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    Entries in Morozevich (9)

    Saturday
    Oct222011

    The Daily Update: Unive Finishes, Morozevich Beats Shirov in Blitz

    1. Unive: So now it's official. Vladimir Kramnik finished the tournament off with a quick and easy draw with Judit Polgar, winning with a fine 4.5-1.5 score that put him 1.5 points clear of the field. Anish Giri pushed Maxime Vachier-Lagrave for a long time in the other game before acquiescing in the day's second draw. Still, it was good enough to keep Giri in clear second place with a 50% score, half a point ahead of Vachier-Lagrave and a point ahead of Polgar. In rating news, Kramnik lost a point for the draw, but if he doesn't play again before the next official list comes out his 2799.6 will be rounded up to 2800.

    Turning now to the open event. American Aleksandr Lenderman and Ukranian Ilya Nyzhnyk took turns leading all tournament long, and entered the last round tied for first with 6.5/8. Which player won the tournament? Neither. Lenderman was ground down by Sergei Tiviakov; Nyzhnyk was upended by Sipke Ernst; and a third winner was Robin Van Kampen, on the strength of his victory over Stewart Haslinger.

    2. According to a TWIC [or?] tweet by Mark Crowther, Alexander Morozevich defeated Alexei Shirov 7-5 in a blitz match on Friday. (No games yet, but I hope they're forthcoming!)

    Sunday
    Oct162011

    The Daily Update: Unive Crown Group and a Whole Lot More

    So many events! Let's start with the one that just started:

    1. The Unive Crown Group: In round 1, Vladimir Kramnik got off with a bang, crushing Anish Giri in a beautiful attacking game. Giri's unlikely to be remain anyone's whipping boy for long, but for now Kramnik seems to have his number. In the other game Maxime Vachier-Lagrave probably should have won the rook ending against Judit Polgar, but after a long defense she saved the draw.

    2. The Governor's Cup (Saratov): Alexander Morozevich drew with Black today against Dmitry Andreikin, and with 6.5/8 now leads by "only" a point and a half in the wake of the day's only decisive game. Evgeny Tomashevsky ground out a win over Alexander Moiseenko to reach 5 points. Three rounds remain.

    3. Women's Grand Prix (Nalchik): At last, at last Zhao Xue was held to a draw. Still, with 6.5/7, a 2910 TPR and a two point lead over the second-placed Ju Wenju, she'd need a pretty spectacular collapse not to hold on for four more rounds.

    4. Bundesliga: The three-day weekend finished, and Levon Aronian made a successful surprise appearance today, joining an already super-strong field.

    5. Magistral Casino Barcelona: After five rounds (but only four games for about half the field), a pair of North American ex-candidates with surnames beginning with "S" share first with 3/4: Yasser Seirawan and Kevin Spraggett. (They're probably the oldest players in the field too, so rejoice, fellow middle-agers!)

    Saturday
    Oct152011

    The Daily Update: New, Ongoing and Forthcoming Events, Plus Two Great Performances

    The chess calendar is as busy as ever, with a number of noteworthy events underway.

    1. Saratov. The Governor's Cup is about 2/3 finished, and it's a one-man show starring Alexander Morozevich. After the draw with Alexei Shirov in round 6 he "bounced back" to defeat Evgeny Alekseev in round 7. His six points gives him a 3010 TPR, a two point lead over the field, and ninth place on the live rating list. (If he keeps this up for the remaining four rounds, he might even make it to #7 on the list.)

    2. Women's Grand Prix in Nalchik. In a way even more impressive is the performance of Zhao Xue in Nalchik. She too has six points and a two point lead over her closest competitors, in her case it's 6/6. The TPR calculations on perfect scores are dubious, but even on the minimum "realistic" approach (based on extrapolating the TPRs from lower scores)  her performance is over 2900. Can she maintain it over the last five rounds?

    3. Magistral Casino Barcelona. This isn't an elite event, though some fine players are participating, but it's worth a mention since the apparently unretired Yasser Seirawan is not only participating but off to an early lead with 2.5/3 in this nine(! - an odd number) man tournament.

    4. Bundesliga. The 2011/12 season of the Bundesliga - the strongest chess nobody sees - starts this weekend. Play began on Friday and continues through Sunday with stars like Peter Svidler, Michael Adams, Francisco Vallejo, Etienne Bacrot (just one day after Poikovsky! Then again, he's probably well-rested after that tournament), Vugar Gashimov and many more.

    5. Unive Crown Group. This is a small but strong double-round robin starting tomorrow. The four players are Vladimir Kramnik, Anish Giri, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Judit Polgar - not bad at all!

    Friday
    Oct142011

    The Daily Update: Poikovsky and Saratov

    The Karpov tournament in Poikovsky finished with some more short draws, but also a couple of wins, one of which was very important for the final standings. Etienne Bacrot defeated Zahar Efimenko - with Black, no less - and caught up with Sergey Karjakin to tie for first place. (I wonder if they used tiebreaks to separate them: maybe fewest moves per draw would be fitting for this event.) Both players wound up on +2: two wins and seven draws, to be precise.

    Meanwhile, Alexander Morozevich keeps putting on a show in the Governor's Cup in Saratov. After four straight wins he was finally held to a second draw today by Alexei Shirov, but just barely. Their game was incredibly sharp and flashy, and certainly worth your having a look. With 5/6 (TPR: 2980) Morozevich leads Peter Leko, Evgeny Alekseev and Evgeny Tomashevsky by a point and a half (and everyone else there by even more).

    Wednesday
    Oct122011

    Catching Up on Poikovsky and Saratov

    Aside from the Sao Paulo/Bilbao super-tournament that just finished, two other high caliber events are well underway. One is the Karpov Tournament in Poikovsky, Russia, and the other is the Governor's Cup in Saratov - also in Russia.

    Both events have had a disappointingly high percentage of draws, and in the case of the Poikovsky tournament, short draws. In eight rounds (forty games) in Poikovsky there have been 31 draws and only nine decisive games. With one round to go, Sergey Karjakin, on the strength of his win in round eight, has a half-point lead over Etienne Bacrot and Fabiano Caruana.

    While there have been a lot of draws in Saratov as well, they've generally been harder-fought. Besides, the big story is the performance of Alexander Morozevich, who has continued his successful comeback this year with a great 4.5/5 start, giving him a TPR of 3072 and a one and a half point lead over the chase pack. Just a few months ago Morozevich was a shade under 2700; now on the live chess ratings list he's up to 2755.2. That's good enough for 12th, and another win will vault him into ninth place, ahead of Nakamura.

    (N.B. Both tournament sites are in Russian, so some just looking for games and crosstables might prefer TWIC's coverage of the events, here and here, respectively.)

    Sunday
    Sep042011

    World Cup 2011: Round 3, Day 2: Maybe Chess Players Really Are Crazy

    There were some real surprises today, and they ran from one end of the pairing table to the other.

    On board 1, the top seed is out. Sergey Karjakin lost to Judit Polgar yesterday, and was unable to make any headway on the white side of an Open Ruy today. Polgar played well, drew comfortably, and advanced to the round of 16.

    On board 2, Emil Sutovsky reminded us of two things: first, why we love watching his chess; second, why he hasn't gone further in the chess world. With the white pieces and needing only a draw against Vassily Ivanchuk, whom he upset yesterday, you'd expect Sutovsky to choose something solid. Not passive, but solid. So what does he do? 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.f4 Nf6 5.Nf3 0-0 and now not 6.Bd3 but 6.e5 Nfd7 7.h4. It's not that this is a bad line, but it's absurdly committal. Stranger still, a bit further on he went into a line that scores well for Black and that the computer likes for Black as well. The resulting position was an utter mess - just what Sutovsky would have wanted if he had been the one in the must-win situation, but not helpful in his actual circumstances. Sutovsky erred early on, and Ivanchuk played very accurately (though not quite perfectly) and won an impressive game.

    Mamedyarov - Zherebukh and Efimenko - Ponomariov were short draws by players who would apparently prefer to settle things in tomorrow's tiebreaks.

    Gashimov - Tomashevsky saw White get nothing from the opening or the middlegame, but Gashimov ground him down in the ending to win the game and the match.

    Back to the bizarro world. Alexander Morozevich lost a very exciting game to Alexander Grischuk yesterday, so with White you just know he's spoiling for revenge. Win, or at least come home on your shield. Get knocked down six times, get up seven. Eye of the tiger, rage against the dying of the light, etc., etc., etc. Okay, let's see what happened:

    Morozevich-Grischuk: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 d5 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bxf6 Qxf6 8.a3 Bxc3+ 9.Qxc3 0-0 10.Nf3 Bf5 11.e3 Rc8 12.Rc1 (still theory) 1/2-1/2.

    Somewhere, the caricature of Peter Leko is spinning in its grave.

    Radjabov - Bacrot saw Radjabov win to advance to the next round. It's interesting that Radjabov plays such sharp and principled openings with Black, but with White is playing the slow systems of the Italian Game. Then again, he's succeeding with it, so why not? He came out of the opening with an edge thanks to his extra space, and Bacrot's attempt to neutralize it by sacrificing the exchange didn't succeed, as Radjabov showed good technique to win the endgame.

    Nepomniachtchi - Kamsky: Nepomniachtchi equalized the match, winning a Gruenfeld-like line of the Symmetrical English. White obtained two advantages out of the opening: the bishop pair and one giant pawn island against Black's two islands. From there, Nepo won a textbook game, restricting Black's position more and more, tying Kamsky up and breaking through on the queenside. They're off to playoffs tomorrow.

    Svidler - Caruana was a short draw; they too will continue to tiebreaks tomorrow.

    Jobava - Jakovenko went into a sideline of the Botvinnik System, and while Jobava never had an advantage, the game was pretty close until 33.c4? As Jakovenko had won the first day, maybe Jobava felt he had to do something radical there to avoid a draw. In any case, the pawn sac didn't help him, and Jakovenko won, sweeping their mini-match 2-0.

    Vitiugov - Potkin was a draw, but unlike many of the other drawn games in 1-1 matches, they played a real game. That's not to say that either player was ever in trouble though: Potkin comfortably equalized with Capablanca's system against the Reti, and had the slightly more comfortable half of the draw. Off to the tiebreaks.

    Nielsen - Parligras: An 18-move draw: playoffs for them.

    Bruzon - Le Quang Liem: A 6.Be3 e5 7.Nf3 Najdorf where Bruzon obtained a serious, at times winning advantage. There seem to be small inaccuracies here and there by both players, but White was clearly better (or more) from the opening through move 33. Here, perhaps in time trouble, Bruzon played two very strange moves: 33.h3? (the Ng4 wasn't in trouble and there were no back rank issues, so this is just an important loss of a tempo) Rxc2 34.b3? (allowing Black to eliminate the dangerous pawn on b7). The best move was 33.Rfe1 (33...Rxc2 34.Rxe4), with the subtle idea of meeting 33...Nd6 with 34.Red1! However, even the more obvious and human moves 33.b3 and 33.c3 would have maintained good winning chances as well. After the moves in the game, Le escaped and drew, and he and Bruzon will also play tomorrow.

    Moiseenko - Navara: I'd love to tell you what happened in this game, but as of this writing there's still some question. Navara failed to convert a winning position yesterday, and it seems he has done so once again today - though not the way you might think. (I doubt any of my readers could even invent such a story.) On move 55, Navara promoted a pawn to a queen, leaving him with just that queen against Moiseenko's rook and e3-pawn. A pawn on that square does not give its possessor a fortress, and on move 73 Navara captured the pawn. Queen vs. rook is a theoretical win for the strong side starting from any normal position, but against strong defense the side with the queen had better know what he's doing, or the 50-move rule will become a factor. And so it was here - it took Navara 32 moves to make four moves' worth of progress. From moves 106 on, however, Navara played perfectly and Moiseenko didn't, and on move 114 (after the move 114...Kd6-c6), with an imminent and obvious mate coming (in four moves), White resigned.

    Or did he? The arbiter put the White king on d4 and now a Black king placed on e5 would indicate that Black won. (For those who wonder why game scores sometimes have bizarre final moves, it's because of the idiotic design of the DGT boards, compounded by incompetent/inadequately trained arbiters. I would love to fire the people at DGT who refuse to create a design that sidesteps this issue and all the ruined and ambiguous game scores this design flaw creates...alas. Obviously the idea of putting a small switch on the side of the board with results for a White win, a Black win and a draw, with a confirmation button, is far too complicated. [No doubt other methods are possible, but isn't that simple enough?] Rant over, until next time.) Anyway, rather than putting the Black king on e5, the arbiter put it on d5. (The way it works is this: the kings go on the central squares. Put both kings on white squares: White wins. Both on black squares: Black wins. Opposite colors: draw.) So a draw?

    I assumed this was just a tired or inattentive arbiter inadvertently showing once again why the DGT design is so hopelessly stupid, but the real story seems to be that it really was a draw. But how? One hypothesis that was kicked around was that Navara misread the scoresheet and offered a draw, thinking that the 50-move rule had come into effect even though only 40 moves (actually 42) had been played. But apparently that isn't it either. Rather, according to Pavel Eljanov's tweets, Navara had accidentally touched a piece in the middlegame and asked his opponent what to do. His opponent just said to make any move he wanted, and he did. But according to those tweets, this occurred in the middlegame, so why did he wait until he had mate in four to offer a draw out of guilt? And in any case, why would he have felt any guilt at all? The touch-move rule covers only cases where one intends to move a piece; when a piece is touched by (physical, not mental!) accident there's no obligation to move it at all. (Maybe this happened in time trouble, and felt that his action caused an improper distraction to his opponent?) Crazy. Anyway, they're off to tiebreaks tomorrow. (HT to Mark Crowther for supplying me with some sources on the controversy.)

    Bu Xiangzhi - Abhijeet Gupta was also absurd, but in a purely chess-related way. Their first game was drawn, and today Gupta enjoyed the advantage in an a quasi-endgame with queens and opposite-colored bishops. I don't think he was ever winning (though 46...Qc1+ 47.Ke2 Qh1 gives him excellent chances, and later 50...Bf4, aiming to put the bishop on e3, would put White on the ropes), but he had enduring pressure in a position he couldn't possibly lose. (Which means, of course, that he did lose it.) The climax of the game came after Bu's ingenious 58.g3! Whether this is best or not is unclear, but it confused Gupta. After 58...hxg3 59.Kg2 Qxb4 (59...Bxb4 was better) 60.Qd8+ it's a draw after either 60...Kf4 or 60...Kh6, but after Gupta's 60...Kh5?? 61.f4! it was time to resign. White threatens both 62.Qg5# and 62.Qh8#, and neither capture on f4 saves Black: 62...Bxf4 63.Bd1+ Kh6 64.Qh8+ Kg5 65.f4#, or 62...Qxf4 63.Bd1+ Kh6 64.Qh8+ Kg5 65.h4+ Qxh4 66.Qd8+ wins the queen. Bu advances to the round of 16.

    Lysyj - Dominguez: White avenged his loss on the previous day, grinding out a win in an ending with knights and opposite-colored bishops. It looks as if Dominguez might have been able to save the game with 54...Ne4+, though it's hard to believe. After 55.Bxe4 fxe4 Black seems to have a kind of fortress: White's knight can't move without dropping the c-pawn (which doesn't make the a-pawn's life a safe one either) and if his king goes to the fifth rank Black has ...e3. So maybe 55.Bxe4 isn't good, but if he doesn't take the knight Black plays 56...Nc5 and White's queenside pawns will disappear. Anyway, even if White has a study-like win after 54...Ne4+, it was Black's best chance. Dominguez preferred to bring his king to f6, to prevent White from playing Kg5, but this simply lost a piece: after 56.Ng3 Black has no defense to the idea of Be6/Bb7 followed by c8Q. They'll have tiebreaks tomorrow.

    The official site (with terrific, replayable video coverage) is here, while a quick source to look at the games (useful to make full sense of the notes above!) is here.

    Friday
    Jul292011

    Biel Concludes, Carlsen Triumphs

    By this I mean only the redundant bit of information that Magnus Carlsen won the Biel tournament (redundant because he had already clinched clear first with a round to go), not that he won today's game. With no pressure or anything (but rating points) to gain, he played simply and drew comfortably against Caruana to conclude another triumph in his short but remarkable career. Vachier-Lagrave and Shirov took things even more easily, drawing by repetition in only 21 moves (and without having burned much time on the clock - it wasn't that the players had to work their way through some crazy fireworks to split the point).

    Morozevich was in a less compromising mood, and he bounced back from yesterday's defeat by grinding Pelletier down in a queen and knight ending. He came up short of Carlsen in the race for first, but it was a very successful tournament for him overall. Between his performance here and in the Russia Championship qualifier in late June Morozevich has gained 31 points and moved up a staggering 27 places on the rating list. (Or at least, it would be staggering if we didn't recall that his official 2694 rating is by far his worst in about eight years, and his drop then was also a deep trough compared to what he had achieved for years prior to that. So this is just regression [or in his case, progression] to the mean, with a vengeance.)

    Final Standings:

    1. Carlsen 19/30 (on 3-1-0 scoring, on normal scoring he went 7/10)

    2. Morozevich 17 (6.5)

    3-4. Vachier-Lagrave, Shirov 12 (5)

    5. Caruana 10 (4)

    6. Pelletier 5 (2.5)

    Friday
    Jul292011

    This Week's ChessVideos Show: A Look at the Crazy Morozevich-Shirov From Biel

    Alexander Morozevich and Alexei Shirov played a crazy game in Biel a few days ago, one that deserved a closer look. So that's what you'll see here. There are all sorts of material imbalances, tactics galore, big swings in the evaluation - everything a fan of complicated, tactical chess would like. So I present the game in some detail, and stop periodically to invite viewers to make their own way through the complications as well. (You'll want to watch this video when you're feeling mentally energetic!)

    The show is here, is free (free registration required), and will be available on demand for the next month or so.

    Wednesday
    Dec092009

    This Week's ChessBase Show: Ponomariov the FIDE Champion

    Since Ruslan Ponomariov has made it to the finals of the 2009 World Cup, it seems like an auspicious moment to have a look back at the greatest prior success of his career. In early 2002, when he was still just 18 years old, Ponomariov managed to win the FIDE world championship in a similar knockout event, defeating his countryman Vassily Ivanchuk in the final. He was considered a great talent at the time, and a few years earlier had set the (then-) record for becoming the youngest GM ever, but no one expected him to win the title when players like Viswanathan Anand, Michael Adams, Alexander Morozevich, Vassily Ivanchuk, and other greats were playing. In fact, Ponomariov was only the 19th seed, but despite this he plowed through the opposition, defeating Li Wenliang, Sergei Tiviakov, Kiril Georgiev, Morozevich, Evgeny Bareev, Peter Svidler and then Ivanchuk. Very impressive!

    We'll look at one of his games against Morozevich, both because of the game's own merits and because it's typical of Ponomariov's style. It's combative and he doesn't shy away from complications, and once the game reaches the technical phase he's extremely efficient. Morozevich is also known as a great endgame player, but he was never given the chance to show what he could do. Add to it that Ponomariov outplayed "Moro" in one of the latter's favorite openings, and you've got a game worth seeing.

    And how does one do that? It's simple: log on to the Playchess server at 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday night (= 3 a.m. CET Thursday morning), go to the Broadcast room and double-click on Ponomariov-Morozevich under the Games tab. The show is free for Premium members and available for a fee for those interested in checking it out, "a la carte". Hope to see you there!