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Friday, January 23, 2009

Corus Chess Tournament:Group A :analysis of Ivanchuk's ,Carlsen's and Morozevich's play

Ivanchuk, Carlsen, and Morozevich, the three highest rated players in the A section are well off the lead after 6 rounds of play.Morozevich stands in last place with only 1.5 points with a win, a draw and four losses. Two of his losses have come when he was playing the Black side of the Sicilian Defense. According to my research using Chessbase 9 and MegaDatabase, Morozevich has played 86 games using one variation or another of the Sicilian Defense in his career, having won 40 games with black, losing 21 and having drawn 29% of all these games. His elo performance rating playing the black side of a sicilian is 2706!. So, apparently Morozevich is well-versed in playing the Sicilian, and for some reason decided to play 23...Qxc6? against Karjakin rather than 23...Bxc6 and then as so often happens to chess players, Morozevich immediately followed this mistake with another one, this time the blunder 24...d5?? against Karjakin in round 1. According to Deep Rybka 3, playing the move 23...Bxc6 Rybka 3 would have kept him in the game. Who can explain this? It certainly would be nice if there were more media coverage of major chess events, so that we could get comments from the players in a game, to gain insight into the reasons which caused a top-rated player to blunder away the game. Was for instance, Morozevich in time trouble?

Ivanchuk's play in the tournament so far, which has resulted in him losing two games, winning one and drawing the other also has me perplexed.His win against Wang Yue was even in doubt, as he mentioned in an interview. His first round loss to Smeets was a shock to me, especially due to the fact that he lost on time! I think it is inexcusable for him to lose on time, especially with only one move to make the time control ( time control of 40 moves in 2 hours, then 20 moves in 1 hour, followed by 15 minutes with 30 seconds per move increment to finish the game). The position in which he lost on time is not overly complex, and I wish we could learn his reasons for his behavior. His other loss to Radjabov, was also due to his time trouble (according to the website), Ivanchuk was left with only one minute to play his last 12 moves to reach the time control at move 40.

Two losses due to problems with the clock are unbelievably uncharacteristic of the Ukrainian GM (especially because in 2008 Ivanchuk is extremely proficient in shorter-time control events (he won Mainz and the blitz Tal Memorial events last year!).Vassily I hope you can manage your time better in the remainder of the event, I am pulling for you!! In his commentary, GM Seirawan pointed out that during the Wijk aan Zee tournament, Ivanchuk faced a FIDE disciplinary hearing, with respect to his missed drug test at the Dresden Olympiad. Given the Draconian nature of the sanctions he potentially faces (a possible two-year ban), it would not be surprising if that were playing on his mind, and may explain his poor form so far.Vassily Ivanchuk's problem with his missed drug test at the Dresden Olympiad has been resolved. A meeting on the first rest day at Corus concluded that due to an error in procedure he could not be said to be in breach of the regulations.

Carlsen's play is equally difficult to comprehend. He has scored 6 successive draws in the tournament, as his father states on his blog regarding Carlsen's actions during his game with Aronian in round 4:

"Magnus decided to allow the black sacrifice Nxe3 as he (correctly) thought it would be clearly better for white. After fxe3 Rxe3 white has two alternatives; Bd3 or Rd3. Magnus thought both alternatives were about equally good for white, and he went for Rd3 to avoid having a black rook sitting on e3. But, he had missed black's move Qxb4 capturing a third pawn for the sacked knight." (source:

Regarding his son's round 3 game against Movsesian, Henrik Carlsen states:

"In round 3 Magnus had white against Movsesian. He seemed to get a slight initiative from the opening but Movsesian played very accurately."

In round 5, Carlsen faced Ivanchuk with the black pieces, and neither player was willing to try and open up a Ruy Lopez, to try and defeat his opponent. And in the most recent round, Carlsen had the white pieces against Karjakin, and Carlsen decided to play a closed Queen's gambit. Analysis of this game has been done by GM Sergey Shipov and can be viewed at: According to Shipov, Carlsen was too rushed in his desire to gain his first win of the tournament. On move 35, Carlsen made the mistake of playing 35. d5?, instead of 35.Qxg6 (which according to Shipov, would have created "unstoppable" threats). From this discussion we can conclude that chess is a very difficult game to play, even for the prodigies and gifted players. One move can make the difference between a win, loss and a draw, and even the best players can have difficulty finding the best plan of action to take in a game, which can be some consolation to those of us who are much less talented than these "Chess Geniuses".

You can download the analysis of Shipov (in PGN format) by going to

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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.