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Blitz Death Match 17 - Which Super-GM is Superman?

Blitz Death Match 17 - Which Super-GM is Superman?

MikeKlein
Aug 16, 2013, 1:54 PM 27

In the first ever Death Match between two Super-GMs, Loek van Wely (FIDE 2701) and Arkadij Naiditsch (FIDE 2710) will battle it out over three hours on Friday, September 6 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern, 10 a.m. Pacific. While the real Superman promotes the triumph of the human spirit without a fee (minus the wages Clark Kent earns at the Daily Planet), these two chess superheroes will attempt to win the larger share of the $1000 purse.

But which player has more of the superhero's qualities? Let's analyze.

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Superman has varying reports as to his original birthdate, but in the 1950s Action Comics listed his birthday in October. Hmmm - Naiditsch was born on October 25 and van Wely on October 7. That's a push. Superman's age was not revealed at first, then eventually listed as 29. Naiditsch is 27. That's close enough (van Wely is 40).

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GM Arkadij Naiditsch or Clark Kent without the glasses?

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Saving the planet and interplanetary travel must involve long hours. Saving the chess world from patzers is also a haul - van Wely has played chess on every continent except Antarctica. "I don't know how many miles I am flying, but I do know I have from time to time a crazy schedule," van Wely said. "And if I don't fly, I am driving like a madman." 

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Like Superman, van Wely now has his own personal Kryptonite, a strange green object that renders him helpless. That would be in the form of American dollars, something the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services did not want him earning during his last trip in 2012. Upon landing in Newark, van Wely's supreme moral compass (another Superman trait) required that he tell officials the truth about his visit, which included the intent to visit Atlantic City, Los Angeles and to teach chess. From there, border security placed him in a Fortress of Solitude for eight hours and sent him back home (let's not forget that the movie Superman was set in California and New Jersey). Need more from this incident? Well van Wely was placed in handcuffs for part of his detainment. Take a look at the promotional poster from the newest Superman movie, Man of Steel:

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Superman was born in one place, Krypton, before moving to another, Metropolis. This would more closely resemble Naiditsch, who was born in Latvia but also moved as a boy, to Germany. Some speculate that Superman's ideals were taken from the philospher Friedrich Nietzsche's idea of an Ubermensch. Neitzsche was of course also German.

"I am probably more German than him!" van Wely insisted, before rattling off his favorite phrases.

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GM Loek van Wely or an even better Clark Kent?

Superman had Lex Luther as his nemesis. Similarly, van Wely has also struggled in his games with Grandmaster Luther, often just barely eeking out a draw. "Compared to Germany we don't have any anti-heroes," van Wely said. "Tiviakov doesn't count."

Superman's original name was Kal-El, and van Wely also refers to his adversary by a nickname: Arkasha. When asked if he had any original ideas left for the Death Match, van Wely said, "I wish I had some ideas left, I would throw them right in Arkasha's face!" Naiditsch recalled their history: "We always like to tease each other so the games have been played with a high temperature. In fact I hope to beat him in all three time controls." More muted, yes, but I don't recall Superman ever engaging in trash talking.

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The comic book hero was known for winning (well except for that issue in the early 1990s when he died), so we should also examine their head-to-head record. In serious games, Naiditsch has one win and one draw, "but it feels like loss too," van Wely added. "But my feeling is that in offhand games I am up." When asked what Naiditsch's weaknesses were, van Wely said, "Do you have some time?"

As for blitz chess online, van Wely said he was there at the beginning "when Arkasha was still running around in his diapers" - no doubt a reference to Naiditsch's days in Smallville (no word on Hikaru Nakamura's competing claim to be Superman, channeled via his longtime ICC handle). 

So the pendulum is swinging toward Naiditsch being the real Superman. But let's examine the double-identity angle. Superman was also a mild-mannered newspaperman. Van Wely passes this test - he moonlights as a pokerman. He said, "It's pretty hard to play bullet once you are 24-tabling heads-up poker." (He no doubt learned the game from reading Doyle Brunson's Super System.) Superman, as you know, also dislikes bullets. Does the German GM also have a secret second life? "I preferred to go out than stay in front of a computer screen," Naiditsch said, without commenting on where "out" meant.

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But who has played the most super move of the last 12 months? Surely Naiditsch's 21...Ndf3+ is a contender:

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For van Wely, he can be proud of the punch 11...Rxd2...POW!

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So who is the real Superman after all? Better to decide the matter on the chessboard. Tune in to Chess.com/tv at 1:00 p.m. Eastern, 10 a.m. Pacific on Friday, September 6 as IM Danny Rensch and special guests help narrate the epic struggle. Just tell your boss you have to take off to watch the defense of modern civilization.

According to van Wely, you may also hear the only Dutch phrases that Naiditsch knows. "Remise alstublieft?" and "ik geef op" - "draw please?" and "I resign." Does van Wely have any top-secret weapons in his arsenal, and would he be willing to use them in the Death Match? "Purely hypothetically speaking, if the match is close, you use them, and if you want to humiliate your opponent, you use them as well."



 

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