It's easy to learn from our losses (though some plucky individuals manage to avoid doing so), but learning from our wins comes much less naturally. In my column this week I start with a couple of autobiographical stories: one where I failed to learn from a game I won and one where I got it right. Then it's time to look at the pros, and we see that even the world's best can make this mistake, as Yasser Seirawan did in a famous pair of games against Anatoly Karpov in 1982. This was not the first or the last time someone has committed this error, and hopefully we can all learn from their errors and not follow in their footsteps.
Entries in Yasser Seirawan (7)
Since the end of the European Club Cup, the chess world has been relatively quiet when it comes to major activity. Nevertheless, there are things to report and blog, and I'll begin here with a note about something that isn't so serious but is enjoyable. Thanks to Chess Today, I learned about a lecture on openings by GM Yasser Seirawan, given a couple of weeks ago at the St. Louis Chess Center, where he's the new grandmaster in residence. The material is relatively introductory in nature, but even those who find the chess content simple will enjoy some of the cute stories he relates, especially early in the video.
The blitz portion of the three-part match between the former world champion Anatoly Karpov and 4-time U.S. champion Yasser Seirawan was entertaining and well-played. Neither player had much to offer by way of opening prep, and that mutual lack helped make the match. Neither player got much out of the opening, so that meant they had to play chess: no quick wins and no quick forced or semi-forced draws. Neither player is what he once was, but as if by mutual agreement they reached positions where they could both show some glimpses of their old greatness.
Anyway, after four draws in the first four games - the classical games on Sunday and Monday and the two rapid games on Tuesday - they had only two draws in ten blitz games today. Karpov never trailed, and by running off three wins in a row in games 6-8 he clinched victory in the match.
Question for my readers: do you think chess bloggers will write about the Carlsen-Nakamura nostalgia match in 2050?
Today Mssrs. Anatoly Karpov and Yasser Seirawan sped things up a bit in their St. Louis match, following the previous days' classical games with a pair of rapid contests today. All the same, the play was similar, as were the results. So far, defense has triumphed in the match, but tomorrow they'll finish things up with 10 blitz games.
The 6-game rapid match between Francisco Vallejo Pons and former FIDE world champion Veselin Topalov finished today in a 3.5-2.5 victory for the Spaniard. Vallejo won game 5 with the white pieces to clinch overall victory. Topalov won the last game after Vallejo blundered at the end of a long defense, but it wasn't enough to save the match. Vallejo certainly isn't a bad player, but whatever Topalov had going for him in the mid-2000s still seems to be gone, long gone. I haven't rooted for Topalov since "Toiletgate", but while I admit to feelings of schadenfreude it's still a pity to see such a great player become a mere shadow of his former self.
Meanwhile, as one match featuring a former world champion (of sorts) finishes, another match with a former world champion begins. The tripartite classical/rapid/blitz match between Anatoly Karpov (he's the former world champion, for the younger internet crowd) and Yasser Seirawan started earlier today in St. Louis, and game 1 was a long and hard-fought draw. Karpov had White in a 4...Bg4 Slav, and for a while had a very slight edge. At a certain point he was a bit careless, however, and then it was Seirawan's turn to torture him for a few hours. Karpov eventually lost a pawn, but defended well despite a permanent time shortage. They'll play a second classical game tomorrow, and the next day things will start speeding up.
Perhaps this is so Yasser Seirawan can justify a second edition of Chess Duels? (Kidding.) Unfortunately, Anatoly Karpov and Yasser Seirawan are going to play a three-stage match in St. Louis from June 9-13.
First, a pair of classical games (40/90, SD/30+30") worth three points apiece. Second, two rapid games (25' + 5") worth two points apiece. Finally, ten blitz games (5' + 2") worth a point apiece. The winner (probably Seirawan, given that Karpov has been pretty much retired from serious chess for around a decade) gets $10k, the loser $7k. It's a nice payday for Seirawan, win or lose, but wholly unnecessary for Karpov, whose wealth is reportedly equivalent to at least hundreds of millions of US dollars and possibly in the BILLIONS.
As someone who grew up in the era of Karpov reign, it's painful for me to watch him playing at least 200 points below his peak, playing worse than he did as a teenager. It reminds me of watching Larry Holmes beat the snot out of a slow, aging, overweight, Muhammad Ali who had already gone through several hard fights too many. Watching Karpov play badly doesn't add to the luster of the game and tarnishes his legacy, especially with newer fans who don't know any better. (Note: It wouldn't bother me at all if he still worked at the game, like Korchnoi or - to mention a closer age peer - Beliavsky. But he isn't; he is very busy doing lots of other things, with the result that when he does pop out every once in a while the result is generally a disaster.)
His chances of winning a third straight U.S. Championship took a big hit tonight when he lost to Hikaru Nakamura, but overall it has been a pretty good event for Gata Kamsky. Coming into today's round he was in clear first, and his previous game was an impressive win over Yasser Seirawan on the white side of a Classical Caro-Kann. Kamsky had prepared a nasty surprise that had probably been intended some time earlier for Veselin Topalov, but it was Seirawan who wound up the victim.
The winning combination was very attractive, and the game is also valuable for us to follow in White's theoretical footsteps, both in that precise position but also in a more general way. The g4 idea Kamsky used has become popular across a range of Classical Caro-Kann positions, and so it's important for players on both sides of the dispute to be familiar with them.
So there's both an aesthetic and an educational component to this week's show, which as always can be viewed free of charge (free registration required) and will be available on demand for the next month or so.