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Nakamura's Tata Win in US Chess Context

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I figured I should start a separate item so this discussion -- a typically endless one -- doesn't clog the tournament thread. I wish I had the time to follow this up more, but if I don't get this book done by the end of the month I will be sleeping with the fishes.

As mentioned in the NY Times chess blog, Kasparov livened up the debate about the historical place in US chess Nakamura's win represents. Here's the full quote:

"Fischer never won a tournament ahead of the world champion. He was second in Santa Monica. Of course there were far fewer such events back then, and Fischer had several great tournament results like Stockholm 62, but it's interesting. Reuben Fine only equaled Keres on points at AVRO in 38. Then you have Marshall at Cambridge Springs in 1904 ahead of Lasker, though Tarrasch wasn't there. So unless you include Capablanca as an American player, I think you can go back to Pillsbury at Hastings 1895 for an American tournament victory on par with Nakamura's!"

It was his response to my assumption that "since Fischer" was the obvious time period to look at for American wins ahead of world champions since Fischer was God, right? But in Fischer's day there were few big round robins with the world champion and his peers coming together. Unlike today, when it seems like the usual suspects assemble fortnightly, not that I'm complaining. And Fischer took a lot of time off from international play. Botvinnik wasn't playing tournaments -- he and Fischer played only once, in their famous Varna Olympiad endgame battle. Fischer had his shots at Tal, finishing a point behind him in Bled 61, though finally beating him in their individual game. Fischer also beat Petrosian there. Fischer did dominate the big 1970 Rovinj/Zagreb round-robin that included Smyslov, Korchnoi, and Petrosian, but Spassky was absent. To Garry it's not a technicality that several times Fischer finished ahead of a world champion while not winning the tournament, as he did in Santa Monica.

I don't think Kasparov overlooked Kamsky winning the FIDE World Cup in 2007. He's never thought much of those KOs as "serious" events even, or especially, when they were world championships. Obviously there was nothing trivial about taking out Svidler, Carlsen, and Shirov. But we were being rather restrictive in the parameters, talking about finishing ahead of a world champion in a tournament, not just great results. Fischer's Interzonal results at Stockholm and Palma are deservedly legendary, so context is important. These days, with so many tournaments and a general parity, finishing ahead of Kramnik or Anand is hardly rare, and not just for Aronian or Carlsen. Heck, Anand hasn't won a tournament in three years. But finishing ahead of all four of them -- and they were playing well! -- that's something. It's definitely a special day for American chess.

My trivia-addled brain wants to toss out Bologan's amazing win at Dortmund 2003, ahead of Kramnik and Anand by a full point. But I like to give style points, and +5 kicks Nakamura's result up a big notch. Write your local paper about it, would you? It would be nice to see this get some coverage. I know Americans don't care much about chess as a sport, or even consider it a sport, but they do like winners, especially ones who do it against the odds.

By the way, Garry has a review of Frank Brady's new bio of Fischer, "Endgame" in The New York Review of Books in a few weeks. We're still doing the finishing touches with the editors, but it's good stuff. So is Brady's book. There was a lot of good material from Garry on Fischer that was left on the cutting room floor for space and other reasons. I'll try to find a home for it when I have time. It was fun going back over Vol. 4 of My Great Predecessors, such a mountain of material in there.


Not to mention, Mig, that Fischer did a tad better in U.S. Championships. ;)

Congratulations to Nakamura. Being a true showman, his style is entertaining both on and off the board.

Best of luck in the future:)

I think Cambridge Springs 1904 was probably the best comparison. It lacked only Maroczy and Tarrasch from the top eight in the world (according to Chessmetrics rankings), whereas Tata lacked Karjakin, Topalov, and Mamedyarov from the top eight. Marshall was ranked #11 in the world and won that tournament; Nakamura was ranked #10 in the world and won this one. Both tournaments had eight of the top fifteen players in the world, including the American winner.

By comparison, Hastings 1895 lacked only Paul Lipke from the top eight (and he was in there thanks only to one great tournament win at Leipzig 1894), and had eleven of the top fifteen players in the world, not including the American winner. So I would say that Hastings 1895 was significantly stronger than either Tata 2011 or Cambridge Springs, 1904, but that it is fair to say that you have to go back to Marshall at Cambridge Springs 1904 for an American tournament victory on par with Nakamura's.

By the way my Chessmetrics list of the top 100 most elite tournaments from 1840 to 2005 is here:


He's certainly come a long way from ICC and blitz tournaments on foldable boards. I hope he'll be the main competition for Carlsen rather than dull Aronian in the years to come.

When I saw the title I must admit I thought the topic was going to be more like this (from Sergey Shipov after the last round): http://www.chessintranslation.com/2011/01/shipovs-live-commentary-on-tata-steel-chess-2011-rd-13/

"Let’s hope that his example will inspire chess youngsters and sponsors in America. It’s time for the USA to hold top-level tournaments – they’re fortunate to have finally found their own chess hero."

Surely there must be some rich chess sponsors/benefactors among the 300 million or so Americans - and a real super-GM tournament in America would be great for chess fans and players. (p.s. I know, it's not easy to find chess sponsors anywhere, but still...)

Congratulations "Japanese Boy"!!!
Hiraku Nakamura !


Aronian is surely about the least dull chess player around! He had great winning chances at Wijk - but it seems beating the Dutch players at the end when fatigue had set in wasn't as easy as expected.

p.s. forgive the plug, but you can ask Aronian questions here, and within reason he'll answer all of them in the near future: http://www.chessintranslation.com/2011/01/your-questions-for-gm-levon-aronian/

Well, the US Championships in Fischer's day never had someone as good as Kamsky in it -- world #4 who has won two Candidates tournaments (FIDE in 1995 cycle, 2007 Chess World Cup) and was second in another (PCA in 1995 to Vishy).

Is he related to Hiro Nakamura? If so, he may have altered the space-time continuum. Is this legal?

Aronian, Grischuk and Kramnik are just months away from the start of the Candidates.

Grischuk is a poker player, and wants to be underestimated by Aronian, who is his first obstacle.
Aronian practised his ability to hold against all comers, and Kramnik was testing the waters.

Money seems to be a problem for chess now. M-Tel is off, Linares is in hyperspace and this is the last Amber.

Good to see a changing of the guard, it may be useful with regard to the future of chess.

It's true that in Europe , there is less and less cash for chess , consequence of the economic crisis but also of the fact that doesn't chess events do not attract enough people .

Hopefully chess tournaments will pop up in Asia in countries with high growth and a dynamic chess scene like China .

Nakamura's victory could also convince some people in the US to stage high profile tournaments hopefully

It is the fact of these comments rather than the content the I find very interesting. All this makes me wonder why exactly Garry had these comments about Nakamura's performanance at the ready....

I guess only a chess fanatic can understand the heavy reactions Nakamuras Tata victory brought about. Or only a chess fanatic is able to be so emotional about it.

Now one thing is clear: +5 is a superb result and finishing ahead of Anand, Kramnik and Carlsen is rare.

But starting to compare apples with peaches (Fischer era vs. today; tournaments vs. knock out formats vs. world championships) is just not right.

Don't compare what can't be compared.

I'd rather bring Nakamuras performance in a post-Kasparov context. Tournaments since then have not seen any clear favourites. We saw
- Anand
- Aronian
- Carlsen
- Karjakin
- Radjabov
- Leko
- Topalov
- Kramnik
- Grischuk
- Ivanchuk
- Naiditsch
- Svidler
- Ponomariov
- Shirov

win cat 20 or cat 21 tournaments in Wijk aan Zee, Linares, Sofia, Nanjing or Dortmund.

Nakamura proved that he himself is able to win such a tournament as well (which is no surprise, considering his many great results at other tournaments). That he is an america is really not interesting in this context. He is just one more who proved able to win such a tournament.

In the end, it does not matter if he won with +3 or +5.

Now again, Nakamuras performance was great, but trying to bring it into a historical context seems to be a bit strange and exaggerated.

Hoewever, for the sake of chess, please all do what Mig begged you to do: call or write your local newspaper so that chess gets coverage.

"That he is an america is really not interesting in this context."

Maybe not to you. To me, and to many other Americans, it certainly is!

"In the end, it does not matter if he won with +3 or +5."

Actually, yes, it does matter that he won, but winning with a +5 score is definitely much more impressive than a +3, not to mention that if he had won with a lesser score, his overall standing in the FIDE Rating List would not be as high. So, yes, that +5 score does matter. Even better, a +6 would have made him Number 5 in the World! Anything higher would have been a monumental chess accomplishment!

Congratulations Hikaru!!! Well done!!!

Dull Aronian??? I'm not sure how much you've seen Aronian play, but dull is never the word associated with his style. Quite the contrarary.

After Mishanp's call above, I will repeat here my own call for U.S. elite tournaments from Mig's previous blog post:

Note to billionaires who live in the Bay area and have played a lot of chess in their relatively young lifetime (Hal already knows exactly who I mean...hint: Paypal): Put the U.S. firmly back on the chess map. Honor the 125th anniversary with a series of showcase tournaments featuring the strongest players in the world, Amber-style.
Endow it to make it last at least as long as the original Amber tournament, which will end this year.
Are you there, Peter??

Off-topic (at least mostly): We haven't heard about Spassky and his health for a while, now German Chessbase has an interview on the occasion of his 74th birthday:
He's still in hospital in Paris but seems to make progress in his recovery:
"In the beginning it was difficult to properly coordinate my movements. It's like an airplane without navigation system. By now I no longer have major coordination problems. I can speak normally, Russian and also some English."
Asked about when he can leave hospital:
"The doctors won't tell me yet. I think I am in the middlegame which will probably go on for a while. It's important to reach a good endgame."

On-topic: He followed Tata via Internet. Asked to comment on Nakamura's victory:
"Honestly I don't consider his chess that remarkable ("nicht so toll"). For me he's the least interesting player."
[Spassky is entitled to his opinion, his rating and certainly his chess understanding are high enough. And don't shoot the messenger!]

Thiel hedge fund is doing miserably

Perhaps it needs some good PR; PR that will give it an aura of class. World-class chess fits that bill in my opinion.

"Honestly I don't consider his chess that remarkable ("nicht so toll"). For me he's the least interesting player."

That could be just liking/not-liking chess style. Spassky may not like Topalov's chess either (I consider Topalov and Nakamura both have the same style).
Just for myself, for example, I'd prefer more stable maneuverings of Kramnik, Anand, Carlsen, while recognizing Nakamura's chess talent.

Mig you sound more and more like Kasparov at his condescending worst. Seriously man, grow up

Just poking my head up for a moment to apologize for missing Anand and Topalov on +5 in 2006. It's particularly annoying since it was one of the few things I actually bothered to look up and I still missed it twice! Once, going through the last 10 years of standings on the Wijk site and then glancing over Anand's last decade of results looking for better than +4. But it's there in both places in black and white. Oh well.

Dunno if Thiel is interested in sponsoring a chess tournament. As much as we love them, they tend to be money pits with short coattails. I could see him being the lead name in trying to put an group together to sponsor one, but there would have to be a corporate title sponsor and not just dumping money out of rich people's pockets because they can. Not everyone is van Oosterom. Had Karpov won the election I could see him being involved in commercial projects. But like several others who supported the campaign, he wants nothing to do with Ilyumzhinov.

Mig, Daaim, Thomas,..: My sources tell me that Max V-L was not satisfied being the tournament revelation. Stick that in your cap for the next W. Ch. qualifier...

A VERY interesting suggestion, Calvin.

Nothing surprising about this blog.
As usual Mig and Kasparov taking potshots at Anand -

I hope Anand retains the WCC another 2 rounds (at least). Going by the fact that its getting close to impossible to beat him, I wouldnt mind placing my money on that. The way Karlsen weaseled out after 20 odd moves is a pointer; his usual strategy being grinding out 90+ moves with high precision knowing his opponent is likey to make half a dozen imprecise moves, the cumulative effect of which gives him his full point. That is a good strategy, but the kid realized through his last couple of decisive encounters against Anand, that that strategy is not worth the risk.

No mention of Anand going three tournaments without a loss. No mention of his all time high rating or consistent form.

But what is worth mentioning is 'First American to win a tournament ahead of World Champion'

In the all time list of ridiculous sports journalism ...

The kenh's and Thomas's hitting refresh every 10 seconds to pounce on anything that anyone comments, please, don't, thanks.

I hope that Vishy retains the title at least for another 2 years. However, to say that its "getting close to impossible" to beat him is just not true. Carlsen threw away a win against him in Nanjing, and of course Bacrot did beat him there. If anything, Aronian has proven to be just as unbeatable as Anand over the past 6 months.

I agree that it only means something along these lines, later Spassky added that "Nakamura plays a very strange chess, like a small Japanese tank" - a bit reminiscent of Korchnoi's statement about virtually all current young players: "they all play like a computer, computer the coach".

I had mentioned it just to make it a bit on-topic. Overall, IMO the interview wasn't THAT remarkable, remarkable or newsworthy was mostly that it did happen (and I thought some people might be interested).

This was a fine result. However, I believe too much is being made of "best result ever" and "first elite win". Then this drivel about the first American in eons to win an elite tournament. It's being hammered in every news report... mostly out of Europe. Glad Jeff Sonas made that post giving some perspective. This tournament would have been the "best ever" for most of the 14 players in the field.

I cringed when I heard an interviewer ask Hikaru whether it was his best result a few times in a row. When has that ever been a headline with any other player? I don't remember this being the main theme when others have won their strongest field. Carlsen? Aronian? Radjabov? Karjakin? Ponomariov? Nope. It makes it appear that Nakamura has not played well against strong competition. With fewer chances than the aforementioned, it makes his accomplishment ever more remarkable.

Well, to be fair, it is Naka's best result ever and his first elite win (San Sebastian was a good event, but certainly not in the league with a superGM tournament). And it is by far the biggest American win in decades. Unless its a Candidates tournament or the World championship, a win over a field with three world champions (two former) and includes the top four rated players in the world is as big as anyone can have.

That being said, Naka's Tal Memorial result should have given people indication that a result like this one was possible. Even so, you need to be both playing well AND be fortunate to win such an elite event. Last year, Carlsen was fortunate that Anand beat Kramnik, Shirov failed to find a win in the last round, and Carlsen held on against Caruana -- otherwise he would have at least had to share first place. Naka was fortunate this year in a few of his games (Giri, Ponomariov, L'Ami for declining a draw offer and then losing) he was able to draw what in other situations may have been losses.

Its a sign of an elite player when they can win a superstrong tournament and still have room to improve -- as Naka still does. I don't think Carlsen will be referring to him as a "blitz specialist" anymore :).

It's important to remember that the match skill set is separate from the tournament skill set. Obviously there is overlap, but there are meaningful differences between the tools. This is one reason I would not bet against Vlad or Vishy in a match against Magnus. They have so much experience in that pressure cooker, understanding psychology, how to prepare, how best to work with a team of seconds, how to budget resources (time and energy), etc.

Do you seriously think that even Anand believes that "going three tournaments without a loss" compares to Nakamura's win as a news story?

Seriously. I'm an Anand fan, and H-Bomb sometimes runs me the wrong way, but ... for an American, living in the US, working only with a 2200 second, basically doing it "his own way," to take clear first over the top four players in the world, is HUGE. There's no other way to look at it.

Congratulations, Hikaru!

"working only with a 2200 second"

C'mon, he doesn't have a 2200 player as a second, he has a computer specialist as a second. You don't have to be a strong player for this stuff, you need to know how to work the data and maybe understand which moves and positions will suit Nakamura's style. Littlejohn does this well, and unless Hikaru decides to change the way he preps he doesn't need a "stronger player" as a second.

pioneer: "a win over a field with three [sic] world champions"

Odd. I see only two...

Uff Da.

[Regardless of what the tournament is called, winning a funny FIDE knockout event is less substantial and impressive than winning Tata or Linares or Tal Memorial.]

Spassky explained a very similar story about Fisher before their match in 72... What did he say? Fisher? Just another American Bozo who doesn´t have our fine understanding about chess, he is not a real threat, moreover I´ve never lost a single game to him, which proofs my point...

Are you counting Carlsen as one of the world champions? After all, he won the blitz WC last year. And didn't Aronian win that too? Gosh, I bet at least one of the other players won a world youth championship too.

Why not say "a win over a field with six world champions (four former)"?

And a question...why is Ponomariov a "former" World Champion? Did someone wrest the title from him?

"So I would say that Hastings 1895 was significantly stronger than either Tata 2011 or Cambridge Springs, 1904"

Isn't that the best result ever in the stupid comment tournament?

Thanks for the enlightening comment, Mig. I actually wasn't sure that you had heard of Peter Thiel, who used to play at the Burlingame, CA Chess Club (I grew up ten miles away, and played him several times. +1 -1).
But of course! That he was involved politically in the chess world is fascinating news to me!
It's a shame that, even for American financiers, all chess roads apparently go thru Ilyumzhinov city.

I'm sure relying exclusively on a computer specialist seems very logical and obvious to you in hindsight, but nevertheless, Nakamura is the only top player that I know of who has taken this route. All the others work with GM seconds on a regular or at least sporadic basis.

No, Carlsen is not a world champion. The world champions at Tata Steel were:

Anand (2007-present, undisputed)
Kramnik (2000-2006 classical, 2006-2007 undisputed)
Ponomariov (2002-2004 FIDE)

What is the job of a second during a tournament? To help find playable lines against the various opponents. It doesn't have to be anything super-advanced; if you need more than a sideline or a "one-off novelty" then there's plenty of time to work on that in-between tournaments.

In a match situation you'll need more than a computer specialist, as you need to dig really deep into the stuff you're going to play. Your opponent will have gone through his stuff with a fine-grained comb, so those little one-offs are less likely to succeed.

Naka's been working with Littlejohn for years, so they're probably comfortable with each other and they have a routine that works. Maybe it's not ideal for every game, but I suspect nothing is.

Also, as you may have noticed, we have a lot more "self-made players" these days as the advent of computers has made this route viable. Carlsen, to take a well-known example, has his father as a "second" for 99% of his appearances and he's been doing ok.

Some players brought seconds to Wijk, others didn't. If you had to be a strong GM to be a good second, then it would be strange to bring a 2200 player, but Littlejohn is there because he is valuable in other ways. Hence the mention of his rating is irrelevant.

It's interesting that Carlsen, as you say, once labeled Nakamura the "blitz specialist." Whether meant to be demeaning or not, Hikaru is not the uber-blitz king that he himself and others thought. He may be actually higher up in the classical echelons than he was 'supposed to be' in blitz. Anand, Aronian, Gelfand, Vachier-Lagrave, Nepo, and I'm leaving out a few others, are also at least as good, if not better.
No doubt Hikaru has come to that conclusion himself.

I do realize that tournaments and matches are apples and oranges, but if Nakamura were to get into a qualifying match for the W. Ch. at some future time, I'd bet that, even if he formed a team, the starkest contrast would again be between his team and Anand's!

"Whether meant to be demeaning or not"

He used the term for his blog entry on the 2009 BNBank Blitz. As the name suggests, this was a blitz tournament. And since this was played well before Naka had grown to the superstardom he enjoys today, he might have been unknown to a lot of the readers, who might even be wondering why this guy was invited to come all the way from USA to play blitz against a bunch of scandinavians for one day.

Looks different when you put the context back in, eh, pioneer?

"I'd bet that, even if he formed a team, the starkest contrast would again be between his team and Anand's!"

Absolutely. As I clumsily tried to express, I think he'd need a different approach if he were to play a serious match. He'd need to build a real team, not only for the preparation phase, but also to handle any surprises served up once the match has started.

The downside to going (mostly) solo is that you're not establishing relations with players you could bring in, and you may not even be used to working with people at all. If you have a team, then you're also the leader of that team, and not everyone is good leadership material.

Carlsen (blitz WC 2009), Aronian (blitz WC 2010), and Grischuk (blitz WC 2006) are every bit as much World Champions as Ponomariov is. Why not give them equal mention?

[Both Carlsen and Aronian have more impressive tournament wins under their belts than Ponomariov's knockout tourney win.]

And Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was the world champion junior (2009).

So in addition to Anand and Kramnik, Nakamura finished ahead of FIVE other world champions, seven World Champions in all!

And this tournament was so darn strong that not only were there seven world champions in the A group, there was even a world champion in the C group -- Kateryna Lahno, women's blitz WC in 2010.

To all Nakamura fans: If you consider Hikaru's past (playing 2.Qh5, spending many hours on ICC) "history" [I agree!], you should also stop mentioning comments by others which were, but no longer are timely.

A major Dutch newspaper quotes Gelfand ("summarizing the opinion of the world top about the 'rapid chess king' "): "He makes no secret that he hasn't read a single chess book and doesn't know endgame theory". This quote is roughly four years old. While it is remarkable and a sign of pure talent that he could reach Elo ~2650 with such an approach, changes were required to aim for more, and he did make such changes.

Regarding pioneer's list of supposed 'hate quotes' (Daaim posted similar stuff before):
- "He will never cross 2700" was a legitimate opinion at the time. Eventually Nakamura did it, but it took him about 3 years to get from 2650 to 2700. Currently, IMO anyone could write "Smeets will never cross 2700" without being offensive.
- Anyone merely stating "He hasn't (even) crossed 2700" would have made a factual statement, in response to those claiming that he should already get 'corresponding' elite invitations to European (non-US) events.

Jesus Christ, chess "fans" here are so petty. You always argue about the little words, the tiny facts, never about the bigger pictures. Your opinions are so well-formed as to be impervious to, not just genuine criticism, but to anything that might begin to threaten your worldview, and your stereotyped cast of characters and traits. Three years ago, you could read the same rubbish here; three years from now, it'll still be the same old stuff. It's petty and small-minded.

"Regarding pioneer's list of supposed 'hate quotes' (Daaim posted similar stuff before):
- "He will never cross 2700" was a legitimate opinion at the time. Eventually Nakamura did it, but it took him about 3 years to get from 2650 to 2700. Currently, IMO anyone could write "Smeets will never cross 2700" without being offensive.
- Anyone merely stating "He hasn't (even) crossed 2700" would have made a factual statement, in response to those claiming that he should already get 'corresponding' elite invitations to European (non-US) events."

Well, obviously it wasn't a legitimate opinion at the time, since Naka wasn't even 20 years old before he crossed 2700 for the first time. If he was 35 years old, that would have been a different story. But yes, that was a hater statement that someone still a teenager rated 2650+ would never become 2700. Its obvious to EVERYONE how dumb, moronic and idiotic that prediction was now.

And given how many invitations Wang Yue received (I use him as an example because of similar age and similar time each crossed 2700), it was reasonable to ask why Naka wasn't receiving the same invites. That also, is very obvious now.

Merely stating facts is not hating -- but making demeaning predictions based on those facts is hating.

Examples of the difference between legitimate doubting and hating:

Legitimate doubter: "Naka loses too many loose games with white; unless he shores that up, it will be hard for him to be a top-5 player and win supertournaments"
Hater: "Naka is overrated and childish...no way will he ever be a top-5 player or win supertournaments".

There are of course several other examples of hater comments on this forum, especially directed towards Naka.

In context, the quote was used by Carlsen first at the 2009 BNB bank, and then prior to their game at the 2009 London Chess Classic. Being a great blitz player doesn't make you a "blitz specialist" -- particularly if you are 2700+ level as Naka has been for 3 years now. I'm sure Carlsen meant nothing by it, but it was still disrespectful -- kind of like Carlsen's crush Kramnik like a bug statement last year.

So yes, I am very well aware of the context of the quote.

Accurate observation ...


Aren't you the same one who was questioning Naka's opening prep during the tournament? Man up.

Theorist, don't use the Lord's name as a curse. The name of Jesus Christ is to be praised, not cursed.

You know those snapping teeth toys? Don't they go, naka, naka, naka?

"Being a great blitz player doesn't make you a "blitz specialist"

At the time the entry was written, Nakamura was ranked as no 25 or so in "standard" chess. So, how do you explain to a possibly unwitting audience why this guy was specially invited to play? Why not some other guy that's higher in the rankings or generally better known?

The answer is that you dub him a "blitz specialist" because it conveys the gist of it in two words and nobody's supposed to take a quick 5 minute blog entry as seriously as you obviously do. It might be possible to construe it as disrespectful in a world where everybody carefully measured each and every word they uttered, but that's not exactly the kind of world we're living in now.

"So yes, I am very well aware of the context of the quote."

Oh my. The point was that since you left the context out, it was not obvious to the reader that the term "blitz specialist" wasn't used more recently in a more serious context. Maybe he said it two weeks ago? As in "Blitz specialist Nakamura is still in the lead in Tata Steel 2011"?

If you paid even half as much attention to your own utterances as you do to those of others, then you'd understand why leaving the context out is reckless. While *you* are "very well aware of it" the common reader isn't psychic. You really are far too imprecise to be in a position to nitpick others.

Do you wear really dark Nakamura fan sunglasses, you seem to be completely blind to any arguments or facts that don't fully support him? (I mean to be ironic, polemic or sarcastic, not really insulting).

Some facts, or at least empirical observations are:
- In organizers' minds, it isn't enough to touch or cross 2700 in one official list, or a few live rating lists. Else we would have even more players competing for a finite number of invitations, there may already be too many. For example, Naiditsch was exactly 2700 on one FIDE list, and Vallejo is near 2700 (sometimes a bit higher, sometimes a few points below) for quite a while already. They got Dortmund and Linares invitations, respectively, but no other supertournament invitations.
- It's by no means unusual (nowadays rule rather than exception) to cross 2700 and stay there while you're still a teenager.
- Nakamura was/seemed stuck around 2660 for 2 1/2 years (Apr 2005 to Oct 2007). Wang Yue's Elo rise was more continuous, though it took him one year to make the final step from 2690 to >2700.
- In 2009, when Wang Yue got more invitations than Nakamura, he was about 20-30 points higher-rated most of the time. Not a big difference, hardly significant, but apparently a difference in organizers' minds (they have to choose)

Hmmm. GMs Feller and Hauchard look to be in a spot of bother. Their statements are not helping their cause - an interesting story unfolding.


First of all, congratulations to Hikaru Nakamura for winning the Tata Steel tournament. He played smartly in most of the games and combatively when needed. I thought Aronian was in a good position to win the tournament just after the half way point, when he was on +3 and had played most of the top half of the field. However, his failure to beat the tail enders (Smeets, L'Ami etc.) meant that what could have been a great tournament for him was merely okay to good.

It looks like Ivanchuk will win Gibraltar. He is on 7/8 with two rounds to go. Nigel Short is also doing well on 6.5/8. It's a shame that the Tata Steel tournament and Gibraltar clash as I'm sure that many players would like to play in both tournaments.

I'm not sure what to make of the french cheating scandal that has emerged. Hauchard is correct that everyone is innocent until proven guily, so the French Chess Federation will need to provide firm evidence to support the allegations.

"Do you wear really dark Nakamura fan sunglasses, you seem to be completely blind to any arguments or facts that don't fully support him? (I mean to be ironic, polemic or sarcastic, not really insulting)."

No. I've always been objective about Naka, which is why it doesn't surprise me that he won the Tata Steel. I've stated the reservations I have about his future prospects many times on this forum, which you have blindly disregarded in order to take another shot at me.

Obviously Naka's results in the past three supertournaments he has played justify asking the question why exactly was he viewed as not worthy of getting invitations just one year earlier when he was 2700+ and the reigning US champion -- especially when so many people were wondering the exact same thing, but were dismissed as "delusional Naka fanboys". Those are the facts.

The reason Naka was invited was because he was the reigning US champ...just as Ni Hua was invited because he was the reigning Chinese champion at the time of invitations. For someone who claims to be aware of the context of the situation, its disappointing that you failed to mention this important tidbit.

Is there a history between Nakamura and Spassky? I respect Spassky a lot like any chess fan and wish him speedy recovery, but I found his comments on Nakamura very strange. Spassky said that Nakamura is not that great a player, that Naka was the least interesting player in the tournament, Naka plays very strange chess like small Japanese tanks and he (Spassky) gives his thumbs up to the other grandmasters. Didn't even congratulate Naka on the victory when asked to.

OK, he's in a hospital recovering from a stroke, so we should go easy on him and give him a break, but still I found those comments very strange.

Hey Pioneer,

You know those snapping teeth toys? Don't they go, naka, naka, naka?

"The reason Naka was invited was because he was the reigning US champ...just as Ni Hua was invited because he was the reigning Chinese champion at the time of invitations."

I was discussing the blog entry in which the term "blitz specialist" was used about Naka, and that entry was about BNBank Blitz 2009. To the best of my knowledge Ni Hua wasn't invited to that event (if he was invited, he certainly didn't play), but please feel free to enlighten me by supplying a link that proves this to be the case.

The pertinent blog entry can be found here: http://www.arcticsec.no/index.php?blog_id=38&button=blog&main_image=35

"For someone who claims to be aware of the context of the situation, its disappointing that you failed to mention this important tidbit."

The situation continues to be that you dug up some 15 months old quote, stripped it of its context, making it appear as some sort of faux pas when really it was NOTHING, and now you're even trying to pretend that it's me who's at fault. Man, you should get a hobby.

naka, naka, naka, hehe! naka, naka, naka, ho, ho, ho! naka, naka!

It would appear he has one ...



Sorry for the late response.

I understand this is his best result, but when have you ever heard this "best ever" storyline run with any other player? I haven't seen it run this way before. I think it gives the wrong impression.

I disagree. We are clearly talking about official tournaments billed as the "World Chess Championship" and not age-group championships, blitz or 960.

Spassky doesn't have a leg to stand on. While I also wish him a speedy recovery, he is like many others (including Gelfand) in his views of Nakamura. He says Nakamura was the LEAST interesting. How can you be less interesting on 9/13 than someone on 4/13 at this level? Did he think Shirov was more interesting? So be it... I'll take the "less interesting" 9/13 any day.

There seems to be no credibility in the World Champion's statement and his "little Japanese tank" characterization was really strange. Nakamura would beat Spassky in a 12-game match +10 now. Spassky has his moments when he makes such classless statements.

My point is that Ponomariov's WC title is not comparable to Anand's or Kramnik's. Actually, I'd consider Nakamura's win at Tata as more significant of an accomplishment that Ponomariov rolling the dice well at the knockouts in 2003. Kamsky rolled the dice just as well in 2007, but instead of being called "World Champion", he earned a ticket to a semi-final match against Topalov, which is much more fitting than a WC title. (Even more fitting to the event would be a ticket to candidates' quarter-finals, but WC title really doesn't make sense -- a failed experiment born of FIDE incompetence.)

That last statement was completely out of your league, Daaim. You are doubtless not a strong enough player yourself to contradict a qualitative statement by Boris.
And this:
"Nakamura would beat Spassky in a 12-game match +10 now."
Really silly. Yea, let's arrange a match after Spassky gets out of the hospital. Never mind that the two players come from different eras.

Good grief.

Daaim, Spassky's presumably not saying anything about how well Nakamura played, or sporting excitement - he's just commenting on chess style. After all Rybka or Houdini etc. would outscore all the top-GMs but that doesn't mean their chess would be the most interesting - unless you enjoy pure calculation and tactics (which is perfectly possible - and I'm not saying Nakamura is pure tactics, by the way). So it just comes down to a personal matter of what appeals to you in chess - and of course you can't claim Spassky's "wrong" (though I'd agree "least interesting" is surely slightly exaggerating his own position).

Anyway, I only really meant to post to mention this new article I've put up with some of the highlights of Russian journalist Yury Vasiliev's Tata Steel reports: http://www.chessintranslation.com/2011/02/birth-of-a-supernova-yury-vasiliev-reports-from-wijk/

My favourite is Grischuk's assessment of his performance (after he lost five games but a couple of things went right): "If you mix five barrels of crap with two barrels of jam, you still end up with seven barrels of crap."

Sorry if this is old news already, but Hikaru will be playing in Dortmund Sparkassen in July.

Many people forget that the older generation made disparaging remarks about the young Gary Kasparov. That he made long moves and such. They did not really like his chess. When he came up against Karpov in the first match he found that his long moves did not work too well and so he had to out-Karpov, Karpov. I must say he did this rather well. When Hikaru brings the full package to the table some will change their tunes as they have already begun to do. I remember there was a remark about Carlsen having a few holes in his game. However after the endgame win over Kramnik this may shish the nay-sayers. Go Naka. Go Carlsen. Go Karjakin. Come back Judith !

When Kasparov says "you can go back to Pillsbury at Hastings 1895 for an American tournament victory on par with Nakamura's", he doesn't put Nakamura over Fischer. Kasparov is simply saying "hey, americans, you've got a big player, come back and pay attention to chess".

Just love how Naka pretends Kamsky doesn't exist. Such respect.

Naka is a total headcase.

Congrats Naka,it was a great achievement. As for Kasparov his words are meaning less now, as he speaks for publicity and is too self serving. As for Spassky,he knows more about chess than anyone who has ever posted here so his opinion should recieve some respect whether you agree or not. Also Nakas' career is not yet in the same league as Kamskys, at this time. Also Kamsky is a humble man who is easy to like.

Whereas I will not always agree with the feedback previously mentioned, at least that individual does indeed confirm a position. We have a tendency to get stuck up in the specifics and lose perception of the more prominent picture.

No one will accuse you of getting stuck in the specifics, Pressure.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on January 30, 2011 10:55 PM.

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