Links

This form does not yet contain any fields.
    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 British Championship 2017 British Knockout Championship 2017 Champions Showdown 2017 Chinese Championship 2017 Elite Mind Games 2017 European Team Championship 2017 Geneva Grand Prix 2017 Grand Prix 2017 Isle of Man 2017 London Chess Classic 2017 PRO Chess League 2017 Russian Championship 2017 Sharjah Masters 2017 Sinquefield Cup 2017 Speed Chess Championship 2017 U..S. Championshp 2017 U.S. Junior Championship 2017 Women's World Championship 2017 World Cup 2017 World Junior Championship 2017 World Rapid & Blitz Championships 2017 World Team Championship 2018 Candidates 2018 Chess Olympiad 2018 Dortmund 2018 European Championship 2018 Gashimov Memorial 2018 Gibraltar 2018 Grand Chess Tour 2018 Grenke Chess Classic 2018 Grenke Chess Open 2018 Leuven 2018 Norway Chess 2018 Paris 2018 Poikovsky 2018 Pro Chess League 2018 Tal Memorial 2018 U.S. Championship 2018 Wijk aan Zee 2018 Women's World Championship 2018 World Championship 22014 Sinquefield Cup 22014 U.S. Championship 22016 Chess Olympiad 2Mind Games 2016 2Wijk aan Zee 2017 60 Minutes A. Muzychuk A. Sokolov aattacking chess Abby Marshall Accelerated Dragon ACP Golden Classic Adams Aeroflot 2010 Aeroflot 2011 Aeroflot 2012 Aeroflot 2013 Aeroflot 2015 Aeroflot 2016 Aeroflot 2017 AGON Agrest Akiba Rubinstein Akiva Rubinstein Akobian Akshat Chandra Alejandro Ramirez Alekhine Alekhine Defense Aleksander Lenderman Alekseev Alena Kats Alex Markgraf Alexander Alekhine Alexander Beliavsky Alexander Grischuk Alexander Ipatov Alexander Khalifman Alexander Moiseenko Alexander Morozevich Alexander Onischuk Alexander Panchenko Alexander Stripunsky Alexander Tolush Alexandra Kosteniuk Alexei Dreev Alexei Shirov Alexey Bezgodov Almasi AlphaZero Alvin Plantinga Amber 2010 Amber 2011 American Chess Magazine Amos Burn Anand Anand-Carlsen 2013 Anand-Gelfand 2012 Anand-Gelfand World Championship Match Anand-Topalov 2010 Anastasia Bodnaruk Anatoly Karpov Anders Ericsson Andrei Volokitin Andrew Martin Andrew Paulson Android apps Anish Giri Anna Muzychuk Anna Ushenina Anna Zatonskih Anti-Marshall Lines Anti-Moscow Gambit Anti-Sicilians Antoaneta Stefanova Anton Korobov Anton Kovalyov apps April Fool's Jokes Archangelsk Variation Arkadij Naiditsch Arkady Dvorkovich Arne Moll Aron Nimzowitsch Aronian Aronian-Kramnik 2012 Arthur Bisguier Arthur van de Oudeweetering Artur Yusupov Arturo Pomar Astrakhan Grand Prix 2010 attack attacking chess Austrian Attack Averbakh Awonder Liang Baadur Jobava Bacrot Baku Grand Prix 2014 Baltic Defense Bangkok Chess Club Open Baskaran Adhiban Bazna 2011 Becerra beginner's books Beliavsky Ben Feingold Benko Gambit Bent Larsen Berlin Defense Biel 2012 Biel 2014 Biel 2015 Biel 2017 Bilbao 2010 Bilbao 2012 Bilbao 2013 Bilbao 2015 Bilbao 2016 Bilbao Chess 2014 bishop endings Bishop vs. Knight Blackburne Blaise Pascal blindfold chess blitz blitz chess Blumenfeld Gambit blunders Bob Hope Bobby Fischer Bogo-Indian Bohatirchuk Bologan Book Reviews books Boris Gelfand Boris Spassky Borislav Ivanov Borki Predojevic Boruchovsky Botvinnik Botvinnik Memorial Branimiir Maksimovic Breyer Variation brilliancy British Championship British Chess Magazine Bronstein Bronznik Brooklyn Castle Browne Brunello Bu Xiangzhi Budapest Bundesliga California Chess Reporter Camilla Baginskaite Campomanes Candidates 2011 Candidates 2011 Candidates 2012 Candidates 2013 Candidates 2014 Capablanca Carlsen Caro-Kann cartoons Caruana Catalan Cebalo Charles Krauthammer Charlie Rose cheating Cheparinov chess and drugs chess and education chess and marketing chess books chess cartoons chess documentaries chess engines chess history chess in fiction chess in film chess in schools Chess Informant chess lessons chess openings chess politics chess psychology chess ratings chess strategy chess variants Chess24 Chess960 ChessBase DVDs ChessBase Shows ChessLecture Presentations ChessLecture.com ChessUSA ChessUSA blog ChessVibes ChessVideos Presentations Chigorin Variation Chinese Chess Championship Chithambaram Aravindh Christian faith Christiansen Christmas Colin Crouch Colle combinations Commentary computer chess computers correspondence chess Corsica Cristobal Henriquez Villagra Cyrus Lakdawala Danailov Daniel Parmet Daniil Dubov Danny Kopec Danzhou Danzhou 2016 Danzhou 2017 Dave MacEnulty Dave Vigorito David Bronstein David Howell David MacEnulty David Navara Davies Deep Blue Deeper Blue defense Dejan Antic Delchev Denis Khismatullin Ding Liren Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam Dmitry Andreikin Dmitry Gurevich Dmitry Jakovenko Dominic Lawson Donald Trump Dortmund 2010 Dortmund 2011 Dortmund 2012 Dortmund 2012 Dortmund 2013 Dortmund 2014 Dortmund 2015 Dortmund 2016 Dortmund 2017 Doug Hyatt Dragoljub Velimirovic draws dreams Dreev Dunning-Kruger Effect Dutch Defense DVD Reviews DVDs Dvoirys Dvoretsky Easter Edouard Efimenko Efstratios Grivas Eltaj Safarli Emanuel Lasker Emory Tate en passant endgame studies endgames Endgames English Opening Ernesto Inarkiev Erwin L'Ami Esserman Etienne Bacrot European Championship 2015 European Club Cup 2012 European Club Cup 2014 European Individual Championship 2012 Evgeni Vasiukov Evgeny Bareev Evgeny Najer Evgeny Sveshnikov Evgeny Tomashevsky Exchange Ruy expertise Fabiano Caruana Falko Bindrich farce FIDE FIDE Grand Prix FIDE politics FIDE Presidential Election FIDE ratings Fier fighting for the initiative Finegold Fischer Fischer-Spassky 1972 football Francisco Vallejo Pons Fred Reinfeld French Defense Fritz 15 Ftacnik Gadir Guseinov Gajewski Gaprindashvili Garry Kasparov Gashimov Gashimov Memorial 2017 Gata Kamsky Gawain Jones Gelfand Gelfand-Svidler Rapid Match Geller Geneva Masters Genna Sosonko Georg Meier Georgios Makropolous GGarry Kasparov Gibraltar 2011 Gibraltar 2012 Gibraltar 2013 Gibraltar 2014 Gibraltar 2015 Gibraltar 2016 Gibraltar 2017 Giorgios Makropoulos Giri Go Grand Chess Tour Grand Chess Tour 2017 Grand Chess Tour Paris 2017 Grand Prix 2014-2015 Grand Prix Attack Greek Gift sacrifice Grenke Chess Classic 2013 Grenke Chess Classic 2015 Grenke Chess Classic 2017 Grinfeld Grischuk Grob Gruenfeld Defense Grünfeld Defense Gulko Gunina Guseinov Gustafsson Gyula Sax Hannes Langrock Hans Berliner Hans Ree Harika Dronavalli Hastings Hawaii International Festival Haworth Hedgehog helpmates Hennig-Schara Gambit Henrique Mecking HHou Yifan highway robbery Hikaru Nakamura Hilton Hjorvar Gretarsson Hort Horwitz Bishops Hou Yifan Houdini Houdini 1.5a Howard Staunton humor Humpy Koneru Ian Nepomniachtchi Icelandic Gambit Ignatius Leong Igor Kovalenko Igor Kurnosov Igor Lysyj Iljumzhinov Ilya Makoveev Ilya Nyzhnyk Imre Hera Informant Informant 113 Informant 114 Informant 115 Informant 116 Informant 117 Informant 118 Informant 119 Informant 120 Informant 121 Informant 122 Informant 124 Informant 125 Informant 126 Informant 127 Informant 128 Informant 129 Informant 130 Informant 131 Informant 132 Informant 133 Informant 134 Informant 135 insanity Inside Chess Magazine Ippolito IQP Irina Krush Irving Chernev Ivan Bukavshin Ivan Sokolov Ivanchuk J. Polgar Jacek Oskulski Jacob Aagaard Jaenisch Jaideep Unudurti Jakovenko James Tarjan Jan Gustafsson Jan Timman Jan-Krzysztof Duda Jay Whitehead Jeffery Xiong Jeremy Silman Jim Slater Jimmy Quon Joe Benjamin Joel Benjamin John Burke John Cole John Grefe John Watson Jon Lenchner Jon Ludwig Hammer Jonathan Hawkins Jonathan Speelman Joop van Oosterom Jose Diaz Jose Raul Capablanca Ju Wenjun Judit Polgar Julio Granda Zuniga junk openings Kaidanov Kalashnikov Sicilian Kamsky Karen Sumbatyan Karjakin Karpov Karsten Mueller Kasimdzhanov Kasparov Kavalek Keanu Reeves Ken Regan Keres KGB Khalifman Khanty-Mansiysk Grand Prix Kim Commons king and pawn endings King's Gambit King's Indian King's Tournament 2010 Kings Tournament 2012 Kirsan Ilyumzhinov KKing's Gambit KKing's Indian Klovans Komodo Komodo 11 Komodo 12 Korchnoi Kramnik Kunin Lajos Portisch Larry Evans Larry Kaufman Larry Parr Lasker Lasker-Pelikan Latvian Gambit Laurent Fressinet Laznicka Le Quang Liem LeBron James Leinier Dominguez Leko Leon 2017 Leonid Kritz lessons Leuven Rapid & Blitz Leuven Rapid & Blitz 2017 Lev Psakhis Levon Aronian Lilienthal Linares 2010 Linder Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu Loek van Wely Lombardy London 2009 London 2010 London 2011 London Grand Prix London System Lothar Schmid Luke McShane Macieja Magnus Carlsen Main Line Ruy Malakhov Malcolm Pein Mamedyarov Marc Arnold Marc Lang Marin Mariya Muzychuk Mark Crowther Mark Dvoretsky Mark Taimanov Markus Ragger Marshall Marshall Gambit Masters of the Chessboard Mateusz Bartel Matthew Sadler Maurice Ashley Max Euwe Maxim Matlakov Maxim Rodshtein Maxime Vachier-Lagrave McShane Mega 2012 mental malfunction Mesgen Amanov Michael Adams Miguel Najdorf Mikhail Antipov Mikhail Botvinnik Mikhail Golubev Mikhail Osipov Mikhail Tal Mikhalchishin Miles Mind Games 2016 Minev miniatures Miso Cebalo MModern Benoni Modern Modern Benoni Moiseenko Morozevich Morphy Movsesian Müller music Nadareishvili Naiditsch Najdorf Sicilian Nakamura Nanjing 2010 Natalia Pogonina Navara Negi Neo-Archangelsk Nepomniachtchi New In Chess Yearbook 104 New York Times NH Tournament 2010 Nigel Short Nihal Sarin Nikita Vitiugov Nimzo-Indian Nino Khurtsidze NNotre Dame football Nodirbek Abdusattarov Nona Gaprindashvili Norway Chess 2013 Norway Chess 2014 Norway Chess 2015 Norway Chess 2016 Norway Chess 2017 Notre Dame basketball Notre Dame football Notre Dame Football Notre Dame hockey Nov. 2009 News Nyback Nyzhnyk Oleg Pervakov Oleg Skvortsov Olympics 2010 Open Ruy opening advice opening novelties Openings openings Or Cohen P.H. Nielsen Pal Benko Palma Grand Prix 2017 Parimarjan Negi Paris Grand Prix Paris Rapid & Blitz passed pawns Paul Keres Paul Morphy Paul Rudd Pavel Eljanov pawn endings pawn play Pawn Sacrifice pawn structures Pentala Harikrishna Pesotskyi Peter Heine Nielsen Peter Leko Peter Svidler Petroff Philadelphia Open Philidor's Defense philosophy Phiona Mutesi Pirc Piterenka Rapid/Blitz Polgar Polgar sisters Polugaevsky Ponomariov Ponziani Potkin poultry Powerbook 2011 Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu Prague Chess Train problems progressive chess prophylaxis Qatar Masters 2015 QGD Tartakower QQueen's Gambit Accepted queen sacrifices Queen's Gambit Accepted Queen's Gambit Declined Queen's Indian Defense Rabat blitz 2015 Radjabov Radoslaw Wojtaszek Ragger rapid chess Rapport Rashid Nezhmetdinov rating inflation ratings Ray Robson Raymond Smullyan Regan Reggio Emilia 2010 Reggio Emilia 2011 Reshevsky Reti Reuben Fine Rex Sinquefield Reykjavik Open 2012 Reykjavik Open 2017 Richard Rapport Richard Reti Robert Byrne robot chess Robson Roman Ovetchkin rook endings RReggio Emilia 2011 rrook endings RRuy Lopez RRuy Lopez sidelines Rubinstein Rubinstein French Rudolf Spielmann rules Ruslan Ponomariov Russian Team Championship Rustam Kasimdzhanov Ruy Lopez Ruy Lopez sidelines Rybka Rybka 4 S. Kasparov sacrifices Sadler Saemisch Sakaev Sam Collins Sam Sevian Sam Shankland Samuel Reshevsky Sao Paulo/Bilbao 2011 Sao Paulo/Bilbao 2012 satire Savchenko Savielly Tartakower Schliemann Scotch Four Knights Searching for Bobby Fischer Seirawan self-destruction Sergei Tiiviakov Sergey Erenburg Sergey Fedorchuk Sergey Karjakin Sergey Kasparov Sergey Shipov Sevan Muradian Shakhriyar Mamedyarov Shamkir 2015 Shamkir 2016 Shamkir 2017 Shankland Sharjah Grand Prix 2017 Shenzhen 2017 Shipov Shirov Short Shreyas Royal Sicilian Sinquefield Cup sitzfleisch Slav Smith-Morra Gambit Smyslov So-Navara Spassky spectacular moves Speelman sportsmanship Spraggett St. Louis Chess Club St. Louis Invitational St. Louis Rapid and Blitz 2017 stalemate Staunton Stephen Hawking Stockfish Stockfish 4 Stonewall Dutch Suat Atalik Super Bowl XLIV Susan Polgar Sutovsky Sveshnikov Sveshnikov Sicilian Svetozar Gligoric Svidler sweeper sealer twist Swiercz tactics Tactics Taimanov Tal Tal Memorial 2009 Tal Memorial 2010 Tal Memorial 2011 Tal Memorial 2012 Tal Memorial 2012 Tarjan Tarrasch Tarrasch Defense Tashkent Tashkent Grand Prix Tbilisi Grand Prix 2015 TCEC TCEC Season 10 TCEC Season 11 TCEC Season 12 TCEC Season 8 TCEC Season 9 TED talks Teimour Radjabov Terekhin The Chess Players (book) The Simpsons The Week in Chess Thessaloniki Grand Prix Three knights Tibor Karolyi Tigran Petrosian Tim Krabbé time controls time trouble Timman Timur Gareev Tomashevsky Tony Miles Topalov traps Tromso Olympics 2014 TWIC types of chess players Ufuk Tuncer Ultimate Blitz Challenge underpromotion Unive 2012 University of Notre Dame upsets US Championship 2010 US Championship 2011 US Chess League USCF ratings USCL V. Onischuk Vachier-Lagrave Valentina Gunina Vallejo value of chess van der Heijden Van Perlo van Wely Varuzhan Akobian Vasik Rajlich Vasily Smyslov Vassily Ivanchuk Vassily Smyslov Velimirovic Attack Vera Menchik Veresov Veselin Topalov video videos Vienna 1922 Viktor Bologan Viktor Korchnoi Viktor Moskalenko Vincent Keymer Viswanathan Anand Vitaly Tseshkovsky Vitiugov Vladimir Fedoseev Vladimir Kramnik Vladimir Tukmakov Vladislav Artemiev Vladislav Tkachiev Vlastimil Hort Vlastimil Jansa Vugar Gashimov Vugar Gashimov Memorial Walter Browne Wang Hao Wang Yue Watson Wei Yi Welcome Wesley Brandhorst Wesley So Wijk aan Zee 1999 Wijk aan Zee 2010 Wijk aan Zee 2011 Wijk aan Zee 2012 Wijk aan Zee 2013 Wijk aan Zee 2014 Wijk aan Zee 2015 Wijk aan Zee 2016 Wijk aan Zee 2017 Wil E. Coyote Wilhelm Steinitz William Golding William Lombardy William Vallicella Willy Hendriks Winawer French Wojtkiewicz Wolfgang Uhlmann Women's Grand Prix Women's World Championship World Champion DVDs World Championship World Cup World Cup 2009 World Cup 2011 World Cup 2011 World Junior Championship World Senior Championship WWesley So WWijk aan Zee 2012 Yasser Seirawan Yates Yermolinsky Yevseev Yoshiharu Habu Yu Yangyi Yuri Averbakh Yuri Razuvaev Yuri Vovk Yuri Yeliseyev Yuriy Kuzubov Zaitsev Variation Zaven Andriasyan Zhao Xue Zhongyi Tan Zug 2013 Zukertort System Zurab Azmaiparashvili Zurich 1953 Zurich 2013 Zurich 2014 Zurich 2015 Zurich 2016 Zurich 2017

    Entries in 2018 Wijk aan Zee (14)

    Monday
    Jan292018

    Wijk aan Zee 2018, Final Round and Playoff: Carlsen Defeats Giri To Win the Tournament

    The exciting and closely contested 2018 edition of the Tata Steel Masters, held mostly in its traditional site in Wijk aan Zee, concluded in a two-game blitz playoff between Magnus Carlsen and Anish Giri. Both played very well in the tournament, and Giri probably played the better chess overall. (Certainly his level was more consistently excellent throughout the tournament, and he can also boast of having beaten the players who tied for third-fourth, half a point behind him and Carlsen.) He can take pride in that, but ultimately moral victories matter less than real ones. Carlsen won their first playoff game very smoothly, and while Giri had some chances in the second game Carlsen's defense was more than up to the task. As a result, Carlsen won his sixth Wijk aan Zee crown, and also, scarily, maintained an unbeaten streak in tiebreaks going back to 2007.

    For Carlsen, it was his first victory in a Classical round-robin event in quite some time, and for Giri it marked a clear return to the world's elite. He gained a whopping 25 rating points, and was very close to becoming the first Dutch player since Jan Timman back in 1985 to win the Wijk aan Zee supertournament.

    Let's go back to round 13. Carlsen had Black against Sergey Karjakin, and was apparently perfectly prepared for Karjakin's novelty in an anti-Marshall, drawing easily. Anish Giri also had Black, against Wei Yi, and he too drew in comfort.

    This gave Shakhriyar Mamedyarov the chance to catch them in a tie for first, if he could beat Viswanathan Anand. Unlike Carlsen and Giri, Mamedyarov had White, and he gave it a good try. Anand defended very well though, and his slight inaccuracy on move 35 wasn't enough to cost him the game. It was a great tournament for Mamedyarov, but not good enough to get him into a playoff.

    Joining Mamedyarov in a tie for third, half a point behind the leaders, was Vladimir Kramnik. He defeated Baskaran Adhiban with Black, though not smoothly. He was in serious trouble, but was bailed out and then some when Adhiban came up with the bad idea of sacrificing the exchange. Instead of a big advantage after 33.Nxb7, Adhiban was just about lost after 33.Rb1? Rc7 34.Rb5 b6 35.Rxa5? bxa5. Kramnik's result was good, he gained rating points (his new rating will be rounded up to 2800), and notched up more wins - 6 - than anyone else in the tournament. Overall though, his play was inconsistent and sometimes shaky, and it will have to be better if he hopes to win the Candidates in March.

    Another half a point back were Anand and Wesley So. So defeated Hou Yifan to finish a successful tournament, while for Hou she finished tied for the worst score in the history of 13-round Wijk aan Zee events. (Ironically, that too was a record of Jan Timman's.)

    The other games were drawn: Caruana-Svidler and Matlakov-Jones. All the games, including the tiebreaks, are here, with my comments to all but Matlakov-Jones.

    Final Standings:

    • 1. Carlsen 9 (and 1.5-.5 in the playoff vs. Giri)
    • 2. Giri 9
    • 3-4. Kramnik, Mamedyarov 8.5
    • 5-6. Anand, So 8
    • 7. Karjakin 7.5
    • 8. Svidler 6
    • 9. Wei Yi 5.5
    • 10-12. Jones, Caruana, Matlakov 5
    • 13. Adhiban 3.5
    • 14. Hou Yifan 2.5

    Sunday
    Jan282018

    Wijk aan Zee 2018, Round 12: Carlsen and Giri Lead Entering the Last Round

    The penultimate round of this year's Tata Steel Masters event was a fighting one...mostly. The game between Gawain Jones and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov was a bit of a shocker, though. Not from Jones's side of the board: as the underdog in every game, and having lost three of his last four games, it's not surprising that he'd be happy to get a quick draw, even with White. But for Mamedyarov it's really odd. He was a significant favorite by rating and in good form, yet he played the Petroff and stumbled into a draw by repetition after just 12 moves. Maybe he assumed that Jones would play more ambitiously with White? Whatever the story, it was a terrible result for Mamedyarov, as both his main rivals won.

    The first of the two to win was Anish Giri, who dispatched Baskaran Adhiban with relative ease. After 17...Qb6(?) 18.Be3 Giri had a nice edge - maybe Adhiban missed that after 18...Ng4 19.Qe4! Black couldn't take on e3 as the bind following 20.Qe8+ Bf8 21.fxe3 would be fatal. So he had to give up a pawn several moves later, and Giri managed to convert his advantage. Amusingly, the secret was to return the pawn some moves later to establish a new bind, and this one wound up costing Adhiban a piece and the game.

    For Magnus Carlsen, the win took a lot longer, and was yet another demonstration of his unmatched endgame prowess. The game went straight from the opening to the ending, and after 23 moves the players were down to a rook apiece and opposite-colored bishops, with three pawns apiece on the kingside and Carlsen enjoying an extra pawn on the queenside. The pawn looked worthless though: he had an a-pawn and doubled c-pawns against Black's a- and b-pawns. A draw, surely? For most of us, yet; in fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see even some titled players call it a day at that point. Carlsen's 24.Rd1 did keep a slight edge though, and while Matlakov's response was understandable it may not have been the best idea, as it gave Carlsen additional targets. Still, a draw was much likelier than a win for White, but the game went on and on, and Carlsen is Carlsen.

    Thus Giri and Carlsen lead Mamedyarov by half a point entering the final round. If Viswanathan Anand had won against Wesley So, he would have caught up with Mamedyarov. To his misfortune, he had nothing special prepared for So's Open Ruy Lopez. In a very well-known line they followed an Adams-Giri game from last March for 27 moves. In that game, Adams played 28.Ra8 and a draw was agreed after White's 31st move. In this game, Anand played 28.Rd1, and a draw was agreed after Black's 32nd move.

    Anand is therefore in fourth place, where he was caught by Vladimir Kramnik. Kramnik bounced back from his loss to Sergey Karjakin in the previous round by defeating Fabiano Caruana - an impressive comeback. Kramnik could have won the queen ending sooner than he did, but despite an excess of caution he never let the win slip.

    The other games were drawn: Peter Svidler split the point with Karjakin in 32 moves, while Hou Yifan-Wei Yi drew in 45.

    The games (unannotated today, sorry) are here, and these are the pairings for the last round:

    • So (7) - Hou Yifan (2.5)
    • Mamedyarov (8) - Anand (7.5)
    • Matlakov (4.5) - Jones (4.5)
    • Karjakin (7) - Carlsen (8.5)
    • Caruana (4.5) - Svidler (5.5)
    • Adhiban (3.5) - Kramnik (7.5)
    • Wei Yi (5.5) - Giri (8.5)

    No fewer than five players still have a shot at first, but on paper Giri probably has the best chances to win the event. In case of a tie, there will be a two-game playoff - a pair of 5'+3" games - followed by an Armageddon game, if necessary. (I'm not sure what happens in case of a three-way [or even four-way] tie. Maybe the top two by tiebreak play the two-game match, and the third place finisher is out?)

    Finally, a quick check-in on the Challengers group. Vidit Gujrathi and Anton Korobov had been tied for a while, but in round 12 Vidit won and Korobov drew, so the former leads by a half point entering the last round. (Recall that the winner is promoted to next year's Masters tournament.) The players have approximately equally strong opponents in the last round - Vidit faces Jorden Van Foreest, while Korobov gets Dmitry Gordievsky. (Both JVF and DG are 2620-something.) But Vidit has White and Korobov Black, so it looks good for Vidit to join the top players next year.

    Friday
    Jan262018

    Wijk aan Zee 2018, Round 11: The Leaders All Draw; Anand Closes to Within Half a Point

    It wasn't an especially good day for the top four. The three leaders all drew - Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Magnus Carlsen against each other, and Anish Giri somewhat shakily against Fabiano Caruana. Vladimir Kramnik started the day half a point behind, but was thoroughly outplayed by Sergey Karjakin (who thereby caught up with him) to fall another half a point back.

    This let Viswanathan Anand come closer; his convincing win over Hou Yifan brought him within half a point of the leading troika, and Wesley So's win over Gawain Jones put him into a tie with Kramnik and Karjakin. (The other two games were short draws: Adhiban-Wei Yi and Matlakov-Svidler.) (The games, with my notes to the first four games mentioned above, are here.)

    Two rounds remain, and first place is still up in the air. Here's what we have to look forward to on Saturday, in round 12:

    • Hou Yifan (2) - Wei Yi (4.5)
    • Giri (7.5) - Adhiban (3.5)
    • Kramnik (6.5) - Caruana (4.5)
    • Svidler (5) - Karjakin (6.5)
    • Carlsen (7.5) - Matlakov (4.5)
    • Jones (4) - Mamedyarov (7.5)
    • Anand (7) - So (6.5)

    All three leaders have pairings that look very promising on paper, while the pairings for those in the chase pack look considerably less congenial. We shall see!

    Wednesday
    Jan242018

    Wijk aan Zee 2018, Round 10: Dog Bites Man (Giri Draws, Everyone Else Wins)

    That's not strictly true; rather, it's that all the players in contention won (except for Wesley So, who was playing another contender).

    Anish Giri entered the round half a point ahead of Magnus Carlsen and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, a point ahead of Vladimir Kramnik, and a point and a half ahead of So and Viswanathan Anand. Giri had the white pieces, but was unable to achieve anything against Sergey Karjakin, and the game finished in a speedy draw. Everyone else (except for So) took advantage.

    Let's start with the big dog: Carlsen, against So. Despite playing with White he got nothing out of the opening and was maybe a little worse. But So, one of his regular patrons, played too submissively (18...Nd4 was a move repeatedly noted by Carlsen as an example of this unfortunate tendency), and Carlsen escaped to a better ending a pawn up with rooks and opposite-colored bishops. That should have been a draw, but So didn't play it as well as he could have. Still, Carlsen decided to transform it into another ending - which again should have been drawn with best play, but where best play wasn't at all easy to achieve. Carlsen gave up his bishop for a couple more pawns, and So was unable to solve the problems of that new ending. It wasn't a masterpiece by Carlsen, but it was a great illustration of why he's the #1 player: his mental strength and his ability to keep posing new problems, hour after hour, and to take advantage when even the strongest opponents slip, far exceed his competitors' abilities in those respects.

    Case in point: Kramnik vs. Maxim Matlakov. Kramnik won and posed lots of interesting problems for Matlakov, but time after time Kramnik would meet his opponent's error with one of his own. Kramnik is an all-time great, and he's not doing badly here, either, but his current form isn't going to win the Candidates, never mind a world championship match against Carlsen. For his sake, hopefully it's just a matter of rust, and he'll be fully ready in March.

    Kramnik is half a point behind the leading triumvirate, so let's return to the leading triumvirate. We haven't mentioned Mamedyarov's game yet, a 21-move bludgeoning of Peter Svidler. Svidler had White and played the unusual 6.Bf4 in the Ragozin. That wasn't a problem by itself; in fact, Svidler defeated Giri with it in 2015. But after 6...Ne4 his 7th move was a strange novelty that probably wasn't prepared beforehand. (What he meant to do, or what he was getting mixed up, isn't clear.) After this Black had the initiative, but it wasn't out of control until 11.Bg2(?). After this Black was better, and after 15.Qb3? (I suspect Svidler would add the second question mark) 15...Na5 followed by ...Nc4 the game was just over. Mamedyarov played well, but Svidler was unrecognizable.

    Finally, Gawain Jones's tournament is starting to crumble a bit. After losing a won position against Carlsen in round 8 and failing to convert a won position against Hou Yifan in round 9 (though he was also lost at one point against her as well), he ran into some excellent preparation against Anand in this round, round 10. I'm not sure if Jones really was prepared for Anand's idea, but if he was he mixed something up and was lost almost right away. Anand won convincingly with the black pieces, and although he's a point behind the leaders he's playing well and will have two white games of the remaining three.

    Tomorrow (Thursday) is the second and last rest day of the event (they played in Groningen today; it's back to Wijk for the remaining games). Today's games, with my notes to all the aforementioned games but the very long adventure story that was Carlsen-So, are here. (The other two games were Wei Yi-Caruana, which was a short draw; and Hou Yifan-Adhiban, which was a very long draw.) And here are the pairings for round 11, on Friday, featuring above all a clash between two of the leaders, Mamedyarov vs. Carlsen:

    • Anand (6) - Hou Yifan (2)
    • So (5.5) - Jones (4)
    • Mamedyarov (7) - Carlsen (7)
    • Matlakov (4) - Svidler (4.5)
    • Karjakin (5.5) - Kramnik (6.5)
    • Caruana (4) - Giri (7)
    • Adhiban (3) - Wei Yi (4)

    Tuesday
    Jan232018

    Wijk aan Zee 2018, Round 9: Man Bites Dog (Giri Wins and Everyone Else Draws)

    What is this world coming to? Anish Giri defeated Maxim Matlakov today with Black thanks to big errors on White's 25th and 35th moves, and now he's the sole leader of the Tata Steel Masters tournament. It's only a half-point lead over Magnus Carlsen and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and four rounds remain, but it's better to be half a point ahead of the field than half a point behind the leader. With four wins in total, including wins over Mamedyarov and Vladimir Kramnik, he's having a great tournament, and has a very real shot at becoming the first Dutch player to win the country's most prestigious annual tournament since Jan Timman did it 33 years ago, in 1985.

    Of the draws: not all of them were solid affairs that started equal and stayed that way. That was, however, the story of the other games featuring the pre-round co-leaders. Carlsen drew on the black side of a Breyer against Viswanathan Anand (the line they used to test around the turn of the decade), while Mamedyarov was unable to achieve anything with White against Kramnik in an Italian game. Other games had more adventures, and I'll leave their exploration to all of you. The games, with my notes to Giri's game, are here.

    Tomorrow (or today, depending on where you are) is the second road game, and will be followed by a rest day. Here's what's on tap for round 10: 

    • Hou Yifan (1.5) - Baskaran Adhiban (2.5)
    • Wei Yi (3.5) - Fabiano Caruana (3.5)
    • Anish Giri (6.5) - Sergey Karjakin (5)
    • Vladimir Kramnik (5.5) - Maxim Matlakov (4)
    • Peter Svidler (4.5) - Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (6)
    • Magnus Carlsen (6) - Wesley So (5.5)
    • Gawain Jones (4) - Viswanathan Anand (5) 
    Sunday
    Jan212018

    Wijk aan Zee 2018, Round 8: Giri Beats Mamedyarov, Carlsen Blunders a Piece and Wins Anyway; All Three Lead

    Did we jinx Shakhriyar Mamedyarov? Did he, like Icarus, fly too close to the sun? If it was too soon yesterday to crown him the heir apparent, it's likewise too soon today to say that he's getting dragged back to the chase pack behind Magnus Carlsen. What we can say is that his one point lead over the rest of the field at Wijk aan Zee is gone after a terrible game against Anish Giri. Giri started off 2-0, and after a series of mostly very short draws, apparently thought it might be fun to try to win again once again - and he succeeded. He's now tied for first with Mamedyarov, and...

    Magnus Carlsen. Just about everything about his win over Gawain Jones was absurd. First, he said he was surprised by Jones's Dragon. That would make sense if one changed one word in the last sentence: Jones (or rather, Jones's). Jones wrote two major books on the Dragon a couple of years ago, and has played more than 100 games with it that have reached the databases. It's not that Jones can't play any other opening - he does - but for the Dragon to come as a surprise to any of his opponents is crazy. Even crazier is that Carlsen just blundered a piece, full stop, on move 17. It wasn't some sort of Alpha Zero-deep idea; it was what an old friend of mine would call a stick-an-ice cream cone-on-your-forehead moment. But the biggest absurdity of them all is it hardly mattered. Jones was winning, but six moves later the position was unclear, and another six moves later Carlsen was completely winning. Jones may be the lowest-rated player in the field, but he's still a great chess player in the mid-2600s. He had an even score in the tournament coming into this game, but no matter: Carlsen can blunder a piece against a 2640-50 player in good form and still win going away. (It's reminiscent of the New England Patriots in the NFL, whose combination of excellent play and seeming deal-with-the-devil quality and quantity of good luck over the past 17 years or so is mind-boggling.)

    In other games, featuring (comparatively) normal human beings, most of the other games were drawn, and most of them were quick draws. Only one other game had a winner, and that was Fabiano Caruana coming back from a lost position against Hou Yifan to gain the full point. Caruana has had a horrible tournament, which included the first part of his game in this round, but fortunately for him Hou is having an even worse tournament. She still has just one point, and lost 19 rating points in the tournament so far.

    Here are the games, and here are the pairings for round 9, on Tuesday: 

    • Jones (3.5) - Hou Yifan (1)
    • Anand (4.5) - Carlsen (5.5)
    • So (5) - Svidler (4)
    • Mamedyarov (5.5) - Kramnik (5)
    • Matlakov (4) - Giri (5.5)
    • Karjakin (4.5) - Wei Yi (3)
    • Caruana (3) - Adhiban (2) 

    Some comments on the round 9 games, going from top to bottom.

    Jones-Hou Yifan: It's a nice opportunity for Jones to get back on track against a player who is really suffering. If he can get back to 50% it would be a terrific achievement.

    Anand-Carlsen: Anand has done pretty well against Carlsen lately, so this could well add some intrigue to the tournament.

    So-Svidler: So has been lurking close to the leaders. Svidler is not an easy pairing for anyone, but if he can win it could put him into a tie for first.

    Mamedyarov-Kramnik: Or not: Mamedyarov has a very good score against Kramnik - the ex-champ is pretty close to becoming an official "customer". As long as he's able to play his normal chess without being too discouraged from the Giri loss, he'll have excellent chances to gain a full point. (How good is his score? From 2013, including all time controls, Mamedyarov's score is +8-1=6, and four of those draws were in 2013. And just counting classical games, Mamedyarov has scored 3.5 points in the last four games.)

    Matlakov-Giri: Giri hasn't shown any ambition with Black in this tournament, so unless Matlakov self-destructs quickly a draw can be expected.

    Karjakin-Wei Yi: If Karjakin hopes to compete for first he has to start winning, and Wei Yi hasn't played particularly well so far. We'll see if Karjakin has any ambition left for the tournament, or if he's already looking ahead to the Candidates.

    Caruana-Adhiban: I'm sure Caruana will play for the full point, to boost his confidence and his rating going into the Candidates. The first half of the tournament (after his round 1 draw with Carlsen) was awful, but if he can salvage it with a strong finish he can feel good about his chess heading into the second biggest event of the year.

    A note about the Challengers' tournament. Anton Korobov had been a convincing leader, with his only real rival Vidit Gujrathi a full point behind. No longer: Korobov lost with White (from a winning position) against Bassem Amin, and now he and Vidit share first with 6/8. The winner gets promoted to the Masters' tournament next year, so there's a lot at stake for them in the last five rounds.

    Saturday
    Jan202018

    Wijk aan Zee 2018, Round 7: Mamedyarov Wins Again, Leads by a Full Point

    Shakhriyar Mamedyarov had a great 2017 (apparently he had the best TPR for the entire year - see the last entry), and he's starting 2018 the same way. With his easy win today over Wei Yi he has scored a hat trick, moving to +4 overall and a full point lead over his closest pursuers. The tournament still has six rounds left and Mamedyarov will face Carlsen soon, but for now everything is coming up roses for him.

    He was not the only winner on the day - there was a lot of blood spilled on the boards. Viswanathan Anand came into the round tied for second, but lost badly, with White, to Vladimir Kramnik. Now it's Kramnik who is part of a second-place tie. Another player who has entered the tie for second is Magnus Carlsen, who defeated tournament tailender Hou Yifan. Carlsen had a significant advantage early on but let it slip. Hou defended well for a long time, but Carlsen kept posing problems and eventually broke his opponent's resistance. The other two players in the tie are Wesley So and Anish Giri, who faced each other today. Giri fought his way out of a difficult position and made a draw.

    The final decisive result saw Sergey Karjakin defeat Fabiano Caruana. Caruana seemed to blunder a pawn shortly after the opening, and Karjakin converted without much trouble. Karjakin is half a point out of the tie for second, while Caruana is near the bottom with a -3 score.

    The day's other games were draws between Maxim Matlakov and Baskaran Adhiban, and between Gawain Jones and Peter Svidler. Jones is the lowest rated player in the event, far lower-rated than everyone but Hou and Adhiban (who are in last and next-to-last, respectively), but it doesn't look like it. He's still on 50%.

    The games (some annotated, some not) are here. These are the round 8 pairings:

    • Hou Yifan (1) - Caruana (2)
    • Adhiban (1.5) - Karjakin (4)
    • Wei Yi (2.5) - Matlakov (3.5)
    • Giri (4.5) - Mamedyarov (5.5)
    • Kramnik (4.5) - So (4.5)
    • Svidler (3.5) - Anand (4)
    • Carlsen (4.5) - Jones (3.5)

    Friday
    Jan192018

    Wijk aan Zee 2018, Round 6: Mamedyarov the Sole Leader

    It was a strange round as White managed to parlay three winning positions into a glorious total of half a point. Two of the leaders, Anish Giri and Viswanathan Anand, faced off briefly before calling it a day, giving Shakhriyar Mamedyarov to take the lead by himself with a win over Baskaran Adhiban.

    It seemed instead that Mamedyarov was headed for the third place tie. Adhiban got to the time control with an edge, and after Mamedyarov's 41st move Adhiban's advantage was enough to win. But there's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip, and Adhiban first lost the win, then the advantage, then equality, and finally his last chance to fight for survival. When it rains, it pours, and now Mamedyarov is in clear first with +3 while Adhiban is tied for last at -4.

    The day's other winner was Wesley So, and he too was losing with Black. Wei Yi's enterprising chess had him in great shape for a win and a +1 score overall, but he fell to pieces in time trouble. So is now tied for second place with Giri and Anand.

    Vladimir Kramnik could have been a part of that tie as well, but he gave away a big advantage (like Adhiban and Wei Yi, he too had White) and Gawain Jones slipped away. Kramnik remains at +1, while Jones is playing over his head and retains an equal score.

    The most exciting draw of the round, and probably the most exciting game, period, was Peter Svidler's game with Magnus Carlsen. There were plenty of tactics, sacrifices, and material imbalances, and both sides were simultaneously attacking each other's king. Better yet, their personal post-mortem was caught on video - see below. (I've done my best to include their analysis in the game file, too.)

    The other two games (Fabiano Caruana vs. Maxim Matlakov and Hou Yifan vs. Sergey Karjakin) were "clean" draws, i.e. there were no big errors or missed chances.

    The games, with my analyses of four of the games, are here. The video follows the round 7 pairings, which are: 

    • Carlsen (3.5) - Hou Yifan (1)
    • Jones (3) - Svidler (3)
    • Anand (4) - Kramnik (3.5)
    • So (4) - Giri (4)
    • Mamedyarov (4.5) - Wei Yi (2.5)
    • Matlakov (3) - Adhiban (1)
    • Karjakin (3) - Caruana (2) 

    Thursday
    Jan182018

    Wijk aan Zee 2018, Round 4: Wins for Kramnik, Wei Yi, and Matlakov

    Finally (since I covered round 5 yesterday), we have a look at the round 4 games from Wijk aan Zee. The games analyzed this time: the sharp Winawer French between Giri and Carlsen, Matlakov's win over Hou Yifan, Kramnik's win over Svidler.

    All caught up!

    Thursday
    Jan182018

    Wijk aan Zee 2018, Round 3: Wins for Anand and Jones

    The round 3 games are here, with notes to three of the games: Anand's spectacular win over Caruana, Jones's upset victory over Adhiban, and Kramnik's shaky draw with Hou Yifan.