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    Thursday
    May262016

    Shamkir Starts Today

    It's time for another super-tournament to begin, and this time it's the third Shamkir Tournament, held in memory of Vugar Gashimov (1986-2014), the great Azeri GM who died at a tragically early age from a brain tumor (or at least from the complications therefrom).

    Magnus Carlsen won the first two editions of the event, but this year he isn't playing. The field is immensely strong nevertheless, as can be seen from the round 1 pairings:

    • Rauf Mamedov (2655) - Anish Giri (2790)
    • Teimour Radjabov (2726) - Hou Yifan (2663)
    • Eltaj Safarli (2664) - Pavel Eljanov (2765)
    • Fabiano Caruana (2804) - Pentala Harikrishna (2763)
    • Shakriyar Mamedyarov (2748) - Sergey Karjakin (2779)

    Play begins in about two hours (3 p.m. local time in Azerbaijan = 11 a.m. GMT = 7 a.m. ET); tournament website here.

    Thursday
    May192016

    Aronian Interview

    In the wake of his unsuccessful performance in the last Candidates Tournament, Levon Aronian answers questions here, on a mostly Armenian-language website launched by his eternal fiancee Arianne Caoili.

    Thursday
    May192016

    Seven Chess Stories in the (Normal) Media

    Compiled here, on the Chess24 website.

    Thursday
    May192016

    Can a Normal Person Become a GM?

    That's the question pursued by GM Jacob Aagaard, who offers a both/and answer when it comes to the standard opposition of talent "versus" hard work.

    Thursday
    May192016

    A Paul Keres Documentary

    If you know Estonian and Russian, this is for you. If you don't, you might still enjoy letting this documentary on Paul Keres run in the background, if only for the old footage and to hear old greats like Mikhail Botvinnik and Mikhail Tal describe their colleague.

    Thursday
    May192016

    An Everyman Chess Promotion: A Two-for-One on the Najdorf and the Gruenfeld

    I'm not sure how to access this deal without being on their mailing list, but interested readers might contact the Everyman Chess powers-that-be to pursue it. Right now they're offering the e-version of Dave Vigorito's Chess Developments: The Gruenfeld for free to anyone who buys the e-version of Kevin Goh Wei Ming's Chess Developments: The Najdorf 6.Bg5. The Najdorf book is fairly new, and while Vigorito's Gruenfeld book is from 2013 it's not that old, and in my experience his work ages very well. Since the combined price is $19.95, it seems to me a good deal for stronger players (1900/2000 and up) who play those openings.

    Thursday
    May192016

    The Current World Chess Column: Winners and Prodigies at the Hasselbacken Open

    Just what it sounds like - the column is here.

    Thursday
    May122016

    MVL vs. Caruana Blitz Match: Updated

    There's a report on it here, while if you, like me, haven't seen it yet and would rather watch it "live" without knowing the result, you can watch the on-demand video here. Somehow I managed to dig up those links without seeing the result of the match, which took place on Tuesday, so I'll let you find out for yourself.

    This is part of an eight-player knockout event on Chess.com, and I reported last month on another of the quarterfinal matches, Alexander Grischuk's win over Levon Aronian. Somehow I missed last week's match between Hikaru Nakamura and Pentala Harikrishna, so I'll have to dig that one up as well. (Don't tell me what happened, even if it's extremely likely that Nakamura was the victor!) The last of the quarterfinal matches will see Magnus Carlsen take on the winner of a qualifying tournament, making this probably the strongest blitz tournament (by average rating) in chess history.

    UPDATE: It would be hard for the commentators of the match between Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Fabiano Caruana not to say what happened in the Nakamura-Harikrishna match, so I decided to find (and hopefully watch) that one first. If you also don't want to spoil the drama, you can watch that one here.

    Sunday
    May082016

    The St. Louis Chess Club on the Beeb

    Here, with a hat tip to Marc Beishon. The part about the St. Louis Chess Club begins around 16:48 and is a decent piece, aside from a few comments that make Rex Sinquefield seem a shadowy political figure with questionable motives. (Called by some a "tyrannosaurus rex"..."he pushes a radical free market agenda.")

    The comments about Sinquefield's political preferences are entirely irrelevant to the club and to his philanthropy, and while he may be the biggest donor in Missouri individuals like George Soros have give far more money to left-wing causes. (Not to mention other primarily left-wing donors like Tom Steyer, Warren Buffett, Michael Bloomberg and many more.) As Sinquefield's donations aren't to groups like the Ku Klux Klan, but to ordinary conservative policies and candidates well within the range of mainstream political options in the United States, it's hard to see how this is relevant to the story. It's likely that some of the chess organizations on the East coast are supported by people and have board members who have given money to causes conservatives would find objectionable. So what? If the lefties don't insinuate their politics into the chess organization, there's no reason why conservatives or reporters doing stories on those organizations should do so either. The same should go when the story is about someone who happens to be a conservative in the U.S. - but often doesn't.

    Unnecessary political jibes aside, the piece does a nice job of giving those who haven't visited the St. Louis club and its environs a sense of the place and its atmosphere.

    Saturday
    May072016

    This Week's World Chess Column: Shirov Burned by Fire on Board

    In my column this week I take a look at the extraordinary tactical free-for-all between Mr. Fire on Board himself, Alexei Shirov, and the young American GM Sam Sevian from the Hasselbacken Chess Open in Stockholm. Surprisingly, it was the youngster who didn't only win but did so by navigating the complications better than his famous opponent. Definitely worth seeing if you haven't yet examined the game, and hopefully even if you have.