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Linares 2010: Topalov Triumphant

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Fighting to the last move, Topalov ended Linares with a win over Boris Gelfand that gave him clear first place on a +3 score. Like all of his wins here, this one was far from perfect, but it was also typical of his style, his refusal to quit, and his ability to exploit his opponents' mistakes to the maximum. Grischuk and Topalov began the round tied for first with most tiebreaks favoring the Russian defending champ. A few hours into the round thing were looking very good for Topalov. Vallejo had a strong position against Grischuk's Sicilian and Boris Gelfand had let his enthusiasm for swapping pieces get the better of him and lost an exchange to a simple trap. Another hour later and the picture had shifted again. Vallejo, still with a plus and with a few minutes more than Grischuk, forced a repetition. "The final position was the best one I had the entire game," Grischuk told me on Chess.FM afterward while waiting for Topalov's result. That meant if Topalov drew, Grischuk would get the trophy regardless of Gashimov's result. (I believe there was one arcane possibility of blitz tiebreaks if Grischuk, Topalov, and Aronian all won.)

Meanwhile, Topalov had, somewhat inexplicably, quickly given back the exchange to reach a R+4 vs R+3 endgame that was not at all simple to win, especially against a technical expert like Gelfand. But it was also hard to draw, as these things tend to go! Grischuk, who was in the press room consulting with his second, Khismatullin, eternal Linares kibitzer extraordinaire Ljubo Ljubojevic, and a computer, had more confidence in the computer and Gelfand than anyone else, saying he thought the Israeli would hold the draw and make him the Linares champion for the second year in a row. I say that about confidence in Gelfand because Grischuk admitted that he and the other GMs in the room couldn't find the draw for Black! But the computer was showing 0.00 and since the rook endgame was by then well into tablebase range in the search, there was no reason to doubt it. But it wasn't easy at all and, unfortunately for Grischuk, Gelfand showed why a few moves later with a losing mistake.

I was on the air with Alex Yermolinsky, the Yermonator doing a fab job in his Chess.FM debut, and rook endgame sage Speelman was also lending a hand. From all the tries they made the only thing that we were sure of was that there were many ways for Black to lose and very few for him to draw. In the end, the losing mistake was leaving his king on e8 instead of getting it off the back rank before pushing the a-pawn. This gave Black a winning difference over the line we'd been looking at much earlier that would have been reached (in a different move order than our analysis) after 49..Ke7 50.Kc7 a2 51.Rh7+ Ke6 52.Rh6+ Ke7 53.Ra6 Rxc3 draw. But with the white king still on c6 protecting the c5 pawn, it's a simple win.

Gelfand made things tough on himself with the strange king move to e8, and after a long think at that. 48..Ke6 was fine, staying out of trouble by keeping the white king or c5 pawn in the way of the white rook's access to the a-file after a check. Black is still threatening ..a2, so White can't make progress. Again, if the white king goes to c7 it's a draw because the king isn't protecting the c5 pawn, which gets picked off after ..a2. This isn't terribly difficult (by that late point) and to me this shows how Topalov owes so much of his success to handling pressure better than his opponents. Gelfand knows his endgames as well as anyone in the world and spent a long time on 48..Ke8?!, the first step on the road to oblivion he took on the next move with 49..a2?? White keeps both his pawns, the black pawn is frozen on a2 while the white king and pawns advance. Topalov finished with the pretty little flourish GM Yermolinsky had shown us much earlier, giving up his rook and promoting thanks to the shield provided by his doubled pawn. (The immediate 48..a2 also draws, if differently, thanks to the black king infiltrating. 49.Rd7+ Ke6 50.Ra7 Rb2 and White can only move his rook up and down the file. 51.Kc7 Kd5 or 51.c4 Ke5. Black can still go wrong after, say, 51.Ra5 Ke7 52.Kc7 and Black has to find 52..Rb5! to draw. 48..Ke6 seems easiest to me, but there's always a good chance I'm missing quite a bit.)

A flawed fighting game just like almost every other decisive Linares encounter this year, and so a fitting conclusion. Topalov didn't have his best stuff but he complicated constantly, pitched out of trouble again and again, and outplayed his opponents when it mattered most. Congratulations to him on his first Linares title! He collects 75,000 euros, $100,000 dollars. Grischuk pockets 50K euros.

Aronian picked up a consolation win of sorts, beating Gashimov in the final round to break his personal record streak of nine consecutive draws. He had a ways to go for the Linares record, however. In fact, that wouldn't even have been possible with this year's smaller field. Leko drew all 12 of his games in Linares 2005, the same year Topalov beat Kasparov in the final round of Garry's last tournament to tie him on points. Aronian will even add a rating point or two on the deal despite getting into serious trouble on several occasions and generally sleepwalking through the event. It's almost more impressive that he managed +1 undefeated while not playing very well, reminiscent of Kasparov's +1 here in 1998, also winning one and drawing the rest. Speaking of ratings, Topalov will be one point behind Carlsen on the next list, ruining a PR hype angle of being the world #1 as he takes on Anand in April. Vallejo was another winner in the final round, gaining a pair of companions in the cellar at +2 instead of finishing there alone. He and Gelfand finished winless, never a pleasant feeling.

For Grischuk, another excellent result. +2 was enough to win for him last year and he'd already won a critical game by beating Topalov in the penultimate round. In our brief chat he admitted his time trouble addiction was a weak point, though obviously you can't argue too much with the results he's been having lately. Gashimov didn't look ready for prime time here. He might be well on the way to having his Benoni problem beaten out of him after this. He lost two and was in very bad shape against Vallejo as well. A solid black repertoire is an essential piece of armor in the supertournament world, as Wang Yue and Dominguez found out last year. Gelfand, the veteran, picks his spots and plays less than the other elite stars, but he looked tired here.

Blindfolded eyes now turn to Nice and the Melody Amber tournament, where the stars will again be out in full constellation on March 13. Everybody who's anybody is there, excepting Topalov and Anand, who will be deep in training for their match, which begins April 23. Carlsen, Kramnik, Aronian, Ivanchuk, Svidler, and a very high-Elo etc. will play rapid and blindfold for our entertainment.


The most pleasing part of this tournament victory for Topalov is that he won while probably playing with one or two hands tied behind his back. No preparation could be sacrificed, so he effectively played "on muscles and adrenalin" alone. In his typical style he "overpressed", but in most cases this time he didn't end up punished for it. And, of course, it is always nice not to start a tournament at 0:2, like he did all too many times...

Of course, the only and the greatest test of his career is going to happen in April against Vishy Anand.

It was very clear that in Elista Topalov failed on nerves (provoked or not) against a more experienced match competitor. Kramnik was a hard opponent also because he was not entirely likeable character at the time and such guys are harder to play against as one gets more emotionally engaged. The Topalov camp clearly underestimated Kramnik too -- a naive mistake I bet they won't do again.

Anand on the other hand is a totally likeable guy. You have to dig very deep in the bag of dirt to try to scoop some dirt on him and still most likely one will end empty handed. Nice guy or not, Anand is a vicious and accomplished match player. The way he dismantled Kramnik and restored order in the World Chess Championship was remarkable and we owe him a great deal of gratitude. I think he made up completely for his rather harsh loss to Kasparov much earlier in his career and will stand as one of the great players of the generations.

I'm all tuned in for the WCH match -- the stage is set pretty well.

Of course, the “kid” is above them all right now, so this may be the last push for that old generation...


"gaining a pair of companions in the cellar at +2 instead of finishing there alone."

you mean -2.

"The twelve participants are (in alphabetical order): Levon Aronian (Armenia), Magnus Carlsen (Norway), Leinier Dominguez (Cuba), Vugar Gashimov (Azerbaijan), Boris Gelfand (Israel), Vasily Ivanchuk (Ukraine), Sergey Karjakin (Russia), Vladimir Kramnik (Russia), Alexander Morozevich (Russia), Ruslan Ponomariov, Jan Smeets (The Netherlands) and Peter Svidler."

A good field for the Melody Amber.

¨The most pleasing part of this tournament victory for Topalov is that he won while probably playing with one or two hands tied behind his back.¨

Yes , of course , i´m not entirely sure why is that such an elephant-sized ¨detail¨ is missing from this report.
I have to say that it sounds like if another player were the desired ¨saver¨ of the event.

Nice wrap-up Dimi.
Before the brickbats start flying, maybe you should amend 'Anand is a vicious and accomplished match player' to 'Anand is a ruthlessly efficient match player'. I don't think you meant Anand any disrespect but you can see how that statement could be interpreted as such.

mig u got it wrong,if topy, grish,aronian had won the last game,grish would be declared the winner-for more winns with black-rather than blitz tiebreaker.about makeing excuses for gelfang,saying that grish admitted that he couldn't find a drawing way for black?,well he wasn't seriously analizing the position,he was just kibitzing with the others gms.i doubt that grish one of the best endgame players in the world wouldn't find the easy way to draw(48..a2)maybe not the best move,but related to the easyer plan,3 forced moves and than realizing that 51..kd5 or ke5 draws or if 51 ra5 than 52..rb5!.gelfang had tons of time,acording to sakaev he was tired,or maybe he didn't wanna find the right move!

I understood it as a vicius attacker or something like that , and as a compliment , not in the Lou Reed´s song way.

you hit me with a flower
You do it every hour
oh, baby, you're so vicious

If Topalov plays like in Linares Anand will dismantle him easily. Anand is the best tactical defender in the world and does not have those Aronian moments when he just gets too creative, neither he has the deadly time troubles of Grischuk. He's the wrong guy to go crazy against, and that's Topalov's game. In some sense, Anand is the wrong opponent for Topalov style-wise like Kasparov was the wrong opponent for Anand.

And btw, I think it's time people start talking about top-6 instead of top-5. Grischuk is there to stay.

Well, if you look at the Anand - Topalov track record (classical games) over the 5 last years it should be pretty close. It is not like Topa is unfamiliar with Anand's style. I think it will be a close match ... and exciting!

I don't know how much we should make of "Topalov ... playing with one or two hands tied behind his back" avoiding his opening preparation for Anand. Actually this may even have given him a _relative_ advantage in preparation with respect to his opponent? For example, Vallejo didn't know what to expect against 1.e4 (being Topa's second, he only knew - better than anyone else - which lines would NOT appear on the board!?), while Topalov already knew it would be Ruy Lopez, Breyer variation.

Then it comes down to how uncomfortable Topalov may have felt in unfamiliar opening positions. This may have been the case against Grischuk: he easily equalized in a Queen's Indian but didn't really know what to do next and chose a wrong (too ambitious) plan.

"Kramnik was ... was not entirely likeable character at the time [of the Elista match]"
Hmm, beyond the fact that hardly anyone is 'entirely likeable' (=friends with everyone) I wonder how many independent observers would agree: This is the image that was created of Kramnik _during_ the match by "team Topalov", and maybe before by Kasparov (not entirely likeable himself). As you wrote "at the time", did Kramnik change completely after the match - after all, he was quite likeable and a fair loser against Anand?
Your other explanations or excuses make sense, though: Kramnik was the more experienced match player, and the Topalov camp may have underestimated him. So, after Linares - combined with Corus where Anand didn't impress - one danger for Topalov could be that he is too confident going into the match?

On the other hand, based on your writing there would be no excuses for losing against Anand - even if he "fails on nerves", it will be 100% his own fault this time ... . I agree with others that it will be a close and exciting match, while hoping that the excitement will be only during the games (as in Bonn, unlike Elista).

P.S.: Hardy Berger's remark (or "correction") makes sense only if that one sentence is quoted out of context,something I am quite allergic to also at other occasions.

you hit me with a bummer
You do it every hour
oh, baby, you're so vicious

The Topalov fan club is coming out of the woodwork. I can't wait to hear Ovidiu's report from Planet Neptune.

>because Grischuk admitted that he and the other GMs in the room
>couldn't find the draw for Black!

Thank you for that revelation! See, here I read varying accounts. According to some patzers here Gelfand just blew it. According to one other site Gelfand had 5 drawing moves, but he chose the sixth, the losing one. It seems that people armed Chess engines by their side miss the real drama of the human game. I have blown more drawn position than most, I guess and it is not always easy to see how it should be played, particularly when under pressure. In fact, despite Ipatov's commentary on Chessdom being accused by some to be biased pro-Topalov, the way he commented towards the 45-th move end sounded like a certain draw and I left to get my work going, feeling just mildly dejected. Much later I noted Manu's writing here about "victory" and I was surprised... So, it wasn't that "obvious" either way..


Fun times lie ahead as the complex keyboard battles between the camps of Topalov fans, Topalov haters, Anand fans, Anand haters, the agnostics and neutrals provide a backdrop to the exciting chess battles on the Anand-Topalov WCC match. I am salivating at the prospect already.

>The Topalov fan club is coming out of the woodwork. I can't wait
>to hear Ovidiu's report from Planet Neptune.

Sure. Yes. GK, see, unlike organisms like you and Thomas I’m not part of the forum furniture and only visit on occasion. And this was a darn good one with a very fitting thread!


P.S. Yes, Hardy, you're right..

Gelfand lost a 4 vs 3 on the same side when white's extra pawn was doubled. That's called blowing it, big time.

Melody-Amber doesn't interest me. It's just an exibition and while perhaps fun to some, just not serious to me.

It's going to be a long wait until the WC in late April! Sigh...

It's becoming pathetic everytime I see users such as playjunior or danyplayer comment on top level games like they actually know something. It is NOT an easy endgame at all, and as a player with an elo near 2500 I am more educated in this regard. Grischuk's failure to find a win shows this. If you replaced Gelfand with Grischuk, and considering his frequent time trouble, it's quite plausible that Grischuk would have lost too. There are many factors that come into play that your best friend Rybka will not inform you about.

Yeah, but it wasn't that simple...but you neglect to mention the unfavourable king position. I haven't the technique to assess any aspect of that ending but I do know that King position is a major factor in rook endings.

I too appreciate how difficult rook endings are (having gone through sections of Smylov's classic Rook Endgame several times and still do not "get it" yet); however I am still puzzled as to why, after about 30 minutes of thinking Gelfand moved the King to the back rank on move 48th. Moving the King up would be the most "human" reaction. Would be interesting to hear/read Gelfand's thought process during this time. .

Ditto and well said roamingwind! Has anyone asked Gelfand, and if so is there a link to the interview?

Don't pay too much attention to Koster's comments , he's a well-known aggressive poster, with a long history at molesting others.

He used to constantly pest Mig with allusions to Mig being Kasparov's "slave" or "tool". He never missed a chance to remark it.

He left that obsession I think, although later some new trolling poster appeared attacking Mig and others badly and lowly.

The profile is always the same: the subject attacks others with personal, sensible insults, which remark his by-him perceived incompetence and personal appearance. Things like "you're bald", "a loser" or "have no success with women" are frequent themes.

Clinically all this originates from an displeased, very sarcastic person, with low self-stem and some personal record of failure. The subject then proceeds to mirror this failure and destroy the disgusting image while attacking others.

Of course there's no certainty that koster is behind the attacks. He's only known to appear then and there and make some comment in a repetitive sarcastic manner against his usual victims. Otherwise he maintains an honorable image.

Very well put. That's how it is. I agree with every part of your comment.

Thank you for the free consultation Dr. Hartmann. What an impressive leap of logic to conclude that Koster and ChessAuditor are the same because one accused Mig of pro-Kasparov bias (what, 3 years ago?) and the other issued repeated, direct insults (of being a bald loser) just a couple weeks ago. As you so aptly expressed your extremely original ideas on the psychology of internet trollery though, "the profile is always the same", so it's impossible to challenge your claims.

Actually, it seems you have a very loose grasp of the available empirical evidence on this topic. It's Dimi who has a long history on this board of being a fervent Topalov fanboy, and, unless I'm mistaken, never hesitated to derail entire threads and resort to insults in the past. Only recently has he mellowed out, most likely due to his prolonged absence from the board. Historically, Koster is far more neutral.

Guys, cheer up ! most of you have your favorite chess player in the next WCH cycle , some of us in the next WCH match ...
Fun times lie ahead as the complex keyboard battles between the camps of Topalov fans, Topalov haters, Anand fans, Anand haters, the agnostics and neutrals provide a backdrop to the exciting chess battles on the Anand-Topalov WCC match. I am salivating at the prospect already.

"Only recently has he mellowed out, most likely due to his prolonged absence from the board."
With the direct implication that the board exerts a malign influence!! Should Mig post a health warning?
If Koster and Auditor are truly one and the same, you can pull my tail until I yowl.

I´m not o sure mr Hartmann is referring to CA ,

¨He left that obsession I think, although later some new trolling poster appeared attacking Mig and others badly and lowly.¨

I can only remember of one poster who has lately insulted Mig and others badly and lowly ...
His face usually looks like this :o(

Apart from the upcoming WC match, I am salivating at the prospect of the current top 5 being the only ones left in contention for the title when the candidates of next cycle is half way through.

Well done, Topalov, notching up this one at Linares!

Lou Reed rulez!

Actually, I am posting as "Hartmann".... a typically cynical ploy to get gullible posters to say nice things about me.

probably grischuk+kramnik+karpov would lose that position faceing topy'the GOD',yeah sure if a 2500 says so..maestro,it was basic rook endgame.grischuk saved a much more dificult, complex double rook endgame against..gelfand 3 rounds earlyer.gelfand missed the draw in several ocations,probably due to age,shape,tiredness,bucks maybe,who knows, but not because that endgame was likely winning for white.

Maybe ICC should provide live commentary of rounds 10 and 11 of the Bundesliga:

Anand!, Gashimov!, Mamedyarov!, Adams!, Bacrot!, Shirov!, Svidler!, Eljanov all in action - rivals any supertournament not named Tal Memorial.

I have no doubt that you would have steered the position to a serene draw.

In theory, yes. Unfortunately there were lots of short draws in around 20 moves. Not very Tal-ish...

Otherwise it's "refreshing" to see that another thread is messed up by those who find personal slights and attacks to be the most important contribution they have to offer this blog. Have fun - and please don't let it spread to any more of the current threads where actual topics are being discussed.

Vasiliev's final report is up at Chesspro: http://chesspro.ru/_events/2010/linares7.html

Some quotes:

- The endgame you lost to Topalov - was it drawn?
- Well, it wasn't such a simple endgame. It's drawn, of course. But it needs great precision. I think the clever clogs pundits (with a computer at their side) could easily find the draw. But at the board a hundred out of a hundred of them would lose it.
- A hundred out of a hundred?
- Yes, a hundred out of a hundred.
- The endgame will end up in textbooks. The draw, I think, is there, but it's not as simple as it seems. Playing 48...Ke8 was unfortunate. Maybe 49...Ke7 still saved it... It needs checking.
- And overall - what can you say about the tournament?
- I haven't fully recovered after the World Cup. I found playing very hard. I'm totally exhausted. Such play makes you even more tired...

The way it ended, of course, spoilt my mood a little. It looked like the win was in my pocket and suddenly Boris lost that drawn endgame. But overall my mood's good. Even better that last year when I shared 1st/2nd place with Ivanchuk, because last year I had the impression that I was in "super form" and to a degree over-performed [lit. "jumped above head-height"]. While this year even if I'd won the tournament I'd have considered that that was the way things should be.

- What did you think of your play?
- I picked up a point or two more than I deserved. I arrived without any opening ideas. Even if normally you don't manage to use them all, you feel more confident. Arriving the way I did on this occasion isn't professional. I'll make things right.
- Can I ask why you weren't at Wijk?
- They didn't invite me, that's all.
- But why did they suddenly decide not to invite you?
- It turned out that the organisers couldn't meet the conditions I proposed. That's all.

Topalov: (he also repeated a lot of his comments at Chessvibes)
- In the last round game with Gelfand did you specially give back the exchange to go for that drawn endgame? You might not have won...
- No, no, no! I just thought that it was an easily won endgame, while in actual fact it turned out that I had to struggle... After move 40 I understood that the position was objectively drawn, but I looked for ways of confusing my opponent.
- And you succeeded...
- Well, exhaustion finally had its say. I'm not sure about Ke8 - it's a mistake. It seemed to me that 48...Kf6 was a draw.
- No, I wasn't happy with the quality [of my play]. Even with the four wins I can't pick one out as a clean win. But they were interesting.
- Your games [against Grischuk] were the most tense and decisive. What do you think of them?
- In the first I got a promising position, but then I sacrificed incorrectly, he made a few mistakes and I got chances. After the 40th move I think that objectively the position's drawn, but he didn't play very well and lost. And in the 2nd game I went for a forced variation which I evaluated wrongly. I got an unpleasant position where I had chances of surviving, but objectively it was hard to play. But let me repeat: I'm satisfied with all the games I played here. They were all interesting.
- And would you like to play in Moscow?
- I have too many invitations. This year I turned down playing in Wijk and Nice. I have to play the Grand Slam final. If they invite me Silvio will think about it. And then, I don't know what the prizes are in Moscow. Here I earned 75 000 euro, which is almost 100 000 dollars. How much it is in Moscow, I don't know.
- Do you really need the money?
- No, I could already give it all up and I'd have enough money to the end of my life. But it's a pyramid. I can't play for small amounts because then those who are below me will have to play for even less. It's my obligation to play only for large sums. But in general Silvio deals with it...

Thanks mishanp. Nice post.

You have provided lot's of interesting translations this tournament. Thank you very much, mishanp!

"But it's a pyramid. I can't play for small amounts because then those who are below me will have to play for even less. It's my obligation to play only for large sums."

-An interesting and original view about money. Actually I think Topalov has a valid point. When the top players - the superstars - keep the pricetag high, the next-best players earns more too.

You have provided lot's of interesting translations this tournament. Thank you very much, mishanp!

"But it's a pyramid. I can't play for small amounts because then those who are below me will have to play for even less. It's my obligation to play only for large sums."

-An interesting and original view about money. Actually I think Topalov has a valid point. When the top players - the superstars - keep the pricetag high, the next-best players earns more too.

On the other side, there is also a limit what you can ask, like Aronian experienced in Corus...

Adding my thanks to mishanp also.

Me too. Thanks mishanp.

I'm not sure about the pyramid - it sounds a bit like the infamous trickle-down economics. You could just as easily argue that tournaments have limited funds and if they pay too much of a premium for a player like Topalov then they either need to become very small, or simply pay the others players less. Both are bad for those below Topalov in the pyramid. Plus... anyone claiming they want a lot of money for the good of others is probably not being entirely up front :) Not they I have anything against any player negotiating the best terms they can get.

Topalov has found a remarkably wholesome way to explain why he asks for more money – yes, he is sacrificing himself for the guys below... Can I truly believe that, is it entirely genuine? Also, not sure how much he has earned in total, but I doubt the money are enough for more than a couple of years, unless someone lives a very ascetic lifestyle.. And a woman in one’s life (eventually) definitely asks for a few things that the bachelor probably didn’t even imagine are needed – like a fancy bad for starters (no more sleeping on the floor mattress), new furniture (trash that old coach), complete kitchen remodeling (~$60K), 72 pairs of shoes and space to store them, etc… …and of course, “pay more attention to her” than the wooden board wit those little figures on it.. and “talk to her” too. ..and “feel” too. Frequent conversations about “priorities”, “choices” and “responsibilities” and ultimately “is this is more important than m*…” Oh, man I’m getting a headache…

Anyway, more power to him asking for more money. We all should.


Thanks for the post mishanp.

I personally don't know any top rated chess players, but I do know some top rated "players" in the entertainment business.

A top player asks for more money when he finds out that other top players are asking for more money and getting away with it. So that's most likely the reason Topalov is asking for more money.

About the "I have enough money to last a lifetime" comment: at first I was also very skeptical, but then I remembered the hundred of dollars Topalov gets from endorsing the Koolaid that his fans drink! And may be Topalov drank some of the Koolaid himself when he made that statement :-)

You've obviously been married ...


“And a woman in one’s life (eventually) definitely asks for a few things that the bachelor probably didn’t even imagine are needed – like a fancy bad for starters (no more sleeping on the floor mattress), new furniture (trash that old coach), complete kitchen remodeling (~$60K), 72 pairs of shoes and space to store them, etc… …and of course, “pay more attention to her” than the wooden board wit those little figures on it.. and “talk to her” too. ..and “feel” too. Frequent conversations about “priorities”, “choices” and “responsibilities” and ultimately “is this is more important than m*…” Oh, man I’m getting a headache…”

-Sounds like a bad case. You might consider one of the courses at the http://www.chessninja.com/boards/ . Doctor Greegard is about to start up a new class now in Chessplayer’s Marriage Therapy. ;-)


About the $$$: All the players are egoists, including Topalov. That’s obvious. More pay to top names like Topalov/Anand/Kramnik/Carlsen, means less to the rest of the participants. -Simply because the tournament organizer’s budget is limited. But the players have become more professional, some employ an agent and gradually they have managed to elevate the fees, year by year. In this regard, the “pyramid effect” is considerable. Although the present chess budget’s mirrors the recessive world economy, the player’s earnings have increased significantly in recent years. And that’s a good thing!

Me three (or actually four) - thanks mishanp. I agree with your comment on the pyramid and can back it up based on two recent events:

Linares had to cut the budget by 30% due to the financial crisis (source: Chessvibes interview with one of the organizers). They could have achieved this solely by cutting down the overall prize fund, what they (also) did was reduce the field by 25%, going from 8 to 6 players. So two unknown players from the near-top of the pyramid (ELO 2700-2800) were paying the prize!?

At Corus, the C group was uncertain for a long time - as far as I remember it was confirmed only September last year. So in a way, the organizers had to choose between inviting Aronian to the crown group, or 14 other players for the C group [I guess you get 10-15 Robsons for the prize of one Aronian!?]. Not implying that Aronian's proposed conditions were unrealistic, but here the organizers could only afford three expensive players, and preferred Anand+Carlsen+Kramnik at this occasion.

It is still OK for Topalov to ask the maximum, but the argument he gave at an earlier occasion makes more sense to me: "If I agree to play for less in Bilbao, I can no longer ask the higher sums I get at other events (e.g. MTel, Nanjing, Linares)."

No doubt Topalov's argument is self-serving, but it is correct nevertheless.
Robson may get fewer chances to improve and show his skills because of tightening budgets, but the amounts he can demand for those skills correlate to how much the big stars get.
If Topalov and Aronian go to low, Robson may decide a chess career won't support a decent standard of living even in the best of cases.

Of course there is a pyramid, but who determines how steep or flat it is, and that this slope has to remain constant all the time?
Is there an unwritten rule that (for example)
- 50 extra ELO points double your market value, AND
- that the very top players can define their own market value, hence also the one of dozens to hundreds of other players.
In such a situation, if Topalov (2805) asks for more, players like Svidler (2744), Vallejo (2705) and Sasikiran (2653) will also get more - but where does the extra money come from??

Maybe Amber is the only tournament where the organizer Joop van Oosterom thinks as follows: "I want those players to compete and be perfectly happy. I am willing to spend as much as required. I don't care if the budget has to be 300,000 or 500,000 or 1,000,000 Euros!"

For Robson (and anyone else), his market value will increase first and foremost as and if his skills improve:
- His rating needs to cross 2700 (fundamental for making a "decent" living as a professional chess player?)
- better if he overtakes players such as Hess, Kamsky and Nakamura - because often only the #1 of any given country is invited: Methinks Dominguez got more top-level invitations than Malakhov, Vitiugov, Tomashevsky and Motylev together!?
- ideally he has to become (at least) a top5 player, then he can make a very decent living from chess ... [and talk like Topalov does].

I doubt that someone living in places like India or Bulgaria need make as much money as someone in the US or England to make a decent income. I am sure that someone 2650 in a non-Western economy is going to do just fine.

Players from India (and presumably similar countries) get jobs - government jobs which are very safe, for life, and have a pension, medical plan and housing. They get it through the sports quota, so a much larger base of GMs and IMs is supported (rather than living out of tournament prize money alone).

Btw, Anand beat Kempinski in that bundesliga match.

mishanp, thank you for the translations.

"Anand beat Kempinski"
and Gashimov beat Ikonnikov with black in a Benoni.
In general, the two top teams had a field day today against their roughly 200 points lower-rated opponents:
Baden-Baden - Hamburg 6.5-1.5
Bremen - Heidelberg 7.5-0.5

For those who can understand German: lots of audio comments on the Bundesliga webpage ("Stimmen aus Heidelberg"). I didn't know Anand speaks German quite fluently, though not always grammatically correct ("er hat Läufer g6 übergesehen").

"Er hat den Laeufer um g6 uebergeseht."

Just curious ... is this grammatically correct? And if so, does it convey what he was trying to communicate? It looks like "He overlooked the bishop on g6" to me.

CO (a fledgling German student)

I'm assuming it's DER Laeufer here. Would DIE be 'der,' and DAS be 'das?'

No. The Läufer would be in the accusative:
"Der" changes to "den".
"Die" und "das" stay the same.
I believe it is "am" g6
and "Übersehen" is the correct past form of the verb here.
As far as I know.

This probably belongs in a separate blog, but since there aren't any for this category yet and I don't know how to create one (if that's possible; I'm guessing Mig has to do it): what are people's predictions for the Anand-Topalov match? Not just the results (though that would be welcome as well), but the openings, and whether there's likely to be any controversy/problems?
To start off, I'll predict Anand will play 1.e4 and possibly 1. c4, only resorting to 1. d4 if either of those fail him, or if he exhausts his prep with those; and I'll predict 1...e5 by Anand vs. 1. e4 and 1...d5 vs. 1. d4. I think Topalov will vary between 1. e4 and d4, sticking with whatever works, and play either 1...e5 or 1...c6 vs. 1. e4 and 1...d5 vs. 1. d4. I think he'll be afraid of Anand's prep vs. the Sicilian.
What do the rest of you people think?

OK. I used 'den,' so that was correct.

It's not uebergesehen, then?


(apologies to German speakers everywhere)

In my opinion the correct wording would be: "Er hat Läufer g6 übersehen". I would not use an article in conjunction with "Läufer" in this sentence. If using an article, "den" has to be used.

Some strange voting for the January game of the month at Chesspro: http://chesspro.ru/_events/2010/best_january2.html

The final result was:

1. Vitiugov-Rodshtein, 73 points - http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1567944
2. Gashimov-Grischuk (the king march to b2), 65
3. Nyback-Giri, 61 - http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1569926
4. Carlsen-Kramnik, 49
5. Anand-Kramnik, 42

Nothing too surprising about the placings... but it's done by a system similar to Eurovision (if you don't know what that is, be grateful!), with 10 GMs ranking their top 10 games (out of 24 nominated). Anyway, the Gashimov-Grischuk game was only listed by 5 GMs, and every single one of them gave it 13 points for 1st place! One other GM giving it 3rd place would have been enough for it to come top. The article comments: "Let's hope this doesn't lead to the same sort of scandal as Plushenko's silver medal. After all the leader of the Russian team lost out to his comrade and not to some representative of bourgeois chess morals and aesthetics" :)

By comparison, Vitiugov Rodshtein had 5 2nd places, but also a 1st and a 6th, or Nyback-Giri was ranked by 9 GMs but only got one 1st place.

"Er hat Läufer g6 übersehen"

is correct and would mean: He overlooked the move bishop to g6.

"Er hat den Läufer g6 übersehen"

is also correct and would mean: He overlooked the bishop which stood on g6.

The first form would probably accepted if it is used in the second sense, due to many Russian-German chess players who tend to drop the article.

Anand referred to the move (clear after checking the game and listening to the audio interview), so Bartleby's first version is what he meant to say. Unambiguous would be "the move Bg6", "bishop to g6" or "Bf7-g6" [but this is simplified in English as well].

"übergesehen" is then a double past construction, roughly translated as "he overlookeded Bg6". But in other cases the ge-construction would be correct:
"Er hat Läufer g6 gesehen" (He saw Bg6)
"Er hat den Läufer auf g6 angesehen" (He looked at the bishop on g6)
"Er hat von Läufer g6 abgesehen" (He rejected/didn't play Bg6)

So it's understandable that Anand got it wrong, German can be a complicated language ... . BTW, Bf7-g6 seemed a "forbidden" move - the bishop was under attack and the white queen was put en prise - that worked due to back-rank mating threats and was actually decisive.

Thanks, guys! I actually had, therefore, misunderstood the intended meaning.

CO :)

Not sure where to put random news as the "spider-pawn" blog entry doesn't really seem to be the place :)

Anyway: 1) There was a handicap tournament in Moscow yesterday - 22 minute games with the time divided based on the players' rating - including players like Grischuk and Morozevich. Shipov struck a blow for commentators everywhere by coming clear first (his rating now being in the 2500s must have helped!). Results table: http://moschess.ru/?p=6888 Some photos: http://moschess.ru/?p=6885

2) Karpov has declared his candidacy for FIDE president (to bring back order, avoid changing policy in mid-course, restore prestige to the world champion and so forth. Ilumzhinov knows and is preparing for a fight, Karpov says) http://sarinform.ru/lenta/archives/news/2010/3/1/28326

3) FIDE left out Linares for the March rating list, not that it makes a huge difference to anything: http://ratings.fide.com/top.phtml?list=men

Wow. Karpov running for FIDE president! Is he really fit for the job? I saw a recent interview with him, by Susan Polgar, and he gave an impression of being an old and tired man. (After checking I see Karpov is born 1951, Kirsan 1962).

"FIDE left out Linares for the March rating list, not that it makes a huge difference"

But the Bundesliga weekend makes a "huge" difference: Anand's win against Kempinski means that he passed Kramnik on the live rating list and is now again #3, just in time for the WCh match (2790,7 vs. 2789,9). Actually the difference should be even less, because frogbert "forgot" the previous round when Anand drew against Gashimov losing 0.x points - same for other toppers, e.g. Shirov [hope he doesn't mind this friendly remark].

As Dennis Monokroussos suggested, Topalov could do something analogous: reclaim the live #1 spot from Carlsen by winning one or two rated games against, for example, Danailov.

Campomanes (*1927) was FIDE president until 1995 ... .

Now the strange Kasparov-Karpov reunion does make sense.
Karpov is the ideal candidate to challenge Kirsan on Siberian home turf.
I wonder where the Russian Chess Federation will stand. There was some recent shuffling of posts, and Karpov may profit from it.

Thanks, mishanp! What a great concept for a handicap tournament. Have any such tournaments been held before? (As a math person, I am curious if the handicap is assigned "continuously" or in discrete steps.) Congratulations to Shipov, my favorite commentator.

How "independent" is Kirsan from Moscow? Is this a relevant question?

... and Karpov is guilty of having caused the zero tolerance rule. So he has the moral obligation to redeem us.

Thanks for the links. I wasn't quite aware of this matters, but it seems Kirsan truly is a Kremlin pupet. (I recall a story about Putin calling him up during the toiletgate in the Kramnik-Topalov match. Good for Kirsan, maybe, that Kramnik won. Otherwise Putin would have got seriously angry. He-he).

My best story about Kirsan, however, is this one. Hard to believe it's true: http://www.sunstar.com.ph/static/ceb/2007/08/10/sports/pesta.o.the.alien.abduction.of.a.fide.president.html

-Note the many funny chess stories further down the page.

It seems to have been in discreet steps. Shipov explains that they divided the players into groups - R1 was 2700+, R2 2600+ and so on. If you played someone in the same group you both had 11 minutes, in adjacent groups it was 12 to 10, then 13 to 9 and so on.

Shipov's explanation and a couple of his wins can be seen on his forum: http://kasparovchess.crestbook.com/viewtopic.php?id=4642

There's also this summary of his victory:

"1st round: white - Shumilina. A lucky win due to the misplaced shyness of my opponent.
2nd round: black - Grachev. I only barely survived. But it seems to have been a fair reflection of the play.
3rd round: white - Korotylev. A wildly lucky win, accepting a queen blunder. The worst game of the tournament.
4th round: white - Malakhov. I won amazingly easily and quickly. I even liked it myself. After my opponent made a typical mistake coming out of the opening I went on the attack and crushed him.
5th round: black - Belov. I played the opening unsoundly, came under a murderous attack and then took everything and fought off the attack for a win...
6th round: black - Bareev. I took the life out of the game and drew without trouble.
7th round: white - Inarkiev. As always my opening was mediocre, but then I counter-attacked sharply and my opponent lost his way in the complications.
8th round: white - Grischuk. In the opening I sacrificed a pawn for the initiative, then won it back and attacked, my opponent ended up in terrible time trouble (one minute to five), but seeing that the position had equalised and TV cameras were on hand I didn't try to flag him. Weakling!
9th round. Black - Zvyaginzev. An extremely interesting positional struggle. For the first time in the tournament I had less time than my opponent. In an equal position Vadim blundered a pawn and offered a draw, which met with rejection...
In general I played quickly and incoherently. As it turned out - the best strategy!"

"Actually the difference should be even less, because frogbert "forgot" the previous round when Anand drew against Gashimov losing 0.x points - same for other toppers, e.g. Shirov [hope he doesn't mind this friendly remark]."

Are you referring to me? :o) I think you simply have misread/misunderstood something.

February 24th update:

Name - Rating - Games rated - # of events
Anand - 2788,7 - 14 - 2
Shirov - 2733,9 - 17 - 2

February 28th update:

Name - Rating - Games played - # of events
Anand - 2790,7 - 16 - 3
Shirov - 2736,1 - 19 - 2

Have a look at the DIFFS in the # games rated/# events participated in between the two lists, Thomas. How many (new) games have been rated for Anand/Shirov between the two updates? One or two? :o)

"FIDE left out Linares for the March rating list"

mishanp, that's no omission - it's called sticking to the rules. :o) Linares finished several days too late to be included in the March list.

But obviously it doesn't make a difference to anything.

"But the Bundesliga weekend makes a "huge" difference: Anand's win against Kempinski means that he passed Kramnik on the live rating list and is now again #3"

Even if I notice the quotation marks: Maybe I should indeed stop listing the rankings - or even present the players alphabetically, only with special mention of who's currently #1?!?

Topalov and Anand have both been rated top 4 consistently for a long time now (with a couple of minor exceptions). During the life of the live top list IMHO there have really never been any significant rating differences between the top 4 players in the context of match play.

When Monokroussos or Danailov cares about or even mentions the insignificant shuffling of places 2 to 4(5), I prefer to believe that's got little to do with the existence of the live list: After all I think the logical effect of seeing these orderings/rankings change so often would be for people to realize that being #2 or #5 at any given time is no big deal and conveys little real meaning.

When the rating differences are so small, the signficance of these rankings (whether 2 or 5) is no greater in the official ratings - but the unhelpful notion that someone is #2 and another is #4 simply becomes more cemented while being an equally "random" artifact of the system. Silly official rankings... ;o)

Thanks, Mig, for the note about Topalov's winnings from the event. How best to find out what the other places won? It's often not so clear how to learn this. As a matter of curiosity, it's obviously of interest, but I've also had a couple of my students ask about things like that from time to time. So it would be good to have something concrete to say to them on the subject of professional chessplayers' income.

I've written extensively on income before hereabouts, at least from what I know and have heard. Aside from the top ten, it's very much about how much work a player is willing to do as far as travel and exhibitions go. A player who is always on the move (and I mean always) and accepts all sorts of simuls, lots of leagues, makes DVDs, some coaching, etc. can make a lot more than another GM rated 100 or even 200 points higher. It's not that different even with the super-elite. True sponsorship deals are rare, so how often they play and how well they negotiate for appearance fees makes the difference.

Interesting to hear Topalov echo Kasparov's statements about top player earnings. And those were taken from the professional tennis players in the 70s when similar "the top players make too much" arguments were going around. It's a small pie and the very top guys are going to make a lot more, geometrically not incrementally more. For, say, number 100 to make $100,000 a year from chess the #1 would need to be making 20 million, at least. It's just too small a sport to see a broad and "democratic" salary structure. A small group will be not only the best-known and best-paid, but the only really known players and the only ones paid well, then a huge drop-off.

Kirsan's knock-outs were sort of a contradiction to this, but of course they didn't and don't have real corporate sponsorship anyway. Nice for the players to pocket some money, which I'm always in favor of, but not a sustainable model.

I see someone mentioned the Karpov news above. Yah, it's been brewing for a while but I've had to keep my trap shut. (One of the drawbacks of being involved in some of these shenanigans is rarely being able to publish the scoop myself.) Some of the other names involved in his campaign are going to really surprise.

Yep, I missed (rather than misread or misunderstood) something: Normally you have daily updates, so we can see the effect of every single game. In this case, you processed the entire weekend (two games) in one go. Actually this has apparently happened before, always for Bundesliga weekends!?

In fairness to Monokroussos, he was probably echoing Danailov's remarks about an irrelevant match between #5 and #6 (Anand-Kramnik) - the full quote goes:
"It's not of any real importance [hear-hear], of course, but it makes for better pre-match propaganda for the #s 2 and 3 to face off rather than #s 2 and 4. (Of course, it's even better if it's #1 and #3, so maybe Topalov should look for a 1 or 2-game victim to bounce him past Carlsen into first. A Topalov-Danailov match, maybe?)"

“It is necessary to restore order,” Karpov was quoted. “The problems with the World Championship, the calendar, changes of decisions, changes during a cycle, this didn’t happen before. Besides, the prestige of the World Champion should return to its old level.”

I'm not sure what the "prestige" remark is supposed to mean , old level ?
For the first time in many years we have a World Champion who won both a WCh Tournament and a WCh Match, and in a couple of months we will have another champion of this kind no matter the outcome.
Maybe he meant that the Wch should return to being russian ...

Manu: "Maybe he meant that the Wch should return to being russian ... "

Ohh, I'm jealous. Good one!


"Actually this has apparently happened before, always for Bundesliga weekends!?"

It kind of depends on my mood, available time, if there are "interesting" changes - all sorts of things, really. I doubt I've always rated entire Bundesliga weekends in one go - I'm sure I've rated them day by day too. Also, even though I might only bother with updating the site once every two days (also during regular tournaments), I often take the little extra effort to produce lists for each round, even if they are published simultaneously. And sometimes I start following events from later rounds - all variations exist.

Although giving the live list more than enough priority, it's still far from the most important thing I do. :o)

> Some of the other names involved in his campaign
> are going to really surprise.

There's only one name left. It would be quite logical in the interest of chess.

One name will maybe have the initials SP (once upon a time she would have spelled it ZP)?

I´m not sure what would be the meaning of this press release , anyone ?


Looks like they had a major falling out and are trying to cover their tracks. Maybe Magnus got fed up with the training for whatever reason and/ or feels the need to break from his mentor, whose presence might be restraining him at some level, through his behaviour and/or the need for Magnus to be completely psychologically independent. Two such personalities are bound to clash eventually, surely.
Lot of variables, but I would guess that, bottom line, M just wants to go it alone..

Or maybe someone wanted an even bigger salary?!? :o)

I'm simply speculating like the rest of you - "I know noooothing" (Manuel, Fawlty Towers)

In any case announcing it would be the extrangest part IMO , whatever the reasons behind the almost complete but not really separation.

Announcing it makes sense; sooner or later the chess world would catch wind of it, so better at least to try some form of excuse story now. But I don't think they did a good job of the press release, anyone can see through it in a second. Would it have been so difficult to come up with some plausible story?
All we can do is speculate, cos I'd bet my house that they won't release the real reason!!
Quite right, frogbert, could quite simply be money...although Magnus did say he found the theory tough going, could be that chess stopped being fun for him.
"It is a capital mistake to theorize without data". (Yes indeed, but I can't restrain myself here)

"Would it have been so difficult to come up with some plausible story?"
perhaps there isn't much of a story to it at all to come up with. I'm sure Kasparov's services don't come cheap. Could've simply been, ya, lets talk again when it comes time for the candidates/WC title (which could be a year away now). meantime, handling tournaments is no big deal for M. by now, they have become "just another day in the office" for him.

"I'm sure Kasparov's services don't come cheap"
Any of you got any idea of a ballpark figure here?
How much does/did the guy's services cost? (The club championship will be mine. Oh yes.)

"Would it have been so difficult to come up with some plausible story?"

Maybe there is a story that is both plausible and not yet suitable for public release: Mig hinted that Kasparov might be involved in Karpov's campaign for FIDE president, and may even be part of his team. If that's true, he shouldn't have particularly close ties with one potential future WCh candidate - regardless of whether it actually makes him biased, or whether people might (wrongly) accuse or suspect him of being biased. From this it would follow that Kasparov, rather than (Magnus or Henrik) Carlsen put an end to their cooperation!?

Of course, Danailov was _both_ (neutral!?) match organizer AND manager of one of the players, but that's another story:
1) His standards may be different.
2) At least IMHO, such a double role would disqualify him as FIDE president.

Some very interesting excerpts:

¨We were ready to play in India, the entire match or half of it, but Anand "did not lift a finger" to do something in this direction.¨

The prize fund for the match - this is public sector money?
¨No, it's from the private sector, sponsorship money, but guaranteed by the Prime Minister of Bulgaria Boyko Borisov, who I am very grateful, of course, as he played a big role. ¨

¨Regarding the forthcoming match, in Sofia purely psychologically for Anand will be much easier to play than for me. From me everyone awaits victory, while from him - nothing. If he loses, they'll say: he played in a foreign country. And if he wins - he is a hero! ¨

Can't beat that old-fashioned charm.

Can the person who wrote:

"Doctor my eyes have seen the years
And the slow parade of fears without crying
I have done all that I could
To see the evil and the good without hiding
You must help me if you can."

Be the same person who wrote:
"you have posted as so amny posters...?"

I think not. I think YOU are falsely posting under Jackson 's name AND misspelling it, too.

And finally ...
What you were all waiting for...
Danailov for president!!!!

Today ECU , tomorrow FIDE!

"Today ECU , tomorrow FIDE!"

And the day after tomorrow?

World domination?

Could ask Kramnik if he is...ahem...privy to more info? COUGH COUGH

"Doing my job, I have always tried to make it as professional as possible, bringing new ideas and aspiring to higher standards."

Danailov is uniquely positioned to talk about aspiring to higher standards. He's got nowhere to go but up.

If Danailov should be elected (which isn't yet the case), "neutrality should be guaranteed". Does this mean he will, in that case
- stop being Topalov's manager, and
- stop hating Kramnik ?

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    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on February 25, 2010 10:29 PM.

    Linares 2010 r9: Grischuk Saves Linares was the previous entry in this blog.

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