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Up Topic The Rybka Lounge / Chess / Chess Year in Review 2008 (long)
- - By BB (****) [au] Date 2008-12-29 04:49
Herein I recall the Chess Year 2008, concentrating on top tournaments. My arbitrary definition of this is: average rating within 100 points of the top tournament of the year (Bilbao). I also included the FIDE-WC. I did not include team events like the Olympiad, and ignored games at fast time controls. I use my own computations for performance ratings throughout. This uses the exact logistic curve on a game-by-game basis, and takes colour into account (at 30 points). The difference between this and the FIDE system is most apparent in the Olympiad, where they simply average the opponent's ratings, many of which were widespread. [For instance, they get Leko and Gelfand at 2834 and 2833, while I get them at 2843 and 2844 --- and Topalov beating both at 2864 --- Sargissian's 2869 from FIDE is 2898 by my account (note that he had only 4 Whites in 11 rounds!). The FIDE performance rating methodology seems to be given in  B.1.48. The Handbook notes all these problems in B.14.1-4 though indicates that inexact methods are preferred]. Obviously there is an oddity in using FIDE ratings as an input, but my own computations as an output. This might be re-visited at some point; however, while input->output is simply maths, the "update", or "feedback" step of turning outputs into future inputs is not. Caveat emptor, or at least caveat usor.

Tournament Briefs
The chess year at the Top usually starts in Wijk aan Zee. Except if you are bound to FIDE calendar, in which case 2008 might start with the end of 2007 Russian Superfinal, which ended just the before the calendar increment. In general, I will simply cut straight to the final standings, and make few comments on the course of the tourneys. The 14-player Corus event saw Aronian and Carlsen tied for first with +3, with Anand and Radjabov on +2, with Ivanchuk at +1, and Topalov -1.

The next biggie was Morelia/Linares as we headed into March, an 8-man double round-robin with Anand winning on +3, Carlsen 2nd on +2, and Aronian and Topalov tied for 3rd on +1. Melody Amber would be next on the list on the basis of prize fund, but Classical Chess is rarely seen there.

So then, the Baku FIDE-GP in April/May would be next on the agenda, with Carlsen, Gashimov, and Wang Yue tying for 1st with +3. Of course, this is a bit of a lower standard than some of the other tournaments (it is most comparable to Wijk aan Zee, also with 14 players, but without the biggest names).

The 6-man double round-robin MTel Masters in Sofia filled the middle of May, and was dominated by Ivanchuk who started +5 before ending on +6, with Topalov 2nd at +3. The listed perf (on both ChessBase and TWIC; and these two usually differ by a few points) was 2977 for Ivanchuk, while my perf computation yields 2981.

The Bosna Sarajevo tournament (just below 2700 in average, though only the winner was above 2700) brought us into June, and saw Morozevich at +5 in 7 rounds; this was also his final result (in another 6-man double round-robin), with Dominguez Perez next at +2. I get the perf for Morozevich to be 2872.

June saw the Aerosvit tournament in the resort of Foros, which was another 2700+ tournament with 12 players, with Carlsen winning with +5 by a full point over Ivanchuk on +3. Carlsen's best perf of the year at 2877 was third best overall [though my calculation of Sargissian's Olympiad perf (at 2898) would displace both this and Topalov's Nanjing].

The summer schedule then went to Dortmund, where Leko won on +2 over a large group on +1 (including Ivanchuk), though the surprise here was Kramnik with a minus score, and van Wely self-destructing to -5 (in only 7 rounds). The 8-player field had only half their number above 2700, and the average was a bit below this.

The Karpov Poikovsky tournament was not covered that much, possibly due to so many happenings in early July, even though the field was almost 2700 in average. A log-jam of Gashimov, Jakovenko, Rublevsky, and Shirov on +2 was top score over 9 rounds.

Later in July came the Biel event, another 6-man double round-robin, which saw Carlsen lead early but end a half-point back, with Dominguez Perez and Alekseev tied on +3 in this average 2687 event. This was Carlsen's worst perf of the year, at only 2742.

Then the Sochi FIDE-GP event brought us into August, with Aronian winning on +4, a half-point ahead of Radjabov. If not for his -4 in Sofia, Aronian might have contended for the perf title. Again the average was over 2700, not easy with a 2550 in the field of 14.

The calendar finally started to thin, with the Tal Memorial finishing off the "summer" schedule in August. Ivanchuk won his second big event of the year (then again, he plays in almost everything), by a full point with +3 over a group of four on +1, which contained Morozevich and Kramnik. The whole field was 2700+, which is nontrivial to arrange with 10 slots, with Chucky weighing in at 2859 in perf.

This set the stage for the Bilbao super-super-GM in September, billed as the highest ELO tournament ever, a 6-man double round-robin complete with a wacky scoring system. Topalov dominated the field, scoring +3 by the familiar metric, with Aronian, Carlsen, and Ivanchuk next best with even scores. FIDE-WC Anand was last with -2. This was Topalov's 2nd best perf of the year at 2876.

The FIDE-WC in October saw Anand make a 2834 perf with +2 versus Kramnik over 11 games. Meanwhile, Svidler won the 12-player Russian SuperFinal, though only in a tie-break with the others (Jakovenko, Alekseev) on +3. The rating average was only 2673, which just made this list's somewhat arbitrary criterion.

The Olympiad then intervened into the schedule in November; Topalov looked to be having the top performance, but a late-round loss to Shirov allowed Leko to squeak through for the official honour over Gelfand on first board (2834 to 2833), with Sargissian having the overall best at 2869. My computations re-arrange the furniture a bit, with Topalov again exceeding the 2850 mark. However, I will not count this below.

At the year end, we turned to Nanjing for another super-GM 6-man double round-robin with a 2750+ average. Topalov kept up his dominant form, winning again by 1.5 points, with +4 over Aronian's +1. His 2892 performance was only topped this year by Ivanchuk's MTel result in Sofia (and Sargissian's Olympiad).

The third leg of the FIDE-GP hit a snag with re-location which caused some players to withdraw. However, one of the replacements was for a Host City nominee, and in fact the average rating went up a bit with the chair-shuffling. The trio of Grischuk, Jakovenko, and Radjabov closed out the calendar year (the FIDE year being closed two tournaments prior) by drawing out the their last games in Elista to share 1st place on +3.

A tabulation of these events, with location, average rating, and the winners and their perfs:
WijkOnZee 2742 Jan      Aronian, Carlsen +3 (Carlsen 2829)
Linares   2756 Feb/Mar  Anand +3 (2826), Carlsen +2
Baku      2717 Apr/May  Carlsen, Gashimov, Wang Yue +3 (Wang Yue 2805)
Sofia     2738 May      Ivanchuk +6 (2981), Topalov +3
Bosna     2695 May/Jun  Morozevich +5 (2872), Dominguez +2
Foros     2712 Jun      Carlsen +5 (2877), Ivanchuk +3
Dortmund  2695 Jun/Jul  Leko +2 (2800), Ivanchuk, etc. +1
Poikovsky 2691 Jul      Gashimov (2771), Jakovenko, Rublevsky, Shirov +2
Biel      2687 Jul      Dominguez, Alekseev +3 (both 2795)
Sochi     2708 Jul/Aug  Aronian +4 (2822), Radjabov +3
Moscow    2745 Aug      Ivanchuk +3 (2859), Kramnik, Morozevich, etc. +1
Bilbao    2769 Sep      Topalov +3 (2876), Aronian, Carlsen, Ivanchuk =0
Moscow    2673 Oct      Alekseev, Jakovenko, Svidler +3 (Alexseev 2774)
Bonn    FIDEWC Oct/Nov  Anand +2 (2834) over Kramnik
Nanjing   2751 Dec      Topalov +4 (2892), Aronian +1
Elista    2713 Dec      Grischuk (2797), Jakovenko, Radjabov +3

Performance Measurements
By my computation, the top 10 perfs from these events are:
Ivanchuk   2981 Sofia
Topalov    2892 Nanjing
Carlsen    2877 Foros
Topalov    2876 Bilbao
Morozevich 2872 Sarajevo
Ivanchuk   2859 Moscow [Tal Memorial]
Topalov    2840 Sofia (2nd place)
Anand      2834 Bonn (FIDE-WC match)
Carlsen    2829 Wijk aan Zee
Anand      2826 Linares

Here are the top 10 performers from the year, using only the results of above (so the Bundesliga, Olympiad, etc., are ignored), and assuming at least 30 games were played:
           PERF   PTS/GM   W  L  D   SC% AVGOPP
Topalov    2810  33.5/57 +21-11=25  58.8 (2747)
Carlsen    2804  43.0/71 +25-10=36  60.6 (2728)
Anand      2791  26.5/48 +10 -5=33  55.2 (2754)
Morozevich 2789  19.0/30 +12 -4=14  63.3 (2692)
Ivanchuk   2774  54.0/97 +23-12=62  55.7 (2733)
Aronian    2769  37.5/70 +17-12=41  53.6 (2743)
Gashimov   2761  27.5/48 +11 -4=33  57.3 (2709)
Radjabov   2761  46.5/86 +19-12=55  54.1 (2732)
Wang Yue   2760  22.0/39  +7 -2=30  56.4 (2714)
Jakovenko  2756  33.0/57 +13 -4=40  57.9 (2699)

Dominguez Perez had performances of 2767 (Bosna) and 2795 (Biel), but only got in 20 games at this top level (he also won the World Blitz Championship in fine fashion). Similarly, Ponomariov had a 2784 in his only appearance (Tal Memorial), while Rublevsky managed a 2767 at Poikovsky, with Gustafsson (2755) and Nepomniachtchi (2761) having one event each in Dortmund. Achieving +1 in Poikovsky put Wang Hao on this list (2727), and even an even score in Dortmund was sufficient for Naiditsch (2701).

The rest of this 2700+ performance club (with 30+ games) has: Grischuk, Leko, Kamsky, Kramnik, Svidler, Karjakin, Mamedyarov, Alekseev. Among the "big names" that are missing, Adams had only 26 games (the Staunton Memorial and EU Champ don't count here, and he pulled out of the FIDE-GP event in Elista), and Polgar but half this. Shirov and Gelfand were both single digits short of the 2700 standard (too bad for them that I didn't try to count the Olympiad), while Bacrot and Eljanov each could have made it with another point in Elista. Others who managed 30 games at this level were Cheparinov, Inarkiev, Onischuk, and van Wely.

In the Useless Facts department, Kamsky and Shirov were the "blackest" players of the year, the former having 16/35 Whites, and the latter 20/43. Radjabov had the opposite luck, ending +4 with 45/86 Whites.

Here is a tabular version of these events, and perfs obtained by the top 10:
                            [BOSN]         [BIEL]              [BONN]
Topalov  2715 2777      2840                          2876      2892
Carlsen  2829 2809 2795      2877          [2742]     2767
Anand    2794 2826                                    2692     [2834]
Morzvich                    [2873]               2777      2732
Ivanchuk 2767 2731      2981 2811 2736      2706 2859 2766      2673
Aronian  2823 2783      2584                2822      2775      2785
Gashimov           2800                2771 2711                     2766
Radjabov 2795 2759 2685 2770                2789      2738           2790
Wang_Yue           2805                     2763                     2714
Jakvenko                     2714      2765 2738           2770      2791

I combined Bosna/Foros, Biel/Sochi, and Bonn/Nanjing to make this fit into a smaller number of columns.

Snippets about players
Onto the arguments for (and against) Topalov, Carlsen, and Anand.

Topalov won two 2750+ events each by 1.5 points, earning 2 of the top 4 perfs of the year via these. His Olympiad result (not counted here) was also top-notch, and even his second place at Sofia was better than anything Anand produced. Except for his dismal Wijk aan Zee, he might have run away with the award for year's best perf. His 44% draw average was almost the lowest around, being bested only by his compatriot Cheparinov at 43%, who clinched this with a 12th round loss at Elista.

Carlsen won only one event outright (Aerosvit/Foros), but tied for 1st in two other events, and was around the leaderboards a lot in general. His worst perf was a 2742 in Biel, when he still finished at +2, only a half-point off the lead. Bilbao was a bit of a disappointment, it being his only event without a plus score (in fact, everything else was at least +2). In mutual tourneys against the others, he out-legged both Anand and Topalov result-wise by 2-1 in a head-to-head comparison. His official rating might be hurt a bit by subpar play in the Bundesliga and/or Euro Club Champ. He also won the most "top level" games this year (25).

Anand won Linares and the FIDE-WC match, but largely played in sideshow events (rapid, blindfold). He was a half-point back in Wijk aan Zee, but stumbled significantly in Bilbao. He also won the rapid event in Mainz, but seemed to concentrate on the Bonn event. From the statistical standpoint, his 2791 for the year is the equivalent of about 1.3 points (from his 48 games) lower than Topalov's 2810. His draw average was 69%, much the largest amongst the contenders; spinning this as a positive, he thus had many fewer losses, dropping but 5 games all year. Finally, his "average opponent" was the best of the bunch, a bit loftier than Topalov's (2754 versus 2747).

As for some others:

Morozevich blitzed the relatively weak-ish opposition in Sarajevo, but elsewise was mostly silent, barely making the 30 games necessary for this list. His low draw rate is unsurprising, both due to his style of play, and the relatively wide rating edge he had over his opponents ("average opponent" was only 2692).

Ivanchuk had a plain-crazy result in Sofia, and additionally won the Tal Memorial by a full point. However, his ridiculously over-stuffed schedule (about 130 games, not counting around 100 more of circus fare) also contained some lesser accountings. He had three 2800+ perfs, the least-mentioned being his second-place +3 at Foros (2811).

Aronian won Sochi and tied for 1st in Wijk aan Zee, both with 2820+ perfs, but was mid-pack (twice the "professional" +1, and an even score in Bilbao) in three of the super-GM events, and had a disaster in Sofia (excluding this last, his worst perf was 2775 in Bilbao!). He also dominated the field at Melody Amber, and twice inflicted a loss upon Anand (Linares, Bilbao).

Gashimov had a strong year, though his main action was FIDE-GP events. A tie for first in Baku (making a 2800 perf) was followed by another tie for first in Poikovsky, and then a 50% result in Sochi before a +2 in Elista. Amongst the players here, I think he nipped Wang Yue and Carlsen for greatest gain in FIDE rating, though Movsesian should take that in any case. He also won the Capelle la Grande Open in February (on tiebreak). Should be on the list for a major invite (or two), though this is always a dodgy business.

Radjabov was fourth in wins with 19, but that's partially due to his workrate of 86 games, with four major invites to go with three FIDE-GP events. Though he was close often enough, he didn't win any tourneys until tying for 1st in Elista. No 2800 perfs (best was 2795 in Wijk aan Zee), and a poor Baku dragged him down in the end.

Wang Yue's top-level action for the year was the three FIDE-GP events (having to miss Nanjing for the last), and he acquitted himself quite well with a tie for first in Baku (with a 2805 perf), followed by going unbeaten in Sochi. He had a 2784 perf for the year going into Elista, but an even score there (with two losses) dropped him to 9th overall. He clinched the Highest Draw Percentage with 2 rounds to spare in Elista, with the final number of 77% easily besting Gelfand's 71% (25/35) for this honour of nebulous repute.

Jakovenko had a quality year, though mostly under the super-class radar. A tie for first in both the Poikovsky event was repeated in the SuperFinal, and yet again in Elista. However, he had no 2800 perfs for the year. Scoring 50% in Foros was his worst perf of the year (2715). As with some others in FIDE-GP mix (Wang Yue, Gashimov), a high draw rate (70%) was noticeable, though he did manage 13 wins.

Grischuk was another whose appearances were limited to three FIDE-GP events, as he had +2 in Baku, followed by -1 in Sochi, and tied for 1st with +3 in Elista. Again one sees a high draw average, and, as with Wang Yue, the 39 FIDE-GP games were sufficiently tedisome to preclude 10 wins from being procured. He was just short of the top 10, and there is a big gap between his perf down to Leko's (2749-2732).

Rounding out the rest of those with 10 wins:

Leko won Dortmund (with a 2800 perf upon rounding) and had a nice Olympiad, but his mediocre Elista result and particularly a -3 in Linares hurt a lot. He did scrape together 10 wins for the year, winning two games in each of his five events listed here.

Svidler chalked up a plus score for the year with +14-12=32 and won the SuperFinal (in a tie-break), but will likely still endure the peculiar cries of favouritism regarding invites (two of his five events were in the FIDE-GP, and another was the SuperFinal; only Foros and Nanjing were true "invites").

Alekseev tied for first in both Biel and the SuperFinal, and overall he managed +15-13=26 in a budding year, with more than 50% decisive games. Only Topalov and Morozevich joined him with 50%+ wins and 50%+ decisive games. A poor finale in Elista kept him closer to 2700-land than to 2750 in year-perf, as prior to this he had a real chance to finish in the top 10. His 2718 for the year was the lowest in the 2700+ group.

Shirov counted 10 wins to his credit, but was -4 for the year. Tying for first with +2 in Poikovsky was his best result. Fans of fighting chess still find him a favourite; like Topalov, he had a draw average of only 44%.

Cheparinov combined the "favouritism" ascribed to Svidler with the Fighting Chess attached to Shirov, and ended up +11-17=21, which at least put him into the 10-win club.

And those remaining who were over 2700 in perf:

Kamsky was -1 in Baku, then +2 in Sochi, and -1 at the Tal Memorial. He did manage 40% decisive games, which is superior to the others in this final lot.

Kramnik had a plus score at the Tal Memorial and little else, finishing +6-8=26 for the year. His "average opponent" was 2741, which kept the perf decent, just above Svidler's.

I guess my word for Karjakin's year would be "insipid", as he was +1 and -1 in two FIDE-GPs, and +1 in Foros. He also easily won a rapid match against Short. A minimal plus-score for the year, with 65% draws. Perhaps I yearn for a more Carlsen-esque mentality too much...

Mamedyarov was +2 in Baku, then +1 in Dortmund, but was -1 in Wijk aan Zee, and -2 at the Tal Memorial. He kept the draw percentage over 70% with a +1-1=11 in Elista.
Parent - By BB (****) [au] Date 2008-12-29 07:06

>Cheparinov combined the "favouritism" ascribed to Svidler

Perhaps I was bit unkind to Cheparinov regarding invites: three of his four events were FIDE-GP, and the fourth was Sofia. He did have minus scores in all four, though others had a similar record. In any case, kudos to him on winning 11 games for the year.

Also, the idea that FIDE-GP is a League of Draws is a bit unfounded. Here are draw percentages for the events:

Poikovsky  69%
Bosna      67%
WijkOnZee  66%
Elista     65% (FIDE-GP)
Bonn       64% (FIDE-WC)
Sochi      63% (FIDE-GP)
Dortmund   61%
Moscow     60% (Tal Memorial)
Nanjing    60%
Baku       58% (FIDE-GP)
Bilbao     57%
Linares    55%
Foros      55%
Moscow     53% (SuperFinal)
Sofia      47%
Biel       43%

Of course, there can be some bias here due to out-lying entrants (most notablty Pelletier in Biel). With the exception of Bosna, the double round-robins seem to yield a smaller proportion of draws when compared to the others.
Parent - By akirasan (**) [my] Date 2008-12-29 12:03
thanks for the review
Up Topic The Rybka Lounge / Chess / Chess Year in Review 2008 (long)

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