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    Tuesday
    Jun082010

    White to Move and Win?

    Here's a position from the ongoing Poikovsky tournament. It's Sutovsky-Jobava, with White to make his 43rd move. What should he do?

    Sutovsky did one thing and failed to win (though it was probably good enough to win by a hair, with perfect play), ChessToday mentions a second option chosen by some unnamed internet commentators and refutes it (nicely), but I believe I've found a rather simple third approach (confirmed by the computer) that does win. But perhaps I'm missing something? Have a look here - after you've tried to solve it for yourself, of course!

    Tuesday
    Jun082010

    The Daily Update: Poikovsky, Copper State

    It's like clockwork at Poikovsky: two wins, the rest draws. Today's winners were Jakovenko (bouncing back from yesterday's loss) and Riazantsev; they beat Vitiugov and Sokolov, respectively. They now lead with 4/6, half a point ahead of Sutovsky and Karjakin.

    There are other tournaments in the chess world, including one in the U.S. I didn't know about until earlier tonight. That's the Copper State International (in Mesa, Arizona). On the merits, it's unlikely to be of much interest to those outside the U.S., but I mention it because Rob Bernard drew my attention to the very entertaining game Ippolito-Andrianov from round 4.

    Monday
    Jun072010

    How NOT To Campaign

    Practically everyone in the western world wants FIDE President Kirsan Iljumzhinov out of office, but what does Anatoly Karpov offer in his place? Well, uh, he'll get back to us soon; after all, there are still three and a half months left before the vote. See this brilliant campaign interview, not for more info, but to illustrate his fecklessness. We need more feck!

    HT: Brian Karen.

    Monday
    Jun072010

    The Daily Update: Gelfand Wins Leon; Parity in Poikovsky

    The first two days of the Leon rapid tournament were excellent, and the finale only build on what came before. Gelfand pulled out a 4-2 victory the hard way, coming back from a loss in game 3 to win in game 4, forcing tiebreaks, and then winning the tiebreaker 2-0. Having four decisive games is pretty nice to start with, but by far the most amazing game of the series was the first one - an absolutely insane draw that was thrilling from start to finish. I have to do a show on this game somewhere, but only after I've really done my best to figure things out on my own. See for yourselves here, if you haven't already.

    The Karpov tournament in Poikovsky was more mundane, as usual. For the fourth time in five rounds, there were only two decisive games*; for the third time, it was Karjakin and Jakovenko figuring in. In rounds 2 and 4 they were winners, but this time they lost (to Vitiugov and Sokolov, respectively). So we have a five-way tie for first between Vitiugov, Sutovsky, Jakovenko, Riazantsev and Karjakin. They're half a point ahead of two players, Bologan and Motylev, and then the other five players are just one more half a point behind. In other words, the distance from first to last in this oddly symmetrical tournament is one point.

    * Mad props, as they used to say, to the pairs Sutovsky-Motylev, Bologan-Riazantsev and Jobava-Rublevsky, who managed to draw their games in 21, 13 and 15 moves, respectively. These guys are making a great case for the Sofia rules, but I still prefer my solution: issue a warning, and then don't invite them back for two years - as in don't invite them back to any round-robins, anywhere, for two years. The occasional short draw is one thing, but this tournament is loaded with them. Of the 30 games, six have gone fewer than 20 moves, and three more have been drawn in under 30.

    Saturday
    Jun052010

    The Daily Update: Leon, Poikovsky

    It was another impressive match in the Leon rapid event. Unlike yesterday's battle between Gelfand and Vallejo, it didn't go to extra games, but the spectators were hardly ripped off. After three draws between Aronian and Dominguez, the fourth and final game went a very impressive 161 moves before Aronian pulled out the win. The queen and opposite-colored bishop ending was always difficult, but Aronian could surely have won faster - much faster. Watching live, I and a number of the spectators felt that he had to win the game thrice over, but at least he finished the job in the end. Tomorrow (Sunday) he'll have his final against Gelfand.

    At the Karpov tournament in Poikovsky, we had our first repeat winners: Jakovenko and Karjakin, who defeated Bologan and Sokolov respectively. As a result, they separated from three other players who entered the round tied for first, and now it's just the two of them with 3/4, half a point ahead of Sutovsky and Riazantsev.

    Saturday
    Jun052010

    This Week's ChessVideos Show: Shulman-Kamsky, Part 2

    I continued this week with part 2 of my look back at the game Shulman-Kamsky from the recently-completed 2010 US Championship. Their game from the last round of the quad finals (the game before their Armageddon battle) was a theoretically interesting Gruenfeld battle, and this week I take a very close look at the risky pawn-grab line chosen by Kamsky. If you're interested in Gruenfeld theory, or just like to look at exciting variations, you'll want to tune in to the show.

    It is free (free registration is required), and available on-demand, too - but only for a month or so. So have a look now, while the looking's good.

    Friday
    Jun042010

    The Daily Update: Leon, Xinghua, Poikovsky

    1. Leon: The first semi-final of this four-man rapid event was a classic between Boris Gelfand and Francisco Vallejo Pons. Gelfand won, but it wasn't easy!

    Game 1: It was hard work, but Gelfand's Petroff held.

    Game 2: Vallejo used the unusual but exciting Blumenfeld Counter-Gambit, and Gelfand upped the ante with a rare pawn sacrifice. It looked promising at the time, but Vallejo was able to neutralize White's initiative without much difficulty, and it was Gelfand who needed to fight for the draw. (Which, admittedly, he achieved pretty easily - but still, he was the one who had to do it, with White.)

    Game 3: Another Petroff, with Gelfand varying first - and with success. Gelfand was pushing mightily for the win, but Vallejo managed to draw a rook ending two pawns down, as if he too was a member of the old Soviet school of chess.

    Game 4: This time it was a Nimzo-Indian. White sacrificed a pawn, and then shortly thereafter regained it with a pawn's interest. The resulting position was fine for Black, though: with opposite-colored bishops and active rooks it was Gelfand who was under what little pressure there was.

    Game 5: It was on to tiebreaks, and this one was spectacular. Gelfand had White again, and when Vallejo repeated the same Nimzo line (4.e3 b6) the Israeli GM chose the gambit line 5.Bd3 Bb7 6.Ne2. After sacrificing the pawn, he soon regained it to sac the exchange, and then sacrificed another pawn for attacking chances. He continued in that same vein, but it would have been for nought had Vallejo played 24...d5. His 24...dxc5 was an error - practically speaking, a blunder - and after that Gelfand's attack crashed through in style.

    Game 6: In a must-win situation, Vallejo decided that trying to beat his head against Gelfand's preparation was a bad idea, and went for 1.b3. He didn't get anything from it, but it made Gelfand find his own way at the board. Vallejo was able to push, but Gelfand coped, drew, and won the match.

    This was an excellent way to start, and hopefully Aronian - Dominguez will be just as good tomorrow/today (Saturday).

     

    2. Xinghua: The Chinese Championships came to a close today, and the "men's" group (scare quotes because Hou Yifan was playing) finished in a three-way tie for first at 7.5/11. Bu Xiangzhi entered with the lead, but could only draw with Black against Li Shilong. Wang Hao and Zhou Jianchao were half a point back, and both won. For Zhou it was expected, as although he had Black he was facing the lowest-scoring, lowest-rated (2379!) player in the field. Wang Hao's task was more difficult: he had White, yes, but was facing the very strong Ni Hua. Nevertheless, he won, and as an added bonus took first place and the title of Chinese Champion on tiebreak.

    In the women's group, the winner was the untitled but highest-rated player. That was Ju Wenjun, whose score of 8/11 put her half a point ahead of Huang Qian and a point in front of Tan Zhongyi.

     

    3. Poikovsky: The Karpov tournament is moving in the Astrakhan direction, as there was just one win today. Again, it featured players who had hitherto only drawn, as Sutovsky whipped Onischuk in a Moller Ruy Lopez. It was a fast game, only 26 moves long, but 60% of the other players had probably already finished dinner, had a nightcap, and fallen asleep. Bologan-Karjakin was 16 moves of pure excitement, Jobava-Riazantsev entertained the spectators for 18 moves, and the colossal Rublevsky-Motylev struggle made it all the way to move 14 before the players collapsed in an exhausted heap.

    After three rounds, there's a five-way tie for first: Sutovsky, Bologan, Jakovenko, Karjakin and Riazantsev have two points apiece.

    Friday
    Jun042010

    Anand and His Helpers: Two Views

    This one is pro-Anand, this one is critical. About the first one, there's something that's either extremely interesting or peculiar; either a potential bombshell in chess history or the material for a world-class practical joke. Arvind Aaron writes this:

    As for Kramnik’s decision to pitch in, there are several factors. Kramnik shares a special relationship with Anand. When the World Chess Council was formed by Linares organiser Luis Rentero, Kramnik even visited Anand at his Madrid home in 1998 to play a match with him, with the winner to play Kasparov.

    Say what???? Does anyone know anything more about this (alleged) match?

    HT: Brian Karen

    Thursday
    Jun032010

    Ongoing Events: Poikovsky, Xinghua, Leon

    (1) Poikovsky: The Karpov tournament in Poikovsky is two rounds in (of 11), and so far all the games have been drawn except the following:

    Round 1: Bologan - Sokolov 1-0, Rublevsky - Riazantsev 0-1

    Round 2: Jakovenko - Jobava 1-0, Karjakin - Naiditsch 1-0

    The leaders, therefore, are Bologan, Riazantsev, Jakovenko and Karjakin with 1.5/2.

     

    (2) Xinghua: The Chinese Championship is winding down, but it's far from decided. With one round to go Bu Xiangzhi leads with 7/10, but Zhou Jianchao and Wang Hao are just half a point behind, while Ni Hua is another half-point back. Bu will have Black in the last round against Li Shilong (who is in fifth with 5.5) and Zhou will have Black as well - but against tailender Ji Dan, rated only 2379. Wang Hao will have White, but against Ni Hua, so judging by pairings alone the likeliest single result is Bu Xiangzhi and Zhou Jianchao finishing tied for first. We'll see.

    (3) Leon: Play in this high-level rapid event doesn't start until tomorrow, but we have the pairings. The Vallejo - Gelfand semi-final takes place tomorrow, and Dominguez - Aronian transpires on Saturday. (The winners of those matches face off on Sunday.) Rounds start at 10:30 ET/4:30 CET.

    Thursday
    Jun032010

    Bulgarian Organizers Take ChessBase to Court

    That's the title of an article on the ChessVibes site. The topic, which we recently addressed on the blog, is ChessBase's decision to rebroadcast the moves of the Anand-Topalov match without the organizers' permission. The article has a lot of detailed information, so do check it out. Unfortunately but understandably, ChessBase has yet to comment on the matter.