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Jonathan Sarfati
Member since Sep-27-06 · Last seen Dec-15-17
F.M., Ph.D. (physical chemistry), New Zealand Champion 1988, author of six books and co-author of three more. See also bio http://www.creation.com/sarfati.

I was club captain of the Wellington Chess Club in New Zealand and Logan City Chess Club in Queensland, Australia for over a decade each. I admire Capablanca and Karpov for the clarity and effectiveness of their styles.

I recognize only the "lineal" world champions as real ones, I.e. those who won their titles by winning a match with the incumbent where available, not the FIDE ones who won silly knock-out tournaments. This means Steinitz, Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Euwe, Botvinnik, Smyslov, Tal, Petrosian, Spassky, Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov, Kramnik, Anand, and Carlsen.

Chessgames.com Full Member

   Jonathan Sarfati has kibitzed 1536 times to chessgames   [more...]
   Dec-05-17 Kibitzer's Café (replies)
 
Jonathan Sarfati: GoD? M F Noble vs A F Ker, 1994 is a nice variant on the more famous theme in Alekhine vs Von Feldt, 1916
 
   Dec-05-17 M F Noble vs A F Ker, 1994
 
Jonathan Sarfati: For some reason, the link below doesn't work, but this should Alekhine vs Von Feldt, 1916
 
   Dec-04-17 Ponomariov vs Granda Zuniga, 2007
 
Jonathan Sarfati: Yes, the ♗-pair is very strong when the position is quite stable, and the ♘s are tied to defence. A ♘ can't move and still keep up thr defence of a point.
 
   Dec-04-17 de Firmian vs Granda Zuniga, 1996
 
Jonathan Sarfati: Interesting that Black basically ignored the fact that he was a P down and just developed. 12... Nf6 was a cute tactic (taking it allows mate in 2), but then it was just continuing to bring his pieces into play. 21. Rxh5 lost the exchange by force, and also allowed the ...
 
   Dec-04-17 Karpov vs Kasparov, 1985
 
Jonathan Sarfati: See this game for a positional exchange sac in return for a N outpost on d3: A Giri vs Granda Zuniga, 2017
 
   Dec-04-17 A Giri vs Granda Zuniga, 2017
 
Jonathan Sarfati: In some ways, more impressive than the famous Karpov vs Kasparov, 1985 . That game sacked a P for a poweful Nd3, while this game sacs the exchange. And there were far-from-obvious moves like ... g5 and ...h6 opening lines to the K. Even after a Q-exchange, Black's attack ...
 
   Dec-04-17 Granda Zuniga vs Kamsky, 1996
 
Jonathan Sarfati: Most of the action looks like taking place on the Q-side, but Granda whips up a lightning K-side attack from almost a clear sky.
 
   Dec-04-17 I Polovodin vs Glek, 1987 (replies)
 
Jonathan Sarfati: Yes, 41.♖xd7+ ♔xd7 42.h5 ♔e6 43. h6 ♔f7 44. fxe5 results in two distant passed pawns that are outside each others’ promotion squares.
 
   Dec-01-17 Euwe vs Bogoljubov, 1934
 
Jonathan Sarfati: If 63... g1=♕, then there is the standard mating sequence with ♕+♖: 64. ♕f6+ ♔e4 (64... ♔g4 65. ♕g6+ winning the ♕g1) 65. ♖b4+ ♔d5. 66. ♖d4+ ♔c5 67. ♕d6+ ♔b5 68. ♖b4+ ♔a5 69. ...
 
   Dec-01-17 Alekhine vs O Bernstein, 1934
 
Jonathan Sarfati: Quite so. White doesn't even need the b-♙ to win with ♕ v e-♙.
 
(replies) indicates a reply to the comment.

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 9 OF 9 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Feb-21-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: Big Pawn: I take on Craig in http://creation.com/william-lane-cr...

John Lennox's masterpiece, "Seven Days that Divide the World", has opened many people to the fact of long creation days. Now we present Dr Lennox's long-awaited sequel, "Three Days that Divide the World". Be prepared as Dr Lennox applies his great insights from his previous book to these pressing questions. He shows that Jonah was really billions of years in the great sea creature, and Jesus really spent millions of years in His tomb. Compare http://creation.com/review-lennox-s... by a colleague

I have used some of Planinga's insights in http://creation.com/answer-to-philo... A friend reviewed Plantinga at http://creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/...

Feb-22-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: <Nor can we for a moment hold that air or human breath was what God breathed into man’s nostrils. It was His own vital breath>

I will give that some thought. I had not considered that before.

Feb-22-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: Sorry to attribute that to you <saff>
Feb-26-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <Big Pawn:> John Lennox's masterpiece, "Seven Days that Divide the World", has opened many people to the fact of long creation days. Now we present Dr Lennox's long-awaited sequel, "Three Days that Divide the World". Be prepared as Dr Lennox applies his great insights from his previous book to these pressing questions. He shows that Jonah was really billions of years in the great sea creature, and Jesus really spent millions of years in His tomb. ;)
Feb-27-17  Big Pawn: <JS>, do you think that Lennox would agree that the context of these three examples, (creation, Jonah and the NT) is the same, so that a fair comparison is being made?

I enjoyed reading your article on creation.com that you linked to above. However, Craig makes clear that he is agnostic about the true age of the universe, although he does tend toward the billions years old universe in his arguments, but then again, he's arguing from natural theology and using mainstream science to prove that the universe had a beginning, contrary to what atheists used to claim. They don't like answering for a universe with a beginning because of the strong theistic implications.

Jul-10-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: Jonathan do you have any info about Tom Lepviikmann ? There isn't much here at this site.
Jul-11-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <Benzol:> You're certainly right. I will put something on his page from Ortvin Sarapu book. Any Kiwi champ deserves a decent mention.
Jul-11-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: <Jonathan> Thanks matey.

:)

Sep-18-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: Good morning <Jonathan Sarfati>. You might want to see my post in Capablanca vs Marshall, 1918

A part of me is glad that the Carlsen vs Bu Xiangzhi, 2017 has occurred. It gave chess pundits all over the world a gut-level perspective of the narcissistic generation syndrome debate, allowing them to concretely evaluate in real time the moves of a modern World Champion when faced with an unexpected Marshall type attack, and compare it with Capablanca's moves and performance when he had to face the same situation in 1918.

Current World Champion Carlsen crashed. On the other hand,

<Shajmaty: In 23 moves (between 14. ♕f3 and 36. ♗xf7+), Capablanca plays the best move (i.a.w. Stockfish) 21 times!>, and Capa ended up winning.

I do hope that this Watsonian nonsense meme of the best pre-WW2 chess masters being automatically weaker than today's current players (whose brains are touted to be developing computer levels of chess accuracy just because they were born in the 1980s and 90s and are active in the current era) is finally sunk in the sea of empirical evidence.

Sep-20-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: G'day <visayanbraindoctor>. Yes, I think these two games are good evidence against Watsonism–Larsenism / narcissistic generation syndrome, and there are many more. Same with the old Alekhine > peak Keres and old Keres > peak Larsen you point out, and we could add 48yo Capa ~ 25yo Botvinnik and 50yo Botvinnik > peak Larsen.
Oct-24-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <visayanbraindoctor>, to reinforce that, Carlsen presumably had played through Capablanca's game at some time, while Capa had no predecessor to draw upon.
Oct-25-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <Jonathan Sarfati> Capablanca had an uncanny ability to play novel openings (not variations but whole new opening STRUCTURES at the time the game was played) perfectly just as these openings were meant to be played positionally.

Examples:

Sicilian Scheveningen

Lasker vs Capablanca, 1936

Modern Benoni

Capablanca vs Janowski, 1924

Alekhine vs Capablanca, 1927

Capablanca vs Marshall, 1927

(I think the Modern Benoni should be renamed into the Capablanca-Marshall)

Benko Gambit

Nimzowitsch vs Capablanca, 1914

Marshall Attack

Capablanca vs Marshall, 1918

Oct-25-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <Jonathan Sarfati: <visayanbraindoctor>, to reinforce that, Carlsen presumably had played through Capablanca's game at some time, while Capa had no predecessor to draw upon.>

I know many kibitzers would rake me with flak but my gut feeling when following the games of current masters in the internet live is that Capablanca was definitely stronger than any of them. He had an unmatched ability for finding the best moves in critical positions, and at his best never committed a losing tactical error. He would be invincible in a match in any era in chess history. (Not to mention that with his extremely rapid play he would be the only player in history that I would give a more than 50% chance of winning the World Cup format every time he participated.) I've never seen anything like it.

Nov-16-17  beatgiant: <visayanbraindoctor> <whose brains are touted> In general, those who believe in the improvement of chess over history don't believe it comes from <brain physiology> but rather from <cultural development>.

What scientific studies there have been about chess seem to support the <chunking hypothesis>, which holds that chess mastery comes from having a big repertoire of chess patterns. This does not require an increase in brain capacity.

Here's a typical citation: Gobet, Fernand, and Herbert A. Simon. "Expert chess memory: Revisiting the chunking hypothesis." Memory 6.3 (1998): 225-255.

A quote from the abstract: "Masters in our new study used substantially larger chunks than the Master of the 1973 study..."

It could be that Capablanca had more, larger and better quality chunks than other masters of his time, but not necessarily of today's top players. I don't think it works to pick out an individual pair like Capablanca vs Marshall, 1918 versus Carlsen vs Bu Xiangzhi, 2017 to come to far-reaching conclusions; one would need a carefully defined methodology to compare as a whole the works of Capablanca, Carlsen, and their contemporaries.

As for the brain's physical ability to create and store these structures, I think that has existed since the dawn of history and supported these impressive feats of creating all our languages, sciences and culture, of which chess skill is one small part.

Nov-17-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <beatgiant> Define <chunks> as related to chess?

There is a theory that short term memory works in <chunks>. Essentially that means that your limbic system stores short term memory best in chunks of up to four. (In contrast long term memory is localized in the cerebral hemispheres' cortices.) That's why you can memorize something like phone numbers more efficiently if you divide them into chunks of 3 or perhaps up to 4. Are these authors claiming that somehow this proves that a pre-WW2 master can't play middegames and endgames as well as a present day masters? That's like saying 1 + 1 = 2, and using it to prove that 2 + 2 = 5.

<"Masters in our new study used substantially larger chunks than the Master of the 1973 study>

The quote that you cite sounds speculative hypothesis at best. The ones generally accepted worldwide enter our textbooks and that citation has not. Or at the very least are known by your local Psychiatrists, Neurologists, or neurosurgeons. If any of such similar studies specifically pertaining to has been accepted by most people trained in various fields of the Neuro Sciences, I certainty would have read of it in our textbooks, or heard of it from other Neurosurgeons, some of whom (including my old master and mentor who always would invite me to play chess with him in his spare time after he found out I used to be a below 13 age bracket National Chess Champion of our country) include chess among in their favorite hobbies.

Frankly, I don't agree with it if what they are implying is that pre-WW2 masters can't play chess as well as present-day ones. I've seen enough games pre-WW2 and post-WW2 that are counter examples.

If you have studied both Capablanca vs Marshall, 1918 and Carlsen vs Bu Xiangzhi, 2017, and read the evidences I and <Jonathan> have posted in this site, and still believe that pre WW2 masters can't play middegame and endgames as well as present day ones, I would say that no amount of evidence will convince you otherwise that your thesis could be wrong. I am sorry to say that the simplest explanation why you are ignoring all the empirical data in front of you (and digging up more unclear speculations by the above authors) is that you have a bad case of the narcissistic generation syndrome yourself, and are acting like a die-hard Watsonian propagandist.

If you have been wondering why I haven't been discussing this topic with you anymore (except to correct more Watsonian propaganda if I come across it in other pages of this site for the sake of new kibitzers who are new to the topic), well... I don't quite have the time to repeat all the discussions about this topic with you in the Alekhine forum. I think you are an intelligent person, but the evidences I presented just flew past your head; not because you are unintelligent, but because of a bias that causes you to ignore clear empirical evidences.

Larsen was probably more intelligent than either one of us, yet was completely blinded by his own bias thanks to the narcissistic generation syndrome. How the heck could he say he would easily crush any 1920s master after:

http://www.chessgames.com/perl/ches... and

http://www.chessgames.com/perl/ches...

As for Watson, how could he claim pre WW2 Masters were inferior after getting crushed in Keres vs J L Watson, 1975

He actually insulted Keres' generation AFTER he already got crushed by Keres just when the old master was about to die of a heart attack a few months later. He was so blind that he did not realize that Keres began his career in the 1920s. That's how biases can affect judgment in quite respected and intelligent people.

Am I being judgemental of you? I guess I am, but I have already presented all the evidences needed again and again and you just keep on ignoring them. OK you'll shoot flak at me for saying out my mind, but seeing how you are still following me around after all the evidences I had presented in the AAA page, I believe this topic has become a kind of personal competition with you; and so IMO nothing else would work with you but the painful truth.

After saying the above, let me also say I admire your analyses in the various game pages of this site. You do good for the chess community with them. However, I do hope that someday you will realize you have the same blinders on that Watson and Larsen had.

Nov-17-17  beatgiant: <visayanbraindoctor> First, I just want to clarify one thing. My main point above was not just to take another shot in the age-old <masters of the past versus masters of today> debate.

Instead, my main point was: those who side with masters of today, don't do it based on <a brain theory of skill> but based on <a culture theory of skill>. Above, you said <brains are touted>, and I don't think that accurately represents anyone's position.

I'll respond to your other points briefly in a separate post later (again, not intending to reignite this debate on which we've both probably already made all our main points).

Nov-18-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <visayanbraindoctor: <Jonathan Sarfati: <visayanbraindoctor>, to reinforce that, Carlsen presumably had played through Capablanca's game at some time, while Capa had no predecessor to draw upon.>>

Just saw your comment at Anand vs Carlsen, 2015 where it is clear that Carlsen does respect the old masters and studies their games, just as Fischer used to. A few years ago, he said that he admires Reuben Fine, "It strikes me that what he was doing in chess is similar to what I was doing." (cited in http://www.standpointmag.co.uk/node....)

It's no accident that Fischer and Carlsen are two of the greatest post-WW2 players, along with the two Ks.

Nov-19-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <beatgiant> I reacted strongly because the the quote <Masters in our new study used substantially larger chunks than the Master of the 1973 study> looks utterly non-nonsensical to me, and seems to just throw rotten eggs at the the old masters.

It implies that present-day players have limbic systems that somehow can memorize short term memories of more than 4 chunks, while the old masters can only manage up to 4. What?! The limbic system of every human in history has been 'hard-wired' by genes by age 4. It's not as if humans born after WW2 have a different 'wiring'.

Perhaps these authors are saying that present-day masters have memorized more opening variations? If so, I agree. But that certainly does not mean that the old masters cannot memorize more variations too, if they happened to have been born more recently; as what the statement to seems to be implying.

What's the definition of this? <a culture theory of skill>

Nov-19-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <Jonathan Sarfati> Yes, in fact of all top level masters, I believe that it is Carlsen that most often cites games from the old masters.

<It strikes me that what he was doing in chess is similar to what I was doing>

Fine was known as being a positional monster during his heydays, playing unpretentious openings but aggressive accurate and positionally sound middle games. Well, that's precisely what Carlsen is today.

I can see the similarities of their style and I understand Carlsen's admiration for Fine.

BTW I could never completely comprehend why Fine quit chess so early in his career. Why in the world would he refuse to play in the 1948 Candidates? It was a great loss for chess. I do not think that it was merely to continue with his Psychiatry career.

One possibility I have entertained is that he lost heart after his failure in US chess- failing to ever win the US Championship, and failing to surpass Reshevsky. Maybe he was thinking 'If I can't even be the top gun in my own country, what's the chance for me against the Soviets?'

Nov-19-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: Fine had a respectable score against the competitors in the FIDE World Championship Tournament (1948)

Samuel Reshevsky beat Reuben Fine 5 to 1, with 14 draws, but before the event it was 4 to 1, and lots of draws.

http://www.chessgames.com/perl/ches...

Paul Keres beat Reuben Fine 3 to 1, with 8 draws, which is the best record against Fine, and it's not quite dominating.

http://www.chessgames.com/perl/ches...

Reuben Fine tied Max Euwe 2 to 2, with 3 draws, but before the event it was 3 to 2 for Fine.

http://www.chessgames.com/perl/ches...

Reuben Fine beat Mikhail Botvinnik 1 to 0, with 2 draws, so Fine had already proven that he could beat Botvinnik.

http://www.chessgames.com/perl/ches...

Nov-27-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: There are a few likely reasons for Fine's dropping out.

One is the impossibility of making a living from chess in the USA of his day, and, related to this, the uselessness of the USCF. E.g. they didn't want FIDE to select the obvious Reshevsky and Fine for the world championship tournament, but wanted to pick the American reps.

Related to this was his career in psychoanalysis (really quite a farce overall, with his silly comments about chess and the Oedipus complex etc.). That was a reason he gave at the time, but decades later, he claimed that this was a Soviet fabrication. Fine was somewhat economical with the truth on a number of occasions.

Another major reason is that he lacked confidence in his play. During WW2, he had only inferior USA opposition for the most part, but the Soviets had improved by a lot. In those days, chess novelties travelled slowly. Pre-WW2, he outclassed the best players in the USSR apart from Botvinnik, e.g. Fine vs Lilienthal, 1937 and Levenfish vs Fine, 1937 But after the war, he lost rather easily to one of the second-string Soviets Boleslavsky vs Fine, 1945, against whom Botvinnik had an overwhelming plus score. And he always found Keres a hard opponent Keres vs Fine, 1946, while Botvinnik meanwhile had become stronger than Keres.

Nov-27-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <Jonathan Sarfati: There are a few likely reasons for Fine's dropping out.

One is the impossibility of making a living from chess in the USA of his day>

That would get my vote.

Nov-27-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: You you just replace “Fine” with “Carlsen” everywhere in this account below, except for the last sentence:

“Fine was a formidable player with a solid and sound style that had been compared to Maroczy, Euwe or Karpov. Arnold Denker even went so far as to compare Fine's play to that of Fischer. Fine’s play was rarely flashy and he was always prepared to make a passive, unspectacular move just to bide his time. He was always confident that an opportunity to gain the advantage would inevitably arise because he always thought he was the better player.

“In his notes to one game Fine described his approach: My chief objective was always precision, wherever that would take me. When he needed to win, he didn’t take risks in order to avoid the draw and seek critical positions. Instead he simply intensified the accuracy of his positional play—and scored win after win with surprising persistence.

“Fine’s style of play won’t appeal very much to most players because his games often appear to be dry. But, in reality they often contain many subtle and fine points that make them a model for positional play. And, it was his positional understanding and technical ability that accounted for many of his victories. Fine was an all-around player as demonstrated by the many books he wrote on all aspects of the game: openings, the middlegame and endings.” http://tartajubow.blogspot.com/2017...

Nov-30-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: I agree. I admire Carlsen for his incredible accuracy and persistence, but I don't particularity find his games very interesting or creative.

For ex, the game below could well have been played by Carlsen. Fine grabs material, then just keeps on improving his position from a rather cramped start, and wins in the end playing accurately.

Fine vs Stahlberg, 1937

Notice how Fine keeps a sound pawn structure, fends off any possible offensive or tactic, and makes sure his pieces remain coordinated even if for a time many of them were in the back rank. Notice that both Fine and Carlsen seem comfortable playing with their pieces on their first rank, as long as they are coordinated. And they are both quite 'materialistic' and prefer sound pawn structures.

Dec-01-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: To be more specific, IMO Carlsen style tends to:

1. Set up a sound pawn structure. If possible set this up as a classic pawn-occupied center. If not, make sure it is sound anyway.

2. Maneuver pieces behind and around this sound pawn structure, always prepared to grab more space, and create and target opponent's weaknesses, exploit any situational development that can lead to an offensive. Sometimes this entails maneuvering around his first rank, but Carlsen isn't adverse to this.

3. Maintain accuracy at all costs.

His latest game

Carlsen vs Caruana, 2017

shows Carlsen doing this precisely. Note the sequence of moves

9. e4 cxd4 10. Nxd4 Bb7 11. Be3 Bc5

and White has advanced a pawn in the center e4 square and maneuvered his Dark Colored Bishop behind it, targeting Black's weak Queen-side Black pawns and squares.

Then what IMO is a typical Carlsenesque maneuver (complete with a creeping Queen move in the first rank)

12. f3 O-O 13. Qe1 Rc8 14. Qf2

applying more pressure on the Black Queen-side Black pawns and squares, and suddenly it's clear that White has a long term advantage with a strong center and space behind to engage in even more maneuvers. (I am almost sure that Carlsen may have missed a win somewhere in the endgame, but I don't have a chess program to verify this. To is credit Caruana also defended well.) I like the 12. f3 13. Qe1 14. Qf2 sequence.

Fine also seemed to have such a style. It's not flashy, and carried over for the whole of the middlgame and endgame looks dry to many kibitzers. Their moves are not unexpected, and there is hardly a moment for the onlooker (and probably for their opponents as well) of 'Wow! I did not see that coming'.

Carlsen fans will probably flake me for saying this, but IMO there are hardly any interesting twists or imaginatively and unexpectedly creative attacks. But I am not saying that it's wrong. On the contrary, Carlsen may have the most positionally 'correct' style of all World Champions.

Rather than dry I would call it 'swampy'. It's a style that is very difficult to play against. Their opponents must feel like they're drowning in the mud of a swampy morass.

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