Here's the Carlsen interview, while the Kramnik interview is here. Both are nice, quick reads, while the latter is more newsy on three points. He mentions a forthcoming Candidates' cycle he's now "99% sure" he has qualified for, he notes that he still hasn't received a visa for the London tournament (which starts December 7), and he predicts the winner of the Anand-Topalov match (you'll have to go to find the answer to that tidbit). Finally, at the end of the Kramnik interview, you'll also find a very quick comment or two by Aronian as a small bonus.
There were some excellent questions this past week, so I decided to double up and do another viewer questions show. Topics include the Modern, the London System (getting sleepy...so very sleepy), the Marshall Gambit and the main line Ruy Lopez.
The show is here, it's free, and it's available on-demand for the next month or so.
There are many ways to set traps, and one in my ChessLecture.com show this week I focus on one especially unusual way. Normally, one finds some bait for the opponent, who will suffer unpleasant consequences if he goes after it. The subtler method is this: figure out what bait your opponent is setting for you, and then fall for it! Of course, you should only do this is you see something your opponent doesn't. Perhaps your opponent has misassessed the final position of his "trap", or there's some nasty tactical shot you have that upsets the apple cart. The key is for you not to take your opponent at his word, but to look carefully for something he might have missed; if you find it, then boldly fall into the trap...and win!
This week saw the U.S. Chess League semi-finals come and go, and the result is that Miami will face New York in the finals. New York, which has three teams in the USCL (New York, Queens, and New Jersey while Indiana has none), defeated New Jersey 2.5-1.5 while Miami beat San Francisco by the same score. The date for the final hasn't yet been set (at least not on the USCL site), but to whet your appetite here's a funny and impressive game from the Miami-San Francisco semi-final.
In the previous post I threatened to present some games from the last day of the Tal Memorial Blitz (which was also the blitz world championship); today, I make good on my threat. (Whether it was stronger than the execution, I don't know.) There's a bit of everything: in the openings, there are gaffes, one-upsmanship and at least one big novelty. There are thrilling middlegames and strategic ones in which there's a battle of plans, and even a few endings. Have a look, here.
Magnus Carlsen stayed hot through most of today's final 14 rounds, and won the Tal Memorial Blitz, which was also the World Blitz Championship this year, with a fine score of 31 out of 42, three full points ahead of world champ Viswanathan Anand. It didn't hurt that he defeated Anand in their individual game, but he was pretty dominant even aside from that game. It was a very good result for both players. For Carlsen, it's further evidence that he's as real as it gets; his rivals aren't going to pinch themselves and wake up to find out he's not there. He's there, and the title is unlikely to stay out of his hands for very long. For Anand, resting on his laurels as always (not getting into the action like Topalov), it's also a good result that should help both his confidence and his sharpness as he continues his preparation for Chaos and son.
In a mild surprise, Sergey Karjakin finished third with 25 points, three points behind Anand but just half a point ahead of Vladimir Kramnik. Kramnik started the day on fire, winning five straight to close on the leaders and to come within half a point of Karjakin. In his sixth game (round 34) he had White against Morozevich and seemed to be playing real chess (i.e. using serious openings and actual preparation), and had his opponent on the ropes for a long time. When Morozevich finally scraped out a draw, it seemed to take all the air out of Kramnik, whose subsequent results were horrible: loss, draw, loss, loss, draw, loss. After another draw, he finally found a victim - Karpov - and maintained fourth place. What's amazing is that at the end of that terrible sequence, he still finished just half a point behind Karjakin!
Svidler, Ponomariov and Grischuk finished a further point back, and as the drop to the next group was a point and a half this seems like a good place to stop listing results. Other results worthy of note in an unfortunate way: Ivanchuk, who won the blitz title two years ago and came in second last year by half a point, finished 15th this time around with 19.5-22.5. Less surprisingly, but a little sad after his great play the first day, was Karpov's 16th place finish with 19 points. The women did even worse: Judit Polgar was 19th with 17 points, and Kosteniuk came in last with 12.5, two and a half points below the next-to-last place finisher. Considering her rating, it was a good score, and she can boast of wins against Carlsen, Anand, Aronian and Karpov, among others. She had a nice run at the end of yesterday's rounds, but today was a disaster: she drew in round 29 (today's first round), but then lost 11 in a row. (Full results here.)
There were lots of good and interesting games, of course, and I'll try to present some later tonight. If there were any especially good games you've seen, please paste the PGN in the comments to this post or the one I hope to present later tonight.
“I guess it is safe to say he is the most creative player of the modern age.” – Levon Aronian
He has never been the world chess champion or the #1 ranked player (though he has come close on both counts), but Vassily Ivanchuk is one of the world’s greatest and most original players for the past 20 years. Fantastically creative and able to play any and every opening with either color, the great Ukrainian has been a fan favorite for many years now, and his occasional blunders and lapses under pressure have only made him a more sympathetic figure.
It won’t be his errors that we examine today, however, but his play when everything clicks into place. That was the case earlier this year, during the 5th FIDE Grand Prix which took place in Jermuk, Armenia. After some poor results earlier in the year had momentarily pushed him below 2700 for the first time in many years, he came back with a vengeance, winning Jermuk with a +4 score against an impressive field.
For our show this week, we’ll look at Ivanchuk’s round 4 victory over Evgeny Alekseev. The opening was an English/Reversed Modern Benoni, and while reversed openings often fail to give White more than a stable equality, Ivanchuk was able to create some real chances for an edge. At least as importantly, the game was very dynamic, and in a position where nothing too dramatic seemed to be going on, Ivanchuk found a shot that led to a winning attack seemingly out of thin air.
It’s a remarkable game, but we won’t just watch to admire. There’s much to learn about the Modern Benoni – both in its normal and reversed forms – and our knowledge of tactical patterns is bound to increase as well. It’s a game I’m sure you’ll enjoy, and to join in the fun you need only log on to the Playchess server at 9 p.m. ET/3 a.m. CET, go to the Broadcast room and double-click on Ivanchuk-Alekseev under the Games tab. Hope to see you there!
After 14 more rounds, the Tal Memorial Blitz is 2/3 over. Magnus Carlsen had the hot hand today, going a drawless 11-3, and now lead Anand by a point. Generally speaking, it was a good day for Kramnik, though he lost to both Carlsen and Anand, and an even better day for Karjakin, who is in third place. As for Karpov, he sunk like a stone in the remaining seven rounds of the first cycle, drawing three and losing four. His results in the first seven rounds of the second half have been better - 50%.
So far I've only seen the games of the big three (Carlsen, Anand [but just a handful of his games] and Kramnik), so it's only their games I can refer you to. Carlsen's losses to Ivanchuk and Morozevich were interesting (I'd even call the latter game surreal, while the former was a case of an attack gone bad). Among his wins, his victory over Kramnik is worth a look, and the end of his game with Svidler was seen by many spectators as mysterious - could it be that Svidler (again) resigned in a drawn position? (He did this once in a real tournament against Kramnik, in an opposite-colored bishop ending, which was an ironic complement to his offering Anand a draw when Svidler was winning by force in a pawns vs. knight ending.) In fact Carlsen was winning, in nice style.
Among Kramnik's games, the battle with Mamedyarov was spectacular, while the Naiditsch game showed an attack gone awry (like the Carlsen loss to Ivanchuk mentioned above). Finally, Kramnik's draw against Leko in the final game of the day was perplexing, in that I can't understand what has happened to Leko's oustanding technique. His loss to Carlsen in the real tournament was mind-boggling, considering his abilities, and this was another major lapse. Hopefully it's just a bad run or a little lapse in confidence, and he'll return to his best chess soon.
Leading Standings after 28 of 42 Rounds:
1. Carlsen 21
2. Anand 20
3. Karjakin 18.5
4-5. Kramnik, Svidler 16.5
6-7. Ponomariov, Grischuk 16
Full standings here.