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    Entries in Sergey Karjakin (97)

    Wednesday
    Oct242018

    Isle of Man: Four Lead After Five Rounds

    The perfect scores are no more at the Isle of Man International after today's draw between Wang Hao and Arkadij Naiditsch. There were a lot of draws on the top boards, but two players caught up: Jeffery Xiong, who defeated Richard Rapport with Black in a very interesting game; and Abhijeet Gupta, who outplayed his younger and higher-rated compatriot (and birthday boy) Vidit Gujrathi with White. They lead a group of seven four-pointers including Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Hikaru Nakamura, and Sergey Karjakin - the latter winning the very rare two knights vs. pawn ending against Sam Sevian. 27 players are another half a point behind, including 11 players rated over 2700. In fact, the top seven seeds, excluding third-seed MVL, are in that score group.

    Here are the leading pairings for round 6:

    1. Xiong (4.5) - Wang Hao (4.5)
    2. Nakamura (4) - Gupta (4.5)
    3. Jumabayev (4) - Vachier-Lagrave (4)
    4. Parligras (4) - Karjakin (4)
    5. Wojtaszek (4) - Svane (4)

    Apparently Naiditsch is taking a bye. Here are the three games mentioned above.

    Saturday
    Sep082018

    Karjakin-Duda and Giri-Mamedyarov

    The last two matches of the 1/8-finals of the 2018 Speed Chess Championship are now history, and they were both very good, coming down to the wire. If you didn't watch the matches live but want to see them, without knowing what happened, we're here to serve. The Karjakin-Duda stream can be (re-) watched here, and Giri-Mamedyarov is here.

    UPDATE/Bonus: Another Chess.com super-event is underway now as well, the 2018 PRO Chess League All-Star Games. Have a look, but only if it doesn't interfere with your enjoyment of the Notre Dame game.

    Saturday
    Jun232018

    Krauthammer on Chess

    Charles Krauthammer was a well-known political commentator in the U.S. who died of cancer this past week at the age of 68. Of relevance to this blog, he was also a huge chess fan, who on more than one occasion devoted his political column to our great game. A memorial "best of" list included this column by Krauthammer on the 2016 World Chess Championship as one of ten columns they chose to memorialize.

    R.I.P., and may other mainstream commentators of whatever political stripe be as generous to our game as he was.

    Saturday
    Jun232018

    Grand Chess Tour in Paris: So Wins the Rapid (Again), But Karjakin Leads Overall after the First Day of Blitz

    Wesley So's rapid play has been outstanding in this year's Grand Chess Tour, but in Paris he wasn't as successful as in Leuven. He finished the rapid portion with a one point lead (a half point lead on traditional scoring, which comes to a full point here as the rapid games are weighted double compared to blitz games). He went 6-3 in the rapid round-robin for a score of 12 points, with Sergey Karjakin and Hikaru Nakamura a point behind.

    In the blitz he started out well with a couple of draws and a win, but consecutive losses to Karjakin and Alexander Grischuk pushed him into third place. Karjakin got off to a fantastic start, drawing with Nakamura in the first round and then reeling off five straight wins. He cooled off a bit, losing in rounds 7 and 9 (sandwiching another win in round 8), but it was still good enough to finish the day with 17.5/27, a point in front of Nakamura and a further half a point ahead of So. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is another point behind So (he has 15 points), and Levon Aronian rounds out the top 5 with the only other plus score; he has 14 points.

    The action concludes tomorrow, and starts two hours earlier than usual, at 12 noon local time in Paris (6 a.m. ET).

    Monday
    Mar262018

    2018 Candidates, Round 13: Caruana Regains the Clear Lead

    Perhaps the rest day helped, or maybe it was good preparation. Or, maybe it's that Fabiano Caruana's opponent, Levon Aronian, is so out of form at the moment that it was enough for Caruana to play a decent game to obtain good winning chances. Whatever story we invent in all of its ex post facto glory, the facts are that Caruana rebounded from his painful loss to Sergey Karjakin on Saturday with an almost entirely clean and convincing victory over Aronian today. Since Karjakin was only able to draw his game against Wesley So, Caruana is in clear first, half a point ahead of both So and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who was given a massive present by Alexander Grischuk. Ding Liren is a full point behind after a lucky draw against Vladimir Kramnik. Amazingly, he's not yet mathematically eliminated from the race for first. But more about this below.

    First then, Caruana's win over Aronian. Caruana repeated the Anti-Marshall line 8.d3 d6 9.Bd2 played by Grischuk (also against Aronian) in the previous round. Aronian varied first, but it looked like either Caruana's preparation or just his feel for the position was better than his opponent's, and soon he was outplaying the great Armenian. On the verge of getting rolled up, Aronian made a good practical decision to sacrifice a piece. It shouldn't have worked, but Caruana's 29.N1e3?? needlessly endangered the win. (I recognize that the double question mark is pretty harsh; I defend that evaluation in the game file.) The problem wasn't easy to spot, however, and once Aronian missed his chance Caruana finished most convincingly.

    As for Karjakin, he never had a chance. When So has White and is determined to be solid, it's almost impossible to get a position where one can play for a win. Magnus Carlsen has managed to do it against him, but that's about it. Besides, Karjakin's classical style doesn't help much either when it comes to must-win situations with Black. He did try to get a sharp line against So's 4.Qc2 anti-Nimzo-Indian line, but So kept it safe and the draw was never in doubt.

    Meanwhile, Mamedyarov joined Karjakin in second. His game with Grischuk also looked like an inevitable draw, and had looked that way for a long time. Mamedyarov did just enough to keep the game from becoming a dead draw, and finally at move 34 Grischuk had to find the right move. He thought he had found a way to achieve an instant draw, but White's reply proved otherwise. Grischuk was tied with Mamedyarov entering the round, so if he had won he'd have had a shot. Not any longer.

    Finally, Kramnik showed how to play for a win with Black, and up until his 30th move had played a great game. Ding would have been lost after 30...Rxe7, and even after 32..Kg7 (or 32...Kh7) Kramnik probably would have won thanks to White's weak king. Instead, Kramnik allowed White to trade queens, and then his king wasn't an issue. The resulting ending was only a little better for Black, and Ding held the draw without much trouble.

    Caruana has 8 out of 13, Mamedyarov and Grischuk have 7.5, and Ding has 7. This site (HT: Chuckles) offers the odds of tournament success for each of the four, and (sacrificing a few decimal places) they are:

    • Caruana: 56.4%
    • Mamedyarov: 20.9%
    • Karjakin: 20.7%
    • Ding: 2%

    The site's author has more information and an explanation of his method, so you're encouraged to check out the full details there.

    Rapping things up over here...the games (with my notes) are here; and the final pairings, to determine the identity of Carlsen's challenger this coming November, are:

    • Grischuk (6.5) - Caruana (8)
    • Aronian (4) - So (5.5)
    • Karjakin (7.5) - Ding (7)
    • Kramnik (6) - Mamedyarov (7.5)

    Saturday
    Mar242018

    2018 Candidates, Round 12: The Tournament gets Karjaked

    Yes, it's a bad pun, and yes, I know the "j" in Sergey Karjakin's name is pronounced like a "y". I'm sticking to the dumb pun anyway. Who'd have thought that Karjakin, -2 after four rounds, would lead the tournament eight rounds later? What's that, you say, he's only tied for first? Incorrect. By beating "co-leader" Fabiano Caruana, Karjakin has the better tiebreaks, and given the tournament rules it means he would win the event if it finished right now. (Just as Magnus Carlsen advanced and Vladimir Kramnik didn't when they finished London 2013 with the same number of points.)

    Amazing. Karjakin has won four games in seven rounds, going from worst to first, and for the moment he has the pole position for a second straight title tilt with Magnus Carlsen. With White against Caruana and the latter's Petroff, Karjakin avoided nonsense like 5.Qe2 and went for the main lines, choosing 5.Nc3. After 10.a3 and 11.Nd4 there was a new position on the board, and it seems that he obtained an advantage. The critical idea that probably won him the game, and possibly a second shot at the title, was 17.Bxd5, sacrificing the exchange for a pawn and a nuclear bishop on d5, radiating power in every direction. Caruana didn't manage to cope with this piece, and by the time Karjakin picked up a second pawn for the exchange on move 31 Black's position was hopeless.

    Caruana's loss could have been Shakhriyar Mamedyarov's gain. Like Caruana, he had been undefeated all tournament long and had been in first or just half a point behind for a long time. Had he won with White against Ding Liren, he'd have been in sole first. Even a draw would have been acceptable: he'd have been in a three-way tie for first, and then he'd have been ahead on tiebreaks given his plus score against Karjakin and even record vs. Caruana. If, if, if. Ding didn't lose, and despite drawing all 11 of his games up to this point he didn't split the point either. Instead, he won, and now he's even with Mamedyarov, half a point behind the leaders.

    Ding took a page out of Kramnik's book (why not? Everyone else copies his openings) and played the Semi-Tarrasch. He equalized, and when Mamedyarov pushed to create a kingside attack Ding was able to push his queenside majority, make a second queen, and win.

    So four players lead or are within half a point of the lead. Did I say four? Make it five: we shouldn't forget Alexander Grischuk. If had defeated Levon Aronian he'd have been in the tie for first. He had a big chance on move 23, but rejected it for some reason and Aronian escaped with a draw. Still, Grischuk is within half a point of Karjakin and Caruana, so with two rounds to go more than half of the field still has a great shot at winning the tournament.

    The last game featured two players who are out of the running. Vladimir Kramnik had a winning advantage against Wesley So, but for the umpteenth time in the event left half a point (or more) on the table, and the game finished in a draw.

    The games (with my notes) are here. Sunday is a rest day, and the penultimate round will be played on Monday, with these pairings:

     

    • Mamedyarov (6.5) - Grischuk (6.5)
    • Ding Liren (6.5) - Kramnik (5.5)
    • So (5) - Karjakin (7)
    • Caruana (7) - Aronian (4)

     

    Saturday
    Mar242018

    2018 Candidates, Round 11: Lots of Excitement, but Caruana Still Leads Mamedyarov by Half a Point

    Only three rounds remain in the 2018 Candidates, and Fabiano Caruana is still ahead, inching to the finish line half a point at a time. He has drawn his last four games, and that's good enough for him to keep his half point lead over Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who has drawn five in a row.

    Caruana had White against Vladimir Kramnik, whose own hopes of winning the event took a first critical bruise in their round 4 clash. Having won in the previous round Kramnik may have retained some tiny hopes of competing for first place, and to that end played the sharp Triangle System of the Slav. When Caruana played the principled 4.e4, Kramnik uncorked the amazing 4...dxe4 5.Nxe4 c5?!! Caruana didn't put this line to a severe test, but he kept things under control on the way to a draw that was well played on both sides.

    Mamedyarov didn't get any closer, but that wasn't surprising as he had Black against the super-solid Wesley So. After 14.Nxd7 Rxd7 15.Ne4 So might have had some hopes for an edge; instead, he played the safe 14.Nxd5, and it was soon clear that a draw was inevitable.

    The other two games were marathons. Alexander Grischuk was in third place coming into the round, while Ding Liren had drawn his first ten games. Afterwards, Grischuk was still in third place (though in a tie), while Ding was 11 for 11 (just three rounds from joining Anish Giri in infamy). That it finished in a draw, however, was almost unfathomable given how insanely winning Ding's position was in the middlegame. He had a mating attack, a material advantage, and a serious lead on the clock, but somehow squandered it one bit at a time. He may not have felt as sick about it as Kramnik surely did after losing to Caruana, but it was probably pretty close.

    Finally, there was one winner on the day, and that was Sergey Karjakin. When Levon Aronian played 11.Ne5, Black gave himself a queenside majority by taking the knight. While there wasn't anything wrong with 11.Ne5, it gave Black a long-term asset, one which Karjakin eventually exploited. Karjakin has been sneaking up the tournament table, and after being on -2 after four rounds (after losing to Aronian in the first cycle) he has won in rounds 7, 9, and 11, and now he's sharing third place with Grischuk. With White against Caruana in round 12, he is not out of the race!

    The games, with my notes, are here, and these are the round 12 pairings:

    • Grischuk (6) - Aronian (3.5)
    • Karjakin (6) - Caruana (7)
    • Kramnik (5) - So (4.5)
    • Mamedyarov (6.5) - Ding (5.5)

    Wednesday
    Mar212018

    2018 Candidates, Round 9: A Round 8 Encore - Three Draws and a Kramnik Loss

    There were three draws on the day, just as in round 8, but once again the games were (mostly) hard-fought. Wesley So's game with Alexander Grischuk was a damp squib, a 5.Re1 Anti-Berlin with what looked like a harmless novelty on move 23. All the previous games had been drawn, and it doesn't look like Grischuk broke much of a sweat in adding another half-point to the pile. By contrast, the other three games had plenty of life.

    Fabiano Caruana and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov entered the round in first and second place, respectively, separated by half a point. They could have finished the round a point, or even a point and a half, apart. In the longest game of the round Caruana outplayed Ding Liren and was clearly winning - at least twice. Unfortunately for the American, he faltered at the last hurdle, and Ding escaped with a draw. As for Mamedyarov, he had Black against Levon Aronian, and while he was never in as much trouble as Ding was against Caruana, he was under pressure. If Aronian had anything serious, it was over after 32.b3, when his pawn sac left him with sufficient compensation for the sacrificed pawn but nothing more. They agreed to a draw right after the first time control, leaving Mamedyarov half a point behind Caruana (and Grischuk half a point behind Mamedyarov).

    Finally, there was poor old Vladimir Kramnik - but this time it was his opponent who won the game, not Kramnik who self-destructed. Sergey Karjakin found a very interesting new idea against Kramnik's beloved Semi-Tarrasch: 7.Rb1 Be7 8.Nf3 0-0 9.h4!? Kramnik chose a very combative response with 9...cxd4 10.cxd4 Nc6 11.h5 f5!?, but went astray on move 14. After this Karjakin played very well, and even an inaccuracy on move 20 wasn't enough for Kramnik to save the game. Kramnik did have one extraordinary opportunity to give Karjakin some serious trouble, though - be sure to have a look at the note to Black's 23rd move for the details.

    Wednesday is a rest day, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the round 9 games (here, with my comments). Here are the pairings for round 10, on Thursday; Mamedyarov-Caruana is the key matchup, which could very well determine Magnus Carlsen's challenger this November:

    • Grischuk (5) - Karjakin (4.5)
    • Kramnik (3.5) - Aronian (3.5)
    • Mamedyarov (5.5) - Caruana (6)
    • Ding Liren (4.5) - So (3.5)

    Monday
    Mar192018

    2018 Candidates, Round 7: Caruana Back in Clear First at the Halfway Point

    It was another adventure-filled round at the Candidates, and for the third time in the last four rounds there were two winners on the day.

    The most important win belonged to Fabiano Caruana, who withstood a kitchen sink attack from Levon Aronian. Aronian came up with a fascinating idea on the white side of a Vienna Variation, throwing caution and pawns to the winds. Caruana was up to the challenge though, and while Caruana made some inaccuracies he was never worse - the game see-sawed between equality and an advantage for Caruana. Aronian made the final mistake on move 32, and Caruana finished the job before the first time control. He is now at a very healthy and impressive +3, good for a half-point lead over Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.

    Mamedyarov had Black against Alexander Grischuk, and the opening seemed to promise some excitement. Indeed, it seemed to promise it all the way to the end on move 16, when the players called it a day thanks to a repetition. (One which had been played before, sadly.)

    That was a dud, but the other draw wasn't. Vladimir Kramnik tried for a long time to win against Ding Liren, and although he was never better he thought he was. In fact, he even claimed to have a winning advantage at one point, but neither the engine, the commentators, nor Ding himself bought any of it. In the post-game press conference Kramnik would claim he was better here, better there, had a simple win, and on and on and on. Whenever Anastasiya Karlovich asked Ding would he thought about Kramnik's assessments, he'd always start with a laugh and express his disagreement. Kramnik sometimes replied with a guilty little laugh in response and a slight retraction, but not always. Regardless of the postgame performance art, it was an interesting game, and the interesting question is whether Kramnik's hours-long attempts to squeeze something out of nothing against Wesley So, Mamedyarov (when he could have repeated moves right out of the opening and made a draw), and now Ding will cost him later in the event if and when he runs out of gas.

    Finally, Sergey Karjakin won a weird game against So. The game seemed to be headed for a very routine draw, especially when it reached an ending where both players had a rook, a knight, and four kingside pawns. So only needed to solve what looked like a very minor problem or two, and then they could call it a day. To Karjakin's credit, he managed to create some problems, and a single mistake by So proved fatal.

    The tournament is halfway over, and now the players repeat the first cycle with colors reversed. Caruana has 5/7, Mamedyarov 4.5, and then there are three players on 50% (i.e. with 3.5 points). The round 7 games (with my notes - heavy notes to Aronian-Caruana) are here, and this is what round 8 looks like:

    • Grischuk (3.5) - Kramnik (3.5)
    • Mamedyarov (4.5) - Karjakin (3)
    • Ding Liren (3.5) - Aronian (2.5)
    • So (2.5) - Caruana (5)

    Thursday
    Mar082018

    Anand, Karjakin Win Tal Memorial Rapid and Blitz Events

    If Magnus Carlsen isn't going to play in the Tal Memorial, then who better to win than his previous opponents in the 2013, 2014, and 2016 World Championship matches? Viswanathan Anand won the rapid event, losing only one game, to world #2 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov while defeating Daniil Dubov, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Hikaru Nakamura, and Alexander Grischuk to win the event by a full point with 6/9 and an impressive 2884 TPR. Mamedyarov, Sergei Karjakin, and Nakamura finished with five points apiece. Recall that Anand won the World Rapid Championship this past December, so even though he won't be in the Candidates he's still a force to be reckoned with, even at the age of 48.

    In the blitz it was Karjakin's turn to shine. The field was a bit bigger, with four additional players brought in, and Karjakin won with a very impressive score of 10/13. Vladimir Kramnik (who tied for 4th-6th) beat him in round 2, but otherwise it was Karjakin doing the damage. He defeated Nakamura (who took second), Nepomniachtchi (3rd), Vladislav Artemiev (=4th), Alexander Grischuk (=4th), Dubov (=7th), Peter Svidler (=9th), Alexander Morozevich (=11th), and Boris Gelfand (14th). Karjakin was the World Blitz Champion in 2016 and the runner-up last year, so his 2950 TPR confirmed his place at the top.

    It was interesting to see four players participating here with the Candidates just a few days away, but perhaps Karjakin, Kramnik, Grischuk, and Mamedyarov felt they needed the warmup. It will be interesting to follow their progress early on in Berlin, to see if they seem either better warmed up than their rivals or perhaps a bit tired instead.

    More here