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Corus 09 r8: And a Tourist Shall Lead Them

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After eight of thirteen rounds of Corus 2009, Slovakia's Sergei Movsesian is the clear leader. That's not a sentence even he might have dreamed of reading before the event, I imagine, but here we are. The field is remarkably balanced this year, especially if you discount Morozevich, who is in the cellar by a full point after losing to fellow sufferer Wang Yue in round eight. Movsesian's +2 is enough for first place right now, with four players a half-point behind. The leader's remaining opponents include two of them, Radjabov and Karjakin; the others are van Wely, Kamsky, and Wang Yue. What could be a key battle against the only other clear leader we've had so far, Karjakin, is tomorrow. The young Ukrainian was toppled by his veteran countryman Ivanchuk, who awoke from his nightmare to play one of the best games of the event yesterday.

Ten years ago, and I bring this up here because it became a chat topic on the ICC during the round, Garry Kasparov introduced a new term into the vernacular of the game: "chess tourist." It was in an article on the Las Vegas FIDE KO championship written for the website that was still called Club Kasparov, later to become KasparovChess. The quarterfinals were about to begin and Kasparov, who spent most of these pieces analyzing games, added a preview. I'll include the whole section for context. (I'll spare you the blue/green/gray page color scheme they used. I think we got more mail about that than anything. Not everyone loved the red we used when I was running it, mind.)

So, what do we have now? 3 tourists - Akopian, Movsesian and Nisipeanu. Due to the fact of the match between first two one tourist will travel to the semifinal. Great trip to Las Vegas and good reason to visit Disneyland!

Unpredictable and spontaneous Judith, who is always dangerous for her opponents and sometimes for herself.

Two very strong players Adams and Khalifman both capable of upsetting any favorite.

And on top the main favorites of the event Kramnik and Shirov. The possibility of new match between them looks now quite feasible though on the way to the final no victories are easy in KO championship.

I give the whole thing because one of the misconceptions that came out what turned into a mini-scandal was that Kasparov had called the eventual winner, Alexander Khalifman, a tourist. I have misquoted it a few times myself. To refresh the memory, this event of underdogs ended up with Akopian, Movsesian, Nisipeanu, and Adams in the semis. At the time, and now as well, it was little more than a humorous way to describe three outsiders in an event at a big tourist destination. Certainly nobody expected Movsesian to write an epic open letter in response, longer than the entire Kasparov column, attacking the #1, railing against the oppressive forces that be, Elo elitism in general, and finishing with a defense of his nationality. This last was based on the English translation of Garry's piece referring to Movsesian as "the ex-Armenian" player, which was only meant to state the obvious fact he didn't play for Armenia anymore.

And so "chess tourist" was born with a bang. Had there been no response (Akopian had a few words as well, a bit later if I recall) I doubt it would have caught on to the point it did, with players playfully using the term to refer to their own chances and habits to this day. The three original tourists would spend the next decade floating up and down the top 100 list. Akopian always in the 10-30 group until a recent slide, Nisipeanu everywhere from 99 to 15 and back, and Movsesian from 26 to 98 in 2006 before his steady climb to his current #10 position -- and the lead at Corus! It will be interesting to hear what he attributes his recent bloom to, if anything in particular at all. It will also be interesting to see where he is a year from now.

As much as I found this rise notable, my GM colleague on ICC Chess.FM during round 8, Ronen Har-Zvi, sounded downright shocked. He compared it to Topalov's sudden leap in 2005. Movsesian's career high rating was 2666 in 2000 before starting his current climb in 2007 to his current 2751. Topalov's peak was 2750 in 1997 before he shot up to 2813 in 2006. Of course such jumps are normal from younger players, while both Movsesian and Topalov did it at 30. Topalov's jump is more unusual and impressive since we can provide many examples of players adding 80 points over a few years. They just don't usually make it to the top 10 (let alone #1) and so don't make the news. I pointed out Krasenkow the other day and there are others. Ivan Sokolov went from 71 to 16 and back to 71 in the last decade. Getting to the top ten isn't easy, but it's much, much easier than staying in the top ten, no matter what Movsesian said about elitism and cushy life for top players in 1999.

Ivanchuk may have come back to life in round eight, but Morozevich buried himself deeper. His Grunfeld was ground down by Wang Yue in just the sort of position the Chinese loves to ground and pound on. 7..c5 seems to be a dubious novelty and Black never really got unwound until he was down a pawn. Ronen pointed out how similar the endgame was to the famous Kasparov-Karpov game 27 from their first WCh match. (Which allows me to plug that the latest Kasparov "Modern Chess" book, which includes that match, is our call of the day prize during our Chess.FM shows during Corus. Members can Skype to 'iccchessfm' and leave a voicemail.)

Aronian looked like he was returning to form and outplayed van Wely steadily. The caveman attack on the h-file somehow worked out. He spent 67 minutes on 15.h5. van Wely quickly decided to decline White's planned exchange sac. All Aronian had to do was finish the Dutchman off, but van Wely found an unsound and brilliant desperation defense of walking his king away from White's passed h-pawn and into the center. Aronian usually doesn't miss a trick in such positions but here he faltered as wins fluttered by like leaves. The dastardly 36.c6 is good (controlling d7), as is evacuating the rook from d3 early, ignoring the e7 pawn. The amazing 36..Ke4! made a win very hard to find. At first we thought the endgame was still a simple win (and perhaps Aronian did too), but the black rook works magic with two checks to get behind the e-pawn. 43.Kf2 was still a shot to play for a win but perhaps Aronian was just disgusted with himself by that point.

Carlsen tried a very entertaining gambit against Kamsky and we were all set for a classic contest of unstoppable force versus immovable object. But Kamsky defused things calmly and Carlsen, clearly frustrated, took his eighth draw in a row in 16 moves. (An hour later his Facebook status was changed to "this is getting ridiculous.") Movsesian picked an excellent time to offer a draw to Smeets, just when the position was turning against him. From what Smeets told Macauley Peterson on the air after the game, it was only when he looked at it later that he realized he probably should have played on. Radjabov, for the third time, decided to take a quick draw with white, offering after 14 moves against Dominguez. Stellwagen played a repetition against Adams just when we thought the position was getting interesting.

Round 9: Karjakin-Movsesian, van Wely-Ivanchuk, Kamsky-Aronian, Adams-Carlsen, Dominguez-Stellwagen, Morozevich-Radjabov, Smeets-Wang Yue.


Ah, that adds context to your last article. I must have read about the story back then, but didn't remember Movsesian's letter. No doubt, Movsesian would remember it.

So it isn't about your innocent remarks that might have gone a little far, but a decade-old feud about His Majesty's innocent remarks that might have gone a little far. Elephants truly never forget.

Or is this all a pretext for providing a link that discredits Susan Polgar?

Kasparov describes:
--two "main favorites,"
--two "very strong players capable of upsetting any favorite,"
--one "always dangerous,"
--and "three tourists."

Why would a "tourist" write an epic complaint letter? Why would an ex-champ throw a tantrum over a beauty prize? Only the shadow knows.

Im starting to get the feeling that there is some resentment about growing (chesswise) after certain age, like if it is something impossible to do .
I always regret the way Kasparov echoed what ¨some people¨ said about Topalov´s jump in rating , like if it was something suspicious in itself .
Is not impossible at all , and we are about to see many more examples in the future .
About Movsesian´s old letter : i totally agree when he uses tennis as an example of the way some tournaments should be played.
IMHO chess has a lot to learn from the way things are in tennis.

It is nice to see Carlsen frustrated like that about his results so far in Corus, i believe this can be the prelude of another quality jump for him.

Yes I had remembered the 'chess tourist' thing and I wondered if you were going to bring it up, Mig.

Last week when another commenter and I were discussing Movsesian's recent rating rise, I wondered in the back of my head whether Movsesian possibly harbors a long-burning ember that, cartoon-like, powers his increasing chess strength.

Considering the long-burning mental fires that arise in some players, like we've seen with Short or Kamsky, over coughing, and other treacherous slights, and there should be no surprise if Movsesian still seethes inside from the undeserved put-down by the then-respected champ.

Maybe he's just waiting for someone to say it, so I'll say it, "Movsesian is no chess tourist anymore!"


I hope Movsesian's sweet vindication doesn't sink in Wijk-sand.

Amusing about Carlsen. With that e4 in his game against Kamsky it looks as though he would almost rather lose than get another draw.

Something must be wrong here:

*) [...] Akopian, Movsesian and Nisipeanu. Due to the fact of the match between first two one tourist will travel to the semifinal.
*) the eventual winner, Alexander Khalifman [...]
*) this event of underdogs ended up with Akopian, Movsesian, Nisipeanu, and Adams in the semis.

Unless, of course, FIDE made some silliness which opted the eventual winner out of the semis, and compensated by shuffling both Akopian and Movsesian into the semis.

Semifinals were Akopian over Adams and Khalifman over Nisipeanu.


Mig wrote: "It will be interesting to hear what he [Movsesian] attributes his recent bloom to, if anything in particular at all."

At the Corus press conference after his win against Ivanchuk (video at Chessvibes) Movsesian was asked this question, and his answer was something like "I don't know, I don't have an explanation."
Is this the full story [my preferred interpretation], or does he have some secret which he doesn't want to (nor needs to) share with public and future opponents? ,:)

hahhahahah mig is so obsessed with movsesian that he put him in the 1999 fide KO semis instead of khalifman...
the whole thing is getting funnier and funnier after all... the only other thing we need now is a new statement by gary kasparov...

Hmmm, hmmm, hmmmm ... da, da, da! Movsesian has improved somewhat, OK, eto pravda, but to tell the more pravda, the truth, he's nothing but a tourist compared with me, retired and all!

OK, do svidanija, patzers!

P.S. tell Miggy that I need more boards :-)

Kasparov has always been known for his deep respect towards colleagues. For instance, he has never, (I repeat-never)- accused anyone for no good reason. You can hardly recall any scandals where he has been involved. In particular, he has never been noted to lose temper after losing a game or a match (for completely opposite, literally dreadful behaviour on losing occasions Anand comes in mind). Overall, those tourist remarks are completely just; see, for instance, Kasparov's lifetime record against Akopian.

Btw, there was a recent Chessbass article on a book called "The Grass Arena" by a chessplayer named John Healy. http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=4923

I managed to get hold of one of the new copies, and it is absolutely breathtaking. His chessplaying career is remarkable, and though it was the chess connection that led me to read the book, this is a book that would have been enthralling regardless. Comparisons with Bukowski come to mind, but it also uniquely different. Did anybody else pick up on the CB article and read it?

err.. was that sarcasm? Because I thought it was, but Kasparov has +5 with Akopian, at least according to my database..Kinda confused now :)

Classical games should be =

I also checked to find out/confirm that it was sarcasm: Chessgames.com gives +1 =3 for Akopian (well, maybe four games isn't really a statistically meaningful sample, though).

Kasparov vs Akopian:

chesslive.de gives 4 games with Kasparov as White:
- 2 blitz games (Kasparov won both);
- 1 clock simul game in the Botvinnik chess school in 1986 (Kasparov won);
- and only one 'serious' game, a draw (in the 1996 Olympiad);

6 games with Akopian as White:
- 3 blitz games (Kasparov won all);
- 1 rapid game (RUS vs World, 2002, Akopian won);
- and 2 'serious' games, both draws in team competitions (Eu-Cup & Olympiad).

That means, 3 'serious' games (slow time control), ending in 3 draws, each in about 27-31 moves. Not very much to draw conclusions upon.

I see the tourist was sent packing today.

Kasparov vs Movsesian on chesslive.de (Chessbase online database): +2 =1

Kasparov won as White in the 2001 Bosna supertournament, and he scored +1 =1 against Movsesian in a clock simul he gave to the Czech national team. (Yes, Movsesian who never changes his nationality played on the Czech national team.)

Instead of writing that open letter, Movsesian could have sent an 'open postcard' to Kasparov from Las Vegas. Like 'Hi Garry, we are having a great party over here. There's sunshine, casinos, girls, and one can even get into a WCC quarterfinals by beating Leko and Fedorov in rapid games. Man, what a sucker that Keres guy was, along with his poor fellas like Geller, Larsen and Portisch! Sure they didn't know what tourist season was like! You should give it a try, too! All the best: Sergei'.

I dont understand, did Movsesian do something to any of you?
You are making it sound like he should be sorry , he lost to Karjakin , so what? he did great anyway.
Moro is going down the drain , and yet you pick on the guy who was leading?

HI Mig, I think Sasikiran proved you right with his performance isn't it. Vallejo also tried but at least doing OK. I am referring to one of yur earlier posts. I hoped you were wrong and Sasi was there for long but.....

on ChessGames.com database
Akopian beat Kasparov 1-0 with 3 draws.


Chessgames.com shows only the 3 draws in 'normal' games (with slow time control) in team events (2 Olympiads, 1 Eu-cup), plus Akopian's win in the Russia vs The World event in 2002 (which was a rapidplay match). Chessbase (chesslive.de) is more complete, with all the games I mentioned in my earlier post.

Anyway, that still leaves us with only 3 'normal' games, all drawn and all in team events. I wouldn't count rapid and blitz games, and neither the clock simul game at the Botvinnik chess school (that was Kasparov the champ giving a lesson to youngsters).


I was just pointing out what a ridiculous fool Movsesian made of himself with that open letter back in 1999. I don't remember Moro doing anything like that, but correct me if I'm wrong.

Sure, Movsesian might have changed his mind (he did that at least regards to changing nationality). Sure, Kasparov had his share of rants, too (remember his statements in 'Child of Change' or his reactions to Radjabov getting that brilliancy prize?) - but 'Quod non licet bovi, licet Jovi'.

Hey that's Quod BON Jovi

Manu already said what needs to be said about Movsesian at Corus 2009, I fully agree with him [this time ,:)]. Maybe that was primarily replying to cs's downright stupid post - I rarely use such language, but here it is justified IMHO. BTW, "the tourist" will not pack but play four more games as everyone else, and still has chances to win the tournament just like at least four other participants.

About Movsesian's open letter:
1) It was almost ten years ago ....
2) He was still quite young (21) at the time.
3) He was obviously offended by Kasparov. And - unlike anything Mig wrote - I would say Kasparov's words were meant to be offensive, or at least he didn't mind and didn't care if he was understood in such a way.
I also disagree with "Quod non licet Bovi, licet Jovi" - if anything, a world champion should choose his words more carefully than a B-list player (correctly describing Movsesian at that time, despite his success in Las Vegas)! And drawing two regular games against Leko followed by a rapid win wasn't such a minor achievement either.

About Movsesian changing federations: Why does it matter? He is not the only one (Shirov and Kamsky are the highest-rated players coming to my mind - not meaning to criticize or insult either of them), maybe he's the only one doing so twice, but, again, why does it matter?

Movsesian probably deserved Kasparov's disdain in Las Vegas. After all, 90% of FIDE KO participants had no business being involved in anything called a World Championship (You could say the same of the old Zonal tournaments though). And Movsesian was clearly not one of the people who belonged. The KO format was practically designed to create championships for the merely near-elite.

Movsesian's open letter was pretty silly, as a result. He was in Las Vegas to play chess. No one would have thought of him as the strongest player in the world even if he had won; he lost to Kasparov in a CLOCK SIMUL, after all.

However, recently he has put together a much more convincing response to Kasparov; a Corus B win, a Corus A appearance (with success), and a 2750+ rating (which is equivalent to about 2650-2675 in 2000, but whatever). NOW Movsesian deserves Kasparov's respect, because he's beaten some people and played with the big boys.

Sorry for the downright stupid post. Honestly, I didn't mean it as a put down of Movsesian. I was just trying to make a comment on the developments in the Corus tournament, with a reference to the topic of the post. I guess I was trying to use humor, which is something I should probably leave to the professionals, like Mig.

"I guess I was trying to use humor, which is something I should probably leave to the professionals, like Mig."

If that's not professional humour, nothing is! Either that or you haven't tuned into the ICC broadcasts, where Mig stakes his claim as the Rupert Pupkin of world chess.

Whereas Clubfoot is staking his claim as the Comic Book Guy of the DailyDirt forum.

About the Las Vegas tournament, it had most of the strongest players of the time in addition to the B-listed ones - from the top 20, only #s 1, 2, 4 and 10 were missing. So winning this thing was still an achievement ... I agree rather a one-time stunt in a KO lottery [if there is luck in chess ,:)] than finding a universally accepted world champion.

TWIC still has the back issues online (the information above is from #249) and makes another interesting point [cannot find back where exactly]: maybe some of the stronger players were "tourists" - not taking the tournament very seriously, knowing that they would still earn at least some money, and that they could lose part of it in the casino immediately because they don't need it THAT urgently [the last is speculation and/or joke from my side]. On the other hand, the B-list players wanted to maximize their success and financial win - according to TWIC, Nisipeanu earned more in Las Vegas than in his entire previous career.

@cs: Maybe I was too harsh on you, on second thought your post can pass as humour. Anyway, it doesn't matter that much ... you/we are just anonymous posters and most likely "X-list players" (not anywhere close to the world elite - of course I only know for sure as far as I am concerned). So the odds that your post (and all others in this thread) will still be discussed in 2018 are around 0.00000001% ,:).

@Mig (or anyone else who knows): Is Kasparov's tourist column still available anywhere? It is a bit odd that we can discuss Movsesian's reaction, but not the original reason for it .... .

I've heard the ICC broadcast; now I'll have to rent the movie.

Don't forget Kasparov's "It's a matter of chess culture" in his Sarajevo 2000 NiC article, also directed at Movsesian.

I dunno, Garry makes such remarks about games in which he has no personal issues with his opponent, or even in games in which he isn't a participant. He doesn't mince words about bad chess. "Writing to offend" is not the same at all as not caring if you offend. Not that he hasn't done both, but the difference shouldn't be ignored.

I have all seven of Garry's Vegas 99 review articles, as well as a dozen or so others from the "Club Kasparov" period. Good stuff, especially the analysis. The only versions I have are the originals, which were translated from Russian with occasional awkwardness and edited sloppily. Not sure what Garry would say about my just dumping them up here in full. That's why I posted the relevant snippet above. Will check. In the later ones he responded, if not by name, to Movsesian's letter and to the theme in general.

There's also a lot of very good non-Garry content, including hundreds of articles from the main KasparovChess site. Lots of instructional stuff from Tsaturian, a brilliant writer, Shipov, and VIPs like Averbakh and Nunn. Glory days. Nice to see Shipov's stuff translated at ChessBase. He's the best. Pity so few bother to read it.

Who inherited the rights to the content created by the defunct KC site? I recall that KC was playing a steepish licensing fee for an educational media platform that was cool then, but is essentially freeware now.

Basically nobody since the corporate entity was dissolved, meaning it defaults back to the individual authors. There might be a bank lawyer somewhere in Israel, where KC and its funding were based, who might take issue with anyone trying to profit off the name or resources of KCO, but even that I doubt by this point.

Would be nice to release at least all the multimedia lessons, though those old files aren't playable with the current version of the InterWise platform we used. You can get the old player here and there, but it immediately tells you your trial period is over (five years ago, hah). But you can play them if you just set your computer's clock back to whenever it stipulates. Probably a better way, but that's the free way I figured out when I tried to play a few a year or two ago just for kicks.

I don't possess the full archive of those multimedia lessons since I left the company half a year before its last gasps. Most of the html content I have though. Shay Bushinsky, the last man out and who turned off the lights, probably has everything on the server dumped somewhere, or at least I hope he does. If he doesn't it may literally be lost forever.

"'Writing to offend' is not the same at all as not caring if you offend. Not that he hasn't done both, but the difference shouldn't be ignored."

A man who extends professional respect builds a following. A man who routinely sacrifices others to his passing impulses to be "witty" hasn't the sense to lead anything.

Koster must be writing about himself, in that last sentence.. Well perhaps "witty" can be substituted for something else in Koster's case.

For anyone who didn't understand it the first time:

Akopian, Movsesian and Nisipeanu did nothing to merit lampooning by the world champion.

Neither did Frogbert do anything to deserve lampooning by Greg Koster and his doppelganger, Clubfoot.
Actually, would Greg please confirm or deny rumours that he/she/it and Clubfoot are two ends of the same person; one the head end, the other the bottom end.

"Neither did Frogbert do anything to deserve lampooning..."
--I'll bet even Frogbert would disagree with you.

"Actually, would Greg please confirm or deny rumours..."
--Nothing more distressing than an adoptee searching for his birth parents, but we disclaim parental responsibility for the hardy little berger that dropped from our bottom end.

Thanks for the confirmation Greg, although one would have thought that you were so anally retentive that nothing could drop from your bottom end.

So I was at this dinner with Mr. Putin the other day, and he said "Oh that Gary Kasparov, he's just a political tourist", and we all laughed. It was just a little joke.

Frogbert certainly didn't do anything to deserve lampooning by Greg Koster. Frogbert's posts are intelligent, thoughtful, interesting to read and constructive. It's not his fault if a couple of trolls on Daily Dirt have ADD.

What's upsetting Greg of course is that Frogbert made some criticism, however reasoned, of Greg's God, Kramnik. To Greg, that is worse than criticism of Mohammed is to a Muslim fanatic.

Hence, to Greg, Frogbert has become an "enemy", a somewhat important one, thus to be attacked at all costs. Thus Greg's otherwise completely irrational attacks on the length of Frogbert's posts (Greg not having any real arguments).
An 'Anonymous' post on Susan Polgar's blog a few days ago (in response to Polgar's question Who said the following: "I am the best player in the world and I am here to prove it!"): "Hans Arild Runde aka frogbert. A chess patzer from Norway and a Carlsen fanatic." Now I wonder who posted that. A cowardly personal attack.

Grow up, Greg. You're acting like a two-year-old.

I am neither for nor against anyone on this blog per se; but accusing Koster of an anonymous posting based solely on conjecture does not enhance your own credibility, Chris B, given that you are chastising him for inappropriate behaviour.

Ok, let him categorically deny it, then.
In any case, the nature of his other attacks on Frogbert were quite uncalled for and very offensive.

Go feed your fish Chris .

Chris B.,

When each of several billion English-speakers adopts his own spelling and capitalization conventions the downfall of civilization is close at hand. Thus my mini-campaign. Finding frogbert's posts rather long-winded I pulled his chain a few times and a few weeks ago I wrote a parody. And that was the end of it. It's rather clear that frogbert took the whole thing good-humoredly, with his habitual good nature.

I don't think I've had a "substantive" blog-dispute with frogbert on any matter. Given the determined good-heartedness with which frogbert goes about his business I have nothing but long-winded goodwill for him.

So your accusation about the anonymous post in Susan's blog was, well, bizarre. And I'll categorically deny that post assuming that you in your turn will categorically deny furnishing the flying penis used to attack Kasparov.

Nice try, Greg, but very unconvincing.

If Frogbert had criticised Kasparov instead of Kramnik, I'm sure we would not have seen any 'mini-campaign'.

"It's rather clear that frogbert took the whole thing good-humoredly...". Really, oh really?:

"...your ridiculous arrogant approach..."
"The best you can do seems to be childish ad hominens and laughingly arrogant and condescending behaviour..."
"...in the future I'll let the two of you [Koster and Clubfoot] go on petting each other uninterrupted, when you are feeling brilliantly clever and ingenious for every trivial assumption and petty insult you contribute to this blog. I've yet to see any new information or enlightening reasoning by any of you in this thread, so skipping your posts entirely will hardly be any loss."

Very strange "humor".
Very weak attempt from you to laugh off your behaviour. Frogbert was very angry with you, and rightly so.

Yeah, it was me who furnished the flying penis used to attack Kasparov.

Chris B.,

The last shot in the frogbert-koster tempest-in-a-teapot was fired over two weeks ago and I'm sure we've both moved on. If after all this time he still has a problem with me I'd be glad to talk with him. But I'm sure your assistance in this matter has been greatly appreciated by all concerned.

Greg, still trying to whitewash yourself.
Having no real argument, you attacked Frogbert in a personal way with something quite unrelated to the topic under discussion. That's being a troll.
Just because it happened a couple of weeks ago doesn't excuse your behaviour, what pathetic weaseling.

You say you'd be glad to talk to him. How about an apology instead? And a recognition that Frogbert was saying something real when explaining why Carlsen was reluctant to play in the Grand Prix in the first place.

I'd say Movsesian's comments regarding Kasparov's "tourist" observation would hold more weight if he were a serious contender for the WC title. Must have been having a bad day.

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    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on January 26, 2009 3:37 PM.

    Corus 09 r7: Movsesian the Real Deal in Wijk aan Zee was the previous entry in this blog.

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