Friday, April 13, 2007

The Karpov Machine Factory

I don't mean to be sarcastic or imply that, like a machine, Karpov organized his WCC pursuit, approach, conquest, and retention into refinement with easy or banal rigor, but rather intimate as to his trademark well known workman like efficiency, deeping the team approach, as is well elaborated by Kasparov in the fifth volume of MGP.

It must be the easiest thing in the world to blog by just clipping everyone else's articles, and I don't and won't do that, but must make brief mention of the best Misha Interview at in the last two years, reproduced with extensive ommissions below. I read them all, good, bad, or indifferent. But this is simply the best on that I have read there. I recommend that you go to the actual article and read it in full, where it discusses how Karpov organized armies of helpers to assist his championship.

Again, I do not wish to imply that this made his effort any less, quite the contrary to honor his savy in utilizing the resources available with foxy or wily intellect:

Interview with Anatoly Bykhovsky

Anatoly Bykhovsky. Born in 1934. International Master and International Arbiter. Current FIDE rating – 2364. Renowned chess trainer and organizer. Chairman of the Trainers’ Council of the Russian Chess Federation since 2003.

Misha Savinov: Could you say a few words about your first steps in chess?

Anatoly Bykhovsky: I started quite late, judging by modern standards. I learned the rules at the age of eight. Of course, there were no trainers during the war. When I returned to Moscow from evacuation, I came to the Pioneers’ Palace, and studied chess together with ... Chaplinsky was an absolute genius – like Spassky. There was a traditional confrontation between Moscow and Leningrad, with Chaplinsky on one side, and Spassky on the other side. Our trainers were not chess professionals, they were candidate masters just returned from the war...

MS: Did you only play in your spare time?

AB: Yes. I became a master, and won the Moscow Championship in 1963. In 1965, I participated in the USSR championship final, where I was the only amateur player. The lineup was quite strong: Stein (the eventual winner), Polugaevsky, Keres, etc. I finished in the middle of the table, sharing tenth-twelfth with Korchnoi and Simagin. So I divided my time between science and chess, until the Sports Committee introduced a new position: trainer of the national junior team.

MS: The situation with junior chess was quite dire, as, after Spassky, nobody could win an international junior tournament!

AB: Absolutely right. The chess authorities were being criticized and they had to react in some way, so they introduced a new position and started looking for candidates. They found just two: Alex Roshal and me. Even though Petrosian strongly supported Roshal, I was selected. I still have no idea as to why; perhaps because Roshal didn’t have a university diploma. I began in 1967 and stayed in that position for twenty-five years.

MS: What were your responsibilities?

...It is also a great feeling to have worked with three generations of outstanding players – Karpov, Kasparov, and Kramnik. Our juniors began dominating the international scene soon after I took the position, but that was just a coincidence. Young talents in chess appear in clusters, like mushrooms in a forest, who knows why... It was a very good job – nice kids were turning into great players before my very eyes...

AB: ... So I became an international master. Many people consider me to be Grischuk’s trainer, but I was more of an organizer for him. That’s about it. I don’t regret quitting science, as I had a good time in chess.

MS: I noticed that there are many trainers who previously worked in the scientific sphere – Nikitin and Lukin.

AB: And Boris Postovsky. The explanation is that these people had a habit of waking up at 7AM.
... When we were recently looking for a trainer for our men’s team, the Trainers’ Council reviewed many candidates. I had one personal request: the man in charge must show up at work every day. Guess what – nobody accepted this condition! It was impossible to find someone ready to work on a daily basis. So should we be surprised about the recent mediocre results of the team? ... because he is a strict and strong man, and it makes it difficult to find a common language with other strong personalities. ... And Bondarevsky was a trainer of yet another type: he would take Spassky by the throat and force him to work...

MS: Bareev stated that he only wanted to work with very young players. Do you agree? ...

The problem with 9- and 10-year-old children is that it isn’t easy to distinguish between genuine talent and someone who just had an early start. ...
Chess has become much younger. Unfortunately, the career span of a chessplayer has decreased substantially. Botvinnik played championship matches after forty, but now a player of that age is over-the-hill. In other professions a man only begins to flourish at forty, because of all the knowledge and experience he has accumulated, while a chess player has to look for a new job. Nowadays, players spend ten to twelve hours a day in front of the computer, and this is a luxury that only youngsters can afford. In return they get a huge amount of the most up-to-date knowledge, which gives them an edge over more experienced players. In Soviet times a student would meet with his trainer two or three times a week, while now they can do everything on their own. One can explore the database, play on the Internet, analyze with an engine, find annotated games, follow all the news, etc. Chess has become more intense.

MS: Was time a factor?

AB: No, no, in real sound games. The game itself has changed, too. It has become more concrete and tough, and contains fewer abstract ideas. Suspicious-looking but deeply analyzed positions are played, and we see that there’s something wrong with our perception, because they are completely playable. You know, when you play against the computer, it often seems that its pieces are badly coordinated and lacking protection, but then it turns out that they interact splendidly, only at some higher level of perception. And young players are learning this kind of chess.

MS: What remains for a trainer?

AB: The role of a trainer is still important, but in a different way. It is more organizational and psychological. The great players of the past were always associated with a trainer: Tal – Koblents, Karpov – Furman, and Kasparov – Nikitin. ... Who is Radjabov’s trainer? Carlsen has Nielsen, who is a very nice man and a fine player, but not Dvoretsky, and not Nikitin. Plus, the top players don’t just have a trainer, they have brigades!

MS: But there are only a few such players...

AB: I believe most of the top players have many helpers. Kramnik, Leko, Aronian... One person is responsible for one part of the opening encyclopedia, while another explores the next volume, etc. In Botvinnik’s time there was a single man responsible for all the analysis, including adjourned games.

MS: Who introduced this “brigade” method to chess? Karpov?

AB: No, it appeared much earlier! Strangely enough, it was introduced by a “man of great modesty” David Bronstein. He had the best brigade in the history of chess! Boleslavsky, Furman and Konstantinopolsky! These three are among the top ten outstanding trainers I have ever met in my life. ...

Petrosian also had a brigade: Geller, Suetin and Averbakh. However, Karpov took it further. He is the smartest of chess players, the most organized, like an A-student, who analyzes everything and picks out the best. He did not just choose the best analysts, but strengthened his team with a cook and a masseur. He acted like a skilled manager. Karpov brought many innovations to chess. He has always been a smart kid...

I actually have my own opinion on Jakovenko. Many times I told him: “Mitya, you are very talented man, and you can prosper in many different areas.” He either had to concentrate on his university studies – which is correct in my opinion – or focus solely on chess. The times have changed. Today a different gifted youngster wins the first prize of a strong open on a monthly basis. What’s the point of pursuing this chess lottery?

MS: Well, chess is addictive.

AB: Yes, one needs to love chess passionately. However, I noticed that players such as Svidler, Anand, Bareev, and Grischuk all seem very tired of chess. It’s the same tournaments, the same opponents, the same positions, the Petroff and the Slav – I barely can look at those positions! Their motivation declines, and why do they play? Grischuk tells me he can make more at a poker table, so he isn’t playing much chess. This is very sad. Sasha is a wonderful talent, surely not less talented than Topalov, but with better nerves and innate objectivity. I tell him that the chess goddess does not like disloyalty! Two more years of semi-absence, and you’ll regret your missed opportunities for the rest of your life...



Blogger likesforests said...

MOSCOW (AP) - Russian opposition leader Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion, was detained by police Saturday as supporters of his organization tried to hold a forbidden protest march in central Moscow.

An Associated Press photographer saw Kasparov inside a police van, waving and smiling to journalists clustered outside on the edge of Pushkin Square.,,-6557153,00.html

Sat Apr 14, 10:36:00 AM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

hit 85.4% tonight at CTS for dkTransform for 26,608 tries.

now all i need to do is 88.6% (or better), in the next 892 tries, to get to 85.4501% 27,500, to excede 85.5%, and attain one of those rarest integer jumps at CTS, even rarer for practitioners >20,000 tries, and so 'post' 86%. :)

since i am as a rule only doing sets >90%, this is well within reach.

my plan is for:
85.87% for 30,000 tries
86.90% for 40,000 tries, and
87.52% for 50,000 tries, and, thus, of course, to show 88%.


since dogWaste is at 96%+, this parity or relatedness is aesthetically pleasing to me.

Sun Apr 15, 11:26:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Wahrheit said...

Hi David, thanks for your comment at my blog and it's a pleasure to read yours. I'll be adding some new links and this will be one!

Best Regards,

Tue Apr 17, 01:16:00 PM PDT  
Blogger takchess said...

interesting post. It is nice to see that Bronstein mention prominently as a pioneer in methodology as well as chess ideas.

Wed Apr 18, 12:33:00 PM PDT  
Blogger likesforests said...

I meant to write sooner. That's a fascinating article. I've never heard of Anatoly Bykhovsky, but the man seems to have had a unique vantage point to watch the evolution--or decline--of Russian chess throughout the past several decades. I'll have to check out Savinov's future articles. "Grischuk can make more at the poker table". ::sigh::

Thu Apr 19, 08:36:00 AM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

thank you LikeForests.

while it is very rare that these 'Misha Interviews' involve top twenty players such as Gelfand, Morozevich, Radjabov, Carlsen, etc, and only less rare to have top 100 talent...

among the tertiary tier or the top--say--500 chessplayers in the world who are >2450 FIDE elo, there is much annectdotal and contextual knowledge in these interviews.

we find hard working talent, often from difficult geographic or family circumstances, involving much sacrifice if not suffering for the chess goddess caissa.

some of these persons interviewed have had to choose, say, electrical engineering, or work as chief engineers, or sports physical therapists, etc. in order survive in russia, but still manage to maintain IM norms or even GM level play, without the ability to pursue chess full time, with the priviledge invitations, and opportunities thereof to improve their play.

** sorry, i tried to check the previously available read only xls sheet showing all 40,000 FIDE members, and rank sort them, but this is now a tab delimited txt file, and i dont have those computing skills off the tip of my tongue, but, as i recall, it was 300 or so >2500 when i started back in chess in 2001/2.

*** currently, =>2622 elo is top hundred with, of course, well known inflation of ratings, and corruption in the top 500 to gain norms for pay.

in 1973 before i left chess at age 15, i was 1671 which is probably more like 1800 today. fischer was 2785, or there and abouts then... fyi, Larry Christiansen was 1840 or so then, as i recall.

Thu Apr 19, 12:09:00 PM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

botched my CTS aesthetics last night, but, what the heck:

i was headed to 27,000 tries at exactly 85.5% but it was going to be 27,004, then one single try wrong, so had to settle for 27,011 @ 85.4504%. talk about an aesthetic faux paux! it could have been 000. :)

but, now to get more serious: soon i will hit 85.5001 or post 86%. how long does it take to gain an entire integer at CTS??

so what starts so pleasant and sweet, becomes in contrast a very long effort, before we can see 'it' again, taste 'it' again.

have i fallen under the wagon at 1451 elo? when i was 1500 to 1520 elo for so long? of course not. i am the same or almost as better.

but whereas before i was most often doing 90% but allowed some sessions at 83 or 96%, now i cannot finish ANY session unless i am >90.0%. my adherence to this is 100% and i never divert.

this is holding me to a higher standard of accuracy at

my plan is to do the next 3,000, 13,000, and 23,000 at greater than 90%. not 99 to 100% such as dogWaste has been doing, but some room for error to lower the stress. 100% is very stressfull, and any mouseslip or disconnect (i have been having those of late, even on broadband, a source of ongoing discussion with my ISP) are traumatic!

my next set will be: 269f/2701s= 2,970 @ 90.57% or greater.

4,200f/25,800s= 30,000 tries will equal 86.00% exactly.

what does this translate into: i am back at ICC making another push to 1400 bullet, at my beloved 0/4. of late, i have been beating some 1500 to 1550's more frequently, but have more work to do to get there. i need to find a way to play less, but somehow warm up to a fine point of sharpness, play a FEW games, then log OFF and not blow it.

for example, last night, i was 1333 elo, at bullet, then fell to 1250 etc. i finished at 1304, as i required this to stop. groan.

what i stopped at 1333? this is like the stock market, where you dont know if by holding you can get more, but, in trying for more, you loose it. as 'we' say on 'the street', AKA 'Wall Street', there is FEAR and greed, the primary factors in the human comedy and human drama, as the case may be. or is it the human battleground, or the human muse of love and joy?

Sat Apr 21, 01:20:00 PM PDT  
Blogger wormwood said...

I try to limit my blitz games to 4-5 a session, as I've noticed my focus drops after that. which also makes me wonder if your 'warm up session' might actually have a detrimental effect? I try to achieve the same 'sharpening of the eye' by watching a couple of 3 0 games by the GMs. it gets you up to speed, but doesn't really wear you out like actual playing might do.

Sat Apr 21, 07:07:00 PM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

thank you mr. wormwood. i couldnt agree more. correct. a few qualifications:

my warm up at CTS is my saving grace. i did 100 a day last year, at CTS, and now understand that sixty is my max. of course, i am capable of more, but it IS tiring. past sixty, then you can forget meaningfull live chess afterwards.

of course, sixty is not many for the average CTS user at 73.5% success (yes, i analysed the top 300 user by tries today broadly, but that is for another post, with notes in my file near here), but at 91 and 92% is far more taxing or fatiguing--so sixty is plenty.

when my session is more like 3/38=41, then i know i am ready to play and curtail my session, or split the session for more AFTER live chess.

i start with 30 at CTS and, if as happened tonight, i get TWO failed in a series of ten (2f/8s =10 @ 80@), taking my session <90.0%, i do more problems and 'get it back'. so just now i did 4f/37s=41 tries.

second, more than five or six games at ICC often (BUT NOT ALWAYS) results in loss of an edge. i have won eight in a row there, but have MANY nine's and ten's lost in a row, so nothing to brag about.

i need to come to that edge, and not go over it. at the same time, i am off this weekend, and rarely have weekends off (at least for Saturday/Sunday, rather having Mon/Tue, or Wed/Thur, etc), and after much rest and naps, can do at CTS what i normally cannot do as well, so asside from number of games and number of CTS tries, there is just the simple factor of mental freshness and restedness.

always good to hear from you.

is there much winter there, still, or is spring whispering around the corner in finland now? we actually have some green here in late february, and while it is not a sudden burst, but a slow pop and sizzle, by early april it is ALL green in seattle... and the days stay light till late even now...

sweet odes to joy, and chaucerian moist ruddy rud.

warmly, dk

Sat Apr 21, 10:38:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

domingo veintinueve julio 2007

!Hola! Buenas noches (00.50 BST)
Hm. Karpov el colecciona los sellos esta es bueno para uno ajedrez jugador por que es mucho tiempo aburrido pasar,?no? si, y este es muy interresante mucho sellos diferente,?no?como los sellos viejo czech,?no bonito mariposas,?no?si.

marianna juana inglaterra/antigua(en vacaciones de verano)

Sat Jul 28, 05:05:00 PM PDT  

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