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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 Chess Olympiad 2016 Chinese Championship 2016 Sinquefield Cup 2016 U.S. Championship 2016 U.S. Women's Championship 2016 Women's World Championship 2016 World Championship 2018 Chess Olympiad 22014 Sinquefield Cup 22014 U.S. Championship 2Mind Games 2016 60 Minutes A. 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    Friday
    Apr082016

    Grand Chess Tour: Karjakin Out, Carlsen (Partially) In

    Read more here. The bit that's getting all the attention is a tweet from London Chess Classic organizer Malcolm Pein. In response to a tweet from (Norwegian) Tarjei J. Svensen, who expressed the view that Sergey Karjakin's decision to skip the Norway Chess supertournament was "disrespectful...towards the organizer, the players and the entire chess world", Pein upped the ante:

    Preparation? Nah - he's just chickening out - pathetic, pleased we didn't invite him to Grand Chess Tour

    I'm inclined to agree with Pein's choice of the word "pathetic", but think it should be applied to his comment instead. Svensen has a point, though it's a little overstated (for one thing, the player who gets to take his spot is getting a great opportunity and a nice payday), but "chickening out"? If there's one thing Karjakin has a reputation for, it's that he is an extraordinarily resilient fighter. It also seems remarkably unwise of Pein to alienate someone who might be the world champion at year's end. (He's an underdog, but it certainly isn't impossible for him to win the title.)

    Maybe the moral is that forums like Facebook and Twitter can make fools of us all.

    Wednesday
    Apr062016

    Grischuk Defeats Aronian 11.5-9.5

    Alexander Grischuk defeated Levon Aronian 11.5-9.5 in their quarter-final match in Chess.com's Grandmaster Blitz Battle Championship. It was a hard-fought match, and generally well-played, too. Grischuk dominated overall, and was close to winning many more games than he did, but Aronian's tough defense (sometimes aided by Grischuk's characteristic time trouble) kept the match close, and with two games left the match was tied. The penultimate game was key, a marathon battle that saw Aronian start with an extra pawn and a lead on time. Grischuk had the bishop pair, and slowly but surely managed to fight his way back to equality and a likely draw. But the battle continued, and after some final adventures Grischuk pulled out the win.

    In the semi-final Grischuk will play the winner of a similar match between Magnus Carlsen and the winner of a qualifying tournament, and before the latter match the other quarter-final matches will take place: Hikaru Nakamura vs. Pentala Harikrishna on May 4 and Fabiano Caruana vs. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave on May 10.

    The full Grischuk-Aronian match, with commentary by GM Robert Hess and IM Danny Rensch, is available here.

    Wednesday
    Apr062016

    Karjakin Drops Out of Norway Chess Due to Exhaustion and Carlsen Prep

    Sergey Karjakin has dropped out of the Norway Chess supertournament, which starts in about a week and a half (on April 18). The reasons are exhaustion (not just from the Candidates, but from the whirlwind of press activity he has had in its wake) and because he is (already!) preparing for his World Championship match with Magnus Carlsen in November. (This is a very good sign: Karjakin is taking this as seriously as he ought to, and the result should be a great match. Carlsen will rightly be a favorite, but I don't think he's so much of a favorite that he can beat peak Karjakin without playing something near his absolute best.)

    Withdrawing at this late date puts the organizers in a bit of a bind, and it is also unpleasant for whoever takes his place - probably but not yet definitely Jon Ludwig Hammer. Of course it's a great opportunity for him, but having less than two weeks rather than two months to prepare isn't very helpful for the (by far) weakest player in the field, excepting Nils Grandelius who won a spot in a qualifier a few weeks ago.

    Wednesday
    Apr062016

    Komodo 9.42, Get It While You Can

    Nearly a year ago I purchased Komodo 9 and a one-year subscription, meaning that whenever a new version came out during that time it could be downloaded for no further cost. I have no complaints about the engine, but their notification policy is less than impressive - there are no notifications. (This despite my requesting to be put on a list, and the representative for the company agreeing to do so!) When a TCEC competition is ongoing it's easier to notice when an upgrade comes out, but nowadays it's easier to miss. Version 9.4 came out March 18, and by accident I discovered that a further mini-upgrade came out March 21 - version 9.42.

    So for those of you who might have bought the one-year subscription when version 9 first came out, be sure to download the latest and greatest version - it is stronger than its predecessor, and the year is coming to an end in about 3 weeks.

    [N.B. The title should not be taken to imply that the Komodo program is disappearing. As far as I know, the company is in good health and they will continue improving their engine indefinitely.]

    Tuesday
    Apr052016

    Aronian-Grischuk Blitz Match on Chess.com Tomorrow

    This should be a lot of fun for spectators. Current world blitz champion Alexander Grischuk and erstwhile world #2 (and former world blitz champion) Levon Aronian will face off on Chess.com tomorrow (Wednesday) at 1 p.m. Eastern time = 6 p.m. London time. They will play for three hours in three formats: 5 minutes + 2 seconds for 90 minutes, 3' + 2" for 60 minutes, and then 1' + 1" for another half an hour. (There will be short breaks in between each transition.)

    Better still, this is just the first match in a series. On May 4 a similar match will take place between Hikaru Nakamura and Pentala Harikrishna, on May 10 Fabiano Caruana will play Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and on June 8 or 15 none other than Magnus Carlsen will take on the winner of a qualifier scheduled for May 31. (More here.)

    These four matches are not wholly independent events, but the quarterfinal of an overall competition with $40k in prizes. Not bad for a maximum of nine hours' work.

    Tuesday
    Apr052016

    Last Week's World Chess Column: Wei Yi The Future Candidate?

    Chinese superstar Wei Yi's rating has taken a bit of a hit the last couple of months, but he still seems very likely to be a big player in the chess world over the next decade or two. He's also one of the most entertaining players around, best known for winning brilliancies in sharp, highly theoretical lines. In my most recent column for the World Chess website I show one of his recent attacking gems, but also show that he can win beautiful positional games as well - see for yourself.

    Tuesday
    Apr052016

    In the Hall of Mirrors: The Vallicella Trap in the Caro-Kann

    William Vallicella, author of the fine Maverick Philosopher blog, recalls a bit of chess fame he enjoyed thanks in part to my work on this blog. I'll let you read the story over there, and ask a favor of anyone who has Jovanka Houska's new book on the Caro-Kann: is the "Vallicella Trap" mentioned in this one?

    Tuesday
    Apr052016

    10,000 Hours Redux

    Years ago psychologist Anders Ericsson proposed that to become elite in a field one needed, among other things, approximately 10,000 hours of "deliberate practice". This isn't just putting in one's time (e.g. watching videos and playing bullet chess) but working hard at challenging problems that help develop the relevant skills. Others have gotten rich by popularizing and, in some cases, slightly misrepresenting Ericsson's work, and even apart from that his claims have had their critics.

    Ericsson is therefore out with a popular book (why shouldn't he get to cash in on his work?) that reiterates and clarifies his thesis, responds to objections, and offers suggestions about implementing deliberate practice. If you're curious about the topic and/or have followed the debates over the years, you might want to have a look.

    Tuesday
    Apr052016

    New Pal Benko Helpmates

    I haven't been a big fan of helpmates, but the positions in this short article are just accessible enough to be interesting to fans of "normal" chess. It's nice to see that Pal Benko is still creating at the age of 87!

    Tuesday
    Apr052016

    Hou Yifan Interview

    Not surprisingly, she finds the current Women's World Championship system unfair:

    I am satisfied with my play in the match but I cannot say that I have only positive feelings – after all, to me the current Women's World Championship system seems to be unfair. And I believe I'm not the only one who thinks like this. It would be good if the current system changed to a more reasonable format. I am sure, a "real" World Championship Match would attract much more attention.

    It turns out, however, that there is an actual reason why the current system is in place. It's a sensible reason too, though I'm not inclined to think it's a sufficiently good one:

    Actually, last month I officially made a proposal to FIDE to change the format of the Women’s World Championship. I suggested three reasonable alternatives but the answer I received seems to indicate that my proposal was not accepted. The main reason why they want to stick to the current system is the fact that it is easier to find sponsors if you call the knock-out tournament “World Championship”. If you called it "World Cup" it would be extremely difficult to find sponsors.

    So there you have it. Anyway, now that Hou has finished her degree look for her to make a big push for 2700 in the next year or two, after which she may well follow in Judit Polgar's footsteps and ignore women's events. (At least if the Chinese sports officials let her.) There's a bit more to the interview than this (but not much), so have a look.

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