Columns | February 15, 2009 22:23

FIDE's odds

Kamsky-TopalovOne of the strangest news items concerning the upcoming World Chess Challenge match Topalov-Kamsky was published not on some obscure chess blog, but on the main page of the site. Its headline runs 'The chances of Topalov and Kamsky are fifty fifty'. I was instantly curious, since it seemed clear to me that Topalov was the absolute favorite.

Sure enough, the article on the FIDE site (which was first published on the Chessdom website) starts with the following observation:

(...) More and more news sources and chess fans put Topalov as the clear favorite. The rating difference, the strong play by Topalov in Nanjing and Bilbao, and the host city being Sofia provide a first impression that everything is going to be fine for Topalov. All around the internet he is being pointed as the heavy favorite, even Levon Aronian stated for Armenia media that he is sure in the Bulgarian GM success.

A recent ChessVibes poll shows the same trend: more than 70% of the voters thinks Topalov will win the match. Clearly, FIDE has to come up with some pretty strong arguments to call the odds 50-50. Strangely, though, the article doesn't mention any. FIDE notes that Kamsky has a good match record - but so does Topalov. Furthermore, they acknowledge the match format also fits both players. The same, FIDE reasons, goes for any psychological factors and recent results by both players.

All these things being equal, you'd think FIDE would conclude their article by saying that the current ELO difference is more than 85 points in Topalov's advantage and that Topalov has a crushing 6-2 record against Kamsky, making him clear favorite. Instead, FIDE prefers to ignore these factors stating 'it is not possible to point out a favorite before the start of the event.' By this rationale, of course, it is never possible to make any predictions or odds at all. Clearly, FIDE has a pretty strange way of looking at probability theory. I am no trained statistician, or a gambler, but I'm quite sure Topalov is the clear bookmaker's favorite.

Perhaps FIDE simply doesn't want to pronounce any preference at all, even if this preference is backed up by solid data. Here at ChessVibes, we also don't have any preference for either Topalov of Kamsky. But what we can do is look at the numbers and draw our own conclusions. And yes, numbers don't mean everything - but they don't mean nothing, either. Or perhaps, for publicity reasons, FIDE really wants the public to believe this is going to be an equal fight - even if it's against all odds. This, too, would be praiseworthy enough - if it didn't look so silly. Just because the facts don't suit you doesn't mean you can ignore them.

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Arne Moll's picture
Author: Arne Moll


Mary's picture

@ Thomas and Sjoerd: you defend the undefendable, guys. Given the sensitive nature of an opinion like the one expressed by the Chesdom article (let's call it that way...), any decent FIDE editor would have obtained (if he was really so trigger happy to prove that FIDE's matches are such a success and ready to use any piece of cheap propaganda to build up an non-existent tension and interest) not only the permission to copy and paste that article (like many others as Doggers noted) on their web main news section and thus endorsing the concept with no self-notes from FIDE's editorial team (is there such thing?), BUT also the name of the author! I am quite confident that this article was not written by "Chesdom", but by some guy related to Chessdom. So what's the big deal? Get the guy's name and let him stand by his story. Different opinions on different matters is all good, but when a nameless propaganda piece from one site makes its way in the FIDE (World Chess Federation)'s main news section with two basic items missing (1. author's name and exact original place of first publication in terms of link, date etc; 2. FIDE's own editorial remarks on the topic if any), then we got the right (like Arne did) to actually doubt the transparency and the journalistic standards (both in matters of substance and form - which is logic, intent and editorial ethics) of the FIDE editors or FIDE's propaganda soldiers.

Nobody really cares what Chessdom does or writes about as long as their posts are generated as pieces of opinion on their own website. But when one lands on the World Chess Federation's main news section with such a piece, at least make sure you get the essential data posted. Otherwise is just plain sloppy journalism, if can be called journalism at all. What's worse is that the whole mechanism of "copy and past what serves our purpose" FIDE type of editorial work is insulting to a majority of chess people out-there and I believe that was the cause why Arne put the pen on the paper in the first place. Good for him!

Doggers is correct: FIDE puts real money into websites/editorial work when elections are at stake. The rest of the time, feed the masses with copy-and-paste pieces from here and there just to have some other content next to another one of KI's visits in some forgotten ex-Soviet republic.

Mary's picture

@ sjoerd & Thomas: Arne was right in bringing up the issue of FIDE propaganda. If that's the standard copy-and-paste editorial work FIDE website/editors offer, than it's not good enough (as Doggers pointed out) and that's nothing to defend right there...Why shold Arne be responsible for FIDE editor's imprecision in:
a) offering a proper link
b) getting the name of the actual author of that piece - which in case of debates, etc claims responsability for his ideas and defends them
c) offering (or failing to offer) any editorial note on how exactly FIDE feels about the opinions expressed there? Do they agree? Are they endorsing them?
When such basic editorial work is missing, who can blame any decent reader like Moll or others for believing that FIDE website actually used the piece as a tool for making others believe that the match in question is really super interesting to watch (regardless how pathetic that seems) and if such a reader feels like it to criticize both's piece and its lack of logic as well as FIDE's poor editorial standards at work.

But that's nothing new under the sun: look at the other FIDE news reports and you'll see some collection of news/articles/statistics gathered over the net, copied and pasted with a minimum of credit lines and with incomplete source details and one gets the impression that the editor over there is pretty desperate to get diverse news from wherever/whoever he can just to add contents to that website which otherwise looks mostly like "KI visited another ex-Soviet republic and was well-received" - type of chronicle.

For those who defend the sloppy editorial work on FIDE website, they should recall that it was supposed to be the leading forum on chess happenings/facts/information in the world. Which - as it stands now (and in the last half of decade) is....NOT.

Manu in Mar del Plata's picture

As i read , nobody defended the sloppy editorial work on FIDE website, they are more likely arguing about tinny imperfections on this one.
FIDE ´s site was never supposed to be the leading forum in chess information , for starters is not even a forum ...

vaughn's picture

where i can see the live games?the official site it's a crap !

Tim's picture

Just a few points, because I agree that this started out as quite a lot of fuss about not very much at all.

1. the original article (published first by Chessdom and subsequently reprinted by FIDE) is not very objective. No one looking at the two players' recent successes against top-class opposition could say anything other than that Topalov is a clear favourite. And so I agree with the findings of Arne in relation to the text of the original article.

2. both the headline 'Fide's Odds' and the words of Arne's article are excessively referential to and critical of, FIDE. The author of the column (Arne) was well aware, as he concedes, that the original article was probably not written by FIDE. So statements such as: "Clearly, FIDE has to come up with some pretty strong arguments to call the odds 50-50" are unhelpful because they imply that the origination of the claim that the odds are 50/50 is FIDE, and not Chessdom.

3. The original Chessdom article is a typical exercise in journalistic hype. In the same way that when Anand had a convincing lead in his match with Kramnik, certain people were continuing (unrealistically) to write that a comeback by Kramnik was still entirely possible. It's what journalists due for a living. And therefore perhaps the dissection of that original article with reference to probability theory goes a bit far (even though, as I say, I agree with Arne's conclusions).

4. The writer of any article for a website (in this case Arne, for Chessvibes) is responsible for the quality and accuracy of that article. If someone levels criticism at your article, I would humbly suggest it is not appropriate to be rude or sarcastic to your readers, e.g: "I’m sorry, but you’re wrong," and "In my opinion, it’s not an abnormal conclusion, but perhaps in the future I should check and remember all articles on chessdom just to make sure…". If you write articles for a public website and then include a section for comments, you cannot be surprised or indignant if some of your readers are critical of your column. But the journalistic standards are higher for you than for your readers, so you need to be more careful and more polite in your responses to those comments, because you are representing Chessvibes when you do so and ultimately you rely on your readers and visitors to the site. Most of the comments to this article are well thought out and carefully written. They are not, in general, the angry ranting you so often see. So, Arne, I think you need to give more credit to your readers; you need to consider the possibility that their criticisms might be partly valid and not be to0 proud to admit you might have made a mistake.

Arne Moll's picture

Sjoerd, to answer your question: yes, I thought it was probably a guest post by a Chessdom editor, written for the FIDE site. I agree that it would have been better to check the chessdom site to make sure, but since I didn't see a hyperlink to any chessdom article with the same title, I assumed it was written especially for the FIDE site. In my opinion, it's not an abnormal conclusion, but perhaps in the future I should check and remember all articles on chessdom just to make sure... ;-)

Manu in Mar del Plata's picture

Not all the articles , but the relevant ones. BTW you take too much time (and posts) to even admit a tinny flaw on your article , most part of the thread becomes an argument about your writting and there is very little about the main subject.
Of course this is just my opinion , but you are missing a nice oportunity to discuss the odds on this match.

sjoerd's picture

For the record Manu, the "argument" was not about his writing but about the content of the article-which was not the odds alone but Fide's alleged position in that matter-quite a big deal and very much the main subject.
I am curious to see the outcome of this match, but more curious to see the games. Nobody can predict preparation, mental toughness, form and so on. That's why I 'll settle for 50/50, equal chances:p

Peter Doggers's picture

Was away from the internet for a few days - quite an experience. (Try it yourself, you won't regret it!) Wow, what a fuss about... well, not much. Firstly, the article itself on the FIDE website didn't deserve all this attention I guess, though Arne did emphasize that it was the headline that triggered him and I can understand that. I think in general what Arne, and many with him, are concerned about is the total lack of substance at This article is just one example of many articles that have been copypasted from elsewhere and that's because FIDE still hasn't been willing to put some money in their site, and get a team, not a webmaster but an editorial team, to cover worldwide chess events.

What bothers me is some of the comments left below this article, which imply that some of our readers have different expectations than what we're intending to do here at ChessVibes. As the editor-in-chief, I'll react on two.

Lork on 15 February 2009 17:30 PM this article was published more than a week ago at, too bad chessvibes copies stories (again)

How difficult is it to follow a basic rule that says "read first, then talk"? The article clearly reacts on an article, and to do this, you have to quote one or two times. ChessVibes very seldomly copies stories, and if we do, there's a good reason. If you don't like it, and wonder why, drop us an email instead of leaving such comments.

CAL|Daniel on 16 February 2009 3:58 AM (Edit) this is the worst newspost I’ve ever seen on this site. Chessvibes should be ashamed. I’m very depressed to see such a good site post such dribble.

Do we have to spell it out, every time Arne writes one? OK. no problem. It's a C-O-L-U-M-N. Not a "newspost". The genre allows the author much more freedom, and in general people who write columns, comment on events, people or texts (or anything).

LS's picture

The one and maybe only advantage of Kamsky is his stronger nerves. If he can 'kill the position' and draw the games towards sterile and long endings, he may have a chance for an upset...

bernd's picture

Kamsky must try to play like Kramnik and draw on Topalov's relative weakness in "boring" positions... still I think Topalov will win the match.

chessvibesrules's picture

I have mixed feelings. Topalov is so strong and proved he is one of the best players. But i like kamsky as a person and chessplay. I hope he will winn... But I also want the fight against Anand to be as hard as possible. So in that way I simply hope the best player will win. My favorite player top 3 in this match

1. Kamsky (also for being the underdog)
2. Anand (great play and person
3. Topalov.

sjoerd's picture

stating the obvious and making a fuss over nothing. What's the point of this article? It's analyzing a headline for **sake.

piet's picture


Lork's picture

this article was published more than a week ago at, too bad chessvibes copies stories (again)

Thomas's picture

Chessvibes isn't copying stories, but pointing out and commenting on stories published elsewhere. The only lapsus may well be that Arne Moll doesn't point out the original source, even though FIDE does (with the subtitle "Chessdom preview ....") and Chessdom is among the sites 'monitored' here (see to the right below). Consequently, FIDE cannot be blamed for "a pretty strange way of looking at probability theory".
More interesting is trying to guess Chessdom's motivation for publishing that story. I don't know who is really behind Chessdom ... they have an 'About' link on the front page, most names sound Bulgarian but otherwise unfamiliar. However, my overall long-term impression is that it is generally strongly pro-Topalov.
Then it probably comes down to psychology, relieving pressure on Topalov and putting some extra pressure on Kamsky. If Topalov ends up winning by a hhuge margin (as many people predict), it has to be sold as an achievement anyway, not as sommething expected or 'business as usual'. If the match gets close or if Kamsky wins against the odds, it should not be viewed as a major failure by Topalov .... .

Arne Moll's picture

Indeed Chessdom seems to be the original source, but since FIDE published the article on their site, I assume they stand behind it. And yes, the article is analyzing a headline (and its implications). Isn't that allowed?

Thomas's picture

Arne, in case your final question was directed at me: I certainly did not (mean to) imply that you did anything 'forbidden' ,:). My first sentence was mostly directed at Lork. You did NOT "copy a story", in some ways your column is more similar to your [much appreciated] book reviews - highlighting and either criticizing or praising work by someone else. One difference is that "either ,:) or ,:( " then targets the original author, not the publisher ... .

That being said, I will now dissect your reply ,:) :
1) "Chessdom seems to be the original source" can safely be replaced by "Chessdom _is_ the original source".
2) Further down, "I _assume_ they [FIDE] stand behind it" is correct in my opinion. You cannot be sure, sometimes web sites also publish open letters (and do not necessarily agree with all of the content). From FIDE's site (or whichever web editor acting on their behalf) it may have been wiser to put the title in quotation marks, making it a quote and not an official FIDE statement.

Yet I assume that your assumption is correct, and one of your sentences is IMHO the most plausible explanation: "for publicity reasons, FIDE really wants the public to believe this is going to be an equal fight". And maybe, thinking one step further, the loser deserves preferential treatment in the next WCh cycle even if his name is Kamsky!?
And in any case, one quote from Chessdom cannot be that easily refuted or discounted as irrelevant: "During the World Cup he [Kamsky] showed he can jump on every little opportunity and downed players such as .... (early opponents deleted) Svidler, Ponomariov, Carlsen, and Shirov in the mini matches." I think he was the underdog in ALL of these matches, though maybe to a lesser extent than in the upcoming match.

And now my question: What do you (and others) think about my analysis of Chessdom's intentions?

sjoerd's picture

Of course it is allowed. But it is not, to put it mildly, very bright.
At least in my opinion.

sjoerd's picture

The subtitle directly below the discussed headline on the Fide site says "chessdom preview". And soon thereafter Fide links to that article. So Arne's assumption (fide backing this headline), that certainly should have been mentioned somewhere in the chessvibes text (even though it is long enough already), is questionable.

Ridiculing FIDE (which is not that hard) for a headline they didn't even write and may or may not support seems a little far off.
All the more since the headline is not strange at all-certainly not stranger then forgetting to mention chessdom's role in this play!

Now my two cents on the title:
The title means to say: "they have equal chances to win the match."
The best man will win..Something like that. That it had nothing to do with probability theory, impressive as it may be, looks obvious enough to me.

Maybe someone should write an article about the title "Fide's odds"..

sjoerd's picture

Now where is the interview with mister plukkel?

Thomas's picture

About Arne's alternative interpretation:
"Perhaps FIDE simply doesn’t want to pronounce any preference at all, even if this preference is backed up by solid data."
Actually FIDE would have done so also by 'remaining silent', i.e. not publishing any match predictions whatsoever. Or even if they published "solid data" (ELO ratings, players' biographies) without commenting on their implications. The latter isn't FIDE's job, there are enough other websites available .... .

BTW, I also find it quite odd that the official tournament site finishes Topalov's biography with the words
"He is obviously entering his top form. All experts are predicting him as the winner of the forthcoming World Chess Championship semifinal against Gata Kamsky "
1) It should remain neutral (even if that means "forget about being Bulgarian for a moment")
2) Implicitly, it declines expert status to the few dissenting voices (including Chessdom ,:) ) !!?

Coco Loco's picture

Opinion pieces will always polarize. Maybe have each person who leaves a comment check off a box saying whether they liked (or disliked) the piece. Then ignore the negative comments, or just read them when you're in the mood :)

R.Mutt's picture

How can anyone say that Topalov has a good match record? As far as I know he has never won a match of more than two games in his life... (not counting rapid/blitz games)

Thomas's picture

Yep, I can be persistent .... but I will start by conceding about one aspect:
As I noticed only now (before I always used the direct hyperlink provided by Chessvibes), the article is announced on the FIDE frontpage under 'FIDE news' without giving the original source. BTW, this differs from FIDE's news item #4 entitled "Danailov on Topalov-Kamsky". Taking this into account, there is little if any ambiguity whether FIDE endorses the content of the article.

You are also right that not all of the readers may know what "Chessdom" is referring to. It would have been wise from FIDE to add in brackets (a Bulgarian chess website) or, probably even better, to add some own introductory text before copying the Chessdom article .... . The very fact that the article appeared before elsewhere indicates that it is not (merely) a guest column written for (solicited by?) FIDE.

About "the second flaw", I will not give in ,:). First, I think your sentence is a bit confusing:
"FIDE notes that Kamsky has a good match record - but so does Topalov." (the first part is clearly attributed to FIDE - the second part could be FIDE's opinion, your own, or both).
Second, there are some subtle differences (between the lines) in the original article: "a match specialist with solid experience" is arguably more than "also ... successful ... with short matches". Chessdom implicitly acknowledges that Topalov is less experienced and less successful in longer matches (to my knowledge, he had only one such match - against Kramnik). These nuances are lost in your summary .... .

In conclusion, none of the three persons/institutions/webpages involved deserve a brilliancy prize IMHO - even if the Chessdom/FIDE article is remarkable for raising some points which are not really mentioned or addressed elsewhere.
And - sort of repeating myself - you (Arne Moll) get my brilliancy prize for some of his other contributions, including the most recent book review.

Thomas's picture

And about the rating difference: Yes it is there, yes it is significant .... but it is not necessarily decisive. Have a look at the match Kasparov (rated 2849 in the Oct 2000 list) vs. Kramnik (2772) .... .
Incidentally, several people suggested that Kamsky will (or should) use a match strategy similar to Kramnik's - of course in 2009 there will be no more element of surprise.

Mike's picture

I know that the main factor in chess matches is one's preparation both technically as well as physically and psychologically (Capablanca lost one match to Alekhine due to his total lack of preparation), So each match is unique and has it's own history. Otherwise, In my opinion, in principle, of course not accounting for the ones when opponents share more or less the same style (e.g. Smislov vs. Botvinnik), chess matches require long term strategies and psychological strain. In other words, matches are best suited for stability and not for gambling or tactical style. This for example explain the outcome of such matches like Capablanca vs Marshall, Lasker vs. Marshall, and also that first cancelled match Karpov vs. Kasparov when Karpov deserved to win but gave a second chance to his much younger rival due to problems with his own physical strain (In my opinion, FIDE should apply some sort of rating or points handicap to older masters due to the natural strength decay over ages. It is not fair a 20 years old man playing with equal handicap against a 50 years old player. This had eventually allowed mature Masters like Kortchnoi, Smislov, etc, a better chance to win or regain well deserved World titles). So, let's see if the outcome of this one is somewhat similar to other ones in the past ...

sjoerd's picture

Arne. I think Thomas has a point.
You say his arguments make little sense to you, but your last arguments are clearly wrong. To be more specific;
There IS a link directly to the chessdom article in the first sentence of the article, and the subtitle is CHESSDOM PREVIEW. How much more clear can it be?
That it is a "guest column" for Fide is of course totally unbelievable; the article was earlier published on Chessdom's site. And Fide would not be the first to copy paste some of their articles, heh, chessvibes?;)

sjoerd's picture

" That is, readers have no way of knowing that their subtitle ‘Chessdom preview’ in fact refered to a published article on Chessdom: there is no hyperlink to the original article or even the Chessdom main page, nor an explanation of what ‘Chessdom’ actually stands for (perhaps some readers who do not know this site will think it is a pseudonym? Who knows.)"

Do you really believe that? If so, check the Fide site again (and sober up;)

Jose's picture

In a tournament Topalov would be the clear favourite, but in a match you need iron nerves and a great selfconfidence. What about Kamsky great experience in matches? I still remember when Kamsky won matches against Kramnik and Anand, although the match with Anand was very though indeed, Kamsky showed his best under extreme pressure.

What about the match played only to 8 games? Ridiculous. Matches are the salt and pepper of chess and when you are playing a "final of candidates" 8 games seems to be quite a short distance, there is no margin of error. 12 games would have been better. I think that players will take no risks, because the price to pay for an error is too high in only 8 games.

rdecredico's picture

Each one only has one chance in 2 of winning.

Arne Moll's picture

@sjoerd, I'm sorry, but you're wrong, the hyperlink in the article is not to the relevant Chessdom article, but to a general announcement on that site. And well yes, if you know the article was published on Chessdom before, it's hard to believe it's a guest column. But how can readers know this if FIDE doesn't link to the original post? Do you seriously expect them to scan all articles published on the internet? Anyway, this is getting a bit tiresome. FIDE published the article, no? That was the point of my article and I stand by it.

Jagdish Dube's picture

How the chess viewers compare this match with Anand-Kramnik WCC Match.?Media coverages are almost equal
Jagdish,New Delhi.

Thomas's picture

Let's see how media attention evolves during the match. It may well end up in the shadow of Linares, unless something dramatic happens in Sofia: e.g. Kamsky leading against the odds, and/or Topalov/Danailov coming up with another scandal .... .

Thomas's picture

About previous match experience of both players: In my opinion, a more accurate summary (doing better justice to both the Chessdom-FIDE article and reality) would be
"Kamsky has lots of top-level match experience. Topalov's experience is comparatively limited: mostly short matches, mostly weaker opponents"
In tennis language: Advantage Kamsky !?
Does THIS make sense ??

VB's picture

From a Sales point of view 50% - 50% sound pretty well. I expect the Match to be very interesting...
enjoy it!

sjoerd's picture

Arne, apart from the fact that FIDE did and does link to the chessdom article, your question about what people might think, and their confusion, is rather strange to me. Let's pretend people are confused about the origins of the article.
That's not the issue!. The issue is whether or not YOU were confused by Fide's post. Since you wrote this article and drew some conclusions. As an experienced writer and chess journalist you must know so I think you could have known; from both link and subtitle, that the article was chessdom's. Strangely enough you omitted chessdom from your original article. But if you knew, then you should have mentioned it in the first place. But then there would be no "fide's chance" title here. I just wonder whether or not you knew it was of chessdom when you wrote this article.

I can imagine you find this tiresome, so I will leave it with that.
But let me, as a farewell, point out that chessdom did link to the article.
The link is to chessdom (1) and indeed to the topalov kamsky match site. Originally it DID LINK DIRECTLY to the same chessdom article (2); which was then the main article. Of course it is no longer the latest article; but you can still see it directly below the main article on the linked page. You complained about Fide not linking to the chessdom main site but since they do link to the article I think it's even better.

Mary's picture

Moll is right. It's not just the logic of the whole argument in the FIDE article that's failing. It's also the journalistic standard: wasn't FIDE who created CHIPS []? Why was the article not even signed by whoever authored it? What sort of journalistic standard is that? Some food for thought for whoever is the chief-editor at FIDE and whatever standards they claim they uphold.
But then again, it's quite difficult to find a reasonably clever chess person nowadays that truly buys whatever FIDE claims/posts...

Manu in Mar del Plata's picture

Bulgarians would do something else , bombing is more like an American tradition.

IMO Topalov being the clear favorite doesnt mean that chances are other than 50/50 .
Topalov seems to be more determined than Kamsky this time , and his mental strenght has grown a lot since Elista , but still ,it is a short match and anything can happen.
And i don´t even believe what Aronian said about Topa winning , maybe the guy is trying to put preassure on him.
I would prefer to know what Shirov thinks of the outcome of this match , he was the last to confront a very inspired Kamsky.
Another thing that nobody says is that Kamsky stole a very valuable time for preparation , the false bid for the match was a good move , very lawyer-like.
Kamsky arrived to Bulgaria in silence , maybe he is the one that carries ¨the bomb¨ after all he´s american.

chessfan's picture

just for the record:
2002 in Dortmund Topalov play heavyweight matches(four games each) with Bareev and Leko.

Hugo van Hengel's picture

From a marketing point of view it is much better for FIDE to "sell" the match as being a very close one. No one is interested in a onesided match.

Arne Moll's picture

Thomas, since you seem to keep persisting I'll answer in a bit more detail, especially because your arguments still make little sense to me.

First of all, I didn't know the original source of the article when I wrote the article, since FIDE doesn't mention it apart from the word 'Chessdom' in the subtitle. That is, readers have no way of knowing that their subtitle 'Chessdom preview' in fact refered to a published article on Chessdom: there is no hyperlink to the original article or even the Chessdom main page, nor an explanation of what 'Chessdom' actually stands for (perhaps some readers who do not know this site will think it is a pseudonym? Who knows.) This is also Mary's point and I completely agree. And for all we know, one of the Chessdom-authors may have written the article for FIDE as a kind of 'guest column'. In fact, this is what I thought when I read the article. I don't really see how you can hold it against me, apart from the fact that I hadn't noticed the original article (which I readily admitted - and I've updated the article so it also refers to the original Chessdom post).

The second 'flaw' you mention is irrelevant since it's not my own opinion that their match records are comparable, but the point of the article on the FIDE/Chessdom site! Indeed, they write: "Gata Kamsky can be considered a match specialist with solid experience" and then in the next paragraph: "Topalov also has a successful experience with short matches". I also indicated that it's not my own opinion by writing "FIDE indicated..." so there can be no confusion over this, can there?

Thomas's picture

@Mary: I think you missed part of the discussion here. The article is originally by Chessdom, as clearly indicated in the FIDE subtitle. The fact that the author's name isn't given is then poor (or no) journalistic standard by Chessdom.

Why FIDE chose to republish it, and if this indicates endorsement of the story, is another cup of tea. The very cleanest way may have been: giving the "fifty-fifty" conclusion in quotation marks, followed by something like "Chessdom has an interesting offbeat view on the match, click here for the full story".

Arne Moll's reaction is yet another story, containing at least two flaws IMHO:
1) not even mentioning the original source, then grudgingly admitting it in the discussion while discounting it as irrelevant. I would say some addition to the article is warranted, be it only to protect FIDE from false accusations as the one by Mary ....
2) wrongly stating that Topalov's and Kamsky's match records are comparable, or do you really think so? I would say this holds even after chessfan's 'for the record' addition.

BTW, this stands quite loose from my overall appreciation of Arne's writing. Maybe good and bad work are two sides of the same medal. To give a chess analogy: Several players (e.g. Shirov, Ivanchuk, Morozevich, even Topalov) have their brilliant and memorable games AND their occasional bad losses ....

Janis Nisii's picture

"FIDE notes that Kamsky has a good match record - but so does Topalov. "
Huh? This is objectively wrong.

4i4mitko's picture

who cares about fide anymore

paul's picture

I DO love Arne's articles and his vivid brain. I'm just glad ChessVibes is a open forum so we can enjoy eachothers opinion. Nobody earns a dollar over here but a smile can be even better! Ofcourse Fide is rigid in pronouncing equal odds in the T-K match but probably they want to keep television and media interested and we all know for yeaeaeaers that we can't trust the Fide.

Just for chess i hope Topalov wins the match so he can prove to be Vischy's equal!

Arne Moll's picture

I agree, Janis and Thomas. In my opinion, the article is full of strange conclusions and bad logic. Whether it was originally written by Chessdom or Santa Claus or Kirsan Ilyumzhinov himself seems scarcely the point, given the fact that FIDE decided it was worth publishing.

Thomas's picture

For the record: I also like Arne's writing, yet I agree with (in particular) Sjoerd that this one is, putting it mildly, not the best one he ever wrote. Concerning Kamsky's and Topalov's match record, it may help to look at the list of names in the article (available at either Chessdom or the FIDE website ,:) ).
Before his break from chess, Kamsky had "heavy weight matches against Anand, Short, Kramnik, Salov, Karpov. " (all world top at the time). After his break ... I already mentioned whom he beat at the World Cup.
Compare this with Topalov: "In a recent 4 games event he downed the European champion GM Nisipeanu in a convincing manner. In Tripoli 2004 he had a good series of mini match victories against Abulhul, Delchev, Movsesian, and Kozul." (none absolute world top, Movsesian not yet in 2004, and who is Abulhul by the way?). His only heavy weight match (against Kramnik) is not mentioned for whichever reason .... .

Calling this comparable is indeed bad logic .... by Chessdom+FIDE (who actually don't make such a claim) and by Arne Moll.
Referring to Topalov's "crushing 6-2 record against Kamsky" is in my opinion a bit unfair and misleading, because it includes three victories from 2006 - when Kamsky had just returned and clearly wasn't yet as strong a player as before his break AND as he is now. I dare to suggest that even Kasparov (if he returned to chess now) would have some mediocre results in his first tournaments!?

My conclusion: It may be exaggerated to call the chances fifty-fifty, but the Chessdom/FIDE article has some interesting points which were somewhat neglected in other match previews. No matter what the actual intentions behind the article are ... .

Manu in Mar del Plata's picture

Chances are 50/50 , i have no doubt of that.
But including such a statement in FIDE´s site is at least ridiculous , but if you look at the front page there is also a picture of Kirsan ...

test's picture

Kamsky winning on Topailovs home ground? No way in hell. They'll drop a bomb on his hotel if the worst would come to the worst.

But that will probably not be needed as Topalov is currently much better at chess than Kamsky. Kamsky may have more talent for the game, but he's been out of it for too long and Topalov has a well oiled team going.


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