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Rapidly in Gjøvik and Mukachevo

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Is your nation's gas supply being choked off by a disgruntled former superpower neighbor? If you need to heat things up a bit, why not invite Peter Leko over for a rapid chess match? That's what they did in Mukachevo, Ukraine, where their number one, Vassily Ivanchuk, just beat the Hungarian 3.5-2.5 in their six-game affair. Ivanchuk had the better of things most of the way but didn't break through until game five, winning the only decisive game of the match. Leko tried to get counterplay with a passed a-pawn in an endgame, but 20 moves after his 53..a3, all three of his kingside pawns had disappeared and his a-pawn hadn't moved a cubit.

The official website of the Mukachevo event is being blocked by the Google "safe browsing" protocol if you use Firefox or any other browser that uses that service by default. This isn't uncommon. Careless designers and admins do a lot of copy-paste of scripts and other code, especially ad code, and often don't bother to check it all for links to malware sites. Apparently they caught it before the event started but not before Google blocked it. Anyway, you didn't miss much. The site looks like something done in Frontpage in 1997. (Amusingly there is a design firm credit. They really shouldn't put their name on things until they learn to, you know, design.) Still, you don't see many chess event sites with a music section.

Meanwhile, in the far north, Peter Svidler and Magnus Carlsen were battling it out in the final of the Aker Chess Challenge rapid event. But first, a three-way tie for first in the group phase between those two and America's Hikaru Nakamura required a quick round of blitz to see who played in the final. Tiebreaks were made necessary by Carlsen's defeat of Svidler on the final day of rapids. Nakamura tempted fate and decided to go directly to blitz instead of trying to beat Carlsen with white in the rapid, agreeing to a 12-move draw. I suppose this makes sense for a putative underdog, though he'd already beaten Carlsen with black in rapid. Of course hindsight is 20-20, blitz is a crapshoot and it looked bad when Nakamura went on to lose both blitz games and be relegated to the bronze match against Lie, who lost all six of the rapid games.

Photo from Christoffer Strand's Facebook page

In the final, Svidler didn't get much with 4.d3 against Carlsen's Berlin in the first game. But the second Ruy Lopez and their second oppo-bishop position was good enough for the Russian Champion to play on and he eventually ground out the win to take the title. Congrats to Svidler, who bounces back a bit from his -1 Pearl Spring result. Nakamura duly destroyed Lie with white and then got out of a little spot of trouble in the second game with a pretty bishop sacrifice leading to perpetual check. Not a bad result going 2-2 with Svidler and Carlsen in the rapid.


the mustachioed pics of leko and chucky at the bottom of the front page of the offical site are priceless.

Great video!

According to Chessbase Svidler won 3,000 Euros for first prize. Nothing really to write home about. One would hope the participants also got an appearance fee.

Thanks for the video Macauley.

"According to Chessbase Svidler won 3,000 Euros for first prize. Nothing really to write home about."

What is first prize in, for example, the Corus tournament? To compare these two events:
In Gjovik, Svidler
- had a ~30% chance of winning first prize (giving Lie a quite generous 10% outsider chance)
- spent four days at location (plus arrival and departure day)
- spent about 2 hours on the board each day

In Wijk aan Zee, the contenders for victory
- have at most a 20% chance for first prize [for the 2009 edition, I would give Ivanchuk, Carlsen, Morozevich, Radjabov and Aronian roughly equal chances - but some other players also have an outsider chance, and there is a reasonable probability for shared first place]
- spend 16 days at location
- spend on average maybe four hours on the board each day [contenders for first place cannot take many short draws !??]
- and don't forget about serious tournament preparation, hiring a second, ...

So I don't think 3,000 Euros in Gjovik is that ridiculously low - referring to Irv's 'controversial' posts, it may well be the market value of 2700+ players !? Of course, strong tennis players wouldn't even bother to pick up their racket for such 'peanut' amounts of money, but that's another story ... .

Completely off-topic, but I just want to comment on the Kramnik interview on ChessBase's yesterday, even if I don't have time to completely desect the article now. I think Kramnik's statements are more or less the exact opposite of Henrik Carlsen's clear and no-nonsense statements regarding the World Championship issues. To me, this sentence says it all:

"So I am not asking for privileges, I am just asking for basic fairness."



"Basic fairness" means:

If Topalov/Kamsky gets something in the next cycle, then he wants something too (or rather, the exact same thing), to play along. "If not I will simply miss the cycle."

I feel more than tempted to repeat the liverating.chess.org parodical "statement" I made in November 2008:

"Here at chess.liverating.org we live by certain , and one of those is that if other instances get something to play along with FIDE's sudden rules and regulation changes, then we want something too. Lots and lots, actually."

Funnily, Kramnik also says this as a reaction to the protests of Carlsen & co:

"I would rather complain about the general habit of changing rules. We must admit that it has already become a tradition in FIDE to change the regulations during the cycle. And they should think twice before doing it again. Everybody is getting tired of it, and it does not add to the strength and respect of the organisation."

But of course he supports changing the rules AGAIN if it means giving HIM the "basic fairness" a.k.a. the same rights as the loser of Topalov/Kamsky.

I think this was rather disappointing stuff from Kramnik. Not completely unexpected, but still disappointing. But i'll have to debate it later, not now. Maybe this evening.

PS! Great movie from Macauley, btw!

"One would hope the participants also got an appearance fee."

ed, I think you can be pretty sure that all of them got about as much as the winner (or more) in appearance fee, in addition to the prize money.

But Norwegian events don't usually have big money prizes - I tried to assist the organizer in raising money, but due to the financial crisis, it's really hard to get sponsor money for low-profile stuff like chess these days.


You know more about this stuff than I do, but isn't it relatively traditional for the beaten champion to have certain privileges in the next cycle? If it is, then Kramnik's statement would make sense. i.e. I am willing to give up my traditional beaten champion privileges, but I refuse to give them up if you are to give them to somebody who has done nothing to deserve such a gift.

What I mean is that for Kramnik, it seems that normality would be for him to have this beaten champion privilege. He is willing to give it up, but not if somebody else gets it "in his place".

Anyway, your basic point about fairness versus self-interest is probably still valid, as he argues most strongly against those changes that affect him negatively. But I think he makes a lot of good points in his letter despite his natural self-interest.

This is off topic but I'd like to congratulate Vladimir Kramnik on becoming a father to a baby girl. This is why he isn't playing in any major tournaments early in 2009. http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=5132

"isn't it relatively traditional for the beaten champion to have certain privileges in the next cycle?"

He lost the title in 2007 and was given a match against Anand in 2008. The unfairness of the situation suddenly dawned on Kramnik after Bonn, if he had won it things would surely look different and he wouldn't lose any sleep over Anand's psoition in the cycle. Topalov didn't have any privileges after losing in Elista. He was even excluded from the World Championship cycle, and as Kramnik pointed out then, a decision is a decision. Now that he benefits from a change it's naturally less important with those decisions :)

RIP IM Mark Diesen. Nice man.

"Topalov didn't have any privileges after losing in Elista."

Your crack dependency must be a heartbreak to your family.

Mig, you are talking about sites with bad design, but chessninja still has its width of column problems...

You are wrong , those arent beaten champion privileges . Those are beaten CHALLENGER privileges.
After losing Elista Topalov was excluded from Mexico and his challenge to Kramnik was also ignored.
Is because of that reasons that Topalov got seeded to play against the winner of the World Cup , Kamsky.
Topalov dont need to be seeded again , he will get there by rating.
Kramnik lost a WCH tournament AND a WCH match , he should start from the back of the line.
And Topalov.. we all know that he is the rightfull challenger to the current champion .
If not him, Who?

"After losing Elista Topalov was excluded from Mexico and his challenge to Kramnik was also ignored. Is because of that reasons that Topalov got seeded to play against the winner of the World Cup , Kamsky."

So Topalov deserved special privileges because Kramnik, having just defeated him in a match, ignored his challenge? That's GREAT NEWS!! So to secure special privileges today, all Kramnik has to do is challenge Anand to an immediate rematch!!

Thanks for the tip, Manu. I sure hope Kramnik is reading this and issues a challenge right away.

Kramnik already challenged Anand , AND LOST.
Now is the time for you know who to challenge the champion, he he .

Ill start giving you some clues about you know who:
Number one rated player.
At this time the only one whos rating is +2800!

PS: Please feel free to give me clues about YOUR prefered candidate to the title ,if you have any.

Before the Bonn match, Anand was tournament WCh, Kramnik was match WCh - so it is a matter of taste "who challenged whom" ... .

Concerning Topalov: Yes, "at this time" he is the number one rated player; "at this time" he is rated above 2800 (according to the live rating list) - but given how things kept changing in the recent past, there is no guarantee that either or both will still be true by June 2009 or so ... .

I'm not quite ready to give Kramnik credit for this new child. Isn't anyone going to ask whether he qualified?

This reminds me of Kill Bill. When they both grow up, will Dasha Kramnik take revenge on Mig? Will the Miglet jump to her aging father's defense. Stay tuned!

I was just looking at the decisive Ivanchuk-Leko game with my student, and I thought it was quite nicely played by Ivanchuk throughout. After our session, I realized that the knight-tour combination after Ne4 reminded me of that Capablanca game in which Capa ran his knight around in a circle, a 5-move combo to win a pawn. (I forget who his opponent was, but I'll look it up shortly. I remember it went something like Na4-c5-b7xa5.)

This similar combination by Ivanchuk is even more elegant in some ways because there's not so much material on the board, making for a simpler position, so the thematic nature of his play is very clear. And Ivanchuk's sequence is the longer of the two.

Ivanchuk-Leko 5th game.

Yep. That's pretty. Starting from move 47th Ivanchuk made 10 consecutive knight hopings which ended with 56.Nxg6. There is something to be said about rook on the 7th and behind a passed pawn :-)

Drawnik is just a sore loser, no doubt about it, that's no news. The hypocrite got used to have free tickets and now wants more, but now he will have no more, no Sir heh!

That scoundrel should win his privileges on the board at least once, for a change.

You have to face all the big guns and strong newcomers now Drawnik! Good luck heh, you will need it.

Greg, in these two posts you have surpassed yourself. Great!

Here we go again. Topalov was excluded from Mexico because he and Danailov wrote 'loser is excluded from Mexico' into the contract. That was their decision, thus their fault they were excluded.

Re: challenge to Kramnik being ignored. Everyone involved, Danailov included, knew there was no time for the rematch. The rematch would have to end March 12, 2007 (6 months before Mexico as per the rules), and start Feb 22 at the latest. Danailov wanted to have it April 12-30, 07, but said he'd consider March if FIDE wanted to stick to the 6-month rule.

Kramnik was in Wijk aan Zee Jan 12-28 so he'd have 3 weeks to prepare. Topalov was in Morelia/Linares Feb 16-Mar 2 and couldn't play till March 3 unless he withdrew from Linares.

In mid-Dec Topa's website did say he confirmed his participation in Linares and was expecting to play Kramnik after that. The rematch would start March 3 (day after Topa finishes Linares), but the rematch would need to end March 12 (6-month deadline again). This gives us enough time for an 8-game match with no rest days, something Dana/Topa must have known too.

But assuming both players withdraw from their respective tournaments, we still don't have time because of Danailov's delay in issuing a formal challenge.

The timeline looks approximately like this:

Oct 13, 06: Elista WCC finishes. Scheduling of rematch possible if you move quickly. Danailov knows the rematch needs to end before March 12 so acting quickly now is imperative.

Oct 15, 06: Danailov says he wants a return match for March 3, 2007 (conservative end date estimate would be March 15-18th, past the March 12th deadline). Still possible to squeeze a rematch in though. Danailov acts with due haste and...

...Dec 15, 06. Two(!) months after Elista, and a day *after* Kramnik confirms his participation in Mexico, Danailov issues a formal challenge which he must know now can't be accepted due to time restrictions. And why the two month wait if you're serious about a rematch? Interesting timing with the formal challenge too.

Dec 19, 06. The official challenge arrives at FIDE but without bank guarantees.

Jan 11, 07: The Swiss Bank UBS AG won't accept the 2-million USD D-Commerce Bank guarantees but instead requires it from one of four other possible (Bulgarian?) banks: DSK, Bulbank, UBB and International Asset Bank.

Jan 19, 07: New bank guarantees issued. FIDE Challenge Rule 3. 21. 1. 1 states FIDE needs at least 45 days for the preparation and organization of the match once bank guarantees are received (interpretation of that clause may be iffy though). If the match runs Feb 22-Mar 12 (deadline again), this gives FIDE 30-35 days for preparation. Kramnik is now in the middle of Wijk aan Zee so a little late to back out...he has 3 weeks to prepare for the WCC match in March.

If Danailov had issued his formal challenge before end of October as he said he would, a rematch might have been possible under the time constraints available. By waiting till mid-December though he must have known there was no time left, practically speaking. By January, there simply is no point in even going through the motions of trying to put a rematch together.

Tentative Conclusion: It *seems* the only reason Danailov issued the challenge when he did is to start the myth that Kramnik ducked a rematch (again) and that Topalov has been unfairly treated (again). It seems Danailov waited till Kramnik had confirmed his Mexico participation before offering a formal challenge. Kramnik was thus locked in by time constraints and couldn't accept a rematch offer even if he wanted to play Danailov/Topalov.

If you want to check the time line for yourselves, you can start here:

That thread links to various articles and letters from Danailov so it is a good one-stop shop. Other articles can be Googled. Topa's website seems to be down at the moment so I couldn't double-check things from there and had to rely on second-hand information telling me what the website originally said.

You can form your own tentative conclusions as to why Danailov would challenge Kramnik to a rematch when he knew time constraints made it practically impossible for Kramnik to accept.

"Topalov was excluded from Mexico because he and Danailov wrote 'loser is excluded from Mexico' into the contract. That was their decision"

That was FIDE's decision, just like it was FIDE's decision this time to have the players participate under the cycle regulations of this cycle. These have also been accepted by those players participating in the cycle, and shouldn't be changed in the middle of the cycle just because Kramnik lost in Bonn. FIDE didn't change their rules after Elista to include Topalov in Mexico, and they shouldn't change their rules now to give Kramnik a spot in the Candidates without qualifying.

But they did change their official rules, when they gave Topalov the match against Kamsky (just because he lost against Kramnik).
In my view, the loser of the Topalov-Kramnik match, should (of course) have been allowed to play in Mexico.

Good to know someone agrees with me... but then (with both Topalov and Kramnik in Mexico), from the FIDE side of things, how would Elista 2006 possibly be a "Reunification Match" other than as a nameplate? All it would really do would be to introduce Kramnik (one way or the other) into the World Champ Tournament without going through the qualifying. I think I'd still say that the train-wreck was scheduling Mexico as a World Champ in the first place, but it's always easy to second-guess.

"they gave Topalov the match against Kamsky (just because he lost against Kramnik)."

[but mostly because losing against Kramnik meant missing out on Mexico... but anyway.]

I always think putting it this way, mentioning Kamsky specifically, is slightly obfuscating the time line:

1) It's true that the original regulations were changed - Topalov's match wasn't included in the regulations first time around.

2) It's not very exact that Kamsky specifically was punished by having to go through an extra match before facing the World Champion.

The rule change took place well before the World Chess Cup, so any "wrong-doing" here was in principle against ALL World Cup participants - at least any potential winner. When Kamsky started his round 1 match in the WCC, it was well known that he had to win the World Cup AND beat Topalov to get to face the World Champion, whether that was Kramnik or Anand.

But otherwise the situation is comparable, in the sense that giving a privilege to Topalov then, reduced the chances of everybody else. Exactly like giving privileges to Kamsky, Topalov and potentially Kramnik now, reduces the chances and increases the work load for everybody else, meaning the Grand Prix and World Cup participants.

Will Nakamura's clear losses in the rapid and especially in the blitz playoffs bring an end to his reputation as a grandblitzmaster? Was he more talk than technique?

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    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on January 5, 2009 2:33 PM.

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