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    Entries in Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (34)

    Sunday
    Sep172017

    World Cup, Round 5, Day 3: Vachier-Lagrave Defeats Svidler in Tiebreaks

    Four is the number of the remaining players, but not the number of consecutive Candidates events for Peter Svidler. Instead, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is in the final four, one match away from his first Candidates tournament. (Not that it will be easy, as his next opponent is Levon Aronian.) He defeated Svidler after a pair of tiebreak games, both of which continued the theoretical duels of their classical games.

    In the first, Vachier-Lagrave was White in a Giuoco, with Svidler repeating the 10...a5 idea that he and Grischuk have now played a combined five times against MVL in the past week. White enjoyed a very mild plus through most of the game, but the eventual draw was no surprise.

    In game 2, Svidler again played the English, and MVL repeated the Symmetrical line with 5...Nb4 and 6...Nd3+. Svidler again played the curious 9.h4, and after the same six consecutive moves with the same knight, Black varied from their classical game. In that game, Black chose 10...Nbc6, while time MVL played 10...e6, as played in the only other game to have reached that position. Svidler already started to think here, which wasn't a particularly good sign for his fans. (But maybe I should say something like "fans of his play". Fans of his commentary may be thrilled; one may hope that he'll appear before the microphone somewhere for the semi-finals or at least the finals.) After 11.Bf4 a6 12.Nxd4 cxd4 13.Ne2 Nc6 Black had no problems to speak of. My suspicion is that if 9.h4 survives, it is 10.d3 that will go the way of the dodo. Black was soon better, and after 23.Qxd6+? Svidler was just about lost. Short on time as well, he was unable to put up much resistance, and Vachier-Lagrave won quickly and smoothly. (The games, with my notes, are here.)

    Tomorrow is a day off for everyone, and on Tuesday we get Aronian vs. MVL in one semi-final, and Wesley So against Ding Liren in the other.

    Thursday
    Sep142017

    World Cup, Round 4, Day 3 Tiebreaks: MVL, So, Svidler, Fedoseev, and Rapport Advance

    It was an exciting day of tiebreaks, though it was disappointing that only one match made it past the two 25-minute games, and it was settled in the 10' + 10" round. We need to see at least one Armageddon game before the tournament ends!

    Anyway, to the round. Peter Svidler had the easiest time of it, beating Bu Xiangzhi 2-0. In the first game, Svidler won with Black after Bu got tangled up in the center. White tried to bail out with an exchange sacrifice, and it almost worked. Bu was about to esacape until he played 40.Ra5??, walking into a lethal self-pin. Walking into mate in one on the next move didn't help, but the damage had already been done - even 41...Rb4 would have done the job. In the second game, Bu tried the Dutch, hoping for a complicated position, but when he met the Improved Lisitsyn Gambit by turning the game into a Philidor Counter-Gambit he got in trouble - fast. He was already clearly worse by move 7 (maybe by move 5, but let's be generous), and after a huge error on move 9 he was completely lost. Svidler may not have played in the most incisive way, but he didn't have to, and he coasted to victory.

    Wesley So was also a smooth winner, outplaying Baadur Jobava in their first game with the white pieces, demonstrating the power of the bishop pair (and later of bishop vs. knight) to grind out a victory. Game two was an "I'll make you an offer you can't refuse" draw: So was better from early on, and could have played for a win had he needed to. Instead, he allowed Jobava to draw by repetition in a position where he was still better, but the problem for Jobava was that varying from the repetition would lose on the spot.

    In one of the matches featuring underdogs, Evgeniy Najer held an edge in his white game with Richard Rapport until his ill-advised 23.Bxh6, which should have been met by 23...Rxf3. For a while after that Najer had good chances to win, but Rapport gradually clawed his way back to equality and a draw. The second game was completely crazy, and Rapport handled the complications much better than Najer to win deservedly. There was one big hiccup near the end, however. 45.Rb7+ followed by 46.Re2 won comfortably, but after his 45.Rb6? Najer had 45...Re1+ first, and only after 46.Kg2 was 46...Nb4 correct. In this case he would have equalized. Now White can't play Re2, and if he takes on a5 Black has an immediate perpetual with his rook going to e2, e1 and/or e3, as needed.

    In the other battle of the underdogs, Vladimir Fedoseev defeated Maxim Rodshtein 2-0, though unlike Svidler's 2-0 victory it wasn't easy. First of all, it's a mystery why Rodshtein didn't play 37...Qxc3 in the first game, leading to a dead draw after 38.Rxc3 Bxf2 39.Nxe6 Rxc3 40.Bxc3 fxe6. Even after 37...Bxc7 39.Bxc7, trading queens would have given him excellent drawing chances in the opposite-colored bishop ending. The draw wouldn't be guaranteed on account of the rooks, but keeping queens on as well made it harder, not easier, for him to defend. Eventually the queens came off, but under more favorable circumstances for Fedoseev. It still wasn't easy for White to win until Rodshtein's 69...Kf7, allowing White to play 70.Rf8+ and 71.Rf6. After that, the conversion was routine. Rodshtein did a great job of creating a complicated mess in game two, and he had good chances to win as soon as the early middlegame. The game went back and forth, and Rodshtein missed a very good chance on move 33, when taking on b5 followed by d6 would give him a winning advantage. From there on, he played too passively, and Fedoseev took over the initiative. White had to play 41.Bg2 to stay alive, and after missing that chance he resigned three moves later.

    Finally, in a match that would have been better as a semi-final or even a final, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Alexander Grischuk had a heavyweight battle in keeping with their ratings. They drew the 25-minute games, and saved the best for last. In the first 10-minute game, Grischuk's attempt to solve his strategic problems with tactics failed. In particular, 28...Rg6, going for counterplay, was strongly met by a great pawn sacrifice from MVL. From 30 to the end of the game, Vachier-Lagrave blew his opponent off the board with one threat after another in a great display of the power of the initiative. The second game was a battle between the initiative - again, on MVL's side - and static goods. Grischuk's 10.Bxc6 wrecked Black's queenside structure, but at the cost of the bishop pair, weak light squares, and a few moves later, a badly sidelined queen. Vachier-Lagrave found a great exchange sac, but misplayed it a few moves later and wound up in an inferior ending. After two further inaccuracies, he wound up in a lost ending with bishop and pawn against Grischuk's rook and pawn. Grischuk made a very serious practical error when he didn't play 44.h3, after which proving a win with hardly any time on his clock was as good as impossible, and MVL advanced to the fifth round.

    The games are here, but I've only annotated the second Svidler-Bu Xiangzhi game, along with the two MVL-Grischuk 10-minute games.

    Tomorrow the quarter-finals begin, with these pairings (in bracket order): Svidler - Vachier-Lagrave, Ivanchuk - Aronian, So - Fedoseev, Rapport - Ding Liren.

    Will Svidler continue his question to reach his fourth consecutive Candidates event? (Admittedly, once he was the organizer's wildcard pick, but the other two times he qualifed through the World Cup.) Or will Vachier-Lagrave stay alive as he hopes to reach the Candidates for the first time in his career? Can Ivanchuk survive the top remaining seed, Aronian, and show that his glory days are still going? And will the young upstarts Fedoseev and Rapport (22 and 21 years old, respectively) be put in their place by their elderly opponents (So and Ding Liren; 23 and 24 years old, respectively)?

    Saturday
    Sep022017

    Vachier-Lagrave vs. Xiong

    This past Wednesday, Chess.com's Speed Chess Championship marched on with its penultimate first round match, between world #2 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and the young Jeffery Xiong. The video is here, and I'll give the result in the comments section, to avoid providing a spoiler to anyone who wants to enjoy the match as if live.

    Friday
    Aug112017

    Sinquefield Cup, Round 9: Vachier-Lagrave Defeats Nepomniachtchi and Wins the Tournament Outright

    Maxime Vachier-Lagrave had the best chances of anyone coming into the round to emerge as the sole tournament winner, and he came through with a smooth positional win over Ian Nepomniachtchi. It was a little cheeky of Nepo to play the Najdorf against the world's top specialist in that variation, and it was interesting to see MVL avoid the most theoretical lines in reply. Vachier-Lagrave went for one of the stock positional plans, aiming to swap all the minor pieces except for a white knight (to plant on d5) and a black bishop (destined to suffer either from restriction or irrelevance on the dark squares). Having achieved the plan, he had little trouble converting his advantage, and by the time Nepomniachtchi resigned only Levon Aronian could catch him.

    And that was only in theory. Aronian played very sharply with Black against Magnus Carlsen, but Carlsen defended well while accumulating positional advantages elsewhere. By the time MVL won, Aronian was struggling for a draw, but couldn't achieve it. That left Magnus Carlsen half a point behind Vachier-Lagrave, and with mixed feelings at the end of the tournament. Overall he played well and finished strongly, but he could very easily have finished the clear winner with a +5 score, had he not blundered away a winning position against Vachier-Lagrave in round 4 on his way to a loss, and had he converted a winning rook ending against Hikaru Nakamura in round 6.

    Carlsen shared second place with Viswanathan Anand. The good news for Anand was that his opponent was Wesley So (this wouldn't normally be good news, but So had a very bad tournament by his standards), but the bad news is that he was playing Black. The game was a fairly short draw, and if anything So could have pushed a little harder than he did. Overall, though, it was a fine tournament for the former world champion.

    Sergey Karjakin could have joined the tie for second with a win over Nakamura, but with Black that wasn't going to be easy. The game was pretty balanced throughout, with Nakamura enjoying the initiative until almost all the pieces were hoovered off the board.

    Finally, Peter Svidler's quest to win a game finally bore fruit. After losing in round 1 and drawing his next seven games, Svidler reached 50% with a win over Fabiano Caruana.

    Final Standings:

    1. Vachier-Lagrave 6 (of 9)
    2-3. Carlsen, Anand 5.5
    4-5. Aronian, Karjakin 5
    6. Svidler 4.5
    7. Caruana 4
    8. Nakamura 3.5
    9-10. So, Nepomniachtchi 3

    Sunday
    Aug062017

    Sinquefield Cup, Round 4: Vachier-Lagrave Wins From a Lost Position Against Carlsen, Leads the Tournament

    Today was certainly an eventful day at the 2017 Sinquefield Cup, one which will gnaw at Magnus Carlsen if he doesn't come back to win the tournament. Through 40 moves of his game with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave the evaluation had been steadily equal, despite the complex position. As he has done to so many people over the years, he managed to outfox MVL, and just a few moves later he was winning. The winning move was a natural and obvious one - 46.Rd2 - and it would be surprising if Carlsen didn't see and consider it. The basic point is that if Black moves the attacked rook away, to b8, say, to neutralize any Nxb6 tricks, White plays Ka3 (so that ...Nb4 or ...Nc1 won't come with check) followed by Ne3, picking up the wayward knight on d3.

    I'm not sure what Carlsen would have missed in that line; perhaps he just thought that 46.Rg2 was winning and played it. Both players made the next moves quickly: 46...Bh3 47.Rxg3 Bxf1 and now 48.Rf3, which was another error. (48.Bxd8 was equal.) Maybe Carlsen had only expected 48...Bg2 in reply, and here 49.Rxd3 Rxd3 50.Ne5+ followed by 51.Nxd3 is winning. After Vachier-Lagrave's 48...Be2, however, Carlsen was in trouble, and now he thought for more than 13 minutes. The move he chose wasn't best, though it may have been the best practical decision. Either way, MVL figured everything out perfectly, and when the dust settled after a long forcing sequence Black was up a pawn in a knight vs. bishop ending, soon to be two pawns up. Carlsen was able to set his opponent one last problem with 62.b4, but Vachier-Lagrave's great move 62...c4! sealed the victory.

    That was a fine achievement by Vachier-Lagrave, after getting into trouble, and he's now the sole leader with three points out of four. Carlsen had been tied for first, so he's now a point behind, while the other co-leader coming into the round, Fabiano Caruana, is half a point back after his draw with Sergey Karjakin on the white side of a 4.d3 Anti-Berlin.

    That was a quick draw, as was Levon Aronian's game with Viswanathan Anand. It was an English, and both players continued their "trends" from earlier in the event. As in his round 1 game with Ian Nepomniachtchi - where he was also White in an English - Aronian played a speedy h4-h5, while Anand continued his much more consistent, seemingly lifelong habit of swapping bishops for knights. The game was short but interesting, and in the end Anand repeated moves in a slightly better position.

    The third draw of the day was also short, and lively. Peter Svidler played the Italian Game against Wesley So, but rather than go for the trendy lines with 0-0, d3, and a4, he played a good old-fashioned line with c3 and d4, meeting ...exd4 with e5. Baadur Jobava has been an advocate of this system for some time, most recently beating Vladimir Kramnik with it in Leuven. So was ready for it, and once he was on his own he did a nice job of figuring things out, and the game finished peacefully.

    The last game was actually the first one to finish, and it did not have a peaceful conclusion. Hikaru Nakamura came out of the opening against Ian Nepomniachtchi in good shape, but his 20th and 21st moves were mistaken (and probably a matched pair, as Nakamura played the second move quickly). It seems that he just blundered material (rather than sacrificing it). It's hard to believe that he missed 22.Ba6, but maybe he initially thought it wasn't a big deal due to 22...Ra8 23.Rxc6 Rxa6, or maybe he saw that and missed 24.Bd6, or that after that 24...Qb7 25.Bxf8 Qxc6 26.b5 leaves Black without any last tricks to keep material equality. Whatever the story, Nakamura wound up lost after 22...Nxb4 23.Bxc8 Rxc8 24.Rxc8+ Bxc8 25.Rc1, despite having a pawn for the exchange. Nepomniachtchi did a competent job of bringing home the full point, and is now doing alright in the tournament after his 0-2 start.

    Here are the pairings for round 5:

    Vachier-Lagrave (3) - Aronian (2)
    Anand (2) - Caruana (2.5)
    So (2) - Carlsen (2)
    Karjakin (2) - Nepomniachtchi (1.5)
    Nakamura (1.5) - Svidler (1.5)

    Wednesday
    Aug022017

    Sinquefield Cup, Day 1: Aronian, Vachier-Lagrave, and Karjakin Start with Wins

    It was not a dull first round at the Sinquefield Cup - despite the presence of two Closed Ruys and two Giuoco Pianos out of the five games. As long as players are willing to fight, the games will get interesting, and so they did.

    That said, the liveliest game was the one non-1.e4 game. Levon Aronian played the English against Ian Nepomniachtchi, and while the line was one Nepo said that he himself had prepared to play with White, he apparently couldn't remember what to do against it with Black. His decision on move 11 to sac his b-pawn was iffy, and 14...Bxc3 only made things worse. His position went further downhill after 16...Be6, which can fairly be described as the losing move. Aronian had no trouble from there, winning more material every few moves until Nepomniachtchi gave up on move 29, down a bishop and a pawn.

    The other two wins came from the Italian Game. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was better against Wesley So much of the way, but So was mostly okay until he played 32...f5. Opening the board favored MVL and his bishops, and left So in a precarious position. The decisive error came on move 40, when So played 40...Kd8? instead of repeating with 40...Kf6. The upshot was that he trapped his own rook, so that in the final position the otherwise desirable 43...Nxb6 would be met by 44.Bxb7, collecting the aforementioned rook.

    The other Italian victory was Sergey Karjakin's win over Peter Svidler. White didn't achieve an opening advantage, but often a playable, interesting position is victory enough. Karjakin's 16.c4 was visually pleasing, creating a row of White pawns from a4 through e4, and more importantly it gave Black a host of moves and plans to choose from. Svidler burned a pretty fair amount of time on this move (and about an hour in total from moves 13-17, inclusive), and chose a mistaken idea starting with 16...exd4. White's queenside clump of pawns on the a- and b-files soon proved decisive, and although it wasn't the best move it's fitting that the game finished with 39.a7, moving the pawn next to his adjacent passer on b7.

    The other games were drawn. The marquee matchup between Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana (with Caruana playing White) was a well-played and well-fought draw in a Closed Ruy with 6.d3. Only the game between Viswanathan Anand and Hikaru Nakamura may deserve a little bit of criticism, as Nakamura was meaningfully better (with Black) in a 4.d3 Anti-Berlin when the draw was agreed. It isn't as though Nakamura hasn't displayed his fighting prowess at the chess board for around two decades, so if he is in need of some slack for the draw, we should speedily and wholeheartedly give it to him.

    Here are the round 2 pairings:

    Carlsen (.5) - Karjakin (1)
    Aronian (1) - Caruana (.5)
    Nakamura (.5) - Vachier-Lagrave (1)
    Svidler (0) - Anand (.5)
    Nepomniachtchi (0) - So (0)

    Sunday
    Jun252017

    Carlsen Wins the Paris leg of the 2017 Grand Chess Tour

    The 2017 Grand Chess Tour (GCT) kicked off this past week with a rapid & blitz event in Paris. (The second leg kicks off this Wednesday in Leuven, Belgium, with the same format but a slightly different cast of characters.) On Wednesday (the 21st) the ten players began three days of rapid play (three rounds per day), and on Saturday they played a blitz round robin, followed by another blitz round robin (with colors reversed) on Sunday. Rapid games were counted double, so a maximum of 18 points was available from each format, and the totals were combined to determine players' overall placement and the number of GCT points they received.

    The winners were Magnus Carlsen and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who both finished with 24 points. Carlsen went undefeated in the rapid stage, scoring 14/18, while MVL dominated the blitz with 13/18. A two-game rapid playoff ensued, won by Carlsen 1.5-.5 (he won the first game with White and gave a charity draw in game two in a near-winning position to clinch the match). He thus received 12 tour points, while MVL got 10. (Tour standings can be found here.)

    Back to the event. Magnus Carlsen started out in beast mode, going undefeated through the rapid portion and winning his first four blitz games as well. It wasn't just his results that were good - he wasn't just fortunate or opportunistic - he played the kind of excellent chess that led him to be a triple world champion in 2014, winning everything in sight and enjoying a huge gap between his closest challengers on the classical rating list.

    In the rest of the field, someone else would star too - but it generally wasn't the same person two days in a row. For instance, on day 1 both Carlsen and Wesley So finished with 2.5/3, but So's fine score wasn't achieved so impressively, and indeed he quickly fell back. He lost to Carlsen in round 4, drew his next four games, and lost to Karjakin in the last round. On day 2 Nakamura impressed with 2.5/3, drawing in round 6 with Carlsen, and having gone 2/3 on day 1 his total was good enough to leave him...half a point behind Carlsen, who also went 2.5/3 on day 2. (Technically a point behind, on the 2-1-0 scoring, but let's bracket that for now.) Like So the previous day, however, Nakamura started day three with a loss and was out of the race for first in the rapid section. The hero of day 3 was Alexander Grischuk, who went 3-0. Carlsen only went 2-1, so Grischuk even managed to gain some ground. It was a fine result, but not quite enough to catch up. The final standings of the rapid competition look like this (here the doubling will be included):

    1. Carlsen 14
    2. Grischuk 13
    3. Nakamura 12
    4-5. Vachier-Lagrave, Mamedyarov 11
    6. So 9
    7. Karjakin 8
    8. Topalov 5
    9. Bacrot 4
    10. Caruana 3

    That's correct: Caruana scored three points, or 1.5/9. He lost his first three games - from two winning positions and one that was vastly superior - drew in round 4, and then lost his next three games as well. (Almost an Inverse-Sinquefield Cup.) He drew the last two games but still finished the rapid in last place - but this sad state of affairs would not carry over to the blitz.

    Caruana was one of the heroes of the blitz, except for the first game, which he lost to Carlsen. Carlsen started off on fire, as noted above, winning his first four games. But then things started going a bit screwy. He lost on time in round 5 to Grischuk from a position that was just about impossible to lose, but he spent a second or two too long trying to figure out how to maintain some small practical winning chances. After this he failed to convert a serious advantage against Sergey Karjakin, and then lost very unnecessarily to Vachier-Lagrave. Carlsen drew his next two games, and only a win over his new customer So in round 9 let him finish the day still in the overall lead.

    Carlsen scored 6/9 in the blitz for 20 points overall; Nakamura was in second with 19 after scoring 7/9 in the blitz. Grischuk had slipped to third after a poor first day; the three-time world blitz champion only scored 4.5 points to wind up with 17.5 overall. But two other players had a strong first day, both scoring 6/9. One was Vachier-Lagrave, who was now up to fourth with 17 points overall, and the other was Caruana. After the loss to Carlsen he went 6/8 to reach a more respectable total, though he remained in the bottom half of the table. Etienne Bacrot continued to struggle, which wasn't surprising for the lowest-rated player in the field (by far), but he didn't have the worst score. That unfortunate distinction went to So, who duplicated Caruana's result in the rapid: three draws and six losses. It's a tough field.

    On day two of the blitz, the pattern noted above recurred: Nakamura faltered. He went =2, -3 in the first five games, losing to MVL, but then also to So and Bacrot. While Carlsen too started out with a loss (to the resurgent Caruana), he then righted the ship with two wins. After a further two draws the event seemed to be over, but then things got interesting. First and foremost, Carlsen fell apart, losing in consecutive rounds to Karjakin, MVL, and Nakamura. Nakamura finished strongly with wins in rounds 15, 17, and 18 (the last round), but his loss to Mamedyarov in round 16 put him out of the running for first. Nevertheless, while Carlsen entered the last round a point ahead of Nakamura, he had not only been caught, but even surpassed, by Vachier-Lagrave.

    Vachier-Lagrave beat Nakamura in round 10, So in round 11, Bacrot in round 13, Mamedyarov in round 15, and Carlsen in round 16. When he drew in round 17 with Karjakin, he entered the last round half a point ahead of Carlsen. MVL had Black against Grischuk, and played well enough to draw; he never came within sniffing distance of a win. To force a tiebreak, Carlsen had to win with White; fortunately, his opponent was Wesley So. That's a crazy thing to say, given So's results in pretty much every event the past year prior to this one, but So had a terrible time in Paris, and this year it seems like Nakamura has transferred his old curse against Carlsen to his countryman. So was badly outplayed from the beginning, and then blundered a piece on move 24 and resigned immediately.

    Thus Carlsen and Vachier-Lagrave finished tied for first overall, and as noted above, Carlsen won the playoff. Here are the final standings in the blitz:

    1. Vachier-Lagrave 13
    2-3. Nakamura, Caruana 11
    4-5. Karjakin, Carlsen 10
    6-7. Grischuk, Mamedyarov 9
    8. Topalov 6.5
    9. So 6
    10. Bacrot 4.5

    Overall:

     

    1-2. Carlsen, Vachier-Lagrave 24 (of 36)
    3. Nakamura 23
    4. Grischuk 22
    5. Mamedyarov 20
    6. Karjakin 18
    7. So 15
    8. Caruana 14
    9. Topalov 11.5
    10. Bacrot 8.5

     

    Thursday
    Jun152017

    Norway Chess 2017, Round 8: Draws on Top and a Spiky Tail

    It looks like Magnus Carlsen's reign at the top of the rating list will continue for at least another tournament, as his risky play against Sergey Karjakin paid off. Worse for much of the leadup to the first time control, Carlsen's luck finally started to change when Karjakin erred on move 40. That error wasn't fatal, but Karjakin's 41st move - played after a 27-minute think(!) - was. Very strange.

    That took Carlsen out of last place, which he shared with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, but it didn't get him out of the tie with MVL. Vachier-Lagrave defeated one of yesterday's heroes, Vladimir Kramnik, and Kramnik's loss was reminiscent of his previous loss to Levon Aronian (in round 6). In both cases he had superb preparation with Black, rattling out 20 moves and achieving a fine position. But as in the earlier game, it wasn't even close to being good enough to achieve a draw (or more). Vachier-Lagrave outplayed Kramnik to reach a superior but not yet winning double rook ending, and then Kramnik, like Karjakin, made his fatal error after the time control.

    So the new tailender is Karjakin, with three points out of eight. Carlsen and Vachier-Lagrave are tied with Viswanathan Anand with three and a half points apiece; out of the race for first but also out of the cellar. Anand drew quickly and comfortably with Black against Levon Aronian, who was and remains the tournament leader. Hikaru Nakamura is still in clear second after his short draw, with White, against Wesley So.

    Nakamura could have been caught in second by Anish Giri, had the latter won with White against Fabiano Caruana. He was better throughout, but despite the bloated numbers your engine might display he was never winning the bishop vs. knight ending. Giri played on a long time, hoping for a miracle or for his 24-year-old opponent to die of old age, but once it was clear that neither was going to happen he reconciled himself to the draw.

    There's one round to go, and here's how the final round pairings shake out:

    • Karjakin (3) - Vachier-Lagrave (3.5)
    • Caruana (3.5) - Nakamura (5)
    • So (4) - Aronian (5.5)
    • Kramnik (4) - Giri (4.5)
    • Anand (3.5) - Carlsen (3.5)

    Wednesday
    May242017

    Three Interesting Recent Games

    I'm not going to analyze any of the three, mainly to avoid domesticating them. Each impressed and amazed me in its own way. The first, Najer-Mamedyarov, is a tactical tour de force by the hottest player in chess. (Don't peek, students!) The second, Ding Liren vs. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, featured a surprising sacrifice of a full exchange in the opening. The entire game was a mess, and the only thing that was clear is that Black was very fortunate to come away with half a point. The third game, between Hou Yifan and Jon Ludwig Hammer, was another matter. I watched a few moves early on in the rook vs. knight ending that arose after Black's 49th move, and was sure that it was a draw. A few hours later, I saw that Hou had won it (on her way to an excellent +1 result in the Grand Prix) and could hardly believe my eyes. Brilliancy by Hou or insanity by Hammer? I'll let you figure it out by yourself; I'll offer my own guess in the comments if anyone else offers one first.

    Games here.

    Monday
    Nov072016

    Last Week's World Chess Column

    In my most recent World Chess column, I take a look at the recently completed Corsica Masters, a rapid event won by Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. MVL defeated Viswanathan Anand in the final knockout match, and I present several of their games from that event.