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    Entries in Kramnik (28)

    Monday
    Jan252010

    Wijk aan Zee Press Conferences

    The last three are available here, and they're worth watching - there's material in each that goes beyond what gets transcripted in the round reports. I'll embed the last one - Kramnik's presentation of Kramnik-Nakamura - below. (Ignore the intro claiming it's a Smeets game.)

    Wednesday
    Dec092009

    London Chess Classic, Round 2: Carlsen Wins Again, Kramnik Rebounds

    In the battle of yesterday's winners, Magnus Carlsen defeated Luke McShane to take over clear first with 2/2, or rather 6/6. The tournament is (to my mind) unfortunately using the 3-1-0 scoring system, so Carlsen is a perfect 6-0. (Just like Fischer, but without the last four wins.) Carlsen generally seemed to be in charge, but it was never as easy as it looked; in fact, it was only a late McShane error that sealed the deal. (I'd say it served McShane right for yesterday's game, but under the 3-1-0 scoring it's better for him to have gone +1 -1 than =2, even with the prestige of drawing of Carlsen.)

    Vladimir Kramnik rebounded well from yesterday's loss, defeating Ni Hua. For the second straight game, Ni got a lousy game out of the opening, but then fought back hard. He saved himself against Nakamura in round 1, but Kramnik didn't let him escape. Kramnik is now 3-3 (+1 -1), while Ni Hua is 1-5.

    Nakamura's game against Adams was the inverse of his first round game. This time he had the losing endgame, but it was his opponent who let him sneak out with a draw. Both he and Adams are 2-4.

    Finally, Short had some advantage against Howell, but exhaustion from the previous day's torture left him without enough energy to fight for the win. Short is 1-5, Howell 2-4.

    I'll take the day off of annotating, but you can find the games with Mark Crowther's comments here.

    Saturday
    Nov212009

    Interviews with Carlsen and Kramnik, and a Word with Aronian

    Here's the Carlsen interview, while the Kramnik interview is here. Both are nice, quick reads, while the latter is more newsy on three points. He mentions a forthcoming Candidates' cycle he's now "99% sure" he has qualified for, he notes that he still hasn't received a visa for the London tournament (which starts December 7), and he predicts the winner of the Anand-Topalov match (you'll have to go to find the answer to that tidbit). Finally, at the end of the Kramnik interview, you'll also find a very quick comment or two by Aronian as a small bonus.

    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.

    Tuesday
    Nov172009

    A Brief Kramnik Interview

    Here, in which he expresses his ambitions to regain the world championship title and notes that his win in the Tal Memorial qualified him for the "candidates".

    Saturday
    Nov142009

    Kramnik Wins The Tal Memorial; Ivanchuk, Carlsen Tie for Second

    Last rounds are often tedious, low-risk affairs, but today's finale at the Tal Memorial was just the opposite. Only two of the five games were drawn, and only one of the draws (Svidler-Gelfand) was forgettable. The remaining games were battles, three of them with real excitement.

    Let's start with the game that decided first place. Ivanchuk gained an edge against Kramnik, and built up a serious kingside attack. Ivanchuk was never winning, as far as I can tell, but he was clearly better and seemed to miss a couple of good chances. Still, the position was very complicated and both players - especially Ivanchuk - were growing short of time. A single Ivanchuk inaccuracy was all Kramnik needed to hold the position, and Kramnik thereby won the tournament.

    The reason is that while Anand could have tied him with a win, he had already lost - badly - to Aronian. It was a very strange game, in that Anand-Aronian followed Aronian-Movsesian, Nanjing 2008, and where Anand varied with a new move it was a big error. It's unlikely that Anand prepared it specifically for this game, but given the forcing nature of the play up to that point it would be surprising if he hadn't prepared it at some point. Whatever the story, the move was bad, Anand's position was bad, and his subsequent resourcefulness couldn't save him. Instead of tying for first or second, his 25 move loss dropped him into a tie for 4th and 5th with Aronian.

    More butchery took place in Ponomariov-Morozevich. Morozevich came out of the opening with a decent position, but turned all his pieces into targets for tactics, and he went down in just 27 moves.

    The other decisive game was more significant for the final standings and the world scene, however. Leko-Carlsen seemed to be heading for a draw, but under slight pressure in the ending Leko lost his head and the thread. After some errors, he lost a pawn, and then a sacrificed a second one to try to simplify the defense. It didn't work, and Carlsen won the rook + f & h pawn vs. rook ending; rightly so, as the defender's king was always stuck on the first rank.

    This game meant a lot. First, after seven draws to start the tournament, his two consecutive wins left him tied with Ivanchuk for second place, half a point behind Kramnik. Second, he will apparently lead Topalov on the rating list, a point that will undoubtedly please Topalov and Danailov no end. More importantly - assuming he doesn't lose that status in London in December - he will be the youngest #1 ever, and the first from Western Europe.

     

    Final Standings:

    1. Kramnik 6

    2-3. Ivanchuk, Carlsen 5½

    4-5. Aronian, Anand 5

    6. Gelfand 4½

    7. Ponomariov 4

    8. Svidler 3½

    9-10. Leko, Morozevich 3

     

    Games, with my comments, here.

    Wednesday
    Nov112009

    Tal Memorial, Round 6: Kramnik Alone in First

    It looks like being an ex-champion has worked out for Vladimir Kramnik. Over the past year or so, with the exception of the first half of the match with Anand, Kramnik has probably played the best chess in the world. (Carlsen's performance in China was by a long way the best single performance, but overall it seems to me Kramnik has had the best last year or so.) Maybe it's a full return to health from his earlier problems, or marriage and fatherhood, or a renewed sense of ambition, but whatever the explanation his chess and fighting spirit have really perked up.

    He needed it today, as Ponomariov made him sweat it out in a harrowing game. With White against the Ragozin System, Kramnik responded well to a novelty and gained a winning advantage in the early middlegame. The position was incredibly sharp, however, and after a long think Kramnik chose a second-best continuation. The position remained a complete mess, and Ponomariov again went wrong - but so did Kramnik. This pattern continued for a long time, even into an ending where Kramnik's extra exchange was well matched by Ponomariov's bishop pair and connected queenside passers. Neither man handled the situation perfectly, and at one moment Ponomariov missed a shot that would have given him an advantage. Generally speaking, though, the pattern of Kramnik being better and getting, then squandering, serious winning chances continued for a long time. Still, he plugged and plugged away, and by move 60 he finally achieved a clear technical win. Even that wasn't a cakewalk, but on move 81 Ponomariov at last gave up, and Kramnik regained solo first.

    Had Anand defeated Carlsen, then they would have remained tied, but he only managed to draw. (Perhaps he was resting on his laurels?) It wasn't for lack of effort, though, the previous parenthetical joke notwithstanding. In a Ragozin - or was it an abortive Vienna Variation? - Anand, with Black, enjoyed a queenside initiative and was about to collect all his opponent's pawns, but Carlsen managed to whip up enough counterplay to hold the draw.

    If Aronian had won, he'd have caught Anand in second, but he lost to Gelfand. In a battle of two Semi-Slav specialists, Aronian innovated first in a position where Black had gone 0 for 3; after his novelty, it was 0 for 4. Aronian slips back to 50%, and now it's Gelfand who is in third.

    Tied for third, that is, because Ivanchuk also won with Black. His victim was Morozevich, whom he outplayed in a Modern Benoni (by transposition). "Moro" allowed Black's queenside expansion with ...b5, but didn't achieve compensation anywhere else. In fact, Ivanchuk gradually achieved complete domination, and needed only to make the time control without blundering. He made it, and his opponent resigned several moves later.

    The last game was Leko-Svidler. Leko gained an edge, but couldn't do anything with it and a draw was agreed just after the time control.

     

    Standings After Round 6:

    1. Kramnik 4½

    2. Anand 4

    3-4. Gelfand, Ivanchuk 3½

    5-6. Carlsen, Aronian 3

    7. Ponomariov 2½

    8-10. Morozevich, Leko, Svidler 2

     

    Round 7 Pairings:

    Aronian - Kramnik

    Ivanchuk - Gelfand

    Anand - Morozevich

    Svidler - Carlsen

    Ponomariov - Leko

     

    The games, with my comments, are here.

    Sunday
    Nov082009

    Tal Memorial, Round 4: Kramnik Leads

    After four rounds of nine, former world champion Vladimir Kramnik is The Man again, defeating Peter Svidler in impressive style. As his win was also the only win of the day, it put Kramnik half a point ahead of his round 3 co-leaders Viswanathan Anand and Levon Aronian. Anand drew easily against Ruslan Ponomariov (good prep with Black), while Aronian had no trouble drawing against Magnus Carlsen (Aronian had Black and quickly and completely defused Carlsen's new idea in the Meran). In the other games, Alexander Morozevich got nothing with White against Boris Gelfand in a reversed Sicilian (if anything, it was Gelfand who missed some chances late in the game), while Leko-Ivanchuk was a nondescript draw.

     

    Standings After Round 4:

    1. Kramnik 3

    2-3. Anand, Aronian 2½

    4-7. Carlsen, Ponomariov, Gelfand, Ivanchuk 2

    8-9. Leko, Morozevich 1½

    10. Svidler 1

     

    So far, it's a very impressive performance by Kramnik, especially since he may have some sort of cold. Carlsen is apparently under the weather too. (So says Mark Crowther, who is getting his info from Mig.) Since tomorrow is the rest day, they'll hopefully be better by Tuesday, when we'll see the following pairings:

    Round 5 Pairings:

    Gelfand - Kramnik

    Aronian - Morozevich

    Ivanchuk - Carlsen

    Anand - Leko

    Svidler - Ponomariov

     

    Finally, here are the games, with my (light) comments.

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