Links

This form does not yet contain any fields.
    1948 World Chess Championship 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 Russian Team Championship 2015 Sinquefield Cup 2015 U.S. Championship 2015 Women's World Championship KO 2015 World Open 2015 World Team Championships 2016 Chess Olympiad 2016 World Championship 2018 Chess Olympiad 22014 Sinquefield Cup 22014 U.S. Championship 60 Minutes A. Muzychuk A. Sokolov aattacking chess Abby Marshall Accelerated Dragon ACP Golden Classic Adams Aeroflot 2010 Aeroflot 2011 Aeroflot 2012 Aeroflot 2013 Aeroflot 2015 Agrest Akiba Rubinstein Akiva Rubinstein Akobian Alejandro Ramirez Alekhine Alekhine Defense Aleksander Lenderman Alekseev Alena Kats Alex Markgraf Alexander Alekhine Alexander Grischuk Alexander Ipatov Alexander Khalifman Alexander Moiseenko Alexander Morozevich Alexander Onischuk Alexander Stripunsky Alexander Tolush Alexandra Kosteniuk Alexei Dreev Alexei Shirov Alexey Bezgodov Almasi Amber 2010 Amber 2011 Amos Burn Anand Anand-Carlsen 2013 Anand-Gelfand 2012 Anand-Gelfand World Championship Match Anand-Topalov 2010 Anastasia Bodnaruk Anatoly Karpov Andrei Volokitin Andrew Martin Andrew Paulson Android apps Anish Giri Anna Ushenina Anna Zatonskih Anti-Marshall Lines Anti-Moscow Gambit Anti-Sicilians Antoaneta Stefanova Anton Korobov apps April Fool's Jokes Archangelsk Variation Arkadij Naiditsch Arne Moll Aron Nimzowitsch Aronian Aronian-Kramnik 2012 Arthur van de Oudeweetering Artur Yusupov Astrakhan Grand Prix 2010 attack attacking chess Austrian Attack Averbakh Baadur Jobava Bacrot Baku Grand Prix 2014 Baltic Defense Bangkok Chess Club Open Bazna 2011 Becerra Beliavsky Ben Feingold Benko Gambit Bent Larsen Berlin Defense Biel 2012 Biel 2014 Biel 2015 Bilbao 2010 Bilbao 2012 Bilbao 2013 Bilbao Chess 2014 bishop endings Bishop vs. Knight Blackburne blindfold chess blitz blitz chess Blumenfeld Gambit blunders Bob Hope Bobby Fischer Bogo-Indian Bologan Book Reviews books Boris Gelfand Boris Spassky Borislav Ivanov Borki Predojevic Boruchovsky Botvinnik Botvinnik Memorial Branimiir Maksimovic Breyer Variation brilliancy British Championship Bronstein Bronznik Brooklyn Castle Browne Brunello Budapest Bundesliga California Chess Reporter Camilla Baginskaite Campomanes Candidates 2011 Candidates 2011 Candidates 2012 Candidates 2013 Candidates 2014 Capablanca Carlsen Caro-Kann cartoons Caruana Catalan Cebalo Charlie Rose cheating Cheparinov chess and education chess and marketing chess books chess cartoons chess engines chess history chess in fiction chess in film Chess Informant chess lessons chess psychology chess ratings chess strategy chess variants Chess24 Chess960 ChessBase DVDs ChessBase Shows ChessLecture Presentations ChessLecture.com ChessUSA ChessUSA blog ChessVibes ChessVideos Presentations Chigorin Variation Chinese Chess Championship Christiansen Christmas Colin Crouch Colle combinations Commentary computer chess computers correspondence chess Corsica Cyrus Lakdawala Danailov Daniel Parmet Daniil Dubov Danzhou Dave MacEnulty Dave Vigorito David Howell David MacEnulty David Navara Davies Deep Blue Deeper Blue defense Dejan Antic Delchev Denis Khismatullin Ding Liren Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam Dmitry Andreikin Dmitry Gurevich Dmitry Jakovenko Dominic Lawson Dortmund 2010 Dortmund 2011 Dortmund 2012 Dortmund 2012 Dortmund 2013 Dortmund 2014 Dortmund 2015 Doug Hyatt Dragoljub Velimirovic draws dreams Dreev Dunning-Kruger Effect Dutch Defense DVD Reviews DVDs Dvoirys Dvoretsky Easter Edouard Efimenko Efstratios Grivas endgame studies endgames Endgames English Opening Erwin L'Ami Esserman Etienne Bacrot European Championship 2015 European Club Cup 2012 European Club Cup 2014 European Individual Championship 2012 Evgeni Vasiukov Evgeny Najer Evgeny Sveshnikov Evgeny Tomashevsky Exchange Ruy Fabiano Caruana Falko Bindrich farce FIDE Grand Prix FIDE Presidential Election FIDE ratings Fier fighting for the initiative Finegold Fischer football Francisco Vallejo Pons Fred Reinfeld French Defense Ftacnik Gadir Guseinov Gajewski Gaprindashvili Garry Kasparov Gashimov Gata Kamsky Gelfand Gelfand-Svidler Rapid Match Geller Geneva Masters Georg Meier GGarry Kasparov Gibraltar 2011 Gibraltar 2012 Gibraltar 2013 Gibraltar 2014 Gibraltar 2015 Giri Grand Prix 2014-2015 Grand Prix Attack Greek Gift sacrifice Grenke Chess Classic 2013 Grenke Chess Classic 2015 Grinfeld Grischuk Grob Gruenfeld Defense Grünfeld Defense Gulko Gunina Guseinov Gustafsson Gyula Sax Hannes Langrock Hans Ree Harika Dronavalli Hastings Hawaii International Festival Haworth Hedgehog Hennig-Schara Gambit Henrique Mecking HHou Yifan highway robbery Hikaru Nakamura Hilton Hjorvar Gretarsson Hort Horwitz Bishops Hou Yifan Houdini Houdini 1.5a Howard Staunton humor Humpy Koneru Ian Nepomniachtchi Icelandic Gambit Igor Kurnosov Igor Lysyj Iljumzhinov Ilya Nyzhnyk Imre Hera Informant Informant 113 Informant 114 Informant 115 Informant 116 Informant 117 Informant 118 Informant 119 Informant 120 Informant 121 Informant 122 Informant 124 insanity Inside Chess Magazine Ippolito IQP Irina Krush Ivan Sokolov Ivanchuk J. Polgar Jacob Aagaard Jaenisch Jaideep Unudurti Jakovenko James Tarjan Jan Gustafsson Jan Timman Jay Whitehead Jeffery Xiong Jeremy Silman Jimmy Quon Joe Benjamin John Burke John Grefe John Watson Jon Lenchner Jon Ludwig Hammer Jonathan Hawkins Jonathan Speelman Jose Diaz Ju Wenjun Judit Polgar Julio Granda Zuniga Kaidanov Kalashnikov Sicilian Kamsky Karjakin Karpov Karsten Mueller Kasimdzhanov Kasparov Kavalek Ken Regan Keres KGB Khalifman Khanty-Mansiysk Grand Prix Kim Commons king and pawn endings King's Gambit King's Indian King's Tournament 2010 Kings Tournament 2012 Kirsan Ilyumzhinov KKing's Gambit KKing's Indian Klovans Komodo Korchnoi Kramnik Kunin Larry Evans Larry Kaufman Larry Parr Lasker Lasker-Pelikan Latvian Gambit Laznicka Le Quang Liem Leinier Dominguez Leko Leonid Kritz lessons Lev Psakhis Levon Aronian Lilienthal Linares 2010 Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu Loek van Wely Lombardy London 2009 London 2010 London 2011 London Grand Prix London System Lothar Schmid Luke McShane Macieja Magnus Carlsen Main Line Ruy Malakhov Malcolm Pein Mamedyarov Marc Arnold Marc Lang Marin Mariya Muzychuk Mark Crowther Mark Dvoretsky Mark Taimanov Marshall Marshall Gambit Masters of the Chessboard Mateusz Bartel Max Euwe Maxime Vachier-Lagrave McShane Mega 2012 mental malfunction Mesgen Amanov Michael Adams Miguel Najdorf Mikhail Botvinnik Mikhail Tal Mikhalchishin Miles Minev miniatures Miso Cebalo MModern Benoni Modern Modern Benoni Moiseenko Morozevich Morphy Movsesian Müller music Nadareishvili Naiditsch Najdorf Sicilian Nakamura Nanjing 2010 Natalia Pogonina Navara Negi Neo-Archangelsk Nepomniachtchi New In Chess Yearbook 104 New York Times NH Tournament 2010 Nigel Short Nikita Vitiugov Nimzo-Indian NNotre Dame football Norway Chess 2013 Norway Chess 2014 Norway Chess 2015 Notre Dame basketball Notre Dame football Notre Dame Football Nov. 2009 News Nyback Nyzhnyk Olympics 2010 Open Ruy opening advice opening novelties Openings openings Or Cohen P.H. Nielsen Parimarjan Negi Paris Grand Prix passed pawns Paul Keres Paul Morphy Pavel Eljanov pawn endings pawn play pawn structures Pentala Harikrishna Pesotskyi Peter Heine Nielsen Peter Leko Peter Svidler Petroff Philadelphia Open Philidor's Defense Phiona Mutesi Pirc Piterenka Rapid/Blitz Polgar Polgar sisters Polugaevsky Ponomariov Ponziani Potkin poultry Powerbook 2011 problems progressive chess QGD Tartakower QQueen's Gambit Accepted queen sacrifices Queen's Gambit Accepted Queen's Gambit Declined Queen's Indian Defense Rabat blitz 2015 Radjabov Ragger rapid chess Rapport Rashid Nezhmetdinov rating inflation ratings Ray Robson Regan Reggio Emilia 2010 Reggio Emilia 2011 Reshevsky Reti Rex Sinquefield Reykjavik Open 2012 Richard Reti Robert Byrne robot chess Robson Roman Ovetchkin rook endings RReggio Emilia 2011 rrook endings RRuy Lopez RRuy Lopez sidelines Rubinstein Rubinstein French Rudolf Spielmann rules Ruslan Ponomariov Russian Team Championship Rustam Kasimdzhanov Ruy Lopez Ruy Lopez sidelines Rybka Rybka 4 S. Kasparov sacrifices Sadler Sakaev Sam Collins Sam Sevian Samuel Reshevsky Sao Paulo/Bilbao 2011 Sao Paulo/Bilbao 2012 satire Savchenko Savielly Tartakower Schliemann Scotch Four Knights Searching for Bobby Fischer Seirawan self-destruction Sergei Tiiviakov Sergey Fedorchuk Sergey Karjakin Sergey Kasparov Sergey Shipov Shakhriyar Mamedyarov Shamkir 2015 Shankland Shipov Shirov Short Sicilian Sinquefield Cup sitzfleisch Slav Smith-Morra Gambit Smyslov So-Navara Spassky spectacular moves Speelman sportsmanship Spraggett St. Louis Invitational stalemate Staunton Stockfish Stockfish 4 Stonewall Dutch Suat Atalik Super Bowl XLIV Sutovsky Sveshnikov Sveshnikov Sicilian Svetozar Gligoric Svidler sweeper sealer twist Swiercz tactics Tactics Taimanov Tal Tal Memorial 2009 Tal Memorial 2010 Tal Memorial 2011 Tal Memorial 2012 Tal Memorial 2012 Tarjan Tarrasch Tarrasch Defense Tashkent Tashkent Grand Prix Tbilisi Grand Prix 2015 TED talks Teimour Radjabov Terekhin The Chess Players (book) The Week in Chess Thessaloniki Grand Prix Three knights Tigran Petrosian Tim Krabbé time controls time trouble Timman Timur Gareev Tomashevsky Tony Miles Topalov traps Tromso Olympics 2014 TWIC types of chess players Ufuk Tuncer underpromotion Unive 2012 University of Notre Dame upsets US Championship 2010 US Championship 2011 US Chess League USCF ratings USCL V. Onischuk Vachier-Lagrave Valentina Gunina Vallejo van der Heijden Van Perlo van Wely Varuzhan Akobian Vasik Rajlich Vasily Smyslov Vassily Ivanchuk Vassily Smyslov Velimirovic Attack Veresov Veselin Topalov video videos Vienna 1922 Viktor Bologan Viktor Korchnoi Viktor Moskalenko Viswanathan Anand Vitaly Tseshkovsky Vitiugov Vladimir Kramnik Vladimir Tukmakov Vladislav Artemiev Vladislav Tkachiev Vugar Gashimov Vugar Gashimov Memorial Walter Browne Wang Hao Wang Yue Watson Wei Yi Welcome Wesley Brandhorst Wesley So Wijk aan Zee 2010 Wijk aan Zee 2011 Wijk aan Zee 2012 Wijk aan Zee 2013 Wijk aan Zee 2014 Wijk aan Zee 2015 Wil E. Coyote Wilhelm Steinitz Willy Hendriks Winawer French Wojtkiewicz Wolfgang Uhlmann Women's Grand Prix Women's World Championship World Champion DVDs World Championship World Cup World Cup 2009 World Cup 2011 World Cup 2011 World Junior Championship World Senior Championship WWesley So WWijk aan Zee 2012 Yasser Seirawan Yates Yermolinsky Yevseev Yoshiharu Habu Yu Yangyi Yuri Averbakh Yuri Razuvaev Yuriy Kuzubov Zaitsev Variation Zaven Andriasyan Zhao Xue Zug 2013 Zukertort System Zurich 1953 Zurich 2013 Zurich 2014 Zurich 2015
    Wednesday
    Apr272011

    US Championships, Finals, Day 1

    It seems the good folks at the St. Louis Chess Club are determined to keep their audience entertained, so we have not just two matches - the finals for the championship and the women's championship - but four, as the semi-final losers in each bracket face off to settle the third and fourth places.

    In the match that really counts, Gata Kamsky ended Yuri Shulman's long undefeated streak, pulling out an ending with the aid of the old psychological axiom "Do not hurry". In positions where your opponent is worse and unable to do much (if anything) in a positive direction, it's often a good idea to meander a bit, to tack back and forth, to repeat moves and engage in other temporizing activities. This policy often bears fruit, quite often by giving the opponent the chance to self-destruct.

    In this game, the moment-of-suicide was 44...Be3. It wasn't at all obvious how Kamsky would make progress after 44...Rg2 (45.Kd2 Rg3), but Shulman thought he would really fix his problems with 44...Be3. Unfortunately, this was a big error: Kamsky switched the rook around to d3, forcing an exchange of rooks. After that Kamsky's extra pawn was enough for an easy win in the bishop ending. Shulman must therefore win tomorrow to stay in the match.

    In the women's championship, gambit-lover Tatev Abrahamyan went for a modern version of the Milner-Barry Gambit against Anna Zatonskih's French (with 9.Nbd2 rather than the old-fashioned 9.Nxd4 Qxd4 10.Nc3 and so on). I'm not sure she got much out of it, but when Black played 17...Bb5 (rather than, say, 17...Rc8) it looked like White could have obtained a pleasant initiative after 18.Bxb5 Qxb5 with 19.Nd4 followed by 20.Rac1. Instead, Abrahamyan chose 19.Qf4, and this didn't seem as effective. Zatonskih kept her extra pawn and may have had some chances to consolidate it later. If so, she failed to take advantage, and by keeping as active as possible Abrahamyan managed to scrape out a draw.

    In the 3rd-4th match games, Shankland-Hess was drawn in a Catalan that seemed a bit easier for Hess, while Krush won fairly easily against Baginskaite, despite having Black. Baginskaite's opening was rather odd, and the weaknesses created in the early middlegame came home to roost later on, as Krush finished her off with a nice flurry of tactics.

    Tuesday
    Apr262011

    Bazna Preview

    This is the next super-tournament on the schedule, and takes place from June 11-22. It's a ways off yet, but to whet your appetite you can watch a very brief preview here. It includes a short video which (starting at about 1:15) recaps a Carlsen crush over Radjabov from the 2009 tournament.

    HT: "svej"

    Tuesday
    Apr262011

    Russian Team Championship

    This very strong team event just finished, and there's a nice write-up with a couple of annotated games and links to the rest of them, here.

    Monday
    Apr252011

    US Championships: Shulman, Abrahamyan and Zatonskih Advance

    Three of the four semi-final matches went to tiebreaks, and the fans got their money's worth, too. In the top match, Shulman drew the first game with Black pretty easily in an IQP Tarrasch French and then won a very nice game with White. Hess may have surprised Shulman with his choice of opening (the King's Indian), but it looked like Shulman had a better feel for the resulting positions. The losing move might have come as soon as 19...f5. Hess hoped for kingside play, but it was Shulman who took over on that wing and won with a terrific demonstration of power chess, culminating in a finely conducted mating attack.

    In the first ladies' semi-final to finish, Abrahamyan won both games against Baginskaite. In the first game, Abrahamyan stood a little better with White when - probably in time trouble - Black blundered with 40...f5??, when it was soon over. (40...Rxc3 still favors White, but Black's position remains playable.) Game two was a similar story: Abrahamyan stood a bit better and Baginskaite was getting short of time when she blundered the game. This time the culprit was 38.Rf7? (38.Rxd3=+) Qd6? (38...Qh4-+) 39.Rxg7+?? Nxg7 and 0-1.

    Finally, there was the utterly crazy match between Krush and Zatonskih. Recall Krush beat Zatonskih in the preliminary rounds, lost the first "regular" game of their semi-final match and then bounced back to force a playoff. In the first game Krush had White, and the position eventually reached bishop (for Krush) vs. two pawns, dead draw. Krush could have held the game in 1-minute chess without a sweat. Somehow, though, her mind switched off, and rather than, say, give up the bishop for one of the pawns (e.g. with 63.Bxb4) and draw the king and pawn vs. king ending, she allowed her opponent to force promotion. 64.Kb1 was the normal move, but 64.Bb2+?? left White without a defense to the straightforward plan ...Ka2, ...b3, ...a4-a3, ...b2+ and ...b1Q.

    I'm not sure I'd be able to face another human beings for a few hours after such a loss, let alone play another game, but to Krush's considerable credit she not only showed up for game two but won it with Black. Wow! The key points there were Zatonskih's 34.Rc1?, blundering a pawn, and then the "exchange of courtesies starting with Black's 40th move. Had Krush met 40.Qe3 with 40...e5, she would have won straightforwardly and collected a well-deserved point. Instead - in mutual time trouble - she played 40...Qxa2??, and after 41.hxg6 hxg6 Zatonskih could have made it game, set and match with 42.Qh3. This threatens mate on h8, and the problem is that 42...e5 hangs the rook on c8, while 42...Kf8 43.Bf6 Ke8 almost escapes, but not quite: 44.Rxe6+! is a crusher. Fortunately for Krush, White played 42.Bf6??, and after 42...Bf8 the scare was over and Black soon won.

    Then it was time for the Armaggedon game, and just as they did last year, they held a bidding procedure to determine colors and clock times. Both players bid on how much time they would be willing to take with Black, and the low bid gets Black with the amount of time she bid, plus draw odds - meaning that if the game ends in a draw Black "wins" the match. The bids could be anything from 45 minutes on down, and Zatonskih bid 27 minutes while Krush requested...45 minutes! She had been obtaining advantages with White and felt confident that replaying the same variation would give her good chances.

    She got the line she wanted, but Zatonskih played better this time around. Krush had a tough time finding a plan, and after Zatonskih's 19...Nh5! with the idea of ...f5, Black achieved a very nice blockade. Krush's last chance to do something was around move 24. She didn't have any advantage, but perhaps some exchange sac ideas like 24.Rxh5 gxh5 25.Rg1+ Kf8 26.Bf4 or 24.Rcg1 Ng7 25.h5 h6 26.Rxg6 Bxg6 27.hxg6 could help her create some practical problems. After 24.Rg2 Ng7 25.Ke3 Ne6 26.Bf4 Rd5 there was just nothing for White to do but wait and see if her ossified center would collapse. (It did.)

    So Zatonskih, who must be physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted by now will take on Abrahamyan in the women's final, while last year's finalists, Kamsky and Shulman, will vie for the championship a second straight year. Remarkably, both players have been undefeated the past two years (last year's championship was settled by an Armaggedon draw in Kamsky's favor).

    Men's website here, women's here.

    Monday
    Apr252011

    Compulsory Chess in Schools?

    There appears to be evidence that chess benefits schoolchildren, though it has so far been on a somewhat elective basis. Even in the good old days of the bad old USSR, the ultimate chess factory, chess wasn't mandated but offered through clubs like the Young Pioneers. If it worked well on a voluntary basis, though, why not just make it part of the curriculum? That's what they're going to do in Armenia, and it will be interesting both as an educational experiment and to see how much more powerful that already chess-crazy country will become.

    HT: Bob Banta.

    Monday
    Apr252011

    US Championships: Kamsky Advances to Finals; Other Three Matches Go to Tiebreaks

    There was quite a turnaround from day one to day two of the semi-finals, as only one match continued the "trend" from the previous day's results. To recap day one: Shankland-Kamsky and Shulman-Hess were both drawn, while Zatonskih-Krush was won by White and Abrahamyan-Baginskaite was won by Black.

    In game 2 (of 2, not counting rapid tie-breaks), only Hess-Shulman was drawn. The game was a Tarrasch French with Eingorn's unusual 3...h6, a rare move that worked out pretty well. Hess had only a micro-edge at best out of the opening, and as the game progressed Shulman's position looked better and better...just not better enough. On to the rapids.

    For defending champ Gata Kamsky, it was a good day: he advances and gets a rest day while his opponents battle on. Shankland played a Najdorf, which Kamsky met by the semi-popular 6.h3. Shankland played for a quick ...d5, and the result was an endgame where White's queenside majority was damaged (doubled, isolated c-pawns in particular) but White positively enjoys the bishop pair and active pieces. After 19...Rxd3 20.cxd3 White's pawns were undoubled, but with 20...h5 Black may have had enough counterplay to maintain the balance. Instead, Shankland played a series of inaccurate moves that added up to trouble: 20...Re8 21.Bb6 Be6 22.Bc5 b5 and now after 23.a4 (not 23.Bxc6? Rc8 24.Bxb5 Rxc5 25.Bxa6 Rxc3 26.a4 Ra3 with approximate equality) White was in great shape. Later, 33...Be6, giving up the b-pawn, seems like another error; after 33...Ne5! White's advantage is still far from decisive. After 33...Be6 the win was probably inevitable, but Shankland's 40...Kxh4?? sped it up considerably, as it blunders a piece. The problem is that after 41.Bxc6 Bxc6 42.Rxc6! Rxc6 43.Be7+ forces mate on the next move, so Shankland varied with 41...Rg7+ but resigned after the simple 42.Kf2.

    In the women's championship, Irina Krush was in a must-win situation, but at least had the white pieces against Zatonskih. She obtained a slight advantage in a 5.Bf4 QGD, and both players showed good form through 25.Qc2. Any hack-happy club player would intend (with White) or fear (with Black) the Bxg6 sac, but Zatonskih either completely missed it or completely misevaluated it, because her 25...Rae8 was an outright error. After 26.Bxg6, Black could not play 26...hxg6 because of a trivially simple mating line: 27.Qxg6+ Kh8 28.Qh6+ Kg8 29.Rg3+ followed inevitably by Rg7#. Zatonskih could have played 25...Re7 though, when she has some compensation for the pawns, though not enough. Instead, she kicked in the exchange as well with 25...Qd7, but Krush never let her within a mile of anything resembling genuine compensation. So Krush tied the match, and it's on to tiebreaks for them as well.

    Finally, while Krush at least had White in her comeback effort, Tatev Abrahamyan didn't even have that going for her against Camilla Baginskaite. It didn't matter, though Baginskaite did enjoy a little advantage after the opening. White's main trump was the far-advanced pawn on c6, which helped cramp Black's position. White was in really good shape for a while, but her decision to trade queens on move 27 was ill-advised. Black no longer had to worry about king safety, while the pawn on c6 started looking more like a weakness than a strength. White's doubled f-pawns were no help either, while the Black pawn on h3 proved quite useful. After 37...Kf7 White's position was practically lost: there was no real way, in the long-term, that she could keep watch over c6, b3, e3 and the second rank (e.g. g2). Sooner or later, something was bound to give, and it did. When White resigned after Black's 54th move, White was down two pawns and about to go down four, and so that means tiebreak games for them as well.

    All three matches will have two g/25' + 5" battles, followed by an Armageddon game if necessary.

    Men's site here, women's here.

    Sunday
    Apr242011

    Easter Reflections on Pontius Pilate

    In many churches, Pontius Pilate is mentioned in every service during the recitation of the creed, but it's not often that he's the subject of Easter reflections. I came across a couple of interesting pieces this year, however, and I pass along the links to those who are interested, here and here.

    Happy Easter!

    Saturday
    Apr232011

    US Championship Semi-Finals: Men Draw, Women Win

    Both games in the US Championship were a bit nervy, and as they finished in draws the tension will carry over into the second game of these two-game mini-matches.

    Speedy Sam Shankland, who can sometimes move a bit too quickly, got careless on move 12 when he castled, overlooking Gata Kamsky's simple but effective shot 12...Nxc5. Fortunately for Shankland, the damage wasn't too severe - he went from being perhaps a little better to just a little worse. On move 15, he may have received a gift back. Instead of the greedy 15...cxb2, when White has just about enough for the pawn but not more, Kamsky came up with an interesting attacking idea involving the piece sac 17...Bxh3. It seems that he probably overlooked Shankland's defense with 23.Qf4 followed by 24.Qh2, however, after which his attack was at an end. It was his good fortune that even then his drawing chances were quite good, with two pawns, activity, and his opponent's lousy kingside pawn structure all compensating for the piece. Only Shankland had chances to win, but he never came too close, and Kamsky escaped.

    Shulman - Hess saw the second player choose an old-fashioned Queen's Indian line updated with a new idea, 9...Nc6. Whether it's good enough for a second try if they reach a rapid playoff remains to be seen, but Hess had no trouble to speak of this time around. Shulman enjoyed a big wall of pawns, but they could have easily become targets as assets. Near the end, Hess was perhaps a little careless in allowing 37.b5, but after 37...Be7 38.Nd4 there was still everything to play for when they agreed to a draw. Perhaps Hess was disturbed by the Ba4's now slightly precarious and offside position, while Shulman was just relieved to escape after having been a bit worse for a while.

    The women's championship went very differently. Anna Zatonskih continued her amazing recovery in the tournament from near-elimination with her fifth consecutive win, this one coming against the other event favorite, Irina Krush. The 2.c3 Sicilian isn't generally considered a particularly dangerous weapon, but something caught Krush by surprise as she was already losing a pawn for inadequate compensation by move 12. Subsequent play wasn't perfect by either player, but Zatonskih was always better and then capitalized on another Krush error in mutual time trouble. After 34...Bf5(? - something like 34...Rc4 or 34...Bf6 would have been better, though White's position is seriously better in any case) 35.Re5 g6 36.Bh6+ Ke8 37.Bg5 White was winning a second pawn (for no compensation), so Krush resigned.

    The other game, Tatev Abrahamyan vs. Camllia Baginskaite, didn't have the same clean storyline as the first. Abrahamyan played the Evans Gambit for the second time in the event (but there was nothing "romantic" about the middlegame position that arose - sorry, 19th century chess fans!) and was a little better until she played 24.Bc4 (24.Ndc4 would have maintained an edge). From here Baginskaite started outplaying her until time trouble reared its ugly head and the game turned into a mess. White blundered a piece with 28.Be1??, but Black didn't find 28...f6. Still, Baginskaite was better until she played 31...Qa6, when the position was equal. Instead, 31...Bxc4 32.Nxc4 Qe7! gives Black a winning attack - she threatens to take the rook on b4 and checks on both h4 and along the a7-g1 diagonal. White still needed to be very careful with her exposed king, and it was too tough a task in terrible time trouble. 32.Qd2 was better than 32.Ne3, 33.Rxb5 was better than 33.Qb3+, 34.N5c4 was better than 34.Rxb5 and finally 35.h4 or 35.g3 would have given Abrahamyan more chances to survive than 35.Nc2, because after she played that and Baginskaite replied 35...Ra5 it was all over. The Rb5 can't be sensibly protected, and if it moves anywhere normal Black has 36...Qe2+ followed by 37...Qxg2, which is either mate on the spot or in one more move. With White tomorrow Baginskaite looks like the surest qualifier at this point, but Abrahamyan can point to many comeback stories in this tournament for inspiration.

    Men's site here, women's here.

    Saturday
    Apr232011

    This Week's ChessVideos Show: The Quick Ruy Lopez, Part 1

    A few years back I did a long series on the Sicilian Defense for ChessVideos.tv. The context was a request in the viewer question thread that I give an overview of the Sicilian, which was not exactly possible in that context - generally I spend no more than about 15 minutes on a given question there. So I joked about it, and then finally started the series, trying to present that opening in a quick but useful way. Needless to say, even going quickly, it must have taken around ten full length shows to get through that complex.

    At the time, and again recently, someone suggested doing something similar with the Ruy Lopez. For many years I resisted, but at last I've caved, and  you can watch part 1 of what is bound to be a pretty long series, here. In this week's installment, I examine the 3...d6, 3...g6, 3...Nge7, 3...Nd4 and 3...Bc5 lines. The next shows will cover the Berlin and the Schliemann/Jaenisch, and then it will be on to 3...a6.

    As usual, the show is free (free registration is required, in case you haven't already done it) and will be available for the next month or so. If you've been waiting to learn the Ruy with White, here's your chance!

    Saturday
    Apr232011

    US Championship, Semi-Final Pairings (Updated/Revised)

    Thanks, readers!

    Here are the pairings: in the Championship, it's Shankland - Kamsky and Hess - Shulman; in the Women's Championship it's Krush - Zatonskih and Abrahamyan - Baginskaite. As usual, it starts at 2 p.m. St. Louis time (= 3 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. CET). Each match will consist of two classical games (one today, one tomorrow), followed if necessary by a pair of rapid games and then by an Armageddon game, if necessary.