Daniil Dubov — a young Tigran?

by admin on September 7, 2017

In round two of the 2017 World Cup, two more big names went down to defeat: former World Champion Viswanathan Anand (the #10 seed) and the most recent World Champion challenger, Sergei Karjakin (who was seeded #12 here). Things are getting real!

Anand was completely outplayed by Canadian grandmaster Anton Kovalyov, who won the first game and was much better in the second game before agreeing to a draw. Karjakin’s defeat came against his Russian countryman Daniil Dubov. Interestingly, Dubov was profiled this spring in an article in Sovetskii Sport (a Russian sports magazine, analogous to Sports Illustrated) as one of “the four most brilliant members of the new wave [of Russian chess players] who are breathing down the neck of Karjakin.” I guess that article was prophetic!

Gee, wouldn’t it be great to live in a country where the biggest sports magazine features articles not only about the top chess players, but even the second tier? In other words, where chess is treated as a real sport like tennis or soccer?

By the way, the other three in the “new wave” were Vladimir Fedoseev, Vladislav Artemiev, and Grigorii Oparin. Both Fedoseev and Artemiev are playing in the World Cup; Oparin (the youngest of the four at age 19) did not qualify. Fedoseev has also made it to the third round with a victory today. Artemiev is tied at 1-1 with Teimour Radjabov. If he can pull off the upset, we will have a match between Dubov and Artemiev to see who will carry on the banner of the Russian “new wave.”

I read an interview of Dubov online where he chuckled about the Sovietskii Sport article, because Fedoseev was described as “a young Mike Tyson,” Artemiev was described as “The Most Imaginative,” and Oparin was described as “The Most Mysterious.” But the author couldn’t think of any over-the-top adjectives to describe Dubov, so he just called him “A Guy from Vykhino.” Vykhino isn’t even a place: it’s a subway stop in Moscow. This would maybe be like describing someone as “the dude from Greenwich Village.”

Nevertheless, the article did contain some interesting comments about Dubov’s style, from super-commentator Sergei Shipov: “Daniil is a chess player with a solid positional style, which is hard to break down. When he was very young, he reminded me of a young Tigran Petrosian. Quite the opposite of Fedoseev, he has a very acute sense of danger. As a result of the work he has done, Daniil has become a more universal player. He is on the right path, and it seems to me that he can become a grandmaster at a very serious level. Weaknesses: Not always sure of himself, not aggressive enough.”

Shipov said one other interesting thing about all four of them: “At their age it’s necessary to reach the 700 club (*) [thanks to Todd Bryant for suggesting this wonderful translation] and get invited to super-tournaments. … In order to grow, you have to play at the highest level. Unfortunately it is hard for our guys to get into super-tournaments — they just don’t get invited. If some chess player appeared somewhere in Austria or Switzerland at the same level, they would be invited with pleasure. But our young players don’t get invited. Only Karjakin, Kramnik, and Nepomniachtchi get invitations.”

It was fascinating to read this. Here I had always thought that Russia is the best country to grow up in if you want to be a chess player. But maybe not! The center of gravity is shifting, following the money to Europe and to America. It’s strange to think of Dubov, Fedoseev, Artemiev and Oparin being “handicapped” by their nationality, but maybe so! This tournament might be their opportunity to join the “700 club” and start getting invited to the top-level tournaments.

But there’s a long way to go! We’re still not done with round two yet. Only ten of the 32 matches in round two were decided today (the other winners were Carlsen, Kramnik, Vachier-Lagrave, Vidit, Rodshtein, Vallejo Pons, and our American hero, Alex Lenderman). The other 22 matches go to playoffs tomorrow.

(*) 700 club: players rated 2700 or higher.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

paul B. September 7, 2017 at 11:35 am

Dana wrote “Gee, wouldn’t it be great to live in a country where the biggest sports magazine features articles not only about the top chess players, but even the second tier? In other words, where chess is treated as a real sport like tennis or soccer?”

Hundreds of U.S. corporations are economically larger than most nations and those corporations could be fielding chess teams, and not just of their own employees. There could easily be a Chess Team Apple, Chess Team Google, Chess Team Facebook, Chess Team Tesla, Chess Team Virgin, etc. They need to see the benefits of such teams in terms of creating an aura of intellectual excellence that will enhance their corporate prestige and attract the STEM employees that they need. They could hire and trade chess players like the major sports do, and the cost to these corporations would be a pittance compared to their revenues.

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admin September 7, 2017 at 7:54 pm

Love this idea.

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paul B. September 7, 2017 at 12:26 pm

One more thing about corporate chess teams and their play. Most major sports games get played out in three hours or less; chess should be the same. A “match” in this concept would consist of a 20 minutes per player game, a 10 minute, a 5 five and a 3 minute. If both players took their maximum allotted time, the match could take no longer than 76 minutes which is an hour and a quarter. If each team had three members then they could all play each other in a reasonable time.

The reason for the ever shorter games is that it creates tension in the match – more chances of committing blunders and more possible upsets. It’s like a relay race in which a dropped baton suddenly brings disaster for even the fastest team. Popular chess will have to be a faster, more exciting game instead of the audience snoozer that it is today.

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Gabriel September 7, 2017 at 5:06 pm

> Only Karjakin, Kramnik, and Nepomniachtchi get invitations

Is he using this as a stand-in for “Only our players who have already hit the big-time get invitations”? Because Grischuk and Svidler are also both quite active at the top level.

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admin September 7, 2017 at 7:52 pm

Yes, I imagine so. Actually I was surprised to see Nepomniachtchi on this list, because just a few years ago I think he wouldn’t have been.

I’m a little bit skeptical of his complaint, frankly, but I wrote the post the way I did for a reason. Just when you’re thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, it turns out that the guy over there is thinking it’s greener on your side!

The real story is that it’s tough for anyone from anywhere to break into the top, and that’s one reason this is such a great tournament: it gives an opportunity to a lot of these not-quite-there masters like Dubov, Fedoseev, and Artemiev.

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Hal Bogner September 9, 2017 at 4:55 pm

“Most major sports games get played out in three hours or less; chess should be the same.” Well, most major sports can be readily understood simply by watching the action; this is not true for chess, and the faster the tempo of the game, the less comprehensible it is to all but the most sophisticated spectators. Yes, most major physical sports bring enormous pressure onto the top competitors as championships are decided, and yes, tragic mistakes sometimes result, but we also see performance at the very highest levels of human capability throughout such championships. Reducing the clock time in chess produces comedies of errors even among the top players. Just look at the recent blunderfests in the St. Louis Rapids and Blitz, and compare that the the incredible quality of games in the Sinquefield Cup and other full-length top-level competitions.

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paul B. September 9, 2017 at 5:23 pm

Full length competitions are not negated by my proposed structure. Dana lamented the dearth of interest in chess in the U.S. and I simply proposed a competitive structure that would make chess interesting to the general public. In short chess games, post-game play-by-play recaps will be important as will lots of on-screen razzle-dazzle such as showing how the chess computers are evaluating the position. Also, five computers are shown predicting what the best move is, then we see what move the player makes and how it compares to the computer predictions.

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Hal Bogner September 9, 2017 at 6:59 pm

Paul, I think you see chess completely differently than I do. I am curious why you think that the public will be wowed by computer variations that repeatedly indicate that the two players they are watching are missing things right and left. It won’t increase really understanding chess on the part of the public, but it will make them think poorly of the players. Imagine if computer analysis was used to show how every batter in major league baseball could have hit every pitch every time, and that every NBA player could have made every single shot attempted – if only they swung/shot as the computer analysis shows they could have!

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paul B. September 10, 2017 at 10:23 am

“I am curious why you think that the public will be wowed by computer variations that repeatedly indicate that the two players they are watching are missing things right and left.”

The players are human – that’s what makes them worth watching. Nobody would watch two computers play because computers don’t have emotions; they don’t blunder or laugh or cry or have regrets or taunt their opponents. And just because a computer is suggesting a different move doesn’t mean the human is “missing things”; it simply means that the human is…human.

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Hal Bogner September 10, 2017 at 8:15 pm

Actually, as tension rises and especially as time grows short – which happens quickly when starting a fast time control game – the GM+ humans are, indeed, “missing things.”

I’m curious whether you spend a lot of time watching such play broadcast over the internet.

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paul B. September 10, 2017 at 8:51 pm

” I’m curious whether you spend a lot of time watching such play broadcast over the internet.”

I wouldn’t even know where to look. The idea that a viewer has to be at a certain place at a certain time in order to see a match is so 20th century, that’s why god invented time shifting. I’d much rather catch a game on YouTube with thoughtful analysis by Joel Benjamin so that I can savor the game. Before I cut the cord I watched football games that way – record the game and fast forward through it in 5 minutes instead of spending three hours on the couch.

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