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    Entries in Informant 113 (3)

    Wednesday
    May222013

    Informants 113-115 On DVD

    As I've already reviewed Informants 113, 114 and 115 when they come out in book form, I won't repeat here what I said though you can find the reviews of each by clicking on the links above. My conclusion about those volumes, and with the Informant in general, now that the publishers have revitalized this venerable series, is positive. They aren't for everyone, but for strong club players - around 1800-1900 and up - the volumes can be both instructive and entertaining.

    If it sounds interesting and you haven't already purchased those volumes, this is an excellent way to do it. The price for buying the three-pack on disc is considerably less than the cost for getting each Informant one volume at a time. The books run about $38 a pop, while this three-pack goes for about $64 from the publisher's site. Add to the savings the convenience of being able to examine the games (and all the other sections too) using ChessBase, Chess Assistant a PGN viewer or even the proprietary Informant format and it's an all-around good deal.

    So if you're interested in the Informant and don't yet have these issues, it's definitely worth considering - especially for U.S. buyers, who can get it here for $57 (plus shipping). Highly recommended (for stronger/more ambitious club players, and up).

    Wednesday
    May092012

    "Garry's Choice": A Great Predecessor

    In the preceding post I reviewed Informant 113 and mentioned a new column, "Garry's Choice". In the column's initial installment Kasparov features the game Paragua - Debashis, taking special note of a spectacular missed possibility:

    Black has enough extra material to win several games, but his king is in a world of trouble. In the game he played 24...Kf8, which allowed a forced mate, but what he missed was 24...Qg4!!, after which the best White can do is play 25.Rxg4+ Kxf7 26.Qxh7+ Ke6 27.Re4+ Kd7 28.Rxe7+ Bxe7 29.h4, with good drawing chances.

    An even prettier version of that move was possible a couple of moves before.

    Here White played 23.Bxf7+, but 23.Rg1 is more accurate and more frightening, cutting off the enemy king's escape.

    The only move, as you've surely surmised by now, is 23...Qg4!! The queen can be taken four different ways, even with check, but in every case Black is at least equal.

    Kasparov confesses that this move is unique to him, and the best he can do to come up with a vague predecessor is "Mitrofanov's Deflection", the crowning blow to a deservedly famous composition. The key moment comes here:

    White plays the spectacular 1.Qg5!!, pulling Black's queen to a dark square, so that after 1...Qxg5+ 2.Ka6 it can't safely check White's king along the f1-a6 diagonal.

    The other predecessor Kasparov suggests is even less compelling, so while I'll provide it in the replayable games section I won't bother with it here.

    Nevertheless, while the (missed) ...Qg4 idea is indeed magnificent, it's not entirely unique, and Kasparov missed a far greater predecessor. First of all, it's from an actual game. Second, it wasn't found later on and possibly by a computer; it was found by the player himself and executed in the game. Third, it's far more similar, making it a genuine predecessor.

    MacDonald-Burn, Casual Game 1910, position after 33.Bh5

    White is down a piece for a pawn, but the bishop on g5 is a goner and Black's king is looking kind of crispy. But once again her majesty comes to the rescue: 33...Qg4!! and all is well (or at least almost all). The same piece, going to the same square, and for at least one of the same reasons - to obstruct the g-file. Another similarity is that all White captures but one give Black an immediately winning advantage.

    MacDonald correctly played 34.Rxg4, and after 34...Nf3+ the accurate 35.Kg3 would have maintained some advantage. After 35.Kg2? Nxd2 36.Rxg5+ Kh6 Black was better (in the 35.Kg3 case White would have 37.Kg4) and went on to win.

    You can replay all of these magnificent examples here.

    Wednesday
    May092012

    A Quick Review of Informant 113

    When I first started reviewing issues of the Informant a few years ago, this once great publication was a dying dinosaur. For those unfamiliar with the informant concept, it is most fundamentally a periodical, presenting hundreds of annotated games from a recent time period. Generally the period in question was many months ago by the time of publication, and while that was fine in 1966 when it first came out on through its heyday in the 1980s, it wasn't much good when people would watch the game live, see quick notes that night or the next day and detailed annotations in New in Chess Magazine or ChessBase Magazine a month or two later. What the Informant still had over those competitors was quantity: it would have hundreds and hundreds of games, often annotated by all the best players in the world. But by the mid-to-late 2000s, that was over too. Almost no really strong players bothered with the Informant, so elite games would be handled by staffers, offering nothing that wasn't available through other, speedier e-publications.

     

    Happily, the Informant team started making changes - small, incremental ones at first, and now bigger ones - and the publication has returned to relevance. Among the small changes were the inclusion of sections on "Excellent Moves" (like combinations, but without starting with a sacrifice), endgame studies and problems.

     

    They've also developed some special materials on openings. The format varied for a while, and in its current incarnation there are ten theoretical articles - all by grandmasters. Further, there is prose not only in the introduction to each article, but in the analysis itself - another innovation. This issue has articles on the English by Delchev (the Keres Variation) and Halkias (the Hedgehog), an article by Markus on the Benko Gambit, one by Perunovic on the Kan Sicilian, Pap on a gambit line in the Advance French, Erdos on the Rio de Janiero Variation of the Berlin, Sundararajan on the Berlin endgame, Cheparinov(!) on the Exchange Variation of the Queen's Gambit, Sanikidze on the Vienna variation of the Queen's Gambit and Ivanisevic on the Classical King's Indian.

     

    The Rising Stars mini-section continues from the previous Informant; this time featuring 19-year-old Greek IM and national champion Antonis Pavlidis, who annotates a couple of his own games.

     

    Also in this issue - as in all the issues for a long time - are a recap of the Best Game and Best Novelty from the previous issue, a collection of annotated games from the relevant period (the last quarter of 2011), sections on combinations and endgames, a summary of results from all the significant FIDE-rated events from the relevant period, and a mini-Informant decided to a leading player (Morozevich this time around).

     

    Now let's turn to what's new.

     

    The featured attraction, which even gets mentioned on the cover, is "Garry's Choice". By Garry Kasparov, the column is subtitled "The 13th World Champion Dissects Top Games of Modern Chess". Ironically, the game presented in the inaugural column features a comparatively low-rated GM taking on an IM. The reason for the game's inclusion is aesthetic: Black had (but alas, missed) the chance for chess immortality when he missed a tactical blow that to Kasparov's recollection would have been unique in chess history.

     

    After that comes another fine new section: "Top Five: Notable Achievements by Top Players". Five very strong players (four of whom are [well] over 2700, while the fifth is just under) deeply analyze their games - again, to continue the Informant's new trend, in English, not just symbols. The five this time around around Alexander Morozevich, Alexander Moiseenko, Evgeny Tomashevsky, Nikita Vitiugov and Ernesto Inarkiev.

     

    All in all, it's an attractive issue, and I can happily recommend the Informant to strong club players and up.

     

    You can find ordering info on the Informant site or, in the U.S., in the Chess Cafe shop.