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    1948 World Chess Championship 1959 Candidates 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 2016 Candidates 2016 Capablanca Memorial 2016 Champions Showdown 2016 Chess Olympiad 2016 Chinese Championship 2016 European Club Cup 2016 Isle of Man 2016 London Chess Classic 2016 Russian Championship 2016 Sinquefield Cup 2016 Tal Memorial 2016 U.S. Championship 2016 U.S. Junior Championship 2016 U.S. Women's Championship 2016 Women's World Championship 2016 World Blitz Championship 2016 World Championship 2016 World Junior Championship 2016 World Open 2016 World Rapid Championship 2017 Chinese Championship 2017 PRO Chess League 2017 Sharjah Masters 2017 Speed Chess Championship 2017 U..S. 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    Friday
    Apr212017

    Catching Up: Zurich, Grenke

    The Korchnoi memorial event in Zurich finished a few days ago, and Hikaru Nakamura won this combined rapid & rapid event. (The first stage was a slow rapid: 45' + 30", and the second was 10' + 5" - a rapid rapid.) The slower portion finished with Hikaru Nakamura and Ian Nepomniachtchi tied in first with 10/14 (5/7 in normal scoring, but as the slower games counted for twice as much as the blitz, the scoring was doubled), a point ahead of Viswanathan Anand and two points ahead of Vladimir Kramnik and Peter Svidler.

    At the shorter time control Nakamura again went 5/7, winning the second portion of the event outright and thereby taking overall first as well. It came down to the wire though, as Nepomniachtchi had White against Grigoriy Oparin. Oparin is young, strong, and talented, but for now he was badly outrated by everyone except for local player Yannick Pelletier. He and Pelletier were the tailenders, so things looked good for Nepo. Had he won he'd have tied for first, and presumably would have had a playoff against Nakamura. Instead, Oparin won, giving Nakamura his third consecutive victory in Zurich.

    Final Combined Standings:

    • 1. Nakamura 15/21
    • 2. Nepomniachtchi 14
    • 3. Anand 13.5
    • 4. Svidler 12
    • 5. Kramnik 11
    • 6. Gelfand 9
    • 7. Oparin 5.5
    • 8. Pelletier 4

    Grenke: This tournament got off to a bang when Hou Yifan won her first two games, over Fabiano Caruana and Georg Meier, to take a full point lead over a field that also included Magnus Carlsen, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and Levon Aronian as well. Incredibly, she was close to winning in round three against Carlsen as well, but psyched herself out and let him escape his bad position rather easily with a draw.

    Her punishment was deserved and came in the very next round. Vachier-Lagrave had a much smaller advantage against her than she had against Carlsen, but he kept prodding and testing until she finally cracked. It took 68 moves, but he got the full point, pushing her out of first. The next day she gave up a draw to one of the two players in the event who are lower-rated than she is, so she has fallen out of contention for tournament victory.

    And yet...she is still tied for second, with Carlsen and Caruana, with 3/5, a point behind Levon Aronian. Aronian drew with Meier and Carlsen in the first two rounds, and then went on a tear, winning three in a row. He has defeated MVL, Mathias Bluebaum, and Arkadij Naiditsch. In the next round he plays Hou Yifan, with White. Will he make it four in a row, or will she bounce back and turn this into the tournament of her life?

    Carlsen also has an interesting pairing, with Black against Naiditsch. Carlsen is a favorite, of course, but in the last few years Naiditsch has given him trouble. Naiditsch upset the world champion in the 2014 Olympiad, with Black, and took a couple of games off of him in the same tournament two years ago. As for Caruana, he'll have Black in the next round against Bluebaum.

    Thursday
    Apr202017

    Got $14,000 to Blow?

    If so, please donate to this blog!

    If you're looking for the ultimate chess status symbol (a clause that's hard to type with a straight face), however, you can lay down a cool $14k - or more precisely, $13,900 (not including tax or shipping and handling, so that figure will go up) - on...a Paul Morphy watch. It's a replica of a watch that was made for Paul Morphy himself, over a century and a half ago, and if you want to impress all the locals at your club, this watch may be just the thing for you.

    Alternatively, you could pay for 365 months' worth of child sponsorship on Compassion International, or 356 months' worth on World Vision, or help fight famine and poverty through Oxfam, or pay for thousands of meals at your local soup kitchen.

    On the other hand: what...the...[cough]????

    Thursday
    Apr202017

    Too Much of a Good Thing?

    The title, offered in the context of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov's statement that he intends to run for yet another term as FIDE President in 2018, is not to be taken as anything but a tongue-in-cheek jest. Sigh. Some good things have happened under his administration, but it's time for some new blood - which does not mean Deputy/Acting President Giorgios Makropolous, either.

    But then who? As people going back as far as Plato have recognized, the sorts of people who have political office are not the sorts of people inclined to run for the job. Plato added that one reason they can sometimes be compelled to run is for fear of the alternative: being ruled by bad men. Whether Ilyumzhinov or Makropolous should be thus characterized is a fair question for debate, but I doubt that many chess fans around the world would consider their political leadership to have been an unalloyed good. So...who's going to run against Ilyumzhinov this time?

    Sunday
    Apr162017

    Happy Easter! Selections From Around the Web

    Happy Easter everyone, albeit a touch belatedly for my readers across the pond and farther to the East.

    Some material of possible interest:

    He is Risen! A bit of light, conversational apologetics from Catholic theologian R. R. Reno. I'm more optimistic than he seems to be about the strength of an overall apologetics case for Christianity - for the Resurrection in particular - but I think what he has to say is right as far as it goes.

    The Joy of Orthodox Pascha No apologetics here; it's just a meditation upon the Orthodox celebration of Pascha - Easter - for my non-Orthodox friends. I myself am not Orthodox (capital "O" Orthodox, that is, referring to Eastern Orthodoxy), but over the years I've grown more curious about that expression of the Christian faith, and believe that those of us on the Catholic/Protestant side of the "Great Schism" can learn much from our brothers and sisters in the East.

    A Liturgical Explanation of Holy Week This is a short booklet by the late great Orthodox liturgist Alexander Schmemann, whose work I've seen praised across huge swaths of the Christian theological spectrum. Though I knew of Schmemann beforehand, I only came across this work a day or two ago when it was loaned to me by a retired Lutheran pastor. Holy Week has passed, but Christians may still find this work well worth the time required to read and reflect on it.

    Good Friday It's a common question among non-Christians, and even among many Christians as well, especially those who don't attend non-liturgical churches: What is Good Friday, and why is it called "Good"? The short answer to the latter question is that we don't know for sure, but it's probably for one of two reasons. First, "good" is a corruption of "God", so the day of the Jesus's crucifixion is "God (God's?) Friday", for what God the Son did in dying on the cross. Alternatively, "good" might be intended as a synonym for "holy" or "pious". It was a dark day for Jesus, but a great and glorious day for mankind.

    The Case for Christ This is the first of two posts by "Maverick Philosopher Bill Vallicella, who rightly complains about a surprisingly inapt comment by a reviewer of the movie "The Case for Christ" (currently showing in the theaters in the U.S. of A.). Bill correctly notes that while the movie is not a great film as a film (though it's pretty good for the genre), to protest the ideas portion of the movie because it doesn't advance the plot is a spectacular instance of missing the point - remarkably so coming from a review in Christianity Today. (Of course the ideas part could have gone deeper, and those who are interested in such things ought to check out Lee Strobel's book of the same name, The Case for Christ, to take a first step in a deeper direction.)

    Wittgenstein vs. St. Paul Another Maverick Philosopher post. Ludwig Wittgenstein famously referred to religious belief as a "form of life" or "language game", and to oversimplify somewhat (but not maliciously), he held that one does not argue for or against forms of life, but enters into them instead. Reason, on this view, plays little to no role in choosing a form of life; it is essentially irrelevant. But - following St. Paul - Bill finds this a bit crazy, and I'm inclined to agree. While views like Wittgenstein may make for less tension in the public square or, in some cases, around the family table, they do not serve the best interests of either religious believers or (perhaps especially) of unbelievers. It is wrong - and foolish - to conduct discussions about the faith in a nasty or condescending way, but that doesn't mean that one ought not to maintain his convictions and to maintain that they matter.

    The Passion and Resurrection Narratives Concluding with a look at the primary texts, here is Matthew's account of the Passion (the suffering of Christ leading up to and continuing through his crucifixion) and of the Resurrection. (They're combined in the initial link.)

    Happy Easter, and as my kinsmen in Greece would say, Χριστός ἀνέστη!

    Friday
    Apr142017

    This Week's World Chess Column: An Instant Classic

    As mentioned in the previous post, there was yet another event before the main event and the blitz tournament in Zurich, and that's the exhibition game between tournament sponsor Oleg Skvortsov and Viswanathan Anand. Skvortsov is a pretty strong player in his own right, as an amateur, and he pushed Anand to do something special. You can read all about it here, in this week's column.

    Friday
    Apr142017

    Zurich: Four Lead After Three Rounds

    The slow rapid/pseudo classical (G/45 minutes + 30 second increments per move) tournament in Zurich has been very entertaining so far, and after three of seven rounds four players are tied for first place with 2/3 (or rather, 4/6, as the tournament prefers 2-1-0 scoring; perhaps they're boycotting fractions and/or decimal points in Switzerland).

    Vladimir Kramnik has a win and two draws, and was completely winning against Ian Nepomniachtchi in round 2, up a piece for two very inadequate pawns in an endgame. Nepo kept trying and Kramnik either switched off mentally or chose a poor plan, and the game finished in a draw.

    Despite that bit of good luck, Nepomniachtchi was completely winning against Peter Svidler in round 1 and botched it, so two draws instead of a win and a loss came to the same thing. In round 3 he confessed that he would have offered Viswanathan Anand a draw at a certain point, but due to the Sofia rules he had to keep playing, and it paid off when Anand blundered on move 37. (It turns out that he also blundered on move 36, but got away with that one.)

    The third amigo is Svidler, who came back from a somewhat precarious opening position against Hikaru Nakamura in round 3 to win. In a promising position Nakamura switched from plan to plan, and after one switch too many found himself under uncomfortable pressure along the c-file. Breaking it cost him a pawn, and in the resulting heavy piece ending Svidler won a second pawn and the game.

    Nakamura is the fourth player with two out of three, or four out of six, or 754/1508. He defeated tournament underdog Yannick Pelletier and Grigoriy Oparin in rounds 1 and 2, respectively.

    Boris Gelfand has 1.5 points (out of 3), Oparin and Anand have a point apiece, and Pelletier has but a single draw to his credit thus far.

    Before the main event began, the players contested a blitz event to determine pairing numbers. Nakamura and Gelfand tied for first with 4.5/7, Kramnik was third with 4 points, and Nepomniachtchi took fourth on tiebreaks over Anand; both had 3.5 points. The importance of this is that it means he - Nepo - gets an extra game with the white pieces in the main event. Oparin was sixth with 3, and Svidler and Pelletier tied for last with 2.5 points apiece. (You can watch the opening ceremony and the blitz tournament here.)

    Even before that there was another event - but stay tuned for the next post.

    Monday
    Apr102017

    Arthur Bisguier, 1929-2017

    Adult chess players in the United States probably know or have heard of Arthur ("Art") Bisguier, and many chess fans from around the world may also know his name. Unfortunately, his main claim to "fame" is due to his long losing streak to Bobby Fischer, a fate which many others suffered as well. Bisguier won their first game, drew their second, and then the floor caved in: he then lost all the remaining games they played - all 13 of them.

    But this obscures what a fine player he was in his heyday; in the 1950s and early 1960s he was one of the best players in the world, though not to the extent that he was a serious contender for the world championship. There's a very nice summary of his career and some of his biggest "scalps" here; I highly recommend having a look.

    The man loved to play chess, and continued playing until 2014. Of course he wasn't the player he once was, but he still managed to play very decently for a man in his 80s. I saw him at various tournaments over the years going back to the early 1980s, and his affable persona wasn't a put-on - he maintained it even after losing a game. I'm very happy to have the chance to play him (in 1998), and told him in all sincerity before the game that it was an honor to play him. (He was a very good player even then, pushing 70 and still rated over 2400 USCF.)

    He will be missed by generations of American chess players.

    Rest in peace.

    Monday
    Apr102017

    Coming Events: Zurich, Grenke, Gashimov Memorial

    Some big events are coming later this month:

    1. Kortchnoi [sic] Zurich Chess Challenge: This is an eight player, seven round event featuring the quasi-classical time control of game/45, with a 30-second increment after each move. The tournament runs from the 13th to the 16th, and has a great lineup. The headliners are Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand, Hikaru Nakamura, Peter Svidler, Ian Nepomniachtchi, and Boris Gelfand; and GMs Grigoriy Oparin (a strong teenager from Russia) and Yannick Pelletier (representing the host country) round out the field.

    2. Grenke Chess Classic: This is likewise a seven-rounder, with an impressive field that includes world champion Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and Levon Aronian. (The other four: Arkadij Naiditsch, Hou Yifan, Matthias Bluebaum, and Georg Meier.) Play runs from the 15th through the 22nd, with a rest day on the 18th.

    3. Gashimov Memorial: The last of the big three takes place in Shamkir and is a traditional 10-player round robin, running from the 21st through the 30th, with a rest day on the 26th. The field is strong from top to bottom, with two 2800s and no one rated below 2710. Here's the field: Wesley So, Vladimir Kramnik (how will he fare playing in back to back events?), Sergey Karjakin, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Michael Adams, Pentala Harikrishna, Pavel Eljanov, Radoslaw Wojtaszek, Veselin Topalov, and Teimour Radjabov.

    It will be a good month for chess!

    Monday
    Apr102017

    Ivanchuk Defeats Hou Yifan, 3-1

    Vassily Ivanchuk and Hou Yifan played a four-game match in China from April 5-8, and the favorite - Ivanchuk - won in unusual style, drawing games 1 and 3 with White and winning games 2 and 4 with Black. Here are the last two games from the match, both of which were short and entertaining.

    Monday
    Apr102017

    Wesley So: 2017 US Champion

    The playoff is over, and Wesley So has won the 2017 U.S. Championship. He defeated Alexander Onischuk 1.5-.5 in a pair of tiebreak games, winning the first with White and barely drawing the second with Black. In the first game, Onischuk played very sharply, sacrificing a couple of pawns for activity. In the short time controls (G/25, plus a five second time delay before each move) he didn't have enough time to work through the complications and maintain his activity, and So managed to take over and win pretty smoothly. In the second game Onischuk managed to reach a middlegame with two bishops against two knights, and while in theory the position was equal due to the knights' outposts, maintaining them was a difficult task. Onischuk outplayed the world's #2 and achieved both a winning position and a big time advantage, but couldn't figure out how to put him away. His best opportunity began with 41.Bd5+; missing that chance, the advantage started to slip away, bit by bit, and in the end, with both players almost out of time, So drew by perpetual.

    Congratulations to Wesley So!

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