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Adios 2008, Hello 2009: Part 2

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One review item per week, that's all we ask. It works for how pro sports hand out awards. This one might look like a forced move, but I couldn't bring myself to allow lame multiple item voting. So it's one and done, with items in convenient alphabetical order. You can give your #2 and #3 choices in the comments, and of course add any items I missed. I was tempted to add "continued FIDE craziness" to the list, but decided it was too depressing and too vague.

Toluna.com - Get free polls, widgets, opinions and earn points!

Next week, we'll get specific about best games and performances.


I would have voted for both Anand and Fischer, but noo00OO00oo, Mig's got no heart.

Got to go with Bobby. Sorry Vish. You'll have to win another World Championship match next year before you get the prestigious, "ChessNinja Most Notable Event of the Year" award. Blame Mig.

Definitely Anand's win over Kramnik. It was important to get ride of Kramnik's pathetic chess, and Anand was one of the best players to do it, a player who really deserved the crown.

No disrespect to the memory of young Bobby, but Anand - Kramnik, definitely.

I do think that the anti-Kramnik comments sound a lot like the anti-Karpov comments of the 80's or the anti-Petrosian comments of my youth. Their chess reputations were trashed (admittedly with some justification), but later rightly rehabilitated. So too will Kramnik's.

OT: 2001 interview with Mig reprinted at http://www.il-chess.org/ . Permalink at http://www.il-chess.org/icb_pdf/ICB_2001_05_06.pdf

> Their chess reputations were trashed (admittedly with some justification), but later rightly rehabilitated. So too will Kramnik's.

However Kramnik has reached very high levels of hipocresy, never seen before in a world champion. While his chess is most of the time boring and passive I wouldn't call it pathetic, only his behaviour fits well, IMO.

Anand > Kramnik was impressive. I would have voted for Armenia making the double in the Olympiad if the way Anand demolished Kramnik wasn't so spectacular.

i nearly voted for fishcer, but went with anand-kramnik. my reasoning was that fischer's passing was not a 'notable chess event' but merely a biological process.

if the poll was simply 'notable events' i would had to have gone with fischer, who transcended chess, unlike kramnik or anand.

I voted for Fischer's passing as it was such a momentous and sad event. IMHO the death of a genius like RJF is more likely to be remembered by historians 100 years hence than a WCC match, important as that was.

What's so notable about Anand-Kramnik? The world champion retained his title in a match that should have never taken place. The challenger had consistently, for many years, performed sub par for a top 2-3.

I have to admit, though, that the result of that match was extremely satisfying.

"The challenger had consistently, for many years, performed sub par for a top 2-3."



Seriously, it takes something very exceptional for a World Championship match not to be the most significant event of a given year. There was nothing too exceptional this year. So, Anand's match win, by far.

Fischer's passing was a biological process not a "notable chess event" (unless he managed to beat Death with a killer novelty).

I hate polls, but I love chess. What to do?
I'd rather read Mig's insights than fill in a form. Please stop.


Very nicely done.

Anand´s match puts and end to years of not having a real World Champion and it deserves number one spot.
But this poll is like mixing apples and oranges,not everything can be compared.

I can't decide between Dominguez winning a blitz event, and that some Grand Prix tournaments were played.

snowflake, are you hesitating between #6 and #7 on Mig's list? ,:)

And maybe we are missing ... :
Morozevich briefly at #1
Carlsen briefly at #1
Ivanchuk briefly at #1

"Seriously, it takes something very exceptional for a World Championship match not to be the most significant event of a given year."

First, there's a difference between "notable" and "significant."

Second, the comparison depends on the WC match itself as well.

And third, I cannot recall any remarkable tournament victories of Kramnik over the last few years, similar to that of Anand, Topalov, Carlsen, Aronian, Ivanchuk. Maybe some +2 (shared?) at Dortmund or at a Russian tournament?

"Anand´s match puts and end to years of not having a real World Champion and it deserves number one spot."

We had a "real" (or rather a unified) WC when Kramnik won the match with Topalov (unless you count Shirov). Then another one when Anand won the tournament in Mexico.

"And third, I cannot recall any remarkable tournament victories of Kramnik over the last few years, similar to that of Anand, Topalov, Carlsen, Aronian, Ivanchuk. Maybe some +2 (shared?) at Dortmund or at a Russian tournament?"

Indeed ... :
Dortmund 2007 1st place (5/7)
Tal Memorial 2007 1st place (6.5/9)
But of course you, sab, and everyone else is free to decide what you consider 'remarkable' ...

I don't see my excellent victory at the club last June on this list. It smacks of elitism.

Item missed:

Topalov's memorable 12.Nxf7!

at Wijk 08 against Kramnik.

It was a very awaited game, everybody was watching. And then the funny videos surrounding the encounter with Tchaikovski music and all.

A game many people out there is going to remember for a long time.

"Dortmund 2007 1st place (5/7)
Tal Memorial 2007 1st place (6.5/9)
But of course you, sab, and everyone else is free to decide what you consider 'remarkable' ..."

And what do you find remarkable about them?

Dortmund - a 7-round, category 19 tournament (Kramnik had 4 whites)

Tal Memorial is better but still only 9 rounds (Kramnik had 5 whites), and the line-up isn't the best.

@sab: I knew I couldn't convince you ... . But I would say +3 or +4 in "short" tournaments is worth as much as +5 or +6 in longer ones (at least in terms of Elo performance).

About line-ups: At the Tal Memorial, all of Kramnik's opponents were rated above 2700 (even if Jakovenko and Alekseev are 'less famous'), three were rated above 2750, and Carlsen was at that time underrated at 2714 (given his continuous rise in the Elo list). At Dortmund, Carlsen was even more underrated at 2693, causing a drop in the tournament category.

And you did not really reply to acirce's post - clearly refuting your earlier claim about "Kramnik performing sub-par for a top 2-3".

well, you have to go beyond the boundaries of the chess community to find the answer. Many people did not hear nor cared about the Anand-Kramnik match. But both chess-playing and non-chess playing people, around the world, took note of the passing of fischer.

No option for Ivanchuk assaulting innocent concrete columns in Dresden? ;)

I gotta go with Bobby's passing. Anand-Kramnik is just another championship, but there will only ever be one Bobby Fischer. Has Anand done for chess what Bobby did? Not hardly.

OK, this is Mig's fault for starting this...


@chessbuff: You are American (one can find out by clicking on the link to your webpage). Nothing wrong with that, of course ,:) and nothing wrong with seeing things slightly from one's own national perspective (probably hard to avoid it entirely).

Yet, I wonder just how true the 'around the world' in your last sentence is, at least when it comes down to comparing the two 'events' [which aren't comparable anyway]. In Germany, the Anand-Kramnik match received quite some coverage, including general media (daily newspapers, evening TV news). In India, many people on the street (including non-chess playing people) probably know Vishy Anand and have heard about the WCh match - but at least the younger ones may not know Bobby Fischer !?

Something similar applies to noyb's statement:
"Has Anand done for chess what Bobby did? Not hardly."
People from India may disagree. And the main achievements of Anand and Fischer are comparable: obtaining the WCh title for the 'rest of the world' after extended periods of Russian/Soviet dominance.

BYW, similar regional biases may apply to other items Mig proposed: Armenia's Olympiad gold may get relatively more votes from Armenia, and maybe less from Russia (because some Russians may want to forget about Dresden as quickly as possible).

Expanding on the idea whether the general public matters:
I don't think so, after all the poll is mostly aimed for visitors of this website, isn't it ?

And if the general public got to vote (and choose their own 'events'), Ivanchuk may well end up on the list - not for any of his games, not even 'merely' for assaulting conrete columns, but for missing a doping test. Of course, this is a lowlight rather than a highlight, and arguably related to Mig's suggestion to include "continued FIDE's crazyness".

Last in my series .... : Read Mig's post, best games are for next week [so chesshire cat, you can still nominate yours ,:)].

"Stepping into a minor time-machine": Yes, Topalov-Kramnik from Corus 2008 is an obvious candidate - both the game itself and the circumstances were 'remarkable'. A hypothetical question is: How much less attention would it have received if the lineup had been any of these?

And - just to annoy the Topalov fans a bit ,:) - I will nominate Kramnik-Aronian, also from Corus 2008 (1-0 after 110 moves)
Arguments in favor:
1) It also had a remarkable novelty in the same sharp line (addressing the myth that Kramnik does not have any opening novelties to offer).
2) Different from Topalov-Kramnik, attack and defense were at par for most of the game. Kudos to BOTH players, and IMHO the game would also qualify for one of the best ones played 2008 if it had ended in a draw.
3) The game is relevant for both opening and endgame theory.

All that being said, I was actually searching for a typical Catalan squeeze from Kramnik, but he didn't have any in 2008 (one earlier example is Kramnik-Anand, Corus 2007). IMHO, that type of games is also 'remarkable' - that term should nnot be limited to sharp attacking games which may or may not 'survive' subsequent computer analyses.

Thomas...please. You're no fun anymore.

Kramnik-Anand was like watching a terrified mugging victim in a dark alley, but it was a gentlemanly and deserving mugger. The subsequent orgasmatron of schadenfreude and fearful hatred on this site (kickstarted by Mig's barely-contained elation and faint praise-a-thons) was predictable, but it didn't made Kramnik's fall any easier to watch. Fischer's death brought a flood of relief, so it's more memorable by half.

I'd go with all the amazing chess that came out of just following Ivanchuk's games in 2008 (especially his undefeated first half in Sofia), but I do that every year.

Thomas the game you nominated was full of errors and basicaly decided by Aronian not knowing how to draw a teoreticaly drawn endgame.

Topalov-Kramnik was also full of errors; the best games generally are, chess being hard 'n' all.

As for Aronian not knowing how to draw a technically drawn ending, while this is in a sense true, I can't help thinking you don't know much about the game but have a nice computer.

rdh already replied on my behalf ,:) but I want to add a few things:
1) I was a bit provocative and not 120% serious, thought this was clear 'between the lines' ...
2) I explicitly stated that the game would have been 'as remarkable' if it had been drawn.

Could draws qualify for "best game of the year"?? I would say "why not??". To give two examples from the same sharp line, one from 2007:
Shirov included some draws in his "Fire on the Board" books, the second game may qualify for Part III (eagerly awaited as far as I am concerned)

More generally, the objective value of a novelty may be different from the "over the board" value: the opponent has to find several only moves (which you already analyzed at home), falls behind on the clock, gets tired, and finally makes mistakes. Topalov applied this 'strategy' a lot, so did Anand in the WCh match against Kramnik. No criticism implied, the clock is part of the game! Specific to the game Kramnik-Aronian, as far as I can tell (I am not a specialist on rook endgames and have to rely on published comments) Aronian defended well far into the endgame and finally collapsed with a few seconds left on the clock [the time control had no increments in the final phase of the game].

Was this unsportive behaviour from Kramnik? Well, at least Aronian cannot really complain ... see final game example:

chess hard? the only difficult thing is remembering how the horsie moves.

I have more problems with when you are allowed to castle, and the en passant rule ,:) - though I am playing for a club called "En passant" ...

Thomas. In response to your comments, it seems to me that, yes, the question was posited to the patrons of this site but I disagree in excluding the world outside of it when considering the answer to the question.

The Germans and the Indians might have been dancing in the streets about the Anand-Kramnik match, but they are a long way from constituting the entire world of chess. Look at it this way, Fischer's death was surely noted and reported on by most, if not all, the news media around the world. Fischer remained a staple of chess news until his death, for many reasons, some we may not relish. Although it is an apriori fact, radio and television news stations around the world NOTED and reported on his passing because he had become, for many, an icon of chess. I am not talking about his legacy here, but how recognizable he was even to non-chess playing people. Keep in mind the question, what was the most notable chess event in 2008? Anand-Kramnik match? do you really think much more of the world noted their match than a chess icon's untimely death? Most people don't even know that Anand played 1. d4, and to tell you frankly, most people don't care in the long run.

Wasn't there this crazy serial sacrificing where Aronian threw a knight, a bishop, and the exchange to his opponent, and mated him with his last two survivors, queen and rook? Surely this should be considered for Best Game.

Chesbuff, of course I respect your opinion - and anyway I do not take the entire poll that seriously because it is comparing apples and oranges. Maybe I do not cherish Fischer quite as much as you do because he was already 'gone' (I mean had quit chess) before my time [I was born in 1967 and started playing chess at the age of roughly 10 years]; but I am also aware of his legacy ... .

"Fischer remained a staple of chess news until his death"
I am not a native English speaker (which may also mean that I do not find exactly the right words elsewhere in this post) and don't understand what you _exactly_ mean. How many times has he been in the news during the past 10 years? He avoided media and general public for a long time, first self-chosen, later (after his match against Spassky) forced ... . I hesitate posting what's next because it may sound very disrespectful, trust me it is not at all meant that way. Maybe quite a few people only realized he had still been alive when the news of his death spread around ?!

So while Fischer died in 2008, he is important to the chess world because of the relatively distant past. So this item is not at all comparable to Mig's 6 other suggestions.

Awesome! I love polls although I know essentially zero about competitive chess.

RIP Mr. Fischer.

Thomas ... if all here could express their opinions as clearly and respectfully as you have, this would be a much more productive forum. And if all chess players were similar - well, we wouldn't be in half the mess we're in!


Hey Ashish, most (professional) chess players are actually quite similar to Thomas... in being preoccupied with rather insignificant things.

I voted for the Armenians winning gold for the second time in a row. Anand's win of the title was of course very significant but the fact that Armenia won this title, even though they were significantly outranked and lost one of their regular team members earlier in the year really makes it special for them! As for Bobby Fischer, he hasn't been a part of the chess world for over 35 years!

All chess players, professional or not (I am just a modest amateur) are preocuppied with a rather insignificant game called chess ... and related topics. Maybe I failed to address some of the more significant related topics such as proper use of capital letters in blogging posts [of course this is not addressed directly at sab].

@Ashish: Thanks! However, I do not have a solution for the mess the chess world is in - and am lacking both ambition and influence to find and promote one ,:)

I´m missing: Ivanchuk starting 5/5 in MTelMasters. Thats what I remember best.

"And if the general public got to vote (and choose their own 'events'), Ivanchuk may well end up on the list - not for any of his games, not even 'merely' for assaulting conrete columns, but for missing a doping test. Of course, this is a lowlight rather than a highlight, and arguably related to Mig's suggestion to include "continued FIDE's crazyness"."

My point exactly - the doping test, not the assault on the column. ;) But high point or low point depends upon how one feels about FIDE's anti-doping policy and also what the fallout of it will be, if any. It may turn out to be a real bright spot for those who don't believe in dope tests for chess players.

I doubt I would have picked it as an option anyway. I just noticed it wasn't on the list and it was something that certainly made the press in '08 as well as stirred up a lot of debate in the chess world.

But I agree that the poll is something to have fun with, and not something to analyze like a game. :)

I would consider it a low point either way. The pro's and con's of doping tests have been discussed extensively elsewhere, I will not elaborate on this topic here and now. In any case, Ivanchuk's reaction after losing an important game was irrational and nothing to be proud of - here, maybe assaulting concrete columns is more pertinent than missing the doping test.

An open question is whether he would have taken the test without complaints or resistance if he had won against Kamsky (or if his loss on board 1 hadn't affected the medal distributions).

Anyway, yes the poll is fun - BTW so is analyzing chess games at most occasions and for most of us. Only for some professionals it is really serious business, because prize money and ELO rating may depend on the correct assessment of a given opening variation ... .

"Continued FIDE craziness" is, alas, not notable at all, but only to be expected.

And thank you, acirce, for showing us all how poorly Kramnik has played!

kosteniuk winning the world championship after beating hou in the final is at least a bigger thing than dominguez winning some blitz games

Not really , if you forget about genres is just a lower rated match.
But it was very wise not to include the beating Topalov gave Kramnik in Corus.


It looks like you don't know the meaning of the word "preoccupied." Well, I'm not surprised; a prolific writer like you probably has little time left for reading (or even thinking?).

I don't see the point of putting up an online poll which has Anand this....etc. It is a no brainer that Anand fans are the majority by a significant margin on the world wide web. Any poll on any notable chess website that has Anand featuring on it is going to win hands down 99% of the time.

Now lets say that Fischer was assassinated and therefore truly deserved to be the biggest story of 2008...I am telling you with Anand as one of his competitors on an online poll, Fischer would have no chance. For that matter anyone else.

Ask yourselves this: Which was the last internet poll where Anand did not emerge as the top vote getter?!

MIG could have put "Anand visits French restaurant" instead of his triumph against Kramnik and still Anand would be number one on the poll.

@sab: Believe it or not: I do read before posting (at the very least, the entries I am directly replying to). I do think before posting - sometimes more (as in my post on Bobby Fischer which triggered the chain reaction Ashish-sab-Thomas-sab-Thomas), sometimes less in spontaneous comments such as #3 in this list.

My posts are frequent, maybe controversial and/or provocative, sometimes "swimming against the stream". But would a forum with only mainstream opinions really be productive and interesting/worthwhile following in the long term ? I appreciate positive feedback (Ashish was the last one, but not the only one in various threads), I can also handle criticism. And if criticism is constructive, I am always willing to clarify my points, or to reconsider and 'even' change my opinions.
Admittedly, of course I have to decide whether I consider criticism constructive, but who else could do so in my place?

Briefly on semantics: "preoccupied" is roughly the same (or almost) as "obsessed"? "prolific" - don't want to look up the exact meaning, and to choose between multiple ones. I am not a native English speaker, and do not want to spend too much time on meta-discussions (discussions about topics and style of discussions).

Mehul, I disagree. For example, in this forum there at least as many Topalov fans as Anand fans (and the poll is in this forum, not in the Times of India).

biggest chess event in 1992:

fischer-spassky or tal's death?

i vote anand now, he won a title match. fischer's death was sad but he was gone since many years.

Biggest chess event in 2005 [and maybe the entire decade, if predictions can be made with one year to go]:
Kasparov quitting tournament chess, any other suggestions?

The difference with Fischer is obvious, Kasparov was world top until the very day when he (suddenly) quit. And I would say the assessment does not depend on whether one likes Kasparov or not - as a chess player, as a politician or as a chess politician.

Regarding Anand fans vs. Topalov fans in this forum: not sure about their respective numbers. Anand fans were quite active during, and immediately after the Anand-Kramnik match. Some Topalov fans are posting very regularly, but I think it is no more than ten individual persons (of course I am the last one to imply that there is anything wrong with regular posting ,:) ). And I guess there is a 'silent majority' - people following this blog without posting themselves.

Some of us have a problem with regular posting.


The biggest event of 2008 was Kramnik finally losing a World Championship match. He had been undefeated in three goes before this. The phrasing for the poll is thusly wrong.

Mehul in trying to debunk Anand's position on the poll has actually fallen into a trap - take a step back and realize that the reason why Anand would win online polls is not numerical superiority but the fact that Anand has actually gotten a billion-strong nation interested in Chess.

I'm quite sure that India bob-sledders or water polo players would fare pretty badly in online polls, billion or no billion.

Anand-Kramnik, hands down.

Nothing Bobby Fischer did since 1992 (and arguably since 1975) has had any more significance than any other action of any other mentally ill individual. This includes his dying. The quicker we accept this, the better off we'll be.

Had to smile about this one, and initially did not want to reply. Even I can remain silent at times ,:) (guess I have some self-irony, not sure if this applies to everyone else).

@ "Silent majority": Whoever you are, at least you were still reading my posts, expecting/hoping to find something interesting and/or worthwhile replying to - thanks ,:)

But of course a single blogger cannot really claim to speak for the silent majority ,:)

Anand - Kramnik is No.1 for me...

Fischer dying is a non-chess event in my opinion...

As for No.2 i go with the Armenians. Them doing a repeat with Sargissian performing highly was something SPECIAL (think of what he did to Grischuk, that was torture:-))

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on January 8, 2009 12:00 AM.

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