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London Burning

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Big chess in London! Upset! Nail-biting defense! Sacrificial attack! Checkmate! The English Opening in England! Best of all, a Berlin Defense getting blown off the board. Such is the day that was at the London Classic. The biggest blow was landed by underdog Luke McShane, or should that be English Bulldog? His bite was definitely bigger than his bark today as he took out world #2 Magnus Carlsen in a wonderful attacking game. McShane's raw talent has never been in doubt; when he gets a chance to attack he can be as good as anyone this side of Topalov. It's the "raw" part that was always likely to limit him to the occasional good result and spectacular game as a semi-pro. You don't make 2700 playing a few dozen league and open games a year. But McShane played regularly in 2010 and pushed his rating up some 50 points. Now he's started the London Classic off with a big bang, which has added value in that Carlsen will now have to push hard to come back in this quick, seven-round event.

Not that Carlsen wasn't pushing hard already. All credit to McShane, but Carlsen clearly was looking for a fight with black all the way through. Moves like 19..f5 aren't generally made if you are looking for equality. The provocation started earlier though, with the Tarrasch-burning move 9..Ne5, moving the knight a second time only to retreat it to the d7 square a few moves later. That was more than enough tempi to serve as waving a red flag in front of the English bull(dog), and he didn't disappoint. Carlsen could have groveled with 19..a5 or perhaps 20..e6, but such passivity and weak-square creation are more for computers to enjoy. After that it was a romp, with McShane offering the same knight to the black b-pawn first on c6 and then on a6. Lovely stuff. The former Goldman Sachs trader finished cleanly, scoring the biggest win by a Brit since, well, since Adams beat Carlsen at the Olympiad a few months ago.

Since just about everyone on the planet has a poor record against Vladimir Kramnik it's no insult to say Nigel Short consistently has trouble with the former world champion. He's lost to Kramnik three times since he last beat him way back in 1997 (Kramnik played the Dragon. Seriously.) and even the former WCh challenger's draws feel like losses. At Corus this year Short built up a crushing position that Svidler or Ivanchuk might well have resigned. But Kramnik, perhaps relying on their personal hoodoo, kept on and was rewarded with several mistakes and a draw. Short, who plays the King's Gambit on occasion, went Romantic again with the Bishop's Opening. Kramnik was not impressed and built up a massive center that eventually, inevitably, crashed through Short's position like a hot knife through a Christmas pudding.

One of two Berlin Defenses was an admirably brief encounter between Adams and young David Howell, who both accomplished plus scores at this event last year. Howell grabbed a few pawns on the queenside and paid a very high price. The computer sez 16..Ba6 is already the only move to save the game and that's not pretty at all if White finds 17.Re7!! Bxc3 18.R1e3! and Black is in serious trouble. None of that was called for after Howell blundered with 16..Bxg5 and White's attack is irresistible. 20.Nxh7 is nice, but nothing to strain a player of Adams' caliber once he found 25.Re5. Howell, probably in his usual time scramble, played until being mated on e6 by a knight. The gallery is appreciative.

It's a bit rude to put the game between the world champion and the US #1 at the end, but I do usually go with decisive games first around here. Nakamura also went for the Berlin -- he drew with it twice at the Tal Memorial last month -- and soon had reason to regret it. Anand played the now-typical e5-e6 pawn sac for strong play and scooped up a pawn on the kingside during the general liquidation. But Nakamura found a remarkable blockade setup and there was nothing White could do. By some miracle the position with two extra doubled pawns is drawn, even with the bishops of the same color. Wow. Anand has always been a bit lackadaisical in his approach to technical positions so it would be interesting to see where he might have diverged to keep more material and winning chances on the board. The game has a faint smell of "well of course this must be winning so I'll get there and then figure out the details." Or maybe it's just as Nakamura tweeted post-game, "Pretty horrendously bad game against Anand today, but luckily the Berlin Wall is a forced draw!" And happy birthday to him, btw!

Blockades are always a tough test for computers. They can't push the horizon all the way to see every repetition so they piddle around endlessly with "+1.5" or whatever until finally seeing it's 0.00. So it's interesting to see this endgame given everything from +1.7 down to +0.2 by different engines. But as I said above, humans aren't immune to this weakness, if for different reasons. Anand may have seen this coming and figured it was at least +1.7, so to speak, while Nakamura may have figured out it was likely drawn. I wasn't watching live, so am curious what the commentators were saying as the game went into the ending.

Fantastic start! Round 2: Kramnik-Nakamura, Howell-Anand, Short-McShane, Carlsen-Adams. Live here at the special time of 1600 local, 11am NY.


Based on players' comments in the press conference, I somewhat disagree with Mig's description of McShane-Carlsen:
9.-Ne5!? - agreed, McShane called it "quite an [overly!?] ambitious move"
19.-f5 - considered "correct" by McShane and "necessary" by Carlsen, only the follow-up was wrong. What were the alternatives? Certainly not the illegal move 19.- a4-a5.
20.-e6 wasn't played, but it was Carlsen's original intention. So at the very least, it isn't a move that only engines would consider and enjoy.

I cleaned up the translation of Shipov's commentary on Anand-Nakamura yesterday: http://www.chessintranslation.com/2010/12/shipovs-live-commentary-on-the-london-classic-rd-1/

I'll be translating today's round live here (not sure which game yet): http://www.chessintranslation.com/live-game/

re: 20...e6 you're playing games with semantics, Thomas. It's clear on first reading what Mig means here. Of course, Carlsen considered it; what with the big red bull's eye on painted on d5 by the duo of white knights. Mig said "more for computers to enjoy" not "only computers would enjoy." In the context, it's clear Mig means it's a move more suited to a computer than a player of Carlsen's style.

Very interesting games indeed; I hope they keep up the fighting spirit. Also, Happy birthday and best wishes for success to Hikaru.



Nakamura must have seen that his blockade was impenetrable when he sac'd his a-pawn to set it up.

Happy birthday, Hikaru. Keep up the great work!

Shipov's going to be commentating live on Nakamura again! (and a certain V. Kramnik) http://www.chessintranslation.com/live-game/

Mig: "... underdog Luke McShane, or should that be English Bulldog ..."

"British Bulldog," while nicer, was already taken.

Just an observation ...

RIP, Davey Boy, RIP

hm ... Kramnik better makes something happens fast before Nakura's queen side starts to wake up.

You may not be a penguin, but your work is much appreciated anyway!

Once more Kramnik loses control in a sharp situation requiring precise aggressive moves. Leopards are indeed united closely with their spots.
Not that that takes anything away from the achievement of his opponent. Who has also been showing some impressive flexibility in his play. Wonder if his style will become more fixed in years to come, or will he be one of those universals.

The Naka haters are proven wrong....AGAIN. Where is all the yapping I heard on this forum only a few weeks ago about how Nakamura didn't deserve all these invitations to "serious" super-GM tournaments? HAHA

Great job, Hikaru....1.5/2 with back-to-back blacks against the reigning and former world champ. Congrats.

And as for the haters...show yourself and eat your crow.

Yeah Kramnik with Black, going to be very hard to see a coherent Naka-Hater response to this one. Well done, Hikaru.

And, just as everyone predicted, 1. McShane, 2. Nakamura.

I know people will hit me, but someone has to say it: Kramnik's 12th move - maybe a very speculative piece sacrifice, maybe just a blunder - certainly didn't hurt (Nakamura). As Shipov wrote: "As a member of the KC-Forum rightly noted, if Kramnik wanted to give Nakamura something on his birthday it would have been better to give… a small cake. But a whole knight – that’s going too far. Too generous!"

Unfortunately (but maybe understandably if it was deliberate) Kramnik continued or dragged on the game just long enough that there was no press conference.

I missed the Kramnik-Nakamura post mortem (if there was one) on the official site. Did Kramnik explain what he was thinking when he made that really somewhat strange sacrifice?
Exciting game, and kudos to Naka, of course.

So Carlsen back to #1 followed by Aronian and then Anand.

Of course it was dubious, but Naka tempted him into it, and Kramnik went for the bait...similar to how Anand tempted him in that sharp line in their 2008 WCC match.

As Shipov said earlier in his commentary, kudos to Naka for knowing how to tempt Kramnik in this game.

For the record, Naka's last 11 games against "serious" super-GMs (Kramnik twice, Anand, Aronian, Grischuk, Mamedyarov, Karjakin, Gelfand, Hao, Shirov, Eljanov) he is +2 with no losses, having had only four (!!) whites in those 11 games. He is for real...better get on the bandwagon while there is still room :).

It is not very long ago I rated Naka above Carlsen when Naka was about 100 points below. But many underestimated that this would happen so soon.

All time talent list (genius wise)

Anand > Nakamura/Carlsen > Fischer

All time great list (talent + achievement wise)

Anand > Kramnik > Kasparov > Carlsen/Nakamura (but these guys will move up to second position soon)

Btw, London Classic live rating list froze and became dead and locked Carlsen @ #1!!

LOL Pioneer! very interesting stats!

Can somebody explain what was that was "tempting" about that Knight "Sacrifice? Does anybody evaluate the position as (even) = for White, after Qd2(?)?

It seemed that Kramnik immediately started playing Va Banque, after ceding the piece.

But, +1 after 2 Blacks against Anand and Kramnik is a great result, without doubt. And results are all that matter in ELOworld....

I will be very impressed if he can defeat Carlsen, and Yes (I'm sure that somebody will call me a "Hater"--I will be rooting for Nakamura to win *that* game.

+2 should be enough for a Share of 1st, in such a Short event.

Time to start the next "Nakamura Sweepstakes": What's the best guess as to when Nakamura breaks into the Top 5? Cracks 2800? Becomes the highest rated player? Given the logjam of Carlson, Anand, and Aronian at 2800, it amounts to close to the same thing...

One has to give credit to Nakamura for pushing on g5. He must have known Kramnik wanting him to do that by playing
12 Qd2.

I think it is Kramnik who tempted Nakamura to push of g5, rather than Nakamura tempted Kramnik for the knight sac. They both saw the sac coming.

Hilarious. Garry K #3, huh? I'm detecting just the slightest 'what have you done for me lately' bias. Perhaps you are also unaware that Karpov was world champion and enjoyed the most successful tournament career in history. Maybe when Magnus and Hikaru have accomplished 10% of what Karpov has accomplished, 'if that day should ever come,' you can put them on the map, in a tiny corner.

You all might enjoy this. It's a regular Guardian series (a vehicle for sportsmen to promote something or other). Who'd have expected to see Carlsen, though?


Yeah, thanks. I like "I'm not yet as crazy as [Fischer] was but I'll get there."

On the "tempting" thing. I changed it to "lured" in the final version: http://www.chessintranslation.com/2010/12/shipovs-live-commentary-on-the-london-classic-rd-2/

But in any case, Shipov says that in a note to move 8, so it's not about the sacrifice. Instead he was talking about how Kramnik chose 1. Nf3 and subsequent moves to avoid the Nimzowitsch Defence (among other things), but Nakamura eventually managed to bring the game to a Nimzowitsch position. It seems as though he outwitted Kramnik, which might have been a factor in Kramnik undertaking such drastic measures!

+2 is probably not enough, even with such a short event, since there are two tiers of players.

Naka could break top 5 in 2011 (20 rating points), but it will be alot tougher to crack top 3, and it gets worse along the way...

Sergey Shipov's commentating live on Anand - Carlsen today: http://www.chessintranslation.com/live-game/

p.s. though the Crestbook site seems to be down and Shipov hasn't posted his introduction yet, so things might not get off to a smooth start :)

Carlsen is going down. 29 Nh6+

Vishy 33. Ba3?

yeah ... 33 Rf7 was more natural. Anand must have calculated that but decided not to for some reason,
the upcoming time trouble may have been a factor.

Barring time trouble. I wonder the position after
35...Qg8 is winnable for white.

Anand-Carlsen is somewhat reminiscent of their previous Ruy Lopez Breyer in the last round of Bilbao: then also Anand was first worse, then better (unlike today, maybe not quite winning), eventually it ended in a draw. Will history repeat itself?

wasn't that the game which few of us (myself included) thought Anand was repaying Carlsen the favor for helping him in WCC match?

Anyway, this game one idea is to push the White's pawns up. Don't even know how that would work.

Short was hilarious as always at the press conference, even though he didn't lose today ,:) . On Anand-Kramnik, he suggested to put a white pawn on h5 and squeeze black to death, adding "Anand is going to win, noone knows why" and "it's their problem not mine - I have finished and will now have a glass of wine".

Presently they discuss whether Kramnik's bishop pair will lead to a win in a Berlin ending, saying that black is OK even for Vlad ... .

I think the Anand-Carlsen game is all my fault for thinking I was going to get off early today... and counting chickens...

Same problem for the London live commentators and for me (getting hungry as it's past dinner time already! ,:) ). Actually the game is also a bit similar to Carlsen-Anand from Nanjing: colors and roles reversed, also Q+R+minor piece - which also ended in a draw: both of them are strong, neither one is perfect ... .

Anand does to Carlsen what Carlsen does to other sub-2750 GMs. Press, press until they crack! Wonder what significance it would hold for die-hard Carlsen supporters if he wins four-in-a-row, scores +3 and wins the tournament ahead of an Anand +2.

Magnus Carlsen would now seriously need to reconsider his participation in the WC cycle to retain any credibility.

Well said. Barring a disaster, it looks like Anand will retain the #1 ranking for the January list. Carlsen still has to face Nakamura and Kramnik.

If this series of humbling losses makes Carlsen reconsider his decision about the WC cycle, then its the best thing that could happen to chess. Carlsen is starting to realize -- as I predicted right after he made his "decision" -- that he will quickly become irrelevant if he's not in the WC cycle, b/c there is no way he's going to convincingly demonstrate apart from the WC cycle that he has any right to demand special treatment in comparison with the other top-5 players in the world.

Can't beat the dirt for basing conclusions on little evidence. Naka wins a nice game and we get him as one of the top 3 players of all time. The World Champ wins one and a strong GM wins one and their opponent moves from hero to zero in minutes. LOOOOOL.

Who said Naka was top-3 all time? Definitely not me. However, he is a legit super-GM worthy of being in the top 10 and with a good shot IMO of becoming top-5. Today's game was a little disappointing, but tomorrow against Carlsen should be interesting.

"he will quickly become irrelevant if he's not in the WC cycle, b/c there is no way he's going to convincingly demonstrate apart from the WC cycle that he has any right to demand special treatment in comparison with the other top-5 players in the world"

Haha, irrelevant unless he wins a knockout :)

No, not you, pioneer. Look in Pircalert's post above. I'm all for Nakamura but even he might find that one funny!

It's beginning to look as though players like Anand and Kramnik have Carlsen's number. Even McShane caught him. Carlsen looks like he's struggling to play the type of dominating game he had been playing against other GMs. He's very disappointing results vs. Anand and Kramnik perhaps is the reason he dropped out the WC cycle -- Carlsen probably knows he doesn't have a serious chance against either of these guys and that his chess prowess needs to mature. The intimidate way in which Carlsen has been recently playing does not evoke confidence and I personally think his decision to side-step the current WC cycle is a sensible one. Carlsen's game vs. Nakamura tomorrow will definitely be an interesting one and will tell us how resilient Carlsen is vs. a player who is obviously full of confidence in his own strength.

So this is Carlsen's second loss this year to Anand. The other 4 games they drew. And Anand is back to #1 in live list. It seems Anand is most motivated against these top players since he dint convert his advantage from his previous two games. In the post conference, Carlsen accepted that his Be4 was a big oversight and he spoilt his edge he had obtained from the opening. The problem is he seems to do it quite often now.

Its funny if Kramnik draws today, in the 3 rounds so far, when others win, Anand draws and when Anand wins others draw.

I'd hate to play this R vs R+B against Kramnik and would loose. That's like a torture. So far it looks like McShane has done his homework on this ending.

light weight Magnus interview: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2010/dec/10/magnus-carlsen-interview-small-talk?CMP=twt_gu

Magnus on twitter 1 hr ago: Well, that was just unbelievably bad. Nothing else to say.

Hey Cat, what is wrong with my assessment? :) There is no dearth of talent in todays players pool. Plus there are other factors so there is no need to dominate. Just that you top them all requires special talent. So Nakamura, Carlsen and all really special talent players. But if you can still dominate, it is like super special talent, like you see with Anand in matches! Why would someone consider players who ducked for fear of losing any great?

Sounds like Anand-Carlsen position is very tricky even before Carlsen's Be4. Weak point is d6 (knight fork), g7(Qd4->g7) and h6 (for Nh6-f7), so a6 extra pawn is nothing. Anand would probably love to play with both the colors, I think tremendous amount of preparation is needed here. I'm sure this position debate will go on in the future tournament games.

Wow. Just watching the Anand-Carlsen game from the comfort of my laptop, with nothing personally at stake, was stressful. What fighters these guys are!

Anyone have a link to the press conference video? Thanks.

"The Naka haters are proven wrong....AGAIN... HAHA"

Pioneer --
Every time you utter something like that, 99% of us think: 'What a dork.'

You and PircAlert ought to link arms and take in a juvenile movie.

Sorry. In a sour mood today, I guess, but I do hate reading that crap. It is what it is. Leave it at that.

Carlsen-Nakamura tomorrow. Should be extremely interesting since Carlsen is -2 and supposedly very interested getting the first win, and Nakamura does not back down from a fight.

oops, forgot that Carlsen already had a win against Adams.


Take your beating like a man instead of whining and name-calling. Leave it at that.

OK, Mrs. Pioneer.

I think "Naka-haters" is code for people who

* Show a healthy degree of skepticism about the massive hype associated with any promising US player
* Are annoyed with Naka fans, and their sometimes exaggerated claims
* Don't instantly forgive Naka's sometimes arrogant attitude just because of his impressive chess achievements.

In other words, perfectly reasonable folk.

And of course, none of this precludes acknowledging Naka's very real achievements, *when they materialize*.

Excellently put, thank you.

I am not a Naka-hater, indeed I wish him well on his way however high it may lead him. But the points you make cannot be disregarded - and sometimes make me, at least, become very annoyed.

The live rating should be called "live unless Carlsen loses a game or two" .

No. This is what a Naka-hater is:

1. Continuously, despite significant evidence to the contrary, belittles his accomplishments or status as a super-GM
- Because Naka has had significant results for nearly 2 years now against fellow super-GMs, yet is still trashed by many on this forum
2. Hints (or blatantly suggests) that he in no way deserves to be in the same category as the top 10 players in the world
- This despite getting almost zero invitations to top tournaments compared with comparable talents (i.e. Wang Yue) -- you now see what Naka does when he gets those opportunities.
3. Points to his acts of immaturity (of which there are many) while at the same time glossing over the immaturity of many other super-GMs (i.e. Carlsen, Ivanchuk, Topalov, etc.)
4. Too cowardly to admit when they are wrong -- i.e. the Tal Memorial and this tournament -- so they remain silent until Naka has a few bad games, then they return to chirp.
5. Resort to juvenile personal attacks against other posters when called out on being a Naka-hater.

In addition, many of these people have an anti-US bias.

If you are a skeptic about Naka based on EVIDENCE, but are willing to give him his due when he does well, you are not a hater -- you are a reasonable fan, which puts you the vast minority of people who talk about Nakamura on this board.

Here are some examples to clarify:

A Naka-hater: "Nakamura is the most childish chessplayer that has ever played...there's no way he's even 2600 let alone 2700 level because the US is so weak and he'll NEVER EVER beat someone like Kramnik in a serious game. If he ever got invited to a real super-GM tournament -- like the Tal Memorial -- he'll get KILLED"

A Naka-skeptic: "I don't like the arrogance Nakamura shows at times, but he is clearly very talented and deserves to be in the top-20. He's erratic and I doubt he can get much further than top-10, but I respect his accomplishments on the board and his improving maurity off of it"

A reasonable Naka-fan (this is me, BTW): "I wish Nakamura was a little less arrogant, but I like his style of play. Now that he's getting the opportunity against super-GMs, he's showing why he's clearly top-10 caliber. I think he can become top-5, but will need to make significant improvements to his game to consistently challenge for or one day become world champion"

An unreasonable Naka fan: "Naka is the best ever! He should have been directly invited to the Candidates tournament because he owns every super-GM in the world!"

Most posters I've seen on this board about Naka definitely fall into the hater category, with a small minority being unreasonable fans, and an even smaller minority being doubters. The smallest category are reasonable fans.

"The live rating should be called "live unless Carlsen loses a game or two" ."

So true, so true. Its getting pretty predictable now.

Have you looked at livestream.com/londonchessclassic

I like to think that Mr. Nakamura will grow out of the really offputting behavior he is known for as he makes his way up the ladder and watches how other players of class generally act more civilly. This of course has zero to do with his chess aptitude, which, as a U.S. citizen, I feel oddly detached about, but would not deny - and never have, by the way.

Nearly all of the folks here fall neither under the presumed category of Nakamura-haters or Nakamura lovers. They are just chess fans who look at the games and marvel at, or are disapointed by what they see. If they like the player for his personality in addition, rooting words may be spoken.

Another reason many of us are a little perplexed about Hikaru Nakamura, and not blind adherents to the Hikaru Cult is that he not a little inconsistent. But wait, you might say, hasn't he been doing well in top company lately? Yep, and how long ago was the 2010 U.S. Championship where he faced inferior competition and was less-than-stellar anyway?
Well, I'll cut him some slack and say maybe he wasn't sufficiently motivated. But we all want to see a longer timeline of achievement at the Tal M./London level, as we would for anyone else a little green to the scene.

Example: I'm not predicting that Luke McShane, a player I've named here in the past as a personal favorite, will become top five any time soon. Who knows? He may, but I'm not going to get defensive because some people might fail to see what lies beyond London 2010. They're definately entitled to that. If they said it his play in London was an abberation, on what grounds would I argue it?

And --- here's the kicker: I don't know him well to get weird about it.

"Example: I'm not predicting that Luke McShane, a player I've named here in the past as a personal favorite, will become top five any time soon. Who knows? He may, but I'm not going to get defensive because some people might fail to see what lies beyond London 2010. They're definately entitled to that. If they said it his play in London was an abberation, on what grounds would I argue it?"

Well, Naka is #10 in the world, and McShane is outside the top 100. Thats a big difference when you're talking about a player becoming top-5.

And Naka had good results last year, including winning San Sebastian in a playoff over Ponomariov, and winning the US Championship. So there's no reason to act as though he only started playing well at the Tal Memorial. He didn't get to 2740 prior to that tournament by accident.

U.S. citizen... you mean naturalized? People born in the U.S. don't usually refer to themselves as a U.S. citizen. Anyway, people bear old and rehashed beef with Nakamura and it interferes with their objectivity when analyzing his games. Because they don't like his attitude, they will make ridiculous comments. When he loses a game it may have more to do with their dislike of him than his quality of play. You can sense the vitriol in the words.

Over the past three years, I've constantly seen people move the requirements for Nakamura to be accepted as an elite player. On this board there were people saying he'd never make 2700. Then there were those who say he'd never beat Kramnik or an elite player. There were those who said he's not worthy to be top 10. Now people are saying he'll never be top five. What next?

"and winning the US Championship"

Sorry but he did not win it this year. He wasnt even in the final match.

Nice points before. I think most of the Naka-hating all stems from his arrogance that he shows. Everybody can crack a joke here and there... Kramnik calling Carlsen his client etc. but Naka's arrogance is different. In most of Naka's games somehow if I dint know Naka had played it, may be I would like the game. But the moment he plays I wish he loses so that he learns a little about humility from that. Ofcourse he does not have to be like that to be a good chess player. Just that he will a fewer haters.

Harish, that's why I said I was referring to "last year" (2009), when Naka did win the US Championship.

With regard to arrogance, I agree about Naka, but I don't think he's more arrogant than Carlsen, for example. Its nice that Naka has learned some humility over the past 2-3 years...I like to think that he's maturing as a person at the same time his chess game is maturing as well.

I agree with Daaim; people's dislike of Naka's arrogance clouds their assessment of his chess ability. However, Carlsen is even more arrogant, and doesn't have nearly the amount of vitriol spewed his way that Naka does.

Naka's chess will only improve as long as the invitations keep rolling in. Organizers like the wild-card types, and soon he'll start winning supertournaments, maybe even this one. And he's human too: I was there the day he showed up hung over and lost to Samsonkin, and I've read his juvenile jackass Tweets. So let him play heel to Carlsen's utterly unlikable Tiger Woods pre-scandal face. I'm for the heel GM every time.

Born in San Francisco, Daaim, as was my father.

Now, anyone short of grandmaster status who puts limits on any player's potential is really talking out of their you know what. So, yea, those comments are as nutty as those in the opposite 'he's just another popular pro chessplayer representing America' direction. Hikaru is clearly not popular in the 'I'd like to hand around him' way. That should have been pretty obvious to you when/if you watched him standing most of the time by himself before the start of the Tal Memorial.

Nothing helps like success, though. As long as he keeps beating people of the caliber of Vlad Kramnik, people will forgive him for being such a poor rep, as he is defacto, of the United States.

As I said above, I hope his onscreen behavior changes as he gets more comfortable and confident in himself. Am I clear about that?

@ kenhabeeb: Re: "I was there the day he showed up hung over and lost to Samsonkin" You mean the day Samonkin cheated by using his handheld and then smashed it by hurling it to the ground when confronted by the TD?

If you see yesterday's press conference of Anand and Carlsen , Anand was doing almost all the talking and Carlsen was barely able to speak and seems to be shell shocked . It clearly shows how Carlsen might be feeling after losing to Anand. Carlsen was relatively cool after losing to McShane in the first round. It shows the importance he gives to a game against Anand especially after pulling out of world championship. Now, he not only has to remain number 1 but also has to hold his fort against Anand if he has any claim as the best player in the world. Carlsen's body language clearly showed the telling effect of his loss to Anand.

Wasn't me that mentioned that incident, but it sound pretty interesting.

Anand's opening prep since the Kramnik match has been rather disappointing the with odd exception here and there like Cataln with Na3 against Topalov

Carlsen made the principled decision of sticking to Breyer for the 4th time and asking to Anand to show what he has prepared against and yet with just a minor change by playing Rc8 instead of Nb6... MC equalized easily with the standard d5 break. Also, in his game against Nakamura in the Berlin Anand seemed to have nothing prepared even in that old line played in Kasparov - Kramnik and was making it up over the board. Can't imagine how he could have been expecting not to face the Berlin after 1) e4

Btw, it seems like Nakamura has been studying a lot of old Kasparov games. Not a bad choice. Against Anand he followed Kasparov - Kramnik and I think yesterday even in the press conf he admitted he had everything on his board till Ne5 and was well of the Kasparov Karpov game.

I consider myself a "Naka hater" as defined by macuga above (+1 for his post), I concede that there are also "pioneer types". I don't belittle Naka's achievements, but let's put the most recent ones in context:

Tal Memorial - yes, a fine event for him, but some comments sort of leave the impression that he finished ahead of Karjakin and Mamedyarov. He didn't.

London - IMO it's too early to draw major conclusions after three rounds. Nakamura's tournament so far:
Round 1: he survived an inferior ending against Anand. Not bad at all but arguably a bit of luck involved unless he assessed the ending correctly when it first appeared - what I mean: a similar ending might have been lost.
Round 2: the result against Kramnik stands, but baiscally Vlad just gave him a birthday present (and Shipov wasn't exactly impressed by Naka's subsequent play). To me it seems that Naka fans/fanboys would also boast about beating Kramnik if the latter lost because
- he flags in a winning position
- his mobile phone rings
- he is forfeited for being late
All is just as stupid and beyond explanation as giving a piece on move 12. Naka would have gotten my full credit if he had beaten Kramnik in Moscow.
Round 3: Nakamura blitzed his home preparation which resulted in a symbolically better, but nonetheless drawn position.

"Putting things in context" also means not forgetting about Nakamura's 'other' results such as the NH event (drastic losses against Gelfand and Svidler) and Olympiad. Altogether, he may become, or he already is another Ivanchuk!?

Pirc, he is a very talented and entertaining player, I like watching him and much admire his will to win. But if you want us to take you seriously you'll have to cut down the hyperbole! ; ) He's already racked up many great achievements and will doubtless achieve much more but he'll have to have a few more on the ol' scoreboard before you can start comparing him to the many legends of chess history like that!
I would quite like him to go even further, not just because his chess is entertaining and it is good to see Americans in the elite, and but also to prove Gelfand's statement about people not having the "Russian school of chess's training always missing something and they'll never make it right to the top blah blah" wrong.

but also to prove Gelfand's statement about people not having the "Russian school of chess's training always missing something and they'll never make it right to the top blah blah" wrong.

ANAND ... duh!

The wins which vishy missed were under time pressure. I find a lot of commentators immature.
They give computer lines which are winning, but do not give an objective assessment whether it was humanly possible under time pressure to get the winning line. RF7 was missed by anand but he had some concrete reason for not playing , (he thought black can give a perpetual ). the line he missed would be missed by most top players under time pressure .

Must admit I was (not so) secretly hoping Sergey Shipov would take a break today, but I suppose if the players can manage 4 long games in a row... Shipov's live commentary on Carlsen - Nakamura: http://www.chessintranslation.com/live-game/

I am glad he didn't, and you didn't. Looking forward to enjoy a couple of hours of fine chess commentary.

It's true, he did smash his handheld during the game. The incident was even made into a short film:


for what its worth, we see double fianchettos today by both India number ones - Anand & Humpy!

Oh! Zatonsikh offered a draw after just 14 moves in a must win game?! Sad way for the US challenge to end at the WWCC..

At least Thomas admits that he's a Naka hater.

From Thomas: " I don't belittle Naka's achievements..."

Then goes on to belittle Naka's achievements, first saying he drew with "luck" against Anand, despite both players having sufficient time and no clear win found even by computers in that game.

Then, when Naka WINS with BLACK over Thomas' golden boy Kramnik, Thomas takes his delusional arguments to a new low. To equate Naka's win with Kramnik losing b/c his cell phone went off is beyond ridiculous...you've just lost all credibility on this issue.

"Putting things in context" is why I don't yet think Naka will challenge for the world title, but if he gets as many high-level invites as Wang Yue has the past couple of years, my opinion could change. I am well aware of Naka's lows as well as highs.

After some maneuverings form both sides, Naka made the break first with 28... c5. a4 pawn loose. White's c1 rook is potentially pinned. Getting to be exciting ...

Lowell, Ashish? If you are asking whether or not I went to Lowell High, the answer is no. The family moved just down the Peninsula when I was a wee lad. But, oddly, Lowell, Mass. is meaningful.

What the hell did Short just do with that piece sac?

checkmate?? i can hardly believe my eyes.

Naka has 10 seconds for his 40th move.

Naka is down a pawn. It's time for Carlsen to grind the long drawn out end game. Feel bad for Shipov and Mishanp :-).

Neither am I! Short's pieces were kind of out of play but did Anand do anything for Short to throw the piece first and then the game?? Funny towards the end and an easy point for Anand!

Anand is probably holding back some preparation for his title defence matches. This is especially true for openings that his chief rivals will likely play, like Carlsen and Kramnik

Congrats in advance to Carlsen for beating Naka...back in the hunt for the tourney, but will still not overtake Anand for world #1.

Good run for Naka against the big three in this tournament. Even score with 3 blacks against Anand, Kramnik and Carlsen is a good result -- and going back to Tal Memorial, in his last 8 games with black (Carlsen, Kramnik, Anand, Aronian, Grischuk, Mamedyarov, Karjakin, Shirov) he is even score (6 draws, todays loss, win over Kramnik). Needs to avoid letting up like he did yesterday against Howell with white. We'll learn a lot more in the last three rounds.

Yeah, Lowell High. Now I live down the street from M-A.


thank you very for the translations. Highly appreciated.

I should add that I have many times thanked mishanp silently over the past 4 days, and also started a few times to put it into words, but could not summon the necessary eloquence. So let me just say: Thank you, man!!

Tomorrow the English players will square off against the elite foreigners. Will they be able to withstand the invasion?

Christmas is coming. How about we click on that "Donate" button and show Mishanp how much we really appreciate his voluntary service.


Great. That'll be my first stop as soon as I get to a secure computer. :) I wish we could be using a company that could better stand up to US govt pressure, but I guess we can't be too choosy about such things.

Magnus claims to consider Hikaru a serious rival, but I think their blitz series after the World Blitz gives the lie to that. Naka to him is a strong sparring partner, to his mind strong enough to be useful and interesting but not threatening enough to warrant avoidance and secret-keeping.

Maybe I have to clarify my previous post, fanboys don't understand subtleties but I'll give it another try:

- I called myself a Nakamura hater sensu macuga. More generally, "healthy degree of skepticism about ... massive hype" for me isn't limited to US players.

- Nakamura wasn't lucky to draw the ending against Anand (it was drawn, nothing Anand could do about it - though it was worth a try for a while), but _arguably_ lucky that the ending was drawn. In any case, a draw with black against Anand isn't such a major achievement for a strong GM, at least not a unique one - McShane (German Bundesliga), Dominguez and Short also managed to do so 2008-2010.

- I didn't _equate_ Kramnik's loss to a cell phone incident, but merely _compared_ these two ways to lose a game: a phone ringing and giving away a piece after 12 moves are both quite rare for (even non-super) GMs. In both cases the losing player can be blamed, but IMO the winner can't really be credited.

On your later post: "[Nakamura] Needs to avoid letting up like he did yesterday against Howell with white." Did Nakamura let up, or does Howell deserve credit for holding the draw under difficult circumstances - big time trouble and playing against the opponent's home analysis ??

"On your later post: "[Nakamura] Needs to avoid letting up like he did yesterday against Howell with white." Did Nakamura let up, or does Howell deserve credit for holding the draw under difficult circumstances - big time trouble and playing against the opponent's home analysis ??"

The answer is both are true. Howell deserves great credit for neutralizing White's advantage and steering the ending towards a fortress. Naka deserves blame b/c he didn't stop to take time to seriously evaluate the position (using less than 10 minutes total on his clock) until Howell had already created the fortress.

If Naka wants to become top-5 and higher, he needs to not only handle/parry the super-GMs -- which he has shown he is more than capable of doing -- he also needs to consistently beat players of Howell's and McShane's rating level, especially when he has the white pieces. Of course, he has already done this in the past, otherwise he would have never reached 2740 even before the Tal Memorial. But it needs to continue.

Regarding drawing with black against Anand (particularly when he plays 1. e4), I'm sure that Kramnik (Corus 2010) and Carlsen (this tournament) would attest that its not so simple, even for a super-GM...

"IMO the winner can't really be credited"

Don't you think that every time Kramnik loses? :)

I think so every time he blunders a piece - which doesn't happen too often, else he wouldn't have such a high Elo ,:) . But - as far as 2010 is concerned - Anand (Corus), Ponomariov (Dortmund) and Karjakin (Tal Memorial) get full credit, as Nakamura would have gotten in Moscow.

Who was that Carlsen fanboy suggesting that Magnus only loses when he has a flu or "a bad week"?

Nakamura is too heavy for young person. He should lose weight and his chess will improve. Plus he should stop wearing stupid cap.

The thing about Nakamura isn't a great mystery. He is a great player but Caucasians like Anand and Carlsen have more ability when it comes to playing chess compared to East Asians.

I would not want any of my chess students to model themselves after Nakamura. Nakamura is obviously a great talent, and I do like his games for pure entertainment value, but to advbise my students to emulate his play would definitely result in many more lost games and inferior tournament results for them. I emphasize the study of Capablanca, Smyslov, Karpov, and Kramnik, all positional greats who thought in terms of strategy first and foremost. These great world champions are a lot closer to chess truth than Nakamura, who, nevertheless, is a delightful trickster of the first order. But there's a great deal of recklessness about Nakamura's play that would inject a lot of aggressive carelessness into an aspiring player's technique.

Wow Jim. Well, can you at least teach me a few of those easy tricks so I can beat Gelfand and Kramnik?
We'll move on to Capa later. How much is it per class?

"Caucasians like Anand.."

lol!!! when did that happen???

Carlsen is not Caucasian either :-)

Anand Nair wrote ""Caucasians like Anand.."
lol!!! when did that happen???"

So what race do you think Anand belongs to? And don't give a stupid answer like "Indian". Educate yourself...


You have very strange ideas of race. If Nakamura is more successful, you would probably start calling him bi-racial.

The "asian" race have their own game of "go", which seems to require similar mental skills as chess. And China is a very successful in competitive chess.

Two aspects in your post which I will adress separately - part 1 of my response:
Anand-Nakamura and Nakamura-Howell had several things in common:
- The white player was the favorite [BUT this merely means that he should score more than 50% over several games, NOT that he should win every single game]
- White got a material advantage
- Black nonetheless managed to hold a draw.
The objective difference is that Nakamura was favorite by a bigger margin. The subjective difference is that you think/claim that Naka must have missed something and let Howell escape, while Anand-Nakamura had its logical result.

Now I calculate expected (long-term) scores between both players, making several assumptions:
- (Empirically defined) mathematical details of the Elo system make sense.
- Current ratings of players concerned are 'reasonably accurate'.
- The advantage of the white pieces is worth 50 Elo points (as I remember reading somewhere, of course at best an educated guess)
- "The stronger player never loses with white" (the most questionable assumption, falsified for Nakamura-McShane last year).

The expected score of Anand (2804) against Nakamura (2741) is 59% with either color or 66% with white, or winning every third game with the white pieces.
The expected score of Nakamura (2741) against Howell (2611) is 68%, 74% with white, or winning every second game.
In both cases, the London result is at most a minor upset, certainly not a major sensation.

I never said drawing with black against Anand is simple or automatic - anyone can lose against the world champion, particularly (Carlsen in London 2010) if he tries to win with the black pieces.

Part 2: What happened in Nakamura-Howell? Hikaru (semi-)blitzed out his moves because he confidently followed his home preparation, and his prep seemed to be "engine-controlled" rather than engine-assisted. The position after white's 32nd move was still on his analysis board (or screen), Rybka suggested 32.-Nb5 and probably assessed the position as winning for white - only OTB Naka realized that black has an impenetrable fortress if the knight rather goes to f7. So it may well be that he blindly believed the engine without double-checking the position (and, for whichever reason, engines don't understand the concept of a fortress).

It is tempting, maybe understandable to keep playing fast in order to put more pressure on the opponent who approaches time trouble. Even if he had realized that the final position is just a draw, it would have been "plausible gambling" - there is no guarantee that the opponent finds the best moves on his own with the clock ticking.

Just to underline that I am writing as neutral observer rather than "Naka-hater": "The very Kramnik" had done something similar but worse, at the worst possible occasion in his WCh match against Leko. Kramnik confidently followed his home preparation in a Ruy Lopez Marshall, but there was a big hole in his prep. Leko took his time to find a defense which turned out to be a refutation, final result Kramnik-Leko 0-1. Oops - he could only defend his title thanks to draw odds and winning a must-win game in the very end.

Strategically Nakamura's play was fine, at least according to people like Shipov: http://www.chessintranslation.com/2010/12/shipovs-live-commentary-on-the-london-classic-rd-4/ (tidied up version)

He just missed/miscalculated a couple of tactical things when he was in time trouble.

Still no sign of which game Shipov's commentating on today(!), or the introduction, but I'll be translating it here: http://www.chessintranslation.com/live-game/

I was waiting for who would reveal themselves to be stupid enough to fall for Henry's troll. I couldn't believe it when it took a few hours.
Congratulations: Anand and Mohit you win the prize ! LOL.

Facts are facts. How you judge them, what you wish to do with them, what you believe their implications are, are your choice to decide.

Anand gets his ideas of race from US bureaucrats no doubt, not a good source of learning about the real world.

Mohit, yes China has produced many great chess players, but none of the caliber the Caucasians like Capablanca, Kasparov, Fisher, Karpov, Anand, Kramnik, Tal, Botvinnik, Carlsen etc. etc.

As for H, judging comments to be stupid because you believe they are replying to a stupid comment, and then yourself responding makes you a bigger fool!

Well, I'll defer to Shipov as to his commendation of Naka's strategic play. I'm sure it's just my own limitation in understanding Naka's style -- it just seems to me to be on the risky side. Though I'm very aware that you've got to give something to get something, my own subjective feeling is that Naka often gives too much. But he just as often gets away with it and sometimes very impressively. As I said, there's much to enjoy about Nakamura's play, it's just that I can't recommend it because I don't readily understand it.

"Who was that Carlsen fanboy suggesting that Magnus only loses when he has a flu or "a bad week"?"

Hehe, I said Carlsen won't finish behind Kramnik if he plays chess on his usual level. As is proved once again in London. Unless Carlsen catches the flu during the rest day :)

"Unless Carlsen catches the flu during the rest day"

which is your prophylactic explanation for the (possible) case of Kramnik-Carlsen 1-0 tomorrow? ,:)

Carlsen's leading London (on tie breaks), despite the fact that he's *not* played chess on his usual level. How about that ;)

Anand hardly dominated his last match. Finishing +1 by winning the last game when his opponent made a clear blunder in a equal position.

+1 in a 12-game match. In the four completed Kasparov-Karpov WCC matches, Kasparov won with +2, +1, +0, +1 in 24 games each. You need to tell us a bit more about your criteria for domination, and for what constitutes a "clear blunder" (when the game goes on for 25 more moves?) -- and why anyone should care.

But Kasparov did not dominate Karpov but rather the K-K duo dominated the others.

It is like arguing how much hair you can have and be considered bald. Everyone can have their own threshold for what they consider dominating, but all that is objective is who is better than whom. The matches clearly showed Kasparov was better than Karpov, and some would consider, in a dominating way. That K-K dominated the others even more is immaterial; one can argue that even they didn't dominate and only Fischer of 1972 qualifies as dominant.

Congratulations to Carlsen for winning the tournament.

I think Anand and Kramnik also made apparent the trouble Carlsen would have in beating them and Topalov in matches to become the WCC. Carlsen will just have to wait a few more years for the trio to get older and fade away.

LMAO, at 20 Anand,Kramnik,and Topa were not even in super tournies,not to mention winning most of them...Accept Carlsen as your savior or he will destroy you!

I agree. The word dominating is very *very* subjective.

1. Kasp was dominant except for when he played Kramnik.
2. Anand has a crushing score against Karpov, but a terrible one against Kasparov (there is a 5 year period 1990-1995 when Karpov was still at the top of his game).
3. Kasparov and Karpov have a very closely matched lifetime score.
4. I believe Anand has a plus core against everyone (I'm not 100% sure about this), except for Aronian and Kasparov.

I'm not sure what any of this actually proves.

BTW. I wouldn't consider Fisher dominating either. Just 1 year doesn't make a career. He was great in 72, but IMO you have to string together at a few years otherwise one good year can be attributed to luck.

That right Rizzo? He had the odd good week or two before that too, I believe, down at his local club. He won a bottle of wine at the Xmas blitz competition in 64, too.

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