So far, chess24 is putting out some nice material, including this concluding report, complete with annotated games and interviews. A tease: Grischuk explains his infamous comment about Kramnik's "bad preparation".
The late Azeri grandmaster Vugar Gashimov was not just a tremendously strong player who died at a terribly early age, he was to all accounts very well-liked and admired as well. It is therefore fitting that just a few months after his death he is already being honored with a super-tournament in his memory. It is being held in Shamkir, in his native Azerbaijan, and will run from April 20-30. It is a six-player double-round robin, with the following players:
- Magnus Carlsen (2882)
- Fabiano Caruana (2783)
- Hikaru Nakamura (2772)
- Sergey Karjakin (2770)
- Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2760)
- Teimour Radjabov (2713)
It's a great field of young stars, rightly including the world champion and Gashimov's two main contemporaries. It would be nice to see some sentimental story lines playing out: will anyone play the Modern Benoni? It has long had a slightly dodgy reputation at the highest levels, but Gashimov played it often and with great success. And can his countrymen rise to the occasion and win in his memory? I hope on this occasion that it happens, but we will see starting in just under a week.
Update: I should add that there's also a strong, concurrent B-event; a ten-player single round robin with Azeris Rauf Mamedov, Eltaj Safarli, Gadir Guseinov, Vasif Durarbayli, Nijat Abasov and foreigners Etienne Bacrot, Radoslaw Wojtaszek, Wang Hao, Pavel Eljanov and Alexander Motylev.
So far, this Women's Grand Prix tournament is the Hou Yifan show. She leads with 4.5/5 and a big 2816 TPR. The world's second-strongest chess player with a Hou... name is proving yet again that she is the deserved women's world champion, at least as long as Judit Polgar continues to avoid such events. (Should she continue to do so anymore? I'm not so sure. I hope Hou can make up the 57 points or so separating them so that Polgar cannot just stand as the presumed winner of such a contest.)
It was "only" a team event, but the Russian Team Championship (April 7-13 in Loo, Russia) included a healthy number of superstars. Alexander Grischuk shined brightest of all, scoring an almost unbelievable 6-1. He gained 15 rating points and is clearly #3 on the live rating list, equalling his career high at 2792.1. He only gave up two draws - both with Black - to Alekseev and Dreev, while defeating Morozevich, Vitiugov and Tomashevsky along with two more "ordinary" GMs.
Other 2700s not listed above are Sergey Karjakin, Peter Svidler, Peter Leko, Leinier Dominguez, Dmitry Jakovenko, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Gata Kamsky, Baadur Jobava, Sergei Rublevsky and Alexei Shirov, and there were a good number of players who were either close to 2700, had been over 2700, or both. So do check it out if you're hankering for some top level chess between now and Sunday.
Here's a wide-ranging interview, closing with a few comments about Vugar Gashimov and the memorial tournament in his honor starting in a few days.
(HT: Jaideep Unudurti)
Here you will find a bit about the 2014 Candidates, a look towards the 2016 Candidates (assuming Vladimir Kramnik gets there!), and (from Anand's side of things) an optimistic and intriguing look towards the Carlsen rematch later this year.
(HT: Brian Karen)
Reader Kevin Connelly wrote in to say that while TV surfing this morning he came across an episode ("Knight Errant") of the old western series "The Rifleman" in which chess played a major role, and recalled an episode of Kojak where a Fischer-like character kills one reminiscent of Botvinnik.
"Our" India correspondent, Jaideep Unudurti, has interviewed ex-champ and newly minted challenger Viswanathan Anand yet again - and has kindly informed us of it as well. In it Anand discusses the high and low points of the recent Candidates' tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk, exulting in his wins and expressing his dismay about the missed wins against Dmitry Andreikin in round 12 and the tension of the battle with Sergey Karjakin in round 13.
A place where I might tentatively disagree with Anand is with his self-assessment regarding his pragmatism. He noted that Magnus Carlsen referred to him as "pragmatic", but Anand states that his only decision of that kind came at the end of the last Andreikin game, when he went for a repetition instead of a complicated but winning variation. But I would add to this his avoiding 20...Rxf2 against Peter Svidler in round 7. There are some complications, but they are well within Anand's capacity to navigate. If Anand's orientation was a bit less on the safe and pragmatic side I suspect he would have pushed himself to work through the lines to the end; I've seen him calculate far more complex lines when the situation dictated it.
But enough conjecture: have a look at the interview, and let's wait to see if Anand plays increasingly bold and confident chess as the year goes on.
The latest Bundesliga season ended last weekend, with Baden-Baden winning for about the 30th time in a row. (Okay, it was only their ninth consecutive title. Other teams had better find rich benefactors if they hope to break this strangehold.) Levon Aronian was the special guest star helping push them over the edge to victory, scoring 2.5/3 over the final weekend to not only help them but himself as well as he aimed to recover from a poor finish at the Candidates.
More about that here, but I'd like to focus on Anatoly Karpov's surprise appearance. He played a couple of games, drawing with the lower-rated Felix Graf before defeating the 2664-rated Maxim Rodshtein in his second game, and with the black pieces. You can replay those games here, and I would especially draw your attention to Graf's unusual drawing combination in the first game. Most sacrifices involve captures - think of bishop sacrifices on h6 and h7, for example - but sometimes a piece is moved to an empty square. It's even rarer to have the first sac accepted only to have a second empty-square sacrifice on the next move, but that's just what Graf did. There are probably other examples of this happening, but I'm unable to recall any offhand. If you can think of some other examples, please share them with us!
FIDE is introducing online rated play, which is a fantastic idea because no one would ever cheat in an online game, right? Great. I wonder how long it will be before some unknown player reaches 3000.
(HT: Ross Hytnen)