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Bloody in Bilbao

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We all enjoy surprises, but sometimes things work out just like you expected. Four of the sharpest and most aggressive players in elite chess have come together in Bilbao for the Grand Slam Final and five of the first six games have ended decisively. Sure, now we'll hear about mistakes and inconsistency, etc., just so we can go back to complaining about too many draws and not enough risk-taking at the next event where cooler heads prevail. So let's just enjoy it. The 3-1-0 scoring system probably doesn't hurt, but really that has never seemed to do much, or even altered the final standings at the top in most cases. With guys like these four they'd slug it out for roasted peanuts in the park.

In round two Grischuk took the early lead by winning his second in a row, over Shirov, in a nice endgame. Meanwhile Aronian bounced back to play an impressive queenless attacking game against Karjakin. Everything was scrambled in today's third round as tailender Karjakin beat leader Grischuk in a very nice Lopez sustained kingside attack. Much less nice was Shirov's horrible loss to Aronian on the white side of a Marshall Gambit. Shirov lost on the black side of this same line last year to Gashimov. He gets credit for declining to repeat moves, but he regretted the decision very quickly. White was so tied up he just resigned before waiting for the hammer to fall on g3. Ugly stuff to play a half-dozen moves out of theory and then resign with white. It's hard to say what he missed.

Wednesday is a free day. More tomorrow after I get some sleep.


I have heard the commentary by Leontxo Garcia and his group of invited commentators in the official site. I have to say that it has been quite enjoyable, especially when they start to talk on topics "outside chess" or relative to coaching lessons for kids. It's been a long time ago since the last time I heard live commentary of a chess game in Spanish and I really enjoyed it; I am putting the broadcast during my daily work and listening like Chess.fm (when I had the option to do it), for example. Besides, it is nice to see how despite the limitations in oral communication in English from Spaniards and the chess players, you can understand everything in a friendly environment.

So, I can share some impressions from the players I remember:

1) When asked if the situation in the glass cube has improved in terms of sound (because they say in the first round players could hear the voices of Leontxo Garcia), Shirov answered:

"Well, yes, now I can hear not only the voice of Leontxo, but Santi's voice too" (Santiago -I forgot is last name- is an invited commentator) "However, this is not an excuse for my bad performance so far".

2) When asked how much his Spanish Language skills have inproved in Bilbao, Aronian said:

"Well, I am not the best at speaking languages, but my "restaurant spanish" is quite good".

3) On today's game, Aronian and Shirov were asked on the key point of their game. Aronian said that the position after move 24. Bh1 was analyzed by him before Dresden Olympiad and he felt back then that white is in trouble and the best it can do is to fight for equality. Shirov considered that his decisive mistake was 25. Re2 (commentators were suggesting 25. Ra6 as an option), he said "anything different than Re2 would have been a good move". He was thinking in the possibility of playing the pawn to f3 at some point, but once he realized it was impossible (he said "a mistake from an amateur"), he was so disgusted with the position he got that he collapsed, even if he may have some drawing chances after move 25.

4) On yesterday's game, Shirov commented that the decisive mistake in his game was 26..Rc8, he said that he underestimated the danger in the endgame after the exchange of rooks in c1 (that was in his plan as well as Grischuk's). Grischuk said he was fortunate to get a won position (in his opinion) just after passing the first time control.

5) Finally, yesterday players were asked on the news or Kasparov coaching Carlsen, but honestly, I forgot what they said.

¨The 3-1-0 scoring system probably doesn't hurt, but really that has never seemed to do much, or even altered the final standings at the top in most cases.¨

That´s exactly the point of the system , a boost on overall fighting spirit without altering much of the final standings .
Sooner than later all tournaments will have Bilbao and/or Sofia rules implemented.

"1) When asked if the situation in the glass cube has improved in terms of sound (because they say in the first round players could hear the voices of Leontxo Garcia), Shirov answered:

"Well, yes, now I can hear not only the voice of Leontxo, but Santi's voice too" (Santiago -I forgot is last name- is an invited commentator) "However, this is not an excuse for my bad performance so far"."


"a boost on overall fighting spirit without altering much of the final standings"

snake mittens


Well so far is working pretty good, and London also seems to think that the hands of the reptil are cold.


Not that it really matters, but I am sure a certain opening used to be called the Marshall Attack. Is it the Marshall Gambit now? (Yes, of course I know it's a gambit.)

Yes, surely Shirov-Aronian is the Marshall Attack.

I knew about Marshall Gambit as in 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e4. However Wikipedia, the world's most trustworthy source, also lists 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 and 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 exd5 5.e4 as being called Marshall Gambit. Is this correct?

I believe the gambit 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qa5 4. b4 is also associated with Marshall's name.

Thanks. Is there any gambit _not_ associated with Marshall's name? :)

If it's for real (who would decide, FIDE or a group of journalists?): I would say the "name change" of the Ruy Lopez Marshall might reflect changing intentions of the black players using it, or changes in how their white opponents are currently dealing with this opening line.

There are currently not too many crushing "Marshall attacks" such as Shirov - Aronian (or, in San Sebastian, Vachier-Lagrave - Svidler). A much more common scenario is: white 'escapes' into an ending, even keeping his extra pawn. However, concessions which he has to make on the way (e.g. surrendering the bishop pair or accepting opposite-colored bishops) mean that the ending is drawn in most cases, despite white's material advantage. Accordingly, these days the Marshall is mostly considered a drawing weapon.

So should it rather be called the "Marshall active defense", avoiding the (closed) "Spanish torture"? Just like the Sicilian is really a counterattack rather than a defense ... all in all: What's in a name?

Yes, there are quite a few. Marshall was a real firebrand gambiteer though.
I think the 2...Nf6 line in the Scandinavian is known as the Marshall variation rather than gambit tho.
The line 1.e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4. b4 is not named after Marshall though.

There's also the e4 thrust in the Slav- Marshall gambit too.

Loving this quote from the official site.

"In 2006 the picture of Veselin Topalov and Judith Polgar blindfolded playing a “blindfold” game in the Guggenheim Museum went around the world. According to specialised journalists, the media impact obtained was parallel to the impact of the greatest chess events in history. Spassky-Fischer, Kasparov-Karpov, and Kasparov-“Deep Blue”. Topalov won 3.5 – 2.5, but above all chess won."

'Parallel' to Fischer-Spassky, eh?

There's puffery, and then there's outright lies. You decide.

Topalov played Polgár in a blindfold match in 2006? I usually know about pretty much all recent top-level events, including these blindfold stunts and similar, but this one I just couldn't remember. I had to google it. Reading the Chessbase report I did get vague memories about watching some of the games. Maybe for others it's as memorable as Fischer-Spassky and Kasparov-Karpov, but not for me I have to admit :)

I am not big fan of the 3-1-0 system, but on the other side I really appreciate the blood on the chessboards in Bilbao. It is a pity that my favorite Shirov is beaten too many times...

"According to specialised journalists, the media impact obtained was parallel to the impact of the greatest chess events in history. Spassky-Fischer, Kasparov-Karpov, and Kasparov-“Deep Blue”"

Parallel to these matches yes, but still somewhat behind the Topalov-Nisipeanu match wrt impact on chess history.

I didn't remember this one either. Whereas I can remember at least 2-3 games from each of the other matches in some detail.

Clearly, the Topalov-Polgar isn't anywhere *close* to the other three.

The only thing i can remember about that match , is Judith saying that she was cheering for Topa during Elista .

The fighting spirit in Bilbao is not due to the 3-1-0 scoring system. The reason is of course Sofia rules. My understanding is that the players cannot offer a draw during the games, so they have to play until the end or draw by three times repetition of the position.

I have 2 trivia questions for you guys.

1. What was the first time that a current world champion had ever been beaten by a computer opponent under regular tournament conditions?

2. What opening did the computer play?

P.S. I've heard Fritz's interface is not intuitive. Is this true?

1. Deep Blue beated Garry Kasparov back in 1996 , if u consider him as the reigning World Champ at that time , after the Schism.. Or , if you consider Kramnik reigning World Champion , he got beated in 2006 by Deep Fritz. Since you ask about Fritz in another part of your post i guess you had this match in your mind..

2. Fritz -Kramnik was a Queen's Gambit Accepted

As far as Fritz's interface.. It's not , actually, super intuitive.. But better , in my opinion , than Rybka Aquarium , as an example...

How pathetic. Never mind Fischer-Spassky, the aborted Fischer-Reshevsky match probably had a media impact that was an order of magnitude higher.

"1. Deep Blue beated Garry Kasparov back in 1996"


And I thought it was a trick question.

I think this 3-1-0 scoring system is nonsense. 3 0 3 (3 wins 3 losses) "9" points will place before 1 5 0 "8" points.

The natural result between strong players quite often is a draw and I find it counter-intuitive that it's possible to place better with inferior score (percentage, that is). So far it's just luck that the standings weren't altered this way.

Anyway I think the players, and possibly the Sofia Rule, is to be thanked for the drawing percentage so far.

So what you are saying is that things are good but not thanks to Bilbao which is devious enough to spoil the final standings but has nothing to do with the low drawing percentage.
Those who dislike the Bilbao rule should consider that this may not be the best moment for nitpicking.
Wonderfull tournament so far.

I like the 3 and 1 scoring because winning should be rewarded. In addition to what others have said about the 3 and 1 scoring system for soccer, there is also the same scoring in horseshoes...3 points for a ringer and one point for a shoe that is close but not a ringer.

1.Aronian 3pts 2-3. Grischuk, Karjakin 2pts, 4 Shirov 1pt.

Your example highlights why the 3-points-system works: With normal points it's more rational to choose a safety-first strategy, not risk losing, choose the slightly better but drawish continuation and end up 1 5 0. In Bilbao it's more rational to go for the risky 50/50-chance and end up 3 0 3.
I don't particularly like this aspect but I'm sure it works. The reason that it doesn't make much difference in the tournament result is everyone can do the maths so nobody ends up 1 5 0.

Aronian is HOOOT. This guy is the next world champion.

I don't know about that, but he is one of the top 3 players in the world.

Really? What about Karlsenov?

I see two more reasons why there are few draw in Bilbao - both unrelated to either Sofia or Bilbao rules and only the first under the organizers' control:
1) The tournament is a short sprint, only six games, so:
- players don't need extra rest days
- players have to take more risks to win the tournament, because a more solid approach ("I play positional chess, many games will be drawn but I will also win a few - which is good enough as long as I don't lose any") won't work here. Note that for me there is nothing wrong with such a style, and wins can be real masterpieces.
Anyway: Should the organizers be praised for going from six to four players, because this encourages fighting chess and may reduce the number of draws?
2) Shirov seems to be out of form. His endgame against Grischuk might have been drawn with best play, and his loss against Aronian was also not necessary.

Regarding the 3-point rule:
- The analogy with soccer doesn't really work IMO: In soccer, you can still go for a win until the very last minute. In chess, there are situations (positions on the board) when a draw can no longer be avoided.
- Should Karjakin and Shirov really be "punished" for their two draws? I would say both games had more 'content' than Aronian's win against Shirov (of course that wasn't Aronian's fault).

3-1-0 is just a gimmick to punish the Kramniks and Lekos of the world who go ==+==+==+ to make +3, instead of the Morozevichian ++-=+=++-.

I just think that draws are not a problem, they are a natural part of chess. It´s no sense in punishing the draw as such - which the 3 1 0 system does.

What I don´t like is when players agree to draws after just a few moves or in positions with plenty of play left - which is why I like the Sofia Rule. I agree with Mig: Ban the draw offer!

Also there is no sense in accepting claims for "theoretical draws". I´m sure many players who know that a certain (slightly inferior) position is a theoretical draw will not be able to defend it. If so, show us!

"Should Karjakin and Shirov really be "punished" for their two draws?" (Thomas)

Of course they should be. If you fail to win, you should be punished by not getting the full winner's share of points. It does not matter how you ended up drawing the game or how creative you were in playing it. The fact is that in the final outcome, you failed to win it.

Poker pros like Grischuk know how to jizz the 3-1-0 dual-play system, getting Aronian to trade losses with him ending with +3 points for each, rather than just 2 with draws. Shirov and Karjakin obviously weren't in on such a deal.

If players are willing to preplan a drawn match, there is even more reason to believe that they will plan mutual losses. So we avoid draws, but get intential losses instead. Interesting point.

One thing I've wondered about is if Bilbao scoring is compatible with the rating system.

For example, let's say that two players A and B play in a 6-round round robin, and A and B's ratings are equal at the start. Let's say A finishes the with 3 wins and 3 losses and B finishes with 1 win and 5 draws. Then in the tournament A has 3 * 3 = 9 points, and B has 3 + 5 = 8 points, so A places higher. However, B has 3.5/6 vs. 3/6, so he will finish the tournament with the higher rating. This somehow seems odd.

I guess a counter-argument could be that even standard scoring sometimes places tournament placing and ratings at odds, since you will often see a player with a big lead play it safely to maximize his chances of winning the tournament, instead of playing to win against weaker players and maximizing his expected rating gain.

Sad to drag Aronian in with Grischuk in a possible loss-swap, but all the incentives exist for it to fly, so the burden of proofing otherwise lays on them. Everytime whenever you go win-loss in a double-play 3-1-0 system, especially early rounders, eyebrows will be on edge.

I think viva_belize! was joking, but I wanted to make the same point. Karjakin and Shirov played two interesting draws, both relevant for opening theory, both ending with a perpetual check that heither player could really avoid. This yields them 2 point each. If they had made a deal ("you blunder in game 1, I blunder in game 2"), they would have gotten 3 points each.
Actually even if they "exaggerated" playing the following 'games':
Karjakin-Shirov 1.f3?! e5 2.g4?? Qh4 mate
Shirov-Karjakin 1.e4 d5 2.ed5: Qd5: 3.Ke2?? Qe4 mate
Of course this won't happen, they couldn't come up with proper answers to questions at the press conference ,:).

For "Bilbao-type ratings", we ("someone") would have to develop completely new calculation algorithms. As John Fernandez pointed out, the Bilbao scoring system favors "Morozevich-type players" with an entertaining, adventurous and sometimes unsound playing style over solid players as Kramnik and Leko (whether this makes sense and/or should be praised is another story).

But as the rating system is based on the difference between actual score and expected score, Morozevich would be required to score more points!? Let's assume Kramnik and Moro had the same rating, and both would be expected to score 50% (with the classical scoring system) in a 10-round event. Then Kramnik's "expected Bilbao score" might be 10 points (=10), and Moro's expected score might be 13 points (+3 =4 -3) ... .

It would be time-consuming to say the least to develop entirely new algorithms [I doubt frogbert is willing to do such a job ,:)]; therefore even Bilbao is rated based on the "other" scoring system.


Priceless! LOL
Thanks Luke!

As far as Leko is concerned, the last game is usually a -.

About "solid" players like Kramnik and Leko...

I have written about it earlier that "the natural result between strong players is a draw" statement is an unfounded and prejudiced stereotype used by GM-s to perpetuate a certain attitude towards chess (allowing them to be happy about not being able to beat their opponent). The "solid" players, those who have a better ability to draw, actually just exploit an unfair artifact in traditional chess scoring: that is, that two failures (to win) score equally as one success and one larger failure.

Just imagine another artifact: let's say after every drawn game a bullet game needed to be played to decide who succeeds and scores. Now that obviously would give advantage to Nakamura over Leko&Kramnik, Naka thus becoming the more "solid" player in this scoring system. We have no logical reason to call this system less just or fair or "natural" than the traditional one, whose justness is just based on the "draw is nice and natural and not a failure at all" prejudice.

So the current "solid" players just exploit an unfair advantage. Sorry Leko (my compatriot).

On your first paragraph just that much: IMO a well-fought draw is something both players can be pleased with or even proud of, hence not a (double) failure (as this is a Bilbao thread, I would include both games between Shirov and Karjakin in this category). Obviously this is "IMO" - anyone can disagree, either fundamentally or because he doesn't bother to notice differences between well-fought draws and short premature ones.

On your second paragraph: such a strategy (drawing the classical games, maybe after just a few moves, and hoping for rapid and blitz tiebreaks) actually occurs in the World Cup. I think one example is Tkachiev - recently in the news for other reasons, and openly saying that he prefers blitz over slower time controls.

In the movie "I Was a Teenage Frankenstein" the mad scientist uses various body parts to create a teenaged monster. However, the monster retains his teenage brain and when he sees himself in the mirror, he is displeased with his face. He wants a handsome face, one that will attract the girls, not some hideous monster face created by the mad scientist.

He becomes unhappy with the mad scientist and at one point refuses to cooperate or even talk. The mad scientist gets angry and yells at him "Speak to me! I know you have a civil tongue in your head! I sewed it in myself!"

Let's see what happens in the movie "I Was a Teenage World Chess Champion" being produced right now, starring Garrus Karlsenov as the monster. The mad scientist screams "Play the 4...a6 Slav Defense! You know how to play it! I programmed it into you myself!"

"a well-fought draw is something both players can be pleased with or even proud of": the white player can be pleased or proud of a draw just like you can for a good fight that you eventually lost. In both cases, you did a lot of things right or even brilliantly, but eventually came short.

Cars and houses are not very cheap and not everybody is able to buy it. However, loan was created to aid people in such kind of cases.

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    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on September 8, 2009 10:24 PM.

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