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Blood on Board

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Quote of the day: "Well, if I go 4/4 I can still win." -- Hikaru Nakamura, in reply to a question about his illness at the NH Tournament and whether he would play solidly and rest now that he's so far off the pace.

Love it. Seriously, if Nakamura's crazy I wish we could bottle it and pass it around. He saw a doctor but the antibiotics haven't done much so far. I suggested that since his nosebleed during his last game he had a ready-made title for a future game collection, "Blood on Board." With thanks to Shirov, of course. Macauley's scoop on his 8.Nb3 being intentional demonstrates in equal measure his creativity, combativeness, and hubris! And maybe his illness, since you've got to be sick with something to toss your e-pawn on move eight...


"I suggested that since his nosebleed during his last game he had a ready-made title for a future game collection, "Blood on Board." With thanks to Shirov, of course."

If Nakamura can become top 5 in the world, I'm all for that title. ;)

Such comments from Naka (e.g. 8. Nb3) make me think he'll contine to have trouble against top ten players.

Trickster types don't have staying power. It's unfortunate Naka hasn't made the leap from coffeehouse to 2750-level refinement.

He's got to crack some of those Soviet-school training books and polish up his approach, play like a Kasparov (tactics plus depth of understanding) rather than quick-witted swindler.

Personally, I think he'll get bloodied up at Corus, and maybe then smooth out his game, realizing tricks alone don't work against the top-10.

Naka has a consistent history of get crushed by top-tenners. They simply outplay him positionally. Is it just becuz they're stronger? But Carlsen, Radjabov, Karjakin etc held their own against top-tenners even at age 16.

Aronian didn't.

"Trickster types don't have staying power. It's unfortunate Naka hasn't made the leap from coffeehouse to 2750-level refinement."

You obviously have an axe to grind. Coffeehouse tricksters don't become top 15 in the world. You must be top 15 before you can become top 10. He won Cap d'Agde. At the Aker Chess Challenge in Gjøvik he took 3rd. He took 4th at The 2009 PWC Toronto Open Chess Championship. He won the US Championship. He won San Sebastian. He won the 960 World Championship. He took 8th at the Ordix Open where THE FIELD WAS SO TOUGH Movsesian,Sergei TOOK 29TH! He's played very well in the last 10 months which led him to #15 in the world.

It seems to me that Naka will go to Corus with a box full of surprises , trying to demonstrate that his style is viable against almost any opponent .
It wouldnt shock me if he collects some skulls too ,considering his good form lately.

Regarding Ordix, I think the games speak volumes. Nakamura was actually in pretty bad form and in trouble several times and he still hit 8.5/9. He was even winning in the key game against Mamedyarov he went on to lose. (He lost his final game as well.) Doing so well when you're clearly out of form is pretty rare. Aronian has that same sort of thing. Opening refinements and more positional play come with experience. So does learning when not to overpress, when to rest, etc. Still no guarantees in life about anything, of course, but often Nakamura's bad results, like Ordix, have impressed as much as his good ones, and that's promising.

Good point, Mig. My question is how good will Sergey Karjakin become?

Some respectable and established GMs successfully used the Evans Gambit as an occasional surprise weapon, e.g. Kasparov (2.5/3 against Short, Anand, Piket) and Short (in 2007 and 2008 3/3 against I. Sokolov, l'Ami, Sargissian - plus earlier games at chessgames.com).
Of course there are two differences with Naka's 8.Nb3:
- white's compensation may be better (but is it objectively sufficient?)
- in this case, there can be no doubts that 5.b4 is an intentional pawn sacrifice, not a blunder

And I can't resist a cheap joke: Who will write the book "Vomit on board"? In his Mainz reporting, Mig wrote that many Chess960 positions look like that ...

Karjakin and Carlsen are the future of chess. So good to see they are both personable and level-headed. I think some have already predicted a WCC match between them within 10 years.

I think Nakamura already has made several adjustments to his game and has become notably more "booked-up" and prepared during the last 12-15 months. Of course he's still got a long way to go - or a lot of potential to improve in the preparation department and elsewhere, if you will.

Hence, there should be nothing wrong with his potential. The talent is there, but he needs to put in more work (still) and he needs more experience at the top level. Now he's in a position to expect such chances, and he'll probably just improve from here (long term).

About being number 15 in the world. IMHO he isn't established as a top 15 player by far, yet. First, he needs to get an official rating within that range, and then he needs to be able to hold on to it. Holding on to a 2735 rating is harder than getting it, for obvious reasons. (And after his loss the other day, he's down to 19th in the live list again.)

Equivalently, I don't consider Movsesian, Grischuk, Wang Yue or even Jakovenko top 10 players YET. Yes, they have _visitited_ the top 10 list, but they haven't established themselves as regulars there. Of those 4, maybe only Jakovenko will be able to do that - but based on my (so far unpublished) performance profiles, Jakovenko still has a way to go to consistently perform 2750+ against 2730+ players, and if you can't do that these days, you're in trouble once you start playing mainly elite events.

Frogbert , Jakovenko was in the top yen already in 2007 and shared first place in the 59th Russian Chess Championship Superfinal in December 2006 with Evgeny Alekseev, but conceded the championship in a two game rapid playoff. He won the 8th Poikovsky Karpov Tournament (2007)

Guess we can consider him well established in the world elite .

Nakamura is another matter. Just the idea of giving ,volutarily , up the e4 pawn for nothing against Ljubojevic perfectly frames his arrogance and coffeeshop attitude. That can work in his blitz games on the internet , but not against super GMs and not even against Ljubo who , though being 59, was in his heydays ranked # 3 in the World , a position which Mr. Nakamura will never reach ( bets accepted in advance ).

I've seen the term "coffeehouse player" a lot here in the last week. Didn't any great players ever play in coffeehouses?
S'pose Naka's excellent win v Belyavski isn't on your radar, Harry?

I swear I've heard some of these same people bemoaning draws and boring games. I'm glad he plays crazy lines. He obviously isn't trying to find the objectively best moves, but the ones he think with maximize his chances for winning. Is that worse that holding onto rating points by avoiding the possibility of losing? Winning just might be more important to Nakamura (even though it obviously can't work out every time) than being #1 on a ratings list.

How is "coffehouse chess" defined in the first place? If it is speculative, spectacular, crowd-pleasing chess, not completely correct, hoping for mistakes by the opponent, it might also apply to Naka's KID win against Beliavsky ... or at least to Stellwagen's loss against Nielsen in the same opening.

@Harry Flashman: "coffeeshop attitude" - you may not know, but a coffeeshop is something else in the Netherlands: a place where the sale of marijuana and other soft drugs (in small doses for personal use) is 'tolerated' by the local authorities. As Nakamura is on (other) drugs to cure his cold or at least the symptoms, maybe he does play coffeeshop chess?

You missed the fact that,

1) Nakamura's opening gambit worked - he got an advantage in the middle game, then had a forced draw, and only then let the position slip.

2) He explained in his interview that he picked that particular sharp opening because of how badly he was feeling, hoping to get a sharp position where he wouldn't "fall asleep" (as he said he did against Svidler). Now that's probably a slightly crazy tactic, I agree, but it's not arrogance.

Personally I think he should have simply have dropped out of the tournament. Of course it would be a shame given the team format (and losing the chance to get to the Melody Amber tournament), but it sounds as though he's been ill enough that no-one could have any complaints.

I don't get it - we spend all our time bitching and moaning about playres who don't strive for wins, and when they do, we criticize them for being "tricksters".

Seriously. Chess Fans get the Chess Players they deserve.

Uh...is Nakamura's way the only way you can play for a win?


Hehe , yes , i know very well what a coffeeshop is , since i am European and don't live so far from the Netherlands and , in my heydays , i visited them..
I simply wrote the wrong term.. This due to freudian reasons ( The Netherlands= Coffeeshop )or to my astonishemnt to what i had just read about " Nakamura's Gambit ".. :-)

I have to clarify that Nakamura's play is entertaining , one game of his gives me more fun than 100 of Leko's ... But i simply can't stand him. Arrogant , disrespectful , childish. It's a matter of taste..Some people people go crazy for this kind of human being ( not only in chess ) but i don't ...

Even Fisher , who was worth 100 Nakamura , did ever come out with some of Mr Nakamura's " performances " out of the chessboard.

They remind me about the worst Kasparov but , at least , Garry had far more chess talent. ( And i never liked him for his arrogance ).

I think Kasparov has his arrogance under control, for a bit of show perhaps; whereas Naka's is reflexive and probably act same if 1300 strength. Naka's not really self-aware.

"...a position which Mr. Nakamura will never reach ( bets accepted in advance )."
Arrogance: : an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions

Btw, I've never found Kasparov arrogant. He's outspoken, truthful, and self-assured. But Kasparov never says anything exceptionally rude or ridiculous as Naka regularly does.

OK, you dislike him- (personally I think you should give him a break, were you perfect at 21? or so highly accomplished in your field? can you guarantee that you would retain your modesty in this case, even if the charge of immodesty stands up?-but that's up to you) but you could try be a little more objective about his chess.
Your sentence about Fischer is unclear due to grammatical reasons, but I hope you're not trying to hold him up as a model of off-the-board behaviour.
GMs, and especially 2700 GMs, can't really be accused of having anything to do with coffeeshops. The guy's gotta lot of talent, even if he never gets another rating point. If his chess entertains you, then what's the point of comparing him with Kasparov? Is Kasparov "allowed" bad behavior cos he was so good?

So we can infer from your post that everyone betting is arrongant ? ;-)

Being 21 doesn't make up for Mr. Nakamura behaviour ( Carlsen , as an example , or Caruana, are even younger but far less arrogant.)

I'm sorry if i was unclear about Fisher ( English , as you can easily see, isn't my mothertongue) so i try to clarify : Fisher , as far as i know, wasn't that arrogant towards other chessplayers , at least since passed his teenager years. Of course his " performances " out of the chessboard can be regarded as miserable ( Anti semitic speeches etc ).

I clearly wrote that i never liked Kasparov's attitude and that should have been clear notwithstanding " grammatical reasons ". I simply added that he was an arrogant much more stronger than Nakamura in chess...

As far as comments on me who should'd dare to criticise Mr Nakamura 's attitude .. Why not ? It doens't take to be a 2700 elo player to call an arrogant brat his name... This his not about chess technique, it's about behaviour and everyone can make his observations .

Nakamura used to be openly arrogant and had many other negative qualities such as cursing after losing to weaker players.

However, I think he is a lot better these days. In US tournaments, I know that a lot of strong GMs after beating a Fide master level player or weaker would not bother to analyze the game. I saw that Nakamura often analyzes with weaker players after the game (the analysis may be brief but at least he mentions some comments). He might still be opinionated or overconfident in his assessments, but many chess players are like this.

In terms of overall persona, he is still far from being as nice as Anand, but so are many other top chess players.

Kramnik's way of playing for a win doesn't seem to get many fans.

I'm a huge Dutch fan. My grandfather immigrated from there and my entire Black game against 1. d4 is based on Sokolov. Maybe my user name should be Sokolov fan. Just because Van Wely makes some comments in one interview does not mean his opinion at that time is objective reality. He may have just been having a bad day after running that race.

Revealing the dark side of Anand & accusing Kasparov of substance abuse I can take, but saying Danailov uses dirty tricks!???? Shocking stuff from the Dutch GM :)

You miss read it , mishamp , he says Anand is the one with the dirty tricks....

"I indicated in an interview with the Volkskrant last year that Anand commits all kinds of dirty tricks to get you off balance: he makes clicking sounds with his pen when it is your move, and strange sounds with his throat and so on."

About Danailov he says that he does Topa's dirty work , which is indeed the work of a manager..
But i specially liked this quote :

" Radyabov is a gigantic cowardly coyote: all those fast draws with White against big names"

Interesting comments about Anand. I am surprised Van Wely does not complain about the pen clicking to the arbiter if it is done on his time. If I were in Van Wely's shoes, I would have asked Anand to stop, and if he does not, I would complain to the arbiter.

If Anand's behavior over the board is bad (and he is normally quoted as having good behavior), then other players cannot be that bad!

I wonder who is the player with best over the board manners.

That interview is really something... I wonder if anyone even bothered to take offense.

The best mannered master I have ever played (hardly a world beater, yet) was Daniel Ludwig. You can't hardly meet this young man without being impressed with his fine demeanor and polite way. Perhaps Nakamura should hang out with him for awhile.

...only when done with an attitude of superiority manifested in a presumptuous claim. Of course that's subjective, and I'm sure anyone annoyed by arrogance would never have that attitude.


I know all of Jakovenko's achievements pretty well. I wasn't questioning his elite status, I was explaining what I meant with "top 10", "top 15", etc.

He was top 10 in 2007, yes, and he dropped way out of top 10 afterwards. Unofficially, he's down to 11th now, and I don't find that surprising, giving that he's so far been unable to perform consistently well against other top 15 players - meaning getting the kind of TPRs as his rating would suggest.

"I wonder if anyone even bothered to take offense."
Your question already contains the expected answer, maybe people simply don't take Van Wely seriously ... is he really in a position to criticize and make fun of several top GMs? He seems to overestimate himself, he is sort of hyped by some Dutch media (yes, he plays exciting chess ...). And with regard to Anand, his complaints seem to be an isolated opinion ... .

As my other hobby is running, I also had to chuckle about the introductory running part. In chessic terms, the difference between an expected 1:06 and an actual 1:33 would be at least 400 ELO points. I won't give absolute numbers, I don't know how to rate my personal best of 1:11 in the same race ,:) . By now it should also be clear that this is a view from the Netherlands ... .

"Kramnik's way of playing for a win doesn't seem to get many fans."
What's wrong with his three tactical wins in Dortmund? And what's wrong with his Kramnikian refined endgame squeezes? He is mostly known for that type of wins, probably because few players (Leko is one of them, and historically Karpov and Capablanca) can come up with similar stuff.
As far as his actual number of fans is concerned, there are maybe more than you think. Numbers might be obscured by the fact that there also some eloquent and noisy Kramnik-bashers and -haters around ... .

In the link Van Wely admists to having problems with *every* top chess player.

Maybe the problem is really with him?

Perhaps Van Wely could make things better by playing with a brown paper bag over his head with holes for his eyes, nose, and mouth.

He seems to overestimate himself, he is sort of hyped by some Dutch media (yes, he plays exciting chess ...).

So Van Wely is the Dutch Nakamura? ;-)

I just read the van Wely interview -- certainly the translation might color some of the remarks, but I thought it was one of the most refreshing and honest interviews I've ever read in chess.

Look, the fellow may be a lesser-tier GM...but he is a GM...which means he has his chess credentials.

So the interview is not about "gee, if only I could beat these other guys" -- in reference to the top 20.

It doesn't read to me like sour grapes at all.

It reads as a slighly paranoid but highly entertaining insight into exactly how a lower-ranked player on the circuit feels when he faces the top folks.

Do they do annoying things on purpose? Hmmm...well, that watch thing that a certain player does (did) certainly was planned. Or at least after it became a topic of dicussion, it was (or it would have been discarded).

Is Anand a pen-clicker? Or is this just a very competitive lesser player views it?

The main point seems to be that everyone is looking for an angle, an edge....and that the top chess is 90% mental. On that score, van Wely is certainly correct.

Anyone who plays at a local club knows that it is true -- players look to pile up big scores against other players so they become "easy games" in the future.

And some egos are so big that small things are inflated beyond all reasonable measure (click, click, click).

But it comes from competitive drive...not jealousy...so I think this interview is more honest than anything that I've read in ages.

I should add that if you are a player who is trying to get a mental edge...then you will also tend to view all other players in that way.

You will view what they do (click, click) as intentional gamesmanship, rather than simple coincidence (flush, flush).

"So Van Wely is the Dutch Nakamura?"

I had this in mind ... but of course it is too early to say so: Nakamura's chess career might continue and, at least as far as WCh ambitions are concerned, end like Van Wely's. On the other hand, Naka can prove the most cynical skeptics (not that I am one of them) wrong and his fans (as well as himself) right in the next couple of years - I would give him a maximum of ten years to get close to the WCh title.

There is one difference between both players, though. Throughout his career, Van Wely faced strong competition also within the Netherlands: first Timman (the only Dutch ever walking in the footsteps of Euwe!?), then immigrant GMs (Tiviakov, Sokolov, Nikolic), then the next generation (Smeets, Stellwagen, l'Ami, Giri in the future?). He may have some trouble accepting and admitting this situation, even if Stellwagen is the only one getting some nice words from Van Wely in the interview.

Yes that's a very subjective idea : forgive my not sharing it.. .. ^__^

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on August 27, 2009 9:37 PM.

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