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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 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 Championship 2016 World Junior Championship 2016 World Open 2017 Women's World Championship 2018 Chess Olympiad 22014 Sinquefield Cup 22014 U.S. Championship 22016 Chess Olympiad 2Mind Games 2016 60 Minutes A. 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    Friday
    Nov112016

    Book Notice: Schulz's *The Big Book of World Chess Championships*

    Andre Schulz, The Big Book fo World Chess Champoinships: 46 Title Fights - From Steinitz to Carlsen. New in Chess, 2016. 351 pp., $24.95/€22.95. Reviewed by Dennis Monokroussos.

    Multi-volume series like Garry Kasparov's My Great Predecessors books are excellent surveys of chess history, both for their narrative and especially the analysis, but not every chess fan is ready for five large books with heavy-duty analysis. Besides, that series doesn't include Kasparov himself - one needs another six volumes for his career, including three dedicated just to his games vs. Anatoly Karpov. And then there are Kasparov's great successors - Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand, and Magnus Carlsen - who aren't covered as such in any of Kasparov's books.

    So as wonderful as those books are, and I have them all, they're both too much and too little for the casual fan who would enjoy a nice overview of the history of the world championship without breaking his back, his bookcase, or his bank account. Enter Andre Schulz's The Big Book of World Chess Championships. It isn't encyclopedic and it doesn't pretend to be. What it offers instead is the story of every world championship match (plus the 1948 match-tournament), with an annotated game from each event (except the non-event that was Fischer-Karpov in 1975).

    One of the things I've appreciated from the book is that Schulz doesn't use the narrative space to dwell too much on the blow-by-blow of the match. Instead, he finds interesting and largely unknown tidbits that offer some insight into the match or background information about on one or both of the players. A few examples will have to suffice:

    In chapter 1, on the Steinitz-Zukertort match, Schulz notes that when Steinitz went to Vienna as a young man he met Phillip Meitner, who was the father of the physicist Lise Meitner.

    In chapter 16, he writes that Max Euwe was initially fascinated by communism, but after the second world war and especially after the Budapest uprising of 1956 lost his enthusiasm for the USSR and communism in general.

    In chapter 26, on the second Petrosian-Spassky match, we learn that Petrosian fell apart in the first part of the match, first suffering a crisis of confidence and then quarreling with his seconds to the point that in game 9 he chose a different opening than what he had discussed with his seconds, and very nearly lost the game as a result.

    One more: in chapter 31, on the first, unfinished Karpov-Kasparov match, Schulz lists the members of Karpov's enormous team, and then adds this: "Care was taken to ensure that it did not become known who all were working for Karpov. On the car trip to the venue the secret additional trainers always lay flat on the rear seats as soon as the car reached the House of the The Unions so as not to be seen with Karpov." We also learn that both Karpov and Kasparov included parapsychologists on their teams. That Karpov had the infamous Dr. Zukhar on his team in his 1978 match with Korchnoi is well known, but that he had one against Kasparov - and the reverse! - is not common knowledge.

    This is a book I'd recommend as a Christmas present for the lover of chess history in your home or broader circle, and it would make a fine gift for a teenaged chess fan as well.

    Friday
    Nov112016

    Book Notice: The Linders' *Alexander Alekhine: Fourth World Chess Champion*

    Isaak and Vladimir Linder, Alexander Alekhine: Fourth World Chess Champion. Russell Enterprises, 2016. 295 pp., $24.95.

    Alexander Alekhine was one of the all-time greats: world champion for 15 years (from 1927 until his death in 1946, excepting Max Euwe's reign from 1935 to 1937), arguably the most diligent analyst of the pre-WWII era, and one of the great opening innovators of the era as well. He may have been the greatest blindfold player of all time, and his incredible tactical imagination has probably made him a greater fan favorite than any other player in history, pre-Mikhail Tal. Alekhine was the chess hero of the young Garry Kasparov, and one can see the resemblance between the two of them.

    Despite his greatness and importance to the game, there aren't a lot of good books on Alekhine in English. Alekhine's own best games volume (or volumes: 1908-1923 and 1924-1937, but they are often published in a combined volume) is indispensable for chess fans, and there's also the monster book on Alekhine by Verhoeven and Skinner. Neither is really a biography, but one can find biographical information in the relevant volume of Kasparov's My Great Predecessors series.

    The book under review fills in a gap, but it may be more accurate to describe the book as a short encyclopedia on Alexander Alekhine. This is the third in a series of biographies of early world chess champions by the father and son duo of Isaak and Vladimir Linder (I reviewed their work on Emanuel Lasker here, and on Jose Raul Capablanca here), and it is similar to the earlier works.

    The book's format might prove irritating to readers who come to it expecting anything like a traditional biography, but if instead one thinks of it as an encyclopedia one is much less likely to be disappointed. The first chapter, "Life and Destiny", looks like it will be a straight biography, but then the Linders discuss his life in this country, then that one, then a third - and the dates are all over the place. If one moves the puzzle pieces around one could construct a linear account, but it isn't provided from the material as-is.

    Chapter 2, "Matches, Tournaments, Rivals" is largely chronological, but not entirely, and there is no narrative structure; each entry is an independent, self-contained unit. Short biographies are offered of various players, sometimes including games they played against opponents other than Alekhine. Event summaries are also provided, often with crosstables and sometimes with historic photos.

    The entries in this section are often fascinating, and it will be the very rare reader who doesn't learn something new. I had never heard of a player named Alexander Moiseyevich Evenson (1892-1919), but it turns out that he was a very talented player who died young, possibly killed by his fellow soliders in the post-war army. How talented was Evenson? You might suspect that if you've never heard of him he probably wasn't such a big deal, so how's this: after St. Petersburg 1914 (won by Lasker, ahead of Capablanca, Alekhine, etc.) there was a blitz tournament. Capablanca won, and Evenson was second, ahead of Lasker, Alekhine, and others.

    Chapter 2 is by far the longest chapter in the book; chapter 3 is a bit of an odds-and-ends chapter on Alekhine's chess, entitled "Chess Creations - Games and Discoveries". Chapter 4, "Writer and Journalist", explores his considerable contributions to the literature of the game, and Chapter 5, "Impervious to Time", considers his legacy.

    I think this is a worthwhile book for fans of chess history, and even if you're a Russian in possession of the original you might still find it worth picking up, as the game annotations for this edition have been done by German grandmaster Karsten Mueller. (136 games and game fragments in total, and almost all of them complete games.) Recommended.

    Friday
    Nov112016

    Book Notice: van de Oudeweetering's *Train Your Chess Pattern Recognition*

    Arthur van de Oudeweetering, Train Your Chess Pattern Recognition: More Key Moves and Motifs in the Middlegame. New in Chess, 2016. 283 pp., $24.95/€22.95. Reviewed by Dennis Monokroussos.

    This book is a sequel of sorts of van de Oudeweetering's Improve Your Chess Pattern Recognition, which I reviewed here. The review was favorable, and as a result part of that review appears as a blurb on the back cover of the present book. My attitude towards the present work is likewise favorable, as it exhibits the same virtues as the earlier book and, before that, his column from the now-defunct e-periodical ChessVibes Training.

    The modus operandi for all of these works is the same: take a theme - typically one that hasn't been beaten into the ground by 135 previous books on positional play - and illustrate it with a wide range of examples, including ones where the thematic idea doesn't force the opponent to applaud, bow, and then crumble. His examples tend to be very well chosen, and he's a good writer, too. My main suggestion for the book is that he double the number of exercises and presents them out of order: right now there is one exercise per theme, and they are given in chapter order.

    There are 37 themes (or motifs) in this book, clustered into six parts: typical maneuvers, sacrificial patterns, pawn breaks, material imbalances, more material imbalances, and bad patterns. (Important note: I've slightly changed the names of some of the parts for the sake of clarity.)

    The last part is a bit of an oddity, because it isn't always clear if the "bad patterns" really are bad or not. For instance, the bad pattern of chapter 34 is tripled pawns, and early on the examples show tripled pawns functioning beautifully for their possessor, or at a minimum not proving an impediment. (For the sake of realism, he concludes the chapter with several examples of more typically woeful triplets leading their possessor to defeat.) Chapter 35 shows knights performing heroically on corner squares. On the other hand, chapter 36 shows that knights on b3/b6/g3/g6 are often bad, just as Dr. Tarrasch famously said. (Perhaps if the knights had then moved into the corner?) Finally, in chapter 37, the book ends with "Buried Bishops": bishops stuck in the corner with the long diagonal permanently closed by the player's own pawns. Those cases are unreservedly bad in this chapter. To sum up, it seems that we should interpret "bad patterns" to mean something like "seemingly bad patterns", and to realize that some seemingly bad patterns are always or practically always bad, but in many other cases appearance and reality can diverge quite a lot.

    The thematic unity of the other parts is more readily evident, and it should be added that the book makes for quite an easy read. Van de Oudeweetering has a pleasant conversational style, and the notes are useful but not overwhelming. The bottom line is that this is a good book for trainers and for players around 1600 and up looking to increase their stock of positional themes, tactical motifs, and their understanding of various particular imbalances. The value of this book is that much of what he covers isn't addressed in systematic middlegame texts, so a player could go for decades without ever learning about the ideas presented here. Recommended.

    Thursday
    Nov102016

    Book Notice: Dvoretsky's *Maneuvering: The Art of Piece Play*

    Mark Dvoretsky, Maneuvering: The Art of Piece Play. Russell Enterprises 2016. 215 pp., $24.95.

    Unfortunately, Mark Dvoretsky is with us no more, but he has left the chess world a rich literary legacy. When it came to finding top quality training material for strong, ambitious players, his work was unsurpassed (at least among those who published their findings), with probably only Jacob Aagaard nowadays giving him a run for his money.

    This book, his latest and probably last effort, is also one of his more accessible works. His most challenging material could leave even titled players screaming in agony, but the topic of this work, maneuvering, is one where the ability to think in pictures is more important than the ability to find incredible tactical resources in the middle of long variations in a thicket of analysis. The key idea in maneuvering is simply this: to find better squares for one's pieces, both individually and as a whole, in harmony with each other. This can be build on in various ways (e.g. by thinking about ways to transform the structure to make this harmony possible, and of course considering how to ruin the opponent's harmony), but that's the heart of the matter.

    There are 10 chapters of exercises, with 10 accompanying solution chapters, plus a Foreword and an Introduction. It's a slim volume, but not too expensive and well worth it: the material is excellent, and what's just as important, there aren't many (any?) other books on the topic - certainly not puzzle books.

    Thursday
    Nov102016

    A Short Review of Informant 129

    It's time for another Informant review, this time covering Informant 129, which offers a digest of the best of the chess from May through August of this year. Regular readers of this blog are probably pretty familiar with the drill by now and have a good idea of what this publication looks like, even if they've never seen one themselves. Nevertheless, there are always new topics and often new authors in each issue, and there are always new readers visiting this blog, so it's worthwhile going through the exercise once again.

    In the old days the Informant came out twice a year and included approximately 700 games per issue, most of them annotated by always with languageless symbols. Now it comes out four times a year and only 200 such games are published, but (a) the notes are (on average) much deeper and (b) the 200 games make up much less than half the book. (In this issue, they fill only 129 of the 319 pages.) There are also the puzzle sections - again a holdover from the old days, with nine combinations, nine endings, and nine endgame studies. The tournament results from the relevant time period are also given, and so too are the best game and the most important theoretical novelty from the previous volume.

    All told, those traditional features take up approximately half of the volume, and the other half (or slightly less - 143 pages) are like a very high-level magazine. All the remaining material is in English and authored by grandmasters, always including at least one super-GM - in this case Michael Adams. Here's a summary of the articles.

    First is Adams' review of this year's British Championship, which he won with the enormous score of 10/11. He analyzes four of his games from the tournament, from the last five rounds, in considerable detail.

    Next comes a review by GM Spiridon Kapnisis of the Bilbao Grand Prix, won by Magnus Carlsen. All ten of Carlsen's games are annotated!

    Third is a review by GM Aleksandar Colovic of Wesley So's victory in the Sinquefield Cup; eight of So's nine games are analyzed therein.

    The strong Indian GM S.P. Sethuraman recaps his victory in the Asian Continental Championship, culminating in a wild last-round win over the favored (and leading) Wei Yi in a game that features some mind-bending analysis.

    The next article looks at another continental championship, this one for the Americas, and was likewise written by the winner, Peruvian GM Emilio Cordova.

    After this the tournament summaries are left behind. GM Michael Roiz discusses fighting for the initiative ("at any cost!"), and while he is a very strong grandmaster his examples are all from other players' games.

    GM Rafael Leitao takes a look at some of the new trends in the London System against various Black setups, and as an aside I should say that this is a wonderful statement of the richness of our game. Until 2-3 years ago, if not sooner, the idea that a top-shelf periodical like the Informant could write about "new trends in the London System" sounded almost as implausible as a serious scientific summit on the flat earth theory. But here we are, and while I doubt that the London will ever become as rich as an opening like the Najdorf Sicilian or the main line Closed Ruy starting with 9.h3, it has become a legitimate opening in its own right for players who want to fight for an edge - at least against some plausible setups.

    GM Mihail Marin's "Old Wine in New Bottles" has been a constant since the Informant began its "magazine" section, and this time around he looks at some Modern Benoni games, past and present, highlighting the need for Black to play very precisely.

    GM Emanuel Berg's "Mirroring" column has been around a while, demonstrating first White's chances in a given opening line and then Black's. The subject in this issue is the Bayonet Variation against the King's Indian Defense.

    GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant's "Intuition" column looks at the endgame queen + g-pawn vs. queen; poignantly, she often refers to Mark Dvoretsky's work on this ending.

    Speaking of endgames and the recently, sadly departed, the final article is by endgame specialist Karsten Mueller, who takes a look at the endgame legacy of the great Viktor Korchnoi.

    As usual, I believe the issue offers excellent value for the money, and I can warmly recommend it to stronger players, say, 1900 and up. I think the average level of the commentators is a bit lower in this issue than in most of its immediate predecessors, but even so it's worth adding to the collection!

    More information, and samples, here.

    Thursday
    Nov102016

    And Then There's Still That *Other* World Championship (Or Two)

    The superfinal of the 9th seasons of the Top Chess Engine Competition (or TCEC, which was also the initialism for its original name, the Thoresen Chess Engines Competition) starts one hour after the beginning of the Carlsen-Karjakin match. It will run a wee bit longer though - it's a best-of-100 contest between the latest iterations of Stockfish and Houdini for computer chess supremacy...at least until season 10 starts sometime next year.

    The website for all the action is, as usual, this one.

    Also, as some of you know the TCEC crew ran a rapid event with all the season 9 engines after the penultimate stage fo the main event, and the big three - Houdini, Komodo, and Stockfish all went undefeated and went 1-2-3, with Houdini the surprise winner with an enormous score of 56/62. Komodo took second with 53 points, and Stockfish finished a further half a point behind.

    Thursday
    Nov102016

    Then There's That Other World Championship

    We've been peeking in at the 29th World Correspondence Championship every so often, and I'm pleased to report that with 89 games finished out of 136, the winning percentage is a very impressive 3.37%: three decisive games! It is fortunate that this sort of hyper-accurate, hyper-resilient play is only possible in man + machine events at a super-slow time control.

    Thursday
    Nov102016

    World Championship 2016: Carlsen-Karjakin Starts Tomorrow/Today (Friday)

    Magnus Carlsen's second title defense, this time against Sergey Karjakin, starts this Friday at 2 p.m. local time (ET) at the South Street Seaport in New York.

    It's a 12 game match (not counting tiebreaks, if necessary), and the schedule until the last round is this: a game one day, a game the next day, and then a day off. This continues until the very last round, which has one extra day off beforehand. Players will alternate colors the first six games, and then everything gets switched. Specifically, the pairings have been set and Carlsen has White in game 1. He will therefore also have White in games 3 and 5, but then in the second half it will be Karjakin who starts each game pair with White, so Carlsen will next play White in game 8.

    There's a report on the opening ceremony (with video) here and the official site is here, but let's get to the question we all want to answer: what's going to be the margin of Carlsen's victory? I'm going for +2, 6.5-4.5.

    Thursday
    Nov102016

    Topalov Leads After Day 1 of the Champions Showdown

    After two rounds of game/60 (with a five-second time delay each move) Veselin Topalov is the early leader of the Champions Showdown. In round 1 he defeated Fabiano Caruana in a remarkable game, and the day's other games were all drawn. The other round 1 game saw Viswanathan Anand outplay Hikaru Nakamura up to a point, but Nakamura's resilient defense and Anand's time trouble allowed the American to escape. In round 2 Topalov had White again, this time against Anand, but without achieve anything substantial. Caruana was on the verge of winning a fantastic game against Nakamura, but once again a combination of resilient defense and his opponent's (severe) time trouble let him survive a second straight game where he was in trouble with Black.

    The games, with my comments, are here.

    Thursday
    Nov102016

    Champions Showdown, Starting Now!

    It's Veselin Topalov vs. Fabiano Caruana and Viswanathan Anand vs. Hikaru Nakamura, starting now in St. Louis. As mentioned a few days ago, this is a three-part tournament: two classical round robins, followed by a double round robin in rapid, concluding in a quadruple round robin in blitz.

    Official site here.

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