29 December 2010

2010 Women's World Championship

I added details on the 2010 FIDE Knockout Matches at Antakya (Turkey), to my page on the World Chess Championship for Women. Two players forfeited the first round. In Cramling eliminated in first round Women World Championship,
Chessvibes.com reported,
Two matches have not been played: Iweta Rajlich - Jovanka Houska and Arianne Caoili - Ju Wenjun. From the latter we know that Caoili didn’t have time to play chess in this period, but strangely enough she was paired anyway – we can only assume that a cancellation letter wasn’t received in time. About Rajlich the official website reports that she was traveling with her husband and new-born kid, but was stopped by the weather conditions.

If you've forgotten about the new format of the Women's World Championship, with matches and knockouts in alternate years, see one of my previous posts on the subject: 2009-2010 Women's Grand Prix.

22 December 2010

Zonal Cycle 2008-2009

My first task after Zonal Index Updated was to add clippings for Zonals 2008-09 to my page on the World Chess Championship Zonals. Now I have one page of zonal clippings for each of the 24 World Championship cycles.

15 December 2010

Zonal Index Updated

I updated my index page for the World Championship Zonals, incorporating all of the modifications made since the previous update in 2007. I added a new column giving the 'Cycle' number for each event. This is an internal, artificial number I invented to sort the various events correctly, but it is useful enough to display on the index. The current cycle is the 25th since FIDE took responsibility for the World Championship in 1946.

There are still many errors and omissions on the page, and I have a plan to address these systematically in the coming months. This should result in more frequent updates of the index page.

08 December 2010

Dvoretsky on the World Championship

On my main blog (see Recently Spotted - Blog Carnival & Soviet School), I mentioned The Big Dvoretsky Interview on Chessvibes.com. Part 1 isn't particularly relevant to the World Championship, but the two other parts are. Dvoretsky, a world class trainer and 'the strongest IM never to make GM', touched three times on the importance of the endgame.
Part 2: Bronstein didn’t win his World Championship match against Botvinnik; it ended in a draw. Botvinnik hadn’t played for three years, he was absolutely out of training and his openings were worse at this moment than Bronstein’s openings, but still Bronstein didn’t win. Both players won five games. So Bronstein lost five games; three of those five games he lost from equal, drawn endgames. So if he had been better in endgames he would have become World Champion. Three out of five games were drawn endgames; I believe that it is quite impressive.

In 1995 grandmaster Topalov was very weak in endgames. His manager Danailov told me that he doesn’t feel confident in endgames and even avoided profitable endgames sometimes and so he would lose points in endgames, and so on. So we arranged a training session in Moscow; we worked just twelve days. After this session Topalov won the majority of tournaments which he played during the next year. He won, if I remember correctly, eighty rating points and took third place on the rating list. So, you see, he was a very strong grandmaster at this moment but even for such a level it was very important because it was his weak side.

Part 3: Tal wasn’t good in the endgame when he was young. Fortunately for him at some moment players couldn’t use it but in his second match against Botvinnik, Botvinnik used it several times.

He also touched on a subject that pops up in just about every interview I've seen for the past month.

Part 3: What is your opinion on Magnus Carlsen’s decision to withdraw from the Candidates? • You know, everybody can make any decision. I don’t know his motivation, his real reasons and so on, so it makes no sense to discuss it not with Magnus himself. On the other hand of course this decision was made because he had some problems with the modern World Championship. It’s true, there are really serious problems which are very interesting to discuss, but it’s a big topic, a separate topic, perhaps we shouldn’t do it now. For example he mentioned the great privileges of the World Champion – I absolutely agree with him. I know that Kramnik, Gelfand and some others disagree, Kasparov, Karpov. But many players agree with this position and I also agree.

On the other hand he told that the World Champion shouldn’t have any advantage, any privileges, and this is also wrong. When we play a World Championship it should be a system, not a single match or tournament, it’s a system. So everybody starts at some stage and it’s natural that some players came to the next stage by winning or keeping some results in previous stages and some of them get the right to play just because of their previous successes, it’s absolutely natural. The win of the previous World Championship is also something we can consider the win of some previous tournament, so the winner should have some privileges, but of course not so fantastic as he has now. Also in the case of Carlsen: why should he play in the Candidates, he should start in the semi-final of the Norwegian championship, because maybe some younger generation can beat him. He should also play several steps and don’t have privileges.

He got in because of rating of course... • Rating is also a previous result, it’s not ‘this set-up of competitions for this World Championship’, it’s previous results, it’s also a success like winning a previous World Championship, so it gives some privileges but not absolute privileges, like now. But it’s a topic for a serious discussion and perhaps we have no time for it. Some other problems he mentioned are also connected to modern FIDE and their policy, their strategy… In many areas he is absolutely right – FIDE is a horrible organization now but again it’s a topic for a separate discussion.

The comments on the 1951 Botvinnik - Bronstein match and the 1961 Botvinnik - Tal match are worth pursuing.

01 December 2010

Kasparov's Character

From Authors@Google: Garry Kasparov (YouTube.com), 'in conversation with Jonathan Rosenberg & Udi Manber' (2010-11-03). The 13th World Champion, when asked about the 1984 match, his first against Karpov, said,
It was a long time ago. As you remember, I was trailing badly, losing 5-0, so Karpov had to win one more game to retain the title. He couldn't win this game and eventually I won three more games. I was catching up and then the match was stopped and started again eight months later. There was a clear case of interference by Soviet officials. They believed that it would be too much pressure on Karpov to continue the [match]. I didn't like it, so the official decision made by the International Chess Federation [FIDE] stated clearly that Karpov agreed, Kasparov obeyed.

At the end of the day I won the title. The match was a great lesson for me because it probably made the ultimate mark on my character. Trailing badly, losing beyond any hope to survive, eventually surviving and beating Karpov eight months later, it was proof to me that there's no situation in your life where you have to give up. It was a very, very good lesson. So I'm grateful to Karpov who helped me to build up my character. [laughter & applause]

See also: The Sunday treat: Garry at Google (Chessbase.com).