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    Entries in Kramnik (28)

    Sunday
    Dec112011

    London 2011, Round 8: Kramnik Defeats McShane, Leads With One Round To Play (Updated)

    It has been a horse race at the London Chess Classic, and entering the round it looked like we might be in for a photo finish. We still might, but going into tomorrow's last round there's a clear leader: Vladimir Kramnik. It was the last game to finish, but he finally pulled out a crazy win against Luke McShane, who entered the day tied with Kramnik and Magnus Carlsen for first. It seemed like anything was possible near the end of the first time control, but after 41.c5 f5+ the game was Kramnik's to win, and he did.

    Carlsen got a very easy draw with Black against Viswanathan Anand, who seems content to play out the string with draws, and the other games were drawn as well. Hikaru Nakamura could have hopped into clear second with a win over a struggling Nigel Short, but despite trying for 90 moves the game probably could have been abandoned 60 moves earlier. Still, you've got to tip your hat to his fighting spirit!

    Finally, it seemed like Levon Aronian had some chances to win with Black against David Howell, but these were either illusory or he let him slip out of danger. Either way, it was a topsy-turvy day for the natives, as none of the tail-ending Englishmen lost while the one who was leading finally did.

    Standings After Round 8 (based on 3-1-0 scoring; all players but Howell have had their byes):

    1. Kramnik 15
    2. Carlsen 13
    3-4. McShane, Nakamura 12
    5-6. Anand, Aronian 8
    7. Short 5
    8. Howell 4
    9. Adams 3

    Final round pairings:

    • McShane - Anand
    • Nakamura - Adams
    • Short - Carlsen
    • Kramnik - Aronian
    • Howell - bye

    Note that tomorrow's games start two hours earlier than usual, at noon local time/7 a.m. ET.

    Games later.

    UPDATE: the round 8 games are here, with annotations.

    Sunday
    Dec112011

    London 2011, Round 7: Leapfrogging Leaders

    Going into the round Hikaru Nakamura enjoyed a two-point lead over Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik and Luke McShane. Not a bad place to be, and although they had already had their byes and he was about to take his in round 7, you'd still expect him to be in good shape by round's end, right?

    Nope! After yet another massacre of the British (McShane counts as an honorary foreigner in this tournament), Nakamura dropped to fourth place with just two rounds to go. Magnus Carlsen was engaged in a tough tussle with Michael Adams, and despite having Black it was Adams who had the initiative much of the way. At some moment, however, Adams' queenside initiative came to an end, and in the meantime he underestimated Carlsen's sneaky threats on the kingside. Ultimately, Adams blundered with 35...Nc4, when 36.Rxd5 basically put an end to the proceedings.

    Vladimir Kramnik had his way with David Howell in a QGA sideline. Howell followed theory and made natural moves, but somehow - and even Kramnik wasn't really sure what went wrong - the former world champion had a nice edge. Howell's 19...Bc6 may have been the decisive error, costing him a pawn and eventually the game.

    Finally, McShane also won, and unlike his co-leaders he did it with Black. Nigel Short essayed the good old King's Gambit, but at some point got a bit too conservative. The compensation dried up and McShane took his extra material to the bank, eventually winning.

    Finally, Levon Aronian failed to get anything from the opening against Viswanathan Anand, and their game was soon drawn.

    Standings After Round 7 (on 3-1-0 scoring; note that Adams and Howell have played 7 games; everyone else only 6):

    1-3. Carlsen, Kramnik, McShane 12
    4. Nakamura 11
    5-6. Aronian, Anand 7
    7. Short 4
    8-9. Adams, Howell 3

    Round 8 Pairings:

    • Anand - Carlsen (already drawn)
    • Howell - Aronian
    • McShane - Kramnik
    • Nakamura - Short
    • Adams - bye

    Here's the tournament site for the London Chess Classic, and here are the round 7 games (without notes). Let me recommend ChessBase's report on the round, as it includes videos of the post-game press conferences. (Kramnik's was especially entertaining, and should prove a real eye-opener to fans who think that a super-GM's solidity has anything to do with his ability to imagine and calculate tactics!)

    Perhaps even more noteworthy in that report is the brief transcript (and audio clip) of Nakamura answering questions about his working relationship with Garry Kasparov. One doesn't suspect it's going in a fantastic direction - especially after this interview.

    Thursday
    Dec082011

    London 2011, Round 5: Nakamura, Kramnik and Anand Win

    The London Chess Classic is shaping up very differently from some recent tournament I'm remembering to forget - there are wins in every round, and the overall percentage of draws is very low: just 35%. This is partially but not completely due to the abysmal form of 3/4 of the British contingent: Nigel Short, Michael Adams and David Howell have already lost three games apiece, while no other player has lost more than once. And so it was today.

    Hikaru Nakamura defeated David Howell in a way characteristic of both players. Nakamura applied constant pressure on the white side of an English, and Howell played pretty well until his time trouble got too severe, and then collapsed.

    Vladimir Kramnik has gone back to playing more solidly in this event; wisely, I think, as he needs to maintain a rating lead of more than seven points over Sergey Karjakin to assure himself of a spot in the next Candidates' cycle. Against Michael Adams today he didn't get anything from the opening or the early middlegame, for that matter, but Kramnik gradually wore him down. His successful use of the minority attack (culminating in 28.b5 cxb5 29.Rxb5) left Kramnik with plenty of targets to aim at with no risk at all, and eventually some of them fell. Kramnik went to +2, Adams to a startling -3.

    Viswanathan Anand has been on a terrible run: absolutely uninspired play in the Tal Memorial, and a winless -1 here through four rounds. Today, at last, he took a step back to health, defeating Nigel Short with the black pieces. Short got nothing from his 3.Bb5+ Anti-Sicilian, but wasn't in any trouble either until he sent his knight out of play with 34.Na6. Its extraction cost him a pawn, and Anand had no trouble converting his advantage in the technical phase.

    Finally, heirs apparent to the chess throne Levon Aronian and Magnus Carlsen played the round's only draw. Aronian had an edge, and perhaps 20.Nd6 or 27.b3 (among other possible improvements) would have given Carlsen more challenging problems to solve before he could save the point.

    Standings After Round 5 (totals are based on the tournament's 3-1-0 scoring; the second number indicates the number of rounds played):

    1. Nakamura 10 (5)
    2. Carlsen 9 (5)
    3-4. Kramnik, McShane 8 (4)
    5-6. Aronian, Anand 5 (4)
    7. Short 3 (4)
    8. Adams, Howell 2 (5)

    Round 6 Pairings:

    • Adams - Aronian
    • Anand - Kramnik
    • Howell - Short
    • McShane - Nakamura
    • Carlsen - bye

    Today's games, with my comments, are here.

    Monday
    Dec052011

    London Chess Classic, Round 2: Kramnik and Nakamura Join Carlsen in First

    Magnus Carlsen started the day in clear first at the London Chess Classic, but was precariously close to ending it in third. Luke McShane gave him all he could handle and then some, but an error on move 60 allowed Carlsen to save the game. Carlsen chose the Neo-Archangelsk against McShane's Ruy and was the first player to make a new move, but that didn't stop him from getting into big trouble and a serious time disadvantage by move 20. White was up a pawn with a positional advantage, and he maintained both deep into the endgame. The difficulty was in finding a breakthrough, and his careless 60th move allowed Carlsen to reach a pretty easily drawn rook ending.

    Theirs was the last game to finish, and by that point it was Carlsen catching up to Vladimir Kramnik and Hikaru Nakamura. Kramnik was the beneficiary of a terrible opening by Nigel Short. Short miscalculated once or twice, and his reward was a (White) bishop on b3 permanently locked out of the game by the arrangement of his and Kramnik's queenside pawns. Kramnik was effectively a piece up, and had little trouble bringing in the point.

    Nakamura's road was much rockier. He played very aggressively against Levon Aronian's Queen's Gambit Declined and was worse, even in trouble. Fortunately for Nakamura, Aronian got into serious time trouble and lost first his advantage and then the rest of his chances. He made the time control, but by then it was just a matter of mopping up for the American.

    Finally, David Howell and Michael Adams drew in an Anti-Marshall line where Black sacrifices the d-pawn anyway. Maybe both players missed some small chances, but overall it seemed like a "correct" and well-fought draw.

    World champion Viswanathan Anand had the bye, so in the following standings remember that his score, like Short's, is based on only one game and not two:

    1-3. Nakamura, Carlsen, Kramnik 4 (they're using 3-1-0 scoring)
    4-5. Adams, McShane 2
    6-8. Anand, Aronian, Howell 1
    9. Short 0

    Today's pairings are as follows:

    • Aronian - Short
    • Carlsen - Nakamura
    • Adams - McShane
    • Anand - Howell
    • Kramnik - bye (and thus helping with the commentary)

    Games, with notes to McShane-Carlsen and Short-Kramnik, here.

    Wednesday
    Oct262011

    A Kramnik Interview, Mostly On Hoogeveen

    Here. (HT: Brian Karen)

    Saturday
    Oct222011

    The Daily Update: Unive Finishes, Morozevich Beats Shirov in Blitz

    1. Unive: So now it's official. Vladimir Kramnik finished the tournament off with a quick and easy draw with Judit Polgar, winning with a fine 4.5-1.5 score that put him 1.5 points clear of the field. Anish Giri pushed Maxime Vachier-Lagrave for a long time in the other game before acquiescing in the day's second draw. Still, it was good enough to keep Giri in clear second place with a 50% score, half a point ahead of Vachier-Lagrave and a point ahead of Polgar. In rating news, Kramnik lost a point for the draw, but if he doesn't play again before the next official list comes out his 2799.6 will be rounded up to 2800.

    Turning now to the open event. American Aleksandr Lenderman and Ukranian Ilya Nyzhnyk took turns leading all tournament long, and entered the last round tied for first with 6.5/8. Which player won the tournament? Neither. Lenderman was ground down by Sergei Tiviakov; Nyzhnyk was upended by Sipke Ernst; and a third winner was Robin Van Kampen, on the strength of his victory over Stewart Haslinger.

    2. According to a TWIC [or?] tweet by Mark Crowther, Alexander Morozevich defeated Alexei Shirov 7-5 in a blitz match on Friday. (No games yet, but I hope they're forthcoming!)

    Sunday
    Oct162011

    The Daily Update: Unive Crown Group and a Whole Lot More

    So many events! Let's start with the one that just started:

    1. The Unive Crown Group: In round 1, Vladimir Kramnik got off with a bang, crushing Anish Giri in a beautiful attacking game. Giri's unlikely to be remain anyone's whipping boy for long, but for now Kramnik seems to have his number. In the other game Maxime Vachier-Lagrave probably should have won the rook ending against Judit Polgar, but after a long defense she saved the draw.

    2. The Governor's Cup (Saratov): Alexander Morozevich drew with Black today against Dmitry Andreikin, and with 6.5/8 now leads by "only" a point and a half in the wake of the day's only decisive game. Evgeny Tomashevsky ground out a win over Alexander Moiseenko to reach 5 points. Three rounds remain.

    3. Women's Grand Prix (Nalchik): At last, at last Zhao Xue was held to a draw. Still, with 6.5/7, a 2910 TPR and a two point lead over the second-placed Ju Wenju, she'd need a pretty spectacular collapse not to hold on for four more rounds.

    4. Bundesliga: The three-day weekend finished, and Levon Aronian made a successful surprise appearance today, joining an already super-strong field.

    5. Magistral Casino Barcelona: After five rounds (but only four games for about half the field), a pair of North American ex-candidates with surnames beginning with "S" share first with 3/4: Yasser Seirawan and Kevin Spraggett. (They're probably the oldest players in the field too, so rejoice, fellow middle-agers!)

    Saturday
    Oct152011

    The Daily Update: New, Ongoing and Forthcoming Events, Plus Two Great Performances

    The chess calendar is as busy as ever, with a number of noteworthy events underway.

    1. Saratov. The Governor's Cup is about 2/3 finished, and it's a one-man show starring Alexander Morozevich. After the draw with Alexei Shirov in round 6 he "bounced back" to defeat Evgeny Alekseev in round 7. His six points gives him a 3010 TPR, a two point lead over the field, and ninth place on the live rating list. (If he keeps this up for the remaining four rounds, he might even make it to #7 on the list.)

    2. Women's Grand Prix in Nalchik. In a way even more impressive is the performance of Zhao Xue in Nalchik. She too has six points and a two point lead over her closest competitors, in her case it's 6/6. The TPR calculations on perfect scores are dubious, but even on the minimum "realistic" approach (based on extrapolating the TPRs from lower scores)  her performance is over 2900. Can she maintain it over the last five rounds?

    3. Magistral Casino Barcelona. This isn't an elite event, though some fine players are participating, but it's worth a mention since the apparently unretired Yasser Seirawan is not only participating but off to an early lead with 2.5/3 in this nine(! - an odd number) man tournament.

    4. Bundesliga. The 2011/12 season of the Bundesliga - the strongest chess nobody sees - starts this weekend. Play began on Friday and continues through Sunday with stars like Peter Svidler, Michael Adams, Francisco Vallejo, Etienne Bacrot (just one day after Poikovsky! Then again, he's probably well-rested after that tournament), Vugar Gashimov and many more.

    5. Unive Crown Group. This is a small but strong double-round robin starting tomorrow. The four players are Vladimir Kramnik, Anish Giri, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Judit Polgar - not bad at all!

    Friday
    Sep022011

    Kramnik on Chess, Anand, Topalov and His Future: Part 1

    This interview is very much worth reading. Non-Russians may not be terribly interested in the conversation about the persistent failures of the Russian teams in recent years to win events like the Olympiad and the World Team Championship, but there are some interesting new bits about the match with Topalov. Most interesting of all are his remarks about Anand, which are enough by themselves to justify your taking the time to read it. Of course, he has some noteworthy and surprising things to say about his own chess, too, so have a look.

    HT: Thomas

    Friday
    Sep022011

    Anand Leads Botvinnik Memorial Rapid Event After Day 1

    The battle between the fearsome foursome of Viswanathan Anand, Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik and Levon Aronian is half over, and so far it's the world champion, Anand, who is in the lead. The play was full of fight, but five of the six games were drawn. The only decisive game came in the second round when Anand defeated Aronian with the black pieces. Tomorrow, we'll have the second cycle: the same pairings with colors reversed.

    The event website is here, and as with the World Cup there's live coverage (in Russian only, except when they interview non-Russian speaking players like Anand) that can be replayed afterwards as well - just use the scroll bar. (Right now, there are post-game interviews with both the men's and women's players - there's an accompanying women's event with Humpy Koneru, Viktorija Cmilyte, Tatiana Kosintseva and Elina Danielian. On Sunday and Monday, the men and women will join up for a tandem event, with those from the same country teaming up [in the three relevant cases; the other team is Carlsen + Cmilyte].)