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 Chinese Championship 2017 Geneva Grand Prix 2017 Isle of Man 2017 PRO Chess League 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 Team Championship 2018 Chess Olympiad 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 Wesley So (70)

    Tuesday
    Sep192017

    World Cup, Round 6 (Semi-Finals), Day 1: Two Draws; So Misses a Big Chance

    The game between Levon Aronian and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was a waste of the white pieces from a purely chess perspective, but maybe Aronian wasn't feeling well and needed another rest day. He went straight for Vachier-Lagrave's main opening weapon against 1.d4, the Gruenfeld, and went into the well-traveled paths of the 7.Nf3, 8.Rb1 line. For quite some time now theory has claimed that Black is completely fine, and Aronian's mini-novelty on move 24 didn't do much (if anything) to undermine that assessment or put it to the test. Sometimes a novelty leads to equality if the other player finds all the right moves, but finding those moves may not be easy at all. This does not seem to be true in this instance. Black had many completely satisfactory ways to continue, and if anything he could have been more ambitious than he was. The players agreed to a draw eight moves later.

    The game between Wesley So and Ding Liren was a very different story, even if it had the same ending. So was White in an Italian Game, and Ding Liren played an interesting idea that goes back to Akiba Rubinstein (not in that exact position): ...Qd8-b8, to put the queen on a7. It wasn't bad, but So found an excellent way of replying with 17.Qb3 followed by 18.Qb5, offering a trade of queens (Black's queen had subsequently reached a6). Black should have declined the offer, leaving it up to White, because after 18...Qxb5 19.axb5 and the essentially forced 19...b6 White now enjoyed pressure on the a-file, the looming possibility of a b4 pawn break, and beautiful outpost square on d5. So maneuvered a knight to d5, got the maximum out of the queenside, and then gained space on the kingside. Black was in trouble, and if that wasn't enough So was handed a great winning chance not on move 40, but on move 41 - right after the time control. Unfortunately, he quickly rejected the winning 41.Rxb3 for 41.Kc3 after less than three minutes, after which Black's concrete counterplay allowed him to draw. After 42...Rh2 So finally took some time to think, but now it was too late, and the game speedily finished in a perpetual.

    The final match is a best-of-four, but the semis are still best-of-two. Will MVL and Ding Liren punish their opponents, or will we see tiebreaks? Meanwhile, here are today's games, with my comments.

    Saturday
    Sep162017

    World Cup, Round 5, Day 2: Aronian, So, and Ding Liren Advance; Vachier-Lagrave - Svidler Goes to Tiebreaks

    If there was a surprise in today's round, it was that everything one would expect came to pass. Levon Aronian had to work to neutralize Vassily Ivanchuk's attempts to get revenge with White, and he succeeded in that task. Ivanchuk played a long time, but never came close to winning the game. Favorites Wesley So and Ding Liren drew easily with Black on Friday, and used the white pieces today to defeat Vladimir Fedoseev and Richard Rapport, respectively. Finally, the most evenly matched pairing, between Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Peter Svidler, finished in a second straight draw, so they'll go to tiebreaks tomorrow.

    A complication with the tidy narrative: while the MVL-Svidler game was short, there was an exchange of errors on Black's 19th and White's 20th moves. White had a crude but powerful tactical idea at his disposal, and had he found it the match most likely would have come to an end, and the show would go dark tomorrow. Instead, the action continues.

    The players finally get their first official, universal rest day on Monday, which means that Aronian, So, and Ding Liren will have two days off to get ready for the semi-final. Aronian won't know the identity of his opponent until the MVL-Svidler tiebreak concludes, while So and Ding Liren will prepare for each other - and no doubt already are.

    Games here.

    Wednesday
    Aug092017

    Sinquefield Cup, Round 6: Aronian Defeats So to Join the Second-Place Tie behind MVL

    Wesley So was the #2 player in the world coming into the event, and had he defeated Magnus Carlsen in the previous round he'd have been #1. After losing to Carlsen in round 5, and now losing - badly - to Levon Aronian in round 6, he's now #6 in the world and has fallen below 2800. (It isn't easy at the top, or near it. Aronian, Fabiano Caruana, and several other players who have been #2 in recent years - sometimes with a healthy gap between them and the #3 player - have all taken a tumble and had to gradually work their way back up.)

    About the Aronian-So game. Aronian criticized So's 19th and 24th moves, 19...Bxe4 (allowing White to open the f-file, with attacking chances) and 24...Rb7, but while these moves made So's situation precarious the engine insists that Black wasn't in grave danger until he played 27...Qe7 (27...Re7 was correct) and especially 28...Qc5. So needed to play 28...Qd6, to prevent Aronian's excellent response to the move actually chosen. Aronian's 29.Rf6! was crushing, and when So resigned a few moves later it was in a position where White had winning plans to spare.

    The other four games were drawn, with the most notable of the bunch being Carlsen's marathon draw with Hikaru Nakamura. To mention just two or three of the interesting moments in the game: first, there was the series of 10 consecutive captures after Carlsen's 20.Bg5; second and third, and related, there's Carlsen's handling of his kingside pawns in the rook ending. Playing h4-h5 on move 43 or especially move 42 would have given him a forced win (and at least excellent practical chances even if he didn't manage to play like a computer). Instead, 43.g5? made it impossible to make progress against good defense, and while Nakamura may have made his life a little more difficult than he needed to, he held the fort and got the draw.

    Carlsen thus missed out on a chance to catch Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in a tie for first; instead, he's tied with Aronian and Viswanathan Anand. Here are the pairings for round 7, which begin in an hour or so:

    • Vachier-Lagrave (4) - Karjakin (3)
    • Svidler (2.5) - Carlsen (3.5)
    • Nakamura (2.5) - Aronian (3.5)
    • Anand (3.5) - Nepomniachtchi (2.5)
    • So (2) - Caruana (3)

    Friday
    Aug042017

    Sinquefield Cup, Day 2: Three More Wins; Carlsen, Caruana, and Vachier-Lagrave Lead

    It was another exciting round at the Sinquefield Cup, and thanks to a pair of blunders by Levon Aronian and Fabiano Caruana, a very long one.

    But first things first: Ian Nepomniachtchi once again got into trouble in the opening, and lost for a second time. With White against Wesley So, Nepomniachtchi hoped to make use of the extra space provided by his Maroczy Bind setup, but he was unable to restrict Black's activity. His 17th move was an outright error, and while it didn't lose material it allowed So to reach a position where White's structure was beset by weaknesses. So won one pawn, and then another, and when Nepo resigned on his 40th move he was about to go three pawns down. So bounced back nicely from his first round loss, while Nepomniachtchi remains with the score he had before the tournament started.

    World champion Magnus Carlsen demonstrated excellent form against his last challenger, Sergey Karjakin, outplaying him in excellent style. It's easy to look at places where the computer's evaluation of Karjakin's position drops and say "here is where he went wrong", but none of the errors was obvious in its own right, even in retrospect, and the players themselves had a difficult time pinpointing the critical errors. Carlsen just played very well. Carlsen has 1.5/2, and Karjakin fell to 50%.

    The games Peter Svidler vs. Viswanathan Anand and Hikaru Nakamura vs. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave were both fairly clean draws, and in both cases Black managed to solve his problems from the get-go. MVL is +1, Svidler is -1, and Anand and Nakamura remain on 50%.

    So that leaves Aronian-Caruana, which almost certainly would have ended in a draw in a few moves had Aronian not played 33.Ke2??, losing a piece after 33...Bb4! followed by 34...Re8, winning a piece. By itself, this didn't ensure a long game, just one with a different result. Had Caruana played 40...g5+, a logical and pretty obvious move that he had more than enough time to find, the game would have ended quickly, and maybe even immediately.

    Instead, after 40...Bd2?, Caruana (with Black) was left with a rook, dark-squared bishop and - critically - an h-pawn against Aronian's rook and doubled g-pawns. Blunders aside, this gave Caruana two "normal" ways to win: (1) Win both White pawns without trading anything, and win with rook, bishop and h-pawn against rook. (2) Trade rooks, stalemate White's king, and thereby force White to play g4-g5, allowing Black to play ...hxg5 and thereby eliminating the specter of a king + bishop + h-pawn vs. king draw. White would be happy to trade rooks if he lost one or both g-pawns (provided that losing the pawns didn't come by a pawn capture), otherwise not.

    Caruana eventually managed to win in a third, somewhat surprising way. He won the g4-pawn on move 74, and after a long stretch where he didn't seem to be making any progress, he finally found a way to put an end to the game. His 106th move, 106...Bd6!, won White's remaining pawn, but allowed White to eliminate Black's h-pawn as well. That was the good news for Aronian, but the bad news is that the resulting rook + bishop vs. rook ending was won for Black. White's king was in a mating net, and after 110...Rc4+ Aronian decided that 7 hours was long enough, and resigned. Aronian thus fell back to 50%, while Caruana joined Carlsen and Vachier-Lagrave on +1.

    Round 3 Pairings:

    Anand (1) - Carlsen (1.5)
    So (1) - Nakamura (1)
    Caruana (1.5) - Nepomniachtchi (0)
    Karjakin (1) - Aronian (1)
    Vachier-Lagrave (1.5) - Svidler (.5)

    Monday
    Jul102017

    Leon 2017, Day 3: So Defeats Anand in Blitz Tiebreaks to Win the Tournament

    Viswanathan Anand has won Leon nine times, but while he showed glimpses of his strengths - his preparation was especially good in some games, and he demonstrated his skills as a slippery defender by saving two lost positions in the final match - in other respects his play wasn't so good. Wesley So's play wasn't perfect either, but he seemed more consistent and was a deserved winner.

    The final between So and Anand followed the format of the semi-finals, a best-of-four rapid match (20' + 10"/move), followed if need be by a pair of blitz games and, if still tied, by an Armageddon game.

    So had White in the first rapid game, a 4.d3 Berlin. Anand came out of the opening fine, and then So had a slight edge, and then Anand was better before the game finished in a draw in an equal position. It was a good start for Anand.

    Game two was a very different story. So probably surprised Anand with 7...Kf8 in a 7.Qg4 Winawer. He came out of the opening in good shape, and while he was briefly in trouble between 26...Rf8? and 28.Qf3?, most of the time things were in his favor. So was winning for around 25 moves, but Anand defended stubbornly, and So couldn't quite put him away. Another draw.

    Game three was a lot like game one: So slightly outplayed Anand after the opening to get an edge, and was then outplayed by Anand who took over the advantage, and then the draw was agreed in an equal position.

    Game four was rather crazy. So played a very bad opening, and by move 18 or so he was nearly lost. Anand's attack would play itself, as the cliche goes, once he got in g2-g4. So rose to the occasion, finding a neat tactical trick that Anand missed until it was too late. That allowed him to equalize, and then he outplayed Anand to achieve a winning endgame. But once again Anand defended well enough to make the win difficult - at least in a rapid game - and once again the game was drawn. On to the blitz.

    In the first blitz game, Anand appeared to forget his prep. It seems as if he wanted to copy what he had done against Anish Giri in a rapid game a week ago, but messed up his move order and reached the same position a tempo down. While So missed a surprising tactical opportunity to take immediate advantage of Anand's error, his retained a pleasant advantage that quickly became decisive. Anand never got into the game, and resigned after just 23 moves.

    In the second blitz game, Anand again achieved an advantage with White against the Petroff. So seemed at sea in game four, and nothing about the opening of this game suggested he was better prepared this time. He offered a dubious pawn sac that offered little if any compensation, but was bailed out when Anand blundered it away with 16.Rab1. White did get a very small chance several moves later, but after that there were no more opportunities. So defended very well, achieved the draw, and won the title.

    Games here, some with my notes.

    Friday
    Jul072017

    Leon 2017, Day 1: So Defeats Duda 2.5-1.5 in the First Semi-Final

    Day 1 of this rapid knockout event got off to a strange start, as Wesley So left his queen en prise in the opening against Jan-Krzysztof Duda, not only losing the game but blowing the white pieces as well. In game two he recovered well enough to press most of the game with Black, and then in game three he won to level the match.

    It was the fourth game that would decide the match, and it was exciting an exciting contest as Duda went all out for for mate playing with White in a King's Indian Attack. Perhaps he was following Anish Giri's advice, based on his experience in the Chess.com blitz match a month or so ago. Giri initially tried to battle So in positional play, and the strategy failed. So was consistently outplaying him. Then he decided to play for mate, and that approach bore fruit, both in the match and more recently in Leuven.

    If this was Duda's strategy, it was working. While So was initially better, whether due to good instincts or good preparation is unknown, but inaccuracies came and his position grew dubious. Unfortunately for Duda, he burned too much time reaching the superior position. After missing several winning opportunities, he took his last (relatively) long think on move 28, and perhaps unable to work out 28.g4 or 28.Nxh7 to his satisfaction, played 28.Ng4. This was a mistake, both objectively and practically, and So had no trouble wrapping up the point and the match after this.

    Tomorrow (now today), Viswanathan Anand will take on Jaime Santos in the other semi-final. For now, here are the So-Duda games, with some comments to the first and last games.

    Thursday
    Jul062017

    Leon Tournament Starts Tomorrow

    The opening ceremony and drawing of lots took place today at the 30th Leon Chess Tournament, but the action starts tomorrow (Friday). It's a four player knockout event, with semi-final matches on Friday and Saturday followed by the final on Sunday. The matches are best-of-four contests with a 20' + 10" time control, and the first match sees Wesley So take on Jan-Krzysztof Duda while Saturday's semi pits defending champion Viswanathan Anand against relatively young Spanish IM (but rated in the mid-2500s) Jaime Santos. The action all three days starts at 4:30 p.m. local time (= 2:30 p.m. GMT = 10:30 a.m. ET).

    Friday
    Jun302017

    The Grand Chess Tour in Leuven: So Wins the Rapid Portion

    This is just the halfway point of the Grand Chess Tour event in Leuven, Belgium; like last week's GCT tournament in Paris, there's both a rapid and a blitz component. That event was won by Magnus Carlsen in a tiebreak over Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and both players are in the hunt this time, too. MVL is in second with 12/18 while Carlsen is in third with 11 (meaning 6 and 5.5 out of 9 on traditional scoring, but since the rapid games are weighted twice relative to the blitz games the rapid scores are doubled). The leader, however, is Wesley So, who bounced back from a poor performance in Paris. He has gone undefeated, scoring 14 points. Better still, for him and his fans, he reversed what had been a dismal trend this year of losing almost every game to Carlsen, something rather one-sidedly; he defeated the world champion when Carlsen overpressed.

    There are still 18 games left - a pair of round robins over the next two days, with Sunday's rounds reversing the colors of Saturday's games - so no one is out of contention for first. Or rather, only one player is out of contention: wildcard participant Baadur Jobava, who drew Anish Giri in round 8 and lost the other eight games. Here are the standings so far:

    1. So 14 (out of 18; = 7/9 on traditional scoring)
    2. Vachier-Lagrave 12
    3. Carlsen 11
    4. Giri 10
    5-7. Aronian, Kramnik, Nepomniachtchi 9
    8. Anand 8
    9. Ivanchuk 7
    10. Jobava 1

    Tuesday
    Jun062017

    A Positive Profile of Wesley So in the WaPo

    Sometimes the mainstream press covers chess in a positive way, and when it does it deserves kudos. Case in point, this profile of Wesley So in the Washington Post. (HT: Marc Beishon) Be sure to distribute it to your "civilian" friends, so they can see that one can be a basically normal, happy individual and a great chess player - So is only "weird" insofar as he's very dedicated to his craft, and when it comes to high achievers in sports and the arts, and elsewhere, such dedication is the norm, not a sign of eccentricity.

    Saturday
    May272017

    Chess.com's 2017 Speed Chess Championship: Matches 2 & 3

    This past week there were a couple more matches in Chess.com's 2017 Speed Chess Championship: Sergey Karjakin vs. Georg Meier and Wesley So vs. Anish Giri. The first match was an utter blowout in terms of the score, but on a game-by-game basis the players were well-matched. Karjakin (the reigning world blitz champion) did everything a bit better than Meier, and while Meier also had his chances Karjakin was far more efficient in converting his opportunities.

    The So-Giri match was another story altogether. It went back and forth all the way and came down to the wire. I won't offer any spoilers: it's entirely up to you whether you want to see the result first or relive the drama for yourself.

    The Karjakin-Meier video is here, and So-Giri is here. The next match is a ways off: Alexander Grischuk vs. Richard Rapport takes place July 20. One last bit of info: the winner of the So-Giri match jumps from the frying pan into the fire, and will get Magnus Carlsen next, assuming the world champion gets past bottom seed Gadir Guseinov on October 5.