Greengard's ChessNinja.com

Not Dead, Not Sleeping

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Thanks for all the inquiries about my health. I'm fine. The post-Bazna lull led into my vacation trip, which has largely turned into a non-vacation since the ^&@#!*% book still isn't finished. It's going to be amazing if they still let us publish it so late...

I'm barely able to check the results of the World Teams and Biel, let alone look at the games or put up a post. Plus, the Movable Type software the Dirt runs on is pretty much obsolete now, it seems, so when the manuscript is done and I'm back I'll be redoing the entire back-end. I'll also be bringing in a few guest bloggers to class the joint up a little. (A little, wouldn't want to overdo it.) Do don't delete your bookmarks just yet. I'll try to tweet every few days and should be blogging again before the end of Dortmund. Consider this an open thread if anyone is still out there.

Plus, there's Biel, World Teams, and Dortmund all underway. And the World Cup pairings were just published. No Carlsen, no Aronian, no Kramnik, no Nakamura, no Topalov. Three (?!) players from the World Cup go to the 2012 candidates. One wildcard, plus Gelfand. (Sorry, Boris!) Then there are, idiotically, three who go in on rating average. (This infuriates me even more than wildcard. One of the things that made the WCh cycle special was that you had to PLAY for it and perform under that unique pressure.) This means that even if one of those five aforementioned heavyweights gets the wildcard, one of them is guaranteed to be out of the next WCh cycle. I know, it's hardly a serious cycle and Carlsen boycotted the last candidates anyway, but still. As a fan I'm always more "why not play" than "why play," and without a credible alternative at the moment it seems like it's worth showing up.


Just wondered if Cheating Herzen will be still on top... Am I the first to notice?

Welcome back, Mig, and good luck getting over the finish line with the book.

I checked in because I thought SURELY with Biel etc all happening at the same time, you'd have to post SOMETHING! :)

Good to have Mig back - I shouldn't be too harsh on him, the title of this post says it all: he wrote something to let us know that he's alive and awake ("kicking" would be too much to ask?).

Still, I am puzzled about his statements on the next WCh cycle, wondering what HE would suggest (what would have happened under a FIDE president Karpov?!):
- He doesn't like the idea of a wildcard (I am with him, but realistic enough to accept that this might be needed to find a sponsor for the candidates event)
- He doesn't like three qualifying spots from the World Cup (I am also with him, it's a bit odd that the quarter- and semifinals will, in a way, be more important than the final)
- He doesn't like rating spots. I tend to disagree, they are no free ride and require to perform well under pressure in a number of ongoing/forthcoming private/non-FIDE events (Dortmund, Bilbao, Tal Memorial, Nanjing [?], London). Read: fine with me that this is ONE way to qualify for the candidates event.
- But then, he implicitly asks for more rating spots to accomodate all of Kramnik, Nakamura and Topalov (competing with Karjakin for the third spot) ??!

The other puzzling thing is why Nakamura doesn't play the World Cup, does anyone know and understand?

I can understand Mig being busy but in that case, he should have co-admins or guest bloggers to help him run the blog and update it frequently. Mishanp would be a great candidate. Even now, most people visit this blog because of links/translations by him and few others like him.


Shipov's live from Biel here: http://biel2011.whychess.org.liveschach.net

With WhyChess I don't have time for my own site, never mind the Daily Dirt... though it did occur to me - seeing as WhyChess is probably the closest thing to KasparovChess since the demise of that site (with Mig, Shipov and co. all working for it) - perhaps Mig could start doing "Mig on Chess" again for WhyChess. Although admittedly Kasparov probably pays better :)

Personally I like the fact that some get in based on rating. Surely being top 3 in the world should count for something!?!?

3 spots from the world cup is silly though, I'd much prefer 1, and have more spots come from the grand prix. That's a much better way to find candidates as the # of games and competition is such that to win that, or place in top 3, is a much better judge of strength then the world cup is.

Interesting link there Mig. Never knew the 2011-2013 candidates were already laid down. When was that done? Ofcourse the Wch match will not be in 2013 as per what the document says. It will be 2014 I suppose.

more bile, ptui!

Yeah, I agree. It had to happen, sooner or later ;)

Maybe we should all, including Mig, should move to Whychess. How good is their forum?


Mig blogs, Thomas babbles, and Leko plays again. How I missed them!

Biel: Carlsen v. Caruana, 27 moves, game over. Next?

"I'd ... have more spots from the Grand Prix."

I would agree with you, but (sadly IMO) there will be no Grand Prix. The idea was great - maybe not the execution which suffered from the financial crisis and also from negative or overly critical reporting at various chess sites.

Vachier-Lagrave v. Carlsen today - how many moves, which result?

Well, Carlsen's position is looking miserable, but he's like the young Karpov, a tough man to beat.
Meanwhile, Ponomariov is being outplayed by Nakamura, or so it seems to me. Giri looking bad too, and Kramnik's position is not what he had envisioned methinks!

Exactly right about Carlsen. Maxime was getting somewhere it seemed just a few moves ago, but Carlsen's fortress is hard to breech with limited time.

And Thomas, I just now see your post. I wouldn't have predicted the high number of moves,but you know I would have predicted a closely fought game.

I got the colours mixed up in Naka-Pono : )
And I am sure Giri escaped somewhere, too.
meanwhile, surprise sac by Vachier-Lagrave and also Kramnik! Although Kramnik's one looks like an attempt at a drawing sac from an inferior position?

I'll add this: a win by Magnus would have been the third possible result on my predictive list after a draw and a Vachier-Lagrave win.
Now you might say, well, Magnus has the black pieces. But that hasn't stopped him from winning games lately.

OK! A fine game by Maxime to beat the #1 wunderkind. The coolest thing about it? Houdini had no frickin' idea what was happening toward the end. While Shipov recognized Maxime's clear winning chances by move 80, Houdini gave the position just plus .17 for white!
I love that.

Carlsen must have felt like sitting on the wrong side of the board, normally he tortures the opponent in such a way - often successfully in the end. In fairness to Houdini (and other engines) they may well be right that Carlsen could have held the position, and Houdini him/herself would have managed: all it takes is do nothing in the proper way, but 80.-Qe6 happened to be the wrong square for the queen ... .

Kramnik's sac did force a draw, but he had declined a move repetition just two moves before. So it was more about finding a "nice" draw and maybe giving the opponent one final opportunity to go wrong?

Did you also mix up the colors in Giri-Meier? Engines gave thee current wunderking (Carlsen is now an adult) a slight advantage throughout, but Meier kept everything together ... until he ran into a fairly simple tactical shot.

No, I read the game as Meyer doing pretty well for a long time (preferred his position) and then losing the thread! of course as a pretty bad player my judgement is open to criticism.

I agree. Kramnik was giving his opponent a chance to make a mistake. He didn't.

Shipov also thought the computers had mis-evaluated the V.-L.- Carlsen finale.

Dortmund? What's happening with Hikaru there? Hopefully just a slow start for him.

Some of Nakamura's recent opening choices look like they've been influnced by Kasparov's style. When one fiddles with one's style, one can get subpar results.

Nakamura tried to press Kramnik in a position with no rational justification: 27.Bxa7 was risk-free. If a weakie like me can see that Black is better after 27...b6, then so did Nakamura. It is hard to be both hyper-competitive and pragmatic.

It seems Nakamura was trying to win by not going for Bxa7. Otherwise why would anyone not exchange a and c pawns for blacks connected a and b pawns. Well this may be a lesson to him.

Very long, but also a very good read! Part 2 of Levon Aronian's Crestbook interview is finally available in English:


Thanks Colin.

So Mig has no time to make any posts but has time to read and censor comments? Ho ho there is life in the bald guy yet :) does this mean an end to the dreaded Chess Auditor?

VALCHESS:Which well-known journalists do you rate? What’s your opinion on the “stars” – Genna Sosonko, Mig Gringard, Yury Vasiliev, Ilya Odessky – or perhaps there’s someone else I haven’t named?

ARONIAN: I rate Genna Sosonko and Ilya Odessky. I even recommend some of their writing to people who are far removed from chess.

Good to know :)

Why Nakamura did not play 27.Bxa7? should be a draw may be. After 27. Bd4 he was suffering with that ugly Bishop. And Kramnik needs 7 points now to reach 2800 level - www.2700chess.com Anybody knows what was wrong with 27. Bxa7?

27. Bxa7 was "wrong" because it leads to a draw - and Nakamura doesn't like draws ... .

Moro-Shirov was quite a game today.

Unbalanced opening, sacrifices, time-pressure, errors on both sides, superb play on both sides, it had everything. These players are crazy.

It seems true. Nakamura not wanting a draw will mean another loss for him today against Meier ... if Meier finds 37.a6

ken and his wet dreams...

the nak is having a tourney to remember indeed!

Whatever still happens in Meier-Nakamura (and Le-Pono), Kramnik is probably already enjoying dinner. He would have joined the 2800 club today - if only he had skipped the candidates event (like Carlsen did) ,:) .

looks like Kamsky is ready to be the top rated American again! If this keeps up, it will be official. After Nakamura resigns to Meier then Kamsky will be #10 on the live rating list and Nakamura #11

Nakamura may not be guaranteed anything, if his rating falls to 2750.

Looks like Kamsky is about to pass him anyway.

Intriguing geometrical patterns in Meier-Nakamura. All those pawns on black squares should give Meier quite a few options to win by forcing exchanges, or even sacrificing his bishop. But where to put his king? The blocked pawn chains seem to slide towards the poor white king.

Meier can still throw the game away (not win it). And I wouldn't place Nakamura below Kamsky just yet. Kamsky is to be respected, but Hikaru is a fighter as we've seen. He'll figure out what to do to stay near top ten, if not in it.

More like Meier is a joke of all jokes.

If George Meier is a joke, what does that make you?

No, Meier is just not as strong as Hikaru Nakamura. Add to that Nakamura's counted-on stubborn defense, and you had an uncertain outcome that went to Hikaru. Another way to look at the game is that Meier nearly beat his much higher-rated opponent.

Perhaps the best way to look at it is that timetrouble is the mother of all errors.

It's funny how usually the people who criticize the most also fail to provide alternative variants and examples of where "those patzers" were wrong. I, for one, failed to see a really clear path to win in Meier-Nakamura and i fear the computer wasn't helping particularly in such a peculiar position. And for the rest of the tournament, well, we can say Nakamura is learning; it's not only to get to the top, the hardest part is to stay there when you may have (and you will) a bad tournament or a series of them. It's a big pleasure to see Morozevich back and Shirov giving him fire, and it seems that Vachier-Lagrave keeps progressing. As for Carlsen, better he doesn't start playing well all the time or the rest are doomed. It's incredible how he manages to outplay his oponents: the position seems completely drawish and you are wondering how he got into it with white and then, a couple of moves later his oponent is desperate and trying to find a save which doesn't exist...

Kramnik clearly lacks motivation after the candidates. He's lost focus after seeing the World Championship challenge speed off into the distance for another couple of years :-)

Was actually expecting him to have a negative reaction......

40. Nc8 wins 40 Nc6 wins 40 Kxh2 wins 43 Kxh3 wins 100 Qf5+ wins 113 h5 wins

Like Sierawan elsewhere, Morozevich is showing why he got into the elite ranks in the first place with a strong tournament in Biel so far. A few unfortunate middle-game choices by Vachier-Lagrave today, and Moro grabs another full point.

"If 49.Kf3 then things were decided by 49...Re6! 50.h5 Bc3 and any white combinations that follow would only be death throes."
Shipov on Shirov-Carlsen

Who is a more entertaining game commentator than Shipov? That's right, no one.

oh c'mon ken ... pls start with the hero worship. the prat won (!)

Carlsen has this uncanny ability to beat anyone under 2750 from equal positions by trying hard and creating complications.Others especially world champion Vishy Anand can never do this consistently. That's why Carlsen is special.

fair point ron, except that the critical number there is 2750 and even more critical is that it backfires sometimes as with giri sometime back and VL in Biel.
further, brwonie points for carlsen count for squat when he is clearly petrified about facing anand in a WCH match and had to make up stories to avoid the face-up. his one-one record against anand is nothing special even if you consider post carlsen hitting 2750.
he will end up being the laughing stock of the chess world if he does in fact make it to a wch match in the next cycle against anand (assuming anand wins against gelfand) and then tries his 'i will create complications' strategy against the best damn defender in world chess, EVER.
good luck to the prat

"he is clearly petrified about facing anand in a WCH match and had to make up stories to avoid the face-up. his one-one record against anand is nothing special even if you consider post carlsen hitting 2750.
he will end up being the laughing stock of the chess world"

Yes, that would be nice for you, being relieved from the task.

"Others especially world champion Vishy Anand can never do this consistently. "

Sorry, are you new to chess? How long has Carlsen been in chess world? and how long has Anand been? Curious as to how you can use such superlatives such as "never consistent" when you are talking about Anand. Carlsen has done well over the last 3 years and managed to win a lot of games. Anand has done well over the last 20 years. Its a bit too early to compare the two in terms of consistency.

If consistency requires a 20 year track record, then we have only recently witnessed the birth of Magnus Carlsen, and nothing he has achieved in his brief time upon this planet counts as far as you are concerned.

However, even Anand recognizes this chap is special. Perhaps you don't because you're new to chess yourself?

I guess you are ironic about Kramnik's "lack of motivation". As a matter of fact, history might repeat itself: after losing the WCh match against Anand (and a break of several months: fatherhood, recharging batteries, working on his chess and his playing style) he came back as strong as ever - winning (though not completely dominating) Dortmund, winning Tal Memorial.
It remains to be seen if Vlad's "friend" Topalov is capable of the same thing ... .

As to Nakamura: Methinks he's about to establish himself as an Ivanchuk-Shirov-Morozevich type player - great in one event, not-so-great in the next one. It doesn't really surprise me - he has a somewhat similar style and his entire career had ups and downs, even though he was moving up on average or in the long term. Not bad at all, but maybe not enough to play a serious role in the WCh race.

Lol... I never mentioned anything about whether Carlsen is special or what he has achieved. I was talking about someone mentioning "never consistent" for Anand. Its amazing how you find my remark as something against Carlsen. If its not clear, take a deep breath and read my previous comment again.

I will add that its obviously lame when someone calls Carlsen special and argues that by comparing it to Anand's inconsistency. My remark was only against the reason and not on the claim.

I guess I'll start laughing at Carlsen when he is 26 and hasn't qualified for a WC match. Isn't that how old Anand was before he first qualified?

Carlsen and Anand are probably equally VERY scared of each other. No one in their right mind would bet on either to win because the result would be in doubt and strung out to as many games as could be played. That's the feeling I have (and probably the feeling of many others). There is mutual respect. Ask them, but ask them now. By the time Magnus is 26, most of the smart money will be on him regardless of whether Vishy Anand can hold his current strength at that age.

"he will end up being the laughing stock of the chess world if he does in fact make it to a wch match in the next cycle against anand (assuming anand wins against gelfand) and then tries his 'i will create complications' strategy against the best damn defender in world chess, EVER."

What about Tolya, Tigran, Lasker, Kramnik et al Anand is wonderful at everything but dont see him being the best ever at anything. Thats not meant as an insult, he's just a terrific all rounder

Ermhh, we're kind of doing this thing here where we simply ignore the pubescent rantings from George (and his alter ego James).

His schtick might have been interesting in the 90's, when trolling was a new phenomenon to most, but modern research shows that it's better for everyone when the children's cawing for attention goes unanswered.

"As to Nakamura: Methinks he's about to establish himself as an Ivanchuk-Shirov-Morozevich type player - great in one event, not-so-great in the next one. It doesn't really surprise me - he has a somewhat similar style and his entire career had ups and downs, even though he was moving up on average or in the long term. Not bad at all, but maybe not enough to play a serious role in the WCh race."

Very fair points. I am disappointed that Naka isn't playing in the World Cup...maybe he's hoping that St. Louis organizes the candidates and chooses him over Kamsky as a wildcard? The top players should hope that Karjakin advances far enough to get one of the 3 World Cup spots, b/c he's currently the #3 rated player to be invited to the Candidates according to the July list (although with Kramnik's awesome performance at Dortmund thus far, he may take that #3 spot away by the time of the January 2012 list) -- Carlsen and Aronian are almost guaranteed places in the next cycle given their July ratings.

Anyway, Naka still needs to improve to be a consistent threat for the WCh -- and I'm as big a fan of him as anyone on this board -- b/c now he is more of a marked man by the top players than he has been before. I expect that he will continue to improve, though :).

I'm pleasantly surprised at Vlad's Dortmund performance. I presumed his main motivation in last couple of years was to regain worl Championship and feared he might slowly fade away after the candidates disappointment.

I think Topalov is finished.....

You have an interesting take on Naka. Could be true. I have a mistaken prejudice against Naka that all the bullet play etc means his classical play lacks depth. I know (1) this is stupidly superficial (2) I'm not in a position to judge and (3) i can't help but think it :-)

If Carlsen wasnt scared, he would've taken part in the Challengers. He was petrified. You can live in denial. But his window of opportunity to sieze his chance of being the youngest WCH ever just escaped him. Next time around he will have to deal with even bigger challenges.
Anyone who thinks Carlsen is going straight to the WCH table as the next challenger is being fed horse gram. His job is just going to get tougher as the likes of karjakin, giri, aronian get stronger. And dont discount nakamura - their record is one sided but nothing is a given.
Carlsen blew his best chance - you can only hope he gets another
Brian, yes I have studied many of their games, I will still stick by what I said - you can call him houdini or bobby moore, but Anand is extremely tough to beat. Maybe easy to draw and lower on wins - but extremely tough to beat.

The only match I can recollect Carlsen played was long back against Aronian during 2007 wch cycle and he lost that one -- Well it was a 6 game match and was tied at the classical stage and Aronian won the tie-break. Still when you consider match play its all about nerves be it classical or rapid. Considering that is a while back, Carlsen's play in match is more of an unknown parameter and his nerves have not yet been tested in match play since then.

My question for you, Brian, is compared to what? Is his understanding thinner than Carlsen's? Thinner than Anand's? Thinner than Kramnik's? Thinner than Karjakin's and Aronian's and Gelfand's understanding? Likely yes to all, but we're talking about a very small number of people in the entire world who are stronger than Hikaru. He would be stronger than them if only he hadn't played speed chess? Anyway, we don't have any idea how much the others play or played bullet or blitz. Carlsen has played a lot on ICC. So has Vachier-Lagrave, who shows deep understanding of the game regardless of his current rating.

Two interesting (upset) game results in Dortmund: Anish Giri (black) holding Nakamura to a draw, and Georg Meier (black) drawing Le Quang.

Indeed it's hard to predict how Carlsen would fare in match-play. That one against Aronian was a long time ago, the armenian was the heavy favourite and while general consensus seemed that he was playing better he only got through after the tiebreaks. So if anything, Carlsen should be quite strong as one can say he managed to hold a stronger oponent in a match in which he established the record for the youngest candidate in history (if i remember correctly) To sum it all, go figure how strong he really is :)

Sorry but your statement "he managed to hold a stronger oponent in a match" is not true. Carlsen lost that match. That is the fact. Bringing in the differences in classical and tie-breaks is only for arguments sake. The rules of the match were laid down before. Carlsen is very strong, but how his nerves will play in a match -- in a do or die (wait for another cycle) situation ... is unknown and history (just the one match) is not in his favor.

Harish, I think you have a good idea how Carlsen's nerves would hold up. Any guy that could hold an opponent's feet to the fire in a marathon endgame as long as Magnus can - and then come up with a victory - is someone with good nerves. Also, we've seen what happens after he loses a game, which is rarely. He gets right back up and slugs it out until he's back on top of the tournament. There's nothing wrong with his constitution.

Actually, Kramnik might still have a chance to regain the world championship: after all, he is about five years younger than Anand and Gelfand (and much younger than Korchnoi during his matches against Karpov ...). How good his chances against the younger generation in the next cycle are - not just Carlsen, but also "semi-young" Aronian, Karjakin, maybe Nakamura, maybe someone like Vachier-Lagrave qualifying via the World Cup - who knows and it doesn't really matter. What matters is if he himself believes in his chances and can motivate himself accordingly.

On the other hand, if he isn't motivated any more, he might as well (meet his remaining contractual obligations and) retire. Apparently not yet an option for Kramnik, maybe for Topalov.

Excuse my english but what i meant was that he managed to hold the match until the tiebreak which was regarded as quite an achievement since Aronian was a hot favourite to win the candidates at that time. In any case, the main point was that it's unpredictable how he will fare in a match now or in a relatively short time, which anyway isn't going to happen, apparently (we're all witnesses, FIDE) So the bigger pity he leaped the whole cycle since as you may agree, right now he would be a strong favourite himself and fans would be excited to see if he can translate his current strenght into matches. In any case, how great could it be if for the next candidates we could get Carlsen, Kramnik and Topalov (with all the rest, of course)

Sure Carlsen bounces back from losses incredibly well. He showed that in London last year and here as well. But by nerves I am more referring to the match situation where you know if you make one slip a big dream of yours has to wait for 2 years. And also the fact that you spent so much time preparing for it...payed your seconds to prepare... all the energy focused on that match. all these contribute to nerves during the play. I am just saying we have not seen Carlsen in such a situation to know what he can produce. His chess skills ofcourse is now ubiquitous.

Good point, because matches are different from tournaments. We don't know how well he would prepare for a match, nor how he would manage seconds and derive the best help from them. Anand has a proven preparation track record and has come up with great support teams.

Just to continue, maybe that can offset the age difference (which usually means calculation power). Maybe not. Anand also obviously has significant experience in matches and professional chess as well. I still wouldn't put good money on him - or on Magnus - though I would if the opponent for either was anyone else.

Well, I might sit on the sidelines if it was Aronian.

One simple change would make the World Cup more legit: make the event double-elimination (similar to the old format of the College World Series in US baseball).

The pairings would be nightmarish, but one could even count a draw in a two-game match as "half a loss": four drawn matches would also equal elimination. Blitz playoffs could be eliminated.

"But by nerves I am more referring to the match situation where you know if you make one slip a big dream of yours has to wait for 2 years. And also the fact that you spent so much time preparing for it...payed your seconds to prepare... all the energy focused on that match."

If he ever qualifies for a world cup match, I hope he shows up with his father as a second, a rusty old 386 laptop and pocket edition of "Tal-Botvinnik, 1960" for preparation, and spend the evenings relaxing in the hotel spa.

It's not his "big dream" to become world champion - he's too young to have experienced any of the truly epic title matches, so it's just not that big a deal for him. You guys on this forum obsess way more about the title than he (and likely any of the players) does.

You're on to something.

Yeah, high quality sativa!
What a load of tush.

Another good showing for Vachier-Lagrave against the juggernaut Carlsen (after Wijk aan Zee), who will now win Biel 2011. Makes one think that in a match they'd be real close.

Kramnik just hit 2800 on the live rating, gents!
Welcome back big Vlad

Yeah, who would have expected that Kramnik already secured "his usual +2" with three rounds remaining? Fact is that he often scored +3 when he won Dortmund, but for a +5 score we have to go back to the previous millennium - his first two wins in 1995 and 1996.

Oh, if only we could fast forward to December for the London classic. But I have a bad feeling Anand will hide his prep as the WCH would less than 6 months away

I don't want to fast forward to December, don't want to miss Tal Memorial!

Is Vlad the best ever at playing queenless middlegames? Meier must have feared the worst after he traded queens........

He's not bad :) The official site has comments from Meier, who says he blundered with 24...Nb8 and "almost wanted to resign" after 25.Na4. I mentioned it in my report on the round (yes, I'm not sure how I've ended up doing that either...): http://whychess.org/en/node/1107

There's also quite a big news story, with Gelfand "expressing concerns" about the Indian World Championship bid: http://whychess.org/en/node/1120

I must admit, from the point of view of definitely having a well-run match (which takes place...) Moscow's clearly the best option, but on the other hand, it'd be much more interesting to see some chess played somewhere different for a change!

And yet again Magnus wins a tournament scoring heaving against the tail and having a negative score against the 2nd & 3rd placed guys. Yet another reminder why a round round should never be used for deciding the world champion.


*round robin


How did the second- and third-placed guys do against the tailenders?

Amazing, really amazing, save by Kramnik today.

Clarification: His score against Morozevich is equal not negative. It is negative against Vachier-Lagrave who is 3rd placed.

But yes he did score heavily against the others.

I am trying to recollect who mentioned this thing about Le Quang that he is an unbelievable calculator but if only he had some amount of Russian schooling he would be world champion material. Today's game speaks a little on that note.

As a matter of fact Le Quang received quite some Russian training, he has worked with Khalifman and even Bareev if i'm not mistaken.

Right Steven, it was Khalifman who said this about Quang "But at the moment all he does is calculate and calculate variations. He calculates very well, by the way" in KC conference I believe.

Does it occur to you people that the people at the end are at the end partly because losses to Carlsen put them there?

So Carlsen wins the second chess oscar in a row http://www.whychess.org/en/node/1128

sorry should've been clearer..I meant his combined score against the 2nd and 3rd i.e. 1.5/4 (not a big fan of the football scoring either)

I read that interview, but I'm not sure why Le Quang Liem would need "Russian training". There is some value in those methods, but perhaps there are different methods that are more dynamic and flexible. Many of the rising, new age GMs do not seem to take the "old school" style of training as the standard. The Norwegian School seemed to work well for Carlsen and the Chinese School seems to work for the Chinese GMs. Theories of training are evolving.

As this article http://www.chessintranslation.com/2011/03/le-quang-liem-and-the-soviet-school-of-chess/ mentions a chess school is more concerned with positional understanding. So its not really "Russian training" that is needed by anyone, but in general a good school of thought on positional understanding. Khalifman mentions as to how it is difficult to learn this from even good books.
Tomashevsky mentions in the same article that "Le Quang Liem is less governed by positional considerations than by concrete calculation" even though that may well be the future for chess (computer like)

Not quite relating to "school", but Aronian said something that might be relevant recently: http://www.crestbook.com/en/node/1547

"- Are there, in your opinion, books which a young and developing chess player with serious intentions can’t skip without harming his prospects?

Aronian: As recent years have shown, a knowledge of classical chess literature is losing its importance. I think reading different books has more of an influence on the style rather than the quality of your play."

Indeed, tailenders were tailenders because Carlsen beat them - this even "tiebroke" between Vachier-Lagrave and Shirov: both scored 5 classical or 12 football points, but Sonneborn-Berger favors the Frenchman (1.5/2 against Carlsen, 0/2 against Morozevich) over the Spatvian (0/2 and 1/2).

So - even if I agree with his main point - Anand Nair's comment makes no sense at all. Also a WCh tournament would be a different story: no clear favorite, maybe everyone has at least an outsider chance for first place. So you cannot succeed just by beating weak players because there are no weak players around.

Summing up Biel: For Carlsen it's "mission accomplished", but second place would have been a deception hence first place isn't a BIG success. For me, the real hero is Morozevich - and it reminds me a bit of Bazna where second-place finisher Karjakin (in that case by the smallest possible tiebreak margin) was also relatively ignored. Vachier-Lagrave showed his potential, his tournament would have been perfectly OK if he hadn't hallucinated in his first game against Moro. Shirov neither impressed nor deceived - taking into account that he was a last-minute replacement for Gashimov. Pelletier did what he could ... . So only Caruana can be genuinely unhappy.

It would be tempting to write a similar summary for Dortmund, even if two rounds still have to be played ... .

But aren't we talking about a very advanced level of chess instruction, because unless you're Jose Raul Capablanca, there is a ton of basic knowledge that one has to glean before he/she can choose between "methods."

And the so-called "Russian School" to me is about playing the game as if you're going straight into an ending in your favor, along with principles such as not exposing your king unduly. The Norwegian/Philipines computer-assisted school of learning doesn't adhere so much to those 'principles.' So, you can expose your king in a way that would scare most Russians as long as you can calculate a way to an advantage.

I know I'm oversimplifying, but am I way off base?

We were writing at the same time, Thomas. Nice comment.

Chapeau to Daaim as well.

I think what Aronian meant was that there is no longer a better method so you're ok if you pick a bit here and there as long as you keep learning. Not that i completely agree even if i see his point. As for what you think is the Russian School, you are either provocative or just don't know what you're talking about (I don't intend to be mean nor provocative myself, just sincere even if that's a bit blunt) For a hint, Tal was also from the Russian chess school, along with Bronstein. They knew how to play endings, but as with Kasparov, that didn't mean they would only aim for that.

I remember a GM (from the former Soviet bloc) saying that the Russian school was a myth and there was no unitary system that defined it. This player explained that you had different trainers with different ideas and different methods. With the Soviet system, you had the Russian School, the Armenian School, Latvian School, etc. So there was no one school. I believe that because post-Soviet Russians dominated chess for so long they had to associate it with a particular system even though there is no unified system. When I hear Russian GMs say "Russian School of Chess" they are living in the glorious past. I think Aronian made some very interesting comments.

Right, I should clarify. I see and hear a lot about Dvoretsky as being the premiere trainer in Russia, so I associate (perhaps wrongly) the Russian School with him first and foremost, even knowing that he's only the most recent rep of it - as I see it. Dvoretsky stresses the endgame. He believes that you become proficient there first. That doesn't mean you neglect all else or play only for the endgame, but it is always in the back of your mind as you play through the middlegame.

The way i see it (having had a very little coaching from Russian trainers) is that they care a lot about the linking between the opening and middlegame and the middlegame and the finals, with plans already from the very beginning. The importance of learning endings is (and that i've also experienced myself) that you're much more confident in the middlegame (but also in the opening, since they're so to say more connected in this school) knowing when and how to make the transition into a favourable endgame. But i also think Daaim made a very good point, there's no single method, but several. Also you can tell there were some "schools" more related to important trainers in the past, like Chebanenco or Dvoretsky himself but also that tends to dilute with time.

The ideas I am reading here about "Russian Chess School" are merely common practices espoused by so many different people over the years. Chess is a collective consciousness where contributions have been made by so many people. Where would chess be if we have tournament after tournament like the Candidates Matches where 27/30 classical games were drawn by players from the Russian School of Chess (that Kasparov bragged about in a recent New in Chess article)? Le Quang Liem perhaps needs someone to work with, but he has to find the right method that suits HIM.

Maybe we should emphasize "school" more than "Russian". School basically means systematic training by humans rather than computers, by whichever approach or philosophy, could be personalized or group training. Fact is that - while there may be no such thing as "the" Russian school - that Russia has a lot of respected, experienced and successful coaches (some of them more or less sacrificed their own chess careers). Le Quang Liem, Carlsen, Karjakin, Caruana ... all do or did work with Russian coaches, be it incidental or on a regular basis. Giri's coach is Russian expat Chuchelov. Joining (one of several) Russian school(s) may not be mandatory, in any case it doesn't hurt.

I do not understand why Le Quang Liem's game against Kramnik was brought up to introduce this topic. He got an advantage (more than anyone else but Meier in his first game could claim against Kramnik) which he couldn't convert - it might have been objectively won at some stage but Kramnik defended well. Concerning your remark about draws: Le Quang Liem scored +1=7, "the Soviets" had noticeably more decisive games - not just Kramnik but also Ponomariov (+3=2-3) and Giri (+2=4-2). The candidates event is another story: extremely strong field and a lot at stake.

I cannot resist: if one Dortmund player might need a coach, it's Nakamura who proudly stated that he never read a chess book. He obviously achieved a lot "his way", but maybe a different approach is required now to stabilize or further improve.

There was an interesting comment from Konstantin Landa in a Dortmund review that just appeared at ChessPro, saying that there was a time when young players could beat their more experienced colleagues because their opponents weren't using computers in the same way. But he says that time's already passed - so maybe "school" is more important nowadays? (though I agree with all the provisos - e.g. there were lots of "schools", no unified style, and in many ways it was also just a huge quantity of chess players in the Soviet Union turning into quality - i.e. those who made it to the schools were already very talented).

I put the Landa quote up here: http://www.whychess.org/en/node/1136

I think the "Russian school" is a misleading term, "Soviet school" or "former Eastern Bloc school" are probably more correct, with of course differences between different coaches from different republics of the former SU. I think however the essence, the fundament of the "school" was and is the drilling method, repetition and pattern recognition. Lol of course there is no Norwegian school, and the Chinese school is a mere continuation of the Soviet school.
Carlsen is a genius born in Norway, with a chess playing dad who brought him to the royal game. The birth of this genius has nothing to do with a school, just as Fischer was not the product of the (non-existing) American chess school. As Thomas pointed out, the predominance and influence of the "Soviet school" through former Soviet trainers and players in many countries is still overwhelming. Of course things are evolving, the world is changing and because of more openness and spreading of information, an increasing popularity of the game in quite some countries and thanks to the internet and computer programs, we will see more and more strong chess players from countries without a chess school and tradition. This seems a natural and logical evolution. You cannot provoke the birth of a true genius (Capablanca, Alekhine, Morphy,Fischer,Carlsen,Kramnik, Kasparov,Tal), it is a coincidence that they are born here or there. However, the strength of a school is proven by strong players who are not geniuses. I remember an interview with Vitiugov, who read a read a thought of Korchnoi in a book, it was something like "I was not a wonderboy, i found chess difficult to learn and to make progress in it". Maybe Korchnoi was a bit too critical for himself, but Vitiugov recognised himself in those words. The fact that a school/country can make really strong grandmasters out of people who are not born with an axtraordinary/unique intelligence proves it's success.

By the way, there is a chronological relation between Le Quang's "russian training" and his rise and successes (2x winner of Aeroflot open). I don't know if there's a causal relation, but it's far from unlikely.

Citing Kazan in order to minimize the Soviet/Russian chess school is really a lousy example, a sofism without any intellectual value.

The problem with you, Daaim Shabazz, is that you have a predetermined, self-defined vision of the future of chess and the world, and that you're adapting the reality and truth to it.
Everyone does it a littlebit, but in your case it's blatant.

No need for insults here. And by the way, the Norwegian/Philipines school statement was facetious. To be exact, it is the school of self-discovery with reference to Magnus and Wesley, both of whom have been trained, but also managed to figure things out on their own - and/or with the help of the computer.

Surely Nakamura is and was easily winning? Looks very much to me like Kramnik's whole sac was unsound. There were never enough pieces involved in the attack. Anyone got other ideas? Was it initially sound only to founder later?
Would be a nice consolation for Nakamura, pickpocketing Kramnik's 2800 club membership card.

Resigned! Long live the KID!!

It depends what's meant with "sound" - engines (both Stockfish and Houdini) seem to 'think' it was good enough for a draw: Kramnik had to play 32.Nd6: (rather than 32.Ng5) to regain some material and play with three pawns for a bishop.

As to the state of the KID: other Dortmund games were Kramnik-Ponomariov 1-0, Meier-Nakamura 1/2 (black was lost) and Pono-Nakamura 1-0. In today's final round, maybe Kramnik saw no need to reveal whichever ideas or secrets he has in store as nothing (but Elo and prestige) was at stake - and then wanted to have some fun. In a reverse similar but not identical situation, Nakamura had steered the game towards a quick draw with white against Kramnik (Tata last January).

Congrats to Vladdy on an awesome performance. Also nice to see Naka not throw in the towel at the end (i.e. with two quick draws) and actually fight to win -- he now has a plus score against Kramnik with the black pieces -- doubt there are many other players (if any) who can say that. Of course, he also has a minus score against Vlad with the white pieces :).

When is the Russian Superfinal? Looking forward to seeing Kramnik, Karjakin, Grischuk, Moro and Nepo in action, among others.

"In a reverse similar but not identical situation, Nakamura had steered the game towards a quick draw with white against Kramnik (Tata last January)."

The situation was definitely not identical, and not even that much reverse in nature -- the Naka/Kramnik game was in the penultimate, not final round, and that tournament was still very much up for grabs when they played.

Here, Kramnik had nothing to lose but rating points, so he went for the 2800 rating. I applaud his fighting spirit...would have liked to have seen much more of this from him when he was world champ.

Thanks for your input. If the maximum he can get is three pawns for a bishop in the middlegame, I would deem it unsound. Also, it is one of the more critical lines of the KID, the Bayonet Attack, which is a pest to meet. The exchange variation and the other line used by Ponomariov both had more to do with White just playing better than Black's position being theoretically in bad shape. Black looked fine all along in the present game.
I can understand him playing for fun but I don't really get what idea was behind the sac-where he thought his compensation would be or what he miscalculated. But maybe he was starting to dislike his position and just took a gamble.

The Russian Superfinal is "in August" and must finish before the World Cup starts 26th August. As Kramnik and Morozevich probably get a little rest after Dortmund/Biel, and many players (all but Kramnik?) need a little break before the World Cup, I guess it's the second and third week of the month starting tomorrow.

In the meantime, we spectators can take a rest ... or follow "weak opens" such as Politiken Cup in Denmark (12 GMs rated 2600-2680, top seed Peter Heine Nielsen, from a US perspective including Robert Hess) and Hogeschool Zeeland Chess Tournament in the Netherlands (Naiditsch and five 2600ers, from a US-Dutch perspective including good ol' Seirawan).

The Russian Championship seems to run from the 7th-15th August, at least according to the event calendar on the RCF website.

No shame in Sierawan grabbing four and half points at World Cup.

I put up a report on the last round of Dortmund and included all the players' assessments of how the tournament went from the official website: http://www.whychess.org/en/node/1141

Thomas, if you happen to look at it, could you point out anything blatantly wrong with the English? :) I have to confess to mainly cleaning up Google's translation of the German. I'm particularly unsure about Giri wondering if he should turn pro (both linguistically and conceptually!).

Comments from the players at the Dortmund homepage http://www.sparkassen-chess-meeting.de/2011/ , (probably back-)translated from German:

Kramnik: "When I won the tournament for the seventh or eigth time it felt nice, but one time more or less doesn't really matter. This time [his tenth victory] it's significant because it is a nice round number. It's also nice because Kasparov won Linares nine times and now I can say that, in this respect, I am clearly ahead of him. ... I am also very satisfied with my play and result. Even today's game against Nakamura was very interesting. If I had won the last game, which was within the realm of possibilities ("im Bereich des Möglichen"), it would have been an absolutely extraordinary result. But now it's still excellent." (followed by plenty of compliments to town, organizers, venue, audience ... finishing by "I would be very happy if I am invited for the 40th edition next year")
[His tenth victory was highlighted by the organizers - see the picture on the homepage, maybe they had already made that special trophy last year? He grabbed the opportunity to say 'hello' to Kasparov ... . But I wonder when he was happy with his position against Nakamura.]

Shorter excerpts from the others:
Le Quang Liem: "I am happy that I got the chance to participate. I think I played pretty well."
Ponomariov: "After winning last year, basically any other result is bad. ... It maybe played a role that - due to the World Team Championship - I didn't have a second with me this time. Last year Efimenko helped me a lot."
Giri: "It was an average tournament with ups and downs. ... When I play my best chess, I can certainly keep up with the world top. Here I didn't play that well, neither did a few of the other players (referring to Ponomariov and Nakamura)."
Nakamura: "For me it was a very difficult tournament. ... In the middle of it I forgot how to play chess. ... Altogether the tournament wasn't good, but at least there was some sort of happy end."
Meier: "In summary I can say that everything that could go wrong did go wrong. ... Now I am totally exhausted. I have the impression that I couldn't recover any more after my three very long games in rounds 3-5 (6.5/6.5/8hours). ... Well, of course for me it's a valuable experience. Ten games at this level where everyone wants to beat me, that's psychologically a totally new situation and therefore takes so much energy."

Oops, we typed simultaneously (as you can imagine, it takes a while to translate and - in my case - to choose excerpts).
Slight comments/corrections to your (Google-)translation:
- Kramnik really said "_clearly_ ahead of Kasparov" (klar vorne)
- With respect to Giri's final paragraph, you got the essence but "I must stop having the extra headache of constantly asking myself whether I'll be a pro or not." should rather be "I don't need to make myself extra headaches" - in other words, currently he doesn't think about it, at least not every single day ... .

P.S.: I like your headline "Kramnik beats Kramnik" ... .

Thanks! I made some changes.

I'm not really sure about the headline :) I originally had a proviso something along the lines of: "of course Nakamura played good, sensible, accurate chess, but it was nevertheless all about Kramnik's choices". But I decided that was too long-winded, and obvious... Actually I think it's a compliment for Nakamura - as Kramnik said after London the reason he enjoys taking Nakamura on in that kind of position is that he knows Nakamura is among the best around when it comes to calculating. It's the same as that speculative sacrifice he tried against the computer. Sheer madness, but I guess at least Kramnik enjoyed himself :)

Quick info: the Russian Championship Superfinal with Kramnik, Karjakin & co. is going to have the same TV broadcast as the Tal Memorial and the Candidates Matches :) Opening ceremony 7th August and 1st round 8th August, I think.

The bid for Wch should be closed now and we should hear a verdict from FIDE today I suppose. I dont see any news published anywhere yet. After Gelfand's concerns about the match in Chennai it was not clear if Chennai was actually going to stage it.

On upcoming chess, the world junior chess championship will be hosted by India in Chennai and the first rounds starts tomorrow http://www.wjcc2011.org/Index.aspx

That's good news. If only the commentary was in English as well. The English-speaking person's next best thing is ICC commentary on one browser and Tal Memorial style camera coverage on the other.

What would you think if someone requested Russian-language commentary for the US Championship? The upcoming event - while strong and thus interesting for a global audience - is still a national championship.
(Another story is that St. Louis could have had some press conferences in Russian, because about half of the field are native Russian speakers)

No source was provided (presumably a FIDE contact), but Surov of Chess-News put up a short story saying there were only two bids (Moscow, Chennai) and there'd be an announcement tomorrow.

ken h - that would be an improvement, of course, but I think just having the video is a huge thing. I'll probably be translating someone's live (text) commentary as well, though I don't know yet.

Thanks in advance!

Does anyone know whay Luke McShane is not playing in the British Championship?

Right, I asked about McShane a few weeks ago, and didn't hear anything back.

I think this is the 2nd time big Vlad went down in flames with a speculative sac as white against Nakamura - I'm hoping Thomas will remember the details :-) Was it Corus?

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde to lose one white with a speculative sac is unfortunate, to lose two is careless.......

I recall him doing something similar against Deep Fritz as well. He seems to have these blowouts mostly when things are going (too) well

The first time Naka beat Kramnik with black was at the London Chess Classic last year.

On an unrelated note, the Chess Oscar was given to Carlsen over Vishy for 2010. While I understand the mania surrounding Carlsen, I don't agree with the decision for a few reasons:

1. Vishy won the World title
2. Vishy was +2 against Carlsen in H2H meetings
3. Vishy became world #1 for Nov-Dec of 2010

Yeah I agree. Maybe I'm old fashioned but I give enormous weight to World Championship matches. Carlsen's achievments were very worthy of course but in a few years all that I'll remember of the year was Anand beating Topa

The World Championship announcement was a bit of a non-announcement, but at least we now know only Chennai and Moscow have bid - with the final decision by 10 August.

Details: http://www.whychess.org/en/node/1167

Thomas: "What would you think if someone requested Russian-language commentary for the US Championship?"

It's only a slight exaggeration to say that the difference between Russian and English is that everyone knows English, while no one outside of old USSR knows Russian.

Important game Short-Adams today. Interesting position has arisen:

[Event "98th British Championships 2011"]
[White "Short, Nigel D"]
[Black "Adams, Michael"]
[ECO "C50"]
[WhiteElo "2687"]
[BlackElo "2715"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. O-O d6 5. c3 Nf6 6. Re1 O-O 7. Bb3 h6 8. h3
Re8 9. d3 a6 10. Nbd2 Be6 11. Nc4 Ba7 12. Be3 Ne7 13. Bxa7 Rxa7 14. d4 exd4 15.
Nxd4 Bxc4 16. Bxc4 c5 17. Nf3 b5 18. Bf1 Qb8 19. e5 dxe5 20. Nxe5 Rb7 21. g3
Rb6 22. a4 Ned5 23. f4 Rd6 24. Qf3 c4 25. axb5 axb5 *

"no one outside of old USSR knows Russian." Noone? What about - to name the 2700ers - Aronian (living in Germany), Kramnik (living in Paris), Topalov, Kamsky, Gelfand, Giri, probably Le Quang Liem, Shirov? ,:) And there are also many lower-rated players, including expats, who have Russian as mother tongue or first foreign language - maybe not (much) less than those with English as first or second language.

Anyway, my main point was that the Russian Championship is primarily a national event. BTW question to mishanp: Do you also chess-translate from English into Russian (other than questions for Crestbook conferences)?

Thomas, he means the audience, not the players, obviously. And equally obviously, a lot more of the latter have some knowledge of English a a first or second language than Russian.

Well, if you happen to belong to the non-English-speaking part of the chess audience, you are unlikely to raise any objections on this site...

I might add that it is probable that a higher percentage of English-speaking fans (read: Americans, et. al.) are interested in the Russian championship than Russian-speaking fans (read: Russians, et. al.) are interested in the US Championship.


I don't do any translating into Russian at all (the Crestbook conference translating into Russian is handled by someone else). If I did it would definitely help my Russian, but wouldn't be much fun for the readers :)

By the way, my impression from reading Russian chess sites is that a very limited number of Russians would be able to follow spoken chess commentary in English. Of course almost everyone has some English, but listening to people reel off chess variations in a foreign language is tricky even if you know that language well.

If the number of rated players is an indicator for the size of the audience, there may well be more Russian than English native speakers: Russia has 5884 active players (13769 including inactive ones), vs. 1233 (2487) for the USA and 876 (1611) for England [all numbers from the FIDE rating pages, detailed statistics per country]. If you include smaller chess countries (Canada, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, ...) you also have to consider ethnic Russians in other ex-Soviet countries, and Russian expats in, for example, the USA.
Of course English is more common as a second language (e.g. the majority of the 8324 active German players), but Russian isn't quite as insignificant or exotic as some people seem to think or claim.

Adding to mishanp's comment: I also wonder how many Russians could provide quality live commentary in English. Of course Svidler could, but isn't he playing himself??

If you only count FIDE-rated players in the U.S., you're missing a few people. Most U.S. players only have a USCF rating. Thousands of them, I reckon.

Of course players without a FIDE Elo count - I also just have a national rating ,:) . Hence I wrote "_indicator_ for the size of the audience". I found a quantitative number only for Germany which has 90991 players with a national rating - this includes foreigners playing in German leagues as well as many who couldn't really benefit from live commentary in any language (the lowest-rated "Müller" has national Elo 663).

I would imagine that Russia has much more than 5884 active players; the "surplus" could be about comparable to the USA and larger than for Germany: In the first two countries, many can hardly play FIDE-rated events without catching a plane - Germany (and neighboring countries) have plenty of opens within driving distance for anyone.

Anyway, even if my speculative figures should be way off, my other arguments still hold: the Russian Championship is a national event, and it may be hard to find someone willing and able to give quality English live commentary (even if they tried).
I would have preferred if you had initially written "a pity that I, and most of us won't be able to follow the Russian live commentary" - "us" referring to readers of this blog. In that case, I hadn't reacted at all.

Tip for Brian (and maybe others): chessgames.com has answers to such questions - I frequently visit it because I cannot remember everything ,:) .
You will also see that Wijk aan Zee this year was, to put it mildly, the least interesting game they played so far. And at the Olympiad Kramnik had played another speculative sacrifice (meaning that it was impossible to calculate all consequences) which turned out to be correct and promising - even if the game was drawn in the end..

Thanks Thomas/Pioneer. Yeah it was the London game I was thinking of.


Anyway (!), back to chess games...In HZ Toernooi 2011, Netherlands, L'Ami-Naiditsch is fascinating - with Naiditsch just making time control a piece up for a couple of dangerous pawns.

It ended with a draw - Kasimdzhanov proposed that they should now play rapid and blitz until there's a decisive result (and it's already 11:20PM local time).

We could enjoy it without any live commentary ,:) - which I could have followed in English, Dutch or German but not Russian which may still be Naiditsch's first language (at least he has an accent talking German).

On that topic just another try: Native English speakers may be privileged or lucky that their language is widely spoken in other countries. But they cannot expect _everyone_ to speak English: it may not be the case travelling in Russia, same story for live commentary of Russian chess events.

On Mig's latest tweet: The Bilbao homepage still mentions only five players namely (in that order) Nakamura, Ivanchuk, Anand, Carlsen and Aronian. What happened to Karjakin?

Yes, as I said before, it is a slight exaggeration to say "no one outside of old USSR knows Russian."

Among the 2700s you name, most were born and raised in old USSR republics -- Aronian (living in Germany, born and raised in Armenia), Kramnik (living in Paris, born and raised in Russia), Kamsky (born and raised in Russia), Gelfand (born and raised in Russia), Shirov (born and raised in Latvia). Besides, live commentary for entertainment is not so much for the 2700 crowd.

"Native English speakers may be privileged or lucky that their language is widely spoken in other countries. But they cannot expect _everyone_ to speak English"

This is a real thunderbolt to many of us here. Thank you Thomas. Now that I am better informed by a well-meaning speaker of another first language, I have now cancelled my Russian holiday, as, doubtless, have countless others on the blog. I do find it a bit rude of foreigners not to speak a real language but what can one do?
I will stick to Brighton this year.

I could have tried to express that sentiment as well as the professor, but I would not have possibly because I was born an ocean away from Brighton. Although I am a native 'English' speaker, I realize that geographical limitation may limit my understanding of what goes on here. Nevertheless, I try.

And I will also have to cancel my holiday near the Black Sea.

Excerpts from a long Russian interview with Kramnik:


Thanks mishanp - another great post..........

Kramnik once again downplays Carlsen's rating and mentioned "cleaning up the tail" -- a phrase already used in this very thread before (and used before by others). Clearly journalist enjoy asking everybody especially him about Carlsen as he always has some skepticism to express.

Carlsen's rating probably irks Kramnik, that's why it's caused by his clever cherry-picking of events :-)

And the final field is decided for Bilbao:

#1 Magnus Carlsen
#2 Vishy Anand (WC)
#3 Levon Aronian
#6 Hikaru Nakamura
#7 Vasily Ivanchuk
#23 Paco Vallejo


I'm puzzled on the one hand by Vallejo's inclusion because I thought one had to qualify to play Bilbao. But he is a Spaniard, and why not insert a "local" player in the mix, esp., if he's world #23, which isn't bad. He's done well lately. Maybe he'll give the others a good game.

I last remember he was invited to play in Linares 2010 where he finished shared last (same in Linares 2006). He did well once in Gibraltar where he tied for first with Adams but lost the tie-break games. Its a a great opportunity for him to play in such a strong tournament. His stats against the other players is peculiar, he has a plus against only one player in the field -- Carlsen !

Vallejo vs Anand: -9
Vallejo vs Carlsen: +1
Vallejo vs Nakamura: -1
Vallejo vs Aronian: -4
Vallejo vs Ivanchuk: -6

The score includes all classical and rapid.

I dont recollect but were the dates for Tal Memorial or Nanjing Pearl Sprint mentioned anywhere? The latter is guaranteed for five years but no news on it. Assuming they will be held, it seems to be non stop chess until end of the year with one event after another Russian Superfinal (Aug), World cup(Aug-Sept), Botvinnik Memorial(Sept), Bilbao final(Sept-Oct), Nanjing Pearl Spring (Oct), Tal Memorial, Blitz cup(Nov) and London chess classic (Dec).

In the British Championships needing to win as white in last round to catch Adams/Short Gawain Jones conceded a quick draw in 144 moves against Nicolas Pert. Sofia rules definitely needed :-)

Still missing in your list: Unive tournament in October (Kramnik, Vachier-Lagrave, Giri, Polgar), European Club Cup (late September), European Team Championship (2-12 November). Both team events should have plenty of 2700ers including some of the very strongest - Tal Memorial should then be second half of November, else the Russian team would be seriously weakened. BTW, there's also the Baku Open starting tomorrow - a bit weaker but still 2700ers Mamedyarov, Vallejo(!), Dominguez, Dreev and Sutovsky.

Maybe there is no news about Nanjing because they have trouble putting a field together? Relatively idle 2700ers include the Wangs (Hao and Yue), Topalov (if he hasn't silently retired?), Kamsky(!?), Leko(!?), Vachier-Lagrave - that's six players.

I love Kramnik's commentary on the proposed shifts to (Kazim's) no-draw formulas and the de-emphasis on classical chess (Kirsan). He is right on the money. The kind of chess that attracts the millions, if that even exists, is not going to be the chess that I (at least) love.

Kamsky is certainly deserving of elite event invites. The Chinese could have a strong and interesting field with Kamsky, Hao, Yue, Vachier-Lagrave, Michael Adams, Gashimov, Radjabov, Leko, and Moro. Not knowing dates of engagement for each, a few of those names may not be available, but they're all worth looking up.

Chennai has done a great job (so far) in hosting the world junior. The official website has managed to broadcast 80% of the games without any glitch. http://www.wjcc2011.org/LiveGames.aspx

Great interview by Kramnik, yet again. Very logical and not diplomatic, as usual. What is wrong with his mention of Carlsen doing well against tailenders? Carlsen supporters like Mig used to criticize Moro and others for the same reason.

Also, disgusted to see Mig in his twitter a/c accusing FIDE of bribery in the WC bids without any proof. Can he do the same to a western entity? FIDE should sue such people to stop these unsubstantiated and irresponsible allegations.


"Great interview by Kramnik, yet again. Very logical and not diplomatic, as usual. What is wrong with his mention of Carlsen doing well against tailenders? Carlsen supporters like Mig used to criticize Moro and others for the same reason."

Kramnik states that Carlsen's rating is a result of his doing well against tailenders and picking tournaments cleverly to keep his rating, but I think that is just sour grapes. He said similar things about Anand in 2008.

Kramnik declines Linares every year, and now he also declined Bilbao (where Carlsen in playing against Anand and Aronian). Nothing wrong with that, and his reasons are valid, but combined with the criticism against Carlsen for picking weaker tournaments to keep his rating it does make that argument weaker. Carlsen had his worst results in weaker events like the Olympiad where he lost more than 15 points.

It's hard to compare Carlsen with Morozevich, someone who never has won a strong tournament because he is only capable of crushing 2500s and 2600s, something he does quite well. There is no logic in reasoning: "A Carlsen fan claimed that Anand was getting old now that he's a bit over 40, so it's logical if Anand claims that Carlsen is getting old".

Kramnik alone won both games against Meier in last place in Dortmund, but against #2 Le he had to fight hard for an even score. In Wijk Carlsen alone scored +2 against the top half of the field after beating both Kramnik and first placed Nakamura (Kramnik had -1 against the top half). In Bazna Karjakin scored better against the bottom half, Carlsen alone had a plus against the top half. It's easy to find tournaments where Carlsen was the player that did best against the tailenders too, like Biel, but the best player has the best results in general so that must happen quite often.

Even the headline "Kramnik: “It’s unlikely I can compete with Carlsen long-term” " (chosen by mishanp or already in the Russian original?) doesn't make you all happy ... .

Basically, Kramnik's point was: "I still believe in my chances in a game or match against Carlsen, he isn't at all out of reach. But in tournaments, he's more efficient at beating weaker players." That's generally true, Tata 2011 was an exception, e.g. have a look at Corus 2010. And Bazna had two winners and four tailenders (scoring less than 50%).
Only the part about "he [Carlsen] selects his tournaments cleverly" is - cf. below - a bit strange and somewhat redundant. It was probably motivated by Carlsen skipping the candidates event.

"Kramnik declines Linares every year" - how do you know that he was invited every year? Usually organizers don't mention which players declined an invitation. He may have declined when it was Morelia-Linares because he doesn't like intercontinental travel in the middle of a major tournament. He now declines Sao Paulo-Bilbao, at least in part for the same reason - Chessvibes quotes him "If it had been in one place, or even on one continent, I would have considered it."

Overall, I don't think top players pick supertournaments, but accept most of their invitations and have reasons whenever they decline. Reasons may be more or less convincing, that's always debatable - IMO, less convincing cases were Carlsen skipping the candidates event and Nakamura skipping the US Championship.

FIDE always sue if there is irresponsible accusations of corruption. However with FIDE it is very difficult to achieve irresponsibility in such accursations.

"Even the headline "Kramnik: “It’s unlikely I can compete with Carlsen long-term” " (chosen by mishanp or already in the Russian original?) doesn't make you all happy ..."

Well, the headline wasn't discussed. Maybe it would have been more discussed if he had said that the 15 years younger Carlsen didn't have a long term advantage :-)

"Basically, Kramnik's point was: "I still believe in my chances in a game or match against Carlsen, he isn't at all out of reach. But in tournaments, he's more efficient at beating weaker players." That's generally true"

It's true that Kramnik or any other top player will have chances and believe in themselves in games or matches against each other. Even Gelfand will have chances in a match against Anand, even if they are small. But #1-2 is never out of reach for #10-15 in any single event, it's only the rating list that shows more long term who the better player is. One event can be influenced by many surrounding circumstances that make the result an outlier. Few would claim that a 2825 player can't lose against someone rated 30-40 points below.

Kramnik isn't going to play any matches against Carlsen though. Well, there is a possibility that both will participate in the next Candidates knockout and face each other, but Kramnik just lost such a minimatch against Grischuk and I consider Kramnik the much stronger player of the two, so it doesn't say much anyway. A real match could only happen if Kramnik wins the next cycle, then beats Anand/Gelfand in 2014/15 and then Carlsen wins the cycle after that (knockout, I presume) and they play a match in maybe 2017 (if Kramnik still will be playing when he is 42).

As for Carlsen's reasons for skipping the Candidates being less convincing, that has been discussed quite extensively already so I'll just say that I don't think there were many points to lose in such an event. Topalov was the player to lose much more points than anyone else, 5-6? Carlsen could even have gained points in spite of being eliminated rather early. His stats against Radjabov are excellent, so I don't think he feared losing that match. Had he won it and then lost a tiebreak he would still gain a few points, and that even without him playing any of the strongest opponents.

I don't know how true it is that Carlsen mainly gets his points thanks to weaker players. This year he has beaten both top players and some below the top, but his only losses have come against the latter group: Giri, Nepomniachtchi and MVL. Last year he lost against McShane, Jobava, Sjugirov and Adams, so he also loses much, much more against "weaker" players than Kramnik does, probably because he takes more risks. It's easy to pick wins against players like L'Ami and say "see, this is where he gets his points" and not even look at all the losses against similar players.

The original Russian title is something like "Vladimir Kramnik: In Russia people like to throw around [lit. "juggle"] the word patriot". In general it was a very long interview and a large part of it was on "internal" Russian affairs.

Talking of which :) The opening ceremony of the Russian Championship Superfinal is today, so not long to wait for more top-level chess. It's a shame there are only 8 players and it's a single round-robin, but at least that means that as in the London Chess Classic you have to go for wins immediately.

Generally, some Carlsen fans seem to think, or at least like to claim or leave the impression, that Magnus dominates the chess world the way Kasparov did. This is not, at least not yet the case. Hence, they "discuss" (read: strongly disagree with) interview bits and pieces by Kramnik and others (Gelfand) that do not support such a view.

In the context of the entire interview, the headline did NOT refer to the coming 5-10 years - when it indeed would have been nothing but stating the obvious. It refers to a time span of maybe one year or 4-5 supertournaments where one or both of Carlsen and Kramnik play. Understandably, Kramnik doesn't yet think about losing strength and eventually retiring - for the time being, it's still beyond the horizon!

By focusing on this year (last 7 months rather than the last 12 months), you neglect Carlsen's losses against Kramnik and Anand from the second half of 2010. Against Kramnik, he was also worse with white in Bilbao, and lost in London - their Tata game doesn't (yet) change the overall picture.
BTW, at least Carlsen's losses against Adams and Giri weren't merely "taking more risks" but overly creative opening play - excessive self-confidence, shades of arrogance? Trying to make fun of a 2700+ opponent isn't the same as risk-taking ... . I won't blame Kramnik for not doing such things. Well, maybe his latest games with white against Nakamura go in the same direction, but the second one had a very special context (as discussed in the interview).

"Generally, some Carlsen fans seem to think, or at least like to claim or leave the impression, that Magnus dominates the chess world the way Kasparov did"

That he certainly doesn't even if he has won tournaments the last years in a remarkable way, and Kasparov wasn't always that dominant, for example in 2003-04 when Kramnik didn't rank him in the top three. Many like to point out after every tournament victory that Carlsen isn't as dominant as Fischer at his best etc but that is an approach one could have every time someone achieves something and could continue with for a long time if Carlsen keeps winning things. Nanjing twice in a row, London twice in a row, Bazna twice in a row, Wijk twice etc, is good enough without bringing up Kasparov or Fischer.

"It refers to a time span of maybe one year"

Maybe it does, I have no idea.

"Carlsen's losses against Adams and Giri weren't merely "taking more risks" but overly creative opening play - excessive self-confidence, shades of arrogance? Trying to make fun of a 2700+ opponent isn't the same as risk-taking"

I don't think Carlsen's intention was to make fun of 2700+ opponents, but at least against Adams I do think he wasn't happy to just take a draw with black and decided to take risks to get a win (in the Olympiad the only way for Norway to get a good result would be if Carlsen won every game). What he wrote himself was: "I was happy with my position entering the middle game. Becoming a bit too optimistic I played for a win but underestimated his attack and lost deservedly". But playing such openings is risky and no surprise that Kasparov was extremely critical of it.

Shipov on blitz games after draws http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=7439
an interesting proposition. But it gets quite complicated to keep track of your score as you go through the round robin.

However his point on "If one works out the average, over a number of rounds, the relative value of a win and a draw will be 3:1.5," is not clear at all.

Russian Championship Superfinal opening ceremony and pairings for the first round: http://www.whychess.org/en/node/1251

(I'm just translating reports from Vladimir Barsky - WhyChess' man on the scene)

He means or assumes that chances in the blitz playoff are 50-50. Thus ten draws means 10 points (from the classical part) plus 5 points (winning half of the blitz playoffs), thus 15/10 or on average 1.5 points per drawn game.
I guess in practice some blitz specialists will score more than 15 points (for them, two classical draws are worth more than a win and a loss), while weak blitz players score less than 15 points.

As football/soccer analogies invite themselves: it would be the equivalent of penalty shootouts after every drawn football game. Methinks this drama is reserved for special occasions for a reason ... . Football games last 90, sometimes 120 minutes, draws can be (as in chess) exciting or boring to watch.

The merit of Shipov's proposal is, IMO, that it's better than Kasimdzhanov's suggestion. Another story is whether there is an urgent need for either proposal.

Nepomniachtchi wasn't keen on either idea in an interview today: http://www.whychess.org/en/node/1238

I suggest bughouse chess for tiebreak. I think that's much more entertaining than just blitz. And that seems to be the main issue.

If it wasn't clear from my post: I also consider Shipov's idea just the lesser evil.


The president of the English Chess Federation says he was barred from presenting prizes at the British chess championships in Sheffield because he was wearing a gay rights T-shirt.

CJ de Mooi, an actor and a regular on the BBC quiz show Eggheads, said he was left "shaking with fury" over objections to the shirt, which bore the slogan "Some people are gay, get over it", used by gay rights group Stonewall.

De Mooi said he was approached by the championship arbiter, Lara Barnes, prior to the awards ceremony and urged to reconsider his outfit. "They then suggested that it might be better if I just presented prizes to the adults," he said. "I refused. I was either going to present all the prizes or none at all."

Barnes denied asking de Mooi to change his shirt, saying she had merely expressed reservations. "I didn't think that promoting gay rights, which I thoroughly agree with, while presenting prizes to junior chess players was an appropriate thing," she said. "Usually prize-givers for a national event would wear a suit and tie."

De Mooi said he had worn the T-shirt throughout the event without complaints. "None of the parents, none of the kids, said anything to me that wasn't completely positive. Quite a few of them said, 'we love the T-shirt, well done for wearing it'."

Laura Doughty, deputy chief executive of Stonewall UK, said she was puzzled by the furore. "We think our T-shirts are lovely and don't see why anyone would object to anyone wearing one, least of all chess players."

Leonard Barden, the Guardian's chess correspondent, said: "There has never been a dress code before. It's not something that happens in chess, it's supposed to be non-discriminatory."

De Mooi, who has been president of the English Chess Federation for the past two years, said he was angered and baffled: "I was elected president in the first place because English chess was in the absolute doldrums. As a very prominent member of the chess committee has said, I was elected because I do things differently."

Barnes praised de Mooi's efforts to promote chess but said it was improper to mix the game with gay rights: "I've every sympathy with his cause, but I didn't think it was appropriate to have the sentiment on the T-shirt in every photograph with junior chess players – under-10s, under-12s and under-14s – promoting a particular sexuality."

Well that Lara Barnes woman seems to take particular exception to the t-shirt around young people as if you might "catch" gayness from it :-)

Moscow wins the World Championship match after all: http://whychess.org/en/node/1279

The superfinal should be starting now:

Games at WhyChess with Houdini analysis (but not commentary, unless I've missed a memo!): http://supefinal2011.live.whychess.org/

Video link: http://video.russiachess.org/view/656

And the women's world championship (between Hou Yifan and Humpy Koneru) will be held in Tirana, Albania. For the men's bid they emphasized "organisational experience" - which doesn't seem to matter for the women? Well, it's a neutral venue, equally strange for both participants!?

It was only me who emphasised "organisational experience". At a guess, the Russian Chess Federation put pressure on Ilyumzhinov, though having said that if they've been able to increase the prize fund to match India I do think the Moscow bid is the safe choice. Chennai would be more colourful and might well be better for the long-term future of chess, but there'd be more chance of the match collapsing (for financial reasons) or having basic problems with the broadcast and so on.

And, as (you) also reported on whychess, pressure from Gelfand? It is also a bit unclear if Anand is/was THAT keen on playing in his home country. So another interpretation might be that the Chennai bid was put up to boost the Moscow prize fund ... .

Gelfand had definitely said he wasn't really keen on playing in his own country, so I could imagine it was the same for Anand (although obviously he couldn't say that publicly when there was a bid).

On pressure from Gelfand - he gave this interview to Kommersant: http://whychess.org/en/node/1120

My impression is (though I don't have any evidence), that that business newspaper is the mouthpiece of choice for the Russian Chess Federation. They were the first to name Andrei Filatov as the sponsor, and it was also where Kazan taking the Candidates Matches from Baku was first announced - on the eve of the FIDE Congress where they agreed to the change.

p.s. it's funny that ChessBase say "It all seemed settled..." etc. Of course it would if you'd completely ignored the Moscow bid all summer - and got into the same confusion as the Indian press by representing the Chennai bid as a final decision by FIDE.

Houdini gives Svidler status 1.35 against Kramnik in a sharp game........

I wish Kramnik would forget about speculative sacrifices against fellow Super-GMs! It's enjoyable to watch, but unless the sacrifice actually is completely sound his opponent's likely to find the refutation. For the first ten rounds in Dortmund he seemed to have the balance just about right :)

Football scoring is not the only possibility. For example, each round in a round robin could be worth 16 points. A draw in a classical game could earn each player a minimum of 6 points, while two blitz games and an Armageddon would determine whether the final score is 10-6 (for a 2-0 blitz shutout) or 9-7 (for all other results).

The classical draw retains real meaning, classical play determines the lion's share of the scoring, each game affects the scoring, and every round produces a winner. And the playoffs should only add 30 minutes to the day's play.

First 9 rounds...

Yeah I agree - has never seemed to suit his style. Not sure what openings he should play to get his "fair share" of wins with Black against lesser players. (I dont mean to imply Svidler is a lesser player!)

Although he might be escaping on this occasion after Svidler missed e.g. 23.h4 - it seems a lot of work to get an only slightly worse position!

Something strange is happening with the FIDE World Championship announcement. FIDE's withdrawn their press release and ChessBase have removed their story...

A few minutes later it seems Kramnik's done his usual trick in super-sharp positions where he sacs material - played well up to a point but then made a serious miscalculation. Hard to even see what he missed...

Karpov is right when he calls it "a superjoke".


Yep, but as Shipov said it was either a short event now or nothing (the dates clashed for half the players in December), and it's not realistic to have events like the USSR Championships nowadays.

I've translated Peter Svidler's commentary on his win over Kramnik yesterday (he actually said quite a lot more in the video, but it was very hard to follow!):


Thanks again, mishanp -- interesting as always. May I ask, just out of curiosity -- is your interest in Russian tied in any way to your interest in chess? (Family-level selling argument for the usefulness of kids' playing chess, of which my wife seems less convinced.)

Big Vlad bounces back with a win against Timofeev. Moro v Grishuk very interesting. Houdini gives Moro 2.05 advantage

Nice steady win by Karjakin, a nail in the coffin of that confounded Berlin I hope! Good to see someone heading down the mainline and using Wite's pluses. I wonder what Kramnik would play if the Petroff and Berlin came under serious pressure. Probably some other variation of the Ruy or the Caro-kann!

Long Live the Berlin!

I think the Berlin will live on! (e.g. Aronian sings its praises here: http://www.crestbook.com/en/node/1547 ) Karjakin said after the game that it had been very hard for them to find a line they hadn't prepared together (for Kazan), but they managed :) Generally he thought Kramnik was wrong to exchange off into that ending (or ending of the ending), though he was surprised Kramnik missed the "accidental" drawing chance on move 39 - after taking 10 minutes to think about it.

On a brighter note for Kramnik, here's his commentary on the second half of his win against Timofeev:


DarkHelmet - I'm actually really not sure. Thinking back I decided on studying Russian when I was already interested in chess, but I can't remember if it was a real influence (rather than e.g. books). Reading chess websites was definitely how I maintained some sort of level of Russian after university, though :)

One game isn't the end of a variation (at most of a subline). Kramnik also didn't abandon the Berlin - and others kept copying him - when he (finally) lost against Kasparov in Astana 2001. "Heading down the mainline and using White's pluses" is easier said than done, else it would happen more often.

Nothing wrong with the Berlin, but maybe there's something wrong with chess fans who don't like it because they don't understand it - hey, I am one of those!
And from Kramnik's perspective, maybe something wrong with (playing it against) Karjakin who beat him for the third time in various formats:

Karjakin-Kramnik 1-0, Dortmund rapid playoff 2004 (Karjakin was 14 years old and 180 points lower-rated)

Karjakin-Kramnik 1-0, Amber blindfold 2011

and now a classical win

[in between, Kramnik won the Tal Memorial blitz game in 2008]

Clearly the Berlin today was beaten in the single most principled way one is supposed to play against the berlin - create your king side passer and win. I remember someone asked Anand as to why it was so hard to beat the berlin (was that in London last year after his first round or elsewhere) and Anand had mentioned that it was extremely difficult to push the king side through but that is the only approach.

I've been reading the excellent book, Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall. The book is about ultramarathoners, and it contains an extended passage on Kasparov and sports psychology. It's neat that McDougall brings Garry into this very entertaining book, but McDougall sort of blows it--he makes the mistake that other authors have, using the term "Queen's Gambit" when instead he means a queen sacrifice. Ah well, like I said, it's still a great book.

Kramnik is currently good at cleaning up the tail.

Kramnik is a fishtail..maybe he should report to Carlsen to get cleaned

From Chessbase: "Kramnik, playing black in a Ruy Lopez Berlin, could have easily held his opponent but decided to experiment a bit. He came up with the inexplicable 39….c6 when he could have gone straight to a safe endgame with 39….fxg4 40. hxg4 Nf5+! 41. gxf5 Bf5 42. Nxg5 Bc2 – and Black cannot lose."

A neat line indeed, but Chessbase have a habit of producing difficult-for-humans-to-see computer lines and berating the player for missing them, as if they were obvious to anyone. Then again, I can't judge whether this is one of those occasions or whether it really is easy for a super GM to see and he just rejected it. Any opinions? Did he mention it in his after game commentary (if there was any)?

Kramnik didn't stay for comments - Karjakin was surprised Kramnik missed it after thinking for 10 minutes, but on the other hand Karjakin had missed it himself when he played his 39th move. Shipov thought an in-form Kramnik would have seen it easily, Zagrebelny at ChessPro was surprised (especially that Kramnik didn't play a worse version of the idea after the time control).

But still, I think the ChessBase comment is silly: "decided to experiment a bit. He came up with the inexplicable" - If you haven't seen the sacrifice then 39...c6 is perfectly explicable and it's hardly a case of "experimenting".

p.s. funny comment from Karjakin after the game:

"Today I was playing against my pupil, if I can put it that way, as I seconded Kramnik at the Candidates Matches in Kazan." http://www.whychess.org/en/node/1326

Live games starting soon: http://supefinal2011.live.whychess.org/

Thanks mishanp, that was detail indeed!

Here's Peter Svidler on his draw against Grischuk in Round 3 (I might add Karjakin's comments on the Kramnik game if I get time):


Is Kramnik feeling OK? :-) This was the fifth game in a row he played a dubious sacrifice, but today it paid off. It sure is entertaining but is he just having fun or is this his new style? Well, it sure is very fun to watch.

Or, rather, it could have been the fifth game in a row with a sacrifice but he missed that one he should have played against Karjakin.

I wonder how long people will keep on saying that Kramnik is boring...

Karjakin's commentary on his win against Kramnik:


Kramnik's style is not boring and his style is changing. But his style is adapting to win against lower opponents. He'll need time to fix his opening repertoire with black.

Such things change very slowly, it probably took a decade of comparatively many short draws before people stopped talking about Tal as a sacrificial attacks only player.

Indeed. Excellent comment.

While I am not old enough to have followed Tal's entire career, I doubt that he ever was a "sacrificial attacks _only_ player": he certainly didn't sacrifice in every single game, simply because he didn't get such positions game after game after game.
Same story for Kramnik: maybe he takes more risks now than a few years ago (but it isn't specific to the current event), but he always plays what he considers best or most promising in the given position. If this includes a sacrifice, so be it. If it's a positional win (this year twice against Giri and once against Nakamura), so be it.

While Tal is rightly and deservedly famous for his "dubious sacrifices that paid off", in Kramnik's case some people choose to emphasize short draws and maybe positional squeezes which they also consider boring (but when Carlsen wins in a similar fashion, he's brilliant). People see what they want to see - and define for themselves what's exception to the rule.

actually something few players are aware of but Tal holds two records for most undefeated streaks because he switched his style from swashbuckling sacrifices to solid, squeezing. His endgame skill was superb as no one could break him in 80+ games.

The style of Kramnik's play to be associated with "boring" has been more because of the old association of Kramnik with the Petroff and even the non-association of Kramnik with the Sicilian. Ofcourse the Petroff is not boring but just that the Petroff has more theoretically drawing variations than say the dragon.

Here's Peter Svidler's demonstration of his win against Galkin:


p.s. I'm not sure who would win a contest for the best demonstrator out of Kramnik and Svidler - Kramnik gives more of a coherent lecture, while Svidler's usually funnier!

I am not even sure that the Sicilian(s) have less theoretically drawing variations than the Petroff - just that they tend to come with sacrifices and perpetual check, impressive to those who don't know that it all happened before.

Aronian also isn't associated with the Sicilian and noone calls him a boring player. Like Kramnik, he plays the Berlin but his "drawing weapon" is the Marshall.

The reasons why Kramnik is (was) considered boring are IMO:
- some years ago he lacked energy, but that was due to serious health problems
- he is a pragmatic player who doesn't play on in an even position devoid of perspectives, just for the sake of playing on.
And, of course, because some people don't like him for whichever reason ...

Isn't it a pity then that Svidler-Kramnik wasn't an (interesting) draw? We would have had a joint press conference, bringing out the best in both of them ... .

Here's some statistics identifying the most boring players.

2002 - 2009
Draw %, Win %, Loss %, Moves
60.1___26.1___13.8___43 Leko
53.5___27.2___19.3___40 Gelfand
52.0___33.1___14.9___39 Kramnik
52.0___30.0___18.0___37 Svidler
49.3___31.7___19.0___39 Anand
48.0___32.6___19.4___41 Ivanchuk
44.0___39.6___19.1___41 Grischuk
43.0___32.0___25.0___44 Kamsky
41.0___35.0___23.0___43 Karjakin
39.6___35.9___24.5___43 Carlsen
35.7___36.8___27.5___44 Morozevich
27.0___38.0___34.0___46 Nakamura

2007 - 2011

27.9___37.9___34.2___46 Nakamura
42.1___35.8___22.1___46 Carlsen

Ah, but your player selection is way limited, and a lot less meaningful than taking all players in the top 20, for example, or all those above 2700.

Anyway, it's a boring statistic.


"The reasons why Kramnik is (was) considered boring are IMO"

If I may: The reputation as being boring may also stem from the fact that he's mostly kept himself to a very limited opening repertoire for years.

The first 15 times I saw him squeeze his opponent in the Catalan it was grand, but after a while the novelty sort of wore off. It wasn't that the games were boring in isolation, just that whenever Kramnik was on a live transmission it was deja vu all over and over and over again.

It's much more interesting now. Variety is the spice of life.

Such a boring comment Ken. You have a knack for that.

This should rather be "Here are some statistics which support my preconceived ideas about boring and interesting players" - there are too many flaws to make them meaningful.

To start with, are Ivanchuk (and also Anand and Svidler) less boring than Kramnik because they lose more often? Ivanchuk also has a higher move average, maybe in part because he sometimes doesn't find the right moment to resign. The whole idea of move averages is questionable: you get punished not just for losing quickly, but also for winning quickly. You get rewarded for converting an advantage very slowly, for playing on in a totally lost position, and also for playing on in even positions - even without any plan or progress.

The main flaw is the long-term comparison between Nakamura, Carlsen and the rest. They weren't world top over the entire 2002-2009 period (Nakamura not even for all of 2007-2011), hence they played different opposition in different events. Nakamura played many US Swisses, Carlsen played at least Corus C and Corus B. In such events, there's a need to press for a win in every single game, and it makes more sense/is more promising to play on in even positions because the lower-rated opponent might blunder at some stage.
It might actually be interesting (but more time-consuming) how such statistics changed for any given player as he moved up the rating list (2400-2500, 2500-2600, 2600-2700, >2700). Concomitantly, their playing style may also have changed, deliberately or not.

You're still entitled to your opinion about who's exciting and who's boring. But it remains an opinion - in Kramnik's case an outdated one. BTW, why did you 'forget' Aronian? Because he would end up on the 'wrong' place in your list??

That's a fair(er) point, but still there's the other side to it: One can also consider it impressive that Kramnik kept finding new resources in the Catalan (now they may have become exhausted) - not just spectators, but also his opponents may have had unpleasant deja vu feelings during some games ... .

And somehow I think you (or others) wouldn't make such a comment about a lifetime Najdorf player. The Najdorf is considered more interesting - but arguably it became boring because many lines are very deeply analyzed nowadays. And the Catalan can also become tactical, as Kramnik showed in a couple of games.

Here's how Morozevich and Grischuk commented on their wins in round 4 (sadly Kramnik doesn't appear to have demonstrated his game): http://bit.ly/nnotxp

Live Russian Championship games with Houdini spoiling the fun :) http://supefinal2011.live.whychess.org/

"but still there's the other side to it: One can also consider it impressive that Kramnik kept finding new resources in the Catalan"

Absolutely. Kramnik's work in the lines he's employed is very impressive. But "boring" is a subjective evaluation, so one might still say that something is very impressive but still not to one's particular liking. This is especially true for Kramnik, as he's such a good player one would love to see him spread his wings more.

"And somehow I think you (or others) wouldn't make such a comment about a lifetime Najdorf player."

If all the games revolve around the same theme and one does not find that theme very interesting, then it could still be considered boring (even though the threshold for saying so in public about the najdorf might be higher).

But I'm not here aggressively selling the point that I find Kramnik to be boring at times. It's just that you were compiling a list, and I thought my item sort of belonged in it. Enjoy your chess.

Kramnik's opening choice today looks lively... but they still haven't left theory after 16 moves - and Grischuk's down to 27 minutes (of course that's perfectly normal for him and there's an increment, but still - it must be disconcerting for his opponents!).

Spoke too soon of course! Grischuk's 17.Rc2 seems to be a novelty.

Bit of a damp squib. Pity. Not K's fault, in fairness. Svidler's game is the most intersting today.

Svidler's game may be the most interesting one of today's round (because he managed to keep enough pieces on the board) but also not of the entire tournament. Today all favorites have black, which might explain why the round is a bit dull.

The K's (also Karjakin) couldn't avoid, and maybe didn't really mind a draw. Morozevich started in a peaceful mood (he also plays more dynamic variations of the French than 3.-de4:) and became active only after the time control when it lead to self-destruction. It might have been wiser to be boring ... .

So, Ken h says I should list everyone above 2700, but then calls the stats boring. Make up your mind Ken.

Thomas suggests some ulterior motive for omitting Aronian, and as usual explains the obvious for those of us that are mentally impaired.

I was a little surprised that Morozevich appeared so far down the list. Aronian would have been just above Anand. I suspected most the old-timers would be above 50 percent in the draw category before I checked my database. The only reason I prepared the list was because someone was mentioning boring openings/play in the thread. Tongue in cheek on the text of the post Thomas. One of these days you will get it.

More promising today. Interesting openings in all games. White is looking good in general.

"The first 15 times I saw him squeeze his opponent in the Catalan it was grand, but after a while the novelty sort of wore off. It wasn't that the games were boring in isolation, just that whenever Kramnik was on a live transmission it was deja vu all over and over and over again."

Quoted for truth

Has mig had some sort of breakdown? He deleted one of my posts a while ago because I pointed out that Alan
Dershowitz was an old fraud and plagiarist. Oops I've done it again :)

Bravo, Peter!

It's still opinion rather than universal gospel truth - matchthis saying (more or less) "Kramnik's Catalan wins got boring, there are too many of them" and pioneer's "I agree with matchthis". Once again, noone would say that Kasaprov's 16th-20th kingside attack in a Najdorf was boring. Many chess fans prefer direct king hunting over positional squeezes, but this is just a (majority) opinion.

BTW there are at least two different "themes" in the Catalan: if black tries to hold on to the pawn on c4, the game can become sharp with winning and losing chances for both sides. In a way, that's rather an anti-Moscow theme. White often gets an advantage if he regains the pawn after all (because black made concessions defending it). Else he has to prove that his compensation is and remains at least sufficient.
The other theme is the positional squeeze, where black has to prove equality and may or may not succeed.

More for the fun of it (matchthis' number was certainly random): According to chessgames.com, Kramnik has exactly 15 wins on the white side of the Catalan!? Then he gave up on it - because it became boring also for himself, or rather because his most recent games (Dortmund 2010 against Leko, Kazan against Radjabov) were no successes?

Begum Kramnik and Moro are thirsting for blood today. My money says that Galkin will crack eventually.

It's really fun to see this new Kramnik even if some of his old fans may be less happy about the playing style he had developed recently :-)

It seems to be getting more clear that there will be a wch match in 2013 according to http://www.whychess.org/en/node/1386 and this time we almost can be sure that Carlsen will play as it will be double round robin candidates tournament which is what he wanted and unless he sheds way too many rating points he is guaranteed a spot due to rating. So here is a hypothetical situation for who will come through for the next cycle

From World cup
My guess having seen the paring tree for world cup is

Round 4 pairings(assuming rating fav go through):
Karjakin vs Wang Hao --- Karjakin
Kamsky vs Svidler --- Tough one but say Kamsky
Ponomariov vs Le Quam --- Ponomariov
Gashimov vs Adams --- Tough again but I pick Adams

Second half of tree(assuming rating fav go through):

Ivanchuk vs Vachier-Lagrave --- I pick Ivanchuk
Radjabov vs Jakovenko --- Radjabov
Mamedyarov vs Navara --- Mamedyarov
Grischuk vs Morozevich --- I cant pick here

Hence the Quarter Final pairings:

Karjakin vs Kamsky
Ponomariov vs Adams

Ivanchuk vs Radjabov
Mamedyarov vs Grischuk/Morozevich

So 3 of the 8 above will qualify for wch along with Carlsen, Aronian Kramnik (rating fav for now). Kramnik will be hoping Karjakin gets through via world cup and does not fight for the rating spot since if you take July 11 then Karjakin is placed higher than Kramnik.

And then loser of Anand-Gelfand and one wild card.

If the above holds the candidates might just become a more interesting event in 2012 than Anand-Gelfand match although by no means I mean to understimate Gelfand in the match.

That's great news, a double round robin is so much better than another Kazan style knockout! :-)

Some more Svidler game demonstrations!

His win against Timofeev in Round 5: http://bit.ly/rdtawC

And against Nepomniachtchi in Round 6: http://www.whychess.org/en/node/1390

Mig, title should be:

Not dead, not sleeping, but not blogging.

I am not dead yet but I can't dance, sing or blog.

Or: Not dead, not sleeping, just tweeting.

Such a bunch of whinners and losers on this site...I will kill you and your families and make the world a better place.

Mig has not been heard from since he found dead lettuce in the refrig.
Ominous development.

Indeed. Lettuce spray.

Is there anywhere a decent analysis of the game Kramnik-Galkin or comments by Kramnik? It's possible Kramnik's play was easily refuted and the game hasn't warranted analysis, but for somewhat without chess software it seemed like very interesting play and that Galkin blundered in an already difficult(maybe lost?) position.

The machines were analysing the sac as more or less sound (from 0.3-0.8 for most of the game, i.e. there was certainly some compensation for the piece). Towards the end Galkin needed some machine-accurate defence to survive and didn't find it; which was what Kramnik's idea was, I imagine. Some skimpy analysis here http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=7461 more here http://www.chessvibes.com/reports/morozevich-beats-svidler-in-last-round-russian-championship/

Strangely Kramnik didn't give a commentary on the game. You could watch Sergey Shipov's video on the final round: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XO9kH-ysbCw&hd=1

He talks in Russian but it's possible to follow the moves. He was actually there at the venue and said that just watching it without a computer he thought Galkin's Rg3 was a terrible move - he should have got the other rook out with Rd3 before Kramnik could play Bd2+. Most of Galkin's other mistakes were very plausible, though if he'd castled long early on Shipov agreed with the computers that Galkin would have had extremely good winning chances. While if Kramnik had played gxf6 instead of Qxf6 he would have been "at worst equal".

Thanks! That hit the spot. Looks like a pretty uneven game as I guess you might expect from such an early piece sac. It's hard to say whether Shipov's improvements 0-0-0 was an easy move or Rd3 but of course they are completely logical after they are suggested.

Great post I hope to see more, keep up the good work.

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this is such a great thing to know "This means that even if one of those five aforementioned heavyweights gets the wildcard, one of them is guaranteed to be out of the next WCh cycle. I know, it's hardly a serious cycle and Carlsen boycotted the last candidates anyway, but still. As a fan I'm always more "why not play" than "why play," and without a credible alternative at the moment it seems like it's worth showing up"..more power

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on July 21, 2011 3:16 PM.

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