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    Monday
    Sep022013

    2013 World Cup: Finals, Day 4: Game Drawn, Kramnik Wins The Event

    There was some possibility of a decisive result in the fourth and last (classical) game of the final round of the World Cup, but it was only Vladimir Kramnik who might have won. Instead, he took a draw from a position of strength, and so he won his match with Dmitry Andreikin with a 2.5-1.5 score and with it, the World Cup as a whole.

    Both he and Andreikin have qualified from this event into the next Candidates' tournament, where they will be joined by the following players:

    Levon Aronian & Sergey Karjakin (ratings qualifiers; Karjakin because Kramnik's World Cup success vacated a rating spot).

    The loser of the Viswanathan Anand - Magnus Carlsen match coming this fall.

    Veselin Topalov and either Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Alexander Grischuk or Fabiano Caruana as Grand Prix qualifiers. If either Grischuk or Caruana takes solo first in the final Grand Prix event in Paris, he will take that second spot; if not, then Mamedyarov goes through.

    A wildcard to be selected later.

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    Reader Comments (7)

    Kramnik, Andreikin, Karjakin and maybe Grischuk too. That seems like one Russian too many. Plus the fact that Khanty-Mansyisk could very well be the venue for the candidates, they could have another Russian in there too (perhaps Svidler or Morozevich). I sure wish Mamedyarov or Caruana could make it and whoever doesn't gets a wildcard spot. It would certainly be a more interesting candidates that way.

    [DM: Isn't it enough that there are no Russians or even ex-Soviets or even ex-Soviet bloc players in the world championship for the first time since 1921? Some people are hard to please. Also, wasn't the last Candidates' tournament interesting? There were "only" three Russians, but seven of the eight players were born in the former USSR. Only one player wasn't - but he won the thing.]

    September 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKen Adams

    You are missing Ken's main point. His was not an anti-Russian diatribe.

    [DM: My comment about people being "impossible to please" was tongue in cheek. I did sense a whiff of Fischer's post-Curacao feelings, but probably didn't take it very seriously.]

    The point is, if you have as many as 5 players from the same country [those in the ex-USSR wouldn't consider themselves from the same country], whatever that country, there is potential for a Curacao 1962 type situation to arise.

    [DM: He might have been alluding to that, but then my remark about the last Candidates is very much to the point. Seven "Soviets" and they didn't let Kramnik win.]

    (And if there are 5 Russians in this thing, do you think they would allow Topalov to win it?; at the very least, the temptation to target him is there.)

    [DM: Are you suggesting they're going to break his knees or something? Of course they would "allow" him to win the title, if the only alternative is throwing games to Kramnik or another Russian who is in the hunt.]

    The fault is in the format, which though much better than what we have had in the recent past, is not ideal. They should go back to matches, like the ones they had in 1965. The World Champion should have to play in these, also.

    [DM: The USSR is finished, and since then I can't recall a single instance of top-level Russians throwing games to each other in a Candidates' event or in any other elite event, for that matter.(Mind you, I'm only talking about elite-level chess. There has almost surely been game-throwing in Swiss tournaments, but that has nothing to do with nationalistic pressures and everything to do with friends and colleagues fixing events to maximize prize winnings.)]

    September 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterobserver

    Maybe a better question is what can we (America) do to return to prominence for the World Championship?
    Besides kidnapping Fabiano (Send him Back!), do you have any suggestions?

    [DM: We could push for the reinstatement of the USSR. Then we should get a sizable new crop of Soviet players who want to escape. Actually, I don't think we're doing too badly at the "production" stage. The problem, as has been the case since Morphy, is that there is more money and more prestige in other fields, so we lose a lot of talent - imported and especially home-grown - to other fields.]

    September 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGoodhumor

    Ok, on rereading your post, I can see it could be tongue in cheek. This was not too obvious on a first reading.

    I don't agree that your "Soviets" example is a valid one. The USSR collapsed 22 years ago. That is almost a generation ago, and the players very much identify with their own countries now. Can you imagine players from Armenia and Azerbaijan, for example, cooperating in such a way unless they are personal friends?
    I don't by the way believe there was any skullduggery in the last Candidates event. But as to your last comment, well there really haven't been many World Championship qualifiers since 1991 that Russians could have thrown games to each other in.

    [DM: I can't think of any events, period, where they have. Given the complete absence of nationalistic activities for "Mother Russia" the past 22 years, I see no reason whatsoever why they would suddenly start now.]

    No, they won't break Topalov's knees or even probably throw games. But they could "target" in the sense of agreeing quick draws with each other and, refreshed, throw everything into their games against Topalov.

    [DM: Fat chance. First of all, I don't believe they care about Topalov, they want to win! Second, this isn't some 28-round marathon played over a three month period in the tropics, it's going to be 14 rounds in a temperate region. Third, throwing away lots of half points just pushes them back. Topalov, and especially Carlsen should he lose to Anand, are not going to just wait around. People are complicated, so I won't say there's a zero chance of your scenario happening. But I think it's very close to zero.]

    This probably won't happen because Topalov is now not strong enough to be a threat to win the event. But what if Topalov was as strong as Carlsen? I don't think I would particularly fancy his chances of winning the event if that was the case. (the "Soviets" example not counting in my opinion; and in any case they do not hate Carlsen the way they hate Topalov.)

    Please be assured I am not accusing any particular players or country. The fault is in the format that allows such possibilities, whoever the players or whatever the country. Ideally, it should be corrected.

    September 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterobserver

    I don't believe in collusion allegations, but I do believe - or it won't surprise me - if Topalov or someone on his behalf can come up with such allegations. It already happened in the London candidates - not the Carlsen camp sensu strictu (Carlsen himself and his management) but various Carlsen fans poisoning the atmosphere at least at Chessvibes. Carlsen's own reaction was somewhat lukewarm, roughly "I think the Russians can be trusted", not really contradicting some of his fans who 'thought' differently!?

    It's always possible to fabricate evidence. Grischuk's loss against Kramnik was arguably suspicious (but Grischuk gets into time trouble regularly and sometimes blunders in time trouble). Svidler's loss against Kramnik was perfectly normal: Kramnik came up with a new concept against the Grunfeld, Svidler first reacted well but then couldn't handle the pressure. Both Grischuk and Svidler were accused of collusion. Some jealousy might also play a role that Russia is still a strong chess country, even if it is no longer THE dominant one.

    More ambiguous are some cases from the Grand Prix Series (plural). In the last tournament of the first series, Mamedyarov lost against Radjabov, eventually securing GP qualification for Radjabov and a wildcard for himself (and several GMs thought it was a somewhat strange game). Wildcards are a separate story, I consider them a sad necessity in order to find sponsors. At the more recent Thessaloniki GP, some people suggested that Topalov didn't really mind losing against (his former second) Dominguez, as this hurt the chances of some competitors in the GP Series (Caruana and - at the time - Kamsky).

    The antidote would be old-fashioned candidates matches, i.e. longer than the ones in Kazan. But this - separate dates for quarterfinals, semifinals and final, at least three different venues - would nowadays lead to financial and, given the plethora of private supertournaments, scheduling conflicts.

    [DM: It would be great if the old-style candidates matches would be reinstated, but it is unlikely to happen any time soon. I'm not sure it fixes the problem though. As long as there is some stage along the way not governed by a knockout qualifier the possibility of collusion (whether likely or not) remains.]

    September 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterThomas

    Dennis, thank you for the coverage of the event, it was excellent as usual.

    [DM: You are welcome.]

    September 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrey

    I agree that I don't know of any events where Russians have thrown games to each other.
    [I don't believe Keres threw games to Botvinnik in the 1948 World Championship Tournament, though he may have been under pressure not to "hinder" Botvinnik; and this could have affected his play against him. It's a pity this World Championship wasn't quarterfinals, semi-finals and final matches with Fine, Najdorf and Boleslavsky added.]

    But I do think that if you have as many as 5 players out of 8 from one country, it's likely that 2 or 3 of them are going to be good friends (as were Petrosian, Geller and Keres at Curacao 1962), and it's just human to perhaps not to want to try hard against a good friend. Yes, if you draw against all 4, you may fall behind, but if it's 2, not necessarily; instead it's a rest. And in the last Candidates, exhaustion set in somewhat before 14 games were played (as it indeed did for Fischer and Korchnoi at Curacao 1962 - Korchnoi blundered horribly in round 12 to Fischer and lost to his normal client Tal in round 14; while Fischer played poorly in the aforementioned round 12 game and played atrociously against Petrosian in round 13).
    I do believe that Fischer and Korchnoi at Curacao 1962, and Reshevsky at Zurich 1953 did not get a fair deal.

    It would not surprise me either if Topalov comes up with such allegations. This and the other cases Thomas mentions are further indications that the current system is not ideal.
    Yes, the possibility of collusion cannot be entirely eliminated. I think it can be reduced. As I gave on chessvibes, my favoured system would be a 15 player RR to replace the Grand Prix and World Cup as a qualifier. This reduces the events that collusion could take place from six to one. And in this RR have it so that in the last 4 rounds players from the same country are not allowed to be paired together.

    I think the old-style Candidates Matches would be the best solution for the Candidates. But with the proviso that the World Champion also has to play in them. Otherwise his advantage is too great, having to win only one match, while the others have to win four.
    The final of these would be the World Championship match, and therefore we would only have the quarterfinals and semifinals as additional events, replacing the Candidates Tournament. Therefore, only one extra "event". Therefore financial and scheduling problems shouldn't be too great.

    September 5, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterobserver

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