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    Sunday
    Jan022011

    Reggio Emilia Round 5: Four Draws and an Ivanchuk Win; Also, Blogger News

    Godena was the daily victim once again, and is firmly embedded in last place. Vallejo Pons still leads, with four out of five; Ivanchuk is in clear second a point behind.

    Meanwhile, in extremely minor news, I got the year off to a good start by winning a small, unrated G/15. (It did have an entry fee and prizes though: a small amount of cash, a gift certificate to the establishment [an Irish pub & restaurant] and an English-language calendar from the Czech Republic!) No games were really worth sharing, though, so showing off (or showing a painful but attractive or instructive loss) will have to wait until another event.

    Saturday
    Jan012011

    Reggio Emilia Make-Up Game: Morozevich Wins

    The round 1 game Morozevich-Navara was played off in what was a rest day for the other competitors, and Morozevich won. The complete standings after round 4 look like this:

    1. Vallejo Pons 3.5

    2-8. Short, Caruana, Onischuk, Movsesian, Ivanchuk, Gashimov, Morozevich 2

    9. Navara 1.5

    10. Godena 1

    Saturday
    Jan012011

    New Rating Lists

    Since many of us check the Live Top Lists on a somewhat regular basis, the official lists generally hold few surprises. Still, as they are the official lists, they're worth noting when they come out, and besides that, they're the best source of information about non-2700s. Here's the place to start your searches, or if you just want to look up one particular player, go here.

    Saturday
    Jan012011

    GM Ilya Nyzhnyk

    It's about time! - which is an odd thing to say about someone who has achieved the title at the age of 14 years, three months and two days old. Still, when I first learned about Ilya Nyzhnyk more than two years ago I thought he could even challenge Sergey Karjakin's record for the youngest-ever GM (at 12 years and seven months); from that point of view he seems to have taken his sweet time about getting the title. It's still a great achievement, putting him at #11 on the list for youngest-ever grandmaster, and he's currently the youngest grandmaster (or GM-elect, technically) in the world.

    More here.

    Saturday
    Jan012011

    Happy New Year!

    Best wishes for good health, first and foremost, and of course for good chess in 2011. (And if I can help with the latter, please let me know via the "Contact Me" form in the lower right sidebar, as I'm available for lessons and a variety of other chess-related services.)

    Friday
    Dec312010

    Notre Dame 33, Miami 17

    And so Notre Dame finishes the first year of the Brian Kelly era with an 8-5 score and bright (or at least brightening) hopes for next year. Look out, fans of other teams!

    Friday
    Dec312010

    Player of the Year

    Every year there's a chess "Oscar" given to the person voted as the player of the year by various chess journalists (not including me, so far), but we can draw our own conclusions here. Who would you pick as the player of the year for 2010? The obvious candidates are those atop the Live Top List: Magnus Carlsen, Viswanathan Anand, Levon Aronian and maybe Vladimir Kramnik and Sergey Karjakin. Here's a brief recap of their accomplishments this year:

    Anand: Retained the world championship crown, made it back over 2800 and was on the verge of finishing the year as the #1 rated player. He didn't win any tournaments, but he was always in the mix, coming in second in the Arctic Stars (losing to Carlsen in the final match), the Grand Slam Final (behind Kramnik), Pearl Spring (behind Carlsen) and London (behind Carlsen). And did I mention that he retained his world championship title?

    Carlsen: He had a poor stretch in late summer/early fall, but otherwise had lots of good results, winning Wijk aan Zee, Amber (tied with Ivanchuk), the King's Tournament, the Arctic Stars, Pearl Spring and London.

    Aronian: Many of his successes were a bit under the radar, but he played well enough to join the elite 2800 club. He finished the year strongly, scoring heavily for his teams in the Olympiad and the European Club Cup, tied for first in the Tal Memorial (with Karjakin and Mamedyarov) and won the World Blitz Championship.

    Kramnik: It was a year with successes and a lot of almosts for the former world champion. Among his best results were a narrow second in Wijk aan Zee, third in Amber, a tie for first in the President's Cup (with Mamedyarov and Kamsky), a win in the Grand Slam Final and a botched ending away from winning London. A good year, especially given his tinkering with his style, but not an Oscar-winner.

    Karjakin: The youngster gained a lot of points this year, and has emerged as a real threat to the world's elite under the tutelage of Kasparov's former second Yuri Dokhoian. Among his best results: an 8-2 score in the Russian Team Championship, victory in the ACP Rapid Championship, first place in the Karpov Poikovsky tournament, third in the Rapid World Championship, an 8-2 score in the Olympiad, a tie for first in the Tal Memorial (with Aronian and Mamedyarov), and a tie for first in the Russian Championship (but second after the playoff with Nepomniachtchi).

    I'd be interested to find out who had the best TPR of the year, but I suspect it's Karjakin. Of these five, it seems that the most natural candidates for the player of the year are Karjakin and Carlsen for their overall results and Anand for retaining the title. Anand's other results were good but not otherwise enough to win. Carlsen had the best tournament results, and Karjakin's performances were a combination of tournament and team successes.

    And the player of the year, according to you, is...?

    Friday
    Dec312010

    Reggio Emilia, Round 4: Vallejo Pons Leads

    Clear trends have already formed in this year's Reggio Emilia tournament, and they continued today. A majority of games were drawn once again, and Vassily Ivanchuk and Alexander Morozevich remain winless. Michele Godena is having a tough go of things so far, and as in round 1 a blunder in time pressure immediately ended the game.

    The last trends coincided: Nigel Short's propensity for playing the most interesting games in the event, and Francisco Vallejo Pons's tendency...to win. Short had White in a somewhat non-traditional Classical French that reached the following position:

    Here things went horribly wrong after 18.Ned4. That was the thematic, natural, stereotyped etc. etc. move, but after 18...fxe5 19.Nxc6 e4! 20.Nce5 Rxf4! Short had the eponymous end of the stick. Vallejo may not have played the rest of the game perfectly, but he did well enough, and the white position was inevitably crushed under an avalanche of central pawns.

    Tomorrow is a rest day, except for Morozevich and David Navara, who will make up their postponed game from round 1. Meanwhile, here are the almost complete standings after round 4:

    1. Vallejo Pons 3.5

    2-7. Short, Caruana, Onischuk, Movsesian, Ivanchuk, Gashimov 2

    8. Navara 1.5 (out of 3)

    9. Morozevich 1 (out of 3)

    10. Godena 1

    Friday
    Dec312010

    Notre Dame to Blow Away the Miami Hurricanes Today

    Starting in about two hours (i.e. at 2 p.m. ET), the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will take on, and then take apart, the Miami Hurricanes in the Sun Bowl in El (intercepted) Paso, Texas. More info here.

    Friday
    Dec312010

    Vladimir Kramnik on 2010

    In this interview, Vladimir Kramnik discusses not the number 2010 but his form this past year (especially in London) and his plans and ambitions for the first part of 2011.

    Yet another good read from the Chess in Translation site!

    HT: Brian Karen