This time, we'll have a look at an exciting Dragon from round 6 of the World Rapid Championship. The game was drawn and generally well-played, but both players may have missed some chances. It looks like it's of theoretical significance as well, so Dragoneers and prospective St. Georges should check it out.
Entries in Magnus Carlsen (106)
And more too, including the latest video entry with Magnus Carlsen & Espen Agdestein discussing his (Carlsen's) play in the World Rapid Championship. Have a look.
Watching the video coverage of round 2 of last week's World Rapid Championship, I found myself especially curious about the following position, which arose after Gadir Guseinov played 16.c3 against Magnus Carlsen:
Black has a pretty fair amount of force pointed at White's king, so it wouldn't be too surprising if Carlsen had something here. Does he? Have a look, take your time, and when you think you've got it all worked out, click here.
The Rapid & Blitz World Championships have concluded, and Magnus Carlsen, the classical world chess champion, is now also the world champion in rapid and blitz play. While the margin of victory wasn't particularly large in either event, his play was consistently strong and he was the deserving winner of both events.
In the rapid, he lost one game - to Viswanathan Anand(!), though by a blunder in a better position, and finished with 11/15, half a point ahead of Fabiano Caruana, Anand, Levon Aronian and Alexander Morozevich. Caruana took the silver on tiebreaks; Anand the bronze.
In the blitz, his one loss came on the first day, to young Chinese GM Lu Shanglei. On the second day he was briefly surpassed by Ian Nepomniachtchi, who won six games in a row, but in the end Carlsen finished with an impressive 17/21, good for a one point margin of victory over Nepomniachtchi and Hikaru Nakamura (who finished second and third, respectively); they were in turn two points ahead of their closest pursuer, Le Quang Liem, who was last year's world blitz champion.
So we have something new for the world championship match this coming November between titleholder Magnus Carlsen and challenger (and former champ) Viswanathan Anand. The match won't be in Norway or India, or FIDE favorites Elista or Khanty-Mansyisk. Instead, they'll face off in Sochi, Russia, which may not be entirely controversy free either. It had to be somewhere though, and without alternative sponsors it's probably good to get this taken care of as soon as possible.
There were two heavyweight battles today at the Norway Chess tournament, one between Magnus Carlsen (world champion and world #1) and Levon Aronian (world #2), the other between the Fabiano Caruana (the tournament leader and world #3) and Vladimir Kramnik (ex-world champion, [now] #4 in the world and in second in the tournament). Both games were long, both games were tough, and both games had a winner.
Taking them in reverse order, Caruana entered the round in first and in excellent shape, having already played Carlsen and with (alleged) tournament rabbit Simen Agdestein next on the schedule. All he needed was to survive Kramnik with the black pieces, and his chances of overall victory would be excellent. Not a trivial task, especially with Black, but Caruana coped with the pressure of the moment and his opponent's moves for a long time. It was only at move 50 that he cracked, and with a very simple error: 50...Ke8?? Instead 50...Kf8 or 50...Kg8 would draw easily, almost trivially. The point is that 51.Kf6 would be adequately met by 51...Rb6+, and White is going nowhere. As White has few (no?) other real ideas, it's just a draw. The problem with 50...Ke8 was that after 51.Kf6 Rb6+ White had 52.Kg7, but even here Black can put up plenty of resistance with 52...Rb3. Instead Caruana resigned, and Kramnik supplanted him in first place.
As for the Carlsen-Aronian game, it was more heartbreaking in one way, less in another. Aronian didn't lose the game with a one-move error, but unlike Caruana who was always fighting for a draw, Aronian had a winning or nearly winning position before the time control. Playing 32...h5, as suggested by the engines and by Aronian himself immediately after the game would have kept White bottled up and in desperate trouble. Instead, Aronian made a series of mistakes up to the end of the time control, and after his 40th move he was probably lost. There were some later moments when he was briefly back in the game, but Carlsen's technique eventually told. With the win Carlsen moved into a tie with Caruana for second, half a point behind Kramnik.
There was a third winner on the day, Anish Giri, and his win was also a piece of good luck. Veselin Topalov was always fine against him with Black in a Rauzer Sicilian, and after 29 moves the position was equal. Then Giri played 30.f5??, and was lost after 30...Re5. Fortunately for the youngster, Topalov met 31.Re1 not with 31...d5, winning material, but 31...Kh8?? not only surrendered the advantage; it gave Giri a winning position. With the win Giri got back to 50%.
Also extremely lucky today: Alexander Grischuk. ATR* Simen Agdestein was winning with Black in the same line of the Classical French he essayed against Sergey Karjakin in round 3. Agdestein varied first, but still had a little trouble early on. Agdestein handled the complicated position better than his opponent, and Grischuk didn't have enough compensation for his two pawn deficit. Agdestein's biggest chance was a tactical one: 39...Rxg2+! would have won on the spot, leaving Grischuk only the choice between two different hopelessly lost endings three pawns in arrears. Agdestein missed it, and let Grischuk slip out of trouble with a draw. Agdestein has five draws in five games, and on paper is doing great. His result so far is surely exceeding everyone's pre-tournament expectations except maybe his own. But he has let several opportunities slip, and at some point that may discourage him.
Finally, Peter Svidler had an advantage against Karjakin for a while, but didn't manage to keep it. It looks like the key moment was on move 23, when 23.Nh4 (rather than 23.h3) looks rather unpleasant, threatening both Nf5 and to take on c6. Black could play 23...Ne7, but after 24.Bxa8 Rxa8 25.Rxb5 it looks like White has an extra pawn for nothing. Ultimately, the game was drawn.
The games, with my notes, are here; tomorrow's round 6 pairings follow:
- Aronian (2) - Giri (2.5)
- Karjakin (2.5) - Carlsen (3)
- Grischuk (2.5) - Svidler (2)
- Topalov (1.5) - Kramnik (3.5) (Uh oh...)
- Agdestein (2.5) - Caruana (3)
* ATR = Alleged Tournament Rabbit
That quote from Levon Aronian about the current world champion sounds more provocative than it really is. It's still surprising, but not an insult in context.
Magnus Carlsen, with his manager (and IM) Espen Agdestein, recounting his performance at the Vugar Gashimov Memorial:
HT: Ian Lamb
The new portal Chess24 has been putting out some interesting articles lately, of which I will highlight three.
First, there is this article on the lack of bids for the Carlsen-Anand rematch. It does a nice job of listing some of the (mutually compossible) reasons there have yet to be any bids, the just-passed deadline notwithstanding.
The other two articles also touch on the pending rematch, at least in passing. The second article is an interview with Levon Aronian that focuses on his unsuccessful performance in the Candidates' tournament back in March, while the last article gives the lineup for next month's super-tournament in Stavanger, Norway. While the field for Stavanger is impressive indeed, the article is more likely to attract attention for Carlsen's comments about Anand. Quoting from the article:
During the press conference Carlsen commented:
I can’t imagine facing him before the World Championship match. It’s fine with me that his last memories from our games are the ones from Zurich. It could have been a positive experience for him, but it’s more likely that it would have been a negative one.
Asked about Anand’s performance in the Candidates, Carlsen told Dagbladet.no:
To put it arrogantly, he didn’t face me in the Candidates. It’s still Anand who has something to prove.
I don't know if Anand is the kind of guy who collects quotes like this to motivate him, but if he does that last one ought to work wonders. (The statement is true, but that doesn't make it any less abrasive and ungracious.)
According to the FIDE website (HT: Chess Today) the deadline for bids on the world championship rematch between Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand has come and gone, with nary a sponsor to pick up the tab. Not Norway, not India; no one. The FIDE page basically says "stay tuned", which might mean that come November the journalists will pack their bags for Elista or Khanty-Mansyisk.