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    Tuesday
    Mar102015

    Ivanchuk Wins the Vladimir Petrov Memorial

    Vassily (now "Vasil") Ivanchuk won the Vladimir Petrov Memorial in Jurmala, Latvia this past weekend, scoring 9/11 in this open Swiss. This was an extremely strong rapid tournament, and Ivanchuk's score put him half a point ahead of Sergey Karjakin, Boris Gelfand and Richard Rapport. There was also a strong (but significantly weaker) field in the blitz tournament held on Friday; that finished in a four-way tie between Vladimir Malakhov (who won on tiebreaks), Daniel Fridman, Valentina Gunina and Loek van Wely.

    A helpful page for English-speakers and readers is here.

    HT: Thomas Richter

    Tuesday
    Mar102015

    Najer Wins the European Championship

    Winning the European Individual Championship was a very impressive result for Evgeny Najer, and had he been a bit more of a maximalist it could have been even more impressive. He was winning (with Black) against Denis Khismatullin in the last round when he accepted a draw. (He also had an advantage on the clock.) The position was still sharp and in principle an accident might have happened, but the likeliest result was certainly a win for Black.

    At the moment when he offered the draw the game between David Navara and Ivan Cheparinov was still underway, and with a win Navara could have caught Najer and tied for first. That possibility was mainly theoretical, though, as Cheparinov probably should have won and was never in the slightest danger. So Najer finished in clear first with 8.5/11, half a point ahead of Navara, who took second on tiebreaks, Khismatullin, who took fourth, and Mateusz Bartel, whose flashy finish against Ian Nepomniachtchi pulled him into third on tiebreaks. (That game can be replayed here, with my comments.)

    The top 23 automatically qualify for the World Cup, though it's possible that some other players might qualify as well, in case some of the top 23 have already qualified by other means. (Thomas Richter suggested to me via email that even the 30th-placed finisher may go through.) You can find the top 50 places here, as well as at the official site.

    Sunday
    Mar082015

    Tactics Time: Target Practice

    On Saturday I played well and successfully in a rapid tournament, coming in second place in a small but strong field. After an early loss to the eventual winner, I defeated an IM in the penultimate round and had to beat a 2300+ rated opponent in order to have any chance at tying for first. My opponent played a very provocative opening - we transposed into a St. George! - and in the following position White is not lacking for good moves.

    I'm sure you'll find some effective solutions that differ from mine, which you can replay for yourself over here. Happy analyzing!

    Sunday
    Mar082015

    A Brilliant Idea By Khismatullin

    In round 10 of the European Individual Chess Championship Denis Khismatullin defeated Pavel Eljanov with a very unusual sacrifice in a queen and rook ending. When I first replayed the game I did a kind of double-take after clicking through the move, and reader Jeffrey Hall subsequently wrote in about the move, which he labeled "beyond stunning".

    See it for yourself here - it is truly spectacular.

    Saturday
    Mar072015

    Najer Leads European Championship With a Round to Go

    Today (Saturday) was the final rest day for the participants in the European Individual Chess Championship, and tomorrow we'll have the finale. The tournament has seen several players take the lead, get caught and surpassed, and at this moment there's a new leader: Evgeniy Najer of Russia. While he's a very strong grandmaster whose rating has been as high as 2682, his current rating of 2634 makes him just the 37th seed. No matter: his score of 8/10 has him in clear first, half a point ahead of David Navara and Denis Khismatullin and a full point ahead of the next 15 players in the tournament table.

    Najer has had a tournament of streaks: he won his first three games, drew the next four and has won his last three. If he wins tomorrow he wins the tournament outright, but he'll have a challenge with Black against Khismatullin. Navara has White against Ivan Cheparinov, so we're in store for an exciting finish.

    Speaking of exciting, there have been many noteworthy games in this tournament, and I hope to show at least a small selection over the next few days. For now, let's see how the tournament ends, and remember that in addition to the prestige and prize fund for first there's the almost equally important task of finishing in the top 23, which earns a player an automatic invite to the next World Cup (and a guaranteed payday in that event).

    Saturday
    Feb282015

    Korobov Leads The European Championship After 4 Rounds, 4-0

    Just a reminder that the European Championship is ongoing in Jerusalem, a huge open tournament which doubles as a qualifier for the next World Cup. (The top 23 finishers here qualify for that event.) After four rounds (of 11), Anton Korobov leads with a perfect score, most closely followed by eight players who are half a point behind: Evgeniy Najer, Yuri Vovk, David Navara, Karen Grigoryan, Alexander Motylev, Ilia Smirin, Emil Sutovsky and Robert Kempinski. Theory hounds will want to pay careful attention to this event, as one is more likely to find games that are relevant to one's repertoire here than in the elite round-robins. (This is obviously true because of numbers, but also because there tends to be more diversity on average in these mixed fields as well.)

    Friday
    Feb272015

    Tbilisi Grand Prix, Final Round: Tomashevsky Wins the Tournament and Everyone Drew Their Games

    Evgeny Tomashevsky had already clinched clear first with a round to go, and since everyone drew today (in at least half of the cases, quickly and bloodlessly) he finished the Grand Prix tournament in Tbilisi with his 1.5 point lead intact. Congratulations to Tomashevsky, who has offered yet another tantalizing hint that he may yet be on his way into the upper elite. Here are the final standings:

    • 1. Evgeny Tomashevsky 8 (of 11)
    • 2. Dmitry Jakovenko 6.5
    • 3. Teimour Radjabov 6
    • 4-7. Leinier Dominguez, Anish Giri, Rustam Kasimdzhanov, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 5.5
    • 8-10. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Alexander Grischuk, Baadur Jobava 5
    • 11. Peter Svidler 4.5
    • 12. Dmitry Andreikin 4

    Let us now take stock of the overall standings in the Grand Prix. With one event to go (in Khanty-Mansiysk) Tomashevsky leads with 252 points, of which 170 came from his clear first place in Tbilisi. Mamedyarov is in second with 235 points, and if the Grand Prix series were over today they'd both qualify for the Candidates. Unfortunately for Mamedyarov, he has already played in his three events (there are four Grand Prix tournaments overall, and the participants choose which three they will attend), so it's extremely unlikely that his lead will hold up.

    In fact, it's impossible unless Fabiano Caruana doesn't play in Khanty-Mansiysk or gets forfeited. Caruana is only five points behind Mamedyarov, and even clear last nets a player 10 Grand Prix points. Behind Caruana's 230 points and still in the running - i.e., playing in Khanty-Mansiysk - are Hikaru Nakamura (207 points), Dmitry Jakovenko and Boris Gelfand (170 points each), and maybe Sergey Karjakin (157 points). That final Grand Prix event is scheduled for May 13-27, and then we'll know who three of the eight Candidates for 2016 (the first is Viswanathan Anand, by virtue of his having been a finalist in the last World Championship).

    Thursday
    Feb262015

    Peter Svidler's Chess24 Series on the Gruenfeld, Now In E-book Format

    Peter Svidler's video series on the Gruenfeld for Chess24 has been widely and correctly praised, and if you play this opening you will want to watch it even if you don't become a premium member of that site. There has been one long-running source of frustration to many of the viewers, however. Svidler sometimes alludes to the "files" where more information was available, but there was no such file. It was coming soon, we were told, but the months went by and no files were in sight.

    In some ways this was very understandable. The Chess24 people have clearly been very busy: they're running a burgeoning playing zone, have commentators for most of the big events, write text articles for the web and every so often add another video series or two to their library. Still, it has been around a year and Svidler's Gruenfeld files had not appeared...until now. The long wait is finally at an end, and you can access (or buy) the e-book series here.

    Thursday
    Feb262015

    Tbilisi Grand Prix, Round 10: Tomashevsky Clinches First After a Scare

    All six games were drawn in the penultimate round of the Grand Prix tournament in Tbilisi, Georgia, and since Evgeny Tomashevsky entered - and thus, exited - the round with a 1.5 point lead it means he has clinched clear first with a round to spare. This draw, against Dmitry Andreikin, did not come easily at all. It was a very complicated game (as the Noteboom Variation usually is) and Tomashevsky was often worse and occasionally in serious trouble. Fortunately for him, the position was as difficult for White (Andreikin) to handle as for Black, and Andreikin headed for the safety of a perpetual check shortly after the first time control.

    While the other five games were also drawn, it doesn't mean that they were peaceful affairs amongst the also-rans. Three of the games remained mostly balanced throughout, but there were two games where one player or the other, and sometimes both (but not simultaneously!) enjoyed a winning advantage. Rustam Kasimdzhanov was beating Baadur Jobava, and then he was losing to him - even in the final position where the game was drawn. Leinier Dominguez was winning against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov for a long time, but immediately after the time control he let the advantage slip away.

    First place is settled, but the other places are not, and since the Grand Prix series is cumulative and there are points available to those not taking first place, tomorrow's action is important. No matter what happens, though, it looks like Tomashevsky will be leading the Grand Prix series going into the final event, scheduled for mid-May in Khanty-Mansiysk.

    * My guesses about the colors in the previous post was thus mistaken.

    Wednesday
    Feb252015

    Tbilisi Grand Prix, Round 9: Tomashevsky Wins Again; Leads by 1.5 with Two Rounds To Go

    Evgeny Tomashevsky is turning in quite the performance at the Tbilisi Grand Prix. Today he crushed Rustam Kasimdzhanov on the white side of a King's Indian with 5.h3, bringing his total score to a fantastic 7/9, good for a 2968 TPR and almost certain tournament victory. Dmitry Jakovenko is a point and a half behind and Teimour Radjabov is two points back so he hasn't clinched yet, but he's on the verge.

    There is still some drama though, as (I think) Tomashevsky will have Black against Radjabov tomorrow and White against Dmitry Andreikin in the last round. Radjabov has White and ought to be motivated, as it's his last chance to fight for first, while Andreikin is a dangerous opponent who won the last Grand Prix tournament and also defeated Tomashevsky in the semi-finals of the 2013 World Cup, even if he's currently in last place in this tournament.

    The day's only other decisive game saw the ever-volatile Baadur Jobava lose a long game to Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.