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    1948 World Chess Championship 1959 Candidates 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 London Chess Classic 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 2015 Capablanca Memorial 2015 Chinese Championship 2015 European Club Cup 2015 European Team Championship 2015 London Chess Classic 2015 Millionaire Open 2015 Poikovsky 2015 Russian Team Championship 2015 Sinquefield Cup 2015 U.S. Championship 2015 Women's World Championship KO 2015 World Blitz Championship 2015 World Cup 2015 World Junior Championship 2015 World Open 2015 World Rapid & Blitz Championship 2015 World Team Championships 2016 2016 Candidates 2016 Capablanca Memorial 2016 Chess Olympiad 2016 Chinese Championship 2016 Sinquefield Cup 2016 U.S. Championship 2016 U.S. Junior Championship 2016 U.S. Women's Championship 2016 Women's World Championship 2016 World Championship 2016 World Open 2018 Chess Olympiad 22014 Sinquefield Cup 22014 U.S. Championship 2Mind Games 2016 60 Minutes A. 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    Saturday
    Jul232016

    Bilbao Ends With Three Draws

    Magnus Carlsen won the Bilbao Masters Final - but that was already true before today's final round. Today's three games were calm and short affairs. (Yes, Giri-Nakamura went to move 48, but the last 25 moves or so took half an hour or less.) Initially it seemed that Karjakin-Wei Yi might be exciting, but a few quick trades dispelled the illusion. And there were no illusion to dispel in So-Carlsen; that game was the first to finish and never had a moment where it looked like things might heat up.

    Final Standings:

    1. Carlsen 17/30 (on 3-1-0 scoring; on traditional scoring he went 6.5/10)
    2. Nakamura 12 (5.5)
    3-4. So, Wei Yi 11 (5)
    5. Karjakin 9 (4.5)
    6. Giri 7 (3.5)

    Saturday
    Jul232016

    A Short Review of Informant 128

    It's time for another review of the Chess Informant, because a new edition has been published. This long-running periodical goes back to the great year of 1966, and has morphed from a bare games collection, some of which were annotated with languageless symbols, into a combination of a yearbook and a magazine. About half of each issue nowadays follows the old formula of wordlessly annotated games - about 200 per issue - but the other half (or more than half) comprises a series of high-level articles written in English. Each issue bears a close resemblance to its predecessor, but the editors are constantly tinkering, trying new authors and new themes every time.

    Here's a summary of the contents of the 128th issue of Chess Informant. Let's start with the usual material. As mentioned above, there are 200 deeply annotated games, the overwhelming majority from (top) grandmaster practice. There are puzzle sections for combinations, endgames, and studies - nine of each. There are indexes, lists of the FIDE tournaments played in the relevant period (February-May of this year, 2016), and a re-presentation of the best game and the best novelty from the previous Informant. (The latter doesn't just give the game itself, but gives a small ECO-style summary of the theory of the line as a whole, revised to take the new novelty into account.)

    Now for the variable sections. The Candidates Tournament is understandably the centerpiece of the issue, and it begins with a long article by super-GM Ernesto Inarkiev. He spends several pages offering a sporting, conceptual analysis of Sergey Karjakin's triumph, and then illustrates the analysis with a very close look at Karjakin's games from the tournament.

    The next article is by GM Aleksandr Colovic, who offers a theoretical survey of the event. He goes through the tournament's contributions to the theory of the Slav, the Semi-Slav, the Queen's Indian, the English, the Ruy Lopez, and the Giuoco Piano.

    GM Sarunas Sulskis then turns his attention to the European Championship, focusing especially on its convincing winner, Ernesto Inarkiev. (Author of the first article in the publication, mentioned above.)

    Super-GM Michael Adams presents four of his games in the Ruy Lopez with an early d2-d3; two on the white side and two with the black pieces. Surprisingly, all four games were drawn, but all of the games were interesting and all - except for a short and fairly comfortable draw with Black against Jakovenko - all were full-blooded battles.

    GM Mauricio Flores Rios covers the super-strong U.S. Championship, won by Fabiano Caruana ahead of Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So. He looks at no less than six of Caruana's games from the championship (including those against fellow super-GMs Nakamura and So) and one each by Nakamura and So. A little bonus: he covers So's spectacular win over Garry Kasparov from the Ultimate Blitz Challenge, held a few days after the Championship.

    GM Surya Ganguly covers his victory in the Bangkok Open, and then GM Ivan Sokolov recaps the Dubai Open. Both events were quite strong, so while the events were short on super-grandmasters there was a rich ore of content to mine, and the authors are successful in doing so.

    There was a world championship event during this period as well, and GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant recaps Hou Yifan's convincing victory over Mariya Muzychuk in their women's world championship match. Arakhamia-Grant also addresses Hou's frustration with FIDE's handling of the women's crown, and her (Hou's) intention not to participate in the next women's knockout world championship event this coming October.

    GM Evgeny Najer writes about the ridiculously strong Russian Team Championship (Kramnik, Grischuk, Karjakin, Svidler, Jakovenko, Dominguez, Nepomniachtchi, etc.), and GM Sergey Rublevsky presents one of his own games from that event.

    GM Mihail Marin's "Old Wine in New Bottles" column is generally placed much earlier in the issue, but the important thing is that it remains. This time he looks at the Sicilian Scheveningen structure, showing both contemporary play and echoes going back as far as the 1950s.

    Finally, GM Karsten Mueller's Endgame Strategy column looks at zugzwang within five kinds of endgame: pawn endgames, those with a minor piece against pawns, endings where one side has an extra exchange, same-colored bishop endings, and rook endings.

    In summary and conclusion, the book is a terrific resource for all serious players, especially for those rated over 2000, and diligent players over 1800 should get a lot out of it as well. Moreover, there's enough "talk" in the periodical that even somewhat lower-rated players can enjoy it as a summary of the events of the past few months. Highly recommended.

    Ordering info here.

    Saturday
    Jul232016

    Grischuk Wins A Short Match Vs. Ding Liren, 2.5-1.5

    It's a pity that the match wasn't longer or combined with rapid games as in the Gelfand-Inarkiev match, but it's still interesting whenever two players in the super-elite face off. On this occasion too experience won out, as Alexander Grischuk defeated Ding Liren in the first game (a long battle culminating in a knight ending that Ding could have drawn) and then drew the remaining games to come out on top.

    More info here.

    Friday
    Jul222016

    Catching Up Everywhere: Danzhou, Dortmund, and the U.S. Junior

    Slightly old "news", but for completeness' sake here goes:

    Danzhou: Ian Nepomniachtchi led this event with two rounds to go, despite the fact that no one in the tournament had lost more games than he had. Interestingly, that didn't change in the last two rounds, and it could have been even better. In round 8 he defeated Bu Xiangzhi while all the other games were drawn, and in round 9 all the games were drawn. Against Ivanchuk Nepo was very fortunate not to suffer his third loss, and if that had happened it would have been fantastic an oddity: Nepomniachtchi would have won the tournament despite losing more games than all the other participants! Has this ever happened before? As it was, he was still the co-leader in losses despite finishing in clear first.

    Final Standings:

    • 1. Nepomniachtchi 6 (of 9)
    • 2-3. Harikrishna, Wang Yue 5
    • 4-6. Yu Yangyi, Bu Xiangzhi, Ding Liren 4.5
    • 7-9. Ivanchuk, Leko, Hou Yifan 4
    • 10. Wang Hao 3.5

    Dortmund: When we left off with two rounds to go Maxime Vachier-Lagrave led Ruslan Ponomariov and Leinier Dominguez - his next two opponents - by a full point. He defeated Ponomariov in the penultimate round, and since Dominguez only drew his game MVL clinched first with a round to spare. His drew with Dominguez in the final round to score a terrific 5.5/7, winning the tournament by a point and a half. He also gained 13 rating points, vaulting himself into #2 on the rating list.

    The other individual winners in the last two rounds were his closest pursuers on the rating list. Fabiano Caruana (now #4 in the world) won in the penultimate round (over Rainer Buhmann) and Vladimir Kramnik (the world #3) defeated Evgeniy Najer in the last round.

    Final Standings:

    • 1. Vachier-Lagrave 5.5 (of 7)
    • 2-4. Dominguez, Kramnik, Caruana 4
    • 5-6. Nisipeanu, Ponomariov 3.5
    • 7. Najer 2
    • 8. Buhmann 1.5

    U.S. Junior Championship: Top seed GM Jeffery Xiong enjoyed a full point lead with two rounds to go, and after everyone drew in the penultimate round he was able to clinch the title with a short, safe draw with Luke Harmon-Vellotti from a position of strength. Young (13-year-old) IM Awonder Liang defeated older IM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy to take clear second, and Ruifeng Li also won in the last round (with the black pieces against Michael Bodek) to take clear third.

    Friday
    Jul222016

    Carlsen Clinches Bilbao Victory With A Round Remaining

    The Bilbao Masters Final has been a strange tournament, with two players featuring in all the decisive games: Magnus Carlsen and Anish Giri. Carlsen lost in round 1 to Hikaru Nakamura - his first loss to Nakamura in classical chess - but went on to win in rounds 2, 3, 4, and today in round 9. Giri has no wins (not for the first time in a tournament), but has lost in round 6, 8, and 9. Put on your logic cap, and you'll correctly infer that Carlsen has finally defeated Giri in a classical game, his first victory in 16 tries. (He lost their first game, drew the next fourteen, and finally won today.)

    The tournament is run on 3-1-0 scoring, and thus Carlsen's +4 -1 =4 score gives him 16 points of a possible 27. Nakamura (+1 =8) is in second with 11, Wei Yi and Wesley So (both +1 -1 =7) are tied for third-fourth with 10, Sergey Karjakin (-1 =8) is next to last with 8 points, and Giri (-3 =6) is in the cellar with 6 points.

    In earlier posts I presented the round 1 games and Carlsen's round 3 win over Karjakin; this time we'll take a quick look at all the other decisive games in the tournament and Carlsen's other efforts.

    The round 10 pairings are:

    • So (10) - Carlsen (16)
    • Giri (6) - Nakamura (11)
    • Karjakin (8) - Wei Yi (10)

    Friday
    Jul222016

    Komodo, Stockfish Tie For First in Stage 2 of Season 9 of the TCEC

    They're simply the best. Stage 2 of season 9 of the TCEC (Top Chess Engine Competition) was a double-round robin between the 16 qualifiers from the first stage. After the first cycle Komodo 10 led Stockfish 110616 (the June 11, 2016 release) by a point; after the second cycle, Stockfish caught up and they finished tied. Both engines were undefeated and scored 22.5/30, four points ahead of Jonny 7.30 and Gull 3.

    Stage 3 starts on Saturday.

    Friday
    Jul222016

    This Week's World Chess Column: Gelfand Crushes Inarkiev

    Ernesto Inarkiev has enjoyed a nice run of form lately, but that came to a brutal end in his classical & rapid match with Boris Gelfand. When we left off last week Gelfand led the 12-game match 1.5-.5; today it finished with Gelfand the 12-6 winner.

    The match was divided into two halves: six classical games, which counted double in the overall scoring, and six rapid games. Gelfand won the classical portion with an undefeated 4-2 score - which converted into an 8-4 match score - and then raced out to an undefeated 4-1 margin in the rapid games. He finished with a thud, unfortunately, losing the final rapid game (with White, at that), but it was still a commanding performance by the 2012 World Championship finalist.

    In my World Chess column this week I go into further detail, and analyze games 3-12 of the match. (Games 1 & 2 were analyzed in the previous week's column.) Have a look.

    Friday
    Jul222016

    Chess in the Movies: The Dark Horse

    "The Dark Horse" is based on the life of Genesis Potini (1963-2011), a New Zealand chess player who worked successfully to coach kids in a lower income, crime- and gang-riddled area despite his own struggles with bipolar disorder.

    Unlike "Endgame", mentioned a couple of posts ago, "The Dark Horse" doesn't resemble an afterschool special at all. This is a moving film, worth seeing. Two caveats; first, while chess plays an important role in the film, the purely chess content is thin and (unfortunately) rather sloppy. Second, this is definitely not a movie for younger kids. Its R-rating is appropriate. (Mainly, but not only, for language.)

    That said, the movie gets a hearty Chess Mind thumbs-up, though the movie should be seen for its own sake and not as a showcase for chess. (More about the man here.)

    Thursday
    Jul212016

    An Interesting Old Book: Chernev's The Chess Companion

    When I grew up it was common to see books by Fred Reinfeld (1910-1964), I.A. Horowitz (1907-1973), and Irving Chernev (1900-1981) in brick-and-mortar bookstores here in the U.S. While many of their works were aimed at near-beginners, some of their works are suitable for a broader audience, and this weekend I discovered one of them. Several used books were for sale at a local tournament, and a friend of mine suggested I spend a buck on Chernev's The Chess Companion.

    It was good advice! The book, written in 1968,  is 287 pages long - decent-sized pages - and ranges over the most diverse topics. There are 110 pages' worth of short stories (authors include E. B. White [of Strunk and White fame, not to mention Charlotte's Web] and A. A. Milne [the author of the Winnie-the-Pooh stories]), followed by an essay by Harry Golombek on "Writers Who Have Changed Chess History".

    In the second part of the book pure chess content comes to the fore. There are several chapters comprising just over 20 pages on various sorts of problems. Many chess players are allergic to the genre, but the examples Chernev includes are all witty and bright.

    The next chapter offers a series of "remarkable games", mostly featuring great players in their younger years. Next comes a chapter illustrating ideas that were ostensibly ahead of their time; that is, they demonstrated ideas that had not yet been expressed in didactic form. A chapter made up of games with picturesque finishes is next, followed by a chapter on "blindfold beauties".

    On and on it goes, and as a fun bonus the book's penultimate section includes some chess trivia and a chapter with epigrams and advice. The last mini-chapter includes the author's candidate for the greatest game of all time, Alekhine's brilliant win over Bogoljubow from Hastings 1922.

    The book is a real pleasure. Of course we can learn from it and try to convert its contents into training material, but that's mostly beside the point. Enjoy the book for yourself, and then give it to a young chessplayer in your life to help him or her fall in love with the game too.

    Thursday
    Jul212016

    Chess in the Movies: Endgame

    Time for some blogging, and we'll begin by mentioning a new chess movie called "Endgame." (Or rather, "newish": it came out last September, but was just released on DVD.) The story is based on/inspired by the successes of an elementary school team (transformed into a middle school team in the film) in the largely Latino city of Brownsville, Texas.

    The movie is pretty formulaic, but it's well done and has enough humor and deviations from the norm to lift it above the usual entrants in the genre of the after-school special. As for the chess, it's treated well and much of the time the lingo is coherent. There are a few groaners though, and once or twice I think I spotted the king and queen lined up the wrong way at the start of the game. You'll also get pretty sick of seeing the opening moves of the Italian Game, but the filmmakers and chess consultants get credit for including some genuine tactical shots in the games.

    (Other issues: everyone announces check - usually loudly - and does so as if it bodes the end of the world...though to be fair it turns out in pretty much every case to result in a quick mate. Staring contests are a commonplace, favorites are generally insufferable and arrogant, and not too many players are good losers. Obviously there are some players like that, and maybe most of us are at times visibly disgusted by a particular loss. But it needn't be presented as though it were the norm.)

    Not a bad chess movie for a rainy day.