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    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 Rapid & Blitz World Championship 2014 Russian Team Championship 2014 Sinquefield Cup 2014 U.S. Championship 2014 U.S. Open 2014 World Championship 2014 World Rapid Championship 22014 U.S. Championship 60 Minutes A. 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    Saturday
    Aug282010

    The Daily Update: Arctic Securities Chess Stars, Gelfand-Leko, Spanish Team Championship and More

    (1) The World Champ and the world's top-rated player are both in action, and in the same tournament. Kristiansund, Norway is hosting a 4-player rapid event with Viswanathan Anand, Magnus Carlsen, long-time women's #1 Judit Polgar and Norway's #2 player Jon Ludvig Hammer. The time control is 20' + 10" and they had their first go-round today; tomorrow they'll do it again, and then on Monday the top two finishers will play a match for first and the bottom two will do the same for 3rd.

    Today's results were nice and tidy: Anand and Carlsen both won their first two games and then drew with each other, while Polgar and Hammer previewed their Monday match with a draw as well. The first two therefore have 2.5/3 and the latter pair .5 apiece.

    Tournament site here.

     

    (2) "You're traveling through another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. Your next stop, the Twilight Zone."

    Why do I quote (one set of) the introductory words to the great Twilight Zone series? Oh, no reason. Meanwhile, in an utterly unrelated item of chess news, Boris Gelfand and Peter Leko are 3/4 of the way through their 8-game rapid match, and here are the statistics. First, half the games have been decisive (Gelfand leads 3.5-2.5). Second, except for Gelfand's 45-move win in the first game today, no game has gone less than 71 moves. Game 6 even went 101 moves. These guys are fighters! (In other news, Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann have become best friends, Paris Hilton is pursuing a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame, and Microsoft has decided to go open-source with all their products.) I suspect doppelgängers, frankly.

    Match website here.

     

    (3) The Spanish Team Championship came to an end. It was won by some team of mercenaries, 2/3 of whom aren't Spanish, ahead of another team of mostly non-Spanish mercenaries. All very exciting to the home crowds, I'm sure. Anyway, while I don't really grasp the point of the event, there were lots of great players there, so I'm glad they had it. Gashimov, Shirov, Nakamura, Vachier-Lagrave, Navara and other 2700s were there, not to mention a bevy of 2600+ players as well.

     

    There are other interesting events going on as well. There's the Russian Championships, "Higher League" (that's inflato-speak for what they used to call Semi-Finals or Preliminaries), which includes a pair of 2700s and several near-2700s, the Baku Open (including Kamsky, Sutovsky and other very strong GMs), and (of pretty much just U.S. interest) the U.S. Senior Open (includes GMs Sergey Kudrin, Alexander Ivanov and Larry Kaufman and IMs Emory Tate and Joe Bradford).

    I hope to have some games from the Arctic Securities event up later - stay tuned.

    Friday
    Aug272010

    This Week's ChessVideos Game: Battles in Indy, Part 1

    For those of you who are tired of seeing strong players in action, you're in luck: you can watch one of my games in this week's ChessVideos show. Right here, you'll find the first round from this past weekend's tournament in Indianapolis.

    The show is free (free registration is required), and will be available on-demand for the next month or so.

    Thursday
    Aug262010

    Gelfand-Leko Rapid Match

    Peter Leko's Hungarian sponsors have arranged a very impressive series of annual rapid matches for him in Miskolc. In past years, he has played Mickey Adams, Anatoly Karpov, Vladimir Kramnik, Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand; this year, he's going up against Boris Gelfand.

    The first two games of this eight-game match are now history; Gelfand won game one with White, in the Anti-Moscow Gambit of the Semi-Slav; game two was a long draw (that could have been about 40 moves shorter) in the Moscow Variation of the Semi-Slav.

    Match website here, easy game replay here.

    Wednesday
    Aug252010

    Around the Web: On Anand and Chigorin

    Two interesting "human interest" (as opposed to chess interest) articles can be found here and here. The first is on the University of Hyderabad's gaffe-filled efforts to award Viswanathan Anand an honorary doctorate, while the second is a recently-discovered 1958 memoir by Mikhail Chigorin's daughter on the 50th anniversary of Chigorin's death.

    Monday
    Aug232010

    Updated (but still temporary) Comments Policy

    I'm looking into some other options, but for the moment the story is that readers can leave comments, but they won't appear until I moderate them.

    Monday
    Aug232010

    "Why Do I Always Get Black Against Titled (Stronger) Players?"

    This weekend I played in a strong open swiss tournament and was in the running for first, but lost in the last round to GM Ben Finegold. He had White, but that wasn't really a factor: I got a perfectly good position out of the opening, and only mistakes in the ending cost me the game. Still, it would have been nice to have White, and I've heard many players lament that they "always" get Black against titled or significantly higher-rated opponents.

    It's likely an exaggeration and a bit of a selection effect (they "forget" when they're White, but each Black game confirms the "always" narrative), but I think there's something to it. To the extent that there is some truth to it, the lamenter should probably stop complaining. Here's why. Aside from the luck of something like a first-round pairing against a strong player, you'll have to do some winning to play them. Now, the question is this: other than in cases where you're overwhelmingly stronger than your opponents, are you likelier to win your games when you're White, or when you're Black? With White, naturally. Let's say you're likely to face a big gun in round 4 of a tournament, when you're 3-0. If you've had two Blacks, you're less likely to have gone 3-0, even if you were a favorite in all your games. It's a lot easier to have done it with two Whites. But then, guess what? You're due for Black against the big gun!

    This probably holds for the round 3 situation as well. Let's assume you're in the top half of the draw, but not a top player yourself. In round 1 you're probably going to beat whoever you're playing, and in round 2 you'll get a more challenging opponent, but one you're a moderate favorite against. If you had Black in round 1, then you're more likely to win in round 2, but to suffer in round 3 with Black against a very good player. If you've got Black in round 2, then you might win and succeed, but your chances of getting nicked go up as well.

    If all this is correct, then the reason the lamenter should cease his song of woe is simple: if he weren't due for Black in their game with the better player, he would have been less likely to face the better player in the first place. (And note the irony: his previous opponent may have been a victim of the same sort.)

    Hopefully someone will (or maybe already has) worked out the math of the situation, but this seems like a plausible account of why non-top seeds will more often wind up with Black in the big games with the favorites in open swisses in the mid-to-late rounds.

    [Note: Comments are again possible, but I will moderate them before they appear. Other solutions are being considered, so stay tuned.]

    Monday
    Aug232010

    One More Event: The New USCL Season Starts Tonight

    Lots more information available on the league website, including team lineups, pairings, predictions and much else besides.

    Monday
    Aug232010

    Other Events: Past, Present and Future

    (1) In addition to the NH tournament, another event that just finished - also needing a playoff - was the French Championship. Laurent Fressinet and Romain Edouard both finished with 8/11, but Fressinet became the champion when he won their rapid playoff 1.5-.5.

    (2) Starting now - or a couple of moments ago, anyway - is the Spanish Team Championship. Shirov, Ponomariov, Kasimdzhanov, Vachier-Lagrave and Short are among the big names playing right now, and Nakamura, Gashimov and Caruana are also scheduled to play at some point. Live games here.

    (3) At the end of the week, there's the Arctic Securities Chess Stars. It's a four-player rapid (20' + 10") with Viswanathan Anand, Magnus Carlsen, Judit Polgar and Jon Ludvig Hammer. There are two stages: first, a double round-robin to determine the top two, then final matches for 1st-2nd and 3rd-4th. The first round-robin is on Saturday, the second on Sunday, and the final matches on Monday.

    Sunday
    Aug222010

    NH Tournament Finishes: Rising Stars Wins by Two Points, Nakamura Qualifies for Amber

    After eight rounds, Anish Giri led Nakamura by half a point in the battle for supremacy on the Rising Stars team. The pairings the rest of the way strongly favored Giri, who had van Wely and Nielsen to Nakamura's Svidler and Gelfand*. Indeed, it looked bad for Nakamura in round 9: Giri was winning six ways from Sunday (i.e. easily) against van Wely while Nakamura only managed the worse half of a draw against Svidler. But Giri somehow failed to win, so the half-point distance remained.

    In round 10, Nakamura fought but "only" drew with Gelfand (Gelfand, by the way, won again in round 9, and finished with an impressive +4 score, winning three times with Black!). Giri lost to Nielsen, however, and so it was on to a blitz playoff to see who would get the Amber invite. As all or almost all of you know, a blitz playoff against Nakamura is not likely to turn out well for the other guy, and that's what happened here.

    The first game, with Nakamura as White, was quite chaotic, but he gradually obtained control. At some point he might have been a bit sloppy, and in the final position ...Kc6 would just about equalize. Unfortunately for Giri, he chose instead the "move" ...Resigns. 1-0, Nakamura. Game 2 was an absolutely blowout, and might have been a bit of home cooking by Nakamura. He found a very enterprising piece sac against Giri's Catalan, and absolutely blew him off the board in a tactical sequence.

    Giri is young and improving very rapidly, but this year belonged to Nakamura. It will be very interesting to see him in the Amber tournament. I don't know how strong he is (or will be by then) in blindfold, but he'll be a handful and then some for everyone there at rapid time controls!

    * Thanks to all the people who wrote in for me to correct the earlier error!

    Friday
    Aug202010

    (Temporary) Comments Policy

    I'm getting tired of deleting spam comments every day, and won't have much time to blog the next couple of days, so for now I'll deal with these lowlifes (and/or their bots) by simply blocking all comments. Come Monday, I'll work on a better solution. My apologies to legitimate commentators, who can at least still reach me via the contact form on the right sidebar (scroll down a little and you'll find it).