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MTel 2009 Begins

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The annual supertournament in Sofia, Bulgaria, starts today. Play begins at 1600 local time, 9am EDT, final round an hour earlier. Only rest day is May 18. Live games on the official site and the usual relays. Double round-robin. The field: Topalov, Carlsen, Ivanchuk, Shirov, Wang Yue, Dominguez. Ivanchuk crushed the field last year, the first time Topalov failed to win this event on his home turf. Ivanchuk has been playing horribly lately, but you never know with him. Although Shirov has played in some strong team and rapid events, this is his first supertournament since his debacle at the Tal Memorial last August. He can really brighten up a tournament when he's on, so let's cross our fingers for him.

Topalov and Carlsen are the prohibitive favorites by rating and by recent results. No one else was picked for first by the crowd in the MTel prediction thread in the Ninja Boards, with Topalov garnering the most votes.

The event gets off to a running start with Carlsen-Topalov in the first round. Ivanchuk-Shirov, Wang Yue-Dominguez are the other pairings.


Site says that "Due to technical issues the round will not be broadcasted live."

Is this really that hard? Get a few volunteers to relay the games by hand, for crying out loud.

"Due to technical issues the round will not be broadcasted live."


I agree. Totally stupid. There are only 3 games to take care of. Even the live camera view was pathetic. Some official guy was constantly standing directly in front of the camera. Nice view of the back of his head. Occasionaly, he would move around a bit and you could see the players in the background. Or at least who I think were the players. Hard to tell because the screen view showed them so small and grainy.

And this tournament has sponsors who presumably paid money for this expertise?

Notice that Chessbase seems to boycott Mtel. They don't have a news item while they put one for Dordmund today, which will starts in July!

Seems this is growing into a real war.

Fyi Dortmund organizers did send this press release yesterday.

I guess this news item also deserves an "add" to "add" one more organizer who cant deal with a simple relay... president's cup, us champ first round... is this a plague?

I guess this news item also deserves an "add" to "add" another organizer who cant deal with a simple relay... president's cup, us champ first round... is this a plague?

And then i get insulted for hinting the exact same thing.
Same thing with the claims about chessvibes on the other thread , apparently its ok to believe chessbase is comertially biased but if you suggest they are politically biased you are a troll.

in this case they're biased against retardation, so it's hard to fault them.

Good , thats what i meant.

There are no "technical issue" but rather a thorny legal issue. I am sure they are looking for a way to prevent PlayChess and ICC from sharing the games with thousands of chess enthusiasts. Unfortunate, but no doubt the name recognition of this event outside of Bulgaria goes down for every Carlsen vs Topalov game that they blackout.

Three games you should be able to transmit manually gosh....

Also for those of who don't remember what was Shirov's" debacle at the Tal memorial? A minus score or some drama?

According to Chessdom Shirov (black) defeated Chucky and Carlsen (white) took down The Big Fav today. Hope it's true! At least the last.
Would be very nice to see Shirov with a world class result again, but I'd like Chucky to get that too.

Dominguez apparently in terrible time-trouble caused by a surprise by Wang, but made it to the first time control.

Topalov needs to lose the first two games (Carlsen and Shirov) to show his unique ability of big come back.
It is very sad they can not broadcast. Why can not they just send the moves to Chessbase/ICC? There are only 3 tables!

Danailov hates Chessbase, and the "technical issues" are may well be a complicated search for legal technicalities to prevent Chessbase from broadcasting the moves.

So, will their be live coverage on Chess.FM? I know that they are covering the US Championship. Also Mig, are you going to return to the broadcast booth with Chess.FM? No offense to Jen Shahade--she's doing a good job--but I miss the levity you brought to the broadcasts...

@Daniel: Shirov lost his first three games at the Tal Mem, lost another later before getting one win before the finish for a 3/9 score and clear last. Off to a good start in this one!

Klemme -

Your wish below:

"...and Carlsen (white) took down The Big Fav today. Hope it's true! At least the last."

Came true. Carlsen did some nice tactics all over Topalov. Bang, boom, pow!

Chessbase give Danailov what he wants with no mention of the sponsor, none of the tournament logos, and no link to the official website :)

If "thorny legal issues" are involved ... makes me wonder why they couldn't be resolved before the tournament. This issue is pending (at least) since the Topalov-Kamsky match, and back then the Bulgarians even 'somehow' managed to be backed up by a German court in their battle against Chessbase.

Not quite a "big illustrated report" then. :D

there was no legal issues involved just techician ones -- the mayor of Sofia Borisov who had has to make the first move in Carlsen-Topalov made two first moves for whites (as many of chess amateurs in Bulgaria do in garden games) instead of one and all the system just crashed :)
Look at the pictures:

" Chessbase give Danailov what he wants"

Another way to see it is that they deprived their readers and clients of a serious and unbiased report , proving Danailov right on his assumptions about them.

You can't get much less unbiased than simply reporting the moves and results - and it's hard to give an in-depth report when you haven't been able to follow the game all day (the official site also has no report on the games, as of now).

Anyway, to get things straight. Do you want Chessbase to use content (photos, logos etc.) from the tournament website, against the legal threats of Danailov, or not? Should they report in depth, or not report at all? You/Danailov can't have it both ways.

The official website's page with news clippings is nicely done. There's one fairly long interview with Topalov, though it has nothing much new - Danailov complaining about the Chess Oscar, Topalov refusing to apologise for Elista (we'll never know because the videos are missing...) & complaining about Anand delaying the title match.


An imperfect translation:

" Do you want Chessbase to use content (photos, logos etc.) from the tournament website, against the legal threats of Danailov, or not?"

The "legals threats" are about broadcasting the moves of the event, i dont think changing its name has nothing to do with that.
But apparently even if they made an article on how they hate Topa you wouldnt accept their bias , so this discussion is going nowhere.
With or without valid reasons , there is a noticeable bias ,and a war going on , and i was insulted for just pointing it a few days ago ...
Thx for the links though.

"The "legals threats" are about broadcasting the moves of the event, i dont think changing its name has nothing to do with that."

Not true - just have a look at the bottom of the official site. I'm tempted to quote their copyright disclaimer, but it's really too long. Interpreted literally Chessbase shouldn't use e.g. the tournament logo. I looked at a few other chess tournament websites and couldn't find anything similar (sometimes there's a copyright symbol) - understandably, as most organisers want as much publicity as they can get.

"But apparently even if they made an article on how they hate Topa you wouldnt accept their bias , so this discussion is going nowhere."

(leaving aside the question of whether you need "bias" to dislike Topa for his recent behaviour) that's silly. If they published anything like that I'd instantly agree with you. The point is there hasn't been anything to suggest bias - you haven't come up with a single convincing example.

"With or without valid reasons, there is a noticeable bias ,and a war going on"

There's definitely hostility from the Danailov camp, but I don't see that Chessbase have ever taken up the challenge. Can you have a war with only one side? (perhaps yes) Though I do think they're susceptible to using a little irony from time to time - and complying with Danailov's wishes so rigidly here was perhaps an example of that.

p.s. on the slightly related topic of the website statistics for chess sites - the only site I regular visit that makes a serious dent in
Chessbase's figures is the Russian site - chesspro.ru (still with 3 to 4 times less hits).

Oh but pls quote the phrase when they ask "Mtel masters" to be changed for "Sofia super GM".

If you were right , chessvibes wouldnt be able to report on the tournament like thy did, calling it by its name (mtel)like it should be.

"M-Tel" and "M-Tel Masters" are trade marks, and hence Chessbase don't have the right to use them :) Their strict adherence to that is what I mean by their slightly ironic approach.

Re: Chessvibes - as shown by the Kamsky-Topalov match where a number of sites transmitted live moves - Danailov's copyright threats are only directed at Chessbase.

I see you are unable to accept the simple truth , i desist.

Nice response to an argument directly contradicting your position. Well done!

What can i do? I already said that "with or without valid reasons there is a noticeable bias" and yet you deny it.
I wont insult you or your reasons , i just give up on convincing you , whats wrong with that?

Even last year (i.e. post-Elista) Chessbase still reported on the MTel [sic] tournament, so this may well be a direct response to the Bulgarian behavior during the Kamsky-Topalov match. Can one blame them? After all they were dragged to court by "the other side" ... . BTW, while the English version at least calls it a supertournament, the German site simply writes about "a GM tournament in Sofia".
In any case, those quarrels may well be as long-lasting as related ones between Kramnik and Topalov - related at least sensu Danailov+Manu.

BTW, why does (almost) everyone [I tend to do the same ...] report or comment on MTel and Corus, but Linares is simply Linares and Dortmund is simply Dortmund? At least Dortmund also has a main sponsor, but still it is hardly ever referred to as "Sparkassen tournament" ... .

Thomas, have you ever tried spelling Wijk aan Zee (?)!? :) More seriously, I think it's just that Linares mainly want to advertise the city of Linares (they have a private sponsor, I think, rather than a corporate one).

"Dortmund Sparkasse" seem to be missing a trick by including Dortmund in the name (inevitably shortened to just Dortmund), but perhaps "Dortmund Sparkasse" is the official name of that bank!?

Manu - ok, I thought you were just ignoring the specific arguments rather than talking generally. I tend to agree this debate won't go anywhere, but mainly because you refuse to respond with serious arguments whenever anyone disputes your/Danailov's vague claims. To paraphrase Chesterton :) the "bias debate" has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.

Chessbase went overboard with a bit of analysis this time: http://chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=5431 :)

"a nice pawn ending with Zugzwang"

Poor Ivanchuk's going to end up in a lot of chess primers after today.

As a German living in the Netherlands, I can confirm some of your points ... ,:). "Wijk aan Zee" is right - personally I have no problems spelling it and can even pronounce it more or less correctly. But indeed, here for most people it is easier to refer to the tournament by its sponsor.
The "Sparkasse" has branches throughout Germany, but the local ones are formally independent from each other, so "Dortmund" is indeed part of the name. However, the official tournament webpage [see link at Chessbase ,:)] is
http://www.sparkassen-chess-meeting.de/ .
So the point I tried to make remains valid: not mentioning the sponsor is not quite as rude as it seems!?

BTW, the German Chessbase site also had 'detailed' coverage on round 1 of the "Sofia GM tournament": "The Norwegian outplayed Topalov with white in the Moscow variation by tactical means. Ivanchuk lost badly, he was destroyed in only 24 moves by Shirov."
Some people will argue that they really enjoyed writing the first sentence. But to me it is just a factual description, same holds for their coverage of Elista ... .

In any case they are only increasing the trafic on others sites , and disrespecting their own readers.
They are being over emotional and showing that Danailov 's camp is actually winning the battle with nice perspectives of winning the war too.

Can you explain what's exactly at stake in this battle or war? What's the prize for winning, and the punishment for losing?
But actually you, Manu, seem to be in bad form because you didn't even comment on the Chessbase thumbnail images: just a chessboard with an analogue(!) clock .... it almost seems as if they followed your earlier comments and are playing jokes with you. What's next? Maybe a picture of Kramnik for their Round 3 report!? ,:)

I abandoned the thumbnail story in view that it is not enough proof of bias for the crowd , im waiting for the " we hate Topa" report.:)
The first battle they lost was the challengers match (broadcasting dispute), now they are only showing how much they hurt about that .
It was the first time in history that someone prevented them from broadcasting the moves of a mayor event , Danailov seems to be doing the David/Goliath thing with them.
War will be lost for chessbase if he can do the same with the WCH match , although i doubt it.
For me its nice to see one individual forcing the hand of a big company , very amusing.

But then presumably the war will be lost if Danailov alienates sponsors, players and chess sites - and they decide to cut him dry.

To give him his due... I see chesspro.ru are saying they won't have live coverage either due to the demands for money. Their response was that he should pay them for all the promotional work they've done for him in the past.

¨But then presumably the war will be lost if Danailov alienates sponsors, players and chess sites - and they decide to cut him dry. ¨
On the contrary , his understanding of chess sponsorship seems to be second to none , based on how fast and well he is doing with the events he is involved.
You need a better grip on reality mishamp , alienating sponsors is FIDE´s work.

¨ Their response was that he should pay them for all the promotional work they've done for him in the past.¨

Mishamp ,try to aply that kind of thought to any professional activity and see how far you go with that.

Hi Misha

plz point out whem chesspro.ru was saying that Danailov wanted money for replaying moves.

I'm curious because there was live comment of the game Shirov-Topalov on chesspro.ru yesterday...

Manu, I used the word "if", so we'll see what happens. Personally I don't see how sponsors wouldn't be concerned if a tournament got perhaps 80% less internet coverage than it would have done otherwise. In this case it's basically Bulgarian sponsors, so I suppose it doesn't much matter for the domestic market. Danailov did say in one of his interviews that he needs more sponsors to increase the number of players to 8, so I don't know how flush with cash they really are - perhaps he really, really needs Topalov to win to balance the books :)

As for professionalism - waiting until a tournament's started and then saying you're "open to offers" for live coverage (not even just naming a price) doesn't strike me as overly professional. I'd be interested to know the economics of chess and chess coverage. Maybe Mig has some insight from working with Kasparovchess, but I can only imagine excellent sites like chesspro.ru and crestbook.com (which have by far the best live commentary) are barely solvent. It'd be a real tragedy if Danailov managed to reduce the amount of quality chess coverage around by asking for money they can't afford to pay.

Other questions are: Who needs the other more - chess websites or chess tournaments? (it strikes me as a bit like sending out a press release to a newspaper and expecting the newspaper to pay you for using it). Can you really copyright chess moves? (rather than e.g. live video coverage, or commentary) I'm guessing Danailov would lose any court case that came to trial, though it would be risky for both sides.

thenewone - you can get to it by the forum link under the tournament on their home page: http://chesspro.ru/guestnew/looknullmessage/?themeid=16&id=201&page=6

Post 207: "Oh well - there won't be any live games from Sofia, the organisers of the Grand Slam are demanding permission is received, and in order to receive permission you have to make an offer (to pay). We're not prepared to make any offers (we feel they could pay us - for PR for their tournaments over many years)."

Thanks Misha I just saw by myself...
True. Danailov wanted "an offer" from the site when his tourney was popularised so many years... What a nonsense!

I have been watching the live video and games for about an hour. When it is not their move, 5 of the 6 players get up and walk around inside the glass box or they go someplace off camera. Only Topalov stays nailed into his chair throughout. Nothing wrong with walking around, in fact I do that too.

I would find Wang Yue to be the most distracting and annoying. Even when he is sitting, waiting for Shirov to make a move, he is constantly fidgeting around, playing with his hair, moving back and forth, etc.

A lot of things strike u apparently.
Danailov made clear long before that broadcasting the games should cost money to the sites involved, so maybe it was the other way around .
For me it was clear since the Kamsky match that he was going to introduce this into the scene , so it looks silly to wait for the tournament to start and see how much it costs.
I´d like to remind you that is not the copyright of the chess moves what is on stake but the rights to broadcast the games which is a whole different thing.
Thx for the links as always.

Can the players see out of the glass box? I can, looking at the live video. Can the players also?

There are buildings surrounding the glass box, with windows inside those buildings. There probably are people inside those buildings, and some of them have computers, or could be on the telephone to someone else.

The windows probably have blinds or shades that can be opened and closed or adjusted in other ways.

There are also lots of people standing outside the glass box looking in. They are continually moving around, doing different things with their hands, etc.

So, if someone wanted to cheat by getting computer assistance, could it be as easy as just adjusting a window shade or blind to signal the move? Or to have a spectator or two stand in a certain spot and make an innocent looking gesture?

Topalov and Carlsen should win. Topalov more easily. Carlsen is a pawn up in a rook ending.

Wang - Shirov wasn't much. Draw.

Ivanchuk got a draw. Good for him, or bad for Carlsen, I don't know. Topalov can force a perpetual if he wants, checking on g7 etc., but I wouldn't. Don't expect he will either. 90% chance he'll win.

Hey mishamp , is this true?:
I just read it at chessvibes (someone post it) , and i dont understand the language.

Topalov missed a simple win with 41.Rg7+ Kf6 42.Rg6+ Kf7 43.Bc3. And then he missed another win by not playing 47.Rxh6

I thought he was stronger than this.

Just got in sure that Topalov would have won only to find he managed to draw.

I don't know if the article's correct about Danailov winning some sort of legal ban against Chessbase covering Topalov-Kamsky. It'd need to be confirmed by a non-Bulgarian source.
As I can only half read/guess at the language Google does a better job of translation than I could: http://tinyurl.com/qjdy2j

Re: Danailov's comments that chess coverage should be similar to that of football, golf or tennis - that wouldn't be too unreasonable, but it only means you should pay for the video feed. You pay for TV coverage of a football match, but presumably don't need to pay to publish live text commentary and statistics from the games (or do all those sites that host score updates have to pay? I'm not sure). In any case, how long do you have to wait until something is no longer "live"? & when do the moves just become an event which happened that the media are as free to report as the moon landing or a man biting a dog?

You mentioned Danailov warned sites about the new rules - and I think you're right - but he said it was because those sites were making their customers pay for the content. That isn't the case with chesspro.ru. Maybe it's just anti-Russian feelings?

I only read your translations of that site(chesspro.ru) so i couldnt tell whats the history between them .
About the broadcasting thing: to me it is clear that the moves of the game are property of the organizers/sponsors WHILE the game is in progress because they are esential part of the broadcast of the event.
IMO this new concept introduced by Danailov &
co is part of the beggining of a new era for the game , a more professional one if you ask me.
This will open new doors for potential sponsors and build new roads for money to the game.

I'm not sure a human would consider 41.Rg7+ a simple win! I guess he missed that the knight gets to d5 with tempo because of the back-rank mate threat. Anyone see it live and know the time situation? I wonder if he blitzed 41.Bb6? not knowing he'd made control already. Though it's Dominguez who is often in time trouble, not Topalov. b6 is an attractive square because it covers the a7 square. The Bc3-f4 combination requires a shift of attention.

47.Rxh6 isn't easy either. The f-pawn is fast and knights are slow. White can get into trouble very easily if he doesn't play nearly perfectly. The chess graveyards are full of people who tried to find forced wins in superior positions with knights against bishops. One slip and you get cut up.

I mean, even the main computer line is tough. 47.Rxh6 Be4+ 48.Ka2 f4 The rook is cut off from the g-file and the knights can't stop the pawn. Looks simply bad for White. But as the computer finds easily: 49.Rh7+!! without this check putting the rook en prise here or on the next move, White is losing. 49..Kf6 50.Nc5! the move the rook check made possible by pinning the bishop. 50..Bxc5 the only move. 51.Rxd7 f3! Better than 5..Bxb6. 52.b7!! A necessary deflection. Brilliant. (52.h6 f2 53.b7 Ba7! is unclear.) 52..Bxb7 53.h6 Be4 54.h7 finally wins, although White has to give up his knight for a pawn later. Having to see all of that and have total confidence in it makes the draw almost automatic, even for a risk-taker like Topalov.

I know what you mean, Manu, but there are lot of problems. The more minor one is the Danailov-specific aspect that a petty/vindictive individual can play at politics - trying to boost sites he likes/runs (e.g. Chessdom?) and hurt sites he doesn't (e.g. Chessbase). "Build new roads for money" sounds like a euphemism.

More fundamentally you're selling rights to "broadcast" something that the official site's already broadcasting for free - and which is simultaneously being broadcast by numerous sites around the internet. I can't imagine many TV companies being impressed with that as a business model for sports coverage. At best, the sums of money you can "demand", even if the sites accept your legal claims, are going to be modest. And it's only a good deal for the tournament and sponsors if all the main chess websites decide to go ahead and pay.

I think the genuinely professional model was the one employed for the Anand-Kramnik match i.e. aiming for maximum publicity and letting the moves be broadcast without restrictions (keeping the sponsors happy)- but also offering premium content (video, interviews, live commentary) for a fairly modest fee. Of course I don't know how it worked out financially for the organisers, but the fact that they're still interested in organising future events suggest it was probably ok.

"I'm not sure a human would consider 41.Rg7+ a simple win!" (Mig)

What? Are you joking? I'm human, and here is how I would do it:

Since I can play 41.Rg7+ and leave Black with only one move, plus be sure of making the time control (Topalov was not in time trouble anyway), that's what I do. I could always repeat the position if I can't see anything. Next, I play 42.Rg6+ and again Black only has one move to play, 42...Kf7.

Is this so difficult? These moves are forced. Black is not going to wiggle away with something else. He's forced to play these moves.

Then I'd be on my 43rd move, and would have a whole extra hour on the clock. I would take a good long look. There aren't many choices for white. I'll look at each of them, taking my time, knowing that I could always get right down to a few seconds and bail out with a perpetual if I can't find anything. However, the more I look at 43.Bc3, the better and better it looks. It really took me very little time at all to find this easy 3-move sequence.

"Topalov missed a simple win ...And then he missed another win...I thought he was stronger than this."

"...Carlsen should win... Carlsen is a pawn up in a rook ending."

Luke, I can't find the section in my "Bible" (the big Fred Reinfeld book) where pawn up rook endings are usually won, but I'll take your word for it. And I can't figure out where Carlsen screwed up and blew the win against Ivanchuk. Can you help out? (You'd think Silvio could have found some better players for M-Tel for chrissake.)

Nope, it's a draw. Like I said before, good for Ivanchuk or bad for Carlsen, I don't know. But now I see that it's a draw.

Does that help you Greg?

Looks to me like Carlsen missed a strong plan against Shirov...24.Rxe8 Rxe8 25.Be3 Nb6 26.Nxb6 ab6 27.Rc1. Instead, Carlsen played 24.Re3 which lets Shirov back into the game if he plays 24...Ne5. Shirov is still thinking about his move now.

I understand your point of view , seems very valid to me , but there are a few things that suport the other way of promoting and selling events.
Lets forget about Danailov for a moment and any current rivalry .
When you own the rights of the moves you are in complete control of the event , and complete control is one of the most atractive things for sponsors.
The point would not be to profit from chessvibes or chessbase by selling them the moves,but to ensure that the consumer will travel on a path that you own and that reflects the needs of your sponsor.
About my euphemisms , my english is not good and i try to come up with examples the best i can , thats all.

Chesspro.ru have come to an agreement with Danailov and have live coverage again. The games are also being shown on Chessbase (Playchess) and ICC, but I've no idea if anyone's paying for the privilege!? It'll be interesting to see what happens in the future...

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on May 13, 2009 4:45 AM.

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