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    Saturday
    Feb282015

    Korobov Leads The European Championship After 4 Rounds, 4-0

    Just a reminder that the European Championship is ongoing in Jerusalem, a huge open tournament which doubles as a qualifier for the next World Cup. (The top 23 finishers here qualify for that event.) After four rounds (of 11), Anton Korobov leads with a perfect score, most closely followed by eight players who are half a point behind: Evgeniy Najer, Yuri Vovk, David Navara, Karen Grigoryan, Alexander Motylev, Ilia Smirin, Emil Sutovsky and Robert Kempinski. Theory hounds will want to pay careful attention to this event, as one is more likely to find games that are relevant to one's repertoire here than in the elite round-robins. (This is obviously true because of numbers, but also because there tends to be more diversity on average in these mixed fields as well.)

    Friday
    Feb272015

    Tbilisi Grand Prix, Final Round: Tomashevsky Wins the Tournament and Everyone Drew Their Games

    Evgeny Tomashevsky had already clinched clear first with a round to go, and since everyone drew today (in at least half of the cases, quickly and bloodlessly) he finished the Grand Prix tournament in Tbilisi with his 1.5 point lead intact. Congratulations to Tomashevsky, who has offered yet another tantalizing hint that he may yet be on his way into the upper elite. Here are the final standings:

    • 1. Evgeny Tomashevsky 8 (of 11)
    • 2. Dmitry Jakovenko 6.5
    • 3. Teimour Radjabov 6
    • 4-7. Leinier Dominguez, Anish Giri, Rustam Kasimdzhanov, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 5.5
    • 8-10. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Alexander Grischuk, Baadur Jobava 5
    • 11. Peter Svidler 4.5
    • 12. Dmitry Andreikin 4

    Let us now take stock of the overall standings in the Grand Prix. With one event to go (in Khanty-Mansiysk) Tomashevsky leads with 252 points, of which 170 came from his clear first place in Tbilisi. Mamedyarov is in second with 235 points, and if the Grand Prix series were over today they'd both qualify for the Candidates. Unfortunately for Mamedyarov, he has already played in his three events (there are four Grand Prix tournaments overall, and the participants choose which three they will attend), so it's extremely unlikely that his lead will hold up.

    In fact, it's impossible unless Fabiano Caruana doesn't play in Khanty-Mansiysk or gets forfeited. Caruana is only five points behind Mamedyarov, and even clear last nets a player 10 Grand Prix points. Behind Caruana's 230 points and still in the running - i.e., playing in Khanty-Mansiysk - are Hikaru Nakamura (207 points), Dmitry Jakovenko and Boris Gelfand (170 points each), and maybe Sergey Karjakin (157 points). That final Grand Prix event is scheduled for May 13-27, and then we'll know who three of the eight Candidates for 2016 (the first is Viswanathan Anand, by virtue of his having been a finalist in the last World Championship).

    Thursday
    Feb262015

    Peter Svidler's Chess24 Series on the Gruenfeld, Now In E-book Format

    Peter Svidler's video series on the Gruenfeld for Chess24 has been widely and correctly praised, and if you play this opening you will want to watch it even if you don't become a premium member of that site. There has been one long-running source of frustration to many of the viewers, however. Svidler sometimes alludes to the "files" where more information was available, but there was no such file. It was coming soon, we were told, but the months went by and no files were in sight.

    In some ways this was very understandable. The Chess24 people have clearly been very busy: they're running a burgeoning playing zone, have commentators for most of the big events, write text articles for the web and every so often add another video series or two to their library. Still, it has been around a year and Svidler's Gruenfeld files had not appeared...until now. The long wait is finally at an end, and you can access (or buy) the e-book series here.

    Thursday
    Feb262015

    Tbilisi Grand Prix, Round 10: Tomashevsky Clinches First After a Scare

    All six games were drawn in the penultimate round of the Grand Prix tournament in Tbilisi, Georgia, and since Evgeny Tomashevsky entered - and thus, exited - the round with a 1.5 point lead it means he has clinched clear first with a round to spare. This draw, against Dmitry Andreikin, did not come easily at all. It was a very complicated game (as the Noteboom Variation usually is) and Tomashevsky was often worse and occasionally in serious trouble. Fortunately for him, the position was as difficult for White (Andreikin) to handle as for Black, and Andreikin headed for the safety of a perpetual check shortly after the first time control.

    While the other five games were also drawn, it doesn't mean that they were peaceful affairs amongst the also-rans. Three of the games remained mostly balanced throughout, but there were two games where one player or the other, and sometimes both (but not simultaneously!) enjoyed a winning advantage. Rustam Kasimdzhanov was beating Baadur Jobava, and then he was losing to him - even in the final position where the game was drawn. Leinier Dominguez was winning against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov for a long time, but immediately after the time control he let the advantage slip away.

    First place is settled, but the other places are not, and since the Grand Prix series is cumulative and there are points available to those not taking first place, tomorrow's action is important. No matter what happens, though, it looks like Tomashevsky will be leading the Grand Prix series going into the final event, scheduled for mid-May in Khanty-Mansiysk.

    * My guesses about the colors in the previous post was thus mistaken.

    Wednesday
    Feb252015

    Tbilisi Grand Prix, Round 9: Tomashevsky Wins Again; Leads by 1.5 with Two Rounds To Go

    Evgeny Tomashevsky is turning in quite the performance at the Tbilisi Grand Prix. Today he crushed Rustam Kasimdzhanov on the white side of a King's Indian with 5.h3, bringing his total score to a fantastic 7/9, good for a 2968 TPR and almost certain tournament victory. Dmitry Jakovenko is a point and a half behind and Teimour Radjabov is two points back so he hasn't clinched yet, but he's on the verge.

    There is still some drama though, as (I think) Tomashevsky will have Black against Radjabov tomorrow and White against Dmitry Andreikin in the last round. Radjabov has White and ought to be motivated, as it's his last chance to fight for first, while Andreikin is a dangerous opponent who won the last Grand Prix tournament and also defeated Tomashevsky in the semi-finals of the 2013 World Cup, even if he's currently in last place in this tournament.

    The day's only other decisive game saw the ever-volatile Baadur Jobava lose a long game to Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

    Wednesday
    Feb252015

    A Karpov Interview, in Four Parts

    Part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4.

    There's a bit of everything. Starting with chess, there's his 1978 match with Viktor Korchnoi and parapsychology, his first match with Kasparov and (going back in time) his meetings with Fischer. Outside of chess there's his famous stamp collection, his less famous collection of chess sets, and his family life.

    Tuesday
    Feb242015

    Tal et al on the Fischer-Taimanov Match

    Spektrowski's blog on Chess.com includes a treasure trove of material he has translated from old Soviet sources, and the latest one to catch my eye covers the Candidates match between Bobby Fischer and Mark Taimanov played in 1971. Mikhail Tal provided the regular annotations to the games, and there are theoretical articles by Yakov Estrin and comments by Viktor Korchnoi, Boris Spassky and others on the match. It's a treat for lovers of chess history.

    (Modified to have a more clever title.)

    Monday
    Feb232015

    Tbilisi Grand Prix, Round 8: Tomashevsky Wins Again

    The Tbilisi Grand Prix has been Evgeny Tomashevsky's tournament, and today he got to win an endgame that few players will even see in their lifetimes. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave got in trouble early against Tomashevsky, and tried to buy his way out with a long series of exchanges. First, he sacrificed a knight for two pawns, which he followed up by giving up a bishop and knight for a rook and a pawn which was then followed by a sham sac of a bishop for a pawn to gain a knight. In case you didn't manage to keep all that straight, the resulting material imbalance found MVL with an extra rook and four pawns against two bishops and a knight. (The players also had queens and one additional pawn each.) The queens and Black's remaining pawn were soon traded, after which Black was able to help himself to the rest of White's pawns. The final result: an ending with two bishops and a knight against MVL's lone rook. This is a theoretical win for the minor pieces; the only concern is to force mate or collect the rook before the 50-move rule kicks in. Tomashevsky handled the problem admirably, and 24 moves into the ending Vachier-Lagrave faced either mate in (at most) two moves or the immediate loss of his rook for a bishop, so he resigned.

    That gives Tomashevsky six points and a full-point lead over Dmitry Jakovenko, his closest competitor. Jakovenko drew his game, as did all the other players in the closest scoring groups to the leader. Only one other game was decisive, and that was Baadur Jobava's victory over Peter Svidler. Svidler was fine in and after the opening, but apparently overestimated the strength of his queenside attacking play with b4-b5. Jobava coolly neutralized White's attacking ambitions and took over thanks to his superior centralization, winning quickly.

    Tomorrow is a rest day, and round 9 (of 11) will be on Wednesday.

    Sunday
    Feb222015

    Bundesliga Weekend

    Fans of the Bundesliga - the best chess nobody sees - may want to browse this page, where they can find all the Bundesliga games and results from the whole season, including this past weekend.

    Sunday
    Feb222015

    European Championship Starts Tomorrow (Monday)

    The tournament starts tomorrow - Monday - in Jerusalem, Israel, and the cast of characters includes six players currently rated over 2700: David Navara, Nikita Vitiugov, Pavel Eljanov, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Etienne Bacrot and Francisco Vallejo Pons. There are 255 players in all, including well over 100 grandmasters, competing in this 11-round Swiss. Part of the tournament's importance is that the top 23 finishers qualify for the next World Cup.

    Tournament website here.