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Bhatting Practice in Montreal

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Just took a quick break from book-project deadline lunacy to breeze through a few games from the Montreal International going on right now. I'm glad I did! Vinay Bhat, the former future of US chess along with so many others, is playing and just turned in an non-stop fireworks show of a game against Tiviakov. Wow. Prepare to have your swashes thoroughly buckled. PGN after the jump. Bacrot leads with 4.5/6 with Naiditsch and Kovalyov a half-point back. Akobian dusted off Naiditsch in a pretty miniature in round six, also worth a look. Onischuk and Shulman are also there for the US.

Slightly off topic, but it's interesting how these North American invitationals, and there are very few, often don't have all that many players from the host nation. Only Bluvshtein and Roussel-Roozmon are there for Canada. No others strong enough to deserve a shot? And the upcoming SPICE Cup in Texas is an impressively strong field (2630) but includes only one American, Akobian, in the field of six. That said, the B Group norm event has more locals (3/10), including Ray Robson, who will be going for his final GM norm. Just one month ago he had none! Nice to see Wesley So in action as well. He hasn't been seen outside of the Far East for a while. [Apparently Bhat (suddenly he's everywhere!) is replacing Simutowe in the B Group.] I don't see dates for the SPICE Cup anywhere. Anyone? [Dmitri sends in the dates September 19-29. Thanks.]

[Event "TIM"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2009.??.??"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Bhat"]
[Black "Tiviakov"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2473"]
[BlackElo "2694"]
[PlyCount "157"]
[EventDate "2009.??.??"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Bb7 5. Bg2 c6 6. O-O Be7 7. Nc3 d5 8. Nd2
O-O 9. e4 Na6 10. e5 Nd7 11. cxd5 cxd5 12. a3 Nc7 13. Nf3 a5 14. h4 Ba6 15. Re1
Nb5 16. Ne2 Rc8 17. Ng5 Re8 18. Nf4 Nf8 19. Be3 Qc7 20. Bf1 Qc2 21. Qh5 Bxg5
22. Qxg5 Ng6 23. a4 Nc7 24. Rac1 Qxa4 25. Rxc7 Rxc7 26. Bxa6 b5 27. Nh5 h6 28.
Nf6+ Kf8 29. Nh7+ Kg8 30. Nf6+ Kf8 31. Qh5 Qb4 32. Re2 gxf6 33. exf6 Rb8 34.
Bxh6+ Ke8 35. Rxe6+ Kd8 36. Re3 Rc1+ 37. Kh2 Qd6 38. Qe2 Kc7 39. Re7+ Nxe7 40.
Bf4 Nf5 41. Bxb5 Qxf4 42. gxf4 Kb6 43. Qe5 Rd8 44. Qxf5 Kxb5 45. Qd3+ Kb6 46.
Qh7 Rc7 47. h5 Rd6 48. Qg7 Rcc6 49. Kg3 Rxf6 50. Kg4 Rfe6 51. Qxf7 Re2 52. Kg3
Rxb2 53. f5 a4 54. Qf8 Rc3+ 55. Kg2 Rcc2 56. h6 Rxf2+ 57. Kg3 Rh2 58. f6 Rbg2+
59. Kf4 Rf2+ 60. Ke5 Rh5+ 61. Kd6 a3 62. f7 Rhf5 63. Qb8+ Ka5 64. h7 Rh2 65.
Kc5 Rc2+ 66. Kd6 Rh2 67. f8=Q Rxf8 68. Qxf8 Rxh7 69. Qb8 Rh3 70. Kxd5 Rc3 71.
Kd6 Ka4 72. Qb1 Rc4 73. d5 Rc3 74. Ke7 Rb3 75. Qe4+ Rb4 76. Qc2+ Rb3 77. d6 Kb4
78. d7 Rb2 79. Qe4+ 1-0


There are only 4 fairly strong Canadian players.

1 Spraggett, Kevin g CAN 2595 18 1954
2 Bluvshtein, Mark g CAN 2574 26 1988
3 Charbonneau, Pascal g CAN 2509 0 1983
4 Roussel-Roozmon, Thomas m CAN 2489 9 1988

Kovalyov lives in Montreal, though he is originally from Argentina. So you could count him as a local.

SPICE schedule is at:

Looks like the A group is 9/19-9/29 and B group 9/19-9/27.

IM Jean Hebert just qualified to WC on Canadian zonal, but little info on him.

Hebert won his only other Canadian Championship on his first try in 1978(!) as a teenager. He is trying to get his GM title. The last Canadian Championship was pathetically weak as most players objected to the prize fund that was comprised of their entry fees minus a healthy share of expenses. Even the guy who came in second did little better than get his expenses back.

Vinay Bhat...an Indian living in the US?

He was born in Santa Clara, CA, United States.

At the tournament website, you can also click through previous editions. Some of them had more (up to 4) Canadian participants, sometimes there was also a B-group where half the field was Canadian. I guess it's always a compromise between catering to local players and getting the strongest possible field (the budget allows). Corus A also has at most three Dutch players ... .

Mig, if you were playing with the words 'batting practice', I have to say your breadth of cultural knowledge is quite good.
Maybe as an Indian, I should add that I follow tennis as much as cricket.

Chessbase's article about the 'match' in Las Vegas, led me to various articles about World Chess Champion Stan Vaughan. What a strange, little man.

Wasn't there some story about him paying out prizes at a tournament that consisted solely of pizza coupons?

Mig is a friend, or at least a relatively close acquaintance of Peter Svidler ... who follows cricket as much as chess ,:) . And batting is also a term in baseball, a typical US-American sport (so I just learnt by googling a bit ...).

I may have to add further that there is no sarcasm intended. I enjoyed the post.

But aren't there young Canadians who could hold their own ( = not be embarrassed) in a GM field? Zhe Quan comes to mind.

I played Bluvstein when he was 15 at a Chicago Open. Never got rolled off the board so quickly in my life....

YES, there are several strong Canadians and a lot of them are young people (among them Artiom Samsonkin, who defeated Nakamura earlier this summer). Onischuk fan is mistaken, and moreover two players on his list haven't resided in Canada for years. Speaking of Bluvshtein, he won the Open earlier this year, topping a field that included Shirov and Adams in a memorable event unreported on this blog; he won on tiebreaks over IM Edward Porper, another dangerous player who holds one GM norm.

Name one Canadian player not on my list with a FIDE rating above 2462.

Don't know whether anyone's familiar with these or not, but I'd never seen these photographs of Bobby Fischer with Ferdinand Marcos, Imelda Marcos, Campomanes, etc. Facinating!


One more nomination for Luke's book "Drink like a grandmaster".
Vladislav Tkachiev.


Nope, that's not what you wrote. You did not write "here are the FIDE ratings of four top Canadian players." Your words were "There are only 4 fairly strong Canadian players", which is demonstrably false. You could at least be more precise when insulting a national chess federation.

Above 2462 is fairly strong. By the average rating of the top 10 players Canada is 43rd in the world 6 points behind Peru. At the last Olympiad Canada placed 27th behind Croatia. Canada is not a chess powerhouse.

"Fairly strong" is a matter of definition. If I consider anyone better than me (ca. 1950) a fairly strong player, there may be a few hundred or more in Canada ,:).

But Mig's question was "No others strong enough to deserve a shot?" Here Onischuk fan's list suggests the answer may well be yes. I don't know about Spraggett - either he was not available, or the organizers focused on younger players?

The solution would be a B group or even a C group, cf. Corus 2009: The B tournament included Dutch GMs as Werle and l'Ami, the C group had room for local IMs Bosboom, Pruijssers and Bitalzadeh.

Tkachiev happens to be one of the recently announced presidential nominees for the World Cup. Some other names may also be debatable (but actually any decision would be controversial). Quoting Chessdom on the credentials of those nominated:

"Among them are the young stars of USA and Italy - Ray Robson and Fabiano Caruana, the second of Veselin Topalov - Ivan Cheparinov, a recent winner of a rapid match with Karpov - Ghaem Maghami, a FIDE Grand Prix participant - Yannick Pelletier, and a European Chess Champion - Vladislav Tkachiev."

So winning a rapid match against Karpov gets you into the World Cup? As far as Cheparinov is concerned, he already was presidential nominee for the GP Series where at least his results didn't impress - so much for gifts from FIDE to certain players or countries ... .

Noyb, thanks for that, amazing photos. Man, Bobby was fit! Could be mistaken for an Olympic swimmer in shorts and t-shirt. Some genes ...

Right Thomas. So your fellow Swiss Pelletier, having participated in a GP event, is a worthy qualifier but Meghami or Chepa aren't. Did Pelletier's GP results impress you?

IMO all names (with the exception of Caruana) are debatable ... actually I had been waiting for a dedicated thread on this, but here are some more thoughts and opinions:

Pelletier - actually he didn't have the chance to impress me or anyone else in the GP. He was "in" as an organizer's nominee, but then excluded before his first tournament when the one in Montreux collapsed. So I consider, and would endorse his nomination as a gesture of sympathy and compensation. After all, he may have already prepared for the GP tournaments and declined other invitations.

Robson - nice for him, but (from a Dutch/European perspective): What about Anish Giri? He is higher-rated and already has the GM title.

Cheparinov - all I said is that, IMO, it is odd to get such a nomination gift twice. Particularly as some pro-Bulgarian posters complain about largely hypothetical FIDE gifts to other players ... .

Altogether, the decision process on presidential nominees seems to have involved a peculiar mix of semi-objective criteria and geographic considerations. Focusing on young players: for example Bu Xiangzhi and Parimarjan Negi might also be wildcard candidates, but there are already many players from both China and India ... .
Maybe it would have been more fair to abandon the presidential nominee concept and rather give leftover spots to those that narrowly missed qualification: There were gruelling tiebreaks at both the European and continental American championships (BTW, Cheparinov came 1/2 point short of entering the tiebreaks).

Final BTW: I am not Swiss, do you confuse me with Bartleby?

¨Particularly as some pro-Bulgarian posters complain about largely hypothetical FIDE gifts to other players ... .¨

What are you 3 years old? Pro-Bulgarian?

Get lost, Flanders.


So I consider, and would endorse his nomination as a gesture of sympathy and compensation.

So it is okay to nominate someone who has virtually zero recent (and I suspect lifetime) big achievement, because he was been nominated before for another obscure reason and then dropped, because the organizers who put him there did not manage to actually organize what they should have.

Thomas, you are openly biased against Europeans. You denounce every tournament not held in Europe, even if it superbly organized. You have those "I'd rather see a well-known European player" moments when it comes to inviting someone somewhere. When asked to back it up, the best you are able to come up is "it is a a gesture of sympathy and compensation". That's... quite unconvincing as an argument, to put it mildly.

Guess what-I am not a fan of Cheparinov, at all, but I would rather see him in any tournament any day than Pelletier. Simply, frankly-because Chepa is an class stronger as a player. And, if that matters, he plays incomparably more entertaining chess.

"Canada is not a chess powerhouse."

No one called it a chess powerhouse. You were just looking to damn with faint praise the Canadian chess federation, and you got where you wanted to go. Again, there are several "fairly strong" (lol) Canadians who would have fit in just fine at Montreal International.

For the poster wondering about Spraggett, he hasn't lived in Canada for over two decades and last played an Olympiad in 2002.

Frankly, I don't understand your comment at all. First of all, your definition of Europe doesn't seem to include Caucasian ex-Soviet countries (debatable on geographic terms, but in chess competitions they are considered part of Europe) and doesn't seem to include Bulgaria - so you rather mean western Europe?

To address your points:
"You denounce every tournament not held in Europe"
Concerning the FIDE Grand Prix, I merely considered it slightly odd that _all_ tournaments were held in "far southeastern Europe" (regardless of who is responsible for this turn of events). Concerning the US Championship, I just pointed out that it was not quite as strong as claimed - and that it is misleading to use USCF ratings (almost systematically higher than FIDE ratings) to substantiate such claims.

"You have those "I'd rather see a well-known European player" moments when it comes to inviting someone somewhere."
For the London tournament, I considered it premature to invite Pashikian, but instead I suggested Sargissian or Gashimov. Nakamura and Ni Hua were already invited to represent the "rest of the world".

Back to the World Cup invitations: If some Americans interpret my previous comment as bias against Robson, actually I would like to see both him and Giri. For Pelletier, I just speculated why he got the ticket. And BTW, anyone with a "big recent achievement" would already be qualified for the World Cup, and thus would not depend on a wildcard.

thanks, very nice pictures from Bobby Fisher
btw, the direct link is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXyj50oeerQ

Regarding Pelletier, you first said:

"So I consider, and would endorse his nomination as a gesture of sympathy and compensation."

and then this becomes:

"For Pelletier, I just speculated why he got the ticket."
which is clearly not the same.

The city of Montreal, Quebec has produced Kevin Spraggett, Alexandre Lesiège, and Pascal Charbonneau, all on its very own -- unlike your piece of s**t American cities, depending on Russian expats to fill your stables.

Something tells me that Auditor is Canadian. Something else tells me he isn't too fond of the USA.
Don't ask me how I know, I just have a kind of sixth sense about these things.

Whoa Auditor! Why the anti-American sentiment? Pray tell what the bigger issue is here. Though the cold Canadian soil has apparently birthed these chess stars with just a little water and TLC, why does the U.S. not get any credit for players like Nakamura, Hess, Robson and Shankland?

Of the three guys you mention while slagging the US chess system, two left Canada and the other dumped chess for poker.

Except for Kamsky, none of our top 10 players were born in Russia and he defected to the United States in 1989 when he was only 15 years old.

1 Nakamura, Hikaru g USA 2735 17 1987
2 Onischuk, Alexander g USA 2699 0 1975
4 Seirawan, Yasser g USA 2646 0 1960
5 Shulman, Yuri g USA 2638 9 1975
6 Akobian, Varuzhan g USA 2636 9 1983
7 Ehlvest, Jaan g USA 2607 28 1962
7 Shabalov, Alexander g USA 2607 26 1967
9 Kaidanov, Gregory S g USA 2583 0 1959
10 Christiansen, Larry M g USA 2578 0 1956

"Something tells me that Auditor is Canadian. Something else tells me he isn't too fond of the USA. Don't ask me how I know, I just have a kind of sixth sense about these things."


Interesting news from the 4th Kolkata Grandmaster Open 2009 as reported on TWIC:

French Champion Vladislav Tkachiev reached 2.5/4 with a win against Suri Vaibhav. Tkachiev made unwelcome headlines in round 3 when he turned up to the board drunk against Praveen Kumar and was defaulted after an hour because he kept dropping off to sleep and eventually had to be carried away from the board. There was talk of excluding him from the tournament but he clearly played the next round.

Regarding my two Pelletier quotes, I agree that they sound different - but they come down to the same thing: I couldn't think of a different reason why Pelletier was chosen, and in my first post I said that this is a valid reason (in my opinion, hence anyone can disagree).

But maybe things went differently, and it was mostly a matter of geography to start with, such as:
1) There are already plenty of ex-Soviet players, plus 4 organizer nominees (still to be determined, but presumably Russian)
2) Let's move to Asia: We have already many from India and China, Wesley So from the Philippines is also qualified, why not Iran?
3) Let's take an American player: noone from Canada is eligible, let's pick an American
4) The rest should be from Europe ... moving his finger with closed eyes across the map: Bulgaria, Italy, Switzerland, France

Anyway, interesting to compare this with the previous World Cup (source Wikipedia):
President's nominees were Rublevsky, Bareev, Zhigalko, Rahman and Savchenko.
Organizer's nominees were Alekseev (then a rising star who hadn't qualified by other means?), Kabanov, Pridorozhni and Gemba [the last three are Russian, maybe Siberian IMs].

I'm guessing that the names do not sound WASP enough for him. I suppose the list should contain only names like Smith and Jones? Or better yet, Wounded Face and Dancing Eagle? The US is a melting pot whose regional pride is only outdone by its friendly northern neighbors.

Nice post. :)

I find it impossible to rave for my alleged home team the "United States" team. Rootless mercenaries comprise the whole team (even U.S.-born Naka offered a sellout to Japan) and not even much of one.

Of the entire Soviet exodus we plucked only one 2700? How did Spain outbid us on Shirov? Why didn't the CIA asset-strip Russia as it did the nuclear scientists? If we're to have mercenaries I demand at minimum:

1. Kramnik, Moro, Pono, and Grischuk (with Shirov on reserve.)
2. Judit Polgar (no, Susan alone won't do)

Well, except for Christiansen, ALL of your top 10 players defected to the United States sooner or later...

My biggest gripe has to do with the craggy, asymmetrical looks of the mostly-imported-from-undernourished-countries "United States" team. They're each funny-looking with a handful of exceptions.

So, who is the best looking team? ;)

I much prefer the rotund asymmetrical looks of US-born players- the kind of massive flesh acreages I saw in Times Square during my last US trip.

I've been to Time Square a few times, and I didn't see too many Americans there. It is basically where tourists go to look at each other.

I loved Short's sympathetic attitude towards Tkachiev.

"Chess star Nigel Short, the biggest attraction at the event, expressed his disgust at the incident, advising the organisers to promptly eject him from the tournament. "

I'll be waiting for the next Short-Tkachiev match :)

Going back to Vinay Bhat, he just beat Shulman in 26 moves.

I beat Vinay Bhat in 30-something moves. As the black side of a Caro-Kann. When Bhat was 9 years old and rated in the 1900s.

"Well, except for Christiansen, ALL of your top 10 players defected to the United States sooner or later..."

Although it's true they left other countries, defect

(to desert a cause, country, etc., esp. in order to adopt another (often fol. by from or to): He defected from the U.S.S.R to the West.)

usually refers to leaving the former USSR for political reasons. #1 Nakamura's parents moved here from Japan shortly after he was born. #3 Kamsky's parents decided to defect when he was 15. He didn't. #4 Seirawan was born in Syria, spent some in England, and moved here when he was 7. The rest may have moved here after the breakup of the USSR, because they wanted to live here. If so, I wouldn't describe them as defectors either.

What difference does it make? They're human beings and I value them as such. They immigrated from other countries just like my wife, my grandfather, and everyone in America including the Indians whose ancestors walked over from Asia.

"I beat Vinay Bhat in 30-something moves. As the black side of a Caro-Kann. When Bhat was 9 years old and rated in the 1900s."

If you hadn't said 30-something moves, I had a strong case that you are GM Pavel Blatny. ;)

3 Cheers for Bhat & Bluvshtein!

American GM Bhat and the Canadian GM Bluvshtein outplayed 5 2600+ GMs!

1. Naiditsch, Arkadij g GER 2697 * ½ ½ . 1 1 1 . 0 1 . ½ 5½ 2770
2. Bacrot, Etienne g FRA 2721 ½ * ½ ½ . ½ . 1 . 1 1 ½ 5½ 2736
3. Maze, Sebastien g FRA 2546 ½ ½ * ½ . . ½ 0 1 . 1 1 5 2727
4. Bhat, Vinay S g USA 2473 . ½ ½ * 0 . 0 1 ½ 1 1 . 4½ 2662
5. Kovalyov, Anton g ARG 2557 0 . . 1 * ½ ½ 1 . ½ ½ ½ 4½ 2657
6. Bluvshtein, Mark g CAN 2558 0 ½ . . ½ * 1 ½ ½ . 0 1 4 2642
7. Onischuk, Alexander g USA 2699 0 . ½ 1 ½ 0 * . ½ ½ . 1 4 2598
8. Tiviakov, Sergei g NED 2674 . 0 1 0 0 ½ . * . ½ 1 1 4 2584
9. Akobian, Varuzhan g USA 2626 1 . 0 ½ . ½ ½ . * 0 ½ ½ 3½ 2555
10. Shulman, Yuri g USA 2648 0 0 . 0 ½ . ½ ½ 1 * ½ . 3 2529
11. Roussel-Roozmon, Thomas m CAN 2487 . 0 0 0 ½ 1 . 0 ½ ½ * . 2½ 2459
12. Moiseenko, Alexander g UKR 2682 ½ ½ 0 . ½ 0 0 0 ½ . . * 2 2441

Is Bhat going pro? He seems to be playing often -- and pretty darn well -- this year.

I have no idea, but his 2662 performance level impresses me and matches the rating of these 2 tough top 75 GMs!

71 Dreev, Alexey g RUS 2662 27 1969
72 Caruana, Fabiano g ITA 2662 17 1992

I'm assuming Bhat is seriously trying to make a go at it. I assume he's still on the Samford scholarship this year so why not?

"Bhatting" lol. Since when the North American Mig become a North Indian Mig??!!

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on September 2, 2009 5:01 PM.

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