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Andrei Kharlov vs Veselin Topalov
"My Dinner With Andrei" (game of the day Dec-05-2008)
FIDE World Championship Knockout Tournament (2004), Tripoli LBA, rd 5, Jun-29
Bishop's Opening: Berlin Defense (C24)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jun-30-04  karlzen: <acirce>, well I'm not entirely sure that I agree with my last statement, not in full, anyway. I think that 120 rating points on that level, is a lot more on our level, so the result is not fantastic. Now, I definitely want to make clear that I think he's been playing very well, just not as outstanding as some people may think. You must agree that he's had an extraordinary easy way to the semis (and probably finals)? He's almost seeded right in (well, almost - look at Ivanchuk and Grischuk). I don't know any statistics about Anand against 2650's, but I think he should manage 6/8 without an outstanding perfomance. This being a KO makes a lot of difference too. Think about it, what was the least number of points he would need to go to the semis (not counting ties)? It would be 6/8 (not counting the first "blindfold" round). With some luck, those figures could easily be brushed up to 6.5 or 7/8 and then he's good perfomance did the rest. This is not near the strength of a tournament at the highest level, Topalov would be considered a tourist in the opinion of Kasparov, if he would take less than 6.5 in the 8 rounds (or something like that).
Jun-30-04  acirce: Your statistically expected result in an 8 game match against a 120 point lower rated player is somewhere between 5 and 5.5 points. Incidentally, as I brought up Anand, it seems he did play 8 games against a rating average of 2609 in Bundesliga 03/04 - he scored 6.5 points and by this he earned 8.2 ELO points, that is, 6.5 of 8 is substantially more than the "normal" result against an average of not 120 but 165 points lower than your own.

<Think about it, what was the least number of points he would need to go to the semis (not counting ties)? It would be 6/8> Why not counting ties? 4/8 could have been enough, theoretically.

Premium Chessgames Member
  IMlday: I love this game. Kharlov chooses a Bishop's Opening because it is really hard to create an unclear struggle against Petroff's or the Ruy Berlin line. Once White has maneuvred his B/c4 to f3
he has a clear positional advantage.
After 22. f4 White has very clear edge,
which is what makes 22..Nxg4!? an excellent practical move. Its 'soundness' cannot be judged in a vacuum.
Purely theoretically a piece is worth about three pawns; but the position at hand is a practical reality. Making a worse position into an unclear position is progress. Black's position was bad, but if the sacrifice doesn't work, then his position is still bad. But the way Topalov defended, by counterattacking, is the superb practical chance, especially with the goofy FIDE time limit. The same principle was explained by Fischer regarding the openings, that White is better so he can play quiet lines like Ruy Exchange and be happy; But Black is worse so a
complicating option (Poison Pawn, Alekhine's, KID etc.) makes sense. If the position becomes unclear, then White is sad and Black happy. The second critical moment in the game is right at move 39, just before the 15-minute increment. For the carbon-based life form the pressure is most intense. But Fritz, silicon-based cool mecanico, points out that 39.Kf1! was still , same evaluation as at move 22. I think Kharlov will become a very strong Grandmaster, even if he couldn't hold the ferocious Topalov in this game.
Jul-01-04  karlzen: <acirce>, well ties is a completely different thing. It's another form of chess. I don't think the ratings can be correct for both standard and rapid games. I also don't think that the quick draws that are played should be included in any statistics. 8quickdraws/8 is 0/0 in perfomance as far as I'm concerned. 6/8 is thus the minimum and 7.5/8 against tourist opponents and a bit of luck is not that extraordinary. One should not blindly follow statistics, they can be explained by words and not figures, Topalov's result is not as outstanding as it may sound. I still claim that it's ridiculous to only face 100 points lower rated opponents in a tournament. I don't think that the ratings are correct for all top players either. Anand for example, is probably under-rated. I don't know where you got those stats, or how they were gathered, but my guess is that the spread is too big for measuring the 2nd best player in the world according to them.
Jul-01-04  acirce: <karlzen> No, you can reach as far as Topalov by scoring 4/8 in the standard games and winning the rapids, but then you still don't have to count the rapid tiebreak games as rated. Two different things. So 4 is the minimum, not 6.

<I don't know where you got those stats> FIDE's page. Those games account for the whole of Anand's increased rating since the last list.

Jul-01-04  karlzen: <IMlday>, I'm not sure that Kharlov will climb that much more on the ratings ladder. He's of course already a strong GM, but I don't think that he will touch 2650 again. One can always hope though. :) 39.Kf1 doesn't seem to be a very constructive idea though. Black will just play Kf7 and the ball is back in White's court. I don't see how white can make any progress whatsoever. The only move is b3-b4 but that sells the d4-square for a very cheap price.
Jul-01-04  karlzen: <Your statistically expected result in an 8 game match against a 120 point lower rated player is somewhere between 5 and 5.5 points.> I was talking about this piece of stats. How did they determine this? If they included players of all levels, there's no chance it can be correct. Since Anand is almsot the strongest player in the world, it's really hard to have any kind of such stats on him. He just doesn't follow the standards! :)

My point was that by drawing all your standard games, you have achieved nothing in forms of standard chess, which is the correct version of chess! Even if Topalov wins all tiebreak games but plays even against his opponents in standard chess, he has achieved nothing in "real" chess. I definitely don't agree with the KO system there. If he plays 8 quickdraws and then wins the tiebreaks, he will have lousy ratings stats but still, he didn't even use his full potential in the standards. That's why stats can be lousy, they're not correct in that respect. I explained this above.

Jul-01-04  acirce: <<Your statistically expected result in an 8 game match against a 120 point lower rated player is somewhere between 5 and 5.5 points.> I was talking about this piece of stats. How did they determine this? If they included players of all levels, there's no chance it can be correct.> That's how the ELO system works mathematically and I'm pretty sure it's quite accurate. Otherwise it would be a very simple way to raise your rating substantially just by playing lower rated players and win. If the ELO system is that flawed it would be a complete outrage!

<That's why stats can be lousy, they're not correct in that respect.> I agree with that. Just like Adams agreeing to draw in much better positions because that's what he needs to win the match (for example against Nakamura). That's a problem.

Jul-01-04  radu stancu: 63.562115% of all statistics are made on the spot anyway...
Jul-01-04  karlzen: <acirce>, I'm glad we could agree on something! That is exactly the point I've been trying to make. I also must say that radu stancu should be agreed to! :) One must measure play in the games and not results to determine perfomance and I'm not sure that Topalov has been playing like a future champ, although he's been playing best in the tournament (although this is also very hard to measure). This is another defect of the KO system, with some luck you're already in the quarter finals! You don't even need to win a single game to get to the final (draw in Armageddon as black)! I think the ELO system is flawed, and that is also the reasons why WorldChessRating was created. It can not be correct in the top and bottom because stats are always based on the broad standard, the thick middle division. I think that the difference between Anand and a 2660 player is larger that just 120 points (whatever a point is!:)).
Jul-01-04  karlzen: I just don't think overall strength can be measured without meeting equals and better players. Topalov's first real match in this tournament will be the final as far as I'm concerned, although I can definitely enjoy his games anyway!
Jul-01-04  Dionyseus: From a recent article at Chessbase:
When we took a glance at the game in progress with Kasparov we observed that Topalov had sacrificed the exchange for a few pawns and a powerful light-squared bishop. "What do you mean, exchange," he replied, "Topalov is down a full rook!"

"The knight is the problem," Kasparov observed around move 40, "there's no way to get it back into the game. Topalov has clear compensation, plus a big time advantage. He might even win this game."

I agree with the majority here, brilliant play from Topalov.

Jul-01-04  karlzen: I can tell you that many of the GMs and IMs that were watching the game had serious doubts about the correctness of Toppy's play, none of them carries the understanding of these positions measurable with that of Kasparov of course. Topalov has definitely joined Kasparov's "team". :)
Jul-01-04  chesslllvr: how do you get the pictures for the pieces like that?
Jul-01-04  Helloween: Topalov is playing some of the best chess of his professional career at present. It is clear, to me, that he is trying to send a message to Kasparov, and although I predict him to become the next FIDE champion, I think he lacks practical chances of defeating Kasparov in a match. I do think the outcome would be closer than many people would surmise, as Kasparov has deteriorated somewhat over the past year and a half/2 years.
Premium Chessgames Member
  IMlday: When young Topalov showed up as top board for Bulgaria at the 1994 Moscow Olympiad nobody thought he had any chance against Kasparov, but he won the game.
Jul-02-04  karlzen: <chesslllvr>, You mean the avatar's to the left or the pieces in the text? Take a look here: Kibitzing Tricks or here: Premium Membership

<Helloween>, I don't think we can measure Topalov only after his play in this tournament. So far he's not played any top player and hasn't even smelled Kasparov's strength in any of his opponents. He has to prove himself in a supertournament.

Jul-02-04  acirce: <He has to prove himself in a supertournament.> Wijk aan Zee 2004, 4th place, performing 2754. Linares 2004, half a point behind Kasparov, performing 2731. Make what you want out of it. Personally I think his results lately even WITHOUT this tournament would indicate that Kasparov on decline would only be close favourite in a match.
Jul-02-04  karlzen: Of course I think that Topalov is one of the best players in the world, but he is still not in the same category as the absolute best players. About Kasparov, I'm not sure. He will definitely win the match, but sometimes he almost plays like a regular 2700 player. I don't think he's declined as much in strength as some people may think, at times I see him on top again. In Linares Topalov did a good effort, finished one point after the winner, Kramnik, if I'm not mistaken, but also only one point ahead of Shirov and Vallejo who finsihed last. Topalov took 6/12 and even counting the rubbish perfomance ratings, he didn't do anything special. In Wijk Aan Zee, I think he played very well, finishing ahead of Kramnik (although Kramnik wasn't himself and Kasparov, Polgar and Moro were missing). I think it's a pity that not Anand is going to win tournament as that would give us the perfect matches: Kr-Leko and K-Anand, followed by a match between the winners. :)
Jul-02-04  acirce: <Of course I think that Topalov is one of the best players in the world, but he is still not in the same category as the absolute best players.> Agreed. I think there are three or four of them; Topalov is not one of those.

<About Kasparov, I'm not sure. He will definitely win the match, but sometimes he almost plays like a regular 2700 player. I don't think he's declined as much in strength as some people may think, at times I see him on top again.> I don't know what "some people" think, personally I think he is obviously still one of the very best, maybe even THE best, but this is doubtful.

<the rubbish perfomance ratings> Those aren't exactly rubbish; they are far from saying everything of course but they are valuable clues, important parts of the puzzle.

Jul-02-04  karlzen: Well I wouldn't say that perf ratings are an important part of the puzzle, it's just dead stats, but that's only my point of view of course. I just find it ridicoulus when a player has 3000 or something in calculated performance. :) I pretty much share your view on Ka.
Jul-02-04  ajile: Very clever opening move order by Black. White plays an early d3 which allows Black to transpose into a Philidor Defense but with an extra tempo. Note the best way for white to make progress against the Philidor is to play D4 which he ends up doing here after the fact. I don't believe this should be classified as a Bishop's opening. It's a Philidor with a delayed d6.
Jul-03-04  karlzen: A very interesting observation <ajile>. It is indeed a variation of the Philidor although with a tempi less more for black. Perhaps it was more exact to continue in closed Ruy Lopez fashion with 8.c3 intending Nb1-d2-f1-e3 or -g3 and maybe a later d4.
Nov-22-04  iron maiden: It's because of games like this that I'm considering adding Topalov to my list of favorite super-GM's.
Oct-18-05  Averageguy: The Bishops Opening doesn't seem to offer white as good chances as other openings. Black can equalize fairly quickly, and can begin his own attack, as well illustrated in this game.
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