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    Monday
    Jun262017

    China Wins World Team Championship

    At times the World Team Championship is a very prestigious event with many of the world's top players in action, but this year's edition was considerably weakened due to the overlap with the Grand Chess Tour event in Paris. While the winning Chinese team brought its four highest-rated players - Ding Liren, Yu Yangyi, Wei Yi, and Li Chao - the Russians were without Vladimir Kramnik, Sergey Karjakin, and Alexander Grischuk; the U.S. played without Wesley So, Fabiano Caruana, and Hikaru Nakamura; Ukraine was missing Vassily Ivanchuk (playing a match with David Navara) and Pavel Eljanov; Norway missed Magnus Carlsen, etc.

    The Chinese team came in as the favorites, and unsurprisingly, took first. They drew two matches, to Turkey(!) and the United States. The Russian team was the second seed, but they are still the deepest chess country when it comes to top players. They were still able to field an all-2700 team and came in second. They too drew against Turkey(!), and the difference-maker was their loss to China in round 7 (of 9). The games on the first three boards were drawn, and on board 4 Li Chao defeated Vladimir Fedoseev on the white side of the Berlin ending with surprising ease.

    Poland came in third, India fourth, and the surprising Turkish team came in fifth. As for the U.S., it was a dismal event. They tied for 6th-8th, coming in 8th (out of 10) on tiebreaks. They won three matches, drew two, and lost five, including a 0-4 shellacking by the Russians in the last round - the only shutout match of the entire event. Ouch.

    Sunday
    Jun252017

    Carlsen Wins the Paris leg of the 2017 Grand Chess Tour

    The 2017 Grand Chess Tour (GCT) kicked off this past week with a rapid & blitz event in Paris. (The second leg kicks off this Wednesday in Leuven, Belgium, with the same format but a slightly different cast of characters.) On Wednesday (the 21st) the ten players began three days of rapid play (three rounds per day), and on Saturday they played a blitz round robin, followed by another blitz round robin (with colors reversed) on Sunday. Rapid games were counted double, so a maximum of 18 points was available from each format, and the totals were combined to determine players' overall placement and the number of GCT points they received.

    The winners were Magnus Carlsen and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who both finished with 24 points. Carlsen went undefeated in the rapid stage, scoring 14/18, while MVL dominated the blitz with 13/18. A two-game rapid playoff ensued, won by Carlsen 1.5-.5 (he won the first game with White and gave a charity draw in game two in a near-winning position to clinch the match). He thus received 12 tour points, while MVL got 10. (Tour standings can be found here.)

    Back to the event. Magnus Carlsen started out in beast mode, going undefeated through the rapid portion and winning his first four blitz games as well. It wasn't just his results that were good - he wasn't just fortunate or opportunistic - he played the kind of excellent chess that led him to be a triple world champion in 2014, winning everything in sight and enjoying a huge gap between his closest challengers on the classical rating list.

    In the rest of the field, someone else would star too - but it generally wasn't the same person two days in a row. For instance, on day 1 both Carlsen and Wesley So finished with 2.5/3, but So's fine score wasn't achieved so impressively, and indeed he quickly fell back. He lost to Carlsen in round 4, drew his next four games, and lost to Karjakin in the last round. On day 2 Nakamura impressed with 2.5/3, drawing in round 6 with Carlsen, and having gone 2/3 on day 1 his total was good enough to leave him...half a point behind Carlsen, who also went 2.5/3 on day 2. (Technically a point behind, on the 2-1-0 scoring, but let's bracket that for now.) Like So the previous day, however, Nakamura started day three with a loss and was out of the race for first in the rapid section. The hero of day 3 was Alexander Grischuk, who went 3-0. Carlsen only went 2-1, so Grischuk even managed to gain some ground. It was a fine result, but not quite enough to catch up. The final standings of the rapid competition look like this (here the doubling will be included):

    1. Carlsen 14
    2. Grischuk 13
    3. Nakamura 12
    4-5. Vachier-Lagrave, Mamedyarov 11
    6. So 9
    7. Karjakin 8
    8. Topalov 5
    9. Bacrot 4
    10. Caruana 3

    That's correct: Caruana scored three points, or 1.5/9. He lost his first three games - from two winning positions and one that was vastly superior - drew in round 4, and then lost his next three games as well. (Almost an Inverse-Sinquefield Cup.) He drew the last two games but still finished the rapid in last place - but this sad state of affairs would not carry over to the blitz.

    Caruana was one of the heroes of the blitz, except for the first game, which he lost to Carlsen. Carlsen started off on fire, as noted above, winning his first four games. But then things started going a bit screwy. He lost on time in round 5 to Grischuk from a position that was just about impossible to lose, but he spent a second or two too long trying to figure out how to maintain some small practical winning chances. After this he failed to convert a serious advantage against Sergey Karjakin, and then lost very unnecessarily to Vachier-Lagrave. Carlsen drew his next two games, and only a win over his new customer So in round 9 let him finish the day still in the overall lead.

    Carlsen scored 6/9 in the blitz for 20 points overall; Nakamura was in second with 19 after scoring 7/9 in the blitz. Grischuk had slipped to third after a poor first day; the three-time world blitz champion only scored 4.5 points to wind up with 17.5 overall. But two other players had a strong first day, both scoring 6/9. One was Vachier-Lagrave, who was now up to fourth with 17 points overall, and the other was Caruana. After the loss to Carlsen he went 6/8 to reach a more respectable total, though he remained in the bottom half of the table. Etienne Bacrot continued to struggle, which wasn't surprising for the lowest-rated player in the field (by far), but he didn't have the worst score. That unfortunate distinction went to So, who duplicated Caruana's result in the rapid: three draws and six losses. It's a tough field.

    On day two of the blitz, the pattern noted above recurred: Nakamura faltered. He went =2, -3 in the first five games, losing to MVL, but then also to So and Bacrot. While Carlsen too started out with a loss (to the resurgent Caruana), he then righted the ship with two wins. After a further two draws the event seemed to be over, but then things got interesting. First and foremost, Carlsen fell apart, losing in consecutive rounds to Karjakin, MVL, and Nakamura. Nakamura finished strongly with wins in rounds 15, 17, and 18 (the last round), but his loss to Mamedyarov in round 16 put him out of the running for first. Nevertheless, while Carlsen entered the last round a point ahead of Nakamura, he had not only been caught, but even surpassed, by Vachier-Lagrave.

    Vachier-Lagrave beat Nakamura in round 10, So in round 11, Bacrot in round 13, Mamedyarov in round 15, and Carlsen in round 16. When he drew in round 17 with Karjakin, he entered the last round half a point ahead of Carlsen. MVL had Black against Grischuk, and played well enough to draw; he never came within sniffing distance of a win. To force a tiebreak, Carlsen had to win with White; fortunately, his opponent was Wesley So. That's a crazy thing to say, given So's results in pretty much every event the past year prior to this one, but So had a terrible time in Paris, and this year it seems like Nakamura has transferred his old curse against Carlsen to his countryman. So was badly outplayed from the beginning, and then blundered a piece on move 24 and resigned immediately.

    Thus Carlsen and Vachier-Lagrave finished tied for first overall, and as noted above, Carlsen won the playoff. Here are the final standings in the blitz:

    1. Vachier-Lagrave 13
    2-3. Nakamura, Caruana 11
    4-5. Karjakin, Carlsen 10
    6-7. Grischuk, Mamedyarov 9
    8. Topalov 6.5
    9. So 6
    10. Bacrot 4.5

    Overall:

     

    1-2. Carlsen, Vachier-Lagrave 24 (of 36)
    3. Nakamura 23
    4. Grischuk 22
    5. Mamedyarov 20
    6. Karjakin 18
    7. So 15
    8. Caruana 14
    9. Topalov 11.5
    10. Bacrot 8.5

     

    Friday
    Jun162017

    Norway Chess 2017, Round 9: Aronian Wins the Tournament

    It's shaping up to be a good year for Levon Aronian. First Wijk aan Zee, now Norway Chess! It looks like his slump is over, and he's once again going to be a contender for the world championship - as he should be. By holding a draw with Black against Wesley So he finished the tournament with an undefeated 6-3 score, with wins against the world's #1 and #2 players - Magnus Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik, respectively - plus Sergey Karjakin, the "vice champion". (This is not to be confused with a champion of vice rather than virtue.) He also crushed the 2800 barrier after some time below that bar, and is now the world's #4, 1.3 points behind Wesley So.

    Hikaru Nakamura was the runner up - or rather, the co-runner-up. Had he defeated Fabiano Caruana today he could have caught Aronian (and rejoined the 2800 club). Another effect would have been Caruana's ouster from the same club, but it didn't happen. Caruana prepared a new idea with White against the Poisoned Pawn Variation in the Najdorf, and while the computer finds a variety of equalizers for Black, human beings finding them over the board is another matter entirely. Nakamura was unable to negotiate all the complications, and lost a game that was as good as over long before the clocks were stopped.

    Sharing second with Nakamura, with 5/9, was the up-and-down Vladimir Kramnik. For the fourth round in a row, White won, and since he had the white pieces this time it was good news for him. His victim was Anish Giri, who also enjoyed and suffered a roller coaster of a tournament. Kramnik played an extremely provocative version of the Colle (a statement that sounds as funny as "an exciting London System" used to, but the richness of the royal game never cease to amaze), and it worked better than Kramnik could have dreamed. Giri is always - or now we should say, almost always - extremely well-prepared, but having sown the wind he wasn't ready for the whirlwind, and lost in just 20 moves.

    The other two games were short but not perfunctory draws. Sergey Karjakin was in trouble on the white side of a Najdorf against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and had MVL played 24...f5 followed by 25...e4 he would have been a favorite to win with his extra pawn. Instead, he blundered with 24...Rxd5, allowing Karjakin to bail out with a draw by repetition. The world champion, Magnus Carlsen, was also in trouble against his most recent predecessor, Viswanathan Anand. Had Anand played 23.e5 he would have had good winning chances. The opportunity was missed, and in the end it was Anand who was more forced to play for the draw than Carlsen.

    The games, with my annotations, can be replayed here. Here are the final standings:

    1. Aronian 6 (of 9)
    2-3. Nakamura, Kramnik 5
    4-6. Caruana, So, Giri 4.5
    7-9. Vachier-Lagrave, Anand, Carlsen 4
    10. Karjakin 3.5

     

    Thursday
    Jun152017

    Norway Chess 2017, Round 8: Draws on Top and a Spiky Tail

    It looks like Magnus Carlsen's reign at the top of the rating list will continue for at least another tournament, as his risky play against Sergey Karjakin paid off. Worse for much of the leadup to the first time control, Carlsen's luck finally started to change when Karjakin erred on move 40. That error wasn't fatal, but Karjakin's 41st move - played after a 27-minute think(!) - was. Very strange.

    That took Carlsen out of last place, which he shared with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, but it didn't get him out of the tie with MVL. Vachier-Lagrave defeated one of yesterday's heroes, Vladimir Kramnik, and Kramnik's loss was reminiscent of his previous loss to Levon Aronian (in round 6). In both cases he had superb preparation with Black, rattling out 20 moves and achieving a fine position. But as in the earlier game, it wasn't even close to being good enough to achieve a draw (or more). Vachier-Lagrave outplayed Kramnik to reach a superior but not yet winning double rook ending, and then Kramnik, like Karjakin, made his fatal error after the time control.

    So the new tailender is Karjakin, with three points out of eight. Carlsen and Vachier-Lagrave are tied with Viswanathan Anand with three and a half points apiece; out of the race for first but also out of the cellar. Anand drew quickly and comfortably with Black against Levon Aronian, who was and remains the tournament leader. Hikaru Nakamura is still in clear second after his short draw, with White, against Wesley So.

    Nakamura could have been caught in second by Anish Giri, had the latter won with White against Fabiano Caruana. He was better throughout, but despite the bloated numbers your engine might display he was never winning the bishop vs. knight ending. Giri played on a long time, hoping for a miracle or for his 24-year-old opponent to die of old age, but once it was clear that neither was going to happen he reconciled himself to the draw.

    There's one round to go, and here's how the final round pairings shake out:

    • Karjakin (3) - Vachier-Lagrave (3.5)
    • Caruana (3.5) - Nakamura (5)
    • So (4) - Aronian (5.5)
    • Kramnik (4) - Giri (4.5)
    • Anand (3.5) - Carlsen (3.5)

    Wednesday
    Jun142017

    Norway Chess, Rounds 6 & 7: Aronian Surging Forward With a Bang, Carlsen Going Out With a Whimper

    Round 6 (on Monday) and round 7 (on Wednesday) were both exciting and eventful, and after a slow start the Norway Chess tournament has become very lively. There were two wins in round 6 and three in round 7, and it's nice to see that the decisive games have all been well-played by the winners.

    Hikaru Nakamura had been leading after round 5, but he was caught in round 6 by Levon Aronian, who promptly went by him with a second straight win in round 7. In round 6 Aronian beat Vladimir Kramnik pretty badly on the white side of a Semi-Tarrasch when the latter underestimated the danger to his queen on g4. That was a clean victory, slightly contrasted with his win over Sergey Karjakin in the next round. Aronian was never in danger, but his play was rather speculative. Karjakin got caught up in the speculative atmosphere, which proved unfortunate. In particular, 28.Rg6 only managed to get the rook in trouble, and in the lead up to the time control things went from bad to worse, and Aronian dispatched him most efficiently.

    Things are going even more poorly for Magnus Carlsen, who is tied for last place with 2.5 points out of 7. He lost in round 7 to Kramnik, who bounced back nicely from his loss to Aronian with a surprisingly easy win against the world champion. This put Kramnik back into second place on the rating list, and what's incredible is that he's only 6.4 points out of first. Carlsen has been #1 in the world on every list since July 2011 (and on most of the lists going back to January 2010), but he's just one more loss and one more Kramnik (or Wesley So, or maybe even Aronian win) from falling to #2. Back to the Kramnik-Carlsen game: Kramnik played sharply, but Carlsen was fine until his 25th move. After 25...Bxf2+ he would have been fine with correct play; after 25...Qxf2+, however, and his further error on move 27, he was simply lost, and Kramnik was up to the challenge.

    Kramnik is tied for third place with Anish Giri, with four points, half a point behind Nakamura and a full point behind Aronian. Giri played the Accelerated Dragon/Dragon hybrid against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in round 7, and while MVL is one of the best calculators in the world and a player who loves sharp, imbalanced positions this just wasn't his day. He neither took proper care of his king nor got his own attack off the ground fast enough, and lost a short, one-sided game.

    The last decisive game of rounds 6 and 7 came from round 6. Viswanathan Anand (the last person not named "Magnus Carlsen" to be classical world champion or rated #1 in the world [in classical chess]) repeated the same anti-English line he lost with against Giri in round 4, but this time he was fully successful with it against Fabiano Caruana. Caruana's queenside play got nowhere, while Anand successfully broke through on the kingside on the way to a queenside mating attack.

    The decisive games mentioned above can be replayed here, with my comments. Here's what's coming up in round 8:

     

    • Nakamura (4.5) - So (3.5)
    • Carlsen (2.5) - Karjakin (3)
    • Vachier-Lagrave (2.5) - Kramnik (4)
    • Aronian (5) - Anand (3)
    • Giri (4) - Caruana (3)

     

     

     

    Sunday
    Jun112017

    Norway Chess 2017, Round 5: Five Stable Draws

    What round 4 was, round 5 wasn't. (As a dear old friend, now departed, used to say when I told him about an unsuccessful game or tournament, "They can't all be gems!") But as Scarlett O'Hara famously said, "Tomorrow is another day!" Here's what's on tap for Monday's round - round 6:

    • Carlsen (2) - Vachier-Lagrave (2)
    • Nakamura (3.5) - Karjakin (2.5)
    • Aronian (3) - Kramnik (3)
    • Giri (2.5) - So (2.5)
    • Caruana (2.5) - Anand (1.5)

    Saturday
    Jun102017

    Norway Chess 2017, Round 4: Three Winners, and it Could Have Been Five

    Today's was the best round yet from an entertainment perspective, with three wins from five games. Hikaru Nakamura's win over Maxime Vachier-Lagrave makes him the clear leader with 3 out of 4, while Levon Aronian is the hero of the round after defeating Magnus Carlsen in a great game with sacrifices. Anish Giri also won, and quickly against Viswanathan Anand, while Wesley So and Fabiano Caruana should have defeated Sergey Karjakin and Vladimir Kramnik, respectively.

    Nakamura - Vachier-Lagrave was a Najdorf, and White went for one of the unusual sidelines that has cropped in recent years, playing 6.Bd3 e5 7.Nde2. While that's unusual, the race between White's queenside expansion and Black's counterplay on the kingside is one sort of typical Najdorf middlegame. On this occasion Black's kingside play wasn't dangerous - at least when one defends as accurately as Nakamura did in this game. (Your mileage may vary.)

    Aronian found an interesting new idea against the Semi-Slav in 10.Bc2, which is aimed against Black's ...e5-e4 ideas. After 24 minutes, Carlsen played 10...Rd8, and after spending 24 minutes on his next two moves, Aronian sacrificed the exchange and a pawn with 11.a3 Bxa3 12.Rxa3. After 12...Qxa3 13.c5 Black's queen is shut out of the game, both to its detriment and the rest of Black's army as well. This became evident when Aronian went for the Greek gift sacrifice 17.Bxh7+, resulting in a large advantage. Aronian's next dozen moves or so were the best ones, and while he made an inaccuracy on move 29 Black's position was extremely difficult to hold, and Carlsen failed to take advantage of his one chance.

    The first two games ended before the first time control, and so did Giri-Anand. Anand has reputedly had some difficulties against the English in recent years, and he had some troubles in this game as well. Giri was outplaying Anand in the middlegame and had a won position until he chose 29.g5 rather than 29.Rh5. The error was more than compensated by an even bigger mistake by Anand on move 31. The former champion had to play 31...Qxh4, giving up a piece but getting enough pawns and positional compensation to save the game. Instead, 31...Nc5 lost on the spot: 32.g6 Qd7 33.Bb4, and Black has no good defense against d4.

    As for the draws, So was crushing Karjakin until his careless 34.Qxc4??; instead, any move defending the rook (e.g. 34.Re2) would have won easily. The problem was that 34.Qxc4 allowed 34...Nf6, giving Black enough activity to survive. After this both sides played great chess, with So setting Karjakin a series of very difficult problems to solve, and Karjakin rose to the occasion every time. Caruana too was winning against Kramnik, and from early on. Kramnik's 15th and 16th moves were errors, but after that he went into Tal mode, blew a thick fog over the board, and Caruana couldn't manage to put him away.

    The games are here, with annotations to Aronian-Carlsen. Here's what's on tap for round 5:

    • Karjakin (2) - Caruana (2)
    • Anand (1) - So (2)
    • Carlsen (1.5) - Giri (2)
    • Vachier-Lagrave (1.5) - Aronian (2.5)
    • Kramnik (2.5) - Nakamura (3)

    Saturday
    Jun102017

    Norway Chess, Round 3: Five (Mostly Interesting) Draws

    Wins have been a scarce commodity so far, but it's not for want of trying. In round 3 four of the games were very lively and in three of them one of the players had good practical winning chances.

    Magnus Carlsen had White against his traditional client, Hikaru Nakamura, but having finally defeated his nemesis last year Nakamura played fearlessly. He more or less surrendered the queenside and the center going for counterplay against the white king, and while his strategy was objectively flawed it was a practical success, and the game was drawn by perpetual at the end of the first time control.

    Levon Aronian and Anish Giri played a thriller. Aronian's 16.Bc1 was inaccurate, and Giri would have been better after 16...e4. Instead, he uncorked the dramatic 16...g5!?, setting the board on fire. Aronian missed some opportunities (17.f4!?, 24.Bf4!), and was soon hanging on for dear life because of the clock - there is no increment in this tournament until move 61. He managed to do so with less than five seconds to spare, and the remaining moves were necessary only because of the tournament's Sophia rules.

    Vladimir Kramnik's game with Wesley So may not have been thrilling, but he did have his opponent on the ropes. Had he played 30.g4 he would have maintained a clear edge, and even without that he was able to make the world's #2 suffer for a very long time before holding the draw.

    Sergey Karjakin was a little unlucky against Viswanathan Anand in that the latter had looked at the very line with his second the day before, and was told the key move (21...Bd7!, to meet 22.Rxb7 with 22...Qc8!) in a way that stuck in his memory. Without that resource White is at least pressing and often even much better. To his credit, Anand worked out what to do against Karjakin's 22.h3 without any mnemonic help, and the game soon resolved itself in a dead drawn rook ending.

    Finally, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Fabiano Caruana played the least dramatic game of the round, but it's hard to complain about a round where the least interesting game goes 51 moves and reaches bare kings.

    Friday was a rest day, and round 4 has just started, with the following pairings:

    • Caruana (1.5) - Kramnik (2)
    • Aronian (1.5) - Carlsen (1.5)
    • Nakamura (2) - Vachier-Lagrave (1.5)
    • Giri (1) - Anand (1)
    • So (1.5) - Karjakin (1.5)

    Thursday
    Jun082017

    Norway Chess 2017, Round 2: Kramnik the Day's Only Winner

    After two rounds, there are only two wins on the crosstable - but it's not for want of trying. The shortest game in the tournament so far went 42 moves, and five of the ten games went 58 moves or more. The wins will come, but so far it's just Hikaru Nakamura's round 1 win over Anish Giri, and now Vladimir Kramnik's win - with Black - against Viswanathan Anand.

    Beating Anand is always an accomplishment, and while it was a deserved win by Kramnik that vaulted him back into the #2 spot on the rating list, it would most likely have finished in a draw had Anand not played 34.Qxc7. This move, made in haste, allowed Kramnik to obtain an outside passed pawn, and several moves later his advantage was enough to win. Instead, 34.a4 would have maintained the balance and almost certainly led to a quick draw.

    In two games, one side had to suffer a bit before achieving the draw. Giri especially really pressed Sergey Karjakin and seemed close to winning, but Karjakin isn't called the "minister of defense" for nothing. Nakamura had White against Levon Aronian, but that didn't help very much. He was quickly worse and had to defend for a long time, and down a pawn for most of the second half of the game.

    The other two draws were more comfortable for all the parties. Fabiano Caruana got nothing against Magnus Carlsen, and the game was drawn by perpetual check shortly after the time control. In the last game, Wesley So, playing White against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, first had a slight advantage and then a slight disadvantage, but neither player ever seemed too close to having serious winning chances.

    Here's what's on tap for round 3; the first two games look especially tantalizing:

    • Carlsen (1) - Nakamura (1.5)
    • Kramnik (1.5) - So (1)
    • Aronian (1) - Giri (.5)
    • Vachier-Lagrave (1) - Caruana (1)
    • Karjakin (1) - Anand (.5)

    Wednesday
    Jun072017

    Informant 131: A Short Review

    Another three months have gone by, so it's time for another edition of the Chess Informant. (See the long list of tags on the side for many more Informant reviews.) As regular readers of this blog are well aware by now, the Informant is a periodical that comes out quarterly, and has both an old-fashioned component and a newer component. The old-fashioned part is a hefty collection of well-analyzed games (200 is the number the publishers have settled on for the time being) annotated only without languageless symbols, and the newer part is a series of articles in English. There are also short sections dedicated to combinations, endings, and studies; and there's also a summary of tournament results from the previous quarter, along with a re-presentation of the best game and the best theoretical novelty from the preceding volume. All of this is standard, but as the studies section had been yanked from Informant 130 I'm pleased to see that it has been restored in this issue.

    While the short sections and especially the 200 games are valuable, even critical parts of each issue, there is nothing requiring further elaboration about any of them. If you've seen a prior issue of the Informant, you'll know what you're getting from them in this issue as well. So let's summarize the articles in this issue:

    There are 14 articles in all, each written by a grandmaster. And often especially impressive grandmasters at that, including six players currently in the top 100, three of whom are rated over 2700: Yu Yangyi (2750), Michael Adams (2736), and Bu Xiangzhi (2712). To specifics:

    Sarunas Sulskis profiles Wesley So, the #2 player in the world and the hottest player in the chess world since last summer. Sulskis looks at a couple of So's games from Wijk aan Zee, along with three others played in 2016.

    Farrukh Amonatov looks at one of the most important, though not one of the most interesting, events of the first part of the year: the Grand Prix tournament in Sharjah. The tournament finished in a three-way tie for first between Alexander Grischuk, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Amonatov looks at two wins from each of the winners, and an additional three games besides.

    Up-and-coming Indian GM Baskaran Adhiban had a strong performance in the top group at Wijk aan Zee, and he takes a close look at his wild game with tournament winner So. The game was an exciting draw in a King's Gambit, and Adhiban was one of the few players in that event to enjoy winning chances against So.

    Emilio Cordova - who was in the top 100 when he wrote his article - covers Vladislav Fedoseev's triumph in the Aeroflot Open (which enables him - Fedoseev - to play in Dortmund later this year). Fedoseev has a fresh style that isn't overly influenced by the computer, in Cordova's opinion, and in the games Cordova shows that judgment is vindicated.

    Bu Xiangzhi presents five games from the Chinese League, a very strong competition that is somewhat underappreciated in the West. (In part, I think, because chess fans fail to notice league events in general, as they're less likely to receive live media coverage.)

    Mykhaylo Oleksiyenko is also just shy of the world's top 100, and his article is on Hikaru Nakamura's ability to bounce back from defeat as seen in this past December's London Chess Classic. He shows a couple of Nakamura's losses in the event, before moving on to his impressive (though not quite perfect) win against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

    Chinese super-GM Yu Yangyi's article is called "Strategies for Trapping the Enemy King", and he demonstrates his prowess as an attacker with a pair of his victories from the first part of the year: one from Gibraltar and one from the Aeroflot Open.

    English super-GM Michael Adams was also a participant in Gibraltar, and he presents five games from that tournament, including especially three of his own.

    More Gibraltar: Chinese GM Ju Wenjun was the top female player in Gibraltar, defeating Hou Yifan, among others, and becoming the fifth woman in chess history to surpass the 2600 mark. She presents her win - with Black - against Hou.

    Last year's Olympiad has been over for some time now, but such a rich event is an almost inexhaustible source of high-quality material. Surya Ganguly takes a look at the game Caruana-Eljanov, which was a critical game from the match that wound up determining the winner. (That was the U.S. team, for those who might have forgotten, on nail-bitingly close tiebreaks over Ukraine.)

    Eduardas Rozentalis also presents a single game in his column, taking a deep look at Andreikin's great win over Aronian from this year's Wijk aan Zee tournament.

    Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant digs into some of the most interesting games from the women's section of last year's Olympiad, including Hou Yifan's startling loss to the Latvian Minister of Finance!

    Aleksandar Colovic has a interesting and easy to apply article called "Opening Approaches in Doha" - Doha being the site of the rapid & blitz world championships late last year.

    Finally, Paraguayan GM Axel Bachmann is an up-and-comer in his own right, under 30 years of age and breaking into the top 100. But there's young and then there's young. He lost a game last October to 11-year-old Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu in the final round of the Isle of Man tournament. He bounced back well, and shows three important victories from subsequent tournaments that he won.

    This wasn't the most spectacular issue of the Informant, and it was a little surprising to have only one article on openings, and a relatively informal (though certainly interesting) one at that. Still, even an "ordinary" issue of the Informant is a worthwhile purchase for serious players. So if you're over 1900 and/or an ambitious player, I recommend purchasing a copy from your favorite outlet.

    Website info here.