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    Monday
    Dec062010

    London Chess Classic 2010: An Overview

    There are just two days to go - a day and a half, really - before the final super-tournament of the year, the London Chess Classic, gets underway. Here are the participants and their official and then live ratings:

    1. Viswanathan Anand (2804, 2808.4)

    2. Magnus Carlsen (2802, 2812)

    3. Vladimir Kramnik (2791, 2786.2)

    4. Hikaru Nakamura (2741, 2748.2)

    5. Michael Adams (2723, 2728)

    6. Nigel Short (2680, 2680)

    7. Luke McShane (2645, 2645)

    8. David Howell (2611, 2611)

    The first round starts at 2 p.m. local time in London on Wednesday (= 9 a.m. ET/3 p.m. CET). The time controls are 40 moves in 2 hours, then 20 moves in 1 hour, and then 15 minutes + a 30 second increment after every move for the rest of the game.

    Predictions?

    Anand hasn't been terribly busy this year, and although he won the event that mattered most of all - the world championship match with Topalov - some of his results were only so-so. His most recent performance was pretty good though: he came in second (to Carlsen) in the Pearl Spring tournament at the end of October was pretty good and pushed his 2800+ rating a little higher.

    Carlsen started the year well, then had a couple of horrible results before enjoying success in the Pearl Spring event. I don't know if the blitz championship helped or hurt his form and ego, but after winning it convincingly in 2009 his third place this year was perhaps a continuation of his up-and-down form.

    Kramnik had excellent results most of this year (most notably winning Bilbao over Carlsen and Anand), but he was a bit shaky in the Tal Memorial.

    Nakamura has been very competitive in his super-events this year, and tweets that he has worked himself into the best shape of his life. Of course, Nakamura always starts events with a lot of confidence (which is useful!), so a self-report to that effect may not mean what it would coming from someone like Anand or Kramnik.

    Adams has had a good 2010 (a nice chunk of rating points, and don't forget his crush vs. Carlsen from the Olympiad) and is showing signs of returning to where he was from the mid-90s to the mid-00s.

    Short hasn't had a fantastic year, but he has been in the super-elite and at his best can play with anyone here.

    McShane took a few years off from high-level chess, but seems to be working his way back up.

    Howell is up and coming (like Carlsen, he's 20), but for now at least he's an outsider in this company.

    Monday
    Dec062010

    Women's World Championship, Round 1 Tiebreaks

    More info, videos, etc. here. I'll note only a couple of today's results. In the upset category, Lilit Mkrtchian lost to Xiaowen Zhang, 140 points lower-rated than her. Then again, when a Chinese woman wins a match, it probably isn't all that surprising given their prominence in women's chess the past 15 years or so. In the non-upset category, Camilla Baginskaite lost to the heavily favored Lufei Ruan. Not a surprise, but it means that the U.S. contingent has been reduced by 50%. (For those who like counting things, Russia and China have six remaining participants apiece.)

    Sunday
    Dec052010

    ND *Real* Football News

    Just this once, I'll go along with my non-U.S. readers and refer to soccer as "football". Why? Because Notre Dame's women's soccer team won the national championship for the third time.

    As for the other sort of football, ND will play December 31 in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas against the Miami Hurricanes.

    Sunday
    Dec052010

    London Chess Classic Starts Wednesday

    It has been hanging over us for some time, and as usual with tournament announcements, the given dates are ambiguous, with three possible meanings. Do they refer to the date of the opening ceremony? Does it refer to the first day of any sort of activity - lectures, auxiliary tournaments and the like? Or does it refer to the event that 99.99% of chess fans are interested in: the start of play in the prestige tournament?

    Interested parties can look up the auxiliary events of the London Chess Classic for themselves, and certainly should if they're in the area. For blog purposes, I'll note that what we're waiting on - the main event, starring Anand, Kramnik and Carlsen - starts on Wednesday, December 8.

    Sunday
    Dec052010

    Women's World Championship: Some Upsets

    Day 2 of round 1 is over, and some big names bit the dust. The biggest is Pia Cramling, who has been one of the top female players for going on 30 years. She was the 7th seed here (8th, technically, but that's because the World Citizen is labeled as the top seed due to her status as the defending champ) but lost to Betul Yildiz 1.5-.5. Natalia Pogonina lost 2-0 to Baira Kovanova in a moderate-sized upset; Elina Danielan also lost to 2-0, to Tatiana Shadrina; and there were smaller upsets as well. One I note with a little surprise is Natalia Zhukova's loss to Marina Romanko. There's not much difference in rating, but I'd have thought being Alexander Grischuk's wife would at least pay off in terms of opening preparation for the first opponent. Apparently not!

    Both US players are still alive. Anna Zatonskih won comfortably against Maia Lomineishvili - as expected - and Camilla Baginskaite came back to win in game 2 - which was not expected - against Lufei Ruan. Tiebreaks are tomorrow.

    Full results, games and videos here.

    Saturday
    Dec042010

    Events Aplenty

    Several events just finished, while another (high profile one) has just begun.

    (1) Karpov - Miljkovic: This rapid match finished in a 3.5-.5 victory for the former world champion. I'm not sure why the match occurred (Miljkovic, while a fine player, is neither a GM nor a prodigy), but it's nice to see Karpov in action when he's playing reasonably well.

    (2) Greek Championship: Pre-tournament favorite Kotronias won with a 7/9 score. (By the way, you can try the official website, but it's all Greek to you.)

    (3) Italian Championship: Historically, the Italians may have stolen from the Greeks, but in chess it's their theft from the U.S. that's most noteworthy. Caruana won their championship with 9/11, but we'll forgive them if they send him back.

    (4) The Women's World Championship: This 64-player knockout event started today (Saturday) in Hatay, Turkey, with most of the women's strongest players participating. The top seeds are Humpy Koneru, Hou Yifan and Tatiana Kosintseva; the American participants are Anna Zatonskih (a relatively high seed at #18) and Camilla Baginskaite (#49 and not looking good for round 2). World citizen Alexandra Kosteniuk is the defending champion and the 12th seed by rating.

    Saturday
    Dec042010

    Anand Interview

    Here.

    Friday
    Dec032010

    The Latest TCEC Game of the Month is Up

    I've annotated the "Game of the Month" for Martin Thoresen's TCEC site the past three months, and the latest one is available on his site. (You can find it on the drop-down menu just above the board.) Enjoy!

    Friday
    Dec032010

    Part One Of A Long Interview ("Conference") With Peter Svidler

    Here, in English translation from the (mostly) Russian original. It's an excellent read, covering a wide range of chess and non-chess topics. (Note to concerned parents of youngsters: a mild vulgarity appears a couple of times.)

    Friday
    Dec032010

    A Brief Magnus Carlsen Interview

    With the Telegraph, in anticipation of next week's London Chess Classic.