Monday, June 20, 2011


Ivanchuk is at the bottom of the crosstable in a recent tournament and probably will finish there. Shirov does this too. Yet, at another event, they can win the tournament. Do their opponents jack up their performance against the two? Do these two take more chances as they start to believe in their own invincibility? Who knows, but they should talk to a psychiatrist not because they are nuts (altho who knows?) but because something is seriously out of whack. Would they even take the advice? Are they capable of taking advice?

In Shirov's case he is paying lots of alimony (3-4 ex-wives) and is always on the hunt at each and every tournament for more prize money.

But I think they play too much. It's not so much that their brain needs a rest as their physical body does. But maybe their brain does need a rest too. Some players such as Anand and Carlsen don't play every event and in general they do well even though their past has shown some bad patches too. Just as there is "sports medicine" maybe there should be some "chess brain medicine." That is, a search for "why?"

This is a new book from Quality Chess by Vladimir Popov. And it's good! As a trainer and coach of the famous Kointseva sisters, he takes us through many examples and exercises to show mistakes made by them and other trainees. Now any strong player can do this but Popov not only tells us WHY something is better, he shows us "background" on how he knows this! What it comes down to, often, is "standard positions." The THING is, "what is a standard position?" That's the rub, and he explains what Botvinnik thought or so and so thought--this stuff works. In other words, again, KNOWING what has happened before in "analogous" positions can be VERY helpful. Popov also shows how to put emphasis on strategical considerations to avoid tactical ones.

I hope to have more to say in a review for SCORE #2, which comes out this Friday. In the meantime, the retail is $25.95, 256 pages. Of course my company G&L CHESS has it available at much less than $25.95. If you subscribe to SCORE ($20) you will get the latest hubbub on the new books.

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  1. With regard to your comments about Ivanchuk and Shirov, I think you are over analyzing just a bit. These guys are two of the most uncompromising players on the current circuit today. Not that others aren't, but Ivanchuk and Shirov have "styles of play" that simply lend themselves to results that are usually either very good or very bad-period. But, there's always a but, if I could play like either of them I wouldn't complain about a thing!



  2. Of course we would all like to play as well as they do on a "bad day." But I think you and I are saying the same thing.
    However, Shirov really NEEDS the money for his marital supports and desperation usually has mixed results.
    In Ivanchuk's case he has threatened to quit playing chess when he has done poorly.
    I still think these two need a vacation. Maybe they should coem to Red Wing!

  3. YES! More people should come to Red Wing! Come on!!! What are the rest of you waiting for—this is a great opportunity to rub shoulder with a GM...,and others who have been in the "know" about all sorts of chess info for many years.