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London Classic: Carlsen Starts Hot

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The London Chess Classic is just underway and before you could say "Cor blimey guv'ner!" Magnus Carlsen has a full point lead on the field. He took full advantage of his #1 spot in the draw by winning both his first games with white, today taking out the other round one winner Luke McShane. Kramnik bounced back with a win over Ni Hua to return to an even score. Short drew with his occasional charge Howell after having chances in a Petroff. Nakamura held a pawn-down endgame against Adams, who for the second day in a row was involved in an entertaining tactical flurry.

McShane didn't try to play something quiet today despite his epic marathon win against Short the day before. He played the Classical King's Indian with 7..Na6, a modern line that just about every top player to dabble in the KID has taken for a spin once or twice. Topalov tried it against Kramnik at Melody Amber last year and got stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey, but others have played it since, so the opening wasn't to blame. (That Kramnik win was a spectacular queen sac game, btw.) With a small fudge in the move order Carlsen-McShane left the books early for a King's Indian. The bishop usually comes to g4 on move nine, with the usual line going 10.d5 Nb4. With the rook on b1 that knight move is meaningless, so we're left to wonder if this is a new plan by McShane or if he forgot something. As a new idea it doesn't impress much. Carlsen seemed to be making steady progress on the queenside without having much to worry about the kingside. 21.bxc5 looks strange, allowing the structure to become rigid. Giving up the c-file to doubled rooks looks bizarre, but White wasn't worried about that and went to work on the black b-pawn.

McShane finally slipped up under pressure on both sides of the board, and likely on the clock, and allowed the nice pawn grab shot 37.Bxb6! (37..Rxb6 38.Qf2 wins the exchange.) Black sacrificed the exchange, then Carlsen gave it back for an attack on the black king. The sting at the end of the tail was 47.Nc5! (47..dxc5? 48.d6 with Bc4+ coming). After the knight makes it to e6 any defense was going to require miracles. McShane put up a good fight to get it into a difficult endgame but couldn't hold it against yet more powerful play from Carlsen. The last best chance was to test White's technique after 56..g5, definitely a much better version of the endgame in the game with White still having his h-pawn, which is just resignable. You could tell that by the way McShane resigned.

Kramnik bagged his win earlier, taking out Ni Hua in trademark fashion. His recent attacking displays notwithstanding, Kramnik's strength over his peers is clearest when the queens are off the board. For this reason alone 19..Qxe5 is worthy of criticism. But the sharper 19..Qg6!? also looks better because White's king is still in the center and should be made a factor. The a-pawn is covered and Black threatens to go on the attack with ..Rfe8. Instead, Ni Hua gave up a pawn and had nowhere near enough activity to compensate. Kramnik faltered a little near the end of the first time control and Black might have put up a much more annnoying defense with 41..Ne8!, picking off the d-pawn and dragging things out at the very least. But no miracles were in the cards and Kramnik took the game on what looked very much like sheer class from start to finish.

Nakamura got no birthday presents from Adams in a French. He was under slow pressure for the entire game, pressure Adams converted into a pawn at the cost of going into a rook endgame. It looked like White should have gotten more than he got with two connected passers. Nakamura held confidently to maintain the even score for both players. Nigel Short recently accompanied David Howell to Argentina for the World Junior championship, which went from a decent result to a disaster in the final rounds for the British champion. It can be awkward for both players to face off after working together; usually there is a tacit agreement to avoid lines they studied together. Out of a Petroff both sides took on doubled pawns that didn't last long. After they came off Short kept a little space advantage and tried to make something of it. As so often in the Petroff, Black just doesn't have enough weaknesses to make a meal of no matter how well White deploys his forces and they drew on move 44.

Round 3: McShane-Kramnik, Howell-Carlsen, Nakamura-Short, Ni Hua-Adams. Carlsen and Howell have faced each other only once before, in 2003 at a First Saturday tournament in Budapest where both pre-teens were norm hunting.


(Besides the Big 2) Will anyone finish with a plus score and if so who?

"(Besides the Big 2) Will anyone finish with a plus score and if so who?"

You are, of course, referring to Carlsen and McShane? ;)

Prior to the tournament I was actually anticipating that Nakamura would make a good score. Now I'm not so sure anymore.

What does "plus score" mean when there's 3 points for a win? The standard = score could mean anything from 7 pts (7 straight draws) to 10 pts (+3 =1 -3).

If the definition of "plus score" is "more than 7 pts", then I'd say there are good chances we'll see that, but I've no idea if this def is any good.

Carlsen has never lost to a younger opponent. Ever. Unfortunately that opportunity will not come today either, since David Howell is two weeks older.

I wonder who will be the first youngster to crack him. Wesley So? Fabiano Caruana?

Nakamura is without doubt among the most talented players in the world. He is confident and mentally strong, which is important too (re. Ivanchuk).

Although it seems he needs to improve his opening repertoire and endgame technique. Easy said, but difficult to achieve I believe. I suppose this last touch-up of his skills will demand A LOT of hard work. Many hours of daily studies. Or what?

Don't be obtuse. It's perfectly obvious what is meant by 'plus score'. +3 -4 might be 9 points in this event but it's a certainly not a plus score.

"Nakamura got no birthday presents from Adams in a French"

Oh, he did, Mig.

The birthday present was Rxe6? instead of the most likely winning Rxc5 Rxa4 Rc7! - after which black can't hold both the e-pawn and the h-pawn while stopping white's pawns to roll forward.

When Adams took the wrong pawn, Nakamura did well to hold the draw.

"Nakamura held confidently"

But didn't have to defend against any of the two toughest challenges Adams could've posed - the one mentioned above, or the R vs R + f + h pawns that Adams should've chosen when he'd already entered his worse rook ending alternative.

Well, I'd take my equal score of 10 over your +1 score of 9 (+1 =6 -0) any day of the week. Since in this case +0 > +1, this particular scoring system certainly does not favour or encourage the standard definition of "plus score".

Seeing as how the scoring system may also have a direct impact on the actual play (for example, double-edged continuations should be a lot more tempting), it's even more unclear what the standard definition is useful for in this setting.

"The birthday present was Rxe6? instead of the most likely winning Rxc5 Rxa4 Rc7! - after which black can't hold both the e-pawn and the h-pawn while stopping white's pawns to roll forward. ... But didn't have to defend against any of the two toughest challenges Adams could've posed - the one mentioned above, or the R vs R + f + h pawns that Adams should've chosen when he'd already entered his worse rook ending alternative."

Yes, this was obvious without an engine.

Actually, grabbing the most distant pawn appears quite logical and human for several reasons. Engines aren't particularly clever in such end games.

"Well, I'd take my equal score of 10 over your +1 score of 9 (+1 =6 -0) any day of the week."
What has that got to do with anything (and why the use of 'my' and 'your'?)?

A +1 score is a +1 score regardless of whether a win gives 1 point, 3 points or 99 points.

"Carlsen has never lost to a younger opponent. Ever."

This may be true, but he's lost 4 times to Karjakin and they were both born in 1990.

I think this referred to CLASSICAL games - not rapid or blitz.

Carlsen now at 2812.9 on the live list.

Anyone dare to say he'll go 7-0 here?

In a 7 round tournament with 8 players, is it possible for only 2 players to have a + score? Thank you very much for educating me. :)

Maybe he NEEDS to lose now and again. To keep him hungry :). The fact that he never lost to someone younger is amazing, given the plethora of young talent these days. Be interesting to know if Kasparov had a similar record, and for how long.

Plus score simply means more wins than losses.

The sole point is that the traditional "plus score" definition makes very little sense when the scoring is 3 pts. for a win. For instance: Johnny scored +1, while Jimmy got an equal score. What does that tell you about the final standings? Absolutely nothing.

My point of departure was "What does "plus score" mean when there's 3 points for a win?". Saying that +1 is +1 regardless of the scoring without any attempts at explaining *why* +1 is a relevant benchmark doesn't really adress the point.

Nope, it's the 3-1-0 scoring system that doesn't make sense.

Fair enough :)

Howell feels if the c3 Sicilian was good enough for Deep Blue to beat Kasparov in February 1996, then it's good enough to play his student Carlsen. I can't argue with that logic. ;) Adams is playing the Ruy Lopez Morphy Defense.

Morphy? Na, another American legend: Marshall

Who was the first youngster (or younger at last) that cracked Kasparov?

Deep Blue


I should probably wait for someone who can give a definitive answer to who was the first younger player to beat Kasparov, but here is one when he was about 23.


McShane, Howell, Short, and Hua all have 46 minutes or less left and none of them is past move 22. I don't see these 4 getting wins before move 40.

Poor Luke McShane. He's getting a full-body press from Kramnik and his position is looking grim.

Howell's position doesn't seem too bad, but he's down to 9 minutes for 17 moves - which suggests it'll all end predictably.

After move 26 he has only 4:28!

Howell has defended very well. Now we just have to watch how he handles the time pressure which is very severe.

Though the forced sequence of moves now is just what he needed! And as a bonus Rybka thinks he's equal... even if the computer line looks awfully close to a mating net to human eyes.

After 30 moves 3:48. Letting Carlsen have double rooks on the c-file is not good.

Sometimes I forget how good these British kids are. Both are rated at least 14 points higher than Kaidanov.

Here's hoping Howell's sitting there and working out the whole line with white's Nc6, Nxa7, b6, Nb5, b7 forcing black to take a perpetual. It's very complex, though, and it looks like madness just to let black try and mate on the kingside... so I wouldn't hold out much hope with only 3 minutes left.

Mcshane is in a bind against Kramnik and his time situation is approaching Howell levels.

Howell has to make 6 moves in 1:24...but incredibly he is holding on!

Howell plays the "human" attempt to stop or at least slow down the mate - but Carlsen will be on top and Howell still has 7 moves to make in a tricky position, in 1 minute - I think having seen the other line and playing it out almost instantly was his only chance.

That's sad...after a heroic defense Howell falters at the last hurdle. Carslen now on 3-0

A shame but not exactly a shock.

It is not "Cor blimey guv'ner" it is "Cor blimey guv'nor".

looks like for this tournament it will be

Carlsen 7-0
Kramnik 6-1

Excluding the marathon, if all the non Big 2 games are drawn, it won't be very exciting. Maybe Naka or Short will win today, but it looks drawish to me.

Naka-Short just draw. hn ... looks like Naka needs to work on his endgame skill. After the 28th move White has some advantage with two active rooks and Black has two isolated pawns, Maybe not enough for a win, but I'd assume White should be able to "torture" black some to get Short to make mistake. The way it was played out, Naka allowed Short to activate his rooks easily. Maybe time trouble had something to do with it.

Excellent game by Howell and he deserves the draw he seems to have here

Howell-Carlsen getting interesting again!?? Though again time might come into it.

Spoke too soon...

Ouch, 51. Nf5 was a must to hold it for Howell

Carlsen blitzes out more mistakes

Playing to take advantage of Howell's time trouble, I guess - which will probably work, to be fair :)

I wonder how many wins he blew, 52. ... Ra2+ was the clearest but he went for Rd7 after two seconds of thinking and now the position is back to drawn :)

Yep - I know it's unfair to judge players too harshly for missing what Rybka sees, but 52...Ra2+ was such a straightforward forced line that a 1600 player might well see it. Just chasing the king and winning the knight. At least Carlsen is human after all!

"At least Carlsen is human after all!"

Yes, he mispalyed this endgame terribly, but it was well defended by Howell from a lost position

30 second increment!? Hopefully enough, though I still fear for Howell - except the way this is going I could see Carlsen dropping a rook to a knight fork...

Ah, he got 15 min at move 60 - hopefully plenty of time to check that Nf5+ works.

I usually enjoy Carlsen's matches, but the endgame against Howell is terrible, dreadful and disastrous. Not even a 2812 player suffering through a bad hair day plays like this.

"I could see Carlsen dropping a rook to a knight fork..."
Wouldn't be the first time in this tournament that a player returns the exchange he was up ... .

Carlsen has just dropped two pawns and Howell has played this endgame much better of the two, there's no way Carlsen will win this as he has been playing the last hours

Where is Carlsen's famous will to win?

Who is more nervous now? Carlsen at the board, or Kasparov who is probably watching the game?

"Where is Carlsen's famous will to win?"

Erm, he's still playing, isn't he? My will to win at chess is also pretty strong, but it doesn't mean I win a lot :)

Howell missed 60) b6 ... still putting up a tough fight... gone from -2 to slight advantage yet Carlsen will probably still grind out a win. He has won more equal positions before.

Yep, Carlsen will win this - watch and see.

That would also be my bet - I think Howell's instinct to retreat his king rather than keep it near the centre of the board will be fatal! Though Rybka's happy enough for now.

WTF? I switched off playchess an hour ago and was about to call it a night then I see the posts in here and quickly get back to the game...How on earth did Carlsen mess this up? Even I could have won the position...WTF?

Easy draw, David is used to time trouble and Carlsen has no threats at all, it's just to wait.

Actually I think it was a pretty tough endgame - I certainly wouldn't want to play it against e.g. Kramnik. But you'd expect Howell to make a blunder or two and Carlsen to mop up - Howell did his part...

Does Howell follow this blog? On move 72, his king is back in the center ... . In any case, even if Carlsen wins this the prize for best game of the round should be out of reach!?

It makes you think...someone like Fischer or Karpov would have killed this game off in the endgame. Maybe Kasparov needs to train his guy on killer instinct.

me too. went away for an hour, came back and suddenly looks like Howell can hold a draw !!
Carlsen is shuffling the pieces around trying to find anything to grasp onto. Maybe he can sac a rook for N+P and reach, some how, a won R endgame ??

Nice to see that Carlsen didn't want to waste more time.

I don't know, maybe Howell wins the prize jointly now :) (though Carlsen would probably burn his 500 euros!)

drawn!! he makes mistakes in opponents time trouble.. like Be2 yesterday.

Draw agreed. Poor performance from a 2812 player. I thought technical chess was Carlsen's strong point.

Howell on the other hand deserves a bottle of champagne. Holding the world No.1 like that to a draw makes him hero of the day.

How Wonderboy became Squanderboy.

Kramnik must be loving this :-). He has a chance to catch up now.

Kramnik is pretty much in the hunt imo

Draw against world no.1, congrats Mr Howell-you made up for that dodgy opening :). Hark! I hear the tinkle of falling rating points...(but he'll sweep em uo again soon)

Kramnik got the lucky break of playing the tired McShane. The less said the better. Too bad Magnus didn't finish him off faster last round. But Carlsen gets the lucky break with the dayoff before facing his Nakamura nemesis (with White). Maybe he'll be able to bounce back from his mere draw against Howell. Gutty Brit defence, though I can't think that this national attribute leads to many wins...
The Naka-Short game didn't allow Hikaru's dynamism with the symmetry with pawns. After everything but the rooks go, it's deaddrawn. Nothing with Ni to tell me that the Marshall still ain't drawn.

Slightly surprised that there was nothing at all that Black could even try. I didn't feel entirely sure it was "just to wait" regardless of what Black did. Anyway, spectacular save.

Is it possible the gods are not with Carlsen all of a sudden. How about Nakamura beating him in the next game? That would complete Carlsen's London tragedy...gone will be first prize and No.1 ranking. It is beginning to look like a great Kramnik year...

Not a matter of life and death, but do try to get your facts straight before confusing us.

One blown ending and you vultures are willing to write off the #1 player in the world and the leader of the tournament!


I'm a big Magnus fan, but overlooking 52. . . Ra2+ and the subsequent capture of the knight is the kind of blunder that future Irving Chernevs will compile in lists of historic missed wins.

Okay, I needed to have 52. . . Ra2+ pointed out to me, but it's not Rybkaesque at all. It's straightforward, forced, and it's pretty much what rooks were made to do.

Poor Magnus must have been hallucinating.

howell halts the viking invasion! draft him for lindisfarne back in 793!

Some videos up on the main site - Carlsen's analysis of beating Kramnik & Short's comments on his 163 move loss. http://www.londonchessclassic.com/videos.htm

Kramnik & Howell interviews at Chessvibes: http://www.chessvibes.com/reports/first-london-videos-howell-kramnik/#more-19922

Although of course Ra2+ wasn't a hard move it was only possible after Howell also blundered - and the whole presumably won ending for black was only possible after Howell missed a clear draw just before the first time control - so perhaps it was a fair result (if not a likely result!).

"pretty much what rooks were made to do"
We strongly object to this material conception of our life meaning. One day we will rise from our slavery. Then our oppressors will rue the day muahahah

Kramnik wins again. I only feel sorry for McShane. Enduring such amounts of pressure must be hard.
Now Carlsen won't feel so sure about first place.

Wonder how long its been since Carlsen had a question mark on a game? (Mark C on TWIC gave him a '?' on move 52 today.)

Hey, I had to turn off the Howell-Carlsen game and go to work, so I didn't get to stick around and see Howell get mated. But I just have to write and say, WHAT is with that so-and-so Howell to be so INSULTING as to play on in a completely lost position against someone like MAGNUS CARLSEN?? It is so rude and crass. Hundreds of us on the ICC were DEMANDING that he resign and pointing out in vain that we all could beat Howell in just a few moves, let alone someone like Carlsen! One FM pointed out that he had "zero percent" chance of drawing the position and then amended that to "one percent" because Magnus might have some kind of immediate illness or his cell phone might go off! But otherwise there was absolutely NO POSSIBLE WAY Howell could hold out, and NO POSSIBLE WAY someone like Magnus could fail to beat him. He was completely dead, toast, pwned, forced to BEND, and there were no possible complexities or difficulties or traps in the position, as we hundreds of kibitzers can attest. It's just shocking that he played on. It just shows a low level of chess understanding and civility. OK, that's it for my rant, I'm going to look up the game score now and see whether he actually forced Carlsen to play out some mate or what.

Carlsen gave himself question marks for the early part of the Sicilian opening against Ponomariov (Tal Memorial), saying in the press conference "I wouldn't recommend playing the opening the way I did". And, like everyone else - and while he won the event - he deserved question marks for some of his blitz moves in Moscow ,:) . So let's cool down the hype a bit ... .

"Carlsen gave himself question marks for the early part of the Sicilian opening against Ponomariov (Tal Memorial)"

Carlsen was winning after 17 moves and I doubt he really made plural question mark moves in that opening even if he was slightly critical about it himself.

"he deserved question marks for some of his blitz moves in Moscow ,:) . So let's cool down the hype a bit"

Yeah, Carlsen is hyped as the game against Howell showed, Fischer never made any mistakes etc :)

I liked to see Howell's heroic defence, and that it was rewarded with a draw. Carlsen does get a lot of criticism, possibly too much. Every time he "just" gets a draw people start with the hype talk or that he can't be compared with legendary players of the past etc. He did score +6 in China, +2 in Russia and is +2 here, undefeated in all events and the first of them are maybe the two strongest tournaments this decade. I wonder if the people that see Carlsen as too positively described would be impressed even if he had won his fifth game in a row yesterday (including Kramnik, Leko and Pono) :)

I wonder why you are posting under several handles.

is that frogbert?

Or is it froggbert?


Hello please. I'm doing a research on Norway and its glorious and brave people. I am wondering whether anyone could tell me what "Lebensborn" can mean.

So my English is bad I know and I write this better:

¡Hola! Hago una investigación sobre Noruega y su gente gloriosa y valiente. Me preguntaba si cualquier persona podría decirme qué quiere decir "Lebensborn".



Get away.

Gets my vote for weirdest post of the year.

Lebensborn was a German program that provided homes and financial aid to unwed mothers.

J.A. Topfke

Please lets keep to chess and not feed the trolls. Nakamura has some in depth comments on his games in London here: http://www.hikarunakamura.com/main/Blog/tabid/57/EntryId/97/London-Chess-Classic-First-Half-Recap.aspx

On Carlsen-Ponomariov: I also don't think gg is frogbert - who was as critical ab out Carlsen's early opening play as Carlsen himself. A more extensive quote from the press conference (taken from the round report on Chessvibes):
"“And I wanted to line up my knights to take on e6 some day,” he said with a smile. Ponomariov then should have played the normal 15…Be7, when Black in fact threatens 16…e5 and is absolutely fine. “I wouldn’t recommend the way I played with White,” Carlsen admitted."
So maybe some of his moves would deserve ?! rather than ? - but what it comes down to (in my words): His opening, more precisely the aggressive approach with knights on f4 and d4, was sort of a bluff. It worked (very) well because black didn't find the best response - ironically, simple development would have done the job (rather than the game moves 15.- Qc7-b6 and 16. - Qb6-c5).
In summary: While Carlsen won convincingly, he wasn't proud of his opening play - and probably won't repeat the same setup. Compare this with Howell-Carlsen yesterday: Howell drew in the end, but probably also isn't proud of his opening play. He might still repeat the line against "Carlsen-type opponents", as his chances for survival or even an upset could be higher than in Sicilian mainlines?

And what I mean with Carlsen being hyped ... : One example is the video of the press conference with host IM Lawrence Trent on the tournament homepage. At other occasions, a player simply demonstrates his game, or the host may interrupt with specific questions. Here the host repeatedly interrupts just to say what a genius Carlsen is ... . Particularly odd (to me) is Trent's comment on 19.Qe2: "How brilliant! I haven't even seen that one ....". I guess it happens more often to regularly that a 2700+ GM sees more than an IM with ELO2454, and Carlsen isn't the only one capable of such a "stunt".
Nothing up yet on yesterday's press conference - I wonder how they treated another player who also got a best game award (and who also worked with Kasparov ...).

At least by comparison, "one of the best games of the year" is quite OK here and at the tournament homepage - as it doesn't specify top10 or top20. For example, how does it compare to Aronian-Leko from the last round of the Nalchik GP?
Many similarities to my mind:
- It also included two top10 players
- It decided over tournament victory (regarding London, we can't be sure yet)
- White also defended against a black kingside buildup to win the game in the end
- Maybe things also started going downhill for black when he lost time with his light-squared bishop (there 24.-Bc4?!)

Kasparov may have lost to somebody younger than himself in an obscure Soviet youth tournament, but I think that loss to Short is the first at least in international competition.

Carlsen probably can not maintain his record for quite so long. I predict Anish Giri will do it Wijk ;) Or some relative unknown who Magnus does not take seriously when playing first board for Norway in a team tournament.

Thomas said "So let's cool down the hype a bit ... ."

Not sure why you directed this my way. I'm not a Carlsen fan, much less one who hypes him. I acknowledge he plays like a rising 2800 player, and he has my respect as a chessplayer he deserves it, and he seems like a nice kid/young man.

The reason I asked about how long since he got a "?" on a move is that, when he has been hailed as a chess genius (by others), this makes the game analysts reluctant to reward his bad moves with a question mark, even when fully deserved.

Perhaps this is less true today, when game analysts have Rybka, but still, it is a long-time feature that, even when the analyst can point to a line against him, they are reluctant to conclude that a question mark is fully deserved. I was proud of Mark C for having the confidence to do it, and wondered when the last one was awarded.

OK I misunderstood (or didn't get the point behind) your question ... and my point about Carlsen being hyped was a general one. To answer your question: probably in his black game against Kramnik in Dortmund. Of course two things apply:

1) He lost that one, so he must have made at least one weak move (at least worth "?!")

2) This predated the latest Carlsen hype linked to his collaboration with Kasparov - AND the fact that we, the public, are aware of it ... .

"Nope, it's the 3-1-0 scoring system that doesn't make sense."

Tell that to FIFA! The scoring scheme makes sense, but it is not effective at preventing Draws. It (the 3-1-0 system) simply does not provide enough of an incentive, for it to induce competitors to "play for the loss", in order to hope for the win!

In this event, the scoring system has also been unnecesssary: The Sofia rules have sufficed to make each game hard fought.

It's interesting to note that the the only player with 2 losses, Luke McShane, is nevertheless in 3rd Place in the Standings, behind Carlsen and Kramnik. McShane has 1 win and 2 losses for 3 points--the same as Nakamura, Howell, and Adams, who each have 3 points for drawing all of their games.

However, # of wins is a tie-break, in the event the number of 3-1-0 points is the same.

If you want to avoid fightless or short draws, inviting fighters! If you want to have decisive games, have an unbalanced field, with players with disparities in rating (strength). That's the main reason why 5 out of the 12 games played have been decisive.

We'll see if Carlsen's career will continue on its trajectory. We won't know for a while when Carlsen obtains his peak strength. For all we know, he is already at his peak right now, and won't progress much further. That unlikely--but on the other hand, it is far from certain that he will surpass the rating equivalent of Kasparov's 2851, let alone crack the 2900 barrier. Carlsen won't have succcess in every event. Assuming he becomes Champion, he'll need to maintain his motivation, maintain physical health, avoid distractions of celebrity etc. The rest of the elite players will adjust to his playing style, and in a few year's time, he will face formidable challenges from young players, whom we may not have even heard of yet.

As always, it all boils down to girls and beer.

Breaking 2900 - unlikely unless a crowd of players follow him through 2800.

Although the press conference with Carlsen maybe had one or two cringe-worthy moments (but some funny ones as well)... hype is exactly what a well-organised tournament has to aim for! As Malcolm Pein said in his Chessvibes interview the opening game of Carlsen-Kramnik was ideal & the young challenger winning was perfect PR. Of course they should stress that - and if he also played a very good game it's worth stating that loudly and clearly enough that some of the mainstream press might take note. (Plus it's the first press conference, you're worried about all the IT & how to handle the players etc., but it went very smoothly).

And of course they're not just hyping Carlsen. OK they don't need to go overboard with Kramnik ("ex-world champion" will do), but Ni Hua gets to represent the whole of China (going by the tournament poster) and Nakamura is "H-Bomb"! I know the nickname's stuck, but it strikes me as not being exactly in the best of taste - even if H-bombs have never actually been used in anger... That said - it worked, at least in so far as they provided an angle for a free London newspaper to cover the tournament: http://www.londonchessclassic.com/press_coverage.htm :)

OK, point taken - maybe this is the way to go in England and/or for a new top event? I am more used to the down to earth, no nonsense (= no exaggerations) approach at Corus which also results in local mainstream media coverage. And I guess at Russian events there is also no need to be "[very] loud and clear" ... ?

Obviously, only those journalists present at the conference benefit or take note of this - and they and their bosses are already interested in and knowledgeable about chess (I would hope for the latter, but not take it for granted). The video was put up two days later, it may still be useful for midterm or final tournament reports ... .

From a local PR point of view, the next good news would be a win of an English player against the rest of the world ... will it happen? For the time being, Howell's draw against Carlsen is (correctly) presented or sold as such a success.

Anand is 40. Now you guys will start saying he's not as good as he used to be. In head to head (or World Championship) matches I'll take the 34+ crowd such as Anand, Kramnik, and Topalov over anyone. If there was a 4 man team tourney, I'd take the 34+ team (including Ivanchuk) over the team of Carlsen, Aronian, Gashimov, and Svidler. In a 5 man team tourney, add Gelfand and Leko to their respective age group's team and I'd still take the 34+ team.

Howell and his recent trainer Short are trying to demonstrate that good pawn structures are for wimps, Kramnik-Adams looks like a draw (Kramnik has an extra passed pawn, but it's probably stuck on d5 till Doomsday) - while Carlsen-Nakamura has only just deviated from a Kasparov-Tal game (Rekjavik, 1988). At a guess - 3 draws and perhaps a win for Carlsen.

British fan - who are "you guys" - Danailov's the only person I've seen claim that age was taking its toll on Anand. And I'm sure Svidler would like to counted among the new wave of players, but he's less than a year younger than Kramnik...

Chessok has Short & Ni Hua the wrong way round, so actually Ni Hua has the odd structure, though it looks like he's going to give it up to play an ending a pawn down...

What a concentration of pieces in the center in Carlsen-Naka , amazing .

All games drawn tday , 3 point rule makes not much sense to me .

Thx to the Sofia & Bilbao rules you had to wait until round 4 to express your nonesense.

Naka was a pawn up with deep queenside pawns. Did he miss a better line?

moves 42 through 45 were a forced repetition by Carlsen

Nakamura would have retained winning chances with 38..cxd5, so that on 39.Qe5 there is 39..Qc5. But they were both blitzing by then. Anyway, cool that he gave Carlsen that kind of fight with Black.

Nice report by Ian Rogers at http://main.uschess.org/content/view/9940/565

Among other things, comments of both Carlsen and Nakamura on their game right after it had ended.

Interestingly, Carlsen could have lost immediately if he had played his suggested "improvement" 32.Re2 instead of 32.Qe2, allowing a nice shot that Nakamura would probably have seen in a millisecond..

Naka will win his 3 remaining games. Yes, including against Kramnik. You heard it here first.

More interesting openings. Open Lopez from Short, he seems to be partial to it these days. Carlsen using Kasparov's line against Bb5+ Sicilian (see Kasparov's loss to Ivanchuck in this line, great game).
And Howell going for one of the more interesting lines v Petroff, Kramnik lost a nice game to Anand in this line many years ago.

Howell turns down a draw by repetition. Don't know what to make of the fact that Kramnik allows it.

Now somebody points out the very interesting 20..Nxf2!?! 21.Kxf2 Bh4+ 22.g3 f4, and investigating it with Rybka gives lines like for instance 23.Kg2 fxg3 24.hxg3 Bh3+ 25.Kxh3 Bxg3 =+ :) Insane.

Maybe that's what Kramnik's thinking so long about!? (the Anand-Kramnik game chesshire cat mentioned is also crazy) I was going to say that making Kramnik think in the Petroff is pretty impressive for Howell!

They have a history, by the way :)


Though the eval turns into a 0.00 eventually.

Looks like we're going to see it on the board! :)

Kudos Vlad! 0.00 or not, in such positions the difference in strength between players is highlighted especially, I expect Kramnik to rake in the point. Some of those computer lines are mind-boggling.

Yes, but Howell played 22.Kf1 without much thinking, and now Black should be objectively better as well. Strange that he plays so quickly, it's almost like he has analysed this at home, but surely you don't strive for this?

I would say he is trying to move quickly to try to save his position later, and suspected a mate in other lines?

McShane's position v Naka looks great! Something gone wrong in N's prep? And Carlsen's position looks a little creaky too, maybe he mixed up the move order.

Well, this is looking hard to win for Kramnik even though he is probably better. Kf1 must have been the right practical choice.

I was also wondering whether Howell had the position at home - if he had then I wouldn't be that surprised he'd play into it. Kramnik might miss or choose something other than Nxf2, and then if Howell's seen how Rybka defends he might have a good chance against Kramnik (even for the advantage). In any case I don't think time's too much of a factor - they're already at move 28 (though Kramnik's got some big decisions to make - e.g. 28...c6 or 28...f4).

Maybe Howell isn't really worse at all despite everything. Well, I've got to go and study some chess. :) Would be nice to see 0-1 when I'm back.

About Howell-Kramnik: In the Chessvibes live coverage, Dutch IM Jan-Willem de Jong mentions that 20.-Nf2: was analyzed by Rene Olthof and Daniel Fridman in NIC YB 86. So it isn't new even if it's "new" (hasn't appeared on the board yet). Fridman evaluated the game position after 26.-Rbe8 as =+

At the 39th move. Looks like Howell is better. Black is going to lose a pawn.

In the mean time Hua-Carlsen. Looks like Carlsen is slowly grinding Hua in the equal endgame.

Seems like Nakamura escaped miracly and can stop the pawn storm .

Yep acirce.

Re2 loses immediately. That's why I believe people should stop making comments about Carlsen breaking records and willing him to succeed Anand or Topalov as World Champion. If he is missing these flash tactics, then there is definitely some issues he'll have to work out in terms of focus. His talent is not questioned.

Someone also pointed out the number of pictures of Carlsen in reports... it's a lot. In one report someone counted 16/21 pics of Carlsen. They should give him a break. People on the ICC were saying things like "Nakamura gave Carlsen a good game," "Nakamura can't win in classical," "This is classical, not bullet." These are 2700 players... they can beat anybody. Only McShane and Howell haven't reached 2700.

I believe the world is looking for a new icon for chess and Carlsen has been selected by many. The pressure he'll have to endure will be an interesting factor in how he will fare in the future. He will certainly go back under 2800, but the question is will he continue to show steady improvement before stabilizing... or maybe he is the person who will make 2800 the old 2700. We are all waiting to see.

"Seems like Nakamura escaped miracly and can stop the pawn storm ."

What ?

He CAN stop them! By resigning, that is.

Not really ^^ , McShane found a way to break through , congrats .

"If he is missing these flash tactics, then there is definitely some issues ..."

In the actual game his sense of danger was intact!? I wouldn't make too much of Carlsen (or anyone else) missing something simple in casual post-game analysis. Of course it would be another story if he suggested the "improvement" 32.Re2 in New in Chess or Informator analyses - but this won't happen if he has them double-checked by Rybka.

I once participated in a post-mortem between Gerald Hertneck (not a world-top player, but still a GM) and another player of roughly the same strength. Hertneck _repeatedly_ missed simple moves, at some stage he was just shrugging his shoulders saying "ah, a one-mover again ...".

Forgot to mention: but I agree with the rest of your post (second and third paragraph).

Well, Carlsen is delivering the goods, that's all what matters. A bit of excitement can't hurt anyone, can it? - I mean, nice to see that even the mighty-magnus can do simple mistakes.

What I've heard, even Einstein didn't do all the math by himself.

"I believe people should stop making comments about Carlsen breaking records"

"He will certainly go back under 2800"

That's always some consolation :)

Well, yeah. But McShane didn't play the ending perfectly - in fact, he blew the entire advantage and when Nakamura played 41. Kc2, he had the draw in hand.

However, he quickly wasted his draw by the sequence Rd5-d7xf7 which deserves a big ???

What was he thinking? He moved more or less a-tempo - didn't he consider black's ONLY plan of making progress: getting the bishop into the long diagonal, support c3 for a b3 push?!?

42. Re8 hxg5
43. hxg5 Bd6
44. Ra8 is a draw for Nakamura

But even after
42. Rd5?! hxg5
43. hxg5 Kh7
44. axb4! axb4
45. Rb5! and white draws.

So, it actually took two serious mistakes, Rd5? and Rd7?? for Nakamura to blew this and handle McShane the victory. And he played both moves as it was a 5 minute blitz game, and I have no idea why...

McShane on the other hand, squandered most of his advantage between move 32 and move 40. Around move 32, in particular after Nakamura went g5 instead of changing queens with Qd8, McShane must have been close to winning. But in his time scramble he pushed his pawns to a "blockade" instead nurturing the advantage.

How could he have known that Naka would turn into Santa Claus on move 42?

Very entertaining but sloppy chess in London today. Feel bad for Nakamura but he has absolutely no one to blame but himself. He cost himself a win vs. Ni Hua and now this. Time to get a strong coach! Hmmm, who's left?

"Re2 loses immediately. That's why I believe people should stop making comments about Carlsen breaking records and willing him to succeed Anand or Topalov as World Champion."

Now we're supposed to forget about Carlsen and his chances to become a historical chess player, due to some move he did not play, but only mentioned briefly after the game, and which turns out to be a blunder. Is that so? :o)

If that's the alley we're supposed to go down, I'd like you to consider Nakamura's chances of breaking into top 10 ever, based on today's game against Luke McShane. That's an entire game that was actually played, instead of a hypothetical move that was not.

And for Carlsen and records, you might want to consider some stats here, for his training partner Kasparov, a decent chess player in his own right, I think.

During the period 1995 to 2005, Kasparov pinpoints the years where he himself thinks he played his best chess of his career. In particular around 1999. I've considered all TPRs of Kasparov in those 10 years, but limited to classical events where he played at least 6 games. Here are the two (overlapping) series of 3 tournaments where he had the highest average TPR over the _events_ (the event TPRs are averaged, the TPR hasn't been calculated over all the individual games):

First place:

1999 Linares 2917
1999 Bosnia 2903
1999 Hoogovens 2866
Average TPR: 2895

Second place:

1999 Bosnia 2903
1999 Hoogovens 2866
2000 Bosnia 2900
Average TPR: 2890

These are Kasparov's highest 3-consecutive-event-TPRs of his entire career.


Fast forward to 2009:

Carlsen's 3 latest tournaments have resulted in the following TPRs, counting also the unfinished event in London:

2009 Pearl Spring/Nanjing 3002
2009 Tal Memorial 2838
2009 London Chess Classic 2912
Average TPR: 2917

No matter what people might tell you, the amount of inflation since 1999 is _obviously_ less than 50 points in the 2700-2800 area, but to be generous, let's allow people who are way to aggressive when estimating inflation get some say in it and put it the generous estimate of 50 points.

Then we've got 2867 (over-adjusted IMHO) against 2895 and 2890 (and 2878, 2876 and 2868).

Those are the only 5 event-triples in Kasparov's entire career that are higher than the average of the 3 events Carlsen has put together now, back to back, in terms of average TPR. And 3 of those 5 events "re-use" Bosnia 1999, Hoogovens 1999 and Bosnia 2000.

Carlsen has just turned 19, while Kasparov is widely considered the greatest chess player in the history of the game. One needs to have pretty dark sun-glasses on in order not to see (still) that Carlsen isn't the real deal. Where did you get those, Daaim?!?

Tonight I'm fiddling around with my own inflation estimates again - I think I need to publish some of those somewhere to hopefully get a higher appreciation of the stuff Carlsen has been up to lately. It seems like whatever he does, someone is eager to find some way of putting him down. The most oftenly used "argument" is "huge inflation". So let's kill that myth first. :o)

"One needs to have pretty dark sun-glasses on in order not to see (still) that Carlsen isn't the real deal."

Where is that DARN post-post edit button???

Carlsen _IS_ the real deal, of course. Hrmph.

We are sensing some unconscious feelings of jealousy towards your compatriot. For 500 dollars/hour we can analyse these with you.

Yup, I'm very jealous!

When I was 19, I hadn't even put my feet in a chess club. That really hurts, acknowledging what I coudld've made it to, if I had not grown up outside civilization (civilization is roughly defined as a place where they have both a chess club and a bridge club - where I grew up, they only had a bridge club...)


H-Bomb is a dud? H-Bomb defused? Nakamura seems to have so much promise, but he seems not as polished as more dedicated practitioners. Saying he needs a coach or more practice or more tournament experience is easy for the critics, but will he do it? He is the one in control of his fate. He's already very, very good, but maybe he could be great, if he wants to be. Is there the will to make it that way?

Re2 loses immediately. That's why I believe people should stop making comments about Carlsen breaking records and willing him to succeed Anand or Topalov as World Champion. If he is missing these flash tactics, then there is definitely some issues he'll have to work out in terms of focus. His talent is not questioned.

Someone also pointed out the number of pictures of Carlsen in reports... it's a lot. In one report someone counted 16/21 pics of Carlsen. They should give him a break. People on the ICC were saying things like "Nakamura gave Carlsen a good game," "Nakamura can't win in classical," "This is classical, not bullet." These are 2700 players... they can beat anybody. Only McShane and Howell haven't reached


I think it is natural that one of the best-looking players in the sport today...gets most of the photo opportunities, too.

"He is the one in control of his fate."

Well, as a start I would've loved to learn why he played so fast the moves 42 to 44 today.

After McShane advanced his c7-pawn too early before move 40, Naka was back in the game, and then he sort of played like the game was over (?) from move 41 on, despite having more than an hour available.

1) Did he think he was already lost?
2) Didn't he see any dangers for him there?
3) Did he think Rd5-d7 and Rxf7 would draw?

Any other suggestion? I think what he did around move 42 to 45 might show some lack in professional attitude towards his sport - or just big lack in understanding of that position (and hence, probably lots of other similar positions).

"I think it is natural that one of the best-looking players in the sport today."

No, we want more pictures of Gelfand, Short and Movsesian.

Chess players are supposed to look like geeks - printing pictures of Carlsen and Morozevich destroys that image!

From the video report of the last round in chessbase report it is clear that Magnus is picking up more than just opening and psychological tricks from Kasparov. Check out his expressions and accent... impressive imitation of Kasparov in one of his moods...

i tried to analyse carlsen vs kramnik game just without a help of rybka or other software analysing program, my own brains let me felt the crush of kramnik almost after any move i was in deep problems, which magnus solved for me, even when kramnik resigned, i still calculated why, and i was lucky to see myself, without any help of anyone, why we with magnus help won vs kramnik. Sorry for me being egoistic when i believe magnus helped me win kramnik just because i analased moves of magnus, as my moves were only 10 percent correct with magnus, but well i am 2000 maybe with my poor knowledge yet, and i prefer to be in magnus side in any game vs anyone in the world, even if it was rybka powered deep black ;P

Not sure why you went into the long soliloquy.

Just saying there must have been a short lapse of attention. He actually suggest Re2 and never saw Ne3+... never. Maybe it was fatigue... tense game... lots of pressure. My point is that people should lay off for a moment with all the hype.

He has made a great run in 2009, but the pressure must be immense. Imagine... if he stormed off after losing a blitz game to Nakamura in Norway, what will happen when he finally starts to have a bad tournament or lose games in a row?

Nah... there are only a handful of professional chessplayers that fit that stereotype. Not sure where that stereotype came from anyways. Do we know any World Champion that looked like that? Botvinnik (with glasses) looked intense, but was demure. Most chessplayers I know are very normal-looking people. You'll get a few who are in a time warp, but you get that in every sport.

Yea... I know... we have the stereotype, they don't. It's amazing how people saw they didn't expect to see normal people at a chess tournament. I believe this is an American issue. Ironically, Fischer was probably the best anti-geek ever to become World Champion... even more than Spassky. He was a stallion in his day.

"Imagine... if he stormed off after losing a blitz game to Nakamura in Norway,"

He didn't "storm off" after any of the games in Oslo. I was there, were you?

The video of the game with Nakamura is pretty clear , no matter how close anyone was to that reaction...
Did you look at his (Magnus)body language while waiting for Ni Hua to resign?
(here,look at his leg)http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=5985
Indeed it would be very interesting to see how he reacts to adversity , so far he has showed a couple of Kasparov´s mannerisms , i hope he changes that , it doesn t seem to fit his style.

Do you have a link, either to a video or an article? Thanks

Daaim probably refers to the second blitz game between Carlsen and Nakamura:
Yes, Carlsen did storm off (immediately after a very quick handshake), but the context shouldn't be neglected: he had squandered a completely winning position ... so some frustration is understandable - he is human after all!?

Whether Nakamura's behavior was completely correct is another story: consistently moving on the opponent's time, castling with both hands, ... . Maybe this is normal and acceptable in the USA - and in online blitz (Naka's specialty) it is not an issue.

Thanks Thomas. Well, I really don't think there is anything to write home about! He shook hands didn't he??? Was that storming off? If he didn't feel like talking about it, why not move off?!

That'll be 500 euro. I feel we are making good progress. Same time next week?

I didn't realize at first how thematic the sac on f2 is in this very sharp line of the Petroff. Here is a textbook example http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1091502

and here is Kramnik himself sacrificing in a different fashion against Anand, although the sac was just bad this time. http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1292510

Whether Nakamura's behavior was completely correct is another story: consistently moving on the opponent's time, castling with both hands, ... . Maybe this is normal and acceptable in the USA - and in online blitz (Naka's specialty) it is not an issue.


It is not normal -- in fact, locally, we make an announcement that "hovering" (i.e. moving or even beginning to make your moving motion on the opponent's time) will not be tolerated -- there will be a warning, a time penatly and finally a forfeit.

We don't permit moving on the opponent's time -- even if som (i.e. GG at chesscafe.com) seem to think it is within the FIDE rules.

If it had happened at one of our local events, Carlsen could have made a claim to the arbiter.

London Times sports headline : H-Bomb is ROYAL dud

"Yes, Carlsen did storm off (immediately after a very quick handshake),"

When did "leave the board" become equivalent to "storm off"? And for those of you who were not present and only saw the video, where did he "storm off" to?

Everything took place on the same floor, with the boards being surrounded by fans and followers, but there were also three big screens that players were flocking around to get the best possible view of matters. Anyway, when Carlsen left the table between games, he just went right into the big crowd of people there - friends and supporters of Carlsen mostly. He didn't disappear or go anywhere - he just wasn't by the table. Does that break some ethic code? Is it some evidence of unbearable pressure that you want to get up, stretch your feet and move a little after an annoying loss?

My point simply is that some people are making too much out of insignificant stuff like this. Daaim says "people should lay off", "think about the pressure", and at the same time he's turning nothing into Carlsen "storming off" after a loss, as if it was some uncontrolled, irrational behaviour he witnessed in that video.

I'm not buying it.

... We don't permit moving on the opponent's time -- even if som (i.e. GG at chesscafe.com) seem to think it is within the FIDE rules. ...

Definitely one of GG's more idiotic pronouncements.

I see , but there is not reason to scare GM Fontaine like that , frogbert.

I nominate Fontaine's pronunciation of "Howell" for the tournament brilliancy prize :) His reports always remind of me of an old British TV programme called Eurotrash...

I've seen this a lot of times , there are people who just enjoys having a peculiar accent , and there is no way of convincing them that is way more annoying than cute.

When i see his reports i ' m always waiting for an episode of " Kids in the hall " to develop at any time, it would suit him well.

I have lived in France for, in total, about 1 1/2 years, and dealt with French scientists for more than a decade. Most of them sound more or less like Fontaine when they speak English, so I don't think it is a deliberate and collective effort to conserve an accent and to be cute.

I can also make some fun of their "franglais" (a term coined by French people!), HOWEVER [at least in the given context]:
1) If you cannot handle his accent, you are not obliged to listen to him. Or if you "have to listen" because he has content that is not available from other sources, blame the other sources.
2) He is working for a French magazine, so I would rather praise them for (also) catering for an English language audience.
3) How many native English speakers (British or American doesn't matter a lot) could provide coverage in French? And if they manage at all, what would it sound like?

I should say that I find the coverage entertaining rather than annoying, and it's great that Fontaine makes these interviews available.

The French have an unfair advantage as English spoken with a French accent is generally considered sexy or at worst amusing. Sadly speaking French with an English accent doesn't go down nearly so well.

p.s. now I'm going to watch the video again just to hear Fontaine mention "The Big Ben" :)

Hey ,take it easy... i also like the guy and his interviews , i was just teasing with the concept of a richer format for his show...

Hmmm, a German accent also doesn't go well ... but, while I speak three other languages fluently, I still have one and cannot help it - but don't feel like making strong and deliberate efforts to get rid of it either.

Once I gave a (work-related) radio interview in Dutch, and had to laugh myself when I listened to it later on - "is it really that bad?". "Yes, so what?".

wow.. this is an awesome review and thanks for that at least I know now. http://www.blurayrippers.net
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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on December 10, 2009 12:56 AM.

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