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    Sep062013

    Coming Up: The Sinquefield Cup Starts Monday

    Only four players are participating in the Sinquefield Cup, but they aren't just any four players! The world's #s 1 and 2, Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian, will take on the United States's top duo of Hikaru Nakamura (#7 in the world) and Gata Kamsky (#19). The event will be a double round-robin running from Monday, September 9 through Sunday, September 15, with a rest day on Thursday after the first cycle. This is Carlsen's last event before his world championship match with Anand, and while one can expect he'll hide all his real openings he'll surely take this tournament very seriously as a tune-up. For Aronian it will be a chance to bounce back from his poor performance in the World Cup and to make an early statement in advance of next year's Candidates. For Nakamura, a great result would be a huge confidence boost, and for Kamsky his fans can hope that a strong result will lead to him to delay is plans to retire in a year or so.

    Predictions?

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    Reader Comments (17)

    I can't wait. This is going to be a fantastic tournament between four of the most consistently interesting players out there. They all have such distinct styles of play! I looked on the website and couldn't find anything - anyone have any idea what the draw rules are? I really hope that they disallow short draws for this event.

    September 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTurkle

    I expect Carlsen to grind out a victory in the tournament. He won't give away his opening preparation for the World Championship against Anand but he generally doesn't win with sharp openings or novelties anyway. He just plays accurate chess and seems to build on the little inaccuracies of his opponents which often don't appear to be significant until he exploits them and puts the pressure on.

    If not Carlsen, then I have to go with Aronian. He's still the #2 in the world even though he hasn't impressed since early in the Candidates tournament when it seemed that it would be between him and Carlsen before Kramnik surged and he faded away.

    [DM: You forgot the Alekhine Memorial, where he tied for first with Boris Gelfand (and won on tiebreak). On the whole, his year his been at par: he started 2802 and he's 2802 now.]

    September 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNeal Bonrud

    Judging by the statements made by Carlsen on his Official Facebook page, he had spent only a fortnight in a resort at Kragerø making specific preparations for the November WCC match against Anand. Then, he had left for that recce trip to Chennai. Now, he is off to the United States where he plays for the Sinquefield Cup in Saint Louis from September 9-15. After that, Carlsen would, presumably, devote some more time to match preparation.

    But, why does he want to spend so little time on match preparation?

    The answer lies in Carlsen’s style of play. He does not want to change his approach to chess, radically, for the November Match.

    [DM: The following excerpt says nothing about how much time he's spending on chess.]

    In the Charlie Rose show, Carlsen said when asked about his approach towards his preparation for the match, that, he would not be over focusing on preparation for the match:

    (The following is the transcription of the relevant portion of the interview)

    Charlie Rose: How would you prepare for Anand?

    Magnus Carlsen: I don’t know, I think a lot of things I am doing right now are working out. I think that is fair to say. I will try not to...

    CR: Just, continue what you have been doing…

    MC: Yah!... and make some small improvements, just be a little bit sharper in the openings, be a little bit physically better prepared, a little bit better at everything, and try also not to over focus on preparation, just..

    CR: You know him. You know everything about him. You are inside his head.

    (So, this ‘being inside the other man’s head’ business has been started by Charlie Rose)

    MC: I think he will do the same, but the only difference is that that won’t be enough.

    CR: He does not have enough to beat you.

    MC: I mean, that is my belief that I can beat anyone, otherwise there would not be any point in playing the match.

    [If you don’t believe that you can beat him then there is no point in playing. Was that the reason why Carlsen opted out of the last WCC cycle? It does not sound like confidence as much as the hope that what he has is going to be enough. He has been convinced by his advisers that he should play with what he has (because, it is too late before the match, in any case, to acquire what he has not)]

    Now, read the above interview together with the interview of Vladimir Kramnik which was done by Marina Makarycheva in April,.2013 and we would be able to understand Carlsen’s approach.

    In that interview Kramnik said the following things:

    Anand is a very difficult match opponent, because he is extremely well-prepared. It is very hard to obtain a promising position against Anand even with white. That, during Anand-Kramnik 2008 match Kramnik had to take immense risks to somehow lure Anand out of his armor coat, but Kramnik didn’t succeed.

    That, Carlsen obviously has problems: Carlsen was making statements earlier before the Candidates about hiring new coaches and preparing in a different way, but in the end Carlsen didn’t show anything impressive in the opening at the Candidates. Hence, it was hard for Carlsen to play at the Candidates Tournament, and everything didn’t go smoothly. In a match against Anand, if you are constantly under pressure in the opening, it is very hard to play when your position is always slightly worse. Carlsen should ponder this over.

    That, Anand and his team were constantly working on Anand’s openings and refreshing his repertoire. And they were not cosmetic changes, but entirely new approaches. This hard work builds up over the years and offers its own benefits. Hence, that it will be very hard for Magnus to catch up, because even if he starts working 24/7, then in just half a year he still won’t be able to build up as much opening muscles as Anand has established over the past decade. Carlsen might come up with something sly though.

    That, maybe Carlsen should try to think of something cunning, come up with a concept which would allow him to mitigate the effects of opening preparation.

    Now, I would say, whatever Carlsen cannot do in six months, he definitely cannot do in less than six weeks (which he intends to devote to the preparation for the November Match). Therefore, Carlsen’s approach is a concomitant result of not only his choice, but also the temporal constraints and compulsions imposed by the impossibility of the task of matching a decade’s work of his opponent in a limited amount of time available to him. Carlsen is just trying to be in good form, be physically fresh with high energy levels and hope that his belief that he can beat anybody and that he would be able to find all the solutions on the chess board in real playing time would see him through (because, he has no other options). Incidentally, he found out during his last month’s recce trip to Chennai that it is not the belief that he could beat anybody but the actual position on the board which really matters. During a simultaneous chess display against school kids, he had lost 4 games and drew 6 out of 20. In the 6 drawn games, according to Carlsen himself, some of his young opponents had superior positions but repeated moves to draw, acts which Carlsen attributed to the kids' modesty. It might only have been a simul but the defeats stung Carlsen as was clear from the notings in his tour diary which were published.

    [DM: I've asked before and will reiterate it once more, and only once more. Please do not turn the combox into a forum for long posts of your own - especially when they are only slightly related to the content of the post. This is not negotiable.]

    September 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSreenivas Lakkineni

    I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that Kamsky will win. Just a feeling on my part, no rationale, other than that I think he'll be most motivated after the way his WC ended.

    September 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIcepick

    Carlsen has to be slightly handicapped by having to hide his prep and the distraction of the WC match.
    I predict a tie for first between Carlsen and Aronian.
    Naka (and rarely Kamsky) can sometimes show form that matches the others, but doesn't seem able to consistently maintain it. To me, it seems that Carlsen's huge lead in the ratings is not due to winning nearly every tournament (unlike Fischer and Kasparov he doesn't, so far), but to the almost complete absence of bad results.

    [DM: Perhaps, but there was a pretty long streak where he was winning just about every tournament. This year, his results look more like what you've said.]

    September 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterobserver

    I've got two VIP all-session passes to the event that I will not be using. If there's someone who can use them, and you'd like to send me an offer, email me at ronheller2001@yahoo.com

    September 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRonH

    The US chess public is the winner.

    Carlsen will not win the tournament because of his refusal to get on the chess openings treadmill, his prideful refusal to receive the help/work ethic of Kasparov, and his lack of true humility also prohibits a win in the match against Vishy. The technical reasons why Vishy is the real favorite in a 12 game match have been listed many times in many places.

    Carlsen's pride will result in his fall. Let's pray that Carlsen humbles himself before God and man so that we can see his true potential rather than his downfall.

    The IGM who wins this tournament is...

    September 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTrill

    I read comments before that made references to Carlsen's arrogance or false pride. But, actually what are the reasons for people saying that he is vain is not clear to me. Can you please cite instances of such behavior on Carlsen's part? (I am not disputing the claim that he lacks humility. I just don't know the reason why people think so). He looked sweet enough when he came to Chennai and seemed to have a high opinion on Vishy.

    [DM: He's certainly very self-confident, but who wouldn't be with a rating over 2860?]

    September 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSreenivas Lakkineni

    No tournament predictions (other than that Kamsky is the underdog), but a few thoughts:

    For Nakamura, it could be an advantage that the tournament has only six rounds - recently he could keep good form (winning or unbeaten streaks) for five or six rounds, but not for entire events (nine or eleven rounds). But it's an advantage only if he can at least hold with black against Carlsen - a loss wouldn't be surprising given their long-term record against each other, and would be hard to compensate with only five rounds remaining.

    Carlsen might have a problem, or an excuse if things aren't going well: the weather in St. Louis. Predicted maximum temperatures at least for the first half of the event are 35 degrees Celsius and above (90-100 Fahrenheit), worse than Chennai in November? It depends on whether Carlsen genuinely doesn't like heat, or was 'campaigning' against a match in Chennai for different reasons!?

    Slightly off-topic: When exactly was Carlsen's "pretty long streak where he was winning just about every tournament"? His most impressive results were during the period when he was working with Kasparov (Nanjing 2009 8/10, 2.5 points clear of the field, Bazna 2010 7.5/10, 2 points clear) - but even then he didn't win, or at least didn't dominate every tournament (Dortmund 2009 and Tal Memorial 2009 behind Kramnik, Bilbao 2010 behind Kramnik and Anand). It may have been a matter of marketing: celebrating his successes, de-emphasizing (not mentioning) his relative "failures".

    [DM: I didn't say "every tournament", but maybe you took "just about every tournament" in that way. Anyway, I have in mind roughly the two-three years leading up to his setting his all-time record rating. As for his "marketing", you must know after all these years that I don't drink his kool-aid. Nor am I a second-hand marketing victim, as I barely even visit other chess news websites, aside from TWIC for basic info as needed and the weekly updates.]

    September 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterThomas

    Come to thechessmind.net forum, where the moderator is perpetually grumpy!

    [DM: Feisty, certainly - possibly a little too much so. But only occasionally grumpy, and one thing that sometimes pushes me in that direction is when people put words in my mouth or mistakenly claim that I'm motivated by such-and-such.]

    September 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFrobozz

    "even then he didn't win, or at least didn't dominate every tournament (Dortmund 2009 and Tal Memorial 2009 behind Kramnik, Bilbao 2010 behind Kramnik and Anand). It may have been a matter of marketing: celebrating his successes, de-emphasizing (not mentioning) his relative "failures""

    Carlsen has won 15 of his last 23 tournaments, and won four in a row 2012-13. He won 5 of 6 in the same period, the only second place being Biel (where he had the highest plus score). Thats's not too bad.

    September 9, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermothra

    Predictions: Nakamura does badly v Carlsen, well v Kamsky, OK v Aronian
    Carlsen wins, Aronian second (ok no great genius required to predict that)
    Carlsen avoids theory even more than usual, maybe 1. Nf3 2. g3, that kind of thing. Will be interesting to see how he can get even more offbeat than usual, how many more openings are left??? Also possible he might try to confuse Anand with some astute one-off opening choice, leaving Anand in the dark as to whether he will use it or not (more work to do).
    Aronian strives hard for wins!
    Kamsky has a hard time...
    Naka goes all out to win the thing...
    and in at least one game someone gets creamed by Aronian's prep!!

    September 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKarl

    Re this anti-Carlsen sentiment, what am I missing? (genuine question). Apart from a couple of debatable takebacks in blitz and a probably unwise statement of confidence in beating Anand, what is it that Carlsen has done that is so terrible? A couple of youthful indiscretions? He is certainly better behaved than Fischer was at his age (and probably Kasparov too).

    What's with this Carlsen "marketing" talk? It's his rating and the results that have led to it that create the "marketing". If Carlsen was continually only about third in the rankings, he would have far less "marketing".

    Carlsen won't need an "excuse" (nor will he make one) if he does not do well in St Louis. It is common for a Challenger or Champion to do badly in their last event before the WC. Tal had a relative shocker before the 1960 Botvinnik match, for example.

    Any "campaign" against the match being in Chennai would certainly have been justified. Ilyumzhinov broke the rules, period (It was for similar reasons that Kasparov and Short broke away in 1993). Why should Carlsen, who had nothing to do with it, have to suffer for some cosy arrangement made between Ilyumzhinov, Anand and Gelfand at the previous WC? An open tender would obviously have produced a greater prize fund. And Carlsen obviously loses out a lot more playing in India than Anand does in Europe because Anand is used to playing in Europe.

    "Carlsen humbles himself before God". Of course there is no such being as Trill imagines. What he means in reality is whatever authoritarian church he belongs to.

    [DM: "Of course there is no such being"? Not everyone will agree with that, including your humble blogger, who is a Christian and thinks the "of course" part especially unwarranted. A huge percentage of the world's population believes in God, and that includes a large number of individuals who are as intelligent and well-educated (in all fields) as you'd like, too. That doesn't mean we're correct, obviously, but it should be enough to remove the "of course". If you're interested in discussing this a bit "off the air" you're welcome to write me through the contact link, but let's keep that discussion off of this thread, please.]

    Baring sickness or disorientation due to being in India, I expect Carlsen to win the match handily. Anand's last two defenses of his title were anything but convincing. The only other thing that might create doubt is the shortness of the match - it should be 16 games of course.

    September 9, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterobserver

    Don't know about you guys, but I like the grumpy/feisty Dennis!

    [DM: Oh no, it's a potential paradox! If I appreciate that comment, then I won't be in a grumpy/feisty mood, and might lose a supporter. Well, I'll risk it just this once....]

    September 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNate

    @ observer – Refer to your remark: “Barring sickness or disorientation due to being in India …”
    One had thought that the ‘WCC Match being awarded to Chennai’ issue is over and done with. But, no, it would keep on resurfacing in various fora on different pretexts.

    We Indians have had enough of being told that the superior human beings from the west would get ‘sickness or disorientation due to being in India’. Carlsen was in India a short while ago and did fine. You name any top chess player in the world: Kasparov, Karpov, Kramnik, Gelfand etc., and they had been to India and most of them played matches in India.

    [DM: Sorry, who made reference to "superior human beings from the west"? It simply is the case that many people get sick while traveling to certain countries, and it can go in both directions. One is used to the bacteria of one's own country. Immunity gets developed as quickly as eight weeks, which means it's a complete non-issue for Anand playing in Europe or the U.S., but not for Carlsen playing in India. Some statistics here, for your perusal: http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/41/Supplement_8/S536.full.pdf]

    I read elsewhere in this Blog, comments by people ( including by some claiming to be Indians) about how India can ill afford to host this WCC Match because it is a poor country and the money could be better spent elsewhere. I can only pity such people for their ignorance.

    India is a rich country (inhabited by a large number of poor people). We are enormously rich in resources and even in terms of wealth. (This wealth is not equitably distributed among our people is the real problem, but, that will remain our problem and not yours)

    A few facts about the Indian economy need to be furnished to educate people to save them from making these cliched, stereotypical, biased and bordering- almost -on-racist remarks about our country:

    In terms of GDP (PPP) India is next only to the US and China. India has a higher GDP than Japan, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom, France, Italy etc. A certain European country called Norway is in the 45th place in GDP terms (according to the IMF estimates). Incidentally, some countries like Greece are facing sovereign bankruptcy.

    In terms of infrastructure, India has the world's the 3rd largest road network and the 4th largest rail network in the world. India is the 4th largest producer of electricity and is among the top ten industrialized countries in the world.A New York Times article claimed that India’s agricultural sector could contribute to feeding not just itself but the world.

    What our country really needs to do is to de-link itself from the international monetary system and revert back to its non-aligned, independent policies and the first step towards it would be to stand up to and counter anybody who says uncharitable things about us.

    [DM: With all due respect, that last suggestion is absurd. Some random commentators on a chess blog made statements that upset you, so India should take its ball and go home? If Americans adopted that policy we'd have to move to the moon, and so too would just about any major nation. (Hmm, I suspect some people would like that idea!) The only "safe" countries would be those most people haven't heard of.]

    I really do not want to go into the nitty-gritty of why and how the Match was awarded by FIDE to India but I will say this much: if we really are challenged and are determined to host the Match, then, we could have out-bid anybody. The money we are spending on the present Match is peanuts for us.

    Topalov lamented that if only Anand cared, their 2010 Match could have been hosted by India and that would have brought more money into the match, for, Bulgaria was a very small economy compared to India.

    It is totally wrong to say that the decision to conduct the Match in Chennai has anything to do with Anand’s understanding with FIDE. Anand did not lobby for this match to be conducted in India. Anand is playing for himself first and not for our country, he himself said it in so many words.

    [DM: However you want to slice it, it was more or less determined before there was a challenger this cycle that India would have the first rights to the world championship match - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Chess_Championship_2013#Timeline_of_changes. I believe this was offered as a sort of compensation for FIDE's shenanigans with the Gelfand match, when India had the winning bid and then FIDE gave the match to Moscow anyway. (See http://www.chessbase.com/Home/TabId/211/PostId/4009418/breaking-world-championship-2013-in-chennai-090413.aspx, the section "Looking Back".) It may have made things "fair" for India, but at Carlsen's expense.]

    Anand may be our favorite sporting son, but, if the self-respect of 1.2 billion Indians is at stake and if the Carlsen-Anand Match is to be used as a pretext to denigrate our country and people, then beware that we give two hoots for the Match.

    [DM: One person suggesting that Carlsen might be affected by the food and climate of India puts the self-respect of 1.2 billion Indians at stake? Really? Wow. Maybe the U.S. should punish Denmark severely on account of Bent Larsen's complaints after partially blaming his match loss to Fischer on the American climate. Likewise with Lasker blaming Cuba's climate when he played Capablanca in 1921, or Petrosian blaming the Argentinian climate for his loss to Fischer in 1971, or...etc.]

    September 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSreenivas Lakkineni

    @ Sreenivas Lakkineni
    Let me say I have nothing against your country or people. Indians are a fine people. I was simply saying this whole process is unfair to Carlsen, which it is (as Dennis has further explained to you).

    It was a scandal that India was not awarded the previous WC match. But it does not make it right to punish Carlsen now because of this. Ilyumzhinov is very good at getting people at each others throats (divide and rule), when in fact it is his illegitimate and illegal actions that are causing the trouble.

    You say the money you are spending on this match is peanuts for you and you could outbid anybody. Why didn't you accept open tender and do just that then? (if it's "peanuts"). Then nobody could have any complaints.

    You say you do not want to go into the nitty-gritty of why and how the Match was awarded by FIDE to India. If you have an argument that makes this fair for Carlsen, then I suggest that you do so.


    @ Dennis
    As you say this topic is "off topic"; I might take you up on your offer, but may need a week to do so as a couple of time-consuming issues have come up for me. Just very briefly, if you quote all, instead of just part, of my sentence, ie "Of course there is no such being as Trill imagines", this puts a somewhat different flavour on it, ie a vindictive "God" who would be sending the majority of humankind to "hell" is being talked about.
    I take your point about "of course" and apologise - a different way of wording this would be more appropriate

    [DM: Are you referring to a different comment by Trill to some other post? I don't see how one gets from this quote of his (earlier in this thread), "Carlsen's pride will result in his fall. Let's pray that Carlsen humbles himself before God and man so that we can see his true potential rather than his downfall", to a conclusion about a "vindictive 'God' who would be sending the majority of humankind to 'hell'". First of all, he seems pretty clearly to be referring to Carlsen's fate on earth, in this life - to something that "we can see". Second, even if we make an interpretive stretch and say that he believes that Carlsen's pride as a chess player puts him in danger before God, it's a gigantic leap to assert that he therefore believes in a vindictive God who sends most people to hell.

    Trill is welcome to briefly clarify what he (or she?) meant if he wishes, especially if either or both of us have misrepresented his views, but otherwise let's leave the musings about God and judgment for other forums.]

    September 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterobserver

    Dennis, thank you for your gracious invitation to be brief in my reply to the gentleman who took my first post on your site out of context. With brevity being the soul of wit, I'll begin with "I once asked an atheist why he was so hateful to a being that does not exist." ;)

    Now as to my original post, "Pride comes before a fall" and "The reward of humility is riches, honor, and life" with humility being defined as the acknowledgement of and reverence of our loving and gracious God.

    God bless and Godspeed...

    [DM: The foregoing raises more issues than it answers. For instance, while Anand may be more conventionally modest than Carlsen, do we have any reason to think that he is humble as you defined it - humble with respect to God? About the rhetorical question to the atheist, one can find a particular concept of God repugnant without thereby performing some sort of practical self-contradiction. I would reject the concept of a vindictive God, and I suspect that you would too. With respect to an alleged god of that sort, we would be atheists as well, and would be unmoved by your rhetorical question. The real question is whether one should think that God as understood in a given context (e.g. that of Christian theism) is vindictive. To that question, my answer is "no", and I suspect that you would agree.

    The literature on the topic is substantial, to say the least, and in the popular press the problem of evil is posed by its advocates with great regularity and in almost gleeful ignorance of the scholarly debate on the topic, both pro and con. To offer a bit of "equal time", here is a good, accessible defense by Christian philosopher William Lane Craig, which not only offers short responses to two very broad versions of the problem of evil (which is where the discussion above usually ends up) but also tries to show that the existence of evil (and more generally moral truths and values) offers indirect evidence for the existence of God.

    And with that, the topic is closed on here, but both you and observer are welcome to write me further through the contact link.]

    September 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTrill

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