Entries in Baadur Jobava (10)
Never, or 10 Minutes From Now, Whichever Comes Sooner: What Computers "Can't" Do, Part 3 Million and One
Part 1 of an excellent interview with Baadur Jobava is available on the ChessBase website, and includes a number of Jobava's best and most interesting games. The games are terrific, and I would also endorse his thoughts about self-training, though I don't think self-training makes having a coach pointless. (Just ask players like Karpov, Kasparov, Kramnik, Carlsen and many others about this.) That said, one should not use a coach for what one can do for oneself.
There is no question but that Jobava is a very strong, and very creative player, and the move 15.d5 which he played against Evgeny Bareev (see the link above) was a great and subtle novelty. Jobava is justly proud of it, but when he says of this that "the silicon monster can never find such an idea" he will have to add his name to the long and prestigious list of people who have grossly underestimated what computers in general and chess engines in particular can do. I have no doubt that evaluating 15.d5 as a strong move was way beyond the capability of chess engines back in 2004, when the Bareev game was played, but nowadays Stockfish puts it as co-number one within ten minutes, while Komodo takes a bit longer before making it the top choice. It does take a while and one will miss it if they have an itchy trigger finger over the space bar, but finding it in ten minutes, compared to the years it took just one solitary grandmaster to find it, is a mere blink of an eye.
The last couple of rounds of the Tashkent Grand Prix didn't do much to shake up the crosstable, as all but three games were drawn. Moreover, two of the losses were suffered by poor Boris Gelfand, who is now ensconced in the tournament cellar. The man has a great love for the game and is a tremendously hard worker, but playing in back-to-back tournaments against the world's best is perhaps asking too much. Likewise with Fabiano Caruana. They shared first in the previous tournament, but now both are performing well below their usual form.
Fortunately for Caruana and unfortunately for Gelfand, the latter's form is even worse than Caruana's, and the world's #2 player got his first and so far only victory of the tournament thanks to a near-blunder. Had Gelfand played 24...Rxc3 the game would almost surely have finished in a draw shortly after the move 30 threshold. Instead, Gelfand's 24...Rxa5 missed the simple shot 25.Rxa5 Qxa5 26.Rxf7!, after which White's win was a matter of course.
Gelfand also lost in round 8, this time with White to Baadur Jobava. As usual (as always?) Jobava played an offbeat, provocative opening - in this case the English Defense - and after seven moves Gelfand had pawns on c4, d4, e4 and f4. Safe pawns! His decision to continue super-aggressively with 8.Qg4 probably wasn't the best decision given his form, and as the play got sharper things started going awry. After 21 moves White's center was still intact, but in the brief remainder the pawns started to get picked off and Black's pieces dominated. With the win, Jobava is now tied for first with Hikaru Nakamura and Dmitry Andreikin. Nakamura is one of the higher seeds in the tournament, but Jobava was the second-lowest rated player in the event and Andreikin was the third!
The other decisive game took place in round 7, and saw Anish Giri lose his first game of the event, to Sergey Karjakin, after playing a very dubious opening system with 8...h5. I don't analyze that game, but do cover the two Gelfand losses and provide the rest of the games from these two rounds here. Today (Thursday) is a rest day, and the tournament will finish up on Friday through Sunday. Here are tomorrow's round 9 pairings:
- Kasimdzhanov (2.5) - Gelfand (2)
- Radjabov (4) - Caruana (4)
- Karjakin (4) - Nakamura (5)
- Jakovenko (4) - Mamedyarov (4.5)
- Vachier-Lagrave (4.5) - Giri (3.5)
- Jobava (5) - Andreikin (5) (A battle of the leaders.)
It was a good week for the higher-rated youngsters against their "seasoned" opponents, as both Anish Giri and Baadur Jobava won their matches with undefeated +3 scores. When we left off after round 4, Giri was up two and Jobava up one, so it's clear that the last rounds didn't go well for the veterans.
Both matches were decided in round five. For Shirov, it was decided in a surprisingly negative way: with White he went down a well-known theoretical path to a perpetual check - he just gave up! This uncharacteristic move on his part sealed match victory for Giri, who did not return the favor in round 6. But we'll get back to that later. Timman-Jobava was much more exciting, with Timman offering a rook and then a knight in pursuit of an attack. It was creative; unfortunately, his best opportunities had come earlier in the game, and by this point Jobava had the advantage. He defended well enough and eventually converted his extra exchange.
In the final round, the youngsters won twice. Giri and Shirov engaged in a heavyweight theoretical battle in the Sveshnikov Sicilian. My surmise is that Giri had everything prepared until around move 30, by which point Shirov was simply lost. (That's not as implausible as you might think, considering that Shirov's novelty only came at move 25 in a very well-traveled line, and as that novelty was the computer's top choice there's little reason to think Giri hadn't examined it beforehand.) The youngster simply prepared better, and nowadays that can be enough. As for Timman, his 17...d5 was a dubious decision, inviting a strong exchange sacrifice. After that Timman could hope for no more than a draw if he could successfully grovel, and that was not to be.
And so Anish Giri has a 3-1 lead over Alexei Shirov and Baadur Jobava a 2.5-1.5 lead against Jan Timman in their showcase six-game matches at the Unive chess tournament.
Both Alexei Shirov and Jan Timman were pressing today against Anish Giri and Baadur Jobava, respectively, but in the end both games were drawn. Giri leads 2.5-.5 and Jobava leads 2-1 going into the rest day. Three rounds remain in these sub-events of the Unive chess tournament.
This fun event (the Unive chess tournament), comprising a pair of six-game classical matches, began Sunday in the Dutch city of Hoogeveen. The marquee match is between Dutch prodigy Anish Giri and Latvian superstar Alexei Shirov of "fire on board" fame. If Shirov were playing at his best the match would be a toss-up, but his results have been declining the last couple of years and in the last few months his results have been awful. Indeed, Giri leads 2-0 so far, and if this keeps up he might bridge the 14-15-point gap separating him from the top 6 in the world.
The second match is between top Georgian grandmaster Baadur Jobava and Dutch legend Jan Timman. Their first game was drawn, but Timman lost the second game after a couple of blunders. (He had been under some pressure, but objectively the position was fine.)
In the game we presented yesterday, Baadur Jobava was the hero, defeating Shakhriyar Mamedyarov with some brilliant attacking play. Today we see Jobava in the opposite role, in the role of attacking victim. The game was played in the very next round of the World Rapid Championship, which ended last week, and the winner of the game was tournament runner-up and #1 rated (in rapid) Fabiano Caruana. Caruana's win wasn't as nice as Jobava's in the previous round, but it was attractive nonetheless and worth a look - enjoy!
Every now and then the past few days I've been browsing some of the many games from last week's World Rapid Championship, and some have caught my eye. One exceptionally impressive game was the round 4 battle between Baadur Jobava and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, won in brilliant style by the creative young Georgian grandmaster. As usual, he punted a slightly offbeat opening (the Veresov with 3.Bf4), and is also usual he managed to orient himself better in the unfamiliar setting than his opponent.
In this game, Jobava went all-out for the initiative, and managed to turn it into a sustained attack. Keeping it going required energetic and imaginative play, and rather than continuing to load on the adjectives I'll invite you to have a look and see for yourself. Very impressive chess, especially when played with a time control of game in 15 minutes, with only a ten second increment per move!
At least a little. It has been a while, but there are a couple of bits of chess news to report, and then I'll offer a brief status update on my condition.
So, first, chess! Several people have noted this Vladimir Kramnik interview (Mark Crowther of TWIC was the first), and it's both a very good read in its own right and a balm for the soul to those of us who, like me, may have been pulling a little extra hard for him to break through to meet Viswanathan Anand for another title shot. Many of you may have already read it, but if you haven't I highly recommend it - whether you're a Kramnik fan or not.
Second, there's a very strong event underway - the Russian Team Championships. As is common these days, the event title is something of a misnomer, as plenty of non-Russians are participating. Unless you're a Russian from a relevant region, though, you are probably like me far more interested in the event as an excuse to see great individual players in action; if so, there's good news. Recent candidates Peter Svidler, Alexander Grischuk and the great spoiler Vassily Ivanchuk are all in action, along with former "vice-champions" Peter Leko and Gata Kamsky (Ivanchuk was one as well, if you count the old FIDE K.O.s), and plenty of other superstars like Sergey Karjakin, Fabiano Caruana, Alexander Morozevich, Shakriyar Mamedyarov and other 2700+ rated stars are in action.
I've only just started to glance at the games, and one immediately caught my eye - Baadur Jobava's rout of Karjakin in what at least appears at first glance to be an utterly insipid line of the Giuoco Piano. I'd post it using ChessBase's online "service", but as it appears to be nonfunctional yet again I'll just post the PGN notation here. (Note: It will take me a little while to figure out a new system - please bear with me - but the ChessBase server has simply failed too often for me to use it anymore. I don't know if they are suffering from hackers, or if they grossly underestimated the system load or what, but at least for the moment they appear utterly unreliable.)
GM Jobava, Baadur (2702) - GM Karjakin, Sergey (2786), 20th TCh-RUS 2013, Round 2:
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.e5 d5 7.Be2 Ne4 8.cxd4 Bb4+ 9.Bd2 Nxd2 10.Nbxd2 0-0 11.0-0 f6 12.Rc1 Kh8 13.Nb3 Bg4 14.a3 Be7 15.Re1 fxe5 16.dxe5 Rf4 17.h3 Bh5 18.Nc5 Bxc5 19.Rxc5 d4 20.e6 Bg6 21.Bd3 Qf6 22.Ng5 Ne7 23.Bxg6 hxg6 24.Ne4 Qxe6 25.Ng5 Qf6 26.Re6 Qf8 27.Rxg6 Rh4 28.Ne6 1-0
I don't believe Jobava's approach will set the world on fire any more than Kramnik's 10.h3 in the Scotch Four Knights, but what they do - and what Carlsen often does as well - is to create positions with at least three critical characteristics. First, they are new. By this I mean a type of position that is new in some respect - it's not just some micro-change in the context of a very well-understood position-type. Sometimes a novelty is finding a new finesse on move 22 that may gain a tempo in a race between two very well-known plans. This is not that. 5.d4 is ancient but utterly devoid of danger in the main lines to those in the know, and being in the know can be accomplished these days in about 10-15 minutes. But Jobava doesn't beat the dead horse that is 6.cxd4, but instead chooses the rarer 6.e5 and then, after 6...d5, the really rare 7.Be2. Ironically, Jobava was one of the few to previously try it, and he lost both times, in 2012, to other 2700-rated players (Malakhov and Kamsky).
In those games Black played 8...Bb6 rather than giving check on b4, and through move 11 they followed another high-level game, a Vallejo Pons-Ponomariov contest from 2011. Like Jobava's 2012 games Black won this one too, but here it was Jobava who innovated with 12.Rc1. And this, my friends and readers, presents a really new position! Who is better? What plans should be chosen? How, if at all, should the pawn tension between White's e- and Black's f-pawns be resolved? Do Black's bishops matter? Do the c-file and White's mini-plan of Nb3-c5 cause Black serious difficulties?
Karjakin is a great player, and on balance a stronger one than Jobava. But part of Karjakin's great strength is his diligence, his very professional level of preparation. This has been characteristic of his play for a long time, and his decision several years ago to work especially with Garry Kasparov's former "permanent" trainer Yuri Dokhoian has only solidified that tendency in Karjakin. Jobava, on the other hand, prefers the road less traveled. I don't mean by this that he is any less diligent in working on his openings than Karjakin, but rather that his openings are less traveled in general than Karjakin's. This gives him a double advantage, when he succeeds. First, he will know his lines better, simply because they are his. But to return to the initial comment starting this discussion, they are new positions, which means that Karjakin's greater general breadth and depth of chess understanding (I'm assuming that characterization is true - please join me there if only for the sake of the argument) isn't so relevant. So, there's newness.
Second, the positions are not readily resolved. This is pretty clear by implication in the foregoing discussion, but it's worth stating explicitly. Maybe White has absolutely nothing from a "God's-eye view" in this line, even as late as 12.Rc1, but so what? I've seen my share of super-GM post-mortems where a player will say something like "Yes, and here Black does this, this and this; trades off the bishops and the position is simply drawn." Such statements are sometimes made practically right out of the opening, and yet the thing is that they are frequently on the money with those assessments. (It's not necessarily that we would manage to hold the position against them, but it's fair for them to assume that a player of comparable technical skill could do so.) In fact, even I've made such statements on occasion in a few positions I've taken myself to understand extremely well, and it's quite possible that you have too, and with justification.
But getting back to the Jobava-Karjakin game, no such story is possible, at least not yet. This goes hand-in-glove with the "newness" point. If Jobava's Giuoco line catches on a bit then we'll have super-GMs and correspondence chess mavens working things out to death, and then we'll see the press conferences where Anand or Kramnik or whoever it is playing Black says "Yes, this is the important factor in the position, and by trading this, covering that square and maneuvering this and that to here and there White has nothing." But for now, it's far from obvious what the play-killing plan is, and that's what makes it work.Third, the opponent has real problems to solve. This isn't Chess960, where we're all just trying to figure out what to do even if there aren't any particular problems just yet. Nor is it simply a vague position where one isn't sure how to clarify the position, but isn't in any trouble as a result. Karjakin had real problems to solve right out of the opening. Jobava soon enjoyed a serious advantage, which he rapidly parlayed into a crushing attack.
That was a bit of a ramble, I suppose, but it's worth thinking about openings along the aforementioned lines. Many amateurs - and many pros too, for that matter - work on their openings with an eye to either murdering their opponents in the main lines or (more often in amateurdom) seeking some tricky, get-rich-quick sideline. The first approach goes back to opening encyclopedias going back at least as far as Bilguier, and is surely the preferred method of Generation Space Bar (i.e., of those who prompt Houdini or their favorite engine to execute its most highly-evaluated move by pressing the space bar on their keyboard). The trappy approach surely has an even older pedigree, though I'm sure its results overall are considerably worse. There are still other approaches, but I think it's worth taking this Jobava/Kramnik/Carlsen approach very seriously as a major third way.
Now from schach to sciatica. Thanks to the glory of painkillers and especially steroids (not of the sort that will get me banned from Olympic weightlifting competitions, fear not), I'm at least able to function like a reasonable facsimile of myself for the moment, after a week and a half of consistent agony and terrible sleep. This is not a cure though, and on Monday I'll see a neurologist to decide what's next: an injection, (comparatively minor) surgery or something else or some combination of options. It seems that my back and discs are pretty good in general, so there are reasonable grounds to hope that after treatment (and some possible post-treatment misery) I should function at least as well as before. And assuming I'm able to keep all of you posted, I will!
Again, many, many thanks to those of you who have contributed, often with some kind words as well. The financial help has indeed been a help, and the encouragement and care it represented has been if anything an even greater blessing - especially during the most painful and incapacitating days of this struggle. I'm not out of the woods yet, but as noted above, it's a relief to at least feel like a reasonable facsimile of my usual self. Thank you!