Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Mexico City 2007 v. AVRO 1938

Some interesting comparisons between the recent World Championship tournament and the "AVRO" tournament in the Netherlands (various cities) back in 1938 which was originally supposed to be a "Candidates" tournament, but by the time it took place apparently wasn't, at least officially.

Anyway, both tournaments featured eight of the world's very best in a double-round robin format (56 games total), so I thought it would be interesting to make a few comparisons:

Mexico 2007
AVRO 1938

Decisive Games:


Percent Draws:


Winning Score:

8.5 (tie)

Lowest Score:


Spread, 1st to 8th:


Spread, 1st to 7th


Some interesting parallels; I think some of the chess proletariat were complaining about the draws back then, too. In both cases, there are no easy games, that's for sure.


Eric Shoemaker said...

Hi Robert! Good post! It just goes to show you that chess is not being played out and the draw percentage is not terribly different than what it was, nor is the draw a thing to avoid in chess...It's simply part of the game, maybe even a necessary part.

Here's a good example:

1. e4, e5 2. Nf3, Nc6 3. Bc4, Bc5 4. c3, Nf6 5. d4, exd4 6. cxd4, Bb4+ 7. Bd2, Bxd2+ 8. Nbxd2, d5 9. exd5, Nxd5 10. Qb3, Na5! 11. Qa4+, Nc6 12. Qb3, Na5 1/2-1/2, Miles-Korchnoi, South Africa 1979.

All other 10th moves by Black give White unnecessary chances. Clearly Korchnoi's 10th move solves the problem.

Against a higher-rated player, why not play in this manner as White or Black? Against a lower-rated player, play something different or take more risks by perhaps choosing a different 10th move.

In my opinion, the Italian Game is not a good winning try since 7. Bd2 is probably a drawing line; 7. Nc3!? is the speculative Möller Attack, which according to L. Kaufman has a refutation sited in his book, "The Chess Advantage in Black and White" and the Two Knights' Defense is also adequate for the defense.

Suppose you're a 2250 player and want to move your rating to the 2400 level.

It's ridiculous to think you're going to win all your games to get there and it's equally ridiculous to think that risky moves will still somehow keep the draw in hand in times where you do not wish to draw.

The great masters of our times and before "knew" when to draw and when not to draw and instead of disdaining the draw like some of those I have heard, we chess players should be embracing it and look at the subtle meanings behind that result.

As for those who disdain the draw, I would wager they lose just as many points as they gain for a big fat, greasy, cholesterol overall gain of near "zero" to their rating!

The draw percentage is not the problem.

As chess players, we just need to be very creative in our choice of "timing" for the draw.

And if our opponents play well...What can be done?


wang said...

There are times to draw and times to fight. I think if it's going to secure some prize money or a certain place in a tourney then its fine. Also if you are playing someone significantly higher than you white or black a draw is ok. My problem with this tourney is that these guys are playing the world championship! I thought I would see more decisive results. I think that the time to be agressive would be during the world championship. Go for broke. But that's me talking as a fan, not a player.

Eric Shoemaker said...

Hi Wang, I went over most of the games on the USCF website and it looked to me like they were choosing who to fight against and who not to fight hard against.

I was most impressed by two players: Anand and Gelfand. Here's why:

Anand won more games and against good opposition. He obviously was very alert to what few opportunities he probably had and made good use of it.

Gelfand never changed at all. He was steadfast and took absolutely no risks.

The rest of the players were all over the place and it showed with their results. Leko I exclude, but as usual, his style hardly wins alot, and as usual he seldom lost.

Same could be said of Gelfand, but the difference is that Gelfand has a better opening repertoire, in my opinion. I'm biased of course, since I picked Gelfand to win the whole thing. He didn't, he came in Second tied with Kramnik, who I didn't find impressive.

I kind of wish Ivanchuk was there though, that would have made things interesting.


Blue Devil Knight said...

Great discussion. Perhaps I should be less critical of the boring draw, or at least be less critical of those who are less critical of the boring draw :)