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Jermuk GP r3-4, Leko and Aronian Continued

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We're moving house this week so blogging will continue to be spottier than a teenager's face. I'm just hoping the new internet installation is working by the time we start live ICC Chess.FM coverage of the NH tournament next week.

Peter Leko and Levon Aronian have picked up where they left off in the last Grand Prix tournament in Nalchik. There Aronian took clear first and relegated Leko to a share of second by beating the Hungarian in a clutch final round performance. (If you're looking way ahead, mark your calendar for their meeting in round 12.) After four rounds in Jermuk, on Aronian's home Armenian soil, they are leaders again on +2 after both notched wins today. Both were with white and quite one-sided. Leko got a pawn against Karjakin with a nice intermezzo capture 21.dxe6 and a queen infiltration that Black must have missed. By move White had material and position, though Karjakin held on until move 33.

Kamsky lasted a little longer against Aronian, if only in the move count and not on the board. Aronian's skill at Chess960 might have helped him today as he turned the position into a chaos very quickly and then went for a direct attack on the American's king. It's already hard to imagine Black defending after 13.Ng5. Kamsky tried to defuse the danger but gave up material without making his king any safer. Aronian's activity on the h-file was just too much and his attack raged on even when kings came off. His usual extreme time trouble probably explains how long Kamsky played on with little light at the end of the tunnel. The loss dropped Kamsky to -2 and last place along with Inarkiev. Speaking of, time trouble might also have been a factor in Inarkiev muffing another good position, this time against Cheparinov. He could have kept an extra pawn with 36.Qe3 instead of giving it up with 36.Qf2.

Cheparinov is tied with Ivanchuk on +1. The Ukrainian moved into plus territory with a spectacular win over Alekseev. A really fascinating game to go over, full of Ivanchuk's typically unusual moves. The 17.f4, 18.f5, 19.g4 sequence defies the laws of chess physics. Ivanchuk continued with a knight sacrifice that he followed up with wonderful calm with 23.Kh1. The threat of Nf5+ was too much for Alekseev and he blundered after Ivanchuk's quiet move. Getting one of Black's rim-dim knights back into the game with 23..Nc6, adding some defense to e7 and leaving the rook on the key f-file, was probably the best chance to hold, although White keeps many interesting attacking chances, such as 24.Nf5+ Kh8 25.Bh6. Ivanchuk smashed through with the lovely and thematic 24.g5!, the point being 24..fxg5 25.Qh5 with mate on the near horizon. The g-pawn continued its march of destruction a few moves later. Wonderful chess.

Bacrot got a passer against Eljanov but his technique wasn't up to the task in the heavy-piece endgame. 32.Qb7 looks weird, putting the queen in front of the passer and allowing Black to get active immediately with 32..Rc4. Akopian and Kasimjanov renewed their duel in the Petroff from the last GP, which was drawn. Akopian's improvement is the novelty 17.Qc1. White did get pressure, but the usual Petroff swapfest ensued. Kudos to Akopian for pushing hard for another hour, sacrificing a pawn to keep central pressure. But Kasimjanov defended well to split the point. They both have 4/4 draws in a slow-moving tournament so far, as do Eljanov, Bacrot, and Gelfand.

Cheparinov-Ivanchuk is the most important fifth round game for the standings. Leaders Leko and Aronian have black against Alekseev and Kasimjanov, respectively.


I thank Ivanchuk for justifying me going through the live games with an engine!

On Ivanchuk-Alekseev: The previous Jermuk thread degenerated after I posted a similar comment, but along with Mig I still think Alekseev's a-file knights were the start of his demise. Actually, 16.-Na5 invited 17.f4 - though this probably would have come anyway, what else was the point of 16.Nh4? 20.-Na6 invited Chucky's knight sacrifice.

Of course Alekseev then blundered, but chess games are hardly ever won without a little help from the other guy. I think Leko also would have had just a slight plus (bad black bishop on a8) if Karjakin had played the simple 20.-ed5: .

Back to the other game: Are there previous (high-level) examples where one player had 'doubled knights' on the a-file? Either where he got away with it (because play focused on the queenside), or where he was destroyed in a similar fashion.

On Aronian-Kamsky: Chessbase (German site) states that both players entered a 'creativity contest' for the first ten moves, but that they 'followed concepts' (?, original version is "wandelten auf den Spuren") of an old game Polugajevsky-Tal. Not the exact moves, though - the tournament site already calls Aronian's 5.Nc3 a novelty.

Does anyone know which "old game" Chessbase means? In particular, I have one regular poster in mind ,:) even if that game was eventually lost by Tal.

"Followed in the footsteps of"

Do you mean this game? Tal wantonly sacrificed a piece knowing full well that it was losing and ... lost.

Mig: "Aronian's [...] attack raged on even when kings came off"

Really? What did he attack then?

Anxious not to lose the initiative, he reached across the table and started attacking his opponent.

Yes, Chessbase (not me) probably meant this game, but similarities basically end after move 5. edbermac quotes Tal on chessgames.com:

"Tal amusingly refers to this game in his book The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal.
He says that after correctly giving up a pawn he looked at a piece sac (giving up his N at move 12) for 50 minutes, becoming more and more convinced it was an incorrect move.
When he finally saw it would not work, he became so angry at himself for wasting 50 minutes on his clock and sacrificed it anyway!"
[but I wonder if things hadn't gone wrong before - the alternatives 12.-Ng8 or 12.-Nh5 look pretty bad, while not necessarily losing]

@chesshire cat: Your translation seems to be more accurate, thanks. But I (wrongly) thought Chessbase referred to the concept, which might include: accepting isolated doubled c-pawns, early queen centralization, early h-pawn advance, leaving the white king in the center.

In any case, I doubt that Aronian and Kamsky were "very" aware of Tal's game - played in 1973 when both of them weren't even around yet. They might rather have thought about Kramnik-Mamedyarov, Tal Memorial 2007
But, on second sight (locating and playing through the game again) it is not THAT similar after all.

Lol, but I guess neither Aronian nor Kamsky would do that ... Kamsky's father might, but thank God he is no longer active on or behind the scene.

Wholly consistent with the Sofia rules, in the same round Bacrot and Eljanov stopped fighting when _everything but_ the kings had gone off the board.

I've never been a big fan of Aronian and his playing style, but I have to be impressed with how seemingly effortlessly he is walking over his rating peers. I guess my heart is still living in days gone by--back when exiting chess came from Short and Benjamin and you could count the number of Super-GMs on a couple of hands. Man, I'm getting old.

'his attack raged on even when kings came off'? that is certainly one raging battle

Nice typo. At the peak of their careers, Short and Benjamin played exciting chess, later it turned into exiting chess?
As far as Super-GMs are concerned, it depends on how you define them. Once upon a time (but within my own lifetime) ELO2600 was enough, then it became 2700. If we now say 2750, we still need only two hands to count them. The difference may be that more players go in and out of this club, presumably because there are more tournaments to play, hence more rapid ELO fluctuations.
And concerning Aronian, maybe today he was a bit too creative?

"The 17.f4, 18.f5, 19.g4 sequence defies the laws of chess physics."

I haven't looked at the game (maybe someone who has can explain this statement to me), but it doesn't get much more basic and correct than a kingside pawnstorm. I'm puzzled by this statement.

"his attack raged on even when kings came off"
= My nomination for typo of the year!

"As far as Super-GMs are concerned, it depends on how you define them. Once upon a time (but within my own lifetime) ELO2600 was enough, then it became 2700. If we now say 2750, we still need only two hands to count them."

2750!?! Then you're saying none of the following are Super GMs and I strongly disagree.

10 Gelfand off 2746,4 -8,6 24 3 1968 id-card
11 Svidler off 2741,3 +2,3 9 1 1976 id-card
12 Ponomariov off 2740,9 +13,9 9 1 1983 id-card
13 Gashimov off 2740,0 0 0 0 1986 id-card
14 Ivanchuk off 2739,0 +36 33 4 1969 id-card
15 Grischuk off 2733,0 0 0 0 1983 id-card
16 Wang Yue off 2731,1 -4,9 4 1 1987 id-card
17 Nakamura off 2730,0 +20 11 2 1987 id-card
18 Shirov

As I said, "it's a matter of definition", any (rating) limit is arbitrary. Apparently you would prefer 2730 - fine with me, then we need four hands ,:).
You do not say that ALL those on your list should be (called) super-GMs, I would put them in three categories:
1) Five of them were >2750 at some time since April 23rd 2008, in order of decreasing peak rating: Ivanchuk (2791,5), Gelfand (2765,2), Shirov (2763,9), Grischuk (2751,4), Wang Yue (2750,9)
2) As far as I remember, Ponomariov didn't have any top results between being FIDE knockout world champion and shared first in San Sebastian - and the latter was "just a category 18 tournament" after all.
3) Nakamura and even Gashimov still have to prove that they are "here to stay" in the absolute world top. In the longer term,they may or may not be just "visitors", similar to Movsesian (peak live rating 2749,3).

01 Topalov off 2813,0 0 0 0 1975 id-card
02 Anand off 2788,0 0 0 0 1969 id-card
03 Aronian off 2774,4 +6,4 4 1 1982 id-card
04 Carlsen off 2772,4 +0,4 10 1 1990 id-card
05 Kramnik off 2771,6 +12,6 10 1 1975 id-card
06 Leko off 2766,1 +10,1 14 2 1979 id-card
07 Jakovenko off 2761,7 +1,7 15 3 1983 id-card
08 Radjabov off 2756,6 +0,6 10 1 1987 id-card
09 Morozevich

"1) Five of them were >2750 at some time since April 23rd 2008, in order of decreasing peak rating: Ivanchuk (2791,5), Gelfand (2765,2), Shirov (2763,9), Grischuk (2751,4), Wang Yue (2750,9)"

If you want to call only those 14 Super GMs, I have no problem with that. The first 3 on your list careers speaks for themselves.

I guess my points was that it used to be just a few stand-out players. When Kasparov was in his prime, people would just sit back in awe--like we would do with Michael Jordan. Now, the playing field has gotten so good (through comps, media, etc.) that we may never see a time again when one person appears to be peerless.

Meanwhile, Bacrot has been overtaken again by Vachier-Lagrave as French #1 in the live rating list. Maxime VL is destroying his mere mortal — I mean, 2500-2550 — opponents in the French championship, which he is leading alone with +3 =1. He is of course the rating favorite, but even then, you don't often see a GM beaten in 23 moves in a Berlin defence.

Out of curiosity, what don't you like about Aronian's style? I feel like the guy could give Steinitz knight odds (read: exaggeration) and still whack him.

I'm sure that most current GMs would give Steinitz a good game with knight odds. Aronian is no different, and I definitely mean nothing against his playing strength. His play, like Hikaru's, gets so seemingly scattered that I'm not able to understand it as a cohesive plan. I know, I know, that just means that I'm not good enough to appreciate it, but I absolutely love to watch a classic Karpov struggle over a single square or Fischer's dominating bishop in an endgame. I rarely see an Aronian game that looks like more than razor sharp tactics. Just my preference.

If Super-GM is a lifetime title (like 'regular' GM but unlike world champion), you/we have to make this 16 to include Kasparov and Karpov (peak rating 2780).

Surprising. I always got the impression from his games that he is a rigorous classical, active positional player. The tactics usually arise from positional play. Personally I like his style a lot, I find him one of themost interesting players. I hope he is champ one day.

Very well could be the champ! I figure that there is little reason to study a game unless I can get something from it. If you can spend just a few hours on one of Aronian games and really get something that helps you game, then great! My powers peaked at about 2050 and I find other players' game much more "reachable". Maybe one day that will change for me...


Ivanchuk - Kamsky drawn!! In the final position on the live website (114 moves) Black has a mate in 7... anyone knows what happened?

I was wondering the same thing. Could it be the 50 move rule?

Yes, it is. Why not just go through the game and see? Last capture or pawn move was White's 64.Rxg4 -- that is, he was exactly in time to claim the draw in what would otherwise be a dead lost position.

I am still wondering if the endgame was actually won for Kamsky - and if so, how easily. It may be irrelevant that he was winning in the end, because at some stage all Chucky had to do was survive until move 114. Luke seems to have a definite opinion, what do other experts think?

In any case, Kamsky seems to pick up his 'habits' from the previous Grand Prix, with mixed results:
Leko-Kamsky 1/2 (121), defending K+N vs. Q
Kamsky-Bacrot 1/2 (81), trying in vain to win an opposite-colored bishop ending two pawns up
Akopian-Kamsky 1-0 (98), losing R vs. R+B
Grischuk-Kamsky 0-1 (101), winning a queen's ending.

Ivanchuk left both his rook and bishop unprotected. Kamsky should have just snapped off the pawn with 61...Bxg3 62.fg3 and attacked both of Ivanchuk's pieces with 62...Qa2.

Instead of that simple win, Kamsky flopped around aimlessly for more than 50 moves.

Such a pity my son didn't have Luke's stamina, verve and courage when it counted most! I wish Gata had tried to be more like Luke when he was growing up. But he just didn't listen, and now he must suffer the humiliation of selection to the Grand Prix and a place in the WC cycle.

lol. be carefule though. jokes like this are not taken kindly here.

I'm sure Rustam can defend himself. In any case, we likes it.

Kamsky - Alekseev is interesting. To his credit, Kamsky is trying very hard to win, (move 40 now) as is Alekseev. I admit that I would have gone for the draw if I was Kamsky, but I can see that he has some remote winning possibilities and probably could still draw if he wanted to.

Looks lost to me. (Move 45) Unless I've missed something, looks like Kamsky blundered going into this.

It's getting bad for Kamsky, especially on his clock. He's 36 minutes behind Alekseev on move 47. Kamsky gets good marks for trying to win, but bad marks for not being realistic and practical.

Oooops, he just walked into a check, didn't he with 48.Kh2? Just when I thought he wasn't playing like an idiot.

You're a bad example to trolls everywhere. Just a smidgen of subtlety would improve your trolling no end. I'm amazed that after all this practise, your trolling is deteriorating in quality.

Why feed the troll? Its obvious he's trolling and trolls depend on people biting. A deafening silence and they find another way to feed their attention seeking compulsions.

Fundamentally correct. But it's obvious nothing will stop him, so I was hoping we could at least suffer some slightly higher quality trolling, at least.

I've just been talking about chess and an actual game. And then a couple of trolls appeared, had nothing to contribute except their angriness and frustration at always being beaten down.

Back to the actual game (chess, not trolliness), Kamsky tried to win, perhaps when he shouldn't have, and then in his habitual time pressure, he screwed up again.

Now, if you stinking trolls need to take issue with that, go ahead. I can easily blow both of you weakilings out of the water with one hand tied behind my back.

Tie both hands, there's a good troll, that'll stop you posting.

Winko wins as usual, and gets into sole lead.

Is that the best you can do? So pathetically weak. You have nothing to say, nothing to contribute, no chess ability, no guts. A big fat nothing.

Now, if you have anything of value to say about Kamsky - Alekseev, go ahead and say it. Otherwise,shut your stinking troll pie-hole.

Meanwhile, as the stinking trolls try to pull their fingers out of their openings, Cheparinov - Leko was a great rook ending by Leko. I learned a lot from it.

Call me all the names you like, friend, I only take real offence when I don't pity my antagonist. Like I said, Kamsky blundered going into that sac, he must have hallucinated something or been so desperate to win that his judgement was clouded. The ending should have been a draw, I think, without the sac. I'll wait for GM analysis to confirm.
Btw I repeat my urging for you to seek outside help.

Wow, SIX decisive games today - Kasimdzhanov and Ivanchuk are excused for their short draw, as both of them provided lots of excitement in rounds 5 and 6 (Kasim's Petroff win yesterday went relatively unnoticed).

I don't think Kamsky's loss can be blamed on time trouble: he got into time trouble because he had a worse, probably lost position, not the other way around. It's a mystery to me what he may have missed when he sacrificed his knight.

And what's going on with Aronian? Too much pressure ("home disadvantage") after all? Nicely played by Eljanov, but it was Aronian who opened the g-file for Eljanov's (queenless) kingside attack.

If you want to talk chess, I'm fine with that. Like I said, good for Kamsky to try to win, but there comes a time when you have to be realistic and practical. Kamsky is not very good at that aspect of the game.

Maybe Kamsky shouldn't try to copy Ivanchuk, Morozevich (Shirov, Tal, ...) who also tend to play piece sacrifices, including some which are, at best, speculative. They do get away with it, but also not all the time ... .
But, as mishanp mentioned in another thread, Kamsky is already qualified for the candidates tournament, so he has not that much pressure and can "just play for fun" in the GP tournament!?

Poor Jakovenko, defending that miserable but tenable position for so long and then falling victim to the shot Bxh5, which was threatened several times already- he must be kicking himself. Doen't the queen exchange lead to a draw, albeit after some more suffering?
Re Cheparinov-Leko, was it a mistake for Chep not to play g4 at some stage, denying the king entry, or was it lost anyway? And maybe moving the K to the qside was incorrect, whaddya think?

Lost anyway. Just an awesome ending by Leko. I can't see anything that Cheparinov could have done to save it. I used to play the Grunfeld, and would frequently get 2 pawns vs. 1 on the queenside and win. Although not a Grunfeld, this game reminds me of that.

Re Bacrot-Jakovenko, I wouldn't dare to say if the ending after the queen exchange is won for white or drawn. But it would clearly imply "quite some" suffering for Jakovenko. c6 is permanently weak, and if he somehow manages to get c6-c5 in, then d5 will be very weak.
White would probably put his knight on b4 and the bishop on a4. Maybe he should first play Ra6-a5-c5 pinning the c-pawn. It also seems that black cannot bring his king over easily, because white can send it back with Ra8+.

Wow, second loss for Gelfand. He's pretty much out of the fight now, but I still love to see him play.

"Wow, second loss for Gelfand." (stendec)

The crosstable shows he beat Inarkiev today and has only one loss.

Wow Leko is not the drawmaster he used to be. He's winning using his regular style.

IMO, "drawmaster Leko" was, or is a cliche in the first place, with two explanations:

1) It is a remnant from Leko's first supertournaments, when he mostly tried to survive against the world elite (he was not yet confirmed part of it, though knocking at the door). Then he considered each draw a success, and was (too) afraid of losing.

2) He has, at least most of the time, a solid style, going for small advantages. Now - like Kramnik - if his advantage evaporates or proves to be insufficient, he does not mind or is not afraid of drawing. But Sofia rules (which also apply at the GP tournaments) force him to play on in equal positions until, or unless they are DEAD drawn. And, as he still finds slight nuances, he may end up winning rather than drawing such games.

Getting old is only in our mind.
Age never prevented people from doing things:

""drawmaster Leko" was, or is a cliche in the first place"

In his previous event he drew 9 of 10 games, 8 of them in 20-something moves or less. He does have more draws than all other top players (12 of 12 in Linares 2005 is just the "worst" example) so I don't think it's just some kind of myth even if he has played really well in Jermuk and could have scored an even better result.

If nobody bites, including yourself, Thomas and Stendec, some of the more frequent nibblers, he would soon feel foolish. So many of his comments are so obviously trolling, but somebody bites ... just ignore them, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Yeah, you have a point. So why do we see "a different Leko" at Jermuk? Sofia rules may play a certain role, but more importantly it may be a question of motivation and attitude to the game. At some tournaments (Dortmund 2009, Linares 2005), Leko may be happy with a cozy 50% score, neither gaining nor losing many rating points. Now he has to win or at least get a significant plus score to keep his qualification chances for the candidates tournament. He already had a bad or mediocre GP result in Elista (50%), which will become irrelevant if he plays well in Nalchik (done), Jermuk (in progress) and "??" (last GP tournament).

As always, it also depends on the opponent. Yesterday Leko could go for a win with black because Cheparinov played ambitiously with white. Coming back to the rook ending: Leko's queenside majority might not have been winning on its own, but white's kingside pawn structure was also compromised. In hindsight, Chepa's 18.e5 may have been "the losing move". It was played in the middlegame spirit (space advantage, possible kingside attack), but became a weakness after the queen exchange. As beginners are told: pawns can't move backwards ... .

The problem, or at least one of them, is the irrational obsession with the number of draws. Most people will admit that their problem isn't draws per se, but non-fighting draws -- but then in the same breath they will blast Lékó for his draw percentage, even though he doesn't play many quick draws.

Even so, Lékó doesn't play THAT many more draws than for instance Anand or other players who avoid getting bashed for their draws. In 2000-2008 according to Fischl's statistics, he had 69% compared to Anand's 62% and Kasparov's 63%.

Over the course of a 13-round tournament, that means 8 draws for them (rounded down) and 9 draws for Lékó (rounded up). If people want to see this difference as significant, well, I'm all for freedom of opinion.

And then it depends on how far back you go. In 2008, he had 59% draws, compared to Anand's 69%, Ivanchuk's 62%, Radjabov's 65%, Grischuk's 63% etc (again assuming that Fischl's figures are correct). Of course he has more draws than the Topalovs and Morozevichs, but he is hardly unique in that.

But many people have already decided long ago what they want to think about the matter and it will predetermine their perceptions. He could have 100% decisive games in the rest of this tournament and then the next time he plays a draw it will start again.

Leko has fallen way behind on the clock vs. Jakovenko (more than an hour) for no reason. The opening was a well trodden Berlin that Leko surely must have known. But, he squandered huge amounts of time and now it will hurt him in the ending. I think Jakovnko's bishop and 4 vs. 3 majority on the queenside will prevail against Leko's knight.

btw, those figures for 2000-2008 seem to be almost entirely due to his relatively very drawish 2000-2004 period. From 2005 on, i.e. a period more relevant for today's Lékó, he seems to have only a very marginally higher draw percentage than Anand. Didn't check others. It will get even more in his "favour" (note the quotation marks) without 2005 and particularly 2006, but I don't like cherry-picking.

Trust people like hdghg or whatever handle he uses that day to keep pointing at individual examples like Linares 2005 to steer people's perceptions into the desired direction though.

you're right! who knows what i was looking at...

"Trust people like hdghg or whatever handle he uses that day to keep pointing at individual examples like Linares 2005 to steer people's perceptions into the desired direction though"

Leko has been drawing more games than the other top players the last decade and this (more than some mythical perception based on nothing or individual examples) is a reason that he is seen as drawish, it really isn't more complicated than that and shouldn't have to be such a sensitive subject either.

As acirce already hinted, two issues should be separated:

1) draws in general. If Leko has more of them than other top players, it is at least partly due to his solid playing style - meaning that he doesn't lose very often. So, "solid" would be correct, "drawish" might be misleading: it could be interpreted as 'not even trying to win a game'. Maybe some other players would - at least on some days - rather lose than draw a game, I won't blame Leko if he isn't one of them ... . His relatively high drawing percentage (if the figures are correct, everyone interpretes statistics in his own way) also indicate that he successfully defends worse positions, also a chessic quality.

2) short, unfought draws, which might have many reasons: lack of form or motivation, (tournament) tactical considerations, being caught by a novelty or unfamiliar opening [and bailing out with simplifications or a move repetition], (subjective) need for an extra rest day, ... .

In any case, Leko wouldn't stay in the top10 for so long now if he played "nothing but draws", short or long. Even he loses games every now and then and needs wins to compensate for it.

Always a pleasure to read a nice argumentation without attacks against others :) Leko is a great player, even if I still think his reputation for drawing much is "deserved" in the way that if one player should have such a reputation it ought to be the one with the highest draw percentage. Saying this isn't the same thing as saying that all his draws are short or boring, just that he has more of them than any other player the last decade. There is nothing evil with drawing many games though, he is doing better than Morozevich who draws much less, and getting the best results is what it all is about.

It looks like Leko can hold the draw against Javovenko, so, for what they are worth, add one more to Leko's drawing statistics.

Twenty moves to go until Leko can claim a draw by the 50 move rule - I do not see how Jakovenko can make any progress. I am no theory buff, but much earlier in the game it looks like Leko's 16.h4 was a novelty which probably won't be repeated, ever since the assessment of the position was =+.

So, for a change, Ivanchuk-Gelfand might become the only decisive game of the round. What went on here? To me it seemed Gelfand was a rather healthy pawn up, now he is two pawns down ... .

One fun example of exaggerated focus on draws is the Chessbase report from the French Championship. Lagrave has won brilliantly in 20 and 23 moves (and a third game as well in the six played rounds) but the only thing Chessbase mention, and that several times, is his draws:

"half his games ending in sixteen move draws"

"each of his third, fifth and sixth round games ending in 16-move draws"

"we can only hope for more than a sixteen move draw"

Yes, those draws were boring, but at least one of his excellent wins could have been mentioned:


But it might be worthwhile (in fairness to both Vachier-Lagrave and Chessbase) to give the full quote:
"Disappointingly, some of his [Vachier-Lagrave's]closest competitors seem content in allowing him to coast to the title, with each of his third, fifth and sixth round games ending in 16-move draws, against Hicham Hamdouchi, Matthieu Cornette and Vladislav Tkachiev respectively."
So mostly his opponents get (deserved) criticism.

"So mostly his opponents get (deserved) criticism"

Yes, at least in that example, even if it wouldn't have hurt to say something about those wins too.

In the mean time Chucky is winning again.

That's not sensitive, the sensitive issue is when people attack or ridicule him for it (including the double standards - not that I'd like others to be attacked either). Surely you understood that, but maybe it doesn't hurt to point out obvious truths now and then.

Besides, if people want to consider the "last decade" or just the last few years is, I believe, a matter of choice.

In most cases I don't think they even make the choice though - people seem to just "know" that Lékó is extremely drawish (everybody else says so, so it has to be true). I refuse to believe they have all studied the statistics.

Too bad he saved the draw today, ruined his percentage even more ;o)

"it wouldn't have hurt to say something about those wins too."
I agree, though it's a matter of taste. It was still clear, both from the report and from the tournament table, that Vachier-Lagrave also won a few (the other half of his) games. And two issues still apply:
1) Trying to coast to victory after an early lead can be dangerous - it also could have backfired on Nakamura in San Sebastian.
2) For those watching any round live, on the Internet or on-site, it is little consolation that other rounds (which they missed) were more exciting.

I do not mean to criticize today's round in Jermuk: Half of the draws were well-fought, and only one (Inarkiev-Eljanov) was premature. But who would blame Inarkiev for drawing to stop losing?

It's interesting to try to think of reasons why there is this strange hostility towards both draws in general but also "unfought" ones. I'm fairly sure that people who don't regularly play classical OTB chess themselves are overrepresented in the group of "haters". Neither draws nor short draws are an issue where I play - people who play many draws are viewed as solid and cautious and there is nothing more to it, and everyone I can think of play short draws sometimes for all kinds of natural reasons. There's simply nothing to criticize. People who don't play themselves ought to generally have a harder time appreciating the reasons why sometimes players do draw quickly (or "prematurely"). To preempt dumb comments, note that I only say "overrepresented" and "generally".

Perhaps the super-competitive "win win win" mentality is also somewhat overrepresented among Americans, and as Americans in turn are highly overrepresented on English-speaking online chess forums this might in that case skew the picture? Just a wild guess :)

Leko short draw statistics covering all his chessgames.com games:

1.1% draws with White in 15 moves or less
= well below Top 100 average (2.8%)

23.6% draws in 30 moves or less
= a few points above Top 100 average (18.4%)

In both categories he shows a clear tendency to fewer short draws in recent years.

Compare e.g. a more serious drawnik like Tkachiev (since he is mentioned in the Vachier-Lagrave post):

5.1% draws with White in 15 moves or less
28.2% draws in 30 moves or less

I agree about the OTB experience being important when casting judgement.

The quality of chess in Jermuk has been great. It will be exciting to see who qualifies from the Grand Prix cycle. Right now the favorite is still Aronian.

"Besides, if people want to consider the "last decade" or just the last few years is, I believe, a matter of choice."

Yeah, even if it takes a while to build a reputation. No one would say based on his last few active years that Kasparov was the greatest player ever. Leko has been drawing less lately than in the beginning of the century, but it will probably take a while to change the perception of him as drawing more often than others, whatever one thinks of draws.

"It was still clear, both from the report and from the tournament table, that Vachier-Lagrave also won a few"

The fun thing is that Chessbase give opposite views in the same article: they suggest that it only may be a matter of time before he is overtaken since he is persisting with those short draws. At the same time his opponents let him cruise to victory by letting him play those beneficial short draws :)

Update on the French championship: Vachier-Lagrave drew his game in round 7 (this time a fighting Sicilian that after lots of chaos ended in a drawn ending). Tkachiev again played only 16 moves with black, but I won't blame him as he won the game. Now both are tied for first with 5/7.

Since the topic of this thread is Jermuk, I'll say that Kasimdzhanov - Cheparinov shows that Cheparinov is just not good enough. Beginning with 31...Re8? he appears to have been panic-stricken. A stronger player would have played 31...Rc2.

Mig, I wish you would take some time to update this tournament. Thanks.


How is it possible to judge that a player is "just not good enough" based on a single move? Kasparov, Kramnik, Anand and Topalov have played worse moves.

You seem to suggest that sitting across from a strong GM for four-five hours isn't much more difficult than cruising through games, picking out a move, analyzing it with or without a computer, and saying, "I could have done better than that."

It's the totality of his response. He got hit and he panicked. Really strong players do not panic. They may make bad moves or try something risky, but they do not panic like it seems that Cheparinov did. It's not just one move. It's everything he did.

The French championship was mentioned in this thread - and while off-topic, IMHO it is more interesting than insults against anyone (e.g. Cheparinov) playing in Jermuk ... . So here is another update:
Chessbase turned out to be right, at least for the time being. After another win in round 8, "drawmaster" Tkachiev is now 1/2 point ahead of Vachier-Lagrave.

BTW, the tournament homepage defends the players, saying that most draws were hard-fought despite the heatwave in Southern France, and Internet folks watching from their air-conditioned homes shouldn't complain.
French original version: "la plupart des nulles sont jouées avec acharnement, quoiqu'en disent le troupeau d'internautes climatisés, qui ont oublié ce que voulait dire le mot canicule."

Don´t excuse your self for writting off-topic , we know that you would never bother us unless its an emergency.

Actually I find that games where very strong players (like Cheparinov) get outplayed and lose to even stronger ones to be very interesting/instructive.
It's also the most annoying, but instructive thing that happens in my own games.

IMO Cheparinov knows a lot more about chess than what he is able to perform at the board , i remember him blundering badly a lot of times near the endgame.
I wonder what would be his rating if he could fix that tendency.

The impression I got from his games here and against the top GMs is that he tries a little too hard to attack, even when it's not justified. The top players refute his aggressive play and win, whereas he might beat slightly weaker players with it. The more he plays against the very top players, the more obvious it will become whether he can make it that final spurt to the very top. After all it's not just about knowledge, but experience against top opposition. I'm sure his losses against them are good experience for him, remember Kramnik's remarks about the differences between top GMs and the absolute top GMs (then it was the Ks), and how he learned from that?

Panic strikes again !!!!

Cheparinov - Gelfand. Take a look. Ask yourself, if you were white, would you have lost?

Yes, I would have lost. And you would have lost even more quickly because you're a fish -- a floppy fish, a dying carp on a flood plain -- who salves depression by slagging 2700+ GMs who lose games at high-category tournaments.

If you awoke from a dream to find yourself at the board with Boris Gelfand opposite, you'd go in your pants and take out your own eye with the scoresheet pen.

"Ask yourself, if you were white, would you have lost?"
No idea ... I have never played such a position against Gelfand - as a matter of fact, I have never ever played against Gelfand.

I don't know why you guys are complaining. Personally I get a great ego boost from this constant proof of how weak top GMs actually are, and my World Championship aspirations have increased no end.

If I achieved a playable position against GM Boris Gelfand after 20 moves, i'd offer him a draw and run away while he was considering my offer. Then I'd claim that I nearly beat Boris Gelfand.

Rd. 10: Inarkiev-Bacrot is a draw after 40...e4?!? How? White's a rook up, totally won; there's no perpetual for Black. 41. Bxe4 or Qxh3 or Kxh3 or Rf1 all look good. Was it some weird time scramble that was adjudicated a draw because they both dropped their clocks, or were strangling each other, or something? Confused. Anyone understand what happened?

What a bunch of weak comments.

Actually the result Inarkiev-Bacrot was first given as 1-0 on the live viewer, which also "met my expectations". So, like Richard Fireman, I can only speculate about a time trouble drama - and wait for further details to appear. If so: Poor Inarkiev, when it rains it pours ... .
Not so ... while I was typing, the result on the live viewer has changed to 1-0 again.

As far as the other games are concerned: fantastic swindle by Akopian against Leko!? It seems (at least to me) that simply 53.Ra3 was winning - black's passed d-pawn seems more dangerous than his sacrificed bishop.

Re: the confusing Inarkiev-Bacrot result, I just e-mailed Mark Crowther of TWIC to check; his crosstable lists it as 1-0 but the "live games in PGN" still shows 1/2-1/2, prob. as a result of not having been updated yet from when the live broadcast was showing that result. I've corresponded w. Mark in the past and always found him to be extremely helpful and responsive, so soon we shall see; stay tuned...

And lo & behold, already here's his response:
Dear Rich

The official site has it as 1-0 now. It didn't earlier. Going on the
theory I have that errors have a way of hanging on for dear life I
thought I'd corrected it everywhere but the error continued on in the
live file. Killed that error too.



Great! About time Inarkiev scored a win, IMHO; I like his nice dynamic style, & he's seemed "unlucky" in some of his games, e.g., v. Kamsky, if I recall correctly.

To which I can add that the live transmission first reported the result as 1-0, then 1/2, then again 1-0. I am sure because I found it amusing that today's drawn games all lasted longer than the decisive ones. So maybe there was some time trouble and arbiter intervention after all?

But Mark Crowther may have missed this, if he wasn't watching live continuously - for example because he changed to the other tournament (Experience vs. Rising Stars) for a while?

The trick would be to ask him if he likes icecream , then when he goes ¨yes¨ , you offer your hand with a smile while saying ¨me too, pal¨, then you go to the arbiter and claim that he agreed the draw until the end of times.

He might not like ice cream!

If that´s the case he deserves the win , life without icecream must be hard.

Wow, I like the way Cheparinov reacts to losses by plying even more sharply, like his boss!! A KID v Eljanov, anyone know much about that line?

The position looks really promising for black , don´t know if it is still theory ,though (21).

By now (move 32) the position looks "unclear" - I cannot (or do not dare to) give a more precise assessment.

And now Elijanov tossed ten molotovs over the black king (IMO Bf6 was the wrong choice for black ).

Nicely done.

I had got a desire to make my organization, nevertheless I did not have enough of money to do this. Thank goodness my friend advised to utilize the loan. Hence I took the financial loan and realized my desire.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on August 13, 2009 1:13 AM.

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