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Boris Gelfand vs Ruslan Ponomariov
World Cup (2009), Khanty-Mansiysk RUS, rd 7, Dec-11
Indian Game: Anti-Nimzo-Indian (E10)  ·  1/2-1/2


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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-11-09  manakin: Why taking a draw with white here? plenty of game - the entire game... -left. Odd.
Dec-11-09  ajile: Game transposes into a favorable Dutch Defense for Black. I would have liked to see Black try a k-side attack here. Mobilze pieces on the k-side and play to advance pawns with ..g5 etc.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beenthere240: My guess is that they've played this kind of position often enough that they know with reasonable play it usually ends up as a draw. And also that pushing too hard by any one side can rebound. And while it isn't a draw now, the fact that it probably will be suggests looking over the board and saying: let's go have a beer and we'll fight again tomorrow. I just wonder who made the offer -- traditionally its the one with the stronger position, but I can't even begin to figure out who is better.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beenthere240: I'm also sure that if either thought that he had serious winning chances he would have gone after them.
Dec-11-09  desiobu: Been reading Silman's "How to Reassess Your Chess" recently so I'll give it a go.

I'd say white is slightly better. The queens' bishops are about equal. White's king's bishop has a little more potential for activity than the black counterpart. White's knights are also a bit more advanced but ...g5 might kick one of them at some point. Also e6 is a bit of a weakness in black's pawn structure whereas white's doesn't have immediate targets.

Overall though it's probably balanced. Either side would have to make some (possibly weakening) pawn moves to try to break through.

Dec-11-09  Pencho: It's very sad to see a draw beeing agreed with all pieces left on the board...
Dec-11-09  SniperOnG7: <Pencho> hear hear!
Dec-11-09  ajile: BTW according to Susan Polgar's website this variation with 12..f5 is rare. But this concept has been played recently by other players as well as the World Team. The advantage for Black is he gets a stonewall setup without all the dangers of playing 1..f5 to start. IE the myriad anti Dutch systems that can be used against 1..f5.
Dec-11-09  WhiteRook48: does 21 cxd5 start some fireworks?
Dec-11-09  SamAtoms1980: I was on ICC, following this game live. When the draw declaration came across all 300 of us were in serious shock. Dozens of the kibitzers were angry. Very, very angry. Several of them made comments about how FIDE was "old" and "conservative" and how change was needed and the elite GM's wouldn't let it happen because they had put too much time in to get where they are now.

Now I understand why the Carlsen and So pages have 50,000 and 60,000 posts. They bring a different brand of chess to the table.... They represent a revolutionization of the world chess order. GM Wesley So was in the house, and somebody in the gallery made a remark about how So would "mop the walls with Ponomariov". While this is an emotional exaggeration, I have little doubt that if So were sitting in Gelfand's seat, first of all he wouldn't have fallen so far behind in time. Then he wouldn't have let "Pono" off the hook so easy with a bull**** grandmaster draw. He would have carried him at least well into the middlegame, and who knows, maybe he would start slowly chewing up Ponomariov.....

We can only hope that when Carlsen and So and all the other young talents reach the elite echelon, those who aren't already there, they will always fight out positions, and not let their opponent off with some chicken**** draw.

Premium Chessgames Member
  acirce: <When the draw declaration came across all 300 of us were in serious shock. Dozens of the kibitzers were angry. Very, very angry.>

Um, no. You're making that up.

<Several of them made comments about how FIDE was "old" and "conservative" and how change was needed and the elite GM's wouldn't let it happen because they had put too much time in to get where they are now.>

Yes, there was indeed a long discussion about the necessity to switch to Fischerandom... nothing I can take seriously, and how on earth would that in itself stop early draws?

Dec-11-09  Ezzy: I don't mind 'cutting these guys some slack' here. This has been a month long tournament for Gelfand and Ponomariov. They probably have very good reasons for what they decide in such situations.

It's a battle of nerves, fitness and psychology, and the stakes are extremely high. They can't make their decisions to please the watching public. A candidates place is at stake and they will do what they feel is right to gain that candidate place.

They are well aware that there has to be a winner and they will use their own strategy in this format that suits them best.

A month is a long time and at this level the stress and strains must be enormous. Let the players choose their own methods to try to win this valuable prize.They are well aware that something has to give soon.

Who knows? Offering an early draw in this mini-match may mean the difference between winning and losing the match. It's difficult to criticise the players in this tournament when they know there has to be a result eventually.

I'm 100% sure they know what they're doing. Ok, 99% :-)

Dec-11-09  SamAtoms1980: <acirce: Um, no. You're making that up.>

Just because most of the spectators weren't actively making their voices heard in the channel doesn't mean that they weren't harboring feelings of shock and anger.

Except for a certain GM who reached the 4th round, the people doing the talking after the draw agreement were all angry.

Premium Chessgames Member
  acirce: <Ezzy>

How DARE you defend this CRIME against chess!!

How DARE these lazy bums not throw rational pragmatic concerns overboard in a very important competition just to accommodate the audience.


Right, I forgot about your well-known skills at mind reading.

Dec-11-09  Bdellovibrio: The weird part about it for me is that <both> players thought that it would be in their best interests to allow the draw. Obviously it's impossible for something to be in both players' interests when they are in direct competition.
Premium Chessgames Member
  acirce: <The weird part about it for me is that <both> players thought that it would be in their best interests to allow the draw. Obviously it's impossible for something to be in both players' interests when they are in direct competition.>

The latter part is logically correct, but misjudgments happen and are hardly weird. Also, during a game neither player has access to <all> information - only the position at the board, the clock situation, and how he himself feels (how tired, how nervous, etc).

But strictly speaking they may both have made objectively correct decisions. For instance, when Ponomariov offered the draw, it may have been objectively in his interests, and Gelfand should have played on. But while Gelfand was trying to figure that out, his clock was running, and at one point, maybe he had so little time left that the draw was now objectively in <his> interest.

Dec-12-09  Bdellovibrio: Good thing, then, that draw offers can't be retracted!
Dec-12-09  OrangeBishop: Well, that was disappointing.
Jan-09-10  znsprdx: I'm growing weary of arguing against the agreed draw - and even more weary reading(hearing)the same old discussions with few clear attempts at offering alternatives. I understand the reasons for it in terms of chess as a 'game', but when it is a competition with prize money, sponsors and paying customers there is merit in questioning (at the very least) the integrity of the players themselves.

What becomes clear is that there are many different variables at play at the moment of the draw offer. The true problem is the scoring method. For some time I have been partial to the importance of rewarding the win with a greater margin than a mere half point. Although I find the 3pts idea a bit arbitrary it does however open the door a crack upon the possibility of assigning variable scores for various types of draws.

The critical(and most objective)factor is that since White has winning odds, surely offering the draw to Black should not be rewarded with the same value as if Black makes the offer - since having achieved 'equality' is inferred. Here is where a half point difference would make sense. This in turn could lead a further refinement of the score assigned to the win.

A Black win by a lower rated player seems worth more than a White win by the higher-rated player.The key here is to apply the concept already indirectly represented by rating pts. If a 2650 player as Black defeats a 2800 player, the win should be worth a half point more. I realize this same player winning as White could be considered worth a bonus - but there has to be a practical limit.

I have previously also argued that a clear distinction must be made between single vs. double round robin scoring particularily when an odd number of games are played. However given the strangely human inability to resolve even the simplest thing ( decades, centuries and millenniums work) without divergent viewpoints, I won't hold my breath. As the icecaps continue to melt, in the grand scheme of things, it won't matter much anyway :)

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