20 responses to ““Who plays better, Ivanchuk in good form or Carlsen?””

  1. Thank you for the translation, we love interviews!

    I’m no professional chess player, but I think Gelfand is absolutely right about his working method. It’s better to work regularly and systematically, rather than working to your extreme limits in a limited amount of time.

  2. By the way, Gelfand is not being subjective about his evaluation of b3. I remember Grischuk saying at first he didn’t understand the move, but after some thought, realized he was in a very bad position.

  3. Danailov has always had doubts about the survival of chess. Have a look at the “Chess should either change, or die” interview published here (February 2011) : “The 30 seconds move increment (and any increment in general) should be abandoned. That’s essentially deprived fans of the enthralling spectacle of time trouble.”
    With increments there is still time trouble. Some people are not after good games and have no respect for players who produce them. They want to see blood only.

  4. Who plays better, Ivanchuk in good form or Carlsen? It seems to me it’s Ivanchuk in good form.

    Classic ! :)

  5. “Who plays better, Ivanchuk in good form or Carlsen? It seems to me it’s Ivanchuk in good form.”

    I have a lot of respect for Gelfand but, for reasons too obvious to recite, this is a very dubious statement to say the least. Perhaps Gelfand is overly conscious of the fact that the question most people are asking – and will be asking more if the Anand-Gelfand championship match ever garners sponsorship – is whether he plays better than Carlsen, whose ELO is over 71 points higher than Boris’s (even after Kazan) and who is currently number one (again) on the live rating list whereas Boris can’t be seen anywhere in the top ten.

  6. calvin amari: pardon my ignorrance, but what would that reasons be, as they are not at all that obvious to me? Ivanchuk is an ever-swinging genius, known for twenty or so years as being completely unpredictable, able to beat absolutely anyone soundly and all the same lose to a 2600. His rating is pretty much meaningless. Carlsen is a lazy supertalent, a great intuitive player of Capablanca’s caliber (mind you, I do not agree with the often-repeated statement that if he worked more, he’d be able to go down in history as the greatest ever — as with Capa, it’s simply not his style, he plays on “feeling”, not on work). His rating is an accurate description of his strenght.

    There is no doubt as to which of the two is more stable, which will always be rated higher, which will win more tournaments. But I’m much inclined to side with Gelfand here: Ivanchuk on his good day is the strongest contemporary chess player. Too bad for him that he has so many worse days.

  7. Kajetan Wandowicz: Gelfand’s hypothetical question (can Ivanchuk in his very top form beat Carlsen?) is cleverly incomplete. It is a fallacy to suggest that only Ivanchuk operates in a varying performance range, although his swings may be pronounced and more frequent. To a greater or lesser degree each of the top players vacillate in their performance depending on some obvious factors (preparation, health, rest, specific psychological distress or distraction) as well as on factors that are not obvious, least of all to the players themselves. Consider Nakamura at Tata Steel on the one hand and Carlsen at the Olympiad on the other, but clear examples abound. If Gelfand is suggesting that Ivanchuk in good form could beat Carlsen, this is an utterly unremarkable conclusion because that result obviously has occurred on various occasions. Therefore it seems plain that Gelfand, since he was manifestly was trying to make some point, was implying that that Ivanchuk would beat Carlsen when they are both operating at the top of their performance range. There is zero basis for such a conclusion, hence my characterization that it is “dubious,” which my definitionary says means “giving rise to uncertainty” or “unsettled in opinion.” In sum, Gelfand’s statement amounts to little more than a gratuitous slight leveled at Carlsen for which there is absolutely no basis. I offered some possible reasons why Gelfand may have felt compelled act in this way, which I would like to think is uncharacteristic of him.

    As noted, any one top player can beat any other top player on any given day. There is not likely to be a fully satisfying approach to comparing players based on their absolute peak performance alone. I don’t think we would be very surprised, however, if the truth was that peak performance is a relatively stable margin over average performance, in which case Carlsen would have a clear edge over Ivanchuk. Another possible measure would be actual performance rating over a defined, but not long sustained, period of time. In this regard, has Ivanchuk ever had a performance rating equal to Carlsen’s during the latter’s dramatic run at the end of 2009 that catapulted him to the world number one slot?

  8. “I was, perhaps, the first (I think in the pages of “64″) to say that he was stronger than Carlsen”

    I’ve seen many interviews with Gelfand the last year and my impression is that he always either brings up Carlsen himself, or, when asked about him, says something negative a la this repeated statement from 64 about Ivanchuk being the superior chess player of the two.

    More than once Gelfand has also stated that “the cycle change” was made on Carlsen’s behalf rather than describing it as if Carlsen withdrew because of the cycle change. To Gelfand “the cycle change” was apparently the later inclusion of a second rating spot that gave Kramnik a ticket to Kazan, and he has several times pointed out that he finds it strange that Carlsen refused to play in spite of this “bribe” that he never neglects to claim was given specifically to Carlsen and no one else.

    Carlsen was the one that protested more than anyone else against a cycle change that was very detrimental to Gelfand. Instead of one of two spots in a Candidates match as agreed when the cycle started the World Cup winner got one of eight spots in a knockout. Carlsen withdrew because of this change and and didn’t want the minimatch system while Gelfand said absolutely nothing. It seems unnecessary to be so critical of Carlsen all the time when he did fight also on Gelfand’s behalf and never asked for or was given some special treatment. Every time Carlsen mentions Gelfand it is only with praise, by the way.

  9. A pleasure to read. I disagree with a lot of what he is saying but his well-thought arguments makes it easy to understand his point of view.

  10. gg is absolutely riight and so is calvin.

    Gelfand shows his justified inferiority complex about Carlsen regularly, and look for even more signs of it now.

    The Ivanchuk line is absurd. Their record is 6 – 2 in favor of Carlsen, and is even convincing in recent years.

  11. First stating the obvious: Gelfand has been a world-top player for many years, so he knows a thing or twenty-five about chess – much more than anyone commenting here, even if some happen to be “average GMs” (which I doubt). Bartleby’s comment is spot on: you don’t have to share Gelfand’s opinions, but you can and should still respect them.

    I wonder about Gelfand’s underlying reasons, and I guess in part they reflect that he is a bit annoyed with all the hype around Carlsen – like Kramnik when he said his equally controversial “Carlsen is my client” (but it was true at the time of the interview, and there was context to the isolated quote). I don’t know if Gelfand follows chess forums, but journalists taking interviews – and he gave quite a few (before and) after Kazan – ask recurrent questions such as “What do you think of Carlsen dropping out of the candidates event?” and “Do you consider yourself a worthy challenger for Anand? Will there be sponsor money for the match?”. Though in the given case he answered another recurrent question which I can provocatively rephrase as “How come you are still going strong? Aren’t you getting old, isn’t it time to retire?”. Not the first time he gets such a question, it might become boring or tiring for him, and the question is always context to the answer.

    I am also a bit annoyed, but actually more amused about strong reactions from Carlsen fans on anything remotely critical about Carlsen. Apparently it’s a major offense to criticize his majesty Magnus the first …. .

  12. It is not a major offense, but when statements fly in the face of reality in a plainly self serving way, it is worth calling out. In the latest from Gelfand on Chessbase, he says, ” True, Carlsen won a few tournaments, yet …” and goes on to say that his chances agains Magnus would be no worse than 50-50. Won a few tournaments!? I guess that is one of the 25 things Gelfand has figured out based on his many years of experience – that along with the well-honed art of damnation by feint praise.

  13. I don’t see a big deal in Gelfand being a bit complimentary to Vassily. He is of the same age and he probably knows better than anyone else about the personal struggles Ivanchuk has experienced (the latest example his terrible game against Karyakin in Bazna yesterday). Whats wrong about giving some moral boost to Vassily?

    And Carlsen will survive these comments too. ;-)

  14. @calvin. You’re forgetting Gelfand’s opinion of Carlsen’s games and the frequency that his opponents blunder against him. If I could relate this to poker it would be like a poker player “running well” or “catching cards” against an opponent of equal strength. I’m sure you have arguments against this and I could think of a few. To give another example you could take 2 players who blunder an equal amount of the time and who are of equal strength but one player would experience more losses due to these blunders and the other more saves/wins due to these blunders. Not due to a lack of skill but to variance. This adds up to rating points.

    As for Gelfand’s opinion of Ivanchuck and Carlsen, he might as well say that he thinks Ivanchuck’s games are of better quality than Carlsen’s games. I don’t really think it’s right to bring in stats (which have only 3 possible outcomes: win draw loss) to an argument of opinion over ones quality of games.

    I only leave this here to offer another viewpoint. I’d also like to say that even if he is feeling under appreciated over the years he still has a point. His point is not gratuitous. And maybe a Carlsen – Gelfand match would not be 50/50 :) but the man still has his pride. He is the challenger for the title after all.

  15. Gelfand: “A faulty WC-cycle is better than no WC-cycle, because I get to play”.
    -He is late in his career and appreciates the chance given. He is older and more pragmatic. Gelfand is not among the top paid super-GMs and he didnt get that many tournament invitations the last years.
    The support from Israelian chess society is poor, (-he said in a previous interview). He has wife and kids to support in Israel. He qualified and won (deservingly) through the FIDE World Cup system. Now he has his golden moment with the upcoming match. -You cant blame him for not spitting on his food plate!

    BTW: Its a big compliment to Carlsen, quoting him as “the one to beat”. The point is of course that Magnus is only 20 years old and STILL RISING.

  16. His question seems to be biased. Why did he not ask “Who plays better, Carlsen in good form or Ivanchuk?”

  17. Congratulations to Mr Gelfand for qualifying to play V. Anand. He obviously earned it. Everybody is talking and crying about the World Championship cycle. Just let FIDE cut the crap and have a simple tournament to elect an annual champion. Do it as tennis does:: bring the top 10 or 12 or 14 highest rated player together and have a double or triple round robin. Winner is this year’s champ. Such a big event would be sure to bring chess to the forefront with the people, media and sponsor interest. Why have an uncertain cycle where nobody knows what’s going on, top players refusing to play, sponsorship declining, the media not knowing or not caring and people purposely kept in the dark about chess?? My humble opinion, for what it’s worth.

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