Later this year Timur Gareyev will try to break Marc Lang's record for the most blindfold games played simultaneously (Lang's record is 46; Gareyev will try to outdo this by one), but how will he fare from an aesthetic standpoint? In my current column I take a look at several of Alexander Alekhine's nicest blindfold efforts, each of which made it into his Best Games collection.
Despite the pretentious title ("Karjakin on his preparation for Carlsen") the article offers nothing of the sort. Here's the big payoff:
Q: Can you tell us directly about your preparation for the match with Carlsen?
A: Well, I definitely won’t tell you about any chess variations, but we’re paying a lot of attention to walks in the open air and football. We’re also closely following the Euros in France. We watched the last match – Hungary 3:3 Portugal. Spectacular! Though you couldn’t help but think that perhaps it was an arranged draw (laughs).
So there you have it. Aside from opening variations, now you know that following soccer is a key element of preparation at the highest level. (Unless Karjakin loses badly, in which case we'll have to find out from Carlsen which sport one should watch instead, or maybe which team(s) ought to be followed.)
Curious about the latest correspondence world championships, I took a gander at the ICCF website and came across this crosstable of the ongoing 29th championship final. 44 of the 136 games are finished, and every single one of them has been drawn.
This isn't quite as bad as it sounds. In correspondence chess a quick loss should be a near-impossibility at the world championship level, so the first games to finish ought to be drawn. 44 in a row seems a bit much, though. The 28th championship is almost finished; there are just two games remaining and Croatian correspondence GM Ing. Leonardo Ljubicic has clinched clear first. Of the 134 games that have finished, 18 were decisive - six of which came at the tailender's expense.
The draw death isn't much of an issue for OTB (over-the-board) grandmasters (if at all), and for the rest of us it's a complete non-issue. But is correspondence chess on its last legs? (And if it is, can it be fixed?)
In my column this week, I offer a bit of opening advice, a small "how-to" guide to induce complacency in one's opponent and then take advantage of it.
Magnus Carlsen's win in the match with Petrosian wasn't FIDE-rated of course, and although Leuven was rated the net effect was that he's a touch lower than Ding Liren on the live blitz list! (Ding Liren is 2875; Carlsen "only" 2873. Nakamura is third at 2841 and Ian Nepomniachtchi is next at 2840, in case you were wondering.) But will it last...
In earlier matches Alexander Grischuk, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and Hikaru Nakamura won quarterfinal matches against Levon Aronian, Fabiano Caruana, and Wesley So, respectively, and in every case there was some drama going into the bullet phase of the competition. In the fourth quarterfinal match in this Chess.com blitz event, there wasn't any. Tigran Petrosian won a very strong qualifier to earn a match with Magnus Carlsen, but that's where the fun ended: Carlsen defeated him by a gruesome 21-4 margin.
The full report is here.
Magnus Carlsen wasn't quite as devastating as he had been on day 2 of the rapid portion of the tournament, but by jetting out to a +4=2 start today he clinched clear first with three rounds to go. After that he lost, Elmer Fudd-style, to Anish Giri (trying to annihilate the "rabbit" he burned his bridges and lost pretty badly) and drew his last two games. That was still good enough to win the tournament by 2.5 points.
The race for second was a close one between Wesley So, Levon Aronian, and Viswanathan Anand, and in the end the honors went to So. With two rounds to play So led Anand by half a point, and Aronian was another half a point behind. So drew with Carlsen, while Aronian defeated Anand to leapfrog him. In the last round all three players drew, resulting in So taking second and Aronian finishing in third.
After Anand, the next finisher was another two points back, so there were essentially two tournaments going on - or maybe three: Carlsen's coronation, the race for second, and then everyone else. Here are the final standings, first for the blitz portion and then overall:
- 1. Carlsen 11 (of 18)
- 2. Aronian 10
- 3-5. Anand, Nakamura, So 9.5
- 6-7. Kramnik, Vachier-Lagrave 9
- 8. Caruana 8.5
- 9. Giri 8
- 10. Topalov 6
- 1. Carlsen 23 (of 36)
- 2. So 20.5
- 3. Aronian 20
- 4. Anand 19.5
- 5. Caruana 17.5
- 6. Vachier-Lagrave 17
- 7. Nakamura 16.5
- 8-9. Kramnik, Giri 16
- 10. Topalov 14