Reports | October 27, 2012 18:01

Nakamura beats Tiviakov, wins Univé tournament convincingly

Nakamura beats Tiviakov, wins Univé tournament convincingly

Hikaru Nakamura won the 16th Univé Chess Tournament in Hoogeveen convincingly on Saturday by beating Sergey Tiviakov. The American grandmaster only needed a draw to win outright, but decided to "just play chess", and then won his last white game to finish 1.5 points ahead of Tiviakov. Anish Giri and Hou Yifan drew their final game. The open section was won by Erwin l'Ami, who beat Friso Nijboer with Black in the last round, and finished with a better tie-break.

Event Univé Tournament | PGN: Crown | Open via TWIC
Dates October 19th-27th, 2012
Location Hoogeveen, The Netherlands
System Crown Group: 4-player double round robin
Open: 9-round Swiss
Players Crown Group: Hikaru Nakamura, Anish Giri, Hou Yifan, Sergei Tiviakov

Open: Erwin l'Ami, Nils Grandelius, Jan Timman, Robin van Kampen are the top GMs
Rate of play

40 moves in 90 minutes followed by 30 minutes to finish the game with a 30-second increment starting at move 1 (in both Crown and Open)


Round 6 under way

Hikaru Nakamura was enjoying himself in Hoogeveen in the past week. One example: before and after the prize giving, the American grandmaster joined a group of chess players who were playing bughouse with clocks. For many players there's a simple rule that predicts their results: you gotta enjoy it to play well.

Nakamura playing bughouse, here together with Jan Smeets

On Saturday Nakamura made clear that if the form is there, he's by far the strongest in the 2012 Hoogeveen field. He was the rating favourite, but considering his disappointing results in Eilat and London it could have been a close affair with the other players. But Giri and Tiviakov missed their chances, Hou was never a serious candidate for first place and Nakamura himself "just played chess", as he put it himself. Good chess, that is.

In the last round the American "didn't really look at the tournament standings" but "just wanted to play chess". He chose an off-beat line against the French, with an early d2-d3 and then d3-d4 which led to a Sicilian structure.

I just wanted to get a position. Earlier he showed very good preparation and understanding in the Rubinstein variation of the French, so I just wanted to play chess instead of make it a theoretical battle. I think it was a good choice.

Nakamura felt that Tiviakov played too passively, when the Dutchman just defended his d-pawn. He should have played more actively.

Once he misses opportunities in the opening I think it's just very difficult. [Around move 30] it's probably just losing. He really has no active plan and the knight never gets to d4 because my knight gets to d5 first.

PGN string

The game between Anish Giri and Hou Yifan was a draw. A lot of what Giri had prepared before the game actually came on the board. Way into the double rook ending the Dutchman had seen everything on his computer screen! He knew it wasn't much for white but still hoped for more. But Hou defended well.

PGN string

This meant that Nakamura eventually won with a 1.5 point margin. We'll soon post a video interview with him here at ChessVibes.

Nakamura joked: "In such a short tournament there's not really enough time to lose four games in a row!"

Tiviakov still finished clear second with a 50% score. At the closing ceremony the Russian born Dutch GM said that he's still trying to improve his chess. He's been studying the French lately and it worked quite well in Hoogeveen.

Tiviakov added the French to his repertoire

Giri ended on -1, drawing all his games after his first round loss against the tournament winner.

It wasn't much. It was similar to London; you're hoping to get some chances but I had only one serious chance, this Rd3 against Tiviakov. With Black it was no fun each time, and with White it wasn't much either. If I had won against Tivi or drawn with Hikaru at least I would have 50%. With minus one it's just no fun playing, you're trying to get to 50% but that wasn't your initial goal either. That's not very inspiring.

Giri: not a very inspiring tournament

Hou Yifan finished on -2. The Chinese also missed a few good opportunities, but still had a good time in Hoogeveen, together with her mother.

The chess atmosphere is very nice here, and also the natural environment in the area.

Hou Yifan and here mother arrive at the playing hall on Friday

In just ten days the Women's World Champion will be defending her title in a tough, 64-player knockout in Khanty-Mansiysk. Understandably, the Chinese prefers the men's system:

I think a match is better because this is less tiring, and in general there are more "accidents" in a knockout. I think the men's system is more fair.

Hou Yifan has ten days to get ready for Khanty

Univé Tournament | Crown group | Final standings



At the closing, the four players gave short interviews to the press chief

The open tournament saw a very exciting finish. The the top boards were all still playing for more than an hour after the four Crown Group participants had finished. The prize giving had to be postponed for a while, and in the mean time everyone enjoyed himself in his own way. Tiviakov was following the open games from the press room, Giri and Guramishvili played some more chess together and Nakamura, as mentioned earlier, had good fun with a number of bughouse games.

As Van Kampen-Timman and S.Kasparov-Ernst were drawn, everything was decided on board one. Erwin l'Ami beat Friso Nijboer in a knight ending, and emerged as the winner on all tie-breaks: Sonnenborn-Berger, Buchholz and, most importantly, mutual result.

PGN string

Erwin l'Ami:

The last time I beat Friso was ten years ago. My score against him is really terrible so I'm quite happy that I managed today!

Univé Tournament | Open group | Final standings

Rank Name Score Fed. M/F Rating TPR W-We Mutual BH SB
1 GM L'Ami, Erwin 7.0 NED M 2631 2634 +0.12 1.0 53.0 41.0
2 GM Nijboer, Friso 7.0 NED M 2525 2550 +0.45 0.0 43.5 32.0
3 GM Ernst, Sipke 6.5 NED M 2554 2572 +0.38 . 49.5 35.0
4 GM Timman, Jan 6.5 NED M 2578 2480 -0.67 . 45.0 31.75
5 GM Van Kampen, Robin 6.5 NED M 2570 2519 -0.37 . 45.0 31.75
6 IM Bosboom, Manuel 6.5 NED M 2402 2500 +1.03 . 45.0 30.25
7 IM Willemze, Thomas 6.0 NED M 2377 2518 +1.70 . 50.0 32.5
8 GM Grandelius, Nils 6.0 SWE M 2593 2484 -1.01 . 47.5 31.0
9 GM Kasparov, Sergey 6.0 BLR M 2476 2429 -0.45 . 46.0 29.5
10 IM Guramishvili, Sopiko 6.0 GEO F 2418 2403 -0.05 . 46.0 28.25
11 IM Van Delft, Merijn 6.0 NED M 2395 2394 +0.04 . 41.5 25.25
12 IM Valdes, Leonardo 5.5 CRC M 2414 2499 +1.09 . 51.5 28.75
13 IM Riemersma, Li 5.5 NED M 2420 2467 +0.62 . 51.0 29.5
14 GM Brynell, Stellan 5.5 SWE M 2500 2459 -0.36 . 49.0 28.0
15 FM Bezemer, Arno 5.5 NED M 2329 2379 +0.60 . 47.0 25.75
16 IM Hendriks, Willy 5.5 NED M 2437 2413 -0.21 . 46.5 27.0
17 IM De Jong, Migchiel 5.5 NED M 2369 2398 +0.50 . 46.0 25.75
18 FM Schoorl, Rob 5.5 NED M 2363 2417 +0.74 . 45.0 25.25
19 FM Okkes, Menno 5.5 NED M 2368 2285 -0.75 . 43.5 25.75
20 IM Afek, Yochanan 5.5 ISR M 2312 2305 -0.05 . 41.5 23.25
21 Schoehuijs, Erik 5.5 NED M 2123 2342 +2.63 . 40.5 23.25
22 De Ruiter, Danny 5.0 NED M 2182 2381 +2.24 . 49.5 27.75
23 Van Foreest, Jorden 5.0 NED M 2225 2377 +1.83 . 48.0 24.75
24 WGM L'Ami, Alina 5.0 ROU F 2376 2355 -0.15 . 45.0 23.0
25 Johansson, Linus 5.0 SWE M 2287 2292 +0.07 . 45.0 22.25
26 FM Vedder, Richard 5.0 NED M 2267 2242 -0.19 . 45.0 22.25
27 FM Heemskerk, Wim 5.0 NED M 2254 2243 -0.07 . 42.5 21.25
28 IM Wiersma, Eelke 5.0 NED M 2367 2326 -0.43 . 42.5 19.75
29 FM Clemens, Adrian 5.0 NED M 2213 2273 +0.57 . 42.0 19.75
30 IM Vedder, Henk 5.0 NED M 2378 2233 -1.61 . 41.5 22.25
31 IM Piasetski, Leon 5.0 CAN M 2298 2280 -0.26 . 41.0 20.25
32 Ben Artzi, Ido 5.0 ISR M 2286 2205 -0.91 . 40.5 20.75
33 Majhi, Ankit 5.0 NED M 1923 2286 +3.79 . 37.5 20.0
34 Grant, Jonathan 5.0 SCO M 2217 2224 -0.03 . 37.5 18.0
35 Lee, Kai Jie Edward 4.5 SIN M 2132 2327 +2.17 . 46.0 21.75
36 Kerigan, Demre 4.5 TUR M 2238 2287 +0.69 . 45.5 20.75
37 Kollen, Zyon 4.5 NED M 2174 2288 +1.28 . 45.0 21.75
38 Van Foreest, Lucas 4.5 NED M 1952 2292 +3.38 . 44.5 22.5
39 Donker, Roel 4.5 NED M 2228 2263 +0.50 . 42.0 17.25
40 Lindgren, Philip 4.5 SWE M 2265 2232 -0.37 . 42.0 16.5
41 Timmermans, Ivo 4.5 NED M 2254 2208 -0.57 . 41.5 16.5
42 Vos, Tjark 4.5 AHO M 2003 2276 +2.79 . 40.5 18.5
43 FM Van der Poel, Henk 4.5 NED M 2306 2109 -2.22 . 39.5 19.0
44 FM Vogel, Jaap 4.5 NED M 2158 2207 +0.54 . 39.5 17.75
45 Veinberg, Nimrod 4.5 ISR M 2170 2141 -0.43 . 35.0 14.75
46 Hopman, Pieter 4.0 NED M 2344 2263 -0.96 . 45.5 17.75
47 Van der Lende, Ilias 4.0 NED M 2169 2259 +1.01 . 43.5 16.25
48 Baskin, Robert 4.0 GER M 2071 2177 +1.25 . 39.5 17.0
49 Go, Benjamin 4.0 NED M 2175 2101 -0.94 . 39.5 14.0
50 Van Osch, Mees 4.0 NED M 2083 2151 +0.78 . 37.5 14.5
51 WFM Kazarian, Anna-Maja 4.0 NED F 1864 2095 +2.46 . 34.5 13.75
52 Van der Raaf, Erik 4.0 NED M 2163 2031 -1.53 . 33.5 13.25
53 Stavast, Dick 4.0 NED M 2125 2043 -0.88 . 29.0 9.5
54 WIM Padurariu, Ioana-Smaranda 3.5 ROU F 2236 2093 -1.69 . 41.5 14.0
55 CM Van 't Hof, Eric 3.5 NED M 2137 2203 +0.57 . 40.5 11.75
56 Henseler, Jorgen 3.5 NED M 2062 2134 +0.80 . 39.5 15.5
57 Mellema, Andries 3.5 NED M 2181 1978 -2.25 . 39.0 9.5
58 Vroombout, Enrico 3.5 NED M 2243 2004 -2.80 . 37.5 12.25
59 Lessmann, Francis 3.5 NED M 2100 2077 -0.33 . 37.0 11.75
60 WIM Kasparova, Tatiana 3.5 BLR F 2126 2113 -0.24 . 37.0 11.5
61 Hendriks, Richard 3.5 NED M 2123 2064 -0.75 . 37.0 11.5
62 Ritsema, Ronald 3.5 NED M 2058 2028 -0.39 . 36.5 12.75
63 Sadallah, Osama 3.5 NED M 2126 2119 -0.14 . 35.0 10.25
64 Potze, Rudolf 3.5 NED M 2124 2061 -0.76 . 33.0 9.0
65 Van Wageningen, Arie 3.5 NED M 2044 * 2019 2019 . 31.5 9.25
66 WFM Slingerland, Caroline 3.5 NED F 2103 2020 -0.98 . 31.0 8.75
67 FM Lorscheid, Gerhard 3.0 GER M 2267 2250 -0.19 . 41.5 10.0
68 Haver, Bas 3.0 NED M 2044 2068 +0.26 . 34.5 11.25
69 Klomp, Robert 3.0 NED M 2119 1979 -1.79 . 34.5 8.75
70 Klapwijk, Bram 3.0 NED M 2039 2061 +0.15 . 34.0 9.25
71 Hovenga, Alje 3.0 NED M 2246 1947 -3.43 . 33.0 8.5
72 Haver, Daan 3.0 NED M 1985 1983 -0.04 . 31.0 8.25
73 Voss, Herman 2.5 NED M 2015 1991 -0.29 . 34.0 8.75
74 Gieben, Stijn 2.5 NED M 2068 1970 -1.20 . 32.0 3.75
75 Kolodkin, Daniil 2.5 NED M 1943 2005 +0.56 . 31.0 7.25
76 Hoffman, Ron 2.5 NED M 2107 1932 -2.25 . 30.0 5.25
77 Van der Lende, Nathalie 2.0 NED F 1968 1776 -1.66 . 25.5 3.5
78 Djuric, Olgica 1.0 SRB F 1880 1767 -0.94 . 28.5 1.5


Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


Abbas's picture

"Nakamura wins Univé tournament convincingly"

Simply because he is too strong to this tournament.

Casey Abell's picture

Nakamura actually outperformed his rating a lot, with a 2850 TPR. Picked up five badly needed points on the live ratings. Tiviakov also did well. Giri bombed and Hou Yifan underperformed a little, too.

Thomas's picture

"Nakamura outperformed his rating a lot" actually means he scored half a point more than expected. Put differently, winning against such opponents is what he is supposed to do, he scored one more win than he "should have". Of course there is nothing 'wrong' with his result, you still have to 'deliver' - as I also wrote about Kramnik's identical result last year (but against a somewhat stronger field). But results against his direct peers are more meaningful in terms of where he stands - this also applies to Hou Yifan.

"five badly needed points on the live ratings" - badly needed for what? Now he has a chance to re-enter the top10 and to edge out Kamsky for US#1 if he does well in his next event, probably London. Which he still has to do, and it also depends on how Kamsky does in Tashkent, and how Topalov and Ivanchuk will do in Romania. And his chances to have 2800 by the end of next year have increased, but just a little bit ... .

Harry_Flashman's picture

Well.. He won a tournament in which he was by far the strongest player.. He should be more " convincing " against stronger opposition...

jambow's picture

The bottom line he gave a 2850 tpr which means simply he played better against said opposition than a person with his rating is statistically predicted he would.

This last game had a very Karpovian flavor to it positioning and repositioning until he has what he wants in the position. If I had my guess he has recently looked over some of Karpov's gems and every once in a while it shows up in his games.

Sometimes Carlsen is compared to Karpov but much less often does he back up ala Karpov but rather inches forward Ala Capablanca imho. Of course Karpov shares many attributes with Capa so then also Carlsen too. Anyway this is one of about 4 or 5 games of Nakamura's that bring Karpov to mind although generally I see maybe Keres stylistically and the intricate knight and rook coordination that comes out is simply Nakamura with our precident as far as I know. If Nakamura has a weakness its not being able to fully utilize his queen to its fullest and sometimes allowing his opponents to much space the people he struggles against usually control too many squares with advanced pawns not allowing Nakamura to spring his creative counter attacks.

Sorry for the long post but styles and concepts interest me greatly. ;o]

Anthony Migchels's picture

This is a good performance for Nakamura.

of course he's the strongest, although more was expected from Giri in terms of competition.

But Hikaru just proved he's world class, collected a little money and a few points and thus did a professional job.

Casey Abell's picture

The dismissal of a strong TPR just reflects bias against Nakamura. I'm neither a Naka-fan nor a Naka-phobe, but a 2850 (or 2848, depending on which site you believe) TPR is a very nice achievement, especially after a really bad stretch of play. Nakamura was never in serious trouble in any game and scored a nice positional win in the final round.

It was funny to read some of the comments on Chessbomb (not a Naka fan site) ridiculing Nakamura's positional play...just as he was methodically building up an overwhelming positional advantage on the d-file.

Let's see, what else...oh, Giri is in one of those downdrafts that always seem to affect junior players (at least when your name isn't Magnus). Maybe he shouldn't play in the same tournaments with his girlfriend. Just kidding!

Tiviakov played well. He did seem passive in the final round, getting into the famous bind and never kicking out of it. Maybe he really meant what he said about looking for a draw and nothing more.

Hou Yifan played slightly below her rating. Not terrible, not great, just sort of blah. For whatever reason, I get the feeling she may be vulnerable in the knockout championship next month.

Thomas's picture

The tournament homepage has Nakamura's TPR as an even better 2858. The reason for the discrepancy seems to be that "everyone else" (I checked Chessvibes, Chessbase and TWIC) uses outdated ratings, apparently the May 2012 list - was this when the field was initially announced? Nakamura's and Giri's October 2012 ratings are also outdated compared to the live rating list even before the event, but these are official (notably Giri 2730, not 2693).

I do not dismiss Nakamura's TPR, I just say it is what it is and against whom it was achieved. "Nakamura was never in serious trouble" means that noone played better than him in any phase of any game - that's easier against sub-2700 players and an out-of-form Giri than against for example Gelfand (in form) or Ivanchuk.

Hard to say what Giri's problem is: too much chess, also busy with school, temporarily out of form, fallen in love (this isn't just joke or speculation)? It seems that his girlfriend (if they already had a relationship) didn't accompany him to the London Grand Prix, and that didn't "help" either :)

Casey Abell's picture

With Giri I think it's just his age. Not everybody is Magnus (there's only one, in fact) and just keeps going up and up and up some more. It's easy to forget that Anish is just 18. Hey, it's easy to forget that Hou Yifan is just 18, too. Some stutter steps backwards are hardly unusual for such young players.

Peter Doggers's picture

Good point; I've now corrected the ratings to the ones on the October list.

Anonymous's picture

Ms. Hao's tenacity was very impressive to me. I had expected the separate pools of men and women's chess to have inflated her rating. She was neither under-rated nor intimidated by her opponents.

Kamalakanta's picture

One of the most intelligent comments I have read lately. She is starting to play in men's events, to get ready for a qualitative jump forward. She is extremely intelligent, and I think she will try to eventually surpass Judit Polgar's rating.

Casey Abell's picture

Time will tell, of course. But in the short run I wonder if Hou Yifan might get ambushed in the knockout tournament. Much like the Chess Queen (that YouTube moniker has always rubbed me the wrong way for some indefinable reason) snuck up on her in the first round at Eilat.

We'll see. Her rating hasn't taken any big jumps forward lately, anyway. Humpy has edged past her in the live ratings. Really, I rate the Indian player as the favorite in the knockout. She just seems to be playing better lately. (Which means I've jinxed her and she get bounced in the first round.)

In this tournament Hou Yifan's best game was probably with white against Nakamura, even though it got comical at the end as both players flogged a dead and decomposed draw. She got an edge but never really seemed close to converting it.

redivivo's picture

She is hardly "starting" to play men's events, she has been doing that for at least five years and usually with results like those here. I don't think she ever will be comparable to Polgar, who was on a totally different level.

RealityCheck's picture

Oh really, so what planet was the x-tra terrestrial, Judit Polgar, on at age sixteen? How old is Hoa?

Since Hoa has already beaten Polgar, I think its very likely she'll surpass all of Polgar's "totally different levels" --with a few womens world championship crowns to boot.

Daaim Shabazz's picture

Her name is Hou (surname). Not sure if that one win proves that she will equal Polgar's records... they are independent of the one encounter. Polgar was beating strong GMs regularly at age 14 and playing the strongest competition. Hou has won two women's championships, but it is doubtful she'll make top ten in the world unless she does better against the strongest competition. Polgar was #8 at one point. Ratings are lost easily in women's tournaments (Hou dropped to 2575 recently) and the rating pool is not deep enough. One bad women's tournament for Hou and she could lose 20 ELO points easily. However, she is young enough, so we'll see how she fares in the next year or two.

RG13's picture

Besides being a former top ten player Polgár became (in 1991) the youngest GM ever when she got that title and so Hou missed that one.

Polgár is the only woman to have won a game from a current world number one player, and has defeated nine current or former world champions in either rapid or classical chess: Anatoli Karpov, Garry Kasparov, Boris Spassky, Vasily Smyslov, Veselin Topalov, Viswanathan Anand, Ruslan Ponomariov, Alexander Khalifman, and Rustam Kasimdzhanov.

If Hou accomplishes things like that in her career it would be great for women's chess. I wish her all the luck!

redivivo's picture

"Oh really, so what planet was the x-tra terrestrial, Judit Polgar, on at age sixteen? How old is Hoa?

Since Hoa has already beaten Polgar, I think its very likely she'll surpass all of Polgar's "totally different levels" --with a few womens world championship crowns to boot."

To begin with the women's World Championship counts for nothing, if that's some kind of relevant measure Kosteniuk and Xu Yuhua have already passed Polgar in spite of never getting closer than 200 Elo from her.

At age 16 (Hou will soon be 19) Polgar shared first with Bareev in Hastings and was second behind Karpov in Dos Hermanas, where Polgar scored +4 while for example Adams scored -2 and also Khalifman was far behind her.

Polgar played all the top events for years long before she was Hou's current age, and when she was 17 she won Madrid with +5 (Shirov and Kamsky scored +1, Bareev -4). These were top ten level and Polgar was considerably younger than Hou is. In Dos Hermanas 1995 she was the same age as Hou is today, and then she was 0.5 from winning in a strong field with Karpov, Adams, Kamsky, Gelfand, Salov, Shirov (who scored -5).

Hou's live rating today is 2600, and four years ago it was 2580. Little has happened rating wise in these four years, but she is still of course a strong player, just not in any way comparable with Polgar and it doesn't look as if she is making the sort of improvements top players often do between 15 and 19. In a similar period of time Carlsen went from 2570 to 2800+, i.e. starting out at the same Elo and ending up with a 200 point difference.

Septimus's picture

Yifan has Koneru's number.

In Nakamura's game, whats with the passive d3 by white? How common is this?

Bert de Bruut's picture

Nakamura has recently started to mimick Carlsen: avoiding theory or at least forced lines, but still trying to win every game in an open fight. That's the spirit we all should appreciate!

RealityCheck's picture

Nakamura "mimicking Carlsen"? Please. Naka may post some really stupid tweets but he is no copy cat.

RealityCheck's picture

Nakamura "mimicking Carlsen"? Please. Naka may post some really stupid tweets but he is no copy cat.

Anonymous's picture

It's true. And Carlsen was mimicking Kamsky and Adams, who were mimicking ...and so on. Pointless.

Tom Servo's picture

The cruel and harsh reality is that Nakamura will never surpass Carlsen, Aronian, and Caruana. I doubt he will ever make it to 3rd on the ratings list.

Daaim Shabazz's picture

I've heard so many "Nakamura will never..." statements. Not long ago, many said Nakamura would not make 2700. He has made it to #5 on the live. What makes you think he can't make #3?? BTW, he was already past Caruana until only recently. In fact, Caruana didn't pass him, Nakamura tumbled below him.

Chris's picture

Caruana is the strongest American-born chess player for sure (Nakamura was born in Japan) but it will be interesting to see which player who represents a different country from that of his or her birth (though both grew up in the US) will outperform the other in the years to come.

Jambow's picture

Well Tom Naka may never pass them players and perhaps nobody else will either those are about the three most promising players in chess today. As far as that being cruel or harsh he has achieved much already. This inspite of those who said he wouldn't break 2700 then it was 2750 then top ten finally world top 5. So if Nakamura never wins another game he has already far exceeded his nay sayers predictions repeatedly threre's just not many more milestones left. 2800 is one world champion another and rated world numeral uno. Of these I think the first is not at all unreasonable WC and numeral one well ok tall order but not impossible either although I thinkCarlsen is just a notch above and the greatest natural genius playing today.

Para's picture

Naka is a fantastic player with a great future.

John Cordisco's picture

Well,well,well. Let the Nakamura haters ramble. "he will never make the top 3 in the world" I'm old enough to remember watching Bobby Fischer win the world championship in 1972. (I was 15 years old) I can't tell you how excited i was. 40 years later i'm still playing. A world class player like Nakamura only comes around once or twice in 40 years!!!! Stop all the mud slinging. Or would you rather wait another 40 years? He came back after a TERRIBLE tourney. Shows fighting spirit. GO NAKA !!!!!!

RG13's picture

Nakamura got a nice performance rating in one tournament but I wouldn't say that he has come back yet. He has to follow this up with a steady performance in a top ten tournament (the class he should be playing in). For perspective not long ago there was a female player that had a performance rating of over 3016 after 10 rounds!
So WHO you play makes a big difference in TPR.
That is why even though Karpov actually had a slightly better overall tournament record than Kasparov and was close to him in head to head matchups (leading in their first match by as much as 5 wins to 0 and drawing another classical match and winning a rapid one.) he never came close to Kasparov's lifetime rating high; Kasparov was a better rabbit smasher.

redivivo's picture

"Karpov actually had a slightly better overall tournament record than Kasparov"

If winning more tournaments equals better, but Kasparov consistently won the strongest super tournaments. Kasparov was just a slightly better player than Karpov, and that's why he usually scored better results against the other top players than Karpov did. Anand, Gelfand, Yusupov, Adams, Morozevich, Kamsky etc were no "rabbits" but Kasparov had insane career scores against them and many others.

RG13's picture

@redivivo, I didn't mean to demean Kasparov's opponents - they were not rabbits by any means but
point was that TPR is greatly influenced by the level of competition because some players are better at getting full points from players that are not in their class than others. If you play a Karpovian style which is to draw with Black and try to win with White then you will score less overall - but it is a matter of temperament. I don't think it makes you less strong. i.e. Petrosian won the World Championship but his style even then would not probably not score as well in tournaments as say a Bent Larsen (if that is a bad example then please correct).

"Kasparov consistently won the strongest super tournaments." And Karpov who had over 160 first place wins in his career consistently won the super tournaments that were available in his heyday which was from 1973 to 1985.

However his greatest tournament victory came sometime after his peak strength when he participated in the first category XVIII event ever held. "Kasparov famously stated that the winner could consider himself the world champion of tournament chess." Karpov won by 2 1/2 points.

Here is how Karpov describes his style - which I think is superior aesthetically ("purer"):

"Let us say the game may be continued in two ways: one of them is a beautiful tactical blow that gives rise to variations that don't yield to precise calculation; the other is clear positional pressure that leads to an endgame with microscopic chances of victory.... I would choose the latter without thinking twice. If the opponent offers keen play I don't object; but in such cases I get less satisfaction, even if I win, than from a game conducted according to all the rules of strategy with its ruthless logic."

redivivo's picture

"If you play a Karpovian style which is to draw with Black and try to win with White then you will score less overall - but it is a matter of temperament. I don't think it makes you less strong"

I think it's just a question of actual results. I don't think one can say: "OK, player B scored worse results than player A, but that wasn't because he was less strong, he just didn't try to win with black, so player A wasn't better". Karpov was a great player, I'm just not seeing it as a fact that his tournament record was better than Kasparov's. In Moscow 1981 Karpov won ahead of Kasparov, and Linares 1994 had the same outcome. But in all the tournaments they played these 13 years (and after) Karpov never finished ahead of Kasparov.

Between 1970 and 1988 Chessmetrics rank the two strongest tournament performances of Karpov's career as Leningrad 1973 (shared first with Korchnoi) and Montreal 1979 (shared first with Tal). Good enough, but Kasparov's best performances were on a different level as I see it in general (Linares 1994 of course being the exception, but after that Kasparov has the dozen strongest tournament performances of the two).

RG13's picture

Well the actual results are there. 160 career first places. You once again reiterate all the strong performances of Kasparov but those performances were after Karpov's heyday (1973 - 1985) as I said before. You can't compare them as if they are the same age. We can easily compare Carlsen vs. Karjakin on that basis but not Karpov and Kasparov. Karpov was in decline while Kasparov was in the ascendancy (except for a few glimpses of the old Karpov). I respect Kasparov as one of the greatest who ever played the game but I would rather get more 1st places than win fewer first places with better scores. But that's just me.

Anonymous's picture

Not to mention that Karpov played a lot more games than Kasparov, which makes it more difficult to mantain a high standard.

RG13's picture

"I think it's just a question of actual results. I don't think one can say: "OK, player B scored worse results than player A, but that wasn't because he was less strong, he just didn't try to win with black, so player A wasn't better"."

I think it is more complex than "just results" i.e. even after Kramnik beat Kasparov convincingly in a match Kasparov still scored better than Kramnik in tournaments. So who got the better results? Well Kasparov would rather lose a tournament than his world title and so weighting comes into play. In match play the results favor Kasparov slightly. In tournament play the results are with Karpov IF you value number of first place wins (as I do). They are with Kasparov if you value dominance in super tourneys with fewer overall wins. Also you didn't respond to the Petrosian examples. Who would be the better player - Petrosian the year he won the world title or let's say a player who was getting better results in tournaments during that time? You have to consider Petrosian's style of play just as you have to consider Karpov's style of play; both extemely conservative. We must also consider Fischer's style of play when he won those candidate's matches by 6 - 0 scores. A sane GM would have played for draws after getting two or three wins but not Fischer. I don't think that made him a more dominant player than a grandmaster who might have won with a less spectacular score (like if you put Kasparov in a time-machine). Fischer's style was to be irrational. We must take style into account.

Anonymous's picture

In the end chess is a battle between two people. You can't say that A is stronger than B because he has better results against C. What matters is the score between A & B, and here it suggests Karpov and Kasparov are approximately equal in strength.

redivivo's picture

"You can't say that A is stronger than B because he has better results against C"

You can certainly say that, since that is how it is. If Aronian is better than Anand because he has 6-1 against him and Anand is better than Carlsen because he has 6-2 against him, and Carlsen is better than Aronian because he has 6-4 against him, you end up with nothing. Head to head results against one single opponent means little, one has to look at overall results against all opponents to compare players. Nakamura has a plus score against both Kramnik and Anand, but the latter have had more impressive careers this far because they have done much better against other opponents.

Anonymous's picture

Head to head results mean everything in such a comparison, it's the essence of chess. But you wouldn't know what chess is of course, you just babble about who is best and who is strongest at every unreasonable occasion and probably have never ever played a game at all. Results against other players matter of course, but you can't say you are better than someone if you can't beat him. That's why the world championship format is a match.

Thomas's picture

Head to head results may still matter in the very strongest events which lack weaker players. So the Aronian-Anand-Carlsen triangular comparison might indicate who has the best chances in Tal Memorial, Bilbao (if they don't invite Vallejo) or the candidates tournament. The overall comparison doesn't mean "ending up with nothing", it rather indicates that all three have or had roughly the same strength - if that's true, it's a legitimate result.
On the other hand, results against weaker players become relevant for (partly) weaker events such as Wijk aan Zee and London, and for Elo ratings.
Another story is that some head to head scores are more convincing than others. Anand and Kramnik could equalize against Nakamura in their very next game. Nakamura's score against Kramnik (+3=7-2) just indicates that there is a rather high probability for a decisive result; his score against Anand (+1=6) shows a low probability for a decisive result. Even Carlsen's score against Aronian becomes less impressive if we add all their draws, it isn't 6-4 but 16-14 (+6=20-4) or 53.3%.

RG13's picture

Redivo, I agree with you as long as the opponents are all basically equal. I think it throws things off when you put some one who is significantly lower rated in with the elites. Then the elites draw with each other and the tournament is decided by who can get the most points out of the 'weakies'. I even read that back in the 1920's fans would complain about Alekhine, Rubinstein and Capablanca. When they met in tournaments they would often quickly draw against each other (much to the chagrin of fans) and then competed on the basis of who could do the best 'rabbit smashing'.

redivivo's picture

"even after Kramnik beat Kasparov convincingly in a match Kasparov still scored better than Kramnik in tournaments. So who got the better results?"

Kasparov, just like Kramnik was a better player with better results than Shirov in spite of losing their match. One result against one opponent doesn't say all that much, Lasker was stronger than Schlechter in spite of their drawn match.

"In tournament play the results are with Karpov IF you value number of first place wins (as I do)"

If number of first places is what counts Nakamura would rank ahead of Steinitz, but I don't think that is the best measure.

"Who would be the better player - Petrosian the year he won the world title or let's say a player who was getting better results in tournaments during that time?"

I definitely consider Carlsen to be better than Anand today even if the latter managed to scrape through a rapid tiebreak against Gelfand. Petrosian won the title by beating a 52-year-old Botvinnik (after the latter was keeping it halfway through the match). That doesn't mean that he had to be the best player in the world, I think many players would have won a match against Botvinnik around then. Hard to say that any player was better than Petrosian though, I guess half a dozen players were more or less the same level.

Petrosian only got the match by winning a super strong Curacao 1962, but it doesn't say much when three players are separated by 0.5 point after 28 rounds. The 46-year-old Keres lost to Benko in the 27th round and that decided it. Otherwise Keres had 9-0 against Benko and another win would have meant that Petrosian wouldn't even have reached the title match. Maybe Keres would have won if it had been shorter (he was leading much of the event) and he had been less exhausted by the 27th round, or maybe Tal had won if he had been healthy (he was the big favourite before the event) or Fischer if he had been playing like in the Interzonal. So in short, I don't think the winner of a title match must be the best player in the world but maybe Petrosian was in 1963, I have no idea.

Anonymous's picture

Giri is dissapointing lately. Some time ago he was beating Nakamura and Carlsen and no worse than Caruana. I wonder what happened. Perhaps it's the toll of having a normal education and a girlfriend. Hope it won't stop him though.

Thomas's picture

I wonder if the ending in Nijboer - l'Ami was ever objectively won after move 57. At the very end, 77.Kg6 is a game- and tournament-deciding mistake because "the knight on the rim is looking grim", and l'Ami used his second chance. 77.Nb5 would have been the only move to avoid this scenario, with a tablebase draw.

Thomas's picture

Update as Chessbase gives two question marks to l'Ami's 69.-Nd4: here black could have won with 69.-b5 (only move followed by more only moves), e.g. 70.Sd6+ Kf4 71.Nxb5 h5 72.Kxe6 h4. That's easy with a tablebase, but not that easy for the players ... .

Anonymous's picture

Regarding Giri, Nakamura, etc...

In the past 12 months (November 2011/2012), Giri has fallen from 2714 to 2706 (-8 points), Nakamura has risen from 2758 to 2760 (+2 points), Carlsen has risen from 2826 to 2848 (+22 points), and Caruana has risen from 2727 to 2786 (+59 points).

Casey Abell's picture

Caruana has really been on a roll this year. Now if he can just avoid blitz playoffs with Magnus (wink).

At age 20 Caruana will quite possibly break into the 2800s some time over the next 12-24 months. I wouldn't be amazed if he ends up in a world championship match sooner or later. Too bad he won't play in the 2013 candidates tournament. Right now he's probably better than several guys who will be in the tournament.

Daniel's picture

Kamsky is ahead of Naka in the live ratings!

Casey Abell's picture

That's been true for a while. Kamsky played well at Eilat while Nakamura played terribly in London and so-so at Eilat.

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