's not just a bureaucratic lackey? :=)

Vallejo Pons had a 2807 performance in Dresden from the FIDE methodology. Using a game-by-game accounting would give 2843 I think (he played a 2176 in round 9, much outside the linear-ish part of the logistic curve), but adding in color, as he had 7 whites in 11 games, reduces this a bit to something like 2839. Chess is becoming like cricket, with all these stats given to way more precision that one should expect!

2538 2843 305 0.853 w
2559 2843 284 0.837 s
2400 2843 443 0.928 w
2647 2843 196 0.756 s
2613 2843 230 0.790 w
2469 2843 274 0.896 w
2677 2843 166 0.722 w
2494 2843 349 0.882 s
2176 2843 667 0.979 w
2696 2843 147 0.700 s
2727 2843 116 0.661 w

THAT's why Kaufman is now calling himself a GM. I did wonder.

Now I'm sure LK's a nice guy and all and the World Senior's jolly important, but that really is pathetic. You keep wondering how much lower FIDE can go, an' they just keep managing it.

Who are you?

Vallejo obviously is to be praised for risking his rating and reputation against amateurs - something too few top GMs ever do. (Some of the uber-elite, including BOTH Mig's boss AND the current World Champion, are such cowards that they refuse to face anyone above 2000 or 2200 even when giving SIMULS for CHARITY. I guess masters' dollars or euros when contributed to charity are worth only 50% of a 1600-player's equal-sized contribution.)

Thomas' comment above is by far the wisest and most sensible take on the Vallejo rating issue. His final sentence in particular.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, it's nice to see the post from "DSFARGEG" (Dec 30 7:29 p.m.) I was beginning to think that unabashed, in-your-face trolls were deserting our dear chat board.

The surprise for me is Movsesian reaching #10. Look at the FIDE graph of his rating - several years of gradual decline from 2000 to 2006, then suddenly since January 2007, his rating has gone straight up like a Carlsson, at a steep rate of increase, without pause, for a gain of over 120 points. I'd love to hear his explanation of how he suddenly got so good.

I want what he's drinking!

First, a "technical" comment:

"Vallejo obviously is to be praised for risking his rating and reputation against amateurs "

Jon, i think statistics will tell you that there isn't any big risk involved in playing opponents 6-700 points below you; As long as the 350/400-rule is in effect, you will almost always gain (a litlte) on (each of) these games - one very seldomly plays enough games against this kind of opposition to make it any likely that you will actually have to give up even half a point.

As far as i can tell, the risk is much bigger with opponents 300-450 points below you - these players are usually on a level (compared to you) that make them dangerous in individual games, and hence the chance for an upset is notably higher, while the "damage" is basically as big (only minor differences in score expectancy).

For instance, with a "400-rule" and a rating gap of 500, you need to play 10 games (and win) to be "fully compensated" for even a draw in the 11th, or 23 games (and win) to compensate for a loss in the 24th.

If strong(er) players did their math, I don't think the presence of the 350/400-rule would really change much when considering participation in a 6 or 9-round swiss. In short: the 350/400-rule has lost its original purpose, and it SHOULD have little impact on top players willingness to play open events.

The only thing I consider it "useful" for, is harvesting undeserved rating points from (relatively very low-rated) players that are statistically more likely to go inactive than the stronger ones (or quit FIDE-rated chess altogether), thereby causing inflation in the pool of ACTIVE FIDE-players, which is the pool I personally "care for".

Note that I currently don't consider this a big problem, and neither do I think Vallejo has done anything morally questionable. If it would become a "trend" though, it would be highly undesirable. I have other and much better suggestions for ways to _make_ the 2700-players play more opens - personally I want the rating system to work as well as it possibly can, and then we must get rid of nonsense like the unneeded and useless 350/400-rule.

Otherwise, I think there have been several interesting comments in this debate so far. I would've liked to responded to several of them, but I don't have time right now. However, I should mention that I did make some stats on what kind opponents the 2700+ players played (based on all games played in a period of (I think) one year, or close). Surprising to some, also slightly to me, it turned out that on average, they played more players _below_ 2700 than above.

That is, more than 50% of their games were against players rated below 2700. The myth is that "2700 players only play each other", but that's clearly not the case. I guess a lot of people forget about all the team events, for instance.

"Why should he or anyone else be "confined" to tournaments of his own strength? Weird idea."

Very true. I can't see anyone else neither implying nor mentioning this idea, so what made it pop into your mind in the first place? Don't say it - can it be that someone's got a ____ mind?!? :o)

chessire cat,
that was Claude Bloodgood - you can be reminded of him here:

In the early-1970s, local Richmond and Central Virginia players played in a series of tournaments *inside* the Virginia Penitentiary, organized by the prison chess club. These VAPEN Opens included local masters, experts and woodpushers against the prisoners, and were a response to the high ratings achieved by the players in the closed pool. Alas, one had to be over 16 years old to go in, and I was too young to enter.

Different people had different motives - some drawn by the allure of playing chess inside the forbidding prison, against homicidal maniacs, some hoping to collect easy rating points, or to dilute the rating pool, and others with an interest to help assess Bloodgood's abilities, and the abilities of other players whose USCF ratings has soared, while playing tournaments exclusively inside.

Later, the prison rules changed, and the tournaments were no longer held.

I checked old records of these VAPEN Tournaments (results in old VCF Newsletters), but I can't find any with Bloodgood in them.

As the Wikipedia article mentions, Bloodgood played around the level of expert, rating 2100 or so.

Referring to frogbert's last comment (Dec 31 8:53PM): Chesshire cat was presumably responding to Sandorchess:
"What I don't understand is why Vallejo was allowed to pley in such "amateur tournaments" in first place."
[my own post was also partly motivated by this earlier statement]
So at least one person was "implying or mentioning the idea" [that players should be confined to tournaments of - roughly - their own strength] .... .

@tjallen: You probably mean [Magnus] Carlsen, not [Pontus] Carlsson ,:) .... .

Anyway, I had mentioned Movsesian's recent rating improvement before, and also consider(ed) it surprising. However, if some teenagers (Carlsen, Wang Yue, ...) can achieve steep rating increases, a priori I see no reason why this would be impossible or suspicious at a comparatively advanced age [Movsesian is 30 years old], and after a period of stagnation or slow decline.

Movsesian gained most of his rating points from team competitions and "sub-top" tournaments (Bosna Sarajevo, Corus B) and still has to confirm his high rating against regular 2700+ opposition - indeed he lost a few rating points at the Nanjing Tournament (dropping down to #12 in the _live_ rating list). Corus A 2009 (where he duly qualified by winning last year's B section) will be his next serious test.

Concerning possible reasons for his improvement, I had offered some (half joking, half serious):
- getting a new trainer
- working more seriously on his chess
- giving up/reducing smoking and/or drinking !?
- giving up other distractions such as poker
- (new idea, analogous to Vallejo as posted by Sandorchess Dec 30 8:52PM:) focusing on specific aspects of his game that need improvement.

Tjallen, I don't know which of the above could apply to your own games and 'chess career' - but all of the above would be perfectly legal, nothing strange or suspicious about it. I guess your last sentence (implying some sort of 'doping') was a joke anyway.

All that being said, I would also be interested in Movsesian's own explanations. Any interview with him around anywhere print or web? Or maybe something forthcoming in, for example, New in Chess ?!

frogbert wrote:
"If strong(er) players did their math, I don't think the presence of the 350/400-rule would really change much when considering participation in a 6 or 9-round swiss. In short: the 350/400-rule has lost its original purpose, and it SHOULD have little impact on top players willingness to play open events."

I agree, but mostly for a different reason not yet mentioned: The main danger for one's rating probably does not come from the occasional far-weaker player (commonly in the first or second round), but from players rated 'only' 100-200 points lower. This is still more or less a 'must-win' situation to conserve your rating [though a 100% score is no longer required], yet
1) The weaker player may only be interested in a draw, and then it is difficult to 'prove' your higher rating esp. with the black pieces
2) The opponent may play "all or nothing", occasionally getting all
3) The opponent may have in-depth knowledge of a particular (offbeat) opening, over-compensating the rating difference

Regarding 2) and 3) above, I wonder how many strong players bother preparing for the King's Gambit? Yet, [1.e4 e5] 2.f4 is a perfectly legal move and not losing by force .... .

BTW, the same situation (regularly playing somewhat weaker players) occurs in team competitions. Here, with the additional risk that the stronger player may have to concede a draw (or take excessive risks playing for a win) in the interest of the team. Yet, most strong players DO play in team competitions - simply because they guarantee regular incomes.

I wasn't trying to imply a scandal of any kind, but I am curious what has propelled Movsesian of late.

I like all your suggestions. I was thinking along other lines. You know from seeing lifetime average curves of player development (Elo showed a famous one in his book) that players tend to reach a peak around 29-34 years old.

On Elo's explanation, at this age players are just past their peak tactical strength (calculation), but not yet at their peak of learning from experience, but combined they are at their rating peak at this age.

I wonder if players at this age realize it is their best and maybe last chance, so they work harder.

Tjallen, I readily believe that you did not imply any scandal. Your earlier post could have been (mis)understood in such a way - because of its 'informal' writing (inherent to blogging, and nothing wrong with that). So I stressed in my reply that I see no reasons for suspicions ... .

Concerning the idea of players peaking at the age of 29-34: Both this theory and the supporting evidence may largely come from "the last century", and I wonder if it is still as valid these days. Now one may think or say "if you haven't reached top 30 at the age of 20, forget about it for the rest of your life" - so it is nnice to see that there are exceptions. The reason may be that it is nowadays easier to gain significant experience at a younger age, simply because there are more tournaments available - both open tournaments to start with and grandmaster events category 15 and above.

After all, "experience" is a combination of "number of years spent studying and playing chess" and "number of games played against strong opponents".

Concerning Movsesian, another thing came to my mind: I don't know when exactly he moved to Slovakia or obtained Slovakian citizenship. Being clear #1 in your country may help to find sponsors, trainers and tournament invitations - organizers may hesitate to invite several players from the same (small) country !? When Movsesian still came out for the Czech republic, he had to 'compete' with Hracek and Navara, and he also isn't the only strong player from his country of origin Armenia.

Not sure how important this is, and if it was one reason for switching federations. This is a question I might ask Movsesian if I got a chance to interview him .... .

What d'you mean, who am I? I'm an anonymous punter commenting on the internet about chess affairs. Aren't we all?

"I guess I have some general ratings questions
*) Similarly with K=10 versus K=20 updating"

Sonas says K=24 is best. And he changes the ELO curve.

Do you know that this is correct time to get the loan, which will make you dreams real.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on December 29, 2008 12:15 AM.

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