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    1948 World Chess Championship 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 2016 World Championship 22014 Sinquefield Cup 22014 U.S. Championship 60 Minutes A. 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    Entries in Vladimir Kramnik (65)

    Friday
    Dec122014

    London Chess Classic, Round 3: Three Draws, But A Near-Miss For Adams

    There weren't any decisive games in today's action at the London Chess Classic, but there was some excitement in the games between Hikaru Nakamura and Viswanathan Anand on the one hand, and between Michael Adams and Vladimir Kramnik on the other. (The third game, between Fabiano Caruana and Anish Giri, also had some brief excitement as the players broke new ground in the Berlin endgame, but it fizzled out by move 23 and the remainder was just for the sake of appeasing the organizers.)

    Nakamura essayed the Evans Gambit against Anand, and while that may sound exciting to players who haven't looked at many games played with that gambit since Chigorin and Steinitz were duking it out for the world championship, they tend to be pretty dull. (Not always, but usually.) Anand came out of the opening in good shape, but small inaccuracies in the early middlegame gave Nakamura an initiative. Once in a bit of trouble, however, Anand defended like a lion, and he held his own through the complications. Eventually the players repeated, and while the engines on the Chess24 live feed makes it look as if Anand had an advantage he didn't. White remains quite active (look at the board!) and there are a lot of tricks, too. The position is equal even if Black continues, and there are probably many more ways for Black to go wrong than for White in a game between humans.

    Finally, there's the Adams-Kramnik game. Like Caruana-Giri it went into the Berlin "endgame", and Kramnik found a significant new idea for Black in the trendy 9.h3 line. He equalized easily and could have forced a draw, but decided to press instead. The idea of running the a-pawn was a good one, but it would have been better without his rook on a3. A very long think on his 34th move led him into all kinds of trouble, and with his 40th move Adams could have put the game away. He saw the move and assessed it correctly, but to his misfortune decided that another move would give him an even better version of the same thing. As he surely realized very quickly, his assessment was completely mistaken, and Kramnik escaped with a draw without any further adventures. Ironically, both players made bad decisions based on overthinking a particular move: long think, wrong think.

    Had Adams won, he would have taken over the lead. As things stand, Kramnik and Giri continue to lead with 5 points apiece on the tournament's 3-1-0 scoring system. Adams has 4 points, Anand 3, and Nakamura and Caruana have 2. Tomorrow's round starts two hours earlier, and has these pairings:

    • Anand - Giri
    • Kramnik - Caruana
    • Nakamura - Adams

    The games are here, with some annotations to Adams-Kramnik.

    Thursday
    Dec112014

    London Chess Classic, Round 2: Kramnik and Giri Win, Lead

    The London Chess Classic's main event started yesterday, and now it's almost half over. Still, it's offering good value, and today two of the three games had a winner.

    Vladimir Kramnik had a new and tricky idea ready in the Petrosian System against Hikaru Nakamura's King's Indian, and when Nakamura went awry in the complicated middlegame on moves 18 and 19 - and maybe move 17 as well - it was all one-way traffic. Nakamura held out until after the time control (if he had had more time he might have resigned a little earlier), and then called it quits.

    After that, Anish Giri finished upending the previous leader, Michael Adams, to join Kramnik in first. Giri came out of the opening with a nice positional edge, but for a long time Adams hung tough and the outcome was uncertain. The uncertainty vanished after the tactical error 38...Ra1, which allowed 39.Ne8+. That wins the g-pawn by force sooner or later, and two extra pawns in that ending was one too many.

    The third game was the first to finish. Fabiano Caruana was well prepared in the Queen's Gambit Declined for Viswanathan Anand's 5.Bf4 line, and in particular Caruana's 14...Nd7! was a surprising turn Anand had overlooked. Black will be doing great if he gets in ...e5, so Anand saw nothing better than repeating moves and calling it a day. Not an ideal result for him, certainly, but it left him the rest of the day to celebrate his 45th birthday.

    Kramnik and Giri lead with 4 points apiece (remember, it's 3-1-0 scoring), Adams is in third with 3, Anand has 2 and both Nakamura and Caruana have 1. The round 3 pairings are:

     

    • Nakamura - Anand
    • Adams - Kramnik
    • Caruana - Giri

     

    It has been a long day, so rather than work up my own notes to the main game of the day, I'll turn it over to Chess24's Jan Gustafsson:

    Thursday
    Dec042014

    Yu Yangyi Wins Qatar Masters, Leapfrogging Kramnik Who Leapfrogged Giri

    The last three rounds of the Qatar Masters Open were exceptionally dramatic, with each leader falling to the next. After six rounds Anish Giri led with a perfect 6/6 a point ahead of Vladimir Kramnik who had won his last four games after drawing his first two. Kramnik played Giri and won in impressive fashion (aside from an immediately forgiven fingerfehler in the opening) to catch him at 6/7. In the penultimate round Kramnik defeated the overperforming Saleh Salem with the black pieces, while Giri lost again, with White, to Yu Yangyi.

    In round six Yu could have been out of the first place hunt, as he was a bit worse out of the opening against Alex Lenderman and for quite a while had nothing, but a bit at a time he outplayed the American GM and won that game. After the win against Giri he entered the round half a point behind Kramnik, and here he had a little bit of luck that arose because of Kramnik's prior good luck. When Kramnik played Giri in round 7 he was due for Black, but because Giri was too and his color equalization took priority (due to his higher score at the time) Kramnik got a second straight white for that crucial game. When the last round rolled around Kramnik was due for the white pieces, but so was Yu, and although Kramnik had the higher score entering the round his excess white game earlier flipped it around.

    So Yu got the advantage of the first move, and pretty decisively manhandled Kramnik in a 4.d3 Berlin. Kramnik's 13...g6, 15...b5, 19...f5 and especially and finally 20...gxf5 created a large number of potential weaknesses, and the 20-year-old Chinese talent harvested just about all of them. When Kramnik resigned on move 33 he was down four pawns and likely to lose his stranded knight as well. It was an amazingly one-sided victory - I wouldn't be surprised to lose like that to a 2700, but it's remarkable to see it happen to Kramnik.

    Meanwhile, Giri bounced back with a wild last-round win over Vladimir Akopian, and he and Kramnik split the 2nd-3rd place money, with Giri officially taking second on tiebreaks. A great result for Yu Yangyi, who also had the best performance rating at the Olympiad and made it to "Millionaire Monday" in Las Vegas as well. The young guys (quite a few of whom are from China) are taking over!

    Monday
    Dec012014

    Qatar Masters: Giri Leads With 6/6, Kramnik Up Next With 5/6

    In round 5 of the Qatar Masters Open Anish Giri won very quickly with Black against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, but it looked like he would be held today by Swedish GM Nils Grandelius. Grandelius was very close to making a draw, but Giri kept the game alive for a long time, and his opponent finally fell apart around move 60. With the exception of Mamedyarov, Giri hasn't been playing the same kinds of opponents Fabiano Caruana did when winning seven in a row at the Sinquefield Cup or that Alexander Grischuk did in his six game streak across the Baku Grand Prix and the Tigran Petrosian Memorial, but even so it's very impressive.

    His next opponent will be Vladimir Kramnik. Kramnik got off to a poor start, drawing in the first two rounds against considerably lower-rated GMs and just eking out a victory in round 3. Since then, however, he has been pummeling his opponents, and in round 6 he knocked out the talented young grandmaster Sanan Sjugirov in just 25 moves. With four wins in a row he is in clear second, and tomorrow he'll have the white pieces against Giri. That should be very entertaining.

    Twelve players are in the next score group, at 4.5 points, and two of them are Americans. Sam Shankland will have Black against Yuriy Kryvoruchko on board three, while Aleksandr Lenderman will have the black pieces on board four against Yu Yangyi. Daniel Naroditsky has 4 points, and will have White against Pavel Eljanov.

    Saturday
    Nov292014

    Qatar Masters: Giri Leads With 4/4

    So far it's a fine performance by the young Dutchman and top seed Anish Giri, who is the solo leader of the Qatar Masters Open with 4/4. Thus far he hasn't been tested, and today he crushed his opponent, Mikhailo Oleksienko, in just 18 moves on the white side of a Caro-Kann - and he was probably winning after Black's 10th move. (In case you're wondering, Oleksienko is a GM with a 2620 rating; this isn't some sort of master vs. amateur rout at the local club!) Ouch.

    Five players are just half a point behind - Evgeny Tomashevsky, Nils Grandelius, Yuriy Kryvoruchko, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, and Pavel Eljanov - and then there are a ton of players with 3/4, including Vladimir Kramnik. Kramnik started with two draws and a very shaky win in round 3, but in round 4 he finally looked more like himself and is getting back into the hunt. The top American player so far, Sam Shankland, also has 3 points, and several Americans have 2.5 points including Daniel Naroditsky, Alex Lenderman and Irina Krush. (Krush had an especially impressive victory in round 3 over Sergey Fedorchuk, and with the black pieces at that.) Another notable 2.5 pointer is Bela Khotenashvili. She defeated Baadur Jobava in round 1, and today in round 4 she defeated another super-strong GM, Gabriel Sargissian.

    It's a very strong tournament, and as you can see from the foregoing even top GMs aren't getting much "respect" from their opponents. Especially notable among the super-GM victims are Arkadij Naiditsch, whose 2719 rating still left him with an 0-2 start, and after a win in round 3 he lost to an IM in round 4 to fall to 1-3. Even worse: Viktor Bologan started 0-3 and only managed his first draw of the event today, against an FM. (Worse yet: while some might conceivably have a tough time in Qatar because they're unused to the climate, I believe Bologan has spent a lot of time working as a trainer there over the years. He's just having a very bad tournament.)

    Five rounds remain.

    Monday
    Nov102014

    Petrosian Memorial, Round 6: Kramnik Beats Morozevich

    Alexander Grischuk continues to lead the Tigran Petrosian Memorial, but he is not yet guaranteed clear first. Levon Aronian put Grischuk under pressure in a Gruenfeld (Aronian was White), but Grischuk played very well to draw. He is at 5/6 (a great score good for a 3011 TPR), but thanks to Vladimir Kramnik's attacking victory over tailender Alexander Morozevich it's not over. Kramnik has 4 points and the good news for him is that he gets Grischuk in the last round. His bad news is that he gets Black, so Grischuk's a very strong favorite to finish the event on top.

    I've analyzed Kramnik's win over Morozevich here and provided the round's other three games (all drawn) as well. Also, Jeffrey Hall wrote in to mention a remarkable blunder in the round four game between Morozevich and Ernesto Inarkiev, so that's also included at the link above.

    Last Round Pairings:

    • Grischuk (5) - Kramnik (4)
    • Inarkiev (2) - Aronian (3)
    • Gelfand (3) - Leko (2.5)
    • Morozevich (1.5) - Ding Liren (3)

    Thursday
    Nov062014

    Petrosian Memorial, Round 2: Grischuk Wins Again, Breaks 2800; Kramnik Also Wins

    Thus far Alexander Grischuk and Vladimir Kramnik appear to be in good form at the Tigran Petrosian Memorial. Grischuk won his second straight game, defeating Boris Gelfand with the black pieces, while Kramnik won a very nice attacking game against Ernesto Inarkiev. Before getting too excited about their play so far (which has been excellent), it's fair to point out that their wins have come against the players who look most likely to be vulnerable. Inarkiev is the lowest-rated player by a considerable margin and had Black against both Grischuk and Kramnik, and in both games was much worse out of the opening. And Gelfand, the "old man" of the tournament at 46 years of age, is playing in his third consecutive tournament with scarcely a break.

    Still, it's a good start for both, and especially so for Grischuk, who for the first time in his career has broken the 2800 barrier (it won't be official if he drops below 2800 by the end of the tournament, except in the annals of the online live rating lists). We'll see if he can keep things up tomorrow, when the pairings look like this:

    Round 3 Pairings:

    • Leko (1) - Kramnik (1.5)
    • Aronian (1) - Ding Liren (1)
    • Grischuk (2) - Morozevich (1)
    • Inarkiev (0) - Gelfand (.5)

    Wednesday
    Aug062014

    Tromso Olympics, Round 5: A Big Tie For First Entering the First Rest Day

    All three teams entering round 5 with a 4-0 score drew their matches, and a bunch of others caught them at the top. Right now seven teams have 4.5/5 (or rather, 9/10, since the official scoring uses 2-1-0 rather than 1-.5-0); in tiebreak order they are Azerbaijan, Serbia, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria, Cuba, Uzbekistan and Georgia. No less than 17 other teams are right behind them at 4/5 (or 8/10), including main contenders Russia, France, China and Armenia, but also surprises like Indonesia, Norway's B team, and Iran! Norway's A team has 7/10, along with the USA, Greece, Italy (Caruana et al), Israel (Gelfand et al), Ukraine (Ivanchuk et al) and many more. Not much stratification has occurred yet.

    In the women's event China, Hungary and Russia remain perfect; the Netherlands, Poland and Serbia all have 9/10, and then there are 12 more teams at 8, including the USA and Greece. Bravo Hellas!

    As the top teams are already facing off there were some real highlights on the day, most notably one-on-one battles between Levon Aronian and Magnus Carlsen and between Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov. In the first game Aronian was up a pawn for most of the game, but never with any serious winning chances. Still, it was probably nice to press, and in the end his team won - the most important thing.

    As for the hatefest between Kramnik and Topalov, Kramnik played what Garry Kasparov labeled a "great game", and he (Kramnik) certainly enjoyed discussing the game afterwards (with a bit of occasional gleeful malice) with the commentators. His pleasure was in good part spoiled however by the Russian team's failure to win the match. The culprit was Sergey Karjakin's blunders against Valentin Iotov. The most obvious one was his failure to recapture on d5 with the bishop on move 27. He apparently thought he could build up more and then take, but the problem with taking later was that Black would win by sacrificing the exchange on d5 and playing ...f4, when the threat of ...Qh2# would win the game. That wasn't a worry on move 27: 27.Bxd5 Rxd5 28.cxd5 Qf4 and now White returns the exchange with 29.Rxe5, and he'll have no problems. Karjakin may be even more upset when he learns that he could have won the game practically in the opening with 14.Qa3! The knight on e4 can't be taken because of 15.Qe7#, 14...Bxg5 is met by 15.Nd6+ Kd8 16.Nxf7+, and meanwhile the threat of 15.Bxf4 followed by 16.Nd6+ forces Black to cough up a pawn without a shred of compensation (in fact, White will have the better position to go along with the extra pawn).

    Another high-profile blunder cost another of the pre-tournament favorites a crucial point in the standings. The Ukraine-Uzbekistan match was headed for a draw, but an out-of-form Vassily Ivanchuk blundered in time trouble and lost to Rustam Kasimdzhanov from what Kasparov had considered a "dead drawn" position. Errare humanum est!

    As usual, I refer you to this page for more information, but as a little added bonus, here's the Kramnik-Topalov game, with my summary of Kramnik's comments and analysis.

    Monday
    Jun092014

    Norway Chess, Round 6: Four Draws and a Kramnik Loss

    To Veselin Topalov, naturally. No matter what Vladimir Kramnik says in this interview pretending that he isn't affected by Topalov over the board, his fairly poor results against him since their world championship match tell a different story. Kramnik used to own him, but now, no matter how bad Topalov's form is in any given event, he is even looking like a favorite against him.

    With the loss, the Norway Chess tournament now has three co-leaders: Kramnik, Magnus Carlsen (who drew a Berlin ending with Black against Sergey Karjakin), and Fabiano Caruana (who drew with Black against Simen Agdestein). Their draws were "clean" - no one had a serious advantage at any point, and the same goes for the other two draws. Levon Aronian had White against Anish Giri, but ultimately had the (not-too-difficult) task of forcing a draw while a pawn down. Finally, Alexander Grischuk and Peter Svidler drew quickly.

    The games are here (without notes), and tomorrow's round 7 pairings follow:

    • Svidler (2.5) - Agdestein (3)
    • Carlsen (3.5) - Grischuk (3)
    • Giri (3) - Karjakin (3)
    • Kramnik (3.5) - Aronian (2.5)
    • Caruana (3.5) - Topalov (2.5)

    Sunday
    Jun082014

    Norway Chess, Round 5: Kramnik Beats Caruana, Leads; Carlsen Beats Aronian

    There were two heavyweight battles today at the Norway Chess tournament, one between Magnus Carlsen (world champion and world #1) and Levon Aronian (world #2), the other between the Fabiano Caruana (the tournament leader and world #3) and Vladimir Kramnik (ex-world champion, [now] #4 in the world and in second in the tournament). Both games were long, both games were tough, and both games had a winner.

    Taking them in reverse order, Caruana entered the round in first and in excellent shape, having already played Carlsen and with (alleged) tournament rabbit Simen Agdestein next on the schedule. All he needed was to survive Kramnik with the black pieces, and his chances of overall victory would be excellent. Not a trivial task, especially with Black, but Caruana coped with the pressure of the moment and his opponent's moves for a long time. It was only at move 50 that he cracked, and with a very simple error: 50...Ke8?? Instead 50...Kf8 or 50...Kg8 would draw easily, almost trivially. The point is that 51.Kf6 would be adequately met by 51...Rb6+, and White is going nowhere. As White has few (no?) other real ideas, it's just a draw. The problem with 50...Ke8 was that after 51.Kf6 Rb6+ White had 52.Kg7, but even here Black can put up plenty of resistance with 52...Rb3. Instead Caruana resigned, and Kramnik supplanted him in first place.

    As for the Carlsen-Aronian game, it was more heartbreaking in one way, less in another. Aronian didn't lose the game with a one-move error, but unlike Caruana who was always fighting for a draw, Aronian had a winning or nearly winning position before the time control. Playing 32...h5, as suggested by the engines and by Aronian himself immediately after the game would have kept White bottled up and in desperate trouble. Instead, Aronian made a series of mistakes up to the end of the time control, and after his 40th move he was probably lost. There were some later moments when he was briefly back in the game, but Carlsen's technique eventually told. With the win Carlsen moved into a tie with Caruana for second, half a point behind Kramnik.

    There was a third winner on the day, Anish Giri, and his win was also a piece of good luck. Veselin Topalov was always fine against him with Black in a Rauzer Sicilian, and after 29 moves the position was equal. Then Giri played 30.f5??, and was lost after 30...Re5. Fortunately for the youngster, Topalov met 31.Re1 not with 31...d5, winning material, but 31...Kh8?? not only surrendered the advantage; it gave Giri a winning position. With the win Giri got back to 50%.

    Also extremely lucky today: Alexander Grischuk. ATR* Simen Agdestein was winning with Black in the same line of the Classical French he essayed against Sergey Karjakin in round 3. Agdestein varied first, but still had a little trouble early on. Agdestein handled the complicated position better than his opponent, and Grischuk didn't have enough compensation for his two pawn deficit. Agdestein's biggest chance was a tactical one: 39...Rxg2+! would have won on the spot, leaving Grischuk only the choice between two different hopelessly lost endings three pawns in arrears. Agdestein missed it, and let Grischuk slip out of trouble with a draw. Agdestein has five draws in five games, and on paper is doing great. His result so far is surely exceeding everyone's pre-tournament expectations except maybe his own. But he has let several opportunities slip, and at some point that may discourage him.

    Finally, Peter Svidler had an advantage against Karjakin for a while, but didn't manage to keep it. It looks like the key moment was on move 23, when 23.Nh4 (rather than 23.h3) looks rather unpleasant, threatening both Nf5 and to take on c6. Black could play 23...Ne7, but after 24.Bxa8 Rxa8 25.Rxb5 it looks like White has an extra pawn for nothing. Ultimately, the game was drawn.

    The games, with my notes, are here; tomorrow's round 6 pairings follow:

    • Aronian (2) - Giri (2.5)
    • Karjakin (2.5) - Carlsen (3)
    • Grischuk (2.5) - Svidler (2)
    • Topalov (1.5) - Kramnik (3.5) (Uh oh...)
    • Agdestein (2.5) - Caruana (3)

    * ATR = Alleged Tournament Rabbit