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Ivanchuk Takes Bazna

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Whew, a crazy month. But Hurricane Garry has left the country and I have a few moments to play chess catch up before getting to all the follow-up to what has been a remarkable past week or so.

Vassily Ivanchuk took clear first in the third edition of this Romanian tournament. His +4 undefeated score put him a full point ahead of Boris Gelfand. A clear victory for the oldest players in the event. Shirov beat Nisipeanu in the final round to move back to +1 and a tie for 3-4 with Radjabov. Kamsky and Nisipeanu both finished with -4. Such a catastrophe might have been predicted for the local hope, who was giving up a lot rating points to the rest of the field. But Kamsky hasn't looked this fragile since the first few years or so of his comeback in 2004.

Ivanchuk started off with a win and then reeled of three straight in the middle to put it out of reach. There was only one decisive game in the final three rounds, but not from a lack of fighting spirit. But when you have three undefeated players it's not exactly a bloodbath. Only one loss was notched by someone not named Kamsky or Nisipeanu.

I've been trying to make a little sense of Radjabov's tournament. I've been critical of him in the past for being lackadaisical with the white pieces and occasionally coasting for long periods. Here he was pushing but just didn't get anywhere. He got in most of his sharp black repertoire, the Sveshnikov, Dragon, and King's Indian, but only for draws. He tried some interesting things with white and had his chances, other than a complete whiff against Nisipeanu's Scandinavian. (Nisipeanu lost a remarkable game with it earlier this year in Budva to Stevic.) In the final round Radjabov may have been taken aback by Ivanchuk's 6..Nbd7 in the Najdorf, a rarely-seen bird at these altitudes, and got little to show. Radjabov even added a few rating points.

Dortmund starts on July 2 and San Sebastian (Svidler, Movsesian, Nakamura, Karpov, etc.) a few days after that. I'll be back hosting on ICC Chess.FM for Dortmund, with a leisurely 9am starting time. Players are Kramnik, Leko, Carlsen, Jakovenko, Bacrot, and Naiditsch. It's yet another double round-robin with six players. (Bazna showed one of the weaknesses of this format. When someone's out of form, or two someones, it really distorts the table.) Before that, the World Open begins in Philadelphia on the 29th and should attract the usual strong crowd.


Dortmund will be very interesting - Vlad's return to classical chess in a favourite stomping ground. Also a chance to check on Magnus's progress.

Well I wasn't too far off...! Shirov tied for 3rd-4th.

"noyb | June 15, 2009 12:41 AM

At extreme risk of seeming completely nutz, I'll pick Chucky and Alexi to tie for first. Why not? Their recent results have been inconsistent and that would follow the "trend"!"

It is indicated on the chesstour website that both Kamsky and Nakamura are playing in the world open...should be fun.

Actually Shirov's result didn't quite follow the "trend"!!? At the end of the day/tournament, after some ups and downs, he finally performed roughly 'as expected' based on his ELO rating ... .

Where is it indicated Kamsky and Nakamura are playing in the World Open?

I did notice this though: "1) Players must submit to a search for electronic devices if requested by Director. 2) In round 4 or after, players with scores over 80% and their opponents may not use unauthorized headphones, earphones, or cellphones, or go to a different floor of the building without Director permission."

Gratulations to Ivanchuk. Very remarkable win after his Sofia performance. Now would be a good time to take a long holiday trip to some tropical island where chess is unknown...

Hi Bartleby,
What is "a LONG holiday trip" in your book? Starting July 18th, Ivanchuk will play in Biel (with Morozevich, Gelfand, Alekseev, Vachier-Lagrave and Caruana).
And it wouldn't surprise me if he has something, at least a few rapid games, in between - to avoid getting bored ??!!

Ivanchuk is a genius. I also wish him every success and a reasonably long holiday. Though I doubt the bit about the holiday.

I was looking at the official tournament site and was struck by the bad English. Couldn't they check with someone fluent in the language? Also a bit odd that the only news on the "news" page is when the players arrived at the airport.

Oh Thomas, you poor, poor "boo-bird"...

Must make you very tired, trying refute every blog post I make... Good luck and stay alert, you never know when one will pop up! That's a good boy!

Are you noyb or noby?

I think it would be great if Karpov could have a good result, but he's rated in the bottom half. Does his publicity value as a former WC make it worthwhile to extend these second-tier invitations?

We saw a tournament executive last month saying Anand, Kramnick and Topalov demand much higher retainers than other similarly rated players. I suspect Karpov has had to drastically lower his demands to get the invitations he does get, over the past ten years. Be sure to tell Gary, that after a few years, ex-World Champs get no respect!

Agreed. This Dortmund could be fun for us fans of both players. I wonder if Kramnik will come back strong and courageous after all the rest.

Where's Radjabov's next tournament and when?

Radjabov seems to have hit a plateau and is not certain what to do to get stronger. He knows the openings he plays quite profoundly, but he's become very predictable in that sphere so his opponents have few difficulties in preparing for him. Personally, I think his playing style can be more exciting than Carlsen's, but Radjabov has an annoying tendency to take things easy now and then. If he wants to be a truly dominant player, which I think he definitely has the talent for, he's got to start working harder at the board all the time.

OT - does FIDE like chess? Four game matches for the Candidates quarterfinals & semifinals??


Why do the top players put up with FIDE's shenanigans? What is ACP doing about this travesty?

"does FIDE like chess?"

Well, it's an understandable question. However, I'm not sure if it's relevant regarding the hastily introduced "candidate event" in the ongoing World Championship cycle.

The purpose of this candidate event is to raise money for FIDE, not to create a worthy challenger. The money comes from an _external_ organizer and the organizer's sponsors. A notable amount of the total prize money is as usual tagged as "FIDE tax" (see paragraph 4.8.5 for taxes and 4.7.2 and 4.7.3 for "stipends" and "travelling and accomodation").

The original system that was set aside, the winner of the Grand Prix series versus the winner of the World Chess Cup, would be based on a much more thorough demonstration of "worthyness" than the "candidate charade" we're going to have now - unless a Grand Prix participant (or a previous participant that withdrew when the rules were dramatically changed in the middle of the series; read: Carlsen) prevails in the candidates.

The Grand Prix winner would've been the one that performed the best during 4 tough cat. 19 round robins - that is 4 * 13 games = 52 classical games. And that isn't counting the games several competitors had to play in order to qualify for the Grand Prix in the first place. (Karjakin and Carlsen qualified by virtue of reaching the semi-finals in the 2007 WCC, for instance. Kamsky too, btw.)

Those 52 games are what should be compared to previous candidate tournaments. As things are, possibly only 3, maximum 6 of the 8 participants in this new candidate event will be worthy and rightful challengers if they end up winning - the others have got into the "candidate" event for wrong reasons IMHO.

Those (few) I consider would've earned a place in the candidates are:

2 from the Grand Prix series (very likely Aronian plus one more player)
1 from the 2009 World Chess Cup
Anand as losing Champion, if he would lose the match against Topalov
Carlsen, if he would qualify by rating
Radjabov, if he isn't the 2nd qualifier from the Grand Prix, but qualifies by rating

(Carlsen & Radjabov - unlike Topalov, Kramnik, Morozevich, Shirov - signed up for and were willing to play 4 * 13 games to fight for a World Championship semi-final - or a Candidate final if you like. One can't blame Carlsen for withdrawing when the contractually guaranteed Candidate final is turned into a Candidate quarter-final.)

If things turn out roughly the way I expect them to do, I expect the number of 3 to 6 potentially "deserving participants" to end up being 4 or 5. The remaining 3 or 4 will by me be considered "free-loaders" in varying degrees.


Kamsky hasn't qualified for anything in the 2008-2011 cycle yet (he won the right for a Candidate final in the 2007-2010 cycle by winning the WCC in 2007, he played that "candidate final" and lost - he has failed to qualify via the Grand Prix 2008-2009 and by rating) - his last chance to be a rightful participant in the "candidate" event of 2010 is by winning the WCC (again) in 2009 IMHO.

Topalov hasn't qualified to anything through any qualification cycle yet - in 2005 he was selected based on rating, in 2006 he lost against Kramnik, in 2007 he was gifted the match against the 2007 WCC winner, which he won in 2009. He chose NOT to participate in the real "candidate event" in the 2008-2011 cycle (the Grand Prix 2008-2009 series) - so if he would lose his 2nd consecutive World Championship final in 2010, it makes no sense to auto-seed him into the final stages of the 2008-2011 cycle too. At some point people have to start playing qualification events.

The latter also applies to Kramnik. Whether he plays the 2010 candidate event as a rating qualifier or an organizer nominee, he initially chose not to participate in the actual "candidate event" for the 2008-2011 cycle, and when he failed to win the 2008 "rematch" against Anand, the privileges gained by beating Topalov in 2006 should have been drained for good. Back to playing qualifications, also for Kramnik.


So, returning to Bill Brock's question: "does FIDE like chess?"

The current FIDE "candidate finals" of the 2008-2011 cycle aren't designed for catering for CHESS as its primary purpose, more like its 5th or 6th purpose.

Remember: the initial and real candidate final of this cycle was supposed to be Grand Prix 2008-2009 Winner VS World Chess Cup 2009 Winner.

The reasons for introducing a new system, and for creating the rules currently in effect, were in this order:

1. Raise more money for FIDE

2. Cater for the "privileges" of the FIDE 2005 World Champion (Topalov)

3. Cater for the "privileges" of the FIDE 2006 World Champion (Kramnik)

4. Cater for the "privileges" of the FIDE 2007 WCC Winner (Kamsky) - they made the Topalov-Kamsky match happen in Bulgaria by throwing in a spot in the 2010 Candidate finals to the loser, and Kamsky accepted (this is speculation, of course, and I think it's 110% true)

5. Trying to make up for the obvious WRONGS done to the GP participants by granting 2 slots - which still is ridiculous, considering that the prize went from being a Candidate final to a candidate quarter-final - against stronger opposition (due to 2 and 3 above).

6. Any other chess-related issues and remaining compromises left to do. Maybe someone else in addition to the current World Champion and the 3 guys mentioned in 2-4 above should be allowed to fight for the 2011 championship too ... but that appears to be an afterthought of tertiary importance.


In summary: It makes little sense to criticise the current Candidate regulations without taking history into consideration. And more so if you're a US citizen and is happy that Kamsky has a spot in the "candidates" - in a well thought-out system he wouldn't be a qualifier yet, for this cycle. (As I said - he qualified for the candidate final in the PREVIOUS cycle, not this.)

Of course, at some point FIDE will have to do something about their current "once a World Championship (semi-)finalist, always a World Championship (semi-)finalist" policy - at least if they even care about maintaining the illusion that it's possible to reach a World Championship final without making a deal with FIDE behind closed doors. Unfortunately, I think several prominent members of the FIDE presidential board have no clue what "democratic deficit" even means. How information about the rating qualification rules (the use of the July 2009 and the January 2010 lists) was communicated to a limited audience weeks prior to its official publication, is just a very clear, recent example.

"Why do the top players put up with FIDE's shenanigans?"

That's easy to answer: Because several of the Established top players feel they are BETTER SERVED by the current state of affairs.

Of those who are not well served by the current unfair conditions, both Aronian and Carlsen have made clear statements in protest. Radjabov is another player that is not favoured in the current "system". But do you see Radjabov and Aronian teaming up to fight FIDE?

And of course, see my previous post, and in particular what I described as FIDE's "once a World Championship (semi-)finalist, always a World Championship (semi-)finalist" policy.

Well done! Fine piece of analysis, carefully worded. You clearly point out -beyond the mere injustices- the inconsistencies of the current system: The well-connected players of the past clog the access for the next generation. Carlsen and Aronian have to succeed on every stage of the qualification cycle. Kramnik and Topalov have to succeed only once. But what happens when Carlsen and Aronian become part of the established, privileged class? Will the next generation have to overcome four pre-seeded giants? Will all four of them be pre-seeded at the same stage, or will there be an order of pre-seededness? (inheritable through the male line?)

It's a seedy business alright.

Back on thread for a moment ... interesting quote from Chessvibes:

Illescas: “You love chess, as we all know. Does a day go by without any chess? How long can you not think about chess? One hour?”
Ivanchuk, smiling: “Difficult to say. But there are days on which there is no chess. I would say three days without chess is possible, that’s the maximum.”


Perhaps slightly surprising. I find it hard to imagine going three entire days without any chess at all. But of course if I played even nearly as much as Ivanchuk I'd probably feel different.

Well how do we define "no chess at all"? What if you're wearing your "chess" novelty boxer shorts? Or if you see Kaspy on CNN? Etc

"I find it hard to imagine going three entire days without any chess at all."
Does this include holidays or, if applicable, joys of fatherhood (as Kramnik recently experienced)?


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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on June 26, 2009 12:38 AM.

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