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Two Championships in St. Louis

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Two tournaments with the same format, both for the title of a US champion. The ever-innovative St. Louis Chess Club and patron Rex Sinquefield are hosting the US Women's and Junior championships simultaneously, following up on the strongest US championship in history earlier this year, won by Kamsky. The Junior title doesn't receive all that much attention in this era of tween Grandmasters, and illustrating the point is the fact that of the two 10-player round-robins, the Junior is the stronger event, with a 2372 average rating. After four rounds, Zhao is leading with three wins and a draw despite being substantially lower rated than that average. Favorites Robson, the defending champion, and Shankland are there as well, on 3 and 1.5 points.

Krush and Zatonskih are overwhelming favorites in the Women's again, in what looks like it may be an annual duel for many years to come. They are separated by only a few points at 2476 (Krush) and 2470 , but that's 150 ahead of the rest of the field. They are already tied for the lead on 3.5/4 and have drawn their individual encounter, a very sharp Benoni with Krush on the black side. Krush won as a kid back in 1998 and then again in 2007. Zatonskih won in 2006, 2008, and 2009. No small part of those titles is thanks to Zatonskih's huge career plus score over Krush despite their rating parity. It's sort of a Reshevsky-Fine situation, if rather more photogenic.


I'm not trying to be mean, but the U.S. Juniors always show embarrassingly low elos, as compared to international juniors. This is very odd because I'm a big believer in the innate superiority of American talent.

And Chessbase, a Europe-based site, oddly often shows USCF ratings and the worthless NM title

Thank you Rex Sinquefield for all you have done for the game we love.

The tournaments in St. Louis are outstanding and thanks to you chess in the schools will provide a lifetime of happiness to many.

Your generous support is greatly appreciated.
(Oh, and some of us really do love the g4 move! :)

If the U.S. Juniors show embarrasingly low ELOs, what does that say about U.S. Women? Their ELOs (2307) average lower than the Juniors (2372).

Female chess talent concentrates in a few countries. Georgia, Russia, China, Poland, Yugoslavia... it could be a cultural issue.

But weak juniors is very strange for the U.S., especially with the decade-long surge of chess popularity in the country, the import of Soviet training methods, etc.

The "innate superiority of American talent"? I have full respect for the U S of A but are you expressing patriotism or genuine belief?

I'm a U.S. citizen but no patriot. It's genuine belief in the superior American talent. And the mathematical certainty of brain-drain. How many generations can the world survive the loss of their top mind to the U.S.?

OTOH, I'm still waiting for the U.S. magnet to attract several hundred GMs rather than a ragged few... you know I have my eye on Kramnik, Ponomariov, Polgar.

I'm sayin', if the State Department offers them free citizenship plus a modest $250,000 for a house, another $250,000 stipend, we could import half of the world's 1,000 GMs this year for a mere $250 million investment. That's an hours' worth of the Afghani war. Surely if we can't have Anand we'll have Koneru; if not Judit Polgar then the Kosinteva sisters.

If the U.S. truly means to rule the world, it ought to triple the speed of brain drain... to add to our mercenary army and deplete the defenders.

I am waiting you say something about the Argentinian debacle at the World Cup. Germany 4-0 Argentina....what happened? and "big mouth" Maradona?
Un abrazo amigo

And it's sad I still don't know if you're serious... The Saint Louis Club organization is very interesting, but sometimes, from outside, one thinks US chess has lost touch with reality.

I agree, alez. The expression "innate superiority" was singularly ill-chosen and actually risible.
(I am a US citizen, by the way.)

The U.S. and chess ability/talent; isn't that an oxymoron? We get a crazy genius once a century and that's about the extent of it. We're a nation of bubble-gum chewing video-gamers and instant gratification...

Of course we should remember that not all of the top U.S. juniors are necessarily playing in the junior championships. For example, GM Robert Hess would be the highest rated player in the field but he's not playing in the event.

Interesting, Dortmund starts today and no word on it yet from this blog, nor any other popular chess site.
Is it because super model Carlsen is not attending? :-)

It's a weaker field this year. So I would not be
surprised if Kramnik will win it the 10th time.
Wonder how new comer Le Quang Liem will perform.
He faces Kramnik first round, with Black. Tough luck.

Ya know who looks like Mig? Shabalov. Almost exactly.

Dortmund this year has a lot of potential, some aggressive players + Leko.

I'm going to attempt to translate GM Sergei Shipov's live commentary on Kramnik - Le Quang Liem at my site: http://www.chessintranslation.com/live-game/

For today it'll just be the text, but if the experiment continues I'll try to add a board.

Please feel free to repost anywhere you think people might be interested! The game starts in about one hour.

Dortmund lacks the press this year because of the less than interesting field. There are no names in it that really inspire, with the possible exception of Kramnik, and only then because he is a former WC; his style of play is not as entertaining as that of others. I'll follow the results, but not as intently as other tournaments this year.

Hmmm, (as roamingwind already suggested) is any field that doesn't include Carlsen "less than interesting"?

Regarding Kramnik, I don't know whom you mean with 'others' - but if you call his style of play not entertaining you may have missed some of his games since Dortmund 2009.

Le Quang Liem is a rising star, maybe a future competitor for Carlsen - or maybe not.

Mamedyarov is currently world #6 - he got there mostly by beating weaker players so it will be interesting to see how he does in a supertournament.

Lack of coverage here could simply indicate that Mig is busy with other things (family, Karpov campaign) - recently he only posted on Carlsen on and off the board and US events. Peter Doggers from Chessvibes went on a holiday.

Agree with Thomas. Kramnik has been playing more agresive since losing the WC in 2008.
The Kramnik - Le game looks interesting. Kramnik has a pass d-pawn, while Le has control of the half-open c-file.

Hcl wrote:

"I'm not trying to be mean, but the U.S. Juniors always show embarrassingly low elos, as compared to international juniors."

It is the same reason there are no good baseball players in Russia: very, very few people engage in the passtime.

It's really that simple.

Appreciation of Kramnik's games is particularly difficult for bubble-gum chewing, instant gratification-craving, video-game addicts.

Mishanp, I've just reviewed your translation site and I give it a two thumbs up.

I don't know if the translation is accurate or not, but comments do make sense. I'll review the variations later on, no time for now.

Yep, (as far as I can tell) mishanp is doing a fine and fast job. But the Google translation of Shipov's Russian original is more entertaining: bishops and rooks become elephants and boats, and "Trust in first impressions!" [mishanp] becomes "The first word is more expensive than a second!"

some chess site should pay Mishanp for this translation-on-the fly service.

Anyway, Le is holding his own against Kramnik, should be
a draw (unless Le blunders).

lol .... oh I love this quote from Sergi (Mishanp's translation)

"The earth turns, the sun rises, Kramnik waits…"

The problem is Shipov would have to get paid first! Perhaps FIDE should focus on the needs of chess journalists :)

Great job. Easily puts chessdom out of business.

St.Louis are doing an amazing job at have some form of sustained chess activity. We need more such centers of activity! Good luck to all participants.

This is a typical case where anti-draw rules (which now also apply in Dortmund, but the organizers won't refer to them as "Sofia rules") make little if any sense.

But before people come up with Drawnik cliches again: My impression is that he tried to win, his advantage just wasn't big enough and Le Quang Liem refused to help him ... .

Kramnik has been thinking "I am not going to draw against any 19-year old kid whose elo is 100 less than mine.".
He made Le worked for the 1/2 point. Le was up to the task.

Hey guys.
This year's Dormund will be remembered because there is a new rule that avoid short GM draws !!!
Please let us talk about this wonderful rule. Do not talk about Carlsen....What a wonderful rule...the results? look all the games well foght.
Even Peter "King of drawns" Leko had to play longer and lost !
The new rule is :
No prohibited by mutual agreement, this year, players can not offer shares to point to their opponent. Seules les nulles par matériel insuffisant et triple répétition seront acceptées. Only invalid by threefold repetition and inadequate equipment will be accepted. Cette règle assure que toutes les parties seront disputées et augmenteront l'attrait pour le tournoi. This rule ensures that all games will be played and will increase the attractiveness of the tournament.
Viva Sofia Rule, viva Dormund 2010 Rule !!

@Viva Sofia Rule !

Danailov dictum.

Will Mig post a childhood photo of himself so we can compare it to the Reshevsky photo?

Yes, the organizers introduced anti-draw rules because there were (too) many short draws in earlier editions - though they won't refer to them as "Sofia rules" because they are no friends of Danailov. [Somewhere else I had seen the term "Corsica rules" because they were apparently first applied at a (rapid?) event in Corsica]

Whether such rules always make sense - see my previous comment on Kramnik - Le Quang Liem. Ironically, some chatters on the Chessdom live site and, in a way, Shipov in his live commentary, criticized or made fun of Kramnik because he played on in an even to dead-drawn position!!? Did they know that Vlad had no choice according to the rules? And how did the game end? Did Kramnik really have to "do a Topalov", calling the arbiter to make the draw official? ,:)

Apparently you are happy that Leko lost, but how would you know that the game had been drawn earlier without anti-draw rules? Ponomariov played for a win, simple as that. And he won in Leko's style, with a touch of Anand - his Qc4 (early queen exchange leading to isolated doubled pawns) was a bit reminiscent of Anand's Qa3 against Topalov in the WCh match.

BTW, where did you find the English and French versions? It seems that the tournament webpage is available only in German (no problem for me ...), the precise (translated) words are:
"Draws are prohibited: This year the GMs are not allowed to offer draws during the game. The game will be considered a draw if a win is no longer possible, or if a threefold repetition is unavoidable. This rule ensures that all games will be fought out and increases the attractiveness of the event."
Hmmm, who decides if a threefold repetition is unavoidable? Whom, white or black, would the arbiter force to play on and deviate if applicable in his opinion?

Well, I guess the rule is by itself sufficient to rule out short draws or rather non-games - and everyone involved (organizers, arbiters, players) can still use common sense rather than having to literally follow the rule.

I don't think the Kramnik game was really about Sofia rules - it was just Kramnik's will to win (with white, against an inexperienced player). Otherwise at almost any point towards the end he could just have exchanged off the passed pawns and the arbiter couldn't really have objected to a draw.

You're right that Shipov wasn't overly impressed, though :) I've posted the translation, slightly polished (no yolks confused with yokes...), here: http://www.chessintranslation.com/2010/07/sergei-shipov-commentates-live-on-kramnik-le-quang-liem/

I'm going to try and translate it live again today, here: http://www.chessintranslation.com/live-game/

I'd sort of made a vow not to promote my own site on here any more... but the translation's officially sanctioned by Shipov and Crestbook, and they want as many people to see it as possible, so I'm really promoting them :)

It could have been "a bit of everything":

- feeling obliged to play for a win with white against a nominally weaker player who is a newcomer on the supertournament scene and arguably "the man to beat"

- inertia or slight frustration that he couldn't convert a seemingly slightly better position (but would he have played about 20 "redundant" moves against Anand?). I don't think Le Quang Liem was ever in real danger, but nor can I follow Mark Crowther stating that "indeed Kramnik had to be perhaps a little careful".

- But maybe (IF such thoughts occur during the game) Kramnik also had some fun acting like Topalov, and celebrating Sofia rules? Though I don't think he really called the arbiter to put an end to the game ... .

Well what an interesting encounter Pono-Kramnik is turning out to be. Perhaps Pono's ambition has been aroused again lately...Shipov's commentary (and the great translation) does it justice, and free excellent translation, we really are spoilt..I have a gut feeling that White must emerge better because of his excellent co-ordination, but that of course has nothing to do the correct assessment, leave that to professionals : )

I think Ponomariov didn't lack ambition recently, even if his form was a bit erratic. However:
- shared first in San Sebastian (for some reason the guy who won the blitz tiebreak got much more attention here)
- World Cup finalist
- and check his previous classical game against Kramnik from the Tal Memorial (which he lost in the end):

And now, already after two rounds he confirms his portrait at the tournament website (my translation from German):
"Ponomarjow has a refined strategic chess style. He maneouvres well [that was yesterday against Leko], but also doesn't shy away from combinations when the opportunity arises. His role model [or whatever the best translation of "Vorbild" is] is former world champion Bobby Fischer."

by "recently", I actually mean a rather larger timeframe : ).

OK but today's game couldn't come as a complete surprise - though Kramnik (who resigned in the meantime) was probably surprised.

And those who questioned Ponomariov's invitation* may reconsider their view or prejudices?

*On a German blog, IM Stefan Loeffler wrote "Ponomariov [was invited] for whichever reason" ('warum auch immer')

Great stuff by Pono! Not everyday you see Big Vlad taken to the cleaners like that.

Come to think of it, Pono seemed to be getting the short end of the stick in Bazna. He got enough positions, even though they didn't come through. Fixed that problem today, though...

Sometimes Pono's games are rather dull to watch, especially because of his opening choices, but other times he really shows his strength. I have always considered him to be a player capable of making a bid for the very top, or at least substantially increasing his presence.
Now let's see how Kramnik will try to catch up after his slow start. I predict a win against Leko, the top guys often beat up on him when they need a win.

Off topic, but no other good thread so here. Anand on cover of Forbes India http://business.in.com/column/column/learn-from-the-master-strategist/15252/1

If women can play at the us championship then why is there no MEN'S only championship. Is this not reverse discrimination or some other politically incorrect name.

"If women can play at the us championship then why is there no MEN'S only championship."

Dude, you afraid you're going to be beat up by a skirt now? Just go out there and show them who's wearing the trousers in this 'ere game. You can't lose... I think.

Dude or dudette, you totally do not understand. Women say they are equal so why the double standard?

I understood your point, I just didn't think much of it. It's true that it's a bit artificial, but without it the chess environment can feel forbidding for women. If this is what it takes to help them feel more at home, then what's the problem?

Why do separate tournaments for women exist?

Mainly because everyone knows men and women aren't equal in anything. (But one should pretend so in a p.c. country, so as to avoid the same, inane arguments.)

There's a Juniors' Championship. So why are juniors allowed to compete in the regular Championship? Why isn't there an Adults-Only Championship?

Men and women look different like different animal and every one must know that different animal do different things. Some men look very bad like dirty worm and some womens also look wormy too but most of time all the same. I am not play in women tournament because I look different but I aslo can not play in little children tournament so what. Every one can say why women not good as men or men not good or dark people not good or white face people stink or jew people not or who ever they do not like or mabe they like who care.

Parker Zhao only drew, Ray Robson lost, and Sam Shankland won, in the 9th and Final round. That means they all converge on +3, finishing with 6.0/9. shankland overcame a lousy start, losing his first 2 games

That means a Tiebreak tomorrow. Exciting stuff!

Krush won against Abby Marshall (big shock there, huh--Marshall finished with 0.5/9). That means she wins clear first, while Zatonskih, who led for the entire event, only garners =2nd Place. Clearly, Tatev Abrahamyan wants to be part of a triumvirate at the top of US Women's chess.

After that, there was a massive 3 point gap to 4th place, at 4.5

Marshall really pulled a Shirazi. She is ostensibly a Master, and her TPR was calculated at 1925 for the event, but she played like a 1500 in most games.

I saw some games. Most very weak. Too bad America has weak players. The junior players all very weak. Very sad.

Congraglations to the winner. He played good and other two did not.

Got to admit - the games were wonderfully exciting, but the quality of games were horribly low. No idea what Zatonskih was doing playing that opening vs. Foisor (unless Foisor had some really good prep to play something new/unexpected). Robson deservedly didn't win, Zhao deserved it but blew a lot of chances, and Shankland going from 0/2 in his first two to 8/9 in his last nine was amazingly impressive.

But yeah, I'm a bit worried about some of the players. Robson should have done much better (and frankly, deserved probably 4/9 or 4.5/9). He should have steamrolled most of his field.

The one clear thing was a lot of the "lower rated" players in the field (Abrahamyan, Zhao, and Rosen jump out) as players who fought tooth and nail.

Also, credit to a lot of the guys for being amazingly slippery, and fighting hard throughout. While I thought there was some god-awful technique in this tournament, you also need courageous defense. We had both.

The FIDE list of top juniors has no player in USA. Also list top girls has no girl player in USA. Future looks bad for USA.

Don't worry. Future American top players are playing their Junior Championships in Ukraine or Belarus.

I guess if they want leave other country and go to America then maybe other country not so good to them. How is my spelling very good now.

I liked how Bennifer stuck to their human assessment of games in progress, rather than resorting to the silicon deity.

It's difficult to compare US Juniors to their foreign counterparts as there is a dearth of FIDE rated and norm events in the US. But that is changing somewhat due to the efforts Sevan Muradian and his North American Chess Association. Also, Rex Sinquefields'support of the St.Louis Chess Club and all things chess has the potential to cause great vowel shift like changes on the US chess scene.

Some mainstream media that's off topic but not too far: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-10741518

I M Stoopid,

How many medals has your country won in the past three Olympiad tournaments? Team tournaments?

You measure talent by FIDE list. As someone said, there are few FIDE tournaments in the U.S. and almost NONE for the juniors unless they travel to World Youth or Pan-Am. That is only if you can afford it.

Come on Daaim, get real, how many American-born players were on those medal-winning teams?

10 women in the US women's championship, 1 born in the US, 5 born in Ukraine.

The best American-born woman was at the playing site, but heading up the live commentary instead of playing in the women's championship. Of course, that would still at best mean 2 U.S.-born women in the championship, instead of 1.

The best American-born woman, actually, is Alisa Maric and she is busy representing Serbia and fighting on Karpov's ticket.


Who cares? That point is irrelevant. They are playing for the US. Irina Krush was primarily raised and developed in the U.S. coming here at the age of five and learning chess the same year. Anyway... who said anything about U.S. women? I suppose you'll argue that Nakamura isn't from the U.S. because he was born in Japan? These are shallow arguments and we've had threads like this before.

Well the US "mens" Olympiad team is not exactly packed with people who developed as chess players in the US. Of course Nakamura is the exception.

A rich country can always buy competitors to win medals. Arab oil countries seem to like to hire African runners.

It is shallow to boast about your medals when they come off other countries resources, culture and training systems.

I don't think any of the U.S. chess team were bought and paid for to come to the U.S. to represent our country. Instead, they came to study or for economic opportunities that they did not have in their home countries. So it's a bit unfair to compare our immigrant GMs with African runners hired by oil countries.

Plus, The U.S. has always been a nation of immigrants, even if some Americans don't think so, so that makes the U.S. situation even more different than oil countries hiring hired guns.


No one is boasting. I asked IM Stoopid a simple question. How many medals has his country won?

Your point about U.S. "hiring" chess players shows that you are not at all reasonable in your arguments. As you know, Olympiad teams do not require that members be native born. In fact, no other sport requires that. Not sure why you find this point relevant. Why do people always through this argument out when debating team competitions?

In addition, many of the "African" runners you see in the Middle East are native of those countries. Yes... there are Blacks in the Middle East who were born and raised there and represent many of those nations like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Yemen, etc.


I meant

"...throw this argument" instead of "through this argument".

Daaim, more out of curiosity (my other hobby is running, also at amateur level): Can you name even one top runner in the Middle East who was born and raised there, black or not?

On the other hand, the "brawn drain" from, primarily, Kenya to, primarily, Qatar cannot be denied - see e.g. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/more_sport/athletics/article3716012.ece among other Google links for "Kenyan athletes Qatar".

Of course it's a different story for "Soviet" players representing the USA and many other countries. Anyone emigrating to another country will at some stage be eligible for citizenship and, if he's good enough, a spot on the national team. Fact seems to be that, together with Israel, the USA have the comparatively lowest number of home-grown talents. While I agree with you that ema's point is irrelevant, I still wonder why this is the case ... .

Daaim -

It appears that you do not notice that "I M Stoopid" has once again disappeared:

He disappeared before for 3 days after saying that he would "go away" for precisely that amount of time (exactly to the minute), so you probably should not expect him to return until September 21.



Yes I can, but I'm not going back to get the exact names. How far do you expect me to go back. Qatar has had qualifiers in several track events... and they were certainly not Kenyans. Maybe there are some in distance, but again this is not even a point worth arguing here. It's a strawman which has nothing to do with the argument about U.S. chess.

Its always been an us vs them mentality in all forms of competition whether for nationality, life or honor. With the current world globalization structure it will one day be us (the poor) vs them (the rich). The war has already started probably but the poor are too busy surviving to notice they are being slowly eliminated. just a point off topic that may be the next combatants in a world war.

Daaim, I agree that the Qatar athletics case is irrelevant - for anything but to point out that such things don't happen in chess, at least not in the USA.

If you look at the Qatari athletics records at Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qatari_records_in_athletics ) and click on individual names, you will see that most runners were born in Kenya (and other African countris), moved to Qatar as adults and adopted Arabic names. Nothing fundamentally wrong so far, but it seems that big money was involved - rumors go that Stephen Cherono received up to 1 million $ to call himself Saif Saaeed Shaheen and represent Qatar. Probably Qatar had home-grown qualifiers for international events "before they discovered Kenya", but did they ever compete for medals?
To make the picture complete, there are also dubious European athletics managers dealing with Kenyans - but it isn't as easy to obtain citizenship of a European country, and to my knowledge there are no controversial cases of federation change (only several cases of Africans permanently moving to Europe, and marrying local people).

As I said, no big money involved in chess - let's face it, it isn't such an important sport. In Karjakin's case, some people suggested that money played an important or dominant role - no evidence available, and spreading such rumors seems to require a fair dose of (Topalovian) hatred towards Russia.

The point is highly relevant, that for a wealthy country of 300 million people, the US has a poor record of developing its own chess talent.

The point is highly relevant, that for a wealthy country of 300 million people, the US has a poor record of developing its own chess talent.

The point is highly relevant, that for a wealthy country of 300 million people, the US has a poor record of developing its own chess talent.

The point is highly relevant, that for a wealthy country of 300 million people, the US has a poor record of developing its own chess talent.

I wasn't aware that the US was a socialist country that spends its resources "developing" talent in what is -- at base -- a non-productive activity (chess).

It is the responsibility of chess clubs and chess players in the US to run events and popularize the sport.

Note -- "to popularize" doesn't necessarily mean spending money at the top. It means building the base of the pyramid. In the US, chess is (primarily) an amateur activity.

It is *not* the responsibility of the national federation to "develop" chess talent. Rather, the responsibility is to make available the tools (i.e. common rules, rating system, promotional efforts) so that other groups can do so by organizing events. The national federation may also grant some stipends to players to play in particular international events.

The national body also runs a championship and various other national title events (i.e. US Junior)....but I would dispute the claim that it is responsible for "developing" any talent as such.

Such views usually lead to players expecting a salary or such simply for having a high ELO.

That's not the way in the US..nor should it be.

I would argue instead that the federation's role should be to implement its own rules...quite blindly...without regard to which players qualify, benefit or "develop." Justice is blind and it should be so.

Nobody here has heard from Mig for 3 weeks. And it was 3 weeks ago that I M Stoopid said "I go away for two months."


Stoopid is still here, and is probably posting under a different name. He's intelligent, and actually is probably a good chessplayer.

As far as social concerns are considered, however ...


I agree. Who do you suspect is really Stoopid in disguise?

Some have suggested Luke, Ovidiu, and yes, even Hag, among others. :)

Of course he's a good chessplayer. He's an I M.

I doubt that he is an IM. Note that he always uses a space between the I and the M. Those are probably the initials of his name or perhaps meant to be “I am”. Also, it is inconceivable that a real IM, or any strong player, would have almost nothing to say concerning actual chess analysis. Stoopid just constantly babbles his moronic nonsense without any specific analysis of actual chess other than an occasional snippet of the most trivial type.

Wow, someone didn't notice irony. Is that the first time this has occurred here?

Good one.

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