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Carlsen Leaves Novi Sad

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Who will make Novi happy again? Magnus Carlsen, fresh from his big win in Nanjing and with the even stronger Tal Memorial coming up in a few weeks, just canceled his participation in the European Team Championship in Serbia. ChessBase has a news roundup here. Obviously this sort of thing can't be condoned, even if it does make professional sense for Carlsen. Sort of like a short draw that makes perfect sense for the player with white. Carlsen isn't used to his new workload and as much as he wanted to hang out with his pals at what is always a fun event, he wanted to make sure he'd be in top shape for the Tal Memorial in Moscow on November 5.

Coach Garry is invoked several times as recommending this move. It was news to me, but I do recall hearing him sound unhappy that Carlsen had such a heavy schedule. But you sign your name, you play your games. Barring illness, you just have to take your lumps. Or even if you are sick, as in Nakamura's case of plague in Amsterdam. (Or how about this from the NY Times during the 1889 American Chess Congress: "Mr. Bird is still ill, but he bears his sufferings with great patience and fortitude.") Of course this attention is a standard only for the elite stars. If Norway's fourth board, a lovely fellow I'm sure, dropped out, we wouldn't be having this conversation. And it's up to our stars to live up to these raised expectations; it's part of the gig, like signing autographs while you're eating dinner. On the other other hand I have trouble getting too worked up about this since it's a gigantic team event and not a pro tournament where you'd feel more for the sponsors. It's bad news for Norway and for Carlsen fans, though both might appreciate the sacrifice if he puts on another big show in Moscow against Anand & Co.

A few other dropouts that come to mind, just to make conversation: Topalov exiting Bilbao after the organizers radically reduced the prize fund. Karpov leaving the 2001 Botvinnik Memorial to play in FIDE KO. Short exiting Corus 1999, making room for Kasparov's first appearance there. Many late drop-outs in the Olympiad over the years. Infighting, political battles, and money problems with national federations, etc. Carlsen and Adams both withdrew from the FIDE Grand Prix this year after yet another sponsorship snafu.


totaly off topic! were is mr. adams?

I read this in the Chessbase article:
"Incidentally, Magnus Carlsen has offered to pay the expenses the Federation may have incurred due to his late withdrawal."
This may be of financial help to the Norwegian team, though their hopes for placing well have been dashed.

most of the other drops have some "nice" background for the sport. maybe topalov's withdrawn for money reasons is more an excuse than a real interest thing, but you cant compare adams and carlsen drop from the fide gran prix to this drop. the other one was a clear protest, something not to be abused by ridiculous rule changes. this one is simply "hi, im the best in the world and i dont wanna play right now, sorry"... so many people blame kramnik (in my opinion, rightly) from his excuses to not defend his title, and all the politics involved, and nobody cares when magnus carlsen start to drop compromisses simply because he wants to rest...

Unfortunate and obviously not a good thing to do eight days before the event starts but the kid is 18 years old and still have things to learn.

I remember when I started studying at about that age I put up a plan for the subjects I would take at university, it was about twice the recommended workload. Of course I dropped out and ended up doing 'only' the normal subjects. It's easy to become a bit too eager at a young age and set overly ambitious plans.

Pjalle, being an elite chess hero is in no way similar to your university days. As much as we all enjoy your honky homespun "wisdom", your holier-than-thou act is really starting to wear thin. Please leave, for the good of us all.

"nobody cares when magnus carlsen start to drop compromisses simply because he wants to rest..."

But you're posting this when Mig's posted an entry that does't condone Carlsen dropping out!? And some others have complained on other threads.

"maybe topalov's withdrawn for money reasons is more an excuse than a real interest thing"

I don't know what that means, but clearly Topalov's behaviour was far worse. He was one of only 4 players and had won the tournament the year before, not to mention a tidy 150,000 euro. Rather than just dropping out he attacked the tournament organisers (for reducing the prize fund - even though he was guaranteed 20,000 euro for finishing last) and also mentioned the match with Anand (half a year away at best - not a few days like the Tal Memorial).

As Mig said, Carlsen's withdrawal doesn't especially hurt a large team competition. The Norwegian team were never going to challenge for the top places and more chess for the remaining players is not necessarily a bad thing. He also withdrew politely, offering to repay any expenses the team incurred.

Again, it's a shame that the top players don't play in an event like this (a bit like the Davis Cup in tennis), but if Carlsen had said sooner that he wasn't going to play no-one would have held it against him.

Come on, we are free people, not puppets of some Russian authority (ok, maybe under influence of one :)). Carlsen could quit chess tomorrow if he wanted. So, he doesn't play in a tournament and leaves his team in a bad condition. Not my problem.

"Obviously this sort of thing can't be condoned, even if it does make professional sense for Carlsen."

Obviously this sort of thing can be condoned, because I'm doing it right now. It's not the Olympiad. If he does well at the Tal, this will be quickly forgotten.

"clearly Topalov's behaviour was far worse"

Not sure it's even a question of "bad" and "worse" but it seems to me that this being a team event is a rather significant difference. I don't understand why people think that it doesn't matter that Norway's team gets hurt and might not even be able to participate. It's not a very strong team, but so what? They are still taking part and would of course like to do as well as possible.

I obviously don't know the details here. If the Norwegian team was aware long ago of the possibility that he might drop out, and had agreed with Carlsen that this would have been OK, I don't see a problem at all -- it's their tournament, not ours. (Similarly Topalov's choice was entirely his own, and I don't criticize him even mildly.) But if he had not brought the possibility up and it came more or less out of nowhere, it seems quite questionable.

In any case and referring back to Mig's analogy, I do hope that people who criticize making short draws to save energy will be consistent enough to criticize declining to play at all to save energy.

Magnus' Norwegian fans actually expressed worries about his tight schedule _before_ he decided to drop out.

Of course it would have been fun to watch an energized Magnus in both Novi Sad and in Moscow. Still, I'd rather see him playing well in Moscow only, rather than watch him play 'mediocre' chess in both tournaments.

I'm sure he brought this up with his teammates before making the final decision.

I wonder about it from a Norwegian perspective, though. I'd guess that most Norwegian chess fans would rather Carlsen didn't play in this event but did well in the Tal Memorial and the London tournament. Certainly with the Davis Cup in tennis, I'd rather Andy Murray hadn't played for Britain recently and aggravated an injury. It's much more interesting to watch him playing at the top level than to watch a mediocre team in a competition few take particularly seriously.

I posted before seeing Simen's comment above!

The Euro Team Chps mean very little anyway.

And I agree with them that I would rather see a well-rested Carlsen play at the top of his strength in Moscow (and London), if this is what it takes. But the fact remains that he had agreed to play and withdrew, and that creates problem for the team.

You said it: "if Carlsen had said sooner that he wasn't going to play no-one would have held it against him". That's exactly the point, isn't it?

"I'm sure he brought this up with his teammates before making the final decision."

I hope so, but he was quoted by NRK as late as Wednesday afternoon as telling them - seemingly in no uncertain terms - that he was looking forward to playing, and later that day he announced his withdrawal. At least it doesn't seem like he brought it up too far in advance, but again, I've got no idea!

As another Norwegian Carlsen-fan, I agree with Simen.

But, he better win Tal Memorial now ;-)

Btw, if it has anything to do with preserving 2800 for the official list - Carlsen hasn't said anything about it, but some of his fans have suggested this as an "unofficial" reason - that is pretty sad, regardless of "right" or "wrong".

"You said it: "if Carlsen had said sooner that he wasn't going to play no-one would have held it against him". That's exactly the point, isn't it?"

The point there is that it's not the matter of weakening the team that's the problem, just the late withdrawal. I don't think it's an ideal situation. Perhaps he could have gone along but only played on some of the days - but then if the team were ambitious to do well there'd have been pressure on him to play every match. So while I don't exactly approve I think his withdrawal is probably for the best.

Dennis Monokroussos has the best, and certainly sarcastic headline on this: "Carlsen behaving more like a champion every day". He correctly points out that while the given reasons make sense, they also made plenty of sense "before he accepted the invitation to play in the ETC".

@acirce: One anonymous poster at Susan Polgar's blog actually stated that Carlsen had an "escape option" in his contract - if there even was a written contract, he didn't even get an "appearance fee" for playing in the team event, only travel expenses were covered. I wonder if "Anonymous" really has such inside information, and in any case I still consider it dubious behavior from Carlsen/Carlsparov to pull this option with only one week to go.

@Mig making conversation in the last paragraph: As far as I remember (not 100% sure about that), Morozevich once dropped out of Corus at rather short notice - subsequently he wasn't invited for many years. And Radjabov dropped out of Morelia-Linares one or two days before the event because his laptop was stolen. The organizers were lucky that Ivanchuk was around to play some simuls, and Ivanchuk being Chucky, he was willing and happy to enter the tournament completely unprepared.

"He correctly points out that while the given reasons make sense, they also made plenty of sense "before he accepted the invitation to play in the ETC"."

Not necessarily entirely correct, as I see it. Nanjing might, for whatever reasons, have been more exhausting than he expected.

Well, it will be a nice experiment for us to see if Carlsen is able to deal with the ¨guilt¨ that this move can cause to him.
He is not Topalov or Kramnik or Karpov , until this he never made a politically incorrect maneuver , in fact he was very clean until now...
IMO The fact that he offered to pay his expenses to the Norwegian team speaks a lot of how he is used to behave in a very fair and civilized way , Why ruin it?
This is new to him , unnecesary new ,and it might be dangerous in terms of balance .
It is a crucial moment in his education , so far he was heading to the Jedi knight title , What would happen if he becomes a Sith instead?
It always starts with little concessions...

Give the guy a break, he is only 18. He is still a work in progress. This time he is learning that even his energy is limited. Why stick to a plan that he now finds to exhausting and not well-founded? It is wisdom to recognize one's mistakes. There is need to pursue a bad plan just through sheer stubborness.

First of all, if Ivanchuk can do it , Magnus should be able to do it also , this is not a question of stamina ,this is about especulation and rating points.
2nd , I´m not acusing him of anything , it just doesn´t feel right on him ...and that is of course a compliment.
I´m just fearing the unnecessary negative impact that this move can have on his young psique and on his performance in the Tal memorial.

You may have a point, the issue could be that, ironically, Nanjing didn't quite go "according to plans" - of course noone can 'plan' such a crushing result.
As a result, things have changed quite a bit: For the Tal Memorial, he promoted from one of the favorites to clear favorite (at least for some people, and not only his fans). And he may feel obliged to defend his 2800 rating, not quite a piece of cake: Any "weak" result would make him fall below 2800 for the time being, and a TPR of 2790 would be weak enough. I cannot be bothered to make the calculations, could this even happen if he wins the Tal Memorial with a +1 or +2 score?
And the Carlsen hype already starts becoming slightly absurd: At Chessvibes, one poster (presumably serious) wrote that we should only discuss who's favorite for second place - implying that Carlsen will win easily just by showing up. I would consider this quite an insult to Anand, Kramnik and Ivanchuk ... .

@Mr X: Once again, I think Dennis Monokroussos has the best take on it:
"Let's hope this is a one-off mistake by the youngster (he is still just 18, after all), and that in the future he plans his schedule more carefully and/or accepts and lives with his mistakes rather than burning organizers or teammates."
In my book, we don't do Carlsen a favor by bluntly praising his decision as a wise and sensible one. Those disagreeing with this assessment - I am obviously one of them - should feel free to speak up.

Hmm, up to now his reputation was squeaky-clean..the first real hint of controversy comes after associating with Kasparov.Coincidence?
I find the reactions interesting. Most people just think of what is good for Carlsen. The mentions of his commitments are more muted. I guess buried in here somewhere is the reason chess associations never work.

"and a TPR of 2790 would be weak enough."

Weak enough to gain even more rating that is.

Your argumentation is brilliant as always.

I take it you are sarcastic, but on the off chance that you are not, thanks.

Btw, GOD NO!! Sofia gets to organize the Anand-Topalov match... http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=5840

Regarding Topalov's dropout, let's be fair - the organizers lowered th prizefund, which really gives someone like Topalov moral justification to drop out, at least to some degree.

Now, a perfect example of a ridicilous dropout that Mig forgot to mention - Karpov dropping out of the Russian championship a few years ago (the one which Kasparov won, his last Russian championship participation), 1 day before the start of the event, and when interviewed (on Chessbase) he didn't appear to feel guilty or apologetic whatsoever, and didn't even have a good reason.

Now that was way worse than Carlsen or Topalov but for some reason nobody really complained.

To speak the truth, this is quite juvenile and selfish behavior from Carlsen, in the Fischer/Kasparov mould. You just do not do things like this to your mates some of whom sparred him when he was 2200, 2300, 2500 and growing up. If you read some of the comments from his team mate, it is clearly hidden disappointment at Magnus' decision. No two words.

He has clearly made a selfish decision fully irrespective of his 4 team mates whom he leaves in trouble now (they will only have 3 players for the first round!), irrespective of the tournament organizers and the prestige of the tournament, and irrespective of the Norwegian chess federation that has been so supportive of him over the past decade.

It's like saying it's _me_ from now on. Get used to it. Fully in the line of the attitude of his great predecessor who's now training him full time.

I don't see how anyone could morally defend his decision.

"Karpov dropping out of the Russian championship a few years ago (the one which Kasparov won, his last Russian championship participation), 1 day before the start of the event, and when interviewed (on Chessbase) he didn't appear to feel guilty or apologetic whatsoever, and didn't even have a good reason

Now that was way worse than Carlsen or Topalov but for some reason nobody really complained."

I saw some Russian chess boss saying something about a possible K-K match in Moscow, and he stated that the interest disappeared considering that Karpov has dropped out of events just before the start several times before, citing fabricated reasons :)

"Karpov dropping out of the Russian championship a few years ago (the one which Kasparov won, his last Russian championship participation), 1 day before the start of the event, and when interviewed (on Chessbase) he didn't appear to feel guilty or apologetic whatsoever, and didn't even have a good reason."

And that after he and Kasparov had given Kramnik a lot of flak for his dropping out about a week earlier for quite legitimate health reasons! Karpov suddenly realized he had "other business commitments" to deal with - I don't know if anyone found out what that was about.

"The letter [from the Bulgarian prime minster] further stated that "neutrality would be guaranteed"."
Hmmmm ....
"There were two other World Championship bids, from Turkey and Singapore, but for lower sums. These bids were withdrawn when the details of the Bulgarian bid had been presented."
Hmmmm again - were they given certain hints? It's easier to justify a controversial decision if one can argue "there were no other candidates".

As expected, Chessdom is more enthusiastic: "Bulgaria will host Anand - Topalov Match! [sic, referring to the exclamation mark]"

In any cases, the decision wasn't surprising, we could see it coming ... . And it will be an even bigger achievement for Anand if he successfully defends his title under the circumstances?!

I don't get it: If you have ELO 2801 (currently live, soon official), how can you gain even more rating by underperforming with a TPR of 2790?
Am I missing something? Are you around, frogbert? ,:)

bq. Fully in the line of the attitude of his great predecessor who's now training him full time.

Kasparov was number one in the world for 20 years. Are you suggesting that his ego had nothing to do with this, or that his attitude didn't serve him very well?

"Bulgaria will host Anand - Topalov Match!"

Ivanchuk beat Topalov in M-Tel 2008, as did Carlsen this year. I'm sure Anand's capable of beating Topalov in the Bulgaria match...

"Hmm, up to now his reputation was squeaky-clean..."

Personally I thought the decision to drop out of the Grand Prix was much more controversial. I remember pointing out at the time (and I wasn't alone) that it was more for personal reasons than any protest at FIDE's incompetence - though of course we all agreed that FIDE was truly incompetent and deserved nothing better.

Sofia was sadly predictable (FIDE will always choose money over chess). I'd support Anand if he refused to play (& he has a good bargaining position as Topalov has no genuine claim to play the match), but I suppose we'll just have to wait and see what happens.

"Bulgaria will host Anand - Topalov Match!"

-Also the match between Topalov and Kamsky took place in Sophia. (Mainly because of lack of other bidders). Some people were sceptical on behalf of Kamsky, but as far as I know, he was happy about the practical matters. Kamsky didn't complain about anything except something about the lights inside the playing hall.

This only an "issue" because Carlsen is a star. Now, some of the other norwegian younster will be able to play more games. He is even said to have an agreement of having the possibility to withdraw from the tournament.

I don't think Anand will play in Sofia. If team Topalov can get away with the stunts they pulled in Elista, Just imagine what they could do in Sofia. I also don't see FIDE turning down guaranteed money. Also, FIDE definitely wants a weak champion, So I expect them to set an example and try to force Anand to play or lose his title. This is looking bad for World Championship matches.

Weak and selfish, but so is that news? Perhaps Mig had it in the right perspective when he said he had "...trouble getting too worked up about this..."

Carlsen will regret his decision. He probably already does.

Your rating is calculated as of the rating on the current list for the event, in this case 2772, not its current value, 2801.

Thomas was talking about Tal Memorial which takes place in November, i.e. when Carlsen's 2801 is official.

The "current list" for the Tal Memorial should be the upcoming November 2009 list!? Maybe you still have to get used to the fact that FIDE lists are now updated every two months (not at all meant as a personal attack or insult!)

Maybe the European Team Championship (finishing October 31st) would still be rated for the November list - does it qualify as an official FIDE event, which is exempt from deadlines for submitting rating reports? If so, by dropping out Carlsen made sure that he will have at least one _official_ rating >2800 - not saying that this was even part of his motivation, though it cannot be ruled out altogether.

If Anand refuses to play in Sofia, will FIDE forfeit him ?

You don't have to be a ruthless egoist, a human pitbull or a social recluse to be a world champion. True some world champions like Steinitz, Kasparov, Karpov, Botvinnik, Fischer and Topalov (if you can count him) have had these traits. But there have also been world champions that were respectful gentlemen, or at least relatively normal and nice people. Like Capablanca, Smyslov, Euwe, Spassky, Lasker, Tal, Kramnik and Anand.

Let's hope Carlsen will join the latter group, eh? Kasparov can teach him chess obviously, but I wouldn't be taking any behavioral advice from that man.

Hey, guys, Carlsen can and SHOULD do whatever the f*ck he wants. Chess is an individual endeavour - you're on your own - and all that should matter to Carlsen is his own career.

The Carlsen group probably understands the need for focus in these great years. He must maximize the chances of becoming World Champion or at least getting as close to the top as possible.

It is not like Carlsen is surrounded by impeccable gentlemen who never lie or cheat. Kasparov, Fischer, Spassky, Alhekin, Capablanca, Botvinnik, Karpov, Kramnik, even Anand have always done whatever is most convenient for them. Why should Carlsen be any different?

Give the guy a break!

You don't have to be any of those things, but maybe Kasparov did to stay hungry for so many years. I'm not sure you can separate, say, Topalov's strong emotional side from his exceptional will to be number one either.

I don't think it would benefit Carlsen to become a raging egomaniac (doesn't seem to be his "natural" style), but he'll need to look after his own best interests.

Clearly, if he is lacking in energy since Nanjing, it makes total sense to back out of Novi Sad. The potential loss (the rating qualifier spot) simply outweighs the potential benefits (playing with his buddies, taking in the special atmosphere of the event). Is it nice to withdraw this close to the tourney? No, but if I were his coach, I'd *have* to recommend that he do it.

@Sofia WCH: Cool

Acirce said: "Btw, if it has anything to do with preserving 2800 for the official list [...] that is pretty sad ..."

I would sort of agree with you, especially if it was the only reason. Still, I think that his fans, his teammates and a lot of people around the world would understand that argument as well.

People struggle their entire chess careers to win norms and break 2400 or 2500. Being the 5th person ever to officially break 2800 (and setting a record as the youngest ever to do so), sounds like a comparable (and thus justifiable) goal to me.

Anand is going to beat Topalov to a pulp, so why not do it in front of Topalov's home crowd? And that will be the end of Topalov.

Does Kasparov train Carlsen for free, or for a fee? In the last case, I presume it is a Norwegian sponsor paying for it.

In general, Norwegian sponsors will not be happy that Carlsen declined to play for the national team on this short notice.

I agree with "Onichukfan", this kind of thing can be condoned, and I am saying it's okay too.

These sort of things are not planned over night, they are planned well in advance. I'm certain Magnus was approached to participate in this a long time ago, say at least a year?! What do you do? Can you just say no to your country, or your friends?! Of course not, and lets not forget that we base these decisions on what we are doing and feeling at the time. ----

Months pass, and along with that comes changes. Magnus has a new coach, a new work attitude, and a new regiment that we are not privy too, but clearly should understand as being drastic changes to his every day life.

Making long term agreements are difficult for anyone to make anywhere in the world, for anything at all. Here is a simple example: How many people receive and or know they will receive multiple invites to certain holiday parties? Think about this for a moment. Different families, different friends, different holidays. Who do you choose, how long before the scheduled date do YOU make your commitment? It's not so cut and dry, is it?!

Mangus made what he thought was the best decision at the time it was presented to him, but just like anyone else, things change, and so must these long term commitments. I know these events have to be planned out, and as professionals they need to adhere to them as best as possible, but there are going to be situations like these no matter what we say or do. History proves this, and so will future events.

Maybe it is best to approach this from a different angle. How often do professionals pull out of these events year after year? If the percentage is relatively small, then we see that on a whole the pros are doing there best to maintain such commitments. We should not vilify the few, when for one reason or another they need to make a change unless on a whole it becomes a problem, or recurring theme.

No, I will not sit here and view this as a mistake, or a negative. I will not analyze Magnus the individual. I prefer to look at this from a more distant view, to step back a bit and add a dose of reality, you know, that little thing called life, and realize that nothing is perfect.

None of us can ever maintain all the commitments to all our friends and family every year for any event over and over. We do our best to fulfill them, but there will always be times when we just have to pull out last minute because for one reason or another, something changed, and it's the best decision right now.

That's life...

"I presume it is a Norwegian sponsor paying for it."

Carlsen currently has no sponsor, and is paying Kasparov out of his earnings.

Let me see if I understand correctly:

Carlsen drops out of a tournament -- and the blog posters roast him.

Yet these same blog posters suggest that Anand should refuse to play a world title match in Bulgaria (on pain of stripping him of his title) -- and that is OK?

Irony, anyone?

FIDE (meaning all the national federations of the world) controls the world title -- not Anand. He either follows the rules or leaves the title behind.

"Let me see if I understand correctly:"

Doesn't seem you do. For instance, mishanp, who wrote "I'd support Anand if he refused to play" (the closest thing that I could find to suggesting that he should), has also been defending Carlsen's decision against the "roasters".

I'm not sure I see the "irony" anyway, as we are talking about two totally different situations.

What's this about roasting? I think you must have a lower wattage oven than me.

On Magnus Carlsen's withdrawal from Novi Sad, I think that the so-called moral issue cited here should be subject to more rigorous analysis.

First, my assumption is that there was no binding contract obligating Carlsen to play at Novi Sad. A unilateral promise is not a contract. When measuring a moral obligation, such a unilateral promise does not count for nothing, to be sure. But I think we can agree that a binding contractual obligation is deemed by all modern societies to be of even greater import. Moreover, we can agree that legal regimes are designed to substantially reflect societal norms, customs, virtues and values -- morality if you will. So, for purposes of analysis, let us assume that Carlsen had a binding contractual obligation to play and see what the law, broadly speaking, may have to say about his withdrawal.

We all reasonably assume that the reason for Magnus's withdrawal was that his literally historic, unprecedented performance in Nanjing was, so to speak, a game-changer -- a C-change in circumstance. It catapulted him the verge of being the world's number one, an obviously unique position and one that he can reasonably achieve at the Tal Memorial, only a few weeks away. I think we can also agree on the following: (1) more rest and preparation will increase his chances and (2) if he achieves this result at the Tal Memorial, it will not only be valuable in terms of Magnus's own personal ambitions and place him in a quite literally unique position, but will have material financial ramifications for him as well. In other words, we all assume (correctly I think) that, because of the changed circumstances, playing in Novi Sad will have enormous and unforeseen opportunity costs.

So assuming that Magnus was contractually obligated to play, how would the law -- the embodiment of societal norms, customs, virtues and values -- address the situation. Let us assume for example, that Magnus was in the business of manufacturing widgets and promised to construct one for me at a certain specified price. Let us further assume that to manufacture a widget, one needs certain raw materials and that, after the contract was signed, Magnus was faced with a drastic increase in the cost of those necessary commodities and that this price increase totally undermined Magnus's economic assumptions when he entered into the contract. Would Magnus be legally obligated to perform?

In common law countries it is likely the case that the contract could be terminated on the grounds of frustration, impossibility, or impracticability, well recognized concepts in contract law. But, since in the situation we are trying to understand deals with world chess, perhaps our analysis should not be limited to Anglo-centric common law countries. Under the German law principle of Wegfall der Geschäftsgrundlage, when there is a subsequent change in circumstances that results in a making an obligation substantially more onerous to perform, courts will not force the affected party to perform a contract under the existing terms. In France, the law of imprévision would dictate that a party to a contract need not perform under the initially agreed terms when the circumstances have changed so much that a reasonable person could not have foreseen the new circumstance. Under the Swiss law concept of Clausula Rebus Sic Stantibus, courts or arbitrators have a choice either to terminate the contract or, if feasible, adjust the contract’s terms where particularly disruptive extraneous events have occurred that radically alter the foundation of the contract. In many Arab countries with legal rules based on Islamic law's emphasis on equity, adjustment to contractual obligations is recognized where severe, unforeseeable adverse conditions beset one of the contracting parties. Under the Egyptian Civil Code Article 147, a judge or arbitrator may revise or amend a contract to “reduce to reasonable limits, the obligation that has become excessive.” The Qatari Civil Code Article 48 includes this principle as well. Under the law of the United Arab Emirates (Article 249) and Kuwait (Article 198), where exceptional and unforeseeable circumstances make performance of a contract especially onerous, the contractual obligation may be changed in the interests of equity. Indeed, any agreement in advance to nullify these overarching protections is deemed void. Chinese contract law previously expressly allowed for termination of the contract where there had been a material change in circumstance, and this rules continues to apply in appropriate circumstances.

This review makes clear that societies worldwide recognize that morality and equity actually dictate that someone making what would otherwise be a legally binding contract MUST be released from the initial terms of the obligation if the underlying assumptions of the promise have been upset in a material and unexpected way. Some might argue that Magnus's situation was foreseeable (particularly since, at some level, his situation is a product of his own making). But how could even he have been expected to reasonably foresee his historic, unprecedented result at the Pearl Spring event? I defy anyone to cite me a commentator who in advance of Pearl Spring suggested that Magnus would emerge from that event in the position that he is in. Others might argue that, if he does not achieve the world number one status at the Tal Memorial, it is quite likely that he will someday, so the true opportunity cost of playing at Novi Sad may not be that material. But given the stakes and the circumstances, is it equitable to compel Magnus to compromise this very realistic chance? Who knows how his competitors will perform in the future or what lies on the horizon for Magnus? In addition, precisely because of Pearl Spring, the eyes of the world are on Magnus now. The chess enthusiasts the world over sense that this may well be his moment. Let us permit this 18 year old deal with tis unique opportunity in the best way he can.

Anand has no valid reason to refuse playing in Sofia ,there already has been a clean match there, is not like playing in some of Russia's franchises.
India was welcome to place a bid and didn't do it, so there is not much to complain about from his part.

I think the Norwegian sponsers will react depending on what happens at the Tal memorial...if Carlsen rocks that tournament then all will be forgotten so long as he can take them to greater heights. The lad needs to think about No.1:-)

Long post but Touche.

"there already has been a clean match there"

Topalov was never behind in that one so there was no need to invoke Plan B. Elista proved Danailov will do anything to win, so common sense suggests playing in Bulgaria and increasing his options isn't ideal.

I agree Bulgaria's not much worse than the Fidestan, though :) My favourite chess quote of the day has to be this from Chessvibes:

"The exact dates have not been confirmed yet; FIDE has suggested April 5th to 24th, 2010 to the players since April 5th is the birthday of its President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov."

If Anand weasles out, then he becomes just another gutless chess coward. I don't think he'll do that since all he needs to do is spend a few weeks in Bulgaria to pick up some easy money.

Opinions and reports diverge if the previous match in Sofia (Topalov-Kamsky) was completely "clean". And even if this was the case, it may only indicate that, as Topalov was winning anyway he didn't need any dirty tricks - of the kind that HE (or THEY) applied in a previous match in the Russian franchise Elista.

At the very least the statement that "neutrality would be guaranteed" is odd in itself (this should go without saying), and in striking contrast to a previous report on Chessdom: "Sergiev [president of the Bulgarian Chess Federation, involved in organizing the match] ... sent clear messages which side he will strongly support"

Another oddity is that competing bids from Turkey and Singapore were withdrawn at the very last moment. Did FIDE send some signals such as: "You will lose anyway, so if I were you I would rather withdraw and get my 2,000 Euro bid fee back"? Thereafter, they can conveniently claim that the Bulgarian bid was the only one and HAD to be accepted.

A final oddity is that Manu in a previous post called the news "Cool". As a dedicated fan of Topalov + Danailov (this you cannot deny ...), it is a bit strange that - apparently - you have limited confidence that Topalov would win the match on neutral ground?

Not at all , but i know this is good for the Bulgarian team and like i said i´d prefer this option than any of Russia´s franchises.
And besides this kind of news usually infuriates Kramnik´s fans and that´s guaranteed fun for me.

I can't understand why FIDE shunned WEP as a sponsor as they had shown interest in organizing the next WC match as well. Was it over the placement of the FIDE logos? If so, that sucks and seems more like a deliberate attempt to award Bulgaria the bid.

It would have been nice if WEP could organize it in some neutral Non-Soviet country.

"On Magnus Carlsen's withdrawal from Novi Sad..."

The most interesting reaction.

Purse of three million euros, Anand would be foolish not to play this match. This is his last chance (and Topalov's) to play for such a large pot. The Bulgarian Governement and sponsors would not tolerate any scandal from Danailov or anybody else, there is really nothing to be gained from this. I predict a peaceful match on that front. There will be blood on the chessboard though as both have a very dynamic chess style. I can't wait for the match to begin.

"Purse of three million euros..."

Supposedly, it is a 2 million euro prize fund.

This is totally great that Sofia gets the WC match, as Topalov will now be with the front line to win the title from which he was self-excluded from 2007. His +1 in Nanjing, even when unable to show his openings, and with Carlsen on fire, would be +3 or more in normal times, and shows his strong 2800+ form. Anand will probably aim for another Bilbao bottom in the Tal to confuse the issue, but Topalov is too wily to let down his guard, having been excluded from a FIDE match with Kramnik even when 2 million was tabled, and then the double delay with Kamsky, then Anand.

Yes, Topalov is the maximum even though compelled to play beneath his hand in China, in his truest form would make mockery of Karlsenov, scoring double plus in all directions!

Such good news for Bolgaria and next to have head on the block, the one who must be dragged forth, poor billions and all their rupees facing the full form of maximum Topalov! With true strength unleashed and false Karlsenov wimpers in the shadows!

"So, for purposes of analysis, let us assume that Carlsen had a binding contractual obligation to play and see what the law, broadly speaking, may have to say about his withdrawal."

I agree with you that a promise is not a contract, but then the argument becomes more and more strained.

The most obvious wrongness is the (repeated) use of "historic, unprecedented performance in Nanjing", which (apart from ignoring similar previous performances) is simply irrelevant, no matter how hard a lawyer might pound the table in its defence.

I could argue either in the abstract, or simply guffaw at your "catapulted him the verge of being the world's number one, an obviously unique position", which seems to imply that anytime a player possesses a chance to become #1, all contracts can be broken?!

Similarly, if a great result in one tourney is all it takes to break a contract, one can justify anything.

For instance, FIDE could dis-regard Anand from his 2008 match, and replace him with (say) Topalov, due to Topalov's "historic, unprecedented performance" in Bilbao (the first ever Final Masters), in contrast to Anand's "historic, unprecedented performace" (the first time a Champion finished last in an event).

One could continue: Shirov no longer has any claim to his match with Kasparov due to a poor tournament result, etc., etc. So having dismissed any purported "uniqueness", I can turn back to the case at hand...

Your quoting of common law is largely mis-oriented, as "frustration, impossibility, or impracticability" have definite meanings, and it is would be a bit outré to shoehorn them into the current Carlsen situation. Impossibility would mean (say) that he can't get a visa. Impractical might mean that Novi Sad is unsafe, or that Carlsen is desperately ill (it is a subjective condition).

Frustration is thus the only word left, and its essence appears in most of your enumeration of laws. As I indicated above, I can only expect you to get laughs for claiming that there is a "substantial change in circumstances" due to one tournament result.

"Where, after a contract is made, a party's principal purpose is substantially frustrated without his fault by the occurrence of an event the non-occurrence of which was a basic assumption on which the contract was made, his remaining duties to render performance are discharged, unless the language or circumstances [of the contract] indicate the contrary." So your argument would have to be that the non-occurrence of a great result by Carlsen was a "basic assumption" on which a putative Novi Sad contract was made. As above, one could multiply these "basic assumptions" in whatever which way is desired, and so I say: Laughy!

Despite all this, I don't see any great reason why Carlsen could not simply choose to compete, even with a contract signed. Most contracts regarding labour, performance, etc., would need a definite clause to specify a penalty for no-showing (for which the standard "penalty" is simply non-payment). This is how labour contracts work: the employer agrees to pay X when work Y is achieved, and in most cases X is free to not do Y. Performance contracts are similar (though publicity and advertizing costs can occur). However, if Carlsen were to play a different event during the Novi Sad period, for which he received remuneration, then there would be a case against him.

Also, it seems that Carlsen has provided for any damages that he might have created ("Incidentally, Magnus Carlsen has offered to pay the expenses the Federation may have incurred due to his late withdrawal"), which would be the only endpoint of a legal case in any event. Then again, this thread is largely discussing the ethical, rather than legal, aspects of his decision, where public opinion tends to enlarge its domain.

********** His +1 in Nanjing, even when unable to show his openings, and with Carlsen on fire, would be +3 or more in normal times, and shows his strong 2800+ form. **********

Whasthizz? Jako-boy had Topalov dead hung on some doornails before chokinating Rc1, just like Wang-Man was snuffilizing Carlsen before the deluge in Carousel 8. Can you FFFEEEEEEEEEEELLLLL it!!!???!!?

"Morozevich once dropped out of Corus at rather short notice - subsequently he wasn't invited for many years."

Alexander Morozevich had to withdraw from the Corus Chess Tournament 2004, due to illness. Morozevich, number seven on the Fide rating list of January 2004, caught a severe form of the flue. Veselin Topalov, Bulgaria will replace him. Topalov is number six on the Fide rating list of January 2004 with a rating of 2735.

That was dated Jan 4th, and Round 1 was on the 9th (maybe the 8th). Also, his illness was in 2004, but he was back playing in Corus 2005. http://www.coruschess.com/article.php?s=a29

"And Radjabov dropped out of Morelia-Linares one or two days before the event because his laptop was stolen."

For the alternative history: http://www.chess.co.uk/twic/radjlinmor07.html

Some bits:
"The Mexican Organizers of Morelia/Linares 2007 instructed the participants to acclimatize from travel in the small city of Patzcuaro, Mexico. ... Unknown to my father-coach or me, Patzcuaro [40km from Morelia] is a very high crime rated town. ... Due to the very fast nature of the burglary and the specific valuable items which were stolen, it is felt that this crime was carefully planned and pre-arranged by the local criminals ... I have not been able to sleep for several days and have certainly not be able to continue my preparation for such a high level chess competition. We have received no support from any of the authorities or Mexican organizers, and feel that no one even slightly cared what happened to us and that had we arrived back to the room a few minutes earlier, my father and I could have been shot or even killed by bandits ... I have given the Tournament Organizers ample time to consider my request delivering a letter on the 12th of February, and if necessary given them time to acquire an appropriate replacement as to not significantly disrupt this important tournament"

His claims for compensation from the organisers are a bit more dubious. And, as you say, Ivanchuk was "conveniently" around... :)

"It would have been nice if WEP could organize it in some neutral Non-Soviet country."

No such thing! Neutral Non-Soviet is oxymoron! As dialectics tell neutrality against Revolution no es possible! View Soviet Chess (Richards), as Ilyin-Zhevensky demands chess must serve politics (unlike bourgeois)!

Conversation: Short exiting Corus 1999

Better than 2000, when ADams and Short were invited to curry favor with senior partners for the British Steel merger. You live in capitalismo, you getcha the invites.

And factually, Corus was not formed until merger on Oct 6 1999. So it was Hoogovens in January. And also, 2000 was primary year with "B" Grupo, for lessers, thanks to merger, I presume, with "C" Grupo 2 years to come. Any woodpusher for "D" Grupo by yet?

Ooh, forgot to mention the Radjabov/Patzcuaro dropout; that was a classic. It cracked me up because I've been to that sleepy little tourist town several times, including not long before the Radjabov incident, and hearing it made out as a bandit den was amusing. The dropout was a little dubious if excusable, but the subsequent shakedown attempt was far worse.

The ETC isn't exactly the Olympiad, and Anand didn't play in those five times in a row, Kramnik four times in a row, and Topalov three times in a row. Obviously better if Carlsen had done as players like Leko, Ivanchuk and Gelfand and never signed up for the ETC, but the fact that he won't play is hardly a big thing. From now on he might learn from Kasparov that it isn't a good idea to sign up for everything just to be nice, better to prepare properly for the events.

It’s very “touching” how foreigners condemn Carlsen because of “letting down his country”. However, here in Norway, we see it entirely different. Obviously everybody, Carlsen included, feel sorry for the short notice cancellation. Apart from this short term frustration, the Norwegian chess community share Carlsen’s goal to conquer the #1 spot in the chess world. We rather see him at maximum caliber at Tal Memorial in Moscow, than defending Norway’s seeding as #21 seeded in ETC. (Norway has no particular history or attachment to ETC).

Before turning 18, Carlsen spend about 10,000 hours studying chess. Mostly on a private basis, with lots of sacrifices from his family (ready the biography!). This year he decided to give up higher education, for the sake of a full time chess career. He has brought the Norwegian flag up from nowhere to the very top chess tables in the world biggest tournaments. Carlsen and his family have always been supporting on the national chess scene, participating in even the smallest events all over the country.

So “thank you” for your concern, but the Norwegian are perfectly happy with Carlsen’s priorities. I’m confident we will be even more grateful to him in the future. The best is yet to come…

It is very nice that you support him so much. It does not matter that he said he would play and then changed his mind. So what? If he was a soldier and said he would defend Norway, but then right before the battle he changed his mind, then so what? No big deal. Someone else can do it.

Bobby, yeah exactly my point. I see this some kind of cultural issue.

You have to make a decisions in the life and learn to carry responsibility for them, now it looks like making an individual decision comes with some random U.S.A dudes commenting on you - oh well, sounds pretty familiar to me.

I wonder, if Fischer was born in Russia, might he still actually be playing chess? Even just a few years before these same dudes were raising political issues just on the basis of some moral questions, they just couln't let the man be, because he had dome something against his own country. After he was dead, they praised him.

I'm really, really happy that Carlsen lives in scandinavia where concept of inidividual thinking is well understood, at least by majority of people.

Well said Bobby.

"now it looks like making an individual decision comes with some random U.S.A dudes commenting on you"

Rest assured that had he played and then met some backlash later down the road, other commenters would have been ready to critizise that as well ("Oh, he should have known his limitations and dropped out of Novi Sad. Why on earth didn't he listen to GK?").

You can never do anything "right" on the internet, as there's always someone out there with a "better idea" he's willing to share. Ultimately, the only people MC has to answer to are his team mates. It was surely disappointing for them, but it's not like it's the end of the world.

"Ultimately, the only people MC has to answer to are his team mates."

His abandoned team mates.

Sure he would! But corpses often drop a few elo points, so don't expect too high a standard.
But why are you discussing Fischer at all? "Some random U.S.A dudes" would seem to imply that one should restrict one's comments to chessplayers from one's own country? As you praise Scandinavia, and judging by your handle, you seem to be from there, so presumably U.S. and Russian players etc. don't want some "random Scandinavian dude" commenting on them?
Keep the anti-American balderdash to yourself, dude.

"It is very nice that you support him so much. It does not matter that he said he would play and then changed his mind. So what? If he was a soldier and said he would defend Norway, but then right before the battle he changed his mind, then so what? No big deal. Someone else can do it."

I think everybody agrees that the last minute withdrawal was unfortunate. But it's not the end of the world. Or the war. -Speaking in soldier terms like you did, there are more important battles to be fought, and to be won! Defending spot #21 in ETC doesn’t win much ground, compared with marching directly at Moscow in November!

Cheers on a Saturday evening!

Legal Begal, you are obviously put out by the fact that Calvin set forth here one of the most sustained, cogent presentations to appear here (rather than the ejaculations that are common). Perhaps generally speaking this is a subject that you know a speck about, but obviously less than Calvin, which heightens your envy. Your response is stupid. Just becasue you obviously must strain to understand Calvin's argument does not mean that Calvin's argument itself is strained.

You mischaracterize his presentation by stating that the justification for the release of a contractual obligation is the unique position of the world number 1. You then twist this saying that Calvin's position would mean that the number 1 ranked player would then always be able to break commitments. But the argument that you critize only exists in your limited understanding of plain English and logic.

As stated again and again, demonstrated by example after example, and further repeated in his conclusion, Calvin's position is not based on the unique position of the top player in the world. It is based on unusually high costs, or opportunity costs, that are not reasonably foreseen at the time of the commitment. Somehow this managed to sail over your head. Your disjointed remarks are quite obviously a product of stupidity combined with the perverse desire to obfuscate combined with a misplaced egotistical desire to, figuratively, hear yourself talk. All in all, this is a recipe for unadulterated crap. Your contribution is less than worthless. It contributes less than nothing.

You seem to know what the mood is in Norway. You say that Norwegians "...are perfectly happy with Carlsen’s priorities."

Well then, ok. I think his decision was weak and selfish. But, I don't live in Norway.

Has Magnus spoken about it? Or is it just his father who speaks?

Yes, I am part of the Magnusmania here in Norway. However I believe, without too much bias, that the withdrawal from ETC is understandable and acceptable. He is a quick learner and will not put himself in a situation like this again. It seems very unlikely he will turn into a future primadonna. If so should happen I will defend his case anyway, of course. (He is our only chess star, so what else can you expect?. He-he).

I haven’t seen any interview with him on this subject. But his father, the other teammates and people inside the national chess association have referred to him. Practically speaking, (he) they say what I have mentioned in previous posts above.

Jeez, Luke, what's with your constant trolling on this matter? You've been on it like a fat cop on a donut since the news broke. (btw, you wouldn't also happen to be Legal Begal and Uppetry Puppetry, would you?)

Which team will you be playing for in Novi Sad, again? I need to know, so that I can run your every move through Rybka and critizise your ridiculous play (or that of your opponent, should he or she happen to lose).

I'm sorry you got so upset. You should delete me from your reading list.

"I'm sorry you got so upset."

No, you're not. And no, I wasn't. Just tell me who you'll be playing for, should be good for a few laughs.

I see that you did not take my advice. Well, good luck.

Most generous of you. Good of you to cheer me up before I go back to my labour of love: collecting Chuck Norris facts from all over the web and re-branding them.

For example, did you know that Magnus Carlsen can kill two stones with one bird? Or that Magnus Carlsen doesn't read theory books? He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.

Hope you like them, if not I have more :)

It's good, in this dog-eat-dog world, to see Sverre stepping in to support Calvin Amari. It's also nice that Calvin Amari wrote the first glowing review of a book on the Stonewall Dutch by Sverre Johnsen at both the UK & US Amazon websites, after previously publishing the review in comments on Sverre's blog. It warms the cockles of my cynical heart :)

"Somehow this managed to sail over your head. Your disjointed remarks are quite obviously a product of stupidity combined with the perverse desire to obfuscate combined with a misplaced egotistical desire to, figuratively, hear yourself talk. All in all, this is a recipe for unadulterated crap. Your contribution is less than worthless. It contributes less than nothing."
This is quite a nice piece of generic dissing.
I am certainly going to copy/paste it for future criticism. If someone wouldn't mind writing a lengthy negative reply to some post of mine, I'll have the joy of smacking them with this!

Ha! It took me a while to trace through your references and understand them. Minor problem: I'm not that Sverre! although I should perhaps wish for his chess knowlege or at least his chess related income.

Now about your paranoia...

Why, why, why do non-lawyers insist on posting garbage about the law? I refer of course to Calvin A's post above. Unlike him, I am a lawyer practising in a common law jurisdiction, and I can assure him that the law has never, at any time, considered an unexpected hike in the price of raw materials the remotest ground for frustration of a contract.

Not that that has anything to do with the present situation; personally I haven't got a lot of issues with Carlsen withdrawing and I'd be very surprised if most Norwegians did. Carlsen's not the kind of guy to forget where he came from. I remember the organisers at Gausdal telling me he'd agreed to play there for way below the normal fee for a player at that level because he felt grateful to them for helping him on the way up. I also remember the way Short treated organisers in the north-west of England who helped him on the way up, and it's quite a contrast.

"The show must go on."

That simple. You commit, you do it.

You can argue that chess is not entertainment, not a sport, not a career profession, but in any endeavor you commit and do it. Or you do not. Either way, you face the glare of the public afterwards.

(BTW, puts a little different spin to me on Kasparov's recent slaughter of Karpov. Karpov. Still. Played.)

"I'm not that Sverre!"

That I believe.

"Now about your paranoia..."

But they might still be out to get me... When a first-time poster (it seems) arrives on an internet blog/forum to passionately defend the barely defensible post of a stranger, who oddly doesn't defend himself, let's just say that alarm bells tend to ring. But probably you don't know each other from Adam.

Something weat wrong with the link, here's the right one, in Russian:


Wow. Russian discipline!

BTW:Is it true that Grischuk is a semi-pro poker player?

It's often said that Grichuk plays much poker and earns quite a lot of money on it but maybe it is a bit exaggerated. At least he can't be anywhere near as good at poker as he is at chess.

Breaking news Thursday morning: Carlsen plays Novi Sad!

Are you kidding?

-Ellen Carlsen (Elo 1904) is playing on the 3rd. board for Norway on the female team. She is, by the way, the oldest sister Magnus Carlsen.

And Kasparov is playing Grünfeld in Hoogeveen right now.

Maybe Russia would have needed him (Garry, not Sergey) in Novi Sad. They only drew their first-round match against #20 seed Croatia. Still better than Bulgaria and Ukraine (1.5-2.5 against Italy and Switzerland).
And Carlsen lost against an opponent rated more than 250 points higher - this won't happen to her brother (any more) ..... .

What the hell ?!

Heine captain for the Norwegian team and not playing (?) for Denmark.

What is going on, and who has got the dirt thats bound to be there ??

So how is Caspi doing in Hoogeveen?? ;)

Is this a trick question, did you know ... ? After seven rounds in the open, both IM Israel Caspi and GM Sergey Kasparov have 5/7. Talking about oldies and name-alikes, today's pairing on boards 3 and 4 are Romanischin-Kasparov and Gruenfeld-Caspi (this is Yehuda Gruenfeld, not Ernst Gruenfeld who beat Alekhine in 1922 with an opening subsequently known as Gruenfeld defense).

Further information from Chessvibes (so far it was from the tournament webpage): The lowlight of round 6 was the 8-move draw between leaders Brodsky and Nijboer, check the site for the players' comments after the game. One highlight was Josh Friedel's spectacular win against Dutch FM de Jong in round 4.

Moving to the crown group: Some people were missing Carlsparov because seven out of eight games between Ivanchuk, Polgar, Tiviakov and Giri have been drawn. After round 3 (before Tiviakov won against Polgar yesterday) Giri commented: "Not only am I still in the shared lead, I also have the highest TPR of all players". I added that Carlsen-secretly-Carlsparov also had many draws in Dortmund earlier this year.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on October 15, 2009 10:32 PM.

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