FIRST: In the last post I mentioned that the Sinquefield Cup was almost over. He just had to avoid playing not to lose. He played to win and now it is over. Not mathematically; but assuming there's no thermonuclear war or other tragedy to keep the tournament from finishing there's no way he doesn't win. Two rounds ago and only Topalov and Carlsen had a chance to catch him. With Caruana's defeat of Topalov in round 6 it's up to Carlsen. The standings have Caruana: 7 points, Carlsen: 4 points, and Topalov: 3 points with just 3 rounds to go. Look for Caruana's streak to end tomorrow. He plays Carlsen tomorrow and if Carlsen wins or gets a draw the streak is over. If Caruana gets an advantage then I'd expect Carlsen to offer a draw and Caruana to take it. Carlsen can't realistically win the tournament so he'll want to avoid losing 1/2 a point so he can get second place. That half point would clinch undisputed 1st place for Caruana and $100,000. Why risk playing on against the World Champion and risk missing something?
After some more strange chess today you really have to question just how much rating inflation is out there. I thought the Round 2 game of Aronian-Topalov was questionable enough with Aronian missing 14....Bxd4 and then Topalov losing the resulting position which included a dreadful decision to castle queenside. Today had two more woeful games. First is Vachier-Lagrave -Caruana.Note that it's move 16 and white has about 11 minutes left. White took a quiet Queen's Gambit, played some strange moves that had Seirawan mystified and gave black the advantage. White's about to march his king up to c3 soon (!) I can't remember any of the world's best players from previous generations (when the ratings were lower) mishandling a position like that. Or how about Carlsen -Nakamura? After Nakamura's collapse at Zurich, you had to wonder whether "Fischer-fear" would set in when playing Carlsen. Today's game makes me think it's true. Nakamura misplayed the opening and was busted by move 15. And in the previous round (round 6) Nakamura's play had Kasparov tweeting: "Did Nakamura really play Q from e1 to a5 & back to e1? Too subtle for this old retiree!". There's been enough play [EDIT] which is inconsistent with legitimate 2800 ratings.
So although this may be the highest average rating of any chess tournament ever, I wouldn't dare to call it the strongest tournament ever. There have been lots of really strong tournaments in history. Let's compare it with Las Palmas 1996 because:
- It also had 6 players and was a double round robin tournament
- It was recent enough that some of the players are still alive and playing.
As the link indicates, Las Palmas 1996 had Kasparov, Karpov, Anand, Kramnik, Topalov, and Ivanchuk. These were the 6 best players in the world with an average rating, according to the link, of 2756. Well off the 2014 Sinquefield Cup average of 2802 but consider some points. Ivanchuk was in his prime with a rating at 2730. Now he is nowhere near as dangerous a player with erratic play that frustrated him so much he announced his retirement. You wouldn't know it by his rating which is about the same. But more importantly let's focus on each of the players and their world championship play. It's complicated by the fact that the chess title hasn't always been unified. Consider the stats here at Wikipedia. Which tournament looks stronger?
Of course you could argue that we need more time to see how well the current group turns out but clearly they have a lot of catching up to match the talent at Las Palmas 1996:
Besides this tournament there are some other notable tournaments: Linares 1993, AVRO 1938, Zurich 1953. Comparison with Sinquefield 2014 is more difficult, though.
SECOND: I've added two diagrams to the Graphics page to show the possibilities from rolling two dice.
The second diagram just has the sum of the roll; eg, (2,1) replaced by 3.
THIRD: Here's an update on how Common Core is going in each of the 50 states.
FOURTH: Education Next has a report that the new teacher evaluations are similar to the old ones. Why? It looks like the reform is being watered down: "After collecting and synthesizing data from 17 states and the District of Columbia, we found that, despite state policy changes, many districts still don’t factor student growth into teacher evaluation ratings in a meaningful way. And, despite concerns that one-size-fits-all teacher evaluation models would limit local autonomy, districts continue to have wide discretion even under “statewide” evaluation systems—and that’s not entirely a good thing. The result is that in many places there is still no clear connection between student academic achievement and educator evaluations."
FIFTH: More teens behaving badly: A 15-year-old boy in Florida got a Snapchat of his cousin holding a stack of cash, so he and four of his friends decided to rob his cousin's house. They would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for his cousin's pesky dogs, and the fact that the rest of his family was home. That same link mentions a 16 year old who died after snorting what he thought was cocaine and turned out to be poison. But it's not just the US. Keep reading until you get to: "Teens in Hong Kong climbed atop a skyscraper to eat a banana and take a selfie, resulting in what some are calling the "world's scariest selfie"". There's a video as well. WOW.