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    Tuesday
    Jan262010

    Wijk aan Zee, Round 9 Games

    Not all of them, of course, but I've included seven for your instructional and aesthetic benefit. (Carlsen-Kramnik is among them, of course.) Have a look, here.

    Tuesday
    Jan262010

    Wijk aan Zee, Round 9: Kramnik Beats Carlsen, Catches Shirov in First

    What a round!

    Shirov drew easily with Ivanchuk to guarantee himself at least a share of first by round's end, leaving Carlsen and Kramnik to battle it out to catch him. Despite Carlsen's humorous (but not necessarily completely insincere) claim on Facebook that he would "crush Kramnik like a bug", it was Kramnik who won the game, telling viewers at his press conference that the game felt "like the best I have ever played!" I don't think it was in fact the best game he ever played, but it was a very creative achievement against a great player, and given its competitive importance and that he won with Black it's easy to understand his enthusiasm. The win left him tied for first with Shirov, and they are now a full point ahead of Carlsen and Karjakin.

    Karjakin got where he is by defeating Nakamura, who overpressed with White and slipped into a tie for 5th-7th places with Dominguez (who had a Short draw) and Anand (who pushed Tiviakov but finished with draw #9).

    There were two other decisive games in the A group, as van Wely and Smeets restored a little Dutch pride, grinding down Leko and Caruana respectively in long endgames.

     

    Standings After Round 9:

    1-2. Kramnik, Shirov 6½

    3-4. Carlsen, Karjakin 5½

    5-7. Nakamura, Dominguez, Ivanchuk 5

    8-9. Anand, Leko 4½

    10. Caruana 3½

    11-13. Short, Tiviakov, van Wely 3

    14. Smeets 2½

     

    Round 10 Pairings:

    Anand - Shirov (This would be an interesting time for Anand to wake up.)

    Kramnik - Ivanchuk (Kramnik is hot and Ivanchuk has cooled off, but you never know...)

    Karjakin - Carlsen (Battle of the prodigies! Karjakin is making a little comeback, so he may still have ambitions of keeping his title.)

    Dominguez - Nakamura (Two fighters running out of time to battle for first.)

    Leko - Short

    Caruana - van Wely

    Tiviakov - Smeets

     

    In the B group, Giri was finally defeated, losing to Anna Muzychuk. It seemed to me that he was in trouble, got out, and then went crazy trying for activity and lost, but maybe he wasn't as safe as I thought he was. Despite the loss, his score of 6½ is still enough to give him a half-point lead over L'Ami and Ni Hua, with So and Naiditsch another half a point back.

    In the C group, Robson fell out of first place in dramatic fashion, blundering into mate in one against one of his closest rivals, Li Chao. Li Chao is now in clear first with the popular score of 6½, with Robson, Vocaturo and Swinkels all on 6 points.

     

    I'll annotate and present a number of games later tonight; for now, here's the site for more info, here's the tournament site, and here's the (no doubt abbreviated) transcript of Kramnik's press conference, with a replayable board.

    Monday
    Jan252010

    Bisik-Bisik with Garry Kasparov, Part 2

    Here. Very little that's new there, but he does present a recent simul game he played, with a nice finish.

    Monday
    Jan252010

    Wijk aan Zee Press Conferences

    The last three are available here, and they're worth watching - there's material in each that goes beyond what gets transcripted in the round reports. I'll embed the last one - Kramnik's presentation of Kramnik-Nakamura - below. (Ignore the intro claiming it's a Smeets game.)

    Monday
    Jan252010

    Diaz Cartoons

    I've mentioned the work of cartoonist Jose Diaz before, especially in the context of his classic set of illustrations for the 1999 Wijk aan Zee tournament. He has a couple of efforts for this year's tournament too, which can be accessed here.

    Sunday
    Jan242010

    Wijk aan Zee, Round 8: Shirov Still Leads, Carlsen and Kramnik Close Behind

    In the A-Group, Shirov continues to lead (with 6 points), thanks to his managing to hold off Carlsen with White - in a Sveshnikov Sicilian, ironically. That keeps his half-point lead over Carlsen intact, and Nakamura didn't manage to catch Shirov, as he was upended by the resurgent Kramnik. Kramnik has scored 3½ points in the last 4 rounds, and is now tied with Carlsen for second. Nakamura is in clear fourth (with 5 points), and there's a host of players nipping at his heels.

    At 4½/8 there's Ivanchuk, who drew quickly against the tournament's unofficial half-point bye, Anand. There's Karjakin, who only just now notched his first win of the tournament against Short. Dominguez is in the tie too, also with just one win in nine games, but today he drew with van Wely. Finally, there's Leko, who beat Smeets.

    Anand is the only player with 4/8, ironically, and Caruana, who defeated Tiviakov, is alone at 3½. Short and Tiviakov have 2½, van Wely has 2, and Smeets brings up the rear with 1½.

    Tomorrow is the second rest day, and on Tuesday we'll see these pairings:

    Tiviakov - Anand

    Smeets - Caruana

    van Wely - Leko

    Short - Dominguez

    Nakamura - Karjakin

    Carlsen - Kramnik (Good times there!)

    Ivanchuk - Shirov (Anything could happen in this game.)

     

    In the B group, Giri won again, disposing of Howell. His closest competitors - and they're not too close - are Ni Hua and So, who drew quickly against each other in this last round and are a point and a half behind: Giri has 6½, they have 5.

    In the C group, Robson only managed to draw with bottom seed and tailender Plukkel, despite having the white pieces. Yet he remains in clear first, as his closest competitors, Gupta and Li Chao, drew with each other in 101 moves. (Surprisingly, that wasn't the longest game of the day. That honor went to the Group B game L'Ami-Harikrishna, which just ended in a 127 move draw a couple of minutes ago.)

    More info here, tournament site here, the games with my comments nowhere.

    Saturday
    Jan232010

    Wijk aan Zee, Round 7: The Kids are Alright

    Alexei Shirov is still in first - it was impossible for him not to be, since he started the round with a 1.5 point lead - but that doesn't seem likely to last for long. Hikaru Nakamura pretty convincingly outplayed him on the White side of a Sveshnikov Sicilian (the 5...e5 Sveshnikov, not the 2.c3 Sveshnikov). Black's position became a collection of weaknesses, and Nakamura's 38.c5 was the death knell.

    That pulled Nakamura to within half a point of the leader, and Carlsen is there too, thanks to a malfunctioning Ivanchuk. The latter started with a dubious pawn sac, then compounded the problem by attempting to regain it with 15...Nxd4, and then completely fell off the cliff with 18...Qxd1+. Carlsen took all the goodies, defended easily and collected the point.

    Kramnik could have stayed in the tie for second with a win over Short, but the tournament's oldest player would have none of it. He played an unpretentious system against the Petroff, but one that had the virtue of making Kramnik play chess. Kramnik came up with an unnecessary but interesting pawn sac for play, and after many complications Short had kept his extra pawn and had a completely winning position to boot. Incredibly, though, Short botched the win, and cognitively gifted rabbits everywhere are thanking God that Kramnik's luck doesn't require their feet to be severed; if it did, there's be a whole farm full of amputated bunnies.

    All the other games were drawn, generally lamely. Van Wely-Kajarkin was a 16-move draw well within the bounds of theory, but it's hard to get upset at van Wely for that, since he had lost his last five games in a row. Smeets-Dominguez looked exciting, but it was mostly known theory. Tiviakov-Leko was a routine draw in the 5.Qe2 Ruy, and Caruana-Anand was a quiet Semi-Slav where a brief tactical flurry led to a perpetual.

    Standings After Round 7:

    1. Shirov 5½

    2-3. Nakamura, Carlsen 5

    4. Kramnik 4½

    4-6. Dominguez, Ivanchuk 4

    7-9. Anand, Leko, Karjakin 3½

    10-12. Short, Tiviakov, Caruana 2½

    13-14. Smeets, van Wely 1½

     

    Round 8 Pairings:

    Anand - Ivanchuk

    Shirov - Carlsen

    Kramnik - Nakamura

    Karjakin - Short

    Dominguez - van Wely

    Leko - Smeets

    Caruana - Tiviakov

     

    In the B group, leader Anish Giri had a little trouble with Erwin L'Ami, but managed to hold a rook and two vs. rook and three ending. He leads with 5½ points, with L'Ami, Ni Hua, David Howell and Wesley So a point behind.

    In the C group, Ray Robson suffered his first defeat, losing with the French to Daniele Vocaturo. Fortunately for him, Li Chao lost with White to Nils Grandelius, so their relative standings remain the same. Robson has 5½, Li Chao has 5, and Abhijeet Gupta also has 5, thanks to his win over Sjoerd Plukkel.

    More info here, tournament site here, and all the A-group games, with my comments, are here.

    Saturday
    Jan232010

    Wijk aan Zee Round 6: A Quick Roundup

    After a long day, here's a quick summary of the results. I already noted that all the leaders drew their games in group A, and pretty quickly. Fortunately, the last three games to finish all finished with a winner. First of all, there's Kramnik's win over van Wely. Apparently van Wely got confused or suffered from Stockholm Syndrome and played the King's Indian. Kramnik played the Gligoric System, neutralized Black's attacking ambitions, and outplayed him in an ending, complete with a piece sac. That put Kramnik into a swelling tie for second, still a point and a half behind Shirov.

    Dominguez beat Tiviakov with the first 1.d4 of his chess career, and now he's at +1. Leko was the day's other winner, winning in characteristic fashion against Caruana. Caruana sacrificed material for an attack; Leko accepted it, fought off the attack, and won.

    Standings After Round 6:

    1. Shirov 5½

    2-5. Nakamura, Carlsen, Kramnik, Ivanchuk 4

    6. Dominguez 3½

    7-9. Anand, Leko, Karjakin 3

    10-12. Short, Tiviakov, Caruana 2

    13-14. Smeets, van Wely 1

     

    Round 7 Pairings:

    Caruana - Anand

    Tiviakov - Leko

    Smeets - Dominguez

    van Wely - Karjakin

    Short - Kramnik

    Nakamura - Shirov (Now the pressure on Shirov starts to ramp up.)

    Carlsen - Ivanchuk

     

    In the B-Group, Anish Giri continued his ridiculously successful event, defeating Nyback with Black. To be fair, though, he was in big trouble through much of the game, so this goes under the heading of "better lucky than good" (and better still lucky and good). His 5/6 gives him a 2920 TPR, still better than everyone in all three tournaments except for Shirov. He's a point ahead of Ni Hua and Erwin L'Ami.

    In the C-Group, Ray Robson is still on fire, winning again to reach 5½/6. Despite his hot streak, he's only half a point ahead of Li Chao, who was the recipient of a staggering gift from Kjetl Lie. Lie managed to parlay a queen ending with an extra pawn, no danger and no enemy passed pawns into a loss. It just goes to show, once again, that almost no position can't be lost if a player is really determined.

    More info here, tournament site here.

    Friday
    Jan222010

    Garry Kasparov Reviews Chess Metaphors: Artificial Intelligence and the Human Mind

    Here.

    Friday
    Jan222010

    Wijk aan Zee, Round 6: An Early Report: Boooooooooooooooooo

    So I logged on to ye olde chess server about two hours into the round, and opened the Anand-Carlsen game. Result? Drawn already. Disappointing, but it's what I expected, and had even mentioned that prediction in my post on round 5. On to the next game, which was Ivanchuk-Nakamura...which was also already drawn, by repetition in just 16 moves. (It's great to see such fighting spirit, isn't it?) At least Mr. Fire on Board, 5-0, would try with the white pieces to knock the (comparatively) lowly-rated Short off, wouldn't he? Try, yes, but without much success. The game was still going but the position was obviously and completely drawn, and the game lasted just three more moves. Karjakin-Smeets was already drawn as well (guess who's not going to repeat as Corus champ?), so for Group A excitement we're having to rely on Kramnik and Leko. (Fortunately, they're delivering! Incidentally, all 14 of the Group B and C games are still going at the 3 hour mark.)