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    Entries in Karjakin (9)

    Friday
    Oct142011

    The Daily Update: Poikovsky and Saratov

    The Karpov tournament in Poikovsky finished with some more short draws, but also a couple of wins, one of which was very important for the final standings. Etienne Bacrot defeated Zahar Efimenko - with Black, no less - and caught up with Sergey Karjakin to tie for first place. (I wonder if they used tiebreaks to separate them: maybe fewest moves per draw would be fitting for this event.) Both players wound up on +2: two wins and seven draws, to be precise.

    Meanwhile, Alexander Morozevich keeps putting on a show in the Governor's Cup in Saratov. After four straight wins he was finally held to a second draw today by Alexei Shirov, but just barely. Their game was incredibly sharp and flashy, and certainly worth your having a look. With 5/6 (TPR: 2980) Morozevich leads Peter Leko, Evgeny Alekseev and Evgeny Tomashevsky by a point and a half (and everyone else there by even more).

    Wednesday
    Oct122011

    Catching Up on Poikovsky and Saratov

    Aside from the Sao Paulo/Bilbao super-tournament that just finished, two other high caliber events are well underway. One is the Karpov Tournament in Poikovsky, Russia, and the other is the Governor's Cup in Saratov - also in Russia.

    Both events have had a disappointingly high percentage of draws, and in the case of the Poikovsky tournament, short draws. In eight rounds (forty games) in Poikovsky there have been 31 draws and only nine decisive games. With one round to go, Sergey Karjakin, on the strength of his win in round eight, has a half-point lead over Etienne Bacrot and Fabiano Caruana.

    While there have been a lot of draws in Saratov as well, they've generally been harder-fought. Besides, the big story is the performance of Alexander Morozevich, who has continued his successful comeback this year with a great 4.5/5 start, giving him a TPR of 3072 and a one and a half point lead over the chase pack. Just a few months ago Morozevich was a shade under 2700; now on the live chess ratings list he's up to 2755.2. That's good enough for 12th, and another win will vault him into ninth place, ahead of Nakamura.

    (N.B. Both tournament sites are in Russian, so some just looking for games and crosstables might prefer TWIC's coverage of the events, here and here, respectively.)

    Thursday
    Oct062011

    Ongoing Events: Oslo and Poikovsky

    The Oslo Chess International wouldn't normally catch my eye, but as Matthew Sadler is participating it's interesting to see his unretirement unfold before our eyes. He's the second seed, behind Sergei Tiviakov, but after five of nine rounds he's in clear first with 4.5 points, half a point ahead of Jon Ludvig Hammer and Victor Mikhalevski. Tiviakov and seven other players have 3.5. (Round 6 is underway, and you can see the live games here.)

    The Karpov tournament in Poikovsky, Russia, hasn't exactly caught fire, but at least there were a couple of decisive games today. Three games were drawn, all in fairly short order (two in 27 moves and one in 33), but both wins were entertaining. Sergey Karjakin defeated Viktor Laznicka in a theoretically hot line of the Caro-Kann, and in short order (30 moves), while Zahar Efimenko's triumph over Alexander Motylev was an impressive display of cool defense. Efimenko had the long-term advantages, but had to put out the fire before he could hope to use them. Eventually Motylev's pieces lost their harmony, and just as Efimenko's counterattack was about to come crashing through Motylev gave up. After three of nine rounds, Karjakin, Efimenko and Fabiano Caruana lead with 2/3. (TWIC coverage here.)

    Saturday
    Sep032011

    World Cup 2011: Round 3, Day 1: Polgar and Sutovsky Beat Karjakin and Ivanchuk

    While Judit Polgar and Emil Sutovsky are both generally rated in the neighborhood of 2700, their victories today over Sergey Karjakin and Vassily Ivanchuk were still very much upsets. Garry Kasparov famously suffered his one and only loss to Polgar when he chose the Berlin against her, and although many - Kasparov included - were inclined to say the fault was with Kasparov playing an opening antithetical to his style, Polgar showed today that she could handle White even against a more experienced Berliner. It was a game she won a little at a time, with perhaps the fatal error being 37...Bb7. A nice win for Polgar, who seems to be on her way back to the elite if she's not there already.

    Ivanchuk-Sutovsky had a different feel to it. Ivanchuk was doing fine for a long time, and though Sutovsky had made a little progress as the game entered the time trouble stage it was still roughly equal through 34 moves. Had Ivanchuk played 35.Bxf6+ Kxf6 and only then 36.Nxa3 a draw would have been the likeliest result; instead, he blundered with 35.Nxa3??, missing the zwischenschach 35...Bc5+. After this White either loses a piece immediately or a few moves later on account of the connected passed pawns, and Ivanchuk resigned after Black's 40th move.

    The marquee match of the day was Grischuk-Morozevich, and it lived up to expectations. Grischuk played a rare gambit, and the players were breaking (practically) new ground by move 8. The chances were relatively balanced for a long time, with Grischuk having the slightly better chances most of the way. This changed from moves 36-40. Maybe Morozevich felt that trying to defend the queenside would be hopeless in the long run, or perhaps he was sanguine about his kingside chances. At any rate, the moves 36...Rf8?! (36...d4!), 37...h5?! (again 37...d4 was indicated) and 40...g4? (you guessed it: 40...d4) left him lost - and ironically, both on the queenside and on the kingside, too.

    Other winners: in a battle of Gruenfelders, Gata Kamsky won with White against Ian Nepomniachtchi, Dmitry Jakovenko beat Baadur Jobava (also with White), and Leinier Dominguez, following Polgar's example, won on the White side of a Berlin against Igor Lysyj.

    Official site here.

    Tuesday
    Jul052011

    Karjakin Interview

    Another present to English readers who don't read Russian, from Chess in Translation: here.

    Wednesday
    Jun152011

    Bazna, Round 5: Carlsen, Karjakin Win, Stand 1-2 At The Halfway Point

    There were two decisive games today and the third was a very lively draw. That's the way to enter the rest day!

    Magnus Carlsen defeated Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu with surprising ease. He stood a little better with White in a queenless QGA, but the advantage quickly turned decisive as Nisipeanu completely lost his way. With the win, Carlsen stayed half a point ahead of Sergey Karjakin to remain in clear first, and also kept ahead of Viswanathan Anand on the live rating lists.

    Karjakin also won, catching an out-of-form Vassily Ivanchuk napping with the dirty trick 15...Bc8-e6 16.Rad1 Bxh3! Prior to White's 16th move the sac wouldn't have been as strong, as White's queen could subsequently retreat from c2 to d1, but once that avenue was cut off it was a different story. White still could have held with 17.d4, but after 17.c4? he wound up too far behind in material, and Karjakin won comfortably.

    Teimour Radjabov and Hikaru Nakamura tested a Poisoned Pawn-like variation in the Najdorf whose name, if it exists, is unknown to me. (The line goes 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.f4 e5 8.Nf5 Qb6 9.Qd2 Qxb2 and so on.) Both players were in prep for a long time, well past the official "novelty", and the result was a position where Nakamura was up an exchange but Radjabov's pieces were extremely active. This was still the case when they agreed to a draw, somewhat prematurely, on move 31. Radjabov may not have stood better, but he could have continued. With only 10 minutes left for his last nine moves, and having had to prove compensation for a while, he probably felt relieved even if the trend had been slightly in his favor the last few moves.

    Standings After Round 5:

    1. Carlsen 3.5

    2. Karjakin 3

    3. Nakamura 2.5

    4-6. Radjabov, Nisipeanu, Ivanchuk 2

    Pairings for Round 6 (on Friday):

    Radjabov - Ivanchuk

    Nakamura - Carlsen

    Karjakin - Nisipeanu

    Tournament site here, games (with my notes) here.

    Sunday
    Jan092011

    Events in the Interim

    The Wijk aan Zee tournament starts later this week, but other events have transpired in the meantime.

    One relatively minor event was the Paul Keres Memorial in Tallinn, a two-stage affair won by Alexei Shirov with 6/7, a full point ahead of Jaan Ehlvest and Normunds Miezis.

    A second, smaller but stronger event was a rapid and blitz match between Sergey Karjakin and Ian Nepomniachtchi, apparently reprising their tiebreak battle in the recently completed Russian Championship. Both rapid games were drawn, and four blitz went 2-2 (Karjakin won, then lost, then two draws) before they once again went to Armageddon. In the Russian Championship Karjakin had White in that game, stood better, but only managed a draw; this time it was the reverse. Nepomniachtchi had White and was probably winning the queen vs. rook and knight ending, but missed some tactics and stood worse when the draw was agreed. This was apparently for the something called the Russian State Social University Championship, where I'm sure the two study academic subjects at least as hard as top athletes do in the United States before they turn pro in football and basketball.

    Monday
    Dec072009

    World Cup: Round 6, Day 2: See Previous Day

    Boris Gelfand crushed Sergey Karjakin once again, and secured his place in the final, while Vladimir Malakhov and Ruslan Ponomariov again drew and are headed for tiebreaks. Gelfand had no trouble at all. Karjakin tried to sharpen the game with 16...h6, a new move (though he may not have known it was a new move) that led to forcing play. Unfortunately for him, the forcing play led to a winning Gelfand attack, and Black got slaughtered. If that result was dictated by the competitive situation, it's a little harder to get a handle on the Malakhov-Ponomariov game. Ponomariov came up with a very interesting novelty that led to a very unclear game, and it remained unclear all the way up to the very premature end. Why did the players agree to a draw? Ponomariov had aimed for sharp play and had achieved it, while Malakhov's position was probably slightly more promising. Whatever the case, they'll have tiebreaks tomorrow while Gelfand relaxes and prepares for the winner.

    Games, with my comments, here.

    Tuesday
    Nov172009

    Tal Memorial Blitz, Day 2 (of 3): Carlsen Leads, Anand Second

    After 14 more rounds, the Tal Memorial Blitz is 2/3 over. Magnus Carlsen had the hot hand today, going a drawless 11-3, and now lead Anand by a point. Generally speaking, it was a good day for Kramnik, though he lost to both Carlsen and Anand, and an even better day for Karjakin, who is in third place. As for Karpov, he sunk like a stone in the remaining seven rounds of the first cycle, drawing three and losing four. His results in the first seven rounds of the second half have been better - 50%.

    So far I've only seen the games of the big three (Carlsen, Anand [but just a handful of his games] and Kramnik), so it's only their games I can refer you to. Carlsen's losses to Ivanchuk and Morozevich were interesting (I'd even call the latter game surreal, while the former was a case of an attack gone bad). Among his wins, his victory over Kramnik is worth a look, and the end of his game with Svidler was seen by many spectators as mysterious - could it be that Svidler (again) resigned in a drawn position? (He did this once in a real tournament against Kramnik, in an opposite-colored bishop ending, which was an ironic complement to his offering Anand a draw when Svidler was winning by force in a pawns vs. knight ending.) In fact Carlsen was winning, in nice style.

    Among Kramnik's games, the battle with Mamedyarov was spectacular, while the Naiditsch game showed an attack gone awry (like the Carlsen loss to Ivanchuk mentioned above). Finally, Kramnik's draw against Leko in the final game of the day was perplexing, in that I can't understand what has happened to Leko's oustanding technique. His loss to Carlsen in the real tournament was mind-boggling, considering his abilities, and this was another major lapse. Hopefully it's just a bad run or a little lapse in confidence, and he'll return to his best chess soon.

    Leading Standings after 28 of 42 Rounds:

    1. Carlsen 21

    2. Anand 20

    3. Karjakin 18.5

    4-5. Kramnik, Svidler 16.5

    6-7. Ponomariov, Grischuk 16

    Full standings here.