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    Entries in Alexander Grischuk (54)

    Tuesday
    Sep182018

    Grischuk-Duda Underway **UPDATED**

    The first quarterfinal match of Chess.com's 2018 Speed Chess Championship is underway, pitting Alexander Grischuk and Jan-Krzysztof Duda. The 5'+1" portion is finished and has Grischuk taking a 5-4 lead (after all decisive games) heading into the 3'+1" portion. You can find the live stream on Chess.com or at Twitch.tv/chess. Happy viewing!

    **UPDATE** The match was incredible, coming down to the very end. If you don't care who won, watch the whole thing; if you do and will be upset if your guy lost, I give the final result in the comments.

    Monday
    Aug202018

    Sinquefield Cup, Round 3: Four More Draws, and Grischuk Beats Nakamura

    Today's draws were meatier than their predecessor, even if they were identical in quantity. The game of the round was, like yesterday's, a marathon, with Alexander Grischuk squeezing out a win over Hikaru Nakamura - with Black - in 89 moves. The game saw a trendy line of the trendy Italian, one in which White allows a quick ...d5 and tries to punish Black by wrecking his queenside structure at the cost of the two bishops. On this occasion it was the bishops that proved more valuable, even if it took a very long time to prove it.

    With the win Grischuk has made it a four-way tie atop the leaderboard, as he, Magnus Carlsen, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, and Levon Aronian share the lead at +1. Oddly, the three players with minus scores (Nakamura, Wesley So, and Sergey Karjakin) are three of the four overall leaders of the Grand Chess Tour. They still have plenty of time to right the ship, but if they don't their qualification to London may not be secure.

    In the draw department: Aronian missed a couple of nice opportunities to preserve a significant edge against Carlsen, who was "too excited" by his win yesterday and slept poorly. Mamedyarov's game with Fabiano Caruana was a great fight in which both players demonstrated very high-level chess. Caruana was pressing, a la Carlsen, and Mamedyarov had to play very accurately to stay alive. He did, and maintains his #2 spot in the world rankings (he nosed ahead of Caruana after round 1 of the tournament). Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and So contested the Berlin ending, and So had no trouble neutralizing MVL's novelty and achieving an outwardly easy draw. Likewise, Karjakin achieved nothing against Viswanathan Anand on the white side of another theoretical Ruy Lopez - this time the Open Variation - and Anand found it an easy technical job to split the point. The achievement was as much to Karjakin's "credit" as Anand's, however, as the former was understandably looking to get on the scoreboard after losses in rounds 1 and 2.

    Today's games, with my notes, are here. These are the pairings for round 4, tomorrow:

    • Mamedyarov (2) - Aronian (2)
    • Caruana (1.5) - Nakamura (1)
    • Grischuk (2) - Vachier-Lagrave (1.5)
    • So (1) - Karjakin (.5)
    • Anand (1.5) - Carlsen (2)

    Saturday
    Mar242018

    2018 Candidates, Round 12: The Tournament gets Karjaked

    Yes, it's a bad pun, and yes, I know the "j" in Sergey Karjakin's name is pronounced like a "y". I'm sticking to the dumb pun anyway. Who'd have thought that Karjakin, -2 after four rounds, would lead the tournament eight rounds later? What's that, you say, he's only tied for first? Incorrect. By beating "co-leader" Fabiano Caruana, Karjakin has the better tiebreaks, and given the tournament rules it means he would win the event if it finished right now. (Just as Magnus Carlsen advanced and Vladimir Kramnik didn't when they finished London 2013 with the same number of points.)

    Amazing. Karjakin has won four games in seven rounds, going from worst to first, and for the moment he has the pole position for a second straight title tilt with Magnus Carlsen. With White against Caruana and the latter's Petroff, Karjakin avoided nonsense like 5.Qe2 and went for the main lines, choosing 5.Nc3. After 10.a3 and 11.Nd4 there was a new position on the board, and it seems that he obtained an advantage. The critical idea that probably won him the game, and possibly a second shot at the title, was 17.Bxd5, sacrificing the exchange for a pawn and a nuclear bishop on d5, radiating power in every direction. Caruana didn't manage to cope with this piece, and by the time Karjakin picked up a second pawn for the exchange on move 31 Black's position was hopeless.

    Caruana's loss could have been Shakhriyar Mamedyarov's gain. Like Caruana, he had been undefeated all tournament long and had been in first or just half a point behind for a long time. Had he won with White against Ding Liren, he'd have been in sole first. Even a draw would have been acceptable: he'd have been in a three-way tie for first, and then he'd have been ahead on tiebreaks given his plus score against Karjakin and even record vs. Caruana. If, if, if. Ding didn't lose, and despite drawing all 11 of his games up to this point he didn't split the point either. Instead, he won, and now he's even with Mamedyarov, half a point behind the leaders.

    Ding took a page out of Kramnik's book (why not? Everyone else copies his openings) and played the Semi-Tarrasch. He equalized, and when Mamedyarov pushed to create a kingside attack Ding was able to push his queenside majority, make a second queen, and win.

    So four players lead or are within half a point of the lead. Did I say four? Make it five: we shouldn't forget Alexander Grischuk. If had defeated Levon Aronian he'd have been in the tie for first. He had a big chance on move 23, but rejected it for some reason and Aronian escaped with a draw. Still, Grischuk is within half a point of Karjakin and Caruana, so with two rounds to go more than half of the field still has a great shot at winning the tournament.

    The last game featured two players who are out of the running. Vladimir Kramnik had a winning advantage against Wesley So, but for the umpteenth time in the event left half a point (or more) on the table, and the game finished in a draw.

    The games (with my notes) are here. Sunday is a rest day, and the penultimate round will be played on Monday, with these pairings:

     

    • Mamedyarov (6.5) - Grischuk (6.5)
    • Ding Liren (6.5) - Kramnik (5.5)
    • So (5) - Karjakin (7)
    • Caruana (7) - Aronian (4)

     

    Tuesday
    Mar202018

    2018 Candidates, Round 8: Three Draws and Another Kramnik Loss

    The second cycle of the Candidates got underway in round 8, and the outcome was more peaceful than in round 1. In that round, with the same pairings (with colors reversed), three games finished with a decisive result. Not this time: three games were drawn, and the one decisive result should have been the fourth draw.

    The leader coming in was Fabiano Caruana, who defeated Wesley So with White in round 1. He came reasonably close with Black, too, as for the second time in this event the lame 5.Qe2 against Caruana's Petroff resulted in a very poor middlegame position for White. To So's credit, he defended exceptionally well and saved the game, using an endgame trick famously discovered by Emanuel Lasker in 1924.

    Shakhriyar Mamedaryov also defeated his opponent, Sergey Karjakin, in their first round game - and that was with the black pieces - but like Caruana, he only drew in the rematch. He obtained a small advantage in a Catalan sideline, and a slight inaccuracy enabled Karjakin to achieve full equality. Wisely shepherding his strength, Mamedyarov decided to call it a day after just 30 moves.

    Ding Liren and Levon Aronian drew their game in the first cycle, and drew this one, too. Their first game was a short draw, but Aronian was much better, even winning had he chosen not to repeat. This time it was Ding who failed to maximize his chances, misplaying an ending with a clean extra pawn.

    Finally, Vladimir Kramnik's bizarre self-destruction continued. He defeated Alexander Grischuk in round 1, but this time nothing more than a draw was on the cards. The simplest way to achieve it was with 31...Bxc3, when the pin after 32.Bxc3 Rxc3 was of no consequence. Instead Kramnik let Grischuk keep his extra pawn, and found himself lost after the first time control. Both players were tired, however, and the evaluation kept switching between equality and a serious advantage for Grischuk. After playing one long game after another - something which was entirely Kramnik's fault the past three rounds - he was tired and by his own admission "couldn't see anything". The result was another loss, in 91 moves. It was better to spend a few extra minutes making sure 31...Bxc3 worked, and then he'd have saved himself 3+ hours of play and half a point in the tournament table. As for Grischuk, he's at +1 now and in the running for first place.

    The games, with my comments, are here; here's what coming up in round 9:

     

    • So (3) - Grischuk (4.5)
    • Caruana (5.5) - Ding (4)
    • Aronian (3) - Mamedyarov (5)
    • Karjakin (3.5) - Kramnik (3.5)

     

    Sunday
    Mar112018

    2018 Candidates, Round 2: Grischuk Beats So; Other Games Drawn

    It would have been hard for the players to match the excitement of round 1, and they didn't, but it was a perfectly entertaining round in its own right - except for Wesley So's fans. Alexander Grischuk lost in round 1, but got back to 50% by crushing So in a game that went 44 moves but could have been stopped after just 22. So made a mess of things in the opening and early middlegame of a 6.d3 Closed Ruy. His king was in so much trouble that he had to give up a piece for just one pawn and a (still) lousy position to keep the game going. It was an impressive game by Grischuk, but So the super-grandmaster was unrecognizable. (From an instructional point of view, note the way he activated his rooks into the attack. Rook lifts via the third rank are a commonplace, but Grischuk managed to bring them into play via the 4th and 5th ranks instead.)

    The other three games were drawn. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov's 10.g3 was something new in a 4.Qc2 Nimzo, but Aronian's accurate play led to an early draw by repetition.

    Vladimir Kramnik must have been confused, as he played the white side of a Berlin ending. Of course he brought something new to the table, but while he made Sergey Karjakin suffer into the second time control he never achieved anything tangible. There was perhaps one chance to make something happen, with 30.Bd8, but other than that, and Karjakin's inaccuracy on move 27 that created the opportunity, it looked like a well-played game from start to finish.

    The final game was more volatile than the other two draws. Ding Liren and Fabiano Caruana contested a sharp Catalan line where Black sacs the exchange for enduring pressure along the a8-h1 diagonal. Play remained balanced until 23...Qf5, after which White had the upper hand. 27.f5 allowed Black to equalize again, but Ding obtained even bigger opportunities after Caruana errors on moves 39 and 41. Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for Caruana, White immediately returned the favor on both occasions, and the game finished in a position where White was still the exchange ahead for a pawn but unable to make progress.

    The games (with my comments) are here; round 3's pairings are as follows:

    • Karjakin (.5) - Grischuk (1)
    • Aronian (1) - Kramnik (1.5)
    • Caruana (1.5) - Mamedyarov (1.5)
    • So (0) - Ding Liren (1)

    Tuesday
    Nov212017

    2017 Speed Chess Championship: Carlsen vs. Grischuk Semi-Final Concludes

    It just finished; spoilers will be provided in the comments section. The other semi-final hasn't been set yet, but the commentators suggested that it might be on December 15.

    Tuesday
    Nov212017

    2017 Speed Chess Championship: Carlsen vs. Grischuk in the First Semifinal

    With apologies to those who haven't yet seen the result of the Carlsen-So match, this post is kind of a spoiler. Unfortunately, since the semi-final match between Magnus Carlsen and Alexander Grischuk starts today at 1 p.m. ET, it seemed to me better to spill the beans and give fans the chance to watch the new match live than to keep the suspense about Carlsen-So a little while longer. (And while those of us rooting for So may have hoped for the best, I don't think too many of us held out real hopes that he'd manage to slay the Norwegian viking.)

    Anyway, the match will have the usual format of (slightly more than) three hours' playing time, with 90 minutes of 5'+2" action, 60 minutes of 3'+2", and a final half-hour of 1'+2". Carlsen and Grischuk met in this competition last year as well, and it was pretty close until the bullet games, when Carlsen put the pedal to the metal and pulled away. Will Grischuk do better this time around? Maybe...but I wouldn't bet on it.

    Monday
    Nov132017

    2017 Champions Showdown, Day 4: Americans Sweep; Carlsen Crushing

    It was a great day for the American players, who rolled on to victory. Hikaru Nakamura was always going to win against Veselin Topalov, entering the final day with a big lead and an overwhelming favorite in the blitz. To no one's surprise - including Topalov's - he finished like a hammer, winning nine games and drawing three. The scoring in the blitz was 2-1-0, so he won the session 21-3 and won overall by a ridiculous 61.5-30.5 margin. All the matches have a $100,000 prize fund split 60-40, so Nakamura won $60,000 to Topalov's $40,000.

    In the other two matches, the Americans continued the comebacks they had started at the end of day 3. Fabiano Caruana had won three games followed by a draw at the end of the previous day to close to within four points, and on day 4 he won, drew, and won again to equalize the scores. Having done so, Grischuk enjoyed his one bright spot when he won the fourth game - and even that took a lot of help: Caruana made a fingerfehler in the opening to lose a pawn, and when Caruana fought back to a drawn position he made two further errors to lose the game. But that was the end of his good news: in the last eight games the pattern kept repeating: a draw followed by a Caruana win. In all, Caruana won six games, lost just one, and drew five. He won the session 17-7 and the match 49-43.

    Wesley So likewise continued his great comeback. He had won the last three games on day 3, and although he was still down seven points he too overcame his deficit. He won his first two games, drew, and won two more games to take the lead. The rest of the way the play was closer, but So never surrendered his lead. Overall he went +7-2=3, winning the section 17-7 and the match 47.5-44.5.

    Finally, the world champion proved his greatness yet again. Magnus Carlsen dominated Ding Liren in the g/20 portion of the match, winning three games and drawing three. As you may recall, Carlsen led 12.5-7.5 after the first day, and with each of the 20-minute games weighted on a 4-2-0 basis he took day 2 18-6 and leads the match 30.5-13.5 going into the 10-minute games, which will start momentarily.

    Congratulations to the Americans...and probably to Carlsen too, barring a quasi-miracle.

    Saturday
    Nov112017

    2017 Champions Showdown, Day 3

    It was a good day for the underdogs/those who were trailing, as none of them lost ground on their opponents - though in every case they started off on the wrong foot.

    Thus Veselin Topalov started off with a loss as Black against Hikaru Nakamura, but struck back in the next game. The same pattern happened in the next two games, with first Nakamura and then Topalov again winning with Black. The last two games were drawn, and so while they split the 10-minute games 4-4 (or rather, 12-12 on the 3-1.5-0 scoring used for the 10-minute portion of the match) Nakamura keeps his hefty overall lead, 40.5-27.5 going into the last day.

    Fabiano Caruana came into the day four points behind Alexander Grischuk - the difference provided by the latter's win in the final game in the g/20 portion of the match. It looked like it was about to become a blowout in the g/10 after Grischuk scored 3.5 points in their first four games, thanks in part to his own successful play but also due to some egregious blunders by Caruana. But Caruana righted the ship, winning three games in a row before drawing the last game, so Grischuk maintains his 4-point lead (36-32) heading into the finale.

    Wesley So came into the day with a significant deficit against Leinier Dominguez, and after four draws and a loss in the game/10 portion it looked like the match was as good as over. But not yet! So won the last three games of the day, and trails 37.5-30.5.

    Sunday's action comprises 12 five-minute games, each worth two points (2-1-0 scoring), so none of the matches have been clinched yet (though Topalov's chances of coming back are extremely low).

    The fourth match started today, and will continue through Tuesday: Magnus Carlsen vs. Ding Liren. They played four 30-minute games, drawing the first three before Carlsen won and took the lead in game four. Carlsen had White in games 1 and 3, but should have lost that first game. He was bailed out, and then Ding was bailed out in game 3 when he too was entirely lost. Carlsen's win in game 4 was impressive, pressuring his opponent in a nominally equal ending until he broke. Following the pattern of the earlier matches, they will play six 20-minute games tomorrow.

    Saturday
    Nov112017

    2017 Champions Showdown, Day 2

    Some interesting chess is being played, but the quality of the games is decreasing as the time control gets shorter, thanks especially to the lack of increment. The last rounds were particularly horrible: in their penultimate game Dominguez beat So in a time scramble where So was better on the board and on the clock, but Dominguez moved faster, and both sides engaged in quasi-illegal to illegal behavior (because the board and pieces are slick enough to host a mini-curling match, the pieces rarely wound up where they were supposed to; additionally, Dominguez made two-handed captures, which is certainly against FIDE's rules, as we learned from a Nakamura game back in 2016, if I recall correctly). And in the final round Caruana left his queen en prise in a winning position (and with some time on his clock!), while Topalov failed to defeat Nakamura despite having an extra piece.

    One thing that has been instructive, from a chess point of view, is that we've repeatedly seen (both days) that the anti-Berlin plan of playing 4.d3, taking on c6, and then mounting a kingside attack with castling queenside and playing g4 is surprisingly toothless. And there have been other interesting opening ideas as well. But the lack of time, and probably some fatigue as well, is spoiling the games and severing the logical connection of what's happening during most of the game and its final result.

    Anyway, here are the results: Nakamura won two games and drew four against Topalov, which meant that he went 16-8 in this section on the 4-2-0 scoring. Since he led after the first day 12.5-7.5, his overall lead is 28.5-15.5.

    Grischuk went +2-1=3 against Caruana, winning the day 14-10. They split on day one, so Grischuk has a narrow 24-20 lead overall.

    Dominguez went +3-1=2 against So. Thus, like Nakamura, he won the day 16-8, and since he - again like Nakamura - went 12.5-7.5 the first day he likewise leads overall with a 28.5-15.5 score.

    Today there will be eight rounds of game/10 with the same pairings, and it is also the first day of Magnus Carlsen vs. Ding Liren, who will contest four g/30s.

    The action starts in 20 minutes or so (2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. local time in St. Louis).