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.

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