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    Monday
    Jun142010

    The Daily Update: Havana, Danzhou and More

    In Havana, Vassily Ivanchuk continued to star in the Capablanca Memorial. By defeating Ian Nepomniachtchi with Black, Ivanchuk finished the first cycle of this double round-robin event in clear first with 4/5. In second is Nigel Short, who also won with Black - in his case against Lazaro Bruzon. He has 3/5. Both games were picturesque and enough to make the old classicists spin in their graves. (Nepo-Ivanchuk started 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.f3 Qb6 4.a4 [this is trendy nowadays, believe it or not] 4...e6 5.c3 c5 6.exd5 exd5, and although the players started developing their pieces at this point the game never looked fully "normal". So much the worse for classicism!)

    In Danzhou, Bu Xiangzhi consolidated his lead with a draw, and his 3/4 gives him a half point lead over Ding Liren. Interestingly, half of the field is at 2/4, but if you were to conclude that this has been a draw-heavy tournament you'd be mistaken. 11 of the 20 games have been decisive, and 7 of the 10 participants have both won and last at least one game.

    In other events, Timur Gareev took clear first in the National Open in Las Vegas with 5.5/6, beating a hitherto perfect Varuzhan Akobian in the final round. Friso Nijboer and Jan Smeets lead a very strong Dutch Championship field with 2.5/3; further back are Anish Giri and Loek van Wely. Finally, there's the 4th Ruy Lopez Masters in Spain. (The tournament is named after the old chess player; it's not a theme tournament.) After 3 rounds, half the field is in first with 2.5/3: Caruana, Sargissian, Cheparinov and Salgado Lopez. Three of the other four are relative outsiders, but the 2722-rated Malakhov is among those who have been left behind (he has 1/3).

    Monday
    Jun142010

    A Fun Puzzle From Ken Regan - Solution Time

    Here, one more time, is the position:

    It's Black to move. In this post I presented the position without any suggestions or further information, and here I presented it with IM Ken Regan's own hints. This time, you get Regan's analysis - it's just a click away.

    Monday
    Jun142010

    A Review of IM Lawrence Trent's The Two Knight's [sic] Defence

    There are two kinds of opening works: honest ones and dishonest ones. The dishonest ones generally cover sidelines (or worse), and feature a great deal of cheerleading in place of careful analysis. When, therefore, IM Lawrence Trent's Intro clip on this DVD began with a rah-rah spiel promoting the virtues of 4.Ng5 against the Two Knights (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6), especially compared to entering the Ruy Lopez, my guard was up.

    If you're expecting a negative review, however, you've come to the wrong place. Despite my initial suspicion, and one later clip I found disappointing, my overall impression of Trent's work is a positive one. I'm definitely willing to recommend this DVD to just about anyone who plays or faces the 4.Ng5 Two Knights.

    Trent goes proceeds systematically through the various alternatives, starting with the Traxler (a.k.a. Wilkes-Barre, i.e. 4...Bc5), the unnamed 4...d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 line, the Ulvestad/Fritz lines (which generally transpose) and finally the 5...Na5 main line. Right away I was impressed, as he presented a very simple and sound way of meeting the Traxler that avoided practically all of the crazy complications. This was a big plus.

    I was just as impressed by his coverage of the Ulvestad and Fritz Variations, and surprised, too. I took the DVD to offer a White repertoire (which it does), and expected as a result that he would claim a White edge everywhere, or at least everywhere but some ultimate main line in the 5...Na5 systems. To my surprise, he seems to say that with best play that Black equalizes, or at least that it's unclear that White can obtain an edge. Wow!

    That turned what I initially thought was a weakness of the disc into a strength. After 5...b5 he had a clip on the inferior 6.dxc6, and I was wondering why he wasting our time on this in a White repertoire DVD. Worse still, he followed up with the relatively better but stil clearly inferior 6.Bxb5. But once one sees that matters are very much up in the air, even with best play from White, it turns out that the disc becomes valuable for Black, too. Similarly, he looks at a wide range of White approaches in the 5...Na5 mainline. After 6.Bb5+ (6.d3 is also covered) 6...c6 7.dxc6 bxc6 8.Qf3, 8.Bd3 and 8.Be2 are all presented with multiple clips. In terms of the coverage it's a product for both White and Black in the 4.Ng5 Two Knights.

    There was one disappointing chapter on the disc; fortunately, it's in the least important line. Trent is rather dismissive of 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5, and, I think, rightly so. Anyone familiar with the Paul Morphy era will have seen many games with 6.Nxf7 and its near-relatives crushing Black brilliantly. It turns out, however, that the immediate Fried Liver isn't so clear, so Trent recommends the Lolli Attack with 6.d4. (This is also very well-known.) He looks at variations following 6...Be7 7.Nxf7 Kxf7 8.Qf3+ Ke6 9.Nc3, when White's attack is very dangerous indeed. This is all well and good, and it may be true as an empirical matter that most of the club players who try 5...Nxd5 will fall into this mess.

    Unfortunately, Trent doesn't mention the important interpolation 6...Bb4+!, with the point that after 7.c3 Be7 8.Nxf7 Kxf7 9.Qf3+ Ke6 there's no 10.Nc3 and the position isn't so clear. Though most club players probably don't know about it, it has been known for a pretty long time and is the sort of move you'd expect a researcher to find. The textbook line continues 10.Qe4 Bf8 11.0-0 Nce7 12.f4 as in Barden-Adams, Hastings 1951/2. Nunn's Chess Openings (by Nunn, Burgess, Emms and Gallagher) claims it's +/-, while the Russian Modern Chess Opening [sic] and my strongest engine call it +=.

    Two possible improvements. First, Tim Harding notes that after 10.Qe4 Black can try 10...b5!? 11.Bxb5 Bb7 12.f4 g6, as in Kalvach-Drtina, Czechoslovakia corr 1986. I'm not so sure about 12...g6, but 12...Nf6! 13.Bc4+ Ke7 14.Qf5+ Ke8+= holds out some promise. Second, it looks like 10.0-0 is even better, when after 10...b5 11.Bxb5 White is at least clearly better after 11...Bb7 (11...Rf8 12.Qe2+-) 12.Re1 Rf8 13.Qh3+ Kf7 14.dxe5. Michael Goeller claims that it's equal after 10.0-0 Na5 11.Qg4+ Kf7 12.Qf3+. Maybe, but White is winning or nearly so after 11.Bd3.

    Fortunately, this was the only lapse I noted. There were some spots in the succeeding chapters (there are 24 game clips, plus an intro and outro) where I had some mild disagreements, but as a rule his coverage was based on relevant games and recent analysis and his assessments were objectively based. Highly recommended to those interested in the variation.

    Ordering information here.

    

    Monday
    Jun142010

    King's Tournament, Round 1: Gelfand, Nisipeanu Win

    Experienced triumphed over youth today at the King's Tournament in Romania. When the youngsters had Black, they lost , and White was only good enough for a draw - with effort.

    The first game to finish was Carlsen - Ponomariov. With White in a Catalan, Carlsen had an imposing-looking position, but it turned out that the most important single factor was White's backward d-pawn. Ponomariov held with ease, and was perhaps a tiny bit better at the end.

    Next to finish was Nisipeanu - Radjabov. Radjabov played one of his pet lines, the Sveshnikov Sicilian, and seemed fine until his rash 21...f5. After 22.exf5 gxf5 23.Bxc6 Rxc6 24.f4 Black's counterplay was over before it started, while all the static features favored White. Black's position quickly deteriorated, and in time trouble his attempts to stir up tactics led to his demise.

    The last game to finish - and it was a long one - was Gelfand - Wang Yue. Gelfand played c5 against his opponent's Chebanenko Slav, and managed to consolidate his big space advantage. From there he built up an attack on the h-file and won a pawn, then went over to the queenside and opened the board over there, and finally won by stretching Black's defenses too thin. The game is a technical masterpiece.

    So it was a fine batch of games today; here are tomorrow's:

    Wang Yue - Ponomariov

    Radjabov - Carlsen

    Gelfand - Nisipeanu

     

    Meanwhile, you can replay today's games, with my annotations, here.

    Sunday
    Jun132010

    The Daily Update: Poikovsky Finishes, Plus Havana, Danzhou, and Medias

    1. The Karpov tournament in Poikovsky finished today, and Sergey Karjakin won on tiebreak over Viktor Bologan. Coming into the last round, they were tied for first, along with Dmitry Jakovenko and Nikita Vitiugov. Remarkably, all four had White, too. Vitiugov didn't come very close, though: he drew Jobava in 17 moves. Jakovenko pushed longer, but didn't manage to beat Rublevsky. But both Karjakin and Bologan won, over Sutovsky and Motylev respectively. Ironically, both won endings that should have been drawn, and that didn't appear to be terribly difficult to hold, either. (Of course, what looks - and may in fact be - easy to draw to a well-rested, tension-free commentator may not be so easy at the end of a long game at the end of a tournament.)

    2. Vassily Ivanchuk continues to lead the Capablanca Memorial in Havana. He drew again today and now has 3/4; Nigel Short became the first player other than Ivanchuk to win a game, and he's now back on 50%. (English-language coverage here.)

    3. In Danzhou, Bu Xiangzhi beat Ding Liren in round 3 to replace him as the leader. He (Bu) has 2.5/3, Ding and Wang Hao have 2 points in this very strong all-Chinese tournament. (Live games here.)

    4. Finally, the King's Tournament in Medias, Romania, starts tomorrow (Monday). Here are the first round pairings:

    Gelfand - Wang Yue

    Nisipeanu - Radjabov

    Carlsen - Ponomariov

    Play starts at 2:30 p.m. CET/8:30 a.m. ET. It will be nice to see Carlsen in action again.

    Sunday
    Jun132010

    The Daily Update: Poikovsky, Havana, Danzhou

    The Karpov tournament in Poikovsky has taken a surprising turn. Going into round 9 (of 11), Jakovenko led by half a point over Karjakin and a point over Vitiugov and Bologan. Considering that Jakovenko was due to play Onischuk, who was winless and at -1, it was hard to imagine that he would lose - but he did. Karjakin drew with Rublevsky, while Vitiugov and Bologan both won (over Sutovsky and Naiditsch respectively, in both cases with Black!). So those four players now lead with 6/10 going into the last round. While the problem of lame draws has continued (Jobava-Sokolov went 15 moves and Motylev-Riazantsev just 22), there have also been some very exciting games as well and the overall fighting spirit has increased over the last several rounds.

    At the Capablanca Memorial in Havana, one streak continued and another ended. In games not involving Ivanchuk, the streak of all drawn games continues: six in a row. The streak of Ivanchuk victories stopped at two, however, as he only managed to draw against Dominguez. Ivanchuk thus leads with 2.5/3, a point clear of Dominguez, Bruzon and Nepomniachtchi.

    In Danzhou, round 3 is underway (Ding Liren - Bu Xiangzhi looks pretty crazy); after two completed rounds Ding Liren leads with 2/2, half a point ahead of Li Chao and Bu Xiangzhi.

    There are some other interesting events going on now too, but rather than duplicate TWIC's front page I'll send you there to see for yourself!

    Sunday
    Jun132010

    Jaideep Interviews Anand, Part 3

    The final installment of the interview is here, and well worth the few minutes to read.

    Saturday
    Jun122010

    This Week's ChessVideos Show: Viewer Games

    About once every month or so, I try to go through the collection of games submitted by the viewers over at ChessVideos.tv. That's the subject of this week's show, which includes a King's Indian, an Old Indian, a Ruy Lopez, a Scotch, a King's Indian Attack and more. Of course it wasn't just openings that were covered, but that at least gives you some idea of what you'll see.

    The show, which you can access here, is free (free registration required, if you haven't registered already), and will be available on-demand for the next month or so.

    Saturday
    Jun122010

    New and Upcoming Events: Danzhou, Bazna

    In Danzhou, China, a very strong tournament started yesterday. Indeed, it looks like the participants in the national championship just took a few days off, and then reconvened here: Wang Hao, Bu Xiangzhi, Ni Hua, Hou Yifan, Ding Liren, etc. The last two were the only winners in round 1; round 2 is underway as I write this. More here; live games here.

    What about Wang Yue? He didn't play in the Chinese Championship because he was in Astrakhan, and he's not playing in Danzhou on account of the Bazna tournament starting on Monday. The lineup for this six player, double round-robin tournament is impressive:

    Magnus Carlsen (2813)

    Boris Gelfand (2750)

    Wang Yue (2749)

    Teimour Radjabov (2740)

    Ruslan Ponomariov (2737)

    Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu (2661)

    The second and third seeds can be a bit dull, at least with Black, but seeds 1, 3 and 4 are good fighters while Nisipeanu's presence as the putative rabbit should also liven things up.

    Saturday
    Jun122010

    The Daily Update: Poikovsky and Havana

    Briefly:

    The Karpov tournament in Poikovsky again saw three wins, but this flurry of excitement is somewhat counterbalanced by the 15- and 17-move draws in the Jakovenko-Riazantsev and Naiditsch-Motylev games, (dis-)respectively. Bologan beat Jobava, Vitiugov beat Rublevsky (and very quickly) and Sutovsky won with Black against Sokolov.

    Thus Jakovenko, with 6/9, maintains his half-point lead over Karjakin with two rounds to go; Bologan, Riazantsev, Vitiugov and Sutovsky are a further half a point behind.

     

    At the Capablanca Memorial in Havana, Cuba, there were again two draws complemented by an Ivanchuk win, this time over Alekseev. Go Chuky!