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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) what's your take on carlsen in bilbao? (Read 12343 times)
GabrielGale
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Re: what's your take on carlsen in bilbao?
Reply #43 - 04/29/13 at 01:29:14
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Dear All,

I would like to resurrect this thread instead of starting a new one on Carlsen. The impetus is from a new blogpost http://vbhat.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/musings-on-a-chess-style-a-winner-just-win...by US GM Vinay Bhat. GM Bhat's blogposts (when he does blog) is really good value especially his commentary on various tournaments form his "amateur" GM perspective (not being disrespectful but he has "retired" from active tournament play and full-time chess professional).
Some of his conclusions (but the whole entire blogpost bears reading):
Quote:
His goal is simply to win games.
General principles have been established, numerous concrete exceptions have been introduced, and chess is at a stage now where it’s well known that the objective drawing margin is quite large. So as long as you stay out of your opponent’s heavily prepared cross-hairs  you will have good practical chances.
I do believe that in this transition, Magnus has been the first to embrace this approach with both colors. And while I think this is good for chess in the long-run (in the sporting sense), this is more like addition by subtraction than addition by addition (in the chessic sense of expanding the breadth and depth of opening and middlegame tactics and strategies). As noted above, the top players seem to recognize that focus has diminishing returns now, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t fundamentally new approaches to be made, and so even in this sense, he’s not doing addition by addition.

And GM Bhat gives an example from the Lond Candidates in Carlsen's game vs Svidler:
Quote:
As Kramnik has said, somebody of Magnus’s talent level can pick any style he wants, but he seems to have made a conscious decision to play in this straightforward and consistent manner as much as possible. His dad confirmed this when talking about the first game against Svidler from the London Candidates where he didn’t consider 25…Bxh3!!, winning on the spot.
The entire winning line isn’t obvious for sure, but the first move looks like an obvious candidate with the Q+B battery and rook on the 5th rank. Instead, he played the much more prosaic 25…exd3 with a clear plus, but it certainly wasn’t winning on the spot. Under pressure on the board and the clock, Svidler blundered terribly on move 33 and lost. Paraphrasing his dad about this game, as Magnus has matured, this is the style he prefers.
This style is one that prioritizes good moves (often the best, but not necessarily so like previous maximalists following Kasparov) and fighting as long as possible. To me, this style permeates most of his decisions now, and so flies against the claim that he plays many openings. That used to be the case, but it’s a tougher claim to defend these days I think.

You should read GM Bhat's conclusion about Carlsen's repertoire which may surprise a few ChessPubbers.
Final conclusion:
Quote:
None of this is to say that Carlsen isn’t anything special. There’s a reason he’s far and away the highest rated player in the world. But it doesn’t necessarily follow from the clear #1 ranking that he’s innovating in a chess sense, and in fact, based on his games, I’d say the opposite – he’s narrowing his chess focus and instead playing to his even bigger comparative advantages in terms of focus and stamina. It all goes back to his primary goal: he just wants to win. And while in a more direct, move-to-move fight, there are people who can hang with him, nobody can put in the same energy move-in and move-out, day after day.

Before reading the entire blogpost, as a chess trivia challenge, consider this: GM Bhat has a quote at the beginning of the blogpost by Kasparov. Can you guess who is Kasparov describing?
  

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chk
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Re: what's your take on carlsen in bilbao?
Reply #42 - 10/25/12 at 09:15:28
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Myself I don't really see the point of directly comparing Carlsen (or any other contemporary player) to past masters. As already mentioned previously, today's players are standing in the shoulders of the past giants.

It is more interesting if we take today's top players and try to fit them into say Lasker's era.

It is there where maybe Carlsen is more of a Lasker and Kramnik is more of maybe a Capa and Aronian is more of a ..., etc.
  

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MartinC
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Re: what's your take on carlsen in bilbao?
Reply #41 - 10/19/12 at 11:38:20
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I meant in terms of him being a level above, not not being able to see something of his play Smiley

Karpov is still fairly modern of course but mostly my main thought was how the way that Carlsen is playing right now would be aimed directly at Karpov's massive natural strength.
  
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Re: what's your take on carlsen in bilbao?
Reply #40 - 10/19/12 at 11:11:28
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MartinC wrote on 10/19/12 at 10:03:59:
I'm not at all sure about Karpov there Smiley

Why not?  Huh
  
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Re: what's your take on carlsen in bilbao?
Reply #39 - 10/19/12 at 10:03:59
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I'm not at all sure about Karpov there Smiley
  
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Re: what's your take on carlsen in bilbao?
Reply #38 - 10/19/12 at 08:49:03
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chk wrote on 10/19/12 at 08:16:29:
Would this suffice to you then? :
Kramnik interview (I have selected a just few passages, but you can read it all here: http://www.kramnik.com/eng/interviews/getinterview.aspx?id=61 )

- In my view, Lasker was a pioneer of modern chess. When you look through Steinitz's games you understand they were played in the century before last whereas Lasker had a lot of games that modern chess players could have had. Lasker is the first link in the chain of "global" chess where various fighting elements are taken into account. Steinitz mainly concentrated on individual positional elements. For instance, if he had a better pawn structure along with a promising attack on the enemy's king, he thought his advantage was almost decisive. But Lasker understood that different positional components could offset each other. He realized that different types of advantage could be interchangeable: tactical edge could be converted into strategic advantage and vice versa.
...
Lasker was an impressive person. He managed to understand a lot in chess. I was looking through his games again some time ago and was astonished: his knowledge was incredibly extensive for his time!
...
Lasker was very flexible and undogmatic. He was the first undogmatic player in the history of chess.
...etc. (to be fair he talks also about Lasker & chess psychology  Wink )


A few other interesting quotes of the same document:
'his knowledge was incredibly extensive for his time'
There is no doubt that today Carlsens knowledge is many times better than Laskers. Very normal considering the fact that Carlsen was able to learn from almost 100 extra years of chess.
' Lasker began to realise that dynamics played an important role but it did not form the basis of his games, he just kept it in mind and sometimes used it.
From any topplayer today, dynamics play a crucial role. Also here you can see that Carlsen plays on a different level than Lasker.

You see indeed in Carlsens play something of Lasker, Capablance, Karpov,.... However he is surely playing on a level above these former worldchampions.
  
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Re: what's your take on carlsen in bilbao?
Reply #37 - 10/19/12 at 08:16:29
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Uhohspaghettio wrote on 10/18/12 at 23:50:32:
You don't have to understand the chess fully, you could research how great players assessed him, that's a legitimate way to find information on him. Serious people have studied it a lot, it's not just lazy journalists.

Would this suffice to you then? :
Kramnik interview (I have selected a just few passages, but you can read it all here: http://www.kramnik.com/eng/interviews/getinterview.aspx?id=61 )

- In my view, Lasker was a pioneer of modern chess. When you look through Steinitz's games you understand they were played in the century before last whereas Lasker had a lot of games that modern chess players could have had. Lasker is the first link in the chain of "global" chess where various fighting elements are taken into account. Steinitz mainly concentrated on individual positional elements. For instance, if he had a better pawn structure along with a promising attack on the enemy's king, he thought his advantage was almost decisive. But Lasker understood that different positional components could offset each other. He realized that different types of advantage could be interchangeable: tactical edge could be converted into strategic advantage and vice versa.
...
Lasker was an impressive person. He managed to understand a lot in chess. I was looking through his games again some time ago and was astonished: his knowledge was incredibly extensive for his time!
...
Lasker was very flexible and undogmatic. He was the first undogmatic player in the history of chess.
...etc. (to be fair he talks also about Lasker & chess psychology  Wink )

  

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Uhohspaghettio
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Re: what's your take on carlsen in bilbao?
Reply #36 - 10/18/12 at 23:50:32
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ErictheRed wrote on 10/17/12 at 19:46:05:
My gut feeling is mostly that both players were extremely non-dogmatic and blazed new trails, interpreted positions differently than many of their peers, etc.  This leads contemporaries that don't fully understand their chess to say that they are deliberately playing inferior moves, using tricks and psychology, etc.


I don't know about this paragraph EricTheRed, isn't it fairly well established that Lasker was like this? He was said to have accepted it himself also. Over time, old portrayals have been re-evaluated and the same picture of Lasker is still stated. You don't have to understand the chess fully, you could research how great players assessed him, that's a legitimate way to find information on him. Serious people have studied it a lot, it's not just lazy journalists. 
 
  

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Re: what's your take on carlsen in bilbao?
Reply #35 - 10/18/12 at 09:15:23
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Ametanoitos wrote on 10/17/12 at 17:58:09:
No, in my opinion Lasker was a different thing. Lasker was a chameleon, he could play wild tactical games and very boring ones also. Lasker was playing with the mind of the opponent. Carlsen is not like this. Carlsen is the "active positional" player that modern chess loves so much (because this style is not reckless but also puts enormous pressure to the opponent without the need of "Topalovian" or "Kasparovian"-like calculation). Carlsen plays "objective" chess according to his style. For Lasker there was simply no "objectivity", only practicality. Carlsen is a practical player but not of the kind of Lasker, not at all. (In my humble opinion of course)


Wasn't it Dvoretzkij (iirc) writing that Lasker played as good as possible for him and fighting even in lost positions for his chance to catch up?

Lasker wasn't understood at his days. Maybe the same happens with Carlssen.

Personally I'm interested in reading about this from stronger players but I'm to weak to judge it.  Embarrassed
  

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Re: what's your take on carlsen in bilbao?
Reply #34 - 10/17/12 at 19:46:05
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I agree with CHK, and respectfully disagree with Ametanoitos.  I think the whole "chess psychology" thing with Lasker is way over-blown, probably from lazy chess journalists and writers that didn't actually understand what he was doing at the board.  Practical, absolutely; psychologist?  I don't really think so.  I don't think that he remained the strongest player in the world for what--27 years?  I'm too lazy to check--without having some deep chess understanding.  When he chose an unconventional continuation, in my opinion, it was usually due to situations on the board, trying to maximize his chances of obtaining the result he wanted, and not overly concerned with "psychology," in the sense that I don't think his approach varied considerably from opponent to opponent.

I do feel that Botvinnik and Tal were both the "psychological" types and Smyslov was not, for a point of reference.  Of course all players engage in some amount of psychological fighting...

My gut feeling is mostly that both players were extremely non-dogmatic and blazed new trails, interpreted positions differently than many of their peers, etc.  This leads contemporaries that don't fully understand their chess to say that they are deliberately playing inferior moves, using tricks and psychology, etc.

I'm too weak a player to really understand the large body of Carlsen's and Lasker's games though, so who knows.

Afterthought: I think something similar with Fischer as well.  He often played moves that his contemporaries didn't understand, like that famous Nxd7 (Knight takes "bad" Bishop) game where it was reported that all the Russian spectators breathed a sigh of relief--Fischer just made a mistake!  But he didn't, he won the game with ease.  It's just that Fischer had a greater/different understanding than them, he changed the game, and it took another generation (Karpov's I guess) to fully assimilate his ideas and make them look "normal."
  
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Re: what's your take on carlsen in bilbao?
Reply #33 - 10/17/12 at 19:26:28
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Well, this is precisely were I base my opinion, imo Carlsen is one of the most practical players (given his level that is). Of course, no direct comparison can be made to Lasker, but if one compares Carlsen to his contemporaries, I personally consider him quite 'practical'.

And as I posted above, I do not think that Lasker was merely 'playing with the mind of his opponent'. He took well calculated risks and had an enormous sense of danger. He was a different player compared to his contemporaries and you cannot achieve that solely by psychology.

I could be wrong, but my opinion for Lasker has changed quite a lot after studying a few of his games. The man was an OTB chess genious.
  

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Re: what's your take on carlsen in bilbao?
Reply #32 - 10/17/12 at 17:58:09
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No, in my opinion Lasker was a different thing. Lasker was a chameleon, he could play wild tactical games and very boring ones also. Lasker was playing with the mind of the opponent. Carlsen is not like this. Carlsen is the "active positional" player that modern chess loves so much (because this style is not reckless but also puts enormous pressure to the opponent without the need of "Topalovian" or "Kasparovian"-like calculation). Carlsen plays "objective" chess according to his style. For Lasker there was simply no "objectivity", only practicality. Carlsen is a practical player but not of the kind of Lasker, not at all. (In my humble opinion of course)
  
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Re: what's your take on carlsen in bilbao?
Reply #31 - 10/17/12 at 16:04:52
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I also have this feeling that Carlsen mostly resembles Lasker - at least more than the resemblance other posters see with Capa or Karpov.

Lasker managed to stir things up by giving ground to his strongest opponents. It was not only so to unsettle them psychologicaly; he was also accepting to lose some ground in order to unbalance the game and gain some chances elsewhere (on the board). This is why many people feel that he was playing 'imperfect' or 'controversial' chess.
  

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Re: what's your take on carlsen in bilbao?
Reply #30 - 10/17/12 at 15:34:05
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WSS wrote on 10/17/12 at 15:03:05:
While I'm not a chess historian, it seems to me there are some similarities between Carlsen's approach and Emanuel Lasker's style.  Lasker has a controversial reputation - by some thought to be one of the the top 5 strongest players of all time and by others as a "coffee house player."  The latter reputation was earned because of his willingness to adopt unconventional (some would say "bad") moves considered inferior to the theory of the time.  Others describe him as a chess psychologist whose pragmatic approach was to try to pull his opponent out of his comfort zone.  Some thought Lasker didn't know opening theory while others thought his understanding was quite broad.  Beneath this swirl of conflicting perception was a player of deep substance whose contributions to opening theory (for example the Lasker defense to the Queen's Gambit) have stood the test of time.

Bill


I was going to point out the same thing, more or less.  I'm not a strong enough player to seriously comment on Carlsen's play, but I wonder whether he does some deep and serious thinking about which types of positions will be uncomfortable for which opponents, with less regard to "theoretical status." 

I still highly doubt that Carlsen thinks he's playing suboptimal moves; my personal view is more along the lines that humans are quite dogmatic, and there are more ways of playing positions well than we realize.  This seems to be backed up by computers in many cases, though I don't like to claim computer evaluations as some sort of gold standard in chess truth.  Still, in many positions a computer will give 5-10 continuations that are all within 0.15 "points" of each other, whereas in the same positions most human players will only consider a couple of candidate moves based on the patterns we've accumulated in the past, having read what the "proper" way of playing a position is in My System, etc.   

I think that Carlsen is, in some ways, showing us a new sort of System, where he has found less known but equally viable ways of playing many positions.  But this is just speculation on my part; I'm not strong enough to really understand.
  
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Re: what's your take on carlsen in bilbao?
Reply #29 - 10/17/12 at 15:03:05
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While I'm not a chess historian, it seems to me there are some similarities between Carlsen's approach and Emanuel Lasker's style.  Lasker has a controversial reputation - by some thought to be one of the the top 5 strongest players of all time and by others as a "coffee house player."  The latter reputation was earned because of his willingness to adopt unconventional (some would say "bad") moves considered inferior to the theory of the time.  Others describe him as a chess psychologist whose pragmatic approach was to try to pull his opponent out of his comfort zone.  Some thought Lasker didn't know opening theory while others thought his understanding was quite broad.  Beneath this swirl of conflicting perception was a player of deep substance whose contributions to opening theory (for example the Lasker defense to the Queen's Gambit) have stood the test of time.

Bill
  
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