So far, chess24 is putting out some nice material, including this concluding report, complete with annotated games and interviews. A tease: Grischuk explains his infamous comment about Kramnik's "bad preparation".
Entries in Alexander Grischuk (13)
It was "only" a team event, but the Russian Team Championship (April 7-13 in Loo, Russia) included a healthy number of superstars. Alexander Grischuk shined brightest of all, scoring an almost unbelievable 6-1. He gained 15 rating points and is clearly #3 on the live rating list, equalling his career high at 2792.1. He only gave up two draws - both with Black - to Alekseev and Dreev, while defeating Morozevich, Vitiugov and Tomashevsky along with two more "ordinary" GMs.
Other 2700s not listed above are Sergey Karjakin, Peter Svidler, Peter Leko, Leinier Dominguez, Dmitry Jakovenko, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Gata Kamsky, Baadur Jobava, Sergei Rublevsky and Alexei Shirov, and there were a good number of players who were either close to 2700, had been over 2700, or both. So do check it out if you're hankering for some top level chess between now and Sunday.
It was a great day for Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, as the only two players to lose were the only two players who could still pass him in the Grand Prix standings. Alexander Grischuk was a point out of first, but with a win over one of the leaders, Boris Gelfand, he would have helped his cause greatly. Had he won, he'd have been just half a point behind Hikaru Nakamura heading into the final four rounds. Instead, he's two points behind Gelfand and almost surely out of contention.
By contrast, Caruana was in very good shape, coming into the round tied with Gelfand for first. Unfortunately for his cause, he lost to Nakamura thanks to a blunder in the opening. When I first replayed the game, zipping through, it looked as if 15...Qxd4 was some sort of spectacular scholastic chess-style blunder. Obviously 15...Bxd4! But look for a few moments, and you'll realize that Black is just as dead after 16.Qh6, which threats like 17.Qh7+ Kf8 18.Rxd4 Qxd4 19.Qh8+ Qxh8 20.Rxh8+ Kg7 21.Rxd8, winding up with an extra piece. The real blunder came the move before, when he recaptured on g6 with the h-pawn. Capturing with the f-pawn was a must, when the position is complicated and both sides have their trumps.
So after seven rounds of this, the final Grand Prix event of the current cycle, Boris Gelfand leads with 5 points, half a point ahead of Nakamura and a point ahead of Caruana. By no means is all lost for Caruana, however, as he has the white pieces against Gelfand in the very next round. Meanwhile, I'd really love to know what is Gelfand's secret. The last six years he has been improving like a teenager or at least a young adult, and is in the running for player of the year this year. Of course Magnus Carlsen will get that award, and deservedly so if he defeats Anand, but if Gelfand holds on and wins this tournament is there anyone else whose year compares with his? But Gelfand fans shouldn't count their chickens yet, as he will also have Black against Nakamura in round 10.
1. FIDE Grand Prix (Men): After four rounds it's time for the first rest day in this, the final Grand Prix event of the 2012-2013 cycle. Recall that this event has greater competitive signficance only if either Alexander Grischuk or Fabiano Caruana takes clear first, in which case that person will qualify for the next Candidates' event (rather than Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who has already played his full complement of Grand Prix events in this cycle). Grischuk and Caruana played in round 4, and Grischuk was winning and really should have collected the point. It looks like the win slipped when he played 39.gxh3, hoping that the quantity of pawns would suffice and outweigh the slight cost to their quality that capture entailed. It was a plausible decision - who wants to allow a "coffin nail" like the pawn on Black pawn on h3 to survive? - but apparently a mistaken one.
The draw left Grischuk at -1 and Caruana at +1. The latter is in third, half a point behind Boris Gelfand, who won in round 3, and Vassily Ivanchuk, who was rather lucky to win in round 4 against Laurent Fressinet. Fressinet was completely winning early on, but he lost the game a little at a time.
In sum, from someone who is completely impartial: guys born in the 1960s still rule the chess world!
2. FIDE Grand Prix (Women): Humpy Koneru continues to lead - solo at the moment - after 7 of 11 rounds. Her score of 5.5 points puts her half a point ahead of her fellow Indian Harika Dronavalli and the Ukranian Kateryna Lagno.
3. World Junior Championships: There's one round to go, and while it's still technically a two-player race in the Open (Boys') division it's nearly a done deal. Top seed Yu Yangyi has a fantastic score of 10.5/12 and leads second seed and defending champion Alexander Ipatov by a full point. Yu has White in the last round too, so he's a pretty big favorite to get at least a draw and clinch the title. In the Girls' section it's a little closer, but Aleksandra Goryachkina is a pretty big favorite to win the title. Her 9.5 points gives her a half point lead over Zhansaya Abdumalik, and in addition she (Goryachkina) will have White in the last round against a player rated 200 points lower while Abdumalik has the black pieces against a higher-rated opponent.
4. Topalov-Laznicka Match: This finished nicely for Veselin Topalov, who won both games 4 and 6 with Black while drawing game 5 with White. As a result of this Hou Yifanesque performance in the second half of the match, he defeated Viktor Laznicka by a 4-2 margin.
Play in the final event of the 2012-2013 Grand Prix cycle begins tomorrow in Paris, France, in a tournament that will decide one more place in the next Candidates' tournament. Two spots were available from the Grand Prix series, and while Veselin Topalov has clinched the overall first place three players are in the running for the second. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov currently leads that race, but he has already played in the maximum number of Grand Prix events (four) and isn't in this one. That leaves Alexander Grischuk and Fabiano Caruana the chance to snipe him for that second spot. If either of the latter takes clear first in this tournament, they're in; anything less and it's Mamedyarov who will go to the Candidates.
Here's the full list of players:
- Alexander Grischuk (2785)
- Fabiano Caruana (2779)
- Hikaru Nakamura (2772)
- Boris Gelfand (2764)
- Leinier Dominguez Perez (2757)
- Ruslan Ponomariov (2756)
- Anish Giri (2737)
- Wang Hao (2736)
- Vassily Ivanchuk (2731)
- Etienne Bacrot (2723)
- Laurent Fressinet (2708)
- Evgeny Tomashevsky (2703)
The semi-finals and the finals of the ACP Cup, a rapid k.o. event in Riga, Latvia, were played on Sunday, and Alexander Grischuk emerged victorious. He defeated Peter Svidler in his semi-final, 1.5-.5, while Ian Nepomniachtchi came back from a loss in the first game to defeat Ruslan Ponomariov 3-1 after their 3'+2" tiebreak games.
Grischuk and Nepomniachtchi drew their g/25s, so it was on to the blitz playoff. Grischuk started off with a win in his white game, and Nepomniachtchi returned the favor in the rematch. The next stage was an Armageddon game, with Grischuk getting White and five minutes against his opponent's four minutes and draw odds. Grischuk repeated the same funny anti-Gruenfeld line he used in the first blitz game (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.e3 0-0 5.Be2 d5 6.cxd5 Nxd5 7.e4 Nb6 7.0-0 [White's 6th and 7th moves were played in reverse order in the earlier game]), and whatever its merits he managed to win this game too, and with it the tournament.
In the just-completed World Blitz Championship there was a game between Alexander Grischuk and Ruslan Ponomariov that showed both the best and the worst of blitz chess. Grischuk sprung a near-novelty on Ponomariov in an opening backwater, and it had its effect. Ponomariov spent almost half his time trying to figure out what to do, and came up with an interesting but flawed tactical idea. Grischuk thought for a minute or so and refuted it, and as a result he was up a piece for a pawn and under only the most minimal pressure.
Here's how they reached the crucial position in the diagram:
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Be2 Bc5(?!) 5.Nxe5 Nxe5 6.d4 Bd6 7.dxe5 Bxe5 8.Nb5!+= (the near-novelty) 0-0?! 9.f4 Nxe4 10.Qd5!+/- Bf6 11.Qxe4 Re8 12.Qf3+- a6 13.Nc3 Bxc3 14.bxc3 Qe7
So far, so good for Grischuk. His position is completely winning, and he has only to find an accurate move or two to break the pressure on the e-file and finish his development. It was simple and elegant, and it proved effective: 15.Bd2 d5 16.0-0, and Ponomariov resigned due to 16...Qxe2 17.Rf/ae1.
It was, in addition, an absolute blunder! After the rook goes to e1, Black can play 17...Qb5, saving the queen and protecting the rook, winding up a pawn to the good. It's amazing that players of that caliber could miss such a simple tactic, but what it really shows is that the disease suffered by beginners and club players strikes the elite as well: once you've mentally checked the game as a win - or a loss - all kinds of lapses are possible. You can't afford to relax when you're winning, and if you're losing the game and playing on, you might as well stay alert!
The second cycle of the Candidates' tournament got underway, and with a bang. This round reprised the pairings from round 1 (with colors reversed), and with very different results. In round 1 all the games were drawn, but this time only the battle between the leaders, Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian, finished peacefully. Carlsen generally tries to create open-ended play out of the opening, but for once he failed in that respect. Aronian was able to kill the play on the black side of an Open Catalan, and so they remain tied for first.
Their lead shrunk to a full point in the wake of Vladimir Kramnik's win over Peter Svidler. They have had many battles in the Exchange Gruenfeld over the years, with Kramnik winning a pretty fair percentage with the white pieces. White's most obvious advantage in the Exchange Variation is his mass of central pawns, and in this game Kramnik was able to use it to squeeze Svidler into submission.
Alexander Grischuk defeated Vassily Ivanchuk in a rather sad game. Ivanchuk was doing fine over the board up until the very end, but once again got into desperate - and needless - time trouble and flagged. This was Grischuk's first win in the event, and it brought him back to 50%.
Boris Gelfand also won his first game of the event, making it back to a -1 score. He thoroughly and speedily outplayed Teimour Rajdabov with the black pieces, finishing in crushing style.
The games can be replayed here, with my comments.
Standings After Round 8 (of 14):
1-2. Carlsen, Aronian 5.5
3. Kramnik 4.5
4. Grischuk 4
5-6. Svidler, Gelfand 3.5
7. Radjabov 3
8. Ivanchuk 2.5
Round 9 Pairings:
- Kramnik - Carlsen
- Svidler - Grischuk
- Ivanchuk - Radjabov
- Gelfand - Aronian
ChessBase is doing a sort of countdown, profiling the eight Candidates going from lowest-rated to highest. So far they've done three: Peter Svidler, Vassily Ivanchuk and Alexander Grischuk. The articles present the full record of how each player has done against all his rivals in Classical games, which is quite nice; I wouldn't put much (any) stock in the author's conclusions about what openings each player will or ought to play, however. Anyway, it's fun to skim this information, and as I run across other interesting previews I'll pass them along.
Alexander Grischuk is one of the eight ready to compete later this month in the Candidates' tournament, the winner of which will face Viswanathan Anand for the world championship. He came close in the last cycle, defeating Levon Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik before getting eliminated by Boris Gelfand in the final game of the final match, so although he's not as big a favorite as Magnus Carlsen, he shouldn't be overlooked either.
Some good news and bad news. The good news is that there's a recent interview with him here; the bad news is that it's in Russian and the Google translation is far from ideal. Better than nothing though, so consider this the very first appetizer on the way to the main course.