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Dortmund 09 r6: Who's Got the Pillow Concession?

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After the break at the half Carlsen leads with +2 and Kramnik and Leko follow on +1. Jakovenko is on even, Bacrot on -1, and Naiditsch -3.

The pairings today: Kramnik-Leko, Jakovenko-Carlsen, Bacrot-Naiditsch. Live here at 9:15 EDT, or on the ICC where I'll be chiming in while Nick de Firmian fulfills his destiny as the Jack Johnson of live chess analysis.

Update: All games drawn. I set Fritz to auto-analyze the games and my comp went into sleep mode. Jakovenko got a little something against Carlsen's Sveshnikov but couldn't make any progress after losing time with a rook shuffle. Others drawn with symmetrical structures in 24 and 25 moves. It was nice of Ambien to sponsor the tournament this year, but I think the free samples for the players were a bad idea.

Over in Spain, where they're actually playing chess, US champion Nakamura just torched Vachier-Lagrave's Najdorf to move to 2/2 and clear first place in San Sebastian. So much for jetlag. It looks like Nakamura got the jet and the other guys got the lag. He has black against top-seeded Svidler tomorrow, so put your seat backs into the full upright position. Have to run; separate entry later today.


All draws. Apparently, Jakovenko blew it with 27.Nc3 instead of Rfd1.

BTW, Mig, what does Garry Kasparov think of the rule of banning draw offers?

Almost 73% draws this far , scary.

Is there some good reason the organizers had for not inviting one of the Polgar sisters to this tournament?


Looks like Carlsen plays white against Bacrot tomorrow. Should be a thrilla in Manila.

Two of them aren't really strong enough and Judit does not seem to be interested in chess anymore.

But for the fans: she'll play six games in Hoogeveen in October this year together with Ivanchuk, Tiviakov and Giri.

Go Naka go!

Perhaps these guys have imbibed too much on the free samples from Ambien as Mig suggested. If not, then it seems they have far too much respect for one another to do battle. The Kramnik-Leko game started out interestingly enough, but then petered out into dullsville. It just seems these guys are sleep-walking through their games. A photo on chessbase of a sparse press room is also revealing about the lack of interest about what's going on. If the organizers are satisfied with this sort of thing, we perhaps shouldn't complain all that much. But those interested in real chess will go elsewhere for their daily chess fix, like San Sebastian where Nakamura seems to be making a real statement about his chess powers. He's a great contrast to the players in Dortmund (with the exception of Carlsen who at least seems to be trying) who play as if they retired from chess a long time ago and no longer have the energy or desire to play the game anymore.

Kramnik and Leko playing, what did you expect?

[Kramnik,Leko,Svidler] => pick only one


"I set Fritz to auto-analyze the games and my comp went into sleep mode. [...] It was nice of Ambien to sponsor the tournament this year, but I think the free samples for the players were a bad idea."

At least Mig complains with some humour. :)

I don't know if it's Ambien though. Hallucinations is a common side effect, but they haven't blundered very much.

Yes, every one except Carlsen seems to care only about not losing rating points.

Nakamura plays to *WIN*. What a novel concept.

Jakovenko deserves some credit too, he tried, and avoided repetition the first time around.

According to Pogonina in her comments for the game at chessdom.com, he also did not see h5 against Kramnik wich makes the short draw pretty much a blunder from his side.

"he also did not see h5 against Kramnik" Thank you, Appaz. That makes it totally understandable.

"he also did not see h5 against Kramnik"
Hmmm, ...h5 seems like one of the first moves he would consider. Maybe Jakovenko should read Hertan's "Forcing Chess Moves: The Key to Better Calculation". ;-)

Who are the fighters?

Top players ranked in order of drawing percentage with black pieces:
Nakamura 0.25
Morozevich 0.41
Topalov 0.45
Shirov 0.51
Grischuk 0.57
Jakovenko 0.62
Carlsen 0.62
Wang Yue 0.62
Gashimov 0.63
Radjabov 0.63
Anand 0.65
Svidler 0.66
Aronian 0.66
Leko 0.73
Gelfand 0.75
Kramnik 0.87

Nakamura's record is striking. He's got guts. The kid just doesn't draw very often. In fact, his winning record with black is higher than with white (0.62 vs. 0.6). No one else is even close. The extreme contrast is with Kramnik, who just won his first game with black since 2006 and draws a staggering 87% of the time with black. If Nakamura can keep his head above 2700, he'll deservedly get a lot of great invites--better to have a fighting #25 than a dull top fiver.

@ uffda

Don't you think it is better to draw with black than to lose with black ?

Additionally, I would like to know the source of the data and the time period for which the data is applicable ?

Source: FIDE ID cards. Number of games: Approx 100

Of course it is better to draw with black than to lose, but it is better to win than to draw. Nakamura wins.

The problem with the analysis is not the source or sample size, but the quality of opposition. Nakamura plays in many 2nd tier Swisses and wins with black against 2200-2400s. We'll see how he does against the big dogs (starting yesterday).

Well, Hikaru is in San Sebastian, he will also be in London, and then in Wijk aan Zee. Not for nothing: the boy deserves it. He should be an EXAMPLE for his colleages in Dortmund.

There is a chance for us in San Sebastian to held the first leg of the Linares tournament in 2010 (both majors will meet for talks when they get back from holidays). If that happens, I would do my best to get Hikaru in the field. That could make Luis Rentero the happiest man in the world :)

Let's match Naka against the same opponents as Kramnik's had since 2006 and see who will have the better results playing the black pieces.

I'm pretty sure Naka would still have fewer draws.

Nakamura's Streak

San Sebastian
WIN vs GM Vachier-Lagrave 2703
WIN vs GM Karpov 2644

World Open
WIN vs GM Najer 2663
DRAW vs GM Smirin 2650
WIN vs FM Gorman 2282
WIN vs Francisco 2215
WIN vs FM Gulamali 2338
DRAW vs GM Yudasin 2554
WIN vs IM Hungaski 2401

French League
WIN vs GM Hamdouchi 2589
WIN vs GM Fontaine 2540
WIN vs GM Krasenkow 2631
WIN vs GM Bauer 2602

US Championship
WIN vs GM Friedel 2547
WIN vs IM Brooks 2478
WIN vs GM Akobian 2626
DRAW vs GM Onischuk 2699
DRAW vs GM Kamsky 2717
DRAW vs GM Shulman 2648
WIN vs IM Hess 2560 (now GM)
DRAW vs GM Ehlvest 2614
WIN vs GM Shabalov 2580

acirce: "I'm pretty sure Naka would still have fewer draws." That's a pretty easy bet. No one in the world is even close to Kramnik in his success in drawing with black, and no one in the upper echelons is even close to matching him in his utter failure to win with black. I really like the guy, but his approach makes for Dullsville. I'd take the chess of Smallville any day.


As you said "we'll see how he does against the big dogs".

Don't know exactly who count as that but he's Black against Svidler tomorrow and against Kasimdzhanov in the final round. That's a start.

Of course I am more interested to see how he does with both colours :)

The first 5 games of the world open are played in the rapid schedule so, they won't count for FIDE rating purposes.

Man, Nakamura's play in the first 2 rounds was pretty incredible. He beat Karpov by playing like ... Karpov. Just holding his position tight and using space, then outplaying Anatoly technically. Giving up the e-pawn against the french guy then looping around to get the doomed c-pawn was really nice (rh3!). He's making really good moves ... but who knows what tomorrow holds?

Thanks, Daaim, for the link to the interview. I especially like what Nakamura said -- chess is a GAME. Because of his style of play, he keeps himself in good physical condition to cope with all the energy he brings to the board. It's guys like Nakamura who will keep our game fresh, interesting, and challenging.
It seems to me the basic difference between GMs like Leko and Kramnik, who play very soundly and always near the reach of the draw, is that they're afraid to lose, while those like Nakamura, Topalov, and Shirov, who often throw caution to the wind, aren't.

I do not really/fully understand the hype about San Sebastian "where chess is played". Looking at ALL games of yesterday: Yep, Nakamura is doing fine - nice win against Vachier-Lagrave (but Rh3 is fairly standard in this Sicilian variation, so does it realy deserve "!"?). Granda-San Segundo [the two "sub-subtop players"] was entertaining, what else?
Karpov-Ponomariov was drawn in 52 moves, but despite its length the game was not THAT remarkable. The two other games were drawn in 24 and 28 moves, respectively.

So, IMO, it basically burns down to the fact that smaller events like the currently fashionable 6 player double round robins inherently run a larger risk of having 'boring' rounds.

"So, IMO, it basically burns down to the fact that smaller events like the currently fashionable 6 player double round robins inherently run a larger risk of having 'boring' rounds."

Yep, that says it all, I think. I was looking back at that 6-player MTel Masters in 2005 (one of the first outings of the Sofia rules), and after e.g. 4 rounds the draw percentage was 83% with only Kramnik playing decisive games :) (it turned into more of a blunder-fest after that) Of course a tournament with more players and a much wider range of abilities will have more decisive games. Good luck to Jim from Sudbury, MA & all those other internet spectators who'll throw caution to the wind and sweep the 2760 Leko off the board every game.

The last round at Dortmund had 2 hard-fought draws out of 3. I really wonder if there mightn't be something in the idea of Americans struggling with the concept of draws in sport. It doesn't worry me in the slightest. I don't feel the players particularly owe me anything (I don't remember paying) and I'm quite happy to switch to watching the other tournament, or go outside in the sunshine :)

I bet I'd have fewer draws than Naka :-)

Yes, exactly. So would I; I would, in fact, almost certainly have 100% decisive games -- or perhaps slightly lower than that if I get really unlucky in some game and miraculously manage to salvage a draw. After all, accidents happen.

Cherry-picking one or two games, or even one or two rounds, allows you to provide evidence for anything you want. I've watched every single minute of Dortmund live while on the air with a GM. Same goes for Linares, Corus, and on and on. What you might call the degree of difficulty (riskiness, complexity) at Dortmund this year is several factors lower than any tournament we've covered since, well, Dortmund 2008.

And I spend a great deal of time there and here pointing out I have no trouble with draws. It's short, fightless [(c) Linares] draws that I hate and that are (one of the various things) killing chess as a sport. Nor do I bash players for style or opening choice beyond whining in defense my personal preferences.

Praytell, which two of the games in Dortmund's sixth round were hard fought, mishamp? Jakovenko-Carlsen was, and it was very interesting stuff in the notes, if not on the board. Bacrot-Naiditsch was a well-known drawing variation that everyone knew wouldn't go beyond 25 moves. Kramnik and Leko gave it some thought, but certainly no risks were taken at any point, other than the risk of inducing narcolepsy.

It's definitely about the field more than anything else, though even that doesn't always explain it. There were some firebrands in Dortmund last year and for some reason even they seemed tame and prone to early peace. Something in the sausages, I say.

Something LACKING in the sausages, more like.

Spicy positions in all games, they must have gone for the pretzels instead.

The good news is that the responsables for the unfought games are losing lots of ground this days , and in the meantime people like Nakamura or Caruana demonstrates that true enthusiasm for the game is all that is needed to make it fun.

Manu, you can argue about fighting spirit, but how exactly are e.g. Kramnik and Leko losing ground at the moment. They're both currently performing over 2800 for the tournament and picking up points. If Kramnik bamboozled Bacrot in the current game (yes, I know it's most likely a draw) his performance would suddenly look very healthy.

Mig, Kramnik-Leko was the other game I classed as hard-fought. Obviously it wasn't spectacular (and I'll concede your point about the entertainment value!), but they used up most of their time with Kramnik trying to squeeze an edge. It wasn't a quick GM draw. Carlsen didn't do much better against Leko today - I think what you really need against him is some killer opening prep, but when everyone has Rybka running round the clock that's getting harder and harder to find.

The fact that they use most of their time is not necessarily proof of deep thought , mishamp.
How are they losing ground? , very simple , they have little chance of fighting for the title on the next few years and their performances on tournaments are not very atractive to say the least.
Take Leko as an example , few years ago one cannot even consider a top tournament without his presence and now we are reminded of him by his unappealing play at the most boring event of the year.

"The fact that they use most of their time is not necessarily proof of deep thought , mishamp."

So what do you think they're doing, admiring the varnish on the tables? Much as Leko's not on my list of favourite players you've got to acknowledge he's a modern-day Petrosian and it takes tremendous knowledge and skill to avoid all the complications he avoids! :) If he'd won the match against Kramnik he'd have been extremely hard to knock off his perch in a match.

"How are they losing ground? , very simple , they have little chance of fighting for the title on the next few years and their performances on tournaments are not very atractive to say the least".

I don't know. I find Kramnik's play as "attractive" as anyone else's, not that he's played much this year after his wife's baby. You didn't enjoy Melody-Amber? If we're moving off subjective criteria then he needs to do what he's been doing with white but start winning with black. He's done that here, and I'm glad to see him playing on with a tiny edge against Bacrot (even if it means he'll be more tired for Carlsen tomorrow). If he wants to challenge for the title his only guaranteed chance would be to get the rating place. Say he beat Carlsen tomorrow and Naiditsch on the last day he could actually finish the tournament in that automatic place. Which wouldn't strike me as losing ground.

Nakamura and Caruana need to do what Kramnik did so impressively in his time - fight their way into the elite and then prove they have the class to stay there. Good luck to them, but they've still got a long way to go.

"Take Leko as an example, ... now we are reminded of him by his unappealing play at the most boring event of the year."
Maybe you have a selective memory (or FIDE GP tournaments are 'non-events' on planet Manu?): Last time 'we' were reminded of him when he finished second at the Nalchik Grand Prix. Maybe it could have been even shared first if he hadn't been overly ambitious (with the black pieces!) in his last-round game against Aronian.

Incidentally, back then Leko got quite some praise from people with similar attitudes on chess (or at least having certain prejudices on a certain opening) for two convincing victories against the Petroff.

Sorry,i forgot to translate it for kids , ok Thomas :
Let´s say that despite being a top ten player he is not one of the first ten players that most people would like to see in a tournament .
At all.
At this tournament he has an average of 26 moves per game , that can´t be good for anything and not very realistic either.
What can i say about the play of a guy who crossed the 30 moves mark only once in 7 games?

If i could , i would enforce a rule that no player can win rating points by drawing under 32 moves, i mean , it is good being friends and all but they should be there to play more than 10 moves beyond theory.

The modern day Petrosian is Boris Gelfand. He would have been world champion if his peak had not coincided with the Kasparov era. Leko loses too many games to be called a modern day Petrosian.

I'm not sure Leko's lost that many games over his career & I always thought of Gelfand as mainly a very strong "classical" attacking player with white (rather than a master of defence), but you might well be right.

I'd disagree about his chances of being World Champion, though. At best he was rated no. 4 in the world and he wasn't knocked out by Kasparov, but by guys like Karpov and Short.

You can have your opinion, which is indeed shared by "few to many others" - partly because you and some other bloggers keep writing such posts. But your writing is, well, rather suggestive: "we are reminded of him [Leko]" actually means "I, Manu, am reminded of him". "Most people don't want to see him in a tournament" is also, in the first instance, your personal opinion. This may be related to your background in advertising, never mind ... .
Now some other facts: At the Olympiad, Leko played an average of 66 moves, including a win in 93 moves against Caruana and one in 130 moves against Zhigalko (and a loss in 127 against Ivanchuk). At the Nalchik GP, his average was still 48.6 moves (excluding his 121-mover against Kamsky when he tried in vain to break Kamsky's defense in queen vs. rook + knight).
So what happened/happens in Dortmund? Maybe he is simply in poor form at the moment. Then solid players like Leko tend to draw their games (including quick draws if the opponent complies), others (Shirov, Ivanchuk) lose a lot of games and rating points - the latter is of course more spectacular and newsworthy ... .
Finally, stating the obvious about your remark on rating points: Leko does NOT win rating points by drawing players of similar strength - well, he may gain 1-3 points drawing Topalov, Anand or Carlsen, but that's it ... .

I only have to add, DNFTT, since with the winter he seems to be coming more and more out of his warm home to hunt peaceful internet bystanders. I agree with what Thomas says here, even if it's a pity they play such dull games. I don't know if it's the openings, that they're too close to create an imbalance or that they're out of form and prefer to draw rather than lose (quite smart, if you ask me). Maybe one of the newcomers (although i doubt very much it would be Carlsen or Karjakin, they seem to have already "adapted" to elite) will feel himself to be much stronger and play a different kind of openings and look for huge imbalances. They also made lots of draws in the past (Spassky, Petrosian, pick whoever you want) so i would rather say it has always been like that. They're much stronger than us, see many more things: maybe the point would be for them to have to come to a press conference and explain their games (especially in an event like Dortmund with only 3 games a day) I think a solution to this problem, if there's any, can be found. But anyway people will always find something to complain for, even although they're not paying for anything. Not that it ever worked...

"the latter is of course more spectacular and newsworthy ... "

Indeed Thomas, some of us want blood! ;-)

But to be frank I rather do like Leko's style, and he won a pretty game already.

Gelfand lost 44 classical games out of 484 played in the 2000-2008 timeframe. Leko lost 48 out of 441 played in the same time period.Of course, Leko has played in more elite tournaments whereas Gelfand has played in a large number of league events and team championships so Leko's performance rating over the same time period would be higher. I am also making an intelligent guess that Gelfand might have had a better 1991-2000 than a 2000-2009 performance.

One more reason for my thinking that Gelfand is a modern day Petrosian is that unsound play ( a la Nakamura's offbeat openings) is more likely to get punished by Gelfand than by Leko.



Still suffering from that football thread , Alez :)
Is eating you alive , no doubt , but trying to disrupt my relationship with Thomas is something that i will not forgive.
Im calling my lawyer.

One thing that i noticed about Dortmund is that nobody wants to talk about Magnus great performance yet , is like if noone wanted to jinx him.

Great performance by Magnus.

Wow , I did it ! A piano just fall on his board.

Chortle. You have your moments, Manu.

Interesting about Gelfand - I didn't remember him being quite so solid, though I wonder if in the 10 years before that (his 20s to early 30s) he played more aggressively and lost more games?

Of course Kramnik in the year or two prior to the Kasparov match turned himself into the hardest player around to beat - though I don't know if you could call his style Petrosian. He has some interesting comments about the man here: http://www.kramnik.com/eng/interviews/getinterview.aspx?id=61

The bit about Petrosian showing it's possible to defend virtually every position is definitely something Kramnik later echoed when talking about his tactics for the Kasparov match (that there was a whole class of "slightly worse", usually Queenless, positions that were still defensible).

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on July 8, 2009 8:33 AM.

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