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Navara Flunks Chuckschool

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When people ask me the optimal level competition they should face, human or silicon, I always say, "as strong as your ego can take." Apart from that, getting beaten to a pulp every time out doesn't give you much of a chance to develop your skills, sort of like jumping in the deep end of the pool when you can't swim. If you can stomach a 25-35% scoring rate without crying in your pillow every night that would seem like the right amount of challenge. With that in mind, David Navara's 2.5/8 against Ivanchuk in the CEZ Trophy match seems about right. It's also the exact same score he managed against Kramnik in last year's edition. In both matches Navara lost four and scored what might be called a courtesy win for the hosts in Prague. The games were consistently entertaining, if perhaps not for Czech fans.

Ivanchuk has a well-deserved reputation as a spectacular blitz and rapid player. This is not as self-evident as it might seem considering his lofty status in classical events and the rating list over the past 20 years. Anand and Kramnik also excel at every control, but this isn't universal. It's a pity FIDE has failed to maintain the rapid rating list (RIP 2002) and even more of a shame no projects to provide a hybrid list with weighted rapid scoring have made it past infancy. For a flashback, here's the September 2002 rapid list along with the letter from Shirov that briefly revived it and the response from Krasenkow fretting about how taking rapid chess too seriously risks cheapening the game. I'm not worried about rapid events as much as the degradation of classical controls.

Of course nobody who hits the top ten on the classical list is going to suck eggs as a rapid player. I'd be interested to see some performance comparisons though. Topalov's performances certainly aren't bad, and not to pick on him with an arbitrary stat, but I don't think he's ever won the rapid section at Amber in a dozen tries. Leko's rapid performances there are sub-par. Morozevich is a blitz legend in Russia but has had a lot more success in Melody Amber blindfold than rapid. Anand, the undisputed rapid king, as if being the undisputed world champion needed more luster, has a strong 66% score with white in Amber rapids, but his 62% with black is stunning. To compare, Topalov has 72% with white but a relatively normal 40% with black. Discuss.


I remember some Zlotnik (a great trainer) articles advocating for rapid controls saying that usually the best player in classical is also the best in rapid. He also advocated the rapid as a way of training. Strange that one can't really push that to bullet chess (to me a completely different way. Until 3 minutes it's more or less chess, and the best player usually wins, but under 2 it's a more especific technique of playing, involving mouse and time skills). I think what he says is mostly right, but that there may be some exceptions. It's strange to me that Topalov isn't stronger at rapid. I mean, he is strong, but by his own admission, he performs comparatively worse. I find it a joy to see the strongest in the world play different openings at Amber, with the ocasional accident, but with quite a few preparation jewels too. I think that, as there are different surfaces in tennis, rapid games (and maybe even blitz) should be included into ratings. Not to dismiss classical time controls, but to give some seriousness to rapid chess. Hoping it doesn't mean FIDE can put the WC into rapid (even more).

Grischuk and Aronian are also notably strong in Rapid/Blitz.

And for me watching rapid is more fun than watching regular games.

Mig "Anand, the undisputed rapid king, as if being the undisputed world champion needed more luster, has a strong 66% score with white in Amber rapids, but his 62% with black is stunning."

That is awesome. Nakamura is also a strong rapid player. I'd like to see him get an Amber invite. Is he invited to the next one, Mig?

"Discuss". Is that in a hundred words or less, Mig?

It will be interesting if somebody could take a poll from all the GMs whether or not they would like the rapid (not blitz) to be included by some weighting proportion into their rating.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on June 1, 2009 1:11 AM.

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