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    1948 World Chess Championship 1962 Candidates 2.c3 Sicilian 2.f4 Sicilian 2011 European Team Championship 2011 Russian Championship 2012 Capablanca Memorial 2012 Chess Olympiad 2012 European Women's Championship 2012 London Chess Classic 2012 U.S. Junior Championship 2012 U.S. Women's Championship 2012 US Championship 2012 Women's World Chess Championship 2012 World Rapid and Blitz Championships 2013 Alekhine Memorial 2013 Beijing Grand Prix 2013 European Club Cup 2013 European Team Championship 2013 FIDE World Cup 2013 Kings Tournament 2013 London Chess Classic 2013 Russian Championship 2013 Tal Memorial 2013 U.S. Championship 2013 Women's World Championship 2013 World Blitz Championship 2013 World Championship 2013 World Rapid Championship 2013 World Team Championship 2014 Capablanca Memorial 2014 Chess Olympiad 2014 Petrosian Memorial 2014 Rapid & Blitz World Championship 2014 Russian Team Championship 2014 Sinquefield Cup 2014 Tigran Petrosian Memorial 2014 U.S. Championship 2014 U.S. Open 2014 Women's World Championship 2014 World Championship 2014 World Junior Championships 2014 World Rapid Championship 2016 World Championship 22014 Sinquefield Cup 22014 U.S. Championship 60 Minutes A. 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    Thursday
    Nov272014

    Qatar Masters, Round 1 Upsets

    Just limiting the discussion to the games of 2700s for now, there were three games out of the 14 involving 2700-rated players at the Qatar Masters where the favorite failed to win. Second seed Vladimir Kramnik drew with Stelios Halkias, who had the chutzpah to play the Evans Gambit against him! He didn't get anything out of the opening, but in the middlegame was making progress and managed to win a pawn. In the ending, however, he let his advantage slip, and finally decided to repeat rather than try to grind anything out.

    The biggest full-point upset came on board 7, where Baadur Jobava lost with White against his countrywoman Bela Khotenashvili. His 16.Bxd5 looked a bit crazy to me (a viewpoint confirmed to me by a grandmaster friend) and his considerably lower-rated opponent (though still a GM) outplayed him convincingly and impressively.

    Finally, the third upset was remarkable and flashy. As with Jobava, Arkadij Naiditsch lost with the white pieces, to Indian GM R. Rajpara Ankit. Naiditsch had the better of play in the early going, but was gobsmacked by the fantastic sequence 19...Bh4 (intending 20...Bg3) 20.Kg2 (stopping ...Bg3) Bg3!! anyway! In fact 20...Bg3 may not have been the best move due to 21.Nf6+! followed by 22.Qxd8+ and 23.Kxg3, when White stands better, but Naiditsch either missed this or thought that his approach of taking the "free" bishop was even better. It wasn't, and Ankit won a spectacular game.

    These three games (sans notes) can be replayed here.

    Tuesday
    Nov252014

    Coming Events: Qatar Masters Open (Tomorrow/Today), Russian Championships, 

    Some open tournaments get the occasional "low" 2700 player, but the Qatar Masters is apparently no ordinary open. In addition to 10 "rank and file" 2700 players (what a ridiculous phrase) there are four superstars participating as well: Vladimir Kramnik, Anish Giri, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The action begins Wednesday at 1 p.m. CET/7 a.m. ET.

    A couple of days later, on Friday, the Russian Championship begins. Participants include Sergei Karjakin, Peter Svidler, Nikita Vitiugov, Dmitry Jakovenko, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Alexander Morozevich.

    Looking further ahead, the London Chess Classic begins December 10 (Caruana, Anand, Giri, Nakamura, Kramnik and Adams; unfortunately, it seems to be a single round-robin event) and the World Mind Games rapid & blitz championships start in Beijing on December 11 and December 13, respectively. There's no shortage of chess entertainment coming our way the next three weeks!

    Tuesday
    Nov252014

    St. Louis, Final Day: Nakamura Defeats Aronian in Blitz

    The "Showdown in St. Louis" between Levon Aronian and Hikaru Nakamura was tied after four classical games, so the winner in tonight's best-of-16 blitz match would win the event and $60,000, while the loser would "only" get $40,000. After a shaky first couple of games, Nakamura felt he got in the zone, while Aronian kept getting into time trouble and all the difficulties it tends to generate. Afterwards Aronian opined that while he's a good blitz player when it's 4'+2", 3'+2" - the time control used in this match - was a bit too fast for him. In the end Nakamura won 9.5-6.5, clinching match victory with two games to spare.

    In the GM norm event Sam Sevian drew his last game (a long game, not a quick handshake deal as in his previous game with the black pieces) and finished in clear first with 7.5/9, a ton of rating points and the grandmaster title. He is the youngest U.S. player to achieve the title, and the sixth-youngest of all time.

    Congrats to him, to Nakamura, and also to Michael William Brown who made norm in the concurrent IM norm event as well!

    Tuesday
    Nov252014

    Magnus Carlsen's Seconds Finally Revealed

    At the pre-match press conference Magnus Carlsen revealed the identity of two of his seconds (assistants), two names who were already known by "everyone" anyway: "the Dane" - Peter Heine Nielsen - and "the Hammer" - Jon Ludwig Hammer. Now, on his blog, we get the full picture:

    • On site: Peter Heine Nielsen.
    • In Oslo: Jon Ludwig Hammer, Laurent Fressinet (of "too weak, too slow" fame), and Mickey Adams.
    • Some "really good help": Ian Nepomniachtchi & Vladimir Potkin.
    • Some valuable advice before and during the match: Garry Kasparov.
    • Also, helping before and during the Chennai match: Pavel Eljanov.

    That's a pretty impressive collection of helpers, and now I wonder if Viswanathan Anand was overmatched when it came to assistance. If anything, Anand's performance in the openings and early middlegames is even more impressive when considering the array of helpers Carlsen had at his disposal - but then we don't know who else might have been helping Anand behind the scenes in addition to his declared seconds.

    Tuesday
    Nov252014

    Kasparov and Hou Yifan on the Carlsen-Anand Match

    Their comments are far blander than Caruana's, but when a world champion speaks it's still generally worth a look.

    Tuesday
    Nov252014

    Caruana on Carlsen-Anand, Carlsen, and Caruana Himself

    There's a very interesting interview with world #2 Fabiano Caruana here. One noteworthy aspect is the tone: while Caruana presents himself in a reasonably self-effacing way in the video interviews I've seen, there's a very strong confidence (but not arrogance) that comes across in this piece. A second note, in passing, is bad news for American fans like this writer: he has no plans to switch federations and represent the U.S. again. (Good news for Italians though!)

    It's especially interesting to see his comments about the just-completed match between Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand, and I was pretty surprised to read the following:

    What was Vishy’s main mistake in this match?

    The strange way in which he twice played the Sicilian Defence. Already on the first attempt it didn’t go so well, but he continued it a second time. The whole course of the match in Sochi showed that Carlsen had nothing special prepared against the Berlin and Vishy should have stuck to his guns. The idea of playing the Paulsen was very bad and very strange, in my view.

    While I would heartily agree that the choice of variation within the Paulsen/Kan Anand chose in game 6 was pretty terrible, I wouldn't agree with his general remark, especially if we don't cheat by evaluating Anand's decision about what to play in games 4 and 6 by what happened in games 7, 9 and 11. So let's recap: in game two Carlsen played 4.d3 vs. the Berlin, and very quickly and easily outplayed Anand despite not getting any "official" advantage from the opening. Anand switched to the Sicilian in game 4, and this time when Carlsen went for a sideline Carlsen even stood worse. So I don't understand what Caruana means when he said that "on the first attempt it didn't go so well." The second outing, game 6, was a disaster for Anand, that's true, but it wasn't really the fault of the Sicilian or even the Kan/Paulsen. Anand picked a very strange line, one that both Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik had considered bad for Black for a very long time. It's no wonder that he got in big trouble and lost that game, but I don't see why the blame should be laid at the doorstop of Anand's decision to play the Paulsen.

    Anyway, whether you agree with me or the guy who is #2 in the world, it's a lively interview and well worth taking the time to read.

     

    Tuesday
    Nov252014

    2016 World Championship To Be Held in the U.S.?

    So said Kirsan Ilyumzhinov at the closing ceremony of the just-finished world championship match. (See from 1:21:15 to 1:21:19.) That will be nice for for Americans - especially if Hikaru Nakamura is playing (or Fabiano Caruana...but see the next post), but when it comes to FIDE I'll believe it when I see it.

    HT: Roaming Wind

    Monday
    Nov242014

    St. Louis News, Day 4: Just Like Day 3

    In brief: game 4 of the match between Levon Aronian and Hikaru Nakamura was drawn, and thus they finished the classical portion of the match 2-2 - or rather, 8-8. (Classical games were worth 4 points each, while each blitz game tomorrow will be worth a single point.) That means that whoever wins the blitz part of their competition (16 games!) tomorrow will take match victory.

    Meanwhile, in the GM norm event 13-year-old Sam Sevian continues to make a mockery of the field. He took a very quick draw with Black in the morning round before dragging another bamboozled opponent to his death in his white game in the evening. His score is 7-1 and his TPR 2801. It isn't quite Fabiano Caruana at the Sinquefield Cup, but it's incredibly impressive all the same. With the white pieces he has been brutal, winning all five of his games; four with smashing attacks that went fewer than 40 moves.

    Monday
    Nov242014

    Grandmaster Reaction to the Carlsen-Anand Match

    Here.

    Sunday
    Nov232014

    St. Louis News: Nakamura-Aronian Draw Game 3, Sevian Keeps Rolling

    After a couple of wacky match games Hikaru Nakamura and Levon Aronian drew game 3, leaving their match tied 6-6 with one more classical game to go before the blitz battles on Tuesday. Even this game had some ups and downs though, with first Nakamura and then Aronian briefly enjoying a strong plus before equality was restored.

    In the concurrent GM norm tournament, 13-year-old Sam Sevian was slowed down briefly in the morning round, drawing a tough game with an IM before beating GM Ben Finegold in the evening round in yet another tactically flashy game. He has blown past the 2500 rating level he needed to achieve his GM title, and right now has a fantastic 2873 TPR. (It's amazing to think that's pretty much just another day at the office for Magnus Carlsen.) It will be exciting to see if he can maintain and increase the level of tactical savagery he has displayed in this tournament as he grows as a player.