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#21




Mike Murray wrote: On 12 Oct 2005 13:42:52 0700, "Larry Tapper" wrote: You may be thinking of a puzzle book GM Nunn published in 1999. One chapter features an errorchecking study he did of games played at Karlsbad 1911. Thanks. That's exactly the source I was trying to remember. Nunn's logic and conclusions were strongly criticized by IM Richard Forster in a May 1999 article at ChessCafe.com, "Jewels from Carlsbad 1911." A sample quote: "Nunn feels confident to state ... that the average strength of the tournament was a mere 2130 Elo. Now some simple mathematics show that this is quite ridiculous. If the tournament's strength was 2130 then [winner Richard] Teichmann's score of 18/25 (+11) corresponds to a performance of about 2300. You can have many reservations about the Elo system and the calculation of historical ratings, but something must be very rotten in the state of Denmark if Teichmann's performance in what was undoubtedly the best tournament of his life is 270 points below his peak fiveyear average." (Which Elo gives as 2570 in "The Rating of Chessplayers Past and Present.") Forster goes on to challenge Nunn's contention that of the 325 games played at Carlsbad 1911, only two were very good. Forster presents several fine games, and shows how the ideas and techniques demonstrated in them presaged modern GM games. The article is, alas, no longer in the ChessCafe archives, but can be found in print form in the "Heroic Tales" anthology (Russell Enterprises, 2002). 
#22




On 12 Oct 2005 15:28:32 0700, "Taylor Kingston"
wrote: Mike Murray wrote: On 12 Oct 2005 13:42:52 0700, "Larry Tapper" wrote: You may be thinking of a puzzle book GM Nunn published in 1999. One chapter features an errorchecking study he did of games played at Karlsbad 1911. Thanks. That's exactly the source I was trying to remember. Nunn's logic and conclusions were strongly criticized by IM Richard Forster in a May 1999 article at ChessCafe.com, "Jewels from Carlsbad 1911." A sample quote: "Nunn feels confident to state ... that the average strength of the tournament was a mere 2130 Elo. Now some simple mathematics show that this is quite ridiculous. If the tournament's strength was 2130 then [winner Richard] Teichmann's score of 18/25 (+11) corresponds to a performance of about 2300. You can have many reservations about the Elo system and the calculation of historical ratings, but something must be very rotten in the state of Denmark if Teichmann's performance in what was undoubtedly the best tournament of his life is 270 points below his peak fiveyear average." (Which Elo gives as 2570 in "The Rating of Chessplayers Past and Present.") It seems to me that Nunn was attempting, by Fritzing a set of games from representative tournaments of two different eras, to do something Elo ratings can't: to compare the relative strengths of two disparate sets of rated players. Having done this using blunderratio, he then expressed, in today's Elo numbers, his estimate for the ratings of several of these older players. If my understanding of this is correct, it's a mistake to criticize, as you report Forster did, Nunn's estimate (given in today's Elo) of Teichmann's tournament performance rating relative to a lifetime Elo gleaned from play in his own era. From one I know of Nunn's article, he didn't dispute that "several fine games" were played at Carlsbad, 1911. His claimed that the ratio of blunders over the whole set of games was higher than in a modern highcategory tournament. For either of us to get in the middle of this by analyzing the games themselves would be like a couple of cats trying to intervene in a battle between two elephants. Forster goes on to challenge Nunn's contention that of the 325 games played at Carlsbad 1911, only two were very good. Forster presents several fine games, and shows how the ideas and techniques demonstrated in them presaged modern GM games. The article is, alas, no longer in the ChessCafe archives, but can be found in print form in the "Heroic Tales" anthology (Russell Enterprises, 2002). 
#23




In article .com,
"Taylor Kingston" wrote: Forster presents several fine games, and shows how the ideas and techniques demonstrated in them presaged modern GM games. That's sort of a misdirection, though, isn't it? I mean, nobody doubts that today's players are standing on the shoulders of giants. But blundercheck is just that  a blunder check. It's not looking at complex strategic ideas. It's looking at how often you hang a piece to a threemover. Ron 
#24




Mike Murray wrote: If my understanding of this is correct, it's a mistake to criticize, as you report Forster did, Nunn's estimate (given in today's Elo) of Teichmann's tournament performance rating relative to a lifetime Elo gleaned from play in his own era. Mike, I would respectfully submit that your understanding is not correct. Unless one wants to chuck Elo's historical ratings completely out the window, Nunn's estimate of the tournament's category makes no sense. Keep in mind that Teichmann did not finish atop a bunch of stiffs. You may recognize some of the other participants, whom I give with their historical Elos: Rubinstein (2640), Schlechter (2600), Marshall (2570), Nimzovitch (2615), Vidmar (2600), Alekhine (2690), Duras (2580), Tartakower (2560), Spielmann (2560), Levenfish (2540), just to name those most famous now. That's an average of 2595. While not all of these were at their peaks in 1911, they were all certainly way above 2130, or even 2300. However, if you accept Nunn's logic, you would have to conclude that these greats, who include a future world champion (Alekhine), two actual challengers (Schlechter, Marshall), and three serious title contenders (Rubinstein, Nimzovitch, Duras), with the rest of them all regulars in very highlevel tournaments, all performed *below* Teichmann's supposed 2300 TPR. Seems just a tad implausible to me. And keep in mind that Teichmann never had another result comparable to Carlsbad 1911, either before it or after. It was the only time he ever finished so high in so prestigious an event. So if he only scored a lousy 2300 TPR there, where did his 2570 historical Elo come from? I recommend that you buy "Heroic Tales" (I get royalties on it) and read Forster's article. You will enjoy it, and the book as a whole. 
#25




In article .com,
"Taylor Kingston" wrote: Keep in mind that Teichmann did not finish atop a bunch of stiffs. You may recognize some of the other participants, whom I give with their historical Elos: Rubinstein (2640), Schlechter (2600), Marshall (2570), Nimzovitch (2615), Vidmar (2600), Alekhine (2690), Duras (2580), Tartakower (2560), Spielmann (2560), Levenfish (2540), just to name those most famous now. That's an average of 2595. While not all of these were at their peaks in 1911, they were all certainly way above 2130, or even 2300. However, if you accept Nunn's logic, you would have to conclude that these greats, who include a future world champion (Alekhine), two actual challengers (Schlechter, Marshall), and three serious title contenders (Rubinstein, Nimzovitch, Duras), with the rest of them all regulars in very highlevel tournaments, all performed *below* Teichmann's supposed 2300 TPR. Seems just a tad implausible to me. There are a couple of different problems here, all hinging on the definition of Elo. Elo's are nothing more or less than a measure of the performance of a player compared to his contemporaries. Through some hocuspocus, we can guesstimate "historical" Elos for them, but: Those numbers are fundamentally different than the rating you would expect those players to achieve if they were playing against modern players. The two numbers are not comparable. Nunn's measure was simple: players who blunder at suchandsuch a rate tend to perform as suchandsuch a level in today's tournaments. I think it's a mistake to conflate, too much, his analysis with the entirely different analysis which produces historical Elos. Ron 
#26




On 12 Oct 2005 17:33:48 0700, "Taylor Kingston"
wrote: Mike, I would respectfully submit that your understanding is not correct. ... keep in mind that Teichmann never had another result comparable to Carlsbad 1911, either before it or after. It was the only time he ever finished so high in so prestigious an event. So if he only scored a lousy 2300 TPR there, where did his 2570 historical Elo come from? And I equally respectfully suggest it's *you* who misunderstands. Taylor, the 2300 TPR is based on Nunn's mapping (which largely depends on Fritz Blundercheck performance) of Teichmann's and the other competitors' ratings to *contemporary* Elo. It relates in no significant way to Teichmann's 2570 historical Elo which came from his performance against peers. It's akin to a strong player looking through a few of your games against various opponents with no ratings specified and guesstimating your rating from the quality of the play. Not precise, but not nonsense either. If Nunn went through his analysis and ratings estimates for ALL the players of Teichmann's vintage, they'd ALL get lower ratings, but, their predicted performance against each other should stay the same. That's all that Elo purports to measure. Since they're all long since dead, of course, this is hard to verify empirically :( I recommend that you buy "Heroic Tales" (I get royalties on it) and read Forster's article. You will enjoy it, and the book as a whole. Available new for $19.95 (discounted from $24.95) or *damaged* for $9.95 from USCF/Chess Cafe. Or available brand new for $8.50 from a couple of affiliated booksellers through Amazon! And this book is published by Russell Enterprises. Hmmmm. Do you get your royalties on the sales price or per unit ? 
#27




Mike Murray wrote:
David Richerby wrote: The top ten from today's larger pool of players are statistically likely to be stronger than the top ten from yesteryear's smaller pool so they're also harder to beat. Good point. Actually, thinking about it, I'm not sure it is a good point. :) The Elo system is set up so that it's the rating difference that determines how likely the win is, so it's supposed to be as hard for a 2700 to win a tournament where the average rating is 2600 as it is for a 1700 to win against a field averaging 1600. Dave.  David Richerby Chocolate Lotion (TM): it's like www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~davidr/ a soothing hand lotion that's made of chocolate! 
#28




Taylor Kingston wrote:
Mike Murray wrote: If my understanding of this is correct, it's a mistake to criticize, as you report Forster did, Nunn's estimate (given in today's Elo) of Teichmann's tournament performance rating relative to a lifetime Elo gleaned from play in his own era. Mike, I would respectfully submit that your understanding is not correct. Unless one wants to chuck Elo's historical ratings completely out the window, Nunn's estimate of the tournament's category makes no sense. Keep in mind that Teichmann did not finish atop a bunch of stiffs. You may recognize some of the other participants, whom I give with their historical Elos: Rubinstein (2640), Schlechter (2600), Marshall (2570), Nimzovitch (2615), Vidmar (2600), Alekhine (2690), Duras (2580), Tartakower (2560), Spielmann (2560), Levenfish (2540), just to name those most famous now. Mike is, as far as I can see, absolutely correct. You (and, it seems, Forster) are forgetting that Elo explicitly states that you can't use Rubinstein's rating of 2640 in 1911 (or whenever that rating is from) to say that he is as good as Alexander Onischuk and Zoltan Almasi, who have that rating today. As you say, it's also wrong to use the players' peak ratings rather than their ratings in 1911  that is the case for two readons: firstly because, as you say, they might not have been at their peak in 1911 and also, to a lesser degree, because Rubinstein's peak rating is compared to the strength of other players at the time Rubinstein peaked, not compared to the strength of other players in 1911. Rubinstein's rating is relative to his contemporaries, as are Onischuk and Almasi's ratings. What Nunn is trying to do is estimate how ratings have changed since 1911. Now, when you say that Nunn's estimate of the tournament's category makes no sense, you do have a point. If ratings and categories were in use at that point, the tournament would have a high category because it featured most of the best players in the world. What Nunn's analysis shows, though, is that a Category N tournament in 1911 had a much lower standard of play than a Category N tournament does now. Dave.  David Richerby Surprise Mouldy Smokes (TM): it's www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~davidr/ like a pack of cigarettes but it's starting to grow mushrooms and not like you'd expect! 
#29




Mike Murray wrote: Taylor, the 2300 TPR is based on Nunn's mapping (which largely depends on Fritz Blundercheck performance) of Teichmann's and the other competitors' ratings to *contemporary* Elo. It relates in no significant way to Teichmann's 2570 historical Elo which came from his performance against peers. Well, I can't really discuss this in any informed way without Nunn's book, which I do not have now. When I saw it years ago, I did not go through the section on Carlsbad 1911 in any depth. Perhaps if I get the chance to review it fully, we could take up the discussion again. Available new for $19.95 (discounted from $24.95) or *damaged* for $9.95 from USCF/Chess Cafe. Or available brand new for $8.50 from a couple of affiliated booksellers through Amazon! And this book is published by Russell Enterprises. Hmmmm. Do you get your royalties on the sales price or per unit ? I am paid per unit on Heroic Tales. It has helped me become a thousandaire. 
#30




Mike Murray wrote: MM ...And I equally respectfully suggest it's *you* who misunderstands. MM Taylor, the 2300 TPR is based on Nunn's mapping (which largely depends on Fritz Blundercheck performance) of Teichmann's and the other competitors' ratings to *contemporary* Elo. It relates in no significant way to Teichmann's 2570 historical Elo which came from his performance against peers. MM It's akin to a strong player looking through a few of your games against various opponents with no ratings specified and guesstimating your rating from the quality of the play. Not precise, but not nonsense either. MM If Nunn went through his analysis and ratings estimates for ALL the players of Teichmann's vintage, they'd ALL get lower ratings, but, their predicted performance against each other should stay the same. That's all that Elo purports to measure. Since they're all long since dead, of course, this is hard to verify empirically :( Mike, I mostly agree with your take on all this. Another way to look at Nunn's study is that it measures playing strength along one dimension only, which we might call "error avoidance". This has the conspicuous merit of allowing us to compare across large time gaps. But of course error avoidance is not all there is to success at chess; so the blundercheck approach may be questionable as an indicator of anyone's _overall_ strength. It ignores important qualities such as tenacity, imagination, strategic insight, etc. Even so, I think Nunn came up with a real finding there, and an interesting one too. His results suggest that surprising as it may seem, the average 2400 player of today might well be able to hold his own in an erroravoidance contest against Teichmann at his peak strength. And this does not seem so outlandish when I pause to think about it  it would be a sign that professional standards have tightened due to competitive pressure and so on. Larry T. 