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Favorites Falter in Poikovsky

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An unpredictable fifth round at the Poikovsky Karpov tournament. Leaders Karjakin and Jakovenko both lost sharp games to completely muddle the crosstable. Five players are now tied for first with 3/5, two are on even scores, and five are on -1! We're going to parity like it's 1999. Vitiugov, who doesn't get out much despite a steady climb up the rating list, beat Karjakin. Ivan Sokolov brought some chaos into the steady Jakovenko's life and it paid off for the Bosnian this time. A truly wild game. There were also a few more non-game draws, however, so things are not all rosy in Siberia.

To tangent off Sokolov's nice win, there is something special about the veterans who can still play scintillating attacking chess when they are on and feel they have nothing to lose anymore. They are mostly beyond worrying about a few rating points here and there and won't let that get in the way of trying to create a nice piece of chess art. This surely also has something to do with being from the pre-computer era and having a more romantic sensibility about the game. It can backfire badly -- young players today have computer-honed defensive technique -- but they are a welcome addition to any field. It's the same sort of aggressive, entertainingly unrealistic production you often get from the teens for entirely different reasons.

Unfortunately for the non-elite late 30-somethings, they don't get the invites the new stars get. Even Judit Polgar isn't seen much these days, and you'd think she'd still be in a class by herself as a draw because she adds gender rarity to her high rating and spectacular chess. She may have two kids, but the Mama Bear ripped David Navara into bite-sized bits of Czech cereal a few weeks ago at the Cez Trophy rapid match in Prague. 6-2 was even more of a whooping than Kramnik and Ivanchuk laid on Navara in previous editions. Much like Leko has done with his home-hosted challenge matches, kudos to Navara for aiming high and getting his butt kicked. It's the only way to learn anything. Do they have bears in Hungary, btw?

Since I have already digressed beyond recognition, let's talk human resources. It's tragic that one of the all-time great ambassadors of the sport, the strongest female in the history of the game -- whose chess is dazzling, btw -- and, to be frank, one of the few super-elite chessplayers capable of consistently presenting herself with professionalism, diplomacy, and intelligence, is essentially missing in action. Note to Karpov campaign: if FIDE doesn't already have a "roving ambassador" position, create one for Judit Polgar. (They probably do have one, but it's probably a crony position for septuagenarian politicians.)

I would love to see more GM outreach, the way the serious sports federations coordinate players doing charitable work and appearances at schools, etc. I've spent a lot of time with a lot of GMs, and recognition of achievement -- recognition of chess -- can be just as motivating as cold hard cash. Karpov's refrain of "putting chess back on the map" needs to mean more than moving big tournaments from dusty spa towns in the Caucasus. It also means acting like the game is special so the players get the recognition they deserve. Any corporate management book will tell you that recognition goes a long way. Money matters, and a lot, but so does good PR, which then leads to more money. It's easy to ding GMs for apathy and a "pay me what I deserve for being good at this game" attitude of entitlement some have, this is just a small aspect of the amateurish and undeveloped chess culture. It's hard to ask players to give back when they feel they have little to give.

In this regard, having Kasparov show up in Nicaragua for Karpov and see the huge impact it has in the media -- with a big resulting bump for chess and players in the entire region -- is more than a campaign junket. Having chessplayers and officials rubbing shoulders with government honchos for a few days, having chess programs and events everywhere in the news for a few days, it has lasting dividends. It doesn't replace well-designed and well-funded development programs, of course, but it does illustrate that elite GM support isn't as meaningless as it looked for Bessel Kok in 2006. Leveraging it politically is the key.

Since I've already hijacked my own item three times, Wang Hao won the Chinese title on tiebreaks over Bu Xiangzhi, which is good news. He plays ambitious chess and should get more invites. Boris Gelfand just beat Levon Aronian in blitz tiebreaks to win the Leon rapid event. They had knocked out Vallejo and Dominguez in the semis, respectively. Aronian needed only a draw in the fourth rapid game to win the match, but couldn't hold a queen and pawn endgame. A scan of the games in the events mentioned here indicates that a memo went out making the Nimzo-Indian mandatory. Must have missed that one.


Mr Karpov if you are reading this:

Please try to do something for the not so elite GMs. There is so much that can be done with a GM at your disposal. Setup a chess festival with matches (of-course), a colloquium for the masses where top GMs talk about their chess follow it up with simul, conduct a fashion show and maybe even have the event organizers give some sort of a management seminar. If chess remains niche, it will not grow.

Only if the hearts and minds of the people are captivated will chess grow into a viable career...

Aronian losing in a Q+P rapid tiebreaker where he had to hold a draw... hmm.... 2007 candidates matches anyone? Only there he came back and won the blitz.

Oh I get it... Czech Cereal Chex Cereal. Nice.

@Unfortunately for the non-elite late 30-somethings, they don't get the invites the new stars get.

It's normal, companies don't hire late-30s either.
Chess is a sport/a fight, not theoretical physics or philosophy. Youth (drive, energy) are more important for good results than the (accumulated over time) "chess knowledge".

Pet peeve with embedded trollage:

Judit Polgar needs to swallow her pride finally, admit her failed experiment to make #1 overall, that women are indeed inferior to men in chess, and go win the Women's World Championship to increase her marketability (and that of chess overall.)

Chess needs a real Women's World Champ, not the grab-bag of pretenders Kosteniuk, Zhu Chen, and whomever else has won since 1990 or 1995 (last legit/plausible wwc was either Maya or Xie Jun.)

Wang Hao follows the tradition of Magnus Carlsen of appearing to be of average intelligence (not low, just average). His chessbase photo has his usual befuddled, "huh? what's going on?" look.

I wonder why tens of thousands (minus 1) chess players just don't have the guts to swallow their pride, stand up and admit their failed experiment to make #1 overall, that illustrates so well their inferiority.

Speaking up Judit and chess ambassadorship: I was also often wondering about this question posed by Mig. A part of it is FIDE doing nothing that's not in their own financial interest; but another part is dear sister (and other "No1 female" self promotion machineries, e.g. Kosteniuk) who don't seem to welcome some scary competition in this field...

Ok then, I swallow my pride, stand up, admit my failed experiment to make #1, confess that Germans are inferior to Norwegians in chess, (hm, despite much better odds than women to men, must be genetics), go on live my unmarketable life, and express my hope that Judit is happy with how things turned out for her.

Forget the gender for a moment and look at her games. Serious attacking and entertaining chess. If her experiment failed, so did the 99.9999999...% of other experiments who are behind Anand/Carlsen...

Judit is a good chess-player who kicks some serious ass. What is there to debate beyond this?

Maybe debate the worth of replying to an obvious, unrefined troll.

Migloid toting the crack again - missed this kind of gibberish :=o)

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on June 6, 2010 7:00 PM.

    A Tree Grows in Poikovsky was the previous entry in this blog.

    Kasparov in Nicaragua for Karpov2010 is the next entry in this blog.

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