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Back to the Grind

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And by 'grind' I mean coffee and lots of it -- big and black like my television. Yes, I'm here again. My one-month sabbatical from the Dirt has been slightly truncated by my receiving an offer I couldn't refuse from Chess.FM to go on the air for the NH Tournament in Amsterdam, starting tomorrow (Thursday) at 1330 local and 7:30am EDT. Yes, seven thirty in the morning, which is where that coffee comes in. And the defib paddles. That's around the time I've been going to sleep since coming back from vacation on the West Coast, so this is going to take some getting used to.

The Rising Stars youth team member with the best score gets an invitation to next year's edition of the legendary Melody Amber rapid/blindfold tournament. The NH itself is no walk in the park. It's a much stronger event this year and it will be even better if top Star player Hikaru Nakamura doesn't get leprosy and have a finger fall off when he bangs the clock. Nakamura was horribly ill at last year's event and that, combined with a solid performance from eventual winner Jan Smeets, kept the American from a much-anticipated clash with the super-elites at fast time controls in Nice. (Little-known story: One of Pillsbury's syphilitic fingers fell off during a crucial game against Lasker. Cool as he was, Lasker picked up the finger and smoked it right there at the board.)

Nakamura is joined on the Rising Stars youth team by a veritable who's who of who's young and highly rated. (Little-known fact: "The Young and the Highly Rated" was a popular soap opera in the USSR, following the hijinks of two teenage Grandmasters.) Caruana, Giri, So, and Howell have all had impressive results to go along with their impressive Elo. To match this squad, the Veterans have continued last year's trend of poaching healthy-if-paunchy middle-aged Grandmasters still enjoying life on the sunny side of 2700. This shift from grandpas to dads resulted in a rare win for the Veteran team last year. Svidler and Nielsen are back again, and they brought reinforcements. World Cup winner Boris Gelfand, enjoying a renaissance at 41, is now the top seed. Loek van Wely is there and then a real veteran, Ljubo Ljubojevic, now the only player in the event born before the Summer of Love. Fun and fact-filled bios of the players at the official site.

Joel Benjamin, Alex Yermolinsky, Jan Gustafsson, and Larry Christiansen are your Chess.FM analysts for the first half of the event. Sounds like a party I'd like to be invited to, so I'm glad I was. Hot topics for the slow game days: Joel, is Omar Minaya your Facebook friend? Jan, 100 years from now how will we remember Coolio? Larry, why don't we just open the borders completely? Yermo, is it wrong to talk about the USSR as "the good old days?" Should be fun. Those should beat the quality of my usual chess trivia questions, which have gotten thinner than Christina Aguilera's wardrobe. ("SafeSearch is off." Well, duh.)

I figured Dortmund would be as boring as usual this year so it was a good time to take my first real break. Oops on that one. That and I'm up to my bloodshot eyeballs in the FIDE election every day, which leaves me somewhat disinclined to rehash it all here. Especially since these days you need to run everything from a press release to a trivia question to 1.d4 by a lawyer before you post it. I'll be glad when the Lausanne verdict comes down because I've got a month's worth of muck to rake. (Well-known fact: working with lawyers usually isn't fun, even for other lawyers.)


Welcome home, Mig. We missed you. Don't ever do that again.

Teenage Grandmasters in the USSR? Are you kidding? In the good old days it took longer than that to get the title.

For what it's worth, it wasn't Smeets' solid performance that deprived Nakamura of the Amber 2010 invitation. Not only did Naka also finish behind Caruana and Stellwagen, but the best rising star is invited to Amber only if he also scores more than 50%.

Am I the only one who considers it a bit odd, almost an insult to him that Nakamura is still considered ("just") a rising star? After all, players like Karjakin, Radjabov and Wang Yue are all comparable in age and mean recent Elo, but no longer invited because they are considered established players?

So the trivia question for today is which well known player gave Lasker the finger?

Nakamura should not be insulted to be "just" a rising star because that way he can remain young (and avenge himself for last year).

Welcome back Mig. Remember the way to tell if the lawyers are lying: their lips are moving.


Thomas -

I think the reason may be that people are more interested in Nakamura than they are about Karjakin, Radjabov, and Wang.


Welcome back, Mig!

It seems that Karpov will be outnumbered by the many FIDE briefcase members in the grip of Kirsan. A checkbook democracy which is impossible to change as long as Kirsan rules. Probably, the only chance to take him out is with the upcoming court case, aiming for a legal TKO.

This may be true in the USA, maybe the entire western world ... yes, the tournament is in western Europe sponsored by a Dutch billionaire. "Soviets" may be more interested in their players, Chinese may be more interested in Wang (Yue) or Wang (Hao). At Chessvibes, I speculated that van Oosterom preferentially invites charismatic players (during the games as well as in between) with a reasonable knowledge of English for (video) interviews.

But this doesn't really answer my question - both Karjakin and Wang Yue were invited in the past before they joined the world top. And in a broader context, they (and Radjabov) still get as many invitations as Nakamura or more.

Great to have you back and rolling Mig!

I'll go out on the proverbial limb and predict another win for the Experienced team. Too much firepower for the young 'uns this time around.

Nakamura - Ljubojevic 1 - 0

Thomas, Karjakin, Radjabov and Wang Yue are young and have high ratings, but they are not "rising" stars. They seem to have stalled out over the past couple years. Nakamura seems to still be rising.

Howell - Gelfand 0-1
So far so predictable(!?), the highest-rated player of each team won against the lowest-rated one of the other team.

Frogbert (if you're reading this!), any chance of adding Wojtaszek to the live rating list? It's easy to see why you've missed him as he's jumped around 40 points recently.

+ 12.8 Polonia Wroclaw Chess Festival
+ 16.5 San Juan, Pamplona
See: http://ratings.fide.com/individual_calculations.phtml?idnumber=1118358&rating_period=2010-09-01

+ 9.8 Spanish League http://chess-results.com/tnr36918.aspx?art=9&lan=2&turdet=YES&flag=30&m=-1&wi=1000&snr=21

& he looks to have good chances of winning today's game (touch wood!): http://www.feda.org/directo3/tfd.php?id=81

So before today's game finishes he should be on 2702.1.

He's only the second Polish player to break 2700 (after Krasenkow), so it'd be nice to see it made a little bit more official!

Wrong about Karjakin, Uff Da. He's still on the rise. Very talented.
IMO, NH will be very close.

One issue might be whether Nakamura is indeed "still rising". Purely ratingwise (I know that's not the only criterion) we have the following changes between September 2009 and July 2010 - I chose 9/2009 as it was "just before" last year's NH event (in August, but rated for the November list):
Nakamura 2735-2729 (-6)
Caruana 2662-2697 (+35)
So 2644-2674 (+30)
Giri 2552-2672 (+120!)
[Howell was actually also stagnating for the last 1 1/2 years, so one might question his spot]
[Karjakin 2722-2747, +25]

But to illustrate my main point: Carlsen is certainly "still rising" ... but doesn't need this event to qualify for Amber ,:) . I thought the event was primarily for players who don't have much supertournament experience yet, and for whom it's actually a challenge and learning experience. Then maybe Caruana would also "no longer belong there" ... !?

September 2009 and July 2010 might be a poor choice if you're looking for the organizer's rationale. The slots were likely filled months ago when the big events of last year were still fresh. (I think I remember Nakamura saying on his blog that he was participating in this tournament like right after Corus or something) Maybe that explains why Howell's here since his losses came after?

And Wojtaszek won a very smooth game. He should be above Tomashevsky, Kamsky & Nepo now, I think.

And Caruana... he's now on 2706.8 (last update for today, I promise!)

Thank you, mishanp, for all the info about Wojtaszek. He seems to be the strongest "Polish-born" (as if it meant anything :) Polish player after Akiba Rubinstein (whom I could have, theoretically, met, but did not).

Tomashevsky, Kamsky & Nepo have slid down the Pole, then.

There's quite a lot of competition for Polish-born players! A curiosity is that Chessmetrics default all-time rankings ("3-year-peak") has four Polish-born players together:

19. Akiba Rubinstein
20. Samuel Reshevsky
21. Miguel Najdorf
22. Johannes Zukertort (at a bit of a push you could claim the no. 4 Lasker!)

But Bobby Fischer would be #1 of Polish descent!

Regina Wender Fischer's father Jacob Wender arrived from "Neustadt, Russia" (= Nowy Korczyn, Poland, I assume?); processed on Ellis Island, August 5, 1913?

Doesn't Korchnoi have Polish ancestors as well?

RJF's mother is indeed of Polish descent. I met Bobby Fischer (and shook his hand, wow... :) in Warsaw in early Sixties when he was playing in Dom Chlopa. This was almost 50 years ago (1961? 1962?) so I do not remember a lot, but I am planning to write up what I remember, when I have time :)

Can someone say blowout? The "Rising Stars" are favorites and will crush.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on August 11, 2010 11:20 PM.

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