Changing trend

THE results of the Sparkassen chess meeting at Dortmund where the three established stars scored only as much as the emerging stars goes to prove that things are fast changing in the chess world.

Often the top players end up playing each other too much and for too long. It stirs up good healthy rivalry but does nothing to open up the doors to the emerging stars. The longstanding Karpov versus Kasparov duels from 1984 to 1990 did more harm to chess overall than good.

The new mix of 50% established and 50% emerging players displayed that results do not always favour the higher-rated players. For one good reason: the elite players are seldom used to playing against different styles and are less flexible when it comes to such battles.

They say Kasparov decides who plays in the Linares tournament. But they pick the top from the rating list sometimes even sacrificing the Spanish player. Facing the same players again and again leaves the top players always at the top. Emerging players have to play a few open tournaments for survival or the Olympiads when all their Elo gains get drained leaving them back at where they started.

Emerging players also know that this is an opportunity they ought to seize to make it up the ladder.

The established player is also paid a sizeable appearance fee, hurting his motivation further. The emerging players do not know to pause for draws when things are going against them. They have wild results far from being stable.

Top players are already thinking about the next event if they fail to get their expected score by the half way mark. They minimise their damage. Kramnik is suffering from playing various styles and is unable to win games. Anand was expected to have pushed for more in the last two rounds. Leko lacked what is called the finishing touch.

Radjabov is an emerging star, Bologan is an experienced player who has been there for quite some time now and Naiditch is starting to feel the super category class. Also, Kramnik and Leko are looking for their match to happen and are eagerly looking for payday for their world championship match. Anand recovered wonderfully well but then stopped short of reaching his expected score.

This combination may have been forced on the organisers for budget reasons but is a worthy try to implement in other events and the reflections are to be analysed with emerging players such as Krishnan Sasikiran, Etienne Bacrot and Teimour Radjabov.