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    Entries in Topalov (6)

    Saturday
    Oct222011

    This Week's ChessVideos Show: The Quick Ruy, Part XII

    This week we continue our "quick" look at the Ruy Lopez, now starring lines with 5.d3 and 6.d3. It's a surprisingly poisonous approach for White, one that has been successfully used all the way up the food chain to Magnus Carlsen. It can be used as a geniune weapon, and it's not at all clear that Black has some way of achieving a foolproof equality. (I'm not claiming that White has a certain edge, either, only that it's still a live option for White.)

    Additionally, it's practical for White, in two ways. First, it's comparatively easy to learn and understand, and it's not necessary to know all that much theory to do a reasonable job with it. Second - and this may be its biggest selling point - it cuts out the Marshall Gambit, the main lines of the closed, and even the Open if you play d3 on move 5. Objectively, I suspect that the main lines, when well-understood, give White his best chance of proving an edge. As an interim measure, however, and also for a bit of variety I think the d3-systems are worth trying from time to time - especially those who don't want to spend the time learning the rich but extensive theory of the Ruy's main lines.

    So you might have a look at my ChessVideos show this week, where I cover these d3 lines and present Carlsen's smashing win over Veselin Topalov from the Nanjing tournament that took place exactly a year ago come Tuesday. As always, the show is free (one-time free registration is required) and will be available on-demand for the next month or so.

    Tuesday
    Oct042011

    Former World Champions in Action

    Garry Kasparov recently played (and defeated) Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in a two-game blitz match; now he's getting ready to face off against Nigel Short on this coming Sunday, October 9. According to Mark Crowther of TWIC, it will be an 8-game blitz match with a time control of five minutes per game (per player) with a two second increment after each move.

    In his heyday, one of Kasparov's best and most impressive publicity stunts involved taking on national teams simultaneously. His most impressive such achievement was a two-day match against the Israeli national team back in 1998. Gelfand wasn't playing, but the remaining players were all very strong, clustered around 2600 when that was still an elite rating. The first day Kasparov won two games and drew two, and the second day he whitewashed the Israelis for an incredible 7-1 match victory.

    Now Veselin Topalov has apparently given it a whirl, but against a significantly weaker Irish squad. Alexander Baburin (the El Jefe of Chess Today) is a strong if semi-retired GM, but the other three players were IMs with day jobs. Topalov drew the match 2-2, losing to Baburin, defeating Mark Quinn and drawing Sam Collins and Alex Lopez. (There was a problem with the match relay, but the games will apparently be posted here later.) Not exactly a Kasparovian performance, but these things do take practice. It would be interesting to see if Topalov (or some other elite GM) tried to make a habit of this as Kasparov once did. (And even if they do, it's unlikely that any of them will take such events anywhere near as seriously as Kasparov did!)

    Friday
    Sep022011

    Kramnik on Chess, Anand, Topalov and His Future: Part 1

    This interview is very much worth reading. Non-Russians may not be terribly interested in the conversation about the persistent failures of the Russian teams in recent years to win events like the Olympiad and the World Team Championship, but there are some interesting new bits about the match with Topalov. Most interesting of all are his remarks about Anand, which are enough by themselves to justify your taking the time to read it. Of course, he has some noteworthy and surprising things to say about his own chess, too, so have a look.

    HT: Thomas

    Thursday
    May202010

    An Interview With Anand, Part 2, And Topalov Interview Excerpts

    This part is a little less interesting, but there is a brief discussion of Topalov's strongest "second": Rybka 4 on a computer cluster with 114 cores - and not only that but access to an IBM super-computer capable of running 50 trillion floating point operations per second. (If my quick online research is correct, that's about a thousand times faster than even a really souped-up home system.)

    Have a look here, too. After a recap of the first part of the Anand interview, there's a brief interview with Topalov. Kind of amazingly to my mind, he boasts about what he takes to have been his superior preparation against Anand, as if having access to a super-computer reflects favorably on his abilities. He also reiterates his triumphalist story about game 1, as if it wasn't just decided by a one-move blunder which Anand claims was the product of mixing up his moves.

    Anyway, Topalov aside, the idea of chess preparation moving to the super-computer stage is slightly nauseating to me. I'm no Luddite and I find the progress of opening theory interesting, but is it really the game we play and are trying to understand when Blue Gene blinks on to tell us at depth 55* that our favorite opening variation loses unless we find 27 only-moves in a row? I guess it's not that bad yet, since Topalov, for all his (alleged) dominance in the openings, (allegedly) better nerves, relative youth and better physical condition still couldn't beat Anand, but how long do we have before machine prep renders the gap between those with access and those without unbridgeable?

     

    * Depth 55 is a made-up figure, but can anyone out there tell us what sorts of depths such a machine would reach in a given time period, using Rybka or Fritz or some other contemporary engine on a desktop computer as a benchmark?

    Saturday
    May012010

    This Week's ChessVideos Show: Attacking the Deserted King

    There are positions where a player amasses a whole herd of pieces at the enemy king's doorstop. In such cases it's obvious that a big attack is on the way. But sometimes there isn't any such buildup, and yet an attack is possible and may very well succeed. How is this possible?

    One answer is that although the prospective attacker may have but a few pieces in the vicinity of the opponent's king, it might be that the defender has even fewer pieces to protect it. I believe that this explains how Topalov got crushed in game 4 against Anand from what looked like a fairly innocuous position, and it likewise helps explain the success of Larry Christiansen's brilliant attack against Yasser Seirawan in a 1978 contest.

    The games are instructive, entertaining and beautiful, so have a look here. The show is free (free registration required) and will be available on demand for the next month or so.

    Tuesday
    Nov102009

    A Friend to Everyone: Danailov on Anand

    Yes, chess fans, it's time once more for the Silvio Danailov show! Danailov, Topalov's ever-gracious manager, is starting the mind games and propaganda war with Anand, in anticipation of their (Topalov's and Anand's) world championship match slated to begin in April of 2010. Here are a couple of excerpts, from the translated excerpts here:

    • Viswanathan Anand, who is in third place, is hardly playing at all, but simply resting on his laurels. Let us not forget that he is 40 years old and can hardly keep up with the competitive pace of younger players. You have no energy at this age and he has to save it up [for the match]. His main aim is to keep the title, because it gives him many benefits.
    • I expect that in the remaining six months the team of Anand will try to do everything possible and insist on implausible conditions during the negotiations and before signing the contract with FIDE, just to make us nervous.

    Yep, that's right: Anand, who is playing in Moscow right now and Wijk aan Zee in January, is sitting on his laurels; Topalov, who is skipping both events and abandoned his teammates at the European Team Championship halfway through after a poor performance is not. Got it. And sure, who can forget all the dirty tricks Anand played in his previous world championship finals against Kasparov (1995), Karpov (1998), Shirov (2001), San Luis (2005), Mexico City (2007) and Bonn (2008). Hmm, I can't think of any...oh yeah, Toiletgate! Oops, wait, that was Danailov and Topalov's doing. Well, there must be something to what Danailov is saying; after all, that wily Anand wielded his power to get the match in...Topalov's and Danailov's home country of Bulgaria. (Just to make Topalov and Danailov nervous, I'm sure.) Very clever of him.

    Topalov is a great and entertaining player whose creativity and fighting spirit are worthy of emulation, but as long as he's generating or at least countenancing this sort of behavior on his behalf it's difficult - impossible for me - to root for him.