Greengard's ChessNinja.com

World Teams '10: Messing with the Zohan

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More on rounds 4 and 5 here later, but just had to get an item up to rave about Hikaru Nakamura's tactical fiesta against world #6 Boris Gelfand in today's fifth round of the World Team Championship in Turkey. The sensational sacrificial win, which started with a knight sac and involved leaving his queen en prise to a pawn for several moves combined with a threat to mate with a pawn, led the US team to victory over the powerful Israeli squad. PGN after the jump. Taken along with Nakamura's spectacular KID win over Beliavsky at last year's NH tournament, you can see the King's Indian is a natural fit for Nakamura's insanely sharp gifts. Wow.

[Event "7th World Team Championship"]
[Site "Bursa TUR"]
[Date "2010.01.09"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Gelfand, B."]
[Black "Nakamura, Hi"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E97"]
[WhiteElo "2761"]
[BlackElo "2708"]
[PlyCount "66"]
[EventDate "2010.01.05"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5
Ne7 9. Nd2 Ne8 10. b4 f5 11. c5 Nf6 12. f3 f4 13. Nc4 g5 14. a4 Ng6 15. Ba3 Rf7
16. b5 dxc5 17. Bxc5 h5 18. a5 g4 19. b6 g3 20. Kh1 Bf8 21. d6 axb6 22. Bg1 Nh4
23. Re1 Nxg2 24. dxc7 Nxe1 25. Qxe1 g2+ 26. Kxg2 Rg7+ 27. Kh1 Bh3 28. Bf1 Qd3
29. Nxe5 Bxf1 30. Qxf1 Qxc3 31. Rc1 Qxe5 32. c8=Q Rxc8 33. Rxc8 Qe6 0-1


Looks like a typical Nakamura win to me. He was in trouble after 20. ... Bf8, but Gelfand played poorly with 21. d6. Then, after another blunder by Nakamura (23. ... Ng2), Gelfand again failed to respond with best play (blundered back with 24. dc). He's getting away with bad moves in tactically complicated positions and that won't yield good results over the long term.

I'm still a fan, but he needs to improve the quality of play before he can be compared to someone like Tal (who I think he could be as good as with just a little more soundness in his play).

Just lovely. Its always cute with the Knight on e1 threatening to mate using the pawn to g2!
Good cheer to Indians after Aronian blew a drawn rook endgame against Sasi.

noyb, why do I get the impression you've analysed the game with a computer and are declaring any move which isn't top of the comp's list as a blunder?

Because you're correct. That's why I don't own a chess computer. I don't care about computer analysis or ratings for that matter. I think for myself and prefer to learn a general understanding of the game from GMs and IMs.

Wow! Amazing game. Contrasting fortunes for 2 of the Azerbaijan team. Gashimov has lost 3 in a row, while Mamedyarov has 5/5.

If one goes over Tals games with a computer one certainly can conclude he was a patzer who blundered often.

i remember back in the sixties after his candidates match with Larsen where one of his sacs in the opening was argued about for months in Shakmatny Byulletin. The best minds of that generation struggling with whether it was sound, yet now anyone can quickly determine for themselves the 'correctness' of such moves.

As Tal himself noted, such questions are quite different when faced over the board with the clocks ticking. That is still as much true today in the computer age as it ever was.

Naka another Tal? Certainly not yet, but wouldn't it be wonderful if he goes down that road?

Without getting into the paradox of whether or not a player like Tal could have been created in, let alone thrived in, a computer era, I can imagine what all the comp-addicted fans would have said about many of his greatest games. Half of his sacrifices would have been chalked up as "Tal blundered but his opponent blundered too, so Tal won." Heck, some skeptics said that at the time without computers, even AFTER he beat Botvinnik!

Tal believed, and proved over and over, that a sac isn't unsound unless your opponent can prove it over the board. Proving it in analysis later, or today having your computer prove it, is interesting, sure. But mostly it illustrates how finely attuned Tal was to what was humanly possible at the board. Humanly. As long as it's two humans at the board, mistakes will be made. That's good, because otherwise every game would be drawn, which would get a little tedious.

As for Gelfand-Nakamura, if Black is in trouble after 20..Bf8 then he was in trouble after 4..d6 and the King's Indian is refuted. Same goes for 23..Nxg2, which is about as far from a blunder as a move can get. It's the best move in the position from both objective and practical standpoints. (What's Black supposed to do, swap queens on d6 and grovel?!) You might want to give your comp more time and guide it down a few lines. 24.dxc7 was no doubt a blunder by Gelfand, but best play by that point wasn't a walk in the park. 24.Kxg2 Rg7! is a nightmare.

Just about every modern GM game in the KID reaches an early +1.22 or whatever for White because Black's tactics on the kingside are all in the imagination while White's space and material on the queenside are clear. And yes, a computer would likely defend perfectly and do quite well in these positions with white. But as Radjabov has shown with regularity over the past few years, and as Nakamura showed today, avoiding complications around the white king, and solving them once they come, is no easy task.

28..Qd3 is serious eye candy. Not just pretty, but devastating.

This event has been quite amazing, what with that Grischuk game (which is on another level altogether) and Corus hasn't even started! Yay for 2010: The Year we see Awesome Chess.

Grischuk #6 on the live rating list :) Morozevich #25 :(

Besides seeing the top 3 rated players in the competition all lose today, also surprising today was seeing the U.S. fielding a lineup with only one ex-Soviet player (Onischuck). Wonder when the U.S. was able to field such a lineup with so few ex-Soviet players.

"This event has been quite amazing, what with that Grischuk game (which is on another level altogether)"

Yep, I was going to say that if the Nakamura game deserves it's own post then Grischuk's king march to b1 on an open board filled with heavy pieces probably deserves its own blog! :)

Nakamura's win was very nice. Gelfand blundered but he'd have had to face a fierce attack even if he hadn't. Nakamura must have known the following game which Gelfand perhaps didn't: http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1503607 (it was mentioned by Chesspro in their commentary). The reason I'm pretty sure Nakamura was aware of it is that he was playing in the same tournament in Canada!

There's a report on the earlier game here: http://main.uschess.org/content/view/8680/471

"The first round also featured some hot King's Indian theory cooked up by Canadian-American GM Pascal Charbonneau and IM Irina Krush. Pascal told CLO "It's the first time ever I have had someone walk right into (home prep) like that...where it happens to be totally crushing. The final position is actually in our files." Pascal also gave his "second" in Montreal, Irina due credit: "Irina found Nh4." Nh4 contains the threat Bh3!, "it's really super complex." In the final position White resigned in view of the devastating entry of the queen into the attack after hxg1+ Rxg1 Qh4."

And Nakamura was actually staying with the guy! http://www.hikarunakamura.com/main/Blog/tabid/57/EntryId/36/Montreal-Round-1.aspx

"Overall the first day was nice as I am staying with the Charbonneau's, his great sisters and mum who I have not seen in years".

Here endeth my career as a private detective :)

Naka certainly knew the Charbonneau game...he was staying with him when it was played in round 1!


Nice sleuthing mishanp!

Thanks mishanp.
This is fertile ground for further investigation. I wonder if White could play 10.f4 instead of 10.b4? When I first studied the KID, I remember being told that 9....Nd7 was preferable to 9...Ne8 precisely so Black didn't lose connection with e5 and indirectly, influence on f4. I'd have to rethink that one, I guess.

A beautiful reply. I fear, however, that not everyone will understand you. And they never will.

Yes... great tournament. We only got our first draw today in India-Azerbaijan. The favorites in certain matches have not exactly been a given their points. Greece over Russia was a shocker!

Nakamura's win was nice as was Grischuk's king march up the board. Great for the fans.

In the last four rounds, this will be some exciting chess. All the contending teams will have to play at least two matches with each other, so things can change quickly. The USA plays Azerbaijan in the last round so that could be a crucial match. Gashimov has fallen out of form.

Let's see if host Turkey can get a match point. They play three of the four lower teams after having taken losses against five of the top teams.

I'm not sure why people always say those things about Nakamura. Over the years, he wins are never given full credit and his losses are always the result of never being an elite player and lacking understanding or being a blitz player.

I believe Mig's reply makes some excellent points and Tal is a good test case. I also remember Tal saying, "There are three types of sacrifices: sound, unsound and then mine." I may not have it quite right, but the point about facing a sacrifice only to later find it is unsound is a moot point.

Yeah, thanks mishanp - is this the first time you quote extensively from English-language sources requiring no translation? ,:) But apparently Chesspro was still the entry point.

I guess the game, nice as it was, wouldn't have gotten a separate entry if it didn't qualify for a "USA! USA!" tag? This is more observation than criticism. As significant credit should go to Irina Krush, Mig might even add a "Brooklyn!! Brooklyn!!" tag. As far as Naka letting his queen hang is concerned, maybe even I could do the same if I keep checking or threatening mate in 1. It isn't quite comparable to what happened in the following game (27.-Rh7, 51.-Rh8):
Any other examples??

Of course there was nothing wrong with THAT team draw where three games out of four were hard-fought, the last one between Petrosian and Gopal to the point of being bizarre: maybe the players tried to "beat" McShane-Short, but it was drawn after 104 moves (12 moves before the 50 moves rule would have applied).

There is one mistake in your post, or did I miss some truly breaking news: all of Aronian, Akopian, Sargissian and Petrosian going east and now representing Azerbaijan !!??

@g: "seeing the top 3 rated players in the competition all lose today"
Maybe Grischuk had a sixth sense of danger and rather took a rest day?
Games to watch today include first and foremost Gashimov-Gelfand and Sasikiran-Grischuk. I feel "pitty" for Gashimov, maybe he should get a break but doesn't get one.

"As long as it's two humans at the board, mistakes will be made. That's good, because otherwise every game would be drawn"

Mig, are you under the impression that every comp game is drawn? Or else, that as long as it's two comps at the board, mistakes will be made?

There's a photo report at Chesspro - http://tinyurl.com/ykds4dn (put through Google translate).

I agree that Gashimov-Gelfand should be interesting today. They both had amazing runs in 2009 and have both come unstuck here (Gelfand also had a tough loss against Aronian). Hopefully Gashimov will have recovered from the Grischuk loss by now!

"I guess the game, nice as it was, wouldn't have gotten a separate entry if it didn't qualify for a "USA! USA!" tag? "

Of course, TWIC's Mark Crowther and IM Malcom Pein, who highlighted and annotated the game on the same day it was played, are also USA sycophants and of course, were not wowed by the rarity of such a quality of Queen sacrifice against 2700+ opposition with serious World Championship candidate pedigree.

Why do people just like to make mean statements?

I was replying to mishanp (while not clicking on "Reply") who pointed out that Mig hasn't even mentioned Gashimov-Grischuk yet ... . As far as Mark Crowther goes ("It's been quite a while since I've seen such a spectacular game."), maybe he also missed the other game - the Internet transmission was particularly unreliable. Or 24 hours is "quite a while" by his standards??

Regarding queen sacrifices, yes it was a rare one - because in most cases the variations are longer than one (half-)move!

In summary: I do not consider my statement mean, but factual ... .

"In summary: I do not consider my statement mean, but factual ... "

Well, thanks for explaining your opinion - I think the similar treatment of the game by Pein and Mig shows that it is not "factual". Crowther/Pein shows that one does not have to be a USA sycophant to appreciate Nakamura's game.

Grischuk's game is clearly spectacular, but not in the same way - Nakamura's game is a one-sided demolition of a world #6 who has been world class for a very long time. Grischuk's game is a tussle that involved a very spectacular king walk, but king walk excepted (and that is a maybe), such high-wire tussles occur between World class players often enough. Just look at Grischuk-Aronian last year.

Since we're on the subject of noteworthy games won by Americans in sacrificial style, Kamsky's final round win over Almasi to clinch take first place at Reggio Emilia is of considerable interest. Actually the game featured 'only' a positional exchange sacrifice, but occasionally one encounters a Kamsky game that demonstates that his understanding can penetrate to inscrutable depths - and this is one of those games.

The Grischuk game was a bit like last year's Stellwagen-Anand.

"...but king walk excepted..."

Well yes, if you ignore what made it an amazing game then it wasn't an amazing game.

I don't know why you think "demolitions" of top GMs are that rare. Getting caught in a sharp line where your opponent's better prepared and a single mistake's enough to lose isn't uncommon at all. It was a nice game, but there's no sense in unnecessary hyperbole. We all already know that Nakamura's a very talented player - the draws with Kramnik and Carlsen showed that in London (though we knew it before that as well). It's good that he's getting back into the habit of winning before Corus.

Hi Mig (et. al.) - OK, I did give my PC more time and took it down several possibilities, for the better part of the past two days. Guess what? I still come to the same conclusions! 20. ... Bf8 was not a good move (20. ... h4 was slightly better, although Black just doesn't stand as well as White). Gelfand responded poorly with 21. d6; a more stern test would have been Bxf8.

Also, I get the same conclusion upon review of 23. ... Ng2.

So unless anyone cares to do the same and hit me back with some solid analysis, I stick with my original impressions. I'm certainly open to changing my mind if anyone cares to put in the time work as I have.

To understand the above post, please replace every "my" with "my PC".
I'm heartened to see that the human/computer divide has been utterly vanquished, and so soon into the decade!

"Gelfand responded poorly with 21. d6; a more stern test would have been Bxf8".

You can't have looked at it too deeply with your PC. 21. Bxf8 loses instantly to Nxe4 - that's the point of the novelty as played in Canada (and incidentally ...Nxe4 was the move that finally ended that game).

" I must say, however, that the best game of the event is from round 4, when Russian Champion, Alexander Grischuk played an absolutely amazing game against fellow Super GM Vugar Gashimov. Grischuk's king walk is the stuff dreams are made of."
Was this some anti-American dude? No, the quote is from GM Ben Finegold
Like me, mishanp and Laj Finegold is entitled to his opinion - if Aronian is right (only players rated >2200 can understand and appreciate games by super-GMs) he may be the only one? Of course I don't know your ratings, only mine.

Comparing the two games remains a matter of taste, also if Gelfand-Nakamura was really a "one-sided demolition". It rather was a typical KID decided by one mistake. While Mig just calls 24.Kg2: Rg7 "a nightmare", both Rybka (at Chessok) and Dennis Monokroussos (at Chessmind) analyze it to a fairly straightforward draw. The lines are identical, yet DM mentioned earlier that he does his own analyses and uses engines only to double-check - in other words, it was "a human draw"!?
But I wonder if noyb or his engine(s) find an advantage or win for white - else his categoric remarks wouldn't make much sense.

d6 just reflected the Knight sac, as Mig pointed out, White couldn´t find anything better on the board: after 24. Kxg2 Rg7+, just bad news: 25.dxc7 gxh2+ and here Kxg2 does not help, unless you switch your engines with plenty of time to pick Kh1 as the only move.

Just to correct something I wrote. 20...Bf8 wasn't a novelty in the Canadian game as at Chesspro the commentator mentioned this Arbakov-Gufeld game from the first league of the USSR Championship in 1986 (I couldn't find a link to it).

20... Bf8 21.Bg1 axb6 22.axb6 Rxa1 23.Qxa1 h4 24.h3 Bxh3 25.gxh3 Qc8 26.Kg2 Nh7 27.Nxe5 Nxe5 28.Bd4 Ng5 29.Rh1 Nd7 30.Nb5 Nxb6 31.Qa5 Nd7 32.Qc3 c6 33.dxc6 bxc6 34.Na7 Qc7 35.Bc4 c5 36.Bf6 Nxf3 37.Kxf3 Qxa7 38.Ra1 Qb7 39.Qb2 Qc6 40.Ra6 Qxa6 41.Bxa6 Rxf6 42.Bc4 Kh8 43.Be6 1-0.

However, the Nh4 & Nxg2 idea was first used in the Canadian game.

"In fairness to Finegold", he became more patriotic in today's blog entry:

"now we can look seriously at fighting for gold!" may be acceptable optimism 'a la Gashimov' (fact is that the USA still have to play Azerbaijan and Armenia, and didn't have a chance against Russia).

But what about his analysis of Diamant-Akobian?
After move 26: "The game is dynamically balanced, with both sides have potentially very dangerous passed pawns."
Two mistakes by white on moves 28 and 32 and it becomes "A nice smooth win by Var [elsewhere in his report] in a style that reminded me of Alexander Onischuk's best wins."
I hope for Onischuk, as well as Akobian, that they had "better wins" in their careers - than grabbing a piece after the opponent blundered and saying "thank you" .... .

Whoever wrote the Chessbase report clearly hadn't seen the Canadian game (and in any case you wonder what the knight on h4 is going to do other than sacrifice itself!): "23...Nxg2!! Double exclam for this beautifully unexpected move, and for the courage to play this against the world's number six player, who is 53 rating points above the American." http://chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=6049

One should point out to you that Finegold's comment on Gashimov-Grischuk was written after round 4 before the round 5 Gelfand-Nakamura game was even played. However, this would be a scenario where picking brilliancy prizes would suck since you have two such very deserving games.


Well, I also want to point out that Finegold did not annotate his favorite game of the tournament, but annotated Gelfand-Nakamura. Maybe it was patriotism, as he annotated Diamyant-Akobian too, but I'd like to think that most annotators are comfortable with straightforward games.


"I don't know why you think "demolitions" of top GMs are that rare."

They are rare in that particular *style*, even for one-move errors. Usually, as Crowther/Pein pointed out, top-GMs are able to avoid the most spectacular lines and go into something that gives them a chance to grovel on. With hindsight, it was probably the nature of this particular variation (as it is with some Sicilians and KIDs), and your efforts at teasing out the history of this variation were definitely illuminating. But many sham queen sacs for one move (let's not even get into 4 moves) did you remember in the last one year between two 2700s?

Finally, I have no problem admitting that in many ways, the Gashimov-Grischuk game might be the better game (or is the better game). My point is that one does not need to have a US bias to spotlight the Gelfand-Nakamura game for many reasons.

I have no problem with others having different opinions, but I have a problem if given facts are wrong or misleading:
- The Finegold quote IS from his round 5 report - else "however" and "from round 4" make little sense in the quoted sentence.
- He presents only games by American players. I wouldn't call this "patriotism", it's simply his job - he is paid by the Saint Louis Chess club who also sponsors the American team.
- "as Crowther/Pein pointed out, top-GMs are able to avoid the most spectacular lines ..." - (unless you refer to an earlier quote?) this is Laj rather than Crowther/Pein, it's nowhere in their report.

"most annotators are comfortable with straightforward games" is still a valid point, IMO for two reasons:
- limited time, at least in the context of an "express report". And Gashimov-Grischuk didn't qualify for an express report due to circumstances beyond both players' control: very unreliable live transmission (to put things mildly)
- limited space, e.g. in newspaper chess columns. I don't know if the TWIC piece actually is a newspaper column (some previous similar ones were), in any case it is written in the same style.

The Gashimov-Grischuk game begs for detailed analysis - to my knowledge so far only Peter Doggers (Chessvibes) and Dennis Monokroussos (Chessmind) took the required time. [Zagrebelny on Chesspro's live coverage had pre-picked Mamedyarov-Morozevich from the same round - not a bad choice either but in hindsight(!) not the best one].
Gelfand-Nakamura is more suitable for a "quickie", at least if the annotator doesn't even bother to have a close look on 24.Kg2: - after all not only the best/only, but also the most obvious move in the position. And is it really so hard to find 24.-Rg7 25.dc7: gh2:+ 26.Kh1! ? From a human perspective, you may get there simply by "process of elimination" - right after realizing that 26.Kh2: is losing or at least VERY dangerous.

BTW, Chessbase managed to "beat" Mig's nightmare statement: "We cannot be sure – that has to be left to the next ChessBase Magazine – but after 24.Kxg2 the white prospects look better than after the text move." This postdates other sources which analyze it to a rather forced draw - and in any case, white's prospects can't be worse than the game continuation losing by force.

The Pein/Crowther quote is: http://www.chess.co.uk/twic/chessnews/events/world-team-championship-2010

"Hikaru Nakamura won a spectacular brilliancy against Boris Gelfand in the USA's narrow win against Israel in Round 5. A number of huge blows on the kingside brought about ruinous loss of material for Gelfand. Such games are quite rare these days. Usually top Grandmasters avoid losing in such a publishable manner and manage to convert to something losing rather more prosaically. IM Malcolm Pein Annotates."

I'd agree it was a "publishable" manner, but in the end Gelfand did convert to being a prosaic piece down rather than mated, whereas lots of top GM games end close to mate. But in any case it was an attractive game - I love the threatened pawn mate, even if it needed an awful blunder by Gelfand to make it so significant (looking at it again I can't see what he could have missed other than simply Nxe1 completely - the thing is the lovely & perhaps hard to see at a distance Qd3 isn't necessary for black to win, as simply Qxc7 seems to do the trick). Nh4, Nxg2 & the threat of Bh3 etc. are the real star moves, but the earlier game means you can't quite really use them as evidence of Nakamura's tactical brilliance.

In a way you could say something similar about the Grischuk game - after Bf4 white's down something like 6 pawns, according to Rybka, and the king march possibly isn't that hard to see by process of elimination - but in any case it's amazing that it's possible on a chessboard. If you look at the position after 33. Bd2 you can see why the computer gives black a large advantage (an extra rook), but the only piece black has developed is his queen (& king!). You'd have thought white must somehow be able to give mate or at least perpetual check, but it turns the black king's completely safe.

Thomas, there's a Russian analysis of that game here: http://online.crestbook.com/vasa/2009/bursa-10-04-02.htm I think Chesspro actually did well to pick the Mamedyarov game as at least the moves were transmitted correctly for that one!

Just looking at Chessbase again I see they actually mentioned the Soviet game while missing the Canadian game:

"For the first twenty moves, the game followed a transposition of Arbakov-Gufeld (Soviet Championship, 1986), which saw White pull through in a complicated struggle. With 21.d6, Gelfand left the game referenced, leaving Nakamura to think on his own for a few moves".

And I can't help responding to their "the courage to play this against the world's number six player, who is 53 rating points above the American". No 2700 player needs to fear anyone, but in any case Gelfand had a brilliant second half to last year but from Jan-Jul 2009 he was rated 2733, and Nakamura peaked at 2735 in September, so stressing the rating difference is a bit silly.

The US (w/o Kamsky) is still tied for 1rst after 6 rounds. http://wtcc2009.tsf.org.tr/

Gelfand-Nakamura is beautiful. A masterpiece of the King's Indian's special magic.

Wow, and the host Turkish team takes down Israel for their first match win of the tournament!

If Turkey could have picked one victim beforehand, given international politics it might have been Israel (or maybe Armenia) ... .
And India just escaped from a draw against Egypt: Gopal on board 4 mated with R+B vs. R one move before the 50 move rule would have applied (the same ending was drawn between Pashikian and Malakhov, in a match more relevant for the top final standings).

"If Turkey could have picked one victim beforehand, given international politics it might have been Israel (or maybe Armenia) ... ."

...or maybe Greece - they had a lot to choose from :)

Morozevich lost today. Again. He hasn't been so succesful lately. Another bad tournament and he might drop below top 30 on the Elo rating list.

It's a witness to how severe the competition is among the super-GM's. For everyone rising, there is one going down on the same Elo-list.

Turkey and Israel are actually quite close, if not allies. They work together on a lot of issues. Armenia - yes historically but they have been having a round of football diplomacy and a thaw is imminent. Greece - positively lovey-dovey as Turkey gave them a wildcard.

Turkey and Israel ARE definitely - still - close allies. The little spat occurring after the Cast Lead slaughter didn't mean much in practice.

Gelfand-Naka was beautiful. I hope we get to see van Wely-Nakamura so the discussion of KID can continue at the highest level!.

"For everyone rising, there is one going down on the same Elo-list."

Bobby, is that not so by definition? :)

In a chessic context, I had the following in mind (from 23 November 2009):

Talking about the KID, today it was Radjabov's turn to win with black - with a piece sacrifice that looked rather unclear to my untrained eye.
And Ftacnik-Cvitan from the German Bundesliga in 1997 has certain similarities with Gelfand-Nakamura, including an arguably more spectacular queen sacrifice:

"Bobby, is that not so by definition? :)"

-Of course. I was just shocked to see Moro loosing so much altitude. It reminded me about that chess fans tend to notify more the players moving upwards, than the (equal number of) players in the elevator going down...


Thanks for providing the Crowther quote. Hopefully, Thomas does not see it as lying or misleading. I agree with what you wrote and you've demystified the game to my satisfaction.


Thanks for clarifying Finegold's role. I hope
Chessbase, that grand website of American sycophants, by providing analysis of the Nakamura game, and ignoring the Grischuk game, fit into your theory too.


Oh my ! , check out this article from chessvibes were Kosteniuk plays and replays in slow motion Magnus 's attempt of cheating at the Tal memorial:
This is the second time i saw this kind of rudeness in Carlsen's games , it seems like a very different person from his interviews , i hope he manages to correct this , it is really unpleasant to watch.

A simple error, not an "attempt at cheating."

In sports, it would be incredibly hostile to view every foul as an "attempt of cheating." If someone commits a lot of fouls, they earn a reputation for being a "dirty player," but that is most definitely not where Carlsen's at.

Well mishanp got me dead to rights on my eval of 20. ... Bf8 (thank you for pointing out the move mishanp, helpful to have proof/guidance). My PC (eight year old clunker of a laptop as I now have come to appreciate), just doesn't get past 21. Bf8 Ne4 with an eval worse than just slightly better for Black, even after 15 minutes of analyzing. Guess I better spring the bucks for a "modern" PC! Rybka on a bad processor isn't any better than say the old Sargon on Deep Blue!

But I still don't get the laudatory attitude about 23. ... Ng2. This just doesn't deserve the double-exclaims I read with incredulity on the CB; it doesn't win (OK, on my PC with over a half-hour of my time; hey, I'm not a Master, so give me a break. But I am trying to learn!). Isn't it just a draw at best after 24. Kg2? It's doesn't sound like I'm the only one to arrive at that conclusion.

I don't think Carlsen as a dishonest person at all , and i understand that among chess players such maneuver could pass unattended , but for the general audience is just too big , we are talking about the number one ranked player , an allegedly ambassador of the game...
If you don't agree go and show the video to some children ,What do you think they would say? Not to mention general audience and some sponsors...
I'm sorry but trying to bend the rules of the game AND leaving the board in anger is just too negative and unprofessional , or at least not very coherent to the promoted image of the kid.
Maybe i'm wrong and this is really common practice , in that case i suppose there should be many similar examples from players like Karjakin or Caruana to illustrate that .
But in any case ,IMHO it is a quite awful thing to watch regardless of who did it.

It was a reflex. He wasn't "trying" to do anything. Most people can understand the emotion and forgive the action. Things would be different if he'd made a big scene or public display of complaints about Alexandra falsely accusing him or spouting some other bogus lie or excuse or had a habit of big emotional outbursts. He just made a bad play, mildly showed disgust at his performance, and quietly accepted the consequences (loss) without complaint. No big deal.

A slightly bigger offense was Irina Krush slamming the pieces after losing in blitz to Anna Zatonskih in the US women's championship tie-breaks. But worse was her follow up tantrums about Anna's playing style and about the stupid, unfair rules.

Up a further notch on the rudeness scale was Mamedhyarov's cheating accusations against his opponent after he played a lousy game.

And the worst that I've seen at top levels in recent years was Topalov/Danailov's serious cheating accusations based on absurd evidence in toiletgate ("Kramnik's moves matched the computer 80% of the time," "There are cables in the ceiling in the bathroom," etc.)

If you're really trying to learn, why don't you try think with your own head about Nxg2?
> Isn't it just a draw at best after 24. Kg2?
It's tactical wilderness in any case. It's not about what will happen if your opponent can perfectly calculate everything. It's about what will happen if your opponent can calculate roughly as far as you can.

No sorry I have watched the video - it is unpleasant behavior from Magnus and not in the category of reflex. He returned the rook he had touched and moved and substituted a move with the other rook because the first move blundered a rook. Kosteniuk gestured and stopped the clock and Magnus just got up and walked away no hand shake - nothing. Anyone who has played tournament blitz knows this situation but anyway just getting up without a word or handshake its not the way - not at all. We all know what its like to lose to someone much lower rated. Lets not make excuses and just accept that it was a bad moment for Magnus. I am looking forward to his next tournament fully prepped up from working with Kasparov this is a scary prospect for the opponents!

On the Nakamura game it was fun and this is why folks play the KID. The king side attack moves themselves are very typical of black resources but it was very pretty especially the Queen offer. What is noticeable about Naka is this feeling that he gives off that he can beat anyone and fears no one - its good to see him doing well. There is till a slog ahead to get into the top 10 but he games like this make you feel he will do it.

It was obviously not a reflex action. If you observe him closely you can see him first go towards the rook on e1 then see Rb1 threatening h1#. He changes the rook then spots that the Q on f2 is exposed. Tries changing back, too late! :)
And I don't think he was intentionally rude, just plain disgust at himself for ruining a good position (and novelty).

I had missed the Crowther quote (because I went from the main page directly to the game, and didn't look at their tournament page). But I think you paraphrased it wrongly, unless "grovel on" just means "lose in a less publishable way" rather than "keep the game going, keep some drawing chances".

OK OK, it may be to some extent a trans-Atlantic Nakamura hype and not just a "USA! USA!" hype. Crowther/Pein grabbed their chance to glorify Naka, which they didn't get during the London event. Chessbase was accused earlier of being anti-Nakamura - for some reason people are very quick at accusing Chessbase of (m)any thing(s).

As far as the knight sacrifice is concerned, which comment is more accurate?
"Double exclam for this beautifully unexpected move"(Chessbase),or
"It included the typical Nxg2 sacrifice, a move “Black can’t do without in such positions”, as I think Kasparov once wrote." (Peter Doggers on Chessvibes).

So IMO, the proper evaluation may be in between !? (interesting move, but not THAT strong once the opponent recovers from the shock - and he shouldn't be shocked in the first place) and ! (best move in the position, slower ones may lose as white is faster on the kingside). At the most, it may be a "book brilliancy" rather than a Naka brilliancy"!?

Looking at Morozevich's past rating curve, he is currently doing nothing special, at least nothing unprecedented on the Moro scale:
Jan 2002 - 2742
Jan 2003 - 2678
Oct 2004 - 2758
Jul 2005 - 2707
Jul 2008 - 2788 (around here #1 on the live rating list for one or a few days)
currently - 2732 and going down
So while it's hard to predict his future, it might include going fown to 2650 and then up again to 2800 or higher? I won't predict when this will happen ... .

There is another top player whose rating curve since 2007 makes me really seasick - I won't give his name, anyone can guess first:

Oops, (regarding Gelfand-Nakamura and KID in general) of course I meant to say "White is faster on the queenside"!

Maybe the reason wh people do not remark upon it is that many of those players are like rubber bands- we know they will come bouncing back again next tournament.

"Isn't it just a draw at best after 24. Kg2? It's doesn't sound like I'm the only one to arrive at that conclusion."

No, here's Nakamura concluding the same: http://main.uschess.org/content/view/10023/571

And confirming what we thought about where he got the ideas from. But in any case I think Nxg2 is worth at least a single exclamation mark - white's down on time, under heavy pressure and has to find the right moves simply to draw, which is an almost ideal situation for black.

On Carlsen at the blitz - it's worth mentioning that he did the same thing twice that day (also against Gashimov, I think?), but also that he didn't do it again after that!

Chess.OK is broadcasting the WTC 8th round now:

You can follow Aronian - Nakamura and 6 other games with high quality Rybka3 analyzes.

Aronian and Naka is doing another sharp KID!

Two more tests for the KID today.
Aronian has gone for 9. Ne1 (v Nakamura) and Banikos (v Radjabov)for the Four Pawns. One thing's for sure, if Naka knocks off Aronian then people will REALLY sit up...


Here is the link to the organizers transfer of games, with correct time. Useful if the players enter zeitnot. (The clocks on PlayChess and ChessOK have not been much correct during this tournament).

Time usage after 20 moves:
Aronian 90min left.
Naka 60min left.
-Which means Aronian has played on his increments only (30sec/move). He must still be in known theory, in other words...

"He must still be in known theory ..."
It rather seems to be home preparation - theory known to him but not to his opponent and the rest of the world.
I fail to see the idea behind his queen maneouvre Qc2-c3-a5-b4, but I know little about the KID. And, as Aronian himself suggested: since my rating is below 2200 I cannot really understand or appreciate games by super-GMs!?

"I fail to see the idea behind his queen maneouvre Qc2-c3-a5-b4"

Obviously I'm not qualified to comment... but I don't think it was anything much more complex than offering a queen exchange that black couldn't really accept (as there'd be no mating attack on the kingside and white could convert his advantages elsewhere). b6, stopping the exchange, weakened the queenside - now it looks as though Rc6 at some point might give white an edge. If Nakamura accepts the exchange sac Aronian gets nice squares for his pieces plus a passed pawn - it's possible to ignore the rook on c6, but then black also has lots of threats to deal with each move. Of course Rc6 isn't a move you make too lightly. Tense stuff...

Magnus gets a burst of epinephrine, has a "fight" response, and the 18 year old kid gets it under control within seconds--not pretty, but not too bad and certainly not sinister and a horrible blot on his character.

What is going on in Aronian-Naka? ChessOK hasn't had any new moves for a while (after 27 . . . Bd8).

Is Aronian having a long think about Rc6?

Yes, maybe it is this subtle - spending three moves (but maybe not three tempi) to create a potential(?) weakness on c6. This is not the way to play a "publishable" game!?
The live transmission seems to be broken again at the moment. Last time it worked, in the Armenia-USA match this role seemed to go to Pashikian.

Back to Aronian-Nakamura: After move 27, there seems to be some sort of stalemate - both sides have their weaknesses (over)protected. But can Nakamura get something going on the kingside with his queen (presently) tucked away on b8? I may be proven wrong, the game can still explode.

Lovely play by Aronian - when you see blacks Queen going to b8 thats a bad sign. The key is whether black can get momementum on the king side often that means getting in g4 or thematic play with the knights. Levons play is very instructive with his trade mark exchange sac

Wow, lucky escape for Aronian and Nakamura will kick himself. 41. Nxg5 should throw away the advantage, but now it's over - thanks to Naka allowing 42. Rb6!!

At least Nakamura got the chance to sacrifice his knight on g2 again (move 52), but it is a bit too late.

Has Naka resigned after 53. Qa6+ ?

Remaining 3 games draw between Armenia and USA. Armenia wins 2,5 - 1,5 due to Aronian beating Nakamura.

Hey Bartleby - Uh, if you've taken the time to read my posts, you'd understand that I have taken the time to "use my own head" and I stated the concluson at which I arrived. You gonna just insult people, or would you like to use YOUR own head and put forth your analysis? Anybody can sit back, troll and take pot-shots. At least I'm trying to learn. Gee, maybe other players can at least learn from my mistakes if stronger players will help out. Help a brother out man, don't leave me ignorant!

noyb, since when is defining your opinion precisely on what a machine has to say "using your own head"? What am I missing here?

The only thing Russia has to do in order to win this championship is NOT to let Morozevich play tomorrow, but i'm afraid they will let them play.
The team captain is too young and lacks authority.
I think extremely unstable, unpredictable and individualistic players should not play in team competitions.
If Russia plays with Kramnik/Svidler/Grischuk/Karjakin/Jakovenko/Malakhov in the upcoming Olympiad, they will be unbeatable.

Steven - Morozevich's record in team tournaments speaks for itself.


They will not be unbeatable, but they will be the favorites. They have a 2750 average team in Dresden that was thought to be unbeatable. However, I must say Karjakin is a much more stable player that either Morozevich or Rublevsky (who both played in Dresden).

Yeah, by all means kick Moro out. Maybe he could be exhibited in some kind of chess zoo instead of representing his country.

Being out of shape can happen to anyone, but the problem with Morozevich is that he cannot switch to safe mode, which means playing for a draw or in any case playing without excessive risks against often lower rated opponents.
I think switching to safe mode can be crucial in team competitions.

He is a massively strong player. He can switch to any mode he chooses methinks.
He gets a bad run now and again, hopefully that will stop soon.

Why so many peoples say no head for noyb. He has head is so.

I guess some data on Moro's results in team competitions cannot hurt:
Olympiad 2006 - TPR2695
European Team Championship 2007 - TPR2855
Olympiad 2007 - TPR2720
ETC 2009 - TPR2820
current WTC - TPR2516
With his risky style, he was "match loser" in some cases (e.g. 2008 against Ukraine), but also match winner at other occasions (both 2007 and 2009 against Armenia). Also worthwhile mentioning: At the last WTC, Russia needed to beat China 3.5-0.5 in the final round to "steal" gold from them, and Morozevich won the last and decisive game (with black against Ni Hua from an almost equal ending).

Altogether, this tournament was a negative outlier for Morozevich. Maybe steven is still right that Moro shouldn't play tomorrow, but it would go too far to kick him out of the Olympiad team just because of this tournament. (He would be out if they select strictly by rating and the current live rating situation doesn't change to the better for him. However, it is apparently unclear if Karjakin can play for Russia at the forthcoming Olympiad.)

The tournament situation before the final round:

1) Russia just needs a draw against Israel to claim gold (with 99% certainty).

2) USA and Azerbaijan basically fight for silver against each other. They could get gold if Russia loses. If Russia draws, the USA could still get gold if they win 4-0 but that seems unlikely. Some might say "what about Dresden?" when the USA beat Ukraine 3.5-0.5 in the final round but the situation was different: Back then they had not much to lose but could win a lot (bronze after a slow start into the tournament). Now they can win a lot, but also lose "everything".

3) If India beats Brazil, they will in any case get bronze! Not bad for a last-minute replacement team that lacked their by far strongest player - would this be the first medal ever for India?

This also means that the loser of USA-Azerbaijan (or the Azeris if the match is drawn) will be out of the medals (with 90% certainty?).

Thomas, if India doesn't win against Brazil, the US could get bronze even with a loss to Azerbaijan (though ofc I hope it won't come to that). It seems like a split match almost clinches silver for the USA but of course that could be a disastrous for Azerbaijan so they have every interest to make sure things stay complex.

Also here's the link to Nakamura's own analysis of the Gelfand game. http://main.uschess.org/content/view/10023/571


Nothing terrible re Carlsen.

--It took place under extreme time pressure.
--It was not premeditated.
--It was an expression of disgust with himself, not with the opponent.
--He generally demonstrates a strong record of respect for other players
--And he's a very young man.

There's really no comparison of this small event with the hot-headed Irina, the nasty Shak, or the serially disgusting/embarrassing Topalov/Danailov.

A split match with Azerbaijan guarantees silver for the USA: With a 4-0 against Brazil India could catch up based on match and board points, but then the direct result USA-India is a tiebreaker in favor of the Americans. If the USA loses and India doesn't win, Armenia could "suddenly" claim bronze with a clear win against Egypt (here the second tiebreaker is in favor of Armenia).

Of course all teams involved should "simply try to do their best" and neither worry too much about the other matches (maybe a bit at some later stage when results start coming in?) nor play for a match draw. It is dangerous enough to play just for a draw from move 1 on one board, very risky to do so on all four boards!

At the Dresden Olympiad final round, the task of the US team may have been "easier" - "we need nothing less and nothing more than a miracle" AND help from other teams, all came true in the end.
See http://www.chessninja.com/dailydirt/2008/11/olympiad-rithmatic-hope-for-usa.htm
Ironically, this time the clear and deserved Olympiad winner Armenia would need a similar miracle ... .

All this talking of gold and silver and bronce like this is big olimpics which is not. Sound very puffed up for only just a little tornament.

You can come up with different names for the awards if you'd like, Stoopid, but that's what the awards are called in this particular tournament.

Yes... I calculated the same in my report. Russia may push on one board to assure the gold. A Russia-Israel draw would still give the USA a mathematical chance although 4-0 against Azerbaijan is IMPOSSIBLE... IMPOSSIBLE. I believe India will get the job done against Brazil.

I believe USA should have played Hess/Robson more. They'll have their time though.

No Greg - its not terrible or a huge matter but it was unpleasant and falls below the standard expected of a top player and its definitely not an example you would want young chess players to see and emulate. He is the world no 1(no 2 at the time)The age point is irrelevant he has been playing top level chess for years and he was almost 19 years old. Time pressure and premeditation are not the issue - all blitz is extreme time pressure. Whether its just self disgust or lack of respect is your speculation. Actually I dont think he would have just walked away like that against an elite player or any 2700 + player. He lost to Naka in the 2nd game of the blitz from an overwhelming posiiton but did not walk away. While we are on the subject there were 2 prior examples of him not respecting the touch move rule in that tourney (world blitz)and of course the Monaco incident against Aronian for which Magnus later apologised (letting go of a piece - again a rook - and then trying to switch it to another square - Aronian called the referee)

Again it is not a big deal but its not great: the 2 things together trying it on by switching to another piece move when he spotted the blunder and walking away when the opponent stops the clock and calls you on it. Its a small criticism - we admire our champions when they exhibit modesty politeness, professionalism and sporting behaviour and conversely we criticise them when they do not.

Greves Detectives is a New Delhi (India) based investigation agency, providing a broad range of investigative services to corporate, government and legal clients.

Greves Detectives is a New Delhi (India) based investigation agency, providing a broad range of investigative services to corporate, government and legal clients.

Naka did the right thing. Facing an oponent like Aronian, top 5 in the world, with black. Naka went for a sharp KID variant. The US team needed the full point. Naka played a tough game, with good winning changes, untill Aronian broke through on the queenside. It was worth the chance, and quite a show too, in my opinion. Well fought by Naka, in spite of loosing the game.

I think his fearless style will make him a popular guest with tournament organizers in the future.

All four boards in USA-Azerbaijan drawn simultaneously, and soon after move 30 - which means that the USA have silver, and Russia can relax (it doesn't look like they're winning against Israel, but now they need only 1/2 point to win gold ....):

What I don't understand: Why did Azerbaijan play with the (at least nominally) weakest possible team - leaving out both Gashimov and Radjabov?

Gelfand-Grischuk drawn on move 30 means gold for Russia - quite a strange end to this tournament!

Gashimov was unwell, apparently, while Radjabov remains a mystery: http://extratime.az/article.php?aid=10718

But if they'd already decided to draw the match then I guess it made no difference (sparing Radjabov losing a point or two?).

Russia are close to another 3.5-0.5 win after sensibly leaving out Morozevich - though I don't agree with him being a liability for team competitions in general. When he's in form he's ideal for playing the Mamedyarov role of bamboozling weaker opponents.

Another case where the King being brought to the center of the board causes confusion.. In the game Harikrishna-Fier, Hari played 52. Kd2 and Fier resigned; and the game got updated later to 52.Ke4 .. which is a legal move in that position but not the one actually played.

And India did it against Brazil with 1 game still in progress where Ganguly is pressing. I blv this is the first medal for India in world team competitions. Very well done! The team shd celebrate this well deserved medal performance.

All the more surprising why Azer didn't push for sharper games to push for a medal, as they are now #4/5 with Armenia.

Thomas : OK OK, it may be to some extent a trans-Atlantic Nakamura hype and not just a "USA! USA!" hype. Crowther/Pein grabbed their chance to glorify Naka, which they didn't get during the London event. Chessbase was accused earlier of being anti-Nakamura - for some reason people are very quick at accusing Chessbase of (m)any thing(s).

After being shown three examples (Mig, Chessbase, TWIC) of sites that spotlighted the Naka game and missed the Grishcuk game, rather than accept that it is nothing American per se, it now becomes "trans-Atlantic Nakamura hype", though Finegold, paid to annotate American games, obviously did not get the memo when he proclaimed the Grischuk game his favorite. (Applause!!!)

NOTE: By the way, this is not to say that missing they all shouldn't be taken to task for missing the Grischuk game (they should). But are they all really guilty of American bias? I wish I could let you be the judge, but I know the quality of your judgment already.

Yes, Russia finished on a high note - I had a too cursory look at the games, in particular I underestimated Vitiugov's compensation for the rook he was down (and unsure if it was a sacrifice or a blunder). BTW, Vitiugov is the "secret star" of the Russian team: he now has 5.5/6 and a TPR of roughly 2900 - but somehow games on board 4 tend to escape some people's attention, at least mine.

As far as Azerbaijan is concerned: "if they'd already decided to draw the match" - that's exactly the point, why on earth should they want a team draw?

And now all can have there gold and silver and bronce things and go away. Teams is no good only players for them selfs is any good.

Congratulations to India for their first medal! The "replacement killers" did a good job in the circumstances. And they managed to hold their nerve in the last few rounds.

Let's leave comparisons between Gelfand-Nakamura and Gashimov-Grischuk. As I pointed out before, there may have been reasons for [initially] missing the other game (poor live transmission) or not covering and analysing it (too challenging for express analyses). If Gashimov-Grischuk didn't exist, Nakamura may have played the (unequivocal) game of the tournament or at least of the first eight rounds. Today there was Vitiugov-Rodshtein which can also compete - hard to say how much of it was home analysis (I remember seeing the messy position after move 15 earlier in this event).

If you read the next paragraph of my previous post, even then I consider some comments on 23.-Ng2: overly zealous. As far as TWIC is concerned, yesterday they added a second story about Gelfand-Nakamura - beyond that, they still have only reports and rounds 2 and 3.

"I wish I could let you be the judge, but I know the quality of your judgment already."
"I disagree with you" = "your judgment is of poor quality"!?
This is your standard and debating technique, not mine ... .

What's wrong with the Azerbaijani team? Why did they accept to fix their game with the USA (assuming, of course, that it was a fixed draw)? Why not compete for the silver medals and prefer instead no medal at all?

I was wondering myself why AZE would go for such a team draw. And I am pretty sure it was a package draw by agreement, since all four players drew in moves 30-33, long before any of the other results in the other matches appeared.

(On the other hand, they didn't draw instantly, they spent some time on their games... so maybe one team or the other wanted to see what they could get out of the opening first? )

Anyway, for one thing, neither Gashimov nor Radjabov was on hand. That left Guseinov on board 1 to face Nakamura. In the discussion on ICC, someone posted an article in Russian from an Azeri sports site which (I didn't translate it) apparently said that Gashimov was ill, and I don't know what it said about Radjabov.

So, one scenario is that Gashimov was supposed to play Board 1, and Radjabov went off about his business, and then Gashimov got sick? But this raises the question, did the Azeris agree to the draw because of their short lineup, which would make sense, or did they play without their top boards because they knew they had the agreement - in which case I still really don't understand it, so maybe it was the first scenario?

Then the other thing I don't understand is, why did the Azeri team put Guseinov, who was rated #5 on their team, at roughly 2600, on board 3 ahead of Mamedyarov who outrates him by 150 points or so?? I didn't even believe this was so at first, since if you go to the Tournament site and click on the Azeri flag and get the list of players with photos, it shows Guseinov as first Reserve (that is, board 5)! But apparently in the actual team list they submitted before the tournament, which is somewhere else on the site, they made him Board 3, which ended up getting him paired with Nakamura instead of Mamedyarov when the two top players didn't show. Was this strategy, or a weird clerical error, or the consequence of some odd rule, or what?

Obviously, they came to the tournament to win gold and probably couldn't care less about the bronze. It would still be an underperformance for them. And why push hard for a win and risk losing against the very strong US team when two of your top players are out of line up?

smells like another azmai bribe-deal.
azerbaijan+azmai = something nasty. off the corruption scale.

-Maybe they just had a plane to catch? 8-)
(The truth is not always so complicated)

Playing Mamedyarov, arguably their best player, on a low board has been a tactic for a while now - and it works pretty well (though perhaps it should be outlawed). The player lists are here: http://wtcc2009.tsf.org.tr/component/option,com_turnuva/task,show/dosya,7/Itemid,7/lang,turkish/

Another possible reason for the draw was that it guaranteed that Azerbaijan finished above Armenia, at least on board points. Hopefully extratime.az will get to the bottom of it at some point (that's the site that mentioned Gashimov was unwell but didn't know why Radjabov didn't play).

They were (possibly) weakened by illness of 1 or 2 players, the US is a team performing very well and by arranging or playing for a draw they knew they would finish ahead of their eternal foe : Armenia.

Slightly off topic (though we're talking about draws and Corus is in a few days...), but there's a Q&A session with Karjakin at crestbook.com where he takes issue with Sofia rules and FIDE: http://www.crestbook.com/?q=node/1125

"Well, I don't like the Sofia rules much at all. I'll give a simple analogy - the tournament in Wijk-aan-Zee, which has conditions on a whole different level to those at the Grand Prix, is played over 13 rounds with 3 rest days and without Sofia rules. The Grand Prix has fewer rest days and by the end of the tournament all the players have accumulated so much tiredness that the quality of chess is noticeably lower.

The prize fund is also less. And watching over you are FIDE bureaucrats who decide if you can agree to a draw or not. Moreover they receive no small amount of money without having to put in much effort at all. Personally for me it's much more pleasant to play at Wijk. There aren't that many short draws, but the quality of the games and the "pleasure" of playing there are incomparably higher".

Actually it's not just on draws that Karjakin comes across as "old school". He also prefers the 6 hour time control and says that he's not such a child of the computer age as he's been made out to be - though he mentions the biggest change in chess being that there's no longer such a category as "unclear" for openings. All of them now have a clear assessment.

He resists the temptation to say anything too controversial about switching his citizenship or Carlsen, though the comments on Nakamura are perhaps newsworthy:

"What's your relationship with Nakamura like? Memorable games with him? What sort of person (chess player) is he?

I once lost heavily to him in a match, though at the time I was too young. As a person - he has two different personalities, one - on the internet, the other - when you meant him in person. On ICC his behaviour is dirty and disgusting. The last time I beat him in a match and censored him :) But when you meet him he behaves perfectly acceptably - you can see that after all he has a sense of danger :)"

The smileys are Karjakin's :)

Why Azma needed to bride American??? American team was definitely happy to take a draw and guarantee silver, and indeed they needed to catch a plane - 3 of its players will be at Corus A/B/C. After Azerbaijan showed their line-up for the last game it was clear they don't care to win. Either they lost motivation, or there was some rift in the team. Azeri sites report that Gashimov didn't feel well and Radjabov played most of his games with black (maybe they just chickened out to play black with Nakamura). Anyway, congratulations to US team.

Unless if someone officially confirms it, one can only assume the USA vs. Azerbaijan result was fixed.

Several questions pop-up:

1. Does result fixing diminish USA's achievement as silver medalist?
2. Is it fair to force Nakamura to lose rating points drawing against his lower rated opponent?
3. Does the Azerbaijani team really only care about gold? Had they competed and won Silver, they would have snobbed at such a result?

Of course, the bigger issue is whether it is ethical to fix results? (assuming they did)

Do you expect team captains officially confirm they decided to drew the match:)? It does not diminish US team's success anyway - its hard to predict how things will go if Azeri team would decide to give a fight.
Rauf Mamedov of Azeri team told in a quick interview he thinks his team did not deserve medals this time. Seems to me they had a leader problem in the last round, so given circumstances it was probably wise not to take any chances. At least they accomplished their local task - won Armenia and passed them in the final standing :).

Yep, if Azerbaijan had won today's match they would have received silver (not bronze) which cannot be called an underperformance. Isn't the nominally strongest team - Russia - "allowed" to actually win at least once in a while? IMO they deserved it in the end, notwithstanding their slow start. Actually they often seem to have a slow start into a team tournament, the difference this time was that they didn't have a weak finish - ironically they could have afforded it (0.5-3.5 against Israel still would have been enough for gold, once the other match was drawn).

As tu guru's questions: I guess noone will officially confirm or admit that the result was fixed - I think there is some rule that this is forbidden. Still I don't think both USA and Azerbaijan would be disqualified, giving silver to India and bronze to Armenia.

Nakamura could have avoided losing rating points simply by not playing - but I guess even more eyebrows would be raised if the USA had also rested their top boards. Otherwise it's part and parcel of team competitions - sometimes you also concede a draw (e.g. give perpetual check in an unclear attacking position) to seal match victory. I will pass on the two other questions ... .

>> (Vugg): Obviously, they (AZB) came to the tournament to win gold and probably couldn't care less about the bronze. It would still be an underperformance for them.

of course they (and at least a few others like ARM, USA, ISR all came to fight for Gold), but the suggestion that they could care less abt silver (not bronze) doesn't sound reasonable. RUS is higher rated (who for once lived upto their top billing) and finishing behind RUS for silver wouldn't be an underperformance by any stretch.

I tend to agree with the other suggestions abt other issues (leadership/strategy or some other internal issues, besides the announced health issue).

Packaged match deals (i.e. 2-2 or 1-3 or whatever) may be common amoung teams from the former Soviet Union...

..and they may be common enough in the Olympiad


but they don't sit well with a US public where no similar thing is allowed in any televised sport.

We already have a rules debate each year about 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 1/2-1/2 non-games in Swisses -- we really don't need to pay our players to participate in fake matches.

It is bad for those who say Nakamura dirty and disgusting on ICC.

Good stuff, mishanp. I liked the "feeling of danger" bit. I think that calls for a Karjakin vs. Nakamura chessboxing match.

Speaking of interviews and Carlsen touch-move controversy, has the recent Bareev interview for the chesspro.ru website been translated anywhere? It has some good old fashioned controversy/drama regarding Carlsen and Nepomniatchi. If not, I might try to track it down and do a little translating myself - it was definitely a good one.

Good stuff mishamp , thx.
I have some questions, though :
Why is it that Karjakin relates Sofia rules with FIDE bureaucrats ?
I thought the Sofia rules 's application depended on referees and were almost automatic ...
I also don't understand why the "simple analogy" about Sofia rules is about resting days and Prix tournaments ... Is there something missed in the translation?
It is really funny to hear him talking about Nakamura 's sense of danger , he himself seems to be a little feeble for a fist fight.


Here is how chessbase.com describes the USA vs Azerbaijan match:

USA vs Azerbaijan: Onischuk and Akobian agreed quick draws with black. This left Nakamura and Shulman trying to convert a small edge in drawish positions, which in the end both drew, which was a bit surprising as they both had a small edge and it took some pressure off the Russians. But in pure chess terms it was fair enough.

Three lines only describing the (arguably) most important match of the round.

After Nakamura's brilliant games against Gelfand and Aronian, one would expect him to roll over Guseinov. But he was "trying to convert a small egde".


Trying to convert a small edge may be just as promising an approach - particularly against a nominally weaker opponent - and it's less risky. In the given tournament situation, Azerbaijan had to take risks because _they_ needed to win the match. Moreover, it takes two for a brilliancy, I would say twice in the game:
- the opponent has to "comply" playing a sharp opening (even against the KID, white isn't obliged to enter the sharpest lines)
- he has to make at least one mistake or inaccuracy to turn a brilliant game into a brilliant win.
So "nothing wrong with Nakamura"!?

Mamedyarov might also have been expected to roll over Akobian, but the queen exchange on move 13 could be a sign that he was in a peaceful mood (13.Qd2 rather than 13.Qd4 may not be better, but less drawish). A bit later he "pretended" (!?) to fight declining a repetition on move 22 - still this may be the game that looks most prearranged.

As far as the Chessbase report is concerned, I wonder if it is fully accurate because (from the live transmission) it seemed that all four draws were agreed simultaneously, or within just a few minutes - Shulman and Naka didn't spend much time or many moves trying to convert their small advantages!?
For the rest, "in pure chess terms" this match didn't really deserve more than three lines - unless one wants to enter speculations about the team draw being prearranged. Oh wait, they could have mentioned the names of the Azeri players - but didn't.

"I also don't understand why the "simple analogy" about Sofia rules is about resting days and Prix tournaments ... Is there something missed in the translation?"

-Karjakin points out that more rest days gives less player fatigue and, consequently, less quick draws during the last rounds.
Seems he has some misgivings about the Grand Prix conditions, where FIDE is taking a 20% cut from the prize money, applying Sophia rules and setting up a more wearing schedule. In contrast to Corus, who offers more rest days and better money.


I believe not all tournaments can match the good conditions of Corus and Amber. The money involved in international chess is still small, compared with more popular sports. The players have to take what they can get.

I wonder how much money a professional GM can earn? If you disregard Anand, Carlsen, Topalov and the few very top super-GM’s who really cash-in, then I think the pay is less than expected. Also, their peak period is short. They sacrifice education and alternative job careers. It means that the income from the peak years also must cover many, many years thereafter.

This is probably one of the main reasons why so (relative) few professional players are coming from western countries with a high standard of living. (Pardon the generalization).
A fresh example from Norway: Our second best player, GM Hammer, just chose to enter university. Studies are subsidized by the Norwegian government. After 5 years he can take a secure job earning brut €60-70,000.-/year. The salary will increase every year until he retires at 67. Then he will get a super pension for the rest of his life.
If he chooses chess, he must pay his chess education from his own pocket. He must live from the price money, and he will receive only the minimum citizen pension. Also he must accept to be a traveler, - a lifestyle not easily combined with family. (Magnus Carlsen had 200 days on the road in 2009). Unless Hammer can reach top 10, it will be a poor choice in regard to the 2 most important things in life: Family and economy.

In contrast, players coming from countries with a lower standard of living are “relatively” more economically attracted to a professional chess carrier. Some of these countries also have active governmental support of chess.

"For the rest, "in pure chess terms" this match didn't really deserve more than three lines - unless one wants to enter speculations about the team draw being prearranged. Oh wait, they could have mentioned the names of the Azeri players - but didn't."

That is exactly the point I was trying to make. This match was supposed to be the climax of the whole tournament. They fixed the result. That made it a fake match. All eight players looked bad. Had you ever seen Nakamura "try to convert a small edge"?

By the way, Mamedyarov was playing on board two while Akobian on board four.

Nevermind. Let's move on...

Russianbear, I translated part of Bareev's interview here (it's great stuff, though he does seem to be suffering from depression!): http://www.chessninja.com/dailydirt/2009/12/world-cup-09-r4-tiebreaks-elo-rules-again.htm#comment-210401

There was more on Chessgames from alexmagnus: http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessplayer?pid=52948&kpage=1909

Manu, you'd have to ask Karjakin about Sofia rules & FIDE - though it makes sense to me. The respect and prestige chess players are held in has changed dramatically over the last hundred years ago & you could say FIDE's treatment of players and Sofia rules are both symptomatic. It's hard to imagine Capablanca and co. agreeing to have some official tell them when they can make a draw. As a selfish 21st-century chess fan with a poor attention span I generally quite like it :) but a large tournament like Corus doesn't need it as something's always going to happen if you have 7 games a day.

I think the smiley is important with the "sense of danger" comment! Though in general if Nakamura behaved the same way in person as on ICC he'd presumably be in some danger from a few other players - anyone want to come up with a Top 10 Hardest GMs :)

@bobby : Interesting take , nice country you have :)

@mishamp: " It's hard to imagine Capablanca and co. agreeing to have some official tell them when they can make a draw."

That's what i don't get , Sofia rules are almost automatic and applied by arbiters , not officials...
They also had little to do with resting days and money price ... , if a player wants the "right" to draw in 20 moves it's fine with me , but he should come up with something more consistent...
I don't play at ICC , what is this dirty behavior from Naka they are talking about? Does he curse or disconnect?
Anyway , as an ITF 1rst dan i can say that only Mamedyarov (from the top 10) seems to qualify for a decent fight .

There's still quite a lot of leeway with whether a position is "theoretically drawn", I suppose. You're right that it should be the arbiter and a "technical adviser" making the decision - I remember in Moscow Leko and Ivanchuk being irritated that they had to ask weaker chess players to assess their position, even though I assume they had nothing against them personally. I think there's also the shadow of Makropoulos & co. making money on the Appeals Committee.

Sofia rules aren't directly related to the other issues, but it's typical of FIDE that they impose Sofia rules, give almost no rest days (ensuring the players end up exhausted), and don't provide a reasonable prize fund to compensate.

"Had you ever seen Nakamura "try to convert a small edge"?"
Two of his wins from San Sebastian come to my mind, against Vachier-Lagrave and Vallejo Pons:
Maybe not close analogies: The first game started as a sharp theoretical Sicilian, and maybe Naka's advantage in the ending (once the smoke had cleared) wasn't THAT small. The second game still included sort of a kingside attack in an "eight-pieces endgame". Still, Nakamura doesn't always need to mate his opponent (or win lots of material) to play a decisive game.

Likewise(?), Shirov is well-known for "Fire on the Board", but is also an excellent endgame player.
Conversely, Kramnik annotated his win against Mamedyarov (Tal Memorial 2007) in NIC commenting "one of the rare cases where I win with queens still on the board". But that was before his recent change of style.


Thanks for the reference games. Appreciate it.

I agree that top players, including Nakamura, are versatile. However, I still, suspect that the USA vs Azerbaijan match was a fake.

I hope the USA will not have to payback at a later time.

Nakamura some time keeps playing when he has only king against king and queen but Nakamura has 3 second left on clock to opponents only 2 second. And Nakamura win on time very dirtly and make big disgust all over world.

Can only assume irony, Luke.

Set your own life more easy get the home loans and all you need.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on January 9, 2010 2:30 PM.

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