At a certain point you may feel it will take you all of 2014 to finish, but Sergey Shipov's long round-up of the chess year that has just passed is worth your time. Videos, games, analyses, novelties, trending and fading opening lines - lots of useful and interesting information. There's an emphasis on Russia and on chesstv.com that might not grab your attention if you don't know Russian, but there's much in the article for any and all chess fans to enjoy.
Entries in Sergey Shipov (4)
There's a neat, short autobiographical essay by Sergey Shipov (which doubles in passing as an ad for his outstanding books on the Hedgehog) that can be obtained from Mongoose Press. He discusses his career as a player, then as Garry Kasparov's sparring partner in blitz, and then in a non-playing capacity. He concludes with some highlights from his career, focusing on a 2006 win over Magnus Carlsen.
You can look through the goodies for yourself (the booklet/essay can be obtained as a free PDF by writing mongoosepress [you know the symbol to use] gmail.com), but I will focus on just one of the things he wrote. I've heard from when I was a kid all the way up through a year or so ago that Kasparov was mainly an openings expert. A very strong grandmaster all-around, obviously, but he wouldn't have been such a dominant force aside from that particular strength. Even Hikaru Nakamura has made a comment to that effect. By contrast, here's what Shipov had to say on the matter.
By the way, those fools who for years explained Kasparov’s dominance only by his opening superiority (which, let me point out, is not a gift that falls from heaven, but rather comes from hard labor) simply had no idea what they were talking about. I remember we played six games of Fischerandom chess, and there was no battle there at all! In completely unfamiliar positions, Kasparov’s advantage over me was far greater than in normal chess. In the absence of the usual pathfi nders his flights of fancy, his sense of dynamics, and his ability to instantly separate the important from the secondary became particularly salient.
If you're curious to see the strong Russian GM and well-known commentator Sergey Shipov at work, here's your chance. All the videos are in Russian, but enough excerpts are translated to make it worth at least a glance.
(Two side notes. First, I've never seen anyone type so quickly with one finger in my life. It's a pretty awesome sight. Second, I recently read someone describe my analytical work as that of a cyborg. I don't deny that I use a computer to check and extend my work, but let's get real here. Practically all responsible commentators are cyborgs now, and Shipov is using three computers simultaneously! Of course, the person describing me as a cyborg didn't refer to Shipov in the same way. Grr. Of course Shipov is a terrific player, certainly stronger than I am, but we're all cyborgs now. I haven't checked all his match commentaries yet, but I've compared a number of other ones by GM/cyborgs with my own work, and I'm not embarrassed but what I've done. Very occasionally they've found a nice line that I missed, but the vast majority of the time I've found what they have and then some - and that "some" has been relevant, not padding or irrelevancies. The point isn't to blow my horn [especially compared to Shipov, who I'm happy to praise as a player, analyst and author!] but to suggest that a decent player who is experienced with using chess engines can do very good work if he puts his mind to it.)