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    Wednesday
    Dec102014

    London Chess Classic: Adams, Nakamura and Kramnik Tie For First In Blitz

    ...but finish as listed above in terms of tiebreaks. The point of the blitz event (aside from the entertainment of chess fans, which was considerable) was to determine pairing numbers. Players picked pairing numbers according to their order of finish, and this meant that the top three all get an extra game with the white pieces. Mickey Adams chose to alternate all the way, with White in rounds 1, 3 and 5. Hikaru Nakamura has White in rounds 1, 3 and 4, while Vladimir Kramnik gets White in his first, second and fourth games. Anish Giri led the event with 5.5/7 (= 16 points on the 3-1-0 scoring they used during the blitz and will use during the classical tournament as well), but dropped his last three games to finish half a point (on classical scoring; one point on 3-1-0) behind the leaders. He'll have White in games 2 and 5. Viswanathan Anand will have White in games 2 and 4, and tailender Fabiano Caruana gets White in games 3 and 5.

    Here are the pairings for tomorrow's first round, which starts at 4 p.m. London time (= 11 a.m. ET): 

    • Kramnik - Anand
    • Nakamura - Giri
    • Adams - Caruana

    About the blitz event: it was both exciting and relatively blunder-free; surprisingly so, I'd say. Perhaps the players were sufficiently warmed up without being worn out by the previous days' rapid tournament. The early leaders were Giri, Adams and Nakamura, while Kramnik started out especially slowly with just half a point from his first two mini-matches. Adams and Nakamura slowed a bit while Kramnik finished on a tear with 5.5/6, and as already noted Giri collapsed at the finish to come in fourth. Anand didn't play great, but he had his moments - one of which was what I believe was his first-ever win against Nakamura in any sort of time control - a rather brutal win at that. As for Caruana, he hasn't generally been considered one of the very top blitz players, so his fans shouldn't worry that this is a portent of things to come in the classical tournament.

    Tournament site here.

    Sunday
    Dec072014

    Lysyj, Gunina Win Russian Championships

    The Russian Championships have finished, and Igor Lysyj and Valentina Gunina have finished as the open and women's champions, respectively. Lysyj entered the round with a half-point lead over Dmitry Jakovenko and Ian Nepomniachtchi, but with "Nepo" having White against Nikita Vitiugov, who was having a terrible tournament, it seemed far from clear that Lysyj would be able to coast to the title with a draw. Lysyj did in fact draw with Black against Boris Grachev, and Jakovenko likewise drew with Black against Denis Khismatullin. So far, so good, both for Lysyj and Nepomniachtchi, but unfortunately for the latter Vitiugov played a great game on the black side of a French Winawer, crushing Nepo.

    Thus Lysyj took clear first with 5.5/9, winning his first Russian Championship title. Jakovenko took clear second, and in a tie for 3rd-7th(!) were Peter Svidler (the day's other winner, defeating Vadim Zvjaginsev), Nepomniachtchi, Khismatullin, Vitiugov and Alexander Morozevich. The three remaining players were just another half a point behind, so this tournament was heavy on parity.

    Not so for the women, where the spread from first to last was five points. The last round featured a showdown between co-leaders Alisa Galliamova and Valentina Gunina, and although Galliamova was better for a long time and for a while totally winning, Gunina's charmed existence continued. Galliamova fell apart in the lead up to the time control, going from about +7 (and not a particularly complicated +7, either) to -3 by the time move 41 rolled around. Gunina finished well, and took clear first with 7-2, winning her last seven games.

    Olga Girya could have taken clear second, half a point behind, but her story was like Galliamova's. She too was better-to-winning for a fair chunk of the game, but let her opponent - Anastasia Bodnaruk - manage to equalize. In the run-up to the time control it was equal, equal, equal...until move 40, when Girya made a huge mistake, which to be fair was not so much an oversight or a stand-alone error but the culmination of a (very) bad plan. In the second time control Bodnaruk did a nice job of converting her advantage, sidestepping a few cute stalemating tricks by Girya.

    So Galliamova wound up in clear second, while Girya finished tied for third with Aleksandra Goryachkina at 5.5/9. Goryachkina had the day's only draw, so the tournament maintained its blistering percentage of winning results to the very end: 80% decisive games, 20% draws. If only that were the case in all top tournaments!

    Sunday
    Dec072014

    Nakamura Wins London Rapid; Giri Second

    The London Chess Classic Super Rapidplay was anyone's tournament through eight rounds, but Hikaru Nakamura took over in the last two rounds. In round 9 he had Black in a tough game against Fabiano Caruana. The position was more or less equal for most of the game, but Caruana got short of time and lost speedily. 46.Nxb3 was a mistake in what was still an equal position, but Caruana probably thought that after 46...axb3 47.Qe3 that he would round up the b-pawn. This was wrong for many reasons, not least due to the game continuation 47...b2 48.Qe1 Rd4 and White resigned. The problem is that 49.Qb1 will not win the pawn on account of 49...Rxe4 50.fxe4 Qf4+ followed by 51...Qc1, or more precisely ...Qc1 when it comes with check. (Thus if 51.g3, first 51...Qd2+ and then 52...Qc1+.)

    Nakamura finished the round in clear first, with only his last round opponent, Viswanathan Anand, within half a point. The opening was a success for Anand: a better, risk-free position with a time advantage to boot. He must have felt that the risk-free approach wouldn't give him any real winning chances, but the way he went about things was rather too crazy, and Nakamura won pretty easily. Nakamura finished with a massive 9.5/10 while Anand and many others finished with 8 points. (Others on that point total included Vladimir Kramnik, Fabiano Caruana, and the American GMs Daniel Naroditsky and Aleks Lenderman.) Anish Giri took clear second with 8.5 points, defeating the semi-unretired British player Matthew Sadler and giving him his only defeat of the tournament.

    A reminder: the blitz tournament to determine the pairings for the six player main event will be tomorrow, which will in turn begin on Wednesday after a rest day.

    Sunday
    Dec072014

    Informant 121: Steadily Staying Strong

    The Chess Informant has had some ups and downs in recent years - happily, more of the former than the latter - and I'm pleased to report that the 121st(!) volume of the series retains the positive momentum of the last issue. Here's the current summary, based on the e-version (which I recommend for those with chess software that can handle PGN files):

    1. The best game of the previous volume (Karjakin-Aronian from the Candidates, in case you were wondering).

    2. The best novelty of the previous volume (Kramnik-Karjakin from the Candidates. In both cases Karjakin was the victim.)

    3. An ECO-style update of theory based on the aforementioned novelty.

    4. A series of relevant games in that same opening variation.

    5. A theoretical article by Alexander Morozevich, this time on the Advance Caro-Kann line 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.h4 h5 5.Bd3.

    6. An article by US grandmaster Sam Shankland, presenting some of the highlights (and occasional struggles) from his great performance at the Tromso Olympiad, where he won his first 7 games on his way to an undefeated 9/10.

    7. The "Magnificent Seven" - seven players from the Tromso Olympiad annotate a total of 24 of their games. Both here and after the Shankland article, there are entries with the full score of games referred to in the players' articles.

    8. Wesley So's Olympic diary. So wasn't there as a player, as he was still in the process of switching from the Philippine to the U.S. chess federation, but he did show up in Tromso as the U.S. team's coach. He annotates 11 games from the event, as well as offering a recap of what took place every round. Again, it's followed by the full score of the various game references included within his main games.

    9. Alexander Ipatov's recap of Magnus Carlsen's triumphs in the world rapid & blitz championships in Dubai. (With added games afterwards, as usual.) Ipatov analyzes 10 games from the double event, including five of Carlsen's.

    10. Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant looks at a similar rapid & blitz event for women played in Khanty-Mansiysk. There are nine games, plus the usual tack-ons.

    11. Vasilios Kotronias concludes his magisterial series on the 2.c3 Sicilian, examining both 5...d6 and especially 5...e6 in reply to 1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nf3.

    12. The traditional focus of the Informant: a series of games (and occasionally game fragments) annotated with language-less symbols. There are 308 in all. For those who haven't seen any of my recent reviews of Informants, all of the previous material has plenty of English-language text. For a long, long time the chess material in the Informant lacked text, but that hasn't been the case for some years.

    13. The tactics section: Even here, there is now text in the solutions. It's like the Informant has founds its way to Oz, and now everything is in color.

    14. Endgames: Once again, with text! Both this section and the one before have nine puzzles apiece for the reader's solving pleasure.

    15. Endgame studies: Nine more, but with no text.

    I'm sure the Informant editorial staff will continue to tinker - hopefully for the better - but I like the current product. It has stuck to its original mission to present the important games from the period it covers (approximately the middle of this year), but it has a nice mix of text-based articles and opening theory too. My preference, which I've mentioned in previous reviews, would be for a bit less of an attempt to appeal to regional tastes (e.g. with the articles by Shankland and So, even though I enjoyed both and thought they were well done) and maybe a bit more theory or something of a more universal and less local appeal. All the same, I'm happy to recommend the Informant to serious players everywhere.

    More info, including purchasing information, here.

    Saturday
    Dec062014

    A Review of Bologan's Black Weapons

    Victor Bologan, Bologan’s Black Weapons in the Open Games: How to Play for a Win if White Avoids the Ruy Lopez. (New In Chess, 2014.) 528 pp. $34.95/€29.95. Reviewed by Dennis Monokroussos.

    Victor Bologan, occasional member of the 2700 club, has been writing opening books on a somewhat regular basis over the past six years or so, and his latest effort is the most useful one yet. Offering a repertoire for Black after 1.e4 e5 against everything but the Ruy Lopez, Bologan’s Black Weapons (BBW) is in a way two books in one, as he offers two systems against practically all of White’s main options. This is a huge plus for a prospective buyer, as it takes into account different styles (one player may prefer a more aggressive option, another the more solid choice, for example) and gives one a backup in case one of the lines is “in the shop” (or worse, in the junkyard).

    To take some examples: Against the King’s Gambit, Bologan offers full repertoires with 2…exf4 3.Nf3 g5 and another with 2…d5 3.exd5 exf4. Against the Italian Game he offers full presentations of both 3…Bc5, the Giuoco Piano, and 3…Nf6, the Two Knights. And against the Scotch both 4…Nf6 and 4…Bc5 are covered in full. This is definitely a plus.

    Another nice organizational feature comes in the Introduction, when Bologan offers what he calls the Very Fast Lane. The book has 57 chapters and is well over 500 pages in length, but for those who are in a hurry and have limited time to get started he suggests a 21-chapter course to get one up and running.

    After the intro but before the analysis itself, there’s a nice 29-page chapter, “Arsenal of Strategic Ideas & Themes”. It begins with a discussion of the many different kinds of pawn structures that arise through the book, then moves on to a long discussion of the pieces. Various typical maneuvers are discussed (one well-known example would be the knight’s transfer from b1 to f1 via d2, and from there to g3 or e3), as well as the importance of this or that piece being on a particular square in a given opening. As many 1.e4 e5 openings are or include gambits, he next discusses various material imbalances, and then the chapter concludes with a look at attacking ideas, themes and motifs.

    Those who may have browsed the book in a hurry may have noticed various typographical oddities. For one thing, there are the “upside-down” diagrams, with Black on the bottom. Some like this, some don’t, but as someone whose initial inclinations tend towards dislike I must confess that after a few minutes it became a non-factor, so if you’re otherwise interested in the book please don’t let that dissuade you. Next, some move numbers are either squared or circled. A square indicates a new move, while a circle means that there are alternatives. (Example: against the Two Knights White can play both 4.Ng5 and 4.d4, so there would be a circle around the “4” preceding both moves.) Another feature: rather than incorporating game references into the text, Bologan provides superscripted numbers sending the reader near the end of the book to find the references. Using endnotes is an unusual practice, but in a way it could prove more useful, as readers can quickly produce a database of games all at once. Finally, pieces in diagrams are sometimes printed as half white and half black. This doesn’t indicate some sort of ambiguity about whose piece it is; rather, it’s intended to indicate that the particular piece is relevant to a given strategic theme. Put differently, one should pay special attention to that piece upon seeing its color divided.

    Each of the regular chapters has some nice features. First, there is the "Fast Lane", a brief discussion of the short cuts a player can take to get his repertoire up and running based on the least amount of the material. The chapter concludes with a list of traps, a summary of the most important transpositions and move order issues, and a list of "Ideas to Remember."

    Having discussed the book's format and its bells and whistles, let's dig into a bit of detail. Parimarjan Negi is a strong young Indian grandmaster who has recently released a DVD on the Scotch for ChessBase; let's see who seems to have the better of things at the point where their works intersect.

    1. Scotch with 4…Bc5, 5.Nb3.

    Our first point of intersection comes after 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5 5.Nb3 Bb6 6.Nc3 Nf6 7.Qe2 0-0 8.Bg5 h6 9.Bh4 a5 10.0-0-0 a4 11.Nd2. Here both authors get points. Bologan gives "11...a3 (11...Bd4 is also good) 12.e5!? axb2+ 13.Kb1, after which GM Ivan Ivanisevic suggests (in Chess Informant) the following line: 13...Bd4! 14.exf6 Bxc3 15.Ne4 Bd4 16.Qh5! Ra5! 17.Bb5 and now, instead of 17...Re8 (which is equal), the right move is 17...Qe8, with the idea 18.fxg7 Qe6! with counterplay." (And an advantage, according to the computer.) His 11...Bd4 goes to an endnote referring to the game Cornette-Tkachiev, Nancy 2013. (No moves from the game are given; it's just a reference for readers to look up on their own.)

    Negi mentions 11...Bd4 as well, and offers an important improvement over Cornette's play. After 12.Nb5 a3 Negi suggests 13.bxa3 rather than Cornette's 13.Nc4, and after 13...Re8 14.Nxd4 Nxd5 15.Qd3 c5 16.c3 Nc6 17.f4 the position is a total mess with approximately equal chances. Negi is fair to both sides.

    As for 11...a3, Negi gives 12.e5 axb2+ 13.Kb1 but now instead of Ivanisevic's/Bologan's 13...Bd4 he only offers the more obvious but inferior 13...Nd5, which is punished by 14.Nxd5 Qxh4 15.Ne4, with a clear advantage for White. (His line goes on a bit longer, but features rather cooperative play for Black on the way to a white massacre.)

    So both works have their pluses when it comes to this variation, but the player following Bologan's main line with Black will be better prepared and in better shape, theoretically speaking, than the player using Negi for White in this particular variation. Let me add that anyone who plays either side of that line without doing some computer analysis first is a bit crazy.

    Also, while it's not part of the officially "theoretical" part of Negi's DVD, he covers another sub-line that is relevant to BBW. After 9...a5, White can also play 10.a4 as in the game Carlsen-Bacrot, Nanjing 2010. Negi gives this as an illustrative game, and it continued 10...Nd4 11.Qd3 Nxb3 12.cxb3 Re8 13.0-0-0 d6 14.Qc2 and although Black is probably still okay here his position is under pressure, and White went on to win a very nice game. Bologan offers some reasonably deep coverage of ...c6 on moves 12 and 13, and makes a good case for its sufficiency.

    2. Scotch with 4...Bc5 5.Be3 and 5.Nxc6.

    There's no contest in either case, as both works look at these lines from Black's perspective and offer different repertoire suggestions. In the first case, Negi covers the main line 5.Be3 Qf6 6.c3 Nge7 7.Bc4 Ne5 8.Be2 Qg6 etc., while Bologan's advocates 7...0-0 8.0-0 b6 (dubbed the "Cuban Variation" in honor of GM Walter Arencibia's early adoption of the line) instead. The situation with 5.Nxc6 is reversed: this time it's Bologan who goes for the absolute main line with 5...Qf6, while Negi proposes the considerably rarer 5...bxc6. (Interestingly, both authors give their choices an exclamation point.)

    3. Scotch with 4…Nf6.

    Lots of overlap here. We start with the position after 4...Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.c4 Nb6 9.Nc3, and now there's material with both 9...Qe6 and 9...Bb7.

    9...Qe6 10.Qe4 d5 11.exd6 and here Bologan and Negi agree that Black is worse after 11...cxd6 12.Bd3; in fact, Bologan gives plenty of analysis in support of this conclusion. Of course, this means Bologan is going to propose something else, and he does: 11...Qxe4+. Bologan's analysis of this move looks plausible but not exhaustive, and if he's right then Black can cut out a lot of homework with the relatively minor 10...d5 line.

    9...Bb7 10.Bd2 and now there's a last division between 10...0-0-0 and 10...g6. To cut the review a bit short and to not start worrying about whether I'm violating "fair use" with respect to Negi's material, at least in spirit, I'll note that in both cases it's Negi who varies first, so his followers will have the advantage of surprise this time against the Bologanites. However, it may be a semi-Pyrrhic victory, as the computer thinks Black is at least equal throughout his analysis of 10...0-0-0 and at the end of the 10...g6 line. The latter instance was probably just a bit of carelessness on Negi's part, as White does seem to gain an advantage with his recommendation, but he goes wrong a few moves in (with 14.f3, if you have the disc).

    In sum then, I think that with the exception of very last line - one Bologan's repertoire allows one to avoid in at least three ways - BBW comes out looking at least as good and often better than Negi's DVD on lines where their repertoires compete and overlap. As I've been impressed by Negi's work in general, that's a real endorsement of Bologan's work.

    In conclusion, it's a fine book and well worth having for almost anyone who plays either side of the 1.e4 e5 openings, except when they have to explain to non-chess players that they are not holding a manual on the occult. Highly recommended to players around 1700 all the way up.

    Saturday
    Dec062014

    London Chess Classic, Rapid Tournament: Six Lead At The Halfway Point

    There haven't been any intra-super-GM battles yet in the rapid tournament before the main event, but they'll start in tomorrow's action. Right now there are six players with perfect 5-0 scores. In rating order, they are Hikaru Nakamura, Fabiano Caruana, Vladimir Kramnik, Matthew Sadler, David Howell and Anish Giri.

    If that ordering made you say "What?!", just wait, it gets weirder. This is, as noted in the title and in the first sentence of the post, a rapid tournament. So, of course, obviously, they are using blitz ratings. This is an odd decision, and one would suspect that it's even illegal with respect to the FIDE laws of chess. I've seen tournament directors and arbiters do some boneheaded things over the years, but I'm guessing that there's a non-crazy explanation. Maybe many of the amateurs had blitz ratings but not rapid ratings, so they decided to use the former for pairing purposes.

    Anyway, four of the main event players are included in the 5-0 scores, and the other two, Viswanathan Anand and Michael Adams, are among the seven players with 4.5. They did not draw against each other, but were partially upset by lesser lights. There were plenty of upsets in the tournament, and many more near-upsets. To take maybe the most amazing instance, Nakamura was absolutely busted in round 4 against IM James Adair. He blundered a piece on move 8 (or, if you prefer, goofed things up on move 6 and decided that chucking the piece two moves later was the best practical try, though I'm skeptical of that explanation) and remained completely lost for a good long while. Nakamura is nothing if not a great fighter though, and on move 38 Adair had a choice. He was behind on the clock, but still had enough time to work out one of the following tactical solutions:

    (1) 38.Ne5+ Bxe5 39.dxe5 f3+ 40.Ke1 f2+ 41.Kxf2 Rd2+ 42.Kg3 f4+ 43.Kh3 Rd8 44.Kg4 Rh8 45.Kxf4 Kd7 46.Kxe4 with a routine win.

    (2) 38.Nh4 Rxd4 39.h8Q f3+ 40.Nxf3 exf3+ 41.Kxf3 Rf4+ 42.Kg2 Rg4+ 43.Kf1 Bxh2 44.Qxh2 with a win...maybe. Black might be able to construct a fortress, and while I wouldn't bet on it it's clear that White would have a difficult time breaking Black's position down under the time constraints of a rapid game.

    Unfortunately for Adair, he chose door #3, 38.Nxf4, which was only good for a draw...with correct play. Two moves later he chose the wrong reply to a check, going for 40.Ke1 rather than 40.Kf1, and lost. A real pity for Adair.

    Another unfortunate was IM Ali Mortazavi, who had been lost against Caruana but had fought his way to a massive opportunity. On move 38 (again!) he could have won with 38.fxg6 (an obvious move to make in any case) 38...hxg6 39.Rxg6+!, and here Black is dead: 39...Kxg6 40.Bh3+ Kh~ 41.Qxf8 (if nothing else) and White will mate or win the house.

    Adams was another fortunate escapee in round 3. IM James Cobb was winning in an exchange-up ending, but in time trouble first let the win slip (with the very natural 54.Kxf5; 54.h5! was the move) and then the draw (on move 58). Chess can be a cruel game, as we all know.

    Event website here, results table here, games here.

    Saturday
    Dec062014

    Russian Championship: Igor Lysyj Leads With A Round To Go

    It's certainly a surprise, but Igor Lysyj is the deserved leader of the Russian Championship with one round to go; Dmitry Jakovenko and Ian Nepomniachtchi are half a point behind. Lysyj was the sole leader after round 1 and in a big tie for first after four rounds, but normally one wouldn't have expected him to remain in that perch with so many (considerably) higher-rated and more experienced GMs in the field. So much for expectations: Lysyj added to his wins in rounds 1 and 4 with wins in rounds 5 and 6 to boot! In round 7 he lost to Vadim Zvaginsev from a position where he was close to a draw, but there were still a few problems to solve and he didn't quite manage. Nevertheless, after a draw today with Nepomniachtchi he remains in the lead.

    He'll have Black in the last round against Boris Grachev, while Jakovenko will have Black against Denis (sic) Khismatullin and Nepomniachtchi gets White against Nikita Vitiugov. I'm not sure what the tiebreak/playoff situation will be in case of a tie, but since Lysyj has both won more games and has won more games with Black than either of his rivals, I assume they would favor him.

    In the women's championship Alisa Galliamova and Valentina Gunina are tied for first with 6-2 scores with Olga Girya half a point behind. Gunina's route to the top was rather unusual: she lost her first two games and then won the next six! Given the fate of the last two players with six-game winning streaks, we can assume she'll lose in the last round tomorrow, when she happens to play none other than Galliamova herself. Galliamova will have the white pieces. In the other potentially crucial game, Girya will have Black, but her opponent is near-tailender Anastasia Bodnaruk, so if a draw occurs between the six-pointers a three-way tie seems likely. Speaking of draws, though, they have been quite scarce in the tournament: only eight games out of 40 have finished peacefully, and three of those draws were in round seven.

    Saturday
    Dec062014

    London Chess Classic: Rapid Play Event Starts Today (Saturday)

    The six super-GM invitees to the London Chess Classic are Fabiano Caruana, Viswanathan Anand, Vladimir Kramnik, Anish Giri, Hikaru Nakamura and Michael Adams, and they will be playing in three events with three different time controls. The first is a 10-round rapid tournament over the weekend, and that's an open event with not only other professionals but even amateurs participating. That starts about five hours from now, at 6 a.m. ET/1 p.m. local time in London. Come Monday, they'll play in a blitz event to determine the pairing numbers for the classical tournament, which will start on Wednesday and run a round a day through the tournament's end next Sunday.

    Fun questions to ask: will Caruana manage to stay ahead of Magnus Carlsen on the rapid rating list? (He currently tops the list, but only by three rating points.) Will Anand continue his generally strong play from this year, or will he be deflated from the loss to Carlsen? And will he feel some extra motivation to "punish" Adams for the latter's being one of Carlsen's secret seconds? How will Kramnik and Giri fare on the heels of their play in Qatar? The answers are coming soon...

    Thursday
    Dec042014

    Yu Yangyi Wins Qatar Masters, Leapfrogging Kramnik Who Leapfrogged Giri

    The last three rounds of the Qatar Masters Open were exceptionally dramatic, with each leader falling to the next. After six rounds Anish Giri led with a perfect 6/6 a point ahead of Vladimir Kramnik who had won his last four games after drawing his first two. Kramnik played Giri and won in impressive fashion (aside from an immediately forgiven fingerfehler in the opening) to catch him at 6/7. In the penultimate round Kramnik defeated the overperforming Saleh Salem with the black pieces, while Giri lost again, with White, to Yu Yangyi.

    In round six Yu could have been out of the first place hunt, as he was a bit worse out of the opening against Alex Lenderman and for quite a while had nothing, but a bit at a time he outplayed the American GM and won that game. After the win against Giri he entered the round half a point behind Kramnik, and here he had a little bit of luck that arose because of Kramnik's prior good luck. When Kramnik played Giri in round 7 he was due for Black, but because Giri was too and his color equalization took priority (due to his higher score at the time) Kramnik got a second straight white for that crucial game. When the last round rolled around Kramnik was due for the white pieces, but so was Yu, and although Kramnik had the higher score entering the round his excess white game earlier flipped it around.

    So Yu got the advantage of the first move, and pretty decisively manhandled Kramnik in a 4.d3 Berlin. Kramnik's 13...g6, 15...b5, 19...f5 and especially and finally 20...gxf5 created a large number of potential weaknesses, and the 20-year-old Chinese talent harvested just about all of them. When Kramnik resigned on move 33 he was down four pawns and likely to lose his stranded knight as well. It was an amazingly one-sided victory - I wouldn't be surprised to lose like that to a 2700, but it's remarkable to see it happen to Kramnik.

    Meanwhile, Giri bounced back with a wild last-round win over Vladimir Akopian, and he and Kramnik split the 2nd-3rd place money, with Giri officially taking second on tiebreaks. A great result for Yu Yangyi, who also had the best performance rating at the Olympiad and made it to "Millionaire Monday" in Las Vegas as well. The young guys (quite a few of whom are from China) are taking over!

    Monday
    Dec012014

    Russian Championship: Four Lead After Four Rounds

    After four rounds of the Russian Championship the field remains closely packed, with just one point separating first and last place. Alexander Morozevich was the sole leader after three rounds with 2.5/3, but in round 4 he lost to Igor Lysyj (who led alone after round 1 and shared first after round 2 before a swift defeat by Dmitry Jakovenko in round 3). They share first, as do Jakovenko (thanks to the aforementioned win, plus three draws) and Ian Nepomniachtchi (three draws, plus the win on time - in a winning position - against Sergey Karjakin in round 2).

    Five rounds remain, so there's all to play for.