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Kamsky Down, Ivanchuk (and Nakamura) Up

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Ivanchuk took another big step toward adding another trophy to his creaking shelves in Bazna. He beat Shirov to move to an impressive +4 score and a full-point lead with three rounds to play. In today's 7th round Ivanchuk has black against the only player with a realistic chance of catching him, Boris Gelfand. Radjabov finally notched a win, handing Kamsky's Caro-Kann its second consecutive loss and its hapless operator his third. The American now sits in clear last place on -4.

Shirov played a, well, Shirovian piece sacrifice out of the Grunfeld against Ivanchuk. The fascinating imbalance continued through a rich game of blow and counterblow. It looks like Black was very close to reaching a draw several times, but Ivanchuk managed to keep enough material on the board to keep winning chances. 67..g3!, threatening to take the knight, looks like a forced draw. 68.Kf1 g2+ (or even ..e2+) with ..f3 coming is the trick. Black will take the knight with check or the king gets to the h-pawn. Shirov hesitated one move and was lost.

A side-note to Kamsky's fall is that it now looks certain Hikaru Nakamura will become the top-rated American player on the July FIDE list. (Everyone's favorite rating-porn site, the Live List, confirms this forecast.) After his US championship win and his 7.5/8 in the French League Nakamura will clock in at 2710 in July while Kamsky may drop out of the 2700 club entirely. I'm not sure how surprised to be about his downturn. The mass of preparation he must have done for the Topalov candidates match has to be balanced against the psychological blow of losing it. Mindless mind-reading aside, there's no reason to doubt Kamsky will be back in shape soon enough.

For Nakamura, the biggest challenges are yet to come. In a few weeks he heads to San Sebastian with Movsesian, Svidler, and Ponomariov. At year's end comes a double dip that could really launch the still-young American into the world elite. In December he plays in London with Carlsen and Kramnik. Just a few weeks later (!) he heads to freezing Wijk aan Zee and the illustrious Corus A group, an invite he has coveted and has justly earned. Just surviving that gauntlet with his skin intact will be impressive, but of course Nakamura never plays just to survive, so excitement will come one way or another.


"A side-note to Kamsky's fall is that it now looks certain Hikaru Nakamura will become the top-rated American player on the July FIDE list. (Everyone's favorite rating-porn site, the Live List, confirms this forecast.)"

Except that the "rating-porn site" doesn't care about official FIDE lists, so actually it DOES NOT confirm that forecast - it simply rates games continously. :o)

It would be rather surprising if the Bazna event would be rated for the July list, and hence Kamsky should still be the (officially) highest rated US player there.

[On a side note - unofficially Kamsky is currently only the 3rd highest rated US player, a dazzling 0,7 rating points behind Onischuk. VERY SIGNIFICANT, indeed... ;o) ]

"Just a few weeks later (!) he heads to freezing Wijk aan Zee and the illustrious Corus A group,"

do you have a source for this information?

And why is Wijk aan Zee in January 'freezing' (Dutch ice skating fans would certainly hope so ...) whereas London in December apparently is not?? ,:)

But seriously, isn't it a bit too early to call the curtains on Kamsky and/or to praise Nakamura? Kamsky presently has one bad event, as others had before (Ivanchuk and Shirov are the most prominent and recent examples) - the difference is that Kamsky (after his comeback) didn't have any particularly fine results [to my knowledge and excluding the World Cup].

About Nakamura: Crossing 2700 and maintaining or further improving such a high rating are two sides of the same medal. Soon we will know, for the time being I would give roughly equal odds to three options:
1) He "survives" against the world elite (i.e., maintains his rating)
2) He "overperforms" - making the next step and becoming a serious WCh candidate
3) He "fails" and his rating (temprarily) drops below 2700 again.

[In fairness to Mig, all of this is in his post ... sort of between the lines]

London in December... Will Carlsen, Ni Hua, Adams, Nakamura all miss the World Cup?

Maybe they all count on being knocked out early :)

What are a few rating points this way or that? C'mon. These guys are not better or worse players just because their ratings dip/rise below/above 2700, or because they go up or down ten places in the rankings. The rankings are transient, arbitrary, and insignificant when it comes to real competitive performance. Is a 2710 really a better player than a 2700? Ratings artificially stick a static value to players' abilities, which include way too many variables to be considered static. This is why they actually play the games....

I wonder why it is that Kamsky still hasn't got his openings up to speed. Like Chessvibes say, he is really suffering for it in this event. He managed well enough v Topalov, I am curious as to why he can't maintain that...no time, no desire, or just can't manage it? Anyone know who his current second is, if anyone?

his current second is Emil Sutovsky

"Is a 2710 really a better player than a 2700?"

No, he/she's simply had (just) slightly better results in the events that went into creating that rating. Recent events colour the rating more than ancient ones.

"Ratings artificially stick a static value to players' abilities"

There's nothing intrinsically _static_ about ratings - for instance, they mostly change for every game you play. Only when one keeps staring at the 2, 4 or 6 rating snapshots (arbitrarily) produced by FIDE each year, they attain a static shape and feel.

But even in the case of the official ratings, it's possible to interprete the ratings in a sensible way, if one knows how.

thats a big off-topic commentary, but i'm sure mig will soon write some lines about the published candidates matches regulations for the next WCh cycle. quoting and going to the point: "Players who appear in the inactive list in both July 2009 and January 2010 will not be able to qualify as a rated player. If the player is inactive in one list but appears in the other, then the single rating that is published shall be taken as the average."
basically, if kasparov decides to take part in the candidates matches, all he needs to do is play a tournament till december/09 and dont lose more than 15 points in the process, then he would qualify by rating, based in his single january/10 "rating average"...
of course, if kasparov simply says "i want to be invited to candidates matches" he would be the organizer nominee, but thats still a funny thing...

Sorry to say, moot point. He's retired.

The recent rumours of Vassily Ivanchuk's chess demise are clearly exaggerated.

I wonder what the experts make of Ivanchuk's wide opening repertoire. Is it considered a strength or a weakness? I recall Nigel Short, in a recent NIC article, being somewhat dismissive of Jan Timman's wide-ranging opening choices.

Is it online, Hardy? Have you a link perchance?

I don't think it's online. I have the printed magazine but New In Chess only give very brief synopses of their articles. Try www.newinchess.com for more info. I think there was a reference to the Short article on chesscafe.

I have just located my copy of New In Chess. The Short article is titled 'San Lorenzo de El Escorial revisited'.
A direct quote from Short: 'On closer examination, cracks began to appear in the impressive facade of general knowledge. We noticed that the frequent chops and changes in his openings were not always the product of deep and thorough preparation. Yes, he would usually have a specific idea in mind, but if this were sidestepped, he could sometimes find himself in trouble'.

Cheers, Hardy!

You're welcome, cat. The article was remarkable not only for it's depth and frankness but that it was published by NIC at all. It was very critical and often disparaging of Jan Timman, the editor-in-chief of ...New In Chess magazine. Would that such liberal attitudes guided other similar portals.

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    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on June 22, 2009 2:14 AM.

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