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    Entries in Seirawan (5)

    Saturday
    Oct292011

    A Long and Interesting Interview with Yasser Seirawan

    It has been republished a bunch of places, but I'll send you to the point of origin, Chessdom. Worth a read.

    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!

    Saturday
    May012010

    This Week's ChessVideos Show: Attacking the Deserted King

    There are positions where a player amasses a whole herd of pieces at the enemy king's doorstop. In such cases it's obvious that a big attack is on the way. But sometimes there isn't any such buildup, and yet an attack is possible and may very well succeed. How is this possible?

    One answer is that although the prospective attacker may have but a few pieces in the vicinity of the opponent's king, it might be that the defender has even fewer pieces to protect it. I believe that this explains how Topalov got crushed in game 4 against Anand from what looked like a fairly innocuous position, and it likewise helps explain the success of Larry Christiansen's brilliant attack against Yasser Seirawan in a 1978 contest.

    The games are instructive, entertaining and beautiful, so have a look here. The show is free (free registration required) and will be available on demand for the next month or so.

    Sunday
    Jan312010

    Yasser Seirawan: My Best Games (Vol. 1?)

    Grandmaster, two-time Candidate and former World Junior and U.S. Champion Yasser Seirawan has just released his first DVD with ChessBase. It covers his early career, from 1975 (when he defeated his first GM in tournament play) to 1982 (when he played his first game against a sitting world champion; by this point he had already won the World Junior, become a GM and won major tournaments). Over the course of five hours he presents 22 of his games in his characteristically warm and chatty style - he's as much raconteur as analyst in these videos.

    I enjoyed his presentations a lot, and think you will too. Does it mean you should fork over the money to buy this DVD? That I can't say. What I can say is this. First, I think most viewers will appreciate his style of presentation, and that will make it a good entertainment value. Further, and this is important, his chess style is very different from most of the top GMs playing today.

    Let's start with the openings. On the DVD you won't find any 1.e4 e5 games, there's only one Sicilian, and only two games that could be classified under 1.d4 d5 codes, and then only by transposition. Seirawan mostly plays the English with White in these early games, and with Black you'll get a steady dose of Frenches and Caro-Kanns. If you think you're in for stodge-R-us, however, you're in for a pleasant surprise. His games are very energetic, and Seirawan was as much of a fighting player as anyone else, especially in his ambitious youth. (Example: As a teenager facing Mikhail Tal, rated 2705 at the time, Seirawan turned down a draw in an inferior position!)

    It's not only his openings that are distinctive. His ability to maneuver and handle his king in unusual ways will remind some viewers of Nimzowitsch, Larsen and Petrosian (in their different but related ways), and if those three players are members of a distinctive school, I'd say that Seirawan was its Dean in the 1980s and 1990s. Looking at games like the ones he presents on the disc will open up a new world to some viewers, and it's to Seirawan's credit that he does this in a way that generates enthusiasm and a feeling of understanding rather than alienation and bewilderment.

    In short, I'm enthusiastic about this disc, and I hope there will be more. (Perhaps that depends on whether anyone buys this one, so I hope that a bunch of my American readers especially will support a man who did quite a lot for chess in the U.S. More info (but no sample, unfortunately) can be found here.