It's too much to say that Ivan Cheparinov refuted the Blumenfeld Gambit in his convincing defeat of Ivan Salgado Lopez in the recently completed Aeroflot Open, but he probably did put an end to one of Black's standard ideas. Before this game, the Black plan of ...Rh8-g8-g4xe4 might have seemed viable; now, after Cheparinov's most convincing play, it looks so absurdly time-consuming that it's hard to believe anyone took the idea seriously. This is to the Bulgarian's credit, as was his efficient and energetic attack on poor Salgado's king.
It's thus not only a game with theoretical importance, but an attractive one as well. You can watch it with my commentary, here: as always, it's free of charge (free registration required), and will be available on-demand for the next month or so.
Aeroflot 2011 has come to an end, and in the final results we have a three-way tie for first with Le Quang Liem, Nikita Vitiugov (who beat Ivan Cheparinov with Black in the last round) and Evgeny Tomashevsky all finishing with 6.5/9. Le's name is listed first, though, so I assume until I see otherwise (or until one of my eager readers informs me to the contrary) that he has repeated as champion and will be making a second straight trip to Dortmund. Very impressive!
Seven players finished half a point back, including one Gata Kamsky. Despite not being in great form, he still finished in the money and with a TPR higher than his current rating, thanks to a strong finish with three straight wins. It wasn't a fantastic performance by any means, but hopefully it's a good tune-up before the Candidates - or rather, before the U.S. Championship and then the Candidates.
In this year's edition of the Leon rapid(ish) event, only two players (Anand and Shirov) will participate, rather than the usual four. At least the event still exists!
More here, and a HT to Holger Lieske.
A while ago I reported that the free program Houdini 1.5a defeated the king of the commercial programs, Rybka 4, by a 23.5-16.5 score in a recent match. Many people, both on my blog and elsewhere, were especially impressed by Houdini's play in the first game of that match, and I can't blame them! Houdini sacrificed three pawns for play, and the end result was an overwhelming initiative. You can have a look at the game, with my comments, here.
Or at least that's my spin on his decision not to play in this year's U.S. Championship. He claims that he is doing so in order "to focus on working toward his ultimate goal of one day winning the World Championship." Even if he feels he has more or less outgrown non-super-GM events, it's still a pity for U.S. chess, and not a great way to reward one of the very, very few people in the US putting up some real money for chess. Even Gata Kamsky is playing, and in his case it really would make sense if he jumped out, considering that his Candidates match with Topalov starts just over a month after the Championship concludes.
HT: Daniel Parmet
Bad news for Kramnik today, as a member of Team Topalov (or some other word starting with "To") caught up in the Dortmund sweepstakes. Le Quang Liem had the bad luck to face about the only player near the top who seemed to have any ambition (most of the other top games were drawn quickly and without a fight), and lost to Ivan Cheparinov with the white pieces. They are tied heading into the last round of the Aeroflot Open; here are the final round pairings relevant to the race for first.
Cheparinov (6) - Vitiugov (5.5)
Mamedov (5.5) - Le Quang Liem (6)
Tomashevsky (5.5) - Sjugirov (5.5)
Kasimdzhanov (5.5) - Yu Yangyi (5.5)
Rodhstein (5.5) - Khismatullin (5.5)
An update on the current adventures of one of the world's oldest grandmasters, just past his 85th birthday. (Interestingly, his birthday is on February 7, one day earlier than the birthday of the oldest GM, 89-year-old Yuri Averbakh.)
HT: Daniel Parmet
Have a look at this 213-move monstrosity, from the Polish women's championship (especially if you're suffering from insomnia). It's the 5th longest game ever, according to Tim 's Krabbé's records page*, and the second longest "classical" game ever**.
HT: Michael Rudolf
* There are in fact other long games that aren't on this list. For instance, there's Felber-Lapshun, 1998 NY State Championship, which was drawn in 238 moves, making it the second longest game - and the second longest "classical" game - ever. (For some reason, it only goes to move 180 in the Mega database, but if you have the game in TWIC you'll see that Lapshun didn't give up so easily.) Krabbé also includes blitz games on his list, which opens things up to possible absurdities. As I mentioned a long time ago, on my first blog, I once played a nearly 3000 move game (with increments, obviously!). This was at a point when I found the online habit of players not resigning rather stupid, so I decided for a while that if players didn't want to resign, I wouldn't be in such a rush to win, either. So I'd collect all their pieces, and then do nothing until the 50-move rule loomed. I'd either push a pawn or take one on move 50, or force him to take something at the last moment. This kind of silliness fits in the frivolous world of blitz, but what happens in blitz shouldn't be intermingled with real chess, especially in the record books. (Heck, Kasparov even got upset at me once for mixing rapid results with classical ones!)
** They don't make "classical" chess like they used to. In the "old" days, going through the very early 1990s, you had repeating time controls and adjournments. A 200 move game back then would generally take more than 16 hours, so there's an apples and oranges (or maybe apples and rocks) ethos to the comparison. Once a contemporary game gets past move 60, it's closer to a slow blitz or a rapid game than classical chess, as the players are down to their 30-second increment. (Or for those of us with the misfortune to play under USCF rules, all you get is 5-seconds' worth of time delay.) Note: I'm not arguing that the old days were the good old days!