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    Entries in 2012 Capablanca Memorial (7)

    Tuesday
    May152012

    Ivanchuk Wins in Havana, Plus a Sigeman & Co. Update

    We've already reported on the World Championship, and the U.S. Championship (both versions) had a rest day. So that left two major events to report: the 47th Capablanca Memorial, which finished today (now yesterday) and Sigeman & Co.

    Vassily Ivanchuk had a half point lead over Ian Nepomniachtchi in the Capablanca Memorial, and drew with White against Viktor Laznicka in 11 rounds. He practically dared Nepomniachtchi to try to catch him, but while he may have tried, he didn't succeed. Leinier Dominguez defeated him and caught him in second place. Ivanchuk finished with 6.5/10 while Nepomniachtchi and Dominguez had 5.5 points apiece. In minus territory, Vladimir Potkin wound up with 4.5 while Yuniesky Quesada and Laznicka totaled 4 points.

    While in Havana the standings finished more or less according to ratings, the story's a bit different in Malmo, Sweden, where the Sigeman & Co. tournament has finished five rounds of seven. Top seed Fabiano Caruana won his first two games and, three draws later, remains in first. But he has been caught by Nils Grandelius, who is the lowest-rated player in the tournament. Caruana drew a crazy Gruenfeld against Li Chao, while Grandelius won with White against Jonny Hector in a Slav. The leaders have 3.5 points, good for a half point edge over Li Chao and Peter Leko and a full point advantage over Anish Giri.

    Monday
    May142012

    The Speedy Sunday Summary: St. Louis, Sigeman & Co, and Senor Capablanca's Memorial

    (Always avoid alliteration!)

    The World Championship match had its first rest day, but the other three major ongoing events saw action.

    In the U.S. Championship saw the top seeds, Hikaru Nakamura and Gata Kamsky, both draw and maintain clear first and second, respectively. Nakamura drew with Varuzhan Akobian while Kamsky drew with Yuri Shulman (who is tied for third and, like Nakamura but not Kamsky*, is undefeated). The favorites both had Black and failed to put their opponents in any danger.

    In the first five rounds the proportion of decisive games was extremely high, but there were only two winners today. Robert Hess beat Gregory Kaidanov with Black in a middlegame with imbalanced material; his minor pieces wound up dominating Kaidanov's queen. Also winning was Yasser Seirawan, who has yet to draw a game in the tournament. His game with Ray Robson went from the opening to an endgame almost immediately, and Seirawan displayed his technical prowess on the way to a badly needed win.

    The other two games - Stripunsky-Lenderman and Onischuk-Ramirez - were drawn.

    Round 7 Pairings:

    Lenderman (3.5) - Seirawan (2)
    Kamsky (4) - Stripunsky (3)
    Nakamura (4.5) - Shulman (3.5)
    Hess (2.5) - Akobian (2.5)
    Ramirez (1.5) - Kaidanov (3)
    Robson (2.5) - Onischuk (3.5)

    In the Women's Championship, the three-way tie for first is over. Iryna Zenyuk lost to Rusudan Goletiani and Anna Zatonskih drew with Viktorija Ni, which allowed Irina Krush to take the sole lead by defeating Tatev Abrahamyan. She has 4/5, Zatonskih 3.5 and Zenyuk, Goletiani and Sabina-Francesca Foisor all have 3.

    Going down south a bit, the penultimate round of the 47th Capablanca Memorial in Havana, Cuba, saw the leaders square off. Vassily Ivanchuk led Ian Nepomniachtchi by half a point coming into the round, but with the latter having White in their game the tournament remained very much up for grabs. It still is, but Ivanchuk held very comfortably with the black pieces to maintain his lead. As he'll have White against tailender Viktor Laznicka while Nepomniachtchi will have Black against the third-placed Leinier Dominguez one must like Ivanchuk's chances for finishing in clear first.

    Finally, in Sigeman & Co. event in Malmo, Sweden Fabiano Caruana drew and continues to lead with 3/4, but Nils Grandelius (who also drew) and 2700s Li Chao and Peter Leko (who both won their games, with Black) are all nipping at his heels, just half a point behind. Three rounds remain there.

    * Correcting an earlier error (see five of the comments!).

    Saturday
    May122012

    The Best of the Rest: The U.S. Championship and the Capablanca Memorial

    The World Championship has already been discussed and Sigeman & Co. had the day off (but check out the first video on the latter website for a cute practical joke), so the remaining news focuses on the U.S. Championship and the Women's Championship, along with the Capablanca Memorial in Havana.

    In the U.S. Championship, the big game saw the leaders square off. Hikaru Nakamura had White against Gregory Kaidanov, and parlayed it into a never-ending ending promising Black nothing but misery. Maybe there was some way for Kaidanov to hold the draw (though I wouldn't bet on it), but as a practical matter it was hopeless. It looked like a model technical win, well worth studying.

    Gata Kamsky bounced back from yesterday's loss to Kaidanov to defeat Varuzhan Akobian, and as a result he's in clear second, half a point behind Nakamura. I can't recall seeing Akobian play anything against 1.e4 but the French and an occasional 1...d6, but maybe last year's loss to Kamsky in the French encouraged him to try something new. His choice of the Berlin made sure he wouldn't lose quickly, but Kamsky seemed far more comfortable in the "Wall" endgame and he won anyway. It takes time to properly "feel" the Berlin, and it was a tall order for Akobian against a player of Kamsky's stature.

    It was a "bloody" day in general, and it wasn't just the favorites who won. Third seed Alexander Onischuk won with Black against Robert Hess in one of his signature openings, the Archangelsk (White should have played 7.d3!); Alexander Stripunsky continued his comeback from an 0-2 start at the expense of the other slow starter, Yasser Seirawan. The end of that game was rather curious, as Seirawan's cluster of pieces on White's queenside first tied his opponent's forces down, but then wound up trapped and lost. Also committing chess suicide was Alejandro Ramirez, who rightly pushed in a better rook ending against Ray Robson before finally going too far and losing. The only draw of the day was between Alex Lenderman and Yuri Shulman, who both fell a full point behind Nakamura as a result.

    Round 6 Pairings:

    Seirawan (1) - Robson (2.5)
    Onischuk (3) - Ramirez (1)
    Kaidanov (3) - Hess (1.5)
    Akobian (2) - Nakamura (4)
    Shulman (3) - Kamsky (3.5)
    Stripunsky (2.5) - Lenderman (3)

    In round four of the women's championship, the three leaders all drew: Anna Zatonskih with Alisa Melekhina and Irina Krush and Iryna Zenyuk with each other. They continue to lead with 3/4, half a point ahead of Foisor and Abrahamyan.

    In Havana, having White against tailender Yuniesky Quesada wasn't enough to propel Vassily Ivanchuk to a win, but his draw kept him in clear first, half a point ahead of Ian Nepomniachtchi. "Nepo" beat Viktor Laznicka, and with White next against Ivanchuk the final standings are very much up in the air.

    Saturday
    May122012

    The Roundup From Everywhere Else

    Lest I stay up all night, here's a quick survey of the day's other chess results.

    1. U.S. Championship: Hikaru Nakamura continued the professional pattern of winning with White and drawing with Black. Today it was the draw's turn, as he split the point with third seed Alexander Onischuk. He had been tied for first with Gata Kamsky, but Kamsky lost with Black to Gregory Kaidanov, and now it's Kaidanov who is tied with Nakamura; both players have 3/4.

    In other results, Ray Robson defeated Robert Hess while Yasser Seirawan finally got on the scoreboard with a long win over Alejandro Ramirez. If either Alex Lenderman or Yuri Shulman had won their games, they would have joined the tie for first, but they drew with Varuzhan Akobian and Alexander Stripunsky, respectively.

    Round 5 Pairings:

    Stripunsky (1.5) - Seirawan (1)
    Lenderman (2.5) - Shulman (2.5)
    Kamsky (2.5) - Akobian (2)
    Nakamura (3) - Kaidanov (3)
    Hess (1.5) - Onischuk (2)
    Ramirez (1) - Robson (1.5)

    The women's event has only 10 players rather than 12, so they had the day off today.

    2. Sigeman & Co.:

    Three of the seven rounds are finished, and Fabiano Caruana could not make a "row" - his winning streak stopped at two games. Still, his draw with Peter Leko was enough to keep him in clear first, half a point ahead of Nils Grandelius. Five players have 1.5 points, which means, surprisingly, that the tournament's plus scores are all balanced on one man's shoulders: Hans Tikkanen has opened the tournament by castling queenside.

    3. Capablanca Memorial:

    Vassily Ivanchuk rolls on! By defeating Leinier Dominguez in round 7 - with the black pieces, no less - he pushed his lead to a full point with three rounds to go. His score of 5/7 has him a point ahead of Ian Nepomniachtchi, and has moved him up to #8 on the live rating list.

    Tuesday
    May082012

    47th Capablanca Memorial: Ivanchuk Leads at the Halfway Point

    In round 5, the final round of the first cycle of the elite group at the 47th Capablanca Memorial, Vassily Ivanchuk defeated Viktor Laznicka to seize clear first. His score of 3.5/5 puts him half a point ahead of Leinier Dominguez and Ian Nepomniachtchi, who drew each other this round. Vladimir Potkin has two points, thanks to a win over Yuniesky Quesada, who is in last with a point and a half.

    Ratings watchers may note that his +2 score puts Ivanchuk into 9th place on the live list.

    Sunday
    May062012

    Ivanchuk the Early Leader in Cuba; Round 3 Underway

    In round 1 of the Elite Group of the 47th Capablanca Memorial in Havana, Cuba, Leinier Dominguez was the only winner, defeating Viktor Laznicka. In round 2, their fortunes were reversed: Laznicka beat Yuniesky Quesada while Dominguez lost to top seed Vassily Ivanchuk. Round 3 just started a few minutes ago, with the pairings Quesada-Ivanchuk, Dominguez-Vladimir Potkin and Ian Nepomniachtchi-Laznicka.

    Wednesday
    May022012

    Coming Soon: The Capablanca Memorial

    The Capablanca Memorial in Havana, Cuba, is one of the great traditional events on the chess calendar, with this year marking the 47th edition of the tournament. (The great man himself died in 1942.) This year's lineup includes Vassily Ivanchuk, who is a regular at this tournament and a 5-time winner, along with Leinier Dominguez, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Viktor Laznicka, Vladimir Potkin and Yuniesky Quesada. This double round-robin is both the smallest and strongest Capablanca Memorial I can remember, but that's mitigated by the presence of a second, concurrent 10-player GM round robin and a very strong open event as well.

    Play starts on Friday.