This article on Blaise Pascal was written back in 1999, but just came to my attention in the last day or two. It does a nice job of situating Pascal in his time and summarizes a fair amount of what's in the Pensées, so think of this as a sort of supplement to the post a week or two ago about his Wager. If you were interested in that post, you might like the article; if not, then probably not. (If you're in the latter group, remember there weren't any posts about Notre Dame football this past fall, so you're still ahead for 2016-7.)
William Lombardy is an American GM, best known nowadays as Bobby Fischer's second in the latter's 1972 World Championship match with Boris Spassky. Lombardy was a terrific player in his own right, and among his achievements he can count his victory in the 1957 World Junior Championship, achieved with a Fischer-like 11-0 whitewash of the field.
In recent years he has not been doing especially well, but it looks like some good things are happening to and for him now. A little more about that, and about how you might even help if you'll be in the Chicago area a week from this coming Saturday (January 21), here. (I'm assuming the benefit is on his behalf; the announcement is less than clear on this.)
Part five in the excellent Chess24 series on Paul Keres has been published. This installment focuses on the 1948 World Championship match-tournament played in The Hague and Moscow.
The Carlsen-Karjakin match had its share of draws (10 of 12, before the tiebreaks), and other world championship matches have been drawfests as well. This could not be said of the 1954 title tilt between defending champion Mikhail Botvinnik and his challenger, Vassily Smyslov. There were 14 decisive games in the match, and at one stage there were eight consecutive games without a single draw.
In a bonus column this week, I annotate nine games from the match, so here's your chance to delve deeply into one of the most interesting matches in chess history - a somewhat underappreciated match at that, probably on account of its finishing in a draw and because they played again in 1957 and 1958. But have a look, and you'll see that it was a very rich match, with both sides winning interesting and beautiful games.
Magnus Carlsen won a very nice game against Levon Aronian on the white side of a Ragozin a couple of years ago, and in a vlog sometime later suggested a better plan for Black. The idea was already known, but became the way for Black to handle the position. As we'll see in my column this week, it's even possible for White to get in trouble in this seemingly ultra-safe system.
This is a fairly long interview with Wesley So, reviewing his recent success in the London Chess Classic. Definitely worth a look.
At some point I blogged about a top shogi player's having been accused of getting computer assistance during a game, noting that the potential scourge of tournament chess had now infected one of its sister sports/games, and at the highest level. Happily for the integrity of competitive shogi (assuming the finding follows the truth of the matter), the player was cleared. (HT: David Thompson)
And did so on tiebreaks over Magnus Carlsen, too! As in the 2015 championship both players were dominant on day 1, but this time both players stayed hot to the very end, and their huge score of 16.5/21 left them two points ahead of their closest pursuers: Daniil Dubov (bronze medalist on tiebreaks), Hikaru Nakamura, and 2015 world blitz champion Alexander Grischuk.
It's noteworthy that Karjakin won their head-to-head game, and it's also interesting that Vassily Ivanchuk defeated Carlsen yet again, though he finished out of the running for medals and couldn't back up his earlier win in the rapid championship.
There's a nice report on day two of the event here, and I'll close with a couple (or maybe four) bits of information: Anna Muzychuk won both the rapid and the blitz events in the concurrent ladies' event(s), and the 2017 World Rapid and Blitz titles are to be contested in July, in Munich, Germany.
In a fair number of d-pawn openings, Black's health depends on his ability to achieve the ...c7-c5 pawn break. White sometimes goes to great lengths to prevent this break from occurring, and that's often a successful strategy. Sometimes, however, it looks like White has prevented it, but this turns out to be a sort of mirage, and Black plays it anyway.
In my column this week I start with two related games in the Semi-Slav where Black plays an "impossible" ...c5. Both games are several years old but well-known (especially the second game), and then the third "game" is something new. Boris Avrukh offers some opening analysis for White in the Slow Slav against a Meran-style setup, and the key idea for White is - you guessed it - to impede ...c5. I try to show that Black can play ...c5 and prove equality, though it will take a bit of work against White's most testing try.