Entries in Vladimir Kramnik (86)
The Sinquefield Cup starts August 5, and it will start without Vladimir Kramnik. Kramnik is suffering from back pain (been there, done that; I don't recommend it), so he's going to take the month off to try to get it under control. In the mid-2000s he suffered from a debilitating arthritis, and he thinks there's a chance that this might be a recurrence of the problem.
While Kramnik tries to recuperate in time for the Olympiad, Peter Svidler will take his place if he can secure a visa. The other participants will be Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Fabiano Caruana, Levon Aronian, Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So, Viswanathan Anand, Anish Giri, Veselin Topalov, and (the slumping) Ding Liren.
After sitting out the first two rounds, Vladimir Kramnik has played in the last two rounds of the Russian Team Championship. He won both games, against Sanan Sjugirov and Peter Svidler, and is now back in second place on the Live Rating List after being briefly pipped by Fabiano Caruana. Here are Kramnik's wins, with my notes.
The Russian Club Championship started on Sunday, May 1 and continues through May 10. Among the heavy hitters who have played so far there's Sergey Karjakin, Alexander Grischuk, Peter Svidler - to include only the players over 2750 - and Vladimir Kramnik is supposed to jump in at some point as well.
On Wednesday, Ding Liren and Wesley So will begin a four-game match in China. (Or maybe there will be four classical games and some additional rapid and/or blitz games. All I know thus far is the very little given in the "Future Events" section of this page. Further details would be appreciated.)
Here. The headline is "I am not afraid of Magnus!", but that doesn't even rise to the level of "dog bites man". Even if the mere thought of Magnus Carlsen caused him to break into a cold sweat, he's not going to say that he's intimidated in any way. Moreover, while the headline makes it sound as if Karjakin was making a bold proclamation, laying down the psychological gauntlet, the fact is that he said it only after about 27 questions about Carlsen culminating in an assertion from someone else (Daniil Dubov) that he - Karjakin - wasn't afraid of Carlsen. Karjakin simply agreed, without an exclamation point.
Instead, the really juicy bit, though it's only a possibility and not a settled fact, is that Vladimir Kramnik might end on Karjakin's team. If it happens, that would be a huge boon for Karjakin. Kramnik is on the short list of the world's best-prepared players, and his experience would be invaluable to Karjakin as well. The battles between Kramnik and Carlsen over the years have been good ones, so while a match between the two would have been best a proxy war of sorts wouldn't be a bad substitute. It hasn't happened yet, though, and I suspect that even if it does we won't hear about it until after match, and even then maybe not unless Karjakin wins it.
Both Vladimir Kramnik and Boris Gelfand remain near the top of the heap of world chess, despite their both being north of 40 years of age, but the interviews compiled here they take opposing sides when it comes to the role of age in the ongoing Candidates' tournament. Which player took which side? I'll let you guess before looking it up, although since one of the two often refers to himself as a "pensioner" you can probably figure it out in advance. As for which of the two is correct, we'll have to wait and see.
The main event in Zurich starts today, Saturday, but before that the organizers had the players compete in a blitz tournament. This was entertaining for the spectators (both those on scene, including Anatoly Karpov and Viktor Korchnoi[!], and the rest of us watching on the internet), of course, and it had the additional purpose of determining the pairings. Placement determined one's pairing number, and so the top three players will all have an extra game with the white pieces in the main event.
Hikaru Nakamura won his first three games in this six-player round-robin before Alexei Shirov (barely) pulled out a draw in round 4 and Viswanathan Anand beat him in the final round. Those three finished with plus scores, and thus get the extra white game in the rapid round robin to follow. Nakamura (obviously) finished with 3.5/5, while both Anand and Shirov wound up with 3 (Anand took second on tiebreak). Vladimir Kramnik was next with 2.5, Levon Aronian scored only two points (but defeated Anand in their game), while Anish Giri brought up the rear with a winless 1/5.
Because it's a rapid event (G/40' + 10"/move), there will be two games per day. (At least for the first two days; on day 3 there will be a rapid game followed by another blitz round-robin. Strange, but entertaining.) Here are the pairings for rounds 1 and 2; round 1 starts at 3 p.m. local time in Zurich (= 9 a.m. ET).
- Shirov - Kramnik
- Nakamura - Giri
- Anand - Aronian
- Kramnik - Aronian
- Giri - Anand
- Shirov - Nakamura
There's an added bonus: Boris Gelfand and Alexander Morozevich will concurrently play a two-game match with the same time control.
Hopefully the quality of the games will be high; whether it is or not, however, they're sure to be entertaining.
This new interview with Vladimir Kramnik (or rather, the interview-in-translation) is here, and covers the upcoming Candidates' tournament, the trend of top players in open events, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the upcoming Zurich tournament and the future of faster "classical" time controls, some of his career highlights, the "Toiletgate" match with Veselin Topalov, Magnus Carlsen's proposal for a knockout world championship, and computer cheating in chess. Some of those topics are well-worn, but there's enough new material to justify having a look.
While Kramnik's interviews over the years have generally been light on politics (at least those I've seen), he offers a couple of opinions about what U.S. politicians are up to that seem a bit unlikely to this American. (I say this as someone with definite political leanings but without any particular faith in politicians per se. Lord Acton's maxim is no respecter of parties.) The first is a claim that U.S. sanctions against Ilyumzhinov (the FIDE president) are the result of a few members of the U.S. House of Representatives working in cahoots under the influence of Garry Kasparov, who is himself acting out of spite due in part to his losing to Ilyumzhinov in the last FIDE presidential election. (Kasparov's forceful response is included at this point in the interview.)
The second remark from Kramnik having to do with U.S. politics and law enforcement is if anything even stranger. He suggests that "the FBI has taken a serious interest" in Topalov's manager Silvio Danailov,"investigating his activity connected to his work for the Bulgarian and European Chess Federations." What?! That sounds as idiotic to Americans' ears as an accusation that the FSB (the KGB's successor in Russia) is taking a close look at the leaders of the USCF. They have no interest and no jurisdiction in the matter. It might be possible that some individual who works at the FBI is consulting with the appropriate investigative agency, or perhaps the FBI was asked for help in some matter of research, but to think that the FBI is conducting its own investigation seems highly improbable at best.*
* The FBI didn't pay me to write the foregoing.**
** Not much, anyway.***
*** Note to self: delete all the asterisks, lest Kramnik read this post someday and think I'm serious.
UPDATE: Ah, there is a reason to think the FBI might be interested in Danailov after all - they have a bank account in the U.S. and there are allegations of money laundering. (Apparently the U.S. is a leader in that seedy realm, if not the leader.) More info here - thanks to an anonymous correspondent. So Kramnik could be correct here, though I'm as yet unaware of evidence that the G-men are in fact on the case.
The second edition of the Qatar Masters, the strongest open tournament of the year (and probably ever) starts tomorrow - Sunday - and features a fantastically strong lineup. There are 18 players rated over 2700, including Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik, Anish Giri, Wesley So, Sergey Karjakin and, skipping down several spots, the Chinese super-prodigy Wei Yi. The action begins at 3 p.m. local time (=7 a.m. ET).
Seeing as it's the holiday season, however, I'm going to take a little vacation from blogging until the new year, and will enjoy the tournament purely as a fan, just like the rest of you. It's not impossible that I'll jump on here between now and 2016 (as a heads-up for my next column, for instance), but that aside, this might be it until next year. So Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and best wishes for a blessed 2016!
Siberia and SOCAR (nominally from Azerbaijan) were the pre-tournament favorites, and they came into round 5 with 4-0 records. Better still from a competitive standpoint (though not ideal in the bigger and more important picture), the two teams were led by Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov, respectively, which if nothing else guaranteed a hard fight at the top. In the end Kramnik won a great game and Siberia won the match, and that ultimately made the difference. Both teams went on to win in round 6 (with Kramnik defeating Vasil Ivanchuk to defeat his fourth consecutive 2700+ player in the tournament!) and both drew in the final round, round 7.
Thus Siberia won the 2015 European Club Cup with 13 match points (two points per win, one per draw), SOCAR took second with 11 points, and another (nominally) Russian team, Mednyi Vsadnik (led by Peter Svidler) took the bronze. They too finished with 11 points, as did the "Italian" team Obiettivo Risarcimento Padova (led by Peter Leko, they very nearly beat Siberia in the last round, and Leko managed to hold Kramnik to his only draw of the event).
I've uploaded Kramnik's four wins, with comments (based on his post-game remarks) to the Topalov game, here.