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    Monday
    Apr142014

    Nakamura Interview

    Here's a wide-ranging interview, closing with a few comments about Vugar Gashimov and the memorial tournament in his honor starting in a few days.

    (HT: Jaideep Unudurti)

    Monday
    Apr142014

    Kramnik Interview

    Here you will find a bit about the 2014 Candidates, a look towards the 2016 Candidates (assuming Vladimir Kramnik gets there!), and (from Anand's side of things) an optimistic and intriguing look towards the Carlsen rematch later this year.

    (HT: Brian Karen)

    Saturday
    Apr122014

    Chess on TV and In The Movies

    Reader Kevin Connelly wrote in to say that while TV surfing this morning he came across an episode ("Knight Errant") of the old western series "The Rifleman" in which chess played a major role, and recalled an episode of Kojak where a Fischer-like character kills one reminiscent of Botvinnik.

    I know there have been various lists and summaries of chess in the movies (here and here, for instance), but are there any good summaries of chess on TV?

    Saturday
    Apr122014

    Anand On The Candidates

    "Our" India correspondent, Jaideep Unudurti, has interviewed ex-champ and newly minted challenger Viswanathan Anand yet again - and has kindly informed us of it as well. In it Anand discusses the high and low points of the recent Candidates' tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk, exulting in his wins and expressing his dismay about the missed wins against Dmitry Andreikin in round 12 and the tension of the battle with Sergey Karjakin in round 13.

    A place where I might tentatively disagree with Anand is with his self-assessment regarding his pragmatism. He noted that Magnus Carlsen referred to him as "pragmatic", but Anand states that his only decision of that kind came at the end of the last Andreikin game, when he went for a repetition instead of a complicated but winning variation. But I would add to this his avoiding 20...Rxf2 against Peter Svidler in round 7. There are some complications, but they are well within Anand's capacity to navigate. If Anand's orientation was a bit less on the safe and pragmatic side I suspect he would have pushed himself to work through the lines to the end; I've seen him calculate far more complex lines when the situation dictated it.

    But enough conjecture: have a look at the interview, and let's wait to see if Anand plays increasingly bold and confident chess as the year goes on.

    Saturday
    Apr122014

    Bundesliga Finale

    The latest Bundesliga season ended last weekend, with Baden-Baden winning for about the 30th time in a row. (Okay, it was only their ninth consecutive title. Other teams had better find rich benefactors if they hope to break this strangehold.) Levon Aronian was the special guest star helping push them over the edge to victory, scoring 2.5/3 over the final weekend to not only help them but himself as well as he aimed to recover from a poor finish at the Candidates.

    More about that here, but I'd like to focus on Anatoly Karpov's surprise appearance. He played a couple of games, drawing with the lower-rated Felix Graf before defeating the 2664-rated Maxim Rodshtein in his second game, and with the black pieces. You can replay those games here, and I would especially draw your attention to Graf's unusual drawing combination in the first game. Most sacrifices involve captures - think of bishop sacrifices on h6 and h7, for example - but sometimes a piece is moved to an empty square. It's even rarer to have the first sac accepted only to have a second empty-square sacrifice on the next move, but that's just what Graf did. There are probably other examples of this happening, but I'm unable to recall any offhand. If you can think of some other examples, please share them with us!

    Monday
    Apr072014

    FIDE's Latest Effort To Ruin Ratings

    FIDE is introducing online rated play, which is a fantastic idea because no one would ever cheat in an online game, right? Great. I wonder how long it will be before some unknown player reaches 3000.

    (HT: Ross Hytnen)

    Sunday
    Apr062014

    Simul Roundup

    The simul (and preceding lecture) mentioned a few days ago took place yesterday and went very well. Bob Banta and the attending members of the Deadwood Chess Club treated me with great hospitality, and I can enthusiastically recommend the club to players in and around Indianapolis.

    We didn't manage to fill all 30 seats, but 22 players gave me a good workout, and several more attended the lecture and watched the simul. There were at least a couple of kids who might just be a year or two away from being scary, and there were some pretty solid adult players like Doug Todd, who definitely gave me my toughest game. Unfortunately, three of the strongest players expected to show had other commitments at that time, but if the club invites me back in the future I hope one or more of them will show and try to rough me up over the chess board.

    There weren't any brilliancies, unfortunately. As is usually the case in simuls, most games come down to technique. The simul-giver's general knowledge often leads to some sorts of static gains - a better structure, a won pawn, etc. - and then it's a matter of rounding up the point without allowing counterplay or having a tactical accident. Some of the games are instructive for younger or less experienced players trying to develop their technique, but I didn't play anything even slightly reminiscent of some of the masterpieces Alekhine conjured up in his simuls. (Maybe next time, with a little good fortune.)

    Anyhow, thanks again to Bob, and I hope the club grows and thrives!

    Wednesday
    Apr022014

    Silman on Alekhine

    This is the final installment of a seven-part series on Alexander Alekhine by Jeremy Silman over on chess.com. The series is interesting for its chess content, but this particular part is more important for its discussion of the anti-Semitic articles written by Alekhine during the Second World War. Silman's discussion is thoughtful and charitable, and to my mind goes a long way towards clearing this significant stain on the former champion's reputation. It's pretty close to a must-read for anyone with an interest in chess history.

    Wednesday
    Apr022014

    Anand on Indian TV

    His confidence is back, or so the ex-world champion and new challenger Viswanathan Anand says in this interview. Confidence by itself won't be enough to unseat Magnus Carlsen, but without it I don't think he'd have a chance. So it, together with his newly regained good form and his always excellent preparation, ought to give him better chances this November than he had going into the match last year. We'll see!

    Wednesday
    Apr022014

    Recent Rapid Results

    Here's a quick note about two recent rapid tournaments - there has been some high-level action outside of the Candidates. (Not much, maybe, but some.)

    First, Vassily Ivanchuk won the Latvian Railway Rapid Open with an incredible 13 out of 14. He won his first nine games, drew two, and then won his last three to win the tournament by three full points.

    Second, Alexei Shirov and Yuriy Kuzubov were leading the 5th Chebanenco Rapid Open with a round to go, but both lost and Viktor Bologan wound up the clear winner with 7/9. (Appropriately, I suppose, as he was one of Chebanenko's [sic] students.)