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 U..S. Championshp 2017 Women's World 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 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 apps April Fool's Jokes Archangelsk Variation Arkadij Naiditsch Arne Moll Aron Nimzowitsch Aronian Aronian-Kramnik 2012 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 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 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 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 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 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 Gata Kamsky Gawain Jones Gelfand Gelfand-Svidler Rapid Match Geller Geneva Masters Georg Meier GGarry Kasparov Gibraltar 2011 Gibraltar 2012 Gibraltar 2013 Gibraltar 2014 Gibraltar 2015 Gibraltar 2016 Gibraltar 2017 Giri Go Grand Chess Tour Grand Prix 2014-2015 Grand Prix Attack Greek Gift sacrifice Grenke Chess Classic 2013 Grenke Chess Classic 2015 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 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 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 Leonid Kritz lessons Leuven Rapid & Blitz Lev Psakhis Levon Aronian Lilienthal Linares 2010 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 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 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 NNotre Dame football Nona Gaprindashvili Norway Chess 2013 Norway Chess 2014 Norway Chess 2015 Norway Chess 2016 Notre Dame basketball Notre Dame football Notre Dame Football Nov. 2009 News Nyback Nyzhnyk Oleg Pervakov 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 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 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 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 Shankland Sharjah Grand Prix 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 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 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 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 Zurich 1953 Zurich 2013 Zurich 2014 Zurich 2015 Zurich 2016

    Entries in Wijk aan Zee 2016 (7)

    Tuesday
    Feb022016

    Wijk aan Zee 2016, Last Round: Carlsen Wins Again

    The first supertournament of 2016 is now history, and it's little surprise that the winner is the world champion and world #1 Magnus Carlsen. Carlsen is just 25 years old, and yet this is already the fifth time he has won the main event in Wijk aan Zee. His score of 9/13 was not a record, but his 2881 TPR was good enough for him to pick up 6.6 rating points - 7 points once it's rounded it on the new list, 50 points ahead of world #2 Vladimir Kramnik.

    The last round looked ripe for drama coming in, with Carlsen only half a point ahead of Fabiano Caruana and a point ahead of his last round opponent, Ding Liren. The drama never materialized: Carlsen was always comfortable with white against Ding, who managed a draw after hours of suffering. Caruana was in a must-win situation, but winning to order with the black pieces against a solid, strong grandmaster like Evgeny Tomashevsky is a tall order. He didn't come close, and whether he was simply outplayed or because he took strategic risks in the hopes of getting a position where he could fight for more than a draw, Caruana was much worse straight out of the opening. It wasn't always clear whether Tomashevsky would win - he did - but it was clear that Caruana wouldn't win and wouldn't catch Carlsen.

    It was still a good tournament for the American #1; he gained rating points, tied for second with Ding (and finished ahead of him on tiebreaks, not that that mattered), and is for now safe in his position as the #1 player in the U.S. It was a fine result for Ding Liren as well, currently rated #9 in the world.

    Two other events are worth a quick mention. First, the other victor on the day was Pavel Eljanov, who defeated David Navara. Second, Hou Yifan nearly finished the tournament on a very high note, as she was clearly winning with black against Anish Giri. Unfortunately for her fans, she let the win slip, but one can be very impressed by Giri's tenacity in holding the rook ending.

    Final Standings:

     

    • 1. Carlsen 9/13
    • 2-3. Caruana, Ding Liren 8
    • 4-6. So, Giri, Eljanov 7
    • 7-8. Wei Yi, Mamedyarov 6.5
    • 9. Karjakin 6
    • 10-11. Navara, Tomashevsky 5.5
    • 12-14. Hou Yifan, Adams, van Wely 5

     

    In the Challengers' Group the three-man race between Baskaran Adhiban, Eltaj Safarli, and Alexey Dreev ended in a photo finish: all three wound up with 9/13. The former had the best tiebreak score, so he will play in the main event next year.

    Sunday
    Jan312016

    Wijk aan Zee, Round 10-12: Carlsen Leads Caruana by Half a Point Entering the Last Round

    There's one round to go in the 2016 edition of the Tata Steel Chess tournament in Wijk aan Zee, and it's not too surprising to learn that the world's #1 player, world champion Magnus Carlsen, is in first place, and the tournament's second seed - Fabiano Caruana - is in second. The players have been alternating wins the past few rounds: Carlsen won in round 9, Caruana in round 10, Carlsen again in round 11, and Caruana again in round 12. The margin of difference so far is Caruana's loss to David Navara; had that game finished in a draw the mighty Cars would both have 8.5/12.

    Going back to round 10: Carlsen entered the round with a full point lead, and with black a draw with Anish Giri was a satisfactory result, achieved without much fuss. Caruana took the opportunity to close the gap to half a point when he bludgeoned Wei Yi, who had been having an excellent tournament to that point. (Another game from that round I'll mention was the curious battle between Sergey Karjakin and Michael Adams. Karjakin played the London System and lost without a whimper. All Adams had to do was follow standard ideas - ideas Karjakin himself had employed in earlier games! - and he reached a superior position and won in crushing style.)

    In round 11 Caruana seemed on the verge of catching Carlsen, but instead finished the round a full point behind. Carlsen allowed Hou Yifan to play the Petroff, and to all appearances this was an error. She plays it often and knows it well, and she had no problems in the opening. She also had no problems in the middlegame, and the endgame went smoothly too. Eventually a pawn ending was reached, and had Hou played 45...a5 instead of 45...h5?? the draw she coveted would have been there for the taking. Meanwhile, Caruana enjoyed a clear advantage with the black pieces coming out of the opening against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Mamedyarov defended patiently and successfully, and in the second time control Caruana had to prove the draw, which he did. (For those of you who wonder why it's a draw, the answer is that Black will set up a fortress the moment White stops checking. He'll play ...Rd5, and that's the end, unless he wants to tidy everything up with ...h5 and ...Rf5, when there's nothing to attack the rest of the game.)

    Finally, in round 12 Carlsen again secured a comfortable draw with Black, this time against Wesley So, while Caruana collected a full point against Loek van Wely in a sharp Najdorf line that was popular around the turn of the century. Caruana played brilliantly at first, possibly refuting the variation, but shaky play later on gave van Wely some chances to survive. Those chances vaporized after 29...Rc4?, allowing the aesthetically pleasing 30.f6+!, after which Caruana finished in style.

    Meanwhile, a third protagonist has entered the picture: Ding Liren. He won with black against Evgeny Tomashevsky in round 11 and as white against Pavel Eljanov in round 12, pulling within a point of Carlsen and half a point of Caruana. Better still, he'll face Carlsen in the final round, albeit with the black pieces, so three players have a chance for first place. (Note: There are no playoffs or tiebreakers used, so if there are two or three players tied for first they are the co-winners of the event.) Here are the final round pairings:

    • Mamedyarov (6) - Karjakin (5.5)
    • van Wely (4.5) - Wei Yi (6)
    • Tomashevsky (4.5) - Caruana (8)
    • Eljanov (6) - Navara (5.5)
    • Carlsen (8.5) - Ding Liren (7.5)
    • Adams (4.5) - So (6.5)
    • Giri (6.5) - Hou Yifan (4.5)

    Tuesday
    Jan262016

    Wijk aan Zee, Round 9: Carlsen Extends His Lead

    As I've already said once or twice, the entire field (and their fans) can blame what is happening in Wijk aan Zee on Loek van Wely for losing a winning position against Magnus Carlsen in round 5. Carlsen won his fourth game in the last five rounds (only giving up a short draw with black in round 8 to Sergey Karjakin), defeating Michael Adams to increase his lead over the field. Early tournament leader Fabiano Caruana is a point behind, and four other players (Wesley So, Ding Liren, Wei Yi, and Anish Giri) are another half a point back.

    For most of the game it looked like another trademark Carlsen victory was in process. First, a low-theory Giuoco Piano to get the ball rolling, then slow but steady progress leading to a winning endgame. Adams did drum up some kingside counterplay, but it was clearly too slow. Moreover, this counterplay hit its apogee early in the second time control, so Carlsen had all the time in the world to work it out.

    But somehow, Carlsen faltered. His 49.b4 committed him to a sacrifice of a rook for Adams' kingside passers, played in the belief that his pawns would still win the game. His hope was fulfilled, but it seems that this was more due to Adams' errors rather than to a correct assessment of 49.b4.

    As for Caruana, he had some chances with White against Karjakin around the first time control, but he allowed Karjakin to save the game with a very concrete approach starting with 45...bxc5. Black forces the play through the end of the game, and holds by a hair.

    All the other games were drawn, with one exception. Wei Yi won an exceptional attacking game against David Navara, featuring a promising-looking line against the Berlin. Interestingly, Caruana and Wei Yi played the same line - including the same novelty - through move 10, when the games diverged. Perhaps Karjakin's reply to Caruana is the cure; that may or may not be. What is clear is that Navara's treatment is a dead end, and the result was a spectacular victory for the young Chinese superstar.

    With Carlsen ahead by a point with four rounds to play, the field is going to have to hurry up to catch him. Here are the pairings for round 10, and Carlsen's pairing may offer his foes their best reason for optimism, as Carlsen has never defeated Anish Giri in a classical game:

    • Karjakin (4.5) - Adams (2.5)
    • Giri (5) - Carlsen (6.5)
    • Hou Yifan (4) - Eljanov (4.5)
    • So (5) - Tomashevsky (3.5)
    • Ding Liren (5) - van Wely (3.5)
    • Navara (4) - Mamedyarov (4.5)
    • Caruana (5.5) - Wei Yi (5)

    In the Challengers' tournament Baskaran Adhiban finally lost a game (to Jorden Van Foreest, with white), so he has fallen into a tie with Eltaj Safarli, who drew with Erwin l'Ami. They both have 6.5/9, half a point of Alexey Dreev, who also drew (with Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu).

    Tuesday
    Jan262016

    Wijk aan Zee, Round 8: Carlsen Alone in First

    Round 8 of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament was on Sunday, and it was a strange one. Magnus Carlsen drew quickly with Black against Sergey Karjakin, and that was enough to take over clear first. Fabiano Caruana had been playing very well, and had good winning chances after David Navara's mistake on move 25. Unfortunately for the American, he chose 27...f5? when 27...Kh6 offered excellent winning chances, and then 49...Rxg3?? left him dead lost after 50.a5; instead 49...Kd8 kept chances to survive.

    The only other decisive game in the round was Loek van Wely's win on the Black side of a Scheveningen against Hou Yifan, and there were two draws that were especially eventful. The first was the game Ding Liren vs. Wei Yi, which finished in a very confusing position. Ding was up a piece and a pawn, but the threat of ...Rxb2 (understandably) frightened him into forcing a repetition. If 24.Rc1 (to shore up the knight on c3), then 24...Qg2 25.Rf1 e3 is strong, with the nasty threat of ...Bg4 (Bxg4 Qd2#, and if White stands pat there's ...Bxc3+ followed by ...Qxe2#). Wild and wooly chess.

    The other remarkable draw was between Michael Adams and Pavel Eljanov. Eljanov played a great endgame...but only up to a point. With the win in sight, and more than one way to achieve it, Adams defended brilliantly, and one little trap, concession, and oversight at a time Adams barnacled his way to an 85-move draw that almost seemed like 185 moves.

    Monday was a rest day, and here's what Tuesday has to offer us in round 9:

    • Caruana (5) - Karjakin (4)
    • Wei Yi (4) - Navara (4)
    • Mamedyarov (4) - Ding Liren (4.5)
    • van Wely (3) - So (4.5)
    • Tomashevsky (3) - Hou Yifan (3.5)
    • Eljanov (4) - Giri (4.5)
    • Carlsen (5.5) - Adams (2.5)

    In the Challengers' tournament, the top three all drew: Baskaran Adhiban with Black vs. Erwin l'Ami, and Alexey Dreev and Eltaj Safarli with each other. Adhiban leads with 6.5/8; Safarli has 6 and Dreev 5.5. Also noteworthy is that Anne Haast built on the previous day's win over Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu with a scorching 20-move victory over Nino Batsiashvili.

    Saturday
    Jan232016

    Wijk aan Zee, Round 7: Carlsen & Caruana Lead

    Round 7 of the Tata Steel tournament in Wijk aan Zee was the bloodiest yet, with four decisive games out of seven. Better still, all three of the pre-round leaders were involved in decisive games, with one of them beating another.

    If Magnus Carlsen goes on to win this tournament, the other players can blame it all on Loek van Wely - both because of the "free" point and especially because of the resulting boost in the world champion's confidence. Today Carlsen won his third game in a row, this time defeating Pavel Eljanov with Black in an entertaining game. Chess fans might think that because the signature Carlsen victory involves grinding an opponent down positionally that he is less capable of winning in a tactical melee. Today's game puts paid to that hypothesis. Eljanov went on a tactical adventure with the move 15.e4, but Carlsen saw through it all and by the time the position had resolved itself around move 22, it was evident that Black had a serious edge. A second flurry went even worse for White, and Eljanov had to resign after just 34 moves.

    Meanwhile, Fabiano Caruana kept pace with Carlsen by defeating Ding Liren, who had also led with a +2 score entering the round. This victory took considerably longer than Carlsen's - it went 83 moves - but Caruana enjoyed a serious edge from early on and could enjoy the game from start to finish.

    In the battle of the Dutchmen, Anish Giri easily handled his older opponent, Loek van Wely, and won with the black pieces to get to a +1 score. Meanwhile, the other decisive game saw Hou Yifan, who had been on a very impressive +1 score, suffer her first defeat of the tournament when she lost to Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. She was somewhat worse most of the time, but shortly before the time control she had fought back and was within range of a draw. It's complicated, but it seems that 37...Be8 would have allowed her to safely regain the a-pawn, with equality. Instead, she took it immediately (37...Nxa4), but this was a tactical error that Mamedyarov exploited. Hou put up a good fight, but her kingside weaknesses proved fatal in the ensuing ending.

    The remaining games were drawn, with only David Navara vs. Sergey Karjakin having even a whiff of a winning possibility for one side or the other (in this case Karjakin). Wei Yi had to suffer a while against Wesley So, though without ever being in real danger, and Evgeny Tomashevsky vs. Michael Adams was a short and comfortable draw for both players.

    The round 8 pairings are as follows:

    • Karjakin (3.5) - Carlsen (5)
    • Adams (2) - Eljanov (3.5)
    • Giri (4) - Tomashevsky (2.5)
    • Hou Yifan (3.5) - van Wely (2)
    • So (4) - Mamedyarov (3.5)
    • Ding Liren (4) - Wei Yi (3.5)
    • Navara (3) - Caruana (5)

    In the Challengers, three results are especially noteworthy. First and foremost, Baskaran Adhiban crushed Alexey Dreev to break their tie for first. Adhiban has 6/7, Dreev 5, and in between is Eltaj Safarli, who defeated Mikhail Antipov to reach 5.5 points. The third result was Anne Haast's very impressive victory over Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu, made all the more impressive by the 300 point rating gap in the latter's favor, by the fact that she had black, and especially given that her total after six rounds was the same as it was before the tournament started. Kudos to her for staying tough and beating a very strong opponent!

    Friday
    Jan222016

    Wijk aan Zee: Caruana, Ding, and Carlsen Lead After 6 Rounds

    The first super-tournament of the year is approaching the halfway point, and after six of 13 rounds three players share the lead in the Tata Steel tournament in Wijk aan Zee: Fabiano Caruana (the early leader, who has been caught), Ding Liren, and Magnus Carlsen. All three players have +2 scores; let's see how they got there.

    Round 1 was a success story for the American entrants in the field. Wesley So won convincingly against Anish Giri, while Caruana won - less convincingly - again Pavel Eljanov. Caruana's compensation for a pawn sacrificed in the opening was sketchy at best, but the pressure of his sustained initiative led Eljanov to make some serious errors near the end of the first time control. The round's third victor was Ding Liren, who won a pawn and ground out a victory against Michael Adams in a rook and knight endgame with all the pawns on the kingside. Of the draws, Hou Yifan was much better and probably winning against Sergey Karjakin, and Loek van Wely had excellent chances against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.

    In round 2 all seven games were drawn, including the marquee matchup between Carlsen and Caruana. Carlsen had an advantage early on, but it quickly dissipated. Perhaps the best chance anyone had for a win came in the Hou-So game: Hou had an extra pawn but no obvious way to take advantage of it.

    Round 3 saw two decisive games: Caruana-Adams and Mamedyarov-Eljanov. Caruana was a bit worse almost through the first time control, and even once it had been made he was only slightly better. Everything went wrong for Adams in the second time control, however, and Caruana became the sole leader with 2.5/3. As for the other game, Mamedyarov was much better throughout and well on his way to a deserved victory. In fact, Eljanov's position was nearly resignable when Mamedyarov hung his rook for absolutely nothing. In general, Mamedyarov is a player who is blessed with "good luck", but not this time.

    The round also produced the first game of what could turn into a historic rivalry between Wei Yi and Carlsen; this time there was no winner nor anyone who could bemoan any serious missed chances. David Navara, by contrast, should have beaten Giri, while the other three draws were relatively free of drama.

    Round 4 was the last one prior to the tournament's first rest day, and like the first round it produced three winners. Hou Yifan stopped coming close to winning and finally did win a game - handily - against Navara. Eljanov parlayed his good fortune in the previous round into a second straight win, this time over van Wely. Van Wely faltered in an equal but complicated position due to time pressure, and not for the last time in the tournament. Winner #3 was Sergey Karjakin, who rolled up Evgeny Tomashevsky in almost embarrassing fashion. When was the last time you saw a super-GM so dominated in a final position? As for the draws, Wei Yi and especially Caruana had very good winning chances against Adams and Giri, respectively, despite having the black pieces.

    In round 5 Carlsen finally "woke up", though it could have turned out disastrously. An interesting but reasonably calm game with van Wely blew up when Carlsen tried the extravagant 21...Ng4!? 22.Bxg7 Kxg8 23.f3 Qg5?!? Objectively the sac was dubious at best, and it was clear from the subsequent play that Carlsen hadn't worked everything out - not even close. With a 200-point rating advantage and a big lead on the clock, however, Carlsen decided to take a risk to get his tournament going. Van Wely played well at first, but very short on time missed a clear forced win (29.Qh4+ wins the exchange at the very least), then lost the thread and finally blundered in an already lost position.

    Mamedyarov finally won a game, taking advantage of tournament tailender Adams' terrible form. The other winner was Ding Liren, who moved into a tie for first by beating Karjakin. Karjakin had singlehandedly defeated the Chinese team in a Russia-China summit last year, but the story in early 2016 is being written differently.

    And now, at last, round 6 - today's round. The concept of the "hot hand" in sports has been widely rejected by statisticians (though there has been some recent pushback against that rejection), but it seems to me that there are chess players for whom confidence makes a colossal difference. Bobby Fischer was one of them, and Magnus Carlsen is another. There have been numerous tournaments in recent years where he has struggled and failed to win a game for several rounds, and then once he wins one game more wins follow in rapid succession. That happened at the end of the London Chess Classic, and it's starting to happen here. A lucky but deserved win* over van Wely was followed by a speedy victory over Tomashevsky. The sequence 16.f4 exf4 17.Rf1 was very attractive, but even so Tomashevsky was alright until he played 20...Ne4. Had he traded on d4 first he would have been okay; omitting the trade, he wound with a horrid structure that Carlsen had no trouble exploiting.

    (* Deserved because he took a reasonable, calculated risk that put van Wely under strong pressure to go along with his difficulties on the clock; lucky because van Wely did obtain a winning advantage, and was only one) good (and not particularly amazing) move from converting it into a sure victory.

    Giri finally won a game, defeating Mamedyarov, and the remaining games were drawn. Two were especially interesting: So-Caruana and Hou Yifan - Wei Yi. Both games featured opponents from the same country, and in both cases the player with the white pieces enjoyed serious winning chances in a long game, though it's not clear that either So or Hou missed a clear win at any point.

    Round 7 is tomorrow, and here are the pairings:

    • Navara (2.5) - Karjakin (3)
    • Caruana (4) - Ding Liren (4)
    • Wei Yi (3) - So (3.5)
    • Mamedyarov (2.5) - Hou Yifan (3.5)
    • van Wely (2) - Giri (3)
    • Tomashevsky (2) - Adams (1.5)
    • Eljanov (3.5) - Carlsen (4)

    A brief note about the Challengers' section: Alexey Dreev and Baskaran Adhiban share the lead with undefeated 5/6 scores, and Eltaj Safarli is just half a point behind. For those who are interested I found two games especially interesting from today's play: Admiraal-Sevian and Van Foreest-Abasov.

    Wednesday
    Jan132016

    Tata Steel (Wijk aan Zee) Starts Saturday

    It's time for the first super-tournament of the year, the near-annual event in Wijk aan Zee that always brings together a hefty chunk of the world's absolute elite, together with a number of young stars and many of the best and brightest players in the Netherlands. This year's main event is as impressive as usual, and features the following lineup:

    • Magnus Carlsen (2844)
    • Anish Giri (2798)
    • Fabiano Caruana (2787)
    • Wesley So (2773)
    • Sergey Karjakin (2769)
    • Ding Liren (2766)
    • Pavel Eljanov (2760)
    • Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2747)
    • Michael Adams (2744)
    • David Navara (2730)
    • Evgeny Tomashevsky (2728)
    • Wei Yi (2706)
    • Hou Yifan (2673)
    • Loek van Wely (2640)

    There is a second event, the Challengers, which counts a couple of ex-2700s in the field (Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu and Alexey Dreev; rising star Sam Sevian is also playing). The winner of this event will receive an automatic invitation to the top group in 2017.

    Play starts on Saturday. Predictions?