Greengard's ChessNinja.com

Highs and Lows in Nanjing

| Permalink | 40 comments

After three rounds it's Bu Xiangzhi and Aronian at the top of a tight crosstable. Veselin Topalov has the unlikely role of drawing master so far and is on an even score with Movsesian, who got there with a win over Svidler and a loss to Bu Xiangzhi. Ivanchuk is at -1 with Svidler with two more rounds to go in the first half. After two fun and feisty rounds the third was a trio of fizzles. This Chinese chess blog is doing a good job of putting up photos and basic info from the scene.

I think a lot of amateurs laugh a little when they see top GMs playing the Giuoco Piano, as Movsesian did against Aronian in round three. There's an impression that anything that old and -- let's face it, popular with beginners -- can't be very good at the top level. This is the flip-side of the fatal desire amateurs have to study and play the hyper-sophisticated and nuanced openings the GMs play. And while the old quiet piano lines don't have the depth of the Ruy Lopez, quite a few GMs still play it occasionally with every intention of winning. After 3.Bc4 the Two Knights is almost as popular as 3..Bc5, if slightly less successful statistically. Only 15 percent of those were the club hacker's favorite 4.Ng5, by the way; the GMs go for 4.d3. Again using the ever-dubious database stats from GM games over the past two years, White is only a bit less successful after 3.Bc4 than 3.Bb5 and with slighty fewer, not more, draws. As ever, it's the life in the players, not their openings, that makes the difference.

That said, Movsesian doesn't have much of a score with it, often signaling his desire to play a short draw. He also drew against Aronian, but not before a very entertaining series of exchanges. In the first round Movsesian played Bc4 as early as legally possible against Bu Xiangzhi but got outplayed and forced into an inferior endgame. He bounced back against Svidler in round two when the Russian champion couldn't find enough energy in his position to back up an exchange sac. That was only more bad news for Svidler, who forced a repetition with a clear win against Ivanchuk on the board in the first round. The pretty 36..Rh5 was crushing. Is it only my memory or does Svidler do this sort of thing more than other top players? Off the top of my head I can remember a resignation in a drawn position and another agreed draw with a win on the board.

Round 4 live here at 2am EST: Svidler-Aronian, Bu Xiangzhi-Ivanchuk, Movsesian-Topalov. A big test for Movsesian meeting Topalov's Sicilian. Or, egad, might it be another Topalov Caro-Kann? Ugh. I'd hoped Shirov beat the Caro out of the Bulgarian in Dresden last month, but he got an easy draw against Ivanchuk with it in round three in Nanjing.


What a start! Aronian invites Svidler to go for f7. Chucky plays an exchange sac, no, winning an exchange, no, a pawn grab?, anyway, heading for a materially imbalanced position.
Only Movsesian keeps the sharp lines, and has to work with a positionally complicated, probably equal Bb5 Sicilian.

Hm. Movsesian keeps *avoiding* the sharp lines.

3 really interesting openings today thank god no repetition of the bore fest. Avidler playing the Worall definitely not wanting to fash Aronians marshal, Moveseisian (wisely) avoiding Topalovs Najdorf playing a moscow anti sicialian which leaves us with Ivanchuk who avoids the Maroczy bind variation he lost to Aronian with!

Topalovs line against the moscow variation is actually quite rare playing g6 instead of e6 just seems like he lost tempo....

How can you cay that it's the 'life in the players, not their openings' and then bemoan a Caro-Kann? There are plenty of sharp lines in the Caro if the players choose to play them.

It's the age old question: Caro Kan? or Caro Kant?

By playing the Caro-Kann, black leaves the decision about the further fate of the game with the opponent: "Do you want sharp stuff in the advance variation, or maybe a quick draw, otherwise a long manoeuvring game in some of the other lines?". And, as I wrote before, against Shirov Topalov could expect the sharp stuff, maybe he was counting on something similar from Ivanchuk.
BTW: From Topalov's point of view (and from an objective point of view), the loss against Shirov at the Olympiad is no reason to abandon the opening - as black was clearly better at some stage before losing track of the game.

Maybe some of the enthusiastic comments ("What a start!" "really interesting openings") turn out to be premature: In Bu-Ivanchuk white can regain the sacrificed (or lost?) pawn, but simplifying the position considerably and making it quite drawish. Movsesian and Topalov are presently thinking about a move repetition !?

We will see what happens ...

Good morning Thomas,

you have to rise early to watch the fun part.

Bu-Ivanchuk was a big brawl over a small pawn.

Movsesian-Topalov was kind of a heavy position with lots of holes. As spectator you wish they would play it out, to see where it is going. As player you are happy to repeat moves with all those slight inaccuracies waiting too happen to you.

And Svidler-Aronian is still a good show to watch. Can't say who has the better part of it.

Good afternoon (by now) Bartleby,

I would say that one can also appreciate the action in hindsight, with the right attitude (i.e. not becoming affected by knowing the result - "gosh, a short draw, probably not even worth looking at the moves"). Though it is more fun to watch the games live - on the Internet or, even better, at the tournament location. I am not chess-fanatic enough, rich enough, "flexible" enough to travel all the way to China, but I was watching Corus in Wijk aan Zee several times: You can discuss the games with other spectators (obviously at a whispering voice), get glimpses of the players' body language, see how they act in time trouble, ..... .

Regarding Bu-Ivanchuk: Could other knight moves on move nine (9. - Ne4, Nh5 or even Ng8) win a full exchange? And if so, how much compensation does white get? Playing 9. - Nd7, did Chucky miss the 'simple' defense 11. Nc3 [simple once it appears on the board]? After all, even if he can keep his extra pawn, it is a fairly useless doubled pawn (near to impossible to convert it in an endgame ...).

About Movsesian-Topalov: The way the players reached a draw is similar, or maybe even worse than, "chickening out in time trouble". The repetition moves were arguably the best ones in the given position, and neither player was willing to play a second-best move to keep the game going (for example, could Topalov have retreated the queen to c7?).

This reminds me about the discussion I had with Jonathan Berry during, or rather soon after the Olympiad. Here the written instructions to arbiters stated that "obvious move repetitions" are not allowed; theoretically the arbiter could intervene, force the players to play something else or otherwise make the result 0-0 ... . My point was, and still is, that the rule does not make sense in practice - already it cannot specify which player, white or black, has to deviate from the move repetition.

Switching attention to the Elista Grand Prix: Bacrot and Kasimdzhanov 'found' an "even less forced" move repetition to agree a draw on move 14. What is the time control for this event? Remaining clock time was 1:21h vs. 1:23h.

Other games still in full swing, Radjabov-cheparinov is an unclear advance Caro Kann .... .


About Movsesian-Topalov: The way the players reached a draw is similar, or maybe even worse than, "chickening out in time trouble". The repetition moves were arguably the best ones in the given position, and neither player was willing to play a second-best move to keep the game going (for example, could Topalov have retreated the queen to c7?).

So you would prefer someone playing second best-moves and lose the completely drawn game just to keep you entertained? Jeez.

Playjunior, I was indirectly referring to a comment from an earlier thread, when YOU wrote:

"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"

Assuming that you looked at the game Movsesian-Topalov, your understanding of chess must be quite high (far higher than mine and Bartleby's) if you conclude that
1) the game was _completely_ drawn - despite the fact that only one pair of pawns and one pair of bishops had been exchanged
2) any second-best move by either player would have been losing

Your rating is unknown to me, and I do not want to question your understanding of chess - but I would suggest that you reevaluate your comment based on what I wrote above .. .

"Chickening out in time-trouble" is sad - because spectators want to know the truth about the position (determined over the board rather than in post-game analyses). Chickening out at an earlier stage is even sadder because there is no excuse and less risks involved !?

Having played these moscow maroczy bind variations from both sides IMO Mosvesian played for a draw but frankly its difficult for black to make progress if white knows what he is doing.

On a brighter note Wang Yue's Berlin wall finally got demolished in text book fashion - white chopped all the wood and and got a passed k side pawn. Jakovenko made it look easy....

Wang Yue must have gotten a little carried away with all those free passes lately; too many of his worthy opponents (including Adams) have not been pressing hard enough against his pet defence, or half-point-scoring-with-black weapon.

Andy, I think there are some subtle differences between
1) "avoiding sharp lines/avoiding the Najdorf" [Bartleby's and your own comments at the start of this thread]
2) being happy with a draw with white, and
3) "playing for a draw"
I would not say your comments are contradictory, playjunior's are to some extent (considering it sad if players avoid risks in time trouble, but acceptable at an earlier stage ?!).

In any case, IMO Movsesian cannot be accused of playing for a _short_ draw. These Maroczy structures often lead to long manoeuvring games (I also have a bit of experience): white trying to somehow exploit his space advantage [which isn't easy], black aiming for a breakthrough with b5, d5 of maybe f5 [also not easy to find the right moment, particularly if you want an advantage rather than equality].

Another interesting plan for black is to slowly prepare a kingside attack with Kh8, Rg8, g6-g5, ... . I vaguely remember a game (was it Anand-Morozevich from an earlier Olympiad?) where black adapted that plan. At some stage both kings became rather exposed with ALL pieces still on the board, and the white player commented in New in Chess: "Didn't I have a cozy Maroczy bind just 10 moves ago?".

BTW, these statements refer to Maroczy structures in general, and it may make a certain difference that the light-squared bishops were swapped in the present game - a bishop on b7 would help to prepare d6-d5, or could support a kingside attack by looking at g2 .... .

All this being said, obviously it is not easy for black - and if the players had avoided the repetition, the game may still be drawn after 40, 50 or 60 moves. But I am still surprised that Topalov didn't even try. He has a reputation (to defend) of playing for a win with both colors in almost every game, and has played on 'forever' in equal but not sterile positions at several past occasions.

More generally on [old] openings, and back to what Mig wrote .... : I still remember that some people were laughing at Kasparov when he suddenly played the Scotch in one of his matches against Karpov. As many players, including grandmasters, tend to copy the world champion, the Scotch subsequently became an 'acceptable' opening at 2600+ level - though its popularity seems to be a bit declining over the past few years, and - to my knowledge - it is rather uncommon at 2700+ level these days (for both statements, I cannot come up with supporting statistics).

Thomas, I'm not a strong player either, but, nevertheless-I believe the position was equal (hedgehog-type positions without the white bishop). They could go on and play, but that is 90% draw. And when there is a position with someone being exchange + a pawn down and opponents king wide open, computer giving wild lines and players agreeing a draw-that is what I call a wasted game.
When the position has resources left, none of the players knows what would be the best move, blunder probability is extremely high - then, a draw agreed is just a deal between the players-on the account of spectators. In Movsesian-Topalov there is no rational way to go on. Making suboptimal moves just to make us patzers happy is not very smart-imagine someone demanding that Movsesian-Aronian from the previous round should be played on as well.

playjunior, I basically agree with you, but I enjoy complicated manoeuvering games, or little skirmishes over pawns that don't matter anyway like Bu-Ivanchuk, as much as spectacular kingside attacks. Enjoy watching, not playing :)

In today's position, Movsesian would have played on, and probably would have won, with either colour, if he would have played against me.

In yesterday's unequal bishops ending (Movsesian-Aronian) I am quite confident I would be able to hold the draw against anyone.

That's my highly subjective criterion of when they should be allowed to make a draw.

Playjunior, based on your latest answer your earlier posts are no longer contradictory (to me). You want to know the "over-the-board-truth" in complicated tactical positions [which may, or is even likely to differ from "objective truth" and wild computer lines - in time trouble even the strongest players can play, at most, sub-optimal moves]. On the other hand you have no problems if players agree to a draw when the position is obviously equal, but still containing resources. A fair and transparent point .... .

I still wonder if draws like Movsesian-Topalov today are in the spirit of the Sofia rule (promoted by, notably, Topalov). I don't know about anti-draw rules, if any formal ones, for the Elista Grand Prix - but today's first round had two early repetitions (Bacrot-Kasimdzhanov after 14 moves, Leko-Akopian after 28 moves).

In any case, of course noone would reasonably expect Movsesian-Aronian from the previous round to be played on. Indeed the players could without risk, blitzing out moves while hardly looking at the board (almost the only way to lose is blundering away your bishop). Today in Movsesian-Topalov, they would have to remain concentrated and focused, constantly pondering what the opponent may have in his mind.

Bartleby, good point, but of course quite subjective (a player rated 1200-1400 may be capable of blundering his bishop ....).

Two short questions:
Movsesian-Topalov (again): I am not a hedgehog specialist, are there any around .... who can comment on how the exchange of the light-squared bishops affects the evaluation/dynamic potential in this kind of position?

Bu-Ivanchuk: Anyone having an answer to my question (posted at 7:52AM) if moving the knight to another square on move 9 "would have made a difference"(either way - refutation by white or actually more promising for black)?

OT: Kasparov reported arrested again.


(free login required)

correction to the earlier OT: Eduard Limonov, the co-leader of Other Russia was arrested, not Kasparov.

Correction to the previous OT: An Iraqi journalist, not Kasparov, threw shoes at Bush.

Thomas, I am a patzer but I guess the idea is that white has much more space and any exchange helps black. Black has to make d5 or b5 breaks otherwise gets strangled because of lack of space.

Regarding the types of drawn games: I am saying that if the probability that a given game will end in a draw is 90%, I don't feel any bad when a draw is agreed. But when the probability is somewhere like 30%, last 5 moves have been blunders according to the computer, the clock is ticking and they make a draw-I feel angry as a spectator. It's not about a position being tactical or not - rather it's how much chance to see a non-drawn game is wasted with the draw offer. If that's much of a chance, then it's not OK for me.

Still, I agree with your and Bartleby's remark that it's a matter of taste.

Nice joke Greg, but Susan Polgar's site reports that both Kasparov and Limonov were arrested. The original source is United Press International:
This was posted at 11:08AM, presumably US East Coast time - maybe the news is still too fresh to know what really happened in Moscow ... .

Blitz is of course another story ... but at a recent blitz tournament I drew 4 or 5 games (out of 26) in unclear positions - either through a move repetition or because one player offered a draw. In all cases, both players had maybe 20 or 30 seconds left on the clock. The probability for a decisive result was close to 100%, but it would have been a lottery whose flag falls first (when the other one has still a few seconds left), or who would blunder. BTW, with blunder I mean something really bad such as losing a piece or overlooking a mate - maybe you rather mean "inaccuracy"?

Moreover, the organizers may not appreciate us testing the stability of digital clocks under extreme conditions - though this is of course part and parcel of a blitz tournament.

What I want to say: IMO getting a decisive result AT ANY PRIZE (even if it doesn't do justice to the preceding game) does not always please players and/or spectators!?

Regarding the Giuoco Piano - at one time I picked up quite a few points from a variation I found discussed in a Korchnoi/Karpov match book where bishop drops back to b3 and knight ends up on c4. Those were the days...

'19th century' openings are in fact the best for amateur players at all levels to employ, as they tend to be open, tactical, relatively simple and above all, fun to play.

And let's face it, those amateur players who copy the currently fashionable super GM openings don't really have a clue what they're doing once they get out of book.

I generally agree with your comment, but it depends on how you define 'amateur' so I am not sure if your statement applies 'at all levels'. Most if not all players rated 2200-2300 are still amateurs, i.e. they do not depend on chess for their living (good for them after all). Yet, at some (earlier) stage, one's interpretation and understanding of chess may have evolved beyond the simple "develop pieces and then go fo a kingside attack".
But obviously there is a lot of grey in between black (19th century openings) and white (fashionable variations analysed to move 25 or beyond).

And BTW, about "not having a clue what you're doing":
1) it can also be fun or at least leading to fun games. And for 'serious' amateurs striving to improve it can be a learning experience - particularly if you analyse your games afterwards. Here a stronger player (or someone with more experience in the particular opening) is probably more helpful than a computer.
2) maybe it also happens in professional chess. And if both players agree that they do nnot understand what's going on, it could lead to a move repetition ... . Probably some of the short draws from the Elista Grand Prix are even better examples than Movsesian-Topalov .... .

Topalov refuses to recognize the difference between rooks and minor pieces. Amazing!

Topalov refuses to recognize the difference between elite players and patzers too :)
Topalov crosses 2800 for second time.

Point taken, Thomas.

I guess that the point I want to make is that the amount of time an amateur player would have to put in to keep up with the latest theory in the currently fashionable lines isn't worth it - they'd be better off spending that time on other areas of their game.

Let's say the Ruy Lopez gives white a 0.1 pawn theoretical advantage over the Italian Game going into the middlegame after best play by both sides. I submit to you that even a game between two experts will typically fluctuate significantly more than this, and so the expert who spends more time learning to play the middlegame and endgame and plays 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 is better off pragmatically - and will also improve quicker - than the one who gets booked up on the Archangel, Marshall Attack, Zaitsev, etc. and consequently has less time to spend on learning chess.

Yes, a very fine Topalov win.

I agree with you that, for amateurs, continuously following the latest twists of theory in fashionable lines is a waste of time - or at least not the most efficient way to use their limited time. That being said, studying opening theory (or more generally grandmaster games played in particular variations) is not necessarily limited to memorizing long variations - but can also mean 'learning chess' (i.e. understanding the resulting positions).

Myself, I do play some complicated openings at amateur level - and IMHO under the circumstances it is not necessary to know ALL theory, as long as you have a certain knowledge of theory AND of strategic and tactical possibilities in particular opening systems, pawn structures, ... . Of course, then one has to accept an occasional 'book loss' against a well-prepared opponent.

You're probably right for amateurs in the range of 2000-2300 who study openings systematically. But for weaker amateurs, 2. Bb5 has the advantage over 2. Bc4 that they can still rely on typical lines, ideas and middlegame positions in the GM games they have followed as fans, while in the Italian Game they are completely on their own after a few moves.

oops, 3.Bb5

Oops for me also (I meant 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4)!

Although the Bishop's Opening is another good 19th Century opening for amateur players..

The essay writing about this good post, you can notice at the essay writing organization. Order the research papers or custom essays just about this good post.

Twitter Updates

    Follow me on Twitter



    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on December 14, 2008 12:42 AM.

    China Goes Super with Pearl Spring was the previous entry in this blog.

    Doha Elista Grand Prix Begins is the next entry in this blog.

    Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.