Sunday 29 July 2007


The Montreal tournament ended much as it began, with another loss for Nigel Short. He tried a weird line of the King's Gambit (which is probably a better bet than the Ponziani) where White gives up the queen for not too much. For a while there was the impression that he might bamboozle the young Canadian Bluvshtein but it was not to be and he went down in flames.

So it was 2/9, a 2427 TPR and a 29 point rating loss for Short. What went wrong? Frederic Friedel of ChessBase asked this question of Short and an article appears here on the ChessBase site. As suspected, it appears to be a combination of things. Dental trouble (but only for the first two rounds), the presence of Kamsky (as we surmised), but also an assortment of other hassles and problems which seem to have undermined the English no.2's singlemindedness. He also makes the fair point that he is a less consistent player than his English rival Michael Adams. But in the final analysis he is at a loss to explain the enormity of the disaster. Probably he should just forget about it and concentrate of doing better at his next event - which I believe is the Liverpool Summit Match, where he represents a British team which plays matches with China, India and a composite European Union team.

Vasyl Ivanchuk duly despatched Harikrishna to take first place. This was his fourth tournament victory in a row, giving him a 2858 TPR, and enough rating points to take him to the number two spot in the world rankings, behind Anand but ahead of Kramnik and Topalov. Which makes it all the sadder that he will not be appearing in Mexico for the world championship tournament. Ivanchuk is now reaching the sort of age (38) when a number of other players have started to lose their edge, but quite the opposite seems to be happening with him. He doesn't seem to have become involved in any other distractions along the way (such as journalism, politics or poker-playing).

Ivanchuk looks to have all the hallmarks of a Korchnoi-style longevity, if for different reasons. The main clue to Korchnoi's longevity as a player is probably the fact that he has remained a rotten loser all his life. In Ivanchuk's case, the key factor is probably his eccentricity; one gets the impression that he is really only fit for playing chess and would be out of his comfort zone doing anything else. The key factor that they share is the fact that neither of them became world champions despite coming desperately close. It is still not too late for Ivanchuk, of course, and I would not discount his chances.


  1. Frankly, Nigel sounds like a crybaby. What a whining wimp he's been reduced to! He should take a leaf out of Ivanchuk's book and open his mouth less often.

    Nice video of your game against Houska on ... Chess Vibes, I think. I must confess I was mostly watching her profile ... easy on the eyes.

    Do you accept suggestions for future blog posts? Possible topic: Why is Chukky regarded as eccentric? What are his "exploits"? I recollect an article on another eccentric GM, Dvoirys (is he active? what's become of him?) on Chess Cafe. I came away convinced; yeah, the guy is eccentric.

    Annonymous (of serpent tooth fame)

  2. I cannot tell you how distressed I was by Nigel's disastrous performance.

    It's surely a disgrace that a player should fail to get appearance money because the organisers chose to find a cheaper player. Can nothing be done about this outrageous conduct?

    Five Blacks, too. It's a scandal.

  3. Chucky for Champion. What a result that would be! I'll keep my fingers crossed!

  4. To be honest, I've never met Ivanchuk so I have no first-hand experience of any eccentricity, but I've heard a few stories. Thanks to Macauley Peterson for putting that link in - Ivanchuk seemed normal enough during the interview, but his rocking back and forth during the preamble film looked a bit cranky.

    As for making excuses: it's a loser thing. And those final two words are, by a spooky coincidence, an anagram of...?