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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 Champions Showdown 2016 Chess Olympiad 2016 Chinese Championship 2016 European Club Cup 2016 Isle of Man 2016 London Chess Classic 2016 Russian Championship 2016 Sinquefield Cup 2016 Tal Memorial 2016 U.S. Championship 2016 U.S. Junior Championship 2016 U.S. Women's Championship 2016 Women's World Championship 2016 World Blitz Championship 2016 World Championship 2016 World Junior Championship 2016 World Open 2016 World Rapid Championship 2017 British Championship 2017 Chinese Championship 2017 Geneva Grand Prix 2017 Isle of Man 2017 PRO Chess League 2017 Sharjah Masters 2017 Sinquefield Cup 2017 Speed Chess Championship 2017 U..S. 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    Sunday
    Feb072010

    Moscow Open: Four Tie For First

    And those four are the talented youngster Le Quang Liem; his coach, the former Candidate Evgeny Bareev; Konstantin Cherynshov and Ernesto Inarkiev. All scored 7/9. (Tournament site here.)

    Friday
    Feb052010

    This Week's ChessVideos Show: A Second Look at a Crazy Game

    Earlier on the ChessVideos server another presenter took a look at an exciting Blumenfeld Gambit from the Tucson Open. It was a long and thorough look, but the game was rich enough that it seemed worthwhile to offer a supplementary video of my own, filling in a few analytical gaps that caught my eye, along with one especially attractive but unnecessary tactical idea.

    If you're interested in attacking play, attractive combinations and/or the Blumenfeld, you'll want to have a look, and you can do so here. (It's free, requires no special software and will be available on-demand for the next month or so.)

    Friday
    Feb052010

    Adams Wins in Gibraltar; Sasikiran Leading in Moscow

    Seven players finished the Gibtelecom tournament in Gibraltar with 7.5/10, but only the top four by TPR (tournament performance rating) went on to the playoff to determine the official victor. In one semi-final Michael Adams squeaked past Jan Gustafsson, while Paco Vallejo Pons beat Sandipan Chanda in the other. In the final, Adams beat Vallejo and won the title. (Official site here.)

    Meanwhile in Moscow, Krishnan Sasikiran is in clear first with 6 out of 7, half a point ahead of Konstantin Chernyshov, Evgeny Bareev, Le Quang Liem, Ernesto Inarkiev, Viktor Bologan and Farrukh Amonatov. There are two rounds to go and the official site is here.

    And now for your amusement: I was watching the live games from Moscow earlier today, off and on, and noticed this great moment in pawn grabbing from the women's event:

    Tatiana Grabuzova (2345) - Xue Zhao (2504)

    1.b3 d5 2.Bb2 Bg4 3.Nf3 Bxf3 4.exf3 e6 5.f4 Nf6 6.Qe2 Bd6 7.Qb5+ Nc6 8.Qxb7 Nb4 9.Bb5+ Ke7 10.Bd3 a6 0-1

    Thursday
    Feb042010

    Ongoing and Forthcoming Events: Gibraltar, Moscow, Aeroflot, Linares

    The first two events are ongoing and have been mentioned on this blog en passant; the last two are coming up.

    Gibraltar (Gibtel) is down to the last round, and after 9 of 10 rounds there's a four-way tie for first between Movsesian, Vallejo Pons, Adams and Gustafsson, each with 7 points. Fourteen(!) players are half a point behind, including Bacrot and Kamsky. (Tournament site here.)

    In Moscow 5 (of 9) rounds are over, and Dmitry Andreikin leads this prestigious open with 4½ points, half a point ahead of fourteen players (again 14!) including stars like Motylev, Bologan, Rublevsky, Bu Xiangzhi and Bareev. (Tournament site here [in Russian] or here [in English].)

    The Aeroflot Open begins shortly after Moscow concludes, running from February 8 to 19. According to TWIC, the field is scheduled to include such players as Bacrot, Bu Xiangzhi, Cheparinov, Motylev, Khalifman, Naiditsch, Nepomniatchi, Sargissian, Sasikiran, Smirin, Timofeev, Vachier-Lagrave, Van Wely and Zvjaginsev. (Tournament site here.)

    Finally, the biggie: Linares. It will run from February 12 to 25 in Linares, Spain (and only there: no halves in Morelia or Dubai), and will feature Topalov, Aronian, Gelfand, Grischuk, Gashimov and local player Vallejo Pons in a double round-robin. (Tournament site here.) Surprisingly, TWIC reports that this is Gashimov's first super-GM event, but this it true only in a very narrow sense. Maybe he hasn't played here or in Dortmund, but the Grand Prix events last year were essentially super-GM tournaments. Here he'll only have players in the upper 2700s (except for Vallejo), but that's not that much of a break from a field with high and low 2700s, so I think he'll do fine. (I doubt he'll win the event, but I don't think he'll do badly or be anywhere near outclassed. He should fit right in.)

    Thursday
    Feb042010

    A Rare Case of Hyperchevalierism

    Here's something you don't see every day:

    This, as a reader was kind enough to inform me, was the final position of the game Sergienko-Vescovi from the ongoing Moscow Open. The game was agreed drawn here as White has perpetual check with Nf6-h7-f6. (That's not true, strictly speaking, because Black can avoid it with ...Kh8 or ...Kd8, but the former allows Rh7# while the second loses a knight to Rd7+. But it is true from a practical standpoint.) However, it's not the result that's especially interesting but Black's knight surplus. Not only has he had the three knights for quite a while (he knighted on move 56; it's White's 65th here), but the underpromotion wasn't a joke.

    I searched Mega2009 (didn't check Mega2010 on my other computer), and if I did the search correctly, there were just 10 games with three (or more) knights, and in every case it was a joke: the underpromoter was way ahead in material and having fun against an opponent who didn't seem to understand that resignation is permitted in all of FIDE's member nations.

    For problemists it's another story. In my old (2000) edition of van der Heijden's Endgame Study database there are 75 entries (out of 58801) with three or more knights. But it looks as if Vescovi has broken new ground in the realm of tournament chess. Here's the full game.

    Wednesday
    Feb032010

    This Week's ChessBase Show: Same as Last Week's (Alekhine-Yates, Carlsbad 1923)

    Due to an apparent problem with the server, or at least my connection to it, last Wednesday night's ChessBase presentation was cut off practically from the very beginning. So we'll try it again this week at the usual hour: Wednesday night at 9 p.m. ET/Thursday morning at 3 a.m. CET. Last week's preview follows:

    For most of us, Frederick Dewhurst Yates is one of those background names in chess history. He wasn't a world champion or one of the great challengers, though his name featured in many of the great tournaments of the first third of the twentieth century. We see the name and see their games when they lose to one of those greats, but rarely seem them as players in their own right.

    As I've suggested before, this is a pity - not only for the somewhat abstract that it's worthwhile to remember those who have come before us, but also because these players have produced some fantastic games which we can enjoy and benefit from. Yates, for instance, lost 11 times to Alekhine while defeating him but twice - but a player who could defeat Alekhine twice must have had something going for him. Indeed, over the course of his relatively short career (he died in 1932, at the age of 48) he managed to win 6 British Championships and to defeat all the great players of the day but Lasker and Capablanca (e.g. Euwe, Rubinstein, Nimzowitsch, Bogoljubow, Reti and plenty more).

    Enough apologia. Yates' best games can speak for themselves, if people will "hear" them, and you're invited to be auditors this Wednesday night at 9 p.m. ET (3 a.m. Thursday morning CET) on the Playchess server. Just log on, go to the Broadcast room and find Alekhine-Yates under the games tab. Once you're there, you'll see a game that's interesting from beginning to end: an early King's Indian that might be of interest to those seeking a theoretical byway, followed by a middlegame where Yates more successfully understood what was going on than his illustrious opponent, and was concluded by a very long and well-calculated combination that resulted in Alekhine's resignation 17 moves later.

    It's a great game; hope to see you there!

    Sunday
    Jan312010

    Wijk aan Zee, Round 13: Carlsen Wins the Tournament

    It was a very exciting last round, even though six of the seven games were drawn. Magnus Carlsen entered the last round with a half point lead over Vladimir Kramnik and Alexey Shirov, and with the white pieces against Fabiano Caruana it seemed he would at the very worst finish tied for first. When Kramnik went back into "a painter paints" mode against Sergey Karjakin, drawing pretty quickly with White, Carlsen's chances went up. But it didn't stay that way. Shirov threw the kitchen sink at Dominguez, set the board on fire [insert other cliches here] in an all-out effort to win, while Caruana got the upper hand and even a winning ending against Carlsen.

    With brilliant defense, Dominguez managed to hold the game...or at least, brilliant defense until the very last move. Dominguez's last move, accompanied by a draw offer, was a blunder, but Shirov failed to find the winning move and accepted the draw with two seconds on his clock. When Caruana likewise failed to win his game, Carlsen had emerged as the tournament victor.

    That's a real shame, I think. He didn't have any exciting streaks, he beat none of his main rivals (though he did manage to lose to one while having difficulties against others) and won no memorable games. Kramnik, on the other hand, played very well in the tournament, while Shirov played best of all. It's a tribute to Carlsen's tremendous strength and fighting spirit that even off-form, he can pose problems in attack and defense that very few players can handle.

    On to the other games. Anand obtained an advantage against van Wely, but as the latter was in no danger of winning the tournament the game ended in a draw. Nakamura had the round's one win, outplaying Tiviakov in a two bishops vs. bishop and knight ending. That put him in a tie for fourth-fifth with Anand, and confirmed his value as a super-GM participant both by score and style. Ivanchuk-Leko couldn't have been duller if it was fixed, but the last draw was pretty incredible. Short and Smeets drew by perpetual check in just 14 moves, with the perpet starting on move 11. But despite this, Short was below 10 minutes when they agreed to the draw, and Smeets had less than half an hour, so if this was acting they deserve an award.

    Final Standings:

    1. Carlsen 8½

    2-3. Kramnik, Shirov 8

    4-5. Anand, Nakamura 7½

    6-7. Karjakin, Ivanchuk 7

    8-9. Leko, Dominguez 6½

    10. Caruana 5½

    11-12. Short, van Wely 5

    13-14. Tiviakov, Smeets 4½

     

    In the B group, Giri drew quickly with Negi to clinch clear first with 9/13. Naiditsch won his game to come within half a point, taking clear second, half a point ahead of Ni Hua.

    In the C group, Li Chao finished with a bang. He had already clinched clear first going into the round, and rather than running out the clock decided to play freely. His win over Peng gave him a 10/13 score, 1½ points ahead of Gupta and two points ahead of Van Kampen and Vocaturo.

    A reminder: the winners of the B and C sections are automatically seeded into the next group up for next year. I wonder, though, if they'll also give Naiditsch a boost up to the A group, as it was announced during the event that Giri would play in the A group whether he won his section or not.

    Now to the links. Once again: the TWIC page is here, the tournament site here, and my notes to Shirov-Dominguez, Carlsen-Caruana and Short-Smeets are here.

    Sunday
    Jan312010

    Yasser Seirawan: My Best Games (Vol. 1?)

    Grandmaster, two-time Candidate and former World Junior and U.S. Champion Yasser Seirawan has just released his first DVD with ChessBase. It covers his early career, from 1975 (when he defeated his first GM in tournament play) to 1982 (when he played his first game against a sitting world champion; by this point he had already won the World Junior, become a GM and won major tournaments). Over the course of five hours he presents 22 of his games in his characteristically warm and chatty style - he's as much raconteur as analyst in these videos.

    I enjoyed his presentations a lot, and think you will too. Does it mean you should fork over the money to buy this DVD? That I can't say. What I can say is this. First, I think most viewers will appreciate his style of presentation, and that will make it a good entertainment value. Further, and this is important, his chess style is very different from most of the top GMs playing today.

    Let's start with the openings. On the DVD you won't find any 1.e4 e5 games, there's only one Sicilian, and only two games that could be classified under 1.d4 d5 codes, and then only by transposition. Seirawan mostly plays the English with White in these early games, and with Black you'll get a steady dose of Frenches and Caro-Kanns. If you think you're in for stodge-R-us, however, you're in for a pleasant surprise. His games are very energetic, and Seirawan was as much of a fighting player as anyone else, especially in his ambitious youth. (Example: As a teenager facing Mikhail Tal, rated 2705 at the time, Seirawan turned down a draw in an inferior position!)

    It's not only his openings that are distinctive. His ability to maneuver and handle his king in unusual ways will remind some viewers of Nimzowitsch, Larsen and Petrosian (in their different but related ways), and if those three players are members of a distinctive school, I'd say that Seirawan was its Dean in the 1980s and 1990s. Looking at games like the ones he presents on the disc will open up a new world to some viewers, and it's to Seirawan's credit that he does this in a way that generates enthusiasm and a feeling of understanding rather than alienation and bewilderment.

    In short, I'm enthusiastic about this disc, and I hope there will be more. (Perhaps that depends on whether anyone buys this one, so I hope that a bunch of my American readers especially will support a man who did quite a lot for chess in the U.S. More info (but no sample, unfortunately) can be found here.

    Saturday
    Jan302010

    A Brief Review of Carsten Hansen's Back to Basics: Openings

    Carsten Hansen, Back to Basics: Openings (Russell Enterprises 2010). 246 pp. $22.95.

    This book is another entrant in a burgeoning genre: the brief-overview style opening book. A couple of years ago there was Chess Opening Essentials, a few months ago there was van der Sterren's Fundamental Chess Openings, and now comes the (by far) slimmest of the volumes, by FM Carsten Hansen. Like the other volumes, it attempts to major in breadth and explanation at the cost of depth, in the hopes of helping club players get a lay of the land and a basic understanding of a wide range of specific openings.

    The book, like the others in the "Back to Basics" series (I guess this is the third such book, based on an ad for two other BTB books on the next to last page), is ostensibly intended for players not far past the beginner stage. As such, this book gives the reader the chance not only to pick up some concrete information, but to have his general thinking about the opening shaped and guided by an experienced player. Right off the bat Hansen suggests that readers first study or at least look at works on tactics and endings before majoring on openings. Here is Hansen's aim:

    [T]his book is not out to teach everything there is to know about openings, but it will help you understand and play openings much better. It will also help instill a sense of balance in your study of openings, give you some direction about how to obtain better results from your openings and how to approach a variety of situations relevant to our topic of openings.

    The chapters break down as follows:

    1. There's a short chapter on his experiences with openings (e.g. discussing mistakes he made in studying and choosing openings)

    2. A chapter on opening principles that goes beyond the absolute basics (i.e. there's more than just develop quickly, control the center and pay attention to king safety).

    3. There's another brief chapter on choosing a repertoire.

    4. A short glossary of symbols and terms used to be used in the rest of the book.

    5. About 190 pages of opening coverage, divided into Open Games (1.e4 e5), Semi-Open Games (1.e4 everything else), Closed Games (1.d4 d5), Semi-Closed Games (1.d4 everything else) and Flank Openings (everything else).

    6. A What Now? chapter guiding the reader as to what he should and shouldn't do after reading the book, complete with wise advice on how not to bankrupt oneself buying opening books.

    Chapters 1-4 and 6 are useful, but one should buy (or not buy) the book based on the quality of chapter 5. I think it's useful as a reference work for players up to around 1400-1500, both to have some general ideas and a few specifics about a large number of important lines. Hansen does two things very wisely: he gives you enough information to let you see what the line is all about, and he makes sure the reader knows that what he writes only scratches the surface of the surface.

    It's not perfect, but what chess book is? There are a number of slightly surprising omissions and places where I'd disagree with Hansen's evaluations, but generally speaking that's just shop talk among FMs. For the intended audience, these details aren't of much (any?) significance. I think the book is a little too sophisticated for someone who really is a near-beginner, but for players rated around 1100-1400 (give or take a bit) it could be very useful, and I can recommend it to players in that range.

    Saturday
    Jan302010

    Boris Spassky Commentating at Gibtel

    For more than three hours at that. Have a look here - he starts to comment at around 3:33:35. (For those of you who are fairly new to chess, Boris Spassky was the original post-war prodigy, making the Candidates as a teenager and setting the record for the youngest GM until Fischer broke it. He was also the world champion from 1969 to 1972. In case you think those were the dark ages, he has an even score against Kasparov, and that's not because he beat Garry in simuls when the latter was in short pants.)