Both are taken from recent blitz games on ICC featuring Hikaru Nakamura ("CapilanoBridge") - but both feature in games he lost. I'm not picking on him - he's an incredible blitz player - but his opponents just happened to find some nice moves, and in the first case, a really spectacular idea. Have a look.
We're still a bit more than a month away from the start of the Viswanathan Anand - Boris Gelfand world championship match, but it's close enough to start thinking about it. And it's time for the match site to show up, and so it has. You'll find player profiles, a summary of the players' main results (including links to all their previous encounters), the non-predictions of leading players (mentioned here several days ago), and some other material as well.
It's worth a quick look.
After six rounds of the 2012 European Individual Championship there was a ten-way tie for first, but after round seven Sergei Azarov lead all by his lonesome, though with 12 players just half a point behind. All the top boards were drawn except his - he defeated Arkadij Naiditsch on the white side of a Berlin endgame. For his insouciance he was punished in round 8, getting ground down on the black side of a Reti by Vladimir Malakhov. That put Malakhov in first with 6.5 points, where he was joined by Maxim Matlakov, who defeated Viktor Bologan in a spectacular game, and Vladimir Akopian, who outplayed Denis Khismatullin in a positional English Attack (Sicilian). No fewer than 17 players are just half a point behind, so with three rounds to go nothing is settled.
This is good news for the Bilbao and London Chess Classic tournaments, both of which were imperiled by FIDE's original decision to hold the next Candidates' event in London from October 24-November 12 of this year. With Linares and the Amber tournaments no longer holding that slot on the calendar, the move to March 13-31 of 2013 is uncharacteristically sensible of the international chess federation, though the decision came too late for the Tal Memorial organizers to maintain their original dates.
This is more whimsical than serious, but when I heard someone mentioned as a sure "hall of famer" in some sport or other last week, I started wondering about chess. If we were making a chess hall of fame for contemporary players, who would we include and who wouldn't we?
For instance, it's a no-brainer that world champions like Viswanathan Anand and Vladimir Kramnik get in, and on the first ballot. Anyone who could vote against either of them is a lunatic (or perhaps under the influence of a certain organizer/business manager).
How about FIDE champions during the divided era? That would include Anatoly Karpov (who may not really count as a "contemporary" player anymore, but who would qualify for any chess hall of fame in any case), Alexander Khalifman, Anand, Ruslan Ponomariov, Rustam Kasimdzhanov and Veselin Topalov. These guys (excepting Karpov and Anand) don't quite seem to be in the same category as the undisputed champs, but I'm inclined to include them too.
How about a player like Boris Gelfand, assuming he loses to Anand in a couple of months, or Peter Leko, who drew a title match with Kramnik? I'm not sure I'd include them if their only big accomplishment was making it to a world championship match - though I might - but I think the body of work produced by each man is sufficient to merit inclusion. They're not just 2700s, but the victors of a great many tournaments. Further, they've been around for quite a while - more than two decades in Gelfand's case.
But would just any 2700 make it? At one time 2700 was a staggering rating, and of course it's still a fantastic accomplishment. But is, say, Ernesto Inarkiev or Nikita Vitiugov really a hall of famer, the kind of player destined and deserving to be remembered as long as the game is played? It seems to me that one needs some degree of longevity and to win multiple events at the super-GM level.
Thus if Hikaru Nakamura retired from the game today, I'm not 100% sure he'd make it in. He probably would, in part because of his legendary status as an online blitz specialist, but his career as a top player has been brief and he has "only" won the one grand slam event, the Wijk aan Zee tournament in 2011. Magnus Carlsen's career has been about as long, but he has been #1 for some time now, has the second-highest rating of all time, and has already won tons of elite events. His career would be a stump if it ended today, but as he has achieved more the past 7-8 years than even many elites do in a career, there's no reasonable grounds for excluding him.
One player whose qualification is practically as automatic as Anand and Kramnik is Judit Polgar. Even discounting the gender aspect, she would have a very good case; including it, there's no doubt at all - as she has utterly transcended women's chess for the past 20 years. Ironically, her success in a way reverses the criteria for men: her presence makes it unclear whether the women's world championship title is a sufficient for qualification into the hall of fame. I'm inclined to say yes, in part because it's not the champions' fault that Polgar didn't bother, but I can understand where a dissenting voice might come in.
World junior champions? No, not unless they go on to do great things as adults.
Thoughts, readers? Remember, we're just dealing with contemporaries. I'm not thinking of people like Garry Kasparov or those whose careers ended or abated after 2000. Thus Nigel Short and Viktor Korchnoi are not to be considered here, though I'd include both for their achievements in the 20th century.
If you want to read some strong players make brutally honest remarks about the forthcoming Viswanathan Anand - Boris Gelfand world championship match, then this short piece, featuring the non-opinions of Peter Svidler, Vladimir Kramnik, Anatoly Karpov Yuri Averbakh and Viktor Korchnoi is not what you're after.
Still, despite the interviewees' painfully boring neutrality, a couple of interesting remarks slip out. Kramnik's remarks about "gimmicks" deciding short matches at least evokes an aura of sour grapes about his losses with White to Anand in their match, while Karpov is surprisingly optimistic about Gelfand and (rather to my surprise) thinks of Anand as more "attached" to the computer than the challenger. So it's probably worth the 1-2 minutes of your time to read.
(HT: Ross Hytnen)
With four points Gawain Jones was the clear leader after round 4 of the European Championship in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, and was one of just three co-leaders after drawing in round 5. After a second straight draw, however, he finds himself in a ten-way tie going into the 11-round event's first and only rest day on Monday. In tiebreak order, the leaders are Arkadij Naiditsch, Laurent Fressinet, Yuriy Kuzubov, Jones, Ernesto Inarkiev, Denis Khismatullin, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Maxim Matlakov, Anton Korobov and Sergei Azarov. 24 players, including top seed Fabiano Caruana and seven other 2700s, are half a point back with 4.5/6.
There's a nice page on the ChessBase website with YouTube footage of Akiva Rubinstein, Jose Capablanca, the Botvinnik-Flohr matches, the 1946 USSR-USA match, Botvinnik-Bronstein in 1951, Geller-Smyslov in 1955, the end of the famous 1962 game between Botvinnik and Fischer (and Botvinnik sure looked happy to save the draw), Petrosian-Botvinnik from 1963, some Tal footage and then it's Karpov's turn, as he's shown offering commentary with GM Ron Henley on game 3 of the 1972 Fischer-Spassky match. It's all worth a look!
From time to time I dedicate a ChessVideos show to viewer games and/or questions, and this is just such a week. It's a viewer games show, and the topics focus primarily on openings: the Exchange Ruy, the Schliemann (there's no getting away from the "Quick Ruy"!) and the French Defense are among those included.
The show is here, and is available on-demand for (at least) the next month or so.
Russian grandmaster and trainer Yuri Razuvaev died on Wednesday after a long illness at the age of 66. Razuvaev wasn't a member of the super-elite in his day, but he was strong enough to make the 1984 Russia vs. the Rest of the World Team in 1984 and to draw all four games there with Robert Huebner, then one of the world's best players. His achievements as a trainer may have been even greater, as you can read in some of the tribute articles around the web.
Rest in peace.