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World Cup 09 r4 Tiebreaks: Elo Rules Again

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The 2009 World Cup just took a turn for the strong, and by definition in a KO, the boring. Every match in this round finished in favor of the higher-rated player. (Jakovenko eliminated the identically-rated Grischuk in blitz.) KOs really can't win. If there aren't any upsets they are boring and if they are too many, they are criticized for randomness a lack of rigor and star power. It's a system designed for drama only. Much of the thrill left Khanty-Mansiysk today, packed into the bags of teenage upstarts Wesley So and Fabiano Caruana. Their higher-rated opponents, Malakhov and Gashimov, dispatched them mercilessly in the rapid tiebreaks. Sergey Karjakin, already through over Laznicka, is still a teen himself for a few more weeks but it's hard to count him as any sort of outsider or underdog when he's been around center stage for over six years.

Gelfand needed blitz to eliminate Vachier-Lagrave, and it easily could have gone the other way. The young Frenchman had the better of things in the first rapid and the Biel champion was a move away from an upset win in the first blitz game. 55.c6! and the c-pawn can't be stopped after 55..Bc7 Rb5 or 55..Rf6 Bd5. White delayed the push by a critical move and the black king got close enough to defend. That was the last gasp from Vachier-Lagrave and Gelfand finally got some traction with his English in the next blitz game and smashed through on the kingside to move into the quarters. Jakovenko went through at the same time, beating Grischuk in the first blitz with black and wrapping up smoothly with white. Grischuk doesn't often play the Catalan and for some reason, certainly not his results, he likes it against Jakovenko. Maybe he's just at a loss of what to play against his occasional training partner. Despite his sharp style Grischuk has a dramatically higher winning percentage with 1.d4, 71% compared to 59% and 57% for 1.Nf3 and 1.e4, which he plays not infrequently, if less combined than 1.d4. And so Jakovenko was the winning dancer at this cynic's ball, with two non-games before the tiebreaks leaving him well rested for his quarterfinal match against Gelfand. This is nice for locals, since Jakovenko is from Nizhnevartovsk in Siberia.

Ponomariov, a KO winner nearly a decade ago, saved his best for last and knocked out Bacrot in the first decisive game between them, the final rapid game. The previous three hadn't shown much of anything but Ponomariov never sleeps and never takes anything for granted. After impressive runs, especially So's, Caruana and So ran out of gas at the same time. Malakhov won all three rapid games against So. Caruana lost the first two to Gashimov and failed again to refute Petroff in the third. His first effort to do so resulted in the backfire of a wild rook sacrifice and the loss of the first tiebreak game with white. So was being squeezed by Malakhov but went about giving up the exchange in the wrong way and the steady Russian doesn't miss at that range.

Now there are just eight contenders for the Cup and the spot in the candidates tournament/matches/whatever-Ilyumzhinov-can-dig-up-money-for. All of them were born in the Soviet Union, if Karjakin by only a year. They represent just four countries. Tomorrow's matchups: Gelfand-Jakovenko, Ponomariov-Gashimov, Svidler-Malakhov, Karjakin-Mamedyarov. Malakhov is the only player seeded below 13 at 22, having had his path conveniently cleared of super-GMs by So. Now he gets Svidler, the first time the Russians have met over the board in many years. Mamedyarov-Karjakin is the most exciting pairing on paper, I'd say. For some recent flavor, Karjakin just beat Shak twice at the World Blitz. Jakovenko did the same to Gelfand. Pono and Gashimov drew both their games.

The official site continues to put out nice interview clips. In his, the ever-sardonic Grischuk teases Bacrot and Ponomariov for the atrocious knight endgame in which Ponomariov missed win after win until eventually it ended drawn.


Nice roundup. Interesting angle on the "Soviet superfinal".

Amazing how many Russians in the final 8.

"Nice roundup. Interesting angle on the "Soviet superfinal"."

Agreed. The "All Soviet" is why we all should all root for "Mr Nice Guy" Peter Svidler. ;)

> Amazing how many Russians in the final 8.

Not really. Have you looked at the world ranking list recently? Or any world ranking list, any time, for that matter? It's just their fair share.

1 Israeli, 2 Ukrainians, 2 Azeris, 3 Russians - that's exactly according to the nationalities of the 8 highest-ranked participants.

Add to this that "the best of the rest" doesn't even participate. The top 25 has 8 non-ex-Soviet players:
absent - Topalov, Carlsen, Anand, Leko, Nakamura
playing - Wang Yue, Dominguez, Vachier-Lagrave
From the 17 "Soviet" players, only Kramnik doesn't play the World Cup.

mig please define'wrapping up smoothly with white'in the last blitz game jakovenko-grischuk.i dare to say that you didn't follow that game.grischuk nicely outplayed dima in a must winn with black game and in a dificult to winn endgame-one pawn up for gris- he was able to make progress,and he was totally winning,but he missed twice the same winning on the spot move,56..kf2,58..kf2,rybka-+5,75 or so,probably down to the 3 seconds,then he played some nonsense and dima got him in checkmate net.when you said wrapp up smoothly someone would understand that dima outplayed alex and this was not the case in that game.

Wang Yue is #8 in the live ratings so it's not 100% reflective of the ratings. You may not be quite the chess expert you feel you are. Yesterday at Chess Vibes you posted

"@Nakamura fan: Anand and Aronian – among the strongest players of the decade, no doubt about it. Not that sure already about Kamsky (he was #11 seed in the last World Cup …)"

I replied "@Thomas - Kamsky just lost to Topalov last year for the right to play Anand for the World Championship. He went further than Carlsen or Aronian. Until someone else makes to the semi-finals (I added in the next post "The finals would have been more accurate.") of the next World Championship cycle, he is #3 in the world in terms of world championship cycles. If we go back more than a decade,

“Kamsky reached the finals of the 1994-1995 PCA World Championship Candidates’ matches, eliminating Vladimir Kramnik and Nigel Short before losing to Viswanathan Anand. In the simultaneous FIDE Candidates he met with even greater success, defeating Paul Van der Sterren, Anand and Valery Salov and qualifying for a match with Anatoli Karpov.”

He’s obviously one of the top players of the last 15 years."

You also wrote "anything can happen" at the World Cup. The final 8 are all rated 2700+. It's not exactly upset city.

I don't understand why Karjakin offered the pawn on g4 and why Mame refused it. Anybody following that game?

Gosh, I take it back, its very obvious..

Mame found a much better line.

Pono-Gashi is extremely complex, and I don't have a clue what's going on. Wasn't 29... Rd5 possible?

Great underpromotion by Malakhov! Very nice victory! Svidler was outplayed in the complications.

It almost looked as if Svidler was ceding his quarterfinal spot to Shirov after all?! There are certain similarities between Shirov-Svidler 0-1 and Svidler-Malakhov 0-1 ... .

Thomas, its called karma :)
Sweet trap by Karjakin to net Mamed.

Malakhov is a hero.

Bulldozing over Svidler with black like that.

First Mamedyarov's loss


[Event "World Cup 2009"]
[Site "0:17.35-0:14.13"]
[Date "2009.12.03"]
[Round "51"]
[White "Karjakin, Sergey"]
[Black "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2723"]
[WhiteCountry "UKR"]
[BlackElo "2719"]
[BlackCountry "AZE"]
[Remark "WCC 2009 Match 004"]
[PresId "1000510004"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Nxe4 6. d4 b5 7. Bb3
d5 8. dxe5 Be6 9. Nbd2 Nc5 10. c3 Be7 11. Bc2 d4 12. Nb3 d3 13. Bb1
Nxb3 14. axb3 Bf5 15. b4 O-O 16. Re1 Qd5 17. h3 Rfd8 18. g4 Be6 19.
Re3 h5 20. Qxd3 Qxd3 21. Bxd3 hxg4 22. hxg4 Bd5 23. Bc2 Bxf3 24. Rxf3
Nxe5 25. Rh3 g6 26. g5 Re8 27. Bf4 Bf8 28. Re3 Bd6 29. Bb3 Nc4 30.
Bxc4 Bxf4 31. Rf3 Bh2+ 32. Kxh2 bxc4 33. Rf4 Re5 34. Rxc4 Rxg5 35. Ra5
Rxa5 36. bxa5 Ra7 37. Kg3 Kf8 38. Kf4 Ke7 39. b4 Kd7 40. Ke5 Rb7 41.
Rd4+ Kc8 42. Kf6 Rb5 43. Rf4 Rd5 44. Kxf7 g5 45. Rf6 Rd3 46. c4 Rd4
47. c5 Rxb4 48. c6 Kd8 49. Rf5 Rb2 50. f4 Rf2 51. Rd5+ Kc8 52. Ke7 1-0

In the whole WCUP, I mean

Shak got into a worse endgame right out of the opening. He held things together for some time but that rook endgame was very hard to hold I presume. Karjakin again showed very good technique, not typical for his age. Karjakin has Fischer's style IMHO, very balanced, active, keen on tactics and with very good technique.

Nicely finished, but I think the single rook endgame was always winning for him. I like 30. Ra5 and in fact all of the moves leading up to that exchange after Mamed gave up a pawn with the B exchange. Surely it was drawn before that??

"anything can happen..."

Yes, Mig said the same thing essentially by wisely refusing to make predictions. In the sweet 16 there were a lot of upsets. This is not a valid criticism of Thomas's chess acumen.

That is "by the sweet 16 there had been a lot of upsets"

I'm afraid with Kamsky it's a matter of "What have you done for us lately." He's had a bad run since his loss to Topalov.

Yes Kamsky has gone down drain and unhappy after missing many good moves agant Topalov to bad. Next for him should be give lessons maybe write book. Every thing else all over.

Kamsky's already in the candidates tournament, so he's got every incentive to work on his chess. Here's his take on it, by the way: http://www.ugra-chess.ru/eng/interv_16.htm

"- After your victory at the World Cup 2007 your career has been on a climb…

- And now I am experiencing a descent… Like Kramnik says, it is high time to draw a conclusion. There is only one difference: Kramnik has drawn them, I have not yet…"

sorry but you're wrong it is 4 russians 1 ukranian (Pono). And yes 50% of the remaining 8 is alot no matter what way you slice it.

My "anything can happen" actually referred to "from now on", i.e. (with)in the sweet 16. Malakhov and Svidler already confirmed it by their result - the only game with a relatively clear ELO favorite (the other ones are too close to call) had the "wrong" result ... .

Of course there is a limit to "anything can happen": it would have been a major upset if, for example, one of the Egyptians was still in competition (but, predictably, all were eliminated in round 1).

About Wang Yue: he gained 12 ELO points beating Kabanov (2501) and Savchenko (2644) 2-0 in the first two rounds - not that meaningful regarding where exactly he stands within the top10 ... .

Kamsky: He was a world-top player before he took a break from chess (which might say something about his ongoing potential). After his comeback, his major (but only!?) success was winning the World Cup in 2007 - to qualify for a match against Kamsky and for the next candidates tournament. Other results were less impressive, currently he isn't even a member of the 2700+ club (though close). So where exactly does he stand now?

He stand down the drain no good any more. Oh well some one else.

That is rich coming from you...I wonder what you have done lately chess-wise. Kamsky still has a lot going for him.

The question is does Kamsky really belong in the Candidates? Or is he just cannon feed? Also, I must say that Makalov's win was rather impressive, still hoping Karjakin can win this whole thing.

"sorry but you're wrong it is 4 russians 1 ukranian (Pono). And yes 50% of the remaining 8 is alot no matter what way you slice it."

Even technically for chess purposes Karyakin isn't yet considered Russian.

There's a report on today's press conference with him on an Azerbaijan site (in Russian): http://extratime.az/article.php?aid=9849
As well as pointing out the formalities of his representing Russia haven't been sorted out, he says:

- he caught Mamedyarov out in the opening, but then didn't play ideally and it was close to a draw. ...Rb2 was the decisive mistake.

- he responds to his team of Motylev and Dohoyan having previously criticised his technique in exploiting advantages [I didn't see that anywhere] by saying there's no problem with team spirit.

- he'll play the position and not for a draw tomorrow.

- he says he likes Mamedyarov's style but thought that his opponents earlier in the tournament suited that style. He thinks he's a much less convenient opponent for Mamedyarov.

- he says that if he'd had to play a tie-break yesterday he wouldn't have been able to win today as it would have been his 10th playing day in a row. He said that if you're going to have such tie-breaks there should be rest days as well.

- the person leading the press conference pointed out that while Kasparov is training Carlsen, Karyakin's being trained by Kasparov's old trainer, Yuri Dohoyan, so we might see a contest between the two trainers. Karyakin comments:

"I hope so. In principle it's an overstatement to say that Kasparov's working with Carlsen, seeing as he's not travelling to tournaments. As I understand it he periodically holds sessions. I'm working with Dohoyan on a continuous basis. I hope that will bear more fruit".

The same site seems to have lots of other interesting reports. I'm about to read, "Ruslan Ponomariov's secret for being in good sporting form: 'Not to drink a lot of vodka'!"

I am not rich only have some little money. It is fine that you suport Kamsky but I think he has gone way down the drain. Sorry but I think is true.

Some more titbits from that site:


Elyanov - "The majority of strong Ukrainian chess players want to change federation" (as there's no money or support - perhaps not even enough to send teams to international competitions)

"I think there should be one normal person in a marriage" (on persuading his wife to give up professional chess).

"It's hard to say. Perhaps Shirov [will win the tournament], he's in a very serious mood. He arrived with a second, a girl. Clearly he prepared vigorously"!


"Gashimov also expressed his opinion on the chess demonstrated by the Chinese players. 'To me it seems as though the majority of Chinese chess players have basically derived their chess understanding from computer programs, and they play incorrect chess. Perhaps Wang Yue stands out among the other representatives of the Kingdom under Heaven, and therefore he has a higher rating. I think you can detect the absence of a school in Chinese chess'."

Laznicka in his press conference after the second game with Mamedyarov simply said that if a player as strong as Mamdeyarov wants to draw with white he will - but it seems as though no-one challenged him about agreeing to a draw so soon.

Kamsky said he'll keep playing chess until he's 40 (he's 35 now). He also mentioned he still had the same off-the-board distractions as during the Topalov match, though he didn't specify what they were. He's not especially happy with the US chess federation, but won't switch.

Mishanp :

Thank you for the info and the translation work !
Can you tell us a little bit more what Ponomariov had to say ?
It's a player who is rarely interviewed and i'm curious what he has to say.
Re. Karjakin : what formalities have not been sorted out in order to represent Russia.
Is it a problem with FIDE ?
Thank you

Karjakin didn't specify the formalities, but he said he's hoping to play for Russia in the World Team Championship in January.

The Ponamariov article's from the press conference after today's game with Gashimov. It possibly suggests why he isn't quoted more often!

"In turn Ruslan Ponomariov commenting on the game wasn't exactly long-winded. 'It was an interesting game which needs to be analysed well at home. They say that I was winning at some point, I don't know', said the Ukrainian chess player. 'In general I was playing white, trying to apply pressure, I sacrificed a pawn for activity and felt that something interesting might happen'."

He says playing in the Tal Memorial was good preparation - pointing out that last year's finalists both played there and Svidler was still around this year. He makes a joke [?], "or you could prepare by playing a match with Anand".

About keeping in form he says, "I try to follow a sporting regime. Not to drink a lot of vodka".

Of his opponent: "I'd played one game with Gashimov before, so this is our second game. It's always interesting to play with an interesting opponent".

About the opening: Ponomariov approved of his opponent's choice of opening (the Modern Benoni). 'When everyone plays the Russian defence it gets boring. And when they choose such an opening then it's much more interesting. I really like the "impossible opening" [1. d4 e6 2. c4 b6!?, I think], which I've used successfully. I outplayed Karpov, was close to beating Kramnik and beat Elianov'.


Off topic, but Humpy seems to be stealing Elo points from the (now) over-rated veterans like coins from a blind beggar..she's now 5/6 with 3/3 in the last 3 rounds against Korchnoi, Timman & Hort.

5/6 against these guys is 15 Elo points..

So I take it all the chinese blah-blah is finished along with their players. Russia is a long ways from being replaced , I dont care how many auomotons the chinese can manufacture in a year. Yes I must agree with the Kamsky questioneers, his best chess might be behind him. Those lost years cannot be made-up and he seems to have hit his wall. Agreed he was one the the best during the last 15 years, probably 3rd or fourth for a couple of years. But I would guss him and Leko and Ivanchuk are done going for the crown now.

Yeah, and Leko's is perhaps the saddest though. He was just one draw away from becoming world champion.

typo, I meant 16*

“Kamsky reached the finals of the 1994-1995 PCA World Championship Candidates’ matches, eliminating Vladimir Kramnik and Nigel Short before losing to Viswanathan Anand. In the simultaneous FIDE Candidates he met with even greater success, defeating Paul Van der Sterren, Anand and Valery Salov and qualifying for a match with Anatoli Karpov.”

He’s obviously one of the top players of the last 15 years."

Hmm...that's like saying the same thing about Bogolyubow in 1940 because he played two matches with Alekhine in 1929 and 1934.

I like Bogolyubow. But because he "advanced" (aka found a way to get there) to the finals while players like Capablanca sat...doesn't mean others were not better during the period.

Kamsky's wins...much like Short's wins in the candidates before he was forfeited of his challenger status)...were dark horse victories.

Yeah, and Leko's is perhaps the saddest though. He was just one draw away from becoming world champion.

To be champion, you have to play in a world championship match -- not an exhibition match.

He never qualified for a FIDE final. Kramnik only became champion via the unification match with Topalov, thus he only held it for a year.

Hey, great idea, let's discuss the legitimacy of various WCs, and matches which did or didn't take place! Anyone got any strong opinions?

Relevant to the World Cup, as Ponomariov is still in: After he became (FIDE KO) world champion in 2002, there was some talk concerning a match between him and Kasparov. Why didn't this happen? Who was Pono's manager at the time?

I guess Danailov will find a way to blame Kramnik. Who was Pono's manager at the time?

"1 Israeli, 2 Ukrainians, 2 Azeris, 3 Russians - that's exactly according to the nationalities of the 8 highest-ranked participants."

Hmmmm.... Let's look at the facts:

1) 1 "Israeli" - Boris Gelfand, born/raised in Soviet Union

2) 2 "Ukranians" -Ivanchuk, Karjakin - Born in Soviet Union (Ivanchuk raised, Karjakin born right before Soviet Union fell)

3) 2 "Azeris" - Mamedyarov, Gashimov, born/raised Soviet Union (albeit not entire youth)

4) 3 "Russians", Svidler, Grischuk, Morozevich, all born/raised, you guessed it, Soviet Union

So, 7 Soviets and a Soviet "Baby" in the Finals. Seems pretty Soviet to me...

noyb unable to read what Mr. Bartleby wrote who did not say soviet only say russian yet noyb act like Mr. Bart say soviet. Who can say why. For some reason nto understand many people not just noyb can not read or pretand what they say other person say and of corse is not rue. Who can say why. Very poor and bad.

What's the point in either wondering or complaining about the fact that there are only "ex-Soviet" players left? It reflects the situation on the extended world top, AND the fact that the strongest non-Soviet players didn't even participate. The "best of the rest" at this tournament was good enough to reach round 4 and, in some cases (especially Vachier-Lagrave and Bacrot), to put up a good fight in the tiebreaks.

BTW, IM Stefan Loeffler on his German blog had a nice piece of irony (not sure if done on purpose): first complaining that the tournament "loses color" because only Russian-speaking players are left, then complaining that the last German was eliminated having a bit of bad luck. The last German was "Soviet baby" Naiditsch. The last American was Soviet guy Kamsky, the last (indeed the only) Spaniard was Shirov, ...... .

@noyb: I don't understand why you put 'Azeri' etc. in quotation marks. Even if the Soviet Union still existed, players could by referred to by region of origin or ethnicity? (not straightforward in some cases, e.g. Kasparov ...). Would you also write about "Texans" and "Californians"?

There's a fun interview with Bareev here:

There's a lot about the new generation of chess players. Bareev spent a month and a half in Vietnam working with the "Vietnamese Carlsen" Le Quang Liem. And then there's Jan Nepomniachtchi... who trained at the Bareev chess school but was expelled for his behaviour and especially for throwing a shoe at a trainer (though Jan defends himself by saying it's not much of a school - just daily studies you could get from a book - and that there was a more than respectful distance between the trainer and the trajectory of the shoe!). As a result the school decided only to teach younger children.

Bareev says that in the Russian Cup Nepomniachtchi demanded that the chief arbiter gave him the point when Bareev went to the toilet between their two blitz games. He says that Jan could could be accepted into the Danailov team - "he's passed the toilet test".

He also comments on Carlsen trying to take moves back (the interview was after the second day of the Tal blitz - Carlsen stopped doing it), and explains it by the fact that Carlsen's now working with Kasparov and thinks he can conduct himself "as a champion" (he says that Kasparov once said that if you only just let go of a piece then it doesn't count - or at least not for him).

On prospects for becoming world champion - he can see Karyakin in the top 10 but as long as Carlsen's healthy doesn't rate his chances (and the taking moves back proves how strong Carlsen's motivation is). Of those born in Russia there's Sjugirov and "the shoe-thrower".

There's also lots on the trials and tribulations of a middle-aged no-longer-quite chess professional.

Just one thing on So. He wasn't all on his own at the tournament as he implied in his press conference. He had a GM second, also from the Philippines - Rogelio Antonio.

Actually, scratch that. He did stick around & presumably helped, but Antonio was in the Cup himself rather than as a second - he lost to Kamsky in Round 1.

I guess, even after living in the States for 20 years and representing the US individually and as part of the team on many occasions, still makes me Soviet. Something that doesn't even exist anymore. With regards to my results, gotta admit the criticism. The match vs. Topalov was very demoralising, especially all the circumstances around the match and my personal life during that time period, but I dont want to sound as a sore loser, so yeah, I lost the match. Relax :) Now, I'm trying to recover and it takes me longer than some 20 year olds who have no obligations other than chess. It doesn't mean however, that I will start giving out free points to everyone :) :) So, just keep some beers in case your NY old timer just wins something :) :)
Cheers and peace.

Gata Kamsky

The organizer of the World Cup had the right to invite a few players for their tournament and, which is beyond comprehension for me,
they invited a few completely unknown players with no chances whatsoever instead of inviting the "shoe-thrower" who has a lot of talent and is - I think- underrated.
especially in this tournament where rapid and blitz is very important he could have been one of the sensations.

Cool. I'm sure you will make it, Gata. There's nothing better than a good comeback story, good luck!!

And outpreparing Topalov, perhaps playing the better chess and losing because of poor time management is nothing to be too ashamed of!

Was just about to post "time to see if Karjakin meant what he said about playing the position and not for a draw - by playing 27...Nxh3, but he quickly played 27...Bh6 instead. Still a good position - but he probably needs to sacrifice the knight somewhere soon!


Let me ask you, just out of curiosity: What are you doing, besides playing chess? I think I read somewhere that in the past you studied in the US to become a lawyer. Are you running your chess carrier in parallel with another job in NY?

All the best!

Svidler out. Trying to win with black against a 2700 player who wants a draw seems nigh impossible these days...I wonder does anyone have any stats on how often it happens compared to decades ago??

But no... Karjakin retreats the knight and gives up his advantage - however much you claim not to be thinking of the draw the psychological urge to "play safe" must be overwhelming.

Seems like Mame will win a pawn. Although he needs more than that to win the game.

It's a pity that a player of Gata's calibre even has to defend himself from all these cretins. And Gata, even though I'm an Anand fan I'm still amazed by your score against him post-comeback!

"It's a pity that a player of Gata's calibre even has to defend himself from all these cretins."

True. Although I think he's able to relate to the sometimes shallow chat you find on blogs like this.

Yeah, coming here every now and then can teach you a thing or two about the internets and the hordes of morons roaming free.

But of course every now and then something cool happends, like Gata dropping by...

Jackson: Take it easy!

I don't have the stats, but I would expect that it has never been easy to win a 2700 player with black.

Actually, I would think it has lately become harder to win with WHITE in a must-win situation.

That was intended as reply to chesshire cat. And I don't mean it is harder to win with white than black, but that it is harder to win than decades ago.

Regarding part I: I guess what makes and keeps you "Soviet" for the rest of your life, and what you share with many others (Gelfand, Shirov, Naiditsch, Tiviakov, to name just a few) is having enjoyed a Soviet chess education in your younger years. Nothing you can "erase", and nothing to be ashamed of. Indeed for example Caruana tries to catch up on this, working with Russian coaches. At least that's my view: focus on chess, leaving politics aside.

Regarding part II: Others had ups and downs in their careers, and no need to be ashamed of losing against Topalov (particularly given the circumstances, and taking into account what mishanp wrote). You are, to my knowledge, unique with a long "mid-career break" - even if those years were "lost" regarding chess, they would be worthwhile for "life after (professional)chess" ... .

Yes of course, never easy to beat a top player with black when the latter wants a draw, but with opening theory as advanced as it is today it seems practically impossible. I suspect it might have been easier some years ago, just a gut feeling. Gurevich-Short (Exchange French) is a classic example, and how about Leko-Kramnik (Benoni); what's the most recent example, anyone?

Mamedyarov had his first press conference after the game (he asked not to give them previously as they'd take time away from relaxing/preparing) - http://extratime.az/article.php?aid=9873

On not playing 30 Nxd5! he has some odd comments:

"I played a good game and I think that I had an advantage. I didn't play [sic. but maybe this should be "I saw"] Nd5 which would win instantly. But when he played Re6 for some reason I played Re2. I knew that Nd5 would win the game and when I didn't play it, I was very upset. Nevertheless I still had an advantage, but when a won position changes to only a better position you don't feel so good. I don't know why I didn't play that move which would have led to my victory".

Obviously he was disappointed to go out, especially as he'd hadn't played any tie breaks and said the only bad position he got was against Karjakin yesterday. He agreed with the interviewer's theory that perhaps it was difficult to play a bad position after only having good positions... and also suggested that the quick draw with white against Laznicka might have been his mistake, as it spoilt his attacking mood!

Well, Kramnik didn't win..although he did get a winning position. Also not a completely analogous example anyway since it wasn't a _must_ win.

Topalov beat Lékó with Black on demand in the final match of the Dortmund Candidates though, reducing the score to 1-2. But he couldn't win the 4th and last game with White.

Timman beat Karpov in a must-win game with Black in the 1993 FIDE World Championship match. Only problem was he then still had to win four more.

maybe his real mistake was declaring a fellow GM a cheater?

All I have to say is goodbye to bad garbage (mamedyarov)

Íf rapid games also count: In round 3 Svidler won the 4th game on demand against Naiditsch (with a Pirc). If the win was convincing is another story, and Naiditsch currently has "only" 2689.

I M Stoopid - You leave a post written that poorly criticizing me? Endlessly hilarious, thanks for the laughs!

Anyway, who really cares if they are Soviet or Russian or whatever? Has no real bearing, I was just observing that seven of the eight players left were "Soviet", i.e., to my thinking products of the "Soviet School of Chess". Big deal, so what?

Take a 'lude dude!

If you consider your postings of no importance ("whatever", "Big deal, so what?") - an opinion I am inclined to share - I wonder why you inflict them upon us?

Many thanks for mishanp for translating the interesting stuff.

Some major GMs had mid-career breaks of several years length during both world war eras. Elo examined several cases in his book, The Rating of Chess Players. Here are a few quotes of interest (Elo's spellings, my ellipses shows where I omitted a few lines):

"The long chess career of Ewfin Bogolyubov, spanning two world wars, provides a fine study of the effect of individual circumstances. His lifetime rating curve appears below... Note in particular the retardation in development as a result of his internment during World War I, although even then he engaged in competition, in the Triberg tournaments."

"Peculiar individual circumstances are manifest in the curve of Geza Maroczy, who reached his peak rating just after the turn of the century only to retire from competition from 1907 to 1911. Then WW1 further interrupted his chess activity... With the interruptions after 1907, he did not sustain the high plateau of performance characteristic of long-lived individuals."

"The curves for the entire generation including Alekhine, Bogolyubov, and Nimzovitch, whose formative peaks would have coincided with World War 1 have in common a slower rise to peak than would be expected from the [composite] age factor curve. Similar curves are obtained for Central European players whose careers were interrupted during their formative period by World War 2, such as Szabo and Trifunovic."

It's a great book.

I believe people wrongly assume that every player from the former Soviet Republics went through systemized training from the "Soviet School". Who even knows what that means? Are we talking about specific methods passed down from Botvinnik?

Here we have Gashimov saying that Chinese play "incorrectly" and regurgitate lines from computers. Interesting. What is correct chess? Did Fischer play correct chess? Does Anand? Topalov? Carlsen? None from the "Soviet School". For that matter, does Radjabov play correctly? Ivanchuk? Both are incredibly strong, but do not fit the mode of the Sphinx-like automatons.

Gashimov's assertions appear a bit presumptuous. Certainly he is a strong player, but he will begin to find that people not coming from those traditions may have different methods of achieving high levels of play... including the Chinese. Maybe he likes Wang Yue because he plays more in that Soviet, Petrosian style... incredibly solid, tough to beat, but relentless fighter.

I believe more dynamic methods are being created and we have not yet seen the type of software that will be able to map positions and synthesize patterns. Software today is basically used to crunch variations.

Dear GM Kamsky, i consider myself a deep study on inner work ...

(lived in a Zen Temple in Korea, was a practicing and published architect in NY, then was a Senior Broker at Morgan Stanley, then unloaded tracker trailer trucks and was a fork lift trainer, a times cashier, at Lowes AFTER managing millions-- true story!)

... as far as breadth goes, and i am awe of what you wrote.
you are a good man, you have faced much, are tough as nails, but best of all, you show that you have much real heart.
i wish you, your wife, family results blessings, peace, and safety,
david korn seattle

> through systemized training from the "Soviet
> School". Who even knows what that means?

The difference is so blatant that it's probably easy to define. How about

It means having been trained during their formative years by trainers who were themselves trained to be trainers.

Gelfand was asked about the Soviet thing (on the official website): http://www.ugra-chess.ru/eng/interv_30.htm

• The chess players from post Soviet generation qualified to the quarter finals of the Cup. Do you see any appropriateness in it?

• Of course. Have a look at the FIDE Rating list: the top hundred consists of almost 80% of Russian speaking chess players. The teams whose members speak Russian dominate in the Olympiads. It is an objective fact. We have a good tradition, a good school. In addition, we have a high class coaches. I think that the non-Russian speaking players, like Caruana, achieve some results thanks to the work of the coaches, who were brought up in the Soviet chess schools.

Thanks tjallen, interesting read! However, in my post I meant to add "in my lifetime" but somehow forgot.
There are important differences: World Wars I and II affected many players, as well as the entire chess scene.
Recently, Kamsky was the only top player taking a long break from chess: his competitors continued to play and improve (or at least gain experience), and new names appeared in the world top. Add to this that the chess world is moving faster nowadays: opening theory, computer preparation, ... and Kamsky's case seems rather unprecedented. It would be similar if Jeroen Piket (who quit professional chess in 2001) returned tomorrow, or maybe if Kasparov "quit quitting" - though he was never completely out of touch with chess.

Who is the 6th best player in the world? I'm not asking the 6th highest rated. Is it Vassily Ivanchuk? Is the kid Sergei Karjakin starting to make a case for himself? What do you guys think?

Ivanchuck is in the top 5, possibly top 3:
Kramnik, Anand, and Ivanchuk are in the top three. Then Carlsen and Topalov.

Aronian might disagree with you.

I presume that Gashimov's assertions, as a 2758 GM, reflect deeper insight than Daaim Shabazz's assertions.

"Gashimov's assertions appear a bit presumptuous. Certainly he is a strong player"

"Maybe he likes Wang Yue because he plays more in that Soviet, Petrosian style"

Let him.

Rating has nothing to do with this assessment. We are not talking about opening theory here. There is a Chinese school and it has created a chess powerhouse in less than 30 years. Liu Wenzhe wrote a book about a school of Chinese chess training some time ago. It's an interesting read. If a nation can produce 2700-rated players with their own methods, how can one say their methods are incorrect or that they play incorrectly? That's a bit presumptuous and even arrogant.

What Gelfand said stated about tradition and influence is true, but for Gashimov to say the majority of Chinese top players play incorrectly is a bit of a reach. China has been as high is #3 in the world rating-wise (top 10 players). Currently they are one ELO point behind Gashimov's Azerbaijan at #5 (2640 vs. 2639). India is #6 (2637). Are a few ELO points enough to warrant such a statement?

"that Soviet, Petrosian style"

What does this even mean? Since when was Petrosian's style typical of Soviet players?

I think Daaim wrote it rather clearly, acirce:

"that Soviet, Petrosian style... incredibly solid, tough to beat, but relentless fighter."

Which is one of the many ways one can describe Soviet chess. Of course one can dare to describe something in a way, no penalty incurred(!) if you think the opposite.

Rating has nothing to do with this assessment. We are not talking about opening theory here. There is a Chinese school and it has created a chess powerhouse in less than 30 years. Liu Wenzhe wrote a book about a school of Chinese chess training some time ago. It's an interesting read. If a nation can produce 2700-rated players with their own methods, how can one say their methods are incorrect or that they play incorrectly? That's a bit presumptuous and even arrogant.

What Gelfand said stated about tradition and influence is true, but for Gashimov to say the majority of Chinese top players play incorrectly is a bit of a reach. China has been as high is #3 in the world rating-wise (top 10 players). Currently they are one ELO point behind Gashimov's Azerbaijan at #5 (2640 vs. 2639). India is #6 (2637). Are a few ELO points enough to warrant such a statement?

Playing incorrectly could be interpreted as playing ugly games or playing uninteresting games or simply games with no themes.

This could be true...or it could just be a preference.

A classical player in the '20s might have said the same thing about Richard Reti playing "ugly games" -- classical chess and hypermodern chess are both OK, so it also OK to have a preference.

And what exactly is wrong with arrogance with regard to preferences in chess...or art...or sport? Or culture, for that matter?

You can build a 2700 if you want -- just create tournaments where someone needs to win through a series of qualification stages. Closed pools can build high ratings. You can create artificially high performance ratings for *some player* that way.

The key question is how they defend ratings once they mix in traditional events -- though the mere presence of 2700+ as your rating will generate plenty of courtesy points from opponents.

Previous posters indicated that while these Chinese players are plenty strong...they are not in the elite, either.

"Rating has nothing to do with this assessment. We are not talking about opening theory here. There is a Chinese school and it has created a chess powerhouse in less than 30 years. Liu Wenzhe wrote a book about a school of Chinese chess training some time ago."

There's no original Chinese school. It's just a copy of the Russian school that produced Karpov, Kasparov, and Kramnik with Chinese state support. Why do you think Russia produces so many great players? Yes, it's partly cultural and chess is very popular there. It's also very popular in other countries. Why doesn't any other country have 5 players in the top 15? Is it because everyone in Russia is smarter than everyone in the rest of the world? No, it is because Russia has the best school which the Chinese government very intelligently copied and supported.

I like your blog. I see you have a USCF rating of 2045 and 1940 Quick. Not bad. I'd like to see you play black against Michael Greengard 1824. ;)

Daaim, there are multiple meanings of "incorrect". You can't filter everything directly through the English language.


"Currently they are one ELO point behind Gashimov's Azerbaijan at #5 (2640 vs. 2639)."

The population of Azerbaijan is 9 million.

if 'incorrect' means: 'if they had russian trainers they would play even better'

thus, chinese players have much more potential than their ratings actually show

I will try to answer your question, even though - IMO - "Who is THE #6?" is the wrong question. I start with the current live rating list and some bare facts:

There is a 24.4 points "gradient" between #1 and #5
There is a 22.5 points gap between #5 and #6
There is a 29.6 points "continuum" between #6 and #20

I will now list all "candidates" for the #6 spot, but go all the way to #25 to include Shirov (#21) who belongs on my list (he was #5 only half a year ago!) and Nakamura (#25) who might be on your list. Here we go: Gashimov, Gelfand, Wang Yue, Ivanchuk, Mamedyarov, Svidler, Leko, Ponomariov, Grischuk, Eljanov, Radjabov, Morozevich, Vachier-Lagrave, Jakovenko, Karjakin, Shirov, Bacrot, Navara, Malakhov, Nakamura.

One can categorize some of these players:
- rising stars (those who might become _undisputed_ "best of the rest" or even join the top5): Gashimov, Vachier-Lagrave, Karjakin, Nakamura. While Karjakin was sort of stagnating for a while, he might soon (or already!?) benefit from working with Dokhoian to make the next step - that's why he is on my sublist.
- shaky players (far above their "average" strength in one game or tournament, far below in the next one): Ivanchuk, Morozevich, Shirov
- established and solid subtop: Gelfand, Svidler, Leko, Radjabov, (Ponomariov? Grischuk?).

Now if I HAVE to pick the "best of the rest", my choice would be Gelfand because I consider him the most "complete" player: equally strong in opening, middlegame and endgame, equally strong in strategic/positional and tactical battles. But I gave the complete list so anyone can disagree with me and make his own motivated choice ,:) .

"Who is THE #6?" is the wrong question.

I agree! Much better would be "Who is THE #7," to which I could answer... Nigel Short :) at least on the Top 30 GrandMasters Today list here: http://chesspro.ru/guestnew/looknullmessage/?themeid=110&id=1&page=18

On that list Karjakin's #6, which seems reasonable.

You seem to refer to post 546 by Jeweller: Interesting, do you know more about the algorithm used, and can you explain? Which games are included? If players are ranked by number of games played, #1 is - not surprisingly - Ivanchuk.

Some other surprises in the list: #1 is Kramnik (2837) ahead of Carlsen (2827) - does Tal Memorial count more than Nanjing? Which would actually make sense to me ... . #10 is Tomashevsky, #17 is Khismatullin ahead of Ivanchuk, Nakamura, Morozevich and Wang Yue.

#6 sounds high for Karjakin, in the Grand Prix tournaments he hasn't scored any top results, in four events he was 5-7th as best. He did win Corus in January but that is just one event and nothing he has been close to repeat before or after, so he isn't top ten on my ranking (yet).

I wouldn't call players like Navara, Eljanov and Malakhov candidates for the #6 spot at the moment either (or for example Nakamura and Vachier-Lagrave), my pick for #6 would be Ivanchuk. Uneven but with several extremely impressive results in 2009. Shared first in Linares, sole first in both the quite strong Jermuk GP and Bazna, and he came close to winning the Tal Memorial as well. Last year he had his +6 in 10 games in Sofia, and won Tal Memorial.

I think the list includes basically the last year of results, though the big flaw is that it counts rapid and even blitz as the equivalent of classical games! Kramnik was well ahead of Carlsen until the Tal Blitz, when Carlsen took over, while the match with Nakamura put Kramnik top again. And I guess Karjakin's result in the Tal blitz is what put him back near the top. So I wouldn't take the ratings too seriously :)

The "Top Class" list: http://chesspro.ru/guestnew/looknullmessage/?themeid=110&id=1&page=17 - post 529 only takes classical games at tournaments above a certain level into account, I think. There Grischuk comes in at no. 5 with Anand down at no. 6.

And you have to have played at least 18 games - presumably the "Class Tournaments" list includes all the events qualifying for the "Top Class" rating list.

"it counts rapid and even blitz as the equivalent of classical games!"

I see, I wondered how Kramnik could have 100 games on the list when he has played 19 classical games this year, but the list seems to include not only blitz and rapid but also blindfold and then he reaches exactly 100 games in 2009.

Gashimov just found an interesting way to resign his second rapid game in a lost position ... : 55.Rd7?? Kd7: doesn't seem to be a transmission error.

Very reasonable opinion.

Pono is such a good player. So much more entertaining that Svidler/Leko/Jakovenko etc.

Gelfand and Ponomariov win.

Very odd indeed. I thought it was a transmission error.

Was he short on time or something?

"Candidate" means that you have a reasonable chance to get there in the foreseeable future - what does that mean, within one or two years? I agree regarding Eljanov and Navara, for others "it depends":

- Vachier-Lagrave and Nakamura will have to continue improving. Personally I think VL has made more progress while receiving less media attention (at least here). Don't count San Sebastian too much against him - he was sick during the tournament and followed up by winning Biel.

- Malakhow would have to confirm his result from the World Cup. To do so he has to get top invitations, but he is an amateur (though playing quite a lot given this status, it seems that his bosses support him?)

- Karjakin (in case you missed or forgot about it) is also doing well at the World Cup, already approaching and close [two matches away] from repeating his Corus result. What is the role of Dokhoian? Another player who got himself a Russian coach roughly at the same time is closely scrutinized: How does this affect his play, opening repertoire, ... ? Not the case for Karjakin!?

- Ivanchuk: Sorry Chucky, but you and your fans must know it - the complete picture also includes shared last at Corus and Nalchik, clear last at MTel2009 (not nearly approaching his 2008 result), and 2nd round elimination at the World Cup. So while he is clearly capable of a #6 (or #1) result, IMO he is (way to) uneven to qualify for #6 player.

Gashimov was low on time for most of the game, but - if the clock times at the Chessdom live site are correct - had 41 seconds left in the final position (31 seconds before the increment was added). One chatter speculated that Pono had put his king "halfway between f6 and e6" on the previous move - doesn't make sense because black has to bring his king to the queenside to make further progress.

I see two possibilities:
1) as I suggested, symbolic resignation
2) a hallucination, thinking his last pawn was on g3 rather than f2 (then 55.-Kd7: would be stalemate). But this wasn't blindfold chess ... .

Gashimov out. Jakovenko losing with white.

"Karjakin (in case you missed or forgot about it) is also doing well at the World Cup, already approaching and close [two matches away] from repeating his Corus result"

Karjakin will probably be top ten soon, even if he only has played opponents below him (#18) on the November list this far in the World Cup. My guess is that Gelfand will prove too strong in the semi but that remains to be seen.

"Gashimov out" - this also means at most at most two Azeris in the candidates tournament. Until recently, one scenario was
- Gashimov or Mamedyarov winning the World Cup
- Radjabov or Gashimov qualifying via the GP, and
- the third one getting the organizer wildcard.

Jakovenko is also out, no fourth rapid games and no blitz today.

Regarding Karjakin: His last World Cup opponents - Navara, Vitiugov and Mamedyarov - weren't that weak either. And he beat them convincingly: 3-0 in the rapid games against Navara, no tiebreak needed against the others.
For comparison:
Gelfand - Vachier-Lagrave 4.5-3.5
Ponomariov - Bacrot 3.5-2.5

Of course every series can come to an end (by definition, most have to) - ask Mamedyarov about it ... .

On the subject of Gelfand (sort of!), Aronian was asked:

"Who's your chess idol?

- I have lots of them, too many to mention. I like looking at their games, admiring them. I really loved playing through the games of Larsen and Gligorich - very aggressive chess players, but then my taste changed a little, and I began to study the games of Petrosian. Among contemporaries there are also a lot of interesting, colourful players: Ivanchuk always impressed me, and Boris Gelfand - I've always thought that we had a similar style".


I'm guessing Petrosian and Gelfand wouldn't have polled that highly on a "Who are Aronian's chess idols?" poll :)

Who am I to disagree, but actually I don't think Gelfand and Aronian have a very similar style. In a nutshell, I would say Gelfand resembles a scientist, and Aronian more an artist and/or fighter - of course you need "a bit of everything" to reach the world top and stay there ... .

Your last sentence is a bit cryptic to me (inconsistent with the rest), do you mean someone else than Aronian?

I guess he means if someone put a poll about Aronian's chess idols very few would guess Petrossian and Gelfand there. I personally would say that Aronian is like the least Petrossian-like player in top 10. OK, maybe Radjabov with his KID-s is even less.

Petrosian is an Armenian national hero, I believe. Even if he is not one of Aronian's idols it would be impolitic for him not to say so.

Gelfand was Petrosian's star pupil so maybe Aronian's comment was a tip of the hat to his country's greatest player.


I don't understand the point about Azerbaijan's population. Azerbaijan has a longer history of international chess than China. China has fewer serious chess players and is a land of Chinese Chess. We can look at this so may ways, but China has produced four 2700-rated players and they compete internationally and not just amongst themselves as chesspride is implying. In addition, they have been destroying other federations in team matches as well. About them not being elite... well they didn't have 2700s a decade ago either.

Nakamura fan,

I'm not sure why you say China copied from the Soviet Union? If that is true, then the argument Gashimov makes is moot because he said there is an "absence of a system." China DOES have their own system, but if you haven't read Liu Wenzhe's book, you would have missed it. I'm sure they may have even moved on from that.

Can anyone define the Soviet School of Chess? Saying you have a legacy of trainers says nothing about the actual system used to produce strong players... and of couse we all know that government support was not invented by the Soviet Union. If we want to point to trainers like Dvoretsky, then are we to say that he represents the Soviet School of training? Maybe, but I believe there may be different views on this.

I once went to a workshop at Harvard University on the case methodology. I asked one of the presenters, "What is the Harvard Case Methodology"? He couldn't explain it, but said, "I don't know if there is one method." I believe the Soviet School of Chess is not a codified body of knowledge that people are thinking it is. I believe there were many different trainers with their own ideas, but with common literature they all used.

Oh the low 2000 rating... I haven't played seriously in more than 20 years. I was a bit stronger with a higher rating... but maybe one tournament a year now. Not sure about Mig's 1824 USCF rating though. I saw him play in one World Open tournament.

I always remember that picture of Gelfand hugging Aronian after defeating him at the WCH in Mexico , really nice gesture.

regondi, that's simply not true.

About Aronian: Maybe Petrosian is (one of) his idol(s) exactly because he has/had something chesswise that Aronian doesn't quite have himself? And of course Petrosian's national hero status might play a role ... .

(More) about Gelfand, some quotes by others from his book "My most memorable games" (published in 2005) which I can highly recommend, not for the first time here: I learnt a lot about Gelfand the chess player, as well as about chess in general.

Preface by "Classical World Chess Champion" Kramnik:
"He [Gelfand] is not only - and this is accessible only to a few - a highly universal player, capable of playing equally well in the most varied types of positions. What impresses me most is his ability to create games, where all the moves, from the first to the last, are as though links in a single logical chain. ... As a person who has a high appreciation of strategy and logic in chess, I have been given enormous pleasure by the study of this book."

Introduction ("The making of a classical grandmaster") by Dirk Poldauf, German IM and chess journalist:
"In 1989 the magazine 64 offered an original prize to the participants in one of the now legendary USSR Championships: to be awarded to the player sacrificing the most material in the tournament. It was the twenty-one-year-old Boris Gelfand from Minsk who won this special award ..." [that was a bit a surprising read for me]

"Boris Gelfand is a seeker after chess truths. His overriding priority is to find the best possible move in every position. This means that he frequently gets into time-trouble and this has cost him many a won game" [that sounds familiar]

"Popular with his professional colleagues and having many friends, he is seen by the wider chess public as a sort of moral authority. The words of Boris Gelfand carry weight. ... More than once he has spoken out in the press, vigorously and convincingly, for the withdrawal of the countless FIDE innovations. (written in 2005)"

Quoting from your link:
"Cheery and plump, this Tigran Petrosian is an unlikely sex symbol, but in Armenia chess players are celebrities.
A spectator tells me that Armenia's number-one player, Levon Aronian, is their equivalent of David Beckham. He even has the designer stubble."

This may be typical chess journalism by outsiders - the name (and ELO) of the BBC correspondent is not given ... . But regarding "cheery and plump" - lol, am I the only one who immediately thought about Nakamura??

Daaim, you present your own opinions on all sorts of thing, I assume you don't think you are presumptuous to do so.

It just sounds weird when you call a 2759 GM presumptuous for his views on an issue that relates to areas of which he has profound knowledge, a) chess, b) the Soviet chess tradition, c) playing against 2700 Chinese GMs.

I have read Liu Wenzhe's book 'Chinese School of Chess'. It seems to me a nice book but not very informative. The author is not giving away anything that could help the opposition. "Disinformation" comes to mind.

Also, I don't think it is clear whether Azerbaijan or China has more 'serious' chess players.

I think any match between Az. and China would be close. Very close.

Regarding Azerbaijan vs China, how could population possibly NOT be relevant? Even if there was the same number of players from both countries seriously pursuing the game, a larger population should provide a (proportionally) deeper pool of players with the natural talent required to reach super-GM status. That's a huge advantage even if the systems in place for recognizing and supporting talent from a young age are less efficient.

Daaim's fixation with the Chinese is out of control. It feels like every post contains an allegation of discrimination against anyone who doesn't acknowledge them as a current chess superpower, inevitably dominating the game in the near future. I think this attitude says more about the author himself than any biases on this board.

mishanp, big thanks for translating and filtering out the interesting bits of these interviews. Very enjoyable.

Thomas - playjunior's explanation of my post is what I'd have said.

I'd forgotten about Petrosian being Armenian which probably does go some way to explaining Aronian's choices, though of course there are lots of reasons for admiring Petrosian anyway!

On the Chinese school of chess... I don't see a problem with Daaim disagreeing with a 2700+ GM (otherwise we may as well shut this blog down!). I'm not sure how seriously Gashimov had thought about Chinese chess before the press conference, but the context of his comments is important. He'd just come from this completely crazy game against Li Chao - http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1565408 He mentioned that after a dubious position out of the opening he equalized but then Li Chao began to try and take advantage of his time deficit and play "positionally inexplicable moves"... which ended up giving Li Chao a totally won position, which Gashimov managed to save. Perhaps attacking the whole of Chinese chess was a more attractive option than trying to rationalise a game like that!

It'll be interesting to see how the Chinese do in future. From the reviews I've read of Liu Wenzhe's book it doesn't seem to suggest any particularly new approach to chess (if they had one I suppose they wouldn't reveal it!) - and has some of the propaganda elements of Kotov's "The Soviet School of Chess".

Still, though I can't see any reason for the Chinese qualitatively surpassing the rest of the world (with the internet, vast quantities of training manuals & ex-Soviet trainers available to hire etc.), numbers and state support might eventually tell. Tkachev, as well as his much more interesting comments, also said:

• Where is Chess Mecca to your mind?

• So far in Moscow. But in several years we will witness the Chinese hegemony in chess. The Chinese system of education is now better than even Russian.

• What is its peculiarity?

• The talented chess players and their parents from province are provided with the housing habitation and well paid work in the Regional center for the period of one year. In case a chess player does not show impressive results in one year – he goes home. Imagine how strong their motivation is! No wonder that the Chinese chess league is one of the best. It has several players of about 2700 Elo. Even here, there were 9 Chinese players qualified for the World Cup!

Or perhaps, on the subject of chess training, Svidler can have the very, very last word:

• One of the guests of the press center Lenier Dominguez recently said that to his mind a character of one of the famous soap opera “Doctor House” could be a great chess player.

• Quite possible. I have an opinion that a monkey could be taught to play chess and it could become a candidate master.

Not meaning to take over the site... but I only just noticed this interview with Rauf Mamedov which adds much more context (from the same site): http://extratime.az/article.php?aid=9720

He lost to Jianchao Zhou in the first round, before Gashimov beat the same player in the second round. Initially Mamedov says, "The Chinese school is quite dangerous", that he wasn't prepared and played badly. Then later:

Interviewer: As a chess player who's experienced the Chinese school of chess first hand, what can you advise Gashimov and Mamedyarov?

Mamedov: Actually until the match with Zhou I had a positive score with the Chinese chess players, including a plus against Zhou. I think that with the Chinese you simply need to play without theory, the same thing that I was told by Gata Kamsky. In the two games with the Chinese player I played within theory and you could say that in the second game I was already lost in the opening. It seems to me that if with white, for example, you get out of theory normally, they start to "drift". Gashimov's play demonstrated that Jianchao isn't actually such a strong player. I was very glad that he won. Chinese chess is inferior to the Soviet school, but their plus is that they work very hard."

I am sorry - totally off topic. Today's main page in the U.S. edition of Wikipedia is kind of "chessy":

"Knallo replied to comment from noyb | December 4, 2009 4:03 PM | Reply
If you consider your postings of no importance ("whatever", "Big deal, so what?") - an opinion I am inclined to share - I wonder why you inflict them upon us?"

Well if that ain't the pot calling the kettle black...

Cynical Gripe,

You're making several assumptions about a deeper pool, but I do understand your argument. I do believe there is a correlation, but not a causality here. We have just argued against any "massification" theory in China in another thread. Certainly there is a mass of players coming through China, but the process is quite selective.

Azerbaijan has had the benefit of a long history and building of a culture. Of course Chinese has now produced more GMs than Azerbaijan and more 2700s. Again... I'm not sure why Gashimov would make these comments. If you and "goto" think he is right because of his rating, then so be it... I won't argue that point. Both Tkachiev and Mamedov are strong players and they apparently have a different view than Gashimov.

Whether you agree with China being a chess power (men and women) is irrelevant... that is what they are. It is a very objective statement. I'm probably as fervent as acknowledging China's arrival as a chess power as those who are denying it. However, there is enough data to know that they are indeed a top five federation.

I believe mishanp's posts provide additional balance to this China argument. It is an interesting debate that I'd like to continue because it means that chess is growing and not stagnant. How sad it would be to see the same players and nations compete for glory year after year. That time has ended.

I'm thrilled to see Anand as World Champion and nations like Norway, China, Vietnam, Cuba, Brazil, Egypt and the Philippines produce strong players in their own unique way. Chess is alive and has appeal in every corner of the globe... that's good news!


Have you seen Nakamura lately? Plump he is not. Maybe that is the perception people have, but it is a bit outdated.


I am conceited enough to consider my postings of slight import, if that answers your comment.

Here is my two cents on the Chinese school of chess especially Wang Yue and Hou Yifan. It is a square color stategy...constituting the placing of the majority of pieces and pawns to control one color complex. Incredibly Wang Yue was almost unbeatable with this strategy but it seems the peculiarities of chess have caught up to him. As one can not win with such a dogmatic approach. Flexibility is necessary. Evidenced in annotations by Radjabov in an incredible KID about said strategy (white square strategy)between the two players. Where black should have a lost position if such strategy were law but the enigmas of chess just exist to confound such a dogmatic approach.

For those that doubt my opinion look at Wang Yue's games and Hou Yifan. You will see that pieces and pawns are set up to dominate one square color complex. Bu also has played like this. I must say though that the Chinese players will soon adjust their theories and for this chess will be the richer.

The chinese-color-thing sounds interesting. I'll keep an eye on that to see if it's true and if it makes any sense in the games.

"If you and "goto" think he is right because of his rating, then so be it... I won't argue that point."

Daaim, you don't get it. I don't know if Gashimov is 'right'.

I just think it is incredibly presumptuous of you to think that he is presumptuous for offering a view on that issue.

Hmmm, I am not sure about the exact meaning of "plump" (in British English as it was a BBC report), but this is what young Tigran Petrosian looks like:
I see quite some similarities with Nakamura - without sun glasses and other attire, but even a somewhat similar T-shirt ... .

I had seen Nakamura in person at the NH tournament - of course back then he didn't look healthy because he was sick ... . And things could be MUCH worse, e.g. Sakaev (or Afek whom I also saw in person a few weeks ago).

Highly interesting games today. I find Gelfand's manoeuvring in particular very pretty.
[White "Karjakin, Sergey"]
[Black "Gelfand, Boris"]
1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 Nc6 4. Nf3 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. Bb3 d5 7. exd5 Nxd5 8.
h3 a5 9. a4 Nd4 10. Nxd4 exd4 11. Re1 Ra6 12. Qh5 Nb4 13. Na3 Rg6 14. Bf4 *

All four of semifinalists are such good players. Malakhov-Pono is one pretty example of "how-to"-s in almost equal endgame, both from pressing and defending sides. Karjakin basically went to an equal middlegame attempting to outplay Gelfand, which is, by all means, very, very hard.

Pono-Karjakin final would be awesome.

chesspro.ru commentator says Karjakin is in trouble (move 17).

Karjakin has left his troubles behind ... he resigned.

Karjakin's g3-g4 looked strange to me, but perhaps it was already to late to defend in a meaningful way.
It was fun to watch: First a normal, slow-paced opening, you think about subtleties, how white will develop his pieces, who controls the center, is this funny rook on a6 good or bad, then some logical exchanges, and ... suddenly the blacks were all over the place, and it was already too late.


My issue is not that he made a view. My issue is what he said and the fact that he seem to have made a rather reactive comment in saying that "most of the Chinese play incorrectly".

Given that as a federation the Chinese seem to be doing quite well and have produced several 2700-level players... more than Azerbaijan, Gashimov's federation. Li Chao beat a much higher-rated player in Rauf Mamedov. Fifteen-year old Yu Yangyi beat two very strong players. The future is bright.

This does not say that the top 10 in China are necessarily stronger the the top ten in Azerbaijan, or that they will dominate chess in 2-3 years. However, most would agree that they are a credible force and have incredibly strong players who play "correct" enough to get results.

mishanp pointed out the context of the statement, but I think it is clear that there are more balanced views on the Chinese. You are arguing my objection to Gashimov's statement, but you are not arguing points. Explain to me Gashimov's rationale about Chinese players' "incorrect chess" ... don't tell me he is right because he's a 2758 and has played a few Chinese players. That's obvious.

Related to the Gashimov (sub)thread, a little quiz: Who said the following about several young players, and at which occasion?
"absolutely the same ... they play the same chess ... the Chinese guy, the Dutch guy ... the same coach, computer the coach. Only l'Ami has something new in the positions, the openings, ..."

Hint: It was a former WCh candidate (who is a bit older than Nigel Short ...).

Thomas - Korchnoi, I guess! (Karpov also had some bitter comments on the new generation and computers - Anand and Topalov would never have achieved what they have without computers - and Ivanchuk said something a little similar)

Daaim - I disagree on the "incorrectness" issue. I think Gashimov was perhaps overstating things, but you can be extremely strong at chess and still play what many would consider "incorrect" chess. Nakamura and Morozevich are perhaps examples. If the Soviet School of Chess means something I think it's having studied earlier games deeply and knowing the "correct" way to play a large number of positions. "Positional chess" if you like. I also think it's what Shipov means when in his commentaries he'll say that someone made a "gramotny" move (hard to translate - perhaps "(chess)literate" or "cultured").

Of course with computers and very deep opening analysis nowadays positional considerations and standard plans aren't so important - but I don't think "computer chess" will ever fully take over. Humans will never have the capacity to calculate everything anew in unfamiliar positions and will still have to rely on rules of thumb, standard plans and so on.

Yes, Korchnoi - after the 2008 NH tournament ("Rising stars vs. Experience") where he scored 2.5/10 against Wang Yue, Cheparinov, Caruana, Stellwagen and l'Ami. He had lots of praise for the opponent (and was very critical of his own play) after his loss against l'Ami - but less respect or appreciation for the other young guys.

I brought this up to point out that Gashimov "isn't the only one". However, in Korchnoi's view, the problem(?!) is not limited to Chinese players. Maybe a bit odd that a similar statement comes from Gashimov, who is roughly the same generation as "those computer kids" - but probably he still had some "Shipovian" training?

I disagree with part of your last paragraph: "Of course with computers and very deep opening analysis nowadays positional considerations and standard plans aren't so important" - hmm, unless your preparation (_assisted_ by computers) leads to a forced win or a forced draw, you still have to play the resulting position. Hence you still have to know what to do, and how to do it - no matter if the position out of the opening is favorable, even and drawish, or even and unbalanced ("dynamically equal"). And not every position has a concrete tactical solution that a computer will find easily - this is one (the main) reason why correspondence chess still exists!?

Has anyone been to China? I have. Chinese have a discipline toward work second to none. Forget Wang Yue, sooner or later China is going to come up with the goods.

With Vishy already the first world champion from the developing world I would say European and American dominance of the game now has an expiry date attached to it.

And let's not forget chess has barely reached Africa. That's another region where chess could thrive. (Are there any players in Africa by the way?)

"you still have to know what to do, and how to do it"

Sure, I only stated it was less important now. And "playing moves, not chess" (Kasparov's comment on other members of Kramnik's generation - presumably meaning acting like a computer and calculating lines each move rather than having an overall conception) will get you a long way if backed up by deep opening analysis and natural talent. There's a school of thought that plans, as such, are passé!

Anyway, I'm deeply unqualified to talk about such issues - all I'm saying is that Gashimov's idea of "incorrect" chess is meaningful, even if controversialy and open to dispute.

By the way, Shipov had lots of praise for Carlsen's play in the Moscow blitz, so "correctness" or chess culture isn't something you need to have been born in the Soviet Union to achieve!

If Gelfand wins this thing, it will be a crowning achievement to cap a wonderful career so far. He's playing very well. Of course many games to win yet...

"Kasparov's comment on other members of Kramnik's generation"
You didn't give any names, and Radjabov may already be the next generation, but Kasparov's comments on Radja's play might go in the same direction: "He has to go for complex positions [where precise calculation is important] because he doesn't know how to play simple positions [where plans, rather than moves, become relevant]"

Regarding Carlsen, of course he started working with a "Soviet" coach .... so we (you!?) would have to dig out Shipov's comments on Carlsen's play from one year ago?

I guess noone would suggest that "Soviet genes" are an indispensable requirement for playing "Soviet chess"?!


I remember that Korchnoi interview and I've heard others say this. I also agree with mishanp in what the idea of "correct" means. However, I don't think there is a categorization of Chinese players. Computers have helped reduce the knowledge gap quickly. Perhaps them playing like "computers" is simply an evolution in knowledge. Who knows? The Chinese may be on the right track since computers are now stronger or at least as strong as the top GMs.


You bring up an interesting point about Nakamura and Morozevich, two players I think add a lot to the game. What these players have done is challenge the "rules" of chess. No, they do not play insipid chess. They create ideas over the board and challenge old theorems. That is what helps chess to grow. I rememeber Morozevich saying "Kasparov doesn't understand a damned thing about chess!" I was shocked by such a statement, but it was interesting when given thought. Of course he wasn't saying Kasparov was not strong. He was saying that knowledge of chess is still fairly limited and the idea that there is a "correct" way to play is in question. We are still discovering new ideas and dusting off banished openings. Perhaps that is why Russians are having such a hard time dominating individual and team events as before. Of course, Russians are still strong, but the days of Russian dominance are long over.

deep blue something,

I've been to China, but not for chess. However, being in the environment will tell you that there is something infectious about the spirit of the people... a spirit that a 5,000-year history will give you. I can see how it relates to the rise of China in chess. On Africa... the continent has a few strong young players namely, GMs Bassem Amin and Ahmed Adly, both about 2600 strength. Both were in the FIDE Cup but were eliminated. At one time Zambia's Amon Simutowe was a bright young star, but his studies slowed his progress. He's a GM, but again he's focusing more on school. The continent struggles on a number of levels, but what is encouraging is that chess is slowly making inroads. If chess ever reaches the popularity of draughts (where Africa are among the world's top players), then chess will have made tremendous strides.

I guess Gelfand wouldn't consider "winning this thing" a 'crowning career achievement' (nothing left to prove), but would try to do well in the candidates tournament ... . And he already has shared 2nd with Kramnik at the Mexico WCh on his chess CV.

Bride beats bridesmaid in my book. And my guess is as good as yours.. I guess... :-)

"I rememeber Morozevich saying "Kasparov doesn't understand a damned thing about chess!" I was shocked by such a statement, but it was interesting when given thought."

If Moro had said "The Chinese players don't understand a damned thing about chess!", you'd be spluttering in your tea about the sheer presumptuousness of it, Daaim.

Give some real thought to what Gashimov says, and you might learn something new.

I agree about Morozevich. Jakovenko had this to say at the World Cup site:

• How can you characterize Gelfand?

• Boris plays on a high level for many years. But lately he has a real renaissance. In addition, I am very comfortable opponent to him, - says Dmitry with disappointment. – I did not win a single game against him. We are chess players of classical style. Therefore a draw is a logical result for us. Boris feels uncomfortable to play against non standard players, for instance against Morozevich."

You could say the same about e.g. Kramnik being uncomfortable, though the struggle for non-standard players is that on their bad days they have nothing to fall back on. The more classical players can play "correct" moves and often survive however poorly they're calculating variations.

I don't really see the Chinese offering too much creatively for now, but perhaps that might change. Gashimov's opinion was that they were drifting rather than oscillating between blunders and brilliance the way Morozevich or Nakamura might (you might say that Morozevich knows the "correct" approach, but rebels against it, whereas perhaps the Chinese never knew it).

I don't really agree about team competitions, by the way - the teams winning are still, as Gelfand said, generally filled with ex-Soviet players, but certainly China will challenge with their numbers, motivation & hard work. It's not really a valid comparison any more anyway - the Soviet School's already dispersed right around the world.

Thomas - about Carlsen I remember for years now reading Russian opinions about how classical his chess is (unusually mature), rather than his being an example of the new computer generation. It'd be interesting to know how much of that comes from deep study, or whether it's more a natural positional sense absorbed partly by playing against strong players on the internet. Obviously internet blitz could allow you to survive by playing fundamentally poor but tricky moves or playing for time, but on the other hand it must be a good crash course in all the standard plans used by your older colleagues.

You're mixing up Soviet Union and Russia.
The domination of players of the former SU is as crushing as it was before (or almost).
Don't forget Petrosian, Tal and even Kasparov (and many other famous soviet players) were not Russians.
Interview with Gelfand on the K-M website :

The chess players from post Soviet generation qualified to the quarter finals of the Cup. Do you see any appropriateness in it?

"• Of course. Have a look at the FIDE Rating list: the top hundred consists of almost 80% of Russian speaking chess players. The teams whose members speak Russian dominate in the Olympiads. It is an objective fact. We have a good tradition, a good school. In addition, we have a high class coaches. I think that the non-Russian speaking players, like Caruana, achieve some results thanks to the work of the coaches, who were brought up in the Soviet chess schools.

I agree with Gelfand. He's referring to the dominant language of the former S-U, but he means the good old soviet system.
China has a few good players and they're making progress, but it's a copycat system of the soviet model. It has IMO absolutely nothing to do with their 5000 years old culture.
The African players you mentioned, well with all respect : in Russia and other former soviet countries there are literally hundreds and hundreds of players of that strenght (not to mention ex-soviets who left for Europe and the US).

By the way, American chess has seen a slight breakthrough. Despite the state of the chess federation, several young players have made a breakthrough. This was after a long drought of not producing any "home-grown" GMs. A rash of GMs have popped up and while Ray Robson may be the brightest star, Robert Hess seems to show great promise... very steady player.

Of course, Nakamura is a self-made player who has made it to the top level using Internet chess as a powerful "trial-and-error" training ground to supplement his other studies. The problem here is chess doesn't get much sponsorship support. Kamsky made this admission in his interview recently. Nakamura has told me personally about his frustration with sponsorship.

Of course there is no "American School of Chess" despite the country having a history of champions. Again, there is no support to develop a "school" of thought or philosophy. American chess still tends to be tactical and aggressive... an unnerving reality when visiting players come to the U.S. and are faced with this abrasive style. However, "correct" positional chess may be the Achilles Heel. Yasser Seirwan was one contemporary player (though now retired) to find a balance and was able to do well internationally.

Of course, Fischer was a great influence into the aggressive style of play and many players were brought up emulating it. Alex Shabalov is one of the Soviet players who has consistently done well in the U.S. because he had fewer adjustments to make. Perhaps he come from the "Latvian/Tal School of Chess" along with Alexi Shirov and in addition, got a keen idea of positional ideas.

Interesting discussion.

No I'm not steven.

I understand the difference between Russia and the Soviet Union. I was talking specifically about Russia (as the strongest from the Union), but if we want to posit the Soviet as an argument, we can. Soviet domination is also coming to an end and is not where is was 20 years ago when the Union existed. China is #5 in the world and India is #6. That is ahead of a lot of Soviet federations and represents a lot of young talent. Why people do not believe things are changing is beyond me.

Of course, "Soviet School" players are still amongst the top as Gelfand has pointed out (80% of top 100 he stated). The point is that number will continue to erode in time. Even Kramnik complained about this in an interview shortly after Russia failed to win a medal at the Dresden Olympiad... or was that Turin? Russia has missed a medal three Olympiad in a row with teams averaging over 2700.

No one is comparing Africa to Russia. Are you kidding? Deep Blue asked a question about African chess and I answered. I may be qualified enough to address this question.

About African chess, Daaim merely said that "the continent" has made considerable progress (basically starting from zero!?) and - if draughts is comparable to chess - has significant potential. However, it could be argued that Ahmed Adly (2583) and Bassem Amin (2553), as well as other Egyptians and one Algerian, only qualified for the World Cup "because they are from Africa" (read: they wouldn't have had much of a chance in European, Asian or American qualifying events).

On the Chinese players, I just went through the following World Cup games:
Zhou Jianchao - Gashimov 0-1
Zhou Weiqi - Kamsky 0-1
Vachier-Lagrave - Yu Yiangyi 1-0
Mamedyarov - Wang Hao 1-0
(This leaves Li Chao and Wang Yue who lost their tiebreaks partly/largely due to forfeiting one rapid game).
To me it looks that all of them were convincingly outplayed, read: they succumbed to their opponents' superior plans and chess understanding (of course they were a priori outsiders in any case).

As I wrote before: We can continue or restart discussions on Chinese chess at the next World Cup ... .

It is an interesting that Nakamura is really something different, a good example of "American" self-made Chess School; of course Sunil and Asuka made a real impact on Hikaru, when he was a kid.
Hess is a student of GM Miron Sher, who has 100% influence on his chess education, do not forget an another student of Sher - Caruana, who sometimes referred in Russia, as the best representative of the "Soviet" Chess School in the youngest generation (he was/is a student of Sher, Zlotnik, Chernin, Belyavsky). Robson is also a former Kaidanov student and current student of Onischuk, although he is more self educated than for example Hess, due to his more remote (Florida) location.


I disagree with you a bit on this one. Both Amin and Adly could have qualified in other regions as well. They are at least as strong as several of the players who qualified in other regions. Look at the list again. Both are getting in better competitions, but they will need support.

On the games... you only chose their losses to prove they were outplayed. Well... of course! That would explain it. How about the wins?? They scored a lot of them.

Dear Gata Kamsky,

You are not American until you've learnt to sell to the highest bidder. (Especially as you landed many years in New York City.) And the highest bidder is never chess. Go forth and make your millions in Manhattan and don't make another chess beggar like Finegold or Ehlvest.

Tal did not play 'correct' chess, did he? What would Gashimov think of him? However, Gashimov has a point. The chinese games look odd when you go through them. New chess?

Daim: Africa is still far off the mark. Impression is chess can do without Africa. Maybe not enough penetration of the game in the region so potential exists.

If a large group of players all know the same important or crucial games, they will play their midgames with those same themes which they are all familiar with. If someone comes along who doesn't know these same games, they will play differently, or play without a plan. If the player knows a different set of games, they will play with a plan, but it will be different or unfamiliar to the opponents, and it will seem incorrect.

Note the "western" and Russian and old Soviet publications on openings, where each opening variation is followed by a complete game intended to show the best way to play the position. Many players know these stem games. Playing a position like the stem game is considered normal. If someone who doesn't know the stem game is playing the position, they seem lost, wandering, unconventional, or as we say in America, "making it up as you go."

And now from the other end of the chessgame: A group of players know a set of positions which they consider endgame wins, and endgame draws, and from the mid-game they always steer their positions toward these known endgames. So the same phenomenon, when a player arrives who doesn't know the "standard" endgame positions, they seem to wander, or deviate from the accepted styles of play, instead of steering to a commonly-known result.

Just like with any language or culture, we expect that groups of players with different key games in mind will play differently. Each will find the other mysterious, and will be bewildered if they lose.

Hey, that's a good way to describe it. It also shows that while each player has his own unique style, the common knowledge of how to handle certain positions will be visible for those who have this knowledge. So Gashimov may indeed see things differently than Daaim Shabazz.

I stand corrected, or correct myself regarding Adly: He actually did qualify in a global competition by winning the 2007 World Junior championship (he was seeded 21st, top seeds were Wang Hao, Stellwagen, Rodshtein and Laznicka). It remains to be seen if this was a one-time success, or if he can reach the (overall) level of those he beat at the time, let alone his successor Vachier-Lagrave or some of his predecessors (which include Karpov, Kasparov, Anand, Aronian and Mamedyarov). Opportunities and support do/will play a role ... .

By rating only, if I limit myself to Europe (my own continent ....) only Nijboer qualified with a lower rating - and he is an experienced professional who briefly reached 2640 in the recent past (Oct 2006 + Jan 2007). And there were Kosteniuk ("positive gender discrimination"!?) plus the four organizer nominees.
But yes, Adly and Amin would have had a chance to qualify in countries such as Australia, Canada, USA(!) and China(!) ... .

Regarding the Chinese games, I just tried to test Gashimov's statement - if such a strong player makes such a strong statement, there might be some truth to it? As you consider a similar or stronger statement by Morozevich "interesting", we might as well give Gashimov the benefit of doubt!? [I agree with goto's response to you, though not with the tone of his post ...].

What I tried to say is: Outplaying is not the same as out-calculating or even "out-gambling" or "out-confusing" the other player. I also had a(nother) look at Yu Yangyi's wins againt Movsesian and Bartel. I dare to say (subjective, controversial, provocative): those games could have been played by Rybka, I am not that sure regarding the Chinese losses I mentioned before. To avoid misunderstandings: neither are they cases of out-gambling or out-confusing!

"Tal did not play 'correct' chess, did he?"

He was pretty unique, but Dvoretsky classes him as essentially an intuitive positional chess player rather than a Botvinnik or Kasparov who based their play on deep and accurate calculation. Though of course you needed to have tactical vision of genius to take positional motifs (sacrificing for quick development, open lines, outposts etc.) to the extremes Tal took them. Later in his career he had periods when he was as solid and difficult to beat as Petrosian.

I'm guessing someone who really new what Soviet chess training was would say that his play demonstrated how thoroughly grounded he was in the tradition, even while exploding some of its tenets. In any case it's hard to imagine anyone having the impression that he made drifting, unmotivated moves.

It seems a Gelfand - Pono final. Where is it Jeff Sonas to tell us more about stats?


The question is not how Daaim Shabazz sees it. It is debating the issue of what Gashimov is stating (most Chinese play incorrect chess). Let's put his statements under scrutiny to see if they stand up. It is a general argument.

However, if one presents data that show that the Chinese are very strong in chess (and China is as strong as Azerbaijan), then we have to examine his definition of what "correct" means. Again... if "incorrectly" means the Chinese play like computers, well... computers are now stronger than humans. Humans may understand more about intuition, patterns and such, but computer engines still beat the top GMs of today. So what is Gashimov really saying? That playing like a computer is "incorrect" even though it produces good results?

Gashimov (Korchnoi and others) condemn the style of computer-influenced play, but rely on its strength to check their ideas. If Yu Yangyi's game looks like he is playing like a computer, well stronger players usually play moves consistent with engines. Why? Because they are strong players! The larger question is, are chess players become more like automatons or are chess programs (that we use) becoming more humanized? Probably both.

Remember Deep Blue's Bxh2+ move against Kasparov? It shocked him and he felt it wasn't correct. Upon further inspection, he found the depth of the computer idea. Fortunately he drew that game. As we use computers more and more, we will find that old ideas will give way to new.

Perhaps human play will look more and more strange as new ideas are brought forth with the aid of computers. In the meantime, we should should brace for what will become a new wave of thinking in chess.

Sorry... that was Deep Junior playing Bxh2+. Ironically, Kasparov stated that a computer couldn't play such a move without human intervention!

My favourite moment of the whole tournament has to be Sergei Shipov revealing on his forum that the Russian mother of Laznicka contacted him to complain that in one of his bulletins he called her son "the vengeful forest animal"!!

Actually he was just jokingly referring to the Hedgehog position on the board (he's the author of "The Complete Hedgehog"). If she'd read the simplified English translation there'd have been no such confusion: "White played the opening carelessly. He opened up too much and made too many weaknesses. The Hedgehog punishes for that severely." http://ugra-chess.ru/eng/comment_e_3_3.htm

On correct chess or incorrect chess! Didn't one of the worlds leading player say that Alekhine played incorrect chess. That player, number one or two best player who ever lived depending on your opinion, was Robert J Fischer. He said I dont understand Alekhines chess. Fischer was said to have been one of the most correct players who ever played the game.
On Tal his method has been codified by the Russians (although this doesnt happen in a vaccuum, meaning the world doesn't stand still waiting for the Soviet Union to say this is the method :) ); it is called the method of imbalances as stated by one of the leading ex soviet trainers Mikhalchishin.

If I may add my view: "Incorrect" probably means that Gashimov can make out technical weaknesses in their play. Things that are not a lack of talent, neither a matter of personal style, but knowledge he has acquired during his chess education. Patterns he has been trained to recognize, and therefore can see, and they (and I) cannot.

Computers are quite good at playing chess nowadays, but they are not good at explaining a position. And they completely suck at understanding what a human pupil needs to learn to become better. I don't know if Gashimov suspects too much computer influence, or something else. But the criticism would not be that they play like computers -humans can't-, but play like they learned from computers, and lack the thorough, target-oriented education an able human trainer can provide.

Off topic: Mig , i asume we are all invited to the opening party for this little flat .
We promise to behave .


playjunior, I didn't mean to imply that Petrosian isn't one of Aronian's idols, I just meant that he could come under criticism at home if he didn't say so. Now, if it's the BBC article that "isn't true" you'll have to take that up with them.


That is an articulate response and I understand it. Yes, Gashimov made out weaknesses in the play of two Chinese opponents, but that is true for most of the players he plays... including other Soviet School players. "Incorrect" chess is very relative.

I agree with the computer vs. trainer point... they don't explain positions, but it's coming. Today, a human still has to interpret computer analysis. If computers cannot explain positions, it only means humans have not yet created the ability for computers to explain positions.

I digress... someone asked Carlsen about his relationship with Kasparov. To head off the notion that Carlsen somehow JUST got strong because he is exposed to Kasparov's counsel, he responded, "I still play the moves."

The point is no matter whether a player learns primarily from Internet chess, Rybka, a strong trainer or both, what ultimately matters are consistent, positive results. China's Ye Jiangchuan was a strong player (topped out at 2680) is now the chief trainer and has been a capable mentor. China is getting the results.

One may argue that a 2715 who learned through the Soviet School is stronger than a 2715 who learned like Nakamura. However, when Nakamura crushed Karjakin in their match, people were surprised. There is more than one way to reach chess excellence. Anand got their by raw talent and hard work. Karpov through very systemized training and generous support. Both methods work. Fischer once said, "All I care about are good moves."

Perhaps human play will look more and more strange as new ideas are brought forth with the aid of computers. In the meantime, we should should brace for what will become a new wave of thinking in chess.


Incorrect can also mean "ugly" as in stating a preference for one type of (equivalent) play vs. another.

Classical vs. Hypermodern.

Soviet vs. computer

Dare we bring in Nietzsche and ask whether "winning at all costs" is the only virtue in a game of chess? What other virtues might have merit? Art? Beauty?

A game that follows a theme...and includes strong moves...is a work of art.

A game that has no theme...but includes strong moves...may just be a mish-mash of moves. It may be ugly. It may be "incorrect".

If ugly moves can win (just as thematic moves can win)...Gashimov may be correct to object to "ugly" chess.

If "ugly" moves are better, then chess (like Parcheesi) may be past its prime.

Tarrasch certainly felt that way when playing Lasker and Nimzowitsch -- Lasker for ugly, provocative second-best moves (the psychological style) and Nimzowitsch for his blockading ideas.

Viewed this way, perhaps we should see it as:

Tarrasch -- the classical way is correct (and it wins quite often)

Lasker -- classical play is good but not enough, you must use the "psychological" style because chess is sport/struggle. Ugly, but wins.

Nimzowitsch -- blockade is the way -- my thematic moves are pretty (if only to me).

Reti (or Breyer) -- hypermodern moves are the way to win and be pretty at the same time

Rybka -- one unconnected threat after another until I control the entire board. Chess is just a form of space-gaining (like Go or Othello). No plans, just maximize control until the disconnected moves win!

Which of these is "incorrect"? I dare say all of the others would appear incorrect to each advocate.

Daim: Perhaps you need to look at the chinese games. They look artificial. Not saying that is bad. Even I would say they look incorrect. This could be a new direction chess is taking where incorrect becomes correct eventually.

"If computers cannot explain positions, it only means humans have not yet created the ability for computers to explain positions."
Hmmm, maybe we ("someone") can teach computers Informator-style annotations such as Xf7(weak point), >>(king's side), etc. - shouldn't be all that difficult!? But verbal comments is another story, and answering questions (in training sessions or chats) still another step.
Same story for (live) commentary on games: Some sites provide comments by titled players, others have Rybka commenting. I consider those approaches complementary, and follow both.

Tal's play was hard to codify, because he was a genius in the truest sense of the word. You cannot imitate genius.

This for example is what Kramnik says about him:

"It is difficult to talk about Tal because he was an unusual person as well as being a very fascinating player. Like a natural phenomenon. I am absolutely sure he would have been a success in any other field of endeavour. He had a quick and brilliant mind. If he had been an academic, he would have won a Nobel prize. He was an unworldly man. By the way, many people who knew him quite well said that he bore no relation to homo sapiens. He was like a man from another planet! That's why he played "unidentifiable" chess. Analyzing his chess games is tantamount to discussing what God looks like."

That last line says it best.

"There is more than one way to reach chess excellence. Anand got their by raw talent and hard work. Karpov through very systemized training and generous support."

Another hmmmm ... do you mean to imply that Karpov did not, or to a lesser extent rely on talent and hard work? You would have Botvinnik on your side: "The boy [young Karpov] doesn't have a clue about chess, and there's no future at all for him in this profession." But it's true that, compared to his contemporaries, Karpov had the unique opportunity and "talent"(!?) to have others work for him ... .

As you also mentioned Carlsen and Kasparov, there are broadly (I simplify ...) three stages in Carlsen's career:
1) working with Agdestein ("the Norwegian Ye Yiangchuan"?!)
2) working mostly on his own
3) working with Kasparov - who can give him things that Agdestein (or any other 'ordinary' GM) cannot provide

Way too much knicker-twisting about Gashimov's observation. It's not an insult. 'Correct' chess has little to do with rating or strength. It's got more to do with not playing the Queen's Gambit Declined. Larsen didn't play 'correctly' when he was one of the best.

Fascinating discussion...

Very interesting post chesspride. Question... is chess about the sport of winning or is it about the art and science? I frankly think all of these chess philosophers you've listed have a point... even your description of Rybka (method sounds more like the Japanese game of "go").

deep blue something...I agree. Maybe what is incorrect will become correct. This happens in chess quite often. We even had a lengthy debate about 2.Qh5 here and questioned whether it was indeed playable. Strong GMs are still playing the Evans Gambit and Center Counter... supposedly incorrect chess.

d_tal... I tried studying Tal's games and all I got was a headache... and I was tactical.

Thomas... definitely Karpov had both (hard work and talent). He was my first serious study. I emulated Karpov's earlier style because his pieces were always coordinated, was more aggressive and played many brilliant attacks. Maybe that is why Botvinnik didn't like his earlier style. Of course he was proven to be very wrong about Karpov. Thus, Botvinnik's philosophy has to be questioned as well. The Karpov-Korchnoi 1978 match was exciting and Karpov still had an edge on his style. Then Karpov's style morphed into a more positional, less dynamic style and he ended up losing to a more energetic and nimble Kasparov, who fused Soviet training with a more scientific approach using databases. Apparently, Karpov failed to keep up with the methodology though he was still competitive.

Fast forward 25 years... did Kasparov retire because of his inability to keep up with the evolution in chess methodology? Not sure. Today, there is a lot more reliance on computers than before and Kasparov must've have been unnerved in where chess was going.

So ... (the cheeky and presumptuous guy) (the big GM with deep insight)
[delete one according to taste] stirred up a fine discussion, thought-provoking and all that.

I just remembered a comment by Gelfand I posted here during the Jermuk Grand Prix, an event dedicated to Petrosian:

"I was lucky and in early childhood I received priceless lessons from Tigran. He taught you to think not in terms of "moves", and not in the manner the young think today. Petrosian would say: "You need to bring the knight there and exchange the rooks and the position's won". He taught you to grasp the essence of the position..."


We're not the only ones spinning dubious conclusions from the World Cup - on Shipov's forum "Gorodnichii" posted this today:

"I'm plagued by a vague suspicion that the advantage of Gelfand, particularly over his younger opponents, comes from the advantages of the pre-computer school over the computer school. The first places a strong emphasis on logic and the ability of the brain to think conceptually, alternating calculation with the execution of plans.Computer preparation and correlating your play with Rybka and Fritz is alien to the organic brain, and therefore more exhausting. As time passes chess players are playing until a later age. Modern chess players are in a certain sense insufficiently cultured in comparison to such players as Gelfand and Anand. Kramnik, it seems, also understood something similar after his defeat."

I wouldn't especially defend that position, by the way, but it's an interesting theory of the relative exhaustion of the players.

I think I got the "As time passes" bit back to front. It should probably read: "The further back you go in history the longer chess players would keep playing", which is more in keeping with the argument.

"If computers cannot explain positions, it only means humans have not yet created the ability for computers to explain positions."

As a computer scientist with some understanding of how chess engines work, I think you're too optimistic about the capabilities of engines in the foreseeable future. :o)

"when Nakamura crushed Karjakin in their match, people were surprised. "

And this "relevant example "is drawn from 2004, when Karjakin was 14, nearly 15 and rated 2576, and Nakamura was 17 and rated 2620.

Score 3,5 - 1,5 and FIDE 2620 versus FIDE 2576.

Hence, NOT a very relevant example, for several reasons.

Just to add a little to the previous example: Simply from the rating difference of 44 points, the result CLOSEST to the expected score for that match was

Nakamura 3-2 Karjakin

When Nakamura scores another half-point more than his expected score (0,65 to be precise), a term like "crush" appears slightly exaggerated to me. :o)

"1) working with Agdestein ("the Norwegian Ye Yiangchuan"?!)
2) working mostly on his own
3) working with Kasparov - "


Carlsen spent more time with then FM (now IM) Torbjørn Ringdal-Hansen than with Agdestein, and Torbjørn probably was as important chess-wise as Agdestein, I think.

Agdestein's role a as a CHESS coach is more often exaggerated than the opposite. He opened some doors for Carlsen, arranged for the bi-weekly sessions with Torbjørn (note that bi-weekly session, that is, a couple of hours every 14 days) was MORE regular than any training relationship Carlsen and Agdestein had prior to Carlsen becoming GM. And after that, Agdestein's role was even smaller, chess-wise.

Should be old news, as it's even confirmed in Agdestein's book about Carlsen, for those who did in fact read it with a critical eye.

The longest phase in Carlsen's short career so far, is your point 2 - working mostly on his own. With the exception of a few sessions with Agdestein, the Norwegian national team and with Peter Heine Nielsen, "working mostly on his own" roughly describes the period from Carlsen was 13 to 18. While true, it's also often met with disbelief abroad. It's still true, though. :o)

Thanks frogbert. To be honest, Agdestein's book is only hearsay to me, I haven't read it, and haven't even read reviews of the book ... . I mentioned Carlsen's "phase 1" because I had stressed phase 2 here at an earlier occasion, and someone corrected me writing (probably not the exact words) "Get your facts right, he had Agdestein!". If anyone exaggerates Agdestein's role, it may well be Agdestein himself by writing the book?

Two other examples regarding less prominent coaches: At the closing ceremony of the NH tournament, Jan Smeets thanked both his second (for the occasion) Paco Vallejo and his coach Cor van Wijgerden with whom he worked for seven years. Van Wijgerden (ELO 2430) is a now inactive Dutch IM, I think (but may be wrong on this) paid by the Dutch federation as a trainer.

And Gelfand was called a student of Petrosian here. Once again from the introduction of Gelfand's book:
- From 1974 (when he was six years old) until 1979 (when his first coach emigrated to America) he had Edward Zelkind
- Then he had Tamara Golovey ("She was like a second mother to him") and, 1980-1992, Albert Kapengut ("His new trainer was always ready to help the boy; Boris could ask him any question he wished.")
- In the early nineties he started working with Huzman - who was/is maybe more a training partner and second
- And from 1980-1983, he had three two-week sessions at the Tigran Petrosian school.
Of course it is hard to say how much he learned in those six weeks, compared to many years of _regular_ contact with the other names I mentioned ... .

"Way too much knicker-twisting about Gashimov's observation. It's not an insult. 'Correct' chess has little to do with rating or strength. It's got more to do with not playing the Queen's Gambit Declined. Larsen didn't play 'correctly' when he was one of the best."

I agree. I think essential reading for anybody talking about this subject is John Watson's "Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy" followed by John Watson's "Modern Chess Strategy in Action". He has discussed this notion of "correct" or "incorrect" chess and rule based dogmas at length.

I agree. I think essential reading for anybody talking about this subject is John Watson's "Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy" followed by John Watson's "Modern Chess Strategy in Action". He has discussed this notion of "correct" or "incorrect" chess and rule based dogmas at length.

yes, but in the context of "what works" -- not in terms of beauty or art.

That's part of the discussion here. Ugly chess is boring (aka incorrect) even if it wins.

Cameras make better pictures than artists' brushes. Cameras do not make better paintings or better art.


I'm also a computer scientist, but that doesn't really mean much here. Computers already (and sadly so) do everything for us except help us after we use the bathroom. Ha... but there was a time that people couldn't believe you could make metal float in the air.

Artificial intelligence is coming and of course new techniques of Heuristic processing are being created. How is it that computers have now surpassed us all of our intution, feeling and foresight. Remember when Ken Opel said that we would never need more that what 640K for computing??

Frankly, I have some ideas for chess software, but I'm not actively in the industry as a programmer anymore and can't dedicate much time to it. The field has moved so quickly, but I still think that much of computer's inability is due to our own limitations in understanding.

The Karjakin-Nakamura is relevant for this reason... Karjakin was widely favored despite the differences in rating. It was said that Nakamura was a blitz player and that Karjakin was classically-trained. Both were true, but were not good predictors of the outcome. Oh... and the match score was 4.5 - 1.5 Nakamura.


Oh... I forgot about those Japanese toilets! :-|

"Oh... and the match score was 4.5 - 1.5 Nakamura."

My bad. Sorry about that.

Anyhow, I still think the date stamp for that example of "Nakamura's style" compared to a "schooled upbringing" shows that it isn't very relevant anymore. additionally

1) it was "only" 6 games, between two young players - in particular Karjakin, who might just have had a bad event (but i remember his "complaints" about Naka playing "wrong", but him being unable to punish Naka for it)

2) Nakamura has put in a decent amount of serious work in later years, as he should of course - but it makes the "myth" about the raw, unpolished, self-taugh, blitz-playing talent somewhat more mythical and less true to reality.

That anyone should be able to make it at the very top in chess today, without serious amounts of work, simply is delusional. I don't think you hold that opinion, but Nakamura's image among several fans seems to be the one of a "pure talent" who doesn't work, but still is likely to become world champion.

Here's how the description of Nakamura's working habits has evolved on chessgames.com since 2007:

2007: It's just lately that Nakamura has started to work seriously on classical chess.

2008: It's just recently that Nakamura has started to work seriously on classical chess.

2009: Now Nakamura has finally started to work seriously on classical chess.

I bet that I'll hear (read) when/if he breaks 2750 too - in 2010 or 2011 - that "Naka has just recently started to thak classical chess seriously" ... :o)


:-) I've heard those comments already... too many times. However, I'm upset at Naka for not converting in the endgame today against Ni Hua. Maybe he needs a dose of Dvoretsky. ;-)

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on December 2, 2009 9:33 PM.

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