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Superpowered Melody Amber 09

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The field in this year's 18th Melody Amber is even stronger than usual. Levon Aronian is back to defend his title. Past winners Morozevich, Kramnik, and and Anand are there, as are Carlsen, Ivanchuk, Radjabov, and world #1 Topalov. Kamsky, Karjakin, Leko, and the suddenly ubiquitous Wang Yue are also there. The Chinese player qualified by dominating last year's "Rising Stars" tournament, which works as a qualifier. Carlsen and Karjakin were also once qualifiers. This is probably the first event without a Dutchman (the sponsor is Dutch chess Macaenas Joop van Oosterom) as van Wely has been given the wooden boot. Aronian started out strong today, beating Ivanchuk 2-0. The blindfold game is quite spectacular, though the opening queen sac is old published analysis.

The format has not changed. Each day the players play face an opponent in one blindfold and one rapid game. I probably say the same blah blah every year about not seeing (ahem) the point of blindfold chess between professionals, but it's a good show and the players fight hard despite the cushy surroundings. There are always a few gems. Some players have a knack for blindfold and two of them met in the first round. Kramnik always put up amazing scores in the blindfold section, until Morozevich arrived in Monaco (now it's played in Nice) in 2002 and scored 9/11. The two have battled for blindfold supremacy ever since, with a few exceptions. Moro's record 9.5/11 in 2006, three points (!) clear of Anand, illustrates that blindfold talent doesn't overlap 100% with overall chess talent. The competition has stiffened, however, and Morozevich and Kramnik could only tie for first last year with a humble 6.5 points. In today's blindfold battle Kramnik played the very nice shot 15.Bxf7+! and went on to win.

The blindfold is just half of the action; it's the combined score with the rapid that makes the Melody Amber champion. Last year Aronian's tie for first in the blindfold and 8/11 in the rapid was enough to wrap up the title with plenty of room to spare. The official site has plenty to offer, especially if the videos are back. The daily reports by Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam are well worth the trip. ICC Chess.FM has live coverage and Macauley Peterson is there as well, posting to the ICC Blog.


"Defending champion Levon Aronian is back to defend his title" - that's good to know.

Heh, yes. Perils of online editing. Start with "defending champ is back..." change to "back to defend" and end up with both. Not as bad as the time I called someone the reigning champion and current champion in the same sentence.

Anand-Kamsky was a development of their 9th match game in las Palmas 1995. Talk about deep preparation.

Another big money event. HORRIBLE. Sullying the beauty of chess for fiat money. It's just like Botvinnik said in his introduction to "Anatoly Karpov, His road to the World Championship":

Up till 1972, this constitution [for the WC] was basically unaltered, but then it was quickly transformed into a meaningless sheet of paper.

What was it that happened?

It so happened that, with the appearance of Fischer, there appeared at the same time some hidden forces who, using money (i.e. the prize fund), began to dominate the chess world. [...] [Some] countries offered prize funds which exceeded the funds fixed in the previous rules by factors of ten (in 1972) and by factors of a hundred (in 1975)!

Some will say: that's fine... What can be wrong with that?

WHAT is wrong is that a player, on knowing of the unusually big prize fund that awaits him, loses his creative inclinations. During a match, a player must be devoted to chess alone, and everything else should be performed automatically, in a standard way. Thus the prize may be anything, only definitely a standard amount.

Perhaps it was for the reason that Spassky, in 1972, did not play as well as might have been expected! ... But then one may well retort, why does this enormous prize fund not affect Fischer. [What might as well ask] if both players were forced to play standing, who would win? It is only at first sight that the situation seems identical for Fischer and for his opponent. From an early age, Americans are accustomed to Big Business.

In order to bring big money into the act, the co-operation of the FIDE president was necessary. This sort of thing is conveniently done when confusion reigns... It is to be hoped that the intrusion of hidden forces into the creative world of chess will now be liquidated.

typical bs from an old communist. a long-winded theory about spassky losing because prizefund was 10x of normal. after all, why even possibly consider the theory that maybe fischer was just a better player? na...us communists only lose because of western propaganda, evil capitalism, and american trickery.

True enough, Robert. But since money was mentioned neither in Mig's opener nor in any comment prior to that of viva_Stalin!, your rejoinder amounted to feeding the troll (i.e. responding to a post that was both intentionally provocative and blatantly off-topic).

Re Wang Yue's jetlag which had been mentioned earlier, he apparently travelled from Linares to Nice via Beijing. Maybe those frequent flier miles were irresistable?

Do these "blindfold gems" arise in part because players are more willing to enter fabulous complexities if they think that just simply the existence of complexity might help them win the game?

Perhaps. It's better to be the attacker when the chances of serious error are high in general, and they are much higher than usual in blindfold. Also the fact that rating points aren't on the line helps loosen up that inner Tal.

Good point, Mig. I must say, you do have a very good way of putting these things.

"It's better to be the attacker ..."
I think +- the same also applies in blitz and, to a lesser extent in rapid chess !?

I'd definitely think so, though it would be hard to prove statistically. Here's a try anyway. Since white is the presumed attacker, he should win a higher percentage of decisive games in rapid and blindfold than in classical.

Amber, 2000-2007, 2600+: w34%, =45%, b21% from 968 games.
Linares, 1995-07, 2600+: w25%, =60%, b15% from 574 games.

So white wins 62% of the decisive games in Amber and 62% of decisive games in Linares. Oh well! There are various countervailing factors we might postulate (rating, more conservative play), or maybe the theory about white winning more is just bad.

How about only looking at miniatures? Those come from blunders but might be disproportionately in favor of white in rapid and blindfold if this "better to be the attacker" theory holds in any water since white is usually the one to win quickly.

Smaller sample size, of course, but interesting:

In Amber, white wins 68% of decisive games of 27 moves or fewer. A tiny bit higher than usual.

In Linares white wins 48% of games decides in 27 moves or fewer. (At first this looked so odd I wondered if too many Kasparov Sicilian wins were skewing, but he only has 4/13 black mini wins.)

So there does seem to be something to at least the advantage of the first move meaning more in sharp blindfold and rapid games than in sharp classical games. 20% seems significant, I'm just not sure what it signifies. Probably that in classical a mini loss is usually a horrible blunder and can happen to either player at any time. In rapid and blindfold, mini losses tend to go in favor of the attacker. Oh well, I'm out of ideas and time.

Wait! Perhaps it's more useful to compare the rapid to the blind since you have the same field and the other conditions are similar. Comparing to classical is probably wrong because there are rating points to consider there as well as various event strategies in play. So: White wins 58% of decisive games in Amber rapids but wins 66% in the blind. Ta-dah! Somehow that feels relevant. Probably not.

Migs Macaenas == arts patron == BIG BUCKS
Just as Chinese eating of USA$$$trillions says Wang Yue is everywhere. Happy perhaps for African dictators with their fat Banque Suisse accountants, but to motto: "Play for cacahuetes, nor don't play nada!"

We almost forgot: Living legend GK never played Melody Amber.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on March 14, 2009 10:56 PM.

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