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Tal Memorial 09 R9: Kramnik Untouchable

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Not in the Indian caste sense, mind you. Big Vlad brought home the title by defending against a misfiring Ivanchuk in today's final round. It looked like Chucky was loading up for a big blast against e6/g6 reminiscent of Carlsen's yesterday. But he made one preparatory move too many (23.h4 instead of the 23.Ndxe6! he'd been preparing for a century) and Kramnik's defense was flawless after that, quickly forcing Ivanchuk to offer a draw. No guarantee Ivanchuk would have won had he gotten the sacrifice in, of course; he was down to seven minutes for more than a dozen moves. But it would have been a thrilling way to end the event either way. So a bit of a fizzle, but Kramnik isn't going to complain. Here he is with us on Chess.FM after his game, chatting with Malcolm Pein, who hosts Kramnik, among others, at the London Chess Classic starting Dec. 8. (Only the Carlsen-Leko game was still going and I'd already signed off to work on this blasted Kuala Lumpur speech, so I missed talking with Kramnik.) More good stuff from Vlady, who sounds happy and hungry, just like we like'em.

Speaking of, I'll update this item later with game notes and comments from Kasparov, who couldn't resist following the games from Malaysia, especially Carlsen's, naturally. We were watching the R+2 vs R to the finish while talking on Skype. Garry was very happy not just for Magnus's second win, which gave him a share of second with Ivanchuk, but because "I said he should study these endgames and it looks like he actually did!" Carlsen played this difficult theoretical position with computer-like speed and accuracy. Garry also mentioned that Carlsen has a fantastic gift for endgame play. Leko shouldn't have gotten into such a position to begin with but got into time trouble just at the wrong moment and Carlsen was never playing to draw, but to win. Very impressive. Funny, often it was Kramnik who lay low, playing conservatively and not losing only to pop up at the end with clutch wins to nab a title. But Kramnik's usual old +2 wasn't enough here for Carlsen and Ivanchuk because of... Kramnik. Meet Mr. Plus Three! This is his second straight +3 undefeated supertournament win and it comes in the strongest event of the year and one of the strongest of all time. Congratulations to Big Vlad.

Anand either forgot something or picked a very bad moment to improvise against Aronian and lost horribly with white in just 25 moves. Aronian had the white side of this last year in Nanjing and clearly liked what he saw with good reason. This is the 4th time Aronian has beaten Anand with black in just the last two years. With no wins with white and no losses! That's just plain voodoo, which I believe is prohibited by the laws of chess. Ponomariov got a consolation win to wrap up his tournament in the battle of the abbreviations. Moro took a nap after the queens came off and Pono whipped up a nice attack. Svidler tried to improve in a very long line of Gelfand's Petroff and, yawn, you know how that goes. The mighty Tal Blitz event starts tomorrow.

The other news for the real geeks is that this win makes Carlsen the unofficial #1 player in the world, by all of 0.6 points. He actually did this a year ago in Bilbao, for one day. I think he'll still need to score +3 in London to make it official on the January list. (+2 and he'll lose a single crucial point, probably.) That detail didn't stop Kasparov from a loud "Bravo!" for his padawan, or whatever the equivalent is for the Sith.


Great performance by Kramnik, congratulations! And also to Carlsen, needless to say. Illness is rewarding, it seems.

Do enlighten us, Mig, please. What is a padawan and a Sith?
In turn, I can offer you more simple counsel. In that Indonesian speech of Garry's, be careful that you do not let him say "as far as" when "as for" is meant.

Thanks for your great work on ICC with your equally excellent GM helpers!

Carlsen has +8 -0 =11 in his latest events, and they haven't been weak either, with an average rating of 2763-64 Elo points. Leko's sequence looks worse with +0 -6 =19 since beating Cheparinov in Jermuk. Considering that it was the last round it was maybe no surprise that Leko would lose, but from that middlegame position it didn't look as if it would happen. Following the live commentary of GM Rogers at Chessvibes things slowly went in a seemingly inevitable direction though:

"Carlsen is worse but hanging on"

"Leko is probably very happy with his position - only two results are possible"

"Mark this one down as a draw - Carlsen will not be world number one for a while longer"

"Now Leko should start looking for the fastest way to force a draw"

"This could get dangerous for Leko, though in a worst case he should be able to eliminate all Black's pawns"

"This IS dangerous for Leko"

and so on until it eventually was over.

Congrats to Kramnik, but o, how the force is strong in young Magnus!

Knallo: Learn the ways of the Jedi and understand Mig you will.

(I hate that I know this) Sith simply called their apprentices, "Apprentice". Jedi called them "padawans". No wonder the bad guys won.

Thank you for enlightening me. I was really a bit confused. Perhaps I am the only person on this hemisphere who did not see a "Star Wars" movie.

In the "real geek" department, what WILL happen if Carlsen actually goes +2 in London? Topalov is at 2805.1, and Carlsen will be 2804.6 in that case. I think they round the numbers and THEN sort players according to recent activity, and if I'm right, that means Carlsen needs only +2 to be officially No. 1 in January. But I could be wrong. Anyone?

Carlsen is Kasparov's "protege"?

Please. He had already reached #1 in the world (at age 18) in Bilbao before Kasparov and he ever worked together. Mig is giving Kasparov way too much credit for Carlsen's success.

But Carlsen's play since they publicised their arrangement has to put it mildly been good. Even compared to before. The question is whether C can maintain this level.

And as is only reasonable in a thread about Kramnik's great play, congratulations Mr. Kramnik!

Seems to me that we've developed something of a log-jam of good players at the top these days. Kramnik, Carlsen, Anand and Topalov (and Aronian on good days).

Carlsen is young enough that he can rise above the field, so here's hoping his training with Kasparov will give him the needed boost. It's difficult to versus opponents with the same level of ability (just ask Kasparov where he'd have been without the anvil of Karpov upon which to forge his talent). So, what better way to improve over his equals than for Carlsen to work with the greatest player in the history of the game?

Oops.... Omitted the word "improve" between "It's difficult to" and "versus" above. Hey, it's late and I'm tired...

"He actually did this a year ago in Bilbao, for one day."

Mig, a long day for you?

Carlsen was first for 5 days, including one rest day in Bilbao, but due to other events, the list was updated also on the rest day. Hence, this is the 6th live list that Carlsen is heading. :o)

It's quite possible that Carlsen is the most talented player of all time. I don't think anyone (in modern times) has reached the top at the age of 18.

Fide uses all the way out to the third decimal place to break the tie. So Topalov will be first. In the event that the three decimal places are tied then activity takes over.

There can be no doubt that Carlsen benefits from working with Kasparov, this could account for the (small, symbolic, relevant?) difference between 2800.

Interesting [was it done on purpose?] that Bob wrote "since they publicised their agreement" rather than "since they started working together". IMO Carlsen's crushing success at Nanjing was partly psychology - his opponents were afraid of "Carlsparov" and several played below their usual level. This doesn't take much away from Carlsen's achievement, but compare Nanjing with Dortmund (when his opponents didn't know whom they were 'also' playing) and Tal Memorial (when his collaboration with Garry was already old news).

Something didn't transmit properly, first sentence should read "between less than 2800 and greater than 2800" ... .

Kasparov a Sith...? Perhaps, but Darth Vlad(er)gets to wear the big helmet today.

"The question is whether C can maintain this level."

I don't think so. Having attained 2800 level at such a young age, I doubt that Carlsen or anyone else is looking for him to stay at 2800 and not improve for the rest of his career.

Congs to kramnik, it is a great achievement to win such a tough tourney. I think this is sending a message to the likes of Carlsen that being no.1 won't be a piece of cake. I look forward to the coming tournaments.

Good point and that brings up an interesting thought: Kasparov reached 2851 at one point, improving 200 points over his rating when he was 18 (2650 or so). Could Carlsen be the first 2900 or even 3000 player?

"compare Nanjing with Dortmund (when his opponents didn't know whom they were 'also' playing) and Tal Memorial (when his collaboration with Garry was already old news)"

One difference is also that it's tough to face a well prepared Kramnik in good form. He played well in both Dortmund and Moscow, and had four months or more without classical tournaments before both events. Carlsen had less than a month between Nanjing and Moscow, and Leko's wife said that Peter still hadn't recovered totally after Nanjing.

Carlsen has played Corus, Linares, Sofia, Dortmund, Nanjing and Tal Memorial this year. That's as many classical tournaments as Anand, Kramnik and Topalov have played taken together. But Nanjing is of course not a "normal" result. In their long careers Anand, Kramnik and Topalov have never performed 3000+ in a top tournament. Carlsen's 2838 in Moscow is surely more the type of performance one should expect from him.

Wonder if the Topalov, Danailov team has already been on the phone... : "... Mr Aronian, can you at least share your secret strategy on how to beat Anand easily"

I wonder if Carlsen and Kramnik feel bamboozled into playing the London event, with players rated so far below them...

Kasparov was the best worker, the best analyst,the best outpreparer, the best fighter.
Carlsen is today only the best player.
If Carlsen learns to work and prepare and analyse like Kasparov he will be worldchampion. And if in a game all analysis, all work, all outpreparing goes wrong he can fall back on playing better than his opponent.

regondi said: "Kasparov a Sith...? Perhaps, but Darth Vlad(er)gets to wear the big helmet today."


Yes, it is all making sense now. Kasparov, the Sith Lord. Kramnik, Darth Vlader. Magnus is Luke Skywalker, who, the Sith Lord hopes, will replace Darth Vlader.

Unfortunately for the Sith Lord, Magnus will never turn to dark side. But, Magnus has a sister, yes? He has not been very watchful of his feelings...


Just because Carlsen doesn't have all the Kasparov mannerisms doesn't mean he isn't fighting hard. What do you want him to do, take off his watch and put it back on, give an exasperated sigh, scratch, groan, grimace, look fake-surprised, etc, like Kaspy used to do? Carlsen is working hard, but without all the false drama.

One of Carlsen's many great qualities is his willingness to treat these tournaments as learning opportunities and (at least when he is not unwell) to play out games "to see what happens," rather than to take the pragmatic draw. I hope he never loses this.

(I, too, hate that I know this) Sith do not have apprentices. There is only one Sith master and one Sith apprentice at all times. The other dark side users are merely Dark Jedi who have been tempted by the Sith with false promises of revealed secrets (evil, duh).

Come to think of it... the Sith simile might actually be pretty good. Has Kasparov been chosen by Darth Botvinnik?

I´m surprised to see the Sith title related to Kasparov instead of Topalov or Danailov who are even more frecuently accused of being evil , i guess there is plenty of room in the dark side.

That's because they are being silly. Surely it is Obi Wan Kasparov...

"Fide uses all the way out to the third decimal place to break the tie. So Topalov will be first."

Third decimal place?!?

I'm not sure what that's supposed to mean. First, for any single FIDE list, the ratings of anyone above 2400 only change by tenths of points, something that follows directly from the rating formulas.

The procedure for a single list, is to round the ratings (all decimals disappearing), and then use activity to break any ties. Period. Nothing more is specified in the rating regulations.


Then, for two candidate tournament rating qualifiers, FIDE has stated that they will use 2 decimals if necessary to break any ties. This won't be an issue in reality, but the reason they say 2 decimals here, probably is something like the following:

The July 2009 rating counts as it is, a whole number. Then we add the January 2010 rounded number and divide the sum by 2. This will give a figure with potentially 1 decimal. Example: Topalov: (2813 + 2805) / 2 = 2809.

In theory, two (or more) players could be equal here. Then, to break this tie, it would be possible to add instead the _unrounded_ Januay 2010 number to the July 2009 (rounded) number, which might yield a number with 2 decimals. Example: Topalov (2813 + 2805,1) / 2 = 2809,05

But this _only_ applies to this specific rating qualification, and even here there is no such thing as a 3rd decimal place - for natural reasons. Using unrounded July ratings don't change that, at all, for the players in question.


If Carlsen goes "only" +2 in London, dropping one rating point (or 1,1 to be exact), he will be behind Topalov in the live ratings, but in FIDE's list both will have 2805 after rounding. By the activity criterion, Carlsen will be listed first - unless we experience another round of closed doors politics and negotiations. Hopefully Carlsen will remove the need for any "hidden diplomacy" in the FIDE corridors by scoring more (or less) than 4,5 points in the London Chess Classic. :o)

A preview of Kramnik's and Carlsen's oppostion in London

Becerra,Julio (2615) - Nakamura,Hikaru (2759) [B29] 11.11.2009

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.Nc3 e6 5.Nxd5 exd5 6.d4 Nc6 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.Qxd5 d6 9.Bc4 Qe7 10.Bg5 f6 11.0-0-0 dxe5 12.Rhe1 Black resigns 1-0

Yes, Kasparov is Obi-wan because he trained both Darth Vlader and now Magnus Skywalker. Other cast members include:
Fischer = Yoda
Han = Nakamura
Chewy = Chucky (it's the eyebrow similarity)

God help us when there's tournaments going on...


...that's "no tournaments going on"

Can I be Jabba the Hutt?

More about the World Blitz that Mig mentions http://www.chessdom.com/news-2009/world-blitz-chess-2009 and http://tournaments.chessdom.com/world-blitz-chess-championship-2009 , no other major site seems to report about it.

Don't forget to add "resign like a whiny little behotch." Kasparov is one of the great sore losers and poor sports in chess history.

Like when Ivan Sokolov beat him in 1999 in Holland (I think it was Corus). Kasparov wrote Sokolov's winning move down on his scoresheet (to show that he'd seen it), then walked off before Sokolov could return to the board.

Much nicer to have the classy Anands and Carlsens that babies like Kasparov. Good riddance.

Accepting losses with dignity is something very few champs had in their repertoire.
There is always some whining going on after a defeat , in fact IMO the ¨sore loser effect ¨is the most common negative feature that chess has and it should be considered a very dangerous side effect inherent to this activity.
So many books and dvds about every other psicological aspect of the game and no one writes about this , isn´t that weird?
I play both go and chess online and there is such a huge difference between the attitudes on each game that i can´t help thinking that maybe chess triggers some very nasty stuff on people.

No time to translate it myself, but the Chesspro report is worth a read (with Kramnik's commentary on his final round game & some comments on Anand-Topalov): http://tinyurl.com/yljw2yx (Google translate's version)

As always, "elephant"="bishop" & "boat"="rook". "Zamatuet" = mates.

p.s. I love that it calls Ivanchuk Basil at one point :)

"Accepting losses with dignity is something very few champs had in their repertoire."

I think more chess players could use some inspiration from today’s great tennis players, such as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Never any excuses, always generous and giving recognition to the opponent’s merits and performance!

"I play both go and chess online..."

Manu, where do you play GO online? Please tell me. There was an absolutely site that I used to use, but it stopped working with my Mac browsers.

"This is the 4th time Aronian has beaten Anand with black in just the last two years. With no wins with white and no losses! That's just plain voodoo, which I believe is prohibited by the laws of chess."

So Aronian is now officially Anand's bogeyman.. While I am generally a staunch opponent of wooly theories that argue various points in spite of results, I find it hard to believe this scoreline is representative of their relative abilities; i.e. I dont believe Aronian is unequivocally Anand's superior in Chess. Quite a few parallels in history of WCs having a curious fallibility against certain opponents who are of course very good, but have not climbled to the highest rung themselves, and appear to over-achieve against their WC bunnies.. Eg: Korchnoi against Tal, Geller against Fischer.

Quite a long interview with Kramnik here on the "Echo of Moscow" radio station (in Russian, with a transcript): http://www.echo.msk.ru/programs/beseda/634483-echo/

They talk a lot about popularising chess (what FIDE should be doing), and how such a strong tournament came to be organised in Moscow (the other interviewee points out that financially chess tournaments are cheap compared to other sports - so it's more about players trusting the organisers). Sadly Kramnik won't answer the question of what he's changed in his game as he doesn't want to help his opponents. Though he says that for now he's a tournament player, not a match player.

"Sadly Kramnik won't answer the question of what he's changed in his game as he doesn't want to help his opponents."
Maybe sadly, in any case understandable - guess we have to find out ourselves, or wait until Kramnik retires ... .

"Sadly Kramnik won't answer the question of what he's changed in his game as he doesn't want to help his opponents."

Isn't it a case of not relying so much on his technique and entering into sharp lines that require a lot of preparation?

I am really impressed with Kramnik, he's playing very, very well. I am also really impressed with Carlsen. Anand just had a bad last round I think, which took the gloss off his otherwise extremely solid play. I almost sense a role reversal in the play of Kramnik and Anand. From super-solid to adventurous for the former and opposite for the latter.

This new Kramnik-active, sharp, with the devilish technique in endgames and, most importantly-not taking short draws if there is any play left in the position, is an ultimate monster.

I would say that it is now that he who won a match against Kasparov without a single loss, is on his all-time best shape.

Carlsen starts with two wins - against Ivanchuk & Kramnik. Ivanchuk has two losses as he also fell to a very nice mate from Anand. Karpov won a game! :)

The video link's up as well, though obviously trying to follow blitz isn't the easiest of tasks...

mishanp thanks for the links!
Aronian just stomped Leko with black, in a bad way. At least one piece hanging almost on all moves. Magic.

Yes a real massacre, really great game. Who'd a thought the 3.Nge7 Ruy could produce such fireworks?? Aronian is truly one of the greats!

I see what you mean about Leko-Aronian! Something odd happened at the end of Kramnik-Anand - it looked like Kramnik pointed to Anand's clock, but maybe it just wasn't working properly because they decided on a draw. Carlsen made an illegal move or something at the end of the game with Gashimov, but it was lost anyway. Only 40 or so rounds to go :)

Kramnik plays this weird Scandinavian line... what is it called? If it does not have a name I propose "Colbert variation".

I thought it was a transmission error! He would do Moro proud!

Magnus Carlsen just lost a chess game to Alexandra Kosteniuk.

Wow - that's the first time I've ever seen Carlsen display bad temper - maybe Kasparov's influence is rubbing off after all. He made the losing move (or lost on time?) and left the board instantly in disgust. Women on top this round - Kosteniuk and Polgar beating Carlsen and Kramnik...

video stream does not work for me :(

Most of them strut out some stuff they'd never play at classical, but some stick to their usual lines. Kramnik will likely switch from this Centre Counter, already got two beatings..

You need to click on the play button on the small version of the feed on the left. Please ignore if you already did that!

Do you mean the line with 3.-Qd6!? He already played it at the Zurich Jubilee rapid.

As far as Karpov winning a game and Carlsen losing against Kosteniuk is concerned: In blitz "everything can happen", at least in a single game ... . Referring again to the tournament I played on Saturday: I declined a move repetition against a player rated 400 points higher than me who eventually finished shared first (felt obliged to play for a win as I was a pawn up but blundered some moves later on) - I might have been "less ambitious" if I had known whom I was playing ... .

Nice final move in Kramnik - Aronian (Rd7) - it didn't show up on the live viewer for a while and I couldn't see a clear win for Kramnik and thought it might have been a loss on time...

At my viewer it is Kramnik-Aronian with Kramnik playing 1.e4 and Aronian answering with 1...d5, and them heading into the Colbert variation. If this is not a transmission error, then it's really cool :)

No it was a transmission error :(

I usually play here http://www.gokgs.com and in yahoo , but there are many more places to do it , some of them have great tutorials and pro games to watch.

Vishy tearing up the field. None of that 1.d4 nonsense today :)

Its a pity players like Nakamura aren't here. I would love to see "classic" blitz champs like Anand and Kramnik up against the ICC top dog.

About Nakamura: As discussed here before, he could have tried to qualify, but didn't ... .

BTW, where do you guys get to see (current) results, openings and entire games?

Kramnik blasting away with the Scandinavian, Vishy playing some weird Budapest, world champ Dominguez in dead last..its all happening here folks!


Kramnik finally won a game with 1. e4 d5!? (against Kosteniuk) Not sure we'll be seeing it in the London tournament, though :)

Carlsen destroying everyone in his path.

7 games, 6 wins.

Only Svidler to come out of it without a loss.


But what's this? Carlsen-Karpov 0-1

But then he ran into the Karp...Tolya takes down Carlsen. Whoa!

The old devil surprised the school boy!

Vishy finishes the day with 12/14. A 3.5 point lead over the chasing pack, which includes Karpov!

Amend that - Vishy on 12/14 chased by Carlsen on 10 and Karpov in sole third at 9!
Is Karpov the oldest player to beat the world #1?

Relax, it's just blitz.

Vishy doing a Fischer at Herceg Novi.

Somehow I think Kasparov might not be totally displeased to see Carlsen lose against Karpov :-)

Anand's +10 -0 =4 is impressive considering that strong blitz players like Ivanchuk, Kramnik, Aronian and Svidler all have 4-6 losses, Carlsen and Grischuk 3 each.

Not quite #1 or even world top (yet), but at classical time control it's hard to find better than this amazing game:
Gashimov(2679)-Korchnoi(2598) 0-1, Russian Team Championship 2008

Lovely. The final movement of that endgame was great fun to watch. Good old Victor :)

Thanks for the link - that was quite a game!

The Carlsen - Karpov blitz game was amazing! Carlsen tried to mate Karpov, but he stayed calm and made 50+ moves with his king to finally win. Amazing stuff!


The Carlsen controversies:


14:25:38 Some takeback against Gashimov :-)

14:42:45 No handshake against Kosteniuk after what looks like another takeback, probably disgusted with himself there...

Video seems to end before those times , what is it?

Video's ok for me - I think Carlsen handled himself fine after the double move...

About 14:23:40 there's an odd end to Kramnik-Anand. It looked like Anand ran out of time, but they agreed a draw (the commentators speculated something was wrong with the clock or someone forgot to push it).

What a beauty! Thanks for sharing, Thomas.

That´s odd , video reachs only to 14:11:25 on my browser.
Carlsen didn´t great Kosteniuk? That´s weird...

guess two in a row (r3+r4) got to him

Doesn't Carlsen's coach still play blitz? I'm surprised he didn't jump in to show the others who's really the king.

And what about the Bulgarians - stuck in a Sofia public toilet?

Video does end before then..trying to make Carlsen look bad? Sad, sad, sad..

Carlsen was upset at the end of the Kosteniuk game and got up and left without shaking hands. To be fair, though, this is blitz, where people are much more concentrated and do so without being aware what they're doing. You can see several other examples on the video. Which goes way beyond 14.11.whatever on my feed, btw.

If people wanted to knock Carlsen, they'd do better to talk about his habit of fiddling with two captured pieces. Now this really is bad - illegal, indeed. Still, he'll grow out of it.

I remember the English GM Jon Parker (always exemplary at the board nowadays) telling me he used to do this same thing when younger and tense, until one day he played Timoschenko and the Russian veteran stopped him with a stern glance under his eyebrows and a reproving wag of the finger. I'm sure students of the Russian old school can imagine it.

I don't understand. Are the Russians trying to make Carlsen look bad by showing his inappropriate behavior, or is Carlsen himself the culprit in this?

Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of Magnus, I just hope he isn't taking any chess etiquette lessons from Kasparov. You can win at chess and behave yourself.

This game is wonderful. Thanks for sharing it with us.
On the Carlsen- Kosteniuk brouhaha, I note that Carlsen looks back when he gets to the gate out of the playing area. Looks a bit wistful to me, like he's just broken wind and feels obliged to go back and apologise for it....

Oh my word, what a game, and in my favourite McCutcheon to boot!

Aspiring players could do worse than learn board etiquette from Valdimir Kramnik. Greet your opponent by standing up and shaking hands, and if your opponent beats you fair and square, never mind if you feel like murder or crying inside, look your opponent in the eye, smile and shake hands. Sport is about learning to lose with dignity, for you'll be on the losing side often in life.

I think Vishy is also similarly gracious in defeat, but he hasn't lost in this tourney yet so I can't say for sure!

"I don't understand. Are the Russians trying to make Carlsen look bad by showing his inappropriate behavior"

They are just filming the whole event, hardly directed towards Carlsen. And it's after all blitz, where these things happen more frequently. Still, if it had been Kasparov and not Carlsen in that chair these incidents would maybe be brought up decades from now :-)

It remains bad behaviour. Showing no respect for Alexandra Kosteniuk (at least for some seconds) and trying to get away with a slight misinterpretation of rules.
The good thing: Our global village, where you can't hide anymore, will fix it instantly.
So Henrik has an easy job and even might appreciate the help he got.

BTW: I'm shure I didn't behave any better when I competed in chess and other sports long ago, when I was a teen and there was nothing worse than loosing.

What should "the russians" do then, rationalist ?
Stop filming when Carlsen behaviour becomes inappropriate, in order to not embarrass or infuriate his worshippers ?!

As long as they don't face technical difficulties
(bad server ? - this happened already during the regular Tal tournament) they show everything.
But everybody is focussing on Carlsen.
For instance Ponomariov lost to his former second and friend (?) Karjakin, left the table in a hurry without looking at or shaking hands with Karjakin, who seemed to feel uncomfortable with it.

"For instance Ponomariov lost to his former second and friend (?) Karjakin, left the table in a hurry without looking at or shaking hands with Karjakin, who seemed to feel uncomfortable with it"

Indeed, it's at 14:59:50 in the video link, for those being able to watch it.

Overall this thing is so superbly organized... Kudos.

As pb and steven already wrote, "the Russians" cannot be blamed: during live coverage they don't even know "what will happen next", should they later edit out dubious moments or incidents? Regardless of who is looking bad, this may already be a prohibitive amount of post-processing to do?

I guess Carlsen has to live with the fact that he is under closer scrutiny than other players. For an opposite example: Anand and Kosteniuk had an animated and apparently friendly post-mortem after their game won by Vishy (starting at 14:59:24), too bad you can't hear their words ... . Usually, players just walked away immediately - in most cases after shaking hands.

BTW, incidents in blitz tournaments may be a "privilege"(?) of the young and the old. Last Saturday, Korchnoi's behavior also wasn't always perfect (from what I saw myself and heard from other people). Of course, noone cared or merely smiled - they were happy to have him around, as guest of honor all the way from Switzerland.

For example, IM Afek on what happened after he beat Victor: "He didn't shake hands, he never does when he loses. But he told me: 'You have 15 seconds more left on the clock, you must have played with two hands.' " In another game, Korchnoi made an illegal move and denied it. His opponent had witnesses, but "after thinking for ten seconds" decided not to make a scandal out of it (he wasn't in contention for prize money).

For more (in Dutch) and photos:

Back playing again - Anand beat Karpov quickly with black.

Watching Carlsen play on video...he has a habit of hovering his hand over the piece he's contemplating (and in most cases ends up)moving. Sometimes for 4 or 5 seconds. Doesn't this give a substantive advantage to his opponents? Concerning the "non-handshake" ...so what? Fine him 20 euros, or whatever, and get on with it. A moment's slip of emotion.

...and Carlsen just handed Anand his first loss.

Where can the the current standings be seen? Thanks


"Cross table according to places" might be the best bet, though it's always a bit behind.

After 19 rounds it is:

Anand, Viswanathan 15
Carlsen, Magnus 14
Grischuk, Alexander 12.5
Svidler, Peter 12
Karjakin, Sergey 11.5
Kramnik, Vladimir 11.5
Ponomariov, Ruslan 11
Karpov, Anatoly 10.5
Leko, Peter 10
Bareev, Evgeny 9.5
Aronian, Levon 9.5
Ivanchuk, Vassily 8.5
Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 8.5
Polgar, Judit 8
Morozevich, Alexander 8
Jakovenko, Dmitry 8
Gashimov, Vugar 7.5
Naiditsch, Arkadij 7.5
Tkachiev, Vladislav 7.5
Dominguez Perez, Leinier 6.5
Kosteniuk, Alexandra 6
Gelfand, Boris 6

This is one is updated even during the rounds:

Thanks everybody! I gave up navigating the site in Russian...

So at the break, in neat rating order :)

1.Carlsen, Magnus g NOR 2801 16.0
2.Anand, Viswanathan g IND 2788 15.5
3.Kramnik, Vladimir g RUS 2772 13.5
4.Svidler, Peter g RUS 2754 13.5
5.Grischuk, Alexander g RUS 2736 13.0

This must be one of the biggest double round robins ever, it reminds of the old monster tournaments like Vienna 1882 with 34 rounds. Of course it's blitz and not classical, but at least an event where the final result can't be explained away with luck. The players in the top of the table are definitely good at blitz... Last year's Tal Memorial blitz wasn't small either, with 33 rounds, but this is 42 and still only half time.

Magnus must have missed something coz Chucky took him apart like a _____ . (Fill in the blank)

After 22 rounds:

Carlsen 16
Anand 16
Kramnik 13.5
Svidler 13.5
Grischuk 13
Pono 13
Karjakin 13

Carlsen won against Kramnik again.

[code]Pairing - round 22
Start: 2009-11-17 at







1 [15.5] 20 Anand, Viswanathan 0.5 - 0.5 Leko, Peter 3 [10.0] 1
2 [9.0] 18 Naiditsch, Arkadij 1 - 0 Kramnik, Vladimir 5 [13.5] 2
3 [7.0] 22 Gelfand, Boris 0.5 - 0.5 Aronian, Levon 1 [10.5] 3
4 [8.5] 21 Polgar, Judit 0 - 1 Jakovenko, Dmitry 2 [9.0] 4
5 [16.0] 19 Carlsen, Magnus 0 - 1 Ivanchuk, Vassily 4 [10.0] 5
6 [10.5] 17 Karpov, Anatoly 0.5 - 0.5 Gashimov, Vugar 6 [7.5] 6
7 [12.5] 16 Karjakin, Sergey 1 - 0 Kosteniuk, Alexandra 7 [7.0] 7
8 [8.5] 15 Dominguez Perez, Leinier 1 - 0 Bareev, Evgeny 8 [10.0] 8
9 [8.0] 14 Tkachiev, Vladislav 0.5 - 0.5 Morozevich, Alexander 9 [10.0] 9
10 [9.5] 13 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 1 - 0 Svidler, Peter 10 [13.5] 10
11 [13.0] 12 Grischuk, Alexander 0 - 1 Ponomariov, Ruslan 11 [12.0] 11

Pairing - round 23
Start: 2009-11-17 at







1 [11.0] 4 Ivanchuk, Vassily 0.5 - 0.5 Anand, Viswanathan 20 [16.0] 1
2 [13.5] 5 Kramnik, Vladimir 0 - 1 Carlsen, Magnus 19 [16.0] 2
3 [13.0] 12 Grischuk, Alexander 0.5 - 0.5 Gelfand, Boris 22 [7.5] 3
4 [13.0] 11 Ponomariov, Ruslan 0.5 - 0.5 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 13 [10.5] 4
5 [13.5] 10 Svidler, Peter 1 - 0 Tkachiev, Vladislav 14 [8.5] 5
6 [10.5] 9 Morozevich, Alexander 1 - 0 Dominguez Perez, Leinier 15 [9.5] 6
7 [10.0] 8 Bareev, Evgeny 0 - 1 Karjakin, Sergey 16 [13.5] 7
8 [7.0] 7 Kosteniuk, Alexandra 0.5 - 0.5 Karpov, Anatoly 17 [11.0] 8
9 [8.0] 6 Gashimov, Vugar 1 - 0 Naiditsch, Arkadij 18 [10.0] 9
10 [10.5] 3 Leko, Peter 0 - 1 Polgar, Judit 21 [8.5] 10
11 [10.0] 2 Jakovenko, Dmitry 0 - 1 Aronian, Levon 1 [11.0] 11

Pairing - round 24
Start: 2009-11-17 at







1 [16.5] 20 Anand, Viswanathan 1 - 0 Kramnik, Vladimir 5 [13.5] 1
2 [8.0] 22 Gelfand, Boris 0 - 1 Jakovenko, Dmitry 2 [10.0] 2
3 [12.0] 1 Aronian, Levon 1 - 0 Leko, Peter 3 [10.5] 3
4 [9.5] 21 Polgar, Judit 1 - 0 Ivanchuk, Vassily 4 [11.5] 4
5 [17.0] 19 Carlsen, Magnus 1 - 0 Gashimov, Vugar 6 [9.0] 5
6 [10.0] 18 Naiditsch, Arkadij 0.5 - 0.5 Kosteniuk, Alexandra 7 [7.5] 6
7 [11.5] 17 Karpov, Anatoly 1 - 0 Bareev, Evgeny 8 [10.0] 7
8 [14.5] 16 Karjakin, Sergey 1 - 0 Morozevich, Alexander 9 [11.5] 8
9 [9.5] 15 Dominguez Perez, Leinier 1 - 0 Svidler, Peter 10 [14.5] 9
10 [8.5] 14 Tkachiev, Vladislav 1 - 0 Ponomariov, Ruslan 11 [13.5] 10
11 [11.0] 13 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 1 - 0 Grischuk, Alexander 12 [13.5] 11

Kosteniuk wins against Carlsen and Anand. Respect!

Kramnik still playing the Scandinavian (tribute to Carlsen? ,:) ), and many people again playing 1.e4 against him ..... .

and Aronian too now!

Anand fell off the horse today, but was good enough to be a point behind Carlsen. Carlsen was more consistent today - though he went down to Moro in a crazy encounter. Why is Kramnik persisting with the Scandinavian after the novelty has worn off?

It does make him a bit of a sitting duck in a 3-day event (I'm sure his opponents must have noticed and had a quick look at the best lines), but it's just a fun event and I guess he doesn't want to waste any of his preparation against e4 - or more precisely, he doesn't want to be thinking of what to play or not to play. Yesterday he generally got playable positions anyway, e.g. losing to Polgar after having been a clear piece up.

"Kosteniuk wins against Carlsen and Anand. Respect!"

...and now Aronian too. Despite being a half point from the bottom, she must be pretty happy about her trophies anyway.

And between Anand and Aronian she beat Polgar, which must also have been satisfying!

Kramnik on regaining the title and how to install small computers almost everywhere here:

"And between Anand and Aronian she beat Polgar, which must also have been satisfying!"

Kosteniuk has done extremely well. She won with black against Morozevich, Anand and Aronian today, after doing it against Carlsen and Gashimov yesterday. Beating five players in the top ten with the black pieces is impressive. Today she also won with white against Grischuk (in under 25 moves), Tkachiev and Polgar, all of them strong blitz players.

Kramnik with the deadly Scandinavian.

Wins--Moro, Dominquez, Kosteniuk

Draws--Leko, Jakovenko

Losses--Carlsen, Anand, Ivanchuk, Polgar, Naiditsch

Kramnik on opportunities for football-watching:
--I was also pleased with the draw {in the Ivanchuk game, Tal Memorial], not only because it guaranteed me first place, but also because it enabled me to watch the second half of the Russia-Slovenia football match.

And on Anand-Topalov:
--If it were played on neutral territory, I would consider Anand favourite. But since the match is to be in Bulgaria, it seems to me that Topalov has the better chances. In general, the decision on the venue for the match seems to me to be hardly neutral, to put it mildly. Personally, I would not play Topalov in Bulgaria.


Why does Kramnik say he has qualified for the candidates tournament (in his interview in chessbase). He still has to play the London Classic. I guess that the london classic will not be included in the January list? is it?

Day 3 will be an interesting fight to the finish especially since Anand and Carlsen play almost the same set of opponents (except one - Carlsen doesn't play Svidler, Anand doesn't play Leko), including each other! Hopefully Anand won't fall off the gig again tomorrow..

Day 3 will be an interesting fight to the finish especially since Anand and Carlsen play almost the same set of opponents (except one - Carlsen doesn't play Svidler, Anand doesn't play Leko), including each other! Hopefully Anand won't fall off the gig again tomorrow..

Does anyone know if Nakamura was invited to the Blitz? I would have considered him one of the favourites.

"... but it's just a fun event ..."

Well, my observation is that it IS called the World Blitz Championship"

Yes, but "Blitz" is the key word. This is a translation of part of the Echo of Moscow interview with Kramnik I mentioned above (lazily I've just slightly edited Google's version):

"Kramnik: You know, first of all blitz - it's just fun. This is a very interesting game. Of course, those participants who have played in this tournament, well, for them it'll probably be a little harder, because, after all, there's a kind of accumulated fatigue, and blitz, after all, requires concentration, requires, in general, a certain energy . But today the World Blitz Championship starts, right after the Tal Memorial. And, of course, it'll be difficult. But first, blitz for me - it's just great fun, especially when you play with the strongest chess players in the world. This is a very interesting game. I know that all the leading chess players play blitz with great enthusiasm. But blitz - of course, is a game where control of the situation is much less than in classical chess, so much depends on how you slept, again, how much energy you have that day, how your head's working - a lot depends on this. Therefore blitz is a very unpredictable game, and that makes predictions impossible. The only thing I'm absolutely sure of is that all the participants and spectators will enjoy the game. But, here, last year I was very close to winning this tournament. Only in the end I lost, taking 2nd place. I'll try, but, of course, the field's unusually strong this year. That is, it's not just the strongest chess players, but also blitz players, so it's absolutely impossible to predict the result. Come along and support us. Many Russians are also playing, including Anatoly Karpov and world champion Kosteniuk. So it'll be a struggle, I'm hoping for good results.

N. KALUGIN: Just time for one more question: is blitz training a brain box? [they'd joked about the (false) image of chess players earlier]

Kramnik: No, no. Blitz - it's more relaxation, I'd say.

M. Glukhovsky: Training for the hand. (everyone laughs)

Kramnik: Yes, training for hand, yes."

That should be "training FOR a brain box" - the Russian is literally "superbrain".

To my knowledge, both the London event (where Kramnik could lose some rating points) and the World Cup (where his competitors could gain ELO, even if they don't win the event) will be rated for the January list. But Kramnik probably thinks the gap he created is wide enough.

Compare the situation in the July list with the current live ratings:
July - Jakovenko 2760, Kramnik 2759, Leko 2756, Radjabov 2756, Gelfand 2755, Morozevich 2751, Gashimov 2740
currently - Kramnik 2786, Gashimov 2763, Gelfand 2759, Morozevich 2742, Leko 2739, Radjabov 2738, ... Jakovenko 2725
[excluding Topalov, Anand, Carlsen - 99.9% qualified by rating - and Aronian - qualified via GP]

Maybe some players (Gashimov and Gelfand?) have a slight chance to "catch" Kramnik. When London starts, the World Cup is already well underway, so Kramnik will know what he has to do - e.g. if a 50% score is enough ... .

Yes, of course. One wonders if Kramnik is justifying anything. Well, that doesn't really matter.

"Blitz chess is just fun" can be interpreted several ways, and would depend on the inflections and body language to decipher the intended meaning.

Perhaps he meant, as I assume you believe, that 'blitz chess should be considered no more than fun. By definition, it is not serious.' It is 'just a fun thing to do, and does not affect my standing as a serious chessplayer, regardless of my result.'

Yet, 'blitz chess is just ... fun' could be a sweeping endorsement of the genre. Not *just fun* but just *FUN,* An embodiment of emotion that we all used to have when we were learning this game. Serious chess is fun as well, but in a different dimension (I hesitate to use words like 'level' or 'stratum'). The genres are separate. That does not preclude being serious about winning the most prestigious blitz tournament of the year. I contend that more of the players are serious about trying to win this thing (well, at least going into it), than those that are just there "for the fun of it," or there "just for the fun of it."

So I do not disagree with you. I just couldn't let a dismissal of this entire tournament as "just a fun event" (whatever context you meant to imply) go by without a comment!


Another Kramnik interview published today perhaps makes his position clearer - obviously it's still something he'd like to do well in, but...: http://www.sport-express.ru/newspaper/2009-11-18/8_1/

- What are your plans for the second part of the Memorial - the World Blitz Championship?

- I love blitz and when I'm fresh I don't play it badly at all. Last year I nearly won the blitz tournament. But this year the classical tournament took too much energy. There were a great number of tough, nerve-racking games, and the question is whether I can recover in time. We'll see how it goes. But with all respect to the outstanding blitz players who've gathered here this year I came here principally for the classical part of the Memorial. And the blitz - it's more of a great show, entertainment, and for me it's just a supplement to the main part of the Tal Memorial.

In the same interview Vasiliev suggests that Kramnik's 100% guaranteed to get into the candidates tournament given his lead in the ratings - which Kramnik corrects to 99%, mentioning an idiom which is presumably the equivalent of "don't count your chickens...".

On the Carlsen-Kasparov cooperation he says that maybe with similar help he'd have won the title earlier, and maybe Carlsen can win it at 23 instead of 27, though nothing's guaranteed.

One odd point is that Kramnik says he still hasn't been able to get a visa to travel to London, but presumably they'll sort that out in the next two weeks!

Thanks mishanp - I guess if Anand and Carlsen could choose between winning the main event or the blitz, their preference would also be obvious. Maybe some of the "other" players (those who didn't play the main event) also do well because they are fresh: Kosteniuk, Karpov, Karjakin (who is now third in the standings) - the letter K is certainly more of a coincidence.

BTW, it reminds me a bit of blitz tournaments after major German opens: For many players - professionals and amateurs alike - they are mostly fun events and an occasion/opportunity/excuse to get drunk. But I didn't see any beers on the videos ... .

"it reminds me a bit of blitz tournaments after major German opens: For many players - professionals and amateurs alike - they are mostly fun events and an occasion/opportunity/excuse to get drunk. But I didn't see any beers on the videos"

It's surely a bit more prestigious than that, as a World Championship and event with the same prize money as the classical event, if I got that right. It has to be the strongest blitz tournament ever played. Of course not classical chess but I don't think the players drink beer during the games :-)

I wrote "a bit" - of course it's not comparable, and some things that I watched (and, to some extent, took part in) at those German tournaments better shouldn't be filmed on video ,:) .

Maybe Gashimov was the only one who had beer or vodka "between games" (see my comment in the next thread). While he already had a mediocre first day (6.5/14), "doping" didn't help - he scored 3.5/14 on day 2.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on November 14, 2009 5:35 PM.

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