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    Thursday
    Oct222015

    European Club Cup, Round 4: The Top Teams Start To Meet

    In round 4 of the European Club Cup the top teams - teams at least half-composed of 2700+ players - started to face off. The two absolute top teams, SOCAR and Siberia, both won their matches, and will face each other in round 5. SOCAR (Topalov, Caruana, etc.) defeated a mighty opponent, Obiettivo Risarcimento Padova with an undefeated 4-2 score, as Veselin Topalov defeated Peter Leko on board 1 while Shakhriyar Mamedyarov bested Etienne Bacrot with Black on board 5. As for Siberia (Kramnik, Aronian, Grischuk, etc.) it was an even more convincing 4.5-1.5 win against Mednyi Vsadnik. Vladimir Kramnik beat Peter Svidler with Black (maybe keeping his slim chances of becoming a rating qualifier for the Candidates' alive) on board 1 while a pair of Chinese stars on boards 4 and 5, Li Chao and Wang Yue, defeated Maxims Matlakov and Rodshtein, respectively. Now the big, exciting question is whether both teams' board 1 will play. If so, that means a Kramnik-Topalov showdown: no handshakes and sparks will fly.

    Also 4-0 in team matches is Alkaloid (Ivanchuk, Tomashevsky, etc.). It only won game against AVE Novy Bor, but that was all they needed. Again it was a Chinese player coming through: Yu Yangyi defeating Zbynek Hracek on board 6(!).

    On the slightly lower boards, one result was shocking. University-Belorechensk lost to Vaalerenga, despite outrating them on every board by a minimum of 168 points (on board 1) and a maximum of 339 points (on board 6). Staggering. Aleksej Alexandrov (2600) managed to defeat FM Brede Kvisvik (2318) on board 5, but Sergey Rublevsky (2702) lost to IM Johan-Sebastian Christiansen (2391) on board 3 while Konstantin Landa (2626) lost to IM Magne Sagafos (2398) on board 4. (You'll notice that board order isn't rating order. This isn't permitted in U.S. team events and it probably seems pretty odd to most of us on my side of the pond, but I doubt that the Europeans care very much about this. If I recall correctly, Bundesliga teams can be out of rating order as well.)

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    Reader Comments (4)

    The Norwegians have a very young and ambitious team with Evgeny Romanov doing a fine trainer job there. Whereas the Russians might not be that ambitious anymore. While it's still a huge surprise it is somewhat explainable to me.

    Yes, Bundesliga teams can be out of rating order. As rating is a snap-shot anyway and usually doesn't reflect the real strength of young players this is a good thing for my taste. In the example you've mentioned it's a mere 7 ELO point difference anyway.

    [DM: Okay, but that's the least of it. Nakamura on board 3 for his team, with Leko (109 points lower-rated) on board 1? That's no "snapshot". :)]

    October 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterReyk

    There are many (different) reasons to deviate from a board order strictly by rating. Obiettivo Risarcimento put the solid Leko and Karjakin ahead of the more dynamic and somewhat unpredictable Nakamura and Vachier-Lagrave. Alkaloid put Ivanchuk ahead of Tomashevsky and Jakovenko - Ivanchuk currently has a lower rating, but still a higher "standing" as the two Russians and might not have agreed to play board 3. Odlar Yurdu sandwiched four younger and somewhat lower-rated players between the experienced Sutovsky and Guseinov. According to Sutovsky (I asked him back in 2013), it is a "project, which is supposed to help young Azeri players to improve and to get experience towards the Olympiad 2016". Similarly, Melkumyan actually played board 1 ahead of Aronian in the German Bundesliga some years ago.

    For a European like me, it's indeed no big deal, I would actually consider it odd if the board order HAS to be strictly by rating. A board order strictly by rating might occur in two cases: 1) if players have no other ideas or preferences, 2) if players strongly disagree about the board order and someone has to use "objective" criteria to settle the issue. Details differ between the countries where I played: In Germany, the board order is fixed at the start of the season (but rating might change thereafter), players can then move one board up or down (for example due to color preferences) but not more than that. In the Netherlands, the board order can change freely between matches. At my amateur level, it is legal and happens to have Elo 1400 on board 1 and Elo 1900 on board 5, and a completely different lineup next time. In France, (not) the same story because there is one limitation: the positive Elo difference between higher and lower boards can be 100 points maximum, i.e. Elo 2300 can play behind Elo 2200 but not behind Elo 2199. Rating-homogenous teams have lots of flexibility and can avoid specific preparation by the opponents.

    October 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterThomas

    Why do you have to sit in rating order in the US? Surely a team should be able to field its team according to current form and tactics.

    Maybe it's to do with the strange and seemingly anti-American practice of having the lowest ranked sports teams get first pick of the best college players. This does not happen in the free market business world...

    [DM: Whatever the merits of either policy, I don't see the connection between the two, beyond the extremely broad idea that both violate a sort of generalized sort of "libertarianism". In the case of sports leagues, it's for financial reasons. They are trying to expand their product, and if only the richest teams will succeed smaller, less successful markets will dry up. These policies, not incidentally, were devised by the owners themselves; it wasn't imposed on them by some group of "anti-American" outsiders.

    Regarding board order, it just seems like basic fairness and justice to me, and I'm glad it's not just the U.S. that does this; it's how the Olympiad works as well. Your best player is your top board, your second-best player is your second board, and so on. Being board 1 ought to be a matter of pride: you're the chief representative of your team, the flag bearer, the leader. I can see a few occasions where one might supersede that: to honor a long-time leader who is past his prime (if for example a Swiss team choosing to put Korchnoi on board 1, say, rather than Pelletier), or a world or national champion who may be slightly outrated by a teammate. But beyond that, I cringe. It isn't about "free markets", but the spirit of competition: my best against your best.]

    October 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMarc

    "it's how the Olympiad works as well" - not necessarily, not compulsory according to the rules. At the last Olympiad, eventual winner China did the same as Obiettivo Risarcimento at the European Club Cup - put a solid player on board 1 ahead of a nominally stronger player. Wang Yue on board 1 did what was probably expected from him: draw everyone but, somewhat ironically, Leko. Ding Liren and the rest all scored more than 70% - plan and mission accomplished. There was also Germany playing with, in this order, Naiditsch (2709), Meier (2646), Fridman (2639), Nisipeanu (2689) and Baramidze (2613). The apparent idea was that newcomer Nisipeanu should score well against relatively weak opponents - it didn't quite work: Nisipeanu scored 5.5/10 (0/2 in the decisive final rounds).

    At the 2013 World Team Championship, Germany also experimented with a board order Khenkin, Meier, Fridman, Naiditsch, Baramidze. Apparently decided just before the first round, and unsuccessful (2/7 for Khenkin, 4.5/8 for Naiditsch).

    October 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterThomas

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