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    1948 World Chess Championship 1959 Candidates 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 London Chess Classic 2014 Petrosian Memorial 2014 Rapid & Blitz World Championship 2014 Russian Team Championship 2014 Sinquefield Cup 2014 Tigran Petrosian Memorial 2014 U.S. Championship 2014 U.S. Open 2014 Women's World Championship 2014 World Championship 2014 World Junior Championships 2014 World Rapid Championship 2015 Capablanca Memorial 2015 Chinese Championship 2015 European Club Cup 2015 European Team Championship 2015 London Chess Classic 2015 Millionaire Open 2015 Poikovsky 2015 Russian Team Championship 2015 Sinquefield Cup 2015 U.S. Championship 2015 Women's World Championship KO 2015 World Blitz Championship 2015 World Cup 2015 World Junior Championship 2015 World Open 2015 World Rapid & Blitz Championship 2015 World Team Championships 2016 2016 Candidates 2016 Capablanca Memorial 2016 Chess Olympiad 2016 Chinese Championship 2016 Sinquefield Cup 2016 U.S. Championship 2016 U.S. Junior Championship 2016 U.S. Women's Championship 2016 Women's World Championship 2016 World Championship 2016 World Junior Championship 2016 World Open 2018 Chess Olympiad 22014 Sinquefield Cup 22014 U.S. Championship 2Mind Games 2016 60 Minutes A. 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    Sunday
    Aug072016

    Back to Blogging Shortly; Quick Sinquefield Cup Overview

    I just finished playing in the U.S. Open, during which time blogging, sad to say, wasn't my top priority. It'll take me a little while to get caught back up with the rest of my life, but blogging will resume shortly.

    A first and very important thing to note is that the Sinquefield Cup started on Friday. In round 1 Wesley So beat Hikaru Nakamura while Veselin Topalov defeated Peter Svidler; Svidler also lost in round 2 against Levon Aronian. Anyone can lose to anyone in such an elite competition, but as Svidler was a late replacement for Vladimir Kramnik (and had black in both games) it's not so surprising that he would get off to a bumpy start. Also in round 2: Nakamura bounced back with a win over Anish Giri, while Maxime Vachier-Lagrave's 70 game undefeated streak in classical chess finally came to an end thanks to Viswanathan Anand. Finally, all five games were drawn in round 3.

    Saturday
    Jul302016

    Various Events: MVL-Svidler Finishes; British Championship and Poikovsky Well Underway

    As already reported, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave had already clinched match victory over Peter Svidler with one classical game yet to play; that game has been played and was drawn.

    Meanwhile, the British Championship is underway. Nigel Short and Luke McShane aren't playing, but Michael Adams, David Howell, and Gawain Jones are and make for a strong set of headliners. Round 6 of 11 is underway, and entering the round Howell led with 4.5 points. Six players, including Adams and Jones - who has White against Howell - are half a point behind.

    The Karpov Poikovsky tournament is even stronger, a 10-player round robin whose field includes three players rated over 2700 and most of the rest (maybe even all of the rest) have been over 2700 as well. Round 7 (of 9) is almost finished, and Anton Korobov leads with 4.5 points. Dmitry Andreikin, Maxim Matlakov, and Dmitry Jakovenko have 4 points apiece, while Radoslaw Wojtaszek has 3.5 points but is still playing. He has been pressing against Igor Kovalenko, but the game looks overwhelmingly likely to finish in a draw.

    Saturday
    Jul302016

    A Win in the Correspondence World Championship

    It only took 54 games, but at last, someone has won a game in the 29th World Correspondence Championship. Congratulations to Senior International Master Jacek Oskulski.

    Saturday
    Jul302016

    Updated Houdini Beats Komodo...Until It Doesn't

    At the start of stage 3 of this year's TCEC, something remarkable happened, until it didn't. After three years' hiatus, Robert Houdart has finally updated Houdini (a new commercial release is scheduled for this October or November), and in the first game of the new stage the revised Houdini defeated Komodo 10.1, the #1 program in the world and freshly updated as well. Here's the game.

    Unfortunately and very strangely, it turned out that someone on the TCEC side of things had changed Komodo's default contempt and dynamism settings. It wasn't much of a change, but the rules are the rules and Komodo was given a second chance. In the sequel Houdini again put Komodo under pressure, but this time the champ escaped with a draw. Many spectators were rather unhappy about this, especially since other programs have in the past been subject to what seemed like unfair bits of bad luck that didn't result in any second chances. From what I understand, however, what happened was in keeping with the rules everyone had agreed to, so while it was a pity for Houdini's fans the reply wasn't really unfair.

    In any case, it's nice to see that fresh work is being done with Houdini, and the dominance of Komodo and Stockfish will be challenged anew.

    Friday
    Jul292016

    Magnus Carlsen to be on The Simpsons

    So it says here, though you might want to translate the page.

    An informal survey: do you think The Simpsons have jumped the shark, and if so, how long ago did it happen?

    Friday
    Jul292016

    This Week's World Chess Column: The Top Players 100 Years Ago

    In my column this week I take a trip in the way-back machine, to see what was happening in the chess of Emanuel Lasker and Jose Raul Capablanca in 1916. Have a look.

    Friday
    Jul292016

    The Sinquefield Cup Starts Next Week, Sans Kramnik

    The Sinquefield Cup starts August 5, and it will start without Vladimir Kramnik. Kramnik is suffering from back pain (been there, done that; I don't recommend it), so he's going to take the month off to try to get it under control. In the mid-2000s he suffered from a debilitating arthritis, and he thinks there's a chance that this might be a recurrence of the problem.

    While Kramnik tries to recuperate in time for the Olympiad, Peter Svidler will take his place if he can secure a visa. The other participants will be Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Fabiano Caruana, Levon Aronian, Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So, Viswanathan Anand, Anish Giri, Veselin Topalov, and (the slumping) Ding Liren.

    Friday
    Jul292016

    Vachier-Lagrave Wins Match With Svidler

    There's still a round to go, but Maxime Vachier-Lagrave has clinched match victory against Peter Svidler. He won the rapid portion 2.5-1.5, and with a game to go leads the classical stage 2.5-.5. The classical games count double, but of course it wouldn't matter at this point if they counted 100 times more than the rapid games.

    There's a nice report on the match here, and it also notes that MVL's rating is (rounded up) 2820! The '90s generation has taken over, led by those actually born in the year 1990.

    Saturday
    Jul232016

    Bilbao Ends With Three Draws

    Magnus Carlsen won the Bilbao Masters Final - but that was already true before today's final round. Today's three games were calm and short affairs. (Yes, Giri-Nakamura went to move 48, but the last 25 moves or so took half an hour or less.) Initially it seemed that Karjakin-Wei Yi might be exciting, but a few quick trades dispelled the illusion. And there were no illusion to dispel in So-Carlsen; that game was the first to finish and never had a moment where it looked like things might heat up.

    Final Standings:

    1. Carlsen 17/30 (on 3-1-0 scoring; on traditional scoring he went 6.5/10)
    2. Nakamura 12 (5.5)
    3-4. So, Wei Yi 11 (5)
    5. Karjakin 9 (4.5)
    6. Giri 7 (3.5)

    Saturday
    Jul232016

    A Short Review of Informant 128

    It's time for another review of the Chess Informant, because a new edition has been published. This long-running periodical goes back to the great year of 1966, and has morphed from a bare games collection, some of which were annotated with languageless symbols, into a combination of a yearbook and a magazine. About half of each issue nowadays follows the old formula of wordlessly annotated games - about 200 per issue - but the other half (or more than half) comprises a series of high-level articles written in English. Each issue bears a close resemblance to its predecessor, but the editors are constantly tinkering, trying new authors and new themes every time.

    Here's a summary of the contents of the 128th issue of Chess Informant. Let's start with the usual material. As mentioned above, there are 200 deeply annotated games, the overwhelming majority from (top) grandmaster practice. There are puzzle sections for combinations, endgames, and studies - nine of each. There are indexes, lists of the FIDE tournaments played in the relevant period (February-May of this year, 2016), and a re-presentation of the best game and the best novelty from the previous Informant. (The latter doesn't just give the game itself, but gives a small ECO-style summary of the theory of the line as a whole, revised to take the new novelty into account.)

    Now for the variable sections. The Candidates Tournament is understandably the centerpiece of the issue, and it begins with a long article by super-GM Ernesto Inarkiev. He spends several pages offering a sporting, conceptual analysis of Sergey Karjakin's triumph, and then illustrates the analysis with a very close look at Karjakin's games from the tournament.

    The next article is by GM Aleksandr Colovic, who offers a theoretical survey of the event. He goes through the tournament's contributions to the theory of the Slav, the Semi-Slav, the Queen's Indian, the English, the Ruy Lopez, and the Giuoco Piano.

    GM Sarunas Sulskis then turns his attention to the European Championship, focusing especially on its convincing winner, Ernesto Inarkiev. (Author of the first article in the publication, mentioned above.)

    Super-GM Michael Adams presents four of his games in the Ruy Lopez with an early d2-d3; two on the white side and two with the black pieces. Surprisingly, all four games were drawn, but all of the games were interesting and all - except for a short and fairly comfortable draw with Black against Jakovenko - all were full-blooded battles.

    GM Mauricio Flores Rios covers the super-strong U.S. Championship, won by Fabiano Caruana ahead of Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So. He looks at no less than six of Caruana's games from the championship (including those against fellow super-GMs Nakamura and So) and one each by Nakamura and So. A little bonus: he covers So's spectacular win over Garry Kasparov from the Ultimate Blitz Challenge, held a few days after the Championship.

    GM Surya Ganguly covers his victory in the Bangkok Open, and then GM Ivan Sokolov recaps the Dubai Open. Both events were quite strong, so while the events were short on super-grandmasters there was a rich ore of content to mine, and the authors are successful in doing so.

    There was a world championship event during this period as well, and GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant recaps Hou Yifan's convincing victory over Mariya Muzychuk in their women's world championship match. Arakhamia-Grant also addresses Hou's frustration with FIDE's handling of the women's crown, and her (Hou's) intention not to participate in the next women's knockout world championship event this coming October.

    GM Evgeny Najer writes about the ridiculously strong Russian Team Championship (Kramnik, Grischuk, Karjakin, Svidler, Jakovenko, Dominguez, Nepomniachtchi, etc.), and GM Sergey Rublevsky presents one of his own games from that event.

    GM Mihail Marin's "Old Wine in New Bottles" column is generally placed much earlier in the issue, but the important thing is that it remains. This time he looks at the Sicilian Scheveningen structure, showing both contemporary play and echoes going back as far as the 1950s.

    Finally, GM Karsten Mueller's Endgame Strategy column looks at zugzwang within five kinds of endgame: pawn endgames, those with a minor piece against pawns, endings where one side has an extra exchange, same-colored bishop endings, and rook endings.

    In summary and conclusion, the book is a terrific resource for all serious players, especially for those rated over 2000, and diligent players over 1800 should get a lot out of it as well. Moreover, there's enough "talk" in the periodical that even somewhat lower-rated players can enjoy it as a summary of the events of the past few months. Highly recommended.

    Ordering info here.