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Tata 2011: Anand & Nakamura Lead after 4

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It seems a rose by any other name will still produce around 65% drawn games. Just like the last few editions of the Wijk aan Zee A Group, the first Tata Steel tournament is seeing as many split points as there are split peas in the famous local soup. Round two was particularly peaceful, which was not appreciated by Peter Svidler and I since we were doing live commentary on Chess.FM that day. It looked grim early, even without a Petroff or Berlin in the bunch. In game after game Peter said something like "I don't like this at all for White," or "this doesn't promise much for White." And right he was, in game after game. Only the typically razor-sharp Botvinnik Semi-Slav between Giri and the ultra-prepared Smeets showed real signs of life. Even that one finished drawn. White would have had a much harder time of it had Smeets found 33..Qd6 34.Bd3 Qd5 and White has to find more only moves to hang on. As it was, Smeets, who is seconded by my homeboy Jan Gustafsson and also had some devastating prep to beat Shirov in round 1, was up over an hour on the clock at one point but still ended up in time trouble. Impractical.

It was up to Wang Hao to save the day and avoid a sweep of draws. The Chinese player did so by overreaching in an endgame against Nepomniachtchi after finally equalizing. Black had equalized rapidly against Wang Hao's opening bailout. Surprised by Nepo's KID he went for a queen swap that gave him very little. He avoided a repetition only to miss 32..Ne4 and the inevitable loss of a critical queenside pawn. The young Russian champion slowly ground him down, a sad irony of paying for being too combative in a round in which just about everybody else took it easy.

Aronian, for example, got a big plate of squat against Nakamura's Dutch. What, he didn't expect 1..f5 in the Netherlands? More relevantly, against Nakamura, who has been playing it regularly? More likely he was just surprised by 7..Nc6 where the American has played 7..c6 many times in the past year or so. Aronian has long prided himself for being an original player in the openings but he didn't want a piece of Nakamura after it was clear Black had easily equalized and he offered the draw on move 17. Grischuk didn't fare much better against Vachier-Lagrave, though he tried harder. Svidler wasn't sure what the point of White's opening was with the white knight on c3 so early and his prognostication that Black could equalize or more with a quick knight maneuver to e6 was spot on. The big Anand-Kramnik match was fizzled by Kramnik's nicely prepped exchange sac in the Nimzo. Shirov had to bail out of a Scotch against Carlsen, who didn't have more than a sharp repetition. Ponomariov started to worry he was worse against l'Ami and made a strategic draw offer, which was strategically accepted.

I didn't really mean to skip round one, which I also rode shotgun on with Peter, but round two does make a better platform to insert a rote rant about the need for Sofia rules. Tata is a long event and it would surely take a toll on the veterans especially to make them play chess every day for 13 rounds. But still, Wijk is starting to stand out more and more in this regard, and not in a good way. Agreed draws with a board full of pieces are a joke that hasn't been funny for a long time now.

Conveniently enough for my Pulp Fictionesque narrative, two of the winners in the first round are our current leaders. Anand started off by reminding us what a Sicilian looks like against Ponomariov. The world champ won so convincingly you wonder why it seems like all the Sicilians are in the witness protection program these days. Ponomariov held on grimly after Anand missed the lovely computer shot 38..Rxf2!! but then found a unique way to get his queen trapped on e6. Not easy. Pono then had to endure online heckling from bozos he would literally beat blindfolded from the white side saying he should resign instead of play on. I never get that. Sure, some guys play on longer than others might, hoping for a miracle, but since when do fans tell players of a sport to quit? It's not like he's a boxer out there having the sawdust knocked out of his ears like an Arturo Gatti Winnie the Pooh. Ponomariov is #11 in the world. He doesn't need you, on behalf of what your computer tells you, to be embarrassed for him. Plus, from a purely sporting perspective, everyone knows you might gain a tiny plus in the big picture by tiring out an older gent, a category that includes Anand. It takes more energy to win an easily won position than to lose one. Plus, being one of those annoying people who never resigns can be disheartening to your opponents. Most players just don't have the stomach to look at a lost position for a long time.

Shirov didn't have to worry about that in his first-round game against Smeets. He played the first 21 moves of his game against Ivanchuk at Wijk last year and resigned three moves later. Smeets, and Gusti, of course, had cooked up something subtle and nasty with 22.Bd7 and Shirov fell into one of the many traps in the position when he tried for activity with the entirely logical-looking 23..Ra8. This loses the exchange by force to a surprising knight two-step combined with the oddly limited scope of the black queen. A nice piece of work, but dismal from Shirov to be caught out so badly in a position he could only have expected to see again. Svidler said he'd worked on this position himself for a while and Black seemed to be holding up. (Leko beat Caruana with white in the same Wijk last year, but sacrificing a piece against Peter Leko is usually suicidal.)

Carlsen started out with a Scotch against Aronian and played a new idea out of an old playbook. Svidler mentioned he'd analyzed 12.0-0-0 for the Russian Championship, but 15.Qf3 seemed new. At least for a few hours, when I talked with Garry and he mentioned it was in his analysis from 1993. Which means Carlsen likely perused the same lines, though he might have disagreed with Garry's old note, "only good for a draw." Aronian came through fine and Black was for choice quite soon. In the end the best he could get was a cute repetition draw. White was looking good optically earlier but the expected 19.h5 runs into 19..g5 and suddenly White has nothing. Great sharp stuff throughout.

Nakamura settled a score, or at least healed a wound, by beating Grischuk in a remarkably smooth effort. He got a promising position out of the opening and built it up steadily until Grischuk felt compelled to sacrifice a piece for drawing chances. A computer would probably find some ingenious queen maneuvers to hold on for a good long time, but it wasn't going to happen here. Impressive stuff in that it's really not common for a top player to lose so helplessly, without making a serious mistake. Ivan Sokolov agreed and gave Nakamura the daily game prize. This helped heal the pain of Nakamura's blown win against Grischuk a few months ago in the final round of the Tal Memorial, a win that would have given him a share of the title. (Not to mention Nakamura's subsequent tweet that he would then have to crush Grischuk like a baby in the blitz, which didn't exactly work out, as he disarmingly admits in his blog. Plus, baby crushing is really out of fashion these days.)

Speaking of top players losing in unusual ways, Magnus Carlsen seems intent on treating the #1 spot on the rating list like a frisbee. He grabs it, he throws it away, he grabs it, he loses in 22 moves with white to Giri. He started testing fate with the extravagantly odd move 12.Qd2, when just about anything else seems to make more sense. Easy to say in hindsight, of course, but it does seem like the queen's only job on d2 is to be hit in the combination Giri played. Carlsen stayed ambitious, which didn't work out well. Giri took the initiative and then picked up a piece when Carlsen missed that he couldn't get the knight back with 22.Qxb6 because of 22..e2 23.Re1 Qxc1! 24.Rxc1 e1Q+ 25.Rxe1 Rxe1+ 26.Bf1 Bh3 and Black is up a piece. Oops. The last hope of forking the knight and queen with 22.Be3 lost to 22..Qg4 (22..Nc4 was also good). Carlsen sounded like he just missed ..e3, which seems impossible.

Thus begins another round of "shortest loss by a world #1 / world champion" trivia. Anand has lost a couple of classical games in 25 moves lately, including a crushing loss to Aronian with white in 2009. Carlsen just lost to Sjugirov in 25 at the Olympiad. Kramnik lost in just 20 moves with white to Topalov in Wijk aan Zee 2005, during his painful 1.e4 phase -- which was even more painful than his mullet phase. The same year he lost in 20 moves with black to Anand. Anyway, it was ugly and it's a big part of the reason Carlsen has already slipped to third on the live list.

For the second year in row, Nakamura beat Shirov. There was an entertaining exchange of tactical shots that seemed to last forever. White came out a pawn ahead but Black had a bishop and was very active. Then it entered a long technical phase punctuated with little tactics. 58.Nb3! looks like a typo at first, offering a key pawn with check, but it got the knight to d4 and from there to f5. The white connected passers on the kingside were the strongest force on the board after that and eventually carried the day to put Nakamura in the clear lead after three.

A couple former Wijk winners made advances in round four. Aronian happily pocketed a quick point against Nepomniachtchi's confusion in a Bf4 Grunfeld. Black is supposed to play ..Qb6 immediately after 8.Qxb7 and then the rook on a8 is inviolate. Not so after taking on d4 because c5 can push the black queen away. Aronian swapped down to two rooks and a knight vs a queen and Nepo resigned on move 26. Bad. Anand played a nice piece sac to get a big pawn roller against Wang Hao. He said it was leftover prep from his WCh match against Kramnik. The Chinese gave back two pieces for a rook but the bishop pair and passed pawns were more than enough for a comfy win that put Anand into a share of the lead. Nakamura held on to his share by holding a pawn-down endgame against Giri. Vachier-Lagrave added to Shirov's woes and joined Giri and Aronian at =2-5 on +1.

McShane leads the B with 3.5/4 and Italy's Daniele Vocaturo is leading the C with the same score.

Round 5: Kramnik will try to get into the event with white against Aronian. The other pairings: Smeets-Anand, Carlsen-l'Ami, Nakamura-Ponomariov, Vachier-Lagrave-Giri, Nepomniachtchi-Shirov, Wang Hao-Grischuk. Official site.


good writeup Mig!

Kramnik-Aronian is usually interesting, Kramnik seems to have a comfortable lifetime + score against Aronian, who only won one classical game (from a lost position), but it was the last one!

always good to see the good ole Mig in his good ole recaps :)

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

Now that is some great Mig reporting! Carlsen treating #1 spot like a frisbee! lol. It was nice to hear you on ICC during the first two rounds. Remember all work, no play, etc ...take breaks and hug the litle ones.

What's going on with Shirov?

Nepo-Shirov belted out 30 moves in about 20 minutes and somewhere Shirov made a mistake.

Nepo-Shirov should be drawn. I guess that both players have analyzed this line at home. Maybe Nepomniachtchi wasn't in a fighting mood today.

Naka has 2 minutes for 11 moves.

Nakamura is so arrogant it hurts to look at his smirking face- and yet- he's an American- my hometown hero- and so I feel obliged to root for him. It would be pretty fantastic to see him steal a few points from some of these elite players.

I wish there were a bar in brooklyn that broadcast the games live- the way people are following football at the moment- i wish i could swing into a bar on my lunch break and watch a live feed. If anyone finds a place in NYC let me know.

Time for Mig to make a headline saying "Anand Surging", then take a break for the next two months.


Is there a rating for White only and Black only lifetime..

I think Kramnik is overated with black, not sure he will be in the top 10 in the world with black pieces

Shipov, and you, must be very glad the public did not choose Carlsen - L'ami game. 90th move at this point, and
they barely start the R+N vs R endgame phase :-).

Carlsen's the BEST. Winning again!!!!!!

Quite unbelievable, Lami found the only losing move Kf3. Just tired I guess. Carlsen probably played on just due to frustration and he wins.

Wow !! L'Ami blunderd. Three squares for the black king to move to, he chose losing square. Exhaustion.

wow YES indeed. Will 2 win is it ALL. just like james bond, survival of greatest. Nothing can stop him now

Yes, with this win. The. History. Of. The. Universe. Has. Changed. Forever.

Liveratings already have MAGNUS up to #2 when they are updated. This is huge because all he has to do is beat Anand and he's the TRUE #1 again!! Shows you NOT to move the rook away from the king at this Endgame because of skewers... MC knows these tactics like the back of your hand.

It will be very difficult for Carlsen to be back to live #1 after Tata. Beating Anand alone will not suffice. He would need some additional losses from Anand.

It required an endgame blunder from a 2620 player with black for Carlsen to win. True, he is the real #1. Just that Anand and Kramnik have owned him like forever.. lol

Rounds 7, 8 and 9 should be fun for Anand:
Magnus Carlsen - Viswanathan Anand
Viswanathan Anand - Levon Aronian
Hikaru Nakamura - Viswanathan Anand


Only guys who care the most are anand hikaru Magnus

Kramnik aronian grishuk not going to win because they are not going to show their preparation with candidates coming up

Other guys too weak to win

I'll be betting on Win, Draw, Draw.

Magnus will push too hard (his very last chance to justify his make-new-rules-for-Magnus stand) and lose, Anand will take it easy against Aronian and Naka when sitting at +4. But since Naka is just after the rest day, Anand might just play on like today and eke out a win..

Hope you guys enjoyed the end game wizardry of Anand! Win out of almost nowhere against a 2650+ opposition? Didn't I also mention yesterday Anand is the best end game player ever!

Anand shouldn't get into some theoretical debate against Aronian. Instead if he plays some surprise openings and deviates from move 8 or 10, Aronian will lose time edge, then Anand can easily score.

Thought I'd toss in a few links of our traditional press conference videos, with the top GMs explaining their games with a demo board. So far we have:

David Navara's master class of rook endings (warning: 40 minutes of awesomeness)

Giri & Smeets showing their crazy Botvinnik Semi-Slav

Giri showing his quick win against Carlsen

Anand showing his smooth win against Wang Hao

Today there was no press conference but expect more of such videos in the days to come.

yo pircalert that's true. like anand getting stuck in aronian's marshall.. i think in a sharp position that is just new Anand will have the advantage simply because he is a phenomenal calculator... but Aronian seems to throw out these very deep theoretical lines that can guarantee a quick draw.

Eh, that ceteris paribus line of argument isn't convincing. You can always make a list of a zillion ifs on either side of the argument. A win is a win.


Facts against fanboyism: Like it or not, Anand's score from his last eight white games against Aronian is =3-5. He drew a rapid, a blitz and a blindfold game and lost four classical plus a rapid game. Among the losses, two were opening disasters, two happened in the middlegame (from rather favorable positions) and one in the endgame.

Whatever Anand's problem against Aronian is (or was), it's not just opening preparation - I think psychology plays quite a role. And while Anand is a phenomenal calculator, so is Aronian.


Anand wins when it matters

Everyone said similar things prior to his matches with Kramnik Topalov but look who win

Likewise Anand beat Aronian in last World championship tournament

Yep, pretty glad! I don't think "senseless" endings after 7 hours are one of Shipov's favourite things either :) The funny thing is I watched the game until Carlsen was totally won - and it's only now that I realised that Carlsen blundered and they got to an ending that really was trivially drawn (I was wondering why some people were complaining about Carlsen playing on, as the ending when I saw it was incredibly complex!). Just watching Shipov (in Russian) talking about it now - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgAWvtdzLDo&hd=1 - it seems for some reason l'Ami thought he couldn't let his king be on the edge of the board...

Today's game is going to be the young guns: Giri - Nepo - http://www.chessintranslation.com/live-game/

Ok, Nepo's not actually that young, but he hasn't been around long at the top. Let's hope for a slightly longer game than the last time Shipov commentated on his pupil!

"Anand wins when it matters" - I would agree if you add the little word 'most'. But if supertournaments don't matter at all, why do we even discuss Anand's chances against Aronian _in Wijk aan Zee_? For example, Anand-Aronian 1-0 in the last round of Tal Memorial 2009 would have meant shared first place for Vishy, but OK it doesn't matter!?

Following the kibitzing yesterday on the ICC in the Carlsen-L'Ami game was like watching animals in the wild. I guess I haven't been following things closely, but I was amazed to see the level of hostility against Carlsen - it has gotten comparable to the anti-Nakamura level of hate. I had gotten used to the "Carlsen good, Nakamura bad" background noise over the years and was disoriented for a while seeing how things have apparently changed.

People seem really mad because (a) Carlsen slipped out of the #1 rating slot, thus proving himself human and not a god, like when the princess scratched Sean Connery in "The Man Who Would Be King" (movie version) and the people went from adoration to murderous mob in a half a second, and (b) Carlsen chose not to play in the Candidates' matches, which elicited comments like "If he isn't going to play for the World Championship, why doesn't he just give up chess?" I asked this guy, "Are you going to play for the World Championship?" but he seemed to think that Carlsen's situation was different because he makes a living at it ... this still doesn't seem quite logical, but I shamefully abandoned my responsibility to bring him onto the path of logic.

By move 71, L'Ami was down to a lone rook against Carlsen's rook, knight, and pawn, and Carlsen had beaten off a clever "mad rook" stalemate-based tactic, but Carlsen's king was far from the pawn and turning the extra material into a win didn't seem like the easiest thing in the world to me anyway, or even to Stockfish, but the spectators were mostly convinced they themselves could do it blindfolded. Carlsen's 72. Rh2?!, which allowed L'Ami to pick off the pawn, made everyone's Stockfish evals drop from 5 to zero and brought out a din of bilious comments; Rh2 was dubbed "the worst move in the history of chess" by a spectator who was apparently unfamiliar both with my games and with Reshevsky's. People declared that Carlsen was rubbish now, he should quit chess, etc., all mixed with various unsavory and largely unfounded aspersions on his intimate personal life.

Carlsen was also pilloried for not offering a draw with KRN vs KR, since this was supposedly a trivial draw which every Norwegian or Dutch schoolboy can blitz out; this proved he was "not a gentleman", was insulting L'Ami, and so on. (My own notion was that titled players will generally play out this kind of ending with the knight and at any rate believe this to be normal behavior.)

When L'Ami actually proved the correctness of Carlsen's decision by blundering away his rook, which I suppose must be the NEW worst move in the history of chess, a lot of this group logged off without further comment, but I expect that by today they will have rested up and come up with some narrative that makes Magnus look horrible anyway.


...but the spectators (looking at engine evaluations) were mostly convinced they themselves could do it blindfolded...

Thats a funny but common phenomenon. Has nothing to do with affections to Carlsen. It's human. The less people know or understand of a subject, the more they feel in control about it. There are several scientiffic researches which proved exactly that.

Of course more self critical or mature personalities might know this from their own experience. But they are not the aggressive chatters. Nevertheless they might be the silent majority.

I guess Nepo-Shirov yesterday also would have been quite a challenge - trying to keep track while they blitz out their preparation to move 40 ... . As I type, Giri is in deep thought on whether today's game should have more than 18 moves.

The people you describe are suffering from betrayed-wife-syndrome, even the remote version, causing their love for Carlsen turning into hate.

Those people projected their own dreams (e.g. youngest ever world champion) on Carlsen, burning a candle for him every day. Now that they see their prayers (or wishes) will go unheard, they violently turn on him.

Those same people in a chess club would probably behave much better and be able to hide their acrimony, caused by feeling cheated, but the anonymity of the internet brings out the worst in their character.

That's really all there is to it.

I love it, Naka played the 6...b5!? gambit in the nimzo, and L'Ami declined to take him up on the pawn. Nakamura is probably the most interesting chess player in group A. (I'm prepared to be attacked for making that comment.)

You're entitled to your opinion ... which, by definition, cannot be "wrong". But Nakamura doesn't play the most interesting game of the ongoing round - which may be l'Ami's fault, did he know that he may have to defend the Dutch honor so far? In hindsight, maybe Giri should have taken the move repetition. Carlsen and Kramnik are busy proving that the Berlin and Scotch aren't that drawish. Overall, black is OK.

The most interesting chess player, no doubt about that. There is a lot about him that is worth being examined.

If he plays the most interesting chess of all players in group A, I do not know. But I don't think so.

Shirov and Kramnik going at it. Man, I love chess. Best enjoyed as a spectator sport for a weak player like myself when the computer is kept quiet.

Welcome to kibitzing hell. Anonymous patzers trash talkin on the internet. ;-)

Magnus played a perfect game today, BTW, with the Berlin Defense as black. -Who would have thought that? Smeets was overrun quite fast and efficient.

Kramink spotted the 43...f6!. That's nice tactic. White's queen is trapped. Shirov is having a terrible tournament.

Nakamura pulls back into 1st with win over l'Ami.

Yep, probably the wrong choice from Giri, but good for chess fans - and it's always nice when the game ends in a relatively quick and decisive fashion! It was funny with Gandalf today... I read it as Gelfand at first and almost included that in my translation!

"it seems for some reason l'Ami thought he couldn't let his king be on the edge of the board.."

It might be that due to exhaustion instinct kicked it. L'Ami, and us all, have all been taught to activate the king and not let it be cut off at the edge of the board.

If Shipov's assessment is right, avoiding the repetition may not have been bad by itself - but spending 20 minutes on "to repeat or not to repeat" cost Giri dearly on the clock.

It's still a bit sad that the player declining a repetition is punished for the second time in the tournament - and ironic that the first victim was Nepomniachtchi himself in his game against Wang Hao.

Well, technically spoken Kramnik also declined a repetition against Shirov - but that was rather to tease the opponent and give him a (temporary) false sense of security? Vlad needed two penalties to win the game, kudos to both players for a wild game and I also feel a bit sorry for Shirov.

It's a black-to-play-and-win day with 4 wins.
Aronian, if he wins, will be the lone white win of the day. Over all a good day for drawing blood :-)

It isn't all black if you include the B group: six decisive games with a 50% score for white. The most important game here may have been McShane-Wojtaszek 1-0 (mixed feelings for mishanp, an Englishman living in Poland?). The craziest one was Navara-Ganguly 1-0 in yet another Bc5 Ruy Lopez - Shirov's pet line but Anand also plays it, so does his second.

Actually Nepo beat Wang Hao that time as well, so he's been the beneficiary twice! As Shipov said, though, playing for the win as a young player does at least have the advantage that you earn a good reputation in the eyes of tournament organisers...

No mixed feelings on McShane - Wojtaszek, alas - I'm totally rooting for the Pole. He's looked very shaky with the black pieces so far, though. Revised ambition for this tournament now is just that he stays above 2700 in the ratings! (Swiercz is also struggling a bit in Group C...)

I have prediction: an Aronian win. No losses, solid games, and has played almost all of the leaders and almost none of the tail enders. He looks possitioned to gain the most points in the ensuing rounds.

Just a surprising thought as I looked over the latest crosstable.

Yeah, the back end of Hikaru's draw is extremely tough. After tomorrow he still has 2 2800s and the rest well over 2700. Anand's is a little softer, with Shirov and Giri.

commonsense: "The people you describe are suffering from betrayed-wife-syndrome, even the remote version, causing their love for Carlsen turning into hate. Those people projected their own dreams (e.g. youngest ever world champion) on Carlsen, burning a candle for him every day. Now that they see their prayers (or wishes) will go unheard, they violently turn on him."

Is that right? Wow.

"commonsense"?! "Omniscient Super-Genius" would be a more fitting name to make up for yourself.

Now, after winning the last game of the entire round (his opponent missed a draw on move 45, despite thinking for about 20 minutes), Swiercz is back at 50% where he has the three highest-rated players for company. He shouldn't be too ashamed of his losses against van der Werf and Sachdev, both are still overperforming (any revised predictions for Sachdev's final score??). I checked: van der Werf is usually doing well in Wijk aan Zee, whether he plays in the C group or in the highest amateur group - the rest of the year, he basically plays only Dutch team events.

Aronian still has black against Grischuk and Anand in the next two rounds (difficult opponents at least rating-wise) but the rest is indeed relatively "easy". He may regret that he didn't try harder against Nakamura, now others have to do that job for him ... .

Not to be overlooked in the games today. A true and a well-wrought observation of mob madness. Commonsense's follow-up may also be true; I just don't like the defeatist last line. People who hide their senseless rage behind created names are, in a word, chickensh-t. And that kind of behavior needs to be called and nipped in the bud whenever possible. I don't need to back that up with any examples.

Great for Swiercz - thought he had some chances but didn't want to tempt fate...

My final (more or less - have to go out!) version of Shipov's commentary on Giri - Nepomniachtchi is here: http://bit.ly/gjHkJq

By the way, only really for Poles, but there's live commentary in Polish each day here: http://zpionka.pl/

Theodulf: "People seem really mad because (a) Carlsen slipped out of the #1 rating slot, thus proving himself human and not a god, like when the princess scratched Sean Connery in 'The Man Who Would Be King' (movie version) and the people went from adoration to murderous mob in a half a second, and (b) Carlsen chose not to play in the Candidates' matches"

I find myself rooting against Carlsen now. Why? (a) I like to see champions acting like champions, not like whiny babies; (b) Carlsen wants to tarnish the WC title by "abolishing privileges," i.e., reducing its prestige.

(b) by itself wouldn't be such a big deal, but then he takes concrete steps to bring it about. And after coupling that with (a)? "Go L'Ami (or whoever else Carlsen is playing against)."

I always like Anand because he seems like a great guy. Kramnik too.

I'm rooting for [ctrl+V]. All I know about him, though, is that he plays interesting chess and has been rocketing up the Elo list. If, like Carlsen, he turns out to be lazy and whiny and wields a destructive hand, I'll turn against him too.

kenh: "People who hide their senseless rage behind created names are, in a word, chickensh-t."

Ah, yes. You must be referring to the nasty, senseless, hateful comments from commonsense ("suffering from xyz syndrome"), kenh ("chicksh_t"), and Theodulf ("animals in the wild").

Uff Da

"I always like Anand because he seems like a great guy. Kramnik too. "

Well then take notice that there wasn't vociferous crtical reaction coming from either about Carlsen's decision. Anand quietly disagreed with it, but he respected it nevertheless. The W Ch. system, as many of the GMs believe, is flawed.

Why are you being defensive about this, Uff Da? Your attempt to turn around what we said makes little sense. Why be a proud member of that mob? You're smarter than that.

"Why are you being defensive about this, Uff Da?"

Not so defensive...just pointing out the irony of exploiting the anonymity of internet posts to spew rage against those who exploit the anonymity of internet posts to spew rage.

all the bozo GMs and endgame nerds were saying "theoretical draw" but mangus proved them wrong by winning it anyway. he's rewriting the history books and now the endgame manuals everyday

"spew rage?"

What are you talking about?? We're bringing attention to it! Snap out of it now, or bury yourself even deeper.

"It will be very difficult for Carlsen to be back to live #1 after Tata. Beating Anand alone will not suffice. He would need some additional losses from Anand."

or some additional wins from himself! anand stuck in neutral with white when carlsen wins with black, gaining more ELO points. anand is playing safe with draws because nakamura is pressuring the lead?

"spew rage?"

Yes...or is "chickensh_t" just the calm, rational truth?

Back to the tournament (why not?). The report on the tournament homepage is already up and has one surprise: Nakamura offered l'Ami an early draw, but the Dutchman declined! "“In view of that … well, what shall I say … the downright ridiculous game Erwin played the day before, I expected him not to take too many risks, so I offered a draw after some fifteen, sixteen moves. But he felt we should play on, and, well, somehow I ended up winning,” the American said after the game."

Giri also could have drawn quickly but didn't: "His trainer, Vladimir Chuchelov, ... sadly shook his head at young Anish’s overconfidence. “Any pro would have accepted the draw, Anand would have,” he said. Nepomniashchi agreed: “... I had no problems whatsoever. He should have repeated moves and gone for the draw. I was ready for it. But Anish is a fighter.”

Sachdev won again. Where is "chessplayer" who predicted she would go 0/13??

With tomorrow's game Anand and Carlsen would have played 6 games since Bilbao last year. 2 in Bilbao, 2 in Nanjing, 1 in London and 1 tomorrow. Quiet a number of games in a short while. So far Anand is leading 3.5 to 1.5 with no losses.


Uff Da defends senseless and chickenshit Web vitriol directed at Magnus Carlsen.


Very eloquent and convincing, kenh. You win. Web vitriol is not commendable.

Thomas, ideally I would expect to see a comparison between 2 individuals in a match but at least the comparison Harish is making between Anand and Carlsen is somewhat meaningful. Because in a short span they've played some 6 games. But how many Anand and Aronian played in the last one year? Anand is world champion, so Aronian might be extra motivated to beat him. I don't want to go on with excuses but anyway Anand strategy might be wrong but I believe there is no psychology involved there. We'll see.

ah thanks, but that's why I said earlier that you were smarter than that.

To Thomas,
Question: To whom is attributed the quote by Giri's trainer? (Ouch)

Nice to finally see Vachier-Lagrave in a Tata Steel video. I don't think he knows his own strength, but then maybe he does. The A Group is a big deal for him to try and reconnoiter.
Don't know about you all, but I have to turn off the sound in my computer for the first half of any of those videos. The repetitive seaside song is way too much.

Uff Da January 21, 2011 2:04 PM

Well, Uff Da, what can we say except making a mental note that this guy has a serious need for rooting?

Carlsen is young. Him ditching WC may be as simple as having accumulated enough of FIDE and its alien-abducted no. 1. Decisions are seldomly rational per se, but may be over all. Instead of rooting, look for the root.

Well said.

Engine junkies shoukd spare some time and put historical games of fx Tal into their engines. Perhaps they woukd understand that chess is more, and far more than applied math and that the engines do not play chess, but simulate playing chess. Have sex, then simulate sex and go tell the world about the difference.

Ah, yes. Sachdev. And all those chess lions and their assessments. So disrespectful with their worthless opinions.

John Nunn, a professional mathematician, had some interesting things to say on this in reference to a study that purported to rate historic players objective strength using computers. The study claimed that it was ok that the program chosen might be weaker than than some of the top historic players. Nunn noted that the study's methodology would rate a stronger program as weaker than the reference program; and the greater the stength of the stronger program, the weaker the study methodology would label it.

More to the point, he noted that a program using a 32 piece tablebase could easily play less well against top humans in a tournaement than e.g. Fischer. The reason? For most of the game, all moves by both players would be drawing moves. From a mathemetical point of view, there is no way to favor one drawing move over another. Thus, the probem would make basically random choices among drawing moves as long as no winning moves were available. Meanwhile, Fischer would understand how humans play and make moves that put maximum pressure and maximum likelihood of provoking an error. Thus Fischer would likely have more wins in the tournament; the perfect tablebase program would have no losses, but not enough wins.

Sachdev's beating or drawing male players but losing to female players does add fuel to the "distraction" theory :)

There is only one other female player. Seems hard to draw any conclusions from this.

Well, since Aronian got nothing against Naka's Dutch, it was probably good for him to take the early draw and spare his energy. Plus he got a gift from Nepo, so its not as though he hasn't gotten good breaks this tournament.

Are you saying Sachdev is distracted by Lahno?

To the member of the Illuminate who wants endgame books to be rewritten because of Carlsen's wins against l'Ami and Smeets. OK.


When without true advantage against the weakest players in a tournament, play on in the endgame in the hope that they will make a mistake. Try to avoid making any yourself.

Whereas Carlsen’s next to last win came due to perseverance and luck in a horribly uneven game, his victory against Smeets was convincing, coming after extremely solid play.

I look forward to a new blog entry from Mig Greengard.

I look even more forward to today’s game between Carlsen and Anand!

To answer your question: No author is given for the round report on the tournament website. I had omitted from my quote that Chuchelov was watching the game in the press room, hence it seems likely that comment and body language (head shaking) occurred right after Giri declined the draw, not just after the game knowing the result.

On Vachier-Lagrave: Some time ago you wrote that he is also a university student. Apparently this is no longer true - from his NIC report on Hoogeveen: "The fact that I recently stopped studying made the days at home feel a bit longer." I guess he stopped studying mathematics, not chess ... ,:) .

Finally, an interesting Kramnik quote from the video on round 6 (also on the tournament webpage): His preparation went until 23.-Qb4+ when he could have given perpetual check - "when you prepare for black you're usually happy with a draw". Only over the board he realized that he could play on with winning chances (and little risk of losing)!?

Exactly! But one thing that can be said about Tani Sachdev though is that she has always won on odd days (15th, 17th, 21st) and never won on even days! ;P

On Aronian:
@PircAlert: True, Anand and Aronian didn't play any games in 2010 - but if anything, I would say Aronian has improved more than Anand over the past 12 months. Basically I just wanted to point out that things are more complex than "if Anand only does this and this (listens to advice from his fan) he will easily beat Aronian". I am certainly not an "Anand hater", but a bit of a "fanboy hater" (note scare quotes and overall context of the term 'hater'!). Even if you don't share my assessment, maybe you can acknowledge that it isn't completely absurd?
Any series may come to an end one day, cf. Svidler (at the NH event last summer) on "owning Nakamura": "There is no particular reason for this, given our respective ratings. One day it will come to an end, but as far as I am concerned, long may it last ..."

@pioneer: I didn't criticize Aronian's early draw against Nakamura, but his opening preparation or lack thereof. So far, Kramnik (Corus 2010) still seems the only one who could challenge Naka's Dutch - Anand and Grischuk didn't succeed either. Maybe understandable from Levon's point of view: He focuses on openings he will encounter in the candidates matches, or if he has suprises against the Dutch (just in case Grischuk will give it a try against him) he keeps them secret for the moment.

"the perfect tablebase program would have no losses, but not enough wins"

Firstly, this would hold only if chess is proven to be a 'draw with perfect play' game.

Secondly, even if all moves by both players may be drawing moves for *most* of the game, its probably a stretch to imagine a human would keep finding non-losing moves when they are only-moves - move after move, late in a game.

But of course I do see your/Nunn's point in that the lack of 'bluff' will bring less wins to the program. It'll be interesting to see how AI in poker playing programs evolve.

btw, Surya Ganguly is unwell. Was chatting with one of his teammates who confirmed that Surya has been down with a fever for a few days now. Kinda explains his results here at wijk aan zee..

Sergey Shipov's commentating on Carlsen - Anand today (predictably enough!). Intro already up: http://www.chessintranslation.com/live-game/

What a pity he chose the wrong game today : (

Shipov said that he now has more time to work on his video round-up of the entire round - what a pity that mishanp can't translate that one ...

On todays evidence it is clear that Carlsen is ready to take over the reigns from Vishy. Sheesh, what a cutlet.

I'm tired of waiting for every new tournament to see the 'wch in waitin' challenge anand/kramnik.

anand invites him into a sharp sicilian and he responds with quick exchanges and a draw.

would he have played Qd2 if his opponent was someone outside of anand/kramkink/aronian? i doubt it. this guy is scared shitless and doesn't have what it takes to beat the best.
classic case of rating inflation. hopefully wijk invites him to the b tournament next year

With regard to the Dutch, there is no way Aronian could have prepared for 7...Nc6, as Naka had played ...c6 in almost all the other lines.

Naka has equalized quite easily with the Dutch against super-GMs (Anand in January 2010, Grischuk in Nov 2010, Aronian here) unless he has walked right into his opponent's home prep (Kramnik in January 2010). To me, that's the sign of a good opening...of course being a world-top 10 player handling the black pieces helps ;).

It's not up to Shipov as the game's decided on a vote (I'd give a link, but you need to be logged on to the Russian forum to see it). Carlsen-Anand had 64 votes compared to Kramnik-Giri in second with 15 (including mine). To be fair, pretty much all of the Carlsen-Anand games have been exciting lately (perhaps a case where Sofia Rules would have helped).

Thomas, it was suggested at one point to try and translate and dub Shipov's videos, but it's not really practical - it's hard enough trying to follow the words on the page!

My suggestion wasn't serious - I realize it's near to impossible, and you already do enough for us! If anything, English subtitles might be worth a try (I could even turn down the volume if the, for me, incomprehensible Russian is too disturbing!) but it would also be a lot of work.

I hope and expect that the remaining "top of the top" encounters will be more interesting: Anand-Aronian tomorrow, Kramnik-Carlsen next Friday.

Hard to say who is the chicken in Anand-Carlsen.

Anand should have played on.
Come on... why not play on if you have an edge, however small? One inaccuracy by your opponent is all it takes. Carlsen played on in a theoretical draw against l'ami. Playing with an advantage should be fun. At the very least you wear down one of your chief rivals.

Anand needs to toughen up - seriously! If he had 1/2 the fighting qualities of Kasp, Carlsen, Topalov, Naka, or just about anyone else on the planet, we might be talking about him being the greatest instead of Kasparov.

After Qd2, there is no point playing on. Carlsen pretty much forced the draw here. I dont want to get too judgmental about your chess skills but what minute advantage are you talking about. Further why would Anand not take a draw when he is leading the tournament with a +3 score. Carlsen on the other hand is on +1.

And considering his two recent losses to Anand, er. this game was not really telling him 'Move over ol man, Im here to take your crown'

It was more like - I'l come back in a few years time when you've started losing your teeth.

And about the greatest ever - Kasparov is far from it. And Anand could still be it.
For now I'd still rate Fisher, Tal, Capa to be much better players.
Kasparov had nothing more than good memory - no need to read between the lines. He was all about home prep improving on past lines by the greats.

IMO black has a clear advantage in the final position due to:

1) control of the center
2) control of the open d file
3) white has double f pawns

It's not like Anand is leading the tournament by a mile. He is actually tied for the lead, and may not be leading at all after today. Regardless, the should try to get the maximum out of every game.

In the mean time in group B. Liem is winning against McShane, making it a 3-way tie for 1st place.
Liem is really uneven, having lost two games in a row (with relatively weaker opponents).

"And about the greatest ever - Kasparov is far from it. And Anand could still be it. For now I'd still rate Fisher, Tal, Capa to be much better players.
Kasparov had nothing more than good memory - no need to read between the lines. He was all about home prep improving on past lines by the greats."


Complete garbage. First of all, none of those player were a great as long as Kasparov -- not even close! Even Euwe was world champion longer than Tal. Second, while Kasparov was the greatest home prep player ever, he could truly do EVERYTHING well...witness his grinding down Karpov from a completely equal position in the final game of the 87 world championship, where anything less than a win would have allowed Karpov to retake the title.

For the record, Kasparov was arrogant, classless, whiny when he lost, and did great harm to the game with his decision to try to destroy FIDE in 1993. That being said, he is clearly the greatest player of all time. Vishy would have to be world champion for another 10 years to even start to be seriously considered greater than Kasparov.

Kramnik must be rolling his eyes at Giri for keep playing still.

Yes, Giri is making himself look like a little arrogant *****.

[quote]For the record, Kasparov was arrogant, classless, whiny when he lost, and did great harm to the game with his decision to try to destroy FIDE in 1993. That being said, he is clearly the greatest player of all time.[/quote]

He may be classless but Kasparov was NOT arrogant as many people think him to be. But he is NOT the greatest player ever! Not playing for title and assuming you are holding the crown for several years wouldn't make you great. When you are asked to play and you ducked for reasons unacceptable that wouldn't make you great either. He is far below many. Anand is the greatest player ever! I've said many points in support of Anand. We can have a open debate on who is the greatest Anand or your favorite Kasparov, if you would like.

Le Quang Liem lost against Li Chao (who isn't exactly weak, just relatively unknown) and blew a winning position against Elo tailender Spoelman. OK, this doesn't contradict what you wrote: he is uneven - maybe also the pressure of being co-favorite, for the first time in his career?

Today's highlight in the B group may have been the fight against last place between Ganguly and Spoelman, with a nice queen sacrifice in an uncommon delayed Poisoned Pawn Najdorf. Funny how Stockfish on Chessbomb first considers 23.Bf6:!! a blunder (only good for perpetual check) because it doesn't yet see the follow-up 25.Ng5!! - makes you wonder about how reliable these express analyses at low search depth are in general ... .

Yeah, I said relatively weak :-). Also, in my mind, given his very good performance last year, Le is a 2700-player. However, seems like he does not play so well against "relatively weaker" opponents.

He had excellent results in the first half of 2010: Moscow Open, Aeroflot (both included "relatively weak" opponents), then Dortmund. But the second half was less impressive: 50% at the Olympiad and a disastrous 0.5/5 at "2010 Asian Game Men Team" (whatever that exactly was).
Such phases are normal for a rising star - I think it may have to do with coping with all the attention he suddenly gets (don't know about the home front in Vietnam ...), and pressure that comes along with it. Even if he is already worth 2700 - I would actually agree with you - the B group has a tough field.

aww..Tani Sachdev's even day jinx continues :(

Don't bother going there, because a) you would probably have to be at least an IM to truly understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of players over the decades. You are not one of those. Neither am I, nor at least 98% of the folks visiting,
and b) you would have to nail down what you mean by the "greatest player." Do you mean the most talented player ever? Or the player who has made the most of accrued knowledge in his time?

It's a difficult and arguable enough subject as to be pretty much insolvable without even
factoring in that yesterday's players did not have access to computers, and the strange but workable moves that they sometimes come with.

Finally, you've heard the term 'standing on the shoulders of giants?'

Giri, though he lost to Kramnik today, seems to be performing quite well at the elite level. Given that he is only 16 years old, to me it seems that he is future WC material.

My prediction is that Carlsen and Giri will dominate chess the way Karpov and Kasparov dominated chess in their time.

Who else do you think can compete with Carlsen and Giri in the future?

Vachier-Lagrave, Nakamura, Nepo, and Nyzhnyk are all stars of the future -- relative strength remains to be seen.

I remember when Mig used to do these reports after every round of every tournament...

Kenh, sorry to be a little rude but please don't degrade me to a level of an IM! Please!! ;)

It is true Anand did not have access for a while but then Kasparov had access to strong computers. But why not we discuss all of this to see who is the greatest. At least the chess public will know what you think and what I think on this subject. Or knowing the truth is the problem??

See, the comparison is between two giants, not between you or I with a giant. So I think it is irrelevant to our discussion whether you sit or stand on stay on someone else's back or shoulders.

Nakamura is 23
VL is 20
Nepo is 20
Nyzhnyk is 16
Giri is 16
Karjakin is 20
Carlsen is 20

Based on their age and performance, I would have to say Naka is too old to improve much and will never be WC. Same goes for VL, and maybe even Nepo.

Nyzhnyk is the same age as Giri but a good 100 ratings points behind.

That leaves Karjakin, Carlsen and Giri as contenders.

To answer my own question, it appears that the future Anand/Kramnik/Topalov/Aronian will be Carlsen/Giri/Karjakin.

Nyzhnyk is 14. And Aronian was already 22 or 23 when he first crossed 2700 (as I wrote before, but apparently it has to be repeated once in a while).

You are right, I stand corrected. Nyzhnyk is indeed 14, and hasn't crossed 2600 yet. But I would add him to the list of future contenders.

So I would say the future Anand/Kramnik/Topalov/Aronian will be Carlsen/Giri/Karjakin/Nyzhnyk.

Even the great Bobby Fischer was 29 before becoming world champion. How old was Anand when he became champ...did I hear over 40!? So 20 is too old? Please.

Nakamura is leading in what is supposed to be the strongest ever tournament or one of the strongest ever tournament. Now you are making comparison of him with Vachier-Lagrave, Nepo, and Nyzhnyk? This is like creating hype for Kasparov and Karpov saying together dominated chess (while the truth is either one couldn't dominate the other, and what they dominated was a far weak competition in todays standards) and putting real achiever Anand in a second tier position with Kramnik, Topalov, Carlsen, Aronian as equals even after Anand thoroughly dominated Kramnik and Topalov, and after Kramnik thoroughly dominated Kasparov. Nice!

"Nakamura is leading"... only because he is yet to play Anand, Carlsen and Kramnik ... hah hah..

"Now you are making comparison of him with Vachier-Lagrave, Nepo, and Nyzhnyk"... you are right. I shouldn't be comparing Naka with Nepo and Nyzhnyk, both of whom will surpass him in chess achievements.

"putting real achiever Anand in a second tier position with Kramnik, Topalov, Carlsen, Aronian as equals"

I am an Indian, and even I recognize that Kramnik is as great as Anand.

Anand/Kramnik/Topalov/Aronian are in a class by themselves, players who have crossed 2800, something that Naka will never be able to do.

Don't forget Fabby is 18 and 2721 on the January list. Magnus is a wild card. Clearly he has other interests. I don't think anyone should be shocked if he walks away from chess within the next couple of years.

""Nakamura is leading"... only because he is yet to play Anand, Carlsen and Kramnik ... hah hah.."

I was wondering what the hater party line was right now. Got it.

Not particularly a Naka hater, I was responding to a rather misleading statement "Nakamura is leading in what is supposed to be the strongest ever tournament or one of the strongest ever tournament."

Yes, Naka is leading the strongest enough tournament, but such statements should be made at the end of the tournament and not when the stronger players are yet to be played.

"Don't forget Fabby is 18 and 2721 on the January list."

Yes, I would say Fabby is the most likely candidate to join the master class of Carlsen/Giri/Karjakin/Nyzhnyk.

As for the rest, other than Nepo, I don't think anyone else will reach that status.

Please! Do not compare old pure chess from before computer with the new increment computer chess. Kiddies has completley different possibilities nowadays, and with increment it is a different sport. Our chess is long gone. Those young computer clones are just what they are with the new technologies. I really doubt an average intellegence increase in 40-50 years of evolution.

Yea, I definately didn't mean to omit Sergey Karjakin. He's already a brute at his age.
But a lot of people said the same of Grischuk sometime back as well, so players rise and fall, rise and fall. They're human. Remember Leko?

I would say that right now it appears that the WC level players of the future will be:

Carlsen and Karjakin

with a strong possibility that they will be joined by Giri and Nyzhnyk

and maybe Fabby and Nepo.

Besides the above 6, other players like Naka, and VL are unlikely to make it.

Case closed?

KC, you must be joking when you say "Yes, Naka is leading the strongest enough tournament, but such statements should be made at the end of the tournament...".

You think I will say Naka is leading when the tournament is ended? You know noone would! ;)

Thats what i thought...i actually was pissed off....logged on a bit late and the game was over !

But then i think Anand didnt want to expend his energy as he has to play Aronian tommorrow...

No need to prove a point with Carlsen anymore.....has an edge out of the opening so basically saying go back and bring something more next time....

Case reopened - while they may have to do some catching up, I would add three more candidates:
- Wesley So: I was rather skeptical about him and consider him a bit 'hyped', but now he's doing well in Tata B (5/7, shared first)
- Le Quang Liem even if he may have a mini-crisis at the moment
- the biggest unknown is Sanan Sjugirov because he rarely played outside of Russia. But already a while ago he did well at the Russian Championship, and he (not Giri) was the first younger player to beat Magnus Carlsen ... .

Agree with you about So and Le. We tend to be Euro-centric around here; there is a reason why Naka's fans have to yell pretty loudly to get noticed
(of course they tend to go over doing it too, but that's another story).

Hm ... have not even heard of Sanan Sjugirov, will start paying attention to that name.

Absolutely agree that magnus could walk away from chess

Carlsen ended up being meeker than I thought. Anand (more than) equalized easily with black and Carlsen didn't even try to avoid complications.

KC, ur credibility went down the drain when you started the even I am Indian tripe!

Anand did not get spoonfed by 3 generations of russian grandmasters to get to where he is today. And when computers did come along, he adapted to them as well and quite simply he is the most difficult player to beat across 64 squares - be it white or black. Over the last 4 years if you take out his pre wch bibao disaster, he is averaging about 2 losses a year.

What is Kasparovs achievement? That he played a few marathon WC against Karpov? Or that he beat an exhausted Anand within a month of a gruelling qualifier?
Or is it because he hid in his closet for 8 years with his title.
He dominated one GM for 15 years - Karpov, and Im sorry but if you kept playin the same person over an over again one of them is bound to dominate the other.

Now lets compare that record with Anand's. Since becoming Wch in 2007, he has defended the title twice already and will do so again every 2 years till someone can beat him.

Anand is not the greatest, but he could be. If he defends his title once more then many more people will acknowledge this. If he defends it twice more, anyone who refuses to acknowledge it is a muppet. Already he is in the top tier with the greatest - along with Fisher, Tal and Capa.

Why does Chessbase continue to insist on calling Nakamura "Nak"?

Anand may have made several imprecise moves and missed a few tricks over the course of his career so far. But the one costliest trick he missed IMO wasn't even OTB. It is his not moving away from the Ruy Lopez in game 10 of his 95 match. I remember him saying once that in hindsight, upon seeing Kasparov so hyper and overexcited before game 10, he should have moved to his alternate prep - the center counter. He almost scored with it in game 14 and the surprise factor in game 10 could have been too much for Kasparov to handle in that situation. Up +2 after 10 games would have all but sealed it for him then. The world would have been so different had he won that match. The post-2007 unification matches could have started much sooner and chess could have been so much better off today. Alas..

Kinda like how Zaheer Khan is called Zak?!

Kinda like how Michael Greengard is called Mig!? ;)

I wouldn't even give too much importance to an unofficial private match. It is like conducting an unsupervised examination and then you be harsh on someone who didn't score as much as the other. Such a comparison is pointless!

george belched "KC, ur credibility went down the drain when you started the even I am Indian tripe!" and so on and so forth, yada yada yada...

The fact remains that Kramnik is the only one who has beaten the greatest of them all in a match. That itself puts him on a pedestal.

I of course hope that Anand keeps winning and is one day thought to be greater than Kasparov. Yes, I agree that Anand did not have the same opportunities as Karpov, Kasparov and Kramnik, and has had to fight harder to get where he is today.

Anand is great, Kramnik is great too, and they are good friends too.

Thomas, you are setting yourself up for disappointment if you think that So, Leim or Sjugirov will ever reach the level of Anand/Kramnik/Topalov/Aronian (2800+).

Anand, Gelfand, Ivanchuk are still around in part because they are the generation of players who had dozens of battles with Kasparov first-hand. If that doesn't make you a stronger player, nothing could.

I wonder if Anand is going to get clobbered by Aronian with the black pieces as in the past tomorrow?

Aronian appears to skate sometimes, but don't get in his way if he needs a win.
And as a 2009 New In Chess cover story indicated, he's a swindler, always capable of saving lost positions, and even turning them around.

It could be an epic battle between him and Anand. I hope so.

Considering the fact that his second half of this tournament will be considerably harder than the first half- does anyone really think Naka can win this thing?

"He dominated one GM for 15 years - Karpov, and Im sorry but if you kept playin the same person over an over again one of them is bound to dominate the other."

Sorry, but both comments are nonsense. It might help to learn the definition of "dominate", perhaps?

Look up "ur", too, while you are at it.

I do. He's the only player in this tournament to consistently defeat the also-rans, including Grischuk, who should be doing better, but only has two points. I don't think Nakamura is necessarily playing better chess. I just think he wants it more. There have been a lot of short draws, after all. Three other guys could still win this if they really get off the schneider. I'm glad to see big Vlad get into it rolling.
One of my watched players there, Max Vachier-Lagrave, took his tentative steps and is undefeated so far, but now he'll be up against it. His second half easily rivals Hikaru's in difficulty. Nakamura v. Vachier-Lagrave will be a case of the irresistable force v. the immovable object.

>>Considering the fact that his second half of this tournament will be considerably harder than the first half- does anyone really think Naka can win this thing?

The gambling sites are putting Naka at about 2 to 1 odds to win, just behind Anand at 6 to 4. Based on that alone, I can't see how anyone would discount Nakamura winning the event.

He's actually a pretty good player too. If you followed the other elite events he has been in, you'd realize he can hold his own against these guys.


Nakamura wasn't supposed to pass 2700 either... according to pundits here.

I think Nakamura can win this tournament, but so can a few others: Anand is just 1/2 point behind, Aronian (as already pointed out) has the easiest opponents remaining, Kramnik has now woken up. lefthandsketch makes a valid point endorsed by Nakamura himself ("for me the tournament starts tomorrow [now today]"): so far he did well against players who are relatively weak or (Shirov, Grischuk) out of form, he may or may not score at least 50% against his direct competitors. So far it's reminiscent of Shirov's tournament last year, which didn't have the happiest end for Alexey.

"He's the only player in this tournament to consistently defeat the also-rans" - partly because he's the only one who already played all also-rans! Aronian so far has 1/1 against the bottom four, Kramnik has 1.5/2 (even an out-of-form Grischuk isn't "routinely" beaten with black, he still faces Smeets and l'Ami), Carlsen has 2.5/3.

"There have been a lot of short draws, after all." - including Nakamura's short draw against Aronian, and his game against l'Ami also could have peacefully ended in 15 moves. Actually, the only player who didn't have any quick or premature draws is ... Shirov.

I didn't say they necessarily will cross 2800 - actually if all of them (plus the names you mentioned) will, 2800 won't mean as much any more and we need to define 2850 or 2900 as a new threshold. I merely called them 'candidates', so I won't be disappointed at all if they don't make it to the very top.

It is slightly disturbing or funny depending on interpretation that Chessbase says Smeets made a bold choise while facing "in form" Naka. Kind of rminds me of dr. Evil in Austin Powers...

This should prove an interesting day:

M. Carlsen – H. Nakamura
V. Anand – L. Aronian

May the best players win!

Shipov's commentating on Carlsen - Nakamura today: http://bit.ly/bqNkym

when u have a more objective point and not just rants, we may be able to have a debate

OK, I will try to debate with you:

"What is Kasparovs achievement?"
Besides winning WCh matches, he also won basically every tournament he played - to the point that shared first or second was considered surprising. (Topalov and Carlsen had or have similar stretches - if Carlsen's lasts for another 5-10 years we can start comparing him with Kasparov)

"He dominated one GM for 15 years - Karpov, and Im sorry but if you kept playin the same person over an over again one of them is bound to dominate the other."
Not Kasparov's fault that Karpov was the second-best player throughout most of his career. And your statement that "one is bound to dominate" is also wrong: A bit later, Kasparov and Kramnik played many games against each other with an even overall score (which can't be said about Anand's record against Garry)

"spoonfed by 3 generations of russian grandmasters"
Even if true (to some extent), again this isn't Kasparov's fault.

In summary, it's OK to be fan of one player, but there's no need to diminish the achievements of others. As to 'greatest player ever', I find it rather futile to compare Anand, Kasparov, Kaprov, Fischer, (Capablanca, Steinitz, .....) - all were or are great in their own way(s), and during their own time.

Extra ordinarily brilliant show by Carlson against Naka in today's game, so far. To show an entirely new treatment in such a standard opening as Naijdorf! Kb1 & then Ka1...very impressive

Naka has 16 minutes for 15 moves in a very difficult position. I wish he knew to make strategic draws when leading a supertournament, like the other top guys.

As per GM Caruana, Magnus missed a chance for playing "the move of the tournament" with 24. Qf1!. But even so, it seems Magnus is heading toward 1-0 in this game. Naka apparently couldnt cope with Carson's double prophyalxy mentioned in my previous post.

Naka has 5 minutes for 1 move now (move 35) : resigning.

I note a slight difference in the pattern of play Carlsen-Anand and Carlsen-Nakamura...perhaps Magnus' testosterone boils up faster with rivals about his own age?

"wish he knew to make strategic draws when leading a supertournament, like the other top guys"

That's easier said than done. Ask Karpov :)

But ouch! What a Columbia(space shuttle)-like return to earth for Naka, Mig and other fans!

The best Japanese chess player lost today. Pity.

What do you call a person speaking more then one language?
What do you call a person speaking only one language?

Therfore I proofed Nakamura cannt be an American. Good for him, not being belonging to a nation of war criminals anyway.

Fatal blow to Nakamura's psyche? Will he ever recover from this in his lifetime?

Leading the super-strong tournament past the half-way point. Going up against the main future rival for chess greatness. And not even being able to draw the game! Will Naka ever again be able to believe he can be as good as the best?

I think not.

I wonder if there was any testosterone to it...maybe he was holding on to this trump for some time now, waiting for the right moment. He just phoned this one in.

Maybe he just thought Anand's Najdorf prep and experience is more to be feared than Nakamura's...the other interesting question for me is whether Shirov's ending is drawn, theoretically and practically.

I can't resist referring to Nakamura-Shirov 1-0, Corus 2010. Shirov was leading at that stage, and Hikaru criticized him for playing the Sicilian when a draw with black would have been a fine result. Maybe today Nakamura should have listened to Nakamura?

On the other hand, Carlsen may have given him a false sense of security:
- yesterday with his unambitious play against Anand's Najdorf
- even today with the solid Karpovian 6.Be2, which usually isn't followed up by opposite castling and a direct kingside attack.
I find this more remarkable than the idea Ka1 which, I think, isn't entirely new (but I don't remember when and where I saw it before).

Yes, indeed now it's easy to say Nakamura should have played something less risky; on the other hand, it is a bit to play against himself and also he may have thought that with Carlsen not seeming in top form it was a good chance to push even with black. It adds to his experience, to know yourself and find when to push and when to calm down. Of course, you must be able to do it (draw like a GM) which is, by the way, not that easy. I think that Ka1 idea is usual in some lines of the Dragon which, hint, hint, Carlsen plays himself with black, though not lately.

Shirov's ending always was a tablebase win, as soon as we entered that realm on move 45. Some positions with this material distribution are drawn or at least tough to win - here it was easy (no need for only moves), I guess because the black king is cut off on the eighth rank. I posted the tablebase link before but you may have missed it:

You should have been listening to ChessFM a few minutes ago. Alex Yermolinsky was conducting a mini clinic on the ending. He had personally analyzed it himself some years ago. 'Many GMs would say it's easily won. Very few could say why - and then show how you win.'

I would have thought Carlsen was an endangered species in this tournament, and that he was losing his confidence. I thought today was going to be The Naka's day. That's why it seems like a good time for Carlsen to make a statement.
And he made Nakamura look so weak! Like he was hypnotized and walking right into Carlsen's clutches with the mildest of struggles.
Ultimately, it could be great for Nakamura. He doesn't strike me as someone who is going to be discouraged or easily lose his own sense of confidence. My guess is that it will help him figure Carlsen out. Maybe some other important things.
I don't know how strong The Naka really is. But he thinks he's as strong, or will be as strong, as any of them, and that is one indispensable quality.

It isn't the end of the world for Hikaru. He's still in a co-leader with 5.5 pts. There will be, however, no less than four players in shooting distance with 5.

As my old buddy used to say, "The cheese is getting more binding."

Meanwhile Tani Sachdev's amazing love-hate relationship with even and odd dates continues!

An excellent win by Carlsen today. He played the kind of game chess fans long and delivered the result! I never really thought the innocuos looking d4 Knight will constrain the Black King at the end to weave a mating net. I always thought Bxh6 sac was a possibility and Carlsen made it look so easy.

Well done...

Anand had 2 draws in a row and Naka had a win and a loss. Whic one of them do you think feels bad though they have the same # of points? Chess greatness requires valuing not losing more than not winning...

Yep, even Vachier-Lagrave could still win this thing - what are/were the betting odds on him? ,:)

@Alez: I tend to agree with you, but recently (Tal Memorial) Nakamura added the Berlin to his black repertoire ... . And I only mentioned it because he had given such advice to Shirov, also the type of player always going for the proverbial fire on the board.

On a side note: maybe not the best, but the funniest chess was played in the C group - check the mating attacks in Bok-Bluvsthein and van der Werf-Vocaturo.

I think Carlsen played the Ka1 plan against Radjabov's Chinese Dragon in 2009.

kenh said "It isn't the end of the world for Hikaru. He's still in a co-leader with 5.5 pts."

It is more than just this tournament. It seems to establish that Carlsen can beat Nakamura whenever he wishes.

Nakamura is playing the best chess of his life. Carlsen has been up and down recently (losing to Giri, McShane and Anand). To at least draw this game is critical to Nakamura as it winning this tournament would be the greatest accomplishment of his chess career.

And Carlsen just comes in and destroys him.

Carlsen is 3 years younger than Nakamura, and after this it should be obvious that if Carlsen sticks around in chess he will be an insurmountable obstacle to Nakamura being WC etc.

so ur saying garry was lucky he did not have big competition to face and when he did he threw in the towel so nothing to complain there

If Anand retires from chess in 2 years like garry did with his one sided domination of carlsen, you would defend that by.... (this is to counter ur anand kaspy record)
Imagine if the 95 match was only 12 games like it is today

regarding tournament domination, anand has an almost impressive record and if 'non-classical' forms of chess are considered, an insurmountable record.

finally i concur somewhat to ur point of it being a ridiculous debate about who was the greatest. but there are too many rabid 'garry is god's left testicle fans here' so i have to debate

afaiak kasparov reign as wc ended when he split from fide and hid in his closet - that was cheap, disrespectful to the game and reeked of nothin but fear. he avoided a rematch with anand, who was /is head and shoulders the best player during that time. the best part of anand's career, he had to wait for an opportunity to challenge for the crown that was legitimately his. when he finally did get his chance he demolished everyone in 2007 and then like a true gentleman defended his title agreeing to whatever rules fide threw at him including giving kramnik his 'rematch' and playing topalov on his home turf.

again dont get me wrong - i am not saying anand is the best ever. just that it is outright disrespectful to so many greats of chess to say garry was. i'd equate it to marion jones or ben johnson called the greatest sprinter ever - they are all cheats

I had to check the results based on these comments to make sure he wasn't in dead last. Oh yeah, still in first place, at +3.

Just to think... one player here said she would go 0/13. I doubt they would have made the comment if she were a man. Anyway, she's proven that she belongs in the group.

It's not clear at all that Carlsen will dominate Naka in the future.

There are lots of examples of players taking some time to figure out how to play against someone else.
For example Carlsen's routine losses to Anand a few years ago, now (mostly) fixed.

There have been cases of the older player learning from the younger one too. For example Kasparov lost several times to Anand in their first few encounters before eventually turning things around.

I don't have a strong argument against what you say, KC, but if Nakamura wins this tournament, he'll go home a happy guy. Fearful of Magnus? Yes, at least until he has a few more chances at him. Hikaru is too strong-willed to throw in the towel just yet.

Are you saying she loves odd dates? Someone please pass me her number.

Where did Nakamura go wrong today?

I would say 25...Qa5 was especially bad. He wanted to keep up an attack on Carlsen's King, but really? With insufficient Nakamura forces Carlsen easily parried threats to his king. I think Nakamura needed at this point to bring his forces to defend his King rather than half-baked attacks on Carlsen's king.

Carlsen didn’t just beat Nakamura today – he utterly destroyed the Great American Hope, Terminator style. It seems that Hikaru just stared in disbelief at the trouncing he was getting, playing until he had the choice between forfeiting his queen and mate-in-one.

Which comments do you mean? Even KC just referred to Nakamura's game (and supposed future record) against Carlsen: a player who loses against Magnus isn't automatically dead last, also because the Norwegian often wins more than one game in any given event ,:) .
And I mildly criticized Nakamura, based on his very own words (one year ago, but in a very comparable tournament situation).

[Chesshire Cat]
I note a slight difference in the pattern of play Carlsen-Anand and Carlsen-Nakamura...perhaps Magnus' testosterone boils up faster with rivals about his own age?

As the opponents of Tania Sachdev have thoroughly proved, high levels of testosterone doesn't necessarily transfer into a high level of chess.

Hard day for Nakamura. He did well against the bottom half of the tournament, but I don't have high hopes for his finish. He drew Aronian, to be sure, but against his first real test, he lost horribly. That having been said, he is still in first, and in the best position to win the tournament. It is going to be a crazy finish ... there are 7 players in contention, and lots of games between them to go.

I think the rivalry is simple:
"Everybody" agrees that Carlsen is the crown prince.
Nakamura wants it to be him.

Your anti-American crap is not welcome. Envious of a great country and people who actually believe in freedom and justice and are willing to fight for it.

@ MiamiAL

either your only read your fox propaganda or your are cloes minded.

Americans are only fighting for their own money and power. Never for justice. And they are good in stealing rescources in other countries, too.
Glad the Dollar is history. Hope the USA will not go for another war to cover that up, though.

How about those S.F. Giants?!

I have to say that the best American hope since Fischer was Kamsky. Unfortunately at a point in his career he just stopped playing.

In the mid-1990s, Kamsky was near equal to Anand. Of course what happened 15 years ago does not guarantee that both would have developed to the same level.

I really do think your anti-American diatribes are uncalled for.
They have zero relevance to this chess blog. Please do everyone a favour and take them elsewhere.

you got me! I thought you were serious and fell right into your trap. Should have ignored your jokes like everyone else. Well played, Ma'm

I bet Magnus did that thing where he tucks his leg under his body. That must be incredibly annoying as he is blowing you off the board.

yes...weird, odd, pitted Medjools ;P

but it seems quite a coincidence to me that she's 4/4 playing 3000-level on odd dates and 0.5/4 2000-level on even dates..wonder if chess historians have any stats on other players with such skewed numbers..


I know you read this blog on occasion. Please do all American chess fans a favor (me included). I really, really want to like you, but your arrogance makes it hard.

On Twitter today you write "Pretty sure I could have played anyone or any opening and lost horribly today."

Can't you just ONCE give credit where credit is due? Carlsen outplayed you. Your Twitter statement is sadly immature. For once, it would be nice to read a statement from you where you actually admit that your opponent played a great game. It's not all about you or how you played, sometimes it's also about how well your opponent played.

Carlsen has made many similar statements on Twitter: attributing his losses and worse positions to trivial mistakes instead of good play by his opponent.

He has done that a couple of times in this tournament itself.

Why don't you criticize Carlsen for doing exactly the same thing?

Frankly, I don't think it's that big a deal...

How about some rest day predictions -


Anand on +3 with games against Naka, VL, Nepo, Giri, Shirov to come. So probably he'll finish somewhere between +4 and +6, say +5.

Naka on +3 with games against Anand, Kramnik, VL, Nepo, Wang. Say a loss against either Anand/Kramnik and a win or two against the others. +4.

Carlsen on +2 with games against Kramnik, VL, Nepo, Wang, Grishchuk. Could easily pick up a further +2 or +3 if he survives Kramnik. +4.

Kramnik on +2 with games against Naka, Carlsen, VL, L'ami, Smeets. One win against Naka/Carlsen one against L'ami/Smeets. +4.

Aronian on +2 with games against Pono, Giri, Shirov, Smeets, L'ami. Two wins against Shirov/Smeets/L'ami. +4.

So final standings could well see Anand winning outright with a 4-way tie for 2nd! :)

Kb1 Ka1 was previously played by Carlsen against Radjabov but in a Dragon.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 A bit of a surprise - Carlsen opened with 1.e4 while Radjabov opted for the very line Magnus is playing as Black lately - Sicilian Defense, Dragon variation.

6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 O-O 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.O-O-O Rb8 11.Bb3 Na5 The 11...Rb8 line gained popularity only recently and Carslen is a bit surprised as he starts thinking for more than 10 minutes.

12.Kb1 As Black is planning b7-b5 followed by Nc4, this move has to be played at some moment anyway.

12... b5 13.h4 Nc4 14.Bxc4 bxc4 15.Ka1 The idea is to defend 'b2' with a Rook and avoid debilitating White King's position. Anyway, this looks a bit artificial.

15... h5 16.Rb1 Qa5 17.Bh6 A necessary exchange, else the pressure over the a1-h8 diagonal may become very unpleasant later.

17... Bxh6 18.Qxh6 Rb6 19.g4 Apart from this pawn sacrifice, White has no other prospects.

19... hxg4 ( Intending after 19... hxg4 20.h5 to slow down the attack by 20... g5)

20.Qe3 Obviously Magnus is playing for "all or nothing". Somehow such sharp positions are usually associated with Radjabov's play style.

20... Rfb8 ( Blocking the 'h' pawn by 20... Qh5 is too passive.)

21.h5 g5 (21... Nxh5 seems perfectly playable as well: 22.fxg4 Bxg4 23.Rh4 Bd7 24.Nd5 Ra6 25.a3 c3 26.Qxc3 (26.Nxc3 Qxa3+) 26... Qxc3 with a healthy pawn up.)

22.fxg4 Nxg4 23.Qd2 f6 Standard defensive setup.

24.Nf3 The first photos from the game Carlsen - Radjabov are available in the Chessdom photo gallery White cannot claim sufficien compensation for the sacrificed pawn but the position is very complicated. At some moments even breakthrough like e4-e5 is to be considered.

24... Ra6 Sentencing Nc3 to stay on his square else 'a2' would be vulnerable.

25.Rhg1 The clock may play significant role in this game: 0.27 0.27 ( Black has a tactical trick at his disposal: 25.Rhg1 Rb4 threatening double capture on 'a2' followed by Rb4-a4 mate. Anyway after 26.a3 Rb8 27.e5 White manages to create counterplay.)

25... Rb4 26.a3 ( The only way to stop e4-e5 is 26.a3 Bc8 and if 27.e5 ,then 27... dxe5 28.Nxg5 Ra4)

26... Be6 ( After this normally looking move the breakthrough e4-e5 gains in strength, as 26... Be6 27.e5 dxe5 28.Nxg5 Ra4 29.Qc1 Rax3+ 30.bxa3 Qxc3+ 31.Ka2 attacks the Be6 and White is winning because of this temp.) Meanwhile, the time trouble is approaching rapidly: 0.19 0.14

27.e5 dxe5 ( The prudent 27... Kh8 is better.)

28.Nxg5 White now definitely has compensation. Though Black King seems well protected behind the central pawns, he may fall an easy prey because of the abundant tactical possibilities.

28... Bf5 The best move. Clock readings: 0.14 0.07

29.Nge4 Kh7 Using opponent's pawn as a cover.

30.Qe2 (30.Rg3 reinforcing the 3rd rank is a strong alternative.)

30... Nh6 31.Rg3 Forcing 31...Rb8

31... Be6 ( Decisive error in the time trouble. After 31... Be6 32.Qg2 no defense is to be seen. Time: 0.03 0.03)

32.Rg6 Nf5 (32... Bf5)

33.Qg4 Nh4 34.Ng5+ fxg5 35.Qxg5 Nxg6 36.Qxg6+ Kh8 37.Rg1 Black resigned. Great show performed by the two young talents. Both were fighting for the win only, having no fear. After the opening Radjabov got the upper hand - and a pawn - but Carlsen cleverly found counterplay and after the careless 26...Be6 and 27...de5 took the initiative over. The second time Be6 was played, he launched an unstoppable attack and scored the win. That still keeps him only a point behind Topalov and the tournament is far from decided.


Here's the final version of my translation of Sergey Shipov's commentary on Carlsen - Nakamura: http://bit.ly/hcTYCe

Funny all the banter about female player, Tania Sachdev, when GM Katherina Lahno, who is by the way only in the middle of the C group for rating, is kicking people from one end to the other. She should place in the final standings at least.

Ah, but being in the middle of the C group rating doesn't make it as interesting anymore. It is much more fun to see the lowest player beat the top players of C-group and then lose to the middle ranking players.


You shouldn't be too concerned on Magnus' behalf. He and Nakamura are friends and chess collegaues. The game speaks for its self. Magnus, if any, knows how bad Nakamura must have felt right after th game. Let the guys blow some steam after a bad loss.

-Asking a player to "change" personality is completely unrealistic. Besides I and many others find Nakamura to be a colourful part of the chess scene.

Some of the young super-GMs, like Nakamura and Magnus, share their thoughts and emotions through Twitter, blogs and other use of new IT. Which is fantastic. You dont have to wait 4 weeks for a magazine to arrive in your mailbox, to be updated on your favourite players.

These guys spend their best years of their lives entertaining us. Be grateful for the service!

How is Nakamura's statement "arrogant"? Do you know the definition of that word? Nakamura's statement is an example of "self-deprecation". I believe some people confuse every single statement he makes as arrogant.

I agree that Carlsen played well, but a chess player's blog is about the individual who owns it. If he said "I got crushed by Carlsen today. I'll be back." would that be any better? Maybe so, but it's his blog.

Medhjool dates are delicious!! :-)

Well said, Bobby Fiske. :)

No one's questioning his right to post whatever he wants on his blog. But you can be held accountable for your words, regardless of the forum.

It would be interesting to see if one time, just one time, Nakamura will admit to being squarely outplayed.

What a fantastic round of this great tournament! Magnus Carlsen really silenced his critics today. One of my favorite types of chess...a Sicilian slug fest. No playing for a draw here, no pussyfooting around. Magnus is made of tough stuff. Now Hikaru will have a few more rounds to show us if he is too. Good luck to him. A brave and talented player indeed.

Keep your eyes on Aronian and of course the World Champion Anand. This will get interesting.

And please try to be more respectful of each other here. It's doubtful that any of the players in the tournament have any influence on the foreign policies of their respective countries.

Naka wrote ""Pretty sure I could have played anyone or any opening and lost horribly today."

Actually I think Naka lost only to Carlsen in this game because Carlsen has got into his head resulting in Naka taking risks that he shouldn't.

Consider the position after 25. Bc1

Carlsen has his Queen, 2 rooks and the bishop ready to attack Naka's King which is defended by a bishop and pawns at g7 and h6. What does Naka have to attack Carlsen's King? The Queen and a knight.

At this point I believe Naka would have seen sense against any other player and put one rook or the Queen on the seventh rank to better defend his King. Or maybe the Knight to e5. Spent the move to defend the King.

Instead what does he do? Launch into a futile attack on Carlsen's King by playing 25...Qa5

I think Naka played this move because he feels he needs to keep up keep up with Carlsen's attack, to show that he is capable on attacking Carlsen when he himself is under attack. Against other grandmasters he would do the sensible thing and defend his King.

Where there's smoke there's fire. There is some truth to what Jay said. I wouldn't excoriate Nakamura for it, but he appears to be in denial. Was he physically sick? Then OK. Didn't sleep well? Alright. Even forgot his prep? Not mentioned. He just got waxed by, I think, the better player.

Crap happens, so we should give him some slack and see what happens heretofore. Maybe he'll recover and whack everyone else. Probably not. Most likely, he'll try to draw the rest; try to protect his lead. And even that won't be easy. But if he pulls that off, it would be great for him, and he'd go home very happy to have taken another step toward the elite crew.

(heretofore?) I meant 'from here on out.' And to clarify, I think Nakamura is already a part of the elite, if you define it by top ten or top 15, after this tournament.
Could he win a match with Magnus, Vlad, Vishy Anand, or Levon Aronian? I think he would have trouble with anyone else in the top ten at this time, including Mamedyarov, Grischuk, and Ivanchuk.

Some of you are pretty hilarious. Naka leads the tournament at the beginning of the day, and most the posts are about unrelated inconsequential bs. Naka loses the game today, and all of a sudden the haters are out in force posting the usual nonsense about what is wrong with Nakamura. Some of you really need to get a life.

Naka lost the game, rest day tomorrow, Naka is still tied for 1st, Yay! Go Nakamura!

Impossible, I assure you. But weep not.


your question "Do you know the definition of that word?" is a cute attempt at being condescending, but you fail.

Oh and by the way, nowhere did I write that his Twitter post is arrogant. I wrote that I find it hard to like Nakamura because of his arrogance. If you think those two statements are the same, you need to go back to school for some basic reading comprehension training.

Bobby Fiske - good points. And yes, I'm glad they do post their thoughts online. But I'm not giving up hope for him to mature a little more :)

Right. I doubt that you actually read everything written. You scanned the column, then came up with your hasty conclusion. Will we only hear from you again at the end if Hikaru finishes first?

Nakamura is the only male player playing chess with jewellery on his hands. This big golden ring is it a fraternity symbol? Besides that just look at his chess. Dont understand the talk here.

All the SURE people should put their money , where there mouth is:


and then we see.


And there is not a place, even in this little chess niche here, where we should forget the illegal attack war of America against other countries, with uranium polluting weapons.

How about putting your mouth where your money is, and leaving it there. We're not here to debate politics, mr. clueless.

Daaim needs reading comprehension classes really?
No reason to start insulting people, especially if you have no ground to stand on.

This is verbatim what you wrote:

I know you read this blog on occasion. Please do all American chess fans a favor (me included). I really, really want to like you, but your arrogance makes it hard.
On Twitter today you write "Pretty sure I could have played anyone or any opening and lost horribly today."

I can't really fault anyone for thinking your belief that Hikaru is arrogant is backed up in your mind by his twitter post. If those two thoughts are really not related why did you mention them together?

I just read that Smeets fired his second Gustafson:


Interesting. Thanks for that. Kind of like firing the manager of the team even though you know it's the team's problem. That is, unless they weren't getting along, but the word was that Jan's prep for Smeets was solid, and Smeets faltered after theory. Did you or others hear that?

My fault. I got hoaxed! Someone made a joke. google Translation:

23.01.2011 20:13

Dear Jan,

here you write your boss, Smeets.

strutting I think if I post here in your forum, where you by the way the world is so great options are giving me to, I'm sure at least your attention, but you put so much time, energy and imagination in this blog.

Maybe I'll pay you enough, but it would have been nice if you had been with the same verve by my side to make than from my chess a happening ....

I know I only like a lawyer, a good rote learner, but I am just so I would have needed more psychological support.

Good luck with your stomach or brush blog.

Smeets, GM
P.S. - You're fired!


I am sure Daaim is perfectly capable of defending himself and doesn't need you for that, but it's cute that you try.

As far as insulting people: I reacted to his condescending remark directed at me. You don't like that? Awww.

As far as my initial comment: you obviously need reading comprehension classes yourself. Just because two remarks are made close to each other, they do not need to be related. Pretty basic stuff really.

Too mean for your taste? Awww.

Wonderful Google translation, huh. Jeez.
Why bother?

You keep digging yourself into a deeper hole the more you keep posting.

Your last comment made even less sense than the previous one. Not to mention you didn't answer my question about why you mentioned Nakamra's twitter post at all. I guess you've made so many contradictory statements that you have lost track of them yourself.

But I'm not giving up hope for you to mature a little more :)

Yeah, don't believe everything on the Internet - at least not comments by anonymous guys using funny names ("your former boss")!

I can of course come up with a better translation than Google ,:) but it's not really worth it. Basically 'fake Smeets' accuses Gustafsson of putting too much energy into his blog and giving others a forum to write bad things about Smeets - indeed some comments were rather rude, typical stuff when players with unknown ratings comment on the play of a GM with Elo 2660. And "Maybe I'll pay you enough" should be "maybe I don't pay you enough".

How about the Giri-Wang game?

Very impressive win for a 16 year old over a top-20 player.

"Funny all the banter about female player, Tania Sachdev, when GM Katherina Lahno, who is by the way only in the middle of the C group for rating, is kicking people from one end to the other."

Google "Tania Sachdev" and click on "Images" and you will understand...

Someone call the cops, the H-Bomb just got mugged!!

HC: It doesn't surprise me at all that you cannot make sense of my post, you have already sufficiently shown what you are and aren't capable of.

But nice try.

HC: It doesn't surprise me at all that you cannot make sense of my post, you have already sufficiently shown what you are and aren't capable of.

But nice try.

Sorry to have discombobulated you so much that you post the same thing twice.

I can see why you are so perturbed though.
Nakamura made posted his Twitter comment around 1pm 1/23, you posted your comment quoting his twitter comment at 2:38pm, an hour and a half later. You saw Hikaru's tweet, lost control of your anger, and then proceeded to excoriate him in this forum fully expecting to get the usual peanut gallery of haters to cheer you on. When that didn't happen you immediately started backtracking on your post, even ridiculously claiming that your post didn't say anything about Hikaru's tweet being arrogant.

Nice try, pretty "cute". Everyone can see your original post at 2:38, and no one is buying it.

I'm (still) not giving up hope for you to mature a little more :)

Magnus-Hikaru reminds me of Yankees-Mets. For the Mets, it's always a big deal. For the Yankees, it's just another inferior franchise to beat.

What an adorable attempt at amateur psychoanalysis. Keep trying.

As far as your flawed analysis: as much as you would like it to be different, proximity of two statements still doesn't, and never will, mean correlation. Maybe if you repeat it 100 times you can convince yourself, though.

Oh and keep those smiley faces coming.

To me, Nakamura's twitter post (on the claim that he could have lost to anyone in any opening) only suggest a sort of self-denial to the fact that Carlsen is just a better player than him at the moment. GM Alex Yermolinksy in his game of the day mentioned that Naka's opening ...Nbd7 (instead of something in his style with ...a5 ) and ...Re8, ...Bf8 etc were more psychological (slow defensive moves) because he was facing Carlsen. If we was to merely play his style (may be someone lower rated) then he would have sought counter play much before ... and I agree with that. So his twitter post does seem to state what is quite the opposite. He lost it because it was Carlsen and some psychology involved due to that.

Harish: yes, exactly.

On chesvibes video , first thing Magnus said was Hikaru was dumb to play to Sicilian this game...

It appears Hikaru is not respected by top Gm's..I have never seen Magnus say similar stuff against anand, kramnik or aronian

"Proximity of two statements still doesn't, and never will, mean correlation."
- Jay

True, provided you write disjointed, non sequitur crap, which perhaps you do. But in the case of your original post, I have to concur with HC and Daaim : you plainly implied that Nakamura's tweet was arrogant, there is no other plausible explanation for your citing it in that context. Now you can try to pull a Clinton on us and split hairs about what the meaning of "is" is, but you're just emphasizing that you can't man up to what you initially wrote.

You know, there's no real shame in blurting out something stupid in the heat of the moment. But heaping fallacies upon lies in a lame attempt to save face, now that's embarrassing.

Oh, and keep the pathetic retorts coming, they're good for a laugh.

On chesvibes video , first thing Magnus said was Hikaru was dumb to play to Sicilian this game...

It appears Hikaru is not respected by top Gm's..I have never seen Magnus say similar stuff against anand, kramnik or aronian


Glad I could make you laugh. My desire to respond to your drivel is limited to exactly these two sentences.

Reasonable, but note that ALL of Aronians opponents are in the bottom half of the cross table. If he gets 3 wins (plausible to me), then he is a likely winner (possible tie); if Anand gets drawish then Aronion could win outright. On the other hand, Carlsen is so streaky, it would be unsurprising if he ended up winning or tieing for the lead.

(I note that bottom half of cross table is not necessarily a good indication of form, because these players also vary in the strength of their opponents. It all looks wide open to me.)

He did not say that he was dumb for playing it...

He just repeated Nakamuras own advice to Shirov from a year ago, and suggested that it was kind of strange that he hadn't followed his own advice.

It might have been a little poke at Nakamura... but not a mean spirited one in any way, I think.


On a calmer note, I offer you this quote, from the entry for "Parataxis" in Wikipedia. Make of it what you will.

"The underlying idea [for understanding parataxis] is that in a connected discourse the complete independence of the consecutive sentences rarely exists."

Perhaps Wikipedia is not your reference material of choice, but any serious treatise on syntax and semantics will tell you much the same. And it's just common sense, really.

I'd like to see the reaction if Nakamura manages to beat Anand!

WOW !!!
that would be my reaction :-)

It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future - Yogi Berra.

That being said, I predict that Carlsen & Anand will both be tied at +5, but Carlsen will win on tie-breaks.

Nak will NOT be bak.

Re: "Nak will NOT be bak."

If a post has words that rhyme
It is not worth reading time.

Anybody in the A division is capable of beating Anand if either a) he blunders, or b) one shows up with preparation surprising and good enough to back him onto his heels. Neither occur very often, as we've seen, but he's human. Do you think Nakamura will be prepared? Is there more than one view of Mount Fuji?

Vachier-Lagrave (he is playing in the A group, though you would hardly know it) is capable of beating Carlsen as well. Their blitz game record is even, I believe, for what that's worth. I'll bet Magnus takes that game very seriously.

Anyway stuff happens. I still can't understand Grischuk's record at Tata Steel so far? He's stronger than that.

I would say that Naka's Twitter posts are not arrogant so much as Narcissistic.

Ugh! People who write posts that rhyme
They are worth less than a dime

Hey y'all, can you hear that sound?
That's Escher; spinning in his grave in the ground

Kenh wrote "Anyway stuff happens. I still can't understand Grischuk's record at Tata Steel so far? He's stronger than that."

Maybe Grischuk is thinking ahead to the candidates matches. That is to be expected.

Could we not focus on the moves and the games? Why is it so important who played, who won?

I always felt that this is the major difference between chess and e.g. soccer.
In soccer the game is boring, depending a lot on luck and random factors, but the result counts.
In chess the result is unimportant, but the how, the way, the technic, the truth in the position and the beauty counts. Why do you care, who did what, look what is done.

Because the Japanese Nakamura is now wearing American colors? Why is that so important, where a player comes from or who might be stronger or the best ever?

I like for instance what is said on chess.fm and not if the voice sounds soft and gay, or rough with a russian accent.

For amusement, I wrote a program to extrapolate from current scores using standard rating expectation formula, for three cases: pre-tournament ratings used for all players; performance rating; mean of pre-tournament rating and performance rating. The results differ less than I expected, and Anand is the favorite by a nose under all scenarios, with Aronian a very close second. In the following I preserve 2 significant digits of expected result to act as a tiebreak.

Using pre-tournament rating:

Anand 8.62
Aronian 8.3
Kramnik 7.98
Nakamura 7.97
Carlsen 7.97
Vachier Lagrave 7.05
Nepomniachtchi 6.88
Ponomariov 6.5
Giri 5.91
Wang Hao 5.58
Grischuk 4.96
Shirov 4.91
L'Ami 4.58
Smeets 3.78

Using tournament performance rating:

Anand 8.79
Aronian 8.75
Nakamura 8.49
Kramnik 8.14
Carlsen 8.04
Vachier Lagrave 7.3
Nepomniachtchi 6.93
Ponomariov 6.87
Giri 6.49
L'Ami 5.15
Wang Hao 5.12
Shirov 3.97
Grischuk 3.66
Smeets 3.3

Using mean of pre-tournament rating and TPR:

Anand 8.72
Aronian 8.55
Nakamura 8.24
Kramnik 8.07
Carlsen 8.02
Vachier Lagrave 7.17
Nepomniachtchi 6.91
Ponomariov 6.7
Giri 6.2
Wang Hao 5.34
L'Ami 4.86
Shirov 4.42
Grischuk 4.29
Smeets 3.51

If it is all about moves and techniques, why are you here? Why not just watch computer chess where the moves are higher quality?

Because the human stories make the whole thing much more interesting.

BTW: Nakamura is American, not Japanese. Yes, he was born in Japan and has Japanese ancestry, but he move to US when he was two, and he is distinctly American.

Does it matter where someone is from or who they are? Not really, but it certainly does add to the story.

To me, Nakamura's twittering most of all indicates a very emotional guy.
Watching his bodylanguage on live webcam from Tal Memorial and WC Blitz, confirms this.

Some players er pale and quiet, others are outspoken and colourful. Enjoy the spread!

Bodylanguage is one thing. Being outspoken and colourful another thing. Being emotional too.

But Nakamura also kibitzed and chatted a lot on ICC, at least he used to do that. And his behaviour on ICC tells a much different story than just being emotional, etc.

But Nakamura probably has a lot of potential to mature and become a man.

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

"12. d5 He’s gone for it! Well done, Hikaru! He really is a noble fighter." - Shipov

How can you not like someone who finds nobility in a game of chess?

No question we all like Shipov :)

A short pre-tournament interview with Tania Sachdev - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGIwmVl3LhY

Dream results for Anand fans would be if current rybka eval favorites - Anand and VL - win today.. :)

Good point!

There could be two reasons for such behavior by Nakamura - either he's genuinely immature, or he just feels any publicity is good publicity, or a bit of both. I haven't been following his career a lot - so not in a position to comment on his maturity levels, but there might good reason for him to create a particular image of himself among fans and journalists. Its not cold war times anymore, but maybe he could benefit by 'west v/s rest' or 'me v/s them' talks. Perhaps get more invitations since 'diversity' seems to be catching on everywhere - not just in large corporations and ivy league schools.

Great chess players are known for playing great chess, not really for being very mature individuals. Anand and Kramnik are exceptions...

At what stage did Rybka give a clear advantage to Vachier-Lagrave (something like +0.2 doesn't count)?

And maybe Anand rather hopes for a draw in VL-Carlsen. After all, the Frenchman (though a bit overlooked *) is also in contention for first place - he could even be shared first right now if he hadn't missed a forced win against Wang Hao.

* e.g. the end of the round 8 video on the tournament homepage: "Anand and Nakamura are in the lead and favorites to win the event. Carlsen is back in the race, Aronian and Kramnik also have 5 points [so does Vachier-Lagrave, whom Bianca Muhren didn't mention]."

Sure, but fans often tend to root for the nicer guys. Also, and perhaps more importantly (from a monetary perspective), many corporates also base their endorsement decisions on the image a particular sportsperson has in the media and public - so that no harm or disrepute comes to the brand.

Yes, but VL has tougher opponents than Carlsen and unlikely to win too many games - so Anand would like VL to win.

The evals were somewhere between -0.5 to -0.8 (not sure when - am watching from work at chessok).

I agree chess players aren't always known for maturity or the use of reason beyond the board. Some Daily Dirt commentators are apparently not nearly as mature and measured as The Naka.

How does Naka deal with 25...g4

RxR I guess

-0.5 to -0.8 would mean a slight advantage for Carlsen playing black? This would be more consistent with my own impression - but I am not only a weaker player, I also don't understand the Berlin (and avoid it with 4.d3 in my own white games).

I obviously agree that VL has tougher opponents in the remaining rounds - which could also mean that he has the chance to beat some of his direct competitors. But of course it would be a BIG surprise if he can actually fight for first place ... I just don't think Bianca Muhren would have forgotten to mention Giri if he had 5/8 !?

Well, this is an obvious underselling of Kasparov! He was very formidable at handling dynamic positions and just understood the game of chess much better than his contemporaries. Witness the intuitive comments he makes when observing top-level games today and how he quickly spots at a glance ideas that elite players miss entirely. Kasparov and his contemporaries could arrive at the exact same position and evaluate it differently, because he just understands chess much more than anyone else who has ever lived.



Anand Nair: "There could be two reasons for such behavior by Nakamura - either he's genuinely immature, or he just feels any publicity is good publicity, or a bit of both."

Nakamura has grown up a lot in the last couple years.

Shame on Kramnik! Again he played just 23 moves - well, as a winner he's excused.

I think Anand was -0.71 sometime just before the queens went off the board. It then went to 0.0 and now -0.74 thanks to 32.a3? :)

Of course all this need to be taken with a grain of salt. They're approaching zeitnot now, players are pragmatic and don't follow engine lines, etc..

Whoa..Naka won the half point! Now he just needs to survive Kramnik, and he can be counted among the favorites again..

I was actually asking about VL-Carlsen which by now has petered out to a draw. Yes, engine evaluations can change within a few moves (see Kramnik-l'Ami).

And now I am curious about the next tweets by Nakamura, Carlsen and Mig (who didn't comment on Naka's loss against Carlsen) ... .

Seems like Hikaru either equalizes in the opening or gets into positions where he's struggling for equality. I can't recall a game at this level where he actually achieved a significant advantage from opening preparation. This game against Anand, he thought for 30 minutes to come up with h4, in a position that's almost a tabia for that Nimzo line. I've seen him play the Berlin twice and both those games looked like herculean struggles to hold a draw.

So we are in for a 4 way tie for first (Anand, Aronian, Kramnik, Nakamura) with 4 rounds to go and Carlsen and VL half point behind.

If you're Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, you take it one game at a time. Otherwise it would be overwhelming. The medieval or American Indian idea of 'running the gauntlet' comes to mind. One down, four to go.

I don't have updated performance ratings yet, but extrapolating from the state of round 9 using pre-tournament ratings now predicts Aronian as most likely to win. When updated performanc ratings become available, I'll repost with with those.

Aronian 8.68
Anand 8.54
Kramnik 8.27
Nakamura 8.06
Carlsen 7.83
Vachier Lagrave 7.19
Nepomniachtchi 6.28
Wang Hao 6.1
Giri 6.03
Ponomariov 5.99
Grischuk 4.83
Shirov 4.53
Smeets 4.38
L'Ami 4.29

Final version of Shipov's commentary on Nakamura - Anand: http://bit.ly/eyjwL9

That's actually good news for Nakamura. If his main weakness is opening prep, that's probably the most fixable part of anyone's game (which is not to say it's easy, especially at the super-GM level). The fact that he managed to achieve a 2750 rating even without great prep suggests that he has the potential to climb higher. Does anyone know if he has a second?

Yea he does. He's talked about him in the past. An IM, who he gets along with real well and can bounce opening ideas off of.
Someone else here will know his name.

OK. I fetched the info meself. It's Kris Littlejohn, and he's not an IM, but a master. But as I said, Hikaru values his assistance.

I got the performance ratings from TWIC. So the following are the current predictions from round 9 state. Aronian is the most likely winner under all variants (my early prediction looking good now):

Using pre-tournament ratings:

Aronian 8.68
Anand 8.54
Kramnik 8.27
Nakamura 8.06
Carlsen 7.83
Vachier Lagrave 7.19
Nepomniachtchi 6.28
Wang Hao 6.1
Giri 6.03
Ponomariov 5.99
Grischuk 4.83
Shirov 4.53
Smeets 4.38
L'Ami 4.29

Using tournament performance ratings:

Aronian 9.11
Anand 8.8
Nakamura 8.48
Kramnik 8.46
Carlsen 7.94
Vachier Lagrave 7.38
Giri 6.36
Ponomariov 6
Wang Hao 5.93
Nepomniachtchi 5.89
L'Ami 4.65
Smeets 4.25
Grischuk 3.97
Shirov 3.77

Using mean of pre-tournament and TPR:

Aronian 8.91
Anand 8.68
Kramnik 8.37
Nakamura 8.27
Carlsen 7.9
Vachier Lagrave 7.29
Giri 6.2
Nepomniachtchi 6.08
Wang Hao 6.01
Ponomariov 5.99
L'Ami 4.46
Grischuk 4.4
Smeets 4.3
Shirov 4.13

It's wide open first 1st place in group A. Will be an exciting weekend.

This tournament hasn't been the best advert for the Nakamura System. His openings failed against Giri, Ponomariov, Carlsen, and Anand. He was fortunate to scrape half points out of the first 2, the Magnus game was a disaster, and the last he had a scare with White.

I think Nakamura did quite well by his standards. To be leading the tournament at the half-way stage is quite impressive for a non-top 5 player.

Since virtuallly whatever happens, Naka's result will be a success, a gain in rating and in position in the top 10, and lead to more invites, a great many players would love to have his failure. Smeets is an opening master. Should Naka aspire to Smeets?

I like that different players have different ways of winning.

Yea, maybe he needs to concentrate on a smaller set of solid opening choices, but he'll figure it out. As suggested earlier, coming out of the opening less than equal is the least vexing problem you want to deal with to help your game. If that's all that holding him back, then he still has some upward potential.

Please pardon my ignorance, but what's the Nakamura System?

I guess this is the surprisingly open account of Nakamura's approach to openings that's being referred to: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/geekend/the-role-of-computers-in-planning-chess-strategy/4211

Actually it's not clear how much that differs from the approach of any other grandmasters. It's an open secret that they all spend mornings before games memorising lines (perhaps the degree depends on how good their memories are - I remember I think Grischuk talking about what a tedious process it was for e.g. Kramnik). Of course Kramnik probably has a more fundamental understanding of the openings he plays and is less likely to be thrown off by unprepared moves, but still - they're all in the same boat.

If Naka gets by Kramnik (draw or win) he wins the tmt. Book it.

Last 4 rounds, Anand plays against Shirov w, Giri w, Nepo b, and VL b. Quite possible for him to score 3 out of 4 and get to 9 points.

Aronian also has weaker opps left.

On the other hand Kramnik still has to play Carlsen and Nakamura.

So overall I would say that Anand and Aronian must be favored to win.

Agreed. And if Anand doesn't win with white against Shirov tomorrow, there's no way for him to win..

OK so this is an oldie but I am looking for some recent proof so to speak. Got in a heated discussion with a friend about the current state of man vs machine in chess. He thinks that at least according to ratings Rybka would beat Carlsen in a match by a score of around 9-1. I find this impossible to believe. My question is what would a realistic score be in a ten game classical chess match between a top ten GM and Rybka?

I don't think there is adequate data to answer this. No longer are there any significant human matches vs. computers, or computer participation in human tournaments. Thus, there is no reliable way to relate machine ratings to human ratings.

The only way I see to test this is if Carlsen is motivated by money and someone were willing to pay him e.g. 100,000 per draw and 250,000 per win against a top machine under tournament time controls. People definitely play differently depending on motivation.

10-0 Rybka. I would bet a large sum of money on it.
No disrespect to Magnus the Magnificent.

Re: Nakamura/Littlejohn...In case you missed ths interesting article:http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/geekend/the-role-of-computers-in-planning-chess-strategy/4211

I think this tournament shows the real problem with using Tournaments for determining World Champion or even drawing any reasonable conclusions-

All the games between Anand, Carlsen,Aronian and Kramnik are drawn - so the winner is determined by who can better whip the bottom half.

I dont see any other major sport where we have a winner who has not defeated any of his three other major contendors.

If things remain that close after round 12, all statistics and predictions are of limited value. It will be a matter of motivation, risk taking, nerves and a bit of luck. Does anyone remember the photo finish in 2009: six players tied for first before the final round, only Karjakin managed to win his game?

This time, five pairings could be relevant next Sunday:
I. Nepomniachtchi - V. Anand
V. Kramnik - M. Vachier-Lagrave
W. Hao - H. Nakamura
A. Grischuk - M. Carlsen
L. Aronian - J. Smeets
On paper, Aronian has the easiest task (and he plays l'Ami in the penultimate round).

Kramniks does not has to play Carlsen, because the latter is his customer these days!

Ps. What is the Guinness World record for average number of blog entry comments these days? And where is the Mig?

"I dont see any other major sport where we have a winner who has not defeated any of his three other major contenders."

Hmmm, football (soccer), or any other mainly league-based sport. It's perfectly common for the team that's better at beating the also-rans to win the league.

Whatever methods he has for preparing for his games.
In response to people saying that his tournament has been a success, you're attacking an argument I didn't make. I'm only talking about his openings, many of which have been dicey. If you are at a disadvantage of about half a pawn or more at some point during the opening (let's say before move 20) in almost half of your games, your openings are not succeeding.

funny coincidence that I just hear Federer say to Brad Gilbert on TV after his win against Warwinka - "you can't win this (Aus Open) by beating average players" (or something similar).

I, Rybka, will destroy Carlsen. Of course, you have to invoke me on a powerful computer. An Android phone just doesn't cut it.

On a serious note. Kramnik had a tough time against Deep Fritz under classical time controls in 2006.

I don't think any human has a shot against Rybka (or any other highly sophisticated, parallelizable chess program) running on a high-end compute farm.

Yes, Rybka might win, after its team stole the programming code from the free open source programm Fruit. They are making money with stolen ware, but I think it is called capitalism, when people are stupid enough to buy anything they got advertised in.

Unfortunately Corus/ Tata steel has compromised quality by inviting Dutch players and you have situation where Winner is going to decided by who can whip Smeets, lami etc...

I think Linares with exclusive invites that play double round robin ensures we have chance of worthy winner..

Corus in the last few years has been a lottery..

I don't think there is any doubt Rybka or any of the modern leaders would win a tournament time control match against Carlsen. The question was whether it would be 9-1 or worse. I don't see any meaningful data to answer this question.

A more interesting question is when human knowledge (rather than frailty) is a deficit per se. What I mean by this is that at some point, in a postal type match of human+computer vs. computer, the human will be a deficit. I believe we are far from that now, and that human+computer would currently be very strongly favored against computer only in a postal match.

chesshire cat: "10-0 Rybka."

I'm dubious. Chess is supposedly a draw by a goodly margin -- a win only possible if one side messes up pretty badly. I don't think Carlsen would win a single game in 10, but he'd surely be able to draw a majority. 7-3 Rybka.

Correct, but if a match has to happen today, a more realistic matchup will perhaps be a fully loaded Rybka vs a top GM with good understanding of the nuances of the game (Anand/Kramnik/Aronian) with access to databases and an old program (say Fritz 6 - to eliminate outright blunders). Whether the human should have tablebase access is probably debatable.

Just let such a programm play without openingbook and tablebase in Fischer Random aghainst Aronian, the 960 world cham. Then you got your comparision.

I miss the days when this blog was updated after every single round of every single tournament not 3-4 times a year at best.

And if this match ends up being close, and if FIDE can get their act together, they can have a candidates cycle and a WC match for programs along with the human WC match on even years and a man-machine match between the human-program world champions every odd year.

Fascinating discussion, mates. Perhaps we should look at chessmetrics for the largest gap betwixt #1 and #2 with the resulting manifestation?

That would be Bobby, of course. And what did he do? He used the creative aspects of his intelligence and created "random chess". His objective was to eliminate the dependence upon memorization of openings and "book" theory with adaptation to the randomization as the true test of a player's skills. What did we learn boys and girls?

Is it not true that now preparation is still the critical factor in outcome? And what do players and their "seconds" study? Computer lines and continuations of standardized openings. Even strategy and tactics are determinations of silicon based permutations.

Therefore, I believe that what Bobby feared most has occurred except at an accelerated level beyond anything that he could have dreamed of back in the day. The royal game has become even more dependent upon memorization in preparation.

However, the new paradoxical paradigm is most intriguing whereas there is a certain beauty that results from the flawless machinations of algorithms. Perhaps a mutation in the evolution of the game itself?

In closing, we can only imagine how players such as Bobby (and his mentor Tal) would have been impacted by the silicon revolution. Not to mention the influences upon their most creative sacrifices and continuations at the board due to silicon based preperation.

Fare thee well fellow sojourners upon the digital platform...

As Kasparov mentioned in google talk, a match between human and computer should have the following rules. N number of games say 6 and even if in on match the human wins it should human should be declared winner. This is because humans fatigue out and can mistakes are inevitable. Thats not the case with computers. So even in one game the human beats the computer, then human wins. I think this should be possible.

If anyone knows about a 960 match between a human and a computer, please let me know - I'm very interested.

I wouldn't be surprised if a strong chess program with some additional tweaks destroys the human in 960 even more easily than in regular chess.

Obviously, the biggest problem in 960 is that we don't have an opening book. However, the computer might be able to look deep enough so that the position start matching up with known opening positions or at least known opening structures which the computer can use to evaluate the current move. 960 is not that different from a computer's point of view.

In any case, if we are able to get the computer out of the opening without having major problems, it will go to town on the human after that.

I get a feeling its going to be the inexperienced guys who'll shed more point towards the end of the tournament than the old guys. Watch out Nepo, Naka, VL, Giri.

It looks like Aronian is going to win the tournament.

He is in decent form and he hasn't played against any of the Dutch players. Aronian will end up with at least +5, and may be +6.

I hope The Kram shows The Nak and The Carl how real men play chess.

That would be Bobby, of course. And what did he do? He used the creative aspects of his intelligence and created "random chess".

No, he didn't. He put his name to a small variation of shuffle chess with an electronic gadget. Shuffle chess had been around since the 18th century and Benko showed to Fischer if legend be true.

Capablanca invented his chess version because of the "draw death" that was just around the corner.
Still waiting...

I think the best example on what's wrong, or what could be better about Nakamura's opening preparation isn't any of his games in Wijk aan Zee, but his game against Howell in London 2010. He happily followed engine analysis ending in Q vs. R+N evaluated as +2 or +3, only to realize over the board that black has an impenetrable fortress. Here a human evaluation, and a second stronger than Kris Littlejohn, would have had added value with respect to brute engine force.

I am not saying that Nakamura isn't a good player, just that he, as well as anyone else rated below 5000, has room for further improvement.

And that (ladies and)gentlemen is now the official disclaimer used to prove your not a hater:

"I am not saying that [insert name] isn't a good player, just that he, as well as anyone else rated below 5000, has room for further improvement."

I am not saying all those calling people haters because you don't worship their demigods, are morons; just that they, as well as anyone else rated below 5000 (debating ELO) has room for further improvement.

Sergey Shipov's commentating on Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi today: http://bit.ly/bqNkym

Thomas - If you had just left out the last sentence, you would have avoided waking up the Nakamura police!

I think Naka needs (and should get) a better/stronger second. His reason for not doing that in the past was that most of the top American players were of Russian origin and he feared his preparation wouldn't be safe. I hope an older, mature Naka would be more trusting and less paranoid (he should look at Anand's team in the previous WC!)


Nepo was happy drawing Carlsen, but Magnus forged on...an active position.

Now Giri and Aronian are repeating.

Someone should write a book on the use of seconds in top level chess. The book should address the theory and history of security issues. This might be an excellent read.

If someone picks this idea up they're welcome to it. Just drop me an email so that I know I'm getting a free copy and being thanked in the acknowledgments.

As others have said, the lack of posts/updates in Mig's blog is making it painful in some ways as the number of comments goes very high and too crowded with too many discussions and topics.

Since Mig has been busy for a while (and likely will be for long), it will be good if he has some other respected members (like mishanp, Thomas) as co-admins who can make new posts (e.g. one per round) in his absence. What do others think?


Looks like Littlejohn's opening system prep worked against Max Vachier-Lagrave. The novelty, 16.d5 set things in positive motion for Hikaru.

Naka demolishes Vachier-Lagrave...will be in clear first unless Vishy beats Shirov.

Tourn, winners are worthy as long as they do not cheat...if you think beating the lower rated players is easy then let the guys you support do it otherwise it is a no-brainer to talk about worthiness.
Two, different kinds of tournaments have a right to exist...

I have refrained from all this commentary trashing Naka's opening prep, but looking at the FACTS of this tournament, his opening prep has helped him greatly -- got an equal position without risk as black agianst L'Ami, destroyed Vachier-Lagrave's Gruenfeld, got a winning position with white against Smeets, got a nearly winning position out of the opening against Shirov, and got a clear edge out of the opening against Grischuk.

1st place with 3 rounds to go...not bad ;).

We noticed that you refrained until exactly three seconds after Vachier-Legrave shook hands. Oh, you're a brave soul.

Now Kramnik seems to be the only guy capable of stopping Nakamura from winning outright. If Nakamura goes on to win, it will make Carlsen's tournament-for-WC case look all the more weaker - especially so if Anand, Aronian and Kramnik continue to remain unbeaten.

The facts are indisputable...plus Naka has been at least tied for first the entire time I've been away.

"I think the best example on what's wrong, or what could be better about Nakamura's opening preparation isn't any of his games in Wijk aan Zee, but his game against Howell in London 2010. He happily followed engine analysis ending in Q vs. R+N evaluated as +2 or +3, only to realize over the board that black has an impenetrable fortress. Here a human evaluation, and a second stronger than Kris Littlejohn, would have had added value with respect to brute engine force."

That's a very fair point. But his opening prep is far from the weakness of his game overall.

Wow...Nepo declining the repetition and going for the win against Carlsen with black! Interesting decision...

Oops, Shirov :(

two of the leaders drawing quickly and one winning and the other on the way to win. Nakamura still has one tough game against Kramnik where as Anand has it more easy.

"Wow...Nepo declining the repetition and going for the win against Carlsen with black! Interesting decision..."

Looks like a free ride, so why not ? :)

What fact would that be? That you're a grandstander?

No, that Nakamura's opening preparation is a major STRENGTH, not a weakness. That's the fact I was referring to.

BTW, the only one grandstanding is you...when you actually support your opinions with FACTS as I have, then you won't be just full of hot air as you are now.

When the Topa police was dismantled after the World Championship, did they regroup into the Naka police and the Carlsen police?

Before you ask that question, can I see your ID?

"Nakamura's opening preparation is a major STRENGTH, not a weakness. That's the fact"


Hey, if the shoe fits, why not wear it?

"Wow...Nepo declining the repetition and going for the win against Carlsen with black! Interesting decision..."

Of course Nepo is 20 years old, same as Carlsen, and the Russian champion.

I don't think Nepo is quite ready to fear Carlsen :)

Creditable performance by a 16-year old Giri against Kramnik. Maybe we are seeing the future great rival for Carlsen.

In the first place, the grandstander failed to notice that it was Carlsen who declined the draw by repetition - not Nepo.

Uh....no. Nepo was the one who played 33...Qc8 instead of Qf3+ a second time. Nice try, patzer.

Both declined. Carlsen on move 18 and Nepo on 33.

"Of course Nepo is 20 years old, same as Carlsen, and the Russian champion.
I don't think Nepo is quite ready to fear Carlsen :)"

Good points.

Carlsen declining the draw earlier was more risky and may indeed turn out foolish in hindsight. Nepo declining the draw was more correct.

Anand is the only one among top grandmasters who exactly knows when to push for a win and when to settle for a draw. That's why he loses so few games.
Anand may not be winning tournaments but it is very difficult to unsettle him from the title of world champion for a long time.

It is just another way of saying Annad doesn't want to take risk even against low rated players.

Pioneer, I just remembered Nakamura having issues with the opening in the past, and recalled a couple games where he seemed to get in trouble early in the game. Looking at the first three games of this tournament though, proves you to be correct. Nakamura has benefited from better preparation against many of his opponents. The last two games he played against Anand and Carlsen stuck in my mind for some reason when I made the comment about his opening preparation. His last game against Vachier, looks like a win for his opening preparation as well! Btw, it's really handy looking at these games on ICC, where they actually have approximate times taken by the opponents for each move.

[Event "ICC"]
[Site "Internet Chess Club"]
[Date "2011.01.26"]
[Round "?"]
[White "*GM_Nakamura"]
[Black "*GM_Grischuk"]
[Result "*"]
[PlyCount "83"]
[EventDate "2011.??.??"]
[TimeControl "6000+30"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Nf3 d5 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Bg5 Nbd7 7. e3 c5 8.
dxc5 Qa5 9. Rc1 Bxc3+ 10. bxc3 O-O 11. Nd4 Qxc5 (11... Ne4) 12. Bd3 Ne4 13. Bf4
Nb6 14. Qc2 h6 15. f3 Nf6 16. g4 Re8 17. Kf2 Nc4 18. h4 Bxg4 19. Bxc4 dxc4 20.
fxg4 Nxg4+ 21. Kf3 Ne5+ 22. Bxe5 Rxe5 23. Kf2 Rae8 24. Rh3 b5 25. Rg1 Re4 26.
Qd1 b4 27. Qf3 Rxe3 28. Rxg7+ Kxg7 29. Qg4+ Kf8 30. Rxe3 Rxe3 31. Kxe3 bxc3 32.
Ke2 Qe5+ 33. Kd1 Qh2 34. Ne2 Qd6+ 35. Qd4 Qxd4+ 36. Nxd4 Kg7 37. Nc6 a6 38. Nb8
a5 39. a4 Kf6 40. Nc6 Ke6 41. Nxa5 Kd5 42. Kc2 *

11.Nd4 looks like preparation, Nakamura played the game quickly to this point, the move was played only once before in the 2010 Russian championship. Grischuk too some time (6 minutes) on his next move, so he may have not been prepared very well for this. After Qxc5 (not played in the previous game) Nakamura also spent some time (8 minutes) on his next move. Nakamura won the opening battle in this game.

[Event "ICC"]
[Site "Internet Chess Club"]
[Date "2011.01.26"]
[Round "?"]
[White "*GM_Aronian"]
[Black "*GM_Nakamura"]
[Result "*"]
[PlyCount "33"]
[EventDate "2011.??.??"]
[TimeControl "6000+30"]

1. d4 f5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 g6 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. O-O O-O 6. c4 d6 7. Nc3 Nc6 8. d5
Na5 9. Nd2 c5 10. Rb1 e5 11. dxe6 Bxe6 12. b3 d5 13. cxd5 Nxd5 14. Nxd5 Bxd5
15. Ba3 Bxg2 16. Kxg2 Nc6 17. Nf3 *

In this game, it looks like Aronian doesn't have anything special to play against this variation of Dutch defense. Nakamura plays quickly up to move 15, where white makes the 1st new move of the game. Aronian has already spent some time (20 minutes) getting to this position which is thought to be equal. Game drawn two moves later. I'd say bad preparation by Aronian. Nakamura is an expert on the Dutch defense, and I'd have thought Aronian would have something prepared. He probably didn't expect this variation of the Dutch, and just bailed out to the known equal line. Having to prepare something against the Dutch has got to be annoying for Aronian, when he knows Nakamura is one of the few players at this level that plays it occasionally. If Nakamura weren't in the tournament, everyone could just ignore preparing lines against the Dutch! Opening battle won by Nakamura.

[Event "ICC"]
[Site "Internet Chess Club"]
[Date "2011.01.26"]
[Round "?"]
[White "*GM_Nakamura"]
[Black "*GM_Shirov"]
[Result "*"]
[PlyCount "185"]
[EventDate "2011.??.??"]
[TimeControl "6000+30"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O b5 6. Bb3 Bc5 7. c3 d6 8. a4
Rb8 9. d4 Bb6 10. axb5 axb5 11. Na3 O-O 12. Nxb5 Bg4 13. d5 Ne7 14. Bc2 Qd7 15.
Na3 Nexd5 16. h3 Bh5 17. exd5 e4 18. Bg5 Bxf3 19. Qd2 e3 20. Bxe3 Bxe3 21. fxe3
Be4 22. Rxf6 Bxc2 23. Rf4 Bg6 24. Nc4 Ra8 25. Na5 Rfe8 26. Ra3 Be4 27. c4 g5
28. Rf1 g4 29. h4 Qe7 30. Qf2 Bg6 31. b4 h5 32. Rc3 Qe5 33. Rb3 Qe4 34. Rc3 Qe5
35. Rfc1 Be4 36. Qf4 g3 37. Qxe5 Rxe5 38. Ra3 Kg7 39. Rf1 Ree8 40. Rfa1 Re5 41.
Nb3 Rxa3 42. Rxa3 Bxd5 43. Nd2 Be6 44. e4 Bg4 45. Rxg3 f5 46. Re3 Re8 47. Kf2
Ra8 48. exf5 Ra2 49. Rd3 Bxf5 50. Rd5 Be6 51. Rg5+ Kh6 52. Ke3 Ra3+ 53. Kd4 Ra1
54. g3 Rd1 55. Kc3 Rg1 56. b5 Rc1+ 57. Kd3 Bf7 58. Nb3 Rd1+ 59. Ke2 Rb1 60. Nd4
Bxc4+ 61. Kd2 d5 62. Nf5+ Kh7 63. Rxh5+ Kg6 64. Rg5+ Kf6 65. Ne3 Rb2+ 66. Kd1
Be2+ 67. Kc1 Rxb5 68. Kd2 Rb2+ 69. Kc3 Rb5 70. Nxd5+ Kf7 71. Re5 Bg4 72. Re7+
Kf8 73. Re4 Bf5 74. Nxc7 Rc5+ 75. Rc4 Re5 76. Rf4 Ke7 77. Kd4 Ra5 78. Nd5+ Ke6
79. Nc3 Ra8 80. g4 Bh7 81. Ke3 Rc8 82. Ne2 Ke5 83. Ra4 Rb8 84. Nd4 Rb1 85. Ra5+
Kf6 86. Kf4 Rf1+ 87. Nf3 Bc2 88. Kg3 Rb1 89. Ra6+ Kg7 90. Nd4 Bd3 91. Rd6 Kf7
92. Kf4 Ra1 93. h5 *

Shirov is an expert on this line of the Ruy. The first think comes on move 14..Qd7 by Shirov. Up to this point both players have been moving quickly. Shirov takes 20 minutes to play this move from a known position (50 games). Only two previous games had Qd7 played, and it looks like Shirov actually came up with the move over the board. Nakamura continued to play quickly up to move 17, and even there only spent 7 minutes on that reply. Opening preparation won by Nakamura in a big way on this game.

Thank you, lwolf. Thanks also for putting up the games from ICC, and using FACTS to reply to my statements about Naka's opening prep...as opposed to the hot air spewed by some on this forum.

Sometimes another way of saying "taking risk" is "being foolish" -- like Carlsen declining the repetition on move 17 and ending up in worse position.

"Good points."


Two contenders Carlsen and Vachier-Lagrave are out of the race. Now it should be among Anand, Nakamura,Kramnik and Aronian.

"Hangmen in black are approaching the white monarch."

It's a wonder who is the most quotable chess commentator, Shipov or Mig? A salute to both.

Both of Nakamura's last two tweets seem less provocative -

# A great job of preparation today! Tied for first heading into the home stretch!! Time to give it everything in the final 3 rounds!!
1 minute ago

# Another uninspiring day at the office. Luckily, I found a way not to lose for a change. Trying desperately to find some energy for tomorrow!
about 20 hours ago

Good job Hikaru! You'll be amazed to see how your fans multiply in numbers with just some decent off the board behavior to complement your over the board aggression.

posts like this sound condescending too me.

Nepo beats Carlsen with black...almost assures that the new world #1 will be Anand or Aronian for the March FIDE list. Perfect timing with the upcoming Candidates matches :)

This loss might hurt Carlsen -- as in it was not a one move blunder as against Giri. He just got outplayed after making only small inaccuracies.

Young guns such as Giri and Nepo are going all out against Carlsen to prove that they can match him blow for blow. Carlsen's decision to skip this cycle is a mistake because not only he has to beat the veterans but also these young guns in the next cycle.

Nakamura did not win Shirov with his opening preparation. The position after preparation was a very complicated += with chances for both sides. Naka showed extremely good technique in that game with only couple of points where the computer suggested he played a small inaccuracy.

According to stockfish both Anand and Nepo forced their opponents to resign after making the only weak move their in their game. Quite strange evaluation by the engine!

Yesterday Nepo loses with White against Smeets...
Today Nepo wins with Black against Carlsen...

As my American friends would say "Go figure" :)

If Carlsen had managed to escape today, after having escaped Kramnik earlier in London, he would have been the Houdini of chess.

By the way, it was not only Nakamura's internet fanbase who predicted he could become this good. Certain Garry Kasparov in his NiC column many years ago placed Nakamura alongside Carlsen and Karjakin as a potential future World Champion. Back then Nakamura's game was very erratic and inconsistent and his opening play immature. But Kasparov with his insight into the game could see the talent behind what was visible to the less trained eye.

Nakamura has improved his opening play, but still when he loses it's nearly always after failed opening play. He is very rarely beaten from an equal or unclear position.

Naka is already approaching 2800 with decent openings. If he keeps working hard, with world class openings and still bit more maturity he will be one hell of a player. And his detractors from over the years have to admit they were wrong all along.

"Young guns such as Giri and Nepo are going all out against Carlsen to prove that they can match him blow for blow. Carlsen's decision to skip this cycle is a mistake because not only he has to beat the veterans but also these young guns in the next cycle."

Quoted for truth. Carlsen thinks he's taking the easy way out by not competing in this cycle, but all he's doing is making it harder -- Giri, Nepo (who owned him in juniors), So, Karjakin, etc. are all his contemporaries and aren't scared of him -- even though right now they aren't as good as he is day in and day out. Plus there's no guarantee that Anand or Kramnik are going away, and certainly Aronian will be 2800+ level for several years to come.

"It is just another way of saying Annad doesn't want to take risk even against low rated players."

Which tree did you spend the last 10 years of your life under to have received such enlightenment?

kenh wrote ""Good points." Snort."

Seems like you snort when you you have nothing intelligent to say but want to say something nonetheless.

Right on. There is no reason to consider Carlsen more talented than the rest. He matured early, and with full use of Garry's opening database enjoyed a moment of raise.

Carlsen overall score with Nepo is strange in classical chess (alhtough some games were 8 yrs ago). they have 4 games between and Nepo leads 3.5 - 0.5 As shipov says "Carlsen couldn’t play at his full strength against a historically inconvenient opponent for him"

Even in the blitz games, Carlsen has no wins.

Winning the opening battle does not imply winning the game. You could win the opening battle against an opponent and still lose the game. Nakamura was obviously better prepared than Shirov in this line, as can be determined by how quickly he played succeeding moves after Shirov's 14..Qd7. I think by move 17 Shirov had spent almost an hour to Nakamura's 10 minutes on the clock. Definite win for Nakamura in the opening in that game.

"It is just another way of saying Annad doesn't want to take risk even against low rated players."

Which tree did you spend the last 10 years of your life under to have received such enlightenment?

"Carlsen couldn’t play at his full strength"

Actually he didn't play that badly. Only small inaccuracies. Nothing like the game against Giri. Nepomniatchi played extremely well. It was truly impressive considering that Nepomniatchi also played very fast and all game had nearly an hour left on his clock.

Nakamura is definitely a very good player and deserves to be in the top 10. But to say that he will be a world champion is a bit too much at this moment. This hype is because he is the only American player to be in the top 10 after a long time. So far he has not won even one single super tournament and he is not even qualified for the candidates cycle. Even if he wins this tournament, he has to win a couple more to prove that he is serious world champion contender. Carlsen, even after winning so many tournaments, is considered inferior to Anand, Kramnik etc in match play. At prsent, Nakamura cannot be even compared to them. People should use their common sense and logic before making statements like this.

Achievements are one thing. Talent is another. Naka has got the talent. Kasparov could see it many years ago and was bold enough to predict that Naka would become a candidate for the title. It's not the same as saying that he definitely will become Champion one day, but he has got that firm basis of unique talent on which to build.

Sigh. The first step to enlightenment would be to stop idolizing players one barely knows, and stop reacting personally when someone says something negative about them (correct or not). The second-hand embarrassment when reading this board never stops.

So far his talent has not helped him to win even one super tournament.Kasparov always wants to please the American audience and hence makes such statements. Becoming a candidate is different from becoming a serious contender and I have no reason to believe at this moment that Nakamura has got in him to seriously mount a challenge to become world champion. I am really happy if he proves me wrong because an American champion will certainly boost Chess and its commercial prospects.

Lighten up please. How boring it would be if we didn't have our favourites when following chess and were just impartial and neutral observers. My favourite player is Naka and he was already back when he was barely 2600. It's nice to see a player you follow closely to develop and do well.

It's the same in all sports. Some root for Federer, some for Nadal, some even for Andy Murray although he is very boring and plays like a robot. :)

After Nepo's win today against Carlsen, his game tomorrow against Nakamura takes on added significance.

Nepo lost with White against Smeets, so he seems capable of either way surprises...

He has only played in a couple of them. We can agree to disagree. What I base my faith on is Naka's ability to calculate long lines and visualize variations in an instant. As anyone who follows him on the net knows, he sees more in one minute than most GMs see in 5. If he can transform that basic strenght of calculation to benefit his OTB play it will mean tremendous tactical ability. The basis of all chess strenght. Time will tell whether this prediction was reasonable or not.

Indeed, Anand is an extremely pragmatic player--for better or worse. He plays solidly, steers clear of murky lines (unless the tournament situation calls for it), and handles the clock well. Kramnik is pretty pragmatic as well.

"Right on. There is no reason to consider Carlsen more talented than the rest. He matured early, and with full use of Garry's opening database enjoyed a moment of raise."

Carlsen loses a game, and doink! up pops someone with that comment?!
Let me explain something: Most of us actually paid attention to who's been winning what during the past two years. You haven't, and it's obvious.

Plenty of drivel coming from you and Pioneer (nothing new). I can only snort when I read something borrowed w/o attribution, stupid, or just inane, like the above.

I'm sitting here stunned at how ignorant and silly some of your comments are. Maybe tennis is your thing. Best stay with that.
Holy smokes.

I have followed the tournaments in which he did well. Maturing early does not necessarily mean better talent. And if you deny that full access to the opening database of the best ever player, and the best ever opening expert did not contribute to Magnus's success and his subsequent raise from 2760's to 2800+ then who is being biased here? Not me.

Kenh, you need to chill... yes, this is the internet like many others you may feel that it is macho to abuse... but really, the audience on this site thinks worse for you for doing so.

Does anyone know if Naka has played Nepo in classical time controls and their outcomes?

Interesting since Naka has some psych issues with Carlsen and Carlsen with Nepo....

Seems like Naka and Nepo have only played each other twice, both blitz and both draws!

No sir. I won't. I just call 'em as I see 'em.

Swiss, the hype about Nakamura is not just that he is American (although that certainly contributes to English language hype), but also that he has rocketed to the the stratosphere without slowing down and hasn't showed any signs of slowing down yet. He also plays interesting, uncompromising, attacking chess (most of the time).

ur right kenh, u've been paying attention to who has been winning tournaments the last 2 years.
what you havent been paying attention to (or are choosing to ignore) is carlsen'd sub-par performance against the higher rated GM's.

The final word about Nakamura for all his fanboys?

He isn't Caucasian, so he will never be able to be as good as Caucasians like Carlsen, Anand, Kramnik, Topalov, Giri, Karjakin, Karpov, Kasparov, Caspablanca etc. etc...

He is a very good player though.

Since I started with these extrapolations, I may as well continue. Aronian still has the highest expectation, by a nose, despite his draw today. However, really, any or *all* of Anand, Naka, and Aronian seem likely winners. I have no idea what the tiebreak is for this tourny.

Again, these are extrapolations from the current tournament state against scheduled opponents, using different ratings (as described) but, for example, not worrying about black/white issues or player histories; just straight application of the most common rating expectation formula.

Using pre-tournament rating:

Aronian 8.02
Anand 7.91
Kramnik 7.6
Nakamura 7.51
Carlsen 7.22
Vachier Lagrave 6.74
Nepomniachtchi 5.89
Giri 5.69
Ponomariov 5.53
Wang Hao 5.45
Shirov 4.53
Grischuk 4.29
Smeets 4.05
L'Ami 3.94

Using current TPR (tournament performance rating):

Aronian 8.28
Anand 8.04
Nakamura 7.92
Kramnik 7.65
Carlsen 7.19
Vachier Lagrave 6.72
Giri 6.03
Nepomniachtchi 5.68
Ponomariov 5.57
Wang Hao 5.43
L'Ami 4.28
Smeets 4.16
Shirov 3.62
Grischuk 3.57

Using mean of pre-tournament and TPR:

Aronian 8.16
Anand 7.98
Nakamura 7.72
Kramnik 7.63
Carlsen 7.21
Vachier Lagrave 6.73
Giri 5.87
Nepomniachtchi 5.78
Ponomariov 5.55
Wang Hao 5.44
Smeets 4.1
L'Ami 4.1
Shirov 4.04
Grischuk 3.93

Anand had white 6 times, and Nakamura 7 times. I wonder if that will figure in the calculations if they are tied after 13 rounds.

Are you hear to start/resolve a debate or hijack the thread by making blatant racist statements?

If that is the case why is that Japan has so many masters in the game of Go which is far more complex than chess?


Probably because Go is not popular with Caucasians and is played mainly by East Asians.

Please ignore my last extrapolations. I forgot to update one part of the data. This looks much more reasonable, with Anand being the most likely winner with all rating assumptions, Naka very close when TPR is taken into account.

Using pre-tournament ratings:

Anand 8.91
Aronian 8.52
Nakamura 8.51
Kramnik 8.1
Aronian 8.02
Anand 7.91
Kramnik 7.6
Nakamura 7.51
Carlsen 7.22
Nepomniachtchi 6.89
Vachier Lagrave 6.74
Ponomariov 6.53
Wang Hao 6.45
Giri 6.19
Nepomniachtchi 5.89
Giri 5.69
Ponomariov 5.53
Wang Hao 5.45
Smeets 4.55
Shirov 4.53
Grischuk 4.29
Smeets 4.05
L'Ami 3.94

Using tournament performance ratings (TPR):

Anand 9.04
Nakamura 8.92
Aronian 8.78
Aronian 8.28
Kramnik 8.15
Anand 8.04
Nakamura 7.92
Kramnik 7.65
Carlsen 7.19
Vachier Lagrave 6.72
Nepomniachtchi 6.68
Ponomariov 6.57
Giri 6.53
Wang Hao 6.43
Giri 6.03
Nepomniachtchi 5.68
Ponomariov 5.57
Wang Hao 5.43
Smeets 4.66
L'Ami 4.28
Smeets 4.16
Shirov 3.62
Grischuk 3.57

Using mean of pre-tournament and TPR:

Anand 8.98
Nakamura 8.72
Aronian 8.66
Aronian 8.16
Kramnik 8.13
Anand 7.98
Nakamura 7.72
Kramnik 7.63
Carlsen 7.21
Nepomniachtchi 6.78
Vachier Lagrave 6.73
Ponomariov 6.55
Wang Hao 6.44
Giri 6.37
Giri 5.87
Nepomniachtchi 5.78
Ponomariov 5.55
Wang Hao 5.44
Smeets 4.6
Smeets 4.1
L'Ami 4.1
Shirov 4.04
Grischuk 3.93

This isn't my day. My last post had garbled paste. Corrected:

using pre-tournament rating:

Anand 8.91
Aronian 8.52
Nakamura 8.51
Kramnik 8.1
Carlsen 7.22
Nepomniachtchi 6.89
Vachier Lagrave 6.74
Ponomariov 6.53
Wang Hao 6.45
Giri 6.19
Smeets 4.55
Shirov 4.53
Grischuk 4.29
L'Ami 3.94

Using TPR (tournament performance rating):

Anand 9.04
Nakamura 8.92
Aronian 8.78
Kramnik 8.15
Carlsen 7.19
Vachier Lagrave 6.72
Nepomniachtchi 6.68
Ponomariov 6.57
Giri 6.53
Wang Hao 6.43
Smeets 4.66
L'Ami 4.28
Shirov 3.62
Grischuk 3.57

Using mean of pre-tournament and TPR:

Anand 8.98
Nakamura 8.72
Aronian 8.66
Kramnik 8.13
Carlsen 7.21
Nepomniachtchi 6.78
Vachier Lagrave 6.73
Ponomariov 6.55
Wang Hao 6.44
Giri 6.37
Smeets 4.6
L'Ami 4.1
Shirov 4.04
Grischuk 3.93

Go is played by 3 times more people then chess world wide. It is so complex that no computer is today better then a good amateur. They should banned wrinting new chess programms. Humanitiy and fun will not benitift from it.

I have one small question. These trolls who pop back to life when the blog returns, like certain species of desert vermin which spawn when the rain returns, what is it they do in the interim? All that ferocious energy and bile...I mean are they kicking kittens around a room, snatching candy from kiddies, playing the London System?

Off topic and proud!

[Event "Gibraltar Festival 2011 Masters"]
[Site "Gibraltar/UK"]
[Date "2011.01.26"]
[Round "2"]
[White "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Black "Korchnoi Viktor"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. d3 d6 6. c3 Be7 7. O-O O-O 8. Re1
Nd7 9. Be3 Nb6 10. Bb3 Kh8 11. Nbd2 f5 12. Bxb6 cxb6 13. Bd5 g5 14. h3 g4 15.
hxg4 fxg4 16. Nh2 Bg5 17. Nc4 b5 18. Ne3 Bxe3 19. Rxe3 Qf6 20. Qe1 Ne7 21. f3
Nxd5 22. exd5 Rg8 23. Qg3 gxf3 24. Qxf3 Bf5 25. Rf1 Rg5 26. Kh1 Qh6 27. Rf2
Rag8 28. Re1 Qg6 29. Re3 Bxd3 30. Kg1 e4 31. Qh3 Rxd5 32. Qd7 Rg5 33. g4 Qh6
34. Rf7 R5g7 35. Rxg7 Rxg7 36. Qd8+ Rg8 37. Qb6 Qf6 38. Qxb7 Rf8 39. Qa7 b4 40.
Rh3 Qg7 41. Qe3 bxc3 42. bxc3 Qxc3 43. Rh5 d5 44. g5 Qa1+ 45. Kg2 Bf1+ 46. Kg3
Qe5+ 0-1

Nothing wrong with having favourites and rooting for them. But don't go crusading on their behalf on a message board, while taking any negative comment about them as a personal insult. If you do, it just means you are using some sportsman to patch up your own fragile ego and phallic insecurities.

Anyone know if Tania Sachdev had winning chances against Bok in the endgame today, and if so where she screwed up? (I am totally engine-less.)

I have not posted any personal insults. None. I have only explained why I think highly of Nakamura's ability. And I'm not crusading as generally I post very rarely here. The personal insults and childlish jibes have come mostly from, whom I assume to be Carlsen fans, that seem to be in aggressive state of mind because their idol isn't playing well lately.

These "norwegians" have been a nuisance on the internet forums and servers for years. Acting aggressively every time someone dears to think that their boy isn't the best player yet, and perhaps ever won't be. They would like to discuss whether he will reach 2950 or 3000.

Now they are screaming when reality is biting them in the backside. And it is dawning on them, that Magnus is just one talent of many talented young players, not necessarily the most talented one.

I thought she should have played ...Nd2 instead of Nd4+. That would have given her a better chance than the game continuation.

My original comment was not directed to you. (Though, come on, this last post of yours is not exactly hinged.) I am more embarrassed when people go overboard fawning over my own favourite player, Anand.

On behalf of Ptr and many others looking on, you are getting very tiresome.

Thanks, I agree.

Thx to the cat for some Irish humor, and for the game score.
Old guy beats up-and-coming young guy from the black side?!

Vishy Anand has crossed 2820 (13 ahead of Carlsen) with today win. I guess the next interesting thing for 2011 will be the race to 2852. If Carlsen can play enough against the sub 2750 guys (and few/no games against the top guys) he might still get there first. Not playing the candidates cycle sure helps!


I agree with everything traditionalist has said,most especially his last comment.

I was away from the Internet today (in Wijk aan Zee, of all places), and will only briefly comment on the Nakamura opening debate: I think several players had games where their opening preparation worked out well, and others where it didn't work out or the opponent managed to stay clear of it. I like and hate all of them ,:) but, taking all games into account (not just lwolf's examples where he was successful) I don't think Nakamura did much better or worse than others.

Problem with Tata Steel & London classic

1. All draws among top players- Anand, Aronian, Carlsen and Kramnik

2. Rating inflation & whipping boys: Too many weak players esp Dutch contingent in Tata and English contitengent in London Classis..resulting in too many rating being gifted generously to top players..look a Nakamura results against bottom half in Tata cross table. does naka deserve to be 2770 +

Anand, Aronian and Carlsen all above 2810 ,,,pretty soon with these kinds of fields we will have all of them cross 2850

Now some onsite impressions, part I from the playing hall. Before the games, I mostly looked at the C group - these players tend to be the first ones to arrive, and there are less people watching so it's easier to see something. All the Dutch players were rather relaxed, talking and joking with each other. Well, they all have 50% or less and little pressure!? van der Werf congratulated Bok on his birthday yesterday and on the present he made himself (Swiercz-Bok 0-1). A bit later Giri joined them until about 5 minutes before the start of the round, I overheard something like "who the hell is Aronian" (don't remember if it was from Giri or someone else).

During the games:
- Ganguly is still sick: he looked sick, kept his coat and scarf on during the game and a bag of paper tissues next to the board. I don't know if he always wears earplugs or if that was also because he's ill. Still he won his game.
- Carlsen has a very peculiar way of sitting at the board. A bit hard to describe, maybe there are photos or videos somewhere: one leg lifted up, a 90 degrees angle at his knee and the shoe almost touching the chair, remaining like this for several minutes. I tried this myself ,:) and for me it feels rather uncomfortable and I couldn't concentrate at all - some Yoga exercise?

The most interesting spectator's moment was when Carlsen could have forced an early draw. He thought for 10 or 20 minutes on "to repeat or not to repeat". Nepomniachtchi was walking around, then sat down looking at Magnus (as if to say "remember what happened to Wang Hao and Giri when they declined a silent draw offer"), then left again. Just before deciding to play on, Carlsen looked into the hall as if to ask for assistance (not at all do I mean to imply that he wanted or actually got signals from the audience). After Carlsen's 18.ab5:, Nepo returned immediately, another quick look ("OK, at your own risk!"). [Of course i am speculating and joking, knowing the eventual result of the game]

Poor Shirov! He is capable of playing such beautiful and creative games, yet he is also very susceptible to being psyched out and suffering from severe losses of confidence after defeats. Shirov needs to find a way to be more resilient and embrace the fighter's mantle. It is painful watching such a creative genius being defeated in the manner he was today.
Carlsen, however, is not playing to his potential and I think Kasparov's assessment that Carlsen is not studying the game like he should is absolutely correct. It's not enough in today's chess world to depend on your talent as Capablanca once did to see your way through to the chess heights. Carlsen is not demonstrating his commitment to chess or to becoming the great champion which his talent so promises. To say the least, his laziness is very disappointing.
Vishy Anand, on the other hand, is showing us why he deserves to be a World Champion. His versatility and resourcefulness at the chess board are truly amazing and it's obvious he is very committed to the game of chess which has given him so much. He is truly a World Chess Champion we all can be very proud of knowing.
Nakamura is proving to be a super-strong fighter at the chess board and he demonstrating to us, unlike Carlsen, that his dedication to the game of chess is genuine. His commitment to the game will be rewarded more and more as time goes on.

It ain't over till it's over. - Yogi Berra.

The Nak is bak!

Anand will end up with a +5 score. (I find it hard to believe that he will be able to win two out of the remaining three.)

The Nak will end up with a +5 score if he survives Kramnik. Nak will win against Hao or Nepo, but not both.

Aronian will end up with a +5 score.

Therefore, The Nak will win on tie-break if he survives Kramnik (I'm pretty sure he will, but you never know).

Part II from the commentary tent, today by Timman and Sokolov (both former A group players). In Giri-Aronian, they preferred black, Timman saying "if I know that white plays like this, it's my favorite opening with black" (he preferred castling short, which might offer more winning chances but is also more risky). Just when they wondered how Aronian could build on his (supposed) advantage, news came in that they had drawn by repetition! They somewhat changed their assessment: "black is optically better or more comfortable, but actually it isn't much".

The commentary on Anand-Shirov started with some chess history. They said the Cambridge-Springs variation was first played in 1928, someone from the audience replying "no, 1904" ("OK, so more than a century ago"). Timman mentioned that it was extensively discussed in a world championship match (don't remember which one, long before Bobby Fischer). Both didn't like the variation or at least Shirov's interpretation of it early on: "the best case is exchanges and a draw, else black is stuck with silly pieces on the queenside". Timman tried to tactically exploit these "silly pieces", Sokolov proposed to switch to a kingside attack - that's what actually happened in the game.

Then I went back to the playing hall ... .

Currently, tiebreaks favor Anand and Aronian - Nakamura's win against Vachier-Lagrave and loss against Carlsen cancel each other out, beyond that he only beat the four tailenders. So Anand's wins against Ponomariov and Wang Hao, and Aronian's win against Nepo are worth more Sonneborn-Berger points (of course I know that Aronian needs one 'extra' win in the remaining rounds to catch the current leaders).

"The Nak _will_ win on tiebreak" seems unlikely at this stage. (I am not a hater, just an observer).

However, I think in case of a tie for first those players will be declared shared winners (but only one of them gets the Bilbao invitation).

I wonder if the fact that Anand had white 6 times, and Nakamura had white 7 times, will impact the tie-break?

Thanks for the observations, Thomas. I personally wish I was in on the Anand-Shirov discussion.

Oh, is "more wins" not the first criteria to decide tie-breaks? My bad if it is not. But I will be very surprised if that is the case because that is usually the rule in most tournaments.

Still way too early to talk about tiebreaks...Nepo and Kramnik and Hao will be tough for Naka, but hopefully he can continue to play well.

Thomas -- honestly, if you asked me days ago what would happen with today's matchup for Max, I would have predicted a loss. I can't say why, but it was a strong feeling. I believe that the two are about even in skill, if a little different. Both are fast calulators, Hikaru having the opening system with Littlejohn in place, Max perhaps being a bit stronger in the endgame, both very tactical.
I actually chalk it up to the mental thing; the psyche as some would say. Hikaru is the "other," if you know what I mean. That's not bad; just different. I saw Max playing football with Magnus on the rest day, and it didn't surprise me that they would draw... Well, I cooked this all up in my head earlier, but I thought you at least might be interested.

Did you account for tie-breaks? If so, what tie-break rules did you use?

Elo takes rating differences into account. If you play against weaker players, you gain fewer points if you win, and lose more if you draw/lose. Playing against weaker players isn't inherently inflationary.

Anyhow, rating inflation has nothing to do with top players per se, or the inclusion of Dutch players. It's been observed at all levels.

I think there is a lot of truth in this post, it shows good insight about Nakamura. Except I think the reason for the hype isn't only because he's American, but also because momentum is surely swinging his way. That can be arrested anytime for sure, particularly in a young player (I didn't say Magnus Carlsen, but maybe some thought it).

But for now it's as if Nakamura's slowly revealing himself to be The Cape, or The Dark Knight, or Bobby Fisher, or whatever superhero us nerdy and boisterous Americans had hoped he would be.

It has something to do, with the greedy FIDE, allowing now ELO ratings under 2000. They charge you for every tourney where there is an ELO calcualtion and the more the merrier for them. But after the 2000 Barrier broke down, the initial inflation is pushed up to the top levels and we oberserve it with them. But look around your strengh-level. All players i know have a higher ELO then their national rating.

As just as a point of trivia here, there is no first step to enlightenment. It happens to be wherever you are.

To beat Carlsen and Naka two days in a row. That would be a statement.

Most US top players have higher USCF ratings than FIDE ratings.

For example, from the curren USCF top list:

1 Nakamura, Hikaru (12641216) NY USA 2822
2 Kamsky, Gata (12528459) NY USA 2797
3 Onischuk, Alexander (12625186) VA USA 2753
4 Akobian, Varuzhan (12740522) CA USA 2704
5 Shulman, Yury (12741541) IL USA 2700

Compare these to the FIDE ratings:

2751, 2730, 2689, 2675, 2637.

This is the way I remember it for the USCF vs. FIDE going all the way back to the beginning (1970s ; yes, I go that far back).

@Thomas...thank you for the on site report. I laughed because I have seen photographs of Magnus sitting at the board as you accurately described. Ouch!


And how about that Kortchnoi! Victor the Terrible defeats Fabiano at GibraltarChess in a Ruy Lopez. 60 years age difference between them. "The children like to put their fingers in grandpa's mouth but Grandpa still bites".

Here's my final translation of Sergey Shipov's commentary on the game (with some comments from his daily video round-up added at the end): http://www.chessintranslation.com/2011/01/shipovs-live-commentary-on-tata-steel-chess-2011-rd-10/

I agree, Anand & Aronian will win on tie-break against The Nak. I guess The Nak is NOT bak.


Thomas, thanks for your reports... much appreciated.

traditionalist, you are right that your posts are less full of crass insults than, say, kenh or other spewers, but "I have not posted any personal insults. None" is taking it a it far, e.g. later in your post flow the personal insults:

"childish jibes have come mostly from..."

"aggressive state of mind because their idol..."

"These 'norwegians' have been a nuisance"


How about some rest day predictions -


Anand on +4 with games against VL, Nepo, Giri to come. So probably he'll finish somewhere between +5 and +6, say +5.

Naka on +4 with games against Kramnik, Nepo, Wang. Say a loss/draw either Kramnik and a win or two against the others. +5.

Aronian on +3 with games against Pono, Smeets, L'ami. Two wins. +5.

Kramnik on +3 with games against Naka, Carlsen, VL. Likely one more win. +4.

So final standings could well see a three-way tie for first between Anand, Aronian and Naka.

Yeah, I'm leaning towards 3 way tie as the most likely outcome (Anand, Naka, Aronian). But any two or one of these are almost as likely. The tiniest bit of luck, good or bad, shifts away from the 3 way tie outcome. If there is a sole winner, I would have to say Anand is the most likely; he doesn't have a Kramnik to break his momentum, like Naka; he doesn't have to come from behind like Aronian.

But rather surprisingly, Anand seems to be a much bigger favorite according to the odds at bestbetting -


Anand is almost 50% more than Aronian and 300% more than Nakamura a favorite to win. I am sure they surely mean the final standings after taking the tie-breaks into consideration. They seem to be having information regarding the tie-break criteria which isn't on the official site.

I am not considering tiebreak at all. It may be significant for trophies or invites, but is so out of control of the player I reject it completely for appreciating player's achievements.

If you're talking about tiebreaks, they carry no import in the A group. As in previous Wijk aan Zee tournaments, the money is split evenly among the winners. Tiebreaks only matter for promotions from the B or C group into the A or B group.

I wouldn't take the sports book odds on face value. Those odds reflect the collective attitudes of the betting public and not a panel of "experts". The bigger names will be somewhat more heavily favored (all things equal) for obvious reasons.

Although I wouldn't take sports book odds on face value, they are definitely more accurate than whatever a panel of "experts" can come up with.

In that case, you would bet on Anand on 9 to 10 against rather than Naka at 5 to 2 against. That's what the average bettor is thinking. Do you believe in the same?

As to tiebreaks, I think Sonneborn-Berger is the traditional way that's still most widely used. Number of wins is used in Linares (BTW, any news on Linares 2011?) and, in a more extreme form (Bilbao rules), Bilbao and London. Number of blacks makes sense in a "sprint" such as London (or Dortmund when it was a single round-robin). For Tata it's more complicated because it might matter more against whom you have white and black - before the tournament, I suggested that Aronian has the most favorable draw despite an extra black.

Yes, tiebreaks only matter for promotion. If the C or B group has a close finish, they often also invite the "shared first second" player to next year's higher group - some years ago, e.g. Carlsen benefited from what I'd call a habit rather than a rule. But the (sole) winner of the A group also promotes to the Bilbao Grand Slam Final - so since 2008, tiebreaks also matter in the A group.

Actually I shared your gut feeling about Nakamura-VL, even though I slightly disagree about the opening preparation part: Vachier-Lagrave is also strong in that respect - see his Grunfeld win with black against Shirov earlier in the event and also his anti-Moscow win with white against Gelfand at the Olympiad (where prep went all the way into a rook endgame). That, among other things, is what I meant earlier: Several players had both good and bad days regarding opening preparation, Nakamura is no exception either way.

I wonder if you also mean that with "mental thing", or if you are even aware of what's next: Vachier-Lagrave may be affected by cheating accusations/insinuations/investigations against other French players. The Tata participants (VL, Fressinet, Tkachiev) are innocent, but their Olympiad teammate Feller and coach Hauchard might be guilty. [This was just briefly mentioned here and was/is discussed elsewhere, e.g. Chessvibes - I don't mean to start a new subthread].

Related (well, not): Fressinet went for a cigarette during the game to the smoking tent outside the building and was accompanied by a tournament representative. Actually his position against Spoelman already seemed beyond repair at that moment, which might have been his reason for blowing off some steam ... .

Slight addition to my report: Giri and Aronian both thought that white was somewhat better in the final position (source: Chessvibes), hence disagreeing with Timman + Sokolov. But Giri remembered his game against Nepo and decided to play it safe this time ... .

The first barrier to fall was 2200.

If we know that Anand will be considered "winner" (even if he shares 1st place with Naka/Aronian) based on say, fewer whites as the tie-break criteria, then sure can accept the 9/10 odds. Its appalling that the official site does not have the tie-break criteria mentioned anywhere. FIDE may change their rules every few days, but at least they post those rules up on their website.

The official site rest day video is up http://www.tatasteelchess.com/tournament/video

interesting predictions done -- they say Anand and/or Aronian will win and they give their reasons.

Is it just me or does the maintainer of the live rating list (http://chess.liverating.org/) always "forget" to update the list after a Carlsen loss.

I usually check after a Carlsen win or loss because I know that will effect the standings drastically. So far, I've always seen it updated after a win, but *never* after a loss. It's happened at least 4 times now...

I have been following it too, but I feel this time there is no apparent change if there is an update as in --- Carlsen loss does not change the order of rankings.

Maybe Hans is a Carlsen fan..the difference has increased slightly now - Anand is at 2820.7, Aronian is 2812.8 and Carlsen at 2807.0 - the only three guys above 2800. But by the end of this decade there should be at least as many players above 2800 as there are above 2700 today.

Yes, if the bets factor in the tie-break rules. I'm guessing they do if the odds are that different.

Yes, I have noticed that live ratings are a bit slow to be updated when Carlsen loses...

Also if Anand is now at 2,821 that exceeds his previous highest on that list of 2,818. Quite an achievement for a 42 year old!

Let me qualify my previous statement about betting odds being more accurate than a panel of experts.

I believe this statement to be true if the number of people who have placed their bets is sufficiently large.

Sadly keith you cant live on past achievements so Carlsen achievements are judged by trend in recent games. All the criticism gains tremendous force due to the comments by Kasparov which simply cannot be dismissed. There is a feeling that he believes he is the best player in the world and doesnt need to be the hardest working player in the world and doesnt need the help of kasparov, doesnt need to play in the WCC cycle. Lets hope he is right but it seems unlikely. I back Kasparov on this one. I think its incredibly hard to stay at no 1 or to stay world champion for an extended period of time no matter how talented you are.

live rating: The list certainly does seem to be updated promptly after a Carlsen win and slowly after a Carlsen loss. Understandable! The author of the live rating list is an acquaintance of Magnus' and a fellow Norwegian.

"Is it just me or does the maintainer of the live rating list (http://chess.liverating.org/) always "forget" to update the list after a Carlsen loss."

It is just you. Delays in the list occurs both when Carlsen is wining, losing or even doesnt play at all.

-Sometimes there are several tournaments going on at the same time, making it a big job to do. -Sometimes he's waiting for some verification from Chinese league or some other remote place on earth. Or Mr Runde is simply bussy doing other things like work and family life.

Maintaining the Live rating list is a free service to the chess society. I dont think he has any google ads, even. He pays it from his own pocket.

I agree. News of Kasparov working with Carlsen came in September 2009. But they were already working for a while before that news. As far as I know the rumors were in right after Linares of 2009 during Amber tournament.

In that period with Kasparov until March 2010 (about 1 year) Carlsen only lost 3 games in total in classical chess (2 against kramnik and 1 against Shirov)

After the split upto now he has lost 10 in little less than year. It could be due to several factors, but one cannot rule out Kasparov. More so that he may not be putting in the same amount of hard work as he was when he was working with Kasparov.

I doubt my observation is a mere coincidence. Once or twice maybe it's a coincidence, but not almost every single time. Do you want to run an experiment?

There aren't really that many tournaments going on at the same time at this elite level (Chinese league?) Also, Mr. Runde doesn't have to wait for all results to come in before updating the list. That's why he has a column for the number of games played. So, the list can be updated whenever *any* results comes in.

He's 41

Tiebreaks are only used if necessary to determine qualifiers from the B and C groups, although I do believe the organizers have sometimes invited tied winners.

Why is that folks feel compelled to sign in with temporary not-names like 'live rating,' and '41.'?

Why not use your normal handle? What are you afraid of?

Genghis is not afraid of anything.

I visit this website only when a tournament or a world championship match is going on. Yeah, go on. Call me a troll. Like I care.

The handle acts as a subject or a funny remark that goes with the post.

Genghis Khan is supposed to be funny? Or what subject?

Sometimes the handle acts as a subject, sometimes as a funny remark, sometimes both, and sometimes neither.

Take your pick.

ceterum and delendam, my dear.

I agree - civil discourse on the internet requires a stable identity. The least you can do is use your regular alias.

I'm not so sure about that.

Civil discourse requires the participants to at least make a serious attempt at being civil, notwithstanding the stability of their "identities."

Many posters on this message board who have stable "identities" are sometimes quite uncivil. And posters, such as yours truly, who do not have a stable "identities," are sometimes quite agreeable.

"Sometimes" is weak. Intermittent trolls by definition are still trolls. Got something to contribute, great! Why not give yourself a stable identify.

Thank you! If now people could learn the difference between "troll" and "troller", all would be right with the world.

Not that I'm always agreeable, mind you. In fact, I'm not very tolerant, as some folks know, but I'm not a troll.
I don't barge in just to say thoughtless things about real people.

The posts by any and all with the words 'Genghis Khan' as the author ... are fake!

Go get yer damn shine box, punk.

genghis khan, billy batts, whatever...it's probably time to get back to the blog subject at hand, if anyone has something interesting. And I don't mean more of who to bet on over the next three days. Aayiiiiiiii.

I wonder.

When the winner of C Group i allowed to start in the B group next year and the winner of B group in filed A, how do they fill out the empty spots, when someone who is already in group A or B and not starting out of different reasons next year??

so the field is randon, expect the winners of the previous year??

Nakamura has gained 18 ELO points according to the live rating, which raises him a couple of notches to 8th place among the Top Ranked players (having passed Ivanchuk and the free-falling Grischuk), with a 2769 rating. If he gains another 8 points, he will have leapfrogged Mamedyarov, Topalov and Karjakin for 5th Place.

It's pretty clear that unless he starts making extravagent financial demands, that his Ranking and his tendency to fight for a decisive result will gain him invitations to nearly every elite tournament for the foreseeable future. It doesn't hurt that, after Carlsen, he is #2 from "The West".

So, congratulations to him, I've never been a fan of his--frankly, I prefer the playing style and/or personalities of players such as Anand and Aronian to Nakamura or Carlsen or Topalov. Like him or not, I better get used to seeing him in most every event.

Except, perhaps, for the U.S. Championship...

Credit to Nakamura for being the next player to effectively apply Carlsen's formula for gaining a high place in Tournaments--at least in tournaments with "mixed" fields. Soon enough, the Chess World will get to see how he fares in a Double Roubd Robin, against Carlsen, Anand, Aronian....but without such opponents as the Dutchmen L'Ami and Smeets (or the Double-Dutchmen, Shirov and Grischuk). Even so, he will probably hold his own.

Has Nakamura said anything about his plans for the FIDE WC cycle? Is he interested in participating or is he taking the Carlsen approach?

It is too early to tell, but apart from Topalov, Carlsen, and Aronian, Nakamura seems to be someone who has a shot at being the WC.

Thomas, if you don't have any news on Linares 2011, then there simply is no news to be found
Last year's XXVIIth Edition was staged on the cheap: No Anand, no Carlsen, no Kramnik....
It was reduced to a 6 player Double Round Robin Format. It was nominally the tournament that had the highest Average Rating (2758) in the series, though hardly can claim to be the strongest.

The Spanish economy is in horrible shape. Maybe somebody will organize a Category II event?
It would be a shame to lose another Super GM event, but...

"Number of wins is used in Linares (BTW, any news on Linares 2011?)"

I wouldn't rule anything out, at this point.
Yes, Nakamura has a Shot, but it is a "longshot".
Younger players like Nepomniatchi and Karjakin probably have brighter Championship prospects, not to mention Giri and Wesley So. Nakamura is out of this WC cycle, and it will probably be 2015 or 2016 before the next cycle gets concluded. Who knows what curently unheralded player will have a meteoric rise in the meantime?

"It is too early to tell, but apart from Topalov, Carlsen, and Aronian, Nakamura seems to be someone who has a shot at being the WC."

Random thoughts:

1) I hope that if Linares happens, they fill the tables with a more interesting mix than '10. That was a dozer for me.

2) I don't believe that Nakamura thrives only by beating the lesser-rated. I think he's a shown that he can give the chesserati a hard time - but for reasons that are not in my mind entirely clear.

Reconcile this: he saw a slew of lesser-rated players in the 2010 U.S. Championship, which everyone has forgotten - especially Hikaru - and he was not even around for the finale. Someday he'll be asked to explain his results in that tournament versus Tata Steel. Some disparity.

My opinion here: I don't think he should have beaten Vachier-Lagrave at Tata Steel (who is by the way pretty upset about it, as he doesn't believe it should have gone that way either), and wouldn't in a match. Hikaru, for all he's shown recently and due credit to the guy, is also (again my opinion) not better than Carlsen, Kramnik, Aronian, Karjakin, Mamedaryov, Anand, Gelfand, Ivanchuk, Radjabov, Kamsky, Svidler, Topolov, maybe even Adams. So, W. Ch cycle talk for him? Premature, I think. There could be a revision in his favor later. Why not? But I have to see more. The further we get from last August, the better, if you know what I mean.

3) Has anyone approached Grischuk to ask him what is going on? Or where is he going wrong? Mig? Maccauley? Bianca? I hate to see him go the way of disinvitee Leko, because he plays interesting chess. I've seen some great attacking games from Grischuk.

I'll stop throwing chum in the water.

Nakamura just turned 23. Over the hill? Not quite yet. It seems like he is still rising pretty fast, and there are not many players still above him.

My random thoughts (replying to you as well as DOug):

1) Linares: I read that Carlsen will participate, and that Linares will be/remain part of the Grand Slam. The latter would imply that it takes place and has several top10 or at least top30 players. Of course this may be outdated, I mainly wondered if there is any info (presumably it would be bad news) from Spanish sources. We have several Spaniards (or Spanish citizens, maybe people from the Basque country or Catalonia don't want to be referred to as 'Spaniards') following this blog ... .
I don't think last year's edition was that bad: Going to six players, they didn't set but followed a trend (Bazna, Dortmund, Nanjing). And the field wasn't bad either (Topalov, Aronian, Grischuk, Gelfand, Gashimov, Vallejo). Maybe Topalov and Aronian don't have the same standing as Carlsen, Anand and Kramnik (no longer or not yet), but they are/were the other top5 players. And the others aren't exactly random patzers either (every supertournament has a local wildcard, justifying Vallejo's participation).

Sergey Shipov's commentary today is on Nepomniachtchi - Nakamura (Kramnik-Carlsen was a close second): http://www.chessintranslation.com/live-game/

Also, any questions for Levon Aronian, perhaps the most interesting player at the very top of world chess? http://www.chessintranslation.com/2011/01/your-questions-for-gm-levon-aronian/

Random thoughts part 2: The supposed Carlsen-Nakamura formula was most efficiently applied by Shirov, Corus 2010: 6/7 against those scoring 50% or less, 2/6 against his direct competitors. Maybe people forgot given his current score ... .

"[Nakamura] will gain ... invitations to nearly every elite tournament for the foreseeable future."
Maybe he will, I wouldn't be surprised - but is this justified compared to Karjakin or even Mamedyarov?
"It doesn't hurt that, after Carlsen, he is #2 from "The West"."
"It doesn't hurt ..." should rather be "it helps a lot"!?

kenh on Grischuk: You somewhat contradict your own earlier comment defending Carlsen (one bad or mediocre tournament isn't the end of the world). Of course Grischuk's result is much worse than Carlsen's, but he became almost a top5 player for a reason (actually he was #5 for two days on the live rating list). One bad event doesn't mean he will go Leko's way. There are several players with erratic results, e.g. also Ivanchuk and Shirov - from this group only Morozevich may be gone for good.
Grischuk may simply be sick - which I could confirm in Ganguly's case, but players from the A group are a bit further away from the audience.

Of course (and here I seem to agree with kenh) this goes both ways: If he doesn't spoil things in the remaining rounds (0/3 against Nepomniachtchi, Kramnik and Wang Hao is a remote but not all absurd possibility), Nakamura will have two great results in recent supertournaments. First one was Tal Memorial, to me 4/7 in London wasn't that great particularly if we disregard his strange win against Kramnik. Kramnik might again lose to Nakamura but not in such a way. Carlsen might again lose to Giri (even more likely IMO) but not the way he did a few days ago ... .
I do not question that Nakamura is talented and has achieved a lot - but two events in three months are a snapshot, nothing less and nothing more.

Final BTW: The live rating list was actually updated late yesterday evening (11:54PM local server time) - the fact that it didn't happen earlier certainly means that Hans Arild Runde was busy rather than anything else.

Regarding the live rating list: OMG, one more loss and Shirov (currently 2701.4) is "gone". It happened before to Ivanchuk, no need to panic ... .

Der Trotzkopf | January 27, 2011 11:48 PM | Reply

I wonder.

When the winner of C Group is allowed to start in the B group next year and the winner of B group in field A, how do they fill out the empty spots, when someone who is already in group A or B and not starting out of different reasons next year??

so the field is random to a certain point?

"particularly if we disregard his strange win against Kramnik"

You continue to lose credibility talking about Naka, despite occasionally making some good insights. Naka tempted Kramnik to self-destruct, just as Vishy tempted Topalov to do the same in the final game of the World Championship. I suppose you would then try to justify "disregarding" Anand's win as well, right? Ridiculous.

"I do not question that Nakamura is talented and has achieved a lot"

Well, obviously you can't anymore, although you still try to demean his play. Anyone with half a brain could have told you that Naka just needed the opportunity that Wang Yue got with supertourney invites, and you'd see at least similar if not better results.

Nakamura has achieved a comfortable edge from the opening with black pieces. Let's see how the game develops. Too early to say, but if he can play his best chess here, it could be a huge victory!

I think "edge" is a bit optimistic...looks dynamically equal to me. But once again, Naka's opening prep has given him a good chance.

Half-decent point, but I don't think one can compare the final game of a WCh match with a regular (super)tournament game. So I prefer to compare Kramnik-Nakamura with Carlsen-Giri: in both cases, the nominally stronger and more experienced player had a complete offday and lost. I would have given Nakamura full credit if he had beaten Kramnik at Tal Memorial.

Kramnik-Nakamura was special in a very special way. Would you agree that Nakamura didn't show anything special in the remaining rounds of London? He lost to Carlsen (nothing to be ashamed of), beat Short (well, almost everyone did) and drew his other games.

As to Wang Yue getting supertournament invitations earlier than Nakamura: well it's simple - first you have to cross 2700 and maintain such a rating for a while, then you get invitations. These days, with so many 2700ers around (currently 39) 2720-2730 may be required for _regular_ invitations. The only exception are local wildcards: the USA could have organised a supertournament, but plans for such an event in Seattle (where Naka lived for a while) never went past "announcement of intention".

"You continue to lose credibility talking about Naka ..." - well, for you only unconditional Naka worshippers have full credibility.

" for you only unconditional Naka worshippers have full credibility."

Not true. I have always been consistent on my view of Naka...a great talent capable of very good results against the highest competition, but not yet a WCC contender -- although his recent consistency over the past 3-4 months has caused me to potentially reconsider his candidacy to be a contender to Anand, Kramnik, Carlsen, Aronian. There are no excuses in chess...you are what you are. I have no tolerance for anyone who tries to explain away a result on the board, no matter what it was (i.e. you're belittling Naka's win over Kramnik with black). I also have no tolerance for anyone suggesting that Naka is somehow incapable of being a consistently elite player...of course, the Tal Memorial made a lot of haters show him respect, but he deserved respect even before that tourney.

"Would you agree that Nakamura didn't show anything special in the remaining rounds of London?"

Yes, I would...if he had, he would have won the tournament (remember though that he had already scored 1.5/2 with the black pieces against Anand and Kramnik). Your point about his draw against Howell was spot on, as I have said before...I really believe that game was the turning point downward for him in London -- if he wins that, he'd probably have great chances to have won the tourney outright. He also threw away a much better position against McShane as well.

Comparing Kramnik vs. Naka with Carlsen vs. Giri is laughable. Giri hasn't played Carlsen 4 additional times with three draws as Naka has with Kramnik. Plus Giri isn't even 2700 and Naka is world top-10.

I just want to see credit given where credit is due. Naka is a world top-10 player, and has had only 5 supertournament invites thus far (Netherlands 2010 and 2011, London 2009 and 2010, and Tal Memorial)...I'd like to see what he can do when he is given the opportunities players of similar age have been given (i.e. Yue, Karjakin, Carlsen, etc.) with regard to supertourney invites. Remember he also blew a winning position with black against Grishuk which would have given him shared first at the Tal Memorial.

Naka being over 2700 is not a new phenomenon...its been almost three years now (since May of 2008). Yue became 2700 only a week before Naka did (last week of April 2008). So yes, its a fair comparision regarding supertourney invites between those two players.

I'm not liking that pawn grab by Naka....Nepo looks like his position is springing to life.

Nice double-edged position, though. Hard to ask much more if you're Naka, especially given his swashbuckling style.

Naka playing perfect chess now. Some of those moves the computer only later agrees were the strongest! With exact tactical manouvering he has turned the game definitely into his favor. Two pawn advantage now, although small complications still remain.

What a player he is becoming. Only matter of time now before he hits 2800. Will happen this year.

wtf anand drew by repetition? i thot he had several winning chances

And the 2010 U.S. Championship?

Thomas, I like Grischuk, and I guess I'm just worried about him. I have most definately not relegated him to the rubbish heap of history! I just want to know what's going on. He's much better than that.

As to Kramnik-Nakamura and Carlsen-Giri, I just compared the games themselves: In both cases, white gave away a piece in the opening phase - the only difference is that Carlsen clearly blundered, while in Kramnik's case it was a very speculative sacrifice. Players' ratings and earlier head-to-head scores don't matter, e.g. I would say the same about Carlsen-Ivanchuk, Corus 2010 (here Magnus was on the receiving side).

As to Nakamura's invitations vs. Wang Yue, Karjakin and Carlsen, you seem to cherry-pick some live rating lists, official FIDE ratings tell a different story:
Jan 2008 Naka 2670, Wang Yue 2698 (Karjakin 2732, Carlsen 2732 - we can stop 'monitoring' them as they always stayed [well] above 2700 ever since)
Apr 2008 Naka 2686, WY 2689
Jul 2008 2697 vs. 2704
Oct 2008 2704 vs. 2736 (from that point on, Wang Yue had a consistent rating edge for a while. Nakamura was officially >2700 because organizers of the Montreal open 'forgot' to submit their rating report to FIDE)
Jan 2009 2699 vs. 2739
Apr 2009 2701 vs. 2738
Jul 2009 2710 vs. 2736
Sep 2009 2735 vs. 2736 (from that point onwards, Naka caught and overtook Wang Yue and got the same amount or more invitations).

As I said before, 2700 may no longer be enough and 2730 is required. I do not really endorse (excessive) focus on ratings, but that's the way organizers think - also to obtain the highest possible category for their event.
Karjakin and Carlsen also earned their first Corus A invitations, going through the B group (and before the C group). Nakamura declined several Corus B invitations ... .

Bad tourney. Just like Carlsen's 2010 Olympiad. Even playing poorly in nearly every game that tournament, Naka still made the semis with a chance to defend his 2009 title.

As you can see he is more than good enough for Corus A, so why play in Corus B? Naka knows his worth and refuses to be degraded like that.

Naka appears moments away from clear first with 2 rounds to go...

Has Nepo resigned yet? Naka is a beast! But so is Carlsen, for beating the beast.

Nepo resigned. Not one single inaccurate move Naka made in that game. Fantastic.

Nice job by Naka. Once again, his superior opening prep gave him an imbalanced position against Nepo, where he simply outplayed the Russian champ.

Sole first with 2 rounds to go...now its all about not losing to Kramnik tomorrow.

I think it more accurate to say that he was the (2009) U.S. Champion, and as such deserved to compete in the A group.

That's not my statement, but rather the reason he most likely turned down a B Group invite. After Aug- Sept 2010, I don't know what he was thinking, but I suspect he had invites to a least one other super by then, and decided again that he didn't need Group B. He's having a great ride at the first Tata Steel, so it's worked out well. I wonder if he'll attend the 2011 U.S. Championship. If it's at the same venue, Nakamura's domicile in St. Louis will make it difficult to avoid.

Good point that he may no longer need to be reigning US champ in order to get invites...I'm sure that's the primary reason he got his first 2 supertourney invites (2009 London, 2010 Netherlands) b/c he was the reigning US champ at that time.

However, I expect that he will play. Besides its not like he's the only super-GM there...Kamsky (who I give a good chance against Topalov in the upcoming Candidates, btw) should be there, and is the defending champion.

Doesn't look like Kramnik has the form or focus (with the candidates coming up) to work hard for a win with black against Nakamura tomorrow. I'm expecting Anand to win with white against Giri and Nakamura to draw - leaving them tied for first place at +5(!) with one round to go. All bets off the last round - anything between an outright win for either of the two guys or a two way tie or a three way tie (w Aronian) seem to be possibilities.

By now, yes - but not two, three or five years ago. Currently even some 2700+ players are "degraded" to the B group. Many rising stars do not consider it a degradation, but a career opportunity and a chance to qualify for the A group even with (for the time being) Elo <2700. The latest ones were Caruana and Giri. Currently Wojtaszek (who's already a 2700er), Wesley So and Le Quang Liem try the same.

Doesn't make sense for Nakamura to waste his time, energy and prep playing Americans. Its almost like Hu Yifan having her growth restricted by playing women-only events. He should behave well, make good friends, find a stronger second (probably a natural extension of behaving well and making friends) and maybe even move his residence to Europe (like Anand did in Spain).

Dondo | January 25, 2011 4:36 PM | Reply

If Naka gets by Kramnik (draw or win) he wins the tmt. Book it.


Liking this more and more...

Some risky play by Nepo today, according to the commentary at Chess Bomb. The commentary appears human this time (I've not seen that before there). Does anyone know who it was?

No need for Naka to move to Europe...with his rating going above 2770, he can get all the supertourney invites he needs without having to move from the USA.

And I think his second is doing quite well now ;). Littlejohn is someone Naka trusts, and who is obviously very proficient at maximizing the machine potential in prepping for opponents.

In Tata 2011 alone, Naka is +5, and his opening prep has been instrumental in his wins. His games against Anand, Carlsen, Ponomariov and Giri were the only ones where he was worse out of the opening, and even in those four games, he was only -1. In his other 7 games, he is +6 (!!) with the only draw being a complete neutralization of Aronian with the black pieces in the Dutch.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it...there's no need for Naka to change his second at the moment.

Do you mix up some things? Nakamura already played Corus A last year. Actually I don't think being US champion was the main or only reason for being invited: Overall, winning the US Ch is at most comparable to winning Corus/Tata B - only Nakamura (rather recently) and Kamsky (until recently?) are typical Wijk A group players.

For example, the French champion isn't automatically invited anywhere, and there the field is at least comparable to the US Championship. (The USA are obviously bigger by surface and total population, but France is just as big as a chess country)

Now that Naka is in clear first, I think we can expect a new writeup from Mig soon...

Kris Littlejohn's mother is Debra Littlejohn Shinder, a computer specialist from Eastfield College in Dallas, and a writer of around 15 books/manuals on computers and techonology, consultant to Cisco etc.

With her help and advice Kris has built a super computer that analyses openings for Naka literally 24/7. The super computer is stationed in the US but they can contact it anytime wherever they are during tournaments.

There's a nice article on this written by the mother Littlejohn: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/geekend/the-role-of-computers-in-planning-chess-strategy/4211

Those who say that Naka should get rid of Littlejohn seem foolish to me. You can see their work is starting to bear fruit. The quality of the work is not in doubt, just that hard work and long hours are needed to get even further.

Doubt any of the American-Russian GMs could be of as much help to Naka. Just my feeling.

Nak Nak!

That is so interesting, Traditionalist. Thanks. I always wondered about Naka's second.

To all and sundry: Can Carlsen win this ending?

Agree, if Naka survives Kramnik, he will go into the last round as a clear favorite (last game is against Hao).

That link was given by Mishanp last week, my friend, and probably surfaced way before that. It's an older article. So, yes, we know about it.

I'm so excited! Snort!

Jeez. Are you a member of Hikaru's entourage?

Are you human or horse? You certainly snort often enough...

Yep, I meant August-Sept '09.

In the meantime in group B. So-Nijboer is playing out the R+N vs R which Carlsen-L'ami sort of tried few rounds ago before L'ami blundered.
Liem is making a comeback effort with 3rd straight win.

oh, well. So said "I trust you know how to defend this endgame and I am not a beast like Carlsen (yet), lets call it a draw."

This kenh character seems to hate the fact that Naka will soon overtake Carlsen.

Yes. Terrible. Just terrible. I'm an American crying in my beer. Where do you come up with this stuff?

"..the fact that Naka will soon overtake Carlsen."

not a big fan of *fact* and *will* being too close together ;P

Just a neutral observation. You seem to be of the breed of internet chess fans who jump up and get agitated every time they see someone praising Nakamura. Someone says "Naka played well", can't have that must counter with "geez you part of his entourage" or another sneering comment of such variety. It is an odd breed. With its endless McDonalds "jokes" on the ICC, and it's long and bitter memory of what Naka said or kibbed on ICC that one day back in 2001. It was a very nasty kib you know.

Frogbert used to patrol Naka's chessgames.com page writing pages long essays on why it is not objective to consider Naka a top player.

An odd breed indeed.

And the final standings are
Nakamura Anand Kramnik Aronian Magnus ... and that spells Nakam...

The Kids being ridiculous. A patzer like me can hold this game. what he hoping for? a kramnik blunder. spoilt brat. he needs to get laid.

With Kramnik's defeat Anand and Aronian remain the only undefeated players in this tournament. It'll be one awesome match between the two best players in the world if Aronian manages to qualify!

And Carlsen beats Vladdy...

So, for the 2011 Grand Slam Final, it looks as though only Naka, Anand, or Aronian have a chance to join Carlsen (who already clinched b/c of his Nanjing title).

Hmm, a traditionalist getting enthusiastic about supposedly cutting-edge computer technology!? ,:) Aside from the fact that (maybe, probably) other top GMs do rather similar things, it doesn't replace a traditional [sic] old-fashioned coach or second. No need to get rid of or "fire" Kris Littlejohn, but maybe it wouldn't hurt to add a stronger chess player to his 'entourage'? He could, for example, help with chessic and psychological insights into opponents - most relevant if Nakamura eventually ends up playing (candidates, WCh) matches. It wouldn't have to be an American-Russian GM, e.g. Anand's and Topalov's seconds come from all over the place ... .

The issue might be that Nakamura cannot handle someone who might disagree with and criticize him? Or that, given his reputation, qualified candidates won't be interested?

"The issue might be that Nakamura cannot handle someone who might disagree with and criticize him? Or that, given his reputation, qualified candidates won't be interested?"

The biggest issue is whether they can be TRUSTED with Naka's prep. The last thing you want is to have your second selling you out the way Kasparov's did against Karpov during the 1986 world title match...

The Carlsen-Krmanik endgame needs to be studied carefully.
I hope Karsten Müller will write something on it.
Winning that endgame against Kramnik is quite an achievement.

the comment above by "stupid kid" shows how appropriate his name is.

but I'm sure you would've held this endgame better than Kramnik. right.

Black King took the long march from 52 ... Ke7-d6 to arrive at h2 square on the 70th move, 70 ... Kg1-h2.
Very pretty.

The question is would black have held better of he had not put the bishop between a8-b7-c6 and use the bishop to prevent black king penetration from the flank.

Seems Kramnik has become a client of Nakamura and Magnus lately.

Kramnik blundered? In an endgame? nice. Kasparov will be proud.

Does anyone know where exactly Kramnik blundered? Shipov signed off his commentary of Naka-Nepo by saying that this endgame was probably drawn.

Of course a second needs to be trusted, but how can other top players trust their seconds? You will probably argue that Nakamura's opening preparation is much better than anyone else's, I would disagree ... .



Carlsen was pleased with the win but said that Kramnik had to play very carelessly to lose this endgame. He pinpointed 59.Bb7 as the final error, because after 59…Kd2 White is in zugzwang.

From the tournament website (Ian Rogers): http://live.tatasteelchess.com/f3/livecommentary.html

"Carlsen was pleased with the win but said that Kramnik had to play very carelessly to lose this endgame. He pinpointed 59.Bb7 as the final error, because after 59...Kd2 White is in zugzwang. "If he had played 59. Bc8! I don't see how I can win. I would have had to bring my king back and play for ...d4, but I don't think it is enough. I have plenty of time to try, though." Earlier in the game, Carlsen described 16...b5 as "a trap. He missed that if 19.Nxd7 I have this very nice move 19... Bb7!!. Then after 22.Qxb5 he offered a draw, but I have played Kramnik often enough to know what that means - I must play on. "I was disappointed to see 24. Qe3 - I didn't see any way to win after that. But he really played the endgame carelessly. I think he could have played 44.Ke6 - after I get ...g5+ I at least have winning chances."

Damm. Bongo Bill and mishanp beat me to it. I just finished reading Ian Rogers' commentary. Good stuff.

>> You will probably argue that Nakamura's opening preparation is much better than anyone else's, I would disagree

Thomas, I actually thought his opening prep was inferior because a couple games stuck in my head, and he'd just suffered through the Carlsen/Anand games.

After looking at the games he's played again, I made the startling discovery that Nakamura has been the best prepared player in this tournament. There's no doubt in my mind that his opening prep was superior to his first three opponents and helped him in those games. Look at my earlier post where I document that FACT. I didn't look at the rest of the games up to the Carlsen/Anand encounters that closely, but I thought Carlsen outplayed him in the opening (and went on to win the game), and against Anand he was lucky to defend a very difficult position he got himself into from the opening.

He bested Vachier in the opening as well and went on to win that one. In the game today against Nepo he had another opening success and went on to win that also.

If you don't believe what I'm telling you, please be specific as to why. I can document Hikaru's brilliant preparation easily in all these games, thanks to ICC having time stamps on the moves as they were played. Point out the other players that you think were better prepared, and explain to me how you reach that absurd conclusion.

It's not over yet though. Two more rounds. I'm sure we are all rooting for Hikaru, right?

Nakamura: “I played very well today, but there’s two rounds left and I’m not quite there yet. I play (Russia’s Vladimir) Kramnik on Saturday and he is a former world champion and all that. But I’m not concerned: I’m on form and I’ll have white.”

Them's some fighting words. Tomorrow is going to be fun. I hope Naka tries to win and not tries to draw his remaining two games.

For the record, that's a misquote. I did not say the on form part at all. What I said was that we have exciting games and I enjoy playing him.

Congrats on a great tournament!

Carlsen won and the ratings are updated!

Why am I not surprised? :)

I got the quote (or misquote) from the tournament website - http://www.tatasteelchess.com/tournament/report/round/11

What if the chap who maintains live ratings is a little favorable to Carlsen? What he is still doing is a great service expecting nothing in return

Naka doesn't need to replace his second. His recent performance proves things are better than OK. He didn't get to the top ten by accident.

Adding a strong, trusted second might help in certain areas. Psychology, attitude, venue scouting. The question is: if Naka has a weakness, can he here constructive criticism and not take it as an insult? Can he once in a while not walk on the knife's edge? You don't have to win every game. Sometimes 12 moves and a hand shake brings home the bacon, while going for the gusto leaves you with nothing.

A half point from Kramnik at this point is almost like a win. Maybe Anand falters, maybe not. In any case there is always the final round. If you have to have a must win game, Hao is a better target than Kramnik.

Unless you have a novelty with Kramnik's name on it.

The context of my comment was a bit different: does Nakamura regularly produce spectacular novelties, where a second could do great damage revealing them to his opponent? I don't think so, and I think you overrate Naka's preparation - one could even argue that you don't do enough justice to his abilities over the board:
- If he wins from unclear positions, it's opening preparation (Shirov, Nepomniachtchi)
- If he outplays the opponent from an even position where he actually offered an early draw, it's opening preparation (l'Ami)
- If both players follow known theory and the game ends in a draw a few moves later, it's opening preparation (Aronian)
In Nakamura-Smeets, according to Smeets' second Gustafsson black simply forgot his preparation (I am inclined to believe him, Smeets is an expert in the Botvinnik). This leaves Naka's games against Vachier-Lagrave and (possibly) Grischuk where preparation made a BIG difference.

Other obvious preparation victories were [winners in capitals] SMEETS - Shirov, ANAND - Wang Hao, Shirov - VACHIER-LAGRAVE, Shirov - KRAMNIK and maybe KRAMNIK - l'Ami (objectively, Kramnik didn't have much but his unique concept led to a quick victory). If a draw with black is considered a success, one can add Anand - KRAMNIK and Nepo - SHIROV. I don't think Naka stands out. If one player stands out, it's Shirov in a negative sense - supporting Gustafsson's statement (after round 1) that his preparation isn't at the level of other top players.

Thomas, I don't mean to insult you but, you're hardly even making sense anymore.

Do you even know what an opening advantage is?

Against Shirov it was at the very least time on the clock. Yes, in an even position, if your opening system killed an hour of your opponents time verses 15 minutes of yours, that's the result of better preparation normally.

Your black against the second highest rated player in the tournament (Aronian), the game follows known theory for 12 or so moves, and a couple moves later your opponent offers a draw. I call that an opening victory. Not sure what you make of it.

Then you go on in your typical manner spouting the usual gibberish when it comes to actually forming an opinion.

There's five games I looked at pretty closely where Hikaru showed better preparation than his opponents. There's two (Anand/Carlsen) where the opposite could be said. There's one (l'Ami) that's debatable. He had black, equalized, and offered a draw. L'ami declined and lost. I didn't look at the moves in that game, so I'm not sure who won that opening battle (if anyone).

I doubt you looked at any of the games from that perspective. Your just repeating what you heard, which is about all you seem to do lately.

Here's the final version of Sergey Shipov's commentary on Nepomniachtchi - Nakamura: http://bit.ly/ej2dL5

I meant to say earlier, re: Grischuk. According to Russian sources (Yury Vasiliev at Sport-Express or ChessPro - I couldn't find the exact quote when I looked earlier) there's nothing wrong with Grischuk except he's having a bad tournament. He said something like he always has at least one disaster every year - usually it's the Russian Championship, but this year he did ok there so it seems to have switched to Wijk...

To celebrate Nakamura's victory and reclaiming the tournament lead position, we are singing the popular Tamil song "adradra nakamuka nakamuka" :-)


"Of course a second needs to be trusted, but how can other top players trust their seconds? You will probably argue that Nakamura's opening preparation is much better than anyone else's, I would disagree ... ."

It definitely is this tournament. And to think that people on this site were bashing it before I was the first to step up to defend him!

Thank you to Bongo Bill, mishanp and Yogi. (I was away from the Dirt for a while.) Nice to know that Rogers is doing a live commentary; so I have another page to open and spam F5's on tomorrow, in addition to mishanp's.

Carlsen beat Kramnik with black. Should end all this silly talk about Carlsen having no chance in a Kramnik match.

Reminds me of Fischer beating Geller in the 1970 Interzonal, ending his Geller hoodoo. Fischer would have beaten Geller in a 10-game match too.

As for Nakamura, congratulations. He is plainly potential, or already actual, top 6 material.
His detractors have proven to be so wrong. One suspects they post what they do, not because they believe what they say, but out of fear of Naka's abilities.

I can't remember another game I have so eagerly looked forward to since the Topalov - Kramnik match, as tomorrow's Nakamura - Kramnik game.

Could be a disappointing short draw, but there is the possibility that Kramnik who has had a quiet tournament wants to go for more to make up for the loss against Carlsen. Then it could be a truly cracking game.

"Carlsen beat Kramnik with black. Should end all this silly talk about Carlsen having no chance in a Kramnik match."

Well said. All the more reason Carlsen shouldn't have withdrawn from the upcoming Candidates tournament.

Continuing my round by round extrapolations. No surprise, the expected sore order is Nakamura, Anand, Aronian in all rating scenarios. Interpreted more, they suggest a two way tie between Anand and Naka is reasonably likely, but the only likely sole winner is Naka. A 3 way tie look substantially less likely than it did earlier. Of course, a glance at the cross table suggests all of these things, but I might as well continue what I started:

Using pre-tournament ratings:

Nakamura 8.98
Anand 8.78
Aronian 8.43
Carlsen 7.68
Kramnik 7.65
Vachier Lagrave 6.88
Ponomariov 6.61
Nepomniachtchi 6.42
Wang Hao 6.35
Giri 6.25
Smeets 4.65
L'Ami 4.13
Shirov 4.1
Grischuk 4.1

Using tournament performance ratings (TPR):

Nakamura 9.39
Anand 8.87
Aronian 8.58
Carlsen 7.88
Kramnik 7.39
Vachier Lagrave 7.01
Ponomariov 6.74
Giri 6.3
Nepomniachtchi 6.26
Wang Hao 6.17
Smeets 4.83
L'Ami 4.25
Shirov 3.72
Grischuk 3.6

Using mean of pre-tournament and TPR:

Nakamura 9.19
Anand 8.83
Aronian 8.51
Carlsen 7.79
Kramnik 7.52
Vachier Lagrave 6.95
Ponomariov 6.68
Nepomniachtchi 6.34
Giri 6.28
Wang Hao 6.26
Smeets 4.74
L'Ami 4.19
Shirov 3.91
Grischuk 3.84

It was a good win for Carlsen. Should do good to his confidence against Kramnik. Against Anand he has still performed badly. That hurdle would be more difficult to overcome.

Nakamura's result has surprised many including me. Tomorrow's game will be the key for his tournament standing. I am almost pretty sure Anand will beat Giri.

You read my mind. I wanted to post this "Nakamuka" song. Nakamura and Anand are on a song and both can sing I believe at the end of this tournament!

Nakamura told me personally that he felt having a second as strong as you is a recipe for disaster. He feels that Littlejohn offers his computer expertise and helps him to stay loose. Sometimes its not only about chess. They seem to have a good friendship and it is a new paradigm. However, when he qualifies for the championship cycle, I'm sure he will have a team.

The biggest key for any second is trust...trust matters far more than analysis ability, especially since the difference between a master + supercomputer versus a GM + good computer is minimal at most.

Plus your team has to have complete belief in your abilities...there are so many who have doubted Naka over the years (and continue to do so) that its essential for him to surround himself with people who, for example, aren't surprised that he's on the verge of winning a super-GM tournament.

"Can [Nakamura} once in a while not walk on the knife's edge? You don't have to win every game. Sometimes 12 moves and a hand shake brings home the bacon, while going for the gusto leaves you with nothing."

Those are words no chess player wants to hear, and no chess player should say. Especially if you're a Nakamura fan, you gotta root for your guy to go for it.

Good comments pioneer and Daaim Shabazz. I recall Nakamura saying in a past interview that it is important that the two of them are also good friends (or to that meaning).

Here are two photos of the two together: http://www.chessbase.com/news/2010/wijk/wijk082.jpg & http://www.chessvibes.com/plaatjes/hikaru_kris.jpg

my goodness, some of the posters here can become insufferable...
chris b., if you follow the scene for longer than two weeks, you'll probably have something intelligent to say.
pioneer: "trust matters far more than..."? we can tell that you're making that stuff up as you write, so don't bother.
traditionalist: you sound like a school girl. are you one?


I am an Anand fan, but I unfortunately don't share your optimism for two reasons. First, Giri's rating does not reflect is true ability; I think Giri's TPR is a more accurate reflection of his abilities. Second, I've never thought of Anand as someone who is capable of winning at will.

Nobody is a player who can win at will. Anand is no exception to that. But he has shown through out his career (dont start to point out exceptions again -- everybody has that) that when he has enough motivation he wins.

Not quite. I'm sure that Anand was always very motivated to try and beat Kasparov, and he nearly always lost or struggled to draw. Even with white pieces he was in trouble. Unable to overcome a superior force. In terms of results and performances, their dueling was one of the most one sided ones between top players in the history of chess. Not lack of motivation on Anand's part, just facing a greatly superior player.

Just to point out that as good as these players today are, Kasparov at his best was far better than any of them.

The main reason why I point this is to comment on the earlier discussion: What a mistake Carlsen has made, if he hasn't listened to Kasparov's advice on hard work etc. and has pretended to know better.

If you're so sure of what you said above, why don't you type up that comment in letter form and mail one copy to Magnus and one copy to Vishy Anand. They're certain to be impressed by your statement.

A bit of yes and no. Anand's dismal form vs Kasparov probably had a psychological side to it as well . Not just facing a "greatly superior player" . In defense of Anand , you can read this one from Linares 2003. In Linares 2005 he had a complete winning position vs Kasparov in a Ruy Lopez as White but squandered away to a draw in then end . Anyway what I say is Anand did match up with Kasparov in the later part of Kasparov's career ....Regardless I do agree Kasparov was superior but not quite thee way you think or the margin was much closer ...

"It's hard to talk about that 1995 match, won by Kasparov 10.5-7.5, without looking at how poorly Anand has fared against Kasparov in classical play since then. Having beaten Kasparov twice before their title clash, and once in the match, Anand is now working on eight years without a victory against a half dozen losses, most of them in Linares. Of course you don't need psychological excuses to lose to a 2800+, but the nature of several of Anand's losses does make you wonder.


Motivation to beat someone in a game is silly. Motivation to win a tournament is more practical. The latter can be approached in picking the players to beat. Thats why, tomorrow I said Anand will be motivated -- for two reasons one that the opponent is not 2800 and 2nd he is white and 3rd the tournament situation.

Anand for eg. dint stay to talk with the press yesterday. He headed straight back -- it could be for any reason, it could also be he wanted to have full time to prepare something nice for tomorrow.

"Kasparov at his best was far better than any of them."

Such comments have long become stale. Stop comparing players of the past to players of the present. Anand of 1995 or 2000 is not the same who is now. And statement like so and so at their best was better than someone else is also artificial.

This is my opinion. I may be totally wrong here, and I don't expect others to agree.

But, for what it's worth: by "being able to win at will" I mean at least two things: (1) the willingness to take risks, and (2) the capability to create winning opportunities in positions where most 2700+ will agree to a draw.

As to the first criteria, I am not sure how willing Anand will be to take risks tomorrow. Of course he is totally capable of taking risks when required. The question is whether or not he is willing to take risks. May be he is motivated as you say and is willing, but I'm not convinced.

As to the second criteria, even though Anand idolizes Tal, I don't feel Anand is particularly gifted in creating winning possibilities in otherwise dead positions. Don't cite me the games where he was able to do that - those are exceptions. As you pointed out, everybody has that. I consider Topalov to be better than Anand in this department.

That being said, I am an Anand fan and I hope Anand comes out with his guns blazing against Giri tomorrow.

Somewhat related to the "seconds" discussion, this is an anecdote involving several (American) ex-Soviets (from the Dutch magazine "Matten", written by NIC contributor Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam based on Maxim Dlugy's memories):

On Rustam Kamsky's request, Dlugy and Gelfand analyzed Gata Kamsky's adjourned game against Kupreichik (yep, it's an old story ...). Gata is a pawn down, but there is certainly no reason to despair. Dlugy and Gelfand look at the position and check some variations. They show that Gata has enough compensation and can easily hold the draw. "Draw?" Rustam pretends that he didn't understand. "Draw? We have to win!". That's the sign for Dlugy and Gelfand to conclude that their friendliness [they were ad hoc invitees, not regular seconds of Kamsky] didn't make much sense. They briefly look at each other, get up and wish Gata luck with his game.

Another story is that Gata Kamsky actually won the game in 95 moves, after his opponent played inaccurately. Of course Rustam Kamsky is "special" (good that he no longer seems to play a major role in Gata's life) but I could imagine Nakamura treating his/that kind of seconds in a similar fashion.

@pioneer: "your team has to have complete belief in your abilities..." Confidence is one thing, a critical/objective/realistic attitude doesn't hurt either.

I can't say I expected Vachier-Lagrave to extract a full point from Ian Nepo.
I also thought that Vlad would give it the good go today, instead of exchanging pieces down to a drawn position. Hikaru is in great shape to win the whole enchilada now. Expect something like a 17-move draw in his last round tomorrow.

"Confidence is one thing, a critical/objective/realistic attitude doesn't hurt either."

Of course. Realistically, Naka is a top-10 player leading a supertournament involving the top four players in the world going into the final round. Anyone in his circle who doesn't believe that he could perform at such a level, and rise even higher in the future doesn't belong in his inner camp, no matter how strong a GM they may be.

By now you already won your bet with [forgot his handle] before the event ,:) : Vachier-Lagrave 7/12, Nepo 5.5/12. But Nepo may not be all unhappy with his second supertournament (first one was Dortmund some years ago) - though he should quickly forget his opening disaster against Aronian and, hypothetically, he would be in the cellar with 4/12 if Wang Hao, Giri and Carlsen had all accepted a repetition draw ... .

About Kramnik: as I already wrote in the other thread, it's hard and maybe not a good idea to go all out after a painful loss. He probably expected something else than the insipid 5.Re1 from Nakamura (and earlier from Smeets). In that line it's hard to avoid exchanges, else black is just a bit worse (no real danger, but no prospects either).

From GM Rogers' live commentary at the tournament site: " "No comment," said Kramnik as he left the playing arena. "Ask him!" Nakamura was more talkative. "Today I had a choice to take a risk or not, and I decided 'Why take the risk?'. I spent most of the morning looking at 1.d4 and 1.c4 and I found some problems so I went for the Berlin. I pretty much knew I had this to fall back on." " [It's not entirely clear, but I guess "Ask him!" were still Kramnik's words]

well Anand dint win as I hoped, but he surely took risk with h4 -- something that a couple of posters here dint expect him to do.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on January 19, 2011 11:55 PM.

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