29.09.2005 A.Kentler CROSSROADS

Oh the former world championships were great... "Great people do not play in San Luis – Kasparov, Kramnik, Karpov, Khalifman, Shirov, Ponomariov, Ivanchuk – all the best chess players! Add anyone to them, and you will get the championship ten times stronger!.."

    Let us abandon complaints and go right to the matter: the event that was hard to believe in, begins tomorrow. Without any qualification, and therefore not absolutely fair, but anyway it is the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, that will reveal the FIDE world champion. There is still a question whether the winner will play Kramnik or not, but everyone can testify that classic champion was invited to San Luis, and having rejected to come there he can afterwards challenge the winner of the championship.

  When I called one well-known Moscow journalist and boasted of having done the tables for the world championship, I heard such a reply: "What an Atarov-kind of things you are doing!" I started to answer that I went in for statistics already in the sixties, when I was a student of the Economics department at the Leningrad University, and Atarov was not born yet. I recalled spiteful lecturer Oktyabrsky (now he is a Professor and head of the Economical statistics dept), who made us work hard on the statistic problems. But then I visited ChessPro last weekend and at first I was very disappointed to see Zhenya’s tables, but soon realized that there was reason to call statistics along with several other disciplines an imperialist flesh-peddler (in the times of Soviet propaganda): almost no numbers coincide in Atarov’s table and mine, although we base our calculations on the same data.

   All my calculations are based on the ChessAssistant database. In the first table there are all normal chess games (excluding Fischerrandom) between the participants of the championship, in the second one – all played with classic control. The only exception is done for FIDE world championships, which included different controls. We cannot count key games with shortened control separately from classic ones, as we cannot separate the part of the game played before the first control from its quickplay finish.


     In lines there are games played as White in classic chess, rapid chess, blitz and blindfold and in columns – all the games played as Black. For example, let us take Adams and Anand. They played 32+31=63 games. Not to overload the readers with information, the last column contains the ratio of the victories and defeats for every pair with minus or plus. These are unique numbers! Let me add a small table:

                             White       Black     Sum

Anand                    +50             +7             +57

Morozevich             +3               -3                0

Kasimdzhanov          +4               -8               -4

Leko                       +11             -16              -5

Svidler                  +3                -9              -6

Topalov                   +4               -12             -8

Adams                       +7               -21           -14

Polgar                      -1                -19           -20


    As you see, the only participant with a positive result of the games with rivals is Viswanathan Anand, and the negative results of other participants are predetermined by the results of the games with him.


  In this table there are the results of all the games played with classical control, in lines as White and in columns as Black (with plus/minus). The dash means the absence of the games of such color distribution in the pair. Let us take Adams and Anand. The total number of the games is 26+26=52. Adams won 2+1=3, Anand won 13+3=16. 21+12=33 games ended in a draw.

 It is also interesting to look at the ratio of won and lost games. Anand has +32, Morozevich -1, Leko and Topalov -3, Kasimdzhanov -5, Polgar and Svidler -6, Adams -7.

  We can forecast the championship results basing on the present data, in case these data do not change dramatically in San Luis.


     These are the results of two games (as White and as Black). Missing games are given in parentheses. I shall note that in case when only one game is played, the statistical probability of similar results is very low.

    And now I will go on making a forecast, although the probability of its coincidence with the result is very small.

    First of all I will reduce the number of the candidates for the title from eight to five. I am sure that neither Kasimdzhanov nor Polgar nor Adams has chances to win. The first one is included in the list because he does not have the skill of playing classical chess on such level. Judit Polgar is a phenomenon. Her participation in the championship because of the very high rating in men’s list is a great achievement. But her big negative aggregated score is not in her favor. After the defeat from Hydra I do not believe Adams can win, especially as his play has declined in the last years.

    I do not believe in Topalov from the five remaining players. He is a very bright player, and it seems to me that he could claim the victory if it were not his excessive ambition and ambition of his manager Danailov after the very first success. There are four players left – Anand, Leko, Svidler, Morozevich, and every of them has chances.

   Of course, Anand has the best chances. But there is the circumstance that can prevent him from the victory. He got his first chance to take the throne officially in the absence of Kasparov (his and not only his evil genius). After the knock-out victory he could do it only formally, and now he would be able to do so being applauded to by the whole chess world. There is still the question whether the eldest participant of the competition will bear the tension.

    Leko has quite good chances also. But now, after Kramnik's decline in both competitive results and motivation, a draw with him is considered to be only a relative success. If the struggle at the tournament will be a defensive one, if those who get a plus score will cherish points like apple of their eyes, then the chances of the Hungarian will arise. But if there will be a race of the leaders, then his success is unlikely.

   If the humaneness were the parameter to choose the champion, then Svidler would have good chances. Unfortunately Peter is unfailing and he spends his strength and nerves on numerous team championships to the prejudice of laborious work… But there are inner reserves: Svidler is 29-year-old, and he has to achieve success, as Topalov did earlier. Moreover, there were no two world champions with coincident date of birth, but this has to happen: Peter and Tigran V. Petrosian have the same date of birth. I should add that he trained with Motylev who also has the same date of birth, and this is the chance!

  Morozevich… I recall year 1956, Chigorin chess club, and us, children, reverently watching the USSR championship. Tal made his debut at this tournament. He played marvelously and shared the 5th-7th places, if I am not mistaken. But I still remember the talks of clever elderly and very elderly specialists: he is just lucky, many points, little understanding etc. And then you should remember: he was the USSR champion in 1957 and 1958, and in about two years he became the world champion. In our computer times it would be marvelous to get Morozevich as the champion, because he breaks all the conventional stereotypes of the game. Morozevich’s advantage is that he is younger than everyone at the tournament except for Kasimdzhanov, and he has already had been successful in playing with all the rivals, as it is seen from the tables. However, Alexander can win the first place or get the place far from being the first one.

  We will see soon how foolish all my words were.


   Main  About  Articles In Sections  Best Games Of The Month  Reviews  Portrait of Chessplayer  Interviews  Closed World  News Archive  Guestbook