Thursday, February 21, 2008

Alekhine's Defense

"I played 1.e4. You played... what?!"
The look on Topalov's face tells it all.

For years, Alekhine's Defense was rarely seen in the top echelons of the chess world and was at times, heavily criticised for being unsound.

Today, this defence has a new champion. Magnus Carlsen defeated not just any pansy but currently ranked world #3 Veselin Topalov with the Black pieces using this defence at the Morelia -Linares tournament being held in Mexico now.

That's mighty impressive, considering how Topalov is normally armed to the teeth when it comes to opening preparation as Kramnik can readily testify.

What is more startling with this game was how quickly Topalov went down. In a mere 19 moves, the former FIDE World Champion Topalov was facing a losing endgame position!

Will we see a revival of Alekhine's Defense?


  1. Maybe at the Super-GM level White will have to give up 1. e4!


  2. Nakamura has also been playing this, see for example his games at Gibraltar. The Alekhine is certainly coming back to life. As far as wahrheit's comment, what's really funny is that in the Mexico WCC there were very few games with 1.e4, however in Morelia it seems like more than half of the games are 1.e4. So I was actually thinking we'll see a revival of 1.e4 at the top level.

  3. yes, nakamura who commented at the start of the game [ICC: Smallville]:

    "see, he is copying me now!"

  4. Wahrheit: Not for the forseeable future. :) What is likely to happen is that this Defense will be likely to be given a shot in the arm in terms of repute because of this game and might encourage others to take this up which is good news.

    drunknknite: I do know of Nakamura's games and have been following his forays esp. into playing rare openings (he reminds me of Kamsky in some ways).

    While playing other GMs and beating them is one thing, playing vs a super-GM (esp. one like Topalov who is well-known for his intensive opening preparation) and winning is quite another.

    transformation: I honestly doubt Carlsen copies Nakamura. ;)

    Carlsen has in fact been playing the Alekhine Defense a lot esp. in blitz tournaments last year which leads me to believe that after this big success, Carlsen might make Alekhine's Defense one of his main repertoires.

  5. of course he not only doesnt copy him, but it cannot be thought so!

    yet this is presented not as a comment on Carlsen, but says something about Nakamura. he sounds so egotistical and snotty, but when you listen to him interviewed at ICC (Watson, chess talk, early this year), he sounds reasonable.

    i take this to mean that he only has youthfull ego for protection, but under it all, is actually a cool guy, a solid guy. lots of outter noise and flash, but inside not like that at all, it seems to me.

  6. dk:

    Nakamura got his "bad" rep because of many rude comments he made both in ICC and OTB.

    in 2006, during an interview with the Wall St Journal, he made the following comment about his opponents, "I just beat them," he said, "and laugh at them. They are patzers."

    comments like these isn't going to garner him any new friends soon.

    I'm sure he is a pretty kewl guy in real person.

    But honestly, I'm not sure if he will ever shake off that "bad persona" image ever if he continues to conduct himself like this.

    he's an exceptionally talented player no doubt about that.

  7. From hanging out with Nakamura for a night in Vegas during the North American Open in 2006 I can say that he is a very cocky and very cool person.

    His talent is immeasurable, and he knows it. He knows he'll have no trouble breaking the 2700 mark and I think his dominance of American chess (not counting Kamsky) has given him reason to be so cocky. When I tried to bring up chess, I think my exact words were "So how much do you work?", he didn't want to talk about it: "What do you mean, I don't work." To which I just smiled, so we talked about other stuff and just hung out. He honestly believed he could be the best player in the world (that much I was able to get out of him), which I have to respect, he is extremely creative at the board.

    I was at ICC during the game and he was only on for a little bit, but his persona on ICC is very different from his almost timid behavior at tournaments. His speech at the end of Gibraltar shows that he is growing into a mature and respectful adult.

    He attracted a lot of attention very quickly and it definitely got to his head a little bit. But he does have a helluva chess game backing up his personality and in reality as you guys have said I think he is a pretty cool guy. He's just got that 'Fischer' confidence and only time will tell if he can achieve similar results.

  8. Maybe GM's "forgot" why Alekhine's was not considered a top-grade opening, so when they're faced with it they don't exactly remember why it's "bad"?

    Can't wait for someone to pull a Grob.

  9. drunknknite: thanks for giving us a little insight into Nakamura! that was great.

    LEP: i dun think we'll see the Grob anytime soon. Incidentally, the Trompowsky was played once by Anand against Karpov and Anand won.