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Topalov's Pearl

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Not quite as catchy as the "Pearl of Zanvoort" or even the "Pearl of Wijk aan Zee," but Veselin Topalov will take it. He's taken everything else lately, so why not? The Bulgarian dominated the Pearl Spring tournament in Nanjing, China, with a big +4 score, 1.5 points ahead of Levon Aronian. Local hero Bu Xianghzi, who led for a while and looked sure of at least a solid second, lost his last two blacks, including being demolished by Ivanchuk in the final round. His even score was still good enough for clear third. Svidler bounced back after hitting his usual -2 inflection point, but then fell to the surging Topalov. Movsesian played some good chess for stretches but couldn't win after the second round. He was matched on -2 by Ivanchuk, who scored his only win against the fading Bu Xiangzhi in the final round.

It was an interesting event with everyone but Topalov looking sketchy at times. He was the only undefeated player and the only players he didn't beat were the two outsiders, Bu Xiangzhi and Movsesian. (Yes, I know Movsesian is higher-rated than Svidler at the moment, but his super-tournament experience is vastly inferior.) Topalov's use of the Caro-Kann is notable, as is his success with it. Hard to see him wanting to play it against a grinder like Leko though. There were some clientele situations with three players losing both games to one opponent. There were several spectacular games, though due to the 2am start time I'm not sure many of them had time scrambles. (Allow me my usual rage at how we ignorantly discard all the time per move information.)

This result should put Topalov at 2809 on the January rating list according to Runde's live list, consolidating his return to #1 after Anand's brief stint. For what it's worth, I believe that's the highest rating anyone other than Kasparov has achieved. It's also only a few points shy of the 2812 Garry retired with nearly four years ago, if a few miles short of his ridiculous 2851 peak. (Worth noting if we're going to have this discussion is 15 years ago it took +8 against top-ten players to score a 2800 result. Now it's +2.) We won't be seeing Topalov, Anand, or Kramnik in action again until mid-February, it seems. All are skipping Corus in January. In February Anand and Kramnik are in Linares and Topalov has his candidates match against Kamsky.


Isn't the China event to late to be rated for the January FIDE rating list?


Mig, you are slightly wrong here. The second best rating was achieved by Topalov in July 2006 and it was 2813: http://ratings.fide.com/toparc.phtml?cod=97

Kramnik's peak (so far) was 2811 (in 2002).

Sorry Mig: you remember only Garry's ratings as it seems. :-)

"Kramnik's peak (so far) was 2811 (in 2002)."

According to Wikipedia's footnote this is incorrect: "The graph on the FIDE site gives Kramnik's peak rating as 2811,[1] but this appears to be incorrect: it is contradicted by FIDE's published ratings for January[2] and April[3] 2002; and also by the reports in TWIC for January[4] and April[5] 2002."

Still, Kramnik's 2809 peak rating matches Topalov's current one.

Topalov is a man, real player man, Kramnik is a sissy , keep playin draws Drawnik!! hehe Drawnik is lucky as he will not be in Wijk the chicken and no Topalov in Linares

Curious — and characteristic of the times — that nobody seems to pay attention to the fact that all players had to wear the Red China functionary uniform drabs, explained to eagerly ignorant journalists as "traditional Chinese suit". It's actually the favourite Soviet henchmen's military jacket, with outside flap-pockets: Stalin didn't like when people in his presence rummaged in their inner pockets to get out a pen or handkerchief (or a bazooka, he suspected). That so called "french-jacket" was Stalin's almost invariable garb, and out of servility also many of his Politbureaucrats wore the same thing. Mao the monstre obligingly adopted the cut and put it on the broad shoulders of his comrades-in-harms. To agree to wear it because such was the precondition of the well-paying communist hosts is not just unprincipled — it's venal and vile. Would Fischer don such a thing (indeed play in Red China)? Would Spassky? Even Kasparov? ("even" because the younger the man the less money *olet*; perhaps Mig will ask him).

Kramnik's peak was 2811. Wikipedia is on the right track, but even it can't save FIDE from screwing up its own ratings. FIDE forgot to include the four full-length games from the Botvinnik Challenge in December 2001, which gave Kramnik 2 extra points from the 4 draws with Kasparov. They then corrected this many months later, without updating the all-time peaks. A tracking-down of this analysis appears on the Rybka Forum. See http://rybkaforum.net/cgi-bin/rybkaforum/topic_show.pl?pid=129861 and the follow-up post. It seems that almost no one remebers that Topalov was at 2813, irregardless of the Kramnik question.

Will Topalov get the Chess Oscar for 2008, or will it go again to Anand, simply because he won the World Championship (as with last year, Anand's performance rating for the year should be about 20-30 points behind). Topalov had a poor Wijk aan Zee (a minus score), a middling Linares, but then really came on at the end of year. Anand was a half-point behind at Wijk aan Zee, won Linares, choked in Bilbao, and beat Kramnik, playing no other full-length games. Will journalists remember back a year ago? Will they put all the emphasis on the Bonn event?

That's great detective work on the ratings. You surely think clearly enough to recognize the illogic of the construction "irregardless."

Whatever is just another nerd finding the less important in a great post.

As a Dutchman I should object to 'Zanvoort' - the town's called Zandvoort; it comes from Sandevoerde (a combination of "sand" and "voorde", meaning ford).

I've no doubt that Anand will get the Oscar. Bilbao etc is irrelevant. Anand's year was only concerned with the Vlad match. Probably the biggest test of his career and the assessment of his status will be affected for all time. Topalov's albeit impressive tournament results lately are just run of the mill events. It's analagous to golf majors - My fellow Irishman! Padraig Harrington won the last two majors of the year and wins every award going. Others won more but less important events and are not mapped. To do it against Vlad with his fearsome reputation is all the more impressive because he must have had to conquer many self doubts to achieve it.

Bilbao is not irrelevant at all , is just that Vishy´s triumph is far more important than any tournament.
Vishy restored balance to the chessworld , now we have a real champion .
If it was for me , i would give Anand 2 oscars this year, one for defending the title and one for getting ride of that plague.

cerceau: ecellent points, well stated, and wholly correct.

Very Orwellian.

I have to agree with Manu, the Oscar must go to Anand even though Topalov had a fantastic year. Kramnik has a place in history as the only human to have beaten Kasparov in a match. And yet Kramnik never had the right to play that match in the first place as he had lost his candidates match to Shirov! Anand has finally brought piece to the World Chess Championship and fully deserves the Chess Oscar.

In 2009 Topa-Kamski will be interesting. Topa is clearly favorite but Kamski has more match experience and nothing to lose. The pressure will be all on Topa's shoulders.

If this article is correct, all these top ratings will soon be pulverized.

quote: "The General Assembly instead chose to pass an arbitrary doubling of the factor. Of course they had the right to do that, but we can look forward to some interesting and unpredictable results. Among others, I suggest that

1. we shall see numerous players breaking through the 2800 barrier, and
2. the rating requirements for GM and IM tiles will become irrelevant."

PS: apparently it is (now) impossible to make a proper hyperlink in comments.

As a Topalov fan I'm very pleased with his results, major tournament
victories and top rating. But the job that Anand accomplished in 2008
to finally rid Chess of one of its most divisive forces and put the
lid on it, outweighs all other accomplishments by a long shot. To me
the choice of 2008 Oscar is clear.


I wonder if Topalov's recent use of Caro-Kann is due to hide preparation in some Sicilian lines for the match against Kamsky. However, he has scored nicely with it.

Merry Christmas to all!

Happy holidays! Wishing everyone love and peace in life, and fun battles on the chessboard.

Manu, You are still an idiot.

But you liked the hug, don´t you?
Merry Christmas to you too , take it easy.
Start jogging , do some yoga , do something about your anger.

I might call Topalov's Nanjing performance irradiant, but the Grammar Goons here seem not to like the ir- prefix being used as an intensifier. Sad that he was excluded from Mexico. And winning two 2750+ tournaments by 1.5 points each doesn't seem to get you much these days.

And yet, it seems that you had to be named either Kramnik or Anand (that is, seeded into the FIDE World Champ event) to even have a chance to win the Chess Oscar, at least according to most commenters here. Have journos become as favoritist as FIDE? Admittedly, Anand's year was high-quality (especially if you throw in Mainz), and Topalov did fail to win Wijk aan Zee, Linares, and Sofia, but should we already declare the 2009 race to include only Anand, Kamsky, and Topalov?

"I might call Topalov's Nanjing performance irradiant, but the Grammar Goons here seem not to like the ir- prefix being used as an intensifier."

You can go right ahead and call it irradiant (bizarre as it would be to describe a chess performance), because it's a word. "Irregardless" is not a word. Moreover, pointing out errors in Engish usage is not a secret police force tactic, so your calling them "Goons" is disingenuous; perhaps you meant to attack censorship instead.

Fortunately, 2008 did not produce a book to challenge On the Edge in Elista for worst book of the millenium.

You must have read the book cover to cover to give it such a strong praise?


I held my nose. A reeking piece of garbage, an embarrassment to chess. You're not going to attract substantial, serious, world-class sponsorship with a team of nutballs waving toy toilets.

But credit Topalov and Danailov for behaving better lately. Let's hope they can keep it up.

Let me try to unravel this... first noting that "ravel" could mean either "to tangle" or "to disentangle" (Oh, the joys of English!)

"Irregardless is not a word."
The burden of proof should be yours, no? Can you name a modern dictionary which contains "regardless" but excludes "irregardless"? I found the latter in: Webster's, American Heritage, Encarta, Oxford, Cambridge.

"[using] Goons is disingenuous."
Goon: 1. A stupid person.
However, this could be a bit harsh in describing one who simply opined that the unwonted word "irregardless" was an illogical construction.

If you wish to hide behind the false security of demotic consensus, Websters and Heritage are just fine (as is any glossary of Internet language). But "irregardless" is one of the most pervasive errors in the language, never a word and never needed where mistakenly used. And it does not appear in the COD, principally because it's not a word in the English language. If it appears in any Oxford edition, it's duly noted as just such a pervasive error from a faulty construction.

Your bit on the word "goons" only demonstrates that you did not understand the exchange.

>You're not going to attract substantial, serious, world-class sponsorship

I don't think that Danailov will come down to seek Greg nerdish ideas on attracting anything. He's doing quite well in what he does and that includes event sponsorship.


Don King, Vince McMahon, and Silvio Danailov... promoters with a touch of class.

Im starting to feel some attraction between you and mr Danailov, you keep talking about him all the time.

I would think irregardless is still given a ?! by most experts.


if FIDE follows the FIDE rules for rating reports as documented in the Handbook, the Pearl Spring event will not be rated for the January list. Hence, Topalov will be 2796 in January, but still number one, ahead of Anand. The reason is simply that Nanjing finished well after the deadline of December 15th.

I guess someone remembers the fuzz when FIDE didn't rate Aerosvit for the July list, which would've made Carlsen officially number two then - but the explanation given was simply that FIDE (finally) had decided to be strict about their deadlines from that point on. (The exception is roughly FIDE championship events, where FIDE is the de facto organizer - that typically includes the GP events for instance.)

[The nitty, gritty details:




"Upon receipt of the report, Registered Events which end on or before the 15th of the month before the date of publication of that list shall be rated. FIDE Events in B.01, 1.2 which end before the date of publication of that list shall be rated (EB 2007).

9.13a Rated play completed or received after the closing date will not be included in computation for the rating list in question."

Needless to say, Nanjing is not mentioned among the FIDE events in B.01, 1.2 ...]

So, we should expect that Elista Grand Prix will be rated for the January 2009 list, as it's part of the World Championship Qualification Cycle and is treated similarly to zonals wrt rating report deadlines _even_ if GP events technically haven't made it to the handbook, part B.01, paragraph 1.2 yet.

FIDE obviously trusts its left hand to immediately pass on the report to its right hand, or vice versa... or whatever...

I wouldn't become terribly surprised if FIDE suddenly has decided that they didn't have to be strict about the December 15th deadline anyway, even if they had to be strict about the June 15th deadline. Still, I hope they choose to go with _some_ level of consistency here.

And btw - the Live Top List doesn't care about these deadlines too much, as it's not primarily intended to predict the next official FIDE list, but rather to show the top players' updated ratings and relative rankings when all played-and-eventually-to-become-FIDE-rated games (known to me) are rated. This is a deliberate choice, which has a long explanation that I'll skip here and now.

In general, to safely predict the next official FIDE list, you need to be known as Casto Abundo. And that despite ratings being the one most predictable thing within the entire FIDE organization. ;o)

Well, ratings might be the second most predictable thing.

The most predictable thing is "unpredicted" changes (despite being a contradiction in terms).

Will Kramnik really play in Linares?

you are WRONG! the phoney "IRRADIANT" is NOT a word, in the OFFICIAL SCRABBLE PLAYERS DICTIONARY. when challenged you would LOSE A TURN

How unlucky for me playing Scrabble. But you can relax because it is a word, a latinate word:

irradiating; radiant; shining.

1520–30; < L irradiant-, (s. of irradiāns), prp. of irradiāre to shine upon.

"And it does not appear in the COD [...] If it appears in any Oxford edition, it's duly noted as just such a pervasive error from a faulty construction."
The only indication therein toward your claim is the phrase "informal"...

Tthe FIDE may usually send out a deadline reminder.
Par on the course with the FIDE, the link name refers december-2008-fide-rating-list.

Again, an online glossary will take on loose demotic constructions and is not the same as the hard COD, where it does not appear. In this milieu, "Informal" is as good as a "?!", I'd say. Anyhow you can't win, Lossy. It's not a word and you're the one advancing empty claims, so spend your time on something worthwhile - chess, for example.

Contra LosDedosDelPie:
Though your link says "concise_oed", this is a misnomer, and in fact the askoxford.com site has only the Compact OED online.

Contra Clubfoot:
"Irregardless" appears in the middle of the right column on page 751 in the 11th Edition of the Concise OED (second revision 2008). However, the subjoined usage box does indicate that it is adjudged by the highbrow consensus to be "incorrect in standard English."

Contra zyzzyva:
you are WRONG! the word IRRADIANT appears in the British-based OFFICIAL SCRABBLE WORDS. so it depends on your PONDSIDE (if that's a word)

"Irregardless appears in the middle of the right column on page 751 in the 11th Edition of the Concise OED"

Where else but the Comments section of the Daily Dirt blog on the Chess Ninja would we see such a where-to instruction for finding a word in the dictionary?

I love such "where-to instructions". Wish more people could be as precise as that.


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