In my column this week I take a look at the extraordinary tactical free-for-all between Mr. Fire on Board himself, Alexei Shirov, and the young American GM Sam Sevian from the Hasselbacken Chess Open in Stockholm. Surprisingly, it was the youngster who didn't only win but did so by navigating the complications better than his famous opponent. Definitely worth seeing if you haven't yet examined the game, and hopefully even if you have.
Entries in Alexei Shirov (15)
The main event in Zurich starts today, Saturday, but before that the organizers had the players compete in a blitz tournament. This was entertaining for the spectators (both those on scene, including Anatoly Karpov and Viktor Korchnoi[!], and the rest of us watching on the internet), of course, and it had the additional purpose of determining the pairings. Placement determined one's pairing number, and so the top three players will all have an extra game with the white pieces in the main event.
Hikaru Nakamura won his first three games in this six-player round-robin before Alexei Shirov (barely) pulled out a draw in round 4 and Viswanathan Anand beat him in the final round. Those three finished with plus scores, and thus get the extra white game in the rapid round robin to follow. Nakamura (obviously) finished with 3.5/5, while both Anand and Shirov wound up with 3 (Anand took second on tiebreak). Vladimir Kramnik was next with 2.5, Levon Aronian scored only two points (but defeated Anand in their game), while Anish Giri brought up the rear with a winless 1/5.
Because it's a rapid event (G/40' + 10"/move), there will be two games per day. (At least for the first two days; on day 3 there will be a rapid game followed by another blitz round-robin. Strange, but entertaining.) Here are the pairings for rounds 1 and 2; round 1 starts at 3 p.m. local time in Zurich (= 9 a.m. ET).
- Shirov - Kramnik
- Nakamura - Giri
- Anand - Aronian
- Kramnik - Aronian
- Giri - Anand
- Shirov - Nakamura
There's an added bonus: Boris Gelfand and Alexander Morozevich will concurrently play a two-game match with the same time control.
Hopefully the quality of the games will be high; whether it is or not, however, they're sure to be entertaining.
And so Anish Giri has a 3-1 lead over Alexei Shirov and Baadur Jobava a 2.5-1.5 lead against Jan Timman in their showcase six-game matches at the Unive chess tournament.
Both Alexei Shirov and Jan Timman were pressing today against Anish Giri and Baadur Jobava, respectively, but in the end both games were drawn. Giri leads 2.5-.5 and Jobava leads 2-1 going into the rest day. Three rounds remain in these sub-events of the Unive chess tournament.
This fun event (the Unive chess tournament), comprising a pair of six-game classical matches, began Sunday in the Dutch city of Hoogeveen. The marquee match is between Dutch prodigy Anish Giri and Latvian superstar Alexei Shirov of "fire on board" fame. If Shirov were playing at his best the match would be a toss-up, but his results have been declining the last couple of years and in the last few months his results have been awful. Indeed, Giri leads 2-0 so far, and if this keeps up he might bridge the 14-15-point gap separating him from the top 6 in the world.
The second match is between top Georgian grandmaster Baadur Jobava and Dutch legend Jan Timman. Their first game was drawn, but Timman lost the second game after a couple of blunders. (He had been under some pressure, but objectively the position was fine.)
Both are Latvians grandmasters who love sharp play, but as Alexei Shirov is 200 points higher rated and 22 years younger than Evgeny Sveshnikov, their six game (g/50) match this weekend looked unlikely to be much of a contest...and it wasn't. Shirov blew him away, 5.5-0.5.
Shirov administered a whipping in the other direction late last year when he smashed Russian teenager Daniil Dubov 5-1, but he'll come up on a real test in a few weeks...or will he? On this page's "Future Events Calendar" it mentions a match between Shirov and Anish Giri due to run from October 12-18. That's wonderful, but Giri is also scheduled to play in the Grand Prix tournament in Baku from October 1-15. As I doubt he'll leave early for the sake of the Shirov match and don't expect him to try a simul, there seems to be a difficulty here. Hopefully some accommodation will be found, and the Giri-Shirov match will come off without a hitch.
When an amateur defeats a super-GM, it's not only a shocking story but also grounds for hope. Even the greatest players can be upset, and in the case of Florian Armbrust's first round win over Alexei Shirov, they can earn it! The point did not just drop in the winner's lap thanks to a simple blunder; no, he played very well and won a nice game. (Maybe even more impressively, it isn't as if Shirov was rusty or had been in bad form. He had been in excellent form in the Olympics, which just ended a few days ago.)
HT: Ross Hytnen
And so the exhibition match between Alexei Shirov and Daniil Dubov has come to an end with a draw in game 6. As after game 1, a draw in the classical game meant they had to play blitz afterwards, and the results were a repeat of what happened in game 1: a draw followed by a Dubov win. In the part that counted, however, Shirov proved his dominance, and while Dubov is an impressive young talent this will have reminded him that he still has a long way to go to reach the elite. For Shirov, it netted him some points and probably some confidence, and hopefully presages a return to better things for him. There's nothing wrong with 60-move rook endings, but as chess fans most of us - myself included - would rather see his "fire on board" approach instead.
Mr. Fire On Board is having his way with young Russian GM Daniil Dubov in their six-game match, consistently outfoxing him in the crazy complications. If you enjoy tactically rich positions, this match is a feast for you.