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Ponomariov-Gelfand for the Cup

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London is getting the headlines, but in less glamorous Khanty-Mansiysk a spot in the next stage of the world championship cycle is up for grabs this week. It will go to either Ruslan Ponomariov or Boris Gelfand. Pono dispatched Malakhov in rapids despite losing the first game with white. Gelfand was waiting for him, having beaten Karjakin in both classical games. The final match is four games followed by a day for tiebreaks. Ponomariov has given Gelfand trouble over the years at faster controls, although they haven't played enough to make a real case for nemesis. Just a few weeks ago they drew at the Tal Memorial, followed by a 2-nil sweep for Ponomariov in the blitz. Gelfand has to be considered the favorite on chess performance.


Mig, 2 stories in 2 minutes! You're on fire! ;)

Off Topic

Mig, why don't you throw some light on SERGEY BELINSKY, "... a two-time Russian champion and a close confidante of the legendary Garry Kasparov."

Please follow the link below:


and this:


That must be Alexander Beljavsky.

Agreed, although Beliavsky won the USSR Championship four times not two, and it wasn't a match with Gopal, but a game: http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1483328

But was Anand sending an e-mail to a young Indian chess player really so exciting that you had to post it twice, hansie!? Or maybe there's some more interesting context we don't know about?

WARNING: This post is about Chess and on-topic. Apologies in advance for that double whammy.

Where did Pono=Gelfand leave theory in today's Petroff does anybody know please?

Answer from the Chessvibes live coverage and other sources:
17.Qc1 is relatively rare (the main move is 17.Nd2) but was played twice before by Akopian
19.-Be5: deviated from these games (against Gashimov and Kasimdzhanov)
BTW, after 20.Ne5: c5 times left were 91 and 81 minutes, respectively (time control is 90/40 with 30 second increment from move 1).

Also somewhat related to chess or at least to this event: In his latest interview on the tournament webpage kind of explained his earlier "I try to drink less vodka".
Now it reads as follows: "I think many people drink in Siberia. You should know when to stop. If you don't drink, you are a scoundrel!"

He actually said "If you don't drink WHEN IT'S FREEZING, you are a scoundrel!", though I'm not sure it changes the meaning so much :) That song he was singing has a repeated line about being "drunk from the cold" - it did get down to -30 degrees centigrade or something during the World Cup!

Gelfand's play perhaps shows why Polgar and Karjakin avoided the Petroff by playing the Bc4 opening - which McShane's now trying against Kramnik (though having said that Short had real chances against Howell's Petroff yesterday).

Agreed. Drinking should be strictly limited to when it is freezing, when it is too hot, and all the in betweens.
One think I like about sub-top tournaments is that the variety of openings is usually greater, Howell and Short here, interesting.

I think Kramnik should have played Rybka's first choice of 7...Bxf2+ on principle (with c6 & b5 to follow) - how often do you get to do something like that on the 7th move of a top-level game!?

WOW one of those computer move shockers!! Amazing. Although it makes perfect sense (AFTER it has been pointed out)- White has been taking liberties with his development, and in an open game too!

He got there on move 10 :) Though it's still just a very even position.

Cool he did a later version of it!!
[White "McShane, Luke"]
[Black "Kramnik, Vladimir"]
1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 Bc5 4. Nf3 O-O 5. Nc3 d6 6. Na4 Bb6 7. c3 Be6 8. Bb3
Bxb3 9. axb3 Nbd7 10. b4 Bxf2+ 11. Kxf2 b5 *

Having said it's even... it's given McShane a lot to think about and transformed a dull opening into a sharp and unbalanced struggle, which has to be good if Kramnik wants to continue playing for a win with black (which he surely does against McShane). He's already got a half an hour time advantage.

Maxim Notkin on Chesspro keeps suggesting pawn sacrifices for Kramnik: e.g. after 14.b5
14... c4 15.Qxc4 Rc8 & 16...Nc5

Though I wonder if the first game with Carlsen makes it harder to decide on sacrificing a pawn with black!?

That's what I was also thinking of - seems rather promising when you look at the lines with a computer.

Kramnik's 14..d5 certainly also interesting.

ICC live commentator Gawain Jones: "16.-c4 looks interesting, but it's more a Morozevich move than a Kramnik move." A moment later Kramnik played ... 16.-c4 .
However, computers are still happy with the white position - they have no problem finding only defensive moves!? The human perspective may be different, especially with time trouble approaching.

"However, computers are still happy with the white position - they have no problem finding only defensive moves!?"

(17. d4 e4 18. Ne5 Qxd5 19. Rhe1 Qxb5 20. Kg1 Rfe8 21. Bg5 Nfd7 22. Nxd7 Nxd7 23. Qa4 Qd5 {Rybka Aquarium (0:03.05)} {-0.44|d16} {black stands slightly better}) http://www.chessok.com/broadcast/?key=london3.pgn&game=0

Chessok's deeper Rybka analysis prefers black (-0.44) - good to see Kramnik doesn't seem to have any psychological problems throwing his pawns into action :)

I don't know chess, but I would have thought 16..c4, weakening White's light squares, is a quite thematic and maybe even obvious move rather than a specifically "Morozevich" style move?

Yes, computers start to lose confidence in the white position - even if -0.44 or, currently, -0.63 still is not decisive. As Mig said in the ICC live coverage: if engines sugggest moves as Kg1 (with the rook buried on h1), you are in trouble ... .

21..Qb3!! :-)

Poor Howell, going astray after a good defence.

Surely that's enough of a massacre for Kramnik to get the game of the day prize!?

As things are decided by voting over the Internet ... it depends
1) on the number of Carlsen fans
2) maybe on the number of (still existing) Kramnik-haters voting for the other guy

Lots of things can still happen in the remaining rounds, but maybe he has better chances for the overall beauty prize - as far as I know, that one is decided by experts rather than masses!?

I'd guess Carlsen's Nc5 yesterday might be hard to beat for the brilliancy prize - not so much for how devastating it was as there were other ways to win, but getting the knight from the rim to e6 via a seemingly impossible square was really nice.

You shouldn't have mentioned the e-mails, by the way, just think of all the dodgy e-mail addresses Danailov will be setting up now :)

I thought the beauty prize goes to the game of the tournament, not the move of the tournament? And even then, Kramnik's 10.-Bf2:+ might compete - if only because it came at such an early stage. It remains a matter of (expert) taste.

On the emails, well ...
1) if Danailov is so eager to rob Kramnik of 1000 Euros, he doesn't need my hint
2) maybe the organizers can check how many votes for Carlsen (thus against Kramnik) came from Bulgarian IP addresses?

But for similar reasons, the Corus organizers replaced the daily public prize (decided by the local audience, thus favoring the Dutch participants) with an expert prize. Also related: In a (non-representative!?) poll at Susan Polgar's site on who will win the World Cup, more than 40% picked Wesley So ... .

It's a "brilliancy" prize, and I thought that generally brilliancies are individual moves or combinations, though of course more often than not they win games.

On the game of the day, thing, they just say that it'll be voted on by the public, but it's not stated that they'll use the public vote to decide it, so I suppose they have a loophole if it came to that!

"WARNING: This post is about Chess and on-topic. Apologies in advance for that double whammy."

Agreed. Guys, get out of the hash bars and in the right topic. Gelfand has White today and I predict a win. He is the stronger player.

They drew after an inglorious 20 moves. Now can we get back to chess? :)

Carlsen's not sure about the difference between brilliancy and best game prize either:

Magnus Carlsen`s Blog

London Chess Classics 2009, Round 3 Dec.10th

My opponent today was David Howell, the 4th ranked British player. I played black and was well prepared in the variation he chose against the Sicilian Defence. Despite not calculating well today I got a promising position. Facing some difficult challenges he went astray in the first time trouble, and blundered an exchange (a rook for a knight). The rest of the game I would like to forget as soon as possible. Despite an extra pawn and the exchange, I struggled to make any progress due to his well coordinated pieces and good defence. I missed a fairly easy winning combination at move 52. In the end I gave up two pawns to try to activate my king but did not make progress. In the end a draw was agreed after 6,5 hours play. A disappointing result after the promising position I had around the first time control, but two wins and a draw still constitute an excellent start of the tournament when going into the free day. Today Kramnik won against McShane and got the brilliancy prize of round 3 which I received for round 1 and 2. Saturday I’m playing white against Nakamura, USA. Magnus Carlsen, London, December 10th 2009.

2009-12-11 01:24:16

Naka's in trouble in round 4. If any non Big 2 player gets motivated to score more than 10 points (THAT'S A BIG IF!) , I think it will be Nakamura though.

No interesting context ... I just wanted to point out the ridiculously poor quality of press coverage of chess in India, especially, the appalling coverage provided by DNA newspaper.

It's fair to say Carlsen's writing isn't as entertaining as Mig's.

And even more so, it highlights the shameless, indiscreet copy pasting by Polgar's site. They pick articles from all over, seemingly without permission and any checking. After such low class acts, they have the gall to gloat that they are more popular than Mig's site (whuch has original content) and that they don't advertise unlike Mig.


I visited the Polgar site cos you guys kept mentioning it. What's this "first woman to break the gender barrier" stuff? She is aware of other female players in chess history, I presume?

As far as international events are concerned, the Polgar site has almost nothing you cannot find elsewhere. Nothing original. But a lot of self-promotion. Of course she doesn't advertise anything else, she needs all that that space for advertising her own activities. LOL.

I am slightly surprised that no one here has commented on (non-)Game 2. But S. Polgar takes precedence, I suppose.

"they have the gall to gloat that they are more popular than Mig's site "

Where they said that?

On Gelfand's second game. Kevin Spraggett does a wealth of coments about it:

Personally I thought it was the usual risk-avoidance, and I don't understand why players prefer to battle it out in blitz, in general. I didn't really have much to say about it. But that didn't stop YOU making any comments you liked...

Current game looks about equal to me, Pono avoiding Slav main lines.
[White "Ponomariov, Ruslan"]
[Black "Gelfand, Boris"]
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Qc2 g6 5. Bf4 dxc4 6. Qxc4 Bg7 7. Nc3 Be6 8.
Qd3 Nd5 9. Bg3 Nxc3 10. bxc3 Qa5 11. e4 c5 12. Qb5+ Nc6 13. Qxa5 Nxa5 14. Bb5+
Bd7 15. Rb1 Rc8 *

Current game looks about equal to me, Pono avoiding Slav main lines.
[White "Ponomariov, Ruslan"]
[Black "Gelfand, Boris"]
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Qc2 g6 5. Bf4 dxc4 6. Qxc4 Bg7 7. Nc3 Be6 8.
Qd3 Nd5 9. Bg3 Nxc3 10. bxc3 Qa5 11. e4 c5 12. Qb5+ Nc6 13. Qxa5 Nxa5 14. Bb5+
Bd7 15. Rb1 Rc8 *

Not going to plaster site with Rybka analysis, but now machine indicates that Black has the advantage, Pono's Ke2 seems to be a mistake... (double posting was technical prob)

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.

British fan,

Posting the same comment on multiple threads is not the thing.

Another Pono - Gelfand draw...yawn!
Pono must be aiming for rapid play where history is on his side. It would be something special if he is to win again to add to his 2002 win...after some time in the doldrums.

Actually, Gelfad's match tactic is to force a win in the last round of classical games, i.e. tomorrow. So far, he drew all three games, his only White has ended in a peaceful 20-mover, to trick Pono's sense of danger. Tomorrow we will see a surprizing turn-around in his choice of the opening.

I agree with Alladin's comments, tomorrow Gelfand will go for the kill with white. Tough game for Pono.

The scoresheet has already been signed .5-.5 :-)
wake me up for the rapids/blitz.

You may have been partly right. The turnaround in the opening was Pono's choice (and an open rather than closed Catalan wasn't really a surprise). Then Gelfand DID (try to) go for the kill with white. But he lost confidence in his position/attacking chances and/or ran short of time on the clock ... and offered a draw.

Maybe the draw was justified by a wild Rybka line (on Chessok) in the final position:
35.-Rad8 36.Ng5 Nc2 37.Qb3 Rh4: 38.Rh4: Qg5+ 39.Kh3 Nd4: 40.Qe3 Qe5 41.Qh6+ Kf6 42.f4 Qe4: 43.Qg5+ Kg7 44.Qd8: Qf3+ etc. perpetual check.

Yes... but the Ponomariov-Gelfand match has some interesting moments. I was hoping for Karjakin-Ponomariov, but the tiebreaks here should be interesting. The Carlsen-Nakamura match lived up to its billing. It's interesting that Carlsen overlooked Re2 Ne3+! He suggested in the post-mortem that he should've played that move instead of Qe2. That would have been a shocker!

On Susan Polgar, there seems to be on-and-off criticism. I'm sure many of you have choices to visit a number of sites, as I do. There is no need to bash sites. Just find an alternative. Those of us running sites do so because of our common love of chess and there are enough choices out there. Many sites cover the same events, but each have value-added content in their own way. Some of us run niche sites.

About being able to find anything on her site elsewhere. That may be true, but the point is you can find it in one place. The copyright issue is definitely an issue that all webmasters and bloggers should take seriously. However, I find her blog indispensible in terms of learning of obscure events. Though I use pretty much the same data-gathering tools, I believe it's good that we have so many choices. That is something to champion because it means that chess is better for it.

Interesting moments are not enough to entertain me for a World Champion Candidate , lets the Rapid Games decide then ...

It's matches like Gelfand-Pono that give the general public the image of two old guys with cobwebs growing on them and the board. They need some caffeine!

About the Susan Polgar site, I completely agree with you, Daaim. I find her site very informative about a lot of things. Sure, there's a lot of lifting from other sites, but at least it's all there on one place. The more sites we have about chess, the better it is for chess. We need to foster interest in chess in any way we can. I also don't mind her self-proclamations and perhaps exaggerations. She is very proud of what she's been able to accomplish in chess, and rightly so.

Seems to me the Polgar site goes too far in cutting and pasting copyrighted material from original sources.

If other people write, and she gets the advertising traffic, that's not fair.

Gelfand just won a beautifully played endgame! When he's on song, he is just pure class. Lessons in endgame play..

How many ad's do you find on Susan Polgars Blog?

Yes, nice end game win by Gelfand. Now, Pono has to play sharp(er)!

BTW: Didn't Gelfand loose a drawish endgame against Ivanchuk recently?

I really like Pono´s position right now.Don´t have an engine but it looks great to play in rapid for white.

Pono looks to have a pawn advantage and stable position in this game.

Live transmission and R3 analyzes here:


Ah, well, Bobby, she is rather actively advertising herself. And Polgar Chess Shop and Polgar Chess University and Polgar DVDs, etc.

And drawing advertising traffic away from sites that write the stuff in order to attract customers.

So far, Gelfand won an (almost) even to drawish position [game 2], and held a worse or losing position [game 3]. Maybe Pono's last hope is that he will now lose from a winning position?

It's all rapid chess, it's all about nerves ... .

Update: not sure if Gelfand was really better at the early stage of game 4 - but then he may have played too cautiously and ended up losing ... .

"Advantage Pono" for the blitz games, or more surprises to follow?

That was a very cool game 4 from Pono & Gelfand.

(hey, SOMEbody's gotta say it:)

Congrats to Gelfand on winning the World Cup in a tough and gritty war w. Ponomariov. The "old" GM displayed lots of toughness and steadiness (although, admittedly, some of the games - especially the first 4 regular games - could've been more exciting for the fans; but some of that "credit" goes to Pono too) as well as creativity. Pono had to be wary of the least little misstep, after which the Gelf would leave him no chance. But the kid'll have more chances, I'm sure. In a way, his style almost resembles Gelfand's, just without as much experience.

Agreed! Congratulations to Gelfand!

It's really exciting that he is now among the candidates again. He definitely deserves it and who knows, he is certainly not without a chance at getting through to the match.

By the way, the list of candidates so far:

Loser of Anand/Topalov

Reads like the who is who in chess, no...?!

If you substitute Ivanchuk for Kamsky in the list, then you´ve got it right. Not the official one, but the who is who in chess.

Agreed that Kamsky doesn't "belong" in this list based on his current rating ... . However:
1) Congrats to Gelfand, yet Kamsky's World Cup victory in 2007 was (even) more convincing. Kamsky needed just one tiebreak (against Svidler), Gelfand needed four - two went on to blitz games.
2) Kamsky's first opponent in the candidates matches will be Topalov or Anand, is he completely without a chance? Topalov's match victory was less convincing (if one looks at the actual games) than the bare result suggests. Kamsky always was a difficult opponent for Anand, both before and after his break from chess ... .

What I think is that Kamsky won the World Cup in 2007, he entered the Candidates Cycle, he lost to Topalov and he hasn´t shown any particularly good results since, so he should be out. Other many players have shown much more interesting progress, like Gashimov for example. Kamsky already had his chance, now he must fight for another chance like the rest.

Yes, but there was this meeting behind closed doors in Dresden last year. Before this meeting Kamsky was talking about the failed bid in Lviv and Kirsan's personal guarantee, afterwards he was just smiling. Sometimes it pays to be a lawyer.

Meetings are usually behind close doors .

That's true.

I don´t think it takes a lawyer to do that. Other chess players (i.e. Ponomariov) are lawyers. Do you honestly think that Kamsky lost to Topalov because Kirsan didn´t keep a promise? Like that is new! Did Kirsan ever keep a promise? A good sportsman accepts defeat and keeps fighting, he doesn´t go whining about promises (supposing that your version is true, I´m not saying that Kamsky did that because I had no idea until you said so).

It was before the Topalov-Kamsky match, right after the Lviv bid failed through. Kamsky, Danailov, and FIDE officials were meeting during the Olympiad over the proposed Sofia match. I don't know what really happened, just guessing wildly. I've seen Kamsky saying afterwards that he is bound not to talk about the negotiations, and adding something like that he feels embarrassed about the deal.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on December 10, 2009 3:45 AM.

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