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Carlsen Earning It at Pearl Spring

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With a lead of two full points heading into the second half of the Pearl Spring supertournament in Nanjing, China, there didn't seem much doubt about Magnus Carlsen's eventual victory. But he was starting the second lap with black against the top two rated players, Leko and Topalov. The Hungarian has an excellent record against Carlsen, despite losing the Miskolc rapid match against him earlier this year. As for Topalov, he's dangerous enough in general and has legendary comeback qualities. And it would have seemed somehow too easy for Carlsen to have a smooth sail to victory. The leader was tested in both games and came through the fires unscathed.

Leko played the Fianchetto against Carlsen's Grunfeld, a variation we are all familiar with after seeing it in so many of Karpov's whites against Kasparov in Valencia just days ago. Leko went with 10.Nbc3, playing his e-knight to f4 and heading for very sharp play. The first new move was Carlsen's 13..Qa5. Leko got the famous runaway Grunfeld d-pawn even earlier than usual with 17.d6!?, playing to win the exchange. As so often happens in the Grunfeld, Black's dynamic compensation for the exchange was good enough to force liquidation that didn't leave White with many winning chances. Even a technical virtuoso like Leko couldn't create much pressure, though it took some timely action from Black with 54..e4! to force the final liquidation. White surely could have continued to torture Black for a long time otherwise.

Today came Topalov's turn to try to take down the leader and the world #1 was coming off his first win of the event, though it wasn't pretty. In round six he played like a wild man with black against Jakovenko and turned a sure loss into a win in the space of a single blunder by the Russian. In some ways it was typical Topalov, risking heavily and outplaying his opponent in complications. But this was more risk and less quality than we're used to from him, and the win only brought him back to an even score, tied with Wang Yue. We didn't get to see a second Najdorf from Carlsen today; instead he showed Topalov the Sveshnikov he's more familiar with. Up to move 21 they followed the line in which Carlsen lost to Shirov in the final round of MTel this year, costing the Norwegian first place. Topalov diverged first with 21.Rc1, leading to a long sequence of razor-sharp tit-for-tat tactics. It quickly boiled down to an extra pawn for Topalov, but it was doubled up and Black's bishop and rooks were active enough to hold the balance in the endgame.

Two clutch draws from Carlsen to seal the deal. In the final three rounds he has two whites and a two-point lead and even Topalov at his best couldn't catch that. Round 8: Leko-Topalov, Carlsen-Wang Yue, Jakovenko-Radjabov. FYI there's another rest day on Wednesday before round nine.


If Carlsen wins today he would have beaten each of the players in the super tournament at least once. Wonder when that last happened at the highest level... Ivanchuk, Topa, (Kramnik @ Dortmund??) and Garry are my likely suspects

Of course Ivanchuk, who started with 5/5 at MTel 2008 (a 6-player double round robin). Going further back in time ... as I pointed out before, the Sonas lists are useful at least to spot 'candidates' for answering such questions (you still have to search elsewhere for the crosstables) - loose from the question whether a walkover victory qualifies for best performance ever:

Kasparov "did it" (beating all of his opponents at least once) at Tilburg 1989 for a final score of 12/14 - but not at Linares 1999 (10.5/14 includes two draws against Kramnik). Similarly, Topalov's result at the San Luis WCh was "less impressive" (note this is IRONY) because he didn't win against Anand.

Next question: Who was the last player scoring 100% in a major event? This seems to be Bobby Fischer at the 1963 US Championship.

Hasn't Dortmund always been a single-round robin? Botvinnik did it in the World Championship tornament in '48, but then they played everybody else 4 times. Other than that, I'm not sure, it's happened after World War II.


The axe must be incredible hot because Carlsen just throw it at Wang ´s face , the panda is going with the baseball bat now.
IMHO best game so far.

How was the 1963 US Championship a major event? I'd rather point at his 6-0 against Taimanov and Larsen...

I agree, but the question was about tournaments. In a match, beating your opponent at least once is nothing special, even the loser does it most of the time (it can be considered a failure if he doesn't).
Whether the 1963 US Championship is (considered) a major event is anyone's personal pick. I could turn the question around: What was the strongest ever event ("if we believe in Sonas") won with a 100% score?
BTW, I became motivated to look for 100% scores because Dortmund was a single round robin most of the time - though not always, for example not this year's edition.

Oh, tournament. You just said "major event" - didn't realize that didn't include matches.

It was a major event, the US had some pretty good players then. The likes of Samuel Reshevsky, Arthur Bisguier, Larry Evans, in addition to more GMs (Benko, Mednis) and also a couple of IMs and I believe 1 or 2 untitled players. The GM title hadn't been demeaned as it is now, and IM meant something.

Leko-Topalov looks like its going to be decisive, Black has menacing Bs, but a bare kingside, not to mention W's d roller. Can anybody tell me if Carlsen-Yue is still in theory please?

Oh my , the panda blundered.

I don't know if Topalov's bare kingside is an issue, white doesn't have open lines for his rooks [too many pawns ,:)]. Leko could try f2-f4 but this seems risky giving black his own passed pawn.
As far as Carlsen-Wang Yue is concerned: Carlsen is far behind on the clock, so he seems to be "out of book".

Very hard for White to play against the bishops in Lékó-Topalov. Would be ready to bet on 0-1 there.

Re K-side, you're right, W's doesnt look all that secure either.

Once Black consolidates with Rc7, Bc5 its hard to see how W can resist.

Topalov is not a convenient opponent for Lékó. After Dortmund 2002, where Lékó beat Topalov in the final earning the right to play Kramnik for the title, all the 6 decisive games in classical chess have been won by Topalov. Going to be a 7th now.

Well, even in Dortmund 2002 Topalov actually won the last of the decisive games, closing in to 1-2 in the score, but only drew the next and final game.. mostly a curiously though.

Why did Lékó play 23.Bc5 ? Felt totally wrong to allow what happened.

Didnt Wang Yue have a promising p sac with Rd8 instead of Rc7?

Rhd8 that is. 25. ... Rhd8 26. Qf2 Rf8

With hindsight, Leko should not have taken the pawn Nxc4 on move 19; that seems to be where all his problems started :-) Beautifully played game by Topalov.

"Why did Lékó play 23.Bc5 ? Felt totally wrong to allow what happened."

I agree, but what were his other options at that point? Either something had already gone worng, or the mistake was 24.Bf8: when he had to play the admittedly ugly 24.Bh1. Just how dangerous is then Rf8-f6-h6 followed by Qh5?

It's clear Topalov (the word means "Wireless" in Bulgarian) has re-established connection to the server.

It seems a bit too late, though...but you never know!

55. .. Be5 is a neat move by Wang Yue!

The panda has finally been put to sleep

Wow. I thought that giving up the B for 2 pawns was a neat way of liquidating. Outstanding game by Carlsen. The will to win and self belief is so refreshing! Man, Chess needed a Carlsen.

and jakovenko slayed a dragon.

I thought 55..Bxe5 guaranteed a draw but Carlsen kept generating great practical chances with a limited but extremely powerful army. 60..Rb3 was called a "blunder" but 60..Ka5 was also objectively losing after 61.Nd5 Re1+ (otherwise White's RNN will decide quickly) 62.Kxe1 Nd3+ 63.Kd1 Nxc1 64.Kxc1 it is a theoretical win though of course hard to play correctly.

And Jakovenko beat Radjabov, also an interesting endgame.

And Carlsen wins the tournament with 2 games to spare.

Regardless of the result, the panda was wide awake today - credit to both players (and the four other ones) for an entertaining round today. I wonder if Wang Yue's 57.-Ka6 was a mistake, could white also create sort of a mating net if the black king moves to the center of the board?

And now only the fight for third place seems still open (unless Wang Yue wins against Topalov).

On Chesspro.ru the commentator says any move other than 57...Ka6 loses. 59...Ra5 still seems to draw (instead of the Re3 check). Nice finish anyway.

p.s. Frogbert's already been to work. Carlsen's now on 2796.4.

57..Ka6 was forced. There were some nasty forks otherwise, for instance 57..Kc7 58.Nb5+ or 57..Kc6 58.Nxe5+ Kxd6 59.Nc4 or 57..Kb8 58.Rh8+ followed by Nb5+. It seems Black could save himself later though, but it's already tricky. Tricky or not though, 59..Re3+ - probably the decisive mistake in objective terms - felt very counter-intuitive compared to a move like 59..Ra5.

55..Nxe5 may have been an easier way to draw since with a bishop on e5 after 56.fxe5 Bxe5 White doesn't seem to have any meaningful checks.

With Magnus the fight isn't over until there are only the kings left on the board. He can wipe out an army with a toothpick. (BTW, this tale is inspired by the movie Kung Fu Panda, but with reversed roles).

TWIC "Veselin Topalov destroyed Peter Leko with the black pieces."

yeeHa! vesko rules big time

Well, 55..Nxe5 56.fxe5 Bxe5 57.Rh7 wins the f-pawn so maybe it's not as extremely trivial as I thought - I had planned to back the bishop up with ..f6 with everything defended. I guess it's still possible to lose.

Magnus Carlsen - The MacGyver of Chess

Yes, with a tinopener and a piece of string he can checkmate the world's best.

Nowadays I find Topalov and his team repulsive. The faster this shady, oily southeasterner drops out of the elite the better.

"Rhd8 that is. 25. ... Rhd8 26. Qf7 Rf8"

It looked promising, but is good for white. Wang Yue spent a lot of time there, and eventually found the best move Rc7.

The crux is that after 26... Rf8 27. Qxg6 Rxf5 white has the very strong ONLY move Nd4!, closing the diagonal and opening the line to b4 for his rook (28. Nd4 Bxd4 29. Rxb4+ and picks up the bishop for a pawn up position for white).

That was a nice battle with Wang Yue, but marred by increment chess at the end [practical chances]? Stroppy win indeed!

Topalov deflating the Anand sub (Leko) was the best of the three [Ne4 and Black rolls thru! Two bishops, too much!]. After the d6 pawn fell, Jako was technique inspired. How not to play the Dragon! Radjabov will rest before his run [with White] at Magnus.

ChessDom [Dumb?, at least here...] called it "his sixth(!) win from eight games," but counting yields but 5 for me. Counting can be tricky!

Kudos to Carlsen for locking up at least a tie for first with two rounds to go. Great tournament, just have to avoid a slip at the end.

I'm with you. The 1963 US Championship was a major event. And you forgot to mention the participation of both Byrne brothers, though Donald was clearly ill at the time.

On your question,

Just a few days ago, besides Carlsen, Aronian defeated all his opponents at least once in the Grand Slam Final.

Goodness yes, Robert Byrne was a leading player.

The 1963 US Championship was not an elite event by any stretch of the imagination. Yes, a great feat by Fischer, but not against elite players. None of the participants (except Fischer, of course) were top 15 in the world at the time: Reshevsky was 15 years removed from his best days, Evans and Benko were never in the top 15; Bisguier received a "Grandmaster" title as a "life work" sort of award - he didn't earn it over the board - and the rest were IM's, some of whom would eventually become run-of-the-mill GM's, like Byrne and Mednis.

Full list of participants here:


Beating Larsen & Taimanov 6-0 each is a much bigger achievement by Fischer, who must be on everybody's list of 5 best players ever.

The 1963 US Championship is not elite in the sense of being packed with top-10 or top-20 players like present day supertournaments.

However, the 1963 US Ch. is probably still one of the strongest tournaments in the world that year, I'd guess among the top 10 strongest tournament that year. About half the players are top 50. Imagine a present day tournament, half of the players are the like of Grischuk, Motylev, Akopian, Naiditsch. Not super elite, but good. Now imagine someone winning that with a perfect score. I'd say it is a major result.

Topalov, showing his typical second half brilliance, has taken his rating performance in this tournament up to 2800 already. With two more rounds to go, it seems like he might just be able to hold on to his #1 spot in the live rating for a while longer...

R Byrne wasn't so great in 1963/64. He had gone like +1 -0 =10 the previous US Champ, and so was called "invincible" (against Americans), but had lost a few games to foreigners the past years. He really had a rise (to the top 10, though #11 in ChessMetrics) when he quit his lectureship, then became NYT columnist. ChessMetrics puts him at #49 for the tournament (see it -- http://db.chessmetrics.com/CM2/SingleEvent.asp?Params=199510SSSSS3S038178000000141100352800000010100

Field had #17 (Reshevsky), #27 (Benko), #33 (Evans), #49 (R Byrne), #52 (D Byrne, sick), #78 (Bisguier), #88 (Addison), and Saidy, who had become "unrated"

Probably not quite as strong as a mega Swiss nowdays. The B field at Wijk aan Zee tops it regularly (Sasikiran #25, Vallejo #28, Efimenko #40, Kasimdzhanov #42, Motylev #49, Volokitin #54, Short #61, Caruana #84, Navara #95).

The bias here is that Reshevsky and Benko were "top Westerners", so people think of them as good. But Vasuikov and other "unknowns" to the West could pare them down.

Korchnoi was 14.5 from 15 in the Astazlos memorial in the mid 60s, but the field was 100 pts worse.

To say that the 63 US Champ were in the "top 10 tournaments" is almost a trivium, as there weren't too many big events in any case, unlike current practice.

1963 had Piatigorsky (first non-cycle mega-tournament), Leningrad Russian Champ as biggies, with Sochi and the Alekhine Memorial in Moscow as about the equal of the US Champ, and similarly with Sarajevo. Havana was 50 pts lower than US Champ, Hoogovens maybe 40, Asztalos of that year about the same, same with Bad Lichenstein, then Zenica (Yugoslav Champ) and Hastings another peg behind these. IBM Amsterdam was about 100 worse, as was the Halle zonal. The German Champ was yet another 20 more worse, a bit worse than the Club Buenos Aires event. Maybe others, I get tired of searching.

good info, Closed. Thanks!

At the time there were, easily, at least 20 players far stronger than everyone in the 1963 US Championship (except for Fischer, of course - who was probably top-20 material by then).

Tal, Petrosian, Botvinnik, Smyslov, Keres, Bronstein, Geller, Gligoric, Kortchnoi, Spasski, Stein, Larsen, Portisch, Ulhmann, Ivkov, Kholmov, Szabo, Polugayevsky, Taimanov, Averbak is a quick list of 20 players better than any American player at the time (once again, except for Fischer).

There were many other very strong players - stronger than any US Championship participant:

Donner, Penrose, Pomar, Pachman, Bilek, Hort, Suetin, Simagin, Bolelavski, Lutikov, etc.


I meant to write: "except for Fischer, who was probably top-5 materail by then"

I find the quick reviews that come up after each round on chessvibes with the embedded game viewer very good. Seems better than anything chessbase puts up, and much quicker.

If Topalov could take byes for the first half of his tournaments, he'd probably be rated about 5000 by now.

As you said, only about 2 tournaments in 1963 (the Soviet Champ and Piatigorsky) are clearly stronger than the US Champ. You only proved my point. And I don't know why you listed the other tournaments that are (as you said yourself) just equal to, or even weaker than, the US Champ.

Also notice, I didn't actually said "major tournament", but "major result" for Fischer, considering the strong enough opposition AND perfect the score.

The B Corus is weaker compared to the elite A group. That doesn't mean it is easy to beat every single one of the B group player. Suppose someone wins it with a perfect score, beating Sasikiran, Vallejo, Motylev, etc, every single one of them. I would consider it a major result.

Irv wrote this nonsense:
"easily, at least 20 players far stronger than everyone in the 1963 US Championship"

But Reshevsky is still top 20 at that time. He is not at his best anymore. But still good enough to be top 20 in 1963.

You are just putting names on your list, LOL.
Yeah, Tal, Petrosian, Keres are stronger than everyone in the US Champ. But Larsen, Ivkov, Kholmov, Taimanov? I don't think they are clearly stronger than Reshevsky in 1963.

Portisch, Averbakh, Szabo, Uhlmann? Not only Reshevsky, but also Benko is perhaps equal or better.

Donner, Penrose, Bilek, Hort, Simagin, Lutikov? Several US players are probably stronger than them, in 1963. Reshevsky, Benko, Byrne, Evans.

Why does every comment thread on Daily Dirt end up in those pointless discussions?

Irv also said:
"run-of-the-mill GM's, like Byrne"

I thought Byrne was pretty good in the early 1970s. Perhaps top 20. He got into the candidates once, and almost got in again in the next cycle. Doesn't sound ordinary.

Last night for the first time I happened to stay up and follow Nanjing, and was rewarded with 3 fantastic games. Hope Carlsen won't slow down, Topalov will keep playing like a wild man to catch up, and the losers (Leko, Radjabov) will be motivated try everything to at least win a game.

Last night for the first time I happened to stay up and follow Nanjing, and was rewarded with 3 fantastic games. Hope Carlsen won't slow down, Topalov will keep playing like a wild man to catch up, and the losers (Leko, Radjabov) will be motivated try everything to at least win a game.

Last night for the first time I happened to stay up and follow Nanjing, and was rewarded with 3 fantastic games. Hope Carlsen won't slow down, Topalov will keep playing like a wild man to catch up, and the losers (Leko, Radjabov) will be motivated try everything to at least win a game.

Lombardy won 11 in the World Junior Championship back in the 1950s. And Susan Polgar won the Hungarian Girls Under 11 Championship with a 10-0 score at the age 4. That's gotta be a big event on some scale...

Beliavsky won Alicante 13 games in 1978, Alekhine 11 games in Moscow in the Great War, Lasker won 13 games in New York 1893, Janowski 9 in Paris in 1914.

And WHO CAN FORGET! Capablanca 13/13 in New York 1913.

Or just Wikipedia it:


Sorry for the repetition. Please delete.

Actually, Arthur Bisguier got his Grandmaster title in 1957. This was not a life-time achievement award.


"Why does every comment thread on Daily Dirt end up in those pointless discussions?"

I beg to differ! ;) lol

"And I don't know why you listed the other tournaments that are (as you said yourself) just equal to, or even weaker than, the US Champ."

Because it was a comment for General Information, and not a Response to you. If you want only the facts you want, maybe we can negotiate an hourly rate for my work... :)

"Tal, Petrosian, Botvinnik, Smyslov, Keres, Bronstein, Geller, Gligoric, Kortchnoi, Spasski, Stein, Larsen, Portisch, Ulhmann, Ivkov, Kholmov, Szabo, Polugayevsky, Taimanov, Averbak is a quick list of 20 players"

The first 10 look good (maybe not Bronstein, and Stein was up and down). The second 10 not so much, when you say "far stronger" especially, given the vagaries of [back]ratings. Larsen particularly wasn't all that hot at that time. And, I tell you, Vasiukov (who?, who?) should be On the List.

Reshevsky was 50% in the Piatigorsky Cup (both of them), so he still had some mojo juice. And he was +2 in the Interzonal the next year.

Bisguier, along with Evans, were given the GM title at the same time Tal received his. Originally FIDE wanted to give it to Tal only - who was not even an IM at the time - on the grounds that he was Soviet Champion, but the USA complained and receive the two titles in what Tal himself called a "truly Solomon-like decision".

It's a liittle bit of chess trivia, right there. Check it out.

You're right about Vasiukov, Closed. My list was not meant to be exact - nobody can produce one, given the absence of ratings at the time. That is my opnion and YMMV.

As I "accidentally" started this discussion (maybe together with acirce), here is my opinion: A perfect score in a tournament is always remarkable, it doesn't really matter too much just how strong the field was. Well, there may be exceptions: About a year ago, Vallejo Pons scored 18/18 in three separate events - his opponents included two FMs, the rest untitled

Another question (ignoring the strength of opposition): Where is it "easier" to get a perfect score, in a tournament or in a match? I would say in a match: once you have a clear lead, your opponent will (have to) take progressively more risks, eventually playing all or nothing. In a tournament, second place behind you is still an achievement, so some opponents may be very happy with a draw - and in such a situation it can be hard to win.

How the different situations can affect your own attitude is another story: In a match you are still fairly safe when 5-0 becomes 5-1 or 5-2. In a tournament, when you start with 5/5 and then lose one or two games your victory could suddenly be in danger ... so it can be tempting if not to start "cruising" with short draws, at least to stop taking risks.

All three of Tal, Evans, and Bisguier failed to meet the stated norms when given the GM moniker. The idea was to make Tal a GM at the 1957 Congress, but he wasn't even an IM and had no norms (though he was USSR Champion).

Bisguier had missed his final norm by a half-point. Not sure about how Evans stood.

"Budapest", not "Hungarian". More or less the same thing, perhaps.

Both Robert Byrne (almost a 2x Candidate) and Benko (2x Candidate) were easily top 15 at their peak. Byrne's career was a bit anomalous in that he didn't get world-class until his 40's.

Neither player was ever a match for the top half-dozen players, but even before the title was cheapened, both were unusually strong GMs.

noosy noise:
Beliavsky in Alicante 1978 and Capablance in New York 1913 were against much weaker opposition.

Lasker in New York 1893 was perhaps close to what Fischer did in US Ch 1963. Not quite elite opposition, but strong enough to make a perfect score very remarkable.

Your list is not only not exact. About half of the people on your list are more or less equal to or weaker than Reshevsky or Benko. And some on your list are still good match even for Evans or Byrne. That 1963 US Champ was not as weak as you think.

If you want to count club events where a strong player smashed far weaker opponents, you can find more examples.

Also, notice in the examples you gave (Vallejo's case), almost all opponents are given a rating exactly 350 lower, which is the maximum difference calculated by FIDE, which means their actual ratings are probably lower than what's given there.

BTW, I've heard that Wang Hao also got GM without an IM. How did he manage to avoid the rules?

I don't know the specifics of Wang Hao's case, but he could very well have achieved just what you say without circumventing any rules. Technically, if an untitled player scores 3 GM norms and pushes his/her rating over 2500, he/she becomes a GM without having first to be an IM. This is rare, though, and can only happen to players who don't get to participate in international tournaments until their playing strenght (if not their rating) is cleanly above 2500. Which usually means they have to be from a country that: a) Permits only its elite or near-elite players to take part in international events; and b) Has a pretty outstanding pool of local talent, thus allowing youngsters to develop up to GM strenght without traveling much nor having to participate in FIDE sanctionned events. I'd say China qualifies on both counts.

If I'm mistaken in any of this, though, I wouldn't mind being corrected.

Larsen won the Amsterdam interzonal in '64 (shared).

Chess isn't popular in China so *very few* local tournaments exist, and even fewer FIDE-rated events.

Without sporting bodies to hothouse the local talent China might've even remained Japan-like (and Korea, too) as a no-show on FIDE lists.

Note for instance that China hosts only 94 active FIDE-titled players in total - less than the chess superpowers of Mexico, Argentina, and Austria.


Replying to both of your recent posts:
"Club events where a strong player smashed far weaker opponents": This is exactly my point. Whatever the exact strength of the 1963 US Championship was, it was clearly (far) stronger than the amateur events Vallejo played. Some people may make the 1963 US Ch stronger than it was, judging each player by his _peak career_ strength. But some were past their prime, others were still improving. By comparison, today it is no longer a BIG achievement to beat former world-top players (Karpov, Korchnoi, Huebner, Timman, Portisch, Ljubojevic, .....).

Becoming GM without being IM first: As Girly Sue pointed out, Wang Hao didn't break any rules. There are formal criteria for becoming a GM, having the IM title first is not one of them. Having scored three GM norms (by definition also IM norms), he could apply for both titles and pay two fees, but of course that's pointless.
Another quite recent example is Anish Giri, entering Corus C as FM Giri and making his third GM norm in the tournament.
And a distant example of a different kind may be (East) German GM Peter Enders. Prior to reunification he had scored many IM norms (five to ten?) but the federation did not register them with FIDE [he was impopular for political reasons, so the story goes]. Once this was no longer an issue, he was already strong enough to become a GM "immediately".

"Having scored three GM norms"

technically it's 27 "games", not a specific number of norms.

usually a norm-earning event needs to be 9 rounds or more, but there are a few exceptions making it possible to score shorter norms. also, if you overscore the norm requirement by a full point for instance, a 9 game norm will be counted as a 10 game norm even if actually only 9 games were played.

hence, technically you can achieve the norm requirements via two 13-round events. that doesn't happen too often, though. :o)

You could also earn the GM title by winning the World Junior Championship.
BTW, players like Kramnik and Giri skipped the IM stage altogether.

Yes, true - and there are even a couple of other opportunities to "bypass" the norm requirements.

My pedantic point however was linked to the very normal misconception that one needs 3 norms: Two can do, and sometimes you need 4. :o)

Relevant quote:

"1.5 Requirements for award of the title, having achieved norms
1.50 Two or more norms in events covering at least 27 games.
1.51 If a norm is sufficient for more than one title, then it may be used as part of the application for both."

The entire chapter about title requirements in FIDE's handbook may be found here:


Yeah, sounds like ancient history ... . It is probably still in the rules, but nowadays you have practically no chance to win the World Juniow Championship if you aren't yet a GM.

In some cases, players may simply not bother applying for a "lower" title. On the low end of the scale, a friend and clubmate of mine recently became candidate master (ELO >2200). I guess many people won't care to do the required paperwork and pay the related fee. His motivation was: "If I ever wanted to earn money teaching chess in schools, it could help to be a titled player." Hypothetical BTW, he is happy with his "real-life job". And he contacted the local newspaper which made a story out of it ... . Here it clearly helped that we live in a small community (it wouldn't be newsworthy in Amsterdam), and maybe also that one of the journalists is himself a hobby chess player.

LOL, that Pogo woman is hilarious, now Carlsen won in spite of making mistakes worthy of an A-level player or below.

"He [Robert Byrne] really had a rise (to the top 10, though #11 in ChessMetrics) when he quit his lectureship, then became NYT columnist."
I doubt that this can be right. Byrne became the NYT chess columnist in 1973, at the age of 45. The statement ignores most of his chess career.
"The bias here is that Reshevsky and Benko were "top Westerners", so people think of them as good. But Vasuikov and other "unknowns" to the West could pare them down." This is mere assertion. To compare Vasuikov to Reshevsky seems absurd to me.

Ah the joy of ChessMetrics...

Instantly tells us that Benko was only #17 at his peak (as opposed to "easily" in the top #15). His Candidates apperances are peculiar, in that his best career performances were in Interzonals, and even then he needed "affirmative action" for non-Soviets to make it the second time. By late 1963, he was maybe already post-prime (only #27 in ChessMetrics), and we find him mired at -5 in the 1964 Interzonal (the type of result that allowed Fischer/USCF to buy out his Interzonal spot in 1970).

I'm not sure what "almost 2x Candidate" for Byrne means? You either qualify for the Candidates, or you don't... Smyslov and Huebner also didn't make it via Biel, so he was simply a half-point short.

You can look it up. Byrne did very little before his 1973 Interzonal performance.

Here's his 60s international results (other than Olympiads), during which time he was probably a part-time player by today's standards:

1961 Mar del Plata tied for 2nd (+8)
1964 Buenos Aires 3rd (+6)
1967 Sarajevo tied for 5th (+4)
1967 Sousse -7
1968 Monte Carlo tied for 5th (+3)
1968 Reykjavik 4th (+4) [first was Vasuikov], though -1 if you discount the local unrateds
1969 Amsterdam tied for 6th (+2)
1969 Ljubulana tied for 5th (+2)
1969 San Juan tied for 11th (even)
1970 Lugano 5th (even)
1970 Hastings next to last (-2)
1971 Moscow tied for 8th (+1)
1971 Hastings tied for 3rd (+4)

He was #72 in ChessMetrics before that Moscow event, which is about when he looked into the career shift.

So if I ignore his chess career in this decade, it's largely because he ignored it too, to some extent. Upon quitting academics and becoming a writer, he had a lot more time for chess, and it was shewn in his results.


"To compare Vasuikov to Reshevsky seems absurd to me."
The West seems almost totally ignorant of Vasiukov, though he was a strong player of the early 60s. Probably because he didn't get too much travel to the international events, and there were so many other Soviets of note. Again I try to rely on facts, rather than impressions.

His first big results were winning the Moscow event of 1961 (tied with Smyslov, ahead of Olafsson, Bisguier, Portisch, Bronstein), and the Belgrade Open the same year (one point clear of Gligoric, with beating the Yugoslavs no easy task). He was +4 at the Soviet Champ that year, ahead of (for instance) Keres and Taimanov (and Averbakh and Kholmov), and tied with Tal for 4th.

He then won the Lasker Memorial in Berlin in 1962 by a full point with +8, ahead of Stein (and Udovcic), with Uhlmann also in the field. He was 2nd at +4 in Moscow 1962, being beat by Averbakh, again ahead of Bronstein (and a young Larsen). In 1963, he seems not to have played in any events of note, but was tied for 3rd with +6 in the Moscow event of 1964. He later won:

1968 Reykjavik (tied with Taimanov on +7)
1970 Skopje (tied with Taimanov on +7)
1971 Varna +6 ahead of Gheorghiu and Smejkal (both in top 50)
1974 Manila +7, ahead of Petrosian (+5), Larsen, Ljubo, Gligoric, Portisch (#4 at the time, though out of form) and others
1977 Zalaegerszeg +6, 1.5 ahead of Kholmov

I could list events where he was 2nd, etc., but this seems sufficient.

I'd take Vasiukov to beat Reshevsky in 1963, when the latter was coming off a hiatus of some years, probably dating back to Zurich 1953 (he was #1 in the world in ChessMetrics, but finished in the logjam for 2nd with +4). Over the next decade, he largely played matches (Lombardy, Byrne, Bisguier, Benko, Fischer), some of the US Championships, and an occasional other event (Munich Oly 1958, Dallas 1957, Tel Aviv 1958, Buenos Aires 1960). Not until his Sousse Interzonal performance in 1967 was he really back in the top echelon.

In both cases, Byrne and Reshevsky, to extrapolate their skill from one decade to another seems unwise, as both were "part-time" (by current standards) for much of those periods.

pogonina referred to wang talking about a-level play or below.

of course, this is hilarious, wang relaxed a bit too soon and got punished. and, of course, pogonina seems jealous as chesswise and without rybka equipped she is a nobody compared to to the "big boys". or maybe she just loves to or simply has to provoke, who knows for sure, she gets paid for her commentary!

i'm pretty much convinced that of all active top 20 players only carlsen and topalov would have considered to continue playing after 55. Bxe5. Korchnoi got it perfectly right in one of his interviews several years ago: "carlsen has this special vision of a chessboard." and "i don't think very highly of karjakin".

"i'm pretty much convinced that of all active top 20 players only carlsen and topalov would have considered to continue playing after 55. Bxe5."

It was 55...Nxe5, but that's just hype anyway (which Magnus certainly doesn't need). I'd be amazed if any player in the top 20 wouldn't keep playing. White has an extra piece and all kinds of checks and potential forks - you can play for a win with almost no chance of losing. Remember that on the next move Wang had only a single move that didn't lose instantly.

sorry to disappoint you, but 55...Bxe5?! was the root of the ensueing troubles. (wang should have played 55...Nxe5, but he didn't ;)

it would be great if you were right and most gms played on in such a situation but i fear almost anybody would have called it a day as the draw "seems inevitable".

probably i'm too pessimistic but watching people like leko play you may very well lose all your hope...

You're right - I was mixing it up with 56...Nxe5 - though I remembered Wang got it the wrong way round. I still can't see many chess players (elite or otherwise) not playing on for at least a few moves. That's the sort of position Leko dreams of!

I agree. What reason could there possibly be for not playing on?

And what is this constant nonsense about Lékó not being willing to fight hard? He is definitely one to play "forever" or basically to bare kings if he has just a slight advantage with even less practical chances than Carlsen had after 55..Bxe5. That his style leads to relatively many draws is a different matter. Even so I don't get why Lékó is particularly singled out for attacks and ridicule all the goddamn time, but never mind.

I read it close to something like this.. "Carlsen Ear ring is a Pearl Ring!" ;) I know Carlsen is a good kid!

I know the answer to the following screech:

"Even so I don't get why Lékó is particularly singled out for attacks and ridicule all the goddamn time, but never mind." (acirce)

It's to irritate someone.

To whom I add for the Americans the redoubtable Larry Christiansen.
Once upon a time, the IM level could not be skipped, or Planinc would have done it.

European Club Cup throwing up some great chess. El Svid has followed up a draw against an IM with 3 straight wins vs Nakamura, Ivanchuk and Mamedyarov (a killer in 24 moves). Almost Carlsenesque

Topa has his 2 knights on the rim , interesting position (move 11).

Move 17: Of course Topa's knight wasn't on h5 to stay there, I guess the other one will also move from a6 to c7 at some stage. Altogether it seems to me an example of white having a slight plus, but I doubt (I would be surprised) that Wang Yue can convert it into a win. The only scenario could be Topalov losing patience and trying to force the turn of events.

Carlsen is about to draw and win this tournament , Radjabov is top 3 in my list of boring players which is very unique given his aparent agresive style.

In the meantime, it is 99.99% sure that Carlsen will win the tournament. He and Radjabov could have shaken hands on move 22, but Sofia rules seem to force them to play on (now they found a move repetition). This also means that Carlsen can take considerable risks in his white game against Jakovenko tomorrow - if he wants to, if crossing ELO 2800 is important to him?

Congratulations to Magnus! With todays draw he has secured the win, whatever happends in the other games today/tomorrow.

Although I expect agressive play tomorrow. Jako should go early to bed tonighr. He will need it for tomorrows game.

BTW: Tomorrow all games starts 5 hours earlier.

Here's a story from the FIDE website to debate about:

Brief quotation from the article:
In the 6th round of the Zhejiang Lishui Xingqiu Cup International Open Chess Tournament held in Lishui, Zhejiang Province, an extraordinary incident happened when two young star players Wang Chen and Lu Shanglei agreed to a draw. After the end of the round, the Chief Arbiter declared both players to have lost their game.

What actually happened? This brings us back to 16:00 hour when the Chief Arbiter announced the start of the round and the two players wrote their result as drawn, signed on their scoresheets without making a single move and left the playing hall. The Chief Arbiter from Singapore, Mr Ignatius Leong, General Secretary of the World Chess Federation, saw what happened and after checking that no move was recorded on the scoresheets, declared the game lost for both players.
--------------end quote--------

About time, huh.

today against jakovenko leko impressively demonstrated on several occasions his iron and unbending will to continue the fight and trying to create complications in seemingly balanced positions... ;)

Not sure who was playing for a win in Jakovenko-Leko, I thought it was Jako (at least in the early part of the game).
Concerning Wang Yue - Topalov, I have to come back on my earlier assessment around move 20: Then I thought that Wang had a small advantage, probably insufficient to win. But by now it seems that Topa's position was characterized by what Dennis Monokroussos once aptly called "improvability".

"BTW: Tomorrow all games starts 5 hours earlier."
Good news for Americans, particularly on the West Coast. For me it means they will start at 4:00AM local time, I won't be watching live and will probably wake up to check the results ,:) .

From TWIC "Round 9 under way. Magnus Carlsen drew with black in about 90 minutes against Teimour Radjabov. A theoretical Gruenfeld led to a completely sterile ending after 34 moves. This guarantees Carlsen first place alone with a round to go." The other 2 games were also drawn.

tjallen, I guess players will need to do what Wang Yue and Ni Hua do:

I found a total of seven games, seven draws. Length of the games?

Moral of the story is that if you are going to play a pre-arranged draw, at least shuffle a few pieces around before calling it a day.

It happens everywhere. Look at this:


One apparently real game played in 1976, and then 18 straight kissy-kissy games.

Nice post. Statistically impossible for 18 draws in a row between 2 of the top NYC born GMs, only 6 years apart in age, probably friends IRL, to be mere coincidence. Larry Christensen would never do that.

How stupid of them! Is this what they teach in the NYC Statist Indoctrination Centers (SIC, err, "schools")? It's **obviously** better to throw full points to your buddybuddy when useful, and perhaps only make the short draws when you both have no shot at nada. Even if they always paired you together in round 1, you just agree to alternate wins/losses. And (a bonus) if you fill it up with WWLWLLWLDW, you'll curry the favor of those impresarios who like your competitive spirit!

The MigMan mustn't have known about that Fairfax back in 2003:

Things looked even worse when Fedorowicz-Benjamin and Stripunsky-Gulko were drawn before their chairs were warm. The Fed and Benjamin are old New York buddies who have trained together in the past and no one expected them to play longer than the 13 moves their game lasted. (The first game between them to make the Megabase was 10 moves long. The last few games between them have lasted 11, 12, 16,15, 10, and 14 moves. As far as I can tell they've never played a game of over 23 moves and all have been draws.) At the closing ceremony Shabalov congratulated the arbiters for managing to avoid pairing Benjamin and Fedorowicz for as long as possible!


Actually the Fed-Benj game from 1976 is "well-known", in that it appears in a footnote, to move 13, in "A Strategic Opening Repetoire", in game 18 (Smyslov vs Rashkovsky). See it all: http://www.chesscafe.com/text/review619.pdf

Dear Mig,

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