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    1948 World Chess Championship 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 Candidates 2016 Chess Olympiad 2016 U.S. Championship 2016 World Championship 2018 Chess Olympiad 22014 Sinquefield Cup 22014 U.S. Championship 60 Minutes A. 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    Friday
    Jan222016

    No Chess in Saudi Arabia?

    A couple of readers (Marc Beishon and Ross Hytnen) alerted me to the news that chess has been proscribed in Saudi Arabia, on the grounds that the game is "a waste of time" and "encourages gambling". (I'm inclined to joke that for some readers those are features rather than bugs - but I digress.) Further, the clerical ban claims that chess "causes enmity and hatred between people". (One might wonder if this is something that the Saudi leaders have a problem with in any general way, but perhaps the response is that they're worried about discord arising among Sunni Muslims.)

    Of course, there are benefits to playing chess as well: it's (generally) a safe way to channel one's competitive instincts, and helps kids in particular (but adults too) in their cognitive development. It can be a source of aesthetic pleasure, and as entertainments go chess is about as harmless an activity as can be. Alas, the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia disagrees.

    What does this mean for Saudi chess players? Some sources have referred to this as a total ban on the game in that country, but it seems to be a religious rather than a legal proscription. That noted, Saudi Arabia is a theocracy, so I'm not sure how much room there is in between the religious and the legal. Perhaps it means that it's forbidden to Sunni Muslims, but anyone else can play?

    More reading on the topic here, here, and here.

    Friday
    Jan222016

    Don't Worry, Be Happy

    Fear not, friends: I'm well (as far as I know), just busy. And now it's time for a little blogathon, so get comfy.

    Friday
    Jan152016

    Shipov's Year in Review, Part 2

    Here.

    Wednesday
    Jan132016

    Tata Steel (Wijk aan Zee) Starts Saturday

    It's time for the first super-tournament of the year, the near-annual event in Wijk aan Zee that always brings together a hefty chunk of the world's absolute elite, together with a number of young stars and many of the best and brightest players in the Netherlands. This year's main event is as impressive as usual, and features the following lineup:

    • Magnus Carlsen (2844)
    • Anish Giri (2798)
    • Fabiano Caruana (2787)
    • Wesley So (2773)
    • Sergey Karjakin (2769)
    • Ding Liren (2766)
    • Pavel Eljanov (2760)
    • Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2747)
    • Michael Adams (2744)
    • David Navara (2730)
    • Evgeny Tomashevsky (2728)
    • Wei Yi (2706)
    • Hou Yifan (2673)
    • Loek van Wely (2640)

    There is a second event, the Challengers, which counts a couple of ex-2700s in the field (Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu and Alexey Dreev; rising star Sam Sevian is also playing). The winner of this event will receive an automatic invitation to the top group in 2017.

    Play starts on Saturday. Predictions?

    Wednesday
    Jan132016

    Komodo Defeats Nakamura in an Odds Match

    Ah, those pesky chess engines. Once upon a time they were toys, then good tools for warming up, then equal competitors, and then superior opponents with whom we could at least compete. Now? Fuhgedaboutit. Even the best players have no chance against them--worse, they can't even hold the balance when receiving odds.

    But they do come close - at least the best humans do. Hikaru Nakamura braved a four-game odds match against the latest and greatest engine at the top of the heap, Komodo 9.3, and the match came down to the wire.

    In game 1 Nakamura had White, and Komodo played without the pawn on f7. That game was drawn, as was game 2, in which Komodo took White and started without the pawn on f2. In the third game the odds were a bit heftier: Komodo had White and played without the rook on a1, in return for which Nakamura played without the N@b8 and started with the rook on that square. That game was also drawn.

    Finally, Nakamura received no extra material at the start of the final game, but if the old adage that a pawn is worth three tempi is true he received its equivalent. Playing White, he was given the moves e4, d4, and Nf3 for free, and then started the game from that point with the move. The engine managed to gradually extinguish White's advantage in a sort of King's Indian, and went on to win a very impressive game culminating in a fine ending.

    Nakamura was in the match all the way, and I wouldn't be shocked if he managed to draw or even win a rematch. Will there be any further contests? Let's hope so, and let's hope that humanity can keep up and not let the quantity of the odds grow any bigger (or at least not much bigger).

    The games can be replayed here.

    Wednesday
    Jan132016

    Kovalenko Wins the Keres Memorial

    Speaking of Paul Keres, a very strong rapid event was held in Tallinn, Estonia, in his honor. It was won by Latvian GM Igor Kovalenko with an impressive score of 9/11, ahead of such stars as Boris Gelfand and Peter Svidler. There's a nice report on the final rounds here, with links to other, earlier reports as well.

    Wednesday
    Jan132016

    Paul Keres, Good as Gold?

    This is the centenary of Estonian legend Paul Keres's birth, and Estonia is commemorating the occasion in a special way. Keres was not just a great chess player; he was a national hero, and in the pre-euro days he was featured on their 5-Krooni bill. Now they're putting him on a limited edition 2-Euro coin, and while it probably isn't made of gold it's still an attractive bit of currency this Keres fan would like to acquire. (Any help out there?)

    Wednesday
    Jan132016

    2015 In Review

    Grandmaster Sergei Shipov does a fine job, as always, as he offers his thoughts on the best in chess in 2015.

    Tuesday
    Jan122016

    Ivan Bukavshin, 1995-2016, RIP

    Sad news that the young (20 years old) and very strong (2658) Russian grandmaster Ivan Bukavshin has died, apparently of a stroke. Aside from complaining of a headache in the evening before his death, there doesn't seem to have been any indication that anything at all was wrong with the young man's health. Very sad.

    Tuesday
    Jan122016

    Recent Events: Rilton Cup

    The Rilton Cup finished last week and produced two new members of the 2700 club, Jon Ludwig Hammer (actually, he had made it over before dropping below the magic number) and Maxim Rodshtein, who won the event with 8/9 and a terrific 2876 TPR.

    HT: Marcus Uneson, who also drew my attention to the game Krasenkow-Hammer, which Hammer called the best game he ever played. (Note especially his 31st move.)

    [Update: Fixed Rodshtein's score - see the comments section.]

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