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    Wednesday
    Mar302011

    Shipov on One Sort of Time Pressure

    Here's Sergey Shipov on one of the amusing challenges (amusing unless it's your challenge!) chess players must deal with as the clock ticks down. Read it with a very large glass of water...

    Tuesday
    Mar292011

    Anand Wins Rapid Match vs. Kasimdzhanov 3.5-.5

    World champion Viswanathan Anand defeated his sometime second, the former FIDE k.o. world champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov, in a rapid match by a healthy 3.5-.5 score, but it wasn't quite as one-sided as the score would suggest. In the first game Kasimdzhanov outplayed Anand with Black and was better when the draw was agreed, while in game two Kasimdzhanov had a serious advantage before letting Anand not only escape but turn the tables. The score could have been quite different at this point, the last two games were one-sided. Anand played better, while Kasimdzhanov fell into blunder mode, and both games finished quickly.

    You can replay the games here, with my (brief) comments.

    Tuesday
    Mar292011

    Viktor Korchnoi's 80th Birthday Celebration

    Featuring the man of honor giving a simul prior to the celebratory dinner. Invitees included Garry Kasparov, Mark Taimanov and others. A picture report on the event (with a musical link) is here.

    Tuesday
    Mar292011

    European Championship: Potkin Still Leads After 7 Rounds

    Seven rounds down, four to go at the European Chess Championship. Vladimir Potkin has drawn his last two games, but most of his closest pursuers have been in a drawing rut as well. As a result, while Potkin still leads alone in first, with 6/7, the chase pack has become huge: nineteen players are just half a point behind! This includes three of the 2700s (Francisco Vallejo Pons, Nikita Vitiugov and Radoslaw Wojtaszek), and a presumably soloing Sebastien Feller in what ought to be his last tournament for the next three years.

    Sunday
    Mar272011

    Remembering Vasily Smyslov

    While on the subject of old-time greats from Russia, here's a piece that's part article, part compilation. Whatever it is, it's on former world champion Vasily Smyslov, who died last year, on the occasion of what would have been his 90th birthday.

    Sunday
    Mar272011

    A Contrarian on Korchnoi

    A few days ago we wished Viktor Korchnoi a happy birthday, as did many other chess sites. Korchnoi's chess and fighting spirit are universally commendable, but although he is capable of coming across in pleasantly impish manner, he hasn't always been a beacon of sunshine and happiness. Here's how Korchnoi's contemporary and fellow GM, Evgeny Vasiukov, sees it.

    Sunday
    Mar272011

    Ongoing and Forthcoming Events (Updated)

    This isn't exactly exhaustive, but an indication of my interests and what I'm aware of. If I'm missing something of obvious significance, I'm sure someone will let me know!

    Ongoing: The European Chess Championship is almost halfway over. Five of eleven rounds are complete, and there's still one player with a perfect score: Vladimir Potkin. Three players are half a point behind: (IM!) Anthony Wirig, Mircea Parligras and Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu. As for the four-pointers, there are 28 of them, so you'll have to research that for yourselves. (Sorry.) Amazingly, of the nine 2700s in the tournament, only two even have 4 points! Tough event.

    Forthcoming:

    1. Anand-Kasimdzhanov Rapid Match, March 27 (today). The match takes place in Tashkent, according to Chess Today, but no details about the number of games or the event website were offered.

    2. The US Chess Championship, from April 13-28.

    3. The Candidates Matches, from May 3-27. The event's "bracketology" looks like this:

    • Topalov - Kamsky
    • Gelfand - Mamedyarov
    • Aronian - Grischuk
    • Kramnik - Radjabov

    The winner of the first match will play the winner of the second, and so on.

    4. The London Chess Classic, from December 3-12. That's pretty far ahead, but I mention it because there's a bit of odd but appealing news. They're expanding the field to nine players (from eight), which implies (assuming no simuls or player-fractions) that each player will have a bye round. The fun part of it is that the player with a bye will be pressed into helping with the commentary, which is a great innovation for the fans. (Doubtless the player himself would prefer to rest or prepare, but ideas like this help make sure there are super-tournaments in the first place.)

    Saturday
    Mar262011

    This Week's ChessVideos Show: Viewer Games for March 2011 (Part 1?)

    Featured openings include the Advance Caro-Kann, the King's Gambit Declined and the Taimanov Sicilian, and there are very some interesting sacrifices as well. The show is here, available on-demand free of charge for the next month or so (free registration required).

    Friday
    Mar252011

    Amber Concludes (For Good): Aronian Wins For a Third Time

    Levon Aronian drew twice against Sergey Karjakin - and was close to winning the first game - and thereby secured first place in the 20th and final Amber Blindfold & Rapid tournament in Monte Carlo. This was his third victory in this tournament, which he also won in 2008 and 2009. He clinched first after the blindfold round when Magnus Carlsen lost an amazing game to Boris Gelfand. Carlsen played extremely aggressively, but Gelfand was up to the challenge and played a long stretch of perfect moves to obtain and maintain the advantage.  Carlsen's 23.Kg2 was just about the breaking point; after that, it was more or less Gelfand's game to win, and he did. Carlsen did win the rapid game, winning with remarkable ease on the black side of a Benko Gambit.

    Carlsen's performance in the blindfold was pretty mediocre, as he only managed a -1 score in that discipline. In the rapid it was another story, as he achieved a fantastic 3075 TPR going 9.5/11, losing just the one game to Ivanchuk. Aronian's 7 points were good enough for clear second in the rapid, and his 8.5 points put him a point and a half ahead of Anand in the blindfold. Anand tied for third in the rapid, from which it obviously follows that he took third place overall. He finished the tournament the right way, too, going 2-0 against Anish Giri, who finished the event alone in last place. Someone had to, and as the youngest and lowest-rated player in the event it's neither a surprise nor a tragedy for him to do so. If there would be future editions of the tournament, his placement would no doubt improve considerably.

    In other matches, Veselin Topalov drew the blindfold game and beat him in the rapid. Vladimir Kramnik and Hikaru Nakamura exchanged wins, and in both cases it was with the black pieces that they triumphed. The rapid game was especially lively, with Nakamura adding another spectacular win in the Classical King's Indian to his résumé. Finally, as if to punish the organizers (either for trying to finish the day's play earlier than usual or for ending the tournament), Vugar Gashimov and Alexander Grischuk played a total of 279 moves in their two games: the first went 140 moves, the second 139. Both times it was Grischuk in the role of Grand Inquisitor, and both times Gashimov survived the rack (or was it the comfy chair?) and drew.

    Final Blindfold Standings:

    1. Aronian 8.5 (out of 11)
    2. Anand 7
    3-5. Gashimov, Gelfand, Grischuk 6
    6. Karjakin 5.5
    7-9. Carlsen, Ivanchuk, Nakamura 5
    10. Topalov 4.5
    11. Kramnik 4
    12. Giri 3.5

    Final Rapid Standings:

    1. Carlsen 9.5 (out of 11)
    2. Aronian 7
    3-5. Anand, Ivanchuk, Topalov 6
    6. Nakamura 5.5
    7. Grischuk 5
    8-10. Gelfand, Gashimov, Karjakin 4.5
    11. Kramnik 4
    12. Giri 3.5

    Final Combined Standings:

    1. Aronian 15.5 (out of 22)
    2. Carlsen 14.5
    3. Anand 13
    4-5. Grischuk, Ivanchuk 11
    6-9. Gashimov, Gelfand, Nakamura, Topalov 10.5
    10. Karjakin 10
    11. Kramnik 8
    12. Giri 7

    There aren't any new videos up on the site, but if and when that changes, I'll post them if I can.

    Wednesday
    Mar232011

    Amber, Round 10: Aronian Still Leads by a Point Entering the Final Round

    And by final, I mean final: the last round ever of the Amber Blindfold & Rapid tournaments, unless Joop van Oosterom changes his mind and funds future editions. If this is the end, as it seems to be, the winner will be either Levon Aronian or his closest pursuer, Magnus Carlsen. Aronian started the day a point ahead, and that's where he finished, too, after both players went 1.5/2.

    Aronian's achievement came in the usual way: in blindfold - he has already clinched clear first in that discipline - and with a little extra help from his opponent. He was probably lost against Veselin Topalov, but the latter's attempt to play for the gallery backfired (as it often does). Aronian won that game, and had good chances to win the rapid too before it finished in a draw.

    Carlsen did things the other way around - the normal way, given the colors. With Black in blindfold, he easily drew against Alexander Grischuk, and then beat him convincingly in the rapid. In the process he won the game of the day prize, and clinched clear first in the rapid half of the event. (Aronian is three points ahead of Carlsen in the blindfold, but two behind in rapid.)

    Viswanathan Anand is in clear third now, on the strength of a 1.5-.5 victory over Vugar Gashimov. He had been tied with Grischuk (who only scored half a point against Carlsen) and Vassily Ivanchuk, who drew a pair of very exciting games with Vladimir Kramnik.

    In the other matches, Hikaru Nakamura and Sergey Karjakin drew a pair of hard-fought games, while Boris Gelfand won the blindfold game against Anish Giri and took the match 1.5-.5.

    Combined Standings After Round 10:

    1. Aronian 14.5 (out of 20)
    2. Carlsen 13.5
    3. Anand 11
    4. Ivanchuk 10.5
    5. Grischuk 10
    6-8. Gashimov, Gelfand, Nakamura 9.5
    9-10. Karjakin, Topalov 9
    11-12. Giri, Kramnik 7

    Final Round Pairings (Note: The round starts two hours earlier than usual)

    • Session 1: Ivanchuk - Topalov, Gashimov - Grischuk, Giri - Anand
    • Session 2: Carlsen - Gelfand, Nakamura - Kramnik, Aronian - Karjakin
    • Session 3: Topalov - Ivanchuk, Grischuk - Gashimov, Anand - Giri
    • Session 4: Gelfand - Carlsen, Kramnik - Nakamura, Kajarkin - Aronian

    Videos: There are two today. First, we have Kramnik presenting his rapid draw with Ivanchuk:

    Next, Anand showing his blindfold win against Carlsen from an earlier round: