Links

This form does not yet contain any fields.
    1948 World Chess Championship 1962 Candidates 2.c3 Sicilian 2.f4 Sicilian 2011 European Team Championship 2011 Russian Championship 2012 Capablanca Memorial 2012 Chess Olympiad 2012 European Women's Championship 2012 London Chess Classic 2012 U.S. Junior Championship 2012 U.S. Women's Championship 2012 US Championship 2012 Women's World Chess Championship 2012 World Rapid and Blitz Championships 2013 Alekhine Memorial 2013 Beijing Grand Prix 2013 European Club Cup 2013 European Team Championship 2013 FIDE World Cup 2013 Kings Tournament 2013 London Chess Classic 2013 Russian Championship 2013 Tal Memorial 2013 U.S. Championship 2013 Women's World Championship 2013 World Blitz Championship 2013 World Championship 2013 World Rapid Championship 2013 World Team Championship 2014 Capablanca Memorial 2014 Chess Olympiad 2014 Rapid & Blitz World Championship 2014 Russian Team Championship 2014 Sinquefield Cup 2014 U.S. Championship 2014 U.S. Open 2014 World Championship 2014 World Rapid Championship 22014 U.S. Championship 60 Minutes A. Muzychuk A. Sokolov aattacking chess Abby Marshall Accelerated Dragon ACP Golden Classic Adams Aeroflot 2010 Aeroflot 2011 Aeroflot 2012 Aeroflot 2013 Agrest Akiba Rubinstein Akiva Rubinstein Akobian Alejandro Ramirez Alekhine Alekhine Defense Aleksander Lenderman Alekseev Alena Kats Alex Markgraf Alexander Alekhine Alexander Grischuk Alexander Ipatov Alexander Khalifman Alexander Morozevich Alexander Onischuk Alexander Stripunsky Alexandra Kosteniuk Alexei Dreev Alexei Shirov Alexey Bezgodov Almasi Amber 2010 Amber 2011 Amos Burn Anand Anand-Carlsen 2013 Anand-Gelfand 2012 Anand-Gelfand World Championship Match Anand-Topalov 2010 Anastasia Bodnaruk Anatoly Karpov Andrei Volokitin Andrew Martin Andrew Paulson Android apps Anish Giri Anna Ushenina Anna Zatonskih Anti-Marshall Lines Anti-Moscow Gambit Antoaneta Stefanova apps April Fool's Jokes Archangelsk Variation Arkadij Naiditsch Arne Moll Aron Nimzowitsch Aronian Aronian-Kramnik 2012 Artur Yusupov Astrakhan Grand Prix 2010 attack attacking chess Austrian Attack Averbakh Baadur Jobava Bacrot Bangkok Chess Club Open Bazna 2011 Becerra Beliavsky Benko Gambit Bent Larsen Berlin Defense Biel 2012 Biel 2014 Bilbao 2010 Bilbao 2012 Bilbao 2013 bishop endings Bishop vs. Knight Blackburne blindfold chess blitz blitz chess Blumenfeld Gambit blunders Bobby Fischer Bologan Book Reviews books Boris Gelfand Boris Spassky Borislav Ivanov Borki Predojevic Boruchovsky Botvinnik Botvinnik Memorial Breyer Variation brilliancy British Championship Bronstein Bronznik Brooklyn Castle Browne Brunello Budapest Bundesliga California Chess Reporter Camilla Baginskaite Campomanes Candidates 2011 Candidates 2011 Candidates 2012 Candidates 2013 Candidates 2014 Capablanca Carlsen Caro-Kann cartoons Caruana Catalan Cebalo Charlie Rose cheating Cheparinov chess and education chess and marketing chess cartoons chess history chess in fiction chess in film Chess Informant chess lessons chess psychology chess ratings chess variants Chess960 ChessBase DVDs ChessBase Shows ChessLecture Presentations ChessLecture.com ChessUSA ChessUSA blog ChessVibes ChessVideos Presentations Chigorin Variation Chinese Chess Championship Christiansen Christmas Colle combinations Commentary computer chess computers correspondence chess Corsica Cyrus Lakdawala Danailov Daniil Dubov Dave MacEnulty Dave Vigorito David MacEnulty David Navara Davies Deep Blue Deeper Blue defense Delchev Ding Liren Dmitry Andreikin Dmitry Gurevich Dortmund 2010 Dortmund 2011 Dortmund 2012 Dortmund 2012 Dortmund 2013 Dortmund 2014 Doug Hyatt Dragoljub Velimirovic draws dreams Dreev Dutch Defense DVD Reviews DVDs Dvoirys Dvoretsky Easter Edouard Efimenko Efstratios Grivas endgame studies endgames Endgames English Opening Esserman Etienne Bacrot European Club Cup 2012 European Individual Championship 2012 Evgeni Vasiukov Evgeny Sveshnikov Evgeny Tomashevsky Exchange Ruy Fabiano Caruana Falko Bindrich farce FIDE Grand Prix FIDE Presidential Election FIDE ratings Fier fighting for the initiative Finegold Fischer football Francisco Vallejo Pons Fred Reinfeld French Defense Ftacnik Gadir Guseinov Gajewski Gaprindashvili Garry Kasparov Gashimov Gata Kamsky Gelfand Gelfand-Svidler Rapid Match Geller Geneva Masters Georg Meier GGarry Kasparov Gibraltar 2011 Gibraltar 2012 Gibraltar 2013 Gibraltar 2014 Giri Grand Prix Attack Greek Gift sacrifice Grenke Chess Classic 2013 Grinfeld Grischuk Grob Gruenfeld Defense Grünfeld Defense Gulko Gunina Guseinov Gustafsson Gyula Sax Hans Ree Harika Dronavalli Haworth Hedgehog Hennig-Schara Gambit Henrique Mecking HHou Yifan highway robbery Hikaru Nakamura Hilton Hjorvar Gretarsson Hort Horwitz Bishops Hou Yifan Houdini 1.5a Howard Staunton humor Humpy Koneru Ian Nepomniachtchi Icelandic Gambit Igor Kurnosov Igor Lysyj Iljumzhinov Ilya Nyzhnyk Imre Hera Informant Informant 113 Informant 114 Informant 115 Informant 116 Informant 117 Informant 118 Informant 119 Informant 120 insanity Inside Chess Magazine Ippolito IQP Irina Krush Ivan Sokolov Ivanchuk J. Polgar Jacob Aagaard Jaenisch Jaideep Unudurti Jakovenko James Tarjan Jan Timman Jay Whitehead Jeremy Silman Jimmy Quon John Grefe John Watson Jon Lenchner Jonathan Hawkins Jonathan Speelman Jose Diaz Judit Polgar Julio Granda Zuniga Kaidanov Kalashnikov Sicilian Kamsky Karjakin Karpov Karsten Mueller Kasimdzhanov Kasparov Kavalek Ken Regan Keres KGB Khalifman King's Gambit King's Indian King's Tournament 2010 Kings Tournament 2012 Kirsan Ilyumzhinov KKing's Gambit KKing's Indian Klovans Komodo Korchnoi Kramnik Kunin Larry Evans Larry Kaufman Larry Parr Lasker Lasker-Pelikan Latvian Gambit Laznicka Le Quang Liem Leinier Dominguez Leko Leonid Kritz lessons Lev Psakhis Levon Aronian Lilienthal Linares 2010 Loek van Wely Lombardy London 2009 London 2010 London 2011 London Grand Prix London System Lothar Schmid Luke McShane Macieja Magnus Carlsen Main Line Ruy Malakhov Malcolm Pein Mamedyarov Marc Arnold Marc Lang Marin Mariya Muzychuk Mark Crowther Marshall Marshall Gambit Masters of the Chessboard Mateusz Bartel Max Euwe Maxime Vachier-Lagrave McShane Mega 2012 mental malfunction Mesgen Amanov Michael Adams Miguel Najdorf Mikhail Botvinnik Mikhail Tal Mikhalchishin Miles Minev miniatures Miso Cebalo MModern Benoni Modern Modern Benoni Moiseenko Morozevich Morphy Movsesian Müller music Nadareishvili Naiditsch Najdorf Sicilian Nakamura Nanjing 2010 Navara Negi Neo-Archangelsk Nepomniachtchi New In Chess Yearbook 104 New York Times NH Tournament 2010 Nigel Short Nikita Vitiugov Nimzo-Indian NNotre Dame football Norway Chess 2013 Norway Chess 2014 Notre Dame football Notre Dame Football Nov. 2009 News Nyback Nyzhnyk Olympics 2010 Open Ruy opening advice opening novelties Openings openings Or Cohen P.H. Nielsen Parimarjan Negi Paris Grand Prix passed pawns Paul Keres Pavel Eljanov pawn endings pawn play pawn structures Pesotskyi Peter Heine Nielsen Peter Leko Peter Svidler Petroff Philadelphia Open Phiona Mutesi Pirc Piterenka Rapid/Blitz Polgar Polgar sisters Polugaevsky Ponomariov Ponziani Potkin poultry Powerbook 2011 problems progressive chess QGD Tartakower QQueen's Gambit Accepted queen sacrifices Queen's Gambit Accepted Queen's Indian Defense Radjabov Ragger rapid chess Rapport Rashid Nezhmetdinov rating inflation ratings Ray Robson Regan Reggio Emilia 2010 Reggio Emilia 2011 Reshevsky Reti Rex Sinquefield Reykjavik Open 2012 Richard Reti Robert Byrne robot chess Robson Roman Ovetchkin rook endings RReggio Emilia 2011 rrook endings RRuy Lopez RRuy Lopez sidelines Rubinstein rules Ruslan Ponomariov Russian Team Championship Rustam Kasimdzhanov Ruy Lopez Ruy Lopez sidelines Rybka Rybka 4 S. Kasparov sacrifices Sadler Sakaev Sam Collins Sam Sevian Samuel Reshevsky Sao Paulo/Bilbao 2011 Sao Paulo/Bilbao 2012 satire Savchenko Schliemann Scotch Four Knights Searching for Bobby Fischer Seirawan self-destruction Sergei Tiiviakov Sergey Karjakin Sergey Shipov Shakhriyar Mamedyarov Shankland Shipov Shirov Short Sicilian Sinquefield Cup sitzfleisch Slav Smith-Morra Gambit Smyslov Spassky spectacular moves Speelman sportsmanship Spraggett St. Louis Invitational stalemate Staunton Stockfish Stockfish 4 Stonewall Dutch Suat Atalik Super Bowl XLIV Sutovsky Sveshnikov Sveshnikov Sicilian Svetozar Gligoric Svidler sweeper sealer twist Swiercz tactics Tactics Taimanov Tal Tal Memorial 2009 Tal Memorial 2010 Tal Memorial 2011 Tal Memorial 2012 Tal Memorial 2012 Tarjan Tarrasch Tarrasch Defense Tashkent Teimour Radjabov Terekhin The Chess Players (book) The Week in Chess Thessaloniki Grand Prix Three knights Tigran Petrosian Tim Krabbé time controls Timman Timur Gareev Tomashevsky Tony Miles Topalov traps Tromso Olympics 2014 TWIC types of chess players Ufuk Tuncer underpromotion Unive 2012 University of Notre Dame upsets US Championship 2010 US Championship 2011 USCF ratings USCL V. Onischuk Vachier-Lagrave Vallejo van der Heijden Van Perlo van Wely Varuzhan Akobian Vasik Rajlich Vasily Smyslov Vassily Ivanchuk Vassily Smyslov Velimirovic Attack Veresov Veselin Topalov video videos Vienna 1922 Viktor Bologan Viktor Korchnoi Viktor Moskalenko Viswanathan Anand Vitaly Tseshkovsky Vitiugov Vladimir Kramnik Vladimir Tukmakov Vugar Gashimov Vugar Gashimov Memorial Wang Hao Wang Yue Watson Welcome Wesley Brandhorst Wesley So Wijk aan Zee 2010 Wijk aan Zee 2011 Wijk aan Zee 2012 Wijk aan Zee 2013 Wijk aan Zee 2014 Wil E. Coyote Wilhelm Steinitz Willy Hendriks Winawer French Wojtkiewicz Women's Grand Prix Women's World Championship World Champion DVDs World Cup World Cup 2009 World Cup 2011 World Cup 2011 World Junior Championship World Senior Championship WWijk aan Zee 2012 Yasser Seirawan Yates Yermolinsky Yevseev Yu Yangyi Yuri Averbakh Yuri Razuvaev Zaitsev Variation Zaven Andriasyan Zhao Xue Zug 2013 Zukertort System Zurich 1953 Zurich 2013 Zurich 2014

    Entries in London Grand Prix (11)

    Wednesday
    Oct032012

    London Grand Prix: Gelfand, Mamedyarov and Topalov Tie For First

    The first leg of the current FIDE Grand Prix has come to an end, with three players sharing first (no tiebreaks) in the inaugural leg in London. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov came into the round in clear first, but whether due to a lack of ambition or simply good prep from Peter Leko he got nothing with the white pieces and finished quickly (in terms of time) with a 41-move draw.

    That gave Boris Gelfand, Veselin Topalov and Alexander Grischuk the chance to catch him in a tie for first, if they could win in the last round, and two of them did. Grischuk had White against Hikaru Nakamura, but despite that and the latter's generally poor form in the tournament he held a draw without much trouble. Nakamura repeated a relatively minor line of the Dragon he used as a surprise weapon against Anish Giri in Wijk aan Zee earlier this year. Grischuk was probably prepared and varied first, but may have been surprised anew by Nakamura's 18...Rab8 (18...b4 is usual). Grischuk didn't get much, and after 24.Bxg7 (the engine claims that 24.axb4 may offer White a very small edge...maybe) it was equal and the players were satisfied with an unforced (but reasonable) draw by repetition.

    Veselin Topalov won a Carlsen-like game. Anish Giri had a very small pull with White in a Queen's Gambit Declined sideline, but it looked for all the world like it was heading for a quick draw. It was an even ending, but Giri started to drift. His 30th and 31st moves weren't so bad, but they sowed the seeds of his later troubles. The bishop remained shut out on a5 for a long time, while 31.h4 allowed Topalov to break up the kingside and eventually create a pair of central passers. For whatever reason, Giri was badly outplayed in the endgame, and Topalov won (or at least tied for first) in a major event for the first time in some years.

    Another player who had gone quite some time without winning a round-robin event was Boris Gelfand, but with an impressive win over Rustam Kasimdzhanov, he did it. Generally speaking, it was a convincing victory, but as he admitted after the game he "blundered" 14...Bc6. (Linguistic note: there's a strange trend I've only noticed over the past year or so, but it seems to be everywhere now, and that's using the word "blundered" as a synonym for "overlooked". That isn't what the word means!) Fortunately for him, Kasimdzhanov "blundered" it too, and Gelfand went on to win in style. Kasimdzhanov blundered (correct usage!) into a forced mate at the end, but even without the helpmate White's win was routine.

    Final Standings:

    1-3. Topalov, Gelfand, Mamedyarov 7
    4. Grischuk 6.5
    5. Leko 6
    6. Wang Hao 5.5
    7-8. Ivanchuk, Adams 5
    9-10. Kasimdzhanov, Dominguez 4.5
    11-12. Giri, Nakamura 4

    Tuesday
    Oct022012

    London Grand Prix, Round 10: Five Draws and a Nakamura Win

    All the leaders wound up drawing their games, but the one and only win in the penultimate round of the London Grand Prix was noteworthy. After four consecutive losses, Hikaru Nakamura defeated Anish Giri, and did it with a very nice combination coming soon to a tactics book near you. Ironically, he met Giri's Petroff (draw, anyone?) with 5.Qe2 (I'll see your draw and raise you to a boring draw), but he didn't do so to end the game but to avoid heavy theory. Nevertheless, Giri handled the position better until move 22 and in the players' opinion, stood better. Had Black played 22...Rd4, Nakamura said he would have played for a draw; instead, 22...Nd5 helped White, and soon Nakamura was the one pressing for whatever was there.

    The next moment singled out by the players afterwards was when White played 28.h4. Giri opined that he should have played "like everyone else" (either his exact words, or very close) and erected the standard defensive setup with ...h5 and ...g6. Failing to do so let White tighten his bind, though the game was still tenable at this point. The last position to note came after Nakamura's 46.Re1, when Giri played 46...Bd6-e5. This was a mistake, but why?

    The solution is spectacular, and to cheer you up even more you've got a better chance of solving it than your computer. (I let Deep Rybka try it, and I think it might have finally worked it out at depth 29.) Here it is: 47.g5!! (not for the move by itself, but for the whole concept) 47...hxg5 48.h6 gxh6 49.Rxe5 fxe5 50.f6 and White regains material with a won position. After 50...Bd7 (best) 51.f7+ Ke7 52.Bxd7 Black has a choice between a rook vs. two bishops ending (after 52...Kxf7) or trying his luck with pawns against a bishop (with 52...Kxd7 53.Bc5 followed by 54.f8Q). Giri went for the latter, but his kingside passers weren't enough of a distraction to save the game.

    (Would 52...Kxf7 have saved the game? Mark Crowther apparently thinks so, but with all due respect to the chess world's most important amateur, I think he's guilty of looking superficially at the engine's initial evaluation. If you don't trust yourself enough to know that the bishop pair will massacre the rook, analyze with the computer for a few minutes and you'll see that it's utterly hopeless - Black has no chance whatsoever to save the ending.)

    Tomorrow is the final round, and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov leads with 6.5/10, half a point ahead of Alexander Grischuk, Veselin Topalov and Boris Gelfand. Here are the pairings, with player scores in parentheses:

    • Mamedyarov (6.5) - Leko (5.5)
    • Ivanchuk (4.5) - Wang Hao (5)
    • Adams (4.5) - Dominguez (4)
    • Giri (4) - Topalov (6)
    • Grischuk (6) - Nakamura (3.5)
    • Gelfand (6) - Kasimdzhanov (4.5)

    One final note: the last round starts two hours earlier than usual, at noon London time/7 in the bleary morning ET and 4 a.m. for you night owls on the west coast in North America.

    Tuesday
    Oct022012

    Catching Up! London Grand Prix

    Not everything is 100% yet in computerville, but it's good enough to take time to catch up. Let's start with the main tournament that's still underway, the Grand Prix event in London. When we left off after round 7, Boris Gelfand enjoyed a half-point lead over Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, with Peter Leko, Alexander Grischuk and Veselin Topalov a further half point back.

    In round 8 Gelfand had an excellent chance to extend his lead, as some excellent preparation with White in a Bayonet King's Indian gave him a big advantage over Anish Giri. Maybe there wasn't a clear-cut win anywhere, but he definitely didn't make the most of his chances. (Most commentators lay the lion's share of the blame on his 30.Rf1. Mikhail Golubev in Chess Today suggests 30.g4, which my engine also likes, and 30.Qg4 is also very strong.)

    The game was eventually drawn, but that was enough for Gelfand to maintain his lead. Mamedyarov drew comfortably with Black against Topalov, keeping half a point back in clear second. Leko missed a chance to catch up with him when he failed to capitalize on a big advantage against Grischuk. He had a great position on the white side of an English Attack, and probably would have enjoyed a winning attack after 22.g6. He preferred the safe but slow 22.c3, which maintained a decent advantage, but more slow play several moves later (e.g. 26.Rh3 rather than 26.Rh8) allowed Grischuk to emerge unscathed.

    There were a couple of decisive games on the day. One was Kasimdzhanov-Adams, which seemed to be headed for a routine draw by the time they reached a queen and knight ending with equal pawns. Adams started to drift, however, and then in a position that was still equal but required a little precision he quickly collapsed, possibly due to time trouble. 37...Qd4 (with the idea of meeting 38.Qe8 with 38...Qe4+ followed by 39...Qf5) would have kept life and limb intact; instead, after 38...h5? 39.Qe8 Qg7 40.e4 he was lost, facing an ugly dilemma. If he didn't play 40...Nf6, then sooner or later White's knight will embed itself on f6, leaving Black's king hopelessly weak and his queen a prisoner on g7. On the other hand, 40...Nf6 - the move chosen - lead to the loss of a crucial pawn after 41.Nxf6+ Qxf6 42.Qf8. White's king was perfectly safe, so in the absence of counterplay the game was over in a few more moves.

    The other decisive game was Nakamura-Ivanchuk. After a couple of losses Nakamura probably felt he was playing it safe with the Exchange Ruy (surprisingly, he played an old-fashioned line with Qxd4 rather than Nxd4), and as in the Kasimdzhanov-Adams game things seemed headed for a peaceful conclusion. However, despite the presence of opposite-colored bishops in the minor piece ending resulting after 27 moves, Black had some small trumps: a better centralized king, a more active bishop, and some pressure against White's queenside pawns, not to mention the possibility of creating an outside passed pawn. Had Nakamura been in good form, this probably wouldn't have been enough to win, but Nakamura has been in anything but good form in this tournament. 34.Nf1 was a big mistake, compounded by 35.Ne3. Allowing Black to create a passed a-pawn for free was more than White's defense could accommodate, and Chuky went on to win.

    Moving on to round 9, we finally had a shakeup at the top of the leaderboard. Gelfand was "punished" for failing to take advantage against Giri, and was flat-out crushed by Grischuk in a short game. Gelfand either missed Grischuk's 23.Bxe6 sac or, more likely, overlooked or underestimated 25.Qg4. Either way, it was a disaster, compounded by having almost every one of his main rivals managing to win!

    Grischuk caught him, as did Topalov. Ivanchuk lost to the latter in a way that bore a little resemblance to his win against Nakamura in the previous round. In both cases a minor piece ending arose where Black stood better thanks to an outside passer - again an a-pawn! - and while it probably should have been drawn it wasn't automatic. Anyway, whatever it should have been in an ideal world, Ivanchuk didn't come close to a perfect defense, and quickly fell apart after making the time control.

    So that put three players on 5.5/9, in a tie for second. Mamedyarov leapfrogged Gelfand while staying ahead of the others by defeating Dominguez in a classic two bishops vs. two knights ending. Fear the bishops!

    A last note on the round: Nakamura lost his fourth consecutive game ("Audi rings"), this time going astray with Black against Mickey Adams in a classical Caro-Kann. I suppose it's true what they say: The harsh and cruel reality of playing in an individual chess event is that you are only as good as yourself, without teammates to buck you up and bail you out.

    Here are the pairings for the penultimate round (underway now), with player scores in parentheses:

    • Leko (5) - Gelfand (5.5)
    • Kasimdzhanov (4) - Grischuk (5.5)
    • Nakamura (2.5) - Giri (4)
    • Topalov (5.5) - Adams (4)
    • Dominguez (3.5) - Ivanchuk (4)
    • Wang Hao (4.5) - Mamedyarov (6)

    The latter game was drawn. Wang Hao had some hopes based on his better structure, but with active play Mamedyarov managed to hold the balance and reach a drawn rook ending. Dominguez-Ivanchuk was also drawn, with White failing to obtain anything serious with the Ruy against Ivanchuk's passive but solid Steinitz Deferred. It's early in the second time control, but as the other four games still have plenty of life in them we'll wait to report on them. And now you're caught up!

     

    Friday
    Sep282012

    London Grand Prix, Rounds 6 & 7: Gelfand Still Leads, Mamedyarov Surges, Nakamura Falters

    In round 6 of the London Grand Prix the action heated up after two rest days, one official and one not. Three games were decisive, and the other three were interesting as well.

    The leader, Boris Gelfand, drew with Vassily Ivanchuk in just 25 moves, but it was extremely interesting and saw the players break new ground. After 4.g3 Ba6 5.b3 b5 in a Queen's Indian, Gelfand played the relatively rare 6.Nbd2, to which Ivanchuk replied with the extremely rare 6...c5. Gelfand's response was a novelty, sacrificing a pawn with 7.d5. Such ideas are common, especially in the Queen's Indian, but with a knight on d2 and the pawn on b5 it was a genuinely different setting. Both sides had plenty of options along the way, so it would be interesting to see other players take up this variation. After a complex middlegame, the players repeated moves, and this was not a matter of laziness or fear: the repetition really was best for both players.

    Alexander Grischuk's game with Michael Adams was instructive for those who play closed systems against the Ruy. Adams' 16...c4 inaugurated a typical idea for Black in the Ruy, though in an unusual setting. (The normal setup sees Black play ...d5 to create a center where both players' center pawns are attacking each other.) This more or less sacrificed a pawn to get the bishop pair and control of d5 with a light-squared bishop against an extra but isolated d-pawn. Adams drew without any special difficulty.

    The draw between Peter Leko and Anish Giri was interesting as well. Leko gave up a pawn for a nasty initiative as White in a Byrne Attack Najdorf (sometimes mislabeled the English Attack, but that's only when Black meets 6.Be3 with ...e6; when it's ...e5 then American GM and former Candidate Robert Byrne gets the credit). It looked like Giri might be in some trouble, too, but 18...a5! was just the thing to spark his counterplay, and came just in the nick of time. Leko decided to keep things safe after that, and the result was a heavy piece ending where neither side could make any progress without serious risk to his king's safety.

    On to the decisive games. Hikaru Nakamura lost his third straight game to Wang Hao. He played a Reti and the position soon locked up. In the trench warfare that ensued, the most important pawn break would be ...f5, so Nakamura might have considered (and probably did consider) 34.g4 (not just restraining Black, but with the idea of pushing on to g5) as well as meeting 34.Nb1 Bxd5 with 35.cxd5, even though it's a pawn sac. On move 37, Nakamura's 37.Bc1 either missed or underestimated Wang Hao's "sweeper sealer" 37...e4! 38.dxe4 f4, followed by the second sac 39.g5 f3! Black was clearly better by this point, but not yet winning in case of 40.Bh3. Short of time, Nakamura grabbed the pawn with 40.Bxf3, and after 40...Be5 was lost. Black finished off with a series of power shots and gained the full point after his 47th move.

    Rustam Kasimdzhanov played a rare line against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov's Meran and seemed to obtain an advantage, but he couldn't figure out what to do with it. One thing it seems he definitely should not have done was allow Mamedyarov's pawn to f3. There were plenty of inaccuracies and outright errors after that (notably, 29...fxg2 won pretty much on the spot - 30.Bxg2 Ng4 being the most obvious and straightforward point), but White's weak kingside eventually cost him the point.

    Finally, Veselin Topalov won a nice game with White against Leinier Dominguez. A slow strangulation-style game finished in a more characteristically Topalovian way, as he gave up a piece for what was eventually three pawns. As those three pawns were far advanced, connected passers and Dominguez's bishop had little to do, White won in comfort.

    That was round 6; on to round 7. Dominguez-Leko, Wang Hao-Topalov, Giri-Grischuk and Ivanchuk-Kazimdzhanov were all drawn; the last one, incredibly, in just 11 moves. If there's any mystery to this game it's around Kasimdzhanov's decision not to go for more with 7...Nb3. Then Black's queen has the c5 square, thus ruling out the "perpetual" in the game. The engines don't think White's compensation is sufficient, but judging by the speed with which the players finished I'm sure they know perfectly well what the engines have to say, and know that in the end White is doing alright.

    As for the decisive games, there were two. In one of them, Mamedyarov-Nakamura, both players continued their trend from yesterday: Mamedyarov won again to reach clear second, while Nakamura lost again and fell into a tie for last. Mamedyarov just outplayed Nakamura from the jump in a Fianchetto King's Indian, and although Mamedyarov often failed to prosecute his advantage as cleanly as he might have, he never let Nakamura catch back up, either. After 33...Qxc5(?), White's advantage was decisive, and there were no further hiccups. 37.Rxf4 was a nice shot, and Mamedyarov handled the final tactics perfectly.

    This would have put him into a tie for first, were it not for Gelfand's managing to win once again. Adams decided to put Gelfand's 2...Nc6 Sicilian to the test with the Rossolimo, but instead of an immediate swap on c6 (a la several of the Anand-Gelfand world championship games) he allowed Black to play ...Nge7 first and to recapture with the knight. Adams' position was certainly more pleasant to the eye and seemingly easier to play, but Gelfand's position relied on the power of the bishop pair. If he could unravel on the kingside, then the bishops (plus potential pressure down the c-file) could give him an advantage. Adams thus hastened to open the board before Black could finish his development, and with 24.c5 gave up a pawn. He never quite had enough, but he maintained some compensation until 34.Ng5?, a tactical error that allowed Gelfand to liquidate to a won rook ending.

    Winning the game, Gelfand moved to plus three and maintained his lead over the field. He has 5/7, Mamedyarov has 4.5, while Grischuk, Topalov and Leko all have 4. Here are the round 8 pairings, with player scores in parentheses:

    • Leko (4) - Grischuk (4)
    • Gelfand (5) - Giri (3)
    • Kasimdzhanov (2.5) - Adams (3)
    • Nakamura (2.5) - Ivanchuk (3)
    • Topalov (4) - Mamedyarov (4.5)
    • Dominguez (3) - Wang Hao (3.5)
    Wednesday
    Sep262012

    London, Round 5 and Sao Paulo, Round 2

    Just a quick update on yesterday's action at the two super-events, the London Grand Prix and the Sao Paulo/Bilbao Final Masters. In London, all the games were drawn, so Gelfand maintains his half point lead over his closest competitors, Grischuk and Leko. As sometimes happens before a rest day, the players seemed ready for a full two-day weekend and played low energy chess, with the usual notable exceptions of Nakamura and Topalov. Their reward was to get into a little trouble, but I don't think either player was ever lost. After today's rest day, they'll resume tomorrow (Thursday) with the following pairings (player scores in parenthesis):

    • Leko (3) - Giri (2)
    • Grischuk (3) - Adams (2.5)
    • Gelfand (3.5) - Ivanchuk (2)
    • Kasimdzhanov (2) - Mamedyarov (2.5)
    • Nakamura (2.5) - Wang Hao (2)
    • Topalov (2.5) - Dominguez (2.5)

    In Sao Paulo, two of the three games were again decisive. Caruana made it back to back victories, convincingly defeating Karjakin with Black in a Neo-Archangelsk Ruy Lopez. Anand had absolutely nothing with White against Aronian's Berlin defense, so the result was a quick draw (considering Anand's disastrous record against Aronian the past few years, maybe he felt "better safe than sorry" was the way to go). Finally, Carlsen bounced back from his loss in round 1, working his famous endgame magic against Vallejo. I'm not sure the game could have been saved in any case, but Vallejo's decision to swap rooks with 31.Rc1 looks like it loses by force.

    After two rounds, Caruana leads with 2 points, Aronian has 1.5, Anand and Carlsen have 1, Vallejo has half a point and Karjakin has a goose egg for his troubles. Here are the pairings for round 3, which started about an hour ago: Carlsen - Karjakin (castling queenside, anyone?), Caruana - Anand, and Aronian - Vallejo.

    Monday
    Sep242012

    The Daily Update: London & Sao Paulo/Bilbao

    Two super-tournaments at once! Of the top 18 players on the Live Ratings list, all but five are busy in either London or Sao Paulo/Bilbao (the first cycle is in Sao Paulo, and then they'll shift over to Bilbao for part two).

    We're up to round 4 in London, and it was a good day for two of the three G-stars, as Gelfand and Grischuk won their games. (Giri only drew.) In Grischuk's case, it was the result of a classy win over Mamedyarov. Playing a slow system in the Ruy with d3 (it has become all the rage these days, avoiding forcing lines and making Black play chess rather than demonstrate preparation), Grischuk built up a nice space advantage and then sacrificed a piece for three very good pawns. Soon Mamedyarov gave the piece back for those same three pawns - or rather, for three different pawns. White's passed c-pawn was the most important pawn on the board, and to eliminate it Mamedyarov wound wind up two pawns down in a lost rook ending, and so he resigned.

    Gelfand's battle with Wang Hao took a different course. With White in a Catalan, Gelfand came out of the middlegame with an extra pawn and good winning chances. In his view (see the interview at the official site, linked above), the chances of a win or a draw were about 50-50, but Wang Hao defended resourcefully and finally reached a drawn ending. In the end, there was one last problem to solve, and 55...Kf8 would have solved it! Instead, apparently forgetting about White's pawn on f4, Black played 55...Kh7?? and resigned after 56.Kf7, as mate cannot be stopped (56...Kh6 doesn't help as 57...Kg5 is not a legal reply to 57.Rh1#).

    So with his second win, Gelfand reclaims the sole lead he enjoyed after round 1. There's still a long way to go, and only after tomorrow's round will the players pass the halfway point. Here are the pairings, with the players' scores in parenthesis:

    Round 5 Pairings:

    • Topalov (2) - Leko (2.5)
    • Dominguez (2) - Nakamura (2)
    • Wang Hao (1.5) - Kasimdzhanov (1.5)
    • Mamedyarov (2) - Gelfand (3)
    • Ivanchuk (1.5) - Grischuk (2.5)
    • Adams (2) - Giri (1.5)

    Now to Sao Paulo, for round 1 of the first leg of this double-round robin tournament. Two of the three games were decisive: one very speedily, the other an entirely long, drawn-out affair. Aronian sprung some nice preparation on Karjakin he had been holding on to for a long time. After White's 18th move in a comparatively lively Queen's Indian (at times analogous to a "speedy snail"), Aronian was up the exchange for a pawn, but Karjakin had counterchances on the long a8-h1 diagonal. It seems that there were little improvements available for both sides along the way, but the key moment came after Aronian played 23.f3. Here Karjakin had an attractive equalizer - one he saw, too, but apparently in a slightly different position. The key move was 23...Nd3!!, when after 24.Rxd3 Qxc4 Black is down a rook for a pawn, but White's king is in a world of trouble. The greedy 25.Re3 loses after 25...Ba6! 26.Ne2 Qc2!, when White cannot save the knight with 27.Kf2 because of 27...Bc5. Instead, 25.Rd8 improves, but this is only enough for equality after 25...Ba6 26.h4, leaving Black nothing more than a perpetual check.

    Instead, Karjakin's 23...Nd7 took the heat off, and after 24.Ne4 Qa4? the game was lost; the passive 24...Qc8 would have allowed Black to keep resisting. I'm not sure what Karjakin missed, but after 24...Qa4? 25.Rxd7 Bxe4 26.Rd8 White's king was safe while Black's was not, and the game was over a few moves later.

    Viswanathan Anand played his first official game since retaining his world championship title against Gelfand several months ago, and he kicked off the tournament inauspiciously, drawing with White against Vallejo Pons. In fact, he even managed to come out of the opening with an inferior position, but by the end of the game, many moves later, he obtained a purely symbolic edge when the draw was agreed.

    Finally, Caruana-Carlsen was an epic struggle that went more than 90 moves and saw both players take turns pressing for a win. Carlsen tried the Winawer French, and his reward was a lousy-looking position as soon as move 14. It didn't just look bad; it was bad, but when Caruana failed to take advantage (e.g. with 16.Bxg6 hxg6 17.Rh3 +/-) Carlsen gradually took over the game.

    Surviving the opening took a lot of time, though, and as the first time control loomed Carlsen started to squander his advantage. Most commentators, and the players as well, criticized first 31...Nxe3, and then the plan with 34...h5 and 35...g4. That series of moves took Caruana from a sure loss in the long run to a highly defensible fortress in an opposite-colored bishop ending. Carlsen is nothing if not persistent, however, and he spent the next several hours trying to breach the fortress. Looking for a way in required a lot of thought, though, and when he decided on move 76 to avoid a perpetual by tucking his king away on h2, he was short of time and almost down to the 10-second per move increment.

    It was at this point that Caruana decided to go for it with 77.cxb4 Rxb4 78.Rxe6 Be4 79.Rxe4!? The sac may not have been 100% sound, but it was incredibly dangerous for Black, and with almost no time to solve the problems Carlsen was in serious trouble, practically speaking. The computer expresses some skepticism about Caruana's sacrifice (80...Rb2!!, for instance, may be winning), but it took just two moves for everything to go upside down. Carlsen's 80...Kg2 was very natural, but it threw away the (hard to find) win, and then after 81.Ke3 Black had to play either 81...Rb1! or the flashy 81...Rb3+(!!) to hold the balance. Instead, he chose the wrong time for ...Rb2, and after 82.d5! he was lost. His 86...h4 was a terrific try, but Caruana responded perfectly and won the game.

    A brief comment: Few things in sports/competition bother me as much as seeing a player defeat himself. It drives me bonkers when I do that - and as a result I think I do it relatively rarely. But this is not really such a case, to my mind. Of course the loss could have been avoided - Carlsen could have offered a draw (well, could have acceded to a repetition; draw offers are forbidden in the tournament) at practically any time from move 30 on, and it would have been accepted before his vocal cords stopped vibrating. But he was always better, and was always justified in continuing. Playing 76...Kh2 entailed risk, yes, but it was a reasonable risk, and self-respect as a professional also entailed continuing the fight. He lost this game, but this fighting attitude has and will garner far more wins in the long run. So rather than apportioning blame to Carlsen or offering some idiotic comment to the effect that he was unlucky, I would rather give full credit to Caruana (send him back, especially as he practically never lives in Italy anyway!). He didn't get discouraged after blowing a serious advantage, but fought on forever, and after five or six hours of play had the gumption to fight not just for the draw but for the win! Well done.

    Round 2 Pairings: Vallejo - Carlsen, Karjakin - Caruana, Anand - Aronian.

    Monday
    Sep242012

    Bilbao Round 1 Pairings; Quick London Recap for Round 4

    Round 1 of the Bilbao Chess Masters Final will start momentarily, with the following pairings:

    Caruana - Carlsen

    Aronian - Karjakin

    Anand - Vallejo

    I'll have more to say about round 4 of London later today; in brief, the two decisive games were Grischuk beating Mamedyarov in a lively game and Gelfand beating Wang Hao when the latter blundered into mate in a rook ending. Gelfand is in clear first with 3/4, half a point ahead of Grischuk and Leko.

    Sunday
    Sep232012

    London Grand Prix, Round 3: Some Great Chess, But Only Mamedyarov Wins

    Some very good chess is being played in the London Grand Prix, and the theoretical preparation is noteworthy as well.

    Regarding the latter, Rustam Kasimdzhanov's 12...c5!! was a bombshell detonated against Veselin Topalov, though apparently Topalov was aware of the move as well. In previous games Black had played 12...a5 and done well, and that natural move gets Houdini's seal of approval. It takes my computer (a three-year-old quad core) a few minutes to get 12...c5 into its top three, but it does come to appreciate that amazing move. The reason it's only #3 for a while is that after 13.bxc5 Bxf3 it holds out hope for a White edge after 14.cxd6, which is unbelievable to human eyes. Sure enough, after 14...Nd5 15.Bd2 Qg5 it starts changing its tune, and it's evident that Black has (at least) enough for the pawn after 16.g3 Qh5. So Topalov played 14.gxf3, and after 14...Nxc5! 15.dxc5 Rxc5 he soon returned the extra piece to reach the drawn ending with rooks and opposite-colored bishops.

    Dominguez-Gelfand also ended with that same material balance, though without the fireworks. For the second time in the event Gelfand's opponent used the white pieces to test his preparation and aptitude with the Sveshnikov Sicilian, and for the second time his opponent achieved nothing at all.

    The white pieces were similarly unfruitful in Ivanchuk-Adams, a main line Rubinstein Variation Nimzo-Indian, but the other two draws were more eventful.

    In Wang Hao-Grischuk, the Russian outplayed his opponent with Black in a Gruenfeld (against the Russian Variation), but missed an outright win. After 27.h4, Black had 27...Rxd1+ 28.Rxd1 Qe2, winning big material. White's problem is that a normal move like 29.Rf1 runs into 29...Nc2, with an unusual fork by a knight of an enemy knight - White can't play 30.Nxc2 because 30...Rxc2 leads to an unstoppable mate on g2. Instead, Grischuk played 27...Qc5, giving away most of his advantage, and White soon escaped with a draw.

    For the third straight round Nakamura's game finished with a critical, result-changing error late in the contest. With White against Leko, the American held a small but "eternal" advantage, and hours of pressing brought forth fruit. It seems that 53...Kg6 might have held: 54.Re7 e3 55.a5 Kf6 56.Re8 Kf7 57.Re4 Kg6 etc. White can keep trying, but consultation with the engine suggests that Black can hold. I have no doubt the players considered positions like this, but to properly assess them after five or more hours, with limited time, is too difficult. So Leko instead played 53...Kf6, and was soon in a theoretically lost endgame. If you consult with the tablebase, you'll see that 61.a6 won (as did several other moves), but Nakamura's 61.Rb7 - a perfectly logical move - was a slip. From there Leko found all the right moves, and managed to sneak out with a draw.

    Last but not least, there was one decisive game, and it was a quickie! In a 4.Qb3 Slav, Mamedyarov played the rare move 9.Nbd2, with the ambitious aim of playing a quick e4. Giri's initial reaction was good, but it seems he should have broken the pin with ...g5 a bit sooner than in the game - maybe on move 11 or 12. Instead, after 12...c5?! 13.d5 exd5? Mamedyarov's 14.e5! was the Hammer of Thor, and Black was soon broken to bits, resigning after 21.e6! The basic point is that after 21...fxe6 22.Nd6+ followed by 23.Qg6(+) forces a quick mate, even if Black tries to throw in the everything and the kitchen sink to dissuade him.

    Here are the standings after round 3:

    1-3. Gelfand, Leko, Mamedyarov 2
    4-9. Grischuk, Topalov, Dominguez, Adams, Nakamura, Wang Hao 1.5
    10-12. Ivanchuk, Kasimdzhanov, Giri 1

    And the pairings for tomorrow's round 4 are as follows:

    • Leko - Adams
    • Giri - Ivanchuk
    • Grischuk - Mamedyarov
    • Gelfand - Wang Hao
    • Kasimdzhanov - Dominguez
    • Nakamura - Topalov
    Saturday
    Sep222012

    London Grand Prix, Round 2: Leko, Nakamura Win

    In round 2 of the London Grand Prix, it was again the case that a majority of the games were drawn, though - again - most of the games were hard fought. There were two decisive results: Peter Leko outplayed Vassily Ivanchuk in a French Defense (Steinitz Variation), and Hikaru Nakamura managed to swindle Rustam Kasimdzhanov at the end of the second time control to get back to 50%.

    In Leko-Ivanchuk, White had a token pull for a while, but nothing really until 29...Ke7. Ivanchuk either missed or underestimated the strength of the g4-g5 idea; had he realized it, he'd have played 29...Kf7 and met 30.g4 with 30...g5!, equalizing. From that point on he played quite badly, and rather than forcing Leko to grind out the point, Ivanchuk quickly self-destructed.

    Kasimdzhanov-Nakamura was a tough battle in a Classical King's Indian. Kasimdzhanov seemed very well prepared, cracking out the moves up through 25.Nc5. Only after 25...Kh8 did White start using time, and soon both his lead and his advantage on the board had dissipated. (Or at least what the engine takes to be his advantage - in the Classical King's Indian, one must be very careful about trusting the engine. Black's threats take time to materialize, but once they do White's situation is as dire as the coyote's in a Road Runner cartoon.) From late in the first time control until late in the second one, the position fluctuated from equality to a very slight pull for Nakamura, but a more useful way to describe the situation is that Nakamura fought like crazy to keep his initiative and attacking hopes alive, even with the queens off, while Kasimdzhanov hoped to consolidate, when his bishops and outside passed a-pawn might give him some chances for the full point.

    On move 59, with two moves left to the second time control, Kasimdzhanov's best move would have been 59.Ba5, when the bishop keeps the important d2 and e1 squares under control. Instead he played 59.a5, which left him in a precarious situation after 59...Rc6, threatening an immediate win with 60...Rh1+. Here 60.Bf3 was imperative, when after 60...Nf2+ 61.Kd2! he may be able to hold. It's complicated, which cannot be said of the move Kasimdzhanov played immediately: 60.Bd3?? Nakamura played 60...Rd2+, and that was that: White resigned as 61.Ke1 Rc1 is mate.

    Of the draws, I'll note only Adams-Mamedyarov, because of the unusual repetition sequence that ended the game: 41.Rc3-g3 Kb8-c8 42.Rd7-d1 Rf8-g8 43.Rg3-c3+ (the rook goes back where it started) Kc8-b8 (likewise the king) 44.Rd1-d7 (likewise the second rook) Rg8-f8 (and ditto for Black's rook) and then White started it all over again with 45.Rc3-g3.

    After two rounds, Boris Gelfand (who drew fairly quickly with White against Veselin Topalov) and Leko are tied for first with 1.5 points. Nakamura lost to Gelfand in round 1, so today's win put him back to 50%. Here are the round three pairings:

    • Nakamura - Leko
    • Topalov - Kasimdzhanov
    • Dominguez - Gelfand
    • Wang Hao - Grischuk
    • Mamedyarov - Giri
    • Ivanchuk - Adams
    Saturday
    Sep222012

    London Grand Prix, Round 1: Gelfand Wins, Everyone Else Draws

    That about sums it up! As I mentioned in the earlier post, Black was pressing in most of the round 1 games, but only Boris Gelfand managed to grab the full point. Hikaru Nakamura decided to test him in a sideline of Sicilian Sveshnikov, but Gelfand managed to achieve a decent position. The game seemed drawish, but Black was better in the ending with rooks and opposite-colored bishops, and after some inaccurate moves by Nakamura Gelfand was able to win.

    So Gelfand is the sole leader after round 1 of the London Grand Prix; here are the pairings for round 2:

     

    • Leko - Ivanchuk
    • Adams - Mamedyarov
    • Giri - Wang Hao
    • Grischuk - Dominguez
    • Gelfand - Topalov
    • Kasimdzhanov - Nakamura

     

    Let me add in conclusion that the event website is very good, and there are webcams on all the games, too, for those who like to watch the players in action.