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Кarlsen Starts Hot in Nanjing

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It's starting to look like we can make Magnus Carlsen an unofficial member of the "K" club. (It works better in Russian, where he's already Карлсен., so call it the "К" club.) But from the way he bashed a King's Indian yesterday in Nanjing maybe he's been working with Kramnik as well as Kasparov! In the refreshingly surreal poetry of the official site, Carlsen "played up the song of victory" against world #1 Veselin Topalov in round two. His second consecutive win moved the 18-year-old into a full-point lead after the other two games were again drawn. An impressive start, taking full advantage of the first spot in the draw and the two whites out of the gate. From memory, Morozevich and Grischuk did the same at Biel and Bilbao, respectively, though neither of them hung on to win!

Topalov surprised with a King's Indian and with 6.h3 Carlsen avoided the most popular variations of the Classical, particularly the b4 Bayonet lines. An original position arrived relatively quickly for a KID, with the atypical situation of Black going for a king assault on the queenside. White didn't have corresponding early play on the queenside, which would be bad news in a Sicilian. Here it slowly became clear that Topalov had little on the queenside despite the presence of White's king. Carlsen grabbed the black a-pawn and defended with what looked like ease while slowly getting his kingside attack rolling. You don't see Topalov go down with so little effective counterplay very often. Impressive control from Carlsen. Garry Kasparov certainly enjoyed the show his protege put on, though he told me he thought Carlsen's first-round win against Leko was even better.

In the other second-round games Jakovenko and Wang Yue turned in a sharp and creative Petroff (!) that nevertheless ended in a draw. From lead into gold there we had the opposite alchemy on the other board as Leko tried to turn Radjabov's Dragon into a narcoleptic gecko but misplaced his pieces during the exchanges. Another nice effort from Radjabov, who started with two blacks and held both the KID and Sicilian confidently.

Carlsen finally slowed down in round three, not a surprise with White against Wang Yue, aka "The Cooler." (My current choice since too many people actually believed me when I said his name meant "Sleepy Panda" in Chinese.) Actually these two have been anything but cool against each other this year. Wang Yue beat Carlsen at Corus and, spectacularly, in Linares. Then Carlsen doubled him up at Amber, beat him at MTel, and knocked him out in the Leon Rapid. Today they renewed their battles in the 4.Bf4 Grunfeld, though Carlsen went with 5..0-0 instead of the more popular ..c5 he's played in the past. In fact, Black performed the remarkable feat of not touching his c-pawn until sneaking it to c6 on move seven. His unusual 6..Be6 was played by yet another К, Korchnoi, well before Carlsen's father was born. It seems to invite 7.Qb3, but Wang Yue closed the center immediately. Mission accomplished, the black bishop headed to the usual g4 square a few moves later. 9.Qc2 looks really odd to me and Carlsen's reaction of 9..Nfd7, threatening to grab the initiative with ..e5, was right on point.

More aggressive play followed from the Norwegian, who went after White's loitering king with the pawn sac ..e5 and ..f6. Soon Black had his pawn back, the bishop pair, and a strong knight on c4. It looked like only a matter of time before Carlsen went to 3/3, but Wang Yue is nothing if not hard to beat and his play on the h-file arrived just in time to hold the balance after Carlsen's grip slipped with 27..Nd6. 27..Bf5 cuts the shenanigans. Black kept the edge while Wang Yue found many accurate moves to stay alive. On the final move of time control Carlsen had 40..Rxg6 threatening the nasty ..Rg5 followed by ..Rxg2+ (after removing the white queen's control of the g5 square). 44.Re8! saved the day for the final time. A fantastic game, if something of a disappointment for Carlsen fans. Still, although he missed some opportunities it was an impressive initiative grab early and inspired middlegame play with black.

Radjabov used his first white to give us our second Scotch in a row, which jibes nicely with the five in a row I could use right now after a long day with a feverish and angry baby. Radjabov went for an offbeat queenless middlegame with an open g-file as compensation for his fractured pawns. He often does well conjuring attacking chances in these positions so there's no point in criticizing his early diversions from the approved theoretical lines. That said, outshuffling an elite player from these not-quite-an-endgame positions is rarely seen unless Kramnik's the one doing the shuffling. White's tiny plus never added up to more than Jakovenko could handle. Topalov-Leko was an Anti-Marshall where White declines to enter the topical "Marshall Delayed" lines with 11.Nxe5, as Svidler played against Leko earlier this year. Topalov played against type by grabbing a pawn with the sham sac 22.Bxf7+ when he might have played for more activity with 22.Nb4. He did keep the pawn all the way into a R+N endgame. With the possibility of giving up the knight for a pawn always in the air these are very hard to win, and Leko and his active king drew it comfortably here.

Carlsen still leads on +2 with Radjabov, Wang Yue, and Jakovenko on even and Topalov and Leko on -1. Round 4: Wang Yue-Leko, Radjabov-Topalov, Jakovenko-Carlsen. The official site's 'results' page shows how someone unfamiliar to chess might do it, by listing each player next to their individual score. Funny. But apparently someone explained crosstables to the editor after the second round and the results and pairings are now up on the schedule page.


Great to have you back, Mig.
I’ve been looking for your report on rounds 2 and 3.

Great to be back, as the saying goes. My daughter had to stay out of daycare sick for the last few days, so my usual late-night update time was spent on doing the work I usually do during the day. She was fine this afternoon, finally. And couldn't resist the Wang Yue-Carlsen game, really a deep one.

More Kasparovian aroma from Carlsen's direction.

In Valencia, Kasparov mentioned working with Carlsen "probably" on the Gruenfeld, and material for Nanjing. Likely this prep included Carlsen's 6.... Be6, possibly even specifically for Wang Yue (perhaps especially Wang Yue because of move predictability.)

Magnus Genrikhovich Karlsen?

And today, the Najdorf! Another new weapon. Yikes. I was wondering what he would play against 1.e4. Garry was never much of a believer in the Dragon for black, despite shocking Anand with it back in 95. Though it would be bizarre if he gives up his old repertoire entirely. Of course, as with the Scotch in round one, there's got to be a little extra kick to his opponents by his playing a "Kasparov" opening now that everybody knows about the collaboration. That will wear off soon enough, of course, but with this being his first event since the news broke it's got to at least cross his opponents' minds for a moment.

I mean, do you prepare for Carlsen or Kasparov? No real info from the Topalov game since Garry didn't get much practice against the KID -- except against Carlsen in their rapid match in 2004! Garry's last serious shot at the KID was way back in 1996 against none other than Kramnik. And, coincidentally I'm sure, Kasparov played an h3 line just like Carlsen did.

Intimidation aside, Kasparov's influence is probably at least as much about systematic work in the opening phase as about specific novelties and opening lines. And even for a stud like Carlsen you'd have to be concerned about introducing too many new openings at once. There's a risk of breadth without depth and getting into trouble in lines where you don't have much personal experience.

Am guessing Kasparov emptied his full bag of TNs into Carlsen's brain.

Are we sure the Scotch was Kasparov's influence? As you said before he abandoned it in 2001, seeming not to trust it any more. When asked in NIC why he didn't try something else instead of trying to tear down the Berlin Wall against Kramnik, he replied "To what? To the Scotch? Do you understand that the Scotch is more vulnerable than the Ruy Lopez?" Of course, that is not a secret, and he still thought it good enough for WCh matches against Karpov, Short and Anand, so maybe it was more a statement about Kramnik than about the Scotch.

"you" = Mig

Of course, Kasparov helped him preparing it, but it may have been Carlsen's idea altogether.

High time Topalov showed why he's the No. 1 ranked player in the world! Lets see what he does in this today's game. Looks interesting so far.

I like 19.. d5! I didnt think it was possible, but looks like it neatly solves the problem of the QN and sets up loads of tactics.

Gosh, Topalov playing some finely balanced tactics here! Doesnt he come out slighlty on top at the end, at least a pawn?

The online commentator at Chesspro (Sergei Zagrebelny!?) gave Radjabov a winning advantage if he played Re8+ a move earlier (instead of Bf5+), but still preferred white after Bf5.

Wang-Lékó a very solid draw. Good for the latter. Now just start winning tomorrow.

Yeah, Re8+ would have avoided ..Nc8 and won the queen.

The line was:

19... d5 20.exd6 Bxb2 21.Kxb2 Qxd6
22... Rxe8 23.Bf5 Kb8 24.Rxd6 cxd6 25.Qxd6 Ka8 26.Qxc5 Re2 27.Ka3 Rxg2 28.Nd4 with a winning advantage.

Umm wait, Black would get two rooks. I thought just rook and bishop for some reason!?

How about 22 Re8+ first, instead of 22 Bf5+?:
...Rxe8; Bf5+, Nd7 (...Kb8?; Rxd6, cxd6; Qxd6+); Rxd6, cxd6; Qxd6 looks better for White, no?! Did Radjabov mix up his move order, or miss this, or am I missing something?

It would hardly have won the Q. Rather Exchange for 2 rooks.

In any case he now has a clear extra pawn.

ok, this looks better for W but I think B can hold?

Carlsen in another crazy time scramble in a complex position.

After 43.Rf6 Radjabov has excellent winning chances. B + N has more trouble defending against R + passer than one might think and White's rook can also swing over to attack the a-pawn sometimes.

"High time Topalov showed why he's the No. 1 ranked player in the world!"

Either that or it's about high time Topalov leaves the number one spot he stopped deserving quite some time ago.

Radjabov has all the chances and Topalov a thankless defense. Those long forcing lines starting with 19... d5 now dont look so good :-(

When did he stop deserving that? Last 1,5 years or so he has had a long string of very good results.

ROFL. "Deserve"? The rating is based on results. Its not a vote.

Amazing -- Carlsen wins again to reach 3.5/4, while no other player in the tournament has won even one single game yet. And he had a winning position against Wang as well.

How is Jakovenko contriving to lose this???? I thought he had an easy draw. Has the transmission broken down for anybody?

Lucky win for Karlsen today , game aviable here too : http://games.chessdom.com/jakovenko-carlsen-live

It was probably already lost, but I found 60.h4 a very strange move, allowing the textbook 60..h5 and White is stuck with another weakness. Did not seem all that trivial to win otherwise, although much harder still to hold in the long run.

Can someone please explain chess to me, because I thought that a passed pawn on d7 protected by a queen and rook is a good thing.

More than one Nanjing game has deteriorated in the post-control action phase. But unless we bring back adjournments, there's no easy fix.

Wow, Carlsen won again! I'll stick my neck out and say that the endgame before Qs were exchanged and perhaps even after was at least equal, if not better for White, but its very complex. This is one reason I find Carlsen so compelling. Doesnt seem to believe in copouts. Fights to the end, turns inferior positions into superior ones, constantly sets problems for his opponents, has profound opening knowledge, plays the middlegame very inventovely, and the endgame superlatively. Hmmm... remind you of anyone? :-)

How's jetlag as a possible factor? Carlsen adjusted immediately, according to his dad in Chessbase interview. May partly explain Carlsen's great run, endgame collapse of Jakovenko.

Wang Yue, OTOH, has failed to exploit Home Bed Advantage, letting opponents off the hook too easily with white.

Sleepy panda, aka "the cooler" needs to seriously think about his White repertoire.

Is this tournament using anti-draw methods? Sofia rules? (If so, it's not working.)

I think I read that Wang Yue came straight from playing elsewhere in China a couple of days previously, so he might also be tired. Anyway, as the lowest rated player drawing's not bad for now.

Talking of ratings - it's getting interesting at the top!

01 Topalov 2804,9 -8.1
02 Anand 2788,0 0
03 Carlsen 2786,6 +14.6
04 Aronian 2784,2 +11.2

"Either that or it's about high time Topalov leaves the number one spot he stopped deserving quite some time ago."


Well, Topalov has done very well -- just not recently. He is the world’s No. 1 player. But a world champion he is not.

We may well have a new World No. 1 before Topalov and Carlsen leave Nanjing. Mark my words! :)

Noteworthy in this tournament is that Carlsen has won 3 of 4 -- while nobody else has won anything at all!

In fairness, however, let it be said that most of the draws have come after very hard-fought games.

"We may well have a new World No. 1 before Topalov and Carlsen leave Nanjing."

That would be nice, but unlikeliy. He has to beat Topalov and at least a couple of other guys, while, and this may be the hardest part, Topalov must win none.

Yeah. He is still 18 points behind. That's a lot. Of course, he has already gotten 23 points closer in 4 rounds, but that is due to a VERY spectacular start combined with bad play by Topalov, and it is very unlikely that this trend will continue.

"Well, Topalov has done very well -- just not recently. He is the world’s No. 1 player. But a world champion he is not."

He was briefly, after winning San Luis. Now the WC is Anand.

He was never WC he lost to Kramnik.

That is a question without an objectively correct answer. Whether to recognize Topalov's title or not is entirely a matter of opinion. And it's most definitely not going to be sorted out by "yes he was", "no he wasn't".

hm ... isn't Jakovenko supposed to be very very good at endgame?

The ending was completely lost. The positions with Q+R+N vs Q+R+B with white's d7 is not an ending.

"he positions with Q+R+N vs Q+R+B with white's d7 is not an ending."

That is normally called "strategic endgame", the phase before the technical endgame. One would think Jakovenko would be very good at strategic endgame.

Perhaps Carlsen will apply to be in the computers rating pool.

Roamingwind: "That is normally called "strategic endgame", the phase before the technical endgame. One would think Jakovenko would be very good at strategic endgame."


Oh, I’m sure he is. Carlsen just proved to be better, that’s all. :)

"I mean, do you prepare for Carlsen or Kasparov?"


LOL, exactly my thought too! Radjabov must be wondering quite a lot, what will hit him tomorrow.

"We may well have a new World No. 1 before Topalov and Carlsen leave Nanjing. Mark my words! :)"


No, according to plan, that shall not happen before Carlsen is 19. :)

The way opponents collapse even in equal or better positions against Carlsen is a pointer to his "aura". And the best part is, he has gained this power to intimidate purely through his chess and by behaving like a perfect gentleman unlike Fischer or Kasparov. This we can cheer the most.

From Robert Fontaine's interview with Kasparov "...something is dead wrong, if nobody cares about everything else and everybody pays attention to a match of, okay, two old guys."

All of the discussion of Carlsen has a certain messianic quality. I want to see Carlsen win, but in reality I think I NEED to see Carlsen win. Chess thrives on legends. That's why everybody pays attention to "two old guys," because they are the legends. I want Carlsen to become a legend; to say "yeah, I got up at 5 to watch his games during the famous 'Massacre in Beijing'...that second game against Topalov with the forced mate in 12 was unforgettable." Maybe some other phenom will burst onto the scene to challenge him(cross my fingers and repeat, "Robson, Robson, Robson..."). Kasparov (or Karpov or better yet, Korchnoi)will burst into the offices of FIDE, banish the merchants from the temple and re-establish some dignity to the institution, and in 20 years we'll be talking of the famous Carlsen/whoever matches of 2020's.

The Kasparov vs Karpov match had a lot of (forced) media repercussion but not so much echo in the public as Kasparov might believe .
I´m not talking about indiference , but i got the feeling that in that aspect it was slightly below expectations , at least i have the feeling that his colaboration with Carlsen got much more interest from the public than his match with Karpov.
It was a clever thing to synchronize both events , though.

"And the best part is, he has gained this power to intimidate purely through his chess and by behaving like a perfect gentleman unlike Fischer or Kasparov. This we can cheer the most."

I very much agree. To me, Carlsen plays in the style of Fischer together with Capablanca's calm aura of superiority that beguiled his opponents. He's a fighter like Fischer with a sound and opportunistically aggressive style, and, like Capablanca, his opponents seem to play under a cloud of doom with a tendency to make errors they ordinarily wouldn't make.

Carlsen seems destined to become one of those once-in-a-generation chess geniuses that have become the stuff of legends in the history of our game.

No guarantees for the Anand match with Topalov. Can't be surprized if FIDE will thus continue to lock him out of the World Championship (compared to the FIDE World Championship of San Luis), at the least. Kasparov was correct that these guys can't interest a flea. Not sure that Karlsen will do better, as his potential seems largely to chess geeks at the current.

After he became WC. Kramnik also beat GK in a one-off match which he didnt qualify for. So his claim to the title wasn't all that pristine. To me, the choice is as follows.

First choice:
WC=Qualification + beating incumbent in a match

Second choice:
WC= qualification + multi-player tournament

Third choise:
WC = multi-player tournament

Fourth choice:
WC = qualifying loser + beating incumbent in match

Fifth choice:
WC = qualifying winner

Of course all this depends on the quality of the qualifying as well

I am hoping for Topalov's first point today... Wang's position seems a bit holey.. :)

Carlsen - Radjabov 1-0 in 25.....

uh-oh, aura of doom indeed!

A new Era has begun, we are witness to it this week.

OK, this is getting ridiculous! Is Carlsen hypnotizing his opponents??!!?? Didnt Radjabov just drop a piece today?

This is really bizarre:
Carlsen starts 4.5/5. His only draw is against the lowest rated player. No one else has won a game yet.
What is this? A Carlsen sparring camp, where everyone waits their turn to be beaten?

Radjabov shld have castled a long time ago.

Topalov dead draw.

Just wondering why chessbase still has no detailed report on the last rounds?? They are normally so quick. Chessvibes has beaten them to it this time.

and now this unofficial K club member has made it to the second spot on the liverating list!

BREAKING NEWS (Beijing): Veselin Topalov has just announced that he will withdraw from the planned World Championship match against reigning champion Viswanathan Anand. Topalov explains that he is "not worthy" and has instead requested that Magnus Carlsen take his place as challenger.

I just looked at that report, Bob - thanks for pointing that out.
I was surprised to see the pictures of Carlsen. He doesn't look too flash, in my opinion. No one under 35 has any business to have rings under the eyes like that. He looks very tired to me.

I have got it. I read about a study once, done in wrestling, where they found that wearing the colour red gives a statistically significant advantage.

Wait, here it is:


Now, who is the only one who wears red in Nanjing... This event is rigged, I tell you.



Relax, Kramnik is waiting for Carlsen in Moscow.

I'm getting some red shirts straight away.

I bet Kramnik is ordering some brown pants right now

I bet Kasparov has prepared a very special misile for Moscow, with KRAMNIK written all over it. Magnus is hungry for revenge after (humilating) loss in Dortmund, last time they met.

Vadar (Kramnik): Obi-Wan (Kasp) has taught you well. You have controlled your fear. Now, release your anger!

One of the Chinese GMs said on the official site live commentary that in China, people are saying that Carlsen is the third "卡". This is a Chinese character that is pronounced "Ka", and it is the first character in Carlsen's and (I assume) Kasparov and Karpov's Chinese names.

The official site live commentary can be really good if you can read Chinese.

Bah if it continues like this Carlsen won't win the tournament, he'll win the exhibition.

"No one under 35 has any business to have rings under the eyes like that."

..except the business includes working sessions with Garry Kasparov.

Astute observation!

Carlsen 4.5/5. Amazing !!!

btw, didn't Ivanchuk got 5.0/5 last year in one of the grand slam master?

Let's not forget that Topalov has a tendency to start out weak and then finish strong, as can usually be seen in his many Sofia performances.

I really hope that Carlsen continues to perform like this and that this isn't just one of those "perfect performances" that can't be repeated.

Topalov is probably handicaped due to need of saving opening preparations untill the WC match against Anand.

For the other players I see no excuse for lack of winning games.

This early? Its still more than 6 months before the match at least.

They have to save opening preparation until the Candidates.

Besides, Topalov has been playing badly in the middlegame. It may have something to do with it anyway, but still.

Yeah, while the main focus is already certainly the match, WCh match participants usually don't do that much worse this soon. Anand's Bilbao was just the months before.

darn, the MONTH before...sorry

Even if Topalov finishes strong, it's gonna be hard to catch Carlsen's +4. Topa has to finish VERY strongly AND Carlsen has to stop winning for that to happen.

What preparations are you talking about, Bobby F.?

Will chess generate a Carlsen Boom in the west?

We will start to see youngsters with a Carlsen haircut, sitting at the board with their lips held in the little Carlsen pout.

TV will show Carlsen on the sidelines at futbol games. Paparazzi pictures of Carlsen at the nightclub. Carlsen hobnobbing with the polo set. Carlsen flying in on the Concorde.

Parents will say, "Study hard, like little Carlsen did!"

I have a question! Back in the day we were all spoiled and used to Kasparov putting up huge results in super tournaments, such as +6 or +7. These days we're lucky if a player gets to +3 or +4. So my question is, when was the last time a player won a supertournament with a score of at least +6? Thanks!

Danilov didnt call me back, so this is pure speculations: -The usual opening novelties, which the super GMs and their team of seconds prepare during the year,will be kept under lock untill the match vs Anand next year.

Dumb question here: what does it mean to be "on +4"? 4.5/5 is +4?

I guess that would be Ivanchuk in M-Tel Masters 2008, scoring 8/10 (+6)


Right, just figured it out as I pressed "submit", just like pressing the clock and going "oh" :)

A loss is minus 1.
A win is pluss 1.

If you play a 10 round tournament and get 5.5 points, then you are +1. -You won 1 game more than you (eventually) lost.

Anyone else reminded by the Carlsen rampage of Topalov in San Luis? If i remember correctly Anand mananged to hold a draw in the 3rd round over there which Wang Yue did over here.

Of course, Topa pretty much shut shop and after the first half in San Luis, doubt that Carlsen will bother slowing down intentionally..

Well, there is no money for the match. So, there is no need to hide novelties.


Let's see then on 15th October. Hopefully it will be OK. Hopefully it is still possible to fund a chess WC match in 2010...

4.5/5 (+4,-0,=1)
4.5 out of a possible 5 points, 4 wins, 0 losses, 1 draw

Chucky's 8/10 (+6) was 8 out of 10 points with 6 wins. The remaining 4 games (= 2 points) are draws as implied by the math.

Topalov's poor performance is due to the bad quality of internet signals in China. Danailov has been spotted frantically practicing his hand signal techniques.

We can also put it this way.
With only 5 rounds left, Carlsen is already at +4 and the closest competitor is only +0. So if Carlsen just draws all the rest of his games, he is already guaranteed at least equal 1st, because in that case the best anyone else can get is also +4.

The next 5 rounds will say a lot about Carlsen as a competitor. Will he just coast along to an assured win or gallop away to a really awesome victory? I expect the latter scenario.

IMO Carlsen is flexible enough to choose any of the two options now and go with the other in the next event , he is not commited to any pose (ever attacking or ever defending player).
If you ask me he is just using his outstanding memory to play Garry´s openings and then letting his awesome power of calculation do the rest.
I´m not sure if he really understand chess in the same way as Kramnik , Ivanchuk ,Anand or Topalov do.


Since he has beaten Kramnik, Ivanchuk, Anand, and Topalov, I'm not sure you know what "understand chess" means.

By most accounts positional understanding is one of Carlsen's big strengths. Obviously none of us can tell how it compares to that of those four you mentioned. But I think calculation is actually a relative weakness.

"Memory and calculation is all it takes to become a top5 player and even make the next step" (if, in future retrospect, Nanjing 2009 is the start of a new era) - sorry, I think this wouldn't even work at amateur level ... .
But I would agree with Manu that Carlsen doesn't understand chess in the same way as the players he mentions, his understanding is "different" (who are we patzers to decide if it is superior or inferior?). Presently, the other _older_ players are still more experienced, but this gap is rapidly closing (at present much smaller than two years ago).

Almira Skripchenko said in his comentaries about one of their games :
¨Is Kasparov afraid to play something as dangerous as this against a child who calculates like a computer?¨
And i heard it many times before from other players praising Magnus depth and speed at calculating variables , so i guess is not a relative weakness but one of his strenghts.

Understanding of the game is not the only quality you need to beat another player , i didnt said that Magnus don´t understand certain positions well (Kramnik did) , or that he is a patzer , but it is obvious that he don´t understand the game in the same depth as those more experienced players .

Yes, that was a pretty silly thing to say, especially in March 2004! Nobody calculates like a computer, and most certainly not a 13-year-old. Of course she didn't mean it literally, but like for every human it's so far from the truth that it's just meaningless. Such excessive hype is unnecessary.

"... but it is obvious that he don´t understand the game in the same depth as those more experienced players"

Pray tell, how is it so obvious?

Perhaps you mean "less experienced", or "younger" - but how can someone who has reached and remained above 2770 for well over a year ('without' any trainer) possibly understand the game 'less' than those he beats? It's too consistent a record to be just luck, or cute calculation.

Carlsen seems to have a unique and rare understanding of chess, at least according to Kasparov, Anand, Korchnoi and others in published interviews. His challenge is to mesh that understanding, (which will continue to develop with experience), with hard work. This is what Kasparov offers. But his 'understanding' is already there.

@widow and d_tal :
You keep adressing me like if i said that Magnus is a patzer , which i didn´t .
Is his understanding of the game his forte ? Or is it his memory and calculating power?
His first years of playing almost without a solid opening repertoire suggest that the second question is affirmative.
Kramnik also pointed his problems with certain type of positions , and in this case i´ll take his words over both of you.
Look at what is happening in Nanjin, Did he suddenly jumped into a new level of play and understanding?
Or is he playing better because his openings are developed by one of the biggest developers of the game?
IMHO the later is correct .

I didn´t take it literally , just pointed one example of how his calculating capacities were remarcable since early age which directly contradicts your thesis about being one of his relative flaws.

That is perfectly possible. While it's hard to give a clear definition of "understanding" in chess, most of us have a pretty good idea in principle of what it means. It is different from pure calculation - even though you certainly also have to "understand" the resulting positions, as well as "understand" what lines that are probably the most important to calculate. It's different from rote memorization of opening theory - or endgame theory. It is different from practical considerations such as how you handle the clock or how you keep up your physical condition. It is different from your level of ambition and motivation... just to name some areas that are very important for success in chess.

@Manu: Interesting that you "suddenly" rely on quotes from Kramnik ,:) - would you also believe Vlad if he makes critical comments on Topalov's chess?
Anyway, while I don't remember the exact words or source of Kramnik's quote (on his Dortmund win against Carlsen), it was preceded by some nice words and compliments for him and followed by suggesting that he should work with a trainer!? Presumably unknown to Kramnik as well as other outsiders, Carlsen had already been working with Kasparov at the time ... .
Of course C&K will keep the exact content of their training sessions secret, but I guess it is safe to assume that they are not only on opening theory but also on other aspects of the game - broadly on (further!) improving his chess understanding. While Kasparov probably didn't like Kramnik's words (and in response minimized the importance of Kramnik's victory and the quality of the game), maybe he still "listened" and took them seriously?

"@..... d_tal :
You keep adressing me like if i said that Magnus is a patzer , which i didn´t ."

Not at all, I merely asked you to elaborate on the following statement referring to Carlsen: "but it is obvious that he don´t understand the game in the same depth as those more experienced players"

I repeat, how is it so obvious? I presume that it is so blindingly obvious to you that it should not be difficult to explain?

Further: "Kramnik also pointed his problems with certain type of positions , and in this case i´ll take his words over both of you."

Huh?? what words of mine? All this from asking you to explain how it is so obvious to you that Carlsen doesnt "Kramnik also pointed his problems with certain type of positions , and in this case i´ll take his words over both of you."? Please don't confuse me with anybody else.

Sorry I meant to say All this from asking you to explain how it is so obvious to you that Carlsen doesnt "understand the game in the same depth as those more experienced players"?

Take it easy , you seem a little nervous today .
All the answers you seek are contained in the above posts , i specially liked acirce explanation about differences between power of calculation and understanding , im not so fluent in English to explain it like that.
If you like i can take back the word ¨obvious¨ which is causing you much pain.

Unlike you i can take what i consider good or accurate from those players or persons i don´t like , instead of criticizing everything that comes from their side (like you with Danailov and Topa and the Slam ).

In other words: If you happen to - seemingly - agree with Kramnik, you consider him an expert and happily quote him, albeit selectively. But your answer to my question ("would you also believe Vlad if he makes critical comments on Topalov's chess?") is presumably no ... .

BTW, I am not as consistently negative about Topalov as you think or suggest, have a look at some things I wrote in the other thread - based on his record of past achievements I do consider Topalov favorite for second place in Nanjing. Victory seems out of reach, barring a miracle (and yes, I am not hoping for such a miracle). I had written before that I do not criticize Topalov as a chess player, just some (indeed most) of his and Danailov's activities off the board.

Kramnik is a chess expert , i never questioned that , nobody who understand something about this game would .
Your question (would you also believe Vlad if he makes critical comments on Topalov's chess?) is irrelevant since it belongs to your fantasy world along with the dialogs that occur in your collection of dolls and fairyland playmobil.

"which directly contradicts your thesis about (calculation) being one of his relative flaws."

Manu, I have it directly from Simen Agdestein (in 2005), that _calculation_ was NOT a strength of Carlsen, but that his _intuition_ was.

The general agreement among Norwegian GMs who both competed and to some degree trained with Carlsen 2003-2005, was that his UNDERSTANDING and feeling for the game was his most exceptional quality as a chess player - more than one compared Carlsen to Karpov in this respect.

Back then, when Carlsen was 14-15, I'm sure Agdestein himself was BETTER at calculating things correctly and thoroughly than Carlsen was - and Agdestein's work ehtic *during the game* has always been one of his forces. But the better your intuition and understanding ("heuristics" in engine terms), the fewer lines you actually need to calculate (more agressive "pruning" in engine terms).

And then there is Anand's much more recent comments about Carlsen's understanding and way of playing - "he isn't old enough to play like that", but nevertheless - he does. Anand wasn't talking about playing like a computer...

"If you ask me he is just using his outstanding memory to play Garry´s openings and then letting his awesome power of calculation do the rest."

Well, I hope very few will ask you, then. :o)

The outcome of Carlsen-Radjabov wasn't very much related to "Garry's openings" (they repeated their Linares game until Radjabov deviated), and Jakovenko-Carlsen wasn't decided through the opening or by great calculation (in fact, Bxe3?! instead of Rxe3 appears like a major calculation MISTAKE) - but eventually Carlsen demonstrated

1) better understanding than Jakovenko in the end game (despite Jakovenko's reputation as an end game expert)
2) a high desire to win the game (even after having wasted his advantage with Bxe3)

And in Carlsen-Topalov, the move Bb5 from Carlsen isn't a tactical refutation of Topalov's play, and it was unlikely taken from the preperation for the game, but it was a _strategical_ refutation, imo based on excellent _understanding_ of the position. After the exchange on b5, Topalov is left with something that looks like a strategically/positionally lost position.

"If you ask me he is just using his outstanding memory to play Garry´s openings and then letting his awesome power of calculation do the rest."

Yep, no big deal. Everyone with outstanding memory and awesome powers of calculation could've done the same. Understanding is overrated... ;o)

¨Manu, I have it directly from Simen Agdestein (in 2005), that _calculation_ was NOT a strength of Carlsen, but that his _intuition_ was.¨

Never heard of that , but Almira Skripchenko WROTE about his calculation power (quoted above) and for instance Leko also commented on that the first time Carlsen played a big tournament, so it is not like im making this up...
Besides ,you are introducing a new factor in the argument which is intuition ,which is a little weird to hear from a statician, but at least you may agree that intuition is a quality very hard to meassure or even debate about.
Also I´m not sure if the quote from Vishy is about understanding or more like about maturity in his play , but since Kramnik stated quite the opositte after his victory over Magnus , its not like i´m the only one who believes that Magnus understanding is not yet as great as the players i mentioned.
You also mentioned a couple of games where Magnus couldn´t benefit from Garry´s openings , i remind you that the kid was top five before training with Kasparov and that i just pointed where the difference (in results) might be ,i never said that Magnus was lost in the openings before coaching with the ogre.
I hope your attempts to refute my opinions on this subject don´t have anything to do with my observation about your pedant manners :)
Take this lightly please , i was just expresing a valid opinion and i don´t like talking with you at all.

¨but eventually Carlsen demonstrated
1) better understanding than Jakovenko in the end game (despite Jakovenko's reputation as an end game expert)¨

You meant better technique , right ? usually in the endgame technique and calculation are the most important factors to achieve victory , ¨understanding¨ is generally aplied to openings and middle game ...

"Never heard of that , but Almira Skripchenko WROTE about his calculation power "

Heh. When I essentially live in the same city as Agdestein, Carlsen and most of the other Norwegian GMs (one of whom is a colleague and friend of mine), it's no wonder that I've heard a couple of things you've never heard. I've also been discussing the nature of Carlsen's talent with his father Henrik on some occasions, and Henrik has had conversations with quite a few on the subject.

You sit on the other end of the world and have to rely on superficial, hyped remarks (despite in WRITING) of Almira Skripchenko from 2004. Of course I can't match that...

Would it be ok for you with a written quote from World Champion Anand, maybe? :o)

"1) better understanding than Jakovenko in the end game (despite Jakovenko's reputation as an end game expert)

You meant better technique , right ? "

No, I meant better understanding. If I'd meant better technique, I'd written that.

Here are some questions to consider:

* Should white/black exchange queens?

(technique/calculation/understanding is most important to judge that question?)

* Should white allow his h-pawn to be blocked on the colour of the bishop?

(technique/calculation/understanding is most important to judge that question?)

* Should white/black exchange rooks rather than queens?

(technique/calculation/understanding is most important to judge that question?)

* Who's got potential winning chances here?

(technique/calculation/understanding is most important to judge that question?)

Calculation is very important in most endings, but deciding which pieces to exchange and which to keep, often has more to do with understanding of the position than calculation of concrete lines.

Anyway, telling for sure why someone lost or won a specific game is obviously not very easy. Even when you ask a player, he might not give you the true answer; if he considers it less embarassing to make a miscalculation than having misunderstood the nature of the position, he might tell you he it was a calculation mistake regardless... :o)

"you are introducing a new factor in the argument which is intuition ,which is a little weird to hear from a statician"


I'm a programmer, not a statistician!

I have to say that this argument is a little weird , i don´t know what you want me to say : That Magnus flaw is calculation?
That his understanding is the same or superior than the players i mentioned?
I know you are a close follower of Magnus and his father ( you say it all the time) ,and that you talked to them frequently , but there are others who had praised Magnus calculating power ,so until someone of the people you so proudly mentioned writes or states the contrary allow me please to maintain my opinion on the subject.
If Carlsen´s understanding of the game were the same as the players i mentioned, Magnus would use seconds instead of having a coach.
And i know you said ¨understanding¨ but still mastering the endgame is called technique , here , in the other end of the world and in your town too.
Leave it dude , a guy so well connected should not waste his time arguing with me.

Carlsen did not win today. Any argument?

Carlsen was playing black, exchange down and normally the most you could achieve from there is a draw, which he did! Carlsen must have taken some calculated risks in going in for a line with exchange down when he must have seen his preparation didn't yield much in the other lines against Leko.

Or should you say Leko did not win today?

This is why I consider Anand the best end game player ever, better than a Leko or a Karpov!

But he did play the endgame very well, and knew how to enforce the right exchanges to reach a draw. I'm impressed by his technique-understanding.

Oh.. Carlsen did like Anand do! Full marks to Carlsen. I mean Leko technique wasn't that great. Or you mean it was great as well? Drawing from any situation winning or losing! ;)

Relax ... . My impression of the game: Leko was playing for a win, but his advantage wasn't enough. In any case, he was daring enough to enter a variation where Carlsen was certainly well-prepared - it recently occurred in the Kasparov-Karpov match.

To me it seems that black had sufficient compensation for the exchange, in the sense that he was never really lost. Here is the assessment by Peter Doggers on Chessvibes (after move 43, when bishops had just been swapped):

"The ending is objectively a draw but can be tough in practice; Dominguez held Van Wely at Corus ... but for example Svidler lost it against Grischuk at the Blitz World Championship in 2006" [how relevant is it that the ending is 'losable' in a blitz game?]

Only endgame specialists might be able to tell if Carlsen's technique was "specially good", or if Leko's technique was "not that great" (where did he play second-best moves?). And I really wonder what Anand has to do with today's game ... did you mention his name with a particular game in mind when he won a similar(?) endgame?

I'm now looking at the Peter Doggers website. I'm not sure about the exclam he gives for 21.b4! I don't know how far the idea of liquadating pawns on the one side would help an exchange up position for White. There is no immediate threat of knight coming to d4 to go for breaking the c-pawn. Ok an immediate Rfc1 would run the risk of e7-bishop getting trapped to a h6 or getting traded at somewhere at c5. After 21.b4 next few moves are more or less forced and after 25...Rd4! black has good compensation. Kg2 and f3 idea is not possible for white. All right, I think the f-rook moving to 24.Rfc1 and then to 26.Rd1 must have have wasted it.

In any case, even though the RPs vs KPs with pawn on one side is a theoretical draw, I wasn't impressed by Leko's play. He just pushed pawns, closed the position and took the draw which they could just agreed before all of that. I don't have a specific Anand's game in mind but I would say the standard is just below Anand's.

Are you talking about Anand's endgame technique? I never heard that he was particularly noted for that, maybe that changed in the last few years, I don't know.

Yes, I am. Almost right from the beginning, Anand's end game techniques saved many half-points for him. Other than being good in selected openings, his strengths are in calculating extremely complicated middle and end game positions and very resourceful and accurate play in the endings. If you just play standard moves in a standard endings, for an observer it would look as if you played it accurately (even a computer would tell the same!). But the real skill is in creating a complicated set up even if you have to play a "sub-standard" move. Note the quotes surrounding it. If you check with a computer, at a lower level it may not look as accurate as the "best" standard move, but practically those moves would improve your chances way up, at the same time wouldn't have compromised the end result of a minimum guaranteed draw.

"I'm impressed by his technique-understanding."


In principle it cannot be wrong to open lines for the rooks when you are an exchange up, hence Doggers' exclam for 21.b4 makes sense to me. Moreover, black threatened to trap the bishop with -f6, so the only alternative would have been 21.Bg5 (or wait with b4 for one more move ...). Ideally, white would like to keep pawns on both wings _in the endgame_, but at this stage it was still a middlegame - and it may have been hard to predict that the queen exchange on move 29 was virtually forced. So Leko's only inaccuracy may have been the tempo loss Rfc1-d1, whether this is the difference between winning (or rather keeping winning chances) and drawing is another story.

As far as the later simplified endgame is concerned: maybe Leko had already given up hopes to win the game, but a) why not test the opponent for a few more moves?, b) with Sofia rules he couldn't "agree a draw before all of that", they more or less force players to "fight"(?) till the last pawn [or to find a move repetition at an earlier stage].

All in all it seems a well-fought and correct draw to me, even if the onus was on black to earn or prove it. Of course these are just my patzer ideas (even engines wouldn't help much to assess the endgame) ... .

In any case, I'm glad that Lékó finally was able to press in one of his games, and against Carlsen no less. That's considerable progress compared to his first half of the tournament. Let's see how it goes tomorrow, when he has the black-piece advantage against Radjabov.

Topa looked for luck and find it , ideally this would give him the boost to improve his play a little more .
Tomorrow he plays Anand´s second :) , i hope he gives a good fight.

While off-topic [Anand declined the Nanjing invitation ,:)] I am still curious about examples for Anand's _exceptional_ endgame abilities. Memorable endgames from Anand coming to my mind are
Kramnik-Anand 1-0, Corus 2007
Carlsen(!)-Anand 1-0, Linares 2009
[here Anand wrongly trusted his ability to defend a passive and at least slightly worse position]
On the plus side, I can mention
Anand-Radjabov 1-0, Linares 2009
[but this - Q+N vs. Q+B - arguably was not a typical endgame]

I am pretty sure that my memory is selective (but not intentionally so!); I am looking forward to other examples from PircAlert or anyone else.

Anand is a very good endgame player. You look silly asking for proof of that.

In Linares 2003 Anand famously lost a couple of theoretically drawn rook endgames in a pretty bad fashion, if the commentators can be trusted. (The way he misplayed it against Lékó seemed particularly strange.) Don't know how representative that was.

Lékó-Anand, http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1260783

Kasparov-Anand, http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1260697

Anand is a very good endgame player, but that goes without saying. PircAlert's opinion was that Anand is the best endgame player ever.

I just checked out the first one Kramnik-Anand. It has an opening phase and an end game phase with a middle game missing. And it was won by Kramnik's opening novelty. It is from home-cooking and as expected Kramnik didn't give Anand a chance. How would you judge one's end-game strength from that?

Seems like you just searched for Anand loss alone! It is very misleading.

If you want to compare their relative strengths, I would suggest you pick up 10 best & 10 worst of Leko's end games and compare that with Anand's 10 best and 10 worsts!

Correct, acirce and luke! That is my opinion.

Now how do you compare? I would suggest you take 10 best and 10 worst end games of any of the player you think would be the best ever. Compare the games with Anand's 10 best and 10 worst. That should show something, right?

The games have to have a real ending. It should not be one straight out of opening. In those games, anything from minus/equal/very slight plus you go plus, you get credit. Anything from plus/equal/very slight minus you go minus, you lose credit. And those shouldn't have obvious help from opponent unless a blunder was forced upon from a squeeze. Fair enough?

Not nearly interested enough to do that work. At least not in the near future.

You do it and report back to us.

I hope our friend Thomas helps us here with that! :)

Some clarifications: I do not have "an agenda against Anand" in any way. I do not question that he is a good endgame player, but - as acirce pointed out - YOU claimed that he is "best ever". And then it is up to you to either support this claim with evidence, or to retract your very categoric statement. It might require some work [don't ask me to do it for you! ,:)], yet it is already sort of revealing that you cannot come up with even one example, let alone 10, immediately.

It may well be that Anand's endgame abilities are "under-appreciated", because they are overshadowed by other goodies in his play. For example, Shirov is also an excellent endgame player (e.g. Topalov-Shirov, Linares 1998), yet he is mostly known for mating attacks and "Fire on Board".

"you just searched for Anand loss alone!"
Believe it or not, this is simply wrong - as I matter of fact I didn't search at all (the three examples I gave were readily in my memory). There were three reasons for picking the Kramnik game:
1) It was on my mind
2) (No surprise to regular followers of this blog:) I like Kramnik as a player, and consider him an endgame expert comparable if not superior to, e.g.(!), Anand - I still wouldn't make "best ever" claims, though.
3) Kramnik explained the game in detail at the Corus press conference (maybe the video is still available in the Chessvibes archives), demonstrating (or suggesting) that it was not at all easy and straightforward to convert += into victory - at several moments in the game, there were promising-looking alternatives which only lead to a draw. So it was a matter of endgame technique, insight, understanding, whatever ... NOT an opening novelty winning easily or automatically

Regarding your "middlegame missing": First, to me this is irrelevant. Second, I don't even think it's true, the endgame started at move 35 when queens were exchanged.
This burns down to when "the opening becomes a middlegame":
- after all pieces are developed? But there are middlegame situations where one player resigns before even finishing his development ...
- when players are "out of book"? But some openings are analyzed well into the endgame.
Anyway, irrelevant IMHO regarding the question who is the best endgame player ... .

Altogether, I would say the ball is (still) in your field!

Gosh, I forgot what a troll you are. What you say is meaningless, and when asked to explain, you come up with gems like: "Take it easy , you seem a little nervous toda." OK, I promise myself, the last time I read one of your posts.

Gosh , you really seemed nervous back then , and judging by your unnecesary insults today is not exception .
I think i explained my point very clearly , of course that is not a guarantee of me being right but i pointed several times that i was just expresing my opinion.
I love the idea of you not reading my posts ,though.
Take it easy , anger is not good for your body.

Manu, respect for you would immeasurably increase if you replied to the point, and not make personal remarks. You cannot justify your ridiculous statement that its "obvious" Carlsen "understands" chess less than some others, and you go on about the person asking the question being nervous?? And again, "Take it easy , anger is not good for your body.".
Huh???? Troll on son, I won't bite anymore.

Fulfilling your promises would inmmeasurably increase respect on yourself , don´t you think?

I shouldn´t have to answer to someone who call my statement ridiculous (after calling me a troll), but i will because if i don´t im afraid you´d pop a vein...
First of all: I already offered to retreat the ¨obvious¨ adjective from my remark , but i guess your nervous state of mind didn´t allow you to catch that part ..
Like i said i already answered your question and to prove it i will just quote myself:

¨If Carlsen´s understanding of the game were the same as the players i mentioned, Magnus would use seconds instead of having a coach.

I´d like to add that even if you don´t find my answer satisfactory i´m not asking any explanation from your part since i find your opinion irrelevant.
Take it easy , kid.

I quite enjoyed Topalov-Carlsen, but then I don't know much theory in this line (or many others lines for matter). Very finely balanced tactics leading to a drawn endgame. I thought it was quite complex.

I liked it also. Very well played game by both. The only move that appeared to be not too good was 30.g3 instead of 30.Nd2, although even 30.Nd2 probably is an eventual draw. I saw and understood a lot of their moves, but not their plans. I can see the moves when the plan becomes clear, but I have trouble figuring out a plan. I guess that means I am tactical and not strategic. 30.Nd2 Re2 31.Nf3 looks more tactical to me. I'd get to play with my knight.

Sometimes not knowing theory may be more enjoyable ,:) . Chessvibes mentions that both players "reached this ending [move 29] almost without spending any time on the clock", and that they "followed Rybka's recommendations" (of course this doesn't mean they cheated, but that it was home preparation).

Interesting to revisit Mig's comments on the predecessor game Shirov-Carlsen (last round of MTel): "The decisive game itself was rather anticlimactic (echoing the last-round Nakamura-Friedel steamrollering in the last round of the US Ch). Carlsen kept offering pawns to load up on a kingside attack. Shirov kept taking them. When the kingside attack turned out to be a mirage Carlsen could only resign on move 30 down roughly 14 pawns."
I am not blaming him for not knowing Sveshnikov theory (at the time). Shirov disagreed at the time about the game being one-sided (actually he had thought that he was in serious trouble at some stage). And today Carlsen repeated the line in a game that was (most likely) less relevant for tournament victory, but may have been even more a matter of prestige and pride.

And as I revisited the "Shirov Wins MTel 2009!" thread, here is an insightful and/or prophetic comment by noyb:
"Under the "I told you so" dept., once again, Carlsen fails to win a tournament, tying for 2nd-3rd. I'm not convinced that he's going to be WC someday, at least not yet. He just hasn't cleared the highest hurdle yet, namely, consistently winning the biggest tournaments. Let's see what happens in the coming two-three years. Time for a new coach perhaps, to take him to the next level?"

And BTW, Mig(stradamus) was also quite prophetic at the time stating that Aronian qualified for the Bilbao Grand Slam final [but this was an accidental Copy-Paste error from the previous year].

"Shirov disagreed at the time about the game being one-sided (actually he had thought that he was in serious trouble at some stage)."

Including the very move before Carlsen blundered by playing 27..Qc7. Shirov thought that he might be able to survive, but Carlsen's chances were better (and Carlsen thought the same). The quote in New In Chess 2009/4: "I still don't understand how Magnus could play queen c7 and it is difficult to imagine that I would have won the tournament if he had played bishop a8. I had the feeling that I still had chances and that I was not lost yet, but it was not so easy to keep everything under control."

Thanks, this is the quote I had in mind ... .

Take it easy, Thomas. I'm not against Leko either. You know, sometimes in your attempt to defend your view point, you might tend to overlook some things or whatever. That is what I thought.

If an advantageous or a familiar end game is reached straight out of opening, the credit goes to the opening preparation or opening skills of that player. Here we are trying guage the strength of a player in a different department of the game. That is one of the reason I would like the worst game also to be included in the sampling! Certain things you have to smooth out to get a good picture about the player just like you do when you forecast things from the past history. Something like that.

Anyway, I can prove Anand skills on my own time. But you know what, if someone brings an argument in favor of an ex-player, I'm sure soon there will be, I can then ask them to prove it this way! :)

That Kramnik - Anand game is an example of slight plus becoming winning. Just as you requested. Now how about you giving examples of Anand doing better?

Talking about endgame, Wang Yue - Topalov seems to be heading straight to an endgame.

Topalov is playing a really aggressive endgame. This looks very interesting.

I'm not sure what Topalov is up to, but this looks dangerous. Did he lose or sac the d pawn?

(A bit confusing that these discussions occur simultaneously in several threads:) Maybe my early prediction (Topalov could press too hard) will still turn out to be true. I think he lost rather than sacrificed his central pawns: 46.-Re8??? would have run into Bh5+, and 46.-Kg5!? still allows 47.Ne4:+ Kg4: 48.Nd6.
Maybe black's h-pawn is still more dangerous than white's extra queenside pawns which appear safely blockated.

Now why did Wang Yue xchg rooks?? I thought 57. Re7 looked dangerous for Black? But what do I know..

57.Re7?! Nb5:! (attacking the rook and defending a7). Or did you plan to sacrifice an exchange with 58.Nb5: Be7: 59.Na7: ?

Sorry, you're absolutely right. Didnt look at the position closely enough.

Yeah, but I will help you understand better. Would you accept my end game skills if I challenge a GM opponent to defend a slightly inferior end game which I had already fully analyzed with a computer but my opponent is unaware of this fact to accept this challenge, and we sit out and play with an hour each on the clock and guess what, say I go on to win this end game!!?

Anand will have plenty of great end games, I'll try and find, but who is the best end game player according to you? I'll find a worst game for him too!

Not sure if the best but Kramnik must know a thing or two.

And what on earth does that have to do with the mentioned Kramnik-Anand game ( http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1444718 )? At least try to make sense sometimes. Another question is if White is only "slightly" better when the endgame begins. Right after the queen exchange, White is clearly better, but probably not winning. In any case, Kramnik in his NIC notes only indicates one single mistake by Anand after this (40..Nxf4 instead of 40..Bb3 after which he could not find a way to win).

First of all, what makes you think Kramnik, but not Anand, has already analyzed that position with his computer? Anything you said about Kramnik can be said about Anand as well. A counter-argument could be: Anand has ALSO analyzed that position with his computer, as much as Kramnik did, but he is not as good in learning from that preparation, and so he lost.

Furthermore, if someone (not necessarily Kramnik in that game, but anybody in general) gets an endgame position that he has already analyzed with his computer, then he is good in his preparation. And if this happens often with him, then that's to his credit. Preparation, including with a computer, also counts in modern chess. Even Anand prepares with a computer. So the ability to prepare, including with a computer, also counts.

Finally, I'm not going to play along with your "worst game" criteria. What matters is overall results. Get ALL endgames that Kramnik (or Anand, etc) has played, of course against strong players (e.g. against top 50 players), then just look at the result. How many games OVERALL did he manage to get from equal (at the beginning of the endgame) to winning? Or how many from negative to draw (to show his defensive skills)? Etc. You can select any type of result according to what you want to analyze. You can even analyze certain types of endgames e.g. just rook endgames. Whatever you like. But what matters ultimately is overall results in top level games.


I think you guys misunderstood my analogy.

If I catch my opponent off-hand with a better prepared line, not entirely but somewhat, and I win as a result, you can't tell much about my play or my skills. It is just that I was lucky on that day. It is not about Anand or Kramnik. And I'm sure you guys would agree with that general opinion. In other words, you have to do consistently better to prove your skills.

Having said that, Kramnik-Anand game is different case. You can't say Kramnik was lucky. It is part of your chess skills to surprise your oppponent. However, the credit for that belongs elsewhere. To your preparations skills or to your opening skills, and not to your end game skills. Same thing holds good for Anand too when you pick up Anand games to measure his end game abilities. In this particular Kramnik-Anand, the resultant end game was a fall out of a better prepared Kramnik's opening line and as probably hoped by Kramnik, Anand faltered while trying to defend an inferior position. This is not true representative of none of their end game skills.

Contrast that with the so many end games that are reached with even chances with so many possibilities on the board, from played out middle game positions. It is not that your almost gone and a slight mistake you are completely gone. These positions are not like that. For such positions, you can't possibly carry something from your memory except that you can carry some general end game themes you've learned and prepared. You have to sit and calculate move by move and grind your opponent down to victory. Shouldn't you differentiate that from playing out from half memorized lines? That should show your true end game skills! That is my point. So you should pick such games for player's end game ability comparison.

Agree with that?

Of course, top level game only. But you can't ignore because it is a worst game. Top 50 or Top 100 or above certain rating is fine. If the number of games are going to be too large, it will be hard to go through every one of them. Say you end up with 200 games. That is why I said take the top 10 (of the 200) and bottom 10 (of the 200). You will get the picture about the player!


As for Kramnik-Anand, Corus 2007:
After move 35, although white has an advantage, it is still not very clear how to win it. Kramnik had to find moves like 36. e5 and 40. Kf2. At various points in his analysis, Kramnik showed that the best line was not clear. Whatever happened in the opening, the endgame doesn't seem to be memorized at all. He was thinking move by move. What he did in that endgame is still representative of wonderful endgame technique. As in many other cases, even if a player started an endgame with an advantage, often it still requires great skills to execute the win. Kramnik showed that in this game.

Note: I never said that this endgame showed that Kramnik has better endgame skills than Anand. But it does show that Kramnik has good endgame skills.


I wasn't suggesting we ignore the worst endgames. But we take all endgames, including worst, best, and everything in between. A large number of games shouldn't be a problem or an excuse. After all, in order to select your 10 games, don't you have to go through all 200 of them anyways?

A little reminder on how this discussion started:
PircAlert made two claims, a general one and a specific one:
1) Anand is the best endgame player of all times
2) Anand would have won the slightly better, but objectively drawn endgame in Leko-Carlsen (or at least would have made life harder for Carlsen).
Neither point can actually be proven IMO: 1) would require objective criteria which simply don't exist, 2) would require finding an identical ("very similar" isn't even enough) endgame from Anand's practice.

I came up with endgame examples from other players, asking (out of simple curiosity) for similar ones from Anand. PircAlert didn't (or couldn't) even provide a single one, but instead suggested a very thorough and time-consuming exercise [that someone else should do]. Moreover, he discarded my examples (at least Kramnik-Anand) as irrelevant.

To me it doesn't matter how an endgame is reached, the (end)game isn't worth any less because Kramnik also knows a thing or 25 about the Catalan. I will still post the link to Kramnik's press conference after the game (videos by Chessvibes):
[the video is in three parts, the endgame comes on the board after about five minutes in part 2, but part 1 dealing with the opening is also interesting]

IMO a press conference soon after the game is more "honest" than later analyses in a magazine, because it shows what the player actually saw and calculated during the game. Subsequent homework could include spending lots of time on a single move, moving the pieces around and asking a computer to help ... or it could ignore critical moments in a game, and no journalist has the chance to ask for details.

One example from many years ago (late 1990's?): At the Hamburg Open I watched the post-mortem of a GM game with several titled players joining in (the type of GMs playing second-tier opens, I think Ftacnik was one of them - and the type of event where amateurs like me could watch and even contribute to GM post-mortems). In a sharp Sicilian, black considered the move 17.-h6 [move number unknown and irrelevant]. White answered "I would have played 18.g6, but it wasn't at all clear to me". Four or five GMs spent about half an hour on the position, finally finding a subtle "Karpovian" (quoting one of them) move far down the line that confirmed white's advantage.
Later the game was annotated by the winner in a magazine, I was obviously curious but all he wrote about the critical moment was: "17.-h6?! of course runs into 18.g6! with a crushing attack."

Thomas, I'm surprised how you can't find one end game of Anand (arguably the best chess player ever!), better than the game you quoted, while you quote so much from past history.

Check this out..

Kramnik-Anand 2001 Mainz classical.

This is a hard to play position. Kramnik chose down the sacrificial path, meaning Kramnik could have been better prepared. And swindling a draw for white shouldn't be that hard especially against a naked opponent king. But watch how Anand handles it..

Here is a beautiful Anand game against no other than leko, a strong end game player. Moreover Anand plays black side. In fact Leko goes a pawn up first in a complicated otherwise equal end game. Don't forget to check this one out!

Leko-Anand Linares 2008.

Very nice. Anand is a very good endgame player.

Anything else that you want to say?

I don't think so. You don't have to go through all the games in detail though. But if you pick a game for analysis, of course you have to go in detail. It is not just you go through the games, the people who look will have to go through the game and your analysis as well, for them to decide. If you bring too many games nobody will bother look at it. You may disagree but I still believe 5-10 games on best and worst side is good enough to get the same picture that will come out of looking at all the 200 or 500 end games possible in the top level range. May be if you are narrowed to only two players, then you can probably look at more game from each of these players.

Not really. ;) but let me add this. I consider Kramnik, Kasparov etc. are very good players as well - in end games and in openings! :)

"Here is a beautiful Anand game against no other than leko, a strong end game player. Moreover Anand plays black side. In fact Leko goes a pawn up first in a complicated otherwise equal end game. Don't forget to check this one out!"

Considering that Lékó goes from a very slight edge to most likely winning (only to squander the advantage and somehow go on to even lose) I find it hard to believe it's a very good endgame by Anand. Do you think he is proud of it himself?

Oh, and the Mainz game was rapid, not classical. Maybe it doesn't matter but I thought I'd point it out.

Why would a great end player like Leko squander away a most likely winning advantage? You say it with some doubt so I assume it is not winning yet. I didn't analyze this game now but I remember seeing/analyzing it during that tournament. Anyway as you can see, there is no obvious blunder committed by Leko to discount that game. So it only goes to show Leko couldn't handle complications whereas Anand could. This is where Anand stands out. Anand goes for creating chances and excelling in outcalculating the opponent even in end games. It wasn't losing yet so it is not that Anand took risks he couldn't have handled. It would have probably ended in a draw if Leko continued correctly. This is exactly where the difference in skills shows up! Leko was exposed. It may not be the best example of Anand's end game skills, however, beautiful end game play from Anand!

"Why would a great end player like Leko squander away a most likely winning advantage?"

According to himself, he saw the line, had even planned it in advance, but then when checking it again he miscalculated something very badly ("the craziest hallucination in my career"), thought it wouldn't work and played something else.

Listen, argue Anand's fantastic skills at all aspects of the game all you want, but that was a pretty bad example.

I am also "not very impressed" by PircAlert's two examples, as far as endgame ability is concerned - but in a little while I will come up with an arguably better example myself.
The first game was essentially decided in the middlegame. Black had to avoid perpetual check or worse, once he managed to force a queen exchange the endgame was rather simple.
Concerning the second game: First, it doesn't fit PircAlert's own criteria - the endgame occurred straight out of the opening (after move 18) so it may have been part of both players' _opening_ preparation. More relevant IMO: Did you (PircAlert) also read the comments on chessgames.com? Just like on this forum, besides personal insults they also include constructive posts ... . Among others, Acirce(!) quotes analyses by Zagrebelny on Chesspro and concludes "All in all, it seems that Lékó was clearly better in the endgame race after 31.b4, probably missed a win with 34.Rc8, and that afterwards it should have been a draw until 38.Kc2??"
There may be no definite proof that Leko was indeed winning, still the majority view of various experts seems to be that he was at least close. At the very least, as much as strong play by Anand the game shows poor play by Leko - missing 34.Rc8 (or rather seeing it but not playing it in the end) qualifies as a blunder IMO.
For me, endgame ability not only includes making the best out of a given position on the board, but also correctly evaluating an endgame at the start, i.e. when the middlegame (or opening) becomes an endgame. Whether the endgame was still home preparation or over-the-board judgement, there are two possibilities:
1) Anand misjudged the endgame at the beginning
2) Anand correctly evaluated that he would objectively be in trouble, but was gambling "a la Topalov".

"the craziest hallucination in my career"
You are probably referring to NewInChess 3/2008. At the end of a long line starting with 34.Rc8, Leko somehow thought that a pair of pawns was already exchanged, changing the assessment of the position from won to drawn. I vaguely remember that, according to the German magazine "Schach", Leko actually suffered from two or three hallucinations - but unfortunately I cannot find back that issue.

Funny and, IMO, a tiny bit odd BTW how NIC reported on Morelia-Linares 2008: The tournament report includes the following: "Immediately behind Anand second place was claimed by Magnus Carlsen and while the World Champion once again raised his ELO above the 2800 barrier and reclaimed top position, the 17-year old Norwegian collected enough points to leap to fifth place in the world rankings." And the title page has a picture of Carlsen and the text "Who wouldn't smile? Magnus Carlsen, Number 5 in the World (2765!)"
So, while Anand won the event and beat Carlsen with the black pieces, he was still sort of in the shadow of Carlsen .... .

And his win against Carlsen was the endgame example I had in mind:
Quick description: Black obtained the advantage out of the opening (Anti-Moscow Gambit) and converted an endgame R+3P vs. B+4P on one wing. Not _that_ similar with Leko-Carlsen BTW, one key decisive difference was that the white king was cut off on the first rank. The other difference is, of course, that in the other game the weaker side had a knight rather than a bishop, not sure what is generally better in such an endgame.

And a final more general comment: While Carlsen was impressing in Nanjing,
- PircAlert mentioned/claimed Anand's unique endgame abilities
- Indian media came up with the "news" (picked up by Chessdom and Susan Polgar) that Anand won the Chess Oscar. In fact, he won it at the end of 2008 and received the trophy in May this year prior to the Azerbaijan vs. World rapid match ... .

The motivation in both cases seems to be: "Anand is still alive and kicking, and still is world champion". Stating the obvious, and perfectly in line with ongoing post-Nanjing discussions here. My own summary of what others wrote: The Tal Memorial will be an even bigger challenge for the new Carlsen, Karlsen or Carlsparov. He will face those top5 players against whom he had difficulties in the past. Even the most dedicated Topalov fans would (hopefully) acknowledge that Carlsen already had a solid plus score against the current #1 even prior to Nanjing ... .

Collating the comments of PircAlert and the Indian media is really s t r e t c h i n g it, it reminds me of the scene from that rubbish film "Independence Day" with the cold and the computer virus.

What's 'Indian media'?

It refers to DD (Doordarshan) Sports TV
So it's one TV station - how could I have clarified this, would the singular for media be 'medium'?? At face value, there is nothing wrong with sending out a documentary now, but the announcement was misleading - not mentioning that this is old news. At least I was confused, wondering whether Aronian or Carlsen wouldn't be more likely candidates for the 2009 Oscar.

@chesshire cat: Not sure what _exactly_ you mean with "collating". I did not mean to imply that it was a coordinated action with PircAlert, just that both timing and motivation were similar.

[quote=Thomas]Among others, Acirce(!) quotes analyses by Zagrebelny on Chesspro and concludes "All in all, it seems that Lékó was clearly better in the endgame race after 31.b4, probably missed a win with 34.Rc8, and that afterwards it should have been a draw until 38.Kc2??"
There may be no definite proof that Leko was indeed winning, still the majority view of various experts seems to be that he was at least close.[unquote]

I saw some comments on Chessgames but didn't get to read it though. Anyway.

Experts plus computer plus unlimited time, and all they can come up with is a "probably missed a win" statement?? Come on, Thomas. Coming close is not good enough either. A similar kind of thinking, and Kramnik's second attempt didn't work against Anand in the Wch.

The qoute suggests Leko didn't make just one but two inaccuracies/mistakes. Double hallucination in a single game! Who can force this sort hallucination? Rybka! against Kramnik. It just shows the power of Anand's play. Add credit!

Anand correctly counter attacked when he saw a slight minus for him. Add Credit!

Failing to come up with a winning line and within reasonable time, it is not a bad judgement nor a Topalovian risk taking (I don't know but if that is what Topalov does). In fact it is a good judgement from Anand, and it paid off as expected by him. Another credit for correctly assesing the position at the beginning of the end game.

So, no bad judgment, no unhandleable risk!

Instead of "Indian media"- "an Indian TV station".
PircAlert, were you trying to buttress Anand's reputation due to Carlsen's success or was it pure coincidence?

Endgame demigod Anand pitched a textbook-drawn endgame to Leko at Linares 2003.


From Mig's Chessbase report:

"On move 26 Anand gave up a pawn to reach a rook + queen endgame that should have been drawn comfortably. A few moves later and it was another rook and pawn endgame....suffice it to say that this ending is drawn drawn drawn...as long as the black rook is behind the a-pawn and the black king has access to the white pawns when the white king roams over to help the a-pawn, there is enough activity to draw. I thought that this was something handed down from Moses directly to Cheron on stone tablets, so I was stunned by several of Anand's moves."

This may cancel out the above example, but who knows...it probably won't stop PircAlert from declaiming his opinion as scientific gospel.

Yes, its a mystery how despite being such an awful endgame player Anand managed to become world champion.


Botvinnik was "relatively weak" in calculation, Fischer and Kramnik were "relatively weak" in unbalanced/"irrational" positions, Kasparov was "relatively weak" in defence or queenless positions without clear tactical goals... Anand is generally considered "relatively weak" in endgames. "Relatively weak" for world champions of course means something like they were only brilliant and not the best in the world.

With Anand's endgame play you have to make the distinction that his weakness certainly isn't in complex queenless positions where the emphasis is on calculation. There are other endgame positions, though, where it changes to being a question of subtle positional judgements, knowing where pieces should be and working out plans to get them there rather than calculating lines. At that Anand doesn't seem to be the best in the world.

I'm pretty sure that was a tongue-in-cheek comment by jaideepblue. However it is for certain that everybody including WCs have relative weaknesses and strengths. One amusing anectode by Tal reveals how he was very annoyed by a comment made by some GM that he played with the strength of an ordinary Grand Master in the opening, a very strong Grandmaster in the middle game, and that of a master in the endgame. (I can't remember the name of the person or the exact comment, but somebody who has access to Tal's autobiography will perhaps enlighten us). He met this guy in a tournament some time afterwards, and says he took particular pleasure in exchanging queens right out of the opening and beating him in the endgame. :-)

On the general question of strength, I think an interesting metric of strength to compare across generations is blitz strength against ones peers. In this regard, my personal opinion is that 3 people stand out. In historical order, the first is Capablanca, who was reputed to be an amazing blitz player. No less a person than Alekhhine said he was unplayable, and took less than 2 minutes of his time on average. The second is Fischer whose blitz prowess is also legendary. In addition to Herceg Novi 1970 when he creamed the world's best by an unbelievable margin, storied abound of him giving up odds and playing blindfold against strong opponents and holding his own. The third is Tal, who won the World Blitz championship in 1988 ahead of such players like Kasparov.

Karpov was also reputedly a crushing blitz player in his prime. And of course Anand. I don't know much about the others, but I have read that Topalov's, for example, strength in faster time controls is considerably less than his classical prowess.

Anand isn't such an incredible blitz player. His forte was always rapid.

The problem with blitz is it's so hard to accurately judge players. If you take something like the Tal Memorial then you have 24 rounds on a single day - so you have no chance to recover in case of any non-chess factors (e.g. a cold). Plus blitz events are relatively rare.

That said... in 2006 Anand won the Tal Memorial with 23 ahead of Aronian 21 and Radjabov 20.5 (no Kramnik or Ivanchuk).

In 2007 Ivanchuk won with 25.5 ahead of Anand 24.5 and Grischuk/Kamsky 23.5.

In 2008 Ivanchuk won with 23.5 ahead of Kramnik 22.5 and Carlsen 21 (no Anand).

From which it follows that - we forgot Ivanchuk! Anand's not bad at blitz... and that generally Shipov's probably right in saying the strength of chess players in blitz is usually very similar to their strength in classical chess. The same usual suspects tend to turn up at the top.

Blitz is sloppy chess and mostly suitable for little kids who get excited when they chop pieces off the board and bang the clock. It is ridiculous and a mess to watch. Bang, bang, chop, chop, slop, slop, pieces tipping over. This is junk chess.

But, watching someone staring at the board for half an hour is just as stupid. The board-starers eventually end up in time trouble and go bang, bang, chop, chop, slop, slop. More junk chess.

So why not make chess more like nearly every other game by setting a time limit for each move? Just like in basketball, poker, football, shooting pool, etc. You have to do something within a specified amount of time. No staring at the pool table for half an hour. No staring at your poker hand for half an hour. Chess should be the same. Allow one minute per move, every move, no increment, and no accumulation of time. You have one minute to make your first move. You have one minute to make your tenth move. You have one minute to make your sixteenth move, etc., etc. At any point in the game if you don’t move in one minute, you lose. Have an official 5-minute break every half hour.

I think it depends on the length of the period and number of games over which a player can be evaluated. One tournament is not enough, but consistent brilliance over several years, a decade or two, is hard to ignore I think. Capa, Fischer and Tal are my trio anyway for all time Blitz greats. If I had to pick one, it would be Fischer.

Not questioning Fischer's legacy, but does he fit your own criterion of "consistent brilliance over ... a decade or two"? According to Wikipedia, his first interzonal was in 1958, his WCh match against Spassky - peak and, by his own choice, basically end of his chess career - was in 1972. In between was what Wiki calls "semi-retirement in the mid-1960s". So this comprises, at the most, a decade or a little bit more?

" but I have read that Topalov's, for example, strength in faster time controls is considerably less than his classical prowess."

I m not so sure about that , someone posted this >
http://members.aon.at/sfischl/rrating.txt sometime ago , i don't know how accurate that is but i never saw it refuted.
Weird to see you spreading rumors without the necessary data.


look at result 1. Right now you can't access the page cos TWIC is being upgraded but you'll see the quote, that's the source, although maybe your list is more accurate.

It depends on the time control - if we're talking about blitz then this seems to be the relevant stats page, for what it's worth (not a lot as some are rated based on one event etc.): http://members.aon.at/sfischl/blitz.txt

First of all , that´s not MY list , someone posted it here and in chessvibes and like i said nobody refuted it.
I remember it because a few of Kramnik´s zealots were calling Topa ´s bad results at rapid as a proof of him cheating at classic (which even if true doesn´t make much sense).

But i see that your search was: ¨Topalov not the same force at rapid as Kramnik¨ ,so your intentions were biased from the very beginning and even if true that doesn´t mean that he is not one of the top rapid players of the world.
Not your style so far , but maybe you are under a new managment now ;)

"Your" list-means the list that you posted, not necessarily that YOU wrote it.
I'll put it down to English not being your first language.
The search found the quote I remembered, thereby confirming-"but I have read that Topalov's, for example, strength in faster time controls is considerably less than his classical prowess."
The search term does not in any way indicate my "prejudice", it merely served as a search tool. I was njot searching for info on Topalov, I was searching for the quote.
Bias does not enter into it. That was not about English, that was your reading into something too quickly on incorrect premises.
It's an offhand comment, I don't think Topalov cheats btw. He is just not as dominant in faster time controls as he is at classical.

Your ¨prejudice¨ is clear since you posted a lie from an other person as relevant data on Topa´s performance...

¨He is just not as dominant in faster time controls as he is at classical. ¨

If that means that at classical is the number one rated player and ¨only¨ number five in the rapid section (acording to that list) i don´t see other point on your comment than trying to spread
inconsistent rumors about Topa.
Lets not start an argument about this , all that was needed is for you to admit your bias and commit swift hara-kiri after that ...

"Inconsistent rumours"?
I quoted one respected commentator.
"If that means that at classical is the number one rated player and ¨only¨ number five in the rapid section (acording to that list)"
Yes, that could be one interpretation of what it means.
Where is the "bias"? Back up your accusation.
I'll thank you to keep the name-calling to yourself, and I'd also ask you to simply admit you were wrong, but I've heard of no forecasts of hell freezing over this decade.
You either have difficulties dealing with nuanced argument in a foreign language or else you are simply incapable of bowing to evidence.

¨and I'd also ask you to simply admit you were wrong¨
Wrong about what? About you?

¨You either have difficulties dealing with nuanced argument in a foreign language or else you are simply incapable of bowing to evidence.¨

If you want me i can quote you praising my writting not so long ago , so make up your mind.

Evidence? Of what?

You repeated some inaccurate statement that you read on another forum and then got teased a little, reacting like a gossip show host and accusing the other person of doing the same thing you do ...

I praised your pretty writing, Manu, never your powers of argumentation-there you are provably wrong.
Yes, wrong. You accused me of bias and called me a liar. With no evidence-provably wrong again.
It was not a forum, it was Mark Crowther of TWIC, a respected chess news site-provably wrong yet again.
You constantly try to needle others, and as soon as they react, even moderately, you immediately accuse them of overreacting-inconsistency.
I know you see yourself as Topalov's defender here, but I claimed Topalov has consistently been stronger at classical than blitz. Not that he is weak in either. The topic was that some utterly dominant players are or were also players also utterly dominant in faster time controls. He is not. That is what I have stated, and I stand by it.
Now much as I like these arguments where veracity takes an interestingly subdued role, I see no point in refuting what only exists in your mind again, basta.

Why bother? It is not language. It is mental.

¨Yes, wrong. You accused me of bias and called me a liar.¨

I was teasing you , i thought you might got that from my hara-kiri remark in the previous sentence.
Then i just started to play in the same line of your offended remarks and here we are ...
I don´t consider you a liar , but you know you were a little biased and with no foundations on your statement.
I don´t see my self as a Topalov´s defender , i have a lot of fun defending him which is a completely different thing .

On a side note is very funny to see Luke unsuccesfully trying to engage any discussion that goes in this threads .
I guess his hands are just too clumsy for the needle.

"but I have read that Topalov's, for example, strength in faster time controls is considerably less than his classical prowess."
Link with what I read provided, written by respected chess commentator. That comprises "foundation", which you claim lacks.
So, where is this bias you claim? Where is this lack of foundation?
You have not refuted one word I said. But what matter.
Anyway I am off, enough about it. Believe it or not I have swine flu.

Ok , lets go that way...
The lack of foundation would be in stating something that is not true (even if the pope wrote it first)without evidence.
Topalov is not ¨considerably less¨ powerfull in rapid than in classic.
The bias would be in you pointing at him with no proof (quoting another mistake is not proof enough ) of your claim and still trying to maintain the statement over a rating list that seems to indicate the contrary.
You were wrong , get over it.
Get better .

As far as rapid is concerned, maybe the results at Amber - the strongest rapid event each year - can contribute to the discussion:
2009 Topalov 5/11 (winners Anand, Aronian, Kamsky 7/11, Kramnik 6.5/11)
2008 Topalov 5.5/11 (winner Aronian 8/11, Kramnik 5.5/11, Anand 5/11)
2007 Topalov didn't participate (winner Anand 8/11, Kramnik 6.5/11, Aronian 6/11)
2006 Topalov 6.5/11 (winner Anand 8.5/11, Aronian 6.5/11, Kramnik not participating)

While Anand and Kramnik each had one bad year, and Topalov had a good year back in 2006, my overall conclusion is: Anand, Kramnik and - recently - Aronian are stronger rapid players than Topalov. If Amber isn't relevant, what is?

¨You have not refuted one word I said. But what matter.¨

Repeating that wont change the fact that i provided you with a rating list that shows you were wrong and all that you did is praise the original poster of the (mistaken) comment you so proudly repeated.
Isn´t that proving you wrong?

Lets say you are right (even though you are only considering the results of Amber ),lets say he is number four after the players you mentioned (in the list i provided he is number 4 and Kramnik number 5) but for the sake of argument lets go with that...
Would you say that going from number one (classic) to number four (rapd) is being considerably less powerfull?

The point is not that he is WEAK at blitz and rapid. The point is he has been, and still is, an absolutely massive force at classical, with his present and previous huge ratings and achievements. At his best Topalov was (and still often is) looking almost invincible at classical. At times he was just killing everyone. Number 4 is great, yes, but I would indeed call the different between an often crushingly dominant no 1 and no 4 to be "considerably less powerful". Like Kasparov and Timman, for example, when Timman was no. 3. Or, who was world no.4 in 1972? Can't remember? Vague idea but don't know straight away? Who was world no 1???
That doesn't mean he's not "powerful" at rapid/blitz, it means he's less impressive than his alterego at classical, for the very reason that he is so good at classical. And my point is precisely that there is a considerable difference between rapid Topalov and classical Topalov, I haven't seen anything refuting that.

From one to four is not ¨considerable difference¨ and you know that , but you win , against such blinded stubborness there is not point in arguing.
This could have been an interesting argument , though , i´ll choose my opponent more carefully next time.

And so concludes today's lesson: Never argue with a fool.

"From one to four is not ¨considerable difference¨ "
Yet again, that's not exactly what I said. I said from a (emphasis) super-dominant no. 1 to world no. 4 (not really within striking distance of no.1) IS a considerable difference, but you're right, "against such blinded stubborness there is not point in arguing."

¨but I have read that Topalov's, for example, strength in faster time controls is considerably less than his classical prowess.¨

"From one to four is not ¨considerable difference¨ "
Yet again, that's not exactly what I said.

Mmmm, sure ,whatever.

The argument continues, but the combatants appear to be running out of ammunition.

Hey, but I provided a link to Topalov being no. 36 in blitz, which was what we were talking about until recently :) http://members.aon.at/sfischl/blitz.txt

And so you did. We all loved it. Well, almost all of us loved it. Someone did not. Someone became very angry and demented. If you listen very closely, you may be able to hear him screeching.

Number 36 is really, really weak. Considerably so.

You said yourself that that list didn´t worth much , and if you read the thread you´ll see that the argument between the cat and me was about ¨faster time controls¨ ...
But i understand that when a Topa attacker falls another should replace it with renewed energy , that´s what makes defending him so much fun ;)

Your post of 7.24, if you re-read it, is just incorrect, and merely confirms your complete incomprehension of nuance-you have ignored, again, what I already repeatedly told you. Taken with the other posts, the words in the 7.24 post contradict each other, it's like Manu in Wonderland.
"From one to four is not ¨considerable difference¨ "
YOU claimed that. I have consistently maintained that dominant 1 v far-from-dominant 4 IS a considerable difference. And yet you post a statement from YOURSELF as some kind of "refutation". ???????
I can only conclude that you either don't want to or simply can't understand.
If you want to be taken seriously you might have a little respect for the beautiful tool of logic.
But don't let that worry you, keep up your "defense". My line is consistent, which anyone but you will see in an instant, and your "counters" non-existent, a not unfamiliar scenario. Anyway I'm tired of correcting the inaccuracies in every single post you've had on this, so have fun relieving your stress with any other misguided person who attempts to reason with you, I'm off to bang my head against this nice brick wall here.
Don't worry Luke, it's really the last time I will post on this.

Don´t get mad , you did what you could to defend your thesis , even some friends came by to help you pick up your tooths from the floor.

It is also interesting that noone else came in to defend Manu ... . As far as "his list not being refuted" is concerned, Fischl himself does not refute but sort of question it, because he also has another one:
Here Topalov is just #13. Numbers 6-19 are actually very close to each other (total difference 22 points, gaps between players always less than 5 points). Looking up there is a clear gap between #5 (Kramnik, 2764) and #6 (Gelfand, 2742) - top 4 are Anand, Kasparov(!?), Aronian and Ivanchuk.

Why did I single out Amber? To my knowledge, it is the only event where almost all of the top players in classical chess meet each other in rapid. What else is around? Of course there is Mainz: The top group is, at least in some years, comparable to Amber in strength, but it's just four players. Top seeds in the open this year included players as Bacrot, Grischuk, Mamedyarov, Naiditsch and Nakamura - pretty strong but no top10 players. Just prior to Mainz, there was a similarly strong event in Spain. Cap d'Agde 2008 comes at least close (with top seeds Carlsen, Ivanchuk and Radjabov, followed by the eventual winner Nakamura).
Still IMO, none of these really quite compare to Amber. Did I miss anything as strong AND big (more than four participants)? More importantly for this discussion, did I miss anything including Topalov?

I don't think Fischl contradicts himself, it's just that the page Manu mentioned also includes 2008 (maybe the earlier data should be 2000-2007). Topalov was average at Amber but won the weaker Villarrobledo Open (he only played two strong players, beating Shirov) and Dos Hermanas (just Shirov, Vallejo & Polgar). So that presumably boosted the Fischl rating.

As I said before, I wouldn't expect the classical hierarchy to change much at quicker time controls. Maybe rapid favours fast calculation (e.g. Anand) more than classical (though who are we to say how fast anyone calculates variations!?) and blitz slightly favours the more intuitive/positional players, but it's hard to say anything more concrete.

That list is interesting, strangely enough Kasparov's average opposition is lower than Aronian and Anand's.

I still don't know what exactly is the difference between the two lists, "Manu's" [very unofficial rapid chess rating] and "mine" [performance in rapid games]. It can't be differences in raw data, the total number of games for each player is exactly the same!

@jaideepblue: "strangely enough Kasparov's average opposition is lower than Aronian and Anand's."
Not strange at all IMO, I can propose three explanations:
1) When Kasparov was the world#1 by a considerable margin, by definition he played against weaker opposition than the rest of the field
2) Kasparov never played the Amber events (I think he was 'allergic' to blindfold chess)
3) Finally, rating inflation could play a certain role - the list covers 2000-2008, but Kasparov retired in March 2005

I wish this would stop. Quit picking on Manu.

I think the difference is that your list has only the 225 games for "2000-2008", whereas the "very unofficial list" has those 225 games PLUS another 26 games played in 2008 - which change the rating.

The question is not why would nobody came to defend me but why nobody else came to help the drowning cat...
It is like the question i laid for you (Would you say that going from number one (classic) to number four (rapid) is being considerably less powerful ?) , you know i was right , so you just didn't answer it ...

Isn't it pretty obvious? You answer it yourself. One list is a rating list, the other is a list over the players' performance ratings over the period 2000-2008. It's clear that there can be pretty big differences. What do you think is Carlsen's overall performance rating in classical over that period? Obviously nowhere near 2800.

Btw, Fischl is using a K-factor of 20 for that purpose, making the list more dynamic than FIDE's rating list. See http://members.aon.at/sfischl/definitions.html

He hasn't been foaming at the mouth and getting nasty, so why is everyone picking on him?

OK thanks, my misunderstanding or lack of reflection ... the "inflated" K-factor could explain why Topalov is currently relatively highly rapid-rated (due to two strong events in the second half of 2008). In previous lists, he was around #7 or 8, generally at least 100 points behind Anand - until Vishy had one bad Amber tournament which made him drop below 2800 and, for one list, lose the #1 spot to Aronian.

BTW Manu, didn't you argue before that being #1 on the official (classical time control) rating list means a certain player is considerably more powerful than the rest?

While we're talking ratings, something potentially(?) more important: As pointed out by a puzzled Susan Polgar (searching for players to invite for SPICE tournaments), apparently FIDE decided to punish some federations for not paying their membership dues. Those countries include Cuba and the Philippines. As a result, among others Wesley So and Leinier Dominguez are given as unrated since January 2008

Not answering a simple question just because you don´t want to accept that the other person is right is very lame , Thomas.

I will answer yours :
¨didn't you argue before that being #1 on the official (classical time control) rating list means a certain player is considerably more powerful than the rest?¨

Yes !!it means that he is considerably more powerful than the rest at that time control , like Anand ´s(usually) number one spot at rapid is a clear sign of his supremacy at that specific time control.
But Anand being number one at rapid and (lets say ) number 4 or 5 at classical is not a considerably difference of performances ,on the contrary it is a very slight difference between his two positions that reveals that he is slighly stronger at one of them...
Now use your brain and try to use the same formula with Topa ...
Remember that it is ok to ask Mom or Dad for help , the important thing is for you to finally understand it.

From one to four is not a considerable difference, but from one to two is. OK, we get it.

No , you don´t ,¨ the rest ¨ is a group of players not equal to number 2 , who is obviously just slightly worst ranked than number one.
Camon , try harder , you are just playing silly.
A ¨considerable difference¨ would be at least droping the top ten or something , and still that would be debatable .

There is no need to embrace lost arguments just to show support for the beaten players , you could send him flowers instead.

And besides , when you don´t really believe your own point in the discussion it becomes even more easier and enjoyable to your opponent to counter.
Look at all the diluted explanations from the cat (proportional to his anger), look at the irrelevant data and broken logic from Thomas , look at the childish atacks from Luke ...
The only one who could make a point , was mishamp and he did it without irony or insults , because he was confident of his position ,learn from him.

If that's what you honestly mean, I guess you can be forgiven as English is not your first language. It's not mine, either, but I know that a statement like "Fischer was much better than the rest", for instance, means he was much better than all of the rest. Not much better than the rest in general or whatever you are talking about.

He's getting angry. Better leave him alone. He seems to like his little smiley face symbol, so here are a few for him to play with:

:) :) :) :) :)

@Dominguez and So missing

Silly game. Right now Leinier Dominguez and Wesley So are listed in the Top 100 list (#22-2719 and #97-2644), but missing from the latest downloadable full list. They are listed in the download lists up until July 2009, but in the online rating chart only up to January 2008.

FIDE has been playing this game before, I stumbled upon it once searching for Ivan Morovic (Chile). And I think Kazakhstan was de-listed for some time, too.

It's unfair to the players who might get fewer invitations, and annoying to everyone else. You end up getting different rankings depending on exactly where and when you looked them up.

¨but I know that a statement like "Fischer was much better than the rest", for instance, means he was much better than all of the rest.¨

You believe that ?
That Fischer was equaly better than number 110 ranked player than to number 2 or 4?
I don´t care what is your first language , but you are not using much logic in your statements...

I didn´t have such fun since the football argument , thx u all for participating in this nice simul.

He says he is having "such fun". He spins around and around, getting himself dizzy. Lots of fun.

:) :) :) :) :)

"You believe that ?
That Fischer was equaly better than number 110 ranked player than to number 2 or 4?"

Obviously not what I said at all, as "much better" is a very unspecific term that doesn't mean exactly this or that much better. In my example it describes the supposed distance between Fischer and Spassky, if it's a statement about him and his contemporaries, but also the distance between Fischer and the regular club player, without implying in the slightest that the distance is the same. Why should I even have to explain this? It is pretty telling that you have to keep coming up with more and more nonsense to defend your earlier nonsense. Anyway, this silliness is not important, and I won't spend more time on it.

¨Why should I even have to explain this?¨

Because you keep on stumbling on your own words and receiving friendly fire from the examples you bring to the table, even though they have little to do with the discussion you entered.
At your service.

"I didn´t have such fun since the football argument"

Just think of all the extra fun we can have if Uruguay and Ecuador win tonight :)

I know , i know , we are doomed .

ehemm , ehemmmm

I´d like to wish Uruguay the best in the ¨repechaje¨ , they fought fair like the true warriors they are , they deserve to be in the World Cup.
Also like to congratulate Bielsa for clasyfing Chile and helping us from the distance , it was a great relief to know Ecuador was losing.

Regards to Alez and the Spaniard team who are making their first steps in the World Cup , i hope they enjoy the ride and learn a lot from the best teams in the world.

Congratulations Manu. It would be nice to see Messi and Co in the Mundial next year.

Back to chess, the Alekhine Memorial starts next month. The field is extremely strong and if Topalov had been playing, it would be another AVRO 1938 or Linares 1994. It would really be interesting to see how Carlsen fares against the biggest beasts around.
I'm licking my chops already.

Guess you mean the Tal Memorial?

Back to football, it will also be interesting to have Maradona at the world championship, if only for entertainment value. His comments after their crushing 1-0 against Uruguay (quoted by the German Spiegel online): "I am very proud of my team. Uruguay is a very good team and played for their lives every single minute of the match, but we won against them like real men and qualified for the final without help from anyone else." And to his critics in the media: "To those who didn't believe in me I say - apologies to any ladies around - f*** me."
BTW, Spain won all 10 of their qualifying matches, finishing first in their group 11 points ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Thx Hardy!
I´m very excited about the Tal memorial too , there will be a lot of things happening at the same time there.
On one side Anand haven´t really nailed (i´m still under Maradona´s influence)since he became WCH , it is about time for him to remind why he is who he is.
On the other hand the duel Karlsen vs Kramnik for the rating spot would be very interesting , team Magnus has already showed that they worry a lot about Vlady .
IMO their fear is justified , i have the feeling Kramnik will come stronger than usual .
Nevertheless i´ll put my money with Chucky or Aronian this time .

Next event to get excited about (already) is Corus 2010. Chessvibes just mentioned the field - ordered according to the still-official September 2009 ELO: Anand, Carlsen, Kramnik, Leko, Ivanchuk, Nakamura, Shirov, Karjakin, Dominguez, Short(!), Tiviakov, Caruana, van Wely, Smeets.
The B group is also fairly strong, for American fans I point out Varuzhan Akobian.

Watching Maradona at the end was definitely the highlight of the game! Though I can't help but think it would also be useful if Argentina had a football manager :) Congrats, anyway. Even if it would have been fun for this forum it would have been a shame not to have Messi in the finals.

The "A" group looks very strong. Should be fun to watch, unless someone is trying to bounce a ball off their head into the net.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on September 30, 2009 12:25 AM.

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