Tag Archives: Grischuk

Thoughts After One Trip Through the Lineup

The Candidates Tournament in London has just completed the first set of rounds. It’s been a very interesting event so far, although with a lot more bizarre time management than I remember from previous events similar to this one (e.g., San Luis 2005 and Mexico City 2007, although both were officially title events).

The games themselves have – almost without fail – been interesting. The one completely uninteresting game that comes to mind was the Round 7 game between Ivanchuk and Svidler. That’s not to say every game has been interesting throughout, just that there were interesting moments in those other games.

At the halfway point, Carlsen and Aronian are ahead of the pack on +3 (5/7). Nobody else even has a plus score, while the elder statesmen among the group (Ivanchuk and Gelfand) are on -2 (2.5/7).

I think it’s pretty clear that Carlsen or Aronian will win this event. A Topalov-like run (6.5/7 in one half, 3.5/7 with all draws in the other) is still theoretically possible for Kramnik, but it’s just a a theoretical possibility. And given that unlike the 2005 and 2007 double-RRs, a good portion of this field appears to be in poor form (relative to even their normal results/rating), I expect Carlsen and Aronian to win some games in the 2nd half as well.

I wouldn’t quite count missing something like in this poor form:

Aronian - Gelfand Candidates

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What’chu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?

[I seem to get a good number of readers, but not so many comments. This is one post where I really would appreciate some feedback. Apologies for the length … I bolded the most important parts!]

The Candidates Matches for the current Championship Cycle ended a couple days ago, and Boris Gelfand came out on top.

I somehow managed to guess Grischuk – Gelfand for the final match, but in the final, I had Grischuk advancing. Gelfand was a worthy winner, of course, but somehow, I think that Grischuk would have proved a more difficult opponent for Anand.

However, the matches have drawn a lot of criticism, some of it reasonable, some much less so in my view. There were two common threads amongst the unreasonable complaints in my view.

The first is that the winner was undeserving. It’s hard to imagine a chump coming out of these Candidates Matches, but because Gelfand was not a favorite (I certainly did not expect him to win it, even up to the final game), that doesn’t mean he was undeserving.

Aronian was generally considered the favorite before the event, but after failing to win an easily won endgame in Game 1 against Grischuk, he wasn’t able to break through later on, and then lost in the rapid tiebreaks, 2.5-1.5. Nothing fishy, he lost under the rules of the system.

The second is that these Matches were “boring” because of the high draw rate. With only 3 wins in 30 classical games, the 90% draw rate trumps even the 87% draw-rate in the “snooze-fest” that was Kasparov – Kramnik, London 2000. Nobody was holding me hostage in either event.

The chief offender here was apparently Grischuk because of some short draws with the White pieces. GM Moradiabadi, in commenting for ChessBase, apparently called some of his games disgusting (later revised to disappointing). Of course, Elshan’s handful of draws as white under 10 moves in the past decade are probably not as bad.

I’m not so surprised that 90% of the games ended in a draw. It’s very difficult to beat a strong chessplayer, and these guys are incredibly strong chessplayers. Grischuk saved some tough positions against Aronian and Kramnik, so should we knock him for being good enough to save those positions that most would have lost?

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Blindfolded Brilliance and Other Views from the Peanut Gallery

The Melody Amber rapid/blindfold tournament is underway in Monaco, and it’s a pretty stacked field: 11 of the top 15 in the world, plus Anish Giri (no scrub himself), are playing. So far Aronian has proved to be the most slippery player, escaping from worse/lost positions in all 4 of his games to score 3.5 points!

As I tuned into the event yesterday, I saw Kramnik played 38…Bf5 to reach the position in the diagram below:

(FEN: 4rnk1/pp2r1p1/q4p1p/P2p1b2/2pPP3/2P2PB1/2B2QPP/RR5K w - - 0 39)

The move made some sense – Black has to do something about White’s slowly advancing center, and …Bf5 forces a decision with the e-pawn. I didn’t have much time to think about what was going on when Grischuk played 39.exf5!!.

But wait, didn’t Kramnik stop that with the threat of …Re2?

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