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Ivanchuk Meltdown Continues

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Has Vassily Ivanchuk become the most active elite player in history? Has any other player in the top ten ever played as many games, year in, year out? You don't have to look back into the history books. Despite our many sponsorship troubles, modern players play far more many games than their peers from the olden days. It's barely worth looking prior to WWII, when primitive transportation and poor economies made for few opportunities. Many of the stars kept busy with simul tours and exhibition matches, but it was unusual for Alekhine, for example, to play in more than two or three big professional events per year. Some years there might only be one. True, they were much longer than supertournaments today, usually round-robins with with fields of at least 16 and often over 20. But they didn't have all the rapid events and league games squeezed in, which while they aren't as tiring as a supertournament, still require the travel. But at least that travel isn't by steamship.

There are quite a few hyper-active strong players in the world today, some may even play more than Ivanchuk's amazing average of nearly 100 rated games per year over the past few years. These are the hard-core warriors, rarely making it into the supertournaments but playing all the time. Guys like Tiviakov and Movsesian (who recently jumped into the top ten for a list or two). But when it comes to the top 10 -- with a few of his typical plunges, like the one he's in now, Ivanchuk has been thereabouts for twenty years -- nobody compares to the Ukrainian wizard these days. And he seems to be playing even more as he gets older. Other candidates? Tony Miles played a ton. Carlsen and several of the young Chinese stars are playing more or less constantly. But that's normal with the new hotness. Piles of juicy invitations come in while you're still cute and fuzzy and have limitless energy.

We had a little exchange in the comments the other day about whether or not Ivanchuk's current nosedive in the standings is due to exhaustion in turn due to playing too much. I took the contrary stance that it's difficult to make that argument about Ivanchuk because sometimes his best results come right at the end of one of his marathon streaks of activity. Of course he's human (well, maybe not "of course") and I'm sure the pendulum must swing back and forth between "rusty" and "burned out" for everyone. But he's just a total mess right now in MTel, despite playing the first four-fifths of a brilliant game against Dominguez only to flub it and draw.

Add: fonz in the comments brings some data from Runde's essential Live Top List site. Sorted by number of rated games since January 2007. The top ten:

305 Wang Yue; 295 Ivanchuk; 264 Movsesian; 256 Jakovenko; 254 Ni Hua; 237 Carlsen; 230 Gashimov, 225 Naiditsch; 224 Svidler; 207 Shirov

Glad my general impressions and cursory database glances were more or less confirmed. Particularly notable are those who aren't playing in the new FIDE Grand Prix events, which have added a lot of games to the totals of many top players.

Ivanchuk's latest chess equivalent of a cake left out in the rain was his second loss to Shirov as the second half of the MTel tournament kicked off in Sofia. That dropped him to -4 and pushed Shirov up to +2 and clear first ahead of Carlsen. Topalov is as Topalov does and the Bulgarian has come back from his early loss to Carlsen to reach a +1 score. Dominguez is the drawing master, 6/6 so far. Wang Yue is on even, and if you're following along at home you realize that makes Ivanchuk the only player in the field under 50%. Ouch.

Looking at the round six games, Ivanchuk's loss this time looks like a perfectly reasonable way to lose a slightly inferior endgame to one of our best endgame players. Shirov made steady progress in R+B vs R+N and the win required no tragic blunders or mental trips to Pluto by Ivanchuk. The end came quicker than it needed to, perhaps, but despite his tremendous technical skills Ivanchuk has never enjoyed the long defense of a losing cause.

After pressing as hard as he could, Topalov was again in trouble against Carlsen. It was relatively minor, however, and while it looks like Black could have improved a few times to keep the pressure on a bit longer in the endgame, it's not very convincing. Sharp and educational stuff if you have a lecture on the importance of pawn structure in the endgame coming up. "Sleepy Panda" Wang Yue continued to darken the universe with the Petroff. Whatever Petroff-busting powers Peter Leko possessed at the Nalchik Grand Prix have not been proven transmissible yet. The Chinese held Dominguez comfortably. I really wish the King's Gambit would make a comeback.

Fun report on the traditional football (soccer) match for the players. The chess squad won on penalties, woo-hoo! Ivanchuk blocked 6/7 as goalkeeper, apparently displaying the concentration he has lacked entirely at the board. Where were these things when I was covering the circuit? Most of the off-the-board entertainment involving the players usually required several bottles of hard liquor.

Round 7: Topalov-Shirov, Carlsen-Dominguez, Wang Yue-Ivanchuk.


"But he's just a total mess right now in MTel, despite playing the first four-fifths of a brilliant game against Dominguez only to flub it and draw." Don't forget his game against Topalov a day later, where he only went too far in heave timetrouble. Which, in fact, is something else that needs to be mentioned: Ivanchuk is also one of the few top 10 players who often gets into timetrouble. The Sofia time control isn't helping in that respect.

Hm. According to last year's website, M-Tel 2008 had the same time control of 90 minutes for 40 moves + 1 hour to the end of the game. I take back that part of my comment.

Chucky seems to be playing the same universal game at any time format , reaching the same heavy time trouble in rapid than in classic .
I wonder if he even plays his casual games with fans in the same fashion as his pro games , it wouldnt surprise me at all .
Right now this must be like playing color at the casino , he lost so many games that he is doom to bounce back , his future opponents may think about the odds of being part of his comeback.

In case you were wondering....Chucky continues his crazy schedule with the super-tournaments in Romania and in Biel over the summer. I really think that it hurts Chucky not to have a manager and a sensible schedule. He seems to accept every invitation that comes along.

In case you were wondering....Chucky continues his crazy schedule with the super-tournaments in Romania and in Biel over the summer. I really think that it hurts Chucky not to have a manager and a sensible schedule. He seems to accept every invitation that comes along.

On the other hand, you can't say he isn't trying. A benoni! Just like Karpov, who as a good strategist, after a setback would play a solid draw to get himself in the mood and start fighting again after a couple of rounds. Maybe it's just that Ivanchuk lacks. But we love him like that!

Rated number of games played by players above 2700 right now* starting Jan 2007:

305 Wang, Yue
295 Ivanchuk, Vassily
264 Movsesian, Sergei
256 Jakovenko, Dmitry
254 Ni, Hua
237 Carlsen, Magnus
230 Gashimov, Vugar
225 Naiditsch, Arkadij
224 Svidler, Peter
207 Shirov, Alexei
199 Aronian, Levon
195 Malakhov, Vladimir
191 Alekseev, Evgeny
190 Radjabov, Teimour
188 Eljanov, Pavel
179 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime
175 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar
175 Bacrot, Etienne
172 Karjakin, Sergey
166 Adams, Michael
165 Grischuk, Alexander
158 Morozevich, Alexander
156 Akopian, Vladimir
155 Kamsky, Gata
148 Dominguez Perez
140 Topalov, Veselin
137 Gelfand, Boris
128 Leko, Peter
122 Ponomariov, Ruslan
119 Anand, Viswanathan
104 Kramnik, Vladimir
104 Rublevsky, Sergei

* http://chess.liverating.org/

Fonz -

Thanks for the list. People have said that Wang and Ivanchuk look tired and burnt out. I think Mig refers to Wang as a sleepy Panda bear or something like that. So, it's no surprise to see them at the top of the list.

Even worse(!?) or more extreme than this: Ivanchuk will play a rapid match against Navara starting May 27th (MTel ends May 23rd)!!?

From Peter's own interview at chessvibes with Ivanchuk's compatrioti Eljanov:

"And… what is your explanation of Ivanchuk’s bad form?
“I’m very dissapointed about Vassily’s form now as he has always been an example of fantastic chess for me. He represents the top, what I should strive for! He blundering terribly in almost every game. I think he is very tired after playing this infinite series of tournaments and should stop for some time to recharge his batteries. I’m still believe in Vassily! He should be in the top 5 at least.”"

I hope that Ivanchuk takes a long rest but I fear that he wants to honor any commitments which he has already made. But perhaps some kind of INTERVENTION may be necessary. Other than his mother and his wife I have no idea if he has any close friends to whom he would listen.

The Ukranian Chess Federation (one would hope) must take an interest in the health of their premier player. I doubt that the organizers of chess events will stop inviting Ivanchuk (until his rating goes down the toilet) because he's such an exciting fan attraction. I find his current dismal play not very interesting.

There was another player from back in the "old days" who came to a tragic end as a result of his mental condition and declining results. While lost in thought concentrating about a very recent bad chess performance, he walked into traffic and was killed by a passing bus. His name was Zaid. (At age 16 he was a junior champion of the U,S.S.R.) It happened in Israel and I forget which year. Of course he was nowhere near as strong as Ivanchuk. But heaven forbid, what if such a tragedy were to befall Ivanchuk? What will all the so-called chess "fans" say then?

My point is that if you truly care about the great Vassily Ivanchuk, NOW is perhaps the time to speak up about the current situation and DO SOMETHING to help a human being who appears to be in real trouble.

Thank you Mig (and also to Dennis Monokroussos)
calling attention to this matter on your websites.

Is it just my screen or has the Dirt boldly gone where few chess blogs have gone before??

Rogue tag when I was adding the fonz's numbers to the main item. Fixed it asap but you were too quick for me, cc.

Two things, Mig. I can't find the Fonz's number anywhere, unhappy days. Can you post it again, I have a few things to tell him.
And secondly, I must affix my lance and charge in defence of the Petroff. Your scurrilous attacks are reduced to King's Gambit appeals, but scurrilous they remain. The Petroff is as interesting as any other opening, if anything more interesting as it takes such accuracy to beat it at top level. (Raises shield to ward of forthcoming attacks).

Finally some common sense on the Petroff, that's refreshing I have to say.

"Ivanchuk is also one of the few top 10 players who often gets into timetrouble."
'One of the few' - fair enough, but at least Grischuk and Dominguez are competing with Chucky "in this league" ,:)

Thanks Daniel for posting that. I noticed the typo and corrected it. ;-)

Dear Mig:

At the great risk of getting bogged down in technical chess analysis, when I was viewing the Shirov-Ivanchuk game live I felt that Ivanchuk started his meltdown with 21...Rxe7(?), giving up the d-file without a fight. Then Shirov's endgame technique took over the game. I would suggest the virtually equalizing 21...Ne6 instead. Then there is 22. Bf5 Rxe7 Rxd5 Nf4=; 22. Be4 c6=; or 22. Rxd5 Rxd5 23. Be4 Nf4 24. Bxd5 Nxd5=.

I'm sure that people can disagree with the above analysis, evaluations and my assessment of the "tipping point" in this game. I could be mistaken. But I just wanted to throw in my two cents.

I don't understand why people complain about the petroff.

It's very easy to avoid the petroff, play d4/c4/Nf3 etc on your first move.

People who hate the petroff need to remember this simple fact.

People complain about the petroff because there are plenty of exciting (for both sides) options against e4 such as the Sicilian or sharp lines of the French/Caro. Instead players are happy with a dull draw and indeed, you can now see that at the top level fewer and fewer GMs play e4 consistently.

Indeed, the most sensible people complain about the so exciting Petroff, because those who play that crap are happy with a DULL DRAW, coff, Kramnik, coff Kramnik ;-)
Well, maybe they're dull, who knows! Hehe.
What's the point in playing without any ambition but to get a fast draw?

Ay caramba, Magnus le gano a Dominguez!

Magnus is playing like a champ, really.

Yawn. So much nonsense is spouted about the Petroff. Cos the Sicilian is SO much more interesting. Amd the French too. AND Black is of course obliged to go for a sharp game, which is why so many top GMs play such sharp stuff against d4 too. And of course if the Petroff did refute e4, that would be a terrible tragedy: we all want the Najdorf to do it. Kramnik's achievements with the Petroff are as impressive as Fischer's with the Najdorf- he holds a host of word-class players at bay in positions where a few small inaccuracies mean death.
And Bowles, when you do troll, try make it a bit more subtle, eh, it's more fun that way.

I just don't see why people have such a great need to over-dramatize and exaggerate everything, to put things in neat but utterly primitive categories like "Sicilian=exciting, Petroff=boring", etc. Maybe it makes the world easier to "understand", I don't know. The Petroff is an opening like any other. Chess is extremely interesting. It doesn't cease to be extremely interesting just because the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 are played. Why the Petroff is singled out is a mystery to me.

Acirce, at least Bowles clarified that he doesn't hate the opening per se, but he does hate one player who uses it regularly ... . It is perfectly fine to hate, dislike, like or love one player or another (for whichever reasons), but isn't it sufficient to say so once or maybe twice??
Two GM quotes:
"The Petroff has the reputation of being a dull opening, where Black is fighting only for a draw. However, as my experience has shown, it can be no less exciting than the Sicilian."
(Gelfand, p.203 in 'My most memorable games' - I may have cited this before, but here repetition can't hurt ...)
"I play the Berlin (rather than the Marshall) with black when I want to win against 1.e4"
(Aronian on another Kramnik opening, when and where recently? Probably not the _exact_ words)

@"Its Obvious": Wasn't the Caro Kann also considered a dull drawish opening - in the old days when 3.Nc3/d2 de4: was white's standard reply? Here, white succeeded in finding sharper replies and making them work - and also against the Petroff it is white's task to mix things up (admittedly it is not easy ...).

Sorry if this is something everybody except me knows, but why is there hardly any information about this tournament on chessbase? They used to run great stories all the time but there is just bare games and standings now. What happened?

Reasons are "widely known" and were discussed here before (in earlier MTel threads) ... . Making a long story short and trying to be as objective/descriptive as possible: Maybe Danailov and Chessbase were never really friends, in any case they are presently sort of enemies of each other. This goes back to the Elista match (Kramnik-Topalov), but became much worse during the Kamsky-Topalov match ... .

The worst part is that neither side gains anything, just loses something...


Danailov won't allow Chessbase to broadcast the M-Tel moves for free. So Chessbase won't provide analysis, stories, pictures of attractive females and other free publicity for M-Tel.

@chesshire cat
On chess.liverating.org (force of habit) click on 'id-card' > 'Rating Chart' & add up the number of games. (Note: for some reason the numbers from the color statistics from the 'Player Profile' don't exactly correspond.)

Do you know for sure what Danailow wants from Chessbase, if
anything at all? Other than just to have them ask permission?
Please report only things that you know from reliable sources. No
need for conjectures.

I agree that even Chess reporting needs someone to create a
cheerleading atmosphere, nice girls, stories, emotional stuff,
etc... Otherwise it's too dry. And we know that Chessbase are
good at that. The absence of the above in the coverage is
noticeable. Even I, far from being a fan of Chessbase have felt
somewhat the absence of drama, photos, etc.

Susan Polgar fills that gap a bit though.


Thomas, yes, and he is certainly not the only one who connects his Petroff bashing to general Kramnik bashing. But the general negativism towards the Petroff is likely about much more than that. I'm still struggling to fully understand it though because once one actually takes a good look at a significant number of Petroff games (not specifically selected ones to make a specific point) it's so totally obvious that just like any other opening they provide a lot of interest. Tactical complications, strategic nuances, endgames, theory duels, take your pick. Of course if neither player has any ambition it will be a quick draw. That's not a shock.

Here are a few more quotes.

"Since many players look on the Russian Defence with the suspicion that it is a drawish opening, and one which at the same time is both dry and boring, Shirov has in this DVD set himself the specific task of countering this view of matters." -- http://www.chessbase.com/shop/product.asp?pid=306

"Unfortunately the opinion of the Petroff Defence as a sterile drawish opening seems to be firmly implanted in many minds. The author [Kasimdzhanov] tries to dispel these myths and presents his understanding of the matter." -- http://www.chessbase.com/shop/product.asp?pid=314

"It's a tired urban legend that the Petroff is some sort of dull drawing opening, but since it's a lot easier to believe what the crowd repeats out of habit than to actually examine things for oneself, that reputation will probably continue indefinitely." -- http://chessmind.powerblogs.com/posts/1121578726.shtml

As for the Berlin, well, of course it will be boring for people who find endgames boring. Oh my god, the queens go off the board almost instantly - how can anything interesting come out of that?! An unbalanced position with a lot of strategic interest, you say? But there are no queens, zzz, yawn.

Like Aronian, I also disagree with that crowd.

Sorry, I don't have a reliable source, only Chessdom, which quotes Silvio as follows:

"These guys want to use our products for free and then to sell them to their clients and to charge them. This should stop, and not only for Chessbase, also for everybody else who is using our products without permission. To organize a big event cost a lot of effort and money, so if somebody wants to use the results of this work he should sign a contract with the organizers and pay for the copyrights."

Hmm, you do not consider Chessdom a reliable source!? It's a Bulgarian (pro-Topalov) webpage, and for me this is yet another example how quotes from Danailov are more revealing than any independent (biased?) coverage by Chessbase or other sources could ever be ... .

BTW (hearsay from me, because unfortunately I cannot find back the source - an English language source on the Internet, I cannot read Russian): Chesspro.ru was also initially banned from live coverage, and when Danailov asked money they replied that they should rather be paid ... for their past efforts to promote the event. This issue was apparently settled (don't know how) in the meantime. Well, Russia is clearly also on Danailov's hate list: he hates one player, thus it makes sense (?!) to hate a whole country. Accordingly, ICC may be safe for the time being (as Kamsky lost his match against Topalov).

This stands loose from the general question whether organizers can claim copyright for the 'naked' game moves. Back to Greg's previous post: no live transmission rights, no in-depth coverage, fair enough!?

I visited this page first time to get info on people search and found it Very Good Job of acknowledgment and a marvelous source of info .........Thanks Admin! http://www.reverse-phone-look-up.net

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on May 19, 2009 9:27 PM.

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