Mig 
Greengard's ChessNinja.com

Svidler's Black Attack

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It's beginning to look like Peter Svidler prepared for Khanty-Mansiysk by reading the works of Stokely Carmichael because he's all about Black Power, baby! Check out this line of the Russian champ's games with the dark pieces.

Note that those last four in a row are classical wins. Insane and amazing. Kasparov had five black wins in a row at Linares, 1999 (Ivanchuk, Adams, Topalov, Svidler (!), Anand) and the fact that I remember that at all shows the rarefied ground Svidler is treading on here. He was helped in his latest effort by Alexander Grischuk's typically self-destructive time management -- a term that shouldn't really be used with Grischuk. It's like referring to Enron's financial management or my own calorie management. We often see Ivanchuk do this, too, and occasionally Kamsky, leaving themselves so little time on the clock that it's virtually irrelevant what they do on the board. Grischuk was down to a minute with 14 moves to play in a sharp position, as close to hopeless as could be imagined, especially against a phenomenally accurate player like Svidler. 24..Na4 is a wonderful move. So paradoxical and patient, moving away from the action.

884 Comments

glad to have you blogging again Mig.

So I guess it will be over tomorrow: Svidler has Black.

Anand won three blacks in a row at Linares 08 - Leko, Shirov and Carlsen.

Svidler won with Black yesterday and drew with White today to win the World Cup event. Chucky also beat Pono with Black and secured the 3rd spot for the candidates. So, the guaranteed spots are for Svidler, Grishchuk, Ivanchuck, Carlsen (ratings), Aronian(ratings), Kramnik(Ratings), Anand or Gelfand (loser of 2012 WCC). That leaves only the wild card player.

I still think Carlsen will boycott since he doesn't like privileges for the World Champion. If so, the 3rd ratings favorite is likely up for grabs. Even Topalov might get it apart from Rajda and Karyakin...

Never mind, I forgot the final is 4 rounds. I stand corrected :-)

Svidler deserves more respect. He is the Russian champion (in the strongest field in that event's history, where he beat Kramnik among others). Its nice that he'll finally get another chance to be in the WCC cycle.

Morozevich also belongs to the underestimated players. Only 0.5 from winning that Russian Championship instead of Svidler (that endgame against Nepo!) and before that he was only 0.5 behind Carlsen in Biel. Today he won against Vitiugov (2726) in an event that has been largely ignored this far (at least by all the live rating lists), the Moscow-S:t Petersburg match with other 2700+ players like Nepo and Jakovenko.

Regarding the rating spots, they are based on the average of the July 2011 and January 2012 rating lists. The situation is as follows:

July 2011 list: Karjakin 2788, Kramnik 2781, Nakamura 2770, Ivanchuk 2768, Topalov 2768, Mamedyarov 2765, Ponomariov 2764, Gashimov 2760, ... Radjabov 2744 (behind Gelfand and Grischuk who are already qualified)

Current live rating list: Kramnik 2791, Topalov 2768, Ivanchuk 2768, Radjabov 2767, Karjakin 2763, (Svidler 2760), Gashimov 2757, Nakamura 2753, (Grischuk 2749, Gelfand 2746), Ponomariov 2743

There are still several events to be played (at least Bilbao, Tal Memorial and London) but by now the race seems to be between Kramnik and Karjakin, with advantage Vlad.

As to Topalov: Will he play at all in the remaining months? Maybe the European Team Championship in November (I read that Nanjing is, at least, postponed until 2012). If he does NOT play he can qualify if Carlsen 'boycots', Karjakin loses another 15 points, and Ivanchuk loses a little bit (or beats Ponomariov). This would be a "bad case scenario", the worst case scenario is a candidates event in Bulgaria.

I didn't correct you. You did :-)

Of course Grischuk could also be counted as underestimated, he has done well the last months. He won Candidates matches against Kramnik and Aronian but got little credit for it. He reached the final here after beating some very strong players, and in between it was that Russian Championship where he too had great chances to win the title if things had been going his way a little more than they did. As it was he had to settle with third on tiebreak, ahead of Karjakin and Kramnik. He also reached a 2836 performance in the World Team Championship (where Svidler was the weak link with 2614).

He wasn't ahead of Karjakin and Kramnik. He tied with Karjakin and Kramnik for joint 3rd-5th.

Svidler was first. Morozevich 2nd.

I really enjoyed that post. Eat slower for better calorie management. I struggle with the same so I should know. I suppose I should be dispensing opening advice as well.

Sometimes Grischuk seems to make the heart-attack conditions work in his favor. When he wasn't handing out easy draws at Kazan wasn't he putting opponents on the defensive with HIS time trouble? Way to go, Alexander.

As Adorjan says, Black is OK! It's nice to see Svidler doing so well again; he seems like a great guy and is really easy to root for.

Bravo Pete Svidler, but it's also great to see Vassily overcome his usual case of the nerves to reach the final three.

He isn't there yet. But hopefully he will be.

Grischuk was third on tiebreak, as can be seen for example on the official tournament site. It was quite a big difference with regards to prize money, otherwise I guess it didn't matter much:

http://www.russiachess.org/content/view/6944/

Svidler himself said that he kept getting nothing out of the opening with white, and bad positions with black that he somehow could turn around. This may be modest and funny, nonetheless it's also a bit true. It shows that he's a great practical player - and Aronian once said "to beat a strong opponent with black you have to give him winning chances" (along with chances to go wrong). But I don't think this is what Adorjan had in mind.

It's harder to be worse with white out of the opening, but Ponomariov managed against Ivanchuk. It seems that _his_ nerves failed, or that he is simply tired (after all he played many tiebreaks including long ones).
In a well-known "tabiya" opening positions, he spent 13 minutes on 13.Ne6: which is known and known to be bad, then 25 minutes on the next two moves. Then he defended stubbornly and rather well before blundering (37.Rf5:??) in mild time trouble. A scenario one would rather expect from Ivanchuk!? Of course Chucky himself played well, at least well enough to win the game..

Apparently the Moscow - St. Petersburg games aren't rated (they announced it at the opening ceremony). It's been an odd event in general. We've become so spoiled with events in Russia that it's a small shock to the system to get one with no video and a broadcast of only 8 of the 10 games live. Plus at the moment there aren't even any photographs...

Interesting, Ivanchuk-Ponomariov has gone into a variation wherein Kasparov suffered a bad defeat in one of their early Wch games! White sacs a pawn for a bind.

1. c4 Nf6 2. d4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Qb3 dxc4 6. Qxc4 O-O 7. e4 Bg4 8.
Be3 Nfd7 9. Rd1 Nc6 10. Be2 Nb6 11. Qc5 Qd6 12. e5 Qxc5 13. dxc5 Nc8 14. Bf4
Bxf3 15. Bxf3 Nxe5 16. Bxe5 Bxe5 17. O-O c6 18. Rfe1 Bg7 19. Rd7 Rb8 20. Ne4 *

bad defeat v Karpov, that is.

Remember that Svidler clinched the title with a round to spare, so the 0.5 winning margin is deceptively small....nevertheless, he has been among the game's elite for 15 years and hasn't received the fanfare that players like Moro or even Naka (who he is +5 against with no losses) have received despite being among the elite for a far shorter time than Svidler.

The full story is: In an earlier WCh game, Karpov got nothing with 14.Nb5. Then he won convincingly with 14.h3, but a few months later Timman repaired the variation with black against Karpov:
http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chesslike.pl?gid=1068504
All these games are from 1986 (the year I graduated from highschool). In a Dutch team competition game I got the same position on the board and won rather easily with black (my opponent was a few hundred points lower-rated); back at home my deja vu feelings were confirmed.

Now Ivanchuk's 14.Bf4 seems to be a novelty but maybe not an improvement, his compensation for the pawn may well be insufficient (not saying that he's lost).

Not that i really like to divert from this wonderful final (btw big kudos to the live whychess website, it's very well done) but Leontxo was today at the Spanish National Radio RNE as usually and let a few gems about what went between Carlsen and Kasparov: in short, Kasparov pushed too hard for Carlsen to "crush" Kramnik in Wijk aan Zee and after the game Magnus asked his father to end the collaboration. For the spanish talking, you may find the link on Leontxo's twitter or here: http://t.co/t5xkS9RZ

Interesting. Honestly, I believe one day in the future, the notion of black winning will not be so novel of an idea. Black has the same objective and yields very little in the first move. This is especially true since play among top players is mostly drawn. I believe that centuries of analyzing chess opening and strategies from white's point of view (even the mate problem books) is what has given white an edge. As chess evolves we will see more and more analysis of black counterplay. At this time, the analysis is not equal and white will have that advantage. However, Svidler proves it is not an anomoly. It is good for chess to see that we play an equal game.

I wonder if Leontxo wasn't quoting from story I first saw at Whychess which is quoting from a new book in Norwegian that relates this tale.

Anyhoo, the whychess site has nice article describing this.

http://www.whychess.org/node/1904

It seems to me you're right, although he only mentioned a norwegian writer, not the whychess site. He was much more focused into the education and way of work Carlsen has compared to the spartan way of life of old soviet style Kasparov. In any case, nice radio!

In the Chessbase report http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=7541

the photo of Maria Fominykh, WIM, Russia, is captioned "World Cup commentator Anna Sharevich, WGM from Belarus".

I have emailed them through the provided feedback form on the site a few hours ago and they still haven't corrected their mistake.

Chessbase is very unprofessional. It's not the first time they misdescribe photos either.

Maria Fominykh, WIM, Russia:
http://ratings.fide.com/card.phtml?event=4142411

Anna Sharevich, WGM, Belarus:
http://ratings.fide.com/card.phtml?event=13503189

Well, they are both blonde :)

ChessBase's coverage of the World Cup has been pretty uninspired. That report's just the official report - http://chess.ugrasport.com/?p=3673 - with the English cleaned up a bit and a few photos from the official site added. Having said that, I can very much understand not wanting to put in too much effort for reports on an event that goes on every day for 3 weeks...

Wonder how confusing it will be if rules are changed so black gets to move first? Could be a nice try to reduce draw percentages.

@krm: Yeah, that would be interesting =) Or we could just say White is the new Black.

I quote the most recent Twitter Updates:
***
Svidler!! Wins World Cup and $100k first prize.

@ChessVibes I don't count the 20% FIDE "tax" they use to inflate the prize funds.
***
Then it's $96k.

WhyChess also has a report on Kasparov giving a simul at the European parliament, where he is designated as "World Champion Garry Kasparov" ?! Shades of Fischer ?

Glad the three qualifiers are established super GMs - Svidler, Grischuk, Ivanchuk. None of that old kasimjanov/ponomariov/kamsky crap. Should give the next candidates cycle more credibility.

Thomas you didn't include Aronian and Carlsen in your rating posts... is it b/c you assume they are in for sure and are just analyzing the 3rd rating spot?

Your statement is quite illogical even by dailydirt standards. the job of qualifiers is to produce 'credible' candidates not the other way round.

Chessbase got their act together and corrected the photo caption, finally. They now call Maria a WGM while in reality she's only a WIM but I can live with that ;)

Yes, thank goodness we have powerhouse Grischuk (2749) instead of the weak patzers Ponomariov (2743) or Kamsky (2742).

Ponomariov is so bad he even dropped below 2700 in early 2005!

And Kamsky? What a joke! He might even drop out of the top ten on the next rating list...

But back then (April 2005), Ponomariov's Elo 2695 was good enough for world #20 - with one exception (he was 21st on the Oct 2007 list) Pono stayed in the top20 for the last 10 years.

@Matt: Correct!

I know you're trying to be controversial with that statement, but avoid sounding ignorant. Kamsky made it into the most recent candidates. That alone made him a very eligible player for the next cycle. If Ponomariov makes it to the penultimate round, he's also to be taken seriously, regardless of what you may emote.

I always imagine people like you being asked to repeat that right into the face of the mentioned players.

You would shrink from the assignment like the cs little violet that you are.

Is it so difficult to realize that this post is ironic, ken h?
Over the years I have commented many times on the high frequency of ironic comments being taken at face value on the DD. A cultural thing I spose.

I just ran afoul of the censor because I added that cs stands for chicken s**t.

OK, chesshire cat. The last line bends the cred a little.

You are funny, ken h. I certainly wouldn't mind repeating that to the faces of the mentioned players. They'd have no trouble recognizing the sarcasm and having chuckle at Anand Nair's "sounding ignorant."

Of your sarcasm perhaps. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't be entertained by Anand Nair's comment, which surely was chicken-s**t.

Let me give an explanation as why my hackles are up:
I play OTB in a local club and weekend tournaments here and there. There is a strong master at my club who is gracious enough to give postmortems at the drop of a hat - for games that he did not play!
I have respect for this guy and his analyses. Now he happens to be a minor expert on the French Defense, and recently, I saw him carrying around a copy of Vitiugov's new book on the French. W/o knowing who the author was, I said "Gee, what can you learn about that opening that you don't already know." He stopped me cold with "Well, it's written by a guy rated over 2700, so I'm sure I'll learn something."

I've talked to guys rated 2500+ who beat their brains out to get to that level, so I can't come close to imagining the kind of skill it takes to break 2700.

I therefore take umbrage with any dork who disparages the skill of anyone even at master level, much less a candidate for the World Championship, whatever the nationality.

Excellent! I support your post in every way!

I agree with you.

I'm surprised at all this criticism. One of the main reasons they have a "lottery-like" KO system to bring down the 128 player field to 3 is that its not practical to have a 8-10 game match over 7 rounds of candidates matches. And, as history has shown, its not uncommon to find a rank outsider win these kind of events. This outsider rightly deserves credit, prize money, etc. for being the last man standing. But how many would give him a chance against a world champion in a 12-14 game match.

Talking of respect, I'd travel miles, wait in snow, etc. to get a game against a kasimjanov or a kamsky, knowing fully well that they'd score a perfect score against a 2000-odd guy like me. And just because they are that superior to 2000-2500 rated guys, doesn't mean they'd be able to ensure a contest over 12 games against the world champion.

Usually in KOs like these its easier for a 'classier' guy to lose out to a 'lesser' guy due to a bad day/bad luck/etc. And all I'm saying is I'm just glad we didn't see much of that this time.

The criticism wasn't about favorites prevailing rather than outsiders reaching the final stage, but about calling Ponomariov and Kamsky "crap". Kasimdzhanov was an outsider who had ONE big success in his entire career - before and afterwards he is/was just a respectable GM (Anand's long-term second for a reason) but no world-top player. Ponomariov was an outsider or rising star when he won back in 2002 - but subsequently he established himself as a world top player who is not, at least not much weaker than Svidler or Grischuk (Ivanchuk is a story by itself). Kamsky was a surprise winner four years ago, but he is also extended world top (even though IMO he didn't quite reach his former level after returning from retirement, at least not consistently).

If you had instead written "I am glad my favorite players have qualified for the candidates event", noone would have criticized you.

Hear, hear, ken h, but I'd extend your caveat against disparagement...to everyone from experts to flat-out beginners as well.

Ah, Anand Nair, you've changed your tune. I'm with you...the 128-player knockout format is not a good way to pick three candidates (and a TERRIBLE way to pick a "world champion"). This year's top three are all terrific. There are several others that would have been great picks too: Ponomariov, Kamsky, Gashimov, Radjabov, Karjakin, Nepomniachtchi, Mamedyarov. But something like a double RR or longer matches among a smaller group would be an improvement.

Ken, very, very wise words. Thank you.

From where I stand, the 2000 elo level is something to solemnly respect. The statistical resistance to moving beyond that is considerable.

"On his way to the World Championship, Mikhail Botvinnik wrote that he had to learn 'to defeat players who are outstanding even among masters, in other words, to beat grandmasters'". Then he had to learn to beat the top grandmasters. Exactly as you say. Thank you. dk

Ken, very, very wise words. Thank you.

From where I stand, the 2000 elo level is something to solemnly respect. The statistical resistance to moving beyond that is considerable.

"On his way to the World Championship, Mikhail Botvinnik wrote that he had to learn 'to defeat players who are outstanding even among masters, in other words, to beat grandmasters'". Then he had to learn to beat the top grandmasters.

Exactly as you say. Thank you. dk

dude - uff da was clearly being sarcastic - vent your ire on anand nair who clearly made an illogical and insulting (to the players) statement

I realize it. You're just late to the party.

(Thanks David. I'm not trying to issue words of wisdom. Just trying to remind a few people that we're dealing with real people here - not cardboard cut outs).

An excellent long interview with Levon Aronian on film, literature, music and occasionally chess :)

http://whychess.org/node/1960

"ChessBase's coverage of the World Cup has been pretty uninspired."
Chessbase now has an article on "people who made it possible": http://chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=7545
"I want to express my admiration for the professional and creative work of ChessBase," wrote the Press Officer of the event. "Your brilliant reports helped the entire chess world enjoy the events in Khanty-Mansiysk during this tournament." Not at all, Nick [Nikita Kim]. The organisers of the World Cup went to extraordinary lengths to provide us with any assistance we needed. For this we thank you and look forward to a similar cooperation in future events."
A bit further down they show the difference between Fominikh and Sharevich: Fominikh wears a sleeveless brown blouse :) .

Sometimes CB just takes your breath away :)

By the way, the Tal Memorial line-up's been announced - not too shabby! http://www.whychess.org/node/1995

I find the quote from Nikita Kim even more amazing. Assuming that it's authentic, didn't he recognize the writing of his own team or was he actually deeply ironic?? That being said, I guess Chessbase did reach a wider, or at least a different audience than the event homepage - and there's not much wrong with giving late but due credit to those who, along with the players, ran the show in KM.

At Tal Memorial, Svidler seems to replace Wang Hao who is apparently still suffering from heart problems - I don't think the organizers would or could un-invite a Chinese to make room for another Russian.
If Grischuk had won the final in Khanty, they had to choose between a Russian champion from St. Petersburg and a World Cup winner from Moscow ... .

Anand is finally playing in three tournaments in the next three months. It is almost imperative that he wins atleast one of them to preserve the reputation of the world champion title.Too bad if a world champion cannot win even one tournament in 3-4 years. I can't recall any world champion having such a long drought.

Moronic post....just like the Kramnik fanboys in 2007 saying Vishy's title wasn't real b/c he hadn't won it in matchplay...they were silenced when he thrashed Vladdy a year later.

Anand went years winning every big tournament and was then called not elite because he hadn't become World Champion. You can't have it both ways. Anyone who knows chess knows that Anand is more than worthy to be World Champion.

Considering the existence of wch matches in such short succession it is pretty good. Atleast we will never know how the others (in the contemporary workd) would have fared with the wch matches going on. Here is the break down anyway

2008 won linares, mainz and the bonn wch. Did not win amber, Mainz , corus and Bilbao. That's 3 out of 7. Pretty good considering one was a wch match.

2009. Won leko-Anand rapid, azerbaijan vs world(winning team) Dint win world blitz, linares, Zurich rapid, amber, Mainz, tal memorial. That's 2/8. Less than expected.

2010. Won wch with topalov, Dint win corus, Nanjing pearl, Bilbao, london chess, arctic securities. That's 1/6. Less than expected but one was the wch match

2011. Won anand-shirov, botvinnik, anand-kazim rapid. Dint win tata steel, amber. That's 3/5. Pretty good with 3 more chances.

Great lineup (though it'd be interesting to see Topalov again...). It appears they're trying to give Nepo some good exposure to the top players, as he's certainly one of the most promising young players around.

Nepomniachtchi may have been invited (also) because he was Russian champion when the field was put together.

As to Topalov: I don't think he was 'under consideration' for Tal Memorial, nor would he accept an invitation to an event in Russia. His inactivity may be partly because his favorite events (Linares, MTel, seemingly also Nanjing) don't take place this year. However, he was apparently invited to Bilbao - the tournament homepage states that [Vallejo was invited] "because the five other players in the top ten have unavoidable professional or personal commitments for those dates". At the time of writing, these were Kramnik, Karjakin (both with very busy schedules), Topalov ("personal commitments?!"), Mamedyarov and Ponomariov (both play at the European Club Cup).
Will Topalov play at the European Team Championship in November? If not, we can start assuming that he has silently retired ... .

just a passing observation, probably made by others already, that although Svidler never did fully establish himself as a SuperGM in the mid-90s he seems to have gotten a second wind and succeeded in recent years... lots of surprise victories and top results.

Good to see Nepo get another shot at the big time. It's hard to predict how he'll do given his inconsistentcy this past year, but whatever the talent perceived, within that field at Tal Memorial he's destined to share the ladder's lower rungs with Vallejo (correct pronunciation as in yecch-o) Pons. But we should also expect at least one upset.

Of course Anand is a worthy world champion but his performance outside the WCC has not been very good. V poor when compared to Karpov or Kasparov perhaps it stands comparison with Kramnik Spassky or Petrosian? Perhaps not. More frequent WCC matches ?? but much shorter. He is more first among equals than clearly the best player - never dominant in classical chess. For all that a worthy WCC who will be tough to topple in match play with a very balanced all round game utterly professional and virtually flawless judgment. Also appears a great person to have as WCC.

hmmm cannot imagine anything that Levon has to say about anything than chess could be remotely interesting just like kasparov. At leat in
Levons case its not his fault people ask him. Ability in chess is evidence of well ...ability in chess period. Its like those old soccer annuals when they would ask a player what his favourite colour, meal, tv programme etc was.

I think Nepo has a better chance of upsetting at the Tal Memorial than Vallejo has at Bilbao (which is what I assume you meant, since Vallejo isn't playing at the Tal Memorial). In any case, it's a heck of a gauntlet he's got to run, virtually all of the top players in the world right now. Just wish it was a double round robin, but you can't have everything. Should still be a great show, and hopefully the players will bring some of Tal's creative and fighting spirit to the games (which, if I remember correctly, they generally do in this tournament).

In the computer age, there will be no no one dominant player. The age of dominance where hours of preparation can only matched be hours at the other end is no more true. That is the reason Kasparov dominated since his preparations for the match can be endlessly reused in the tournaments. Nowadays all the hours spent on openings is just used in that one game and you have to start all over again. So it is not possible that wch dominates in both matches and tournaments at the same time. Well Carlsen has done well in tournaments but hey quit the cycle stating clearly that he wants to concentrate on tournaments. In spite of that Anand has done reasonably well. Granted he dint win classical events for a while, but ok he came in shared first or second in several. Just that the point system in London dint give him first for eg. His rating has been on the rise and he is currently at his career best.

Now this will spice of bilbao even more if this article is true http://www.whychess.org/node/2018

need some real dirt now about the Nakamura being trained by Kasparov rumor. DD - live up to thy name!

Such a rumor might spice up Bilbao even if it isn't true ... .
I am actually somewhat skeptical: Dennis Monokroussos is a "highly-respected chess blogger" (no disagreement from my side) but IMO it's safe to consider him a fan of Nakamura. I do not mean to imply that he is willing to create a rumor "at least three people away from an original source", but that he might be interested in spreading it.

The timing is quite 'peculiar': just before the first round of Bilbao (the Carlsen-Kasparov connection was revealed right before Nanjing) and also at a moment when the "Nakamura brand" may have lost some appeal - due to his relatively poor results in Bazna and Dortmund and due to his decision to skip the World Cup. On the other hand, this could be the moment to (finally) realize/admit that Kris Littlejohn as sole assistant isn't enough against the world top.

BTW, first prize in Wijk aan Zee was "just" 10,000 Euros - probably not enough to pay Kasparov. But of course he also got an appearance fee, plus appearance fees for Bazna and Dortmund, plus appearance fee and/or prize money for Bilbao - plusplusplus Rex Sinquefield!?

Kasparov and Nakamura appear to have similar personalities - I can see them being a much better fit than Kasparov and Carlsen.

It's not a rumor. They started working together in December 2010 right before Tata. Rex is paying Kasparov $250,000 a year to work with Nakamura.

And 6you know that how exactly?

Yea, that's a rumor worth tracking down. In hindsight, though, you have to wonder if true, why has Hikaru not shown much improvement since December 2010. His opening repertoire was wide and probably as deep before that date. What has changed there?

Or, although he has had some good results since 12/2010, why has he recently stalled?

Anand starts out with rather uninspired game as White. Can't be bothered checking the stats but he seems to have been shooting into the wind as White for quite some time, relatively speaking.

You are right. His performance with white in tournaments has been pretty abysmal for someone with his rating. He is already thinking about Gelfand next spring. He will not win with white unless his opponent takes chances. He is preparing d4, but not playing it in any tournaments.

"Some good results" is basically one good result in Wijk aan Zee. And maybe the match against Ponomariov, but IMHO Nakamura didn't really impress at that occasion.

In any case, IF they already work together since 12/2010, Dennis Monokroussos may turn out to be wrong: "My [DM's] prediction is that if the story proves true and they make it work, the American will his 2800 within a year." In nine months Nakamura went from Elo 2751 to 2753, three months and three events (Bilbao, Tal Memorial, London) remaining, 47 points missing for the time being ... .

Also, what is meant by "working with Kasparov"?
-- the exchange of some email?

Of course the old master is eager to pass his knowledge and experience to the young gifted pupil.
But neather Kasparov is like Yoda nor Naka like Luke:-)

Interesting speculation about Nakamura & Kasparov...

I can imagine that someone working with Kasparov might skip the US championship and seek out stronger competition, but then to play in the poker championships instead and Kings vs. Queens? If he WAS working with Kaspy, I'd bet he isn't anymore!

Hard to say. While have a cache of strong opening novelties is important, there still is room for fighting spirit and sheer tactical acumen to manifest itself. Carlsen is noted for winning games in the middlegame--not necessarily starting out with a big edge from the opening. The best tactician should be the best player. You never know when the next great player will emerge.

One issue is that few players adapt a maximalist strategy: taking risks to win as White and as Black. Without that full commitment, a player is not going to reach 2851

He had sort of a unfortunate pairing, getting his first round White against Carlsen. Once the Ruy Lopez Berlin was chosen by Carlsen, there wasn't much that Anand could do to alter the result.

Aronian also had an undesireable pairing, but he did what he needed to do.

The winner of the tournament is likely to be one of the Big 3: Anand, Aronian, or Carlsen. I expect the winner will be the one who totes up the biggest score against the outsiders (Nakamura, Ivanchuk, and Vallejo).

This will be an interesting test for Nakamura, as there are no Dutch players to feed on. Only Vallejo is an obvious "customer", but Nakamura has to face the Big 3 six times, with equal colors. If he wins, or finishes either at +2 or within a half-point of 1st Place, then Nakamura will have gone a long way to dispell doubts about his ability to compete against a compact field of this level.

If the rumors about Kasparov are true, then the 2 Nakamura--Carlsen games might be of particular interest. kasparov might be particularly motivated to share some Top Shelf novelties, just for the satisfaction for a bit of revenge

Utter crap (re: once the Berlin was chosen).

Utter crap (re: once the Berlin was chosen).

"The best tactician should be the best player." ?

Not true. Botvinnik and Petrosian, to name just a few prominent players, were fine tacticians, but not the best of their day. They played strong positional chess supported by enough tactical implementation to succeed.

I agree that the importance of opening preparation is overestimated: it's necessary because everyone does it, at the same time this means that no single player can claim a big advantage compared to his peers. Recently there is actually some tendency to avoid the most topical lines (which, after some tactical fireworks, may result in a forced draw or sterile position) in favor of less ambitious setups (1.c4, d3 lines against the Ruy Lopez, etc.) which result in equal but playable positions. This also means that, IMHO, Kasparov's role in that respect is a bit overestimated: he was dominant at his prime, but now others use the same approach and put in the same amount of hard work.

"The best tactician should be the best player." Along with kenh, I disagree. The most universal player should be the best player - someone who is equally comfortable in attack and defense, tactical fireworks and slow positional maneouvring.

"maximalist strategy: taking risks to win as White and as Black. Without that full commitment, a player is not going to reach 2851"
Also not completely true: Kramnik relied heavily on the white pieces - this has changed a bit recently, but he has been well above 2750 for many years. Karjakin is also much stronger with the white pieces. And Radjabov is as opposite as it gets: aggressive and ambitious with black, rather tame with white (71% draws).

Overall, your picture seems a bit Nakamura-centric: He is a great tactician who (if you look at some of his losses) lacks world-top positional skills. His "maximalist attitude" includes failing to accept that a draw can be a logical and legitimate result. That's why his Elo is "just" 2751 rather than 2780 or 2800. Whether Sinquefield's money and Kasparovian magic can reduce or eliminate such weaknesses (little room to capitalize on his strengths even more?) remains to be seen.

Did Carlsen not find the best moves in that ending, or was the 1.90 machine valuation just wrong?

Ken, it is not usually a good idea to pay any attention to machine evaluations in rook endings (cept sometimes tablebases, of course, being perfect n all).
To my limited knowledge the ending that arose was a theoretical draw.

Noted for future, cc.
Thx.

Amazing depth level from Anand! At some point you could even say he was playing depth level 42!!! And probably Nakamura too.

15.axb5 takes you to a draw, more or less.

15.axb5 axb5 16.Rxa8 Qxa8 17.0-0 Qc6 as played by them and the computer suggests a sacrificial drawing line as below.

(18. e5 Nd5 19. Bf3 N7b6 20. Ne4 Be7 21. Nd6+ Bxd6 22. exd6 O-O 23. h4 gxh4 24. Be5 f6 25. Be4 fxe5 26. Qg4+ Kh8 27. Qxe6 Qd7 28. Qxh6+ Kg8 29. Qg6+ Kh8 30. Qh6+ Kg8 31. Qg6+ Kh8 32. Qh6+ Kg8 33. Qg6+ Rybka Aquarium (0:01:41) +0.00|d19 equal chances)

And now Naka deviates from the drawish line with 18.e5 Nd5 19.Nxd5 Qxd5 20.Qa1!?

Black has the extra pawn but has enough problems to solve with the king in the center.

Here Anand goes 20...Bg7!? (Wow) Computers at depth 20 or so were suggesting 20...Qb7 and criticizing this move. But Anand must have known the draw at level 42!!!

20... Bg7!? (Qb7) 21.Rd1 Qc5 22.Qa8+ Ke7 23.Qb7 Rd8 24.Bf3 (almost forced or best moves from move 20 and they quickly played it) And here goes Anand almost instantaneously with 24...Bxe5!? (draws again!) 25.Bxe5 Qxe5 26.Bc6 and the computer draw line is,

(26...Kf6 27.Bxd7 Qxb2 28.Qc7 Ra8 29.f4 Ra2 30.fxg5+ hxg5 31.Qd8+ Kg6 32.Qg8+ Kh6 33.Bc6 Qf2+ 34.Kh1 Re2 35.Qh8+ Kg6 36.Qg8+ Kh6 37.Qh8+ Kg6 38.Qg8+ Kh6 39.Qh8+ Kg6 40.Qg8+ Kh6 41.Qh8+ Kg6 Rybka Aquarium (0:01:28) +0.00|d18 equal chances)

It would be interesting to see 25.Bc6 (real novelty proposed by Mig. I know you can't call moves like 15.axb5 a novelty nowadays.) Deep computers didn't show anything adverse for black so I would assume Anand was safe or was prepared for that too.

They were precise, and good display of skills by both Anand and Nakamura!

25.Bc6 Kf6 26.Rxd7 Rxd7 27.Bxd7 Bxb2 (! if the resulting end game position is a draw) 28.Be8 Qe7 29.Qxb5 Bd4 30.Qxc4 (not forced though) 30...Bxf2 31.Bxf2 Qxe8 32.Qe4 Kg7 33.Bd4+ f6. This is one line with K+Q+B+2P vs K+Q+4P with pawns on the same side and I don't know if there is a win for white here.

A way to assess the reliability of engine evaluations in endgames might be: Do the variations make sense (in endgames, engines are less likely to come up with strong surprising moves that most humans won't even consider)? Does the stronger, supposedly winning side make any progress within the engine search depth?

Engines are also relatively weak or unreliable in other endgames: opposite-colored bishops, queen vs. rook and pawns with a fortress for the weaker side, ... .

PircAlert - Anand said he'd prepared this line (perhaps "to tablebases", but not sure if I understood the Spanish) - but then he'd forgotten something and got into trouble. I think he also said it's better not to know the position at all than to know only 99% of the theory.

mishanp, I would rather like to go knowing 99% of theory than knowing nothing relying on my skills to calculate everything OTB. ;) It is next to impossible specially when you are against an opponent who has the advantage of knowing like 90% of theory. But I understand Anand's concern. When you know 99% you tend to play from your memory rather than checking out all the lines OTB to ensure everything is ok as when you know 90 or less percent of theory.

But yeah when you assess positions at such deep levels using your memory and calculating power, you can't be as accurate as a computer, and Anand could well have missed some lines arising out of different sequence of moves. I can think of one position where Anand would have wanted Qb7 instead Qc6?? But other than that, to me everything else looked best or forced from black point of view. I think mostly white had the option to dictate the course of the game.

But even 17...Qb7 instead of 17...Qc6 would have made any difference since this particular game went 18.e5 Nd5 19.Nxd5 Qxd5. as the Queen is displace to d5 anyway. so wonder what he meant by he got himself into trouble. 20...Qb7 instead of 20...Bg7???

I wrote a report about Round 2 here - it clears up some cryptic comments about the Botvinnik Memorial in the official press release: http://www.whychess.org/node/2050

its interesting that Anand played Gelfand's line (9..Nbd7 something Anand never played before) in the Anti-Moscow following Kasim vs Gelfand and at the same time Gelfand in round 4 of the euro cup plays the Lasker variation which helped Anand at Sofia. Clearly they are already studying positions where the other one likes.

Thanks for the report! Nakamura has reasons to be disgusted about his play for not seeing a move like 25.Bc6. If you aspire to become a world champion in this day and age, you can't miss such moves. But I think he is a bit ambitious when he judges the resulting position within a few minutes after the game that it is winning for him. The move may not be something completely unanticipated by Anand. Had he played on in that position against Anand, he would have more disgusted with himself for not winning a possible K+Q+B+2P vs K+Q+4P?? May be Hikaru can show us how it is winning? ;-)

Naka's tweet about 25.Bc6 being 'completely winning' either says something about his ignorance or his arrogance. Surely he will have known shortly after the game that the game is not winning and Anand had seen the draw .. considering he played 24...Bxe5 quickly. Still eight hours after he has replied to a fan saying the same thing.

Replied where? According to the computer Bc6 is +/- which isn't winning but better.

It is ignorance rather.;-) The position may be completely winning for him against his chess partner who helps him out. I think soon he will come to understand Anand's skills when he studies his games.

Which computer? At what depth? And what is the line?

And does the computer show a winning plan here for my below line that black can get almost forcefully? 25.Bc6 Kf6 26.Rxd7 Rxd7 27.Bxd7 Bxb2 28.Be8 Qe7 29.Qxb5 Bd4 30.Qxc4 (not completly forced though) 30...Bxf2 31.Bxf2 Qxe8 32.Qe4 Kg7 33.Bd4+ f6.

He replied to one of his fans. Look into ChessVibes report for round 2. ChessVibes also give analysis that show Bc6 is not winning

"Of course" (or: as always) Nakamura replied via Twitter. Not his first strange, ignorant or arrogant Twitter comment ... . There was a rather analogous one after his drawn Olympiad game against Kramnik - the Russian chess scene (was it Shipov in particular?) wasn't amused: Nakamura was worse, though not quite losing in that game and suddenly claimed that he missed a win.
If Kasparov is now coaching Nakamura ... guess modesty, politeness and respect for fellow world top players aren't part of his lessons ,:( .

Maybe he just misjudged the position a bit and genuinely thought he had a win, in both cases. Then it would be optimism rather than ignorance. Self-belief is important for anyone striving to get to the top of anything, even if it is not always objective! Anyhoo, it hardly matters. Points on the board are all that really count! Interesting observation re Gelfand, Harish.

That's a warrior's response.

I read Nakamura said once he wasn't really interested in expert rated players with a computer who critiqued his play.
He said it was different if it was an Aronian or other superGM (my term) that was criticizing him.
I suppose he still feels that way.

True. Chessok game annotation with deep Rybka, or annotation with pure computer help for that matter, is one example of some wrong assessment of positions. But I don't just rely on computer moves alone. So don't you worry, about me or my chess skills. Nakamura will look into my lines if he gets to see them!

But why all this support for him from nowhere all of a sudden? Is Kasparov really behind the scenes??!! ;) ;)

All engines say very equal in Anand-Ivanchuk while Ivanchuk is pondering his next move after vishy's Nf1 but the commentators (icc - Sierwan and Benjamin) saying that Ivanchuk is nearly lost. Clearly Ivanchuk sees some problem as he has been pondering on this move for a long time now. Silly these engines.

After an interesting 22.e5 the computer has been saying Anand is clear minus but Anand may wiggle out. Ivanchuk has just played 24...Bg4.

Don't know what Anand missed, but he is worse according to engines.

Anand must have missed ...Bg4 since otherwise his queen guards e5 pawn. He probably missed that several moves ago when he played Ng3 allowing ...d5 and then ...d4. I suppose he can still hold the game.

more than likely. At any rate, I don't much care. Bc6 is clearly a better move though my amateurish eyes can't find a win after it.

29.Bd5 Rxd5!! draws I believe. So Ivanchuk should do 29.Qxa2 but then Kg1 will support knight and Queen will be free to prepare herself for perpetual.

29...Qe2 and now 30.Rd1 Bg1 31.Rxg1 brilliancy is not possible due to Kxg1.

Carlsen has resigned. May be he has not experienced time pressure too much in his life. Well there is a lot still left to learn for him.

Ho ho. The punchbag just punched back!!
Carlsen looked good, must have made an awful blunder later.
Interesting things can happen when one lower-rated is there, everyone feels they have to beat him...sometimes they go too far!
Anand is looking dead but he ain't a champ for nothing, might swing something yet.

The following has happened so far ...all today
the women's world champion (Hou Yifan), the world's number one (Carlsen), the world champion challenger all lost (Gelfand).

Can Vishy the world champ be an exception?

Not :-(

Vishy lost to Chucky... Maybe he got distracted after seeing Carlsen lose...

Well, at least two more world champions lost today: Ponomariov and Petrosian :)

Seems like losing is really in fashion this season. I'll have to give it a try one of these years. If all these world champs are doing it, the rest of us should follow their example.

Right! Geez, I feel a lot better now.

Hehe, Mig states that Anand wasn't unified World Champion during Bilbao 2008 in his recent tweet:

"Anand and Carlsen both lost in the same round of Bilbao 2008, too. But Carlsen wasn't #1 yet and the WCh title hadn't been unified"

Yes, but there's one winner for every loser - so winning is as fashionable as losing!

BTW, current world blitz champion Aronian did not lose, and former KO champ Kasimdzhanov scored a convincing and fairly spectacular win (against IM Maier, Elo 2352).

Mig's not going to create a new column for the Bilbao tourney until Naka wins a game.

Meanwhile, glad to see Ivanchuk in good form. Candidates will be interesting, b/c its clear that Carlsen won't be the runaway winner if he even decides to show up this time.

Harish (or anyone else who was listening), can you give a little detail on waht Seirawan et al were saying (I don't use ICC)?.. because on Chessvibes the annotations give the impression that Anand got nothing from the opening and went downhill from there. Seems quite a contrast to what you were reporting!
Interesting that Anand, who for such a long time was almost exclusively an e4 man, has had nothing much to show against two modern banes of e4, the Berlin and the Jaenisch.

I'll bet Hikaru Nakamura hates being called 'Naka.'

Sierwan basically said Ivanchuk is in big trouble after his ...Bxe3 move and Benjamin agreed with him. They then tried out several variations and concluded that White has a clear plan to improve the position and black has the only option of d5 which opens up Vishy's bishop on d3 and will lead to disaster. So their conclusion was Vishy is clearly better. As I said in my earlier comment I was using my Houdini x64 engine in parallel and it dint see much although but I never trust engines in their evaluation. And then as it happens Vishy just missed Black's ...Bg4 intermedzo move. Benjamin pointed out as to how it can be an illusion since until black's knight was on g6, there was no ...Bg4 possibility and that is why white had an oversight or rather missed this move. But the moment it was exchanged and black's rook appeared on ...g6, now all of a sudden ...Bg4 is obvious deflection of queen from control over the e5 pawn.

Earth to Simple Pole etc.!

World Champion Ponomariov?! You must be on planet Ilyumzhinov.

Ok, interesting, thanks!

Note to self: Do not attempt humor on Internet.

Indeed. Remember that most of your readers consider thinking a pointless exercise.

Uh...no, he won it fair and square over Ivanchuk (who had beaten Vishy in the SF)

Huh?!

You must be talking about Ilyumzhinov's funny dice rolling contest in 2000...but "World Champion"? The knockouts are not a satisfactory way to pick three of eight candidates to battle it out for the right to challenge the champion, but to put such a lofty title on a circus like that is silly

Give it a rest. This isn't an audition for Groundhog Day.

Your opinion...doesn't make it fact or true. Bottom line is that he won the title, dethroning Vishy. I'm sure many top players would disagree with your disrespect of that title.

Well said.

If Naka doesn't lose to Carlsen today, that will show me a lot; the last 2 times they have met (2010 London, 2011 Wijk aan Zee), Carlsen has had W after having lost his previous round and handled Naka relatively easily.

Before you embrace your Naka too deeply, you should consider the other side of it, pioneer: that Magnus, according to Yasser and greg Kaidanov on ICC, is more or less winging the openings these days instead of the excellent opening prep he demonstrated in Nanjing after working with GK. And because he is letting his prep slide, they surmise, so he's entering games w/o novelties as well.
He spent a chunk of time this game trying to figure out how to come out the opening, and didn't find it. The result: he made it relatively easy for Hikaru to reach equality. That was also evident timewise when watching the game proceed on ChessOK.

Just to buttress my observation about boosting your playing strength after or while seconding an elite GM, note the surprisingly good progress in the World Cup by Peter Heine Nielson.
Peter is a current second for Vishy Anand.

People, how impressed are you with this Anand's win? No obvious mistakes from Vallejo's part yet Anand shows win in a queenless and from a more or less equal position! I know the game is not over yet but it will get over soon.

Did Ivanchuk choke today with Rxf7?

Yes I did hear the comment on Carlen's opening preparation on icc and I agree. I dont see Carlsen's strength in the openings at all. He firmly believes he will outplay his opponent from equal positions but he has to realize that it is only possible against the low 2700 whom he beats consistently. He will feel even more miserable now since the person who is giving points to everybody in this tournament is the one against whom he lost. btw a very interesting game from Anand, the Karpov style... keeping all pieces on back ranks and only marching king to g4 and finally everything comes alive.

It will be nice if someone can translate bits of the post match conference of Anand Vallejo. Apparently a funny incident happened when someone in the audience started to shout something at the start when Anand started speaking and Anand had to pause for him. And Anand said "beuno eso" and that everyone was laughing !!

Not too impressed, Pirc. All the competitors easily outplayed Vallejo, and we would expect the world champion to do so too. Carlsen had a little accident.Vallejo did not exactly go for the throat in this game. How impressed are you with Anand's performance so far?

Chesshire, didn't you see difference between how others outplayed Vallejo and how he got outplayed move by move. I'm impressed with Anand's play yesterday too but let me tell you how I'm impressed today.

What an impressive game by World Champion today! It will even make the live rating freeze. From a queenless and from a more or less equal position, Anand pulls out a win when there was no obvious mistakes from Vallejo. It will be hard to pin point where Vallejo went wrong. And it was like Rybka aquarium was doing a 3rd grade math on counting down by 0.1 when it was evaluating the position. Do you guys see now why I say Anand is the greatest ever?!!!

;-)

When will you be celebrating your 13th birthday? We'll all send ya a card with the world champ's mug on it. In your case, it better be the current champ by then.

:-)

Sad that Mig no longer finds the time to write.

I'd just like to inform the residents of Pluto and Neptune - who are the last uninformed beings within 3 light years- that Pirc is rather fond of the current world champ, Anand.

Your predicament:

You are in zeitnot - in a serious way - you don't have much more than a minute to make eleven moves - and time increments are not allowed.

The good news? You have a good position, and the potential to make it a winning position if you find the right move. Then you just have to follow it up properly until you reach time control.
The bad news: You're playing Levon Aronian, one of the cleverest defenders in the world, and he has plenty of time.

Ready? Set. Go!

You won the game but "I outplayed you". Great comfort.

In no other sport is the loser (or his followers) as arrogant as in chess.

As if outplaying the opponent was the goal in chess. Mating the king or having the opponent resign the game would be the goal.

The disrespect Paco gets for playing the Grand Prix is sickening. First, he "is too bad a player" to be there. Then he beats the world #1 "oh, he was outplayed".

Tell me how many players were outplayed by Carlsen in the last 5 years and managed to win. Can you name at least one other?

The chess community should man up, and accept the wild card choice of the organizers.

Bah, when one's opponent simply blunders a piece after having a winning position, nobody takes pride in winning a game or claims much credit for it. Not me, not Vallejo, not anyone. That is not disrespect.
Vallejo got the three points, that's obvious. It is also obvious that he is a great player.
It is a moot point whether getting mauled by the field is actually a good experience for the player toughening them up for harder competition) or a nasty psychological blow (as happened Short when he played top Grandmasters too early).

Oh, I am not saying Paco should take pride in the win.

But TIME is a factor in chess too. And if you consume virtually all of your time to gain a winnning position, then I think it is fair enough to say that the blunder resulted from bad overall play, if one considers time management an ingredient of the performance.

So positionally speaking, Carlsen may have "outplayed" Paco, but he did so by investing (too) much.

It's like a Boxer who wins 11 rounds by giving his all and then is knocked out in the 12th because he has no power left. You could argue as well that he "ouboxed" his opponent - but at what cost?

I simply think that all this talk about Paco shouldn't play at the GP etc. is just disrespectful. No matter how the game against Carlsen was won.

Pacos record against the GP field is
1-7-21 (wins, losses, draws).
Nakamuras record against the GP field is 1-5-18.

So Nakamrua doesn't belong there too?

It's time to accept the maths of chess: organizer = money = tournament = living for the chess players = right to invite wild cards as they choose.

Criticizing the selection of Pacos is pure disrespect for the people who put their money into chess that the lights don't go out completely.

If I was the sponsor, such behaviour by the chess community, especially by people like Mig, would be very alienating.

"And if you consume virtually all of your time to gain a winnning position, then I think it is fair enough to say that the blunder resulted from bad overall play"
Yes indeed, very true. And it is annoying to get draw offers then, because you might have found better replies with more time yourself! A kind of blackmail, IMO.
You are also quite right about the financial aspect etc. There is no question of his "right" to be there, for sure.
But Vallejo has been having a hard time on the board, the question for me would be is it good for him? If he is mentally strong and sees it as good training, well and good, but if it is a blow to his ego, not good! How many players have gone downhill after a crushing match or tournament? Praps the conferences will reveal if he is at least enjoying himself.

Unfortunatelly, you never know in advance who will have a bad time over the board who not.

I remember Naiditsch winning Dortmund and Gustaffson coming close, Smeets close to winning Linares (I think), etc.

Especially in Dortmund and Wijk aan Zee a lot of players (Van Wely, Stellwagen, Smeets, Naiditsch, Gustaffson, Maier, etc.) are simply there because of sponsors wild cards.
But the same is true at many other tournaments as well, just that usually a russian or so is selected from a broad field of good players.

Talking about Vallejo:
He was a constant at Linares, he knows how it is to be beaten by the best. His ego wont suffer too much, after all its a difference if you get outplayed by the #1 - #7 or by the #50 - #60.

I recall streaks of 5 or more losses by Shirov, Kamsky, Ivanchuk - all of which did suffer from a "blown ego".

I hope Paco will draw a few more games and maybe win another one.

The only thing I really didn't like was the unfair treatment Paco is receiving for his involvement in the GP - especially on the ICC and here by Mig.

Well, you're right, commonsense, and looking back at big tournaments historically, you can find some majors one by a (now) less-than-famous grandmaster.
People come prepared or step up for the home crowd. It happens all the time in many sports.

That is a different argument from the financial one, of course, but they're both respectable.
Vallejo is favorite among Spanish-speaking chess fans, of which there are many, so why not insert him into the equation if it will make for better theatre?
Two lower-rated hometown favorites would be pushing it in such a small field, but regardless of how he beat Carlsen, Vallejo has a full point already, and as far as I'm concerned, he's made a mark.

Well, he might well pull something off. All the players will try to beat him because they will want to keep up with the others, and they might well take too many risks or take him for granted in the process- and after all he is over 2700 and quite capable of beating anyone given a chance.

Well, let's see how he handles the heat today. Nakamura seems to think he can afford a little aggression before castling against him.
Maybe they should rename it "Slamming Paco (twice)" instead of "Grand Slam Masters Final".

Anand drew today as White against Aronian. Combined with the rest of his games, it again shows his utter and complete dominance over all chessplayers since Morphy.

Exaggerate much?
Kasparov-Anand 1995... enough said.

Nakamura beats Vallejo to move into second place at the break.
Boy, is he arrogant.

LOOOOOOOOOOOL!!!

That private match?? And duck afterwards fearing defeat?? enough said.

Want more? Kasparov-Kramnik 2000!

I think Nakamura was lucky to win today! I might be wrong but I thought Pons had him. I wouldn't be surprised if he said he is disgusted with his play.

Hmmm., looks like "getting" sarcasm is not your strong suite :-)

The greatest player on earth lets off Aronian with a warning playing White. This shows that the World Champion also has a heart...

Paco Vayechho (I love the way the Spaniards say it - nothing like how we hear it in California) was nothing if not adventurous today; it's just that he played with abandon only after realizing that he had misplaced his pieces against Nakamura's setup.
If you sack a piece for counterplay, you had better have a lot of it or a good attack to beat a GM a piece down - even you are yourself a GM.
It was a little painful for me to watch.

Naka said his goal was to hit 2800 this year, so we will see. He's got a shot at it with strong performances in Bilbao and at the super strong London Classic, which has quickly become a highlight of the chess calendar. I guess he will play in the Blitz in Moscow in Novemeber (?), but I don't know of any other "serious" events between now and the end of the year that will give him a shot at 2800. No Nanjing this year I know.

I thought that 2800 goal by some certain time was a rumor. Or did Nakamura say that?

Nakamura said so himself after winning Wijk aan Zee - "I hope to break 2800 by the end of this year":
http://www.tatasteelchess.com/history/recent/year/2011/report/13
Besides (currently) Bilbao and (December) London, he will also play the classical part of Tal Memorial. So it's still possible - but somehow I don't think he anticipated his Bazna and Dortmund results when he made the ambitious statement quoted above ... .

man, this site has gone down hill. so much for "daily". i guess there are enough news sites now written by strong players who aren't douches.

Tough on Chucky to be robbed at gunpoint and now to try to maintain his composure for the second leg. If he can cope we could witness his greatest achievement.

true but where else to go? Dennis Monokroussos does a great job.

Chessvibes ruined itself with a cruddy website.

that's a good question. it's tough to find the right balance between informative and entertaining... i'll have to check monokroussos out. thanks for the tip!

My heartfelt sorrow and well wishes to GM Ivanchuk and his wife.

There is not mention in the press about Rabajov's room being robbed in San Luis, in 2007 was it, (not sure of the date or tournament, please correct me if I am wrong).

He was so upset, he left with his father, feeling the need to withdraw.

I am not saying Latin America is worse than other places, not having traveled internationally in a long time, and then only in East Asia. Just noting the great disturbance in a sport where the mind needs the least amount of drain in other areas, for maximum focus.

Again, my heart goes out to GM Ivanchuk who, we recall, was very upset was it, two years ago, saying he would leave chess and the chess world said no.

We love you Vassily. dk

I know it's horrible. Mig violating our rights and all.

Dennis Monokroussos has a great chess blog. He posts something of interest 'most every day. Unlike Mig, he wields a heavy moderator's hand for readers' comments.

In terms of information, whychess.org has quickly become part of my daily chess diet (and by now I got used to the somewhat confusing site design which may have inspired Chessvibes). The only downside: the fact that Colin McGourty writes a lot for whychess means that mishanp has little time left for chessintranslation.com ,:) .

Of course there's also Chessbase which, in any case, offers quantity.

For discussions, this place may still be fine - but we have to do it ourselves without help or keywords from Mig. Maybe he could offer a new thread (headline) every now and then even if he doesn't have time or inspiration to write something himself? Otherwise we might end up discussing the London Classic in this World Cup thread which has grown to 700 comments ... .

"We love you"? Have you even met the man? Unfortunate incident but let#s keep it real!!

phx, is that supposed to make sense? who said anything about rights?

i guess it's my fault for continuing to come back hoping for something different.

Dear 'what', no pun intended, but what can I honestly say, except that I respect you, and understand you position.

This very second, my mother is dying, nurses at home, hospital beds, I am not kidding... Life is no joke.

Love is a very spiritual thing and yes, the chess world does love Vasily. I am not a bible person, but there love can be translated as charity. Or generosity of heart. I am someone who uses this term love, and it is a very individual matter. If I were to put the highest standard as to how I label or view relations, to me, a friend is the one that I think is overused. Not much different. Folks throw the term around. A friend, to me, is someone you can call in the middle of the night, and that listen rather than dismiss.

Forgive me if I offend anyone, and yes, there is great fondness for GM Ivanchuk, his vulnerability, his fragility, his strength, his nerves, his genius.

Again, but hope no one is offended. From where I stand this morning, life is a marvel. We all are borne, we all die, we all love, and sometimes hate, but we all get some type of chance....

Nurses on the way, let me run. I love, and for that, I have no apologies. Some folks can be counted on to laugh at me, others appreciate, and that is life.

Peace to everyone here. dk

I am not laughing at you, David, but such statements remind me of the false outpouring of public grief for Princess Diana. It is not possible to love someone you do not truly know. IMO such sentiments are a damaging trivialisation and a reflection of the media illusions clouding and poisoning modern society.
That said, I wish you luck.

All very well said, thank you. Having read most of the major classics on Illusion, Control, Power, and Depersonalization such as by read Wendell Berry, Chomsky, Canetti, Jacqes Ellul, Mumford, I can concur. All is fine here, take care Daily Dirt folks. dk

"Have the senses of the body their delights, while the soul is left devoid of pleasures?...Give me a man in love: he knows what I mean....But if I speak to a cold man, he just does not know what I am talking about..." Augustine, Tractate in Johannes 26, 4.

Classics on Illusion...have you tried the Mulapariyaya Sutta or Brahmajala Sutta?

Thank you. Nice to meet you Uff. Yes, all that. I spent two years reading the first six books of the Bhagavad-Gita. Sometimes it was all too much to read three lines without feeling like I needed to smoke three packs of cigarettes. And I do not smoke (lifetime runner). * I was almost a Fulbright to Japan, learned the Puja in Sanskrit, etc. * My guru lived with Maharishi in India for eight years, two in a room with no light, food through the slot in the door. * I told her that I was willing to pay any price for awakening, and the next day the lawyers started calling. Within three months, I lost everything. Leave the forty million and be out by five pm. Literally. * I went back to chess after all that... had not played since 1973. Chess is among the little that remains after the collapse. dk

Anyone know White's best continuation(s) in the Milner-Barry after Black declines the second pawn with 10 ... a6?

11. Qe2 or 11. Re1 are the main lines.

You weren't skeptical of text that was awakening you to the virtues of smoking?

Any idea how Sanskrit and gurus ended up being the path to chess? They seem to be virtually exact opposites...are they really?

Hi everyone, i'm just listening to the live feed from Bilbao and as you may know from tweets Leontxo once again hinted at Nakamura working with Kasparov.In the Carlsen-Anand game they -IM Santiago Gonzalez and Leontxo- think black is quit OK but praise Carlsen for playing on instead of seeking a draw with 24 Bb5. They definitely think white is in a bit of trouble. Will try to get something out of the press conference if I can.

Now they went on to take a look at Vallejo-Aronian and think white has an edge in view of his lead of development and space. It seems Aronian should have exchanged queens instead of losing time avoiding it, but they understand he's looking to win against the obvious target in his birthday. Now white may win the battle for the e5 case. Leontxo now criticizes a little Vallejo about not working on his time management troubles since by talent and abilities he's on par with the top.

Speaking of awakening. Can anybody enlighten me what to think of Ivanchuk's position? Does this torn structure make sense? Is the activity of the bishops really worth the messy pawn structure? I am a little worried after the opening disaster against Carlsen.

Ivanchuk's position is good. The two bishops, pressure on black squares, and slight lead in development compensate the structure. It's a well known type of Paulsen position. Black tries to plug the gaps left by the B squared bishop and later exploit the structure. Nakamura isn't lost, either.

They came back to Carlsen-Anand. Plan for Anand now is f4, Bf5 and if Nxf5, Kxf5 getting enough activity for a draw. In any case it seems the key of the position is the Ne3, defending the entry points in the c-file. They also said Vallejo is getting ready for action with his dev lead.

Finally they got to Ivanchuk-Nakamura and noted how the ukrainian is getting short of time. They key to the position is the black squared white bishop, putting pression on d6 and maybe later coming to b2 after c4. If Ivanchuk manages to unleash the beast he will be better, but will be in trouble if he doesn't. They also hint at a possible c4 c5 pawn sac for him.

Aronian's position is itching him a little since there are many active possibilities for white, hence he's losing some time.

LOL! Yes Re1/Qe2 are the 'approved' moves, and I have been playing the MB for twenty years with good results, BUT you must understand that White has an inferior position after 10,,, a6. You just have to count on being able to whip up an attack out of almost nothing:)

Chessbase Magazine had an opening article a couple of issues ago, but it was literally no help. It concluded that Black ha insufficient comp for the pawn in that line.

Having said all that, it does lead to an interesting game, and I still enjoy playing it.

Oops. Obviously meant White has insufficient comp for the pawn.

They're working through some variations (mostly the computer suggestion 29 b4) and think Anand must find something urgently as otherwise he's going to be in an inferior position where white's minor pieces won't be worse than their black counterparts.

Now on Ivanchuk's 13 Rf3 they say from there it creates threats on the Kside and may also go to d3.

I take the chance now since they're talking about unrelated things, please people forgive my english :)

I went back and double checked this. The article is in CBM 140 and is pretty thorough. Written by Moisenko, and covers both accepting and declining the gambit. After 10 ,,, a6 he gives four moves: Qe2/Re1/Qf3/Kh1.

His overall analysis seems to be somewhat pessamistic towards the White side, but does say that white has a lead in development and the Black king remains in the center for the pawn, and that a "deep knowledge and sharp tactical eye" are necessary to play either side.

I will shut up now :)

LG liked 12 Qc3 instead of Qg5 well met by Aronian with Ng6 which should minimize the white advantage. Now if 13 Bxf6 h6 (maybe also Bf4 but SG prefers h6) and black may even get the better position since he controls e5 and has the unopposed black squared bishop. They can't see an attack for white now and think 12 Qg5 was quite dubious.

Ivanchuk's 14 Rg3 adds to the activation of the a3 on the long diagonal stating that if white could magically remove his c3 pawn he would be better.

After Carlsen's b4, Anad missed a chance to play ...b5!
All of the life was sucked out of the game after that. The result was pre-ordained, in the sense that Anand was happy with a draw as Black, and Carlsen was happy to draw Anand.

Vallejo chose a canny opening, which gave Aronian the choice of easy equality--in a Queenless, sterile Middlegame, or making a clearly inferior move (5...Bd7)
to keep some play in the position. Unfortunately, all of the play was Vallejo's, and Aronian was only too glad to grasp equality at the moment when he could have achieved a slight edge.

Ivanchuk played amazingly in a mutual time scramble with Nakamura. White's attack was probably not quite correct, but Black made more inaccuracies.

So far, a huge event for Chukky: He's +4 =1 -1 for 13 points.

Then there is a 4 way logjam at 7 points.

Assuming that he doesn't choke against Vallejo, he has good chances to pull this one in

Mig tweeted:

"After a ridiculous flurry of 10 moves in 10 seconds"
"Just physically making the moves will be a challenge now. Horrible way to conclude such a fascinating game"

Mig, there is a ten seconds increment starting from move one (at least according to Chessbase).

With that every player has had a loss in the tournament. If Ivanchuk wins tomorrow (which he might as well playing Vallejo) he is assured of maintaining a 6 pt lead going into the last 3 rounds. And then he would only need one draw in his last 3 games (against anand, carlsen or aronian) to secure the grand slam victory. Having said that tomorrow's Ivanchuk's game against Vallejo might well be the deciding day for the tourney.

Unfortunately, according to the Official Bilbao Tournament website:

"The rate of play will be 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes to finish the game, with 10 extra seconds per move from move number 41."

It is almost extraordinary to see Nakamura in this degree of Zeitnot

This confirms Mig's understanding.

Frankly, there should be Time Bonus from move 1, but the organizers preferred the "excitement "of this type of time scramble.

Fortunately, the game reached its logical conclusion, and with a beautiful flourish at the end, to boot.

But these Time Controls are a bit of a travesty for a tournament which purports to be the most prestigious of the year.

The interesting thing is that at this stage, Anand and Aronian may not be too concerned with vying for 1st Place, and so they might not press too hard when they play their 2nd leg against Ivanchuk. Carlsen will play maximally, in the hopes of stealing the tournament from Ivanchuk. Then again, maybe Anand and Aronian will be motivated for revemge.

Thanks, Dondo - very helpful. I'll have to track down that issue.

I did suspect it's not "good" for White, but I get to have all the fun. I'm looking for the best ways to keep up pressure and keep play alive, and of course to be better prepared than my opponent - you've found the resource for me.

If the rumors about Nakamuka and Kasparov working together are indeed true, results like today should explain why things are under wraps thus far. If Naka gets good results, Kasparov wouldn't mind the news going public. If not, he'll just accept that his bank of opening secrets aren't really secrets anymore and are ineffective in this day and age. Kudos for developing such a potent arsenal and staying so much ahead of the rest during his time, but I must say Kasparov did time his retirement well - just as access to information was getting more democratized.

It's interesting, even Chessbase is not consistent in their statements:

http://chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=7583

"Time control: 90 minutes/40 moves + 30 minutes + 10 seconds/move starting with the first move."

http://chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=7585

"Time control: 90 minutes/40 moves + 60 minutes + 10 seconds/move starting with the first move."

Frankly, it's hard to believe both got into such time trouble without having any kind of increment...

Always nice to know a little more about a great person like Ivanchuk such as in http://www.whychess.org/node/2177

The tournament homepage, quoted by DOug, must be right!!?
Incidentally, this is (close to) what Danailov wants everywhere:
http://www.chessintranslation.com/2011/02/danailov-chess-should-either-change-or-die/
Q How, in your opinion, should chess change so as not to die?
Danailov: [Sofia and football/Bilbao rules everywhere] "And finally, we need to reduce the time control. A game should last no longer than four hours. The 30 seconds a move increment (and any increment in general!) should be abandoned. That’s essentially deprived fans of the enthralling spectacle of time trouble."
Perfect on planet Danailov would be 30 minutes without increments to finish the game. And he wants to become FIDE president ... IMO even Ilyumzhinov is a lesser evil.

Funny Danailov's so in favor of fast time controls, as his protege Topalov isn't as strong at speed as his competitors...

Thanks for the explanation. I see and start to believe.

Great game from Ivanchuk. The blacks all huddled up in one corner around their king, but they couldn't protect him. Wild attack.

The Chessbase report is quite amusing:

"the tire marks he left on Nakamura, after he ran over the American's Sicilian,"
"Then I got ready to blow his king to kingdom come" under the picture at the bottom.. lol

Yes, chessbase' description is appropriate. The game looked that brutal. Maybe they could have made it clearer how much of the fun was owed to the time scramble. The most impressive feat is that Ivanchuk made Bullet Nakamura whine about the time controls.

Did Anand just mess up and lose a pawn, or is it all a cunning plan to utilise the Kside majority while retaining Black's Qside? (Option 1 I think.)
Ivanchuk clearly wants a win. I suspect Carlsen is better, but it's tricky stuff. However those hanging pieces and that weakened Kside are minus factors for white.

No it was a sacrifice as Bilbao commentators tweeted "Anands idea of sacrificing a pawn was interesting, but good defense from nakamura"

Thanks for info. Anand is having some difficulty imposing himself on this tournament. The Berlin seems to be being used against him a lot, maybe his opponents feel that it is the best way to stop him displaying his strengths (well, it is also simply a popular opening now).

Not just that, it is also something Anand himself uses. So if he sees that is a good defense against e4, then its not a bad idea to emulate him. A nice video interview by Anand on icc facebook page http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaNMU2aNQoA on his game against Carlsen reveals some nice details on how these players approach an endgame. Anand mentioned that he recollected Kasparov vs Kramnik Tilburg where some precise moves were necessary and he pretty much nailed that to get the draw with Carlsen.

Regarding imposing himself on the tournament, he has always tried to get something out of the opening and then just play the position that comes. If its a draw, its a draw. Today he did have a nice idea of an interesting pawn sacrifice. But Nakamura just defended well.

ICC commentators say Ivanchuk is completely lost in the endgame after the time control. White will win black's c pawn, play Ra6 to f6 at some point and just win and trade f7 or h7 and then just win the game from there.

Thank you Vallejo for picking up another win.

Ivanchuk: 4 wins
Vallejo: 2 wins
The rest: 1 win

In distant alleys I hear the whisper of critics "outplayed" "lucky" "undeserved" etc.

Vallejo rulez!

I will be interested to know at what point Ivanchuk lost the game.


Perhaps it is already lost by move 21?
White's queen pawn is just too strong, tying down both black's rook.

Just like the endgame of Anand-Vallejo few days ago.
There is no obvious mistake however the weaker side gradually get squeezed.

Vallejo finally shows that he is after all a super GM.

Maybe the decision to give up the h6 pawn for White's c3 was wrong. It's understandable that he wanted to activate his queen, but she ends up shuttling forth and back on the long diagonal and never finds a good square.

Anand might lose this one against Ivanchuk.

Where are all the Nakamura fans gone? Before, they used to shout the house down every time he looked at a chessboard. Now, he really is doing pretty well against top opposition and not a peep!

I can't speak for all Naka fans, but the main reason many of them were "shouting the house" was because so many haters were regularly spewing out idiotic comments about his ability and worthiness against top players. Now that many of them have been silenced after his win in Wijk aan Zee, the atmosphere has become more civil.

He still has an outside chance of winning Bilbao, BTW -- he has Vallejo with B and Magnus with W...of course, he could lose both those games as well.


Naka?

Would that be Hikaru Nakamura?


Does Naka rhyme with cracka? Or does it sound like the plastic snapping teeth?

Does Hikaru refer to himself as Naka?

Should we refer to you as Pion?

(not sure if that would be pronounced Pie on or Pee on)

I once thunk that Mr. Nakamura was a flash-in-the-pan for elite play, but he's shown something this tournament. Cemented his place in the hierarchy, I could say, and good on him!
Also positive is the notion that either the bad sportsmanship of the past has either been cast off with success, or we're just not seeing recent evidence of it from his quarter. I like to believe the former, since we're stuck with him now! He's apparently joined the Gentleman's Club of World Class Chess Players.
Many of us remember when R.J. Fischer left the jeans and plaid shirt for suit and tie.
Nakamura doesn't need to go that far, because common courtesy is enough for most folks.
Play on...

"Nakamura has proved that he belongs to the elite." No need to make this kind of statement now as he is already one of the current elite players. There were many in the past such as Nigel Short,Gata Kamasky, Michael Adams, Alexi Shirov, Peter Leko etc. who belonged to elite at certain point in time but failed to remain there for longer.Time will tell where he belongs to the absolute elite or one among the next bunch of elites. Please wait and watch.

Haha, pion means "pawn" in Dutch! We would have to ask GM Hikaru Nakamura how he prefers to be called himself in short - maybe "Naka" is at least better than the silly "H-bomb" which the London organizers still use. To me, Naka seems no more or less odd or impolite than Pono, Moro or Nepo (Leko doesn't have such problems at all ,:) ). BTW does anyone know if the current leader in Bilbao actually likes to be called Chucky??

Thomas, while we respect your impressive English skills, you have a tendency to overutilise quotation marks. Here, we note with amusement that your LACK of the latter gives your sentence a meaning quite different to your oft-stated views:

"To me, Naka seems no more or less odd or impolite than Pono, Moro or Nepo (Leko doesn't have such problems at all"

"Michael Adams, Alexi Shirov, Peter Leko etc. who belonged to elite at certain point in time but failed to remain there for longer."
Huh? Adams was top10 or close from 7/1998-4/2007, Leko from 1/2000-11/2009, Shirov from 1/1992-1/2004 - apparently ten years isn't enough? A nice source to quickly check such facts is the German site http://www.schachchronik.de/ratings/spieler.php .

As to Nakamura, at least our blogmaster - after many months - brought up the good ol' all-caps NAKAMUUUUURA! again. And if Hikaru wins in the end, Mig might even blog rather than just tweet about Bilbao?!
Nothing at all 'wrong' with Nakamura's win against Aronian, but it was the first "regular" win against an established elite player in three elite events. Beating Nisipeanu, Georg Meier and Vallejo doesn't count as much, and his second Dortmund game against Kramnik was played under very special circumstances. What does "elite" mean? If it means top5 or more, Nakamura still has something left to prove - at least in terms of consistency.

As to his manners, his Twitter account still has room for improvement: claiming he was completely winning against Anand, blaming his loss against Ivanchuk on the time control - when the opponent had the same time control, the same time trouble and also played some second- or third-best moves. For a winner, it's relatively easy to show good sportsmanship - but that ain't enough ... .

Yeah, I noticed myself as soon as my post appeared ,:) - in the given case, "writing Naka ..." would have done the job without quotation marks in the original. But your reply is also an example of something I don't like: quoting something out of context. No big deal here, but relevant and rather unfair to the person (often a GM) quoted at other occasions.

BTW, who are you to refer to yourself in the third person? Or did you discuss your post with the entire faculty on a Sunday morning (European time)??

We apologize, but our royal connections are not something we can discuss on an open board.
We refer you to the columns of Mr Winter for further examples of this practise.

Looking forward to some Short-Kasparov action later, predict an easy win for Kasparov but lively games! Short will likely try some of the more offbeat stuff in his repertoire. Kasparov might be more prone to simple blunders or time trouble, given his rustiness. Still completely fascinated by Kasparov's (chessic) appearances, as I suspect are many others!

"Short will likely try some of the more offbeat stuff in his repertoire."
Hah!
Seems like half of Nigel repertoire is offbeat, cc!

I don't base my sense of Hikaru's place in world chess by virtue of wins alone. Nor do you, I didn't think.
Holding elite players to draws ain't easy, either. Many people appear to be incapable of doing it. ;)

As to shortening names, some are more natural than others. I see that lots of white-bread American folk have trouble with them longer ruskie names - or any long name for that matter.
Even Russians have trouble with Ian Nepomniachtchi - so why not shorten it.

Nakamura.
Is that so hard to pronounce or long to utter?
Does it make one an 'insider' to say the man's last name without the last four letters?

For soytn, it doesn't have the mellifluous tone of Pono or Moro, or Nepo.

Ahh, Nepo. Why doesn't he just make that permanent? ;)

Ha ha, can't be denied. But it is not always, or at any rate was not always, true. Short helped MAKE theory in some lines, e.g. English Attack and Short Variation v the Caro-Kann. Also he is pretty well up and regarded as an expert on some other "main"lines; QGD, French for example, and has used these and other solid mainlines regularly in his career. His offbeat stuff works pretty well against many opponents, though he does get punished now and again, especially by 2700 plus players, when he uses some not too reliable line.
Kasparov just lost to the Bc4 King's Gambit- old piece of gossip - Short was planning to use it v Kasparov in the WC match if the latter used 1...e5. Some bombs take years to explode. Lively match so far.

True. I am aware that Nigel has a huge book collection, and they're not there for looks.

I'm not too surprised about today's result contrary to what you said earlier. But it's cool that he pulled if off with something hidden away for years.

That should tick off Garry, and send him off to the research dept.!

Yep, a draw against an elite player is an achievement - but it doesn't necessarily mean you're an elite player yourself because somewhat weaker guys also manage it at least sometimes even with black, e.g. Short and Caruana (Corus 2010) or Wang Hao (Tata 2011). And while Leko is/was clearly an elite player, Nakamura and his fans probably don't consider him a role model [simplifying a bit for the sake of argument, I am not a Leko hater].

On shortening names, on this and other blogs it's a matter of writing rather than speaking/pronouncing. Let's forget about Nepomniachtchi (BTW I read that he doesn't like "Nepo" and suggests that we should call him Ian if we have trouble with his full last name). In the other cases, it comes down to whether it's wrong to skip four letters (mura) but OK to skip six (mariov or zevich).

Another complicated case is Vachier-Lagrave ... . It would be wrong to call him Vache (cow in French, though it can also mean luck in colloquial French), I often write VL but wouldn't pronounce it ... .

Vash e ay Lagrav or Vash e err Lagrav - either way it rolls off the tongue.

I must (have to) agree with Ian.

Nakak ak ak ak ak ak is what I hear.
Like that?!

As for Hikaru's playing... I'm not just talking about the draws in this tornament (as the New Yorkers say), but everything since Wijk aan Zee. Sure it's a bit inconsistent, but few other people can make a claim for staying power at that level.

Could Max Vachier-Lagrave have done the same to date given the chance since Tata Steel? Morozevich since the Russian Championship? Wang Hao since Tata Steel?

Arguable perhaps. You have the stats.

Hi Chess Friends,

visit http://chessthinkingsystems.blogspot.com/ for a live discussion on different styles of World Chess Champions.

Again, I meant writing rather than speaking. Chess fans should be used to Russian/Soviet names - likewise, fans of long-distance running must be used to African names, but do say or write Geb when they mean Gebrselassie ... .

As to Hikaru: As I wrote before, it all depends on what is considered elite. Nakamura himself said that he wants to cross 2800 by the end of this year and wants to play a role in the next WCh cycle. Presumably he "planned" to qualify by rating, now he depends on Sinquefield's money and the unpredictable outcome of the bidding procedure. These are very high standards, his own standards ... .

"Given the chance" is rather non-trivial: This year he got as many or more invitations than anyone else. In a way, he was treated as a top5 player while he is still "just" one of maybe 15 top10 players. What will happen next year? He shouldn't be re-invited to Dortmund, new organizers' standards are that the two bottom finishers (this time, Meier and Nakamura) will be replaced by someone else.

Looks like my crystal ball needs dusting. But, if he hadn't blundered that exchange, he might have kept going gangbusters...good match, eh?
And Kasparov using 1...e5, and no 1. e4...twas intriguing to watch.

In Aronian-Anand, the eval after move 21...Re8 is above +2.00 at depth 17 if white plays 22.Rd7. But I guess Anand knows what he is doing and might simplify into a Q vs R+N ending and try and hold. If he could, it would be a touch of a genius again! ;-)

As usual Anand seems to be getting bashed by Aronian.After his two rapid victories over Aronian in Botvinik memorial, I thought Anand might have recovered from this but not to be.

There were a few earlier games against Aronian where Anand didn't know what he was doing ...

Anand resigned! Can't believe or can't understand. looks like after 25.Rxe6 Qxf5 hxg5 hxg5 rd7 and the g-pawn will soon decide. if no g5 pawn, it would have made a lot of difference I think!

The way Anand collapsed against Aronian is unbelievable.From a seemingly equal position in move 20 Anand resigned at move 25.. Is it Aronian effect on Anand or is Anandlosing his calculating abilities? This is a pathetic tournament for Anand with two defeats and his only win coming against lower rated Vallejo.When will we see real Anand again apart from WC matches? Anand please retire or atleast win one tournament.

Korchnoi-Tal. (For a time) Gulko-Kasparov. Carlsen-Ivanchuk. Aronian-Anand. Feel free to expand list
: )

To some extent may be. But it was uncharacteristic of Anand to play too quickly in a critical position and blundered with a move like 24.Qf5. A few moves before also he played fast. Since the tournament is more or less over for him with this random-element-favorite-player-promotion football scoring system, may be he was not motivated to defend the position to a draw.

When anti-Anand systems are in place, Anand should choose to participate only in normal scoring system in the future.

Motivation factor likely. He is sharp in calculations. No one ever can beat him in that!

You are trying to hard, chesshire cat, to put Anand down. Please don't bring the old folks, they are weak compared to todays players. But remember, the recent beating Aronian had from Anand!

Anti-Anand systems indeed. You grow worse by the day.

"This year he got as many or more invitations than anyone else. In a way, he was treated as a top5 player while he is still "just" one of maybe 15 top10 players. What will happen next year? He shouldn't be re-invited to Dortmund"

How many other "top 5" players have won a supertournament this year? Please. There is no invitation Naka received this year that he hasn't earned.

Pirc, I have never met you, but I already know your profession. You are a press officer for Wall Street. The "old folks" were rather strong, you will find. And that was in any case irrelevant to the point I was making.

Sonas or someone wrote an article in chessbase with statistical data that the short draws or agreed upon draws are drastically down compared to old days. But yet a dumb scoring system like a 3 point for win is now introduced. And what is the justification?

Nakamura lost on time in move 40 in winning position ??

Who knows, Vallejo might win the tournament now!!!! as the it shows 1-0 for Vallejo-Nakamura. Great!!

What's it got to do with Anand?? And why does it affect him more or less than anyone else? He had a bad tournament, it happens, no need to make excuses. Surely that Vallejo 1-0 is some mistake, site is down or something.

Nope, apparently Nakamura did flag on move 40 - see comment by "editors" at Chessbomb: "Time loss: confirmation by Chessdom journalist on site".

The bullet king with such time problems?? Suppose he IS getting old : )

True to some extent, but ... how many invitations did Karjakin get after winning Corus A in 2009? How many invitations did Mamedyarov get after finishing shared first in Tal Memorial last year?
Granted, sole first is more impressive than shared first - and Nakamura's 9/13 was better than Karjakin's 8/13. But in both cases, the answer to my question is ... zero.

BTW, "He shouldn't be re-invited to Dortmund" wasn't my opinion, but a reference to organizers' standards or rules.

I guess Nakamura simply thought that he already made the time control - this happens to amateurs, but shouldn't happen to professionals.

Of course it has to do with Anand. Because he is the world champion and the top player. Who else can be the most affected other than Anand?

Chess is a game of skill. Winning a tournament is a sort of attestment of this skill for so long, I mean, assuming no game fixing was involved in tournaments. Now clearly a chance factor is introduced by means of this 3-1-0 system.

World candidate tournament is another example of chance. Please do this to test my theory. Invite some people for a pure game of skill where you are an expert. No one will come to play with you. Ask those same people for a game of skill and chance. They will immediately agree. Why? We're not here for fun but we're here to decide who is better. What should matter - skill or majority opinion?

So it is becoming like - Dilute the system, Dilute the throne!

DId Corus A in 2009 have the world's top 4 rated players in it? I don't think so. Neither Kramnik nor Anand were there.

Now, Mamedyarov, I totally agree with...he should have gotten more respect after winning the Tal (albeit shared first)...although neither Carlsen nor Anand were there.

But neither has the marketablility of Naka, and neither won their tournament ahead of the reigning world champion.

I don't want to say much, but Vallejo has 3 wins and 1 point more than Anand and just 1 point less than Nakamura and Aronian, who each have two wins.

Not bad for a player who "didn't belong there".

But maybe Anand didn't belong there too.

Thank you Vallejo, for showing your critics by beating their favourites (Carlsen, Nakamura, Ivanchuk).

>>> But yet a dumb scoring system like a 3 point for win is now introduced. And what is the justification?" <<<

If a win is worth more than two draws is simply a matter of taste.
If a win is that much harder to achieve in chess than a draw is a matter of taste as well.
If a win is that much more exciting as a draw is - right - a matter of taste.

There are good arguments for the 3-1-0 and there are good arguments for the "traditional" scoring system. And there are good arguments against both systems.

In the end it is a matter of how you weigh each argument and what your personal preference is.

If I pay $$$$$$ for some chess players to move pieces on a board, then I choose the scoring system I like. Whether that is 3-1-0 or 5-2-0 or 2-1-0 doesn't matter.
If they want my bucks they play my system.

Many chess players have made a living by drawing. I don't blame organizers who help players make a living by winning.

If there is a guy who has +0 -0 =5 and another guy is +2 -3 =0 then I thank the latter one for the spectacle he put on and place him in front of the dull =5 guy.

That iy MY personal opinion. You are entitled to yours.

But you are right, the 3-1-0 system is full of chance. The chance to climb the rankings by actually beating someone.

Other than that, it requites MORE skills to climb the rankings with the 3-1-0 system than with the "traditional" system.

As for mathematical chance, there is not more and not less in either system. Because the game is still played over the board in both cases.

There's not much that's happened to amateurs that hasn't happened to professionals.

Inb4 "He didn't really beat Carlsen and Nakamura."

We should give thought to the fact that there is a competition, a game, for which there should have to be devised a scoring system that encourages players to win.

@PircAlert: I somehow think Anand himself is way too classy to make ridiculous excuses when a tournament doesn't go his way. "Anti-Anand systems", LOL.

Hi Leo, sure, Anand wouldn't make such excuses after the event. And me neither! ;) I complained about the 3-1-0 before the event. I complained about the double round robin world candidate before the event. So what you see now as an excuse is a continuation of my existing complaint!

3-1-0,
It is organizer's choice and all those are fine. But I only wish we have a different rating system for a 3-1-0 scoring. Like we don't include the rapid ratings into the regular rating.

That's just fine, PircAlert; I can't say I'm whole-heartedly in favour of the "football" scoring system either. I just don't see why Anand in particular should have any problems with it, especially as "no one could ever beat him in [calculations]", as you put it.
Also, the term "anti-Anand system" seems to imply some kind of plot by organizers to counteract the reigning World Champion, and I can't imagine how that would make any sense.
But there I go again, all serious, trying to assign meaning to things people say. Never mind. Anand rules! :)

I didn't (mean to) say that Karjakin's win in Corus 2009 was "exactly the same" as Nakamura winning in 2011 - just that it should have been worth more than zero invitations. The tournament was by no means weak: it had five top 10 players (Ivanchuk, Carlsen, Morozevich, Radjabov, Movsesian) plus Aronian who was #11 at the time. Ivanchuk and Morozevich were out of form (5.5/13) but not as much as Grischuk (4.5/13) and Shirov (4/13) this year - which partly explains Nakamura's monster score. Movsesian later turned out to be a tourist in the top10, but did finish shared second. In retrospect, Corus 2009 may have been the first sign that Karjakin (then world #27 and just #11 in the Corus field) has potential for more, which he proved in the meantime.

Marketability ... sure. Though in terms of playing style, Mamedyarov is no less attractive than Nakamura - and IMO it's time to forget about his Aeroflot cheating accusations, an incident rather than something systematic as in Topalov's case. Nakamura is "more marketable" because he is American, maybe also because he is Asian American, and arguably due to his provocative presence on the Internet. Fair enough, but IMHO a bit unfair to "Soviet" players.

Correction:

Nakamura was not winning. A somewhat better position, but not actually winning.

Anand's best legacy to the Chess world would be: Beat Gelfand in the World Championship next year, get a rating of 2813 or above, & retire. When was the last time a reigning world champion retired? This will help FIDE change the rule no direct seeding to world champions in World Champion match.

Even though I am a Naka fan, I am glad for Vallejo. There is no reason a super-GM should be disrespected the way Paco was before this event started. Beating Carlsen, Ivanchuk, and Naka is nothing to sneeze at. Period.

No, his best legacy would be to beat Gelfand, then beat Carlsen in the next cycle...then he'd probably move ahead of Karpov in the GOAT discussion (but still behind Kasparov).

Well put!
The half point for a draw method is relatively a new idea in the long history of chess. At one time (late 19thC IIRC) you were just asked to replay the game, the draw was worth nothing.
Drawmeisters were in for a very long and tough tournament in that era!

One should NEVER forget the Aeroflot cheating accusations until Mamedyarov apologizes.

Is there video of this tourney anywhere? Does anyone know how Hikaru handled that time control loss? Had I been there, I think I would have stood clear. Very unusual for him.

At any rate for god sakes you could get an upset stomach trying to follow this tournament. You could get much worse if yer a betting man.
Did the authorities plant liquor in the hotel rooms?

Oh, and I think we've all seen the ending of this movie before if it stays true to form:
Magnus comes back from the center of the pack in a late sprint for the finish, and either ties for first or takes it outright on tiebreaks...

Videos are here: http://www.bilbaomastersfinal.com/en/final-de-maestros/videos/

I was watching the live feed yesterday and they were as surprised as everyone, although they only kept saying "Paco won!?" for a long time as LG was interviewing Carlsen (btw he couldn't believe it neither) Nakamura's face was a poem but what can one do? Those are the rules, it's a stupid and unfortunate incident, maybe even worse than dropping a piece or a checkmate in a better position because of zeitnot. Btw, Vallejo was clearly better before, it seems, and only during his own zeitnot did he got the worse position, not lost in any case. I hope Nakamura recovers well for today's game; maybe the whole tournament will make people and Vallejo himself take him more seriously and try an assault at the top. I don't know for sure if he belongs there, but he's certainly better than his current rating (WC U20 and so on)

Also, for the spanish listeners and the curious, i took the link from the official site. Open this
http://ams01.egihosting.com/11831?MSWMExt=.asf
in VLC or whatever other player with streaming capabilities and you can have the live video without java "interferencies"

PS what two games from Carlsen and Aronian!

1975.

What's missing from the discussion here (but is mentioned at Chessvibes): Nakamura had asked the arbiter if he has made the time control, (according to Nakamura) the arbiter nodded. Hikaru then got up to get himself an orange juice, returned to the board to find out that he had flagged in the meantime.
But the arbiter doesn't even have the right to tell the players, and a player doesn't really have the right to ask such a question.

Wouldn't it be more fun if Anand retires before the match against Gelfand? Then Gelfand would become World Champion by winning three minimatches against players not in the current top ten (#12, #15 and #18 on the live rating list). Now that would have to be some kind of record in itself.

NAAAAAAAKAMUUUUUURRRAAAAAAAA!!!!

To qualify to play Anand, Gelfand (#15) beat Grischuk, Kamsky, Mamedyarov, Ponomariov, Karjakin, Jakovenko, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Judit Polgar... or rather: or since you like numbers... #5, #8, #9, #10, #14,#27, #29, #49 (Judit!). And of course the ratings are irrelevant.

“The more I practice, the luckier I get.”

So much for the rabbit feet.

P.S. Luck is, if the opponents lose their head WITHOUT time trouble. For everything else, we don't need rabbit feet. Not even Vallejo.

For all the rabbits that like Topalov, Leontxo just said that yesterday he learnt from Tata organizers that he will play in Wijk aan Zee next year. Not sure if it's already a known fact, but just in case...

Thanks to both Alez and Thomas for the inside stuff. The Anand retirement dream crap is just that.

Well, the World Cup was one of the qualification events for the Candidates, if that is counted one could just as well count the four Grand Prix tournaments he played when he finished below the top ten there. But I don't see any reason to take two game blitz feasts seriously, it would be fun with a World Champion that is ranked around #20, maybe people would finally stop thinking that World Champion by default must equal best player in the world.

I won't disagree, but still find it odd that Topalov and Mamedyarov are treated differently.
In Topalov's case, cheating accusations were a campaign by his manager, he/they benefitted from that campaign, they keep repeating them whenever given the chance. And all this is accepted or at least tolerated, and didn't prevent him from getting tournament invitations.
Mamedyarov's accusations were made in the heat of the moment, and he punished himself by dropping out of the event. Sure, it doesn't deserve a beauty prize, but it was an incident - nothing less and nothing more.

I'm with you on that last one re: Boris Gelfand. That's a gauntlet.

Leontxco Garcia sure looks a lot like Uncle Fester. Sorry, just had to get that out of my system. Carry on.

Sorry, *Leontxo. And no offence intended, of course.

LOL. You're killing me! ohmygod.

I should add that you made it funnier by how you wrote that crazy observation, which some of us desperately tried to bury somewhere when we first laid eyes on him.

"Carry on." ?!

I'm still laughing.

I guess the difference for me is that i'm consistent. My two least favorite players are Topalov and Mamedyarov both for the same reason. And if I *EVER* run an invite tournament... I would never invite these two characters even if they *paid* me to play.

OK, good for you that you are consistent (no pun intended!). But many organizers, and many chess fans are less consistent.
Even you - or others thinking the same way - might run into a problem: What if a sponsor (I guess you don't have the money yourself?) says "I will provide the money it takes IF Topalov is participating"? Not very likely at present, but quite so a year ago ... . I believe that you would still be consistent, but others in your place might not be!?

Now it is clear that the robbing incident also robbed Ivanchuck's tournament victory. Compared to the other players he simply had too little time to adjust to the time difference and that took it's toll in the end.

Don't you think that this "adjustment" to the time difference would be especially hard in the early stages of the Bilbao games?

However, he started Bilbao with a win against Nakamura.
His loss against Vallejo was probably due to over-optimistic play, at least that's what GM Romain Edouard wrote in his analysis of the game. Probably in hope of another Vallejo meltdown.

His loss to Carlsen was expected, Carlsen has a long history of beating Ivanchuk virtually every time they play and that has nothing to do with problems to adjust to time difference.

His losses came with the black pieces, which is nothing stunning either.

We shall not forget that after the traditional scoring, Carlsen had won the tournament outright.
And we shall not forget that Carlsens stupid play against Vallejo, where he consumed all his time to setup his blunder that robbed him a full point (or three in the 310 scoring).

So YES, Ivanchuk was robbed. But not of the tournament victory. He was robbed in Sao Paulo.

No, adrenaline helped Chucky in the first Bilbao game and the jet lag started to tell in the remaining games. The other players had several days advantage in adjusting to the time difference. Also, Carlsen as the youngest, has in previous cases shown excellent adjustment to time difference, so he was the expected favourite for the Bilbao stage anyway. But Chucky's lead was so clear that without that unfortunate Sao Paulo incident (and its consequences) he would have taken the sole first with "all probability".

In general, the idea to divide the tournament on two continents is stupid and does not improve chances for quality chess.

Why does Ivanchuk, a player capable of crushing anyone on the planet when he has eaten his Weetabix, get beaten with such ease by Carlsen, time and time again? Don't tell me it's on days when hee forgets his Weetabix?

Didn't Invanchuk stay in the meantime in Frankfurt where he traveled the next day with his wife?

This point needs to be emphasized: "In general, the idea to divide the tournament on two continents is stupid and does not improve chances for quality chess."

Because Carlsen is clearly better than him and owns him (with either W or B) -- as was the case here, and earlier this year in Bazna as well. That's why.

They don't do it for the quality chess, but for the quality prize money.

What does "clearly better than him" mean? In terms of rating he is clearly better than lots of people but he doesn't kill them like that, time after time. Ivanchuk has reasonable results against people that Carlsen does not "own", so for me, it's a mystery. He genuinely plays several levels lower than his best against Carlsen, time and time again. Not disputing the great play of Carlsen, either.

The Carlsen, Nakamura, Ivanchuk triangle is interesting;

Nakamura might still think of himself as the best blitz player in the land, but he has trouble beating Ivanchuk. Ivanchuk cannot beat Carlsen at blitz. Meanwhile, Nakamura has a better record v. Carlsen, though you wouldn't want to put any serious money on him if they got into a public match (based on previous private results with a large sampling size).

Is it Magnus Carlsen who is really the "player capable of crushing anyone on the planet?"

I think we'll find out beyond a shadow of a doubt next month in the tournament with most of these blokes again plus Svidler and Grischuk.

I started out talking about Blitz above, but I meant the last two sentences to apply across formats, because they are closely related.

Yeah, it's strange, Ivanchuk has been unbeatable for Anand and Kramnik the last five years but they have both lost to him and drawn lots of games, while Carlsen has 8 wins and +6 in the same period, and that includes many games from before Carlsen reached the top 10.

Also against Radjabov does Carlsen have a big plus while he's never beaten Gelfand. But Gelfand is regularly crushed by Radjabov (+0 -4 =3 in their last games). Not to speak of the Aronian-Anand mystery. Head to head results are hard to draw conclusions from.

Question to all: Is there a stronger tournament in the past 25 years than the Unive' Tournament next month? Tata Steel 2010 (based on ratings, perhaps not)?

Hard to imagine a stronger tournament ever than Univé with Giri, Vachier-Lagrave, Polgar and Kramnik :)

Oops. My bad. I mean Tal Memorial. Add Kramnik to that as well.

Ivanchuk's score and play against Carlsen is a mystery, probably "something between the ears" as a Dutch saying goes. But it isn't the only mystery:
- Carlsen also owns Topalov: same story, it isn't just that Topalov loses, but how he lost in quite a few games
- Aronian owns Anand
- Kasparov used to own Shirov ... of course here a plus score was logical, but not +17=15-0
Maybe most mysterious: Svidler does, or did own Nakamura. They haven't faced each other in a while, next stop for both is Tal Memorial.

Topalov vs Leko is another mystery, not a huge difference between them in playing level the last decade but Topalov has 8-0 in wins after his last loss.

As a comparison Leko drew every game but one of the last maybe 20 he played against Kasparov, and never lost with white (and was never close to a loss either). Topalov on the other hand just kept lining up wins, five of them with black.

On a completely new tangent:

Some credit has to be given to FIDE for organizing 3 Women's Grand Prix tournaments in 3 consecutive months.

Rostov, Russia, 1–15 August 2011
Shenzhen, China, 6–20 September 2011
Nalchik, Russia, 8–23 October 2011

Also, the Hou Yi-Fan--Humpy Koneru Women's World Championship match will take place in Tirana, Albania (!), starting in November. If only FIDE supported Open (Men's) chess so effectively.

The Final 3 events in the 2011-2022 Grand Prix are:

Kazan, Russia, 30 May – 13 June 2012
Jermuk, Armenia, 16–30 July 2012
Istanbul, Turkey, 16–30 November 2012

So far, Hou Yi-Fan has won two clear 1st Places in Rostov and Shenzhen, already making her the prohibitive favorite to clinch this Grand Prix.

Finally, it is of interest that some of the same cities are again opting to host FIDE Grand Prix events. I guess that they get a lot for their Euros....

I wonder if Anand has been helping Koneru (of course we'll never know for sure unless she wins the match)...looking forward to that title match.

I doubt Anand will waste his time with Humpy. She's a decent player with a good memory, but a definite underdog against someone as classy as Hou - this is kinda like a Federer-Nadal matchup when Fed' used to be #1.

They just announced that Carlsen's agreed to play in the next Candidates' (!), since it's a round-robin tournament rather than matches. But a curious proviso is the stipulation that "The players cannot draw a game by agreement." This seems to me to be preposterous; the games could go on almost endlessly in that case. Unless this is merely for "show" - i.e., to discourage early draws and encourage fighting chess - it would make much more sense, I think, to restrict draw agreements to, say, games after 30 or 40 moves.
What do the rest of you people say?

if two players want to draw, there will be no stopping them. Therefore, any written provision is silly.

..restrict draw agreements to games after 30 or 40 moves.

There are still many other ways for two willing players to tacitly arrange a draw. The most common method is to concoct a position which engenders a (relatively plausible) 3-Fold Repetition of Moves. Often, this can be achieved by a "Perpetual Check", or perpetual harassment of some other piece.

Occasionally, the players who want a Draw will play down until "Bare Kings" are on the
chessboard. That's a draw via insufficient material. Less frequent are dry by the 50 Move Rule, or Draw by Stalemate.

The advent of the Sofia rules has led to an increase in the number of Draws reached by Triple Repetition.

So, don't worry.

For the record, I would not object to Draws by Agreement * after * Move # 60.

Anti-Draw rules seem to have a slightly positive impact in reducing the number of Draws. They are more effective at prolonging the length of the game, in terms of # of moves played.

Thus, it is sometimes easier for Top players just to play 40 moves or so, chopping wood so as to end up with a sterile, equal endgame position.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Carlsen insist on that silly 3-1-0 "Soccer Style" scoring system--the implementation of which would favor him

Yeah, like in the Grand Slam final where he scored +2 while Ivanchuk scored +1 and he still had to play blitz tiebreak.

The point is to rid the world of so-called 'grandmaster draws,' where the players basically agree to a draw - usually in under 15 moves - so they can go home early, or play it safe to preserve standing and prize money.

It's a strategy, but not a satisfying one for most.

Carlsen is a very good tournament player, grabbing point after point from nothing, mixed with clean wins and few losses. Hardly surprises me that he wants the W.ch to be as such. His match play is not so clear. Might be great might not. His preparation is not usually as deep as other top 10 players (there are exceptions, yes) and that would be emphasised in a match, where he might fall prey to nasty novelties. For the moment he is successfully limiting his opening repertoire (which is becoming quite Karpovian for the most part-no bad thing, I like to see it)and getting positions where he has just play and play and win. Therefore his course of action is hardly surprising.

Perhaps"Soccer scoring" does seem to suit Ivanchuk as well. With respect to Bilbao, the exception serves the rule. On balance, Carlsen benefits from such scoring artifices...when one considers the likely composition of the rest of the field in that Candidates' event.

And yes, I'd be satisfied to see Carlsen hoist by one of his own petards.

In any case, the field is mostly set:

Svidler, Grischuk, Ivanchuk

Loser: Anand/Gelfand World Championship match

Carlsen, Aronian, and some other high rated dude

I suppose if Morozevich gets a slot, he'd benefit from the 3-1-0
Wild Card pick by organizer....

Maybe we should be talking about the possibility of Kasparov participating in the world championship as well as Carlsen.

According to section 2.3, the top 3 active rated players get automatic invites. At 2812, Kasparov is ranked #3 and would just need to play 1 fide rated game to be considered active and qualify, no?

Fischer claimed that Soviet players were rigging candidate tournaments and refused to play in candidate tournaments and insisted on candidate matches.

Now Carlsen wants a tournament because it suits his style of playing.

By any chance if he fails to win the tournament, will we see a similar claim of rigging by him?

Naturally, Carlsen will say that it all was rigged by the Russians, sounds just like the style of guys like Fischer and him, right?

"They just announced that Carlsen's agreed to play in the next Candidates' (!),"

Not quite. He has signalled interest in playing iff a) The proposed format is kept, and b) FIDE presents the players with rock solid contracts (meaning no more arbitrary changing of rules, venues, dates and what have you).

Formally he hasn't qualified yet, so there are no formal agreements. It's a signalled interest, nothing more.

It will be interesting to see Carlsen perform under the wch cycle even if it is a tournament format. The pressure and nerves are bigger.

"Naturally, Carlsen will say that it all was rigged by the Russians, sounds just like the style of guys like Fischer and him, right?"

Yeah, except it's a figment of your imagination.

It's also a much stronger tournament than events like Biel and Bazna, Bilbao comes close but then Carlsen didn't win that with any huge margin either. The difference is so small at the top that it's hard to predict who will win, just like it's hard to predict who will win Tal Memorial (maybe Aronian or Nakamura?).

Also, his opponents will be of higher quality and more focused (so less chances of him getting easy endgame wins from dead even positions). This is not to say that Carlsen doesn't deserve credit for eking out wins from nowhere but, for example, those two games Kramnik drew and lost (where he should have won and drawn, respectively) - I don't see that happening in a WC event.

So for Carlsen to be considered favorite in the candidates tournament, he would need to work hard on gaining advantages in the opening - not something he has enjoyed working on.

Finally, I don't believe that switching to a tournament format is the only reason he's willing to reconsider. Two main reason imo, are - firstly, he probably didn't expect to receive so much flak from fans and commentators for 'chickening out' last time; secondly, he is getting stronger and Anand weaker (and perhaps less motivated too), so if he does qualify he probably has a slightly better chance in a match again Anand.

"those two games Kramnik drew and lost (where he should have won and drawn, respectively) - I don't see that happening in a WC event"

Kramnik just didn't bother and let Carlsen get some free points. Or maybe not.

"So for Carlsen to be considered favorite in the candidates tournament, he would need to"

I don't think he would need to much, hard to see some other player as more likely to win than Carlsen who has won 9 of his 12 latest tournaments. Still there are many with chances in such a strong field so maybe 35% that Carlsen wins.

Apart from that I think Carlsen really was surprised that so many called him a chicken and didn't understand at all how he could be so critical of FIDE for changing their rules and inserting that knockout. But I don't believe in the "he knew he has no chance against Anand in 2012" explanation. I'm sure Carlsen sees himself as the strongest player in the world and would expect to win a match against anyone already today.

It would be more interesting when someone like Jeff Sonas comes up with numbers. Assuming Carlsen does agree to play, so far we have 5 names for the next candidates tournament - Carlsen, Svidler, Grischuk, Ivanchuk, Gelfand. And maybe Kramnik and Aronian (based on rating) with Radjabov/Karjakin/Nakamura as the organizer's nominee.

As for chances in a match against Anand, no 2700+ player will have "no chances", but to pick Carlsen as favorite in a *match* against Anand based on his *tournament* results is a stretch imo. Even their classical head-to-head results in tournaments isn't a reliable indicator (Anand should be more of a favorite in a match than say, over two games in a double round robin event) but those results are the least one should look at before saying things like "[Carlsen] would expect to win a match against anyone already today".

"those results are the least one should look at before saying things like "[Carlsen] would expect to win a match against anyone already today""

I think Anand would expect to win a match against Aronian in spite of having gone 0-5 against him the last years. The 2800+ players are just not the type of guys that tell themselves "I will have to come up with some excuse to withdraw from the World Championship because I'm not good enough to win it".

[quote]secondly, he is getting stronger and Anand weaker (and perhaps less motivated too), so if he does qualify he probably has a slightly better chance in a match again Anand.[unquote]

You believe that. But does Carlsen believe that? OR do the top chess people believe that?

If so, would we be seeing a tournament for candidates or championship? Would people be asking for reasonable champion privileges be scrapped? At least their actions prove otherwise!

If I were to judge players by the recently concluded bilbao games, I would rate Anand as the top most performer! Because I would use move quality which is what would scare your opponent when you sit across the table than your game results. Also by move quality I don't just mean matching Houdini moves which you can probably do if you had prepared well enough and drive the game your way. It is about your ability to match computer moves when position gets unclear or unfamiliar.

Now the system is manipulated by this candidates tournament (anti-Anand system!!). So Anand has no option but to win against Gelfand. And he will!!

"If I were to judge players by the recently concluded bilbao games, I would rate Anand as the top most performer!"

Quick, someone fetch a strait-jacket! I'll hold him until you get back! Go, go, hurry, he's frothing at the mouth!

professor, let me illustrate my point to you.

If a 2800 rated strong computer, Anand, Kramnik, Carlsen, Aronian and Nakamura were to play a double round robin, the strategies of the human players would be draw against the computer and to try for win against other human opponents. Why? Because that is how it is! You can't possibly poke a hole in computer play. The 2800 rated computer may not even finish first if the scoring is 3-1-0! This is one of the drawback with the tournament system.

Who would be the most feared player for you if a match is to be played? The tournament winner or the computer?

So professor, you can't base your conclusion on the mere tournament results. The computer did it part as long as it showed a 2800 rating performance! It is a matter of concern only when the computer does a dumb move!

"I would use move quality"

Provide detailed analysis showing that Anand's play was better than everyone else's.
Might I also remind you that Mr Carlsen is also over 2800.

Let me recall from some of Anand's game from my memory.

1. Vallejo-Anand
Ultra-brilliant technique from Anand. Move by move he gradually improved his position and pulled out a win from nowhere in that game.
2. Anand-Aronian
Was a flawless game. Again Anand gradually improved but probably there was no win. He could have pressed on but he gamble in Aronian's time pressure with his f4!? move and it was completely even after that.
3. Anand-Ivanchuk
e5 was an ambitious move. But what would you do in a 3-1-0 except to go for a win with white? But Anand almost held the inferior position afterwards unless for the mistake when the game went down to the last minute or two with no more time to be added.
4. Aronian-Anand
Tried hard to take Aronian out of theory moving knight twice etc in the opening phase and got into inferior position. If at all Anand has to worry, this is the only game to be worried. But it was uncharacteristic of Anand to play fast and give up so easily so I would just subsribe his loss to motivation factor.
5. Anand-Nakamura
I think Anand was slightly inferior or if at all there was a win, it was for black with the extra pawn, but Nakamura plays f5 and Anand immediately grabs that chance to sac another pawn by moving g5!! and held the game so easily.

Anand is not used to commit much mistakes or inaccurate moves leave alone blunders.

I haven't seen much of other's games so I can't comment much. But seeing some of the other games, I don't see such quality as that of Anand's games. Moreover you have to highlight others weaknesses to look into the quality of their games but I don't want to do that. Let me just stick with Anand's games.


Assumptions should be thrown out, my friends. That is, do not assume that Vishy Anand will get past Boris Gelfand!
I expect that match to be very close.

Now, Magnus Carlsen is not the highest-rated player in the entire world for nothing, but as I've said before, and someone also noted above, he is not one of the better prepared of the elite. The guy pretty much wins games on sheer talent and guile.
As well, no one should be dumb enough to bet the house on either him or Anand if they were to play right now.

Two, three years from now? Several factors in the equation could be different.
Oh, and Magnus probably doesn't give a good damn about what the fans think. Chicken? Oh, please. He knows what he needs to do. The so-called fans are always going to be a step behind what's happening at the top, and they don't always have his best interest in mind, even if they would back him!
Best to just sit back, listen, and learn. That leaves a better chance for the issuance of intelligent comments.

One last reminder: Elite players still find moves that computers don't see or that are superior to what the computers do see.

There is some evidence Fischer was correct. A probit study in my office/pigpen somewhere supports his assertions. Curiously the player who possibly suffered most from "Soviet collusion" was posited to be Reshevsky not Fischer.

Agreed!
Or use the old way of immediate replay, same colours, as a "Bronstein" 20min plus 10secs. If still a draw then W gets his/her heart's desire of a draw and 0.5 point but B gets 1.0 point, rationale being B has had to draw both games, statistically harder esp amonst the elite.

I guess you're not including the epic 40 game private blitz duel between Carlsen and Naka.

"I will have to come up with some excuse to withdraw from the World Championship because I'm not good enough to win it".

Fischer

@PircAlert
Who performed the best in the Grand Slam final? Was it Carlsen, rated World #1 and the actual winner of the tournament? Ivanchuk, who finished 2nd on tie-break after being in a crushing lead half-way through? Maybe Nakamura, a top contender up until and even after his clock débacle, or even Vallejo, bottom seed who snatched full points from more than one super-GM? No, Anand, of course.
Look, we all know and understand that nothing Anand or anyone else ever does is going to change your opinion that he's the greatest ever. It's just that the complete lack of logic and critical thinking in your posts is starting to become unbearable.
First of all, assuming you're even remotely capable of judging the "move quality" of super GM games, how can you tell Anand's games were the best if you didn't bother to look at all games? And what does your computer performance hypothetic have to do with anything?
Sure, Anand played some good games, but so did everyone else. And when he crashes and burns in 25 moves against Aronian, you conclude that a lack of motivation must be to blame? Yeah, facing the World's #3 in the Grand Slam final hardly seems worth getting out of bed for ... But assuming that was the case, the problem would be with him, not with the football scoring system.
Why can't you just accept that the World Champion played, by his standards, a not-so-good tournament? It doesn't make him any less great, at least not to those who understand anything about chess. Or would that just wreck your world?

Which comment are you referring to? I mentioned Mr. Nakamura and Blitz days ago. I said then that in the private blitz match between Magnus and Hikaru, Hikaru got the short end of it, and it wasn't close. Tell me if I'm wrong.

Generally, I believe that - when it's really on the line - Vishy Anand, Boris Gelfand, Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, and maybe Teimour Radjabov are the elite of the elite in Blitz, w/o prioritzing their place, because at this date, any choice of one over the other is arguable and solvable only by more than one direct competition.
It doesn't matter so much to me who placed in what order in the 2010 World Blitz. My conclusion derives from everything we've seen over the past three or four years.

Reasons for including those four names: Anand has a long-standing reputation for being a superior Blitz player; Aronian won World Blitz a point clear - and it might easily have been more than that; Carlsen was 2nd there, and he has shown his mettle this past year against Nakamura and Ivanchuk in matches (private (N) and public (I)); Gelfand has shown more than once that he rises to the occasion when the chips are down; and Radjabov finished third at the last World Blitz in a very talented field, and he has always had a good reputation in the short game.

I agree that Anand does not have a clear edge against Gelfand, but it so happens that when Anand gets motivated to win, it becomes virtually impossible to stop it. He also has a proven great team that works with him. This is the reason, why I would give a huge edge to Anand over somebody like Carlsen. How will Carlsen handle his seconds, does he know how to bring about the best from those who work for him? Apparently Carlsen has very little experience here. One can say he has been great in tournaments, true but he has never experienced the nerves of a wch match. How will you play in a situation, where you know that if you lose, it will be several years before you fight for it again. When kasparov was young, he proved that he has what it takes to be wch. Similarly carlsen needs to prove it, but until then, some questions remains unanswerd. How will you play when you and the whole world has had their mind on that one big event for close to a whole year and finally the moment comes, The wch match is just such a huge stage, no tournament that Carlsen has played comes remotely close to the pressure of a wch match. Much of the above are reasons why Carlsen is not a favorite in a match against anyone who has experience in wch matches let alone against Anand. Before the Anand Topalov game, Carlsen mentioned that experience does not count for much in a ChessVibes interview. That clearly speaks volumes about his immaturity. He simply did not want to accept, since that would mean he is rating his chances in such a match much lower. Only time will tell whether Carlsen has the ability to handle all of the above extraneal factors in a wch match. Carlsen can play great chess, we all know that, the question is can he play the same under those different conditions, when your opponent has focused all their energy and time in preparing for you. I hope to know in 2013

Leo, will not be around for next couple of days so will get back later..

Hari--

Methinks you overstate the case.

I also believe that experience is important, and so is the ability to assemble and work with a good supportive team of seconds. Those two factors by themselves are probably the difference in a match. But to imply that Carlsen might buckle under pressure is, well, not real believable.

I see a grounded personality who knows what he wants and is not afraid to insist on it. I see a guy who sometimes pushes endgames past the 100th move, if he needs the full point. I see a player who regularly wrings full points out of dry positions.
Magnus has more than once come from out of the middle of the pack to win a tournament - to do what needed to be done to win. This is not a nervous kid. This is a quickly maturing adult who will find a way to beat you.

His relative lack of opening preparation is probably the only thing holding him back. You had better hope that he doesn't start working hard on that.

Good to see Judit, big Vlad, Max, and Anish back in action in Holland. Based on past performance, the final result could be a bunch finish at the top, with a half point separating first and second.

Of course it's early to make predictions after one round, but after today another possibility is that Kramnik repeats his Dortmund performance to join the 2800+ club. Giri twice lost with the Grunfeld against Kramnik, today his KID also got busted. Kramnik also has a big plus score against Polgar (+20=19-1, all formats combined) - a bit less meaningful than it looks because many games are from the last millennium.

What do you mean with "past performance"? One edition (2009) was a draw festival, with Tiviakov being the (unlikely) first as he won THE decisive game against Polgar - ahead of drawmasters Ivanchuk(!) and Giri. But this was exception rather than rule.

I meant that each of them has stepped up and either won a recent (past year) tournament, or performed very well in World Cup play.
They should all be sharp, with the possibility of doing well.

Murderous!

Kramnik, Vladimir - Polgar, Judit
15th Unive Crown Group Hoogeveen NED (2), 2011.10.17
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.e3 Bb7 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.Bd3 c5 7.O-O O-O 8.Na4 cxd4 9.exd4 Re8 10.a3 Bf8 11.Re1 d6 12.Nc3 Nbd7 13.b4 Rc8 14.Bb2 Qc7 15.d5 e5 16.Nd2 g6 17.Bf1 Qd8 18.Qa4 a6 19.Nce4 Nxe4 20.Nxe4 Rc7 21.f4 b5 22.cxb5 Bxd5 23.bxa6 Qb8 24.Kh1 exf4 25.b5 h6 26.Rad1 Ba8 27.Qd4 Re5 28.Nxd6 Rcc5 29.Rxe5 Rxe5 30.Nc4 Bc5 31.Qxd7 Re8 1-0

Oh, I guess Vlad's "big plus score against Polgar" continues. Judit's 24...exf4 now looks ill-advised.


21 f4 is a tricky move, trying to open the a1-h8 digonal, especially the potentail knight fork on f6 square, and the
pin on the white rook on e8 (h4-e8 diagonal).
I am surprised that was not one of Houdini's candidate move. 21... b5 deals with the above threats but allows Kramnik two connected passed pawns, which is the equivalent of resigning :-).

I think problems started before that like 21... b5?? perhaps at this time 21... exf4 might have been advised.


The funny thing, and very pretty, is after 21 ... exf4 22 Rad1 Black does not have any good move for any of her pieces.

Correct, but Kasparov wants no part of Carlsen or Kramnik...would be interesting if it ever happened, though.

As the tournament homepage http://www.univechess.nl is only in Dutch (and almost the only source reporting on the event), some translations may be interesting:

Round 1: They criticize Giri for choosing "what we will conveniently call the Radjabov variation of the KID", testing Kramnik's unused preparation for Kazan.
"Not just the game was impressive, but also the postmortem. Usually Giri doesn't have enough hands to show all of his brilliant ideas. This time he looked like a shy student attentively listening to the lecture of an advanced chess professor."
But Kramnik wasn't (all) happy with the game: "A brilliant victory, what do you mean? Giri didn't play well and I was also not in form. My 27th move was horrible. Everything wins but my blunder 27. Bb2. ... I was really lucky that my position was so good that I was still clearly better."

Round 2: They quote the "Tal score" - Tal had "50%" (=5-5) in his first ten games against Korchnoi, Polgar's classical score against Kramnik before the game was even worse (=9-10).
"Their twentieth game never became a real fight. In a somewhat better position for Kramnik Polgar very wrongly decided that panicking was her best chance. On move 21 she could have played without major problems 21.-ef4: . Kramnik wasn't yet sure about his reply, 22.Qd7: or 22.Nf6+ [hmm, both not the most obvious choices!?]. In both cases, white keeps an advantage but black can defend.
Polgar's wild break 21.-b5 only lost material. Kramnik half-excused himself when he accepted congratulations, because he thought the win was too easy."

They didn't write that much about the other two games, maybe later today on round 3.

Not quite correct. I think Kasparov would like Kramnik in as many parts as possible.

Thanks for info, Thomas, interesting stuff.

That is very interesting Thomas. Thank you much.

In yesterday's Kramnik-Polgar game, what is Vlad's next move? Nd6, or a3-a4 followed by a4-a5, or ?
Anyone?

The Hoogeveen round 3 report has appeared, and they managed to write something about a not-that-exciting round - I'll do my best to translate the subtle irony of the Dutch version:
"Vachier-Lagrave castled queenside against Kramnik's Queen's Gambit, but didn't get the kingside attack he was dreaming about. Kramnik's counterplay was so quick and dangerous that VL saw no other option than exchanging all minor pieces. Then there wasn't much going on any more, Kramnik immediately accepted the Frenchman's draw offer on move 27.
Polgar and Giri had already left the playing room to continue their discussion in a not very exciting line of the Scotch in the press room. For hours - maybe the analysis lasted as long as the game - they explored the world of microscopic mini-advantages and super-precise defensive maneouvres in positions which most chess player would discard as boring.
When Kramnik, THE expert in the world of the infinitesimally small, and Vachier Lagrave also started bothering about it, it all began anew. The organizers watched this theatre piece with a smile. Maybe they would have preferred two decisive games, but it's also worth something to see such a friendly atmosphere between four invited players."

The picture says it all:
http://www.univechess.nl/nieuws/3e-ronde-kroongroep
Not for the first time I think that Giri and Vachier-Lagrave look almost like twin brothers - Giri is the one sitting at the board ,:)

Hah! I don't know about the twin brother thing. Up close those two cats are VERY different looking, but the translation is appreciated.

Maybe Vlad would be interested in answering my question above! No one else is taking a shot at it.

Nice one Thomas! (Or actually two!) mishanp has a rival :-)

Thanks - of course any translation cannot (or shouldn't) be nicer than the original ... . Actually mishanp, using his other name Colin McGourty, has some excerpts on Whychess, I guess independently and relying on Google translation (or does he have another assistant who understands Dutch?).

Something funny and IMO somewhat odd that I didn't yet translate: the organizers aren't _that_ happy with Kramnik's results!!?? The report continued: "Thursday the fight in the crown group continues. With a one point lead Kramnik's chances are excellent, but we put hope from the fact that he still has two blacks. It has to go wrong just once, and the fight for first place is again open." Hmmm, London or Dortmund organizers would be more enthusiastic about a favorite playing better than expected?!

Regarding Vachier-Lagrave and Giri: I missed the chance to compare them more closely last January in Wijk aan Zee ,:) . Of course only Giri has a half-Asian face, but on the photo it really took me a moment to realize who's who!

Thomas, I think they just want a close fight for first place rather than Kramnik winning on cruise control. That would generate more excitement. Not very odd!

I see your point, and that's certainly what the organizers (or more precisely, whoever writes the round reports) mean. But who says that Kramnik will just be cruising? I don't know just how much it means to him, but he needs at least one more win to reach 2800 (it seems that 2/3 will put him at 2799.6, rounded up to 2800 on the next rating list).

Generally, is an impressive one-man show less memorable or exciting than a close race for first place? Would Bilbao have been less exciting if Ivanchuk had kept pace till the end? Was Saratov boring because Morozevich finished 1.5 points clear of the rest? But the icing on the cake was that it had another less obvious or hidden hero: Tomashevsky, +3 score, TPR 2808, now Elowise live #15 ahead of the more well-known or established Russians Nepomniachtchi and Jakovenko. Similarly, Hoogeveen would benefit from some decisive non-Kramnik games.

In any case, it's funny to compare the Hoogeveen and Dortmund homepages, those Germans may have gone a bit over the top as the tournament went on:
"Kramnik with dream start"
"Kramnik clear leader" (with 3.5/4)
"Kramnik unstoppable" (4.5/5)
"Kramnik wins for the 10th time, setting a record for eternity"

Well, his fairly decisive wins v Giri and Polgar would suggest that he is cruising, i.e. playing very well and on the way towards wrapping up the tournament (not that he is not putting in effort, just that he will be unchallenged for first place). He is also a master of drawing effortlessly with Black, so he could easily just coast home. A matter of taste, but I think generally people prefer some fight between the contestants, and some doubt and speculation as to who will be first, rather than one steamroller and then the rest more or less fighting for second place. Does he intend to make an effort to crack 2800 again? Does it matter to him? Any remarks on the site to that effect?

It does matter to him. Kramnik remarked on his last round loss to Nakamura in Dortmund that he wanted to win so badly because a win would put him over 2800 (this explanation was given in answer to why he took such risks in that game).

According to Chessbase Magazine "Kramnik knew that Nakamura had been working with Kasparov recently" (Kramnik annotated the Dortmund game in CM), and that could be another reason that he really, really wanted to win that game. Before Carlsen started working with Kasparov Kramnik was in general extremely positive about Carlsen and his play, but after that cooperation began Kramnik started to say much more critical things about Carlsen and seemed more eager to win their games.

I guess it could never be Kramnik the Unflappable.


Dearest Miggy ---

What does ya think of the possibility of putting the kibosh on this thread, and workin' up a new one?

You could call it:

The Big Vlad Show, or

Hot in Hoogeveen, or

2800 or bust, or...

With cruising I meant what you call coasting - is this British-Irish vs. American usage? I remember Mig using it in "my" sense ... .

If the organisers wanted a close fight for first place, they shouldn't invite (just) one player who is considerably higher-rated than the rest - there's always the "risk" that he might dominate the event. It isn't Kramnik's fault that he started with two whites - a blessing which can become a curse if you do not win these games. It isn't Kramnik's fault either that noone else managed to win a game so far.

As to Dortmund and Kramnik's final game against Nakamura: I don't know which interview CAL|Daniel has in mind. I remember reading that Vlad's main motivation was trying to score +6 which he hadn't ever done before in his career. It won't happen in Hoogeveen, when was the last time a player scored 100% in a serious event?

Well, by "cruising" I mean getting good results fairly easily, while by "coasting" I mean already having achieved enough to win and finishing the tournament without making too much effort cos the result is in the bag (Karpov specialty). I don't think anyone is "blaming" Kramnik anyway. It was pretty predictable that he would do very well here, that is a fair point. I think they just hope it is not a walk in the park for him! Maybe they were hoping that Giri would land a punch.

Yeah makes sense: cruising is smooth sailing at sea, enough wind but no storm; coasting is slowly and safely heading towards the harbor.
If the organisers wanted the best for Giri, maybe they should have invited Anand, Aronian or Carlsen rather than Kramnik? Though one classical game at Tata Steel is rather meaningless ... .
And Biel didn't make similar comments about Carlsen because they didn't expect much from Pelletier in the first place!!??

Hey, how about them 49ers?!

Seriously, this Kramnik as spoiler vein is now tapped.
Where's Mishanp? Calling Mishanp! Give us some grist.

Can anyone direct me to a website that lists all the upcoming elite-oriented tournaments and matches in Europe? You guys always seem to know when Dortmund or Linares (or whatever) is going to happen. Is there a reliable site that lists in advance all the cool stuff? Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks!

www.chessvibes.com

http://www.chess.co.uk/twic/twic.html

http://www.whychess.com

http://www.chessok.com

Go to these top four first for straight news and ongoing games. For extra credit, see the bottom three. You'll have to know Russian for the last.

http://www.chessclub.com/chessfm/

http://www.chessbase.com

http://www.chess-online.ru/index.html

I am not sure if this answers Ben's question about _upcoming_ events. Knowing/anticipating when they will happen is mostly a matter of experience, for example:
- Wijk aan Zee is always in January (off-season at this seaside village)
- Aeroflot is in February (similar reason, the sponsor's planes have empty seats)
- Dortmund is generally in July (when the venue is available during theatre holidays)
- Tal Memorial is in November
- London is in December.

So for 'newcomers', it may be easiest to check when the events happened in previous years.

Before the very recent site redesign, ChessVibes had a box showing upcoming tournaments on the front page, but Pete Doggers has moved that info behind, as it were, the Calendar heading (click on it).

That upcoming events listing is only 'a few days to a month' or so projection, but it can be very useful as well, especially if you're interested in more than just the majors.

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

I wonder if I am the only one that quit reading chessvibes after their terrible site redesign?
I used to read it daily now i've been only handful of times since the terrible redesign.

It is true, most businesses feel they HAVE to redesign every now and again to "stay fresh", and sometimes they get it wrong. The old design was way better.

Of all the top guys Kramnik is the most balanced player in the sense that he doesn't have any nemesis and his score against all the top players is excellent or pretty even.Anand had poor score against Kasparov and now against Aronian. Carlsen doesn't have a good score against Anand but it is too early to make any judgement calls. Aronian has a poor record against Kramnik. Topalov is poor against Carlsen.But world champion Anand is the only one with such a poor record against Kasparov earlier and Aronian now.

I don't hate (I'm not going to hate on, heh) the site redesign at ChessVibes. The old one may have been better for info organization, but it was an eyesore generally - really, it was not aesthetically pleasing.
I'm sure it's still a work in progress, and Peter probably wouldn't mind hearing your feedback, so don't be strangers. He wants to get it right. He does have competition!

You're going to get Hari's and other folks in a knot by reminding them of Vishy's past and present vulnerabilities, as they'd like to believe he is either the best ever, or one of the best ever.
And indeed, he may fall into the later category, but that would still be over the dead bodies of a number of very strong individuals in history.
And that is as far as I'm gonna take it.

Some of us would like to see Vlad take the crown back from Anand, if only temporarily, just to prove that he is Anand's equal. If nothing else, you have to give the guy credit for enterprising, if risky, chess of late, and the motivation to play better than just good enough to justify invites.

The new one is the eyesore. My handles can't handle it for the 15 seconds it takes to read a tournament report before they well up with tears from the pain of the "aesthetic" design. As for his competition, they should thank him. He is driving many customers away with this new site.

Eh? Too much clean white space for you? Specifically what?

Bleddy hell...
"At the end of this game Fritz 13 surprised people on Playchess by announcing mate in 45 moves – on a super-fast spectator machine."
Chess solved by Fritz 15 I assume : ) (yes, exponential etc etc I know : ) )

http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=7622

Is that a record? Anyone know of computers announcing mate in longer (tablebases aside)?

Wow! Gadaffi dead! Apart from those he can bribe, does Kirsan still have any friends alive?

Agree with you entirely. The redesign is awful. The old one was MUCH better, great site.

Great pity, too, that he discontinued the approval/disapproval thing; it was really interesting. The trolls there were getting hammered.

The Unive round 4 report is again worth translating, even if I do not necessarily agree with all of it. The title is "Fighting chess at high level". Purists may say that only the entertainment level was high in Polgar - Vachier-Lagrave, not the quality of the moves. The Frenchman played in the style of Shirov (who was invited last year to finish in second place behind VL)!?
"After the draw was agreed on move 44, Judit was too 'wounded' for a postmortem. She thought that she had missed a few wins too many [which she had apparently realized during or right after the game?]"
"Maybe against better knowledge spectators long hoped for Giri's first win against Kramnik. A position with two bishops against two knights looked promising, but finally he got only a slightly better endgame that Kramnik held easily.
The analysis afterwards was great [not sure how to best translate the Dutch word 'mooi']. Giri thought that he had been clearly better, but Kramnik strongly disagreed. 'Here I have two bishops and an extra pawn, then I must be better', said Giri at one moment. 'Not at all' was Kramnik's answer. 'As a matter of fact, I have two knights'. The former world champion knows how to keep his best customers down - his score against Giri is 4-1."

Not sure about the last sentence either - I could imagine Vlad saying something similar in a friendly postmortem with Anand ... .

"Giri thought that he had been clearly better, but Kramnik strongly disagreed. 'Here I have two bishops and an extra pawn, then I must be better', said Giri at one moment. 'Not at all' was Kramnik's answer. 'As a matter of fact, I have two knights'"

Giri never had two bishops and an extra pawn in the game so I guess they must have discussed some possible line between move 16 and 22 where white somehow wins a pawn while keeping the bishop pair.

You can usually translate "mooi" with "fine".
Thanks for the report.

Perhaps "extra pawn" was a mistranslation of "passed pawn"?

Even then it cannot refer to a position that occurred in the game itself - Giri had to surrender the bishop pair to obtain a passed pawn.
As to translation issues: the Dutch word "mooi" can have many similar but not identical meanings such as beautiful, nice, great, fantastic, ... . It can even be a bit sarcastic as in "dat kreeg je mooi voor elkaar" = 'you did a nice job'.
And if mishanp (who used other bits and pieces in his Whychess report) reads this: A less poetic translation of what Vachier-Lagrave did would be "he lifted his hands into the air" - the Dutch 'hemel' (as the German equivalent Himmel) can mean either sky or heaven ...

Kramnik over 2800 again! And I think the first time ever that we had four player above 2800.

It probably won't be the last time ever if "rating inflation" continues. When was the first time we had four players above 2700? Seems to be July 1992, well within my own chessic lifetime ... .

Will Kramnik (again) go all out with black against Polgar tomorrow? As he has already secured first place, it's similar to the final round of Dortmund - with one difference: a draw will secure 2800 on the next rating list (even though he will fall back to 2799.6 for a few days).

Thanks, that was my assumption - sky/heaven is the same in lots of languages (including Slavonic ones), and even in English you can talk about e.g. "looking up to the heavens"... Couldn't resist that translation, though :)

Kasparov is looking a lot older lately. Looked better just a couple of years ago. Maybe it's his stylist.

What is Kramnik's schedule for the rest of the year? I assume he's playing in London, but don't know anything else. He's almost guaranteed a spot in the Candidates with this performance (Karjakin pretty much has to top 2790 unless Kramnik collapses before January). Congrats Vladdy :).

Kramnik will also play Tal Memorial - funny that this is often overlooked (you're not the only one), maybe because it doesn't do much non-Russian PR.

Karjakin will play Tal Memorial and the European Team Championship (Kramnik - and initially also Karjakin - wanted to skip that one). As he was seven points ahead of Kramnik in the July list (2788 vs. 2781), he needs to narrow down the Elo gap to 7 points - whatever that means after Kramnik's remaining events. Also to answer Ben's question above: 2700chess.com also lists forthcoming elite events about a month in advance.

Does the race for the rating spot give Kramnik extra motivation? Last time it mattered (second half of 2009), he won Dortmund (+3) and Tal Memorial (+3) and scored +2 in London, despite a first-round loss against Carlsen. One year later/earlier he scored 50% in Dortmund and Tal Memorial, and +1 in London - plus winning Bilbao (outlier) and a solid but not impressive Olympiad result.

Anyone remember when Mig is going to roll out the new look blog, to replace this spam factory?


You can't tweet like a demon and re-work your blog site at the same. Maybe it will be a New Year's resolution. Until then, I'd be happy just to see a new entry!


An aside to all you chess instructors out there: do not show your students the Polgar-Vachier Lagrave game from Unive. Or, to put it another way, try to guess Vachier's moves. Good luck.

A nice and curious story: in the Spanish Championship, Illescas, who many will remember as second of Kramnik for some time, was leading the tournament and had to play Olga Alexandrova in the last round. I think it has to be the first time a wife and his husband play for a national championship (in the last round even!) Had Illescas won he was sole champion and had Alexandrova won she would have beaten quite a few records for a woman, at least for Spain. They draw their game in short time, showing a unique sportmanship. If any of them would had won many could have called the game suspicious as they happen to get on with each other quite well :) With the draw, Illescas wasn't sure to win and in the end the champion was Alvar Alonso, only 19 years old. For the spanish readers or the google translator powered i will just put the link to the whole story at El Pais, where Leontxo Garcia tells it way better than me without even have to ask excuses about his poor english ;)

http://www.elpais.com/articulo/deportes/Contigo/pan/cebolla/jaque/elpepudep/20111023elpepudep_40/Tes

"Karjakin will play Tal Memorial and the European Team Championship (Kramnik - and initially also Karjakin - wanted to skip that one)."

Karjakin says he was supposed to play in Nanjing - which was part of the reason he decided not to play in Bilbao and he wasn't considered for the European Team Championship. His "clarification" (of an earlier statement saying he never refused to play for the team) is here: http://chess-news.ru/node/4327 It's all a bit messy as at a meeting Bareev apparently said Karjakin didn't want to play as he wanted to increase his rating instead...

Which 14-player single round robin tournaments have been all-time strongest
(A) In terms of average rating , and
(B) In terms of average ranking?

Like-wise, what about tournaments with 13 players, 12 players, 10 players, 9 players and so on ... (all single round robin tournaments)?

Similarly, what about double round robin tournaments with 8 players, 7 players, 6 players, 5 players, 4 players and 3 players (if any)?

We can leave the quadruple round robin tournaments for later!

Can Thomas, Eyal or anyone else help??

I didn't do research myself, and don't have such a good memory ... . At Chessvibes (thread on the Tata 2012 lineups) Alfonso mentions Corus 2001 which had ALL top 9 players, and Linares 1993. For 10 player events, it's most probably Tal Memorial (is Poikovsky, catering to the 2650-2750 crowd, the only competition?) but which edition?

BTW, I know very little about events more than 30 years ago, i.e. before I played and followed chess myself.

How much effort would it take to study the latest world chess event result and compose a few paragraphs to get comments rolling again? Not that much for Greengard as he's been doing it for years. But not only has he neglected to maintain his blog, he's also making it clear that he'd much rather beat off on Twitter than pretend to care about the Daily Dirt. Just shut down the blog and get it over with, you celebrity-fluffing 1800 poseur. Ninja is dead as Gaddafi.

Why do people think Mig OWES them something? Who else do they hold accountable for their lives, their unhappiness?

What you talkin bout, that Mig, he ah owah me twenny dollar

Mig is taking the easy way out tweeting instead of writing at any length, so there's some truth to what you say. Get's me down, too. If there was another blog as good as this can be, I'd be off to it.

But, as pointed out, Mig owes us nothing. He is also a busy man with other projects. And yes, I would like to see him blogging, and think Twutter or whatever it is called is a waste of his time. However, it takes less effort than blog entries.
I think he is restricting his efforts to keeping the one live thread spam-free and not doing anything much until he starts the all-new blog, which I presume he will launch when he has a bit of free time again. Makes sense, I suppose, to not devote effort to a blog that is soon to be superseded!

The last blog entry is dated Sept. 17th. You're a patient man, cc.

I am impatient when I pay for goods or services, when it's gratis, I keep the gob shut and am grateful for whatever I get.

Why don't someone create an internet forum for the sport? There are forums for everything else under the sun, yet here we are with 500+ comment threads on a defunct blog.

Impressive number of posts for a thread on Svidler's performance with Black! Meh!

Completely off topic I know .... but coupla kvestions:

1. Whatever became of the Polgar-Truong imbroglio,
was anything settled?

2 What is going on at chessbase with their series on cheating in chess but not a skerrick of a mention of the Rybka events, something Freudian here?

OK, for the sake of argument, doesn't one take on a certain responsibility when running a blog?
I think a blog's definition is something like: continuous stream of invective and/or commentary around a pet subject, and administered via the Internet.

Lord knows there are thousands of wasteland blogs - started one curmudgeonly day in a jump on the ol' bandwagon, never to see another keyboard stroke.
That ain't bloggin'

Mig's done a good run of invective here. All I'm saying is that the energy appears to be directed now toward one-line zingers and rebuttals at the expense of this ongoing, but sputtering b l o g.

And it's too bad. We have fun here when it's fresh, don't we?

What Mig should do is give mishanp or Thomas (or some other worthy party) guest caretaker role for the blog until he has some free time. Obviously on the assumption that they were ready & willing.
Now thats a win, win, win situation
Just a brief thread introduction is all it would take to keep things rolling along

But my point is, there is a reason there is no blog right now- he is waiting until he launches the new one, so he regards any more effort on this one as tryimng to resuscitate a corpse. At least, that's what I THINK is happening. Could be he's just fed up with the blog or has other priorites. And since we don't pay, we gots no say-in that we can't complain about Mig neglecting things for which he is not paid!! The claim we have that a blog is not a blog unless there are entries doesn't wash with me.
Guest bloggers etc don't come into it yet cos we should see how the new blog pans out (all my hopes are on the new one : ) ).
And yes, I would very much like to see some new material...anyway, just for information, where is Mig these days? Running around continents doing speaking events with Kaspy, or what?

Hey, if Svidler wins a few games with black at Tal Memorial, comments here will again be on-topic!? Will this motivate him? ,:)
Somewhat similar to Kramnik's motivation for doing well in Hoogeveen, revealed in a post-event video interview at Chessvibes: During the tournament, Ilya Levitov called him saying that he needs to gain some Elo for Tal Memorial to attain category 22. Though it wouldn't surprise me if Vlad was just joking and making this up ... .

Yes Thomas, Mig does seem to have a "thing" about Svidler: are both "tooth" men or trenchermen maybe?

And yes Vlad was being humorous, he does have a dry and at times cutting sense of humour: no doubt his delightful French wife has had an added civilizing influence to an already fine person.

I see on the current rating list Radjabov has made a dramatic surge +29 Elo pts whilst Kamsky has made an equally dramatic drop.
Is Radjabov to be the next to make the 2800 mark?
Anyone know who he is working with?

I don't know what you mean with "tooth men or trencherman", but Mig Greengard and Peter Svidler are ICC buddies. Moreover, Svidler seems to be one of the nicest guys in the chess scene. Jan Gustafsson (on his German-language blog) also has nice words about him - they are ICC colleagues as well as Bundesliga teammates.

As to Radjabov: yes he had two consecutive great events, World Cup and European Club Cup. Somehow I still don't think that he will be the next 2800er. I would rather pick Karjakin, maybe Nakamura, maybe someone who still has a rather long way to go like Giri or Vachier-Lagrave. Of course I could be (proven) wrong ... .

Re: the next 2800 player who might still have a long way to go, my money's on Nepo; the Tal Memorial in a few weeks, where he's low man on the mighty totem pole against established superstars, may give us a peek as to whether I have a clue or not...he's a mere 2718 in a field whose average is a ridiculous 2775!!!

Mig's last tweet forgets that Anand had very recently won the strong rapid event featuring Carlsen, Kramnik and Aronian

Mig owes us nothing, as I said, but all the same it would be mere common courtesy to let us know when he is starting the new blog or if he has indeed given up on blogging. Would take two lines of text, maybe even less than a tweet.

Uh, oh, I see a crack in the facade, cc. Even you are getting a bit frustrated - and that's a clue for Mig.

Mig? Are you there?

How many drachma do you want to put on Nepo? I personally see at least five guys getting to 2800, if they ever do, before he does.

The tweet forgot nothing. When MG sets out to bury someone (usually on orders of Kasparov), facts must be set aside.


Nothing about Kasparov trains Nakamura?
http://www.chessvibes.com/reports/new-in-chess-confirms-rumours-nakamura-is-working-with-kasparov

I wonder how long it will take Nakamura to have-enough of
Kasparov as Carlsen did :-).

Don't know that drachma are worth much these days...but if I had any I'd wager some on Nepo against his peers (e.g., Giri, MVL, Caruana) at least; obviously there are a bunch of others, already established, who have an inside track approaching 2800. I just think he's the most promising of the young crowd - though Nyzhnyk's certainly an even newer star to watch - and has the potential to go all the way.

Hmm, what do you mean with "young crowd"? Maybe Karjakin (*12/1/1990) is old compared to Nepo (*14/7/1990), and Vachier-Lagrave (*21/10/1990) less promising [along with Ken H., I would disagree]. But what about Carlsen (*30/11/1990)?

As Thomas indicates, you have forgotten one very prominent 20 year old in Sergey Karjakin.
Now, if you see all this potential in Ian N. because you see something in his play that is superior to what you see in the games of the others mentioned, I won't be able to argue with you because I'm not that good. Otherwise, tournament results and individual match-ups don't necessarily put Ian toward the top. Winning Aeroflot '08 and the Russian Championship last year is notable for sure, but he didn't walk away with them. In fact, he went to a blitz playoff with Sergey in the Russian Ch. Le Quang Liem has overall equaled what Ian has done, and is probably at least as talented.

Seven days out of ten, I don't see Ian beating either Karjakin or Carlsen. Vachier-L. would at least draw him at will. I'll give you Caruana - for now. He's younger yet. And of course so is Giri. And at the rate Anish is progressing, you won't get a lot of votes there.
Ilya looks a little scary right now, but we should at least wait until he joins the 2700 club.

I have no idea whether Ian's game has something superior the other younguns, but his play is entertaining. He got to the mid-2600s creating wild, chaotic, highly unbalanced positions. He still does that against lower-rated players, but it seems that against the 2700s he hasn't found a way to safely go so creative. IF he can, he'll have a great shot at 2800. That's a mighty big IF, but it's something that patzers like me can enjoy keeping an eye on and say things like "he's the most promising of the young crowd" even though we don't have a deep grasp of exactly what it is that is so appealing about his play and how that might translate into potential to reach 2800.

One thing he seems to be struggling with lately (according to the computer) is getting a sizable advantage in strange-looking positions but not seeing how to translate the advantage into wins. That's something tangible about his potential that amateurs with a computer can grasp.

The younger guys like Nepo are able to introduce complications and "wild, chaotic, highly unbalanced positions" because they are able to calculate their way out of them - especially against the sub-2700 rated crowd that doesn't have world-class calculating ability.

Carlsen, Le Quang Liem, Giri, Karjakin, and Vachier all fall into this category, to name the most prominent.

At some point in the maturity process, you hopefully get your positional legs to match your world-class calculating ability. That's the difference between 2800 and 2700. Kramnik, Aronian, (Carlsen*), Gelfand, Anand, all have positional awareness matching their fast-twitching synapses.

Positional awareness is especially important as you get older and your brain slows a bit. The players who do not step up will never reach a higher rating than when they were in their late teens. That can happen to all the young guys named above - except *Carlsen, because he's the genius who had already obtained positional mastery at the age of @19.

So enjoy Nepo's play while he's till capable of it, and until he realizes that it will hold him back from reaching the top-ten crowd.

Thanks (Ken H, Uff Da, Thomas) for your comments; one thing I think we can all agree on is that the upcoming (in a couple of weeks) Tal Memorial will be a slam-bang affair, as well as a legitimate test of Nepo's potential against world-class competition. Should be interesting, to say the least. Average rating of 2775, indeed! Yowza...even getting a 50% score would be a triumph!

My follow-up two or three cents: Nepomniachtchi may well be the most attractive (crowd-pleasing) player of those young ones mentioned. But I agree with Ken H. that this means little about his further potential. Indeed it may be curse rather than blessing against very strong oposition - hey, even Nakamura changed his style and opening repertoire a bit after reaching the world top.

It's probably the reason why Nepo got the "Tal Memorial wildcard" - rather than Tomashevsky or Vitiugov who might be equally strong and talented but have a more positional style. It may also be the reason why Nepo plays on the national team - in that case because he is more efficient against somewhat weaker opposition on board 4.

Yep. No doubt the swashbuckling may end up being a curse against very strong opposition. Or maybe not. Lots of crowd-pleasing players have been at/near the very top (Morozevich, Topalov, Kasparov, Tal, etc.)

As usual, there's a fantastic lineup for the Tal Memorial this year. A little lower in rankings perhaps (in 2009, the lowest rated of the ten was #13 in the world; this year there's #15, #16, and #24), but more fiery, crowd-pleasers. It'll be fun to watch how Nepomniachtchi and Nakamura fare against the highest levels. Nakamura has been putting together some great games against these guys, including, at times, wild tactical melees, interesting openings, great long-term strategic planning, and strong endings. Too bad he has such a tendency to get distracted by poker, beaches, bars, etc. or he could be a serious contender for best of the best. Nepomniachtchi is still just testing the waters at that level.

The next few years will tell us a lot about these spectacular young guns we'll see at Tal: Nepomniachtchi, Nakamura, Karjakin, Carlsen. (Carlsen and Karjakin have been at or near the top for so long it's easy to forget how young they are!)

Interesting way, Ken H, of describing what I guess could be called chess talent, at least in part.

Could you elaborate on this "calculating" you speak of? Perhaps give an example. Are you talking about the talent of going through a number of moves and variations of moves several steps beyond an actual board position?

Of course if one has this talent then one can go thru a number of board positions.

But then you mention positional knowledge. What is that about and how does it differ from calculating? Is this sort of like some learned generalization of board positions that enable advanced players or older players to short cut the necessity of going thru the more laborious calculating?

Thanks.

Randy, I'll defer to a very good explanation by Israel Gelfer in his Positional Chess Handbook:

"The evaluation of given position falls under two headings: quantitative and qualitative. The former involves the simple counting pf pieces and pawns and, as such is fairly straightforward and objective (my note: this is calculating). The latter is concerned with more abstract concepts like mobility, control of space, color complexes, key squares, open lines, coordination and the like. It involves the judgement and weighting of several elements. What are weaknesses? How are they provoked? How are they avoided? What is the ideal square for a piece in a given situation?"
(my note again: this is what is meant by positional understanding).

Former World Champion Vassily Smyslov's positional understanding was such that he hardly had to think about where the pieces should land. You could say that it was more or less ingrained in his unconscious. He used to talk about just letting his hands do the work of placing the pieces (as opposed to putting much hard thought to it). His hands would almost always be right.

Keeping it topical, Peter Svidler has a reputation for a fine positional understanding of the game.

Of the former (calculating) skill that Gelfer mentions, some people are either born with or have developed it (or both) to an such an extent that they can visualize outcomes much quicker and more accurately than the average bear (person). That doesn't necessarily mean that they see further into the future. It means they take their acute tactical ability and apply it with a speed and accuracy that is beyond us mere mortals.

Le Quang Liem, at the age of 20, is renowned for that. In time, if he further develops his positional understanding, he'll be an even stronger player.

Calculating skill mostly comes at a relatively early age. Positional skill generally takes time and study to develop. Alexander Alekhine's early games are filled with brilliant tactical melees and calculating tours-de force. As he got older, he won games with positional understanding as well. That's when he became World Champion. Before that, he could not past Jose Raul Capablanca, who had a very deep positional understanding.
A contemporary GM once said something like, 'I understand Alekhine's tactical ideas. I just don't know how he sets up for them.'
'Setting up' is positional understanding.

Gelfer goes on to ask: "How does one go about capturing or controlling squares, diagonal, files? In what positions is it desirable to seek exchanges? In what positions is it best to eschew them? How can you ensure the proper coordination between pieces?"

A concrete example: GMs 'know' from experience that in the Sicilian Najdorf the dark-squared bishop is very important for the player with the white pieces, and that one should know why and where it goes, and not part with it w/o good reason.

A senior master I know has told me more than once that to understand a particular opening, I should play over published games to see 'where the GMs are putting the pieces.'
Doing so helps you see patterns not just for that opening, but for ideal piece transfer and coordination.

Randy, if you've ever played a master and lost the game for reasons you just couldn't put your finger on - that is, you didn't blunder a piece and he didn't execute some magical combination - then you were basically positioned to death - also known as getting crushed. Computer engines can also make you feel that way. You go to make a move and realize, 'Oops, can't go there. I'm cut me off by that pawn or that piece, which just happens to be in the right place to thwart my idea, and execute the other side's plan.'

Though out-rated on all boards Germany mugged Ukraine 3.5-0.5, sans Ivanchuk.
And despite his recent legendary feats with Black (and the ensuing blog-mass here) Svidler got mugged by Topalov who seems to have rekindled his chess-hunger.

The Richter has judged it appropriate to throw away hisn wig : )

As happened before to mishanp (guess this is what you mean?)

Of course that is what I mean : ) But mishanp was more or less forced..what made you do it? Sudden impulse?

I was also forced :) as Peter Doggers doesn't want semi-anonymous authors, but had no objections whatsoever. It doesn't really make a difference that mishanp is Colin McGourty, Thomas has a last name and chesshire cat's real name might be Peter O'Donnell ... .

How about a little help here, Thomas? Where do I experience this? At Colin's newest venue? And if so, under what heading? Thanks in advance!

http://www.chessvibes.com/reports/four-winners-in-bad-wiessee
http://www.chessvibes.com/reports/top-seed-tiviakov-wins-first-panama-chess-open
Not clear yet what will be next - generally I might specialize on internationally relevant German and French chess news as I can read original sources and contact people in their language. But my Spanish was also good enough for the second story.

Cool. Why not? More power to ya.

Go Thomas!

Didn't realize you had become a contributor! My congratulations! No better man.
(It is not O' anything...it is Walsh : ) )

Without knowing it, I also contributed to Chess Queen Kosteniuk's blog:
http://www.chessblog.com/2011/11/chess-story-of-56-year-old-amateur.html
She surely (or obviously) liked my story and didn't see the need for any rewriting ... .

copyright infringement! quick, call an attorney!

Well, I limited myself to an ironic comment on her blog which passed through moderation - she (or whoever actually runs her blog) didn't recognize that the compliment I made is a poisoned pawn :) .

Some German pride related to the 'official' topic of this thread: the new Svidler is Arkadij Naiditsch who scored 4/5 with the black pieces, including wins against Ponomariov and Radjabov. The list of players who did NOT manage three wins with black on board 1 is rather long: Aronian, Radjabov, Topalov, Ivanchuk, Svidler(!), ...... .

Right - a stellar performance by Naiditsch. That will net him some well-earned rating points.

Out of interest, can anyone think of any other present or past players who play very sharply with Black but slowly and positionally as White (like Radjabov)? Ribli played the Najdorf, that would be one.

At some points of his career on could say similar things about Kramnik, when playing Sicilan (Classical and Pelikan-Sveshnikov) and Semi-slav, including Botvinnik's while still drawing several games in 20 or less moves with white as for example, in Linares 97 (I happened to be there so maybe my example isn't exactly objective as I remember how mad I was seeing the guy playing such incredible games with black only to draw with white the next day without even breaking sweat; what can one do, admiration comes with expectation)

I'm really looking forward to the London Classic. Elite GMs plus some former top 10 players like Adams and Nakamura.

So Germany wins European Championship !!.

I wonder if Mig still reads the comments here, but I feel like reacting to his latest tweets:

Topalov didn't remain unbeaten but lost against, of all players, Peter Leko in the final round: drawish players don't avoid a move repetition, so common prejudices are wrong at least sometimes. Two opposites had met: Leko is always nice on and off the board (maybe sometimes too nice at the board), Topalov is always causing trouble on and off the board. I was rooting for Leko ... .

The German victory was a _team effort_, actually with different match winners in the close matches: Gusti against Hungary, Fridman against Romania, Naiditsch against Azerbaijan, Meier against Armenia. And (while I normally don't complain about Mig's inactivity) it deserves a BLOG POST rather than just a tweet.

Go Germany! Celebrate!!

http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=7666

Good to see frank words from Carlsen on the Kasparov-Nakamura collaboration -

"I think Nakamura has made and will make more progress as a result, but right now there are four to five players in the world, including me, who have significantly better understanding of chess than Nakamura. And I don't know if even a man like Kasparov can change that in the short term."

"I noticed that Kasparov has spoken in a neutral fashion and has tried to play down the collaboration. He probably hoped that Nakamura would porduce better performances before the collaboration was made public. After all, since the nice win at Tata, Nakamura has not achieved very much." (I'm too lazy to look it up, but this is exactly what I had posted too, probably somewhere here on DD.)

"I am surprised, especially since I never got the impression that Kasparov had a great deal of respect for Nakamura's chess talent. This is why I have been reluctant to believe the rumors of the two working together."

Carlsen with some provocative quotes in the last Chessbase interview. ." I think Nakamura has made and will make more progress as a result, but right now there are four to five players in the world, including me, who have significantly better understanding of chess than Nakamura."

Deutschland uber alles! (on second thought, maybe just: You go, you landlocked, toe-headed multiple-syllabic chess grandmasters).

Those are the words of a very confident individual, and you don't say such things unless you can back them up.
Magnus can back up those words.

Hey, this is a bit over the top - particularly considering the ICC report on the European Team Championship:
"One of the most infamous team tournaments in the annals of chess has to be the Buenos Aires Olympiad of 1939. Halfway through it, Nazi Germany invaded Poland and War was declared - meanwhile at the Olympiad, Germany also beat Poland to take the gold medal.
And that's how far back we need to go for the last time that Germany won a team gold in chess"
[They are actually a bit wrong, according to Olimpbase the match Germany-Poland wasn't played but the result was set as 2-2 by default]

Yes. As a Pole, I need to support the German against the American :)

-- 484 comments for a topic?
This must a very active blog. Mig might have died but his blog keeps going on stronger and stronger.

thx Simple Pole!
I 'd have guessed Ken H. is british.
In that case - regarding their cutlutal context - he just tried to make a funny compliment, pleasing the the german fans :-)

sorry

cultural context

Thomas, was schert es denn die Deutsche Eiche, wenn....

:-)

My comment in parens above was just a play on 'you go, girl'
---and a light-hearted historical poke at Thomas. He knows I jest. Anyway, I'm a Gusty fan - as goofy and interesting a character as he is. Ever checked out his Web site?

Hi Thomas,
Well done!
I liked the style of your articles and the games you chose. Your chess-journalist star rises as another wanes (el Mig)!

An American can make such a joke, a German couldn't ... . But it's no big deal, actually I was rather more puzzled about the ICC report - they could also have mentioned the biggest recent German success in team events: silver at the 2000 Istanbul Olympiad, at a time when Russia was still dominating and everyone else just fighting for second place.

Now that the "football atmosphere" on German chess blogs, including Gusti's, has faded away, discussions focus on why this success gets hardly any attention in mainstream media. As I also wrote in German, one reason could be that Jan G. is the only "character" or "personality" in the German team (loosely comparable to Giri, van Wely or even Aronian and Topalov) but doesn't play board 1.

It doesn't get mention in the mainstream media because no chess accomplishment does.

Women's World Championship.

Hou Yifan vs Koneru Humpy.

Who you got?

Yifan has a +8 -2 =6 lifetime edge.

Hou Yifan, but close.

As for chess media attention to the German team, maybe that will happen now, but apart from Naiditsch, who is opinionated, but not flashy, few German players have recently shown up in elite events. Gustafsson gets around, but rarely in the closed elite events that grab all eyes and ears.

Georg Meier got some exposure in Dortmund, so he's a recognizable name outside Germany now, but these things take time even for us close followers, much less the wider chess audience.

Who in Europe has heard of Robert Hess or Samuel Shankland?

Shankland, isn't this the guy who beat Peter Leko? One lucky punch (with all due respect, it was a lucky punch) may mean more than anything else he has achieved in his career.
The opposite may also be true - Moldavian GM Svetushkin is now 'famous' because he blundered against Morozevich. I compiled a list of forthcoming minor events (Swiss opens) for Chessvibes, and those with Svetushking playing might get extra attention ... .

As to media attention for chess in general, it also depends on the country: The Netherlands where I live have regular coverage of Wijk aan Zee on the sports pages (at least the major newspaper I subscribe to which also had an article on the ETC). It was frontpage news when the Dutch team became world champion in baseball - and this is as exotic as it gets this side of the Atlantic Ocean!

In the USA, do "people on the street" know that Nakamura won Wijk aan Zee? What about Kamsky winning the world cup and doing well in the candidates event? If there's a difference, it might relate to thee players' personalities!?

No, in the USA no one who doesn't specifically follow the chess news sites knows anything about Nakamura winning Wijk aan Zee or Kamsky winning World Cup or doing well in the Candidates'.

Absolutely true, and always will be. There are too many sports and cultural events consuming the attention of Americans. It's Baseball and (American) Football; then Hockey. Everything else is small-time fractional.

It does have a little to do with personality, but accomplishment must come first.

Hikaru Nakamura evidently needs more than being as good as he is to get national media attention. His past off-putting behavior might have been enough to secure a 'bad-boy' rep in the national media (as the Hollywood agents say, 'bad publicity is better than no publicity), but I guess it wasn't enough to get him into Time or Newsweek mag. Or maybe it was that Americans (well, no one) really appreciated the fact that the 'bad boy' rep meant poor sportsmanship.
Thankfully for him, that's looking like a thing of the past.
Robert Fischer was the last to achieve national renown, if not quite household namehood.

If Magnus Carlsen was American, he might be peering out from magazine covers because of his accomplishment to date at such a young age. After all, he has already been the feature story of an issue of New Yorker magazine.

I think Sam Shankland would make Georg Meier work hard for a win.
I realize you might fight me on that!

No real argument here: beating a player that is roughly 100 points lower-rated can be hard work with uncertain outcome at any level - the highest one being Carlsen vs. Vachier-Lagrave.

But Meier demonstrated that he can handle Americans who are at least nominally stronger than Shankland: Robson and Shulman at the Spice Cup, (Caruana at the ETC), and he even had Nakamura on the ropes in Dortmund.

BTW, I guess Meier is or was as unknown in the USA as Shankland in Europe. This may change now - not just because of the ETC but primarily because he is studying in the USA.

LOL. I guess I was just baiting you again. Indeed, I could live to eat those words. Meier has been doing pretty well.

The Carlsen - Vachier Lagrave thing is fascinating. In light of recent comments about Hikaru, I wonder what Magnus thinks of Max's understanding of the game, since Max has clearly been more of a nemesis.

By the way, by most accounts Fabiano is I-talian, as our southerners say; only secondarily American.

Yep. Caruana is as Italian as can be.

He was born in the US, where he learned chess well enough to become a master at age 11. When he was 12, he moved to Spain. And then to Hungary when he was 15. Now, at age 19, he lives in Switzerland...and plays for Italy.

You could add that one parent is Italian.

He didn't even change federation from USA to ITA until after he was a 2600 GM

I had put Caruana's name in brackets for a reason (of course he couldn't even play the ETC if he was still officially American) but didn't realize and didn't check that he had moved to Europe at such a young age. Dennis Monokroussos keeps writing "send him back!" - IMHO, even the best jokes have an expiration date and shouldn't be used more than two or three times ... .

On the topic of ~100 points rating difference: I am currently following the Rijeka Open ( http://www.rijekachess.com ) where IMs are doing quite well against GMs. The chess fan in me has a quick look at the games while the event is underway, the journalist will probably write a short "other news" report for Chessvibes when it's over.

Big tournament with top GMs is practically ALWAYS an enlivener on the blog. Now even that does not rouse it from its corpse-like slumber. : (
(Kramnik was nicely beaten, and Ivanchuk showed more of his genius).

Svidler lost with black, and noone dares to leave an off-topic comment :)

maybe when nakamura wins a game... ?

Good to see you, frogbert. No, our last hope is that twitter implodes and turns into a black hole under the colossal weight of the stupidity published on it daily. However, even then we might lose Mig in the process.

Maybe an update now since Svidler beat Nakamura with black and so everyone should be happy if I understood correctly the whole thing above :)
Carlsen is certainly not taking days off, and one could also say it's scary when you can play 1 e4 against Aronian, not get a Marshall and still lose....
Anand is really in trouble, today was maybe the day to try to get a nice win and silent all those critics and yet, the first game to end with a draw; Nepomniachtchi isn't exactly a piece of cake but still, but he had white against the lowest rated player. Maybe he is like Mig, just stalking for the WC match to show off the whole thing...

I don't understand what we are seeing from Anand. It's like he's not even trying - just wants to make it through the event without any disasters.

Fun to see 3 black wins today, all deserved.

Carlsen is really impressing me. I don't even really like him that much but 3 really complex games in a row, and he did well in all of them (even if his opponents did at times miss opportunities, you can hardly blame them).

Svidler beating Nakamura is nothing special: according to chessgames.com his score against him is now +8=5, so Nakamura is even trailing behind the "Tal score" (equal number of draws and losses).
Aronian once said "I play the Marshall if I don't mind a draw, and the Berlin if I want to win" - but my impression is that he didn't 'necessarily' want to win today, it just somehow happened ... .
And Carlsen failed to win with black :) [Nepomniachtchi is excused given the rating difference] - it seems that Magnus was rather happy with a draw even though he was better towards the end of the game?

I think Magnus thought the better of pushing against Vlad.
Today's games went down more or less as they would be expected to; that is, Peter Svidler's grasp of the Gruenfeld is superior to that of Hikaru and most others. Puzzles me why Hikaru challenged in that vehicle.
And Magnus, with the black pieces, came out of the opening not favored (because he doesn't spend as much time on the openings as others - and as he probably should), and then showed his great skill in clawing back to at least equality.

By the way, Matt, what's not to like about Magnus? He's quiet, respects his opponents, speaks the truth, and has a good sense of humor.
If it's his clothing and other money-making adventures that bother you, ask yourself if you wouldn't find something like that lucrative and fun - esp. for a chess player?
Most of us don't get such chances. Magnus had/has to go for it.

As for Anand, I'd like to see his psych profile. Also, I really don't know how good he actually is. That I remember, it's been a while since he destroyed all opposition in an elite tournament - and perhaps because because he doesn't feel comfortable doing that. A very nice guy, maybe he only rises to the occasion when he needs to: for the W.Ch, to score "well enough" in competition ... something open to conjecture.

Yes. The subject header of this blog post is new again.
You just have to be patient.

That's a great discussion. Glad to join. Thanks,
http://book-villas.com/ski-holiday

A bit like my clothing growing cool again, being largely unchanged since 20 years or so.

Magnus said he didn't see Bc8, otherwise he would have played on. It speaks volumes when you can lose a gazillion tempi in the opening against Kramnik and still have him happy to repeate positions against you with black :D
Seriously, Aronian and Carlsen seem on form although at this level, nothing is easy. Anand is lacking energy, motivation or both? I wouldn't care for draws, it's more like he isn't making the other player work, "punishing" him on a favourable ending, etc. It seems he's lost a bit of precission but to me it should be only a temporary slump... ok, a long one, like this blog.
The Kasparov-Nakamura plan seems to be working less than the previous Kasparov-Carlsen. He is on minus one and has to play still the rating favourites.

"It speaks volumes when you can lose a gazillion tempi in the opening against Kramnik and still have him happy to repeate positions against you with black :D"

It speaks volumes about what? About Carlsen? About Kramnik? Or about chess in general?? I go for the last, and it may be specific to certain openings - you are more likely to be punished in a sharp Sicilian ... . Another story is whether Carlsen (or anyone else) will repeat this setup if the opponent had the chance to analyze it at home.

Carlsen has adopted a strange style lately--makes some 'suboptimal' moves then he plays 'like a machine' then makes again a series of 'suboptimal' then again 'as a machine' and then draws (or wins as in the case of Gelfand game).

Carlsen tried getting a slightly worse position from the opening (again) today, this time with white. And sure enough, Karjakin took the "bait" and launched an attack that was only dangerous for himself; white ended up with a winning position.

A bit disappointing that Carlsen didn't find any of a couple winning continuations right before move 40 - the end game after 39. Rxh4?! seems to be difficult to win, even in the case that white gets an extra pawn. But Carlsen didn't play accurately enough to get the extra pawn either ...

But a 4th complex and very interesting game from Carlsen, regardless.

Correct: Carlsen's openings have been dodgy for quite some time, with the odd exception.
Which only makes one more impressed with the middlegame skills allowing him to not only get away with it, but score well, against top opposition.
Meanwhile Anand and Gelfand - the World Champ and his challenger - would hardly be worth a mention in this tournament (except as also-rans) if not for their illustrious histories!
And Nakamura might well be responsible for several burst blood vessels (not his own).

Great stuff from you, man. Ive read your stuff before and youre just too awesome. I love what youve got here, love what youre saying and the way you say it. You make it entertaining and you still manage to keep it smart. I cant wait to read more from you.

A little bit of all, but mostly about the fact that he gets a worse position after the opening and still he is the one pushing for a win in most games. He reminds a bit of Topalov, with this constant strive for winning and complications, although with a different style (and less reliable openings, btw) But I don't think he will repeat today's or yesterday's openings against anyone soon :)
It was good to see Anand defending a though position today with his usual precision. Have to see him pushing someone yet. Certainly Gelfand and him won't be showing their best in openings, hiding cards and so on but perhaps they have also planified their physical condition to peak later, during their match, the same way strong football teams get ready for the important matches for the Champions League (at least for the Spanish ones I know that's true) That would be even more important for mature players i guess.

planified -- a perfectly good word I have never seen or heard before. Leave it to a Spaniard to introduce it to me.

Anyway I see that Mr. Carlsen is not afraid (and why should he be?) to get into it for a spell on consecutive days. A couple, three long days in a row for Vassily, and his play would probably suffer.

Like yesterday, Magnus missed some endgame subtleties, according to Houdini.
Status quo else. When will we get a decision from Anand?

According to Houdini, the entire chessplaying world misses opening, middlegame AND endgame subtleties every game.
It would be nice to have Gelfand and Anand winning or at least coming close to winning some tournaments before the match. Otherwise seems a bit pointless, dunnit? And yes, they both legitimately qualified blah blah blah. Go back to e4 Vishy!

Technically, Anand is still close to winning Tal Memorial - just half a point behind the leading group. Of course that's because noone could break away from such a strong field, but I still wouldn't rule out that Vishy wins one or two of his remaining games against Ivanchuk, Carlsen, Nakamura and Gelfand(!).

More relevant: while Bilbao 2011 was a bad event for Anand, he was close to winning his four previous events - always second place, always gaining rating points (not easy when you already have 2800) in Wijk aan Zee, London, Nanjing and Bilbao 2010. Best combined performance of anyone in these four events!? Dare I say including Carlsen who was dominant in Nanjing, benefitted from football scoring in London and was less impressive in the other two tournaments ... .

Last week, Vachier-Lagrave fell below 2700.
Strange. Maybe his propensity to settle for the draw has finally caught up with him. Or maybe he too-often seeks complications in a tightrope walk. His last loss against Kramnik was ridiculous.

I find it hard to believe that Sutovsky or Saskiran are in his league. I hope to see him bounce back.

"Anand is still close to winning Tal Memorial - just half a point behind the leading group"

Yes, but Anand has more whites than blacks so he might need +3 to actually win if Carlsen or Karjakin (or Nepo) will reach +2, since number of black games is the tiebreaker and the 1990s have five blacks. Nepo has both Karjakin and Carlsen left and anything can happen in those games.

The ultimate cause why VL dropped below the magic 2700 was his result at the European Team Championship: four draws followed by three losses against Cheparinov, Movsesian and Karjakin. Each by itself was no disaster, just as it is 'allowed' to lose against Kramnik.

I also hope to see him bounce back, leaving the 2700+ club (at least on some live rating list) has happened to others before: Ivanchuk, Morozevich, Shirov, ... . The problem for him might be future invitations, as he has Elo-wise fallen behind players his age or younger who compete for the same spots - not just Carlsen and Karjakin, but also Nepomniachtchi, Caruana, Giri and Le Quang Liem.

"According to Houdini, the entire chessplaying world misses opening, middlegame AND endgame subtleties every game."

It has become a "comedy show" to watch their games with live computer comments. The greatest praise is when they play 'like a machine', as opposed to 'suboptimal'

The modern times "chess-greats" merely battle eachother by shuffling the pieces around and waiting for the opponent to blunder something during complications and (positional or time) pressure.

But the art of chess which started with Morphy and Capabalanca has not died, only that its flag has passed into the hands of greats as Houdini, Rybka, Stockfish...

Re: quality if openings. Yes, I wrote it tongue-in-cheek; I would certainly not mind Carlsen being able to be a little bit better than slightly worse out of the opening - as white.

On the other hand: even if it's not a deliberate strategy (and I don't think it is), giving the initiative to the opponent or (involuntarily) tempting him to launch an attack may sometimes be an equally effective way to get chances for a win than mounting pressure from move 1. The defensive skills of the best players these days are quite amazing, so if someone is forced to defend from the get go, it's often very hard to break through on this level.

Possibly it can be likened to story about the Wind and the Sun competing about who could make a man take of his coat in the shortest amount of time. When the Wind blew all it could, the man just held his coat closer and tighter and would certainly not let go no matter how hard the Wind blew. But when the Sun started to shine and warm the man got so hot under his coat that he eventually had to give in and take it off ...

Being "nice" to your opponent is a bit like doing what the Sun did to get its way. :o)

I think Carlsen genuinely does not prepare to the level of the other top players, especially now that he receives no help from you-know-who. Maybe it bores him. Perhaps for that very reason he is getting fighting middlegames where he can just play better and win. In this way he reminds me of Petrosian or Karpov, who often played nondescript openings only to wrestle their opponents to the ground later (yes, Karpov got openings help, too).
Ovidiu, I agree with you about the comedy show- watching games online is a pain with all the 1200ers jumping up with computer lines.
But I think your criticism is a little unfair; you have to take into account that the level of play at the top is very close, unlike in the old days where Capa could easily positionally outplay his opponents. That is a real rarity among top players today. Much of today's subleties are hidden. But computer analysis has led to a lot of shuffling and very careful play to avoid prep, that is fair to say (one reason why we are seeing so much QGD- though I like that opening).

We have enjoyed our trip. That is very beautiful place to visit. Take some gear, food
and good friends and enjoy this place.

Ivanchuk never left 2700 on official rating lists. On live lists he went to 2699.4 for a single day, one could hardly give two rats ass about that.

I was really only going to write that maybe it was time for Mig to throw us a bone, with 500+ comments on this thread, but I also have to second Ovidiu and chesshire about the computer-fueled patzer remarks; it really is a pain sometimes, with people howling "Oh, no, he blew it" when someone happens to play Houdini's second or third choice and the evaluation drops from +0.76 to +0.04 - as if +0,76 meant there was a mate in four or something - or making b*llsh*t comments like "Seems drawish to me" (when the evaluation happens to be close to 0 in a very complex position) or "Hmm, I don't like Bd5 here" (yeah, right).
I personally don't mind seeing the computer evaluations as I follow a game (and I'm frequently baffled by how few mistakes the top players make; you don't really often see serious blunders other than in Zeitnot!), but sometimes I get the feeling that it may discourage serious suggestions, questions, or comments; if your idea doesn't show up somewhere in Houdini's analysis, maybe you shut up about it because it must evidently be rubbish, although none of the other geniuses would be able to tell you why.

Forget about Houdini and the likes, Leo. Ask me, and I will be happy to explain it all to you.

Thanks, I think I'll be fine :) I'm guessing you're Swedish, like me ...?

Two Swedes - a further sign of the vegetative state of this blog.

One rat's ass is quite enough, isn't it kuk?

Anyway, note that I prefaced my earlier comment about Carlsen's missed opps by writing "according to Houdini."
We could all frame a kibitzing observation in that way and take no shame from it. It's just a reference point -- and a better one I'll add than 'my 1200-rated brain thinks he should castle long,' but less reliable than the word of a player rated 2700+ (maybe less) who sees more than any current chess engine.
Isn't the very recent Kramnik v. Carlsen (and before that, Kramnik v.Vachier-Lagrave) a good example of a modern game full of sacrificial combinations and positional subtleties that chess engines don't fully appreciate, but would be a delight to the spirit of Paul Morphy?

Indeed, professor; we are like the first creeping weeds on the walls of a derelict structure ;)

Right, and I think we'll all eventually believe that Carlsen is every bit the equal of Petrosian and Karpov for positional mastery.
He'll have to stop being bored by the exercise of looking for opening surprises and refutations if he wants to be world champ someday - I think. The talents at the top are just to close to being equal to allow for laziness.

I'll stick with two thanks. The obsession with ratings is a mystery.

Winning with black against a super GM isn't a lucky punch, Thomas. Show some respect.

I'm on record (a while ago) complaining about the same thing, Cal.
It's not so much about the fact that Max dropped below a number - although that is evidently a significant number to many - as that he may not get invited to elite events again until he either wins a tournament or claws back up the rating ladder.

I generally agree with you on "obsession with ratings" - but it is a fact, maybe a sad one that chess fans and hence(?) organizers are obsessed with ratings.

When Ivanchuk briefly dropped (just) below 2700, people even suggested that Hans-Arild Runde - who had a monopoly at the time - should violate his own rules and still list him on the live rating list. And everyone 'knew' that he would be back in the 2700 club sooner or later. Somewhat the same story for Morozevich, but it took him a bit longer.

Vachier-Lagrave isn't exactly a fan favorite, and some people (not me!) may rather think that he isn't _that_ good after all ... . @Ken H.: Which tournament(s) would he need to win? Something like French championship probably isn't enough - but winning tournaments also means gaining Elo points, currently he is seven points below the magic 2700.

" hence(?) organizers "

I don't think that has very much to do with the so-called "obsession" with rating - organizers certainly should consider the ranking system we have in chess when they decide about invitations; ratings make the selection of participants more fair, not the opposite. Strike out the entire "hence" is my "editorial" advice. (You put the question mark there!)

Furthermore, the chess fans aren't much more "obsessed" with their sport's ranking system than fans of other sports - your favourite player's ranking is even more important in some other sports, like for instance snooker (where there are huge advantages linked to your ranking in the previous season, in particular for the world championship where _all_ the top 16 are pre-qualified, but also during most of the season.

But since chess has a rating system which offers a bit more than the typical ranking system, and because most chess fans are also chess players (with a personal relationship to their ratings), it's not that odd that there's more than a slight interest in the rankings.

I could've wished that the average chess fan was a bit more educated about what the ratings mean, but until I do something myself to improve that, I guess I don't have any right to complain too much about that either. :o)

The German language has a most expressive word for some of today's popular openings- "Betonschach". The QGD is becoming the Q-side equivalent of the Petroff. Another question is whether, since we are going back progressively in time (openings from the Alekhine-Capablanca match, and the Lasker defence) the next logical step is the sudden rise of the Steinitz defence and Steinitz gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 exf4 4.d4) at top level, followed by the Philidor, etc.
Leo, you understood my little reference, I am sure
http://www.hub-uk.com/vegetables/swede.htm

@professor:
Yes, I appreciated it :) That's basically a turnip, isn't it? I wasn't sure if there is a difference.

Once again, since you didn't read it the first time, Ivanchuk was never below 2700 on an official rating list. On the 100% irrelevant live rating list for a SINGLE (that is one) day he dropped to 2699.4 -- this is in no way comparable to Morozevich who dropped to 2693 ON OFFICIAL LISTS (you know the ones that matter...).

"Thanks, I think I'll be fine"

Just as you like. You may have learnt a lot though. I am particularly good with complex positions.

"I'm guessing you're Swedish, like me ...?"

Close, but this is an Austrian creeper ...

So your signature stands for "Kaiserlich und Königlich"? (It does not, in Swedish...)

@kuk:
Is that a fact? Could I ask you to give me a ballpark idea of your playing strength? Maybe I'll consult you in the future ;)
My guess that you are Swedish was based on your chosen nickname (which I'm kind of reluctant to type ...).

How are live ratings different from official ratings, in any other way than not being official?

And btw, for some official purposes "live" rating does matter - for instance in getting FIDE titles; you can even get the GM title based on being 2501 "live" (assuming the norm requirement is fulfilled). Guess you didn't know :o)

Hmm. So Moro fell back *seven points* below 2700 at one time.

Thomas: Biel (again) is one, and that open in Moscow is another. I've forgotten the name, but the one Le Quang Liem won a year or two ago.

@ DarkHelmet:

what a coincidence - the august and the sleazy, the beauty and the beast, united in one syllable.
Life is full of wonderful surprises.

@ Leo:

what's in a rating? I will speak to you straight from the heart, one human being sharing with another. You will never get this from Houdini or Stockfish.

@kuk:
That's true, and I'm sure your heart would have a lot to offer, but I wasn't really looking for a life coach - or a chess tutor, for that matter. I'm tenmporarily retired from serious games and only play online bullet at the moment; maybe anger management would be what I need most :)

*temporarily

But we already get it from Thomas.

The Bimonthly Dirt

Beginning to think it will become the Annual Dirt. With posts under 140 characters.

I do not criticize the rating system, it's the best and most objective one we have. I do criticize "interpretations" that 2701 is way stronger than 2693 or even 2699 - while noone would make the same distinction between 2721 and 2713.

@Ken H.: Aeroflot, actually won by Le Quang Liem 2010 AND 2011 - which meant an automatic Dortmund ticket no matter what his rating is. But given Vachier-Lagrave's "propensity to settle for the draw" (your words) I wonder about his chances to win such a strong open.
Biel sounds better, is it already certain that he will be re-invited? Switzerland (as a partly French-speaking country) likes to have a French player in the field. Bad news for VL that France doesn't have a single strong classical event - despite up to three 2700ers, as many or more than in England, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Romania and Bulgaria (who all do or did have supertournaments).

Yea of course I knew but I guess you didn't know Ivanchuk was a GM.

@Ken yea it was pretty amusing to read Grischuk's comments on Moro's 2693 rating when they played the World Cup.

"I do criticize "interpretations" that 2701 is way stronger than 2693 or even 2699 - while noone would make the same distinction between 2721 and 2713."

But that's hardly the essence of people's so-called "rating obsession", is it? Everyone with the slightest grip understands that 2700 or 2800 or whatever are utterly random figures whose meaning change continously and have meaning only relative to the players (i.e. their ratings) in one, specific rating list.

(For my own live ratings (RIP) I simply needed a cut-off for very simple, practical reasons; I won't take any responsibility for whatever nonsense people choose (or are led to) read into specific numbers or "magic" limits.)

As a matter of fact, FIDE's own handbook includes some absolutely nonsensical ideas about mapping certain skillsets to certain, fixed rating numbers; the entire norm and title system is seemingly anchored in a belief that ultimately will make (some) people think that 2705 is fundamentally different from 2695, which obviously is bollocks. But FIDE had a similar "dilemma" as I had: they have/had to draw a line somewhere.

And between me and you, Thomas - I don't have a clue what CAL|Daniel's beef is with live ratings ... :o)

Yea, Aeroflot. A gauntlet, chock-a-block with the latest rising and established GMs from around the world. If you win that - not once, but twice - you'll be renamed "Scary."
That's my nickname for Le Quang Liem.
Vachier-Lagrave has held his own there, finishing near the top, but he settled for one too many break-even deals (euphemism, heh) to win the thing - and I do think he is capable of it. Maybe he should hang with LQL for a few weeks to soak up some extra ferocious will-to-win 'tude.

For all those guys who complained that Kazan playoff World Championship qualifiers that Boris Gelfand won was boring because of all draws and tournament format is better..look at the results of TAL memorial with all draws..conclusion..stronger field more draws irrespective of format

"Everyone with the slightest grip understands that 2700 or 2800 or whatever are utterly random figures whose meaning change continously and have meaning only relative to the players (i.e. their ratings) in one, specific rating list."

"utterly random"?!

...have meaning only for "one, specific rating list"?!

That's a pair 'o mighty strange notions, Mr. Frogbert!

Strange notions? Nope. Not if you try a bit harder to understand what I'm saying. (I might add that "meaning" should be read as "precise/exact meaning", but anyway...)

What would be your _reasonable_ interpretation of the statement you quoted, Uff Da? :o)

[Context is, amongst other, Thomas' post that I responded to.]

There was another (German) example of what I consider rating obsession: Before the European Team Championship, some people harshly criticized that Buhmann (2612) rather than Khenkin (2630) was selected for the team - mostly journalists who always criticize the federation and quoting Khenkin himself using the same strictly numerical argument. As if there are no other consideration such as who's (considered) the better team player coping well with the status of reserve player ... .

I understand your practical reasons for 2700 as the lower live rating limit - but indirectly (deliberate or not, like it or not) you did contribute to the hype around the magic number 2700. Equally logical would have been to make it a top30 live list, with a floating lower Elo limit (2712 as of today, 2670 back in January 2006).

As to "CAL|Daniel's beef with live ratings": I guess he is an Ivanchuk fan, who considers it very meaningful that the day he fell below 2700 didn't coincide with the last game of the last rated event in this particular rating period.

Did anyone else hear the loud "THUMP" of thousands of chess fans falling off their seats with excitement watching the bitter, unrelenting Anand-Carlsen fight-to-the-death?

Seems like I got a false report, they were killed instantaneously by boredom. Well, at least they didn't suffer, whereas we've got a few more Anand games to go.

Ha! Tweety Mig wanted a decisive game at Tal Memorial, and there was a decisive game. Gelfand got company at the bottom of the standings, everyone happy (but Nakamura)??

We note that Mig twatted, or twotted, or whatever it is, "Everyone has stopped rooting for any particular player at the Tal Memorial". Personally, I have continued my rooting under the layers of gray sludge and will until I find a living, breathing player and pull them out onto the bank. There have been some hopeful signs, but the rescue efforts must continue. GM Anand is still buried deep.

Hah! If I'd have known, I would've worn me waders.

Oh look, Nakamura just got hosed.

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MIG! HELP! SPAM invasion!

Asking Mig to zap the spammers with his magical twitter finger may or may not work. You might consider donating to the dirt.

Anyway, why don't we form a mailing list or something instead? So one will get directly to the great insights we share with each other, rather than having to wait for 577 comments to load.

Capital idea. But it has to be more or less spam proof, and most of us don't have the foggiest notion of how to put one together (I think). :)

Rooting against Naka used to be fun... now I just feel sorry for him :(

Tough soul-crushing life at the top, innit? If he is a wise man he will not get a downer but will rather reflect on the enormous achievements he has under his belt already. To be among the top 10 of your profession and the champion of a large country, all in your 20s, is impressive by any standards.
As long as he doesn't get bitter about it all (if he gets stuck in a rut that is) like so many other examples in chess history... many life lessons can be drawn from the latter!
He could a lower strength event and beat up on everyone if he wanted to taste winning ways again. Or I'll give him a match, 10-0 and 250 moves for the entire match should cheer him up!

naka naka on the door of all ye Hikaru fans to come to the aid of your countryman! epitaphs are already being drawn up after another loss to his nemesis, V.I., but who hasn't done that?
Our boy's in big, bad company now don't forget, and it ain't too late for him to grab a scalp neither!

Anyone willing to bet on a game 9 happening? Humpy Who?

An Ivanchuk or Shirov would shrug shoulders after such a result and move on, but Nakamura and his fans expect more all the time!!? Yet, by now it's safe to say that Wijk aan Zee - impressive as it was - was sort of an outlier. Tal Memorial isn't, cf. Bazna and Dortmund.

Of course it could be worse - Ken H. pointed out that Vachier-Lagrave left the 2700+ club (at least temporarily), now he has Naiditsch for company: 0/4 at the Spanish Team Championship after some pretty bad blunders, notably 30.-Rd6?? against Shirov. 31.c5!! 1-0 ooops, the other black rook was on b6 ... quite a Svetushkin
( http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1645919 for those who don't remember). [VL scored 2.5/4, beating Naiditsch with black in a wild Sicilian that 'should' have finished with perpetual check]

Egads. Arkadij must have had something else on his mind, or maybe a hangover after the ETCC! He'll recover.

there's no doubt the latter two are the marquee names. http://www.amerisleep.com/

NAAAAAAAAKKKKKKAAAAAAAAMUUUUUUURAAAAAAAAAAA

Very creative Naka with the 41.Be1 Bxh3 42.Kxd3
Any analysis for 41.h4 ?

carlsen beating up on the lower-rated again as he makes his patented late move for the prize money, (he says tongue und cheek, echoing the turkey who says that carlsen 'only wins by beating up on the lower-ranked, because he can't beat the higher')
like nakamura or any of these elite players are easy to beat.

Well, everyone is lower-rated than Carlsen, so whatever opponents he beats must necessarily be a sample from that population.

Very impressive tournament by Nepomniachtchi.

Once again, when all eyes are on others, he sneaks out from behind a bush and snatches the prize.
Nice to see Kramnik giving it a shot, only to falter in a messy position yet again.

Maybe tiebreak rules can be modified to simply state "in case of a tie for first place, Carlsen wins"? Football scoring in London, Sonneborn-Berger (0.25 points!!) in Bazna, now number of blacks - in an event that had six wins with black vs. four with white.

Just kidding, but I consider Aronian and Carlsen shared winners - Carlsen fans might disagree and call me a hater ... .

Carlsen's even better than Topalov at this.

I wouldn't be surprised if hikaru is questioning the value of his tutorage now, if that is continuing. sometimes as you break it down, you suffer for a bit before you see results, but that takes a whole lot of patience after you find yourself at the rock bottom of the tournament stack.

anyway, yea, a nice result for Nepo. and I wish again that I could understand russian while Alex Grishuk was commentating today at the official site.

> I wish again that I could understand russian

Speaking of which, I suspect that mishanp has more efficient channels to the news of chess than a ridiculously long series of increasingly offtopic comments on an increasingly dead blog. But if you're around and haven't seen it: here is an interview with Carlsen senior which might deserve a competent translation.

http://www.sovsport.ru/gazeta/article-item/494272


As a sidenote: reading it in less competent translation,
http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sovsport.ru%2Fgazeta%2Farticle-item%2F494272 ,
has its highlights as well,


> Are you saying that your son has been Losers?
>- No, but the best in class, he just was not.

>- Friends do not call him a botanist?
> Some chess is not very popular in Norway,
> when there is football - a sport these Norwegian men.

help mishanp!!

I think by now Mig has left us to drown. I was expecting a few lines to inform us about his intentions, but might as well wait for Godot. If someone has suggestions as to somehow moving the whole shebang elsewhere, I'm listening. Unfortunately I myself have no tech knowledge at all.
This tournament raised several questions for me. I'd be interested in opinions.
Is Gelfand really worthy to challenge for the Wch? Yes, he qualified legitimately. But really, here he made little impression.
What is going on with Anand? You can only use this "he is saving his efforts" thing for so long.
Who is the real best player in the world now?
Is Kramnik definitely waning? Is his technical style no longer sufficient to grab points from really well-prepared players?
Is Nakamura going to raise his game or is he stuck where he is? Not that where he is is bad...what has been the real effect of this Kaspy collaboration?

CC "what has been the real effect of this Kaspy collaboration?

"things get worse before getting better" this is what happens when you try to change your style(even your life-style !) : for a while you play worse than before because you deprive yourself of your old-routines (old routines which got you stuck at some level and which now you destructure (some) of the premises upon which they were built in order to create other routines anew, takes time).

so, we can't say yet anything except that now Nakamura wants, tries hard, to change and that's why he plays worse than before.

Aren't there enough openings of good standing that Anand and Gelfand can use now to demonstrate how strong they really are (or aren't), and still hold back others for the W. Ch.?
For example, why not hit the Tal Memorial with guns blazing and king pawns flying out the gate like they used to was, and save your usual QP offerings for the big show?

So I'm seconding your sentiment:
"What is going on with Anand? You can only use this "he is saving his efforts" thing for so long."

Indeed, why bother showing up, if not just for the appearance fee. Place-holding ain't cutting it.


I think Gelfand should have kudos for playing in a rather more risky style than his usual. It did not work out very well, but the games were mostly entertaining. Anand, by contrast, rather seem to look for a hammock than throats to slit in blood-thirsty rage.

With the exception of Anand's games, I have seldom seen so many interesting draws in a single tournament, some downright spectacular. At this level, perhaps such a result is to be expected, also between uncompromising players.

My opinions:

Gelfand - maybe his entire tournament would have been different if his wild game against Carlsen in the second round had finished with a different result. "Three results" seemed possible, and it's no shame to lose against Magnus. His next game against Karjakin was a genuine offday, for the rest he was as 'solid' (drawish) as anyone else. So you (and others) may be a bit too harsh on him.

Anand - just one year ago he had a series of fine (though not excellent) results: consecutive second places in Bilbao 2010, Nanjing, London and Wijk aan Zee. Altogether better or more stable than anyone else, including Carlsen who played the same four events. Bilbao and Tal Memorial 2011 were less impressive to put it mildly. But the recurrent "he hasn't won a classical tournament in ages" - while true - is a bit of a misleading simplification!?

Kramnik - On Chessvibes someone wrote (about Nakamura after his loss against Ivanchuk) that he shouldn't be judged by a single tournament. I will get back to this below, but methinks it also applies to Kramnik. Nothing at all wrong with him in Dortmund and Hoogeveen (in terms of result, quality of play and entertainment value), in between a seesaw Russian Championship, before an 'acceptable' Wijk aan Zee. So one bad event now shouldn't be enough to write him off - granted, there was also Amber (but I don't take rapid and blindfold all that seriously). And in Kazan, he was as successful as Aronian ... .

"Who is the real best player?" The easy answer is Carlsen, but for the time being he is still 'just' the best tournament player. And Aronian isn't far behind - forget about Kazan where Carlsen didn't show up ... .

Nakamura - tricky business. Don't judge him by one tournament - this goes both ways, enthusiasm after Wijk aan Zee (e.g. "only a matter of time that he'll cross 2800") by now seems premature. And Tal Memorial was - at the end - just a bit worse than Bazna and Dortmund.
I do not see much evidence that he is changing his style (like Kramnik did, which might explain some of his shaky results). For the time being, I tend to say he is "stuck where he is" - but he seemed stuck at a certain level before in his career before eventually making further progress.

Thorough, as usual. Friends do not call you a botanist?

Indeed no wonder that at ChessVibes with their nice flair (exception made for website themes) got you as a contributor. I would put Carlsen a little bit over Aronian if anything because he was really pushing in almost every game and may have as easily won a few here but the only ones that count are those with a 1-0 (or a 3 if you're in football crazy Spain) at the end. Can we get a match between those two instead of Anand-Gelfand? Just kidding, but it also shows how fast top chess can move and how much we need a really working World Championship, not a rigid thing in which the champion from 3 years ago plays someone who won a tournament 6 months ago... Not that I have a problem with the Gelfand-Anand match, nor that I think we should have something like those Vegas WC which weren't convincing at all. Just pointing out that this system is better but not really enough.
I think Nakamura will recover from this slump but still can't see him as a top 5 player. Time will tell, although I think Giri or Vachier-Lagrave will eventually get stronger than him. Kramnik still seems to me as the one who "understands" the game better but is in trouble with tactics. Is it a temporary thing, a motivation problem or just time catching up? And if so, is it that strong, or will he be able to adjust? Can't wait for London!

PS I know things are the way they are, but if Kasparov and Carlsen would have found a way to work together for longer, how would have the norwegian fared in these recent tournaments? Here he was many times worse after the opening and still pushing at the end; if he was to push from move 1 from an equal position instead of from move 15-20 from an inferior one, it's safe to say his results may have improved.

First, for all practical purposes (hopefully also prize money) I subscribe to the idea that Carlsen and Aronian shared first in Tal Memorial. When you get the same number of points in a round robin, any tie-break criteria feels more or less random to me.

Secondly, talking about "just tournament player" appears somewhat meaningless. Chess is played in tournaments. There is no alternative "match" circuit. Even a single 12-game match doesn't give any proof of who the better "match-player" is.

IMHO Topalov's 6-6 (including one forfeit win) and 5,5-6,5 against Kramnik and Anand say basically _nothing_ about who the better match player is. If they replayed any of those two matches, the result could've been a different one. Unless players frequently play matches of a reasonable length, we will never get any statistical background for talking about this or that player as a strong or weak "match player". Matches aren't a practical format for playing classical chess, as it's simply too time-consuming.

Also, with what appears to be the current scheme (and Anand's interpretation - or his fans' interpretation possibly) - the World Champion only plays 12 games every second year that have any importance. Or on average 6 games per year. Since he's the only player that plays more than "one successive" 12 game match, he's also the only one that get a tiny little bit of training in that format.

Gelfand has maximized his match-playing options over the past 5 years (without resorting to organizing training matches himself) - and that has yielded three 6-game matches (two in 2007, one in 2011); for anything shorter than 6 games I find the term "match" totally ridiculous and void of meaning.

Topalov has played one 8-game match and two 12-game matches since 2006. Kramnik has played two 12-game matches since 2006. Aronian has played two 6-game matches, both back in 2007. Kamsky played two 6-game matches and one 8-game match. Grischuk like Gelfand also managed to get three 6-game matches in this period.

These are essentially the (top) players involved in multiple matches over the past 6 years - and without the "2007 candidate matches", another one-hit-wonder from FIDE, the list would've been much shorter. For those with absolutely most exposure to match play (and I still don't count 4-game knock-outs, where recovery is virtually impossible if you fall behind) we get to roughly 30 games over a period of 6 years; the average for the guys I mentioned above are maybe 16-20 match games (in matches of distance 6 or more).

Ca. 20 games in 6 years - compare that to how many tournament/other games these players play: the average elite player plays around 40-60 games per year, or 240-360 games over 6 years.

That's the significance and the status of "match play": We lack any kind of empirical data about who's good or bad at match play. Chess players play tournaments, and elite players play round robin tournaments. That's reality, and it's like that for a reason. Practicality.

Another issue is that head-to-head approaches ("cup") to finding a World Champion who's "The Best Player in the World" when there are 4-5 players that are very close at the top, can easily be shown to be flawed and not very suited for the proposed task. But that's a slightly different discussion. Another one is: do we really need the type of World Champion that we had in the past? And if so, why? (I'd appreciate more than "tradition" as the answer here...)

That's easy. 1) Money. The WC match is the one format that's attractive and understandable enough to attract money to chess. If you add the extra dimension of prize money to your analysis than you will find out that for those who participate in them, the few WC match games make more money than the hundreds of tournament games.
2) Chess. A tournament never goes as deep as a match. Look what Kramnik's 2000 win did to chess openings. Look what Anand's win did to Kramnik's phlegma. Deep preparation by the world's best chess minds is interesting. It leads to insights that change the way we look at chess.
3) Ego. Carlsen can grab as many last round wins as he likes. The definite answer he can only find with a match.

Frogbert, Carlsen objects to the WC "privileges" (viz., the current WC is automatically seeded into the finals), but that's precisely what makes the World Championship matches so attractive and valuable. The challenge match approach gives the title more prestige than any single WC tournament would. Most of the top players (not including Magnus) like the idea of a WC title that has more signficance than simply being the winner of a strong tournament.

I certainly agree that the match format is the best for WC. The deep play that takes place makes chess advance and usually sets fashion and provides fans with a lot of imput about their favourite players: withstanding tension, adapting to their opponent, expanding their opening repertoire... However it is a big problem when the Champion shows up and barely plays for good or bad reasons; maybe the solution is not on a system, but in angry organizers like Rentero was on his day. That said, I'm not against cup tournaments, if only not for WC. The top of the problem comes from FIDE and its crazy organization and from the players, who should have a working competent organ of representation such as the ATP for Tennis and so on. Until then, we are at the expenses of champions coming but not playing and number 1s not playing in the WC.

Anyway, the traditional system is the only one that has a chance to matter for people, a WC tournament is simply another tournament, nothing more. It's not an issue in football (soccer) because national teams from all over the world don't play in other tournaments.

Carlen cited examples from other sports but I think it was kind of nuts: you can play tennis on the Olympics, you can organize world team championships in football (soccer) - and who cares? Even teams don't care and enter their reserve players. Even the Masters are not valued as much as grand slams and not all grand slams are valued the same. Everyone dreams about winning that damned Wimbledon on the old-fashioned grass!

In the meantime, Chessvibes wrote/confirmed that the prize money was shared between Carlsen and Aronian - fair enough, I find it half-annoying half-amusing that some people there (Carlsen fanboys?) put Magnus well ahead of Aronian and earlier [Bazna] Karjakin.

Yes, tournaments are chess players' regular bread and butter - steak and sauce or champagne and kaviar for the better ones. That's exactly why matches are special: they are rare, always a lot at stake (except training matches) and require a different approach - even more emphasis on opening preparation, finding the right team of seconds, winning when it matters most, nerves are important ... . Based on his tournament record, Carlsen might do well on the last two points, but (as you said yourself) opening preparation isn't exactly his strength.
I tend to disagree with you that Kramnik-Topalov and Anand-Topalov had 'random' winners, notwithstanding the fact that a possible rematch could - of course - finish with a different score. In both cases, the winners prevailed under pressure and (as often against Topalov) somewhat ugly circumstances.
BTW, it should be possible (and interesting) to organize a strong four-player event with two 6-game matches, even including tiebreaks it doesn't take much more time but a bit less money than a typical round-robin supertournament. Why isn't it done? Maybe because this is reserved for WCh events ... .

Anyway, the issue was whether Carlsen is "the real best player", or rather by how big a margin. If we use a larger sample (six events), his tournament edge over Anand is less clear: He finished ahead of him at Tal Memorial 2011, Bilbao 2011 and Nanjing 2010, but behind him at Wijk aan Zee 2011 and Bilbao 2010. London is a special case - he was first on football score, but tied on classical score and lost their direct game. A matter of taste whether Carlsen's overall score would be 4-2 or 3.5-2.5 ... .
Vs. Aronian there are less data: tied at Tal Memorial and Wijk aan Zee, Carlsen won Bilbao. We can add one more event from last year when Carlsen won Nanjing, and Aronian finished shared first at Tal Memorial - "advantage Carlsen" but not "game, set and match"!?
In Elo terms, this all translates into a difference of 20-25 points - you're an expert on how much, or how little that means :) .

"In Elo terms, this all translates into a difference of 20-25 points - you're an expert on how much, or how little that means :) "

The last time Magnus was officially rated below 2800 was over two years ago.

If I'm not mistaken, no one else on the planet has managed this kind of consistency during the past two years - Aronian was 2781 last year, for example, and Anand was 2787.

It seems that Elo points are extremely hard to maintain above 2800, and 20-25 points in that bracket are enormously harder to come by than in the fertile waters of the 2700's.

Is there really any argument any more about who is the 'real best player'? On what possible empirical grounds could one arrive at an answer other than Carlsen? His results against the other top players in the world are simply better than any other player.

Magnus Carlsen's real potential is, again, a matter of motivation and leadership.

If and when he can show leadership with the creation of a credible team of seconds (who can match Anand for the volunteerism beyond hired hands that he got for his last W Ch match) and demonstrate an opening preparedness well beyond what he's done lately, then he'll be world champ sooner than later.

But he's a green young man and those are two large ifs, while on the other hand Vishy Anand is a seasoned veteran, and with little ELO rating difference, etc. between those two, I would still favor the current World Champ. In fact, many of us might still also favor Levon Aronian or Vlad Kramnik in a match for the title right now over Magnus if there was such.

For credibility and historical purposes, we would all probably want to see Carlsen vanquish (or lose to) the current world champ in a match while Anand is still (hopefully) as strong as ever.

I think Carlsen has a few years to go before he'll be mature enough to handle those two ifs, so I was not in the least disappointed that he didn't insert himself into the equation for 2012. In fact, I was glad that he didn't.
He's only 20! By contrast, Fischer was 27. How many World Champs have been younger than 30?

Yep, Carlsen has Elo 2800 or higher for two years, Anand for about 1 1/2 years, Aronian for 1 year (Topalov was there from 4/2009-9/2010). But we are talking about the current situation, and I merely question that the gap between Carlsen and whoever would be #2 (now Aronian rather than Anand?) is as big as his fans suggest - I should say "some of his fans" as frogbert may well agree with me.

@ken h.: A certain Garry Kasparov became world champion at the age of 22, Karpov was 24 when his match against Fischer didn't happen, Tal became world champion at the age of 24.
And BTW, a few levels lower: the Spanish Team Championship is over, Naiditsch's final score of 1.5/6 is good enough for 2701.5 (impressive that he won a spectacular game with black against Bologan after his 0/4 start), Vachier-Lagrave who beat Shirov today should be at 2699. [Peter Doggers will write that report for Chessvibes, I am currently struggling with the World Youth Championships and their brilliant webpage]

Hi, Thomas!

There are a lot more or less closely related topics here that it would be fun to debate. However, unless you cut down on your referrals to "Carlsen fanboys" or your use of straw mans of your own invention ("Carlsen fans might disagree and call me a hater") I will get tired very quickly.

Let's stick to arguments about the issues we discuss; I'm sure I could dig up some Kramnik fanboys, Anand fanboys and Aronian fanboys who make funny claims too, but there's not really a need to spend our time on them.

I we're going to debate, then I'd appreciate that you concentrate on my views, claims and arguments; I've got no intention of trying to defend views _supposedly_ held by others.

Do you read me?

:o)

... and Uff Da, alez and voyteck:

If Thomas decides to cut his provocative "Carlsen fanboys" and "Carlsen fans" rhetorics, I'll try to comment on elements from all of your responses. Thank you! :o)

"Anyway, the issue was whether Carlsen is "the real best player", or rather by how big a margin. If we use a larger sample [...]"

I don't think the concept of "best player" is very well defined, and it will always be a source of (useless) debate. In terms of demonstrated results (and hence ratings), I'm quite happy to fall back on the rating system for a quite objective measure: it tells me that the top 3-5 players are very even, and that the current top 3 players can't be distinguished between based on ratings.

So my answer is simply: there is no single best player atm, and there are rather 3-5 "best players" which shine in slightly different settings and formats. That group includes all of Anand, Aronian and Carlsen.

" London is a special case - he was first on football score, but tied on classical score and lost their direct game. A matter of taste whether Carlsen's overall score would be 4-2 or 3.5-2.5"

No, it's not a matter of taste: If a tournament is played with 3-1-0 scoring, then it's played with 3-1-0 scoring and the result stands as it is, based on that scoring. This is different from tie-breaks, which - as already mentioned - I feel as rather random in round-robin events. For statistical purposes and other comparisons it's ok to calculate numbers differently, but there's no debate that Carlsen won London 2010 outright, or that Ivanchuk and Carlsen finished shared 1st in the 2011 Grand Slam (even if Carlsen had more "classical" points - and I don't care much for blitz tie-break games to decide a classical event either).

But you mentioned using a "larger sample" in your post, and you seemingly wanted to give a more "balanced" (or maybe simply "different"?) picture of relative successes of Carlsen, Anand and Aronian. I'm not sure if

"4-2 (or 3,5-2,5 if you like) for Carlsen over Anand"
and
"slight advantage Carlsen over Aronian"

is extremely successful as a more _objective_ measure of relative success. At least I'm doubtful if we're talking about results in individual events. I don't mind using a larger sample, so I've tried to summarize these 3 players' individual events in 2010 and 2011.

I'm honestly more interested in the role of matches and the World Championship in the future of chess, since I've already given my view when it comes to the topic of "best player". But here are the promised summaries (in separate posts). We'll hopefullyl get back to more interesting stuff afterwards.

Aronian is "special" in the sense that he (still) plays a notably bigger amount of his chess in team events compared to the other top-5 players. In two years he's only played 6 individual events - London 2011 will be his 7th:

Linares 2010
1. Topalov 6,5/10
2. Grischuk 6/10
3. Aronian 5,5/10 (+1)
6 participants

Shanghai Masters 2010
1. Shirov 4,5/6
2-3. Aronian 3/6 (=)
4 participants

Tal Memorial 2010
1-3 Aronian 5,5/9 (+2)
1-3 Karjakin
1-3 Mamedyarov
10 participants

Wijk aan Zee 2011
1. Nakamura 9/13
2. Anand 8,5/13
3-4. Aronian 8/13 (+3)
3-4. Carlsen 8/13
14 participants

Grand Slam final 2011
1-2. Carlsen 15 (6/10)
1-2. Ivanchuk 15 (5,5/10)
3-5. Aronian 12 (5/10 ~ =)
3-5. Nakamura 12 (5/10)
3-5. Anand 12 (or 5/10)
6 participants

Tal Memorial 2011
1-2. Aronian 5,5/9 (+2)
1-2. Carlsen 5,5/9
10 participants

In summary:
6 starts in individual events
2 shared 1st places
1 shared 2nd place
3 shared 3rd places

+ No negative score
+ Never placed worse than 3rd
- No clear wins

Anand is "special" in that he's World Champion and prepared for and defended his title in 2010 - and he's scheduled to try to defend his title again in april/may 2012.

Wijk aan Zee 2010
1. Carlsen 8,5/13
2-3. Kramnik 8/13
2-3. Shirov 8/13
4-5. Anand 7,5/13 (+2)
14 participants

WC Match 2010
1. Anand 6,5/12 (+1)
2. Topalov 5,5/12
2 participants

Grand Slam final 2010
1. Kramnik 4/6
2. Anand 3,5/6 (+1)
4 participants

Nanjing 2010
1. Carlsen 7/10
2. Anand 6/10 (+2)
6 participants

London 2010
1. Carlsen 13 (4,5/7)
2-3. Anand 11 (4,5/7 ~ +2)
2-3. McShane 11 (4,5/7)
8 participants

Wijk aan Zee 2011
1. Nakamura 9/13
2. Anand 8,5/13 (+4)
14 participants

Grand Slam final 2011
1-2. Carlsen 15 (6/10)
1-2. Ivanchuk 15 (5,5/10)
3-5. Anand 12 (5/10 ~ =)
3-5. Aronian 12 (5/10)
3-5. Nakamura 12 (5/10)
6 participants

Tal Memorial 2011
1-2. Aronian 5,5/9
1-2. Carlsen 5,5/9
3-5. Karjakin 5/9
3-5. Ivanchuk 5/9
3-5. Nepomniachtchi 5/9
6-7. Anand 4,5/9 (=)
10 participants

In summary:
8 starts in individual events
1 clear 1st place (WC match 2010)
3 clear 2nd places
1 shared 2nd place
1 shared 3rd place
1 shared 4th place
1 shared 6th place

+ Defended WC title in 2010 match
+ No minus scores
- No classical tournaments wins
- Mostly scores at or just above 50%

It took you way too much time to make your point, and I won't be long-winded in my own answer. Tradition or not, we can never be sure, historically, who is the strongest player without a direct match between the empirically best player in the world by tournament play (Carlsen and/or Gelfand at this point in time) and by match play (Vishy Anand).
That is, few will be completely convinced of who is the strongest player in the world by tournament play alone. People want to see a head-to-head encounter: Morphy-Anderssen, Steinitz-Zukertort, Lasker-Steinitz, Capablanca-Alekhine etc.

Trouble is, as you suggest, chess professionals do not all believe that match play is the best indication alone of strength. It can mean, in significant measure, match play acumen and nerves for that sort of play.
Tournament play is different, but just as rigorous and determinate. And therefore just as valid.

By tournament play I mean by round robin, a form that mitigates against the chance of one player 'owning another' at the elite level (Svidler-Nakamura comes to mind. Who's the higher-rated? A week ago, it was Nakamura) and skewing a result.

So the determination of the best player in the world should be accomplished by both forms of competition, close to the form it has taken - except that individual matches should be longer, with two separate round-robin qualifiers with some number of the highest-rated players at the time. Yes, highest-rated because W ch qualification is even more tenuous via one hell of an outlier week in one major.
I don't presume to know the optimum round-robin entry number.
I think, but don't know for sure, that I might be siding with Carlsen in this argument, and so be it.

Carlsen is "special" here because he withdrew (twice!) from the previous WC cycle and didn't want to play the 2011 Candidates even if he "qualified" to it by rating. He's played the highest number of individual, classical events of the three.

Wijk aan Zee 2010
1. Carlsen 8,5/13 (+4)
14 participants

Basna 2010
1. Carlsen 7,5/10 (+5)
6 participants

Grand Slam final 2010
1. Kramnik 4/6
2. Anand 3,5/6
3. Carlsen 2,5/6 (-1)
4 participants

Nanjing 2010
1. Carlsen 7/10 (+5)
6 participants

London 2010
1. Carlsen 13 (4,5/7 ~ +2)
8 participants

Wijk aan Zee 2011
1. Nakamura 9/13
2. Anand 8,5/13
3-4. Carlsen 8/13 (+3)
3-4. Aronian 8/13
14 participants

Basna 2011
1-2. Carlsen 6,5/10 (+3)
1-2. Karjakin 6,5/10
6 participants

Biel 2011
1. Carlsen 7/10 (+4)
6 participants

Grand Slam final 2011
1-2. Carlsen 15 (6/10 ~ +2)
1-2. Ivanchuk 15 (5,5/10)
6 participants

Tal Memorial 2011
1-2. Carlsen 5,5/9 (+2)
1-2. Aronian 5,5/9
10 participants

In summary:
10 starts in individual events
5 clear 1st places
3 shared 1st places
1 clear 3rd place
1 shared 3rd place

+ Unmatched number of tournament wins
+ Several "huge" scores
- One weak event scoring -1

I don't think two paragraphs is very long-winded. Here they are again:

---

I don't think the concept of "best player" is very well defined, and it will always be a source of (useless) debate. In terms of demonstrated results (and hence ratings), I'm quite happy to fall back on the rating system for a quite objective measure: it tells me that the top 3-5 players are very even, and that the current top 3 players can't be distinguished between based on ratings.

So my answer is simply: there is no single best player atm, and there are rather 3-5 "best players" which shine in slightly different settings and formats. That group includes all of Anand, Aronian and Carlsen.

---

Feel free to discard my nitpicking regarding Thomas' post(s) - they're not part of my view on "the best player", which I think is a somewhat boring topic.

Duly disregarded.

With this: "There is no single best player atm, and there are rather 3-5 "best players" which shine in slightly different settings and formats. That group includes all of Anand, Aronian and Carlsen."

I don't disagree, but again, people will not rest until one bloke is sorted out, so you have to settle things - that is, unless you just want to ignore the hue and cry of the masses. And even if you do, a rich man or corporation will find it convenient to put up unavoidable money for an outright match victor whether you like it or not.

Restricting a comparison of the players' relative (recent) success to events where they both/all participated appears somewhat wrong: should we discard Anand's WC defence against Topalov because Carlsen didn't play, possibly? Or explain it by saying that Carlsen "failed" to qualify for this 2010 event because he lost a 2-game knock-out versus Kamsky three years earlier, back in 2007? It doesn't sound right.

Aronian plays very many games in team matches, because he represents a very strong national team. Hence, team matches are motivating and inspiring for Aronian, while not so much for Carlsen and Anand. But as a consequence we get to see Aronian in slightly fewer individual events. But that's hardly Carlsen's or Anand's fault, is it?

So in summary I don't find your method of only comparing events in which they all/both participated to be too useful. But even if I would've accepted the general idea, there are also choices for the "implementation". Ahead of/equal to/behind is the crudest of measures, isn't it? An alternative is to consider individual points scored (and forget about the football scoring completely):

Aronian and Carlsen:

3 events in common
WaZ 2011 - both 8/13
Grand Slam final 2011: Carlsen 6/10, Aronian 5/10
Tal 2011 - both 5,5/9

Combined:
Carlsen 19,5/32 (+7)
Aronian 18,5/32 (+5)

Anand and Carlsen:

7 events in common
WaZ 2010: Carlsen 8,5/13, Anand 7,5/13
Grand Slam final 2010: Anand 3,5/6, Carlsen 2,5/6
Nanjing 2010: Carlsen 7/10, Anand 6/10
London 2010 - both 4,5/7
WaZ 2011: Anand 8,5/13, Carlsen 8/13
Grand Slam final 2011: Carlsen 6/10, Anand 5/10
Tal 2011: Carlsen 5,5/9, Anand 4,5/9

Combined:
Carlsen 42/68 (+16)
Anand 39,5/68 (+11)

So, the differences in points scored in common events aren't huge, but these numbers still support the notion of Carlsen being the most successful tournament player over the past two years. Interestingly, we see that Anand played 7 of the 10 events Carlsen played so far in 2010 and 2011, and of the remaining 3, Carlsen won clear 1st in two (Basna 2010, Biel 2011) and shared 1st in the third (Basna 2011).

I do think we agree about the basics: in terms of game points scored, there are no huge differences (and this is also mostly reflected in the players' ratings, even if team appearances "disturb" the picture slightly) - but in terms of collecting classical tournament wins, the competition has been at some distance:

Topalov won Linares 2010
Ponomariov won Dortmund 2010
Mamedyarov shared 1st in Tal 2010
Shirov won Shanghai Masters 2010
Nakamura won WaZ 2011
Aronian has two shared wins (Tal 2010, Tal 2011)
Karjakin has two shared wins (Tal 2010, Basna 2011)
Kramnik has 3 clear wins (Grand Slam final 2010, Dortmund 2011, *Hoogeveen 2011)

*) Kramnik was clear rating favourite

Carlsen has 5 clear wins (WaZ 2010, Basna 2010, Nanjing 2010, London 2010, **Biel 2011)
Carlsen has 3 shared wins (Basna 2011, Grand Slam final 2011, Tal 2011)

**) Carlsen was clear rating favourite

In alternative "disciplines":

Svidler won the 2011 WCC (and the closed RUS championship)
Gelfand won the 2011 Candidates
Anand won the 2010 WC Match

"That is, few will be completely convinced of who is the strongest player in the world by tournament play alone. People want to see a head-to-head encounter"

The problem is that head-to-head encounters can never settle the question about who _the_ strongest player is, simply because chess results (and seemingly also chess strength) don't appear to be strictly transitive; it doesn't take too much imagination to find a scenario where

A consistently beats B, B consistently beats C and C consistently beats A

Having any of the matches A vs B, B vs C, C vs A take place doesn't really settle a thing. But that's not the only possible scenario. In fact, the chess history also has several examples of the following (in terms of return matches):

A beats B, B beats A

Why do we think that any of those two matches settled anything? And as things are now - what about C, D and E who would have more than decent chances of giving either of A or B a really close match with a completely open outcome?

I like following WC matches - they have several elements that the typical tournament does not, so to me as a chess player, they represent good entertainment. However, as an instrument for providing a clear answer to who The Best Player in the world is, they are much less useful than a lot of people seem to believe. And accordingly the results of such (close) matches are interpreted in ways which put the repeated, uninformed bickering about "useless ratings" in a whole new perspective.

Pardon me. I meant to start off the last with the words Duly discarded. I clearly wasn't disregarding what you said.
I don't like the nits, but I have agreements with you and thomas, alez, spiffy, uff da, voytek, bartleby.

A hole, by the way, in my argument above is in the 2011 accomplishments of Peter Svidler and Boris Gelfand, who are not in the rating top ten, yet have undeniable palmares. Regardless of their ratings, a strong argument would be made for putting both in W.Ch. round-robin qualifier tournaments even just to narrow the field of deserving W.Ch. candidates.

Well I think we were writing non-competing things at the same time, but I do stick to what I said above and in answer to what you just wrote, that you settle things by a combination of more than one round-robin tournament, and only then some matches, or even a single match.

Of course I realize that there has to be money to support that idea.

We seem to be mostly in agreement, yes.

Btw, the "next" WC cycle will have a DRR to determine the challenger, but still the implications of having a defending champion are what makes the World Champion title not very well suited for determining "the best player" in the world.

Did you read Seirawan's very interesting (and possibly provocative) thoughts on the Chess World Championship? Here's a link to the Chessbase article: http://chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=7638

(scroll down to "The World Championship cycle")

I did read the Seirawan interview a few weeks ago, and I did think it was pretty interesting. He's very opinionated, but he's also a smart and thoughtful guy, and I didn't think he was far off. He's seen enough from the center of things to know what the heck he's talking about.

While there is so much discussion about Anand and Carlsen's relative performance, it may be instructive to compare how they have fared when they have played each other.

Anand leads Carlsen 15-9 head to head. After Carlsen's win in 2010 Corus, they have played 15 times. Anand leads +4, =11, -0 in these 15 games. Hard to say Carlsen is a stronger player.

Yes, Carlsen is younger and brings more energy to every opponent he plays. Anand saves his energy only for certain players like Carlsen, Kramnik, Aronian, Topalov etc.

Thank you frogbert and ken for the discussion and the analysis, thank you too Mig, wherever you are even if you're not looking at this ;)

For me it's not that important to know who the strongest player is; I can support many of the top players and like different things about their play. I think for a rating system, Elo does its work pretty well. It's not perfect but none will be. I know how I rank players for myself: taking ratings with a pinch of salt and adding my own perception. Does this make for a neutral objective evaluation? Not, but establishing one in a constantly changing chess world isn't easy at all. I do tend to put Gelfand or Grischuk ahead of their current ratings, was putting Nakamura a bit on hold, I know Anand is in trouble (or putting himself into trouble by saving his chess for the incoming match) and so on... That's a part of how I relate to chess and try to understand and enjoy it.

What I mean is that the objective measurement is only a part of what a chess fan makes in his head. This doesn't mean I don't appreciate and strive for even better "cold" evaluation systems, I appreciate a lot the live rating list, the statistics frogbert put up about this last two years tournaments, etc. Is the WC something especial? At least for me, it is; It's a completely different format, with a hint of the legendary matches that one read on the books, it lets you see a completely different struggle, two players adapting to each other and pushing themselves into a different, most focused direction than for tournament play. That allows the really good from them to set the paths that theory will follow. I guess maybe some people would have ended up playing the Berlin, but sure it helped the way Kramnik used it against Kasparov.

It is also what Carlsen-fanboys :D are just waiting for. Objective measurement shows he is the best player from this last couple of years, maybe not by a big difference but how far away can you get from this particular chasing pack. If he was to play a few important matches then most would get a validation of this theory or conclude that while he is inmensely strong he still needs some growing up. Also it would allow him (I will continue with his example if you don't mind) to let his mark into history by proposing new opening lines, new plans, etc.

I know players also innovate in tournament play, even more than in match play for obvious reasons (count with your hand the number of matches and the number of tournaments they play) but still, the work they do for matches is usually deeper. I would like to see more match play, for example, instead of this DRR Candidates but this one will suit me well; the only thing i could say against is that we should be having 4 matches at its place (and then even 2 more!) instead. This different work and this different format complement the Elo rating to help each fan make up his mind. Fortunately fanboyism can't be erradicated, since then we would be in a very boring world. For sure some people can be really annoying but one guess it's better that than the opposite as then there would be no debate.

Judit Polgar is the latest grandmaster to take part in (endure!) a Crestbook readers' interview. If you have any questions for her you can post them here: http://bit.ly/vCyJeA

The deadline is TODAY (I haven't been spamming the Dirt as well as in the good old days!).

Though while I'm at it... here's my last report on the Tal Memorial, with a lot of Russian quotes from the players/commentators translated: http://www.whychess.org/node/3065

At the bottom of that there are links to the previous reports on the earlier rounds.

Thanks, mishanp. I don't think human translators should feel threatened by machines for the closest future.

(you noted, perhaps
http://www.chessninja.com/dailydirt/2011/09/svidlers-black-attack.htm#comment-236975 ?)

Who is assisting or seconding Carlsen these days?

Nice report, worth the time waiting for it - I (now) realize myself that one cannot always be ultra-timely! The headline ("Carlsen wins the 2011 Tal Memorial") is a matter of taste - Chessdom writes the same, while Chessvibes, Chessbase and Dennis Monokroussos mention right away that he edged out Aronian (only) on tiebreak.

The oddest or most cryptic part is at the very end of your report: "Ian Nepomniachtchi was actually tied for third place with Sergey Karjakin on all the tiebreak criteria, but it was decided to award him the prize on account of it being his first tournament and Karjakin having been the beneficiary of a similar situation at last year's Tal Memorial."
What does this mean - certainly/hopefully not a difference in prize money they got? And (I may be wrong but) I vaguely remember that last year they created identical trophies for Karjakin and Aronian, then shared first with identical tiebreaks.

Oh Thomas. A tiebreak is a tiebreak is a tiebreak. It is there for a reason-to determine a winner in the case of a tie. There was a tie. He won on the tiebreak criteria, which are part of the offical rules of the tournament, same as 1 for a win and 0 for a loss are also part of the rules. He is therefore ajudged the winner. So he won the tournament. There are no ifs or buts, or "only on tiebreaks", or anything else.

Hi frogbert!
Kinda amusing that you wrote "I will get tired very quickly" and then wrote a series of posts, mostly while I was sleeping ... . I agree that references to Carlsen fans and fanboys stand loose from the main discussion - all I can say is that I explicitly stated that you don't go over the top (some others did, at least at Chessvibes), and that I talked to everyone rather than to you personally.

Overall, it seems that we mostly agree with each other. One clarification and some additions:
- Considering only events where both players compared with each other participated: the initial idea was to compare Carlsen and Anand. We simply don't know how Anand would have done in Bazna and/or Biel. Could be like his four previous events, themselves a bit inhomogenous (Bilbao = Wijk > London > Nanjing), could be like his following two events ... . In general, we can judge players only based on events they played, "very maybe" on invitations they declined (can of worms regarding Carlsen and the candidates event), not on invitations they didn't get - unless popularity among organizers replaces more objective criteria.
- Karjakin's record is arguably incomplete: one could include his shared first places in Poikovsky 2010 and 2011 (even though he was rating favorite, and the tournaments were 'relatively' weak), IMO one should include his shared first place at the Russian Championship 2010. Overall, he did rather well (at least he didn't disappoint) whenever he played in round robin events. BTW (general point, not necessarily to you in particular) I don't quite subscribe to a "winner takes it all" approach where clear first means much more than shared first, and second place hardly anything at all - this is or should be a difference between tournaments and matches ... . And if you call the Russian Championship a closed event (Russians only), so are most supertournaments (by invitation only, subject to organizers' preferences) - Dortmund with its Aeroflot qualifying spot might be the only exception.
- Team events (Karjakin also played several ones with mixed results): India with Anand would be about as strong as Armenia with Aronian, at least nominally. So Anand's position within the Indian team would be roughly comparable to Aronian for Armenia, Topalov for Bulgaria, Shirov for Spain, (soon Giri for the Netherlands?). Whatever Anand's reason(s) are to skip team events, they aren't the same as Carlsen's!?

Ah, I'd missed your post. I did see that interview but I was a bit unsure about it as the journalist has been known to "embellish" things in the past - e.g. Kramnik accused him both of pretending a press conference was an exclusive interview and of inventing some of the answers... Plus he claims that it's the first time Henrik Carlsen's been interviewed in Russia, which is either untrue or the same newspaper invented the last interview they had with him :) Add that to the fact that nothing too original is said there and I probably won't translate it... though if there's no other news tomorrow I might change my mind! By the way "botanist" in the Google translation = "swot" or "nerd".

Thomas - I did think about the title, but generally I think titles should ideally be short, and the players took the 1st and 2nd seriously. When someone congratulated Carlsen at the press conference after his game he pointed out Nepomniachtchi would be first if he won - and Aronian is quoted as saying "the most difficult thing in chess is leading a tournament going into the final round and then coming second".

I guess with third place it was just that they only had one third place trophy (plate) to hand out, but I'm sure they must have split the money, so probably I should have them in joint 3rd.

Well, if there is any risk of made-up answers, I am perhaps better off with Googles version, which I know for sure to distrust.

(I once was interviewed by a very local newspaper after having made a longer bicycle tour. The journalist couldn't find time for a real interview, though, so in the end she asked me to write the interview myself with questions I would like to answer/see answered. And then the thing was dutifully printed with her name under my admittedly rather uncontroversial opinions. Wonder how common that is...?)

OK, with this ("players took the 1st and 2nd seriously") it makes more sense. This differs from the joint press conference of Carlsen and Karjakin after Bazna where both players considered themselves shared winners. Still, some people insisted that Carlsen was "more equal" than Karjakin and that his 0.25 Sonneborn-Berger edge was due to his brilliant play - as if there was a way to know during the event that a win against Nakamura would be worth more than beating Ivanchuk.

I still would have added the little words 'on tiebreak' after "Carlsen wins the 2011 Tal Memorial". I can actually prove that my attitude has nothing to do with Carlsen or any other world-top player; this was my first piece on Chessvibes:
http://www.chessvibes.com/reports/four-winners-in-bad-wiessee
The organizers had emphasized more that (the German) one of them had the best tiebreak. In a Swiss open this was actually logical: Graf was leading throughout the event, while the others came from behind in the final round.

"we can never be sure, historically, who is the strongest player without a direct match between the empirically best player in the world by tournament play (Carlsen and/or Gelfand at this point in time) and by match play (Vishy Anand)."

"By tournament play I mean by round robin"

Do you seriously think Carlsen OR Gelfand score the best results in round robins? Carlsen has won four top tournaments this year (this far) and four last year, and that's without mentioning his amazing results in 2009 when he scored for example the 3000+ performance in Nanjing. If Gelfand may be the empirically best round robin player in the world I really must have missed something.

A WC match doesn't determine who the best player is, it only decides who the WC is. That's fine. It's a great title, and a long match is a great way to decide it. A tournament -- not so much. There are several strong tournaments in a year. It's hard to justify glorifying one so far above the others to call it a "World Championship."

And even if there were a suitably distinguishable event (e.g., quadruple RR with the top 10 players), the match format and the WC privileges that go with it give a unique prestige to the title that it'd be good to keep.

"Still, some people insisted that Carlsen was "more equal" than Karjakin and that his 0.25 Sonneborn-Berger edge was due to his brilliant play"

That's nothing. I was at this other site, and although I did not understand everything they wrote, I'm pretty certain they stated that Le Quang Liem is the brightest talent in the world and that him becoming the WC in the future is an absolute lock.

What on earth do you say to such people? When you don't even know their language? I've no idea, but let me tell you right here and right now that I think they're just mad fanboys and that I do not agree with their sentiments at all. And they'd better not try to pull that stuff again, or I will return to this forum and tell them off again.

Ha Ha, Hedge :)

'There are several strong tournaments in a year. It's hard to justify glorifying one so far above the others to call it a "World Championship."'

'the match format and the WC privileges that go with it give a unique prestige to the title that it'd be good to keep'

There are two things here that I'm interested in some elaboration on:

1) First, the claim that the World Championship needs "another format" in order to be special enough to warrant a different status - otherwise it would be only a "glorified" version of a standard event.

Well, couldn't this be turned completely around? Chess is one of the very few sports I'm aware of that insists that one has to compete over a "different distance", or in a "different format" in order for it to be a World Championship. Track & field athletes run 100m or use the same high jump or long jump equipment and ruleset whether they fight for World Championship and Olympic medals or it's any other competition. Cyclists, cross country skiers, downhill skiers - it's just another event, with the one exception that it's the World Championship and someone is awarded a gold medal and a title.

I'm aware of our tradition, obviously - but does every tradition necessarily still make sense? While I certainly can appreciate the possible contributions to chess theory that preparation for a WC match can lead (and often leads) to, I'm still not convinced how "logical" it is to have the World Championship in a different discipline than what the elite players normally compete in. What's your thoughts about that, Uff Da?

2) You mention the "match format and the WC privileges that go with it" and which supposedly give a "unique prestige to the title".

Now, first of all, it's possible to compete in chess using a match/cup format without giving anyone privileges. Match format does _not_ imply privileges to anyone (from a previous cycle, or whatever). I suppose nobody will disagree.

It might be true, however, that the privileges are part of what gives the title prestige, or what have done so, historically speaking. However, if one considers the concept of having a defending champion pre-qualified to a final match _and_ manages to keep an open mind (and digest some statistics), it's quite easy to see that this concept must be considered quite unfair and also rather ill-suited to make the currently "best" player the champion.

As I pointed out in an earlier post, even a FAIR system based on head-to-head matchups has serious flaws due to the lack of transitivity in strength relationships. Why should an unfair system based on an inherently flawed method of finding a winner contribute to a prestigeous title? I've got serious problems with seeing the inherent logic here; it sounds more like traditionalism and conservatism than anything else. Btw, I'm generally a conservative guy myself, with no big urge to make changes for the sake of changes.

---

Finally, did you read the interview with Seirawan? His answer to the question "match or tournament?" is the simple: both, of course. I have my own suggestions for minor improvements or "implementation details" regarding the ideas he sketched for a new World Championship system - but in general I think he makes a lot of sense.

"I don't quite subscribe to a "winner takes it all" approach where clear first means much more than shared first, and second place hardly anything at all - this is or should be a difference between tournaments and matches"

Why should this be different between tournaments and matches, Thomas?

If Anand has one (1) win more than Topalov in a 12 game match, then that means everything, but if Carlsen gets two wins more than Anand in a tournament (everything else being equal), it doesn't make all that much of a difference, is that right?

Would you say that this point of view is rooted in your scientific approach to matters - or in something else?

Btw, let me comment on the following from a previous post:

"I tend to disagree with you that Kramnik-Topalov and Anand-Topalov had 'random' winners, notwithstanding the fact that a possible rematch could - of course - finish with a different score."

I never claimed those matches had random winners, as little as I claim that it's random that Carlsen regularly (although not always) get 0,5+ points more than any other player in the tournaments he plays. In 7 classical events in common with Anand in 2010 and 2011 he scored in total 5 wins (~ wins-losses) more than Anand, for instance.

But a major difference between Anand-Topalov 6,5-5,5 and Carlsen-Anand 42-39,5 is the amount of empirical evidence we've got for the conclusions we might draw. In the Anand-Topalov case the material is made up of one (1) sample and 12 games, while in the Carlsen-Anand case we've got 7 samples and 68 games.

You present yourself as a person with a scientific background, Thomas. Still you seem much more willing to give weight to each of Topalov's two match losses, each with the narrowest of margins, each based on a single sample, than you seemingly are to accept the empirical evidence for Carlsen's edge in tournament play over the past two years.

Is that due to a strict adherance to qualitative methods in certain, selected cases only, as opposed to a more quantitative, empirically driven approach to finding out about the world - which it is my impression that you typically represent otherwise?

I'll repeat my main observation/point of view regarding considering this or that player as a strong/weak match player:

'' Unless players frequently play matches of a reasonable length, we will never get any statistical background for talking about this or that player as a strong or weak "match player". ''

Again, this does certainly not mean that I consider the outcome of any given, close match to be "random" - it means something else, obviously.

"1) Money. The WC match is the one format that's attractive and understandable enough to attract money to chess."

Actually, for the players themselves, money isn't all that much of a deal I think (although important) - i.e for the few players capable of reaching a WC final. Gelfand for instance gets rather big apperance fees in elite events, better than what I think you might believe someone around 15th on the world ranking would get. (Partly because he's been around so long and has long-lasting, good relationships to most organizers.)

Still, as I already said, it's possible to have a World Championship match using Seirawan's system, without any defending champion and privileges - and without a long and cumbersome qualification system. It doesn't require "us" to keep the traditional WC match against a defending champ.

"2) Chess. A tournament never goes as deep as a match. [...] Deep preparation by the world's best chess minds is interesting. It leads to insights that change the way we look at chess."

As mentioned in my previous post, I certainly recognize this aspect of (important) matches. The question is: what is the cost of keeping the old Champion Defends His Title in a Match system, and what do we want to pay?

a) How much unfairness must we accept?
b) How much must we accept that qualification cycles/tournaments interfer with the "classical" events of the year?
c) How much "inactivity" (or "detachedness") are we ready to expect for those involved in these uber-important matches? [Did you enjoy watching Anand's play in Moscow?]

"3) Ego. Carlsen can grab as many last round wins as he likes. The definite answer he can only find with a match."

This I do not understand: What kind of definite answer can only be found in a match - and why? As I've argued elsewhere: a single, close match doesn't settle much more than a single, close tournament win. To get any solid empirical evidence for who the best "match players" are, we would have to play multiple matches between any two pair of players in contention. (A single-elimination cup system doesn't offer any final insights.) A multiple match system is unwieldy (even when possible) and obvisouly not feasible for economical reasons.

"And if you call the Russian Championship a closed event (Russians only), so are most supertournaments (by invitation only, subject to organizers' preferences)"

An event for Russians only is certainly more closed than any of the supertournaments around. I'll be mighty surprised if you don't consider those two entirely different types of closedness! :o)

"Anand leads Carlsen 15-9 head to head. After Carlsen's win in 2010 Corus, they have played 15 times. Anand leads +4, =11, -0 in these 15 games."

Interestingly, there's no individual piece of fact here that's correct - except that Carlsen won Corus 2010 (but drew Anand in that event). Seemingly you've also mixed all kinds of events while selectively leaving out Carlsen's wins.

Again, there are several reasons why it certainly isn't a given that "better player" implies "has a positive record against" over some chosen period of time. But I'm not too interested in the "best player" discussion as already stated. But let me fix up the facts at least.

Stats after Corus 2010 (no matter how odd that is as a cut-off point):

Classical: +2 -0 =8 adv Anand
Rapid: +2 -1 =4 adv Carlsen
Blindfold: +1 -0 =0 adv Anand

So, number of games is 18, not 15. And the record is +4 -2 =12 for the period of february 2010 until now. (With another classical draw in january 2010.)

Should we have a brief look at 2009 too? 7 games played, 4 wins by Carlsen, 0 by Anand. The wins were in classical (Linares), in blitz (Carlsen won both games in the 2009 Blitz WC) and in blindfold (Amber 2009).

More important, I think: in the past 3 years (2009-2011) Carlsen is +1 -2 =10 against Anand in classical. Is Nakamura a better player than Carlsen because his classical record is +0 -0 =6 against Anand in the same period?

Records against Anand is far from the only thing that counts for assessing how strong a player is. Use the rating system instead - it tells us that there are 3 practically equal players at the top right now.

gg, you took those sentences out of their context. Boris Gelfand has shown in several seriously competitive events that he is, when given a chance, a very dangerous competitor - one who rises to the occasion. That's why he is the one challenging Anand next year. People choke in competitive events all the time. Boris doesn't choke.
I did NOT say that his elimination tournament victories were in round robins.

Separately, I believe rather like Yasser that the round robin should be the format of choice for candidate qualification (I personally believe in multiple formats) to determine the one challenger.

As for the ultimate significance of the W.Ch, Uff Da, I am in agreement with Frogbert that the entire W.Ch determination process does not necessarily settle once and for all the real best player in the land;
nor does any cobbled-together points system either. Perception is not universal as we can all see right here in this forum.

But the history books want one name at a time by some process, and there's really no denying it. And that's where the real money is.

In a perfect world, Paul Keres would have been World Champ, and earlier, Akiba Rubinstein, and later perhaps even Vassily Ivanchuk, but bad luck and character flaws and health issues get in the way sometimes. WWll took away at least one very promising player.

With his poor health, Mikhail Tal was lucky to snatch the mantle.

The knockouts weren't round robins, but it's to exaggerate Gelfand to say that it's him and/or Carlsen that is the best tournament player of our day.

"Well, couldn't this be turned completely around? Chess is one of the very few sports I'm aware of that insists that one has to compete over a "different distance", or in a "different format" in order for it to be a World Championship. Track & field athletes run 100m or use the same high jump or long jump equipment and ruleset whether they fight for World Championship and Olympic medals or it's any other competition. Cyclists, cross country skiers, downhill skiers - it's just another event, with the one exception that it's the World Championship and someone is awarded a gold medal and a title".

It's not always comparable. Reality is that, for example, sprint runners don't train to get the best form for the Olympics because the world records are paid much better on regular meetings. Can you name the latest world champion in 100 metres? I don't think so. Usain Bolt? No, he was even accused of making a false start on purpose to be disqualified. Cyclist? Who does remember the winner of championship or olympic races? Tour de France is what matters the most. Downhill skiers? World Championship doesn't seem much more prestigious event that the world cup cycle, led by Kitzbühel, maybe the Olympics, but there is an ancient tradition, it's mega-multi-event and it's organized every four years. It's still too little for tennis, for example...

Chess doesn't have records. Chess doesn't have Olympic games or really huge audience. Chess does have tradition. I'm afraid that changing the format to round robins would mean for chess something like the Masters for tennis. Eight best players in the World, even huge audience but... I's all about numbers: ten per cent of tennis or football watchers still means millions or dozens of millions and money is money, but the prestige of winning this is close to null when compared with the mighty Wimbledon.

So the question arises: does chess need a world champion at all?

Hi frogbert,
My overall approach is a bit a mix of quantitative data (I do not argue against tournament results, Elo ratings and rankings!) and what I consider common sense - which is, however, debatable and a matter of opinion. And I never questioned that Carlsen is currently the best tournament player.

Matches vs. tournaments:
- In a match, second place means last place and a minus score (or at least losing the tiebreak or failing to win when the opponent had draw odds). The loser is generally unhappy - leaving aside cases such as Navara's training matches against very strong opponents. In matches, each game has 'context' only with respect to the match, not with respect to any games involving just one or none of the two players.
- In a tournament, second place usually means a plus score, and finishing ahead of several other strong players. It often also means gaining Elo points. Games have to be taken in the context of the entire event - just two examples from Kramnik's perspective but I am sure there are many others: In Bilbao 2010, his draws against Anand were sort of moral victories, as they allowed him to consolidate his lead. In Dortmund 2011, his last-round loss against Nakamura was relatively irrelevant as he had already secured clear first place.

Russian Championship as a closed event: of course it is, only Opens are open to everyone thus called so. But the Russian Championship is open to any Russian player - there are Swiss system qualifying events. Round robin supertournaments are by invitation which means they are de facto closed to strong Russian players such as Vitiugov and Tomashevsky who are neglected by organizers. Hence I agree with respect to "different types of closedness". But I wouldn't necessarily call the Russian Championship more closed, only that its closedness is more closely defined :) .

"Cyclist? Who does remember the winner of championship races"

If you think the Road Cycling World Championship is unimportant to the cyclists and the cycle fans, then it simply means that you don't follow cycling at all - you're an outsider. How many outsiders do you think will be able to tell us the winners/participants of the 3 latest Chess WC matches? (2006, 2008, 2010)

Winning the World Championship in road cycling is huge - it's the biggest event for those who aren't (physically) built so that Tour de France (or the Italian or Spanish tour) is a career option - and the majority of the cyclists are not.

Btw, Thor Hushovd won in 2010 and Mark Cavendish won in 2011. Both have also won the green jersey in Tour de France and both have several stage wins in the tour, too; Cavendish is pretty high in the all-time list of most stage wins. In 2009 Cadel Evans became World Champion. Anyone who's a tiny bit aquainted with road cycling should know those 3 names very well - we're not talking about some low key event.

"Chess does have tradition. I'm afraid that changing the format to round robins would mean for chess something like the Masters for tennis."

I'm not sure if I'm in favour of removing the WC Match or matches completely. Everyone, please don't jump to conclusions, neither regarding the options available, in general, or my specific point of view, in particular.

Seirawan has one suggestion - having both round robins and matches. There obviously must be other ideas that can be explored, too.

My main concern is to raise the awareness that with the current evenness at the top of elite chess, people's "inherited" ideas about the implications of being (or not being) the World Champion aren't necessarily backed up by a rational, critical and scientific evaluation. All too many assign a significance to the results of dead close matches that simply makes no sense in a "scientific" context. People tend to ignore the fundamental role the system has on how much status and credibility one possibly can give to the World Title (and/or they disregard the effects of the absence of a fixed system).

It's very much possible to chain a number of events (with an ongoing element of elimination), so that winning the World Championship indeed becomes the hardest thing to achieve in chess (and hence secure prestige, etc.) without having "privileges" that effectively make once winning the title a bit like having won the golden ticket; even _assuming_ the title holder had to go through a long, arduous task himself to get to the Crown, doesn't necessarily make the system fair or representative of who's currently most worthy of being considered the champion. With the amount of time cycles take (and/or have taken previously), and the number of evenly matched players at the top, the number of up-and-coming players, and so on - we're left with a system that makes the World Championship Title more and more _irrelevant_ as a possible measure of who the "best player" is. Long term that is bound to have an effect on the prestige and the status of the title too, I'd think.

Anyway, the first step towards deciding on a "possibly reformed" World Championship system in chess must be to reach some kind of "concensus" on what role one wants the WC title to have. That's maybe the first thing to debate. Screaming that "the final event must be a match!" or "the final event must be a round robin!" or "we can't have any kind of privileges!" would ALL be examples of jumping to conclusions - the starting point needs to be on a slightly different level, IMHO.

"In a match, second place means last place and a minus score (or at least losing the tiebreak or failing to win when the opponent had draw odds). The loser is generally unhappy ..."

Obviously, in terms of considering a specific event a "success" or a "failure", at least emotionally and there and then, ending second or third in a 6-14 man round robin tournament and in a match are different. [But if you're the losing WC finalist, you certainly didn't finish "last" - you indirectly beat everyone - but one. Don't forget.]

But I wasn't talking about success/failure or feelings there and then - I was talking about how significant DATA were, backing up notions that

a) A is a better match player than B

and/or

b) A is a better tournament player than B

For matches you seem to require almost NO empirical data before you're willing to make the assertion in a) above [and you literally make assertions/judgements based on zero evidence too, in certain cases], while you seem hesitant to make assertions regarding b) even faced with notable amounts of empirical data.

In a comparison between Anand and Carlsen you suggested we should ignore events that Anand didn't participate in:

" the initial idea was to compare Carlsen and Anand. We simply don't know how Anand would have done in Bazna and/or Biel. [...] In general, we can judge players only based on events they played "

I hope you do understand the implications of this for match play and the two gentlemen Anand and Carlsen? It goes like this, following YOUR logic:

1) We have zero evidence about the specific matchup Anand vs Carlsen - ergo we can know nothing about who's the better match player.

2) We can't take Anand's matches against Kramnik and Topalov into account either, because Carlsen didn't play similar matches [Maybe Carlsen would've beaten Kramnik and Topalov too - maybe Carlsen even would've completely destroyed Topalov in a match, but we don't know and we can't know.]

There's no reason to treat a close match win as more significant than a close tournament win. They are very much comparable when it comes to representing _empirical data_ about mastery of a specific format.

And my previously noted point is: in chess we more or less lack empirical data about matches - simply because competitive chess is being played in round robin tournaments at the elite level, plus some team events, like the ECC, ETCC, Bundesliga, Russian Teams' and the Olympiad. All individual, classical events at the elite level are round robins, though.

In answer to someone else's comment, yes, chess does need a world champion. Otherwise 95% of the Dirt's subject matter is gone.

"If you think the Road Cycling World Championship is unimportant to the cyclists and the cycle fans, then it simply means that you don't follow cycling at all - you're an outsider. How many outsiders do you think will be able to tell us the winners/participants of the 3 latest Chess WC matches? (2006, 2008, 2010)".

Actually, this seems to be my point: Road Cycling World Championship is important mostly for cyclists and cycle fans, Chess World Championship Match matters mostly for competitive chess players and avid chess fans. The difference is "an average sports watcher" doesn't follow chess but follows Tour de France, Wimbledon... Thus, the idea of changing the format because of "modern media reality" seems absurd to me, the match format isn't really less modern that it was, say, fifty years ago. It almost always was and will be interesting for competitive chess players and avid chess fans only.

As a (former) average sports watcher I can only say that I didn't follow (at all) such events as Road Cycling World Championship, World Team Championship in football/soccer (or group games in Champions League for that matter), Masters or Olympics in tennis, not to mention tennis/football/cycling at the Olympics. These were either yet another tournament without any real meaning or yet another sprint feast (at least that was the image).

In fact, at that time I didn't follow chess at all (I didn't play chess since my childhood until I was about 30).

Here's something I forgot to answer explicitly:

"Carlsen objects to the WC "privileges" (viz., the current WC is automatically seeded into the finals), but that's precisely what makes the World Championship matches so attractive and valuable. The challenge match approach gives the title more prestige than any single WC tournament would."

Why does having privileges for the champion make the WC matches more valuable? Valuable in which sense? Why wouldn't a match at the end of a multi-stage, 2-year cycle, where the players went through one, possibly two round robin events first (with people being eliminated after stage 1), leaving two players to play a final match give equally much prestige - heck, maybe even more?

"Most of the top players (not including Magnus) like the idea of a WC title that has more signficance than simply being the winner of a strong tournament."

It doesn't need to be simply "a strong tournament" as I've pointed out a couple of times. Free your mind! But first we need to more clearly define the intended role of the championship!

And for the record - I don't think Carlsen wants an insignificant WC title either; in that respect I think he and the other top players are in agreement. :o) I also think many have interpreted his mentioning of a double round robin too literally: it was only mentioned as one possible and more fair option, but designing a future WC cycle was not at the core of his message at the time he declined the Candidates participation, obviously.

"Thus, the idea of changing the format because of "modern media reality" seems absurd to me, the match format isn't really less modern that it was, say, fifty years ago. It almost always was and will be interesting for competitive chess players and avid chess fans only."

It's certainly not "modern media reality" that makes me inclined to consider a more modern format for the World Championship of Chess - it's rather the "modern CHESS reality" which is the driver. Elite, professional chess has changed so much since the 80s that it's not unreasonable to consider making adjustments.

I completely agree that chess will not become a sport for the masses, like the examples you mentioned, and I usually dismiss all Kirsans and Danailovs who talk about "popularizing chess for the masses" and dream about the sponsor deals and advertising incomes that we know from prime time tv sports. I think slow, classical chess is perfect as it is, and with the Internet we've even got a perfect medium for relaying chess events.

Personally I wouldn't mind a micro-payment system which allowed a limited number of relayers to have exclusive rights for live relaying [not a single one for any given event, but rather so that 3-4 "broadcasters" always were in position to relay stuff - one could even make sure that there always was one free, non-commercial player in that market.] This way the relayers could earn some money for their services with the explicit condition that an agreed upon amount (50% or more of the income, not profit) was fed back to a pool to be used as prize money for the World Championship final, for instance. The problem is that I fear that any such efforts would've been ridden by corruption, since FIDE would've had to be the main negotiating party. And the promise of corruption has killed and will continue to kill a number of otherwise (in theory) perfectly viable ways for chess fans to support their stars.

frogbert,
The challenge match format and the long tradition give the "World Champion" title trememdous prestige. Giving a regular ol' tournament a lofty name of "World Championship" would hugely diminish the title. Is that desirable? I don't think so. Most of the current top players don't think so (Carlsen excepted).

Your arguments for diminishing the title aren't very convincing to me.

1. "...not convinced how 'logical' it is to have the World Championship in a different discipline than what the elite players normally compete in."

I agree that it is best to decide the title in the same discipline they normally compete in, and the rapid & blitz tie-breaks are a problem. But the match itself is not a different discipline. It's chess. Long time controls. One game per day with a rest day every once in awhile. The only differences are that it is head-to-head against the same opponent each game and that the current world champion is automatically one of the players...not at all like making 100m sprinters run a big 400m for their World Championship.

2) "...if one considers the concept of having a defending champion pre-qualified to a final match _and_ manages to keep an open mind (and digest some statistics), it's quite easy to see that this concept must be considered quite unfair..."

Wonderful language, frogbert! It makes our differences quite clear. I'm looking at Anand as the current owner of the title. It's his until someone can wrest it from him. You could just as easily say that the concept of taking it from him by force or fiat without a fight would be quite unfair. But the "unfair" language sounds whiny and small. Better would be to say that removing the champion's privilege of being pre-qualified to a final match adds prestige to the title and honors the long WC tradition--both of which are worthy of preserving, in my opinion.


3) "...and also rather ill-suited to make the currently 'best' player the champion."

There is no suitable way to determine who is currently the 'best' player. A little statistics and probability...Suppose one player is better than another by a 54:46 margin (roughly equivalent to 25 Elo points). It would be a monumental task to distinguish between the two players (with power = .9) and be confident (alpha = 0.05 for you statistics nerds) that the result is not just a chance fluke--about 150 decisive results. A chess game takes a full day. Only about 1/3 or 1/4 of top-level games are decisive. Let's give the players one rest day for every four game days. Then, we have a decisive result roughly once per five days, so the match would have to go for 750 days to determine definitively who the better player is. Utterly ridiculous, which is why you just give the players a good test and give the award to whoever performs the best during the test. The question of who is "best" can then be debated ad nauseum through the years, but, ultimately, the question may be undecideable except when there is someone clearly dominant.


4) "...even a FAIR system based on head-to-head matchups has serious flaws due to the lack of transitivity in strength relationships."

"Fair" is not the issue. The issue is which narrative do you prefer:
1. Prestigious title owned by one player until someone wins it from him in a match.
2. Remove the WC "privileges" of being automatically seeded into the final match so that all top players have an equal chance of being new WC. (A consequence of this path is a diminished title.)

Advocates of either narrative can easily be lured into the trap of seeing the other as "unfair."

-Dan

"Thor Hushovd won in 2010 and Mark Cavendish won in 2011. ... In 2009 Cadel Evans became World Champion."

I am not much into cycling, but I would say these names are known for their numerous other successes, and even some insiders may not readily remember that they are/were also world champion. If a "nobody" (or rather a 'somebody' who hasn't achieved too much at other occasions) wins, his status as a world champion will be about the same as the one of chess world champions Kasimdzhanov and Khalifman. Case in point: Who is Matthew Goss? He was second behind Cavendish in 2011. Who is Alessandro Ballan? He won in 2008.

The point is - one way or another - that the world championship is one of many races, and in these sports it probably cannot be done differently. I am more into running where it might be theoretically possible to have a "WCh match" for 100m sprinters, say six races with the same strong field within a week. For marathon it's impossible, the best runners can handle and will select two, maybe three races per year ... .

"The challenge match format and the long tradition give the "World Champion" title trememdous prestige. Giving a regular ol' tournament a lofty name of "World Championship" would hugely diminish the title."

But I just wrote that there are more options than simply giving a single tournament the "lofty name" World Championship. Have you considered such options?

Also, the "long tradition" is clearly less homegenous in terms of formats/systems (both finals and qualifications are important) than what one would think based on how people speak of our tradition.

Among the arguments mentioned that you didn't consider, are:

5) A system that offers a "near-monopoly" to the current champ, with a qualification system that requires (at least) 6-8 years to give 3-4 equally worthy challengers a shot - or much more in case the process is sufficiently "random" - will invariably and as time goes by _diminish_ the prestige and role of the WC title as being indicative of who the "best player" is. Don't you see this as a potential problem? [Even if you and I might agree that the entire concept of a single "best player" possibly is kind of meaningless today.]

6) The assymmetry of having a few players involved in match preparations (including the World Champion) while the rest do what elite players normally do - play elite events the best they can - is seemingly harmful for the chess tournament circuit: 12 games played every 2nd year are now made up to be many, many times as important as the other hundreds and thousands of elite games that are played in the same 2 year span. Why does that make a lot of sense? Isn't this exactly "unfounded glorification" of a puny 12 games of chess?

7) Why does the World Champion title (match) keep its importance and prestige regardless of the kind of system that produces the challenger? Or even in the complete absence of a system (as in the really old days - or when Kasparov picked Kramnik)?

Regarding communication and PR I do agree with this, though:

"Better would be to say that removing the champion's privilege of being pre-qualified to a final match adds prestige to the title and honors the long WC tradition--both of which are worthy of preserving, in my opinion."

I don't necessarily mind the presence of a 2-year world championship cycle that has the typical sport-like elements of chance - and some kind of privileges to the defending champion is neither something I necessarily have to remove completely to feel good about the WC system - but I'd wish for a qualification system that puts more emphasis on _classical_ chess and doesn't end up being decided by some rapid and blitz games, as in the 2011 "candidates". [I've even presented a concrete suggestion to Emil Sutovsky in the WCOC, and this suggestion doesn't do away with neither the final match nor the champion privileges.]

Also, I think there's an urgent need for a stable system; that doesn't mean that we should cement whatever we have atm, but rather that one should step back, do some good analysis of what we want and why, describe in much detail 2-3 alternatives for a complete cycle, let "everyone" whom it may concern get a chance to give feedback, bring two finalized suggestions to the FIDE GA and let the highest (in theory) governing body of chess decide in which direction to go - and then stick with it for some 3 cycles (at the minimum) without making any changes. Endlessly changing things, from cycle to cycle, is another one of the factors that are undermining the WC title in my opinion.

And while I think the WC title - no matter the system - isn't a very good vehicle for telling any "ultimate truth" about who the single "best player" in the world is, I do think it's very important that The Best Players - those who over some significant period of time are considered the best (by us, the people in the chess world) - should have a pretty reasonable shot at getting to challenge for the title, if the title is going to remain important. There are very few sports in the world where someone who's regularly ranked top 3-5 in the world for many years (5+) don't even get a single shot at competing against the reigning world champion for the title. But chess can easily end up like that, if we're not even already there. I doubt that's a good thing.

frogbert: "Why does having privileges for the champion make the WC matches more valuable? Valuable in which sense?"

It gives it more prestige by: i. making the title more stable (all else being equal, WC has 50% chance of retaining the crown rather than 1/8 or so if privileges are abolished) and thus more difficult to attain and thus more valuable (like a rare diamond), and ii. tapping into a long, cherished tradition linking the WC to legends of the past.

And: "But first we need to more clearly define the intended role of the championship!"

That's what all the discussion has been about, frogbert. I like a prestigious title that: i. a player earns and keeps until he is fairly vanquished by a challenger in a match, and ii. preserves the lineage.

Obviously, you want something else for the championship. You keep indicating that the lineage doesn't count for much and that the prestige incurred by the privileges is not important. That's fine. I just disagree.

Thomas, you might be right about adding "on tiebreaks". For what it's worth Aronian also isn't a fan of not simply sharing places: http://www.whychess.org/node/3074

"Then, we have a decisive result roughly once per five days, so the match would have to go for 750 days to determine definitively who the better player is. Utterly ridiculous, which is why you just give the players a good test and give the award to whoever performs the best during the test."

Some element of chance, as in every sport, is totally acceptable to me, of course. That doesn't mean that the type & format of the test can't be tweaked.

Here's one idea, taken out of the blue: Instead of the current 12 game match for the WC crown with a rapid/blitz play-off at the end in case of a tie, we could have:

Best of up to 3 "sets" of 6 games each. Only in case of a draw after 2 sets do other formats than classical chess come into play, but a 3rd set of 6 classical games are played. However, the tie-breaks for a potential 3rd set are played before the final 6 games. I.e.

1) 3-3
2) 3,5-2,5
= match is won by the first player.

1) 3,5-1,5
2) 2,5-3,5
= match is even again
* rapid/blitz tie-breaks are played, giving one player draw odds in the third set.
3a) 3,5-2,5 first player wins
3b) 3-3 player who got draw odds wins

The above is different than classical matches, it might make it a bit easier to catch up - and possibly also increase the incentive for winning games in the 2nd and 3rd set, while not punishing too hard someone getting a bad start in a short (after all) match.

It might push the arrow towards more sport and less science, but it might lead to more interesting games for the fans, right? This idea doesn't change much regarding what we've been discussing so far, but it's just another example of how there are many ways of doing things.

There seems to be a misunderstanding: I didn't say that Carlsen is worse than Anand as a match player. All we can say is that Anand is a rather experienced and successful match player, while Carlsen's match experience is much more limited. This could favor Anand for two reasons:
- Carlsen's opening preparation is his weak spot, Anand's is pretty good (he didn't, or chose not to show it recently, but see for example his win against Wang Hao in Wijk aan Zee)
- Anand has an experienced team of seconds. Even if Carlsen puts together a strong team, it remains to be seen how it would 'function'.
This may be considered an unfair advantage for a defending champion, or in general for older players (e.g. doesn't Aronian regularly work with fellow Armenians?), anyway it is what it is.

"[But if you're the losing WC finalist, you certainly didn't finish "last" - you indirectly beat everyone - but one. Don't forget.]"
Yes but ...
1) it will reflect on a player's overall record, which includes whatever he did to become challenger in the first place.
2) However, if Gelfand should lose his match against Anand, people might say that the wrong person became challenger based on the wrong system - several people say so already before the match has even started ... .
What about Short's match against Kasparov in the semi-distant past? To me it seems people DID forget that he won a couple of matches before losing the final one ... .

" and thus more difficult to attain and thus more valuable (like a rare diamond) "

No matter your mining skills, you need a fair share of luck to become the owner of a rare diamond.

"Obviously, you want something else for the championship. You keep indicating that the lineage doesn't count for much and that the prestige incurred by the privileges is not important. That's fine. I just disagree."

To me it's seemingly more of a cost/benefit analysis than it is to you. That doesn't mean that I disregard everything in the past. I just explicitly wrote (in a previous) post that keeping both the final match and the champion's right to play are acceptable options to me, as long as it's part of a sufficiently good and stable system. What we've had since around 1993 until now has been neither stable nor particularly good, I think. And nobody even knows how the next cycle will look like (i.e. the one after the scheduled 2012 candidates and the 2013/2014 match). FIDE seemingly doesn't share my vision about stable cycles and formats.

frogbert, I figured you'd like my typo!

"Better would be to say that removing [should be 'keeping'] the champion's privilege of being pre-qualified to a final match adds prestige to the title and honors the long WC tradition--both of which are worthy of preserving, in my opinion."


and: "The assymmetry of having a few players involved in match preparations (including the World Champion) while the rest do what elite players normally do - play elite events the best they can - is seemingly harmful for the chess tournament circuit: 12 games played every 2nd year are now made up to be many, many times as important as the other hundreds and thousands of elite games that are played in the same 2 year span. Why does that make a lot of sense? Isn't this exactly 'unfounded glorification' of a puny 12 games of chess?"

Oooooh...the challenge match format has (possibly) tangible prestige and tangible consequences. Anand seems to be a different tournament player since winning the title, but Karpov and Kasparov kicked butt in tournaments when they were WC.

Topalov's toilet crap notwithstanding, all four of the recent matches (Kasparov-Kramnik, Kramnik-Topalov, Kramnik-Anand, and Anand-Topalov) were wonderful events.

and...:"Why does the World Champion title (match) keep its importance and prestige regardless of the kind of system that produces the challenger? Or even in the complete absence of a system (as in the really old days - or when Kasparov picked Kramnik)?"

The prestige is so deeply inherent in the format that it withstands occasional periods of arbitrariness in selecting a challenger. Long time ago, there was less parity at the top and a smaller pool of worthy title contenders. Today, there are a dozen or so plausible contenders. We are agreed that: i. the short match knockouts (2x in this cycle) is not a good way to winnow the field, and ii. rapid and blitz are not good solutions either.

btw, a good point, and I'll add that world-class Cycling and world-class Chess bear little resemblance in, I guess, a not-so-obvious way: 90% or more of cycling events are team events. Even the so-called world championship is a team event with the world champ being merely the recipient of his team's efforts right up to the line (a slight aberration was 21-year old Lance Armstrong's undisciplined achievement in the early 90s in Norway, when he bolted alone for the last bunch of kms). We'll see how well Mark Cavendish does next year without Mr. Renshaw, pulling him up the last 200 meters.

The TDF comes closer to determining the world's best individual cyclist, but again, it's a team sport.
Only Olympic events in cycling as in track, as Thomas mentioned, are absolute - for their brief moment in time. And the problem is that the moment is so brief and susceptible to sudden illness or poor sleep the night before.

We're trying to get to the truth in this discussion, that is, who is beyond a shadow of doubt, taking all contexts into consideration and eliminating interference from poor sleep or illness or collusion or some fantastic skill for playing in a certain context, the finest chess player in the land?
After that is sorted out, the winner should be able to stand up and say he fully earned the mantle.

And IMO, automatically seeding the former world champ into the process is fine, but allowing him to basically sit and wait until someone shows up for the challenge, meanwhile watching him play the most lackadaisical chess until the 'great meeting,' is dumb.

To answer your concern, Uff Da, the lineage is preserved by allowing the Champ to hold the title for, say, two years as the candidates are seeded into the next cycle via some combination of tournament wins or rating or both.
At some point in the second year, you drop the W. Champ into the process to fend for himself. If he's worth his salt, he'll emerge a finalist, at the very least, to preserve his crown.

This perplexed pedant is at a loss as to the obsessive interest that the very dull topic of the World Championship (a tiny, tiny proportion of all chess activity) and the selection of a worthy Champion/cycle etc etc arouses on this site, when in fact, Grandmaster or Master chess surely provides quite enough complexity and interest for 99.9% of the visitors to this site. Instead, endless recycling and rehashing of this theme; all other topics seem to morph into this one, given time. We all like to dream of being at the top, we conclude.

Seems like I was sloppy about the stats, sorry about that. Frogbert is more accurate, though according to Chessgames.com Anand and Carlsen have played 17 times, not 18 times as Frogbert wrote.

Corrected stats for all of 2010 and 2011:
Classical: +2 -0 =8

Frogbert also wrote "More important, I think: in the past 3 years (2009-2011) Carlsen is +1 -2 =10 against Anand in classical. Is Nakamura a better player than Carlsen because his classical record is +0 -0 =6 against Anand in the same period?"

This kind of arguments are silly. I never made that transitive comparison. If you are going to compare players and have a head-to-head comparison (like Carlsen and Nakamura have), then obviously you would not make a transitive comparison like Anand > Carlsen and Anand = Naka, so Naka > Carlsen.

Essentially Frogbert seems to be refuting my point that it is not possible to say Carlsen is stronger than Anand as Carlsen has a losing record to Anand by bringing Naka into the picture.

Essentially Frogbert is trying to make the case that a head to head record is irrelevant which is kind of silly.

I may be more willing to grant that a head-to-head record is not relevant if the number of games played were few. But 10 classical games in last 2 years is quite a substantial number of games. And a two game lead is quite decisive.

My money would still be on Anand in a match with Carlsen if they played today.

If they get to play in 2014, by which time Anand will be a bit weaker and Carlsen will be a bit stronger, I would say even money.

"1) [a match loss] will reflect on a player's overall record, which includes whatever he did to become challenger in the first place."

Thomas, you're only underlining what I say - people tend to give too much weight to single match results, whether good or bad. In the case of Short and Kasparov the match wasn't particularly close, though. Neither was there much pre-match doubt about those two players' internal strength relationship, based on ratings = accumulated tournament results.

Ah-ha! The veil is lifted. The "professor" may be a pedant, but he's still an imposter. A defining characteristic of a real professor is a penchant for delighting in "obsessive interest" in a very "dull topic." It doesn't mean the professor needs to delight in every dull topic, but he has no trouble understanding how someone else could have obsessive interest in some topic he doesn't care for.

"Essentially Frogbert seems to be refuting my point that it is not possible to say Carlsen is stronger than Anand as Carlsen has a losing record to Anand by bringing Naka into the picture.

Essentially Frogbert is trying to make the case that a head to head record is irrelevant which is kind of silly."

Essentially you must have read whatever I've written here the past couple of days without attaching too much common sense or will to understand. For instance, when I wrote this:

"More important, I think: in the past 3 years (2009-2011) Carlsen is +1 -2 =10 against Anand in classical."

then that obviously wasn't meant first and foremost as background for a comparison with Nakamura, but rather to emphasize that the head-to-head record between Carlsen and Anand is essentially tied over the past 3 years. And then I wanted to say something about the problem of missing transitivity as well - although it could've been made clearer.

But please do consider your own statement here:

" I never made that transitive comparison. If you are going to compare players and have a head-to-head comparison (like Carlsen and Nakamura have), then obviously you would not make a transitive comparison like Anand > Carlsen and Anand = Naka, so Naka > Carlsen."

If you (really) think Anand = Naka because of that tied +0 -0 =6 record, or that Anand > Carlsen in the past 3 years (because of +2 -1 =10 in classical), then that's problematic in the first place. Assuming you don't think it's like that, what does these records tell you about strength relationships and how they might (not) be measured? What do we do when head-to-head records (or matches) don't add up? At all? A is better than B is better than C is better than A - does that make a whole lot of sense to you?

See one more time what I really wrote (and hence what I might really mean/think):

"Again, there are several reasons why it certainly isn't a given that "better player" implies "has a positive record against" over some chosen period of time. [...]

Records against Anand is far from the only thing that counts for assessing how strong a player is. Use the rating system instead - it tells us that there are 3 practically equal players at the top right now."

Does the above translate to - your claim - that:

"Essentially Frogbert is trying to make the case that a head to head record is irrelevant which is kind of silly."

?

No, it doesn't translate to that. Being "irrelevant" is clearly entirely different from being "far from the only thing that counts". If you insist on being in strawman land, attacking utterly unreasonable interpretations of what people say, then you also insist on not being part of the conversation. It's your choice, really.

"if Gelfand should lose his match against Anand, people might say that the wrong person became challenger based on the wrong system - several people say so already before the match has even started ... . What about Short's match against Kasparov in the semi-distant past? To me it seems people DID forget that he won a couple of matches before losing the final one ..."

Short played more than 40 classical games in his candidates matches, and won with a margin of two points against Karpov (clear #2), Timman (recent top three) and Gelfand (then top five). Few would have been critical if the current cycle had reminded of the one Short won, and I don't think Gelfand would have reached the title match if a more meaningful system had been used.

You are looking for the mathematically optimal solution to the question: Who is the strongest player? We have a sophisticated and quite fair method of finding the best player. That's the elo ranking list. A little difficult, but it gives a clean one-figure estimate of how strong everybody is. A reliable list of numbers.

But the match system. It's not fair. It's not mathematical. It's man vs man. Young contender challenges the king of the hill. There Can Be Only One.

It's a poetic answer.

I disagree with that last sentence.

It just takes Boris Gelfand a little more to rouse his body and brain into action than it does, for example, Hikaru Nakamura. So his tournament results are not always fabulous.
But when the time comes (when the money is on the line), most everybody needs to buck up or get out the way. We all saw what he did in the World Cup, and I remain in awe.

The same can be said for Carlsen. Magnus is the genius who can seemingly win when he needs to -- when the tournament end is near and the money is on the line (no better demonstration of that than his last Tal Memorial game against Nakamura. How many non-Russians in the world could win that opposite-colored bishops' ending against a top-ten rated GM? That's technique, man. And he didn't learn that from anyone).

Anyway, I don't know if Boris will be as well prepared, or seconded as Vishy next year, but I think he will press Anand hard.

" Who is the strongest player? "

I'm not looking for any answer to that, actually. I'm just wondering how the World Championship system could possibly reflect a little better the modern chess world with its big and broad elite.

Btw, the Elo system only describes game results in a normalized manner; it doesn't claim to be able to provide any final answer to your proposed question. Really.

But, my equally pedantic friend, why does this "obsessive interest" extend to only a few aspects of chess - rating, champions, W Ch. cycle, yawn, etc, and not the vast amount of other aspects to chess? Might fantasies of greatness be the key factor here?
Much cud to chew over there.

If you haven't realized already: very few people (chess fans) are interested in actually discussing chess and chess games in chess forums. And this specific blog doesn't even have basic support for discussing chess - no way to make diagrams and such, for instance.

Over at cg.com I invariably start "threads" where the focus is analysis of a game or a position. Never catches on. I guess one of the reasons is that the average reader (over there) doesn't actually understand too much about chess - they aren't master level players and don't have too much to offer (except "Houdini says +0.23 at depth 21", which everyone can figure out for themselves).

Having relatively recently converted to mostly playing 1. d4 after 30+ years as a 1. e4 player (occasionally throwing out 1. f4!? and 1. g4?! to confuse), I ran into a stonewall last week, probably for the first time at classical time control. My novel attempt at inventing at the board lead to this position after black's 15th move:

White: Ke1, Qb3, Rb1, Rh1, Bc1, Bg2, Nd3, Nh3, b4, d4, e2, f2, g3, h2
Black: Kg8, Qd8, Ra8, Rf8, Bd7, Be7, Nc4, Nf6, b6, c6, d5, f5, g7, h7

I didn't think for very long before making my 16th move (what?), since the strategy (which?) I'd chosen for the opening kind of dictated my continuation here.

What do you think about the position, professor? Who's better and if so, why? What are the pluses and minuses of white's and black's position? Do you think Carlsen would've been happy here against say Anand?

Oh, sorry - that's true. Nobody's interested in discussing chess here either. I guess I have to educate myself on how to play against the stonewall the standard way ...

:o)

Interesting chess question, frogbert. Answer: Fritz 11 says -0.72 at depth 17.

I like the black side. But a lot of game to go. ;)

Kontrolli, kas ettevõte on seotud omavalitsuse asutus või ühing hea maine, mis annab neile usaldusväärsust. Aga lihtsalt ei usalda oma sõnu.

But of course - didn't Uff Da just say "-0.72 at depth 17"? ;o)


Citizen -

Look at the time stamp. We was writing at approx. the same time, don't ya know.

Yea, I'm that good (he said, grinning ear to ear).
:#)

We must begin by warning our dear readers that due to our accursed internet connection their is a stray "ofessor" from our last post flying around the internet which we would like returned to us. The return will not be without its hazards, since it was from a post with other sharp words, and someone could lose an eye.

We dislike White's position. Black has the a- file and a good c4 outpost which can if required be reinforced by b5. Generally, White's pieces are pointing into the air and uncoordinated, and indication of faulty strategy. Rook and queen biting on granite, h3 knight and g2 bishop idle for the moment. The e5 point, a key point for White in such positions, is not ripe for occupation, while the corresponding e4 is under Black control. f3,often a key move, is in many cases bad as e4 will weaken d4 too much owing to your abuse of the Qside pawn structure. White is on the defensive with no really active plan due to his bad position, and should castle and try to rearrange his pieces to swap some and grovel a draw. One asset is his control of f4, but there are too many pieces wanting to occupy this square at one, pointing to faulty piece placement in the opening. We would guess that you mistimed b4 and mixed several anti-Stonewall plans due to inexperience in the setup. Also, you have exchanged early on d5, almost always a bad idea, ceding Black all he wants. Your pawn on b4 is the cause of many problems, a weakness in itself and also the source of several major holes. For Black we would play, eventually, Kh8, Ne4-d6 (-b5, possibly), Bf6, Qe7, Re8, Bf6 (or d6 pressuring b4 if circumstances allow). We woulds then try to exploit all the stinking weaknesses in the White position while keeping White under pressure due to threats of invasion on the Qside by knights and the rook, while tying him to the defense of the b-pawn in some circumstances. Thems is our two cents. If you posted the opening moves we could look in more detail. We are not a professor of chess, though, so don't expect NIC style coverage. Given your recent change, we would advise you to try several active options against the Dutch such as 2. Bg5 or 2 Nc3, which you might find more suited to an e4 player. This will also limit your exposure to unknown positions and setups, which your position here would seem to betray. Better still, play 1. e4!

give us the pgn?

687?? Prepare for the Apocalypse. The thread will explode under the weight of the comments and hundreds of innocent Daily Dirters will be blown to bits. Wonder if Mig can be held guilty of homicide by negligence?

Hahaha!

Yeah, you're not a professor of chess! That's probably the most accurate observation you made in your post. Other than that, it's hard to know where to start. :o)

But let's return to the "question", some vital information that I provided about the position:

"My novel attempt at inventing at the board lead to this position after black's 15th move:"

Hence, the position was after BLACK's move. I.e. it's white's turn to move:

"I didn't think for very long before making my 16th move (what?), since the strategy (which?) I'd chosen for the opening kind of dictated my continuation here."

Interpreting your post in a reasonable way, it seems that you recommend 16. 0-0 (the answer to "what?"):

"White is on the defensive with no really active plan due to his bad position, and should castle and try to rearrange his pieces to swap some and grovel a draw."

Meanwhile, your answer to strategy ("which?") seems to be "faulty":

"White's pieces are pointing into the air and uncoordinated, an indication of faulty strategy."

Based on the position alone, I don't think you can say that the strategy has been faulty. In fact, I'm just about to illustrate how the strategy unfolds: Initially black had a pawn chain - b7-c6-d6 - that seemed to tame the g2-bishop, but not so anymore.

I'm wondering - why is this "professor" unable to see so many of the finer points in the given position? The hypothesis I've arrived at is this: he must be pretty weak tactically, and at the same time he's got some strategical/positional concepts somewhat mixed up. Let me illustrate:

"Black has the a- file and a good c4 outpost which can if required be reinforced by b5. [...] The e5 point, a key point for White in such positions, is not ripe for occupation, while the corresponding e4 is under Black control."

This is very interesting: c4 for black is described as a "good outpost" (which it is), but e5 is considered "not ripe for occupation", while e4 is said to be "under black control". Well, the main difference between e4 and e5 is that while a piece on e5 never can be driven away by a pawn, a piece on e4 still can be expelled. Otherwise, white controls e5 in basically the same way as black controls e4 - so the professor seems somewhat confused here.

Moving on to the c4-knight - the good outpost - I wonder if the professor has considered the consequences of a later Ne5 for white. If black intends to counter that move by capturing the knight - Nc4xe5 - then a) he no longer has an outpost on c4 and b) white ceases control/influence over f6 and d6, and c) the (now lone) knight that possibly jumps to e4 when threatened by the e5-pawn can be bullied in several ways (exchanged off or driven away). The thing the professor seems to miss, are the tactics and structural changes that follows if black wants to do something about a future e5 knight.

Reinforcing the c4-point with b5 is certainly an option for black - but it has two consequences: 1) the lsb is kept out of play for a long time, hemmed in by b5-c6-d5 and f5, and 2) in the case of white's Ne5, if black is forced to exchange by playing Nc4xe5, then c6 becomes a possible weakness. Regardless, after b5 white gets immediate access to the c5 square, and the only way to remove the d3-knight from c5 would then be to give up black's "good" bishop.

I don't think this sounds so monumental for black as the professor tried to make it sound like. Let's move on:

"Rook and queen biting on granite, h3 knight and g2 bishop idle for the moment. [...] f3,often a key move, is in many cases bad as e4 will weaken d4 too much owing to your abuse of the Qside pawn structure."

Heh! There it is again - "the abuse of the Qside pawn structure", and "idle" pieces all over the place, "biting on granite", etc. Didn't it occur to you that white has some say in the matters too? Of course, I understand that you're trying your best to make the white position look bad, but I think it reflects back on your chess understanding, and not in a particularly good way. Moving on:

"We would guess that you mistimed b4 and mixed several anti-Stonewall plans [...] Your pawn on b4 is the cause of many problems, a weakness in itself and also the source of several major holes."

Now, really! :o) This is increasingly amusing, since the b4-pawn is a very key pawn for white in what follows. Let's continue with your overall assessment and further plans for black:

"For Black we would play, eventually, Kh8, Ne4-d6 (-b5, possibly), Bf6, Qe7, Re8, Bf6 (or d6 pressuring b4 if circumstances allow). We would then try to exploit all the stinking weaknesses in the White position while keeping White under pressure due to threats of invasion on the Qside by knights and the rook, while tying him to the defense of the b-pawn in some circumstances."

Who on earth would think of being tied up to the defence of the b-pawn here? Why has the b-pawn thrusted forwards in the first place? The mission of the b-pawn is to force weaknesses in the black camp - not to be a sitting duck defended by major pieces. The obvious 16th move is of course b5! Both tactical and strategical vision must be rather weak if one doesn't spot 16. b5 right away in this kind of position - and now we'll see how much "granite" the heavy pieces bite at, or how idle Bg2 and Nh3 are (the latter is jumping up and down, eager to go Nhf4).

Dear professor, your "explanation" of the position has made it sound like black's play is easy and void of worries. The reality of the matter is that the position is highly complex, bursting of tactics and options (for both sides), and represents quite a mouthful to play correctly for even IM and GM level players. It was played as part of a team match, and our 1st board GM was not certain who, if any, was better at this point.

16. b5!

FEN: r2q1rk1/3bb1pp/1pp2n2/1P1p1p2/2nP4/1Q1N2PN/4PPBP/1RB1K2R b K - 0 16

---

A couple of slightly detached, not so relevant comments, just for completeness (you are the professor, right?):

"Given your recent change, we would advise you to try several active options against the Dutch such as 2. Bg5 or 2 Nc3, which you might find more suited to an e4 player."

This "advice" shows that your own experience with these openings are rather limited. What makes you assume that black played 1... f5? The position can be reached in numerous other ways, and what we played has been played hundreds of times by strong players: 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 f5 - there you go.

"Also, you have exchanged early on d5, almost always a bad idea, ceding Black all he wants."

Partly true, it's typically recommended to hold off the exchange on d5, but it must be more than a mild exaggeration that black gets all he wants that way. After all several GMs have exchanged early on d5 in these setups. :o)

I can still remember my early posts in this thread, back in oh, September. Hardly more than juvenilia really.
So much time has passed...

Frogbert, you are surely a drip of the first class.
You invite the opinion of a setup, and then proceed to sneer at the response and attack the poster when he gives his honest opinion, as though some kind of personal jab at you had been made. It is pretty obvious why your other "chess" threads fizzled out-nobody could bear another moment of you.
Obviously, the Stonewall Dutch can be arrived at via many move orders, including even the Catalan. Duh!! What difference does that make? You did NOT post the opening moves.
The recommendations against the Dutch are reasonable advice for an e4 player, as they are interesting tactical setups in themselves and also enable other Dutch variations to be avoided.
But friendly advice be danged! Froggy is only out to jump on you.
Since you are a stickler for detail, the e4 post was already described as in Black control because f3 etc would weaken d4.
c6 weakness and B - duh!! Known from QGD. b5-c6-d5-Nc4 idea pros and cons known, ta. Of course, that would never occur to me, eh? Left to players of vast importance and knowledge such as yourself to explain to us weakies.
Black OFTEN gets all he wants with cxd5, etc, not always. Could address the rest of your nasty, churlish post. But what is the point of discussing with you? Take up coaching, and be sure to drive as many kids away from chess and towards useful activity as you can.
You even sneer at a handle? Why don't you ribbut off to another scummy pond where you can croak your message of self-importance to yourself and your GM and your Carlsen all day long, froggy, cos the rest of us ain't good enough for you.
You, sir, are a boor, and not another word will I exchange with one of your manners.

"The priceless professor" :o)

You did your utmost to show that the white pieces had been controlled by an utterly clueless player - "faulty strategy", "stinking weaknesses", "mistimed b4", "mixed plans" - and the list goes on. I'm sure it was all for the best. :o)

You must forgive me that your "analysis" invited a response to the same melody, in particular since you seemingly had spent much more time writing your post than actually studying the position - or so I hope.

Objectively speaking, in Houdini/Rybka-terms, the position is indeed better for black, but for anyone below FM-level the accuracy required to demonstrate that it is, is simply too much. Just like it turned out a pleasure to play this against my opponent, I'm sure I would've loved playing this position out against our dear professor too. :o)

PS! I've analyzed the game thoroughly with engines on my 6-core PC, and it gave me a couple of "revelations" as usual. I will probably try something else the next time I face the stonewall, since it was harder to carry out my plan than I anticipated - even if it worked out in practice. (My opponent was an amateur like myself. :o)

"Dear" froggy, my last word- your post merely confirms and amplifies your vile, antagonistic personal characteristics :0)and near-psychosis when confronted with (imagined) criticism. Should've thought of it before I posted, since ample proof already existed - posting pictures of your family to prove to someone you weren't a loser :0)
Little wonder you have enemies, son.

Hey, how about them 49ers?!

Yeah. Some weather we're having, too.

LOL! Perfect. I just joined an old-timers club called Native Sons (I'm almost an old-timer meself). It's a kick, and that's exactly what I might hear one of them say.

Back to chess? Right, well maybe ya don't know about this:

http://www.chessdom.com/london-chess-classic-2011-pairings

Who thinks Anand will easily win this English thingy, now that he can pick off tailenders like no tomorrow? Or Kramnik, maybe (his style works well against many of the participants)? Or that Norwegian fella, he won a tournament or two lately? Or will Aronian pulverise Anand in their individual encounters and mash the rest? Or maybe the English players will better survive the British cuisine and have a competitive advantage. And what a good idea to always have one player with the bye to comment on the games.
Haven't seen so many of them myself, but anyone who watches more chess videos than me: care to post a ranking of individual quality of the players commentary style : ) ?
Gonna be fun, anyway, lots of sharks in the tank and some barracuda, too.

Aronian can pulverise Anand no more than once, given that it's a single round-robin ... . And interesting that you didn't even mention one of the participants (from an English-speaking country that isn't England).
As to the commentary, maybe one player will shine in the first round but not in the eight ones that follow - Nigel Short is the first one to comment on games by his peers ... .

Oh, him? I think he will have trouble against the top guys, and they will do as well as him against the bottom half. Difficult to pull yourself out of a bad run just like that. Maybe his trainer should come visit and give the other participants the evil eye!

Nigel is always a hoot, but some of us want to know what the others have to say as well. I hope they relax and get into it.

The big question for me? Will my man, Luke McShane be prepared to start off the tournament facing first Levon Aronian (with black, no less), and then Magnus next round.
As far as I know, he's coming off a 'holiday' from the game (probably real work), and I'm sure he would rather face his third round opponent straightaway.

I guess it's a pretty open affair. The first round game Kramnik-Nakamura will pretty much set the tone for the two players, I think. If Kramnik wins, I think it'll be a bad event for Nakamura and a good one for Kramnik. With a draw it's more unclear, but maybe that's the most likely result? Both lost their last round game in Moscow, so half a point is possibly a decent start. Sorry, 1 point I mean...

Carlsen has the chance to get off to a good start with white against Howell, but he struggled in their game last year. Personally I'm a bit worried about Carlsen's energy level after Tal Memorial, as he played the highest number of draining games there of the 5 players who have moved on to London.

Aronian-McShane sounds like trouble for the english-man, but he's surprised us before, while Adams-Anand would be my safest bet for a draw in round 1.

And from Nigel I expect the sauciest expert commentary of the week. :o)

There is some prestige connected with first prize that might make for an even more fighting tournament; asides from the obvious pride of anyone in winning such a strong event. Nakamura would love to pull off a first prize after his bad streak and get himself back in the frame again. Anand might want to show that the World Champ can win when he wants, after his recent snoozefest. Carlsen fights to win every tournament so he doesn't need any reasons, except perhaps a desire to win EVERY tournament possible to show that he remains tournament and rating number 1. Kramnik might like everyone to keep in mind that he's still the man...Aronian might like a little revenge for that tie-break business :). Then there will be a few rating points for the 2800s, maybe, which might juggle their rankings, or get Carlsen closer to 2850...Whereas the English guys will try their best to pull of an English victory, or at least a high placing, and maybe get more invites to stronger tournaments.

Uff Da, here's some kind of compromise (although you seem to be a "match purist" when it comes to the World Championship :o)

By some combination of WCC (to open for the "masses") and rating qualifications (maybe as many as 10-12 players, and with a number of "modifications" compared to how rating qualification is currently done), the first candidate stage of the wc cycle could be like this:

16 players divided into two groups of 8 players each, so that both groups are basically equally strong. (i.e. seeded based on ratings.) A 14 round drr is played. The two group winners move on to the "semi-final" event.

The two players finishing 2nd in each group (tie-break criteria are needed for both 1st and 2nd spots, obviously) play a shorter match, 6 games, with rapid tie-break games played _before_ the classical games to decide who gets draw odds. This match takes place in the same venue as the two 8-player round robins, and the players only get 3-5 days to rest and prepare - in short, I don't want this to become an exercise in preparation, but rather a battle of the brains. I suggest that this first candidate stage is held in february.

The winner of this 6-game match joins the two drr winners and the current world champion to play a quadruple round robin - everyone plays everyone 4 times. This means 12 rounds/games each in the semi-final. A good time for this event would be early in the fall, for instance in august. The 1st and 2nd place finishers qualify for the wc final. The other two players qualify directly to the first candidate stage in the next cycle. Appropriate methods of breaking any ties will again be needed.

Finally, the world championship final over 12 classical games is held either late that fall (november-december) or in february the following year. The 128-player World Chess Cup would be held in the fall of the opposite year of when the two candidates events take place.

Such a system would give the world champion rather valuable privileges (as making it to the 4-player quad-round-robin will be incredibly difficult for anybody else), while at the same time it theoretically allows more than one new player to make it to the final - which seems reasonable given how many players there are at the top with comparable skills. Giving a single one of them a huge, huge advantage for possibly many years, simply because he had the required luck to pass through the needle hole once, appears less logical now compared to before, when there typically only were a couple plausible contenders out there.

Counter-argument:
"But selecting just one or two from a pool of 8 is a bit steep. It eliminates steady good performers keeping only the guy who happens to peak in that tournament."

But that's how it ought to be - a steady good performance might give you a 2nd place and an extra chance to fight for continued participation, or it might leave you knocked out. At least you had 14 games to show your stuff in, as compared to a mere 4 or 6 games in some cup-format.

In the 2012 (although I guess it's going to be 2013) candidates, there will be 8 players in one drr, and only one winner. That's steeper.

Of course it could be made less steep, relatively speaking, by having fewer players in each group, for instance 6, and hypothetically by letting more players move on. but there are two factors here:

1) The cycle can't last forever, and
2) The champion should be allowed to be one of four in order to a) keep a reasonable advantage over anybody else, and b) make the challengers' direct encounters with the champion count as much as possible

The reason I much prefer a quadruple round robin over making the last 4 play it out cup-style, is that the qrr secures that the new champion has at last indirectly beaten the former champ (by placing ahead of him in the 4-player qrr OR in a head-to-head encounter in the final).

And if there's any juice in the reigning champion, he should be able to place in the upper half in a tournament with 3 challengers - otherwise he's been fairly knocked off the thrown IMO, simultaneously demonstrating that the new champion is as strong as the previous one.

I think if everyone presses to do what you prescribe for them, there'll be more decisions than draws, and more than one person going home unhappy each day.

No, my shekels are on more draws for the first few rounds as everyone says hello and best of luck 'ol chap.
But, the Englishmen have all seen most of these elite boys before in this setting. I can't believe that there wasn't some discussion with Malcolm about 'what we did right last year, and where we went wrong.'
So there could be some surprises, and I'll be rooting for that.

Or simpler...a quadruple round robin with eight players (none of whom are an organizer wildcard). Top two play an eight game match. (If tied after eight games, flip a coin.) Winner plays current WC in twelve game or longer match.

I don't like the idea of stripping the title from the champ by fiat without giving him a chance to defend head-to-head.

Nah, head-to-3-heads is close enough. The world has moved on. But I see some beauty in your coin-flip proposal. :o)

frogbert wrote "The winner of this 6-game match joins the two drr winners and the current world champion to play a quadruple round robin - everyone plays everyone 4 times."

So explain again, why should anyone care about your proposal that would put an end to one-on-one matches that have decided the World Champion for over a hundred years?

I'll take a shot at that. I'll repeat one graph of what I said above:

"The lineage is preserved by allowing the Champ to hold the title for, say, two years as the candidates are seeded into the next cycle via some combination of tournament wins or rating or both.
At some point in the second year, you drop the World Champ into the process to fend for himself."

If the Champ deserves to keep the crown, he'll have to work his butt off to keep it like the candidates did to earn the right just to show up, by process of elimination. Why should the World Champion get off so easy as to sit and prepare for one set match while the other guys are killing each other off?

ken h: "Why should the World Champion get off so easy as to sit and prepare for one set match while the other guys are killing each other off?"

Actually, as the other guys kill each other off, the survivors come out super sharp, while the WC gets flabby watching them from the sidelines or playing flabby chess at the Tal Memorial.

Head-to-3heads isn't good enough. That's why it's always been head-to-head (except for FIDE's failed experiment a decade ago and a couple of inescapable blips like 1975 and 1948) and and will be again in the spring and once again in the next cycle. The world still likes the idea of the challenge match. It's been around for 125 years and it'll be here for awhile longer, despite the protestations of frogbert and Carlsen.

@ Thomas: Nakamura needs no mentioning by me, the head honcho of the site will give him enough press : ) :
Miggytweet: "London Chess Classic! Time for Naka to bounce back in style!"

If everyone presses (and the opponent handles the pressure) there should be quite a number of fighting draws, maybe some played down to bare kings. In an event as London, decisive games have mostly two reasons:
- underdogs that are duly beaten
- favorites having either excellent or bad form (in a way, Carlsen showed both last year in the very same event).

"More decisions than draws" would surprise me, in the previous editions just a few players had (far) more than 50% decisive games: McShane in 2009 (+2=1-4), Carlsen (+4=1-2) and Short (=2-5) in 2010.

"I can't believe that there wasn't some discussion with Malcolm about 'what we did right last year, and where we went wrong.' "
If such discussions took place - of course an event is evaluated - the outcome seems to be rather minor changes (not that more substantial ones would be needed): invite the same eight players and add Aronian to the field. Why not, if he's available and they can afford him?

I have mixed feelings about a nine-player field: on one hand it eliminates color imbalance, at least to a certain extent (it may be a blessing or a curse that Nakamura has 3/4 blacks against the other top seeds, and 3/4 whites against the Englishmen), and the live commentary may (turn out to) be interesting.
On the other hand, standings will be hard to follow. As a marathon analogy, it comes down to forcing each runner to stop for, say, 15 minutes, at various stages of the race (maybe giving TV interviews as the equivalent of commenting on games in London?) :) .

This blog does not work anymore, and I think it is too late to hope for changes. As has been pointed out, its owner has no obligations whatsoever, and there is little gain in wondering why.

I feel we could do better, though.
What about moving all these discussions somewhere else, where they can be centered around a certain topic (for instance, that of the blog post), kept reasonably up-to-date, classified, indexed, etc?

I had Dennis Monokroussos blog in mind (to which I have no connection whatsoever -- in fact, I have just recently found it). As far as I can tell, he may be a less witty (or perhaps just less arrogant) writer than the original owner of Daily Dirt. On the other hand, he is likely a better chess player and certainly at the moment a more reliable chess observer -- he has written practically daily for a long time. Judge for yourself, if you haven't seen it:

http://www.thechessmind.net/blog

That was just one suggestion, of course, and it would probably be polite to ask him before an invasion takes place.

If anyone has other ideas, please speak. (Yes, if I don't like it, I could go somewhere else, yadda yadda. In fact, that is precisely what I am doing, I am only asking if someone else is interested in following, or has a better place to go.)

Well, the problems with that blog are:

1. I don't think Dennis really wants to deal with such a volume of posts, especially since:

2. All posts usually appear the next day....he filters them all...(he would have to spend a LOT more time than he does now) this would also reeeeeeeeeeeeallly slow things

3. All posts would have to be be related to the topic. Thus 97% of posts would be filtered : )

I do echo your sentiments though...I can't think of another solution at present but probably someone else has other ideas? Especially techy people...


Meanwhile, this place can be renamed: Mig's Spam Factory. At least the spam attacks are bang up-to the-minute-fresh.

The simplest solution, and the most problematic at the same time (!) is for a capable person(s) out there to step up and help Mig with the site's anti-spam remodel.
Spam is definitely the bane of this blog's existence and probably of Mig's dereliction.

I don't know if it's a money thing or a time thing, but Mig has been avoiding the fix like a teenager avoiding homework.

Actually, Thomas, decisions or lack thereof in London is really moot because the players will not do anything - at the urging of anyone - to jeopardize their standing, rating, winning chances. We've seen over and over again that they will do whatever they can or need to do for survival and chances within the rules.
Tal Memorial was so thick with similar talent that we should not have expected many decision games unless someone was either ill or over their head for the event.
London has an imbalance rating-wise, so there should be more of a chance for 1-0s and 0-1s, don't you think?

As for the odd man out, I don't subscribe to your analogy at all. But it is an experiment for the players, and they might feel uncomfortable about commenting on live games.
I really like the idea for the spectator.

Annoying as it might be, spam is certainly not the biggest problem with this blog (if you don't count off-topic comments, commenters posting their own games etc as spam, which you well may).

The biggest problem is simply that it is dead. But I think enough is said from my keyboard.

DarkHelmet, it's only "dead" because Mig doesn't want to spend time working within a flawed model. HE does not want to deal constantly with the spam, so he avoids looking at it! Twitter is easy. The spam, if any, is on them.

@ Thomas: Nakamura needs no mentioning by me, the head honcho of the site will give him enough press : ) :
Miggytweet: "London Chess Classic! Time for Naka to bounce back in style!"

Actually I expect Naka to do quite well at London with its weak bottom half and football scoring.

Naka usually feasts on weaker players. It is against super-GMs that he gets spanked.

ken wrote "If the Champ deserves to keep the crown, he'll have to work his butt off to keep it like the candidates did to earn the right just to show up, by process of elimination..."

I understand your argument. It still doesn't answer my question. Most people still won't be swayed by such arguments to change the existing format.

Champion means something, and to become the Champion one has to go through a hard path (matches) as they always have earlier.

Nobody really thinks of the FIDE champions who emerged from tournaments a decade back as true champions.

The problem is that the boys at the top of the chess world are no longer thinking of the WCC in the same terms as kibitzers like myself.

I would prefer to see the kind of match I remember when I was young (a long, long time ago), but times have changed.

I'm happy to just to see any event sponsored that includes the top players - like the recent Tal Memorial, and the upcoming London CC.

I really don't care who calls himself champion, or why. I just enjoy watching the best chess players in the world winning, drawing, or losing.

Jay-- I did say (above) that the process should include matches that include the world champ.
Why, after all, do we have to be slavish to something invented in 1885, or whatever. It's flawed.

Ken said "Why, after all, do we have to be slavish to something invented in 1885, or whatever. It's flawed"

It is your opinion that it is "slavish". Just because it started in 1885 does not mean it is wrong. One shouldn't be "slavish" to the idea that whatever has been around for a long time should be changed.

Many people like me believe that to become the Champion one has to beat the Champion in a match format, rather than playing a few games.

For those who like other formats, there is already the Elo rating system, and no one argues that Carlsen is the #1 rated player based mostly on his results in tournaments.

#1 rated player is meaningful.
Champion is meaningful.

They are decided by different formats both of which are valid.


Jay, I think the allotment of time extended to this small area of discussion, ie., matches or no matches, is about to expire. But I do recommend that you read my first sentence above before you read the second.

Oh, and you know what the sombrero-brimmed hombre would say:
"Heh, heh, heh, I don't got to show you no matches."

"So explain again, why should anyone care about your proposal that would put an end to one-on-one matches that have decided the World Champion for over a hundred years?"

First, my latest proposal here would STILL have a one-on-one match to decide the World Champion - the change would be that the old champ could be eliminated in a 4-way quadruple round robin against the NEW champion (and two other very strong players). To which degree one considers that revolutional or evolutional is more a question of feelings than reason, I think.

Regarding whether you choose to think that what you say or do has the potential to have an impact or not, well... I don't feel that this matters too much. You can make your choice and I'll make mine.

My personal experience is that one achieves more by trying than by not trying. And even if you would feel strongly that what _I_ say and do should mean zilch to people, we both know that your feelings are not what eventually decides the impact of what I do. Most of the time I dont' do much - I speak my mind about things I care about while trying to provide some reasoning that supports my view(s).

Of course: if you don't think you can make a difference, then you won't. Guaranteed.

"Whether you think you can or you can´t, you're right." :)

One of the best blogs I have ever come across on the internet. Very well written, precise and to the point. Thanks for sharing.

One of the worst medical supply companies I have ever run across. I would NEVER do business with you. And don't bother "sharing" here again.

Have no money to buy a building? Worry not, just because that is achievable to get the loan to resolve such problems. Thence get a term loan to buy everything you require.

Yes, do not have money to buy a building.And, I'm not worrying. And, you need to remember sub-prime crisis before making such offers.

And, I wish that such spammers are delivered smothered mates.

@Frogbert, I think that what you are proposing, i.e., taking away the World Champion Anand’s privilege to defend his Title in a Title Match and make him play from the semi-final stage of a world championship, is in essence the following:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIDE_World_Chess_Championship_1996