Svidler vs. Grischuk in Poker

Apparently there is a new format on chess24 that also features Poker. It’s all about synergy after all, so why not feed a few chessplayers to the wonderful world of online poker where they work mostly for the rake. Anyways, Svidler got some instruction last night from Patrick Leonhard on basically how to make sure that he loses to Grischuk, who is know to be a competetive poker player.

What did they focus on? The pre-flop-game of course, mostly constructing unexploitable ranges, so they can “play”. The big mistake is that they want to “play”. If you want to “play” all streets you are basically trying to grind your opponent down. Unfortunately the more decisions you have to make, the more mistakes you can make. Grinding down his opponents is exactly what Carlsen is doing. Svidler on the other hand is an all-in player. He plays sharp openings like the Grünfeld where everything is forced. He plays lines where he doesn’t have to make decisions, because they come straight from the engine. The best strategy for him – and for any amateur in such a spot – is a foolproof push/fold-strategy. The idea behind this strategy is to get the money in as a small dog and to luck out. Something that doesn’t work in cash games, works pretty well in tournament poker where life depends on one stack.

The poker veterans may remember Sklansky’s “System“, but that concept has been refined over the decades with the help of computers. The result is a push/fold-strategy that works for 50 BB, and that point can easily be reached after losing just a single hand.

The following graphic shows how the pot grows from a 3BB preflop-raise with potsize betting on later streets:


Poker is a game of super high variance. In the short run everything is possible. Preflop you are rarely worse than a 3:2 dog. For the record, it is not even trivial to play against an opponent who pushes 100% of his hands. If you run cold, you can’t even call.

So why aren’t they doing that? Well, the game could be over in one hand and that’s bad for TV. In order to create a show, it’s better if Svidler goes down slowly and wins a few hands inbetween.

Update: It’s kinda funny what Grischuk and Haxton were talking about. Apparently Grischuk didn’t need any advice on his preflop-game, so he asked Haxton about the calling-threshold with weak made-hands on the turn like if there was a clear answer. Then they discussed if loose calls have any advertisement value. Haxton was referring to PioSOLVER, which is the Stockfish of Poker, so emulating engines ist what it’s all about these days. Still I don’t buy these concepts for such a match, because short term luck is so dominant. Grischuk as the stronger player should focus on not giving Svidler good opportunities to push, so basically he should play a limping-strategy. In the end it won’t matter much though, because in Poker you can do everything wrong and still have a decent shot to win one stack. The Luckbox usually ends up on top.

Something about Poker in general: Poker had some publicity in the 70s but as usual when people have lost all their money, it died out. The game got a massive boost in 1998 with the internet as the new medium and the Hollywood movie “Rounders”. At the same time they promoted Poker on TV with the WSOP-coverage where in 2003 an accountant with the name “Moneymaker” won it all, or maybe there was a deal and they let him win it all, it’s not so clear. This brought many amateurs to the tables to lose it all, because that’s what amateurs do. After everyone and his brother of that generation went broke the game was more or less dead again. With Twitch they are trying push it a bit so maybe there will be a new boom. It will never be like it was in the early 2000s though. Of course Poker had it’s share of scandals. Sophisticated cheating was always an issue, like nowadays in Online-Chess, and even major websites were involved in Ponzi-schemes. If there is money involved, there will be crooks. It’s always the same story!

For Chess-players Poker is somewhat attractive, because stupid people make stupid mistakes, so there are lots of targets available. In an old book from the 70s “Play Poker, quit your job and sleep till noon” the recommendation was to look for opponents with a tattoo, because someone who is stupid enough to get a tattoo will probably make bad decisions in Poker as well. Times haven’t changed.

Update: Ok, as expected the Poker was a luckfest. The Chess on the other hand was terrible, because Haxton knows what he is doing while Leonard is basically a beginner. Then Svidler took over and steered the event to the tie-break, which is also quite common for chess24 “promotions”. The whole thing felt like a big show where the content was tailored more to adrenaline than to quality.

Die anderen vier ?!

Nachdem der weitgehend unbekannte Markus Kappe angeblich eines der fünf größten Schachtalente Deutschlands gewesen sein soll, stellt sich die Frage, wer die anderen vier sein könnten.

Emanuel Lasker dürfte als Weltmeister gesetzt sein, Siegbert Tarrasch vermutlich auch. Bleiben noch Robert Hübner und Wolfgang Uhlmann, und damit hätten wir vier identifiziert.

Wer dabei unter den Tisch fällt, ist Klaus Junge, der leider drei Wochen vor Kriegsende in einem Szenario gefallen ist, das an Berhard Wickis berühmten Antikriegsfilm “Die Brücke” erinnert.

Wolfgang Uhlmann hatte insoweit mehr Glück. Er wuchs als Kind in Dresden auf und überlebte 1945 den Bombenangriff, von dem wir mittlerweile aufgrund neuster Erkenntnisse völlig unabhängiger Historiker wissen, dass er gar nicht so schlimm war, wie es vom Roten Kreuz und unglaubwürdigen Zeitzeugen behauptet wurde.

Wer noch unter den Tisch fällt, ist Arkadij Naiditsch. Man könnte natürlich den Standpunkt vertreten, dass er geborener Lette sei, aber wer möchte heutzutage noch ernsthaft mit solch kleinlichen Argumenten kommen? Und dann wäre da noch Jan Gustafsson, dessen Haupttalent in der Eröffnungsanalyse mit Engines besteht.

Markus Kappe (+)

Auf einmal berichten scheinbar alle über Markus Kappe, angeblich einem der fünf größten Schachtalente, die Deutschland je hatte.

Wenn man den Artikel überfliegt, fragt man sich unwillkürlich: Ja, wo ist er denn, der Kappe? Warum kommt er nicht selbst zu Wort?

Die Antwort ist in einem kurzen Absatz gegen Ende versteckt:

“Markus Kappe war des Schachs überdrüssig, der Mathematik – und letztlich des Lebens, aus dem er am 31. Mai 1987 freiwillig schied. Er wurde 26 Jahre alt.”

Wo viel Licht ist, ist auch viel Schatten.

Der Markt regelt alles

Nach dem jüngsten Clash zwischen Naiditsch und dem DSB wurde gestern ein Wechsel perfekt gemacht: Aronjan spielt nicht mehr für Armenien, sondern künftig für Rex Sinquefield die USA. Witzig ist, dass auch ein Wechsel zum DSB denkbar war, denn Aronjans Mutter wohnt in Berlin und er spielt bekanntlich seit vielen Jahren in der Bundesliga, aber Geld Klasse setzt sich durch.

Im Endeffekt ist es egal. Ob die USA künftig alle Titel gewinnen, oder Indien, oder China, who cares? Es spielen sowieso immer dieselben Spieler gegeneinander. Welches Fähnlein neben ihnen auf dem Tisch steht, macht keinen Unterschied. Da Norwegen international keinen Blumentopf gewinnt, stellt sich eigentlich nur noch die Frage, wo Carlsens Einkaufspreis liegt. Billig ist er nicht.

Bei der ultimativen Witzveranstaltung ist er bereits angetreten.

Window of Opportunity

On they asked the question at what age do chess players peak. They show a graph which clearly indicates that it happens before the age of 25, at about the age of 22. Improvement at a later age is marginal and probably not relevant. The most likely explanations are Elo-inflation and the evolution of modern engines.

Here we have a few examples:
Magnus Carlsen
Fabiano Caruana
Hikaru Nakamura
Anish Giri

The same applies for women:
Hou Yifan
Ju Wenjun
Anny Muzychuk

How come? Well, it’s all about the brain. The brain grows until about the age of 14. Then it starts to rewire. That is the phase of rapid improvement for young chess prodigies. This process continues until the age of 20-25. Then it is over. It is not a coincidence that the Elo-curve goes flat around the age of 21-22 for all of them. Guess why the legal age of majority used to be 21 in the past.*

What does this mean? For professional players who focus on chess all day long it means that the only way to improve past that stage is working on openings and changing their overall game strategy, like becoming a Drawmeister for instance. For the amateur it doesn’t mean much, because there ist still tons of information left that they have not absorbed yet. This means that even senior citizens who discover chess at the age of 60 can still improve.

One last point to note: In the age of engines here is no hidden information anymore. If your Elo is 2400 then players with Elo 2600 do not know a secret that you don’t know. They play better because their opening analysis is deeper or they remember it better or they physically calculate faster or deeper than you. It’s just that and nothing else! If you believe that training will close the gap, you are wrong. Paying for it after the window has closed is throwing away money. It only makes sense with young players like here.

* Note: It got changed to 18 in most western countries by the left-wing-parties in the 70s to make immature people vote for them.

World Corporate Championship

Tune in when world class grandmasters finish off complete beginners in 12 moves. At least FIDE is making a few bucks with it.

DSB vs. Naiditsch

Na das ist mal witzig, die haben doch glatt den Naiditsch abglehnt. Meine anfängliche Begeisterung für seinen Twitch-Stream hat neuerdings stark nachgelassen, aber egal. Auf einen solchen Spieler kann man nicht verzichten! Auf der anderen Seite passt es ins Bild. Der DSB trägt zwei Worte im Namen, die im Sport mittlerweile Synonym für Totalversagen sind: “Deutscher” und “Bund”.

Ok, um fair zu bleiben. Die hatten sicherlich ihre Gründe, und die lagen in der Person des Spielers. Seine Integrität war und ist bekanntlich nicht unumstritten. Er muss noch nicht mal ein Abzocker sein. Es reicht, wenn die glauben er sei einer. Einen Rechtsanspruch, in der Nationalmannschaft zu spielen, gibt es nicht. Das wäre schön, wenn Spieler auf Einwechslung klagen.

Update (25.02.2021): Naiditsch hat sich offenbar entschlossen, künftig auf Englisch zu streamen und damit auf einen Teil seiner bisherigen Community zu verzichten. Die einen werden nun sagen, dass er dadurch eine größere Zielgruppe anspricht, die anderen werden sich in ihrer Einschätzung seines Charakters bestätigt fühlen. Letztlich geht es Profis einfach nur um Geld.

Update (15.03.2021): Entweder habe ich das nicht verstanden, oder Naiditsch, beides ist möglich. Er behauptet, der DSB wolle ihm verwehren, unter “deutscher Flagge” zu spielen. Wo ist das Problem? Man macht es einfach, fertig. Dann sollen die mal kommen und erklären, warum Art. 16 GG nicht gilt. Die Grundrechte strahlen übrigens auch ins Privatrecht auf Vereine (DSB) aus.

Bad score

The story about the Najdorf continues. In the Opera Rapid Qualification the Nadorf was played 8 times. White won 4 games and drew the other 4, which adds up to 75%. In the KO matches MVL and Aronjan played 3 games with an even score (1-1-1).

In the meantime Blübaum played 4 games in the French with black as a huge underdog, winning 2 of them and drawing the other 2. This is quite funny because the good opening scored terribly and the bad opening scored very well. Everything is wrong, it seems.

Keeping options

Here is another example for keeping your options. In the standard moveorder black doesn’t have to play 3…d5. He can also play the Bogo-Indian. It may not be that great, but it’s yet another playable opening that white has to be prepared for.

Looks familiar

Yesterday Duda won a nice game against Dubov after a few adventures. I am not going to show any engine comments, because the complexity of the line where humans are bound to make mistakes is what this line is all about. Dubovs moveorder is dubious. In my game the position was reached with 4. e3 and Nc3 delayed.

Play it safe!