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Kasparov on Brady on Fischer

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Well, really more Kasparov on Fischer, which is how things work at the glorious New York Review of Books. I.e., don't go expecting a "8/10 stars!" Amazon-style review of Frank Brady's new book Endgame about Bobby Fischer. Anyway, it's well worth a look even if you only want to criticize my prose style. Apart from reading Brady's excellent book several times, researching for the piece was fun, going over everything from the 1972 match books to Darrach's scurrilous Bobby Fischer vs. the Rest of the World to Seirawan-Stefanovic's No Regrets on the 1992 return match. I also enjoyed looking at many contemporary accounts of Fischer's games and the huge amount of original and collected analysis in Garry's own "My Great Predecessors, Vol 4" that centers on Fischer. Tal turned simple positions into chaotic ones. Fischer often made complex positions look simple.

Ironically, after receiving the initial draft of the Garry's review, the NYRB's only substantial request was to add more about Fischer's chess! It's a lost cause trying to encapsulate commentary by one world champion on another's chess that is apt for a non-chess audience without sounding hopelessly simplistic to the chess crowd, but we gave it a brief shot. (Having to explain "simplification," for example.) It was also interesting to see the corrections and changes in the galley of Endgame we were sent and the final text. It would be unfair to go into them in public, but they did fix a few glaring errors that we picked up and, thanks to the Kindle edition coming out a few days before we submitted the article, I was able to notice that and strike reference to the mistakes from the review.

The Review article is accompanied by two photos. The second is one I'd never seen before of Fischer at a hot spring in Iceland. The caption promises a whole book of Fischer photos "many of which have never been seen before" by photographer Harry Benson in July.

On a chessy note, I was intrigued by the evaluation by Garry and another GM he cited of Karpov's candidates semifinal match win against Spassky being perhaps Karpov's greatest-ever performance. More than anything I think this should help remind us how terribly strong Spassky was. He's been overshadowed so badly by Fischer that his performances before and after the 72 match are almost ignored. Young Karpov was already the Soviet heir-apparent to beat Fischer someday, but his beating Spassky so convincingly in 74 was a surprise. Spassky had finished a point ahead of him and several others in the 73 USSR championship.


First :)

Its nice to see Kasparov taking the mantle of chess historian since his retirement. Wasn't Karpov as a boy the player that Botvinnik said had no talent?

Not sure about Karpov, but Botvinnik was definitely dismissive of Kramnik.

Yes - Botvinnik said, "The boy does not have a clue about chess, and there's no future at all for him in this profession."

Wow. The most eloquent, "chesspirational" article ever! What is most astounding is how Garry was able to maintain a calm objectivity in his review. The paradox is how Garry's own passion shines brightly from his unique perspective.

Sadly, Garry left a void when his political aspirations negated his opportunity to inspire a new generation of chess enthusiasts at the board. Especially considering the "accelerating acceleration" of chess consciousness due to the Internet. I enjoy the new elite with youngblood mates such as Magnus and Naka, but let us be real: they ain't no GK in their best day.

You tell me Mr. Mig: is there a Bobby-like or Garry-like prodigy on the chess radar for illumination of the chess firmament in the near future? Is Magnus such a rising star? Is there one with the charisma of the aforementioned predecessors? I think not.

I believe that the fate of chess now hinges upon silicon gaga. What emotion is there in that?

Spassky's *closest* Candidates match in 1966 and 1969 was 4-2 in wins over Keres. Everyone else was 3 or 4 in margin. If not for Fischer 6-0, we'd talk about it now, maybe.

Great article, great magazine. Glad you posted a new thread. I posted the NYRB link in the previous thread and there was no feedback at all! My non chess playing brother found Garry modest and humble in the previous NYRB article !!!!!!!!! I think Gazza can thank Mig for the measured and moderate approach. Classy articles.

"Not sure about Karpov, but Botvinnik was definitely dismissive of Kramnik."

Are you sure about Kramnik? Hadn't seen that before.

I'm not sure if the Botvinnik quote is reliable (I seem to remember it being pretty hard to track down), but in a recent long interview (which hopefully I'll translate eventually...) Karpov did talk about Botvinnik not having been impressed with him. Karpov admits himself he didn't know much theory (he'd come from the provinces where he says there wasn't much access to chess literature) and preferred just to play. He said Botvinnik missed the fact that not knowing theory actually meant that he'd developed a great ability to defend bad positions at the board.

That said, Karpov was selected for the first session of the Botvinnik school, so obviously he'd impressed some of the other tutors (and perhaps even Botvinnik?) at the time.

Boris Spassky is indeed underrated by contemporary chess chroniclers. He had a truly universal style, could do tactics as well as Tal and Bronstein, positional chess as well as Petrosian and endgames like Smyslov. A milder form of and precursor of Kasparov.

I'd disagree respectfully: IMHO no one could do tactics as Tal, positional play as Petrosian or endgames as Smyslov. And it was not even close, that's why these players are "reference points" for the respective style.

That being said, Spassky was a great universal player. Against a tactician he could maneuver and against a strategist he could mud the water. When watching his games one always feels the energy and "activeness". And he is a true gentleman, unlike many other great players.

"It would have been better to lose the title like Spassky did than win the title like Karpov did"

The prisoners in the gulag heard a rumor that the world chess championship was going to be played in Iceland. When a new prisoner was put into the gulag they asked him if he knew what happened in the chess match in Iceland. "I lost", he said.

Fischer beat Spassky, but lost rating points.

I think the Spassky-Keres match was in 1965?
Keres had to win the last game, as the score was 5:4 in Spassky's favour. He played accordingly, as a draw would have been useless.

Something like this (Botvinnik on Kramnik): "He is fat, he drinks, he smokes, what do you expect?"

That, at least, FIDE changed, so that the winner of a match would *never* lose rating points.

That's not true...Topalov could have beaten Anand last year and still lost rating points.

"Sadly, Garry left a void when his political aspirations negated his opportunity to inspire a new generation of chess enthusiasts at the board. ...I enjoy the new elite... but let us be real: they ain't no GK in their best day."


As great as today's players are, Kasparov is the GOAT for a reason...until someone is consistently 25-30 ELO points ahead of world #2 and wins more than half of the supertournaments every single year like he did, it won't be close. Carlsen had a shot, but his swoon last fall derailed that -- at least for now.

Good thing the article finally calls Fisher out on his gamesmanship and other sordid antics off the board which he used to destabilize his opponents and resulted in them performing worse than usual.

How much of Fisher's performance was due to these dirty tactics we won't ever know, but clearly Kasparov thinks it was a big factor, and I totally agree.

Funny the same people who condemn Topalov are more than eager to give Fisher the pass, even though Fisher's off the board thuggish behavior made Topalov/Danailov look like a pair of choir boys.

I know I'm going to get flamed for this, but it is the truth. Deal with it.

OFFtopic -

I just found out, that the Susan Polgar Blog is a fake. She is not doing the work herself. There are professinal ghost writers doing all the lines for her in her name. They even admitted it. How poor is such a comercial concept. And all the users say "Dear susan, you have done such great work, i love your blog blabla" AWFUL!!!

Ironic that Kasparov would comment on this...he and Fischer are probably the two biggest overt users of gamesmanship in chess history (and this does not contradict my stance that Kasparov is GOAT, btw). Karpov is probably the biggest covert user of gamesmanship ever.

And nothing Fischer did was as thuggish as Topalov/Danailov. At least Fischer paid for his off-the-board machinations by forfeiting a world championship game...not eliciting a forfeiture from his opponent like Topalov did (and then Topa STILL failed to win the 06 title match) !!

Also in the news, there is no Tooth Fairy, and those shopping mall Santas are not the real thing.

If you're a 'subscriber' to the Polgar twitter output, called Chessnews, you would surmise within a very short period of time - maybe one day - that Susan could not possibly produce that sort of prodigious output and also lead a life. The blog is not a bad one, and it is certainly timely, if nothing else.

"Frank Brady’s Endgame is one of those books that makes you want your dinner guests to go the hell home so you can get back to it."

Dick Cavett at the Amazon link (thanks Mig!)

Brady's book reminds us how in Fischer's day World Championship qualifiers were played around the globe, and not just in remote corners of the USSR and its satellites.

Yes, Spassky's triumphs in the 1965 and 1968 Candidates Matches were titanic. He faced a veritable Murderers' Row each time: Keres, Geller, and Tal in '65 and Geller, Larsen, and Korchnoi in '68.

Someone above asked whether Carlsen is a rising star and a Bobby-like or Garry-like prodigy. The answer is up to Carlsen, he needs to decide whether he wants to do the work required to become world champion.

I generally don't like such historical comparisons or statements, it's always a bit apples and oranges. Boundary conditions have changed and the "Soviet school" is no longer very dominant, for several reasons: Internet and engines may play a role, the demise of the Soviet Union may also play a role.

Yes, Kasparov dominated. Actually for many years Karpov was at least clear second: Garry won their WCh matches without dominating them.

Yes, currently noone dominates - which could mean two things (with the "truth" somewhere in between): noone is as great as Kasparov OR several ones are about as great as Kasparov.

I consider it rather good news that, these days, supertournaments don't have a single clear favorite. Do we really need a "GOAT"?

Mig, I thought the "simplfication" discussion was apt. Nxd7 against Petrosian is the classic exemplar.

@Knalloe: That, at least, FIDE changed, so that the winner of a match would *never* lose rating points.''

It is hard to make any sense of this. So BotvinKramnik outrates some 2600 duffer by 150 pts, wins a match +2-0=7 from playing safe, and fails to lose rating points? Just like their stupid rule that a tournament winner couldn't lose points, even when playing a consortium of weakies. Another excuse for top rated players to dodge real fights.

Spassky was 64% against 2666 competition (Chessmetrics) over the late 60s, and Fischer was 77% against 2584, so who knows who's really better? Plus Boris had a great quote "After I won the title, I was confronted with the real world. People do not behave naturally anymore - hypocrisy is everywhere.", and a great computer named after him http://WWW.Boris-Is-King.Com

Part I of Ruslan Ponomariov's answers to reader questions has now been published. It's a long and extremely good read, including a powerful look back at the match-that-never-was against Kasparov.

My introduction: http://bit.ly/gQaXId

The full text at Crestbook: http://www.crestbook.com/en/node/1429

Could do with that edit function :) My introduction is here: http://bit.ly/fTkAFD

I agree that supertournaments today are more exciting than in Kasparov's day, when you knew that if he took it seriously he was going to win. That being said, it would be nice for someone to dominate and then force the other players to match his level.

Of course, Kasparov's retirement while he was still world #1 (and right after having clinched a supertournament with a round to go) plays into this, as I think only in the last 2-3 years are people truly convinced that he wouldn't just be the clear favorite for any supertournament if he were to come out of retirement.

Good stuff, Pono comes down as genuinely nice but unfortunately still with a mania, constantly seeking recognition as a world champion on par with the Steinitz lineage. Thus, instead of a psychological fixture on the future, with a fresh hunger and bite for improvement and success, his fixture, probably unknowingly, remains on the past.

So bad for him winning that one in 2002, and after, as an insecure 18-year old boy, feeling obliged to put up a suit not yet suiting him well, litarally and methaforically... was awkward to watch and probaby uncomfortable to wear. It's nice to see him gaining a sure footing in life by now, but the core of the fixture have still remained, maybe making the chess damage permanent and degrading him to a top10 contender rather than a WC-contender. Is it too late for him to try to seek the Steinitz lineage not in the past, but in the future?

I disagree about the lack of hunger nowadays - you just need to look at the World Cup in 2009, where he only lost out to Gelfand on blitz on the very last day. The sad thing is that was his only chance of getting into the Candidates. Perhaps he could have done something in the FIDE Grand Prix, if he'd been allowed to play instead of various lower-rated players...

So, as he says, he'll have to wait for the World Cup later this year, and whatever other plans FIDE comes up with. Give him a concrete target and I think he'll always be a contender.

In an effort to defend Spassky's case from a chess literature point of view, he did play the most fantastic move ever played (16...Nc6! in the Averbakh - Spassky, Leningrad 1956 game).

Dixit the luminous Tim Krabbé at http://www.xs4all.nl/~timkr/chess/fant100.htm

[Event "URS-ch23 playoff-1pl"]
[Site "Leningrad"]
[Date "1956.??.??"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Averbakh, Yuri L"]
[Black "Spassky, Boris V"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "E74"]
[PlyCount "145"]
[EventDate "1956.??.??"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventRounds "4"]
[EventCountry "URS"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "1999.07.01"]

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 g6 3. e4 d6 4. d4 Bg7 5. Be2 O-O 6. Bg5 c5 7. d5 Qa5 8. Bd2 a6
9. a4 e5 10. g4 Ne8 11. h4 f5 12. h5 f4 13. g5 Qd8 14. Bg4 Nc7 15. Bxc8 Qxc8
16. Nf3 Nc6 17. dxc6 bxc6 18. Nh4 Qe8 19. hxg6 hxg6 20. Qg4 Rb8 21. Nd1 Ne6 22.
Ra3 Nd4 23. Rah3 Qf7 24. Bc3 Rfe8 25. R3h2 Qxc4 26. Nxg6 Re6 27. Bxd4 Rxg6 28.
Qf5 Qe6 29. Qxe6+ Rxe6 30. Bc3 d5 31. f3 Rb3 32. Rh3 c4 33. Kd2 Rg6 34. Rg1 d4
35. Ba5 Bf8 36. Rg4 Rd6 37. Kc2 Rd7 38. g6 Rdb7 39. Be1 c5 40. Rgh4 Bg7 41. Ba5
c3 42. bxc3 Ra3 43. cxd4 exd4 44. Rxf4 Ra2+ 45. Kd3 Rb1 46. Rh1 Rxa4 47. Kc2
Rb5 48. e5 d3+ 49. Kxd3 Rxf4 50. Bc3 Rxf3+ 51. Ke4 Rg3 52. Kf4 Rxg6 53. Ne3 Rb8
54. Nf5 Rf8 55. Rh5 Re8 56. Ke4 Rg1 57. Rh3 Bf8 58. Kd5 Rd1+ 59. Ke4 Rc1 60.
Kd5 Rd1+ 61. Ke4 Rd7 62. Nh6+ Bxh6 63. Rxh6 Rh7 64. Rg6+ Kf7 65. Rf6+ Ke7 66.
Rc6 Kd7 67. Rxc5 Rh6 68. Kd5 Rb6 69. Ba5 Rb5 70. Rxb5 axb5 71. e6+ Rxe6 72. Kc5
Re5+ 73. Kb6 1/2-1/2

Thanks for an interesting article. Balanced,
as far as you can balance the unbalanceable.

> His concrete methods challenged
> basic precepts, such as the
> one that the stronger side
> should keep attacking the
> forces on the board.

should possibly read

His concrete methods challenged
basic precepts, such as the
one that the stronger side
should keep the attacking
forces on the board.

Mig: Unfortunate typo on p. 3 of the online version, where simplification is being explained for non-chessniks:

"the stronger side should keep attacking the forces on the board."

The second "the" should be deleted, so that the phrase reads:

"the stronger side should keep attacking forces on the board."

"it would be nice for someone to dominate and then force the other players to match his level"

I still don't think we need a GOAT, or rather a single GOUT (greatest of our times). If one player clearly dominates, others may lose hope or motivation - they cannot match his level, no matter how hard they try. If several top players are within striking distance of each other, they will motivate and bring out the best of each other.

"I still don't think we need a GOAT, or rather a single GOUT (greatest of our times). If one player clearly dominates, others may lose hope or motivation - they cannot match his level, no matter how hard they try. If several top players are within striking distance of each other, they will motivate and bring out the best of each other."

That's just it. If one player dominates, it will test the worthiness of the others-- if they are true champions, they will fight to get better and thereby decrease or even eliminate the domination. If they are pretenders, they'll just give up and settle for being top 10 players.

I actually like the way things are now despite there being no one as dominant as GK -- I am hoping that players like Carlsen, Aronian, and maybe even Naka will start to push the envelope by winning events without taking a lot of toothless draws -- this will force others to play to win instead of playing not to lose against other superGMs, IMO.

Ponomariov always manages to give such a dispassionate and well-reasoned assessment of any life situation, win or lose. And yet, he's far from boring. One of the good guys.

How would you know if "the other players" kept fighting but simply didn't succeed, or if they gave up and settled for a top10 spot (not bad at all BTW). In any case, for me it isn't a question of 'worthiness': Timman, Huebner, Portisch, Ljubojevic (to name just a few who couldn't get past or near Karpov and/or Kasparov) were still worthy players. Even Anand became undisputed world champion only after Kasparov retired.

Actually even mediocre players like you and me are still worthy: we are both far from the world top (you're a bit closer if your claims in this forum are true) with no chance whatsoever to close the gap. Should we just quit chess because we're unworthy??


I never said that other players gave up and settled. I said that IF they did settle for staying in the top-10 without improving that they would be giving up. I never said that contemporaries of Kasparov in his prime weren't worthy of being considered elite players-- look at my original post. However, what I am saying is that with rare exception, few of them continued to get better, and so they weren't worthy of being called champions; those who did (Anand, Kramnik, Topalov) reaped the benefits of their work once Kasparov retired.

Worthiness is a subjective term of course, but I was referring to worthiness to be considered world champion. Of course players like us aren't worthy of that level (even though I did beat a few GMs during my active playing days), because we're amateurs -- or as Kasparov would more bluntly describe us "chess tourists". The talk of worthiness is about separating among the chess elite the great from the very good...who are much better than someone like me, who with an ELO > 2200 would still be statistically favored to beat more than 98% of all chessplayers.

Bottom line, I hope that we will continue to see fighting chess among the super-elite, with the grandmaster draw being the exception rather than the rule.

In the English language, the goat is the guy who screwed up enough to cost a game. The word has bad connotations; connotations that no English-speaking player would have anything to do with.

Since goat (or GOAT) is English, methinks it's use (above) as an acronym is not the smartest thing anyone came up with. I suggest something else, And GOUT is not better. Trust me.

BTW, I have never heard its use before. Not a surprise.

Almost surely whoever came up with GOAT did so tongue and cheek, knowing full well that calling someone a goat is an insult.

There is know way that link could have been overlooked by an English speaker.

BTW, I have heard the term GOAT = greatest of all time before, and if you use Google you will find plenty of usage of GOAT in that context. So, while perhaps not very well know, it's use is not entirely new either.

Right, and still confusing no matter how many dorks use it.

"I disagree about the lack of hunger nowadays"
Still, the mystery Shipov refers to (in his intro on Ponomariov) calls for an explanation.

I agree that wasn't really cleared up - my guess is that it simply took a long time to recover from the non-match with Kasparov - partly psychologically, but also practically, as it became harder to deal with FIDE and some tournament organisers, and he wasn't able to play as much as he should have done. In chess terms you have to think it would have been better to have lost to Morozevich, Svidler, or Ivanchuk in the Moscow WC in 2002.

An alternative I thought of is that slightly worse results as you get older can be due to becoming better as chess :) Ponomariov was saying this in reference to Kramnik, but it's a general point:

"But, on the other hand, I suspect that at times a healthy optimism gives you much better sporting results. You sense that particularly when you play young chess players: they don’t always evaluate positions correctly, but they play quickly and confidently."

Just a couple more quotes to encourage reading the interview :)

The verdict on the non-match with Kasparov includes:

"To me it’s obvious they conspired to support each other: Kasparov was striving to become World Champion again, and in exchange he made his peace with Ilyumzhinov and began to support him as FIDE President. I was more of a hindrance. And that’s the way I was treated. I can recall a few episodes that illustrate that..."

The episodes are pretty convincing, if you ask me. Only FIDE would leave their own champion out of the negotiation process - perhaps if Ponomariov had had a weaker character and accepted that it would have gone better, but then with a weaker character he wouldn't have won the title in the first place...

A curiosity is that Danailov was at one point advising agreeing to all of FIDE's demands - so it would be wrong to blame him (directly, at least) for the match collapsing.

Among lots of other things, Ponomariov has an intriguing idea for a more tennis-like rating list (the flaw might be appearance money!?):

"It would also be interesting if they published a rating list showing who’s earned what in prizes over the year. In my opinion, that would give a more accurate picture of who’s playing the best at the given moment."

The full interview is here: http://www.crestbook.com/en/node/1429

It would have been entirely different had Ivanchuck won that final match against Pono...


Yeah...the haters wouldn't have hated on the "illegitimacy" of the title. But the better player won; that's why Pono is a world champion and Ivanchuk isn't.

"the haters wouldn't have hated on..."

Sorry to correct again, but one doesn't "hate on." One just hates.

Oh, and just who are the 'haters', for criminy sakes? People who disagrees with you?

In this case I tend to agree with pioneer that Ponomariov has haters. For example, last year some posters questioned his Dortmund invitation ("he cannot play chess") ... and then he won the event so noone can question his re-invitation for 2011.

The general point is that the knockout format seems OK as long as the "right" player (an Elo and/or fan favorite) wins. For example, Anand fans - correctly - pointed out that their hero is the only one who became world champion in three different formats: KO, tournament and match(es).
But if the wrong one wins, it was just a lottery!? BTW, at the time Ponomariov was a rising star who had other fine results against the world top - right after winning the WCh, second in Linares (behind Kasparov, but ahead of Ivanchuk and Anand) wasn't bad at all. Only later, complete outsiders Khalifman and Kasimdzhanov won "knockout lotteries".

I agree things might have been different if Ivanchuk had won - but not so much because of legitimacy as because he probably wouldn't have driven a hard bargain over the match conditions.

As Thomas pointed out - Ponomariov was a rising star at the time (a potential World no. 1), so there shouldn't have been any real trouble in generating interest in a match against Kasparov. It also helped that he won an event that included everyone but Kramnik and Kasparov. It was a completely different story with Kasimdzhanov in Libya...


Of course, "to hate on" is nowhere to be found in proper dictionaries, but it is a slang expression with a stable and well agreed-upon meaning. Moreover, that meaning is quite distinct from the standard definition of "to hate".

Here are the definitions you'll find on Urban Dictionary (www.urbandictionary.com). I'm sure you can quicly find other sources to corroborate.

Hate on:

1 - v. To be jealous of another's success or talent.
2- v. To insult or verbally attack someone.

Someone arguing word definitions on an online *chess forum* really doesn't have the right to use the word "dorks."

Is that because words like jealous or insult are not good enough?

And to macuga, language is the coin of the realm, pardner.

I agree, and my point is that the match would most probably have taken place. It is academic whether Ivanchuck would have played to his potential in that match -- the probable result would be a Kasparov win.

But either way, that is when the landscape would have changed, especially with a K win. Having defeated the FIDE champion, would there have been a need for the future knock-outs other than to choose a challenger? And would there be any doubt that K would have held against Khalifman or Kazem?

And had Ivanchuk won, what then? Would the winner of the next knock-out be the new champ, or a challenger? Would Ivanchuk be seeded into the say, semifinals? What about a rematch with K?

We'll never know ...


Chess As Music:

"For absolutely no good reason, I found myself wondering what a chess game would sound like if played on the piano.

One can’t help but notice that algebraic chess notation maps almost perfectly to scientific pitch notation…"

Thomas, I'm one of those that say Pono won the lottery with FIDE knockouts, but so did Anand. This "three formats" nonsense is nonsense. He won the lottery once, a strong tournament another time, and then a world championship match against Kramnik.

CO, the winner of Kasparov-Ponomariov was going to play the winner of Kramnik-Leko, so we'd have got a unified champion four years sooner & then yes, I'm sure we'd have had title matches after that.

Uff Da, "lottery" just isn't the right term. Have a look at the 2002 knockout: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIDE_World_Chess_Championship_2002

Despite the format the quarter-finals included 5 of the top-7 seeded players. The two missing were Adams, who lost to Svidler, and Morozevich, who lost to Ponomariov.

i.e. all the best players made it to the final stages, or lost out to totally worthy opponents (the semis were Anand-Ivanchuk & Svidler-Ponomariov). For a random lottery it produced results amazingly similar to what you'd expect from a proper system :)

This blog is haunted by many chessic ghosts. They tend to start their worst haunting when High Priest Mig pops to the shops for milk.

"Uff Da, "lottery" just isn't the right term. Have a look at the 2002 knockout: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIDE_World_Chess_Championship_2002
Despite the format the quarter-finals included 5 of the top-7 seeded players. The two missing were Adams, who lost to Svidler, and Morozevich, who lost to Ponomariov.
i.e. all the best players made it to the final stages, or lost out to totally worthy opponents (the semis were Anand-Ivanchuk & Svidler-Ponomariov). For a random lottery it produced results amazingly similar to what you'd expect from a proper system :)"


Well said, mishanp. Unfortunately there will always be haters who denigrate events that don't suit them. The FIDE championships of 99, 00, 02, and 04 were NOT lotteries....and were far more legitimate in choosing a world champion than the 2000 classical world championship cycle, for instance.

Do you think an Ivanchuk-Leko match would have taken place? I think FIDE would have annointed Ivanchuk, and left Leko lying around like a bus-crash victim.


Leko would have been the "real" champion in almost everyone's eyes, so if FIDE didn't organise the match Ivanchuk would have been the one to lose out (as well as depriving the chess world of a unified champion).

Last thing on the knockouts - I'm still very much for matches (as Ponomariov is, if you read the interview) and for all its imperfections the 2000 match is worth a number of knockouts, but I just wanted to point out the knockout system is by no means the lottery it's often represented as. In the form of the World Cup and as qualification for candidates matches (but ideally real long matches) it's perfectly ok.

I am not so sure about Leko: Many people don't recognize him as the strong player he is or was. This didn't change when he _qualified_ for his match against Kramnik, it didn't change when he drew the match, why would it have changed if he had won the match (he actually came close)?

On knockouts, I generally agree with you - even though Uff Da's point isn't all wrong IMO (the "lottery" term is). If they were a lottery, all 128 players would have the same chances (does anyone say so?) - hence it would be improbable for the same player to win, or even reach the quarterfinals twice. For the World Cup it's perfectly OK. It doesn't matter if a favorite (Gelfand) or a relative outsider (Kamsky) wins; it doesn't matter if other favorites are eliminated by "worthy opponents" or outsiders (at various occasions, Ivanchuk lost against Nisipeanu, Seirawan and Wesley So). Actually, there may be "unworthy opponents" in early rounds, but there's no such thing as an unworthy winner.

It's also perfectly OK for "fun events" such as Cap d'Agde. It's not the best way to determine a world champion.

@ kenh

To my mind at least, "to hate on" conveys greater intensity than "to insult" or "to be jealous of". And it is of course a better fit with the whole concept of "haters".

I do recognize, however, that the expression is not part of standard english usage (yet), and I can see that it grates on your nerves - which you are well entitled to.

BTW, my post was merely meant to inform, and it was never my intention to be confrontational, if that's how it felt to you.

Off-topic (though the first question provides a link ,:) ): there is a big interview (2 1/2 pages) with Nakamura in the magazine of the Dutch chess federation, held on the second rest day of Tata. I can only translate some bits and pieces:

Q Do you have chess idols?
"Fischer, because without Fischer American chess would never be where it is now. ... The other idol is Garry Kasparov. ... Also off the board he played a big role to popularize chess, particularly with his matches against Deep Blue. Unbelievable man!" [Did the matches against Deep Blue really popularize (human) chess? Well, they were the last top events in the USA.]
Q Did you ever play yourself against Kasparov?
"I never played serious classical games against him. But we played an enormous number of blitz games on the Internet. These were roughly equal, maybe I had a slight plus score. But I didn't know then that it was Garry (laughs). I had some suspicions but wasn't sure. I only heard later."
Q Since when do you feel that other top players take you seriously?
"Only very recently, I think. Maybe they started to take me seriously after Corus last year."
Q Do the other toppers now look at you differently?
"I didn't really notice yet. I make an effort to seek shelter in my own small world. I sometimes chat a bit with other players. But when I don't play chess I am actually quite on my own. As a matter of fact, I noticed that, if you have too friendly relations with your opponents, it can sometimes be difficult to beat them over the board."
Q So you don't have any real friends among the world top?
"Not really, no. (laughs). Here in Wijk aan Zee I basically don't have a single friend. (laughs)" [not 100% true as he later - and before - mentions his second Kris Littlejohn]
Q Noone??
"No, here I focus on my chess and want to win my games. I don't search contact with others at the bar. ... I am not such a socializer during a tournament. Of course I have friends in the chess world, that's unavoidable. Almost my whole life took place in this world. But at the top I consider others as competitors. ... Hence I deliberately keep some distance."
Q What is your most important ambition in chess?
"I want to become world champion one day. I don't know if it will actually happen. But by far the most important is that I can inspire American kids with my chess, can help to make chess in the USA as popular as it once has been. This would mean much more to me than becoming world champion. ... I think that my chances to become world champion are as good as anyone's, with the possible exception of Aronian." [so he considers Aronian stronger or more dangerous than Carlsen, Karjakin, ... ?]

Overall, these quotes are, IMO, interesting while not controversial - at this occasion, I can quote without hating (on) anyone ... ,:) .

Thanks for the effort, Thomas. And certainly nothing you interpreted was of greater magnitude than insulting. I mean it never reached the magnitude of "hating on." By not mentioning Carlsen and Karjakin, Mr. Nakamura might have been insulting them, but not "hating on" them
(rolling of eyes).

Actually (problem with giving excerpts) Nakamura had mentioned Carlsen as "one of my most important rivals in the future" - just before "I deliberately keep some distance" which, however, applied to all Tata A participants.

I wonder why he gives Aronian slightly better chances than himself? Maybe because their styles are somewhat similar (at least both are also strong Chess960 players), and he acknowledges that Aronian is more experienced.

Overall, the interview - as well as the entire magazine - was geared at average club players. Hence, while long it didn't have too much depth: for example, Nakamura wasn't asked to comment on his games in any detail. Thus it isn't insulting that he didn't even mention Anand, Kramnik, Vachier-Lagrave or Giri ... .

I was hoping that you realized I wasn't actually reading an insult in that - only making a small language point.
By the way, I think a lot of players are scared of Aronian. He's the other genius in the room.

I got your point, but wasn't sure if everyone else did ... .
If one searches for a possible insult, it might be in his answer to another question:

Q You play fighting chess. Will you continue to play in such a risky way against the world top?
"My style did change a little bit recently. Earlier I always played for a win with both colors. Now, so far in Wijk, I won one game with black, lost one and for the rest had a couple of draws. Thus, with black I am no longer as aggressive as I used to be."

Hmmm, maybe the opposition in supertournaments is a bit stronger than in American Swisses? Hence even if his style hadn't changed, he would win less frequently with black. Of course an equally plausible interpretation is "I know, and overly aggressive play with black would primarily increase my _losing_ chances".

Sadly, Carlsen has demonstrated that he does NOT have the same kind of manic motivation that possessed both Fischer and Kasparov. Carlsen will undoubtedly continue to be a very super-strong grandmaster who will produce many memorable games in the years to come, games that will be highlights in any games collection. However, the likelihood of Carlsen being a prodigious chess monster in the mold of a Fischer or a Kasparov seems very remote given his current "relaxed" work ethic. The rising stars of very talented GMs will be on equal terms with him in terms of chess understanding and competitiveness, and he'll soon regret being so negligent chess-wise during a time when he should be severely challenging himself to new heights. Carlsen, apparently, is already resting on his laurels.

"Sadly, Carlsen has demonstrated that he does NOT have the same kind of manic motivation that possessed both Fischer and Kasparov"

It's a good thing if he's not like Fischer, and still has been able to accomplish more at the same age. Fischer first failed in a couple of cycles, sat out on a third and withdrew from a fourth before being winning the title, there's time for Carlsen if the FIDE title is what counts. But he has already won more top tournaments than Fischer did in his whole career, and will probably always be a much more harmonious and happy person.

Comparing players across eras is always fun, but I don't believe these comparisons are valid. Different history, different era and the different circumstances. It is doubtful that Carlsen will have the impact on chess that Fischer had... the historic landscape is totally different.

Let's see what Carlsen does or if he will win a World Championship (this appears to be what counts in chess history). Who to say what is happy and harmonious? How do you know Fischer was or was not happy? How do you know Carlsen is or is not happy? Fischer lived 64 years and Carlsen is not yet 20. In the coming years, we will find out what history will write about Carlsen.

Brad Darrach's "Bobby Fischer vs. the Rest of the World" may be scurrilous, but it's far and away the book I'd want to have if I were marooned on a desert island. Brilliantly written, it's hilarious, the most entertaining chess book ever published.

The "Kasparov on Fischer" article referred to in the link is a very impressive one. Kasparov expresses himself with clarity and intelligence and immense understanding.

Agree, even allowing for some alert copy-editing. I only caught one sentence where he sounded Russian.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the article was written by Mig, who made it perfectly clear in his post: "Anyway, it's well worth a look even if you only want to criticize my prose style."

Nothing wrong with that, and of course he's expressing what Kasparov wanted to say, but it's a bit odd to use it as a basis for complimenting Kasparov on his English!

Right. My second sentence was tongue-and-cheek. I assumed it was Kasparov's scaffolding and Mig's brickwork.

So two dudes write a book review and expect more praise than one dude who writes a whole book ...

They're sort of like "Master" and "Blaster" in the first Mad Max movie.

Third movie. And yes, what a way to live! Anyhow, it's over. Mig has climbed the mountain and achieved his ambition. Chessninja should be renewed with a new moderator or just shut down in deference to Chess in Translation.

From the Miami International Film Festival: "Bobby Fischer against the world"


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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on February 20, 2011 2:50 PM.

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