Links

This form does not yet contain any fields.
    1948 World Chess Championship 1959 Candidates 1962 Candidates 2.c3 Sicilian 2.f4 Sicilian 2011 European Team Championship 2011 Russian Championship 2012 Capablanca Memorial 2012 Chess Olympiad 2012 European Women's Championship 2012 London Chess Classic 2012 U.S. Junior Championship 2012 U.S. Women's Championship 2012 US Championship 2012 Women's World Chess Championship 2012 World Rapid and Blitz Championships 2013 Alekhine Memorial 2013 Beijing Grand Prix 2013 European Club Cup 2013 European Team Championship 2013 FIDE World Cup 2013 Kings Tournament 2013 London Chess Classic 2013 Russian Championship 2013 Tal Memorial 2013 U.S. Championship 2013 Women's World Championship 2013 World Blitz Championship 2013 World Championship 2013 World Rapid Championship 2013 World Team Championship 2014 Capablanca Memorial 2014 Chess Olympiad 2014 London Chess Classic 2014 Petrosian Memorial 2014 Rapid & Blitz World Championship 2014 Russian Team Championship 2014 Sinquefield Cup 2014 Tigran Petrosian Memorial 2014 U.S. Championship 2014 U.S. Open 2014 Women's World Championship 2014 World Championship 2014 World Junior Championships 2014 World Rapid Championship 2015 Capablanca Memorial 2015 Chinese Championship 2015 European Club Cup 2015 European Team Championship 2015 London Chess Classic 2015 Millionaire Open 2015 Poikovsky 2015 Russian Team Championship 2015 Sinquefield Cup 2015 U.S. Championship 2015 Women's World Championship KO 2015 World Blitz Championship 2015 World Cup 2015 World Junior Championship 2015 World Open 2015 World Rapid & Blitz Championship 2015 World Team Championships 2016 2016 Candidates 2016 Capablanca Memorial 2016 Champions Showdown 2016 Chess Olympiad 2016 Chinese Championship 2016 European Club Cup 2016 Isle of Man 2016 London Chess Classic 2016 Russian Championship 2016 Sinquefield Cup 2016 Tal Memorial 2016 U.S. Championship 2016 U.S. Junior Championship 2016 U.S. Women's Championship 2016 Women's World Championship 2016 World Blitz Championship 2016 World Championship 2016 World Junior Championship 2016 World Open 2016 World Rapid Championship 2017 British Championship 2017 British Knockout Championship 2017 Champions Showdown 2017 Chinese Championship 2017 Elite Mind Games 2017 European Team Championship 2017 Geneva Grand Prix 2017 Grand Prix 2017 Isle of Man 2017 London Chess Classic 2017 PRO Chess League 2017 Russian Championship 2017 Sharjah Masters 2017 Sinquefield Cup 2017 Speed Chess Championship 2017 U..S. Championshp 2017 U.S. Junior Championship 2017 Women's World Championship 2017 World Cup 2017 World Junior Championship 2017 World Team Championship 2018 Candidates 2018 Chess Olympiad 2018 World Championship 22014 Sinquefield Cup 22014 U.S. Championship 22016 Chess Olympiad 2Mind Games 2016 2Wijk aan Zee 2017 60 Minutes A. Muzychuk A. Sokolov aattacking chess Abby Marshall Accelerated Dragon ACP Golden Classic Adams Aeroflot 2010 Aeroflot 2011 Aeroflot 2012 Aeroflot 2013 Aeroflot 2015 Aeroflot 2016 Aeroflot 2017 AGON Agrest Akiba Rubinstein Akiva Rubinstein Akobian Akshat Chandra Alejandro Ramirez Alekhine Alekhine Defense Aleksander Lenderman Alekseev Alena Kats Alex Markgraf Alexander Alekhine Alexander Beliavsky Alexander Grischuk Alexander Ipatov Alexander Khalifman Alexander Moiseenko Alexander Morozevich Alexander Onischuk Alexander Panchenko Alexander Stripunsky Alexander Tolush Alexandra Kosteniuk Alexei Dreev Alexei Shirov Alexey Bezgodov Almasi AlphaZero Alvin Plantinga Amber 2010 Amber 2011 American Chess Magazine Amos Burn Anand Anand-Carlsen 2013 Anand-Gelfand 2012 Anand-Gelfand World Championship Match Anand-Topalov 2010 Anastasia Bodnaruk Anatoly Karpov Anders Ericsson Andrei Volokitin Andrew Martin Andrew Paulson Android apps Anish Giri Anna Muzychuk Anna Ushenina Anna Zatonskih Anti-Marshall Lines Anti-Moscow Gambit Anti-Sicilians Antoaneta Stefanova Anton Korobov Anton Kovalyov apps April Fool's Jokes Archangelsk Variation Arkadij Naiditsch Arne Moll Aron Nimzowitsch Aronian Aronian-Kramnik 2012 Arthur Bisguier Arthur van de Oudeweetering Artur Yusupov Arturo Pomar Astrakhan Grand Prix 2010 attack attacking chess Austrian Attack Averbakh Awonder Liang Baadur Jobava Bacrot Baku Grand Prix 2014 Baltic Defense Bangkok Chess Club Open Baskaran Adhiban Bazna 2011 Becerra beginner's books Beliavsky Ben Feingold Benko Gambit Bent Larsen Berlin Defense Biel 2012 Biel 2014 Biel 2015 Biel 2017 Bilbao 2010 Bilbao 2012 Bilbao 2013 Bilbao 2015 Bilbao 2016 Bilbao Chess 2014 bishop endings Bishop vs. Knight Blackburne Blaise Pascal blindfold chess blitz blitz chess Blumenfeld Gambit blunders Bob Hope Bobby Fischer Bogo-Indian Bohatirchuk Bologan Book Reviews books Boris Gelfand Boris Spassky Borislav Ivanov Borki Predojevic Boruchovsky Botvinnik Botvinnik Memorial Branimiir Maksimovic Breyer Variation brilliancy British Championship British Chess Magazine Bronstein Bronznik Brooklyn Castle Browne Brunello Bu Xiangzhi Budapest Bundesliga California Chess Reporter Camilla Baginskaite Campomanes Candidates 2011 Candidates 2011 Candidates 2012 Candidates 2013 Candidates 2014 Capablanca Carlsen Caro-Kann cartoons Caruana Catalan Cebalo Charlie Rose cheating Cheparinov chess and drugs chess and education chess and marketing chess books chess cartoons chess documentaries chess engines chess history chess in fiction chess in film chess in schools Chess Informant chess lessons chess politics chess psychology chess ratings chess strategy chess variants Chess24 Chess960 ChessBase DVDs ChessBase Shows ChessLecture Presentations ChessLecture.com ChessUSA ChessUSA blog ChessVibes ChessVideos Presentations Chigorin Variation Chinese Chess Championship Chithambaram Aravindh Christian faith Christiansen Christmas Colin Crouch Colle combinations Commentary computer chess computers correspondence chess Corsica Cristobal Henriquez Villagra Cyrus Lakdawala Danailov Daniel Parmet Daniil Dubov Danny Kopec Danzhou Danzhou 2016 Danzhou 2017 Dave MacEnulty Dave Vigorito David Bronstein David Howell David MacEnulty David Navara Davies Deep Blue Deeper Blue defense Dejan Antic Delchev Denis Khismatullin Ding Liren Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam Dmitry Andreikin Dmitry Gurevich Dmitry Jakovenko Dominic Lawson Dortmund 2010 Dortmund 2011 Dortmund 2012 Dortmund 2012 Dortmund 2013 Dortmund 2014 Dortmund 2015 Dortmund 2016 Dortmund 2017 Doug Hyatt Dragoljub Velimirovic draws dreams Dreev Dunning-Kruger Effect Dutch Defense DVD Reviews DVDs Dvoirys Dvoretsky Easter Edouard Efimenko Efstratios Grivas Eltaj Safarli Emanuel Lasker Emory Tate en passant endgame studies endgames Endgames English Opening Ernesto Inarkiev Erwin L'Ami Esserman Etienne Bacrot European Championship 2015 European Club Cup 2012 European Club Cup 2014 European Individual Championship 2012 Evgeni Vasiukov Evgeny Bareev Evgeny Najer Evgeny Sveshnikov Evgeny Tomashevsky Exchange Ruy expertise Fabiano Caruana Falko Bindrich farce FIDE FIDE Grand Prix FIDE Presidential Election FIDE ratings Fier fighting for the initiative Finegold Fischer Fischer-Spassky 1972 football Francisco Vallejo Pons Fred Reinfeld French Defense Fritz 15 Ftacnik Gadir Guseinov Gajewski Gaprindashvili Garry Kasparov Gashimov Gashimov Memorial 2017 Gata Kamsky Gawain Jones Gelfand Gelfand-Svidler Rapid Match Geller Geneva Masters Georg Meier Georgios Makropolous GGarry Kasparov Gibraltar 2011 Gibraltar 2012 Gibraltar 2013 Gibraltar 2014 Gibraltar 2015 Gibraltar 2016 Gibraltar 2017 Giri Go Grand Chess Tour Grand Chess Tour 2017 Grand Chess Tour Paris 2017 Grand Prix 2014-2015 Grand Prix Attack Greek Gift sacrifice Grenke Chess Classic 2013 Grenke Chess Classic 2015 Grenke Chess Classic 2017 Grinfeld Grischuk Grob Gruenfeld Defense Grünfeld Defense Gulko Gunina Guseinov Gustafsson Gyula Sax Hannes Langrock Hans Berliner Hans Ree Harika Dronavalli Hastings Hawaii International Festival Haworth Hedgehog helpmates Hennig-Schara Gambit Henrique Mecking HHou Yifan highway robbery Hikaru Nakamura Hilton Hjorvar Gretarsson Hort Horwitz Bishops Hou Yifan Houdini Houdini 1.5a Howard Staunton humor Humpy Koneru Ian Nepomniachtchi Icelandic Gambit Ignatius Leong Igor Kovalenko Igor Kurnosov Igor Lysyj Iljumzhinov Ilya Makoveev Ilya Nyzhnyk Imre Hera Informant Informant 113 Informant 114 Informant 115 Informant 116 Informant 117 Informant 118 Informant 119 Informant 120 Informant 121 Informant 122 Informant 124 Informant 125 Informant 126 Informant 127 Informant 128 Informant 129 Informant 130 Informant 131 Informant 132 Informant 133 insanity Inside Chess Magazine Ippolito IQP Irina Krush Irving Chernev Ivan Bukavshin Ivan Sokolov Ivanchuk J. Polgar Jacek Oskulski Jacob Aagaard Jaenisch Jaideep Unudurti Jakovenko James Tarjan Jan Gustafsson Jan Timman Jan-Krzysztof Duda Jay Whitehead Jeffery Xiong Jeremy Silman Jim Slater Jimmy Quon Joe Benjamin Joel Benjamin John Burke John Grefe John Watson Jon Lenchner Jon Ludwig Hammer Jonathan Hawkins Jonathan Speelman Joop van Oosterom Jose Diaz Jose Raul Capablanca Ju Wenjun Judit Polgar Julio Granda Zuniga junk openings Kaidanov Kalashnikov Sicilian Kamsky Karen Sumbatyan Karjakin Karpov Karsten Mueller Kasimdzhanov Kasparov Kavalek Keanu Reeves Ken Regan Keres KGB Khalifman Khanty-Mansiysk Grand Prix Kim Commons king and pawn endings King's Gambit King's Indian King's Tournament 2010 Kings Tournament 2012 Kirsan Ilyumzhinov KKing's Gambit KKing's Indian Klovans Komodo Komodo 11 Korchnoi Kramnik Kunin Lajos Portisch Larry Evans Larry Kaufman Larry Parr Lasker Lasker-Pelikan Latvian Gambit Laurent Fressinet Laznicka Le Quang Liem Leinier Dominguez Leko Leon 2017 Leonid Kritz lessons Leuven Rapid & Blitz Leuven Rapid & Blitz 2017 Lev Psakhis Levon Aronian Lilienthal Linares 2010 Linder Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu Loek van Wely Lombardy London 2009 London 2010 London 2011 London Grand Prix London System Lothar Schmid Luke McShane Macieja Magnus Carlsen Main Line Ruy Malakhov Malcolm Pein Mamedyarov Marc Arnold Marc Lang Marin Mariya Muzychuk Mark Crowther Mark Dvoretsky Mark Taimanov Markus Ragger Marshall Marshall Gambit Masters of the Chessboard Mateusz Bartel Matthew Sadler Maurice Ashley Max Euwe Maxim Rodshtein Maxime Vachier-Lagrave McShane Mega 2012 mental malfunction Mesgen Amanov Michael Adams Miguel Najdorf Mikhail Antipov Mikhail Botvinnik Mikhail Golubev Mikhail Osipov Mikhail Tal Mikhalchishin Miles Mind Games 2016 Minev miniatures Miso Cebalo MModern Benoni Modern Modern Benoni Moiseenko Morozevich Morphy Movsesian Müller music Nadareishvili Naiditsch Najdorf Sicilian Nakamura Nanjing 2010 Natalia Pogonina Navara Negi Neo-Archangelsk Nepomniachtchi New In Chess Yearbook 104 New York Times NH Tournament 2010 Nigel Short Nihal Sarin Nikita Vitiugov Nimzo-Indian Nino Khurtsidze NNotre Dame football Nodirbek Abdusattarov Nona Gaprindashvili Norway Chess 2013 Norway Chess 2014 Norway Chess 2015 Norway Chess 2016 Norway Chess 2017 Notre Dame basketball Notre Dame football Notre Dame Football Nov. 2009 News Nyback Nyzhnyk Oleg Pervakov Oleg Skvortsov Olympics 2010 Open Ruy opening advice opening novelties Openings openings Or Cohen P.H. Nielsen Pal Benko Palma Grand Prix 2017 Parimarjan Negi Paris Grand Prix Paris Rapid & Blitz passed pawns Paul Keres Paul Morphy Paul Rudd Pavel Eljanov pawn endings pawn play Pawn Sacrifice pawn structures Pentala Harikrishna Pesotskyi Peter Heine Nielsen Peter Leko Peter Svidler Petroff Philadelphia Open Philidor's Defense philosophy Phiona Mutesi Pirc Piterenka Rapid/Blitz Polgar Polgar sisters Polugaevsky Ponomariov Ponziani Potkin poultry Powerbook 2011 Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu Prague Chess Train problems progressive chess prophylaxis Qatar Masters 2015 QGD Tartakower QQueen's Gambit Accepted queen sacrifices Queen's Gambit Accepted Queen's Gambit Declined Queen's Indian Defense Rabat blitz 2015 Radjabov Radoslaw Wojtaszek Ragger rapid chess Rapport Rashid Nezhmetdinov rating inflation ratings Ray Robson Raymond Smullyan Regan Reggio Emilia 2010 Reggio Emilia 2011 Reshevsky Reti Reuben Fine Rex Sinquefield Reykjavik Open 2012 Reykjavik Open 2017 Richard Rapport Richard Reti Robert Byrne robot chess Robson Roman Ovetchkin rook endings RReggio Emilia 2011 rrook endings RRuy Lopez RRuy Lopez sidelines Rubinstein Rubinstein French Rudolf Spielmann rules Ruslan Ponomariov Russian Team Championship Rustam Kasimdzhanov Ruy Lopez Ruy Lopez sidelines Rybka Rybka 4 S. Kasparov sacrifices Sadler Saemisch Sakaev Sam Collins Sam Sevian Samuel Reshevsky Sao Paulo/Bilbao 2011 Sao Paulo/Bilbao 2012 satire Savchenko Savielly Tartakower Schliemann Scotch Four Knights Searching for Bobby Fischer Seirawan self-destruction Sergei Tiiviakov Sergey Erenburg Sergey Fedorchuk Sergey Karjakin Sergey Kasparov Sergey Shipov Sevan Muradian Shakhriyar Mamedyarov Shamkir 2015 Shamkir 2016 Shamkir 2017 Shankland Sharjah Grand Prix 2017 Shenzhen 2017 Shipov Shirov Short Sicilian Sinquefield Cup sitzfleisch Slav Smith-Morra Gambit Smyslov So-Navara Spassky spectacular moves Speelman sportsmanship Spraggett St. Louis Chess Club St. Louis Invitational St. Louis Rapid and Blitz 2017 stalemate Staunton Stephen Hawking Stockfish Stockfish 4 Stonewall Dutch Suat Atalik Super Bowl XLIV Susan Polgar Sutovsky Sveshnikov Sveshnikov Sicilian Svetozar Gligoric Svidler sweeper sealer twist Swiercz tactics Tactics Taimanov Tal Tal Memorial 2009 Tal Memorial 2010 Tal Memorial 2011 Tal Memorial 2012 Tal Memorial 2012 Tarjan Tarrasch Tarrasch Defense Tashkent Tashkent Grand Prix Tbilisi Grand Prix 2015 TCEC TCEC Season 10 TCEC Season 8 TCEC Season 9 TED talks Teimour Radjabov Terekhin The Chess Players (book) The Simpsons The Week in Chess Thessaloniki Grand Prix Three knights Tibor Karolyi Tigran Petrosian Tim Krabbé time controls time trouble Timman Timur Gareev Tomashevsky Tony Miles Topalov traps Tromso Olympics 2014 TWIC types of chess players Ufuk Tuncer Ultimate Blitz Challenge underpromotion Unive 2012 University of Notre Dame upsets US Championship 2010 US Championship 2011 US Chess League USCF ratings USCL V. Onischuk Vachier-Lagrave Valentina Gunina Vallejo value of chess van der Heijden Van Perlo van Wely Varuzhan Akobian Vasik Rajlich Vasily Smyslov Vassily Ivanchuk Vassily Smyslov Velimirovic Attack Vera Menchik Veresov Veselin Topalov video videos Vienna 1922 Viktor Bologan Viktor Korchnoi Viktor Moskalenko Vincent Keymer Viswanathan Anand Vitaly Tseshkovsky Vitiugov Vladimir Fedoseev Vladimir Kramnik Vladimir Tukmakov Vladislav Artemiev Vladislav Tkachiev Vlastimil Hort Vlastimil Jansa Vugar Gashimov Vugar Gashimov Memorial Walter Browne Wang Hao Wang Yue Watson Wei Yi Welcome Wesley Brandhorst Wesley So Wijk aan Zee 1999 Wijk aan Zee 2010 Wijk aan Zee 2011 Wijk aan Zee 2012 Wijk aan Zee 2013 Wijk aan Zee 2014 Wijk aan Zee 2015 Wijk aan Zee 2016 Wijk aan Zee 2017 Wil E. Coyote Wilhelm Steinitz William Golding William Lombardy William Vallicella Willy Hendriks Winawer French Wojtkiewicz Wolfgang Uhlmann Women's Grand Prix Women's World Championship World Champion DVDs World Championship World Cup World Cup 2009 World Cup 2011 World Cup 2011 World Junior Championship World Senior Championship WWesley So WWijk aan Zee 2012 Yasser Seirawan Yates Yermolinsky Yevseev Yoshiharu Habu Yu Yangyi Yuri Averbakh Yuri Razuvaev Yuri Vovk Yuri Yeliseyev Yuriy Kuzubov Zaitsev Variation Zaven Andriasyan Zhao Xue Zhongyi Tan Zug 2013 Zukertort System Zurab Azmaiparashvili Zurich 1953 Zurich 2013 Zurich 2014 Zurich 2015 Zurich 2016 Zurich 2017

    Entries in Vladimir Kramnik (102)

    Monday
    Oct302017

    Kramnik Receives Organizer's Wildcard for Candidates

    More about this here: apparently Vladimir Kramnik wasn't lobbying for it, but he was given the organizer's wildcard for the 2018 Candidates, to be held next March in Berlin. He joins Sergey Karjakin (who qualified by virtue of losing the last world championship match), Levon Aronian and Ding Liren (World Cup finalists), and Wesley So and Fabiano Caruana (mortal locks to qualify by rating).

    Anyone who has read this blog regularly knows that I'm a big Kramnik fan, but this is just wrong. He's a great player who could contend for victory in the Candidates next March, and he should be in the conversation about who deserves the organizer's wildcard. For most of the year he looked set to qualify by rating, until faltering in events beginning with the World Cup. But there are still two slots to be determined based on the results of the final Grand Prix tournament starting next month.

    Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Alexander Grischuk lead in the overall standings, but they've already played their full complement of Grand Prix events. They could be overtaken by Teimour Radjabov and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and while one might be able to make a case for Kramnik against Mamedyarov, Grischuk, and Radjabov there's nothing to be said in his favor compared to MVL when it comes to their 2017 campaigns.

    Vachier-Lagrave is nine points higher-rated than Kramnik at the moment, won the Sinquefield Cup (and had excellent-to-great results in Gibraltar, Sharjah, Paris [blitz], Leuven [rapid], and Dortmund), came within an Armaggedon game of qualifying through the World Cup, and will have come very close to qualifying by the Grand Prix as well. Thus MVL ultimately outshone Kramnik this year by rating, World Cup performance, Grand Prix performance (Kramnik didn't play, but that's also more to Vachier-Lagrave's credit: he's in the arena and Kramnik's not), and won a more prestigious non-qualifying event than Kramnik did.

    It would be fine to give Kramnik the wildcard after the Grand Prix finishes, assuming Vachier-Lagrave qualified. But before? This is terrible. Agon, which has the financial rights to the world championship and the qualifying cycle, is owned by a Russian, so it's less than shocking that they'd pick a Russian with the wildcard. There really need to be objective criteria for the wildcard, aside from the minimal requirement of a player's having achieved a 2725 rating at any point during the qualifying year. Obviously Kramnik's qualifications are much greater than that, but his qualifications, this year, don't hold a candle to MVL's.

    Friday
    Sep292017

    Isle of Man, Rounds 5-7

    But mostly rounds 6 and 7. My comments about round 5 will be limited to the difficulties experienced by two members of the semi-old guard: Vladimir Kramnik and Boris Gelfand. Kramnik's travails were already noted in the preceding post, while Gelfand's suffering began in that round. After a solid 3-1 start, he lost in round 5 to S.P. Sethuraman, and from a position that would normally be impossible to lose. He was clearly better in a rook and bishop ending with even material, but hallucinated his way into a lost bishop ending a pawn down.

    In round 6, he doubled down on this, losing to Anna Zatonskih from a winning position. To her credit, she made things tricky in time trouble and devised a dastardly trap, but normally Gelfand would have cashed in on at least one of the winning positions he enjoyed in the game. After this, he took a bye to stop the bleeding.

    Speaking of players who needed byes, Hou Yifan took one after playing her fourth female opponent in a row, and has bounced back against the men, winning in round 6 and 7. She has five points and plays Sebastian Bogner in round 8.

    Another player who has bounced back a bit is Kramnik, who won with White in round 6 (no problem there - he has gone 3-0 with White, albeit against much lower-rated opposition) and then finally won a game with Black in round 7, employing the Benko Gambit for the first time in his life (or so said the commentators at one moment; is should be checked to see if he transposed into one via a King's Indian or a Benoni). Despite all his miseries in the tournament, he has 4.5 points and will play Sethuraman in round 8.

    James Tarjan, one of the players who contributed to Kramnik's earlier sorrows, has continued to play well. He bounced back from his unnecessary loss to Niclas Huschenbeth in round 4 by drawing with Sabino Brunello (2555), beating Pavel Tregubov (2589), and drawing with Rasmus Svane (2595). His 4-3 score is good for a 2654 TPR.

    Still one more member of the old guard deserves some praise: Jan Timman. Like Tarjan, he's both 65 and has the initials "J.T." More relevantly, he has also had success against elite players. No wins over 2800s, but four draws against players who are or have been rated over 2700. That's a fine result, and he has gone undefeated so far. He gets another 2700 in round 8, David Howell.

    Two noteworthy norm aspirants are Aman Hambleton and Ramesh Praggnanandhaa. Hambleton is well-known for his mighty beard, which he intends to keep until he achieves his third GM norm. He had been in the running until he lost a defensible ending to Gabriel Sargissian in round 6. Praggnanandhaa is a 12-year-old who has already achieved a 2500 rating (and is already the youngest IM ever, achieved at the age of 10 years, 10 months, and 19 days), but has no norms. If he can achieve them in the next five months or so, he can break Sergey Karjakin's record for the youngest GM ever. He was in the running until round 7, but his loss to Varuzhan Akobian probably put an end to his hopes in this tournament. He's playing an untitled 2384 in round 8, which seals it.

    Now let's turn to the leaders. Going into round 6 there were two tournament leaders, Pavel Eljanov - who won this tournament last year - and the world champion, Magnus Carlsen. Carlsen cheekily played Owen's Defense with Black, albeit against 1.Nf3 rather than 1.e4 (after the latter move it's considered somewhat dubious), and won with remarkable ease. That gave him the clear lead, and although he only drew against the fast-rising Indian star Santosh Gujrathi Vidit in round 7 (with difficulty, with White) he's still half a point ahead of his pursuers.

    The most notable among them is perhaps Fabiano Caruana, who will have White against Carlsen in round 8. He drew in round 6 and defeated Gawain Jones in round 7, thanks largely to some fine preparation. He has 5.5/7, as does Hikaru Nakamura, Eljanov, Vidit, and Emil Sutovsky.

    Another half a point back is a large group that includes Viswanathan Anand and Hou Yifan, along with the U.S. players Akobian and Aleks Lenderman. Lenderman remains undefeated after drawing his last four games; his TPR is 2793, 6th highest in the tournament. (The top two TPRs, by a long way, belong to Carlsen and Caruana at 2893 and 2873, respectively.) Unfortunately for American fans, Akobian and Lenderman are paired for round 8.

    Here are the leading pairings for round 8:

     

    • Caruana (5.5) - Carlsen (6)
    • Nakamura (5.5) - Sutovsky (5.5)
    • Vidit (5.5) - Eljanov (5.5)

     

    Finally, here is a selection of games from the past three rounds.

    Wednesday
    Sep272017

    Tracking Kramnik's Ratings Progress for September 2017

    It has not been a good month for Vladimir Kramnik, from his early exit in the World Cup to an absolutely disastrous time at the Isle of Man. Today, he only managed to draw against Lawrence Trent (2427), coughing up another 4.1 rating points and going down a whopping 25.9 rating points for the month.

    Here's a helpful chart tracking Kramnik's recent rating progress.

    Of course, this happens to just about everyone sometimes, and it's the most maddening feeling in the world. You just have to wait it out; sooner or later, the ship rights itself.

    Tuesday
    Sep262017

    Adventures at the Isle of Man

    This has really been an exciting and entertaining tournament so far, with some big upsets and great stories. We've already looked at some round 1 highlights, and we'll skip over round 2 to turn our attention to round 3.

    The first and biggest story: Vladimir Kramnik lost again, to James Tarjan! Tarjan is a grandmaster and was a fine player in his day - more than 30 years ago! He gave up the game in his early 30s and became a librarian, only re-emerging in the last three years or so. His results have been very good for a 65-year-old who quit playing for 30 years, but not up to his old standard. But today the American GM notched the biggest scalp of his career, upsetting a player rated nearly 400 points above him.

    When I was a kid I lost to Tarjan in an open tournament here in the U.S., and was he incredibly gracious to nobody me in the post-mortem. He was one of the nicest guys I came across, so I'm especially happy for him after his success today. Indeed, watch this video - you have to have a heart of stone not to be happy for the guy.

    Watch live video from Chess on www.twitch.tv

    This is good news for the U.S. in another way: Kramnik is now in a big hole in the race for the Candidates spots based on ratings. Unless something dramatic happens - and it might - those spots will go to Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So. More good news for the U.S.: Aleks Lenderman is 3-0, having defeated Francisco Vallejo Pons today when the latter failed to hold the notorious rook vs. rook and bishop ending.

    But back to feel-good stories of the Tarjan variety. You may recall that 70-year-old FM Zaki Harari had near-2700 GM Maxim Rodshtein beat in that round, but repeated moves rather than landing the knockout blow. Well, no problem: today he had another chance against a GM, Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant, and this time he won. Granted, she's not at Rodshtein's level, but it was still a major upset. Good for Mr. Harari!

    A sadder story, of sorts, is the unbelievable saga of Hou Yifan. You might recall at the start of the year she was extremely irritated at getting paired with seven female players in the first nine rounds, and she protested in round 10 by playing an absurd opening (against her male opponent) and resigning after five moves. There was no evidence that anyone had cooked the pairings to give her a disproportionate number of female opponents, but she wasn't so sure, and was certainly unhappy about it.

    Here we are, months later in a different location. Who do you suppose she has faced this time? Round 1: Alexandra Kosteniuk (draw). Round 2: Elisabeth Paehtz (win). Uh oh. Round 3: Nino Batsiashvili (loss). UH OH. If she doesn't withdraw or hire protestors to block access to the tournament hall, the absurdist drama will continue in round 4, when she's due to face Yuliya Shvayger. You've gotta be kidding. It's pretty incredible that between the two events she's facing 11 women in 14 rounds, even though they are heavily outnumbered by the male players in the tournament.

    At the top, Magnus Carlsen leads the small group of players with 3-0 scores; today he defeated American youngster Jeffery Xiong, though the win wasn't quite as convincing as it might have seemed. In round 4 he'll have Black against Rustam Kasimdzhanov, a former FIDE World Champion and Fabiano Caruana's second. The other 3-0 pairing is a World Cup rematch, with Lenderman getting White against Pavel Eljanov, who happens to be the defending champion of this tournament. 19 players have 2.5 points, including Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, and Viswanathan Anand.

    Some games here, with brief comments.

    Saturday
    Sep232017

    Isle of Man, Round 1: Caruana Beats Kramnik UPDATE: Harari-Rodshtein Miracle Save

    There's plenty of chess remaining in this tournament (it's just round 1 at the Isle of Man), and Vladimir Kramnik is playing in at least one more event before the final rating tallies are in for the Candidates, but Fabiano Caruana helped himself a great deal today by defeating Kramnik in their round 1 matchup in the Isle of Man tournament.

    An obvious question: why in the world are Caruana and Kramnik playing in round 1 of an open tournament? The answer is that John Saunders persuaded the organizers to have random pairings for round 1. The upshot is that all sorts of pairings resulted: GMs vs. IMs, higher-rated GMs vs. lower-rated GMs, Magnus Carlsen playing a 2100, and in this case, two players from the world's top five facing each other.

    Pairings will return to normalcy tomorrow, but this experiment will have done its damage to Kramnik's chances. It's not just the loss, but all the low-rated players he'll face as a result of his so-called Swiss gambit. But congratulations to Caruana, who hasn't clinched a trip to Berlin but has greatly increased his chances of getting back there.

    As for the game, have a look here. A few games remain in round 1, most notably Zaki Harari, rated just 2027, enjoying the better chances against Maxim Rodshtein (2699 on the Live List).

    UPDATE: Rodshtein finally broke under the pressure, but in a totally won position with plenty of time on the clock Harari repeated moves. (At least it seems he had plenty of time, according to the transmission. Maybe it was inaccurate and Harari was living off the increment. But even if he was down to 31 seconds he could have done it - especially if he repeated once to gain a minute. In a low-pressure situation Harari probably would have found the right move in a 3-minute blitz game, maybe even in bullet) Harari repeated moves. He only needed to spot one good move, and it wasn't a difficult one, either. A real pity, but congrats to the massive underdog for gaining half a point and giving his elite opponent a real scare. Have a look.

    Friday
    Jul072017

    Kramnik On His Win Over Carlsen From Norway Chess, With Good Advice For Everyone

    The video may have lost some of its temporal urgency in light of Magnus Carlsen's impressive victories in Paris and Leuven, but not all. For one thing, those were not classical events. The more important matter is that we all have crises of form, and Vladimir Kramnik's remarks on that head should comfort us all.

    Friday
    Jun162017

    Norway Chess 2017, Round 9: Aronian Wins the Tournament

    It's shaping up to be a good year for Levon Aronian. First Wijk aan Zee, now Norway Chess! It looks like his slump is over, and he's once again going to be a contender for the world championship - as he should be. By holding a draw with Black against Wesley So he finished the tournament with an undefeated 6-3 score, with wins against the world's #1 and #2 players - Magnus Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik, respectively - plus Sergey Karjakin, the "vice champion". (This is not to be confused with a champion of vice rather than virtue.) He also crushed the 2800 barrier after some time below that bar, and is now the world's #4, 1.3 points behind Wesley So.

    Hikaru Nakamura was the runner up - or rather, the co-runner-up. Had he defeated Fabiano Caruana today he could have caught Aronian (and rejoined the 2800 club). Another effect would have been Caruana's ouster from the same club, but it didn't happen. Caruana prepared a new idea with White against the Poisoned Pawn Variation in the Najdorf, and while the computer finds a variety of equalizers for Black, human beings finding them over the board is another matter entirely. Nakamura was unable to negotiate all the complications, and lost a game that was as good as over long before the clocks were stopped.

    Sharing second with Nakamura, with 5/9, was the up-and-down Vladimir Kramnik. For the fourth round in a row, White won, and since he had the white pieces this time it was good news for him. His victim was Anish Giri, who also enjoyed and suffered a roller coaster of a tournament. Kramnik played an extremely provocative version of the Colle (a statement that sounds as funny as "an exciting London System" used to, but the richness of the royal game never cease to amaze), and it worked better than Kramnik could have dreamed. Giri is always - or now we should say, almost always - extremely well-prepared, but having sown the wind he wasn't ready for the whirlwind, and lost in just 20 moves.

    The other two games were short but not perfunctory draws. Sergey Karjakin was in trouble on the white side of a Najdorf against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and had MVL played 24...f5 followed by 25...e4 he would have been a favorite to win with his extra pawn. Instead, he blundered with 24...Rxd5, allowing Karjakin to bail out with a draw by repetition. The world champion, Magnus Carlsen, was also in trouble against his most recent predecessor, Viswanathan Anand. Had Anand played 23.e5 he would have had good winning chances. The opportunity was missed, and in the end it was Anand who was more forced to play for the draw than Carlsen.

    The games, with my annotations, can be replayed here. Here are the final standings:

    1. Aronian 6 (of 9)
    2-3. Nakamura, Kramnik 5
    4-6. Caruana, So, Giri 4.5
    7-9. Vachier-Lagrave, Anand, Carlsen 4
    10. Karjakin 3.5

     

    Wednesday
    Jun142017

    Norway Chess, Rounds 6 & 7: Aronian Surging Forward With a Bang, Carlsen Going Out With a Whimper

    Round 6 (on Monday) and round 7 (on Wednesday) were both exciting and eventful, and after a slow start the Norway Chess tournament has become very lively. There were two wins in round 6 and three in round 7, and it's nice to see that the decisive games have all been well-played by the winners.

    Hikaru Nakamura had been leading after round 5, but he was caught in round 6 by Levon Aronian, who promptly went by him with a second straight win in round 7. In round 6 Aronian beat Vladimir Kramnik pretty badly on the white side of a Semi-Tarrasch when the latter underestimated the danger to his queen on g4. That was a clean victory, slightly contrasted with his win over Sergey Karjakin in the next round. Aronian was never in danger, but his play was rather speculative. Karjakin got caught up in the speculative atmosphere, which proved unfortunate. In particular, 28.Rg6 only managed to get the rook in trouble, and in the lead up to the time control things went from bad to worse, and Aronian dispatched him most efficiently.

    Things are going even more poorly for Magnus Carlsen, who is tied for last place with 2.5 points out of 7. He lost in round 7 to Kramnik, who bounced back nicely from his loss to Aronian with a surprisingly easy win against the world champion. This put Kramnik back into second place on the rating list, and what's incredible is that he's only 6.4 points out of first. Carlsen has been #1 in the world on every list since July 2011 (and on most of the lists going back to January 2010), but he's just one more loss and one more Kramnik (or Wesley So, or maybe even Aronian win) from falling to #2. Back to the Kramnik-Carlsen game: Kramnik played sharply, but Carlsen was fine until his 25th move. After 25...Bxf2+ he would have been fine with correct play; after 25...Qxf2+, however, and his further error on move 27, he was simply lost, and Kramnik was up to the challenge.

    Kramnik is tied for third place with Anish Giri, with four points, half a point behind Nakamura and a full point behind Aronian. Giri played the Accelerated Dragon/Dragon hybrid against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in round 7, and while MVL is one of the best calculators in the world and a player who loves sharp, imbalanced positions this just wasn't his day. He neither took proper care of his king nor got his own attack off the ground fast enough, and lost a short, one-sided game.

    The last decisive game of rounds 6 and 7 came from round 6. Viswanathan Anand (the last person not named "Magnus Carlsen" to be classical world champion or rated #1 in the world [in classical chess]) repeated the same anti-English line he lost with against Giri in round 4, but this time he was fully successful with it against Fabiano Caruana. Caruana's queenside play got nowhere, while Anand successfully broke through on the kingside on the way to a queenside mating attack.

    The decisive games mentioned above can be replayed here, with my comments. Here's what's coming up in round 8:

     

    • Nakamura (4.5) - So (3.5)
    • Carlsen (2.5) - Karjakin (3)
    • Vachier-Lagrave (2.5) - Kramnik (4)
    • Aronian (5) - Anand (3)
    • Giri (4) - Caruana (3)

     

     

     

    Thursday
    Jun082017

    Norway Chess 2017, Round 2: Kramnik the Day's Only Winner

    After two rounds, there are only two wins on the crosstable - but it's not for want of trying. The shortest game in the tournament so far went 42 moves, and five of the ten games went 58 moves or more. The wins will come, but so far it's just Hikaru Nakamura's round 1 win over Anish Giri, and now Vladimir Kramnik's win - with Black - against Viswanathan Anand.

    Beating Anand is always an accomplishment, and while it was a deserved win by Kramnik that vaulted him back into the #2 spot on the rating list, it would most likely have finished in a draw had Anand not played 34.Qxc7. This move, made in haste, allowed Kramnik to obtain an outside passed pawn, and several moves later his advantage was enough to win. Instead, 34.a4 would have maintained the balance and almost certainly led to a quick draw.

    In two games, one side had to suffer a bit before achieving the draw. Giri especially really pressed Sergey Karjakin and seemed close to winning, but Karjakin isn't called the "minister of defense" for nothing. Nakamura had White against Levon Aronian, but that didn't help very much. He was quickly worse and had to defend for a long time, and down a pawn for most of the second half of the game.

    The other two draws were more comfortable for all the parties. Fabiano Caruana got nothing against Magnus Carlsen, and the game was drawn by perpetual check shortly after the time control. In the last game, Wesley So, playing White against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, first had a slight advantage and then a slight disadvantage, but neither player ever seemed too close to having serious winning chances.

    Here's what's on tap for round 3; the first two games look especially tantalizing:

    • Carlsen (1) - Nakamura (1.5)
    • Kramnik (1.5) - So (1)
    • Aronian (1) - Giri (.5)
    • Vachier-Lagrave (1) - Caruana (1)
    • Karjakin (1) - Anand (.5)

    Thursday
    Apr272017

    Shamkir: Mamedyarov Leads After Five Rounds

    Shakhriyar Mamedyarov has been a beast in Shamkir, and enjoyed a half-point lead going into yesterday's rest day. His win over Pavel Eljanov in round 3 was huge, as Eljanov had led with 2/2. In fact Mamedyarov was a bit lucky, as Eljanov enjoyed a winning position after the first time control, and would have been on the way to victory with 44.e7. The position was very tricky though, and White's error allowed Black to equalize. The game remained complicated and equal for another ten moves or so, until Eljanov's 54.Qe4, which was the beginning of his slide into a lost position. (56.Rd5 was the fatal error.)

    In round 4 there was only one decisive game, which was Vladimir Kramnik's wild victory over Pentala Harikrishna. Kramnik's 24.Rd5 followed by 25.Rxe5 randomized the position, and although his rook sac wasn't completely sound such an evaluation is a bit too academic. A computer would have eaten Kramnik's lunch, but in the realm of flesh and blood it's much more difficult to work through all the craziness as time ticks away. In the lead-up to the time control, Harikrishna lost his way (the sensible-looking 36...Kf8 was a serious error; apparently only 36...Qb3 maintained equal chances), and Kramnik won.

    Not only did this help Kramnik's tournament standing, bringing him into a four-way tie for second (with Eljanov, Michael Adams, and Veselin Topalov), it also vaulted him ahead of Wesley So into second place in the live rating list. In round 5, So fixed that, very impressively outplaying Kramnik himself. It was play like this that got So into second place on the rating list in the first place, and the win put him back there.

    Topalov also lost - was demolished, in fact - by Sergey Karjakin in an impressive attacking game. Only Eljanov and Adams remain within half a point of Mamedyarov, but with four rounds left almost anything is still possible. Here are the pairings for round 6, which starts in a few hours.

    • Kramnik (2.5) - Mamedyarov (3.5)
    • Adams (3) - Harikrishna (1.5)
    • Wojtaszek (2) - Radjabov (2)
    • Topalov (2.5) - Eljanov (3)
    • So (2.5) - Karjakin (2.5)

    The games mentioned above can be replayed here, but sans annotations (unfortunately).