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    Sunday
    Oct032010

    Olympics: Results

    As reported in the previous post, the combination of Ukraine's drawn match with Israel and Russia 1's failing to defeat Spain(!) let Ukraine escape with the Olympic championship. It's too bad that they needed to get lucky in that way, as they led throughout and were the deserving victors. Who knew that it would come down to Svidler losing his only game of the event, and with White against the 2595-rated Ivan Salgado?

    Russia 1 did at least manage to draw Spain thanks to Kramnik's blowing out Shirov, and the team took clear second. In third was Israel, beating out Hungary (who defeated Poland 2.5-1.5) on tiebreaks.

     

    Board prizes were determined by TPRs, and here's how that went:

     

    Board 1:

    1. Ivanchuk (UKR) 2890

    2. Aronian (ARM) 2888

    3. Nepomniachtchi (RUS 2) 2821

     

    Board 2:

    1. Sutovsky (ISR) 2895 (Best TPR of the event!)

    2. Almasi (HUN) 2801

    3. Wang Hao (CHN) 2783

     

    Board 3:

    1. Teterev (BEL) 2853

    2. Eljanov (ARM) 2737 (Below his actual rating of 2761, ironically.)

    3. Rublevsky (RUS 3) 2727

     

    Board 4:

    1. Karjakin (RUS 1) 2859

    2. Efimenko (UKR) 2783

    3. Giri (NED) 2730

     

    "Board 5": (Top reserve)

    1. Feller (FRA) 2708

    2. Bartel (POL) 2706

    3. Babula (CZE) 2668

     

    For the curious among you, Topalov's TPR was 2629 and Carlsen's was 2664, which not only wasn't in the top 20 for board 1 players, it was only good enough for #3 in the Class of 1990 competition. He was well behind Karjakin and Nepomniachtchi, but did surpass Vachier-Lagrave's disappointing 2642 TPR.

    There seems to have been a parallel competition limited to female players, and it was won by Russia 1 (led by the Kosintseva sisters, world citizen Kosteniuk, erstwhile women's world championship finalist Galliamova, and Gunina) with a perfect team score of 22-0. China came in second with 18 points, and traditional powerhouse Georgia came in third with 16, beating five other countries (including the US) on tiebreak.

    The results page is here, tournament site here.

    Sunday
    Oct032010

    Ukraine Olympic Champions

    The round is still going on, but Ukraine just finished their match with four draws against Israel, while the best Russia can do is tie with Spain if Kramnik can convert a winning position against Shirov. Since Ukraine entered the last round in clear first, the gold medal is theirs.

    Congratulations!

    Saturday
    Oct022010

    Notre Dame 31, Boston College 13

    This is normally the place where I'd gloat about the victory and generally speaking wallow in Notre Dame triumphalism. After the first quarter, however, the game was so excruciatingly dull and poorly played that further comment will be eschewed.

    Next week's victim: Pittsburgh.

    Saturday
    Oct022010

    Book Notice: Capablanca: A Primer of Checkmate

    Frisco Del Rosario, Capablanca: A Primer of Checkmate. (Mongoose Press, 2010). 176 pp. $19.95.

    This is a book for near-beginners: something like Renaud and Kahn's The Art of Checkmate-meets-Capablanca. Del Rosario presents a series of mating patterns (mainly taken from the Renaud & Kahn volume), which are then illustrated by (mostly) Capablanca games. It might be useful for very young and inexperienced players (up to maybe 1500); above that the tactical themes will already be familiar while there are many better sources for annotated Capablanca games.

    To be honest, I'm not a fan of the book's concept, though of course others may feel differently. It seems to me that for the basic mating patterns the old Renaud and Kahn book - which you can find online for free or buy (a legitimate copy) cheaply - is much, much better. For less money, you get far more examples and 80 exercise positions to boot. R & K aren't worried about providing full notes to meaty games; they're giving you the mating patterns: first in schematic form and then in a variety of real game situations. The only drawback to the R & K book is that it's in descriptive notation, but that shouldn't be too hard to learn - especially for kids and new players (who after all are these books' target audience). In fact, it's good to learn both, as there are many old and great books which are available in inexpensive descriptive editions.

    [Semi-tangential rant: There are few things in the chess world I loathe more than seeing some old classic (e.g. Alekhine's "Best Games" books) redone by a publisher who removes more than half the games and doubles the price so readers can have the book in glorious algebraic notation. Even worse is when the editor starts to "fix" the content without saying so, rather than respecting the integrity of the author's work and making the point in a footnote.]

    Anyway, while I think that readers would be better served with two books (one checkmate primer, one Capa book [which can probably both be had for about as much as the one book and maybe even less]), others may find the combination plate a tasty meal. If you're in the latter camp, by all means get it.

    Saturday
    Oct022010

    Book Notice: Chess Blueprints: Planning in the Middlegame

    Nikolay Yakovlev, Chess Blueprints: Planning in the Middlegame (Mongoose Press, 2010). 277 pp. $24.95.

    According to the back cover, the author is a correspondence IM and an experienced professional chess teacher in Russia. One of his students is or was Evgeny Alekseev (currently rated 2705), but we're not told whether Alekseev was 2700, 2200 or even about 1000 when they worked together.

    Anyway, the book isn't bad: it's a kind of catch-all of positional themes in a collection of 188 examples. There are six chapters: Strongpoints and Weaknesses (29 positions), Play in and for the Center (16 positions), Position Play (61), Attack (56), Defense (6) and The Endgame (20).

    The examples are all rather old: a surprisingly high percentage predate WWII, and I found only one example as recent as 1990 and just a handful in the '80s. What might be thought a matter of laziness the author defends as a strength. In olden days a strong player would come up with a plan and it would often go off without a hitch. Perhaps...but it's pretty hard to believe that doesn't happen nowadays too in plenty of games - if only if GM vs. amateur games in open Swisses.

    There's also a disproportionately large quantity of positions from the Ruy Lopez, which is great if you play either side of that opening (especially the main line closed systems), but not as useful if you don't. To be honest, the book feels like a compilation of lessons Yakovlev wrote up 20-25 years ago, primarily for students who play the Ruy.

    That said, it's not a bad book at all. The lessons are brief but to the point and often build on each other. The examples are well-chosen and, as I suggested earlier, will be especially enriching to Ruy/anti-Ruy players. It's not a manual like My System or How to Reassess Your Chess, but as a collection of case studies it's valuable to players (from around 1700-2200, give or take) and trainers alike.

    Recommended.

    Saturday
    Oct022010

    Notre Dame Whups Boston College Tonight

    The carnage can be seen on ABC this evening starting at 8 p.m. ET. A good pregame report can be read here.

    Saturday
    Oct022010

    Tromsø Wins Bid for the 2014 Olympics

    Considering how hard they lobbied for it, it wouldn't normally be a surprise, but considering that the alternative bid came from a Bulgarian group I wasn't sure. After all, Silvio ("I know..." or will at least frighten you by claiming that I do) Danailov was just elected President of the European Chess Union and made a FIDE VP, but it turned out not to matter (or matter enough).

    So congrats to the Norwegians, and hopefully their Olympics will take place closer to summer than winter!

    Saturday
    Oct022010

    Live Top List Standings

    There's still a round to go at the Olympics, but it's interesting to see how things are shaking at the top of the rating lists. Players have been making big moves in both directions.

    Carlsen, for instance, is still #1, but he has lost 15 points and only leads Anand by 10.7 rating points. Topalov has dropped 17.5 points and fallen to fourth, while Aronian has vaulted into third. Ivanchuk has gained almost 18 points and is on the verge of passing Kramnik to take fifth, and both Karjakin and Wang Yue have gained an impressive 16 points apiece to reach 8th and 11th, respectively.

    There are other even bigger gains (and losses) further down the list, and I wonder how close Sutovsky - the player with the best TPR in the Olympiad so far - is to making it into the 2700 club as well. (He's starting at 2665 and hasn't played all the rounds, so it will be tough, but he must be knocking on the door.)

    See the full list here.

    Saturday
    Oct022010

    Computer Chess Game of the Month (With a Useful Update!)

    On Martin Thoresen's computer chess website there's a "Game of the Month" page which presents (and hopefully will continue to do so each month) a game with my annotations. Have a look!

    UPDATE: If you have a tough time seeing the notes and the board at the same time, and more to the point, if you want to replay the annotations, there's an elegant solution: click on the d8 square (once you've loaded the game) and the PGN shows up. (You can copy and paste it into your Fritz/ChessBase/whatever database program and see everything that way.)

    Friday
    Oct012010

    Olympics N.B.: Saturday is a Rest Day; The Final Round is Sunday (Updated)

    Just an FYI, especially for my fellow Western hemispherans who have to wake up ridiculously early (or stay up all night) if they want to watch.

    Update: As Andrey noted in the comments section, the last round starts 4 hours early, i.e. 1 a.m. ET/7 a.m. CET, so you might want to percolate some coffee for the occasion.