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    Sunday
    Oct192014

    Corsica Underway With Viswanathan Anand and Hou Yifan

    In Corsica a rapid (15' + 3") knockout event is underway. Viswanathan Anand and Hou Yifan were invited, while the other 14 players earned their spots by their performance in a qualifying tournament immediately preceding the k.o. Anand is the top seed by a considerable margin, Ivan Saric (2678) is second, and then Hou Yifan and Sergey Fedorchuk are the third and fourth seeds, respectively, both sporting ratings of 2673. (Of course, they should use their rapid ratings rather than their classical ones, but if the players don't mind there's no reason why I should.)

    In these events the pairings always begin with the top seed playing the bottom one, #2 playing the second from the bottom seed, and so on. At the start the top players are generally huge favorites, but although Anand easily dispatched his 2376-rated IM opponent 2-0 and Saric also won 2-0, both Hou and Fedorchuk opened their matches by losing with White against mid-2400 rated opposition! Not to fear: both won the rematch and then blanked their opponents 2-0 in the added blitz games.

    The top four won't play each other tomorrow, but if they all win in the quarter-finals Anand will play Fedorchuk and Saric will play Hou on Tuesday.

    Sunday
    Oct192014

    Viswanathan Anand Interviews

    Here and here, with a hat tip for both to Srini Ramiah. The ex-champ seems to have a good mindset going into the rematch, so we can at least hope for a more competitive battle this time around.

    Sunday
    Oct192014

    Ken Regan's TEDxBuffalo Talk

    It was live a few days ago, but in case you didn't get the chance then and want to see it now, here you go: this link will take you straight to his spot at the conference.

    Sunday
    Oct192014

    Unive, Day 6: Giri and Jobava Both Win 4.5-1.5 over Shirov and Timman, Respectively

    It was a good week for the higher-rated youngsters against their "seasoned" opponents, as both Anish Giri and Baadur Jobava won their matches with undefeated +3 scores. When we left off after round 4, Giri was up two and Jobava up one, so it's clear that the last rounds didn't go well for the veterans.

    Both matches were decided in round five. For Shirov, it was decided in a surprisingly negative way: with White he went down a well-known theoretical path to a perpetual check - he just gave up! This uncharacteristic move on his part sealed match victory for Giri, who did not return the favor in round 6. But we'll get back to that later. Timman-Jobava was much more exciting, with Timman offering a rook and then a knight in pursuit of an attack. It was creative; unfortunately, his best opportunities had come earlier in the game, and by this point Jobava had the advantage. He defended well enough and eventually converted his extra exchange.

    In the final round, the youngsters won twice. Giri and Shirov engaged in a heavyweight theoretical battle in the Sveshnikov Sicilian. My surmise is that Giri had everything prepared until around move 30, by which point Shirov was simply lost. (That's not as implausible as you might think, considering that Shirov's novelty only came at move 25 in a very well-traveled line, and as that novelty was the computer's top choice there's little reason to think Giri hadn't examined it beforehand.) The youngster simply prepared better, and nowadays that can be enough. As for Timman, his 17...d5 was a dubious decision, inviting a strong exchange sacrifice. After that Timman could hope for no more than a draw if he could successfully grovel, and that was not to be.

    Event site here, games with comments here.

    Sunday
    Oct192014

    FSU 31, Notre Dame 27

    The pain, the pain!! Notre Dame came about as close to winning as possible, down to having first and goal at the end of the game and then having a game-winning touchdown taken back on a penalty. Argh!!!!!! Florida State was a good opponent though, and one can't say that they were lucky; just the winners of a great battle.

    Record so far: 6-1.

    Next victim: Navy (in two weeks).

    Tune time.

    Saturday
    Oct182014

    Notre Dame to Chop the Seminoles Tonight

    Notre Dame is ranked #5 in the college football polls, and today is their day to go up - way up. First, the absurdly overrated team that was #4 lost earlier today; second, Notre Dame gets to smash the #2 team, Florida State, tonight at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. After the win it's likely we'll be #1 and if not #2 is guaranteed.

    Saturday
    Oct182014

    Garry Kasparov and Anish Giri?!

    Yesterday's mail brought the final installment of the helpfully titled Garry Kasparov's Garry Kasparov on Garry Kasparov* (Part III: 1993-2005). This will not be Dennis Monokroussos on Garry Kasparov's Garry Kasparov on Garry Kasparov, by Dennis Monokroussos, however. Instead, I want to report on an intriguing tidbit at the very end of the main section of the book and see if anyone can supply further details.

    On page 460, Kasparov (incidentally also the author of the Garry Kasparov on My Great Predecessors* series) offers a short summary of his activities since retiring from professional chess, and begins one paragraph thusly: "From time to time I have worked on chess with the young stars - Carlsen, Nakamura, Giri..."

    This gives rise to a double "Hmm". Everyone who has been around chess the past five years or so knows about his partnerships with Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura, but this is the first I recall hearing about his working with Anish Giri. Kasparov (surprisingly also the author of the series Garry Kasparov on Modern Chess*) has done lots of little camps for juniors in the United States and elsewhere, and while I'm sure they've proved valuable on many levels for the campers I would be surprised if Giri's inclusion in the very short list above was due to that very limited sort of collaboration. But does anyone have any further information?

    Second, I know that Russian language writers tend to overuse the ellipsis, but as he doesn't use them elsewhere on the page when detailing his activities, I wonder if he's hinting at anything. Is there someone else he's working with now whose identity is a secret? Is someone on his radar? Maybe he's just open to the possibility down the line of further proteges, or - going full circle - it's just a stylistic quirk.

    * While I'm mocking the titles of all three series, the 12 books they comprise are interesting and important. If you're a fan of chess history or an aspiring player, they're pretty close to must-haves.

    Saturday
    Oct182014

    One Round Left in the World Junior Championships

    The World Junior Championships aren't as prestigious as they once were, as the absolute top juniors nowadays are strong enough to play in events where they'll be paid quite handsomely for their appearance, and probably prefer to avoid the risk to their rating and reputation that such an event entails. Still, the tournament remains very strong and often interesting for those whose countries are well-represented in the event. (This is not the case for the U.S. this year.)

    The girls' event is a runaway for the top seed, Aleksandra Goryachkina of Russian, who has 10.5/12 and has clinched the title with a round to go.

    The boys'/open event is another story. Chinese prodigy Wei Yi led the field by half a point after 11 rounds, but after losing in the penultimate round he's part of a four-way tie for first with 9/12 with Lu Shanglei, Vladimir Fedoseev and Jan-Krzysztof Duda, and Kamil Dragun has 8.5 points.

    There's a nice report on rounds 10 and 11, with a bit on round 12 as well, here.

    Thursday
    Oct162014

    Coming Even Sooner: The FIDE Grand Prix Comes to Tashkent

    The first tournament of the new FIDE Grand Prix cycle finished a few days ago, and next Monday many of the same players will start all over again in the second Grand Prix tournament, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Here's the line-up this time around:

    • Fabiano Caruana (2839)
    • Anish Giri (2774)
    • Sergey Karjakin (2770)
    • Hikaru Nakamura (2767)
    • Boris Gelfand (2759)*
    • Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2757)
    • Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (2750)
    • Dmitri Jakovenko (2747)
    • Teimour Radjabov (2730)
    • Dmitry Andreikin (2717)
    • Baadur Jobava (2715)
    • Rustam Kasimdzhanov (2709)

    The asterisk after Gelfand's name and rating indicates that there's a bit of a problem, since he's playing in the Petrosian Memorial the same day this tournament finishes. (Or the day after, in case November 3 is the date of the opening ceremony of the latter event.) I'm wondering, but do not know, if the recent and highly commendable decision by FIDE to scrub the proposal to hold the third Grand Prix tournament in Tehran and move it to Tbilisi accounts for this. By moving that one, it gives Gelfand the ability to play there rather than in Tashkent, and then there wouldn't be any conflict or crazy back-to-back issue for him to deal with.

    It should be a fun tournament and a nice lead into the world championship next month. And who knows - if Caruana plays at the top of his level it might suck some more of the air out of the Anand-Carlsen match.

    Thursday
    Oct162014

    Coming Soon: The Petrosian Memorial in Moscow

    The Tashir International Chess Tournament, held as a memorial to the late Tigran Petrosian (1929-1984), the 9th world chess champion (1963-1969) and a candidate or better in every cycle from 1953 to 1981, will begin November 3 in Moscow. It will be an eight-player round robin, with the following participants:

     

    • Levon Aronian (2797)
    • Alexander Grischuk (2795)
    • Vladimir Kramnik (2760)
    • Boris Gelfand (2759)
    • Peter Leko (2731)
    • Ding Liren (2730)
    • Alexander Morozevich (2724)
    • Ernesto Inarkiev (2672 - his participation is explained here)

     

    It will be interesting to have this tournament running alongside the world championship match, which opens November 7, and it puts paid to the rumors that Kramnik will be assisting Viswanathan Anand - at least as a live second. (I wouldn't rule out the possibility that he has given him some advice and maybe an idea or two.) This is a very strong event, but it could have been even stronger. Where's Fabiano Caruana? What about Hikaru Nakamura, Anish Giri and Sergey Karjakin? Stay tuned....