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Aronian Runs Away in Bilbao

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That is to say, with Bilbao. The top seed didn't let his first round loss to Grischuk slow him down at the Grand Slam Final. It seems instead to have inspired him to new heights. Today the Armenian won his fourth consecutive game, beating Shirov near the time control after a long stretch of maneuvering in a roughly balanced position. Shirov had multiple chances to push ..e4 and change the position, but in the end the e-pawn died on e5. The win sealed victory in the tournament by any known scoring system, including the 3-1-0 they're using in Bilbao. He has 12 points, followed by Grischuk with seven and Karjakin with six. This was Shirov's third loss and his second to Aronian.

Grischuk, whose time as a leader of this even seems like the distant past, tested Karjakin in the same long K-K '86 Zaitsev line that Shirov whiffed with the other day, an unusual occurrence in a fairly mundane line. Grischuk played Kasparov's original 22.Bb2 instead of the more popular Re3 or Shirov's Nxb5. They stayed in theory until 25.Nb3 and from there the literal Novi Ruski Karjakin slowly outplayed Grischuk to reach equality in an endgame with the potential for more thanks to his bishop pair. Grischuk decided it was best to ditch his knight for the last black pawns, leading to the popular R+B vs R, which he held without undue excitement. This isn't routine at all unless you've done work on it, and even then there are a few tricks. (Unlike, say, R+N vs R, which can usually be held with a little time on your clock and common sense. Though it is still usually played out by GMs.) R+B vs R is still regularly lost on the GM level, though we should charitably assume time trouble in many cases. Grischuk certainly knows it, having won the stronger side in the Russian championship two years ago against Rychagov.

Thanks to Aronian's amazing streak tomorrow's final round is mostly for sport. But with only three games of ten drawn so far, we might still get some excitement. It's Karjakin-Aronian, Shirov-Grischuk. I'll be wrapping it up with GM Jon Speelman on Chess.FM. Note that the round begins an hour earlier than usual, at 10am EDT.


If Anand loses the crown, Topalov and Aronian are so strong and Kramnik so experienced, I don't think Carlsen will be the next champ.

Kudos to Aronian. I really think he has a good chance to be the next challenger for the World Championship (assuming Kirsan doesn't decide to revert back to KO's everybody hates!).

Ya I think so too. If he wins the Candidates I think he will be WC. Look at his score against Anand. Topalov is a bit tougher for him but he can do it with good preparation. He is a fighter.

So, there is a formula for fighting passive draws... All the past debates are settled -- one needs to look no further than Bilbao as a good formula.


Which formula would that be? The 3-1-0 scoring system, or the 4 player round-robin format?

R+B vs. R was among the crucial games at the Women's Team Championship yesterday as well (it was Sept 11th, but it seems like two days ago because it was held in China). In the match Ukraine vs. Armenia, Aginian couldn't hold it against Zdebskaja. Combined with a heartbreaking loss by 15 (?) year old Galojan who seemed to be on the way to a Petrosian-like victory over Gaponenko (all credit to Gaponenko, mind you, for creating chances and taking advantage of them), and Ukraine turned the tables and won the bronze, instead of their opponents. The final crosstable was up at Swiss Manager (chess-results.com) within seconds of Aginian's resignation ...

The final results had China, Russia and Ukraine all tied with 12 match points out of 18, a very close event; just 1/2 a game point separated each of the three medal winners ... but the gamescores of the last two rounds have still not appeared at TWIC. Noteworthy in that regard was the final-round match China (eventual gold medal winners) versus Vietnam (last place). Soon after Russia agreed to a draw in one game of its match with China Two, which guaranteed China (One) at least a tie for first (and I assume a win on 2nd tiebreak, but that's just a guess), all four games of the China - Vietnam match were agreed drawn. You may not like these Captains' draws, but that's long been a fact of team chess, certainly the Chess Olympics. However, more interesting was the positions on the four boards. On boards 2 and 3, it looked to me like China was holding a small advantage, but definitely drawable with steady play by the opponents. By contrast, on board 4, Vietnam was several pawns up, and on board 1, Vietnam had Knight and a very solid two pawns against Hou Yifan's Rook. A quick appraisal of the final positions by an old engine confirms that observation: -1.38, -0.19, 0.47, 3.34: big advantages to V in two games; mild advantages to C in the other two.

Beyond a captain-engineered match draw, we don't know what happened, but the positions and timing are provocative.

In the FIDE Laws of Chess it used to be that it was forbidden to agree on the result of a game before it started, but concepts of sportsmanship have progressed (Grin) and now it is more important to shake hands before the game, a ritual of which there can be no doubt.

I can't recall a tournament (admittedly, it was only 12 games, but still...) with such a low percentage of draws! (and all of the draws were pretty much of the fighting variety, as well) Can anyone think of any that beat this, or are even close?!

"R+B vs R is still regularly lost on the GM level, though we should charitably assume time trouble in many cases."

The milestone victory of Deep Thought in tying for first with Bent Larsen in the American Open back in the late 80s included such a win in the next to last round. Curiously, the directors adjourned the game (a now-obsolete procedure) during this last phase of the game and mistakenly paired it as a draw - even though anyone in the vicinity of the game would have been able to observe a GM semi-privately chasting his IM friend for having already reached a losing position at that point. After beating an IM in the last round, Deep Thought then collected the full point in the adjournment and the rest, as they say, is history.

Jonathan's observation about the sudden team-wide draw agreements re-confirm what has long been understood by common sense: namely...
An individual game that takes place in the context of TEAM competition should probably Not be eligible for normal rating by FIDE.

Perhaps this is why the games between teams in Greg Shahade's USCL are not submitted for rating to the USCF?
The rules of the USCF do permit Web games like the USCL's to be rated IF the T.D. is confident all was proper and fair over the Web; and I have never heard of any cheating accusation in the USCL.

Why do you guys think Shirov had a sub par tourney?

1. Aronian, Levon g ARM 2773 * * 1 ½ 0 1 1 1 4½ 2921
2. Karjakin, Sergey g UKR 2722 0 ½ * * 1 ½ ½ ½ 3 2745
3. Grischuk, Alexander g RUS 2733 1 0 0 ½ * * 1 ½ 3 2741
4. Shirov, Alexei g ESP 2730 0 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ * * 1½ 2549

The Chessbase report says that Aronian has a large skull and a massive brain. Question for Frogbert and Jeff Sonas: Do bigger headed players have higher ratings than smaller headed players?

Nope Luke. The biggest headed guy in my club has a pretty low rating.

Maybe his big head is mostly made out of bone.

I don't think there is any way to determine the question one way or another. I'm not even sure which way you should measure heads. Also, I've played some people who wore hats or fluffed up their hair a lot. How big were their heads? Can't tell. Shirov looks like he has a bigger head than Topalov, but I'd bet on Topalov to beat Shirov. Mig's head looks bigger than Kasparov's, but I think Kasparov would probably beat Mig.

Finally a discussion that makes sense.

I'll keep looking for one. The Chessbase comments may not be the best place to look, but they do have pretty pictures.

As I was away over the weekend (no time or opportunity to check the Internet) I first thought Chessbase came up with some serious (pseudo-)scientific theories. Nope, an image caption (not the report itself) merely says that
"The Basque beret has to be streched by Bilbao Mayor Iñaki Azkuna to accommodate
the large skull (and massive brain) of the winner". So this (including acirce's statement) seems to be pure irony, how could I think anything else?

Giving such hats to the winner seems to be a Basque tradition, Nakamura got a similar one in San Sebastian. Back then it was prominently mentioned here, including a picture. Does this mean winning San Sebastian is more important than winning Bilbao, and only European sites (Chessbase and Chessvibes) may disagree - as both also show Aronian's winner's trophy? Anyone's guess if I am ironic now ... .

You people have it backwards. People get big heads AFTER they win, not before.

Is this a typo, should it be "hats" rather than "heads"? ,:)
But at an earlier occasion (Nalchik FIDE GP), Aronian got what some people called a "polar bear pack" ... .

"As I was away over the weekend (no time or opportunity to check the Internet)..." (Thomas)

I'm glad they let you out early Thomas. We missed you. I know Manu missed his douche bag.

I would like to state that the use of that insult is strictly related to the fact that i´m a huge Soprano´s fan .

A great show. I always found Tony Soprano to be a role model for our youth- a hard-working, efficient father who gets the job done, eliminating any obstacles in his path. A real "go-getter".

A master piece in script-writing and shooting , pure beauty in many ways.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on September 11, 2009 11:32 PM.

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