A six-game match between former world championship finalist Nigel Short and women's world champion Hou Yifan got underway today in the Netherlands. Short had White in game one and was pressing throughout, but only managed a draw. He had a chance to win a pawn with a small combination on move 41 (41.Na7 followed by 42.Nb5+ and 43.Nxc7) that would have given him excellent winning chances; other than this opportunity he didn't seem to miss anything big.
Entries in Nigel Short (13)
As already noted in the previous post, Garry Kasparov went through Nigel Short like a hot knife through butter in their Sunday games, blanking Short 5-0 and winning the overall contest by a massive 8.5-1.5 score.
Game 6, the first played on Sunday, was a rapid game, and it was competitive. Short enjoyed an advantage most of the way, but his 33rd move was a mistake. Kasparov's minor pieces soon dominated, and White's extra exchange played no role; in fact, Kasparov's 38th move, declining the opportunity to regain the exchange, was the right thing to do. Excepting a one-move hiccup on on move 42, Kasparov took over and won the ending convincingly.
In the blitz games, things just got worse and worse for the Englishman. In the first, Short played a provocative opening, and when Kasparov - as White - was able to embed pawns on c5 and d6 Black was condemned to a miserable existence for the rest of the game. He defended resiliently for a while, but when he chose 37...gxf5, giving White's knight the spectacular e4 square thanks to 38.exf5 in reply, it was all downhill and Kasparov won easily. That gave the ex-champ a 5.5-1.5 lead and thus clinched overall victory with three games to go.
Game 8 was very exciting. Kasparov played a Classical Sicilian, a line he seldom played (if ever) during his official career. His 13th move was especially interesting, inviting the obvious 14.e5 in reply. That's what Short played, and soon they banged out a series of moves finishing up with Kasparov's 21...Rd8. Black was better, but it wouldn't have been decisive just yet had Short played 22.b3. He instead pushed the b-pawn two squares, after which he was simply lost. 22.b4 gave White's king luft, but that's the only good thing it accomplished for White. The pawn was lost, White's king was exposed, and Kasparov finished the game with flair.
Game 9 was a sort of combination of a Reversed Philidor and King's Indian Attack against Short's French. Kasparov built for the kingside attack while Short tried to break through and break in on the queenside. Perhaps Black would have been fine had he tripled his heavy pieces on the b-file and entered (with 23...Qb7, aiming to move the rook to b3 or b2), but he didn't and he wasn't. Just a couple of moves later Kasparov was winning, and he finished the game off with an impressive display of power chess.
Finally, game 10 was yet another disaster for Short, his seventh loss in a row in the match. He was worse with White after 13.f4, and after 16...d5! it was clear that Kasparov was in his charge. The losing move came on move 21, when Short played 21.Nc2 rather than do something to pre-empt Black's idea of ...Ng4, ...Qh5 and mate. Kasparov conducted the final attack in great style (23...Bd7 was especially nice) and mated Short's king in the middle of the board.
In all, it was a fantastic performance by Kasparov, who could quite possibly have won the match with a 10-0 score. Unfortunately for Short, he slept very poorly during the match, having just traveled from Thailand, and that only impeded his performance, especially on the second day. Even so, Kasparov gave a remarkable display of power chess, and showed flashes of his former brilliance - especially once he decided after game 6 to just go for attacking chess, as in his youth. I watched the match in person, and was extremely impressed by what I saw - and more than I would have been listening to the commentators or seeing computer evaluations. It seems that the computer approved strongly of his play in those last four games, but there's still nothing like seeing and experiencing the game in the raw. It was only blitz, but it was inspiring.
The two-day rapid & blitz exhibition match between Garry Kasparov and his erstwhile challenger Nigel Short began today/yesterday/Saturday in St. Louis, and at the halfway point Kasparov leads the "Battle of the Legends" 3.5-1.5.
In game 1, the rapid game, Kasparov had White and enjoyed a winning advantage much of the way in a Bogo-Indian. Short hung in there, and as time dwindled away Kasparov had to reconcile himself to a draw. This was followed by four blitz games, which were dominated by Kasparov.
In the first, Kasparov found a nice pawn sac on the black side of an English, took over the initiative and finished with a strong attack. A note about the game score: I haven't checked TWIC, but on Chess24's website their record of the game finished prematurely. Here's how it ended: 33.gxf4 Qh5 34.Rxe3 dxe4 35.Qh2 Rg8+ 36.Kh1 e2 and only here did Short resign.
The second blitz game was won by Short, but in peculiar fashion. Kasparov was better all the way on the white side of a Nimzowitsch Defense, but simply forgot about the clock and lost on time. Oops.
Kasparov immediately struck back in the third blitz game, winning convincingly if not quite perfectly against Short's Nimzo-Larsen (1.b3). White quickly obtained a structural advantage, but this was always outweighed by Black's activity and kingside attacking chances.
Finally, Kasparov broke through with White on his third try. It wasn't a particularly clean game, and from a theoretical standpoint Short was doing fine with the semi-offbeat Chigorin. Nevertheless, the ex-champ outplayed him - several times - and finally brought home the full point.
Kasparov's two point lead could easily have been more, and while it's a significant edge he also led his last exhibition match with Short, several years ago, by two points with just three games remaining. He promptly lost the next two games before pulling out the finale, so Short's fans shouldn't give up hope.
Garry Kasparov and Nigel Short famously played a world championship match in 1993 (won easily by Kasparov), not to mention a rapid match in 1987 (also won easily by Kasparov) and then a rapid and blitz match in 2011 (won by Kasparov thanks to a win in the final game). Now, for some reason, they're going to do it again.
The match will take place April 25 and 26 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis, with each day starting with a rapid game (25' + 10" delay; using time delay rather than increment is a horrible custom foisted upon us in the U.S. by our beloved federation) followed by four blitz games (5' + 3" delay). I suppose it's good publicity for the St. Louis club, a chance for Kasparov to erase the stain of his near-collapse in the 2011 match (he led by two with three games to go, then promptly lost two straight games) and a chance for Short to finally slay the man he once called a "hairy ape". (I think this was shortly after Kasparov's famous quip, when he was asked who the winner of the Short-Timman final candidates match would be and how his championship match with that winner would go. His reply: "It will be Short and it will be short.")
Hopefully Kasparov will be in good form and can still show something of his old class; having him show up just to lose to someone he had a +22 score against in classical games would be a pity.
HT: Allen Becker.
Not so much that's new here in this piece by Nigel Short on the upcoming world championship match between Magnus Carlsen and titleholder Viswanathan Anand. Not much, but something. In particular, it settled a discussion I was having with a friend as to whether Garry Kasparov was in fact helping Magnus Carlsen beyond offering a bit of advice. It seems from this interview that he is in on Carlsen's team (at least to some non-trivial extent).
HT: Brian Karen
The match polemics and post mortems continue. This time it's Nigel Short weighing in, stating that world champion Viswanathan Anand has become "cautious", "conservative", mentally old and so on. It's not quite as bad as it sounds, when you read the piece, but it isn't a paean of praise to the chess Anand is playing these days.
(HT: Brian Karen)
The Bangkok Chess Club Open is nearing the finish, and British GM Nigel Short has the sole lead with 7.5/8 with a round to go. He drew with the untitled Sander Severino (2344) in round three, but has an otherwise clean score that includes wins over GMs Farrukh Amonatov and Hou Yifan. He leads the Vietnamese duo of Duc Hoa Nguyen and Van Huy Nguyen by a point, and so would clinch clear first with a draw in round 9 against the former. As for Hou Yifan, she's in a tie for 11th-22nd with 5.5 points.
The Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival didn't quite finish with the full fairy tale ending, but it was pretty close. Hou Yifan entered the last round with a half-point lead over her closest pursuers, and her reward was a game with second-seed Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. They drew after a full and complicated fight, and that gave several other players the chance to catch up with 8/10.
The only one to succeed was Nigel Short, who defeated Krishnan Sasikiran with Black in a Modern Benoni. It was a gutsy choice that paid off (literally!), and after that it was on to a two game blitz (10 minutes + 5 seconds per move) tiebreak match. Short won the first game - convincingly - in a Grand Prix Attack, and he probably could have won the second game as well, but was content to allow Hou to draw by perpetual check.
So Short took first, but all the same it was an incredible performance by the 17-year-old women's world champion. She finished with a 2872 TPR, going +4 -1 =2 against 2700s (and beating everyone below that as well). Michael Adams, Mamedyarov, Viktor Bologan and Emil Sutovsky finished half a point behind, and then another 17 players (including Judit Polgar) finished with 7 points apiece.
Garry Kasparov is still retired, only peeking up from time to time for little blitz events and/or rematches with former opponents. This time he played an eight-game blitz match (5' + 3" increments) against Nigel Short; it was their third match. The first was a rapid match in 1987 with six decisive games: Kasparov won 4-2, losing games 3 and 6. Then they played a world championship match in 1993, a 12.5-7.5 drubbing in Kasparov's favor that wasn't even as close as the lopsided score might suggest. (It was 10.5-4.5 after 15 games!)
This time it was closer, a 4.5-3.5 squeaker for the former world champion. Kasparov generally had the better of it in the first three games, but they were all drawn. Games four and five were deserved Kasparov wins, and it looked like the rout was on. Surprisingly, it didn't materialize. Short won games six and seven to level the match, and had White for the final game. Fortunately for Kasparov and his fans, he rose to the occasion, as he almost always used to before his collapse in the second Deep Blue match in 1997. He won a very good game against 4.Ng5 in the Two Knights to eke out an overall victory.
Another event finished today, the Swiss-system tournament in Oslo. As noted yesterday, Matthew Sadler had already clinched first place with a round to spare, but he finished in style by defeating the strong Russian GM Sergey Volkov. Sadler's score of 8/9 (2849 TPR!) gave him a 1.5 point margin of victory over Sipke Ernst and two full points over the next group of players. If he keeps this up, he might wind up in elite events again.
There were three decisive games in the Governor's Cup in Saratov, Russia: Morozevich beat Vitiugov, Alekseev defeated Ponomariov and Ni Hua was upended by Alexander Moiseenko. The three winners co-lead the tournament with 1.5/2; as you may recall, all six games were drawn in round 1.
Nothing happened today in the Karpov tournament in Poikovsky. That has been true for the most part even when they've had rounds, but this was a rest day so the players had an excuse.