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    Entries in ACP Golden Classic (6)

    Sunday
    Jul202014

    The Daily Roundup: Caruana Wins Dortmund; So Wins Bergamo; Gelfand-Svidler Underway

    Two of the major ongoing tournaments ended today, but in both cases the identity of the winner had been known well in advance. In Dortmund, Fabiano Caruana had already clinched clear first the day before, and for him today was a mere formality. He drew comfortably with Peter Leko, and his final score of 5.5/7 added up to victory by a point and a half, a TPR of 2934 and a soon-to-be-official rating of 2801. That puts him into third place on the rating list, and makes him the 7th player in chess history to (officially) go over 2800. (The others: Kasparov, Kramnik, Topalov, Anand, Carlsen and Aronian.) Come on home!

    While the last round may have been a coronation ceremony for Caruana, the other games were played with something at stake, and all finished with winners and losers. Georg Meier won in the first round, against Vladimir Kramnik, and he got his second victory in the last round, over Arkadij Naiditsch. That was a strange and very hard-fought game, with the evaluation regularly fluctuating between a significant advantage for Meier and equality. The last fluctuation was hard to understand, but at the end of a tournament fatigue is common, and with it errors often follow close behind. With the obvious 50...c3+ Naiditsch would eliminate Meier's passed a-pawn, and then a draw would be a foregone conclusion. Instead he must have thought that he could do more damage by keeping his c-pawn alive, and using it and his e-pawn to overtax White's resources. Instead, it was White's a- and g-pawns that proved overwhelming, and Meier caught Leko in a tie for second. (Had the game been drawn Naiditsch would have been the one tying for second.)

    Like Meier, Kramnik also bookended the tournament - but with losses rather than wins. He came out of the opening and early middlegame with at least equality and sometimes even an edge against Ponomariov in a 5.Re1 Berlin, but got outplayed little by little and eventually lost. The tournament was about as bad for Kramnik as it was good for Caruana. Kramnik came in next to last and lost 17 rating points, barely staying in the world's top ten. After a great 2013, Kramnik is having a disastrously bad 2014. Meanwhile, Ponomariov leapfrogged Kramnik in the tournament standings, with 3 points to Kramnik's 2.5.

    Kramnik avoided clear last only because of David Baramidze, who lost his third game in the tournament, this one to Michael Adams. Adams tied for 3rd-4th with Naiditsch on 50%.

    Next, the ACP Golden Classic in Bergamo, which finished with a clear victory for Wesley So. His 4.5/6 (and a 2844 TPR) gave him first place by a full point over Baadur Jobava, and in the process he gained 11 rating points to reach #12 on the rating list - up four places from the tournament's beginning. (So has been going to college in the U.S., so wouldn't it be nice if he decided to represent the U.S., and likewise for Caruana? Put them on a team together with Hikaru Nakamura and Gata Kamsky, and we'd have real chances to compete for Olympic gold! Waking from my dream now....)

    Finally, while two of the three big ongoing events have finished (Biel is on a rest day), a new one has sprung up to take its place. A rapid match between Boris Gelfand and Peter Svidler started today (Sunday), and the first two games were exciting draws. Gelfand was very close to a win in the first game, while the second saw both players having chances (though not as big as Gelfand's in the first game).

    Friday
    Jul182014

    The Daily Roundup: Dortmund, Biel, and Most of Bergamo

    1. Dortmund: Peter Leko beat Arkadij Naiditsch, while the other three games were drawn. Michael Adams pressed with Black against Georg Meier and won material, but was unable to convert. In the battle of the top dogs (by rating), first Fabiano Caruana (with Black) had some advantage and then Vladimir Kramnik did, but it never got out of control for either player and the draw was agreed after 48 moves. Caruana leads with 4/5, a point clear of Leko.

    2. Biel: After losing his first two games, a resurgent Anish Giri won the next two and faced top seed and tournament leader Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the final game of the first cycle. With a win Giri would have put himself in clear first; instead, Vachier-Lagrave won a nice game to extend his lead and relegate Giri into a tie for last. (The other two games were drawn.) Vachier-Lagrave has 3.5/5, three players have 2.5, including Hou Yifan, and Giri and one other player have 2.

    3. Bergamo: The game between Zoltan Almasi and Sabino Brunello has been adjourned, but in the game that was most critical for the leading standings Wesley So beat Baadur Jobava - convincingly - and has 4/5 with one game to play. There are a number of players who could theoretically catch him, depending on the remaining games and adjournments, but it seems unlikely. Emil Sutovsky is in nominal second with 3/5 and a game to play, Brunello has just one and a half points, but with two adjournments and a game with So yet to be played he's still theoretically alive in the race for first.

    Thursday
    Jul172014

    The Daily Roundup: Biel & Bergamo

    Biel: Anish Giri won his second straight game (the only decisive game of the round), this time over Alexander Motylev, and thereby managed to get back to 50%, where his 2-2 score puts him in a four-way tie for second. Motylev dropped to solo last place with 1.5 points, and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave remained in clear first with 2.5 points.

    Bergamo: It's doubly hard to assess the tournament situation here, for two reasons. First, the staggered byes for each player; second, the adjournments. If, however, Baadur Jobava manages to convert his advantage against Zoltan Almasi, which seems likely, he will have 3.5/5 with one round to play while Wesley So will have 3/4 (and thus two games remaining). No one else appears to have a realistic chance at first, though Sabino Brunello entered the round looking like a contender. He started the day with 1.5/3 and White against the tournament tailender, but at the adjournment his position is lost or nearly so.

    As for Dortmund, the games were as exciting as usual, despite its being a rest day.

    Thursday
    Jul172014

    The Daily Roundup: Dortmund, Biel and Bergamo

    Dortmund: This is the Fabiano Caruana show. He was the only winner in today's round, defeating Georg Meier on the white side of a Steinitz French. Meier was under serious pressure, but the trouble only came near the end. First, his 34...gxf6 gave Caruana the upper hand, and only his last move, 37...Rcc8, gave up the game; 37...Rg6 instead would have allowed him to put up plenty of resistance. Caruana has 3.5/4, good for a full point lead over Arkadij Naiditsch and more over everyone else. Caruana has now jumped into third on the Live Rating List, and is closing in on 2800 once again. (In two previous tournaments he reached 2800 while the tournament was underway, but has yet to finish an event at or over 2800.)

    Biel: All three games were decisive today, and all three of the round's losers started the day tied for first! They were leapfrogged by Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who is in clear first with two out of three.

    Bergamo: Wesley So continues to lead after an easy draw with Zoltan Almasi. He has 3/4 and leads Baadur Jobava (who won in this round) by half a point.

    Tuesday
    Jul152014

    Brilliancies Everywhere

    Three high-level tournaments are underway, in Dortmund (Caruana leads with a 2-0 score), Bergamo (the ACP Golden Classic; So leads with 2.5/3) and in Biel (Wojtaszek and Hou Yifan were first-day winners). More importantly, the chess has been good and entertaining, so rather than offering tournament summaries I'll present some of the games that have caught my eye, with my brief comments - here.

    Saturday
    Jul142012

    ACP Golden Classic, Round 1

    An interesting event is taking place in Amsterdam, the ACP Golden Classic. What's so "classic" about it? Two things: the time control, and the use of adjournments. It's 1990 all over again! Just like the good old days - or the bad old days, depending on your view - the players have two and half luxurious hours to make their first 40 moves, and at the end of five hours play the game is adjourned. Subsequent time controls are 16 moves per hour, repeating forever if necessary.

    Needless to say, FIDE will have nothing to do with this - the event won't be rated. I'm inclined to suggest that they resent the high quality of play that's likely to result, but it's more likely a specific objection to adjournments. Nevertheless, the show will go on (and has), and features an impressive cast of characters. Here are the pairings and results for round 1:

    • Gata Kamsky (2744) - Le Quang Liem (2693) 1-0
    • Vassily Ivanchuk (2769) - Baadur Jobava (2730) 1-0
    • Krishnan Sasikiran (2707) - Anna Muzychuk (2606) 0-1
    • Emil Sutovsky (2687) - Bye

    Ironically, none of the first round games were adjourned.