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 London Chess Classic 2014 Petrosian Memorial 2014 Rapid & Blitz World Championship 2014 Russian Team Championship 2014 Sinquefield Cup 2014 Tigran Petrosian Memorial 2014 U.S. Championship 2014 U.S. Open 2014 Women's World Championship 2014 World Championship 2014 World Junior Championships 2014 World Rapid Championship 2015 U.S. Championship 2015 Women's World Championship KO 2015 World Team Championships 2016 World Championship 22014 Sinquefield Cup 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 Aeroflot 2015 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 Moiseenko 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 Anti-Sicilians Antoaneta Stefanova Anton Korobov apps April Fool's Jokes Archangelsk Variation Arkadij Naiditsch Arne Moll Aron Nimzowitsch Aronian Aronian-Kramnik 2012 Arthur van de Oudeweetering Artur Yusupov Astrakhan Grand Prix 2010 attack attacking chess Austrian Attack Averbakh Baadur Jobava Bacrot Baku Grand Prix 2014 Baltic Defense Bangkok Chess Club Open Bazna 2011 Becerra Beliavsky Benko Gambit Bent Larsen Berlin Defense Biel 2012 Biel 2014 Bilbao 2010 Bilbao 2012 Bilbao 2013 Bilbao Chess 2014 bishop endings Bishop vs. Knight Blackburne blindfold chess blitz blitz chess Blumenfeld Gambit blunders Bobby Fischer Bogo-Indian Bologan Book Reviews books Boris Gelfand Boris Spassky Borislav Ivanov Borki Predojevic Boruchovsky Botvinnik Botvinnik Memorial Branimiir Maksimovic 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 books chess cartoons chess engines chess history chess in fiction chess in film Chess Informant chess lessons chess psychology chess ratings chess variants Chess24 Chess960 ChessBase DVDs ChessBase Shows ChessLecture Presentations ChessLecture.com ChessUSA ChessUSA blog ChessVibes ChessVideos Presentations Chigorin Variation Chinese Chess Championship Christiansen Christmas Colin Crouch Colle combinations Commentary computer chess computers correspondence chess Corsica Cyrus Lakdawala Danailov Daniel Parmet Daniil Dubov Dave MacEnulty Dave Vigorito David Howell David MacEnulty David Navara Davies Deep Blue Deeper Blue defense Dejan Antic Delchev Denis Khismatullin Ding Liren Dmitry Andreikin Dmitry Gurevich Dmitry Jakovenko Dominic Lawson Dortmund 2010 Dortmund 2011 Dortmund 2012 Dortmund 2012 Dortmund 2013 Dortmund 2014 Dortmund 2015 Doug Hyatt Dragoljub Velimirovic draws dreams Dreev Dunning-Kruger Effect Dutch Defense DVD Reviews DVDs Dvoirys Dvoretsky Easter Edouard Efimenko Efstratios Grivas endgame studies endgames Endgames English Opening Esserman Etienne Bacrot European Championship 2015 European Club Cup 2012 European Club Cup 2014 European Individual Championship 2012 Evgeni Vasiukov Evgeny Najer 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 Gibraltar 2015 Giri Grand Prix 2014-2015 Grand Prix Attack Greek Gift sacrifice Grenke Chess Classic 2013 Grenke Chess Classic 2015 Grinfeld Grischuk Grob Gruenfeld Defense Grünfeld Defense Gulko Gunina Guseinov Gustafsson Gyula Sax Hannes Langrock Hans Ree Harika Dronavalli Hastings Hawaii International Festival Haworth Hedgehog Hennig-Schara Gambit Henrique Mecking HHou Yifan highway robbery Hikaru Nakamura Hilton Hjorvar Gretarsson Hort Horwitz Bishops Hou Yifan Houdini 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 Informant 121 Informant 122 insanity Inside Chess Magazine Ippolito IQP Irina Krush Ivan Sokolov Ivanchuk J. Polgar Jacob Aagaard Jaenisch Jaideep Unudurti Jakovenko James Tarjan Jan Gustafsson Jan Timman Jay Whitehead Jeremy Silman Jimmy Quon John Grefe John Watson Jon Lenchner Jonathan Hawkins Jonathan Speelman Jose Diaz Ju Wenjun 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 Mark Dvoretsky Mark Taimanov 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 Natalia Pogonina 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 basketball 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 Pentala Harikrishna 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 Gambit Declined 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 Rubinstein French 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 Savielly Tartakower Schliemann Scotch Four Knights Searching for Bobby Fischer Seirawan self-destruction Sergei Tiiviakov Sergey Fedorchuk Sergey Karjakin Sergey Shipov Shakhriyar Mamedyarov Shamkir 2015 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 Tashkent Grand Prix Tbilisi Grand Prix 2015 TED talks 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 US Chess League USCF ratings USCL V. Onischuk Vachier-Lagrave Valentina Gunina 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 Vladislav Artemiev Vugar Gashimov Vugar Gashimov Memorial Wang Hao Wang Yue Watson Wei Yi 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 Wijk aan Zee 2015 Wil E. Coyote Wilhelm Steinitz Willy Hendriks Winawer French Wojtkiewicz Wolfgang Uhlmann 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 Yoshiharu Habu Yu Yangyi Yuri Averbakh Yuri Razuvaev Yuriy Kuzubov Zaitsev Variation Zaven Andriasyan Zhao Xue Zug 2013 Zukertort System Zurich 1953 Zurich 2013 Zurich 2014 Zurich 2015

    Entries in Magnus Carlsen (158)

    Saturday
    Apr252015

    Shamkir, Round 7: Carlsen Leads Anand By A Point With Two Rounds To Go

    Magnus Carlsen barely won in Wijk aan Zee and in the Grenke Chess Classic earlier this year, but right now it appears that he has everything under control in Shamkir. After 7 rounds he has an undefeated +4 score, up from yesterday's +3 after a convincing win over the collapsing Vladimir Kramnik. Carlsen's 13.Qc2 was an interesting novelty in a 4.d3 Anti-Berlin, and Kramnik was up to the challenge. He reacted well and saw the right move and the right idea on move 19, but then got attracted to another idea. Unfortunately for him, what he saw rested on several miscalculations, and the result was a much worse, possibly losing position. Carlsen finished him off powerfully, and for possibly the first time in his career (at least in classical chess) Kramnik has lost three games in a row.

    If Wesley So could have defeated Fabiano Caruana he'd have remained just half a point behind and in good shape going into his game with Carlsen today/tomorrow (Saturday). It didn't happen: Caruana continued his newfound resurgence and won his second straight game, and they are now both on +1.

    In clear second now is Viswanathan Anand, whose good win over Michael Adams brought him to +2. Anand is continuing to play well, and can make as good a case as anyone to be the #2 player in the world.

    The other two games were drawn. To no one's surprise, the Azerbaijan Derby between Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Rauf Mamedov was drawn, but despite the game's speed and its concluding in a perpetual check, it was a real game - one Mamedyarov could and probably should have won. Finally, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Anish Giri drew their game as well.

    It's late and I'm having difficulty posting the games, so I'll try to do that in the morning/tomorrow. Meanwhile, here are the pairings for round 8:

    • Adams (2) - Giri (3)
    • Kramnik (2.5) - Vachier-Lagrave (3)
    • So (4) - Carlsen (5.5)
    • Mamedov (3) - Caruana (4)
    • Anand (4.5) - Mamedyarov (3.5)

    Tuesday
    Apr212015

    Shamkir, Round 5: Carlsen, Anand and Mamedyarov Win; Carlsen Leads

    There was plenty of action and blood on the board in round 5 of the Gashimov Memorial in Shamkir today. Three of the five games had a winner, and it could have been four. Moreover, all the decisive games involved the leaders, and not always to their advantage.

    In fact, the player who was leading the tournament, Wesley So, received his comeuppance today at the hands of Viswanathan Anand. It was their first game against each other, and Anand made sure to seize the psychological advantage for their future battles. In a 6.d3 Ruy Lopez, So repeated the rare move 9...Nb8 he had used against Fabiano Caruana earlier in the year. There he drew, but Anand was ready with a very nasty attacking idea that became clear when he played 14.f4. Objectively, this doesn't offer White an advantage, but practically it posed Black serious problems. As far as I can tell, Black is okay if he plays 16...Nh6, but So played 16...Bg5, admitting in the press conference that he had missed Anand's 17.h3 in reply. After that, So defended well (ignoring an exchange of minor errors on Black's 21st and White's 22nd moves) and might have been able to hold the position that arose almost by force after White's 29th move.

    Unfortunately for him, he failed to find the key to the position. His 29...d5? 30.h5 d4? was probably intended to create the possibility of a check for his queen on e3, so that if White's queen strayed a little Black could get some counterplay and perhaps a perpetual. Instead, he should have played ...a5, ...c5 and generally ...a4, trying to keep lines closed for both the queen ending and a possible pawn ending as well. Even if that does lose down the road - and I'm not sure it does - it would have been much harder to break Black's position in that case. After So's errors, Anand was able to break open the center almost immediately and win easily.

    That allowed Magnus Carlsen to leapfrog So and take clear first, after his great win over Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The players left theory pretty early in a Reti/Polish Defense (1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 b5), and Carlsen did his thing and outplayed his opponent a bit at a time, one stage at a time. The first stage concluded with 22...Qf6?! 23.Bh5, after which White had a clear and enduring advantage, but nothing close to a win. MVL managed to keep the damage from getting worse through the end of the first time control, and it was only a couple of inaccuracies on moves 42 and 43 that allowed Carlsen to obtain a winning advantage. This took some great play by Carlsen, and he was up to the challenge. The final mating net he constructed with 50.Rxh7, 52.h5, 53.Rh7 and finally 54.Bd5 was especially nice, and Vachier-Lagrave resigned rather than see 54...a1Q 55.Rf7+ Kg5 56.Rf5# on the board.

    The third decisive result of the day was Shakhriyar Mamedyarov's win over Vladimir Kramnik, which was apparently his first win (at least in classical chess) over the former champ in his career. Mamedyarov had an enduring initiative in a Semi-Tarrasch, but no advantage for a long time - both players were producing very high-level, error-free chess until move 31. Kramnik needed to play 31...Qxd6 32.Na4 Ra5, when he would maintain equal chances. Instead, 31...axb6 32.Qb3 led to a position where Black could only eliminate White's dangerous d-pawn by entering an ending with a porous kingside with weak pawns on h6 and f6. Later on Kramnik could have put up more resistance, but practically speaking the task was probably almost impossible.

    There was almost a fourth win, as Fabiano Caruana came out of the opening with a huge, probably winning advantage against Anish Giri. This is not last year's Caruana, however, and he let Giri slip. It's likely or at least reasonable to think that he had looked forward to the position that arose after his 29th move, which does indeed look overwhelming. It's hard to believe, but there just isn't anything there for White, and after some exchanges the players split the point.

    The final game was a dull draw between Rauf Mamedov and Michael Adams. Black was able to liquidate the center in a Yates Variation Ruy, and shortly thereafter almost all the pieces were liquidated as well.

    The games, with my notes are here, and with more comments than usual it will hopefully tide you over for tomorrow's rest day. Here are the pairings for round 6, on Thursday:

    • Adams (1.5) - Vachier-Lagrave (2)
    • Giri (2) - Carlsen (4)
    • Kramnik (2.5) - Caruana (2)
    • So (3.5) - Mamedyarov (2.5)
    • Mamedov (2) - Anand (3)

    Sunday
    Apr192015

    Shamkir, Round 3: Carlsen & So Win, Lead

    Remember those days last year when Fabiano Caruana was thought to be a contender on a par for co-world #1 status along with Magnus Carlsen? Those days are long gone, and are getting buried ever-deeper by the sands of time. Today a fresh dune covered the memories of last year's Sinquefield Cup as Carlsen beat Caruana for the second time this year, again with Black, and stretched his rating lead over his rival to more than 73 points. It was one of those strange wins, of the sort that led Viktor Korchnoi to claim back in 2011 that Carlsen's results were due to the latter's "hypnotic abilities". Caruana's on-again, off-again mini-edge had disappeared and the game was headed for a routine draw, but then American chess's prodigal son made a series of inaccuracies and soon lost. It was a remarkable collapse by the world's (now former) #2 player, and in the press conference he expressed understandable disgust with his play in the endgame.

    Wesley So, like Magnus Carlsen, did a fine job of burying the past and its memories behind him. Since his poor stretch in the middle of the U.S. Championship, culminating in his forfeit loss, So has scored 4.5 points in his last five games, with only Vladimir Kramnik getting a draw (with white). Today So won against Michael Adams, who was holding his own in a complicated battle until he played 26...Qa5?, missing 27.Bh4. That got him into a bit of trouble, but he was coming out of the mess until his 32nd and especially 33rd move. His 36th move was a final major error, and So finished effectively.

    The remaining three games were drawn, two of them especially forgettably. The game between Viswanathan Anand and Anish Giri was another matter, and Anand had excellent winning chances after his exchange sac on moves 17-18. (Move 17 committed him to it, but it was only "official" on move 18.) Giri defended well, but with best play Anand probably would have won. That makes two missed opportunities for the ex-champ, who trails the leaders by a point.

    The tournament site is here, the games (with my notes) are here, and the round 4 pairings are as follows:

     

    • Adams (.5) - Carlsen (2.5)
    • Vachier-Lagrave (1.5) - Caruana (1)
    • Giri (1) - Mamedyarov (1)
    • Kramnik (2) - Anand (1.5)
    • So (2.5) - Mamedov (1.5)

     

    Sunday
    Apr192015

    Shamkir, Round 2: Carlsen Wins to Catch Kramnik & So in the Lead

    Today's round at the Gashimov Memorial in Shamkir was a relatively sedate one. Unlike yesterday, when two of the three drawn games could easily have been won by one of the players, all four of today's draws looked like the right result. The only game where one player obtained a serious advantage was the one between Magnus Carlsen and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, and the world champion went on to win in crushing style.

    The games, with my light notes, are here; the round 3 pairings follow:

    • So (1.5) - Adams (.5)
    • Mamedov (1) - Kramnik (1.5)
    • Anand (1) - Giri (.5)
    • Mamedyarov (.5) - Vachier-Lagrave (1)
    • Caruana (1) - Carlsen (1.5)

    Tuesday
    Mar172015

    Carlsen Knows The Classics

    And a lot more besides. Many players - amateurs mostly, but the occasional (weak) professional - only study chess in a very narrow way, trying to memorize the opening theory they need, practicing tactics and more or less leaving it at that. As you can see here (HT: Ian Lamb), this is not the case for Magnus Carlsen, and there should be little doubt that his vast knowledge of the game plays a factor in making him the great player that he is.

    Monday
    Feb092015

    Grenke Chess Classic, Round 7: Carlsen Wins In An Armageddon Victory over Naiditsch

    The final day of the Grenke Chess Classic was exciting and very, very strange. Entering the final round, Magnus Carlsen and Arkadij Naiditsch were tied for first, with Fabiano Caruana half a point behind. Carlsen had White against Etienne Bacrot, Naiditsch had White against Levon Aronian, and Fabiano Caruana had Black against David Baramidze. On paper Naiditsch had the fewest winning chances, Carlsen the next move and Caruana the best opportunity to come out with a victory; after all, Baramidze was the lowest-rated player in the tournament, and was firmly ensconced in last place while on a four-game losing streak.

    As it turned out, all three games were drawn, but only after many adventures. Bacrot achieved a lost position in two stages. First, he would have been absolutely fine after the obvious 22...Ne4, but misassessed something and played 22...Nd5, allowing 23.e4. That got him in trouble, but if he had taken the somewhat lucky chance that 27...Nhf4 afforded him he would have been fine. After 27...Re2 he began to slide, and Carlsen was soon winning. He had his choice of wins, and he saw some of them too. Unfortunately, the way he chose allowed Bacrot some serious counterplay against White's king, and Carlsen had to allow a repetition to avoid losing.

    Naiditsch was also better against Aronian, significantly and persistently better, too. Aronian defended well, however, and it doesn't appear that Naiditsch ever enjoyed a decisive advantage.

    Caruana tried for a very long time against Baramidze, and after around six and a half hours, on move 71, he got his one and only chance to win the game. Unfortunately, 71...Kd4 was not an easy move to play, and Baramidze finally escaped with a draw after 85 moves.

    Before turning to the playoff, let's make mention of the one remaining game. Michael Adams initially had nothing against Viswanathan Anand when they reached a single rook ending after White's (Adams's) 30th move. Had Anand played 30...Ra4 it would have been almost dead even, but Anand's 30...Rd7 gave Adams a nibble. From there, nothing much happened until move 55, when Anand chose to play 55...Rd5. As Adams hadn't made any progress with the previous sort of position, this concessive approach seemed wholly unnecessary, even if the position was still drawn after the pawn sac. From there, absolutely nothing happened until move 84, when Anand played 84...Ke5?? and essentially lost the game in one move. Any move that maintained the status quo would have drawn, but Anand's move allowed White to push his pawn to h7 rather than just h6, which in turn allows White's king to achieve a decisive penetration into Black's camp.

    On to the playoff. Carlsen and Naiditisch were to play a couple of 10-minute games. If they remained tied after that, then a couple of five-minute games, and if that didn't settle the issue it would be time for an Armageddon game (White gets six minutes for the whole game; Black gets five minutes plus draw odds.) Carlsen won the first 10-minute game with the white pieces and was in excellent shape in the second game until he goofed with 25...h4 26.g4 Nxf4+ 27.Kh2 Rg5. White was winning after 28.Nxf4, and while Carlsen had the occasional chance in the players' mutual time trouble the trend was almost always in White's favor, and Naiditsch finally won.

    Carlsen began the five-minute games with the white pieces, but this time Naiditsch held the first game comfortably. In the second game, Naiditsch outplayed Carlsen in the early going and enjoyed a pleasant edge. The big upset didn't materialize though. Carlsen held and then took over, and Naiditsch ultimately did very well to save the game.

    So it came down to an Armageddon game, and Carlsen had White this time too. The game got interesting in a hurry after Naiditsch's 13...Be6. It seemed to drop a pawn, but after 14.Qxa6 Qc7 it looked like Carlsen had dropped an exchange. Maybe, but he had compensation for it just as Naiditsch did for the pawn. Ultimately, White had the same micro-edge he had before Naiditsch's pawn sac. Soon the game was trending in Carlsen's favor, and Naiditsch had one last chance to stop the train. Had he played 22...g6 it would have been anybody's game. Instead, he played 22...Qb4, which was a mistake, and followed this up with an outright blunder on move 23. After that there was no saving the game, and under other circumstances Naiditsch would have resigned earlier than he did, on move 32.

    It was a great tournament for Naiditsch, and hopefully he will get another top class invitation or two thanks to this performance from an event outside of Germany. For Carlsen, this was his 23rd super-tournament victory, which puts him in a tie with Vladimir Kramnik and Viswanathan Anand. Good company, and he achieved this a lot more quickly than they did.

    Games here, sans notes.

    Final standings:

    • 1-2. Carlsen, Naiditsch 4.5 (out of 7)
    • 3-4. Caruana, Adams 4
    • 5-6. Bacrot, Aronian 3.5
    • 7. Anand 2.5
    • 8. Baramidze 1.5

    Sunday
    Feb082015

    Grenke Chess Classic, Round 6: Naiditsch & Carlsen Still Lead With One Round to Go

    Arkadij Naiditsch and Magnus Carlsen started round 6 of the Grenke Chess Classic with a half point lead over Fabiano Caruana, and that's how they finished the round as well. Three of the four games were drawn today, with Viswanathan Anand beating the only player who has had a worse tournament than he has; namely, David Baramidze. Baramidze is by far the lowest-rated player and had already lost three games in a row, so this wasn't much of a surprise.

    As for the leaders, Carlsen drew comfortably and quickly against Caruana on the black side of a Berlin, while Naiditsch also drew with black, though Etienne Bacrot made him work a bit longer and harder to get his half a point. Finally, Michael Adams had very good winning chances against Levon Aronian on the black side of an English, but couldn't figure out how to put him away. (The games, with brief notes, are here.)

    The final round pairings are:

    • Adams (3) - Anand (2.5)
    • Naiditsch (4) - Aronian (3)
    • Carlsen (4) - Bacrot (3)
    • Baramidze (1) - Caruana (3.5)

    If Carlsen ties for first on points, then he wins on tiebreaks as he will have won more games than either Naiditsch or Caruana. If Caruana wins tomorrow while Carlsen & Naiditsch draw their games, he (Caruana) will take second because he'll have won one more game with the black pieces than Naiditsch did. I'm not a huge fan of rewarding the ability to win more games than to avoid losses, but I can live with it as *a* tiebreaker. But I've always thought that head-to-head should be the first tiebreaker, and find it irritating that Naiditsch could beat his main rival and come in second (or even third) in spite of that. Unfortunately (from my perspective, but not from any anti-Carlsen animus), head-to-head is their third tiebreaker.

    Saturday
    Feb072015

    Grenke Chess Classic, Round 5: Carlsen Catches Naiditsch

    As usual, Magnus Carlsen has bounced back from a loss in style and with a vengeance, and after his second straight win in the Grenke Chess Classic he has caught up to Arkadij Naiditsch. Both players have 3.5 points out of five, and lead their closest pursuer by half a point with two rounds to play.

    Carlsen was playing the tournament tailender and bottom seed, David Baramidze - with the white pieces, to boot, so his win isn't exactly shocking. Still, it was a nice, typical Carlsen win: he chose a variation (within a mainline opening, it's true) that was slightly off the beaten path, offering a position with plenty of play and no easy way for Black to simplify the position. He maneuvered, increased the tension and created imbalances, and in due course Baramdize erred. 28...Re6 wound up a waste of time, and a further error on move 38 took away all hope.

    Naiditsch had White against Fabiano Caruana, and to his credit he did what few super-GMs are willing to do: allow the Marshall Gambit. For once someone seemed better prepared than Caruana in the opening, and although Naiditsch returned the extra pawn his bishop pair looked very strong, and he surely had good winning chances. Caruana defended well, and although he had to suffer for a long time he never broke, and he remains in the hunt for first - especially given his pairing for the next round.

    The day's other winner was Levon Aronian, who improved his lot in life by adding to Viswanathan Anand's recent miseries. Anand had outplayed Aronian on the black side of a Ragozin, and was building a promising kingside attack before playing 23...Nh6? I suspect he missed something like 24.e4 Qxf3 (Anand played 24...Bxc5) 25.Qxg5+ Kh7 26.e5+ Bf5 27.Bxf5+ Nxf5 28.Rc3! Aronian wasn't immediately winning, but Anand didn't adapt well to the sudden change, and he was losing just a few moves later and then resigned somewhat prematurely.

    Finally, Etienne Bacrot was the only player to make a good case for the black pieces in any of the games, and enjoyed a winning advantage against Mickey Adams. Adams defended well, and like Caruana, saved half a point after a lot of suffering.

    The games are here (I've analyzed the two decisive results), and the pairings for the penultimate round are:

    • Anand (1.5) - Baramidze (1)
    • Caruana (3) - Carlsen (3.5)
    • Bacrot (2.5) - Naiditsch (3.5)
    • Aronian (2.5) - Adams (2.5)

    Friday
    Feb062015

    Grenke Chess Classic, Round 4: Naiditsch Wins Again, Still Leads; Carlsen Beats Anand

    Round four of the Grenke Chess Classic was an exciting one, featuring two games that were settled by blunders. In both games the player with Black won and the player trying to conduct a kingside attack lost.

    Since he is leading the tournament and defeated Magnus Carlsen in round 3, we'll give Arkadij Naiditsch his due and start with his game. Playing his countryman David Baramidze, he came up with a very provocative way of meeting the English. The position was practically begging for Baramidze to attack, and he took up the challenge with gusto. First he sacrificed a pawn, then the exchange and a pawn - which he turned into a full rook sacrifice, and then another piece. The last one was one sac too many, and just five moves later Baramidze realized the attack was out of gas, and resigned. Without the last sacrifice, the game would have remained unclear and anything would have been possible.

    Carlsen had trouble with the black pieces against Viswanathan Anand in their world championship match last year, and today he switched openings again, opting for a Stonewall Dutch. After 19...e5 the board quickly opened up, and Carlsen's brave - and correct - 25...Bb2 raised the stakes. White's attack had better break through, or Black's a-pawn would soon promote. Play continued logically through Black's 31st move, but on move 32 Anand made an amazing blunder, 32.Rd7?? It wasn't difficult to refute, and the oddness was compounded by the fact that Anand only spent 52 seconds on the move. Anand wasn't speaking afterwards, so it's unclear if he overlooked something that happened in the game or if he hadn't found the right move (32.Re6). Anyone can overlook something, but the speed with which he executed the blunder was remarkable, especially given that he wasn't in time trouble.

    The other games were drawn. Fabiano Caruana had chances for more against Michael Adams, with the last opportunity coming on move 32. After Caruana played 32.Bc4 rather than 32.Kf3, Adams was able to limp home with a draw. The opening between Etienne Bacrot and Levon Aronian was unusual and interesting before it resolved into a very equal QGD-like structure.

    The games (with my notes) are here, and these are the pairings for tomorrow's round 5 (of 7):

    • Aronian (1.5) - Anand (1.5)
    • Adams (2) - Bacrot (2)
    • Naiditsch (3) - Caruana (2.5)
    • Carlsen (2.5) - Baramidze (1)

    Tuesday
    Feb032015

    Grenke Chess Classic, Round 2: Carlsen Wins, Leads

    A long day, so a quick summary of the round 2 action at the Grenke Chess Classic: Magnus Carlsen ground down Michael Adams, helped a bit by the latter's time pressure. Oddly enough, this was the only win of the day; in fact, it is so far the only win of the entire tournament.

    It's not that no one else has come close, though. Viswanathan Anand enjoyed a winning double-rook ending against Arkadij Naiditsch, but active play by Naiditsch and hesitant play from the former champ allowed the German #1 to escape.

    The other German entrant, David Baramidze, had an easier time of things on the way to his draw with Levon Aronian. (Having the white pieces certainly didn't hurt.) Aronian was doing fine until he played 20...Be6; after that he was in some trouble until Baramidze played 25.b4. After that the players hoovered up everything and finished the game.

    Finally, Fabiano Caruana was seriously better, off and on, against Etienne Bacrot, but it was never a comfortable and stable plus. The position remained complicated throughout, and at times Bacrot was even a little better. Such unbalanced and volatile positions are just very hard to play. The game marked a milestone of sorts: while it's only on the live list and isn't official, it is the first time in about half a year that someone other than Caruana was world #2, and the first time ever that Alexander Grischuk has held that spot.

    Games with computer analysis on the Chess24 site, here.