28 Dec 2008

ELISTA final round

In the frozen North, Elista to be precise, they are hard at it: one of the Grand Prix tournaments is taking place with 14 players taking part.

Grischuk versus Radjabov is the decisive game today, especially now that the third shared leader, Jakovenko, has already drawn.

Position after the Queen exchange on =f8=

As usual, I forgot that the final day starts two hours earlier, so I missed the beginning.

I can see Grischuk crumble before my eyes, and giving the game to Radjabov. He played 29.Be2 instead of a more sensible option such as Bh3 of Bd1.
But the real crux was his initiating the Queen swap on =f8=. Why??
Having it take place on =f3= was much better for White.

Plus of course, the minor detail of time:
Grischuk has 2 minutes for nine moves, Radja has more than one hour left.

However, Grischuk plays like a trooper and is on move 38 with 1 minute left. So far no blunders, but then, Radja isn't pressuring him with challenging moves.

Grischuk had set up so much space, that he could play his King up and down and sideways, seeing that Radja hadn't approached enough to prevent that.

Well done! Safely through the time portal. Eval -1.40, but not hopeless.
Just one Pawn in it and opposite coloured Bishops. So every chance of a draw for Grischuk. I am not taking sides here, but I would have liked a clear winner.
Everything to play for, but it seems like gridlock.
What a wonderful display from Grischuk to get scotfree through the time portal.
I reckon Radja simply didn't challenge him at that vulnerable stage, unlike Carlsen who then comes up with weird and wonderful moves that throw his opponent off more times than not.
Magnus, I miss you. Hope Corus will take place in spite of the credit crunch.
Time Grischuk 1 hr, Radja 2 hrs.

No life left in this game.

They trundle on regardless. Will Radja make Grischuk miss his plane? I have seen him go to move 90 before. Maybe he wants another shot at the time pressure.Or maybe he hopes Grischuk will lose concentration and play g4 too early?

There is a lot more to winning a game than wood-pushing. Maybe Grischuk gets rattled or maybe he will simply throw in the towel out of boredom. I know I would. My boredom threshold is very low.

We shall see.

Time 30 mins vs 2 hours.
Maybe Radja is dreaming up a challenging move to be thrown at Grischuk in 29 minutes' time?

Well, I've just come back from a 3 mile run and they are still playing silly beggars. It actually IS Move 90 now and no chance of anything but a draw.

And they finally give in on move 93.
Pity that this had to end in a draw, but worthy opponents.
So it is a three-way split at the top, which gives Radjabov the overall lead in the Grand Prix so far.

Grand Prix Standings after three events

27 Dec 2008


In the frozen North, Elista to be precise, they are hard at it: one of the Grand Prix tournaments is taking place with 14 players taking part.

I went for a highly needed walk and found them ALL drawn when I got back, apart from the game between Kasimdzhanov and Cheparinov.

Kasim has 1/2 pawn advantage. So probably won't accept a draw just yet. If he wins this, he will move up to shared 5th place. See table below.

Move 22.g4 may not have been the best choice. 22.Qf2 first? 22....Bf4 23.g4
Cheparinov is playing very accurately at the minute and it could now be drawn any time soon. Time 16 mins for White, 26 mins for Black.

I believe now a draw offer from Black would not fall on deaf ears, as Kasim needs to make 15 moves in as many minutes.

Mysteriously Chepa decided to take with the Bishop rather than the Rook.

and gives Kasim renewed chances after 26.Rad1 Bxf5 27.Nb5! Qg7?? (Raf6 would have been nice).
Can Kasim find now the move 28.Qa3 and direct operations to the QS?
No he doesn't, but in the following moves Chepa crumbles under time pressure and loses the game. So KAZIMDZHANOV WINS IN ELISTA ROUND 12 . Good for him entertaining us a little longer than the others, who were all satisfied with a draw today.

Congratulations to Kazim who seems to be getting into his stride a little late in the tournament, with two solitary wins in a drawing field two days in a row.

Candidate Matches

Address by Mr Henrik Carlsen on behalf of GM Magnus Carlsen

I’m representing my son Magnus Carlsen and would like to thank you for this opportunity to express our views on the world championship cycle.

As communicated earlier we would like to see transparent decision processes within FIDE, and predictability and fairness in the world championship cycles. Transparent decision processes require a democratic and open dialogue with the parties involved prior to making decisions. Important issues need to be raised well in advance of major decision points and the decision process needs to be well documented and communicated timely and widely. The process of proposing to change the current cycle as brought forward at the FIDE General Assembly in Dresden last month on short notice, does not meet these requirements.

Predictability is necessary to ensure the trust and commitment of chess players, chess federations, sponsors, organisers and top players in contention for the World Championship title.

We need to introduce mutually binding agreements in line with the practice in other top chess tournaments. The current practice of having one-sided escape clauses in the championship regulations and/or players undertaking, for instance stating that the FIDE Presidential Board or the FIDE President may change this or that, is simply unacceptable. The many examples from recent years of players that has qualified or is in the process of qualifying for a subsequent step in the championship cycle or for a match experiencing multiple delays or downright removal of rights must come to an end.

Regarding priorities, the focus on money and privileges must be replaced by fairness, reliability and predictability. As many businesses around the world has experienced, if you want economics results you have to excel in what you deliver to your customers and your audience. The results will follow suit.

Fairness; what does this imply? In addition to having predictability, there should not be arbitrary granting of privileges, well, as few privileges as possible really.

In a future Magnus would like to see a world championship cycle with a minimum of privileges, or no privileges at all. If any it should be early in the cycle and based on rating and not money. The transition to such a situation has been difficult in the past due to the legacy of our history.

We strongly disagree with the way FIDE has tried to remedy this by handing out further privileges. After the unification process from 2005 to 2008, we may be in a unique situation to transcend historical problems and privileges, and it was with disbelief and disappointment we received the news about the proposal to introduce new privileges by creating four new spots in the next step of the 2008-2011 championship cycle.

Next let me mention some features we would like to advocate related to a world championship cycle. Firstly let’s talk about privileges.

What about privileges related to rating? Well, maybe some places in a knock-out stage could be allocated to top rated players as done in the World Cup for many years.

What about the privileges of players backed by strong managers, sponsors or organisers? We don’t believe in these as it promotes cronyism and makes it possible to buy your way to important rights.

What about the privileges of the reigning World Champion? This is a difficult question but we see strong arguments for reducing the privileges drastically or even abolishing them outright. In the past, with the right to a re-match, a reigning world champion had about 75% chance of retaining the title against an evenly strong opponent, leaving only 25% chance for all the remaining chess players in the world. It was ridiculous. Even without rematches, the 50% chance of today strongly favours the reigning champion. This may have made sense in the past when there were few serious contenders for the title, but today, with about 30 top players within 100 rating points of the top, this is no longer fair.

Next, let’s discuss the cycle. The first step needs to be accessible to as many players as possible world wide. Both zonal tournaments and the regional qualifiers for the World Cup have worked well and one of these practices may be continued in the future.

Next Magnus favours a knock-out system with for instance 64 or 128 players mainly coming from the preceding step. When there are eight players left in the knock-out stage, various alternatives are possible and we would like to mention three viable options.

The first is to continue with the knock-out matches, and the final winner is the new World Champion.

Another alternative is to proceed with candidate matches between the eight remaining players at other venues and shifted in time. After two rounds of candidate matches, the two remaining players would fight for the world championship title.

A third good alternative is to stage a double round robin World Championship tournament between the eight remaining players from the knock-out cup.

The World Champion would retain his (or her) title for two years until the next champion is decided.

Now, you may object and ask us: what is new? This is what has been tried for more than ten years without much success, hasn’t it? Well, the main point is that it did not work as long as Kasparov and later Kramnik were outside the FIDE cycle. Currently this is no longer a problem.

The chess world has been united and the only privileges we need to care about are those of World Champion Anand, who had to win both the 2007 world championship tournament and the somewhat questionable 2008 match, and the other is the winner of the 2007 World Cup Kamsky who was promised a semi-final match for the world championship title based on the regulations prior to the World Cup.

A transition from the current situation to a future without significant privileges must of course be organised in a way that is fair and preferably also fully acceptable to these gentlemen. This obviously involves giving privileges to Anand in the next one or two cycles, and privileges to Kamsky in first of the ongoing cycles.

It is a bit difficult to comment categorically on the planned Kamsky-Topalov match as we don’t understand the reason for organising such a match, but neither do we really know what has been discussed or agreed between FIDE and the other involved parties over the last one and a half years. The process has certainly not met our requirement for transparency.

In summary, we want mutually binding agreements governing FIDE cycles, the eventual abolition of privileges in general, and we want FIDE to focus on fairness and predictability and not money and privileges.

Thank you for your attention.

ELISTA round 12

In the frozen North, Elista to be precise, they are hard at it: one of the Grand Prix tournaments is taking place with 14 players taking part.

Carlsen has opted out of the circuit, and I can't blame him. Fide is mucking top players about yet again.

Today I am following the game between Radjabov and Akopian, playing a C45 for a change.

and Radja has deviated from the only game left in my database: Ivanchuk vs Timoschenko 1987 0-1. There White played 9.Be3 and Radja opted for 9.h4, answered by Akopian, after a twenty-five minute think, with ....h5.
Now Radja might have attacked Black's DSB with 10.Na4, but he obviously didn't want to unbalance his position at this stage and attacked said Bishop with 10.Be3.

Is he planning to castle long? That will depend on whether or not Black swaps bishops. And Black does! So no castling yet for White.

By this exchange White has thrown down the gauntlet and leaves it up to Black to decide the direction of the middle game: always a grave responsibility, which will cost Akopian some time. Is Radja doing a 'Carlsen', by making his opponent use up so much time that a shortage by Move 40 may cause a less than perfect move and provide a toehold for White? We shall see.
Time: 1hr 53 mins vs 1hr 26 mins. Eval 0.30

White plays 12.Be2, but it is still 0-0-0 rather than 0-0, that is on the cards.

Waiting, waiting, waiting.
How do players stand it? I have always found it impossible to sit still and used to bring my knitting to games. With bamboo needles, that are noiseless, it was usually accepted.
That wasn't the case for BG tournaments, where it was frowned upon. I am so used to playing 24-point BG games against the computer inside ten minutes, that an 11-point game lasting 40 minutes ( my opponent's time, as I play instantly) used to drive me round the bend, unless my unwary opponent would let me defeat him (usually) by chatting. Ahh those were the days....

Akopian has used up 57 minutes, Radja only needed 8 minutes.

Bacrot and Grischuk have already drawn. They must have had plans to go skiing today.

After Move 13.f4 Bg4, when Radja has used a total of 20 mins and Akopian needed 1 hour.

I went for a highly needed walk and found them drawn when I got back.One game still going, between Kasim and Cheparinov

Kasim has 1/2 pawn advantage. So probably won't accept a draw just yet. If he wins this, he will move up to shared 5th place. See table below.

Move 22.g4 may not have been the best choice. 22.Qf2 first? 22....Bf4 23.g4
Cheparinov is playing very accurately at the minute and it could now be drawn any time soon. Time 16 mins for White, 26 mins for Black.

I believe now a draw offer from Black would not fall on deaf ears, as Kasim needs to make 15 moves in as many minutes.

Mysteriously Chepa decided to take with the Bishop rather than the Rook.

and gives Kasim renewed chances after 26.Rad1 Bxf5 27.Nb5! Qg7?? (Raf6 would have been nice).
Can Kasim find now the move 28.Qa3 and direct operations to the QS?
No he doesn't, but in the following moves Chepa crumbles under time pressure and loses the game. So KAZIMDZHANOV WINS ROUND 12 . Good for him entertaining us a little longer than the others, who were all satisfied with a draw today.

26 Dec 2008

ELISTA round 11

In the frozen North, Elista to be precise, they are hard at it: one of the Grand Prix tournaments is taking place with 14 players taking part.

Carlsen has opted out of the circuit, and I can't blame him. Fide is mucking top players about yet again.

Not too charmed to have to follow another player, but chess is chess and I am having a look at the famous Wang today and see how he copes as White against Radjabov, who is the highest rated player in this G.P.as well as joint leader with Grischuk and Jakovenko.

They started again with with E92, K.I. Petrosian, and at the minute, Move 18, it looks like White has the upper hand.

However, Radja is following a game he played as Black against Onischuk (1/2) in 2004, where he hasn't deviated yet.

But now Radja plays 18.Re1 Qe7 rather than Ng8 as in the 2004 game.
Now we are in uncharted territory.

after Move 21.a3 axb4 22.axb4 *

Eval.+0.64 and 1 hr 47 vs 1 hr 28 mins

I walked 2 miles, whipped some cream, made coffee and dished out apple pie, while they executed all of two moves each. Mind you, Grischuk is still on move 16.

Don't care much for the configuration, with White's back rank being so full.
Move 25.Bb1 seemed timid. Would have preferred to see the LSB go to Bf1. But maybe Wang was afraid that it would get hemmed in? By the Queen?

and yes, 26.Qe2

Now it is time for Black to continue his attack, so finely started with 22...Ra3. Here the Knight wants to get into the action and then the black Queen via =d5= to the QS.

26....Rfa8??? NO no no, that's not the way to go.
Once again Radja doesn't hear me.

There was a fine line with 26....Nf5 27.Qxg4 Qf7 28.Ng5 Qxd5 29.Rcd1 Qb3 most moves forced.

Ah well, 26... Rfa8 it is then, but I do not think that this is much good for Black. Wang needs to make a mistake, and I don't think he goes in for mistakes.

Having said that........
It turns out that this is the story about the chap who wouldn't exchange on =d6= until it was too late.....and then they drew.

25 Dec 2008

Merry Xmas

to anybody happening by.

In the frozen North, Elista to be precise, they are hard at it: one of the Grand Prix tournaments is taking place with 14 players taking part.

Carlsen has opted out of the circuit, and I can't blame him. Fide is mucking top players about yet again.

Not too charmed to have to follow another player, but chess is chess and I am having a look at the famous Wang today.

In Round 9 he is playing Black against Bacrot.

They have reached a crucial stage, and unless White plays 14.Na4 or in a pinch 14.Nb1, it is curtains for Bacrot.
At the time of posting this, 13.30 GMT, Bacrot is still thinking.

He jumped that hurdle well, and did play 14.Na4, but then slipped at move 16, by playing 16.Nd3 rather than the cautious move 16.Kb1.

After 20.Qxf2 Black's pawn formation is faultless and White's chances are evaporating fast.

However, on move 21 Black started the QS pawn tussle a touch too early with 21...b3, where it might have been wiser to prepare the ground with Bf6, which he played a move later.

after 24.h3 with 24....Raa8 to follow.

Attention now shifts to the KS and the Rooks are getting ready for action.
I would have preferred Black's Queen on =a6=. but what do I know...

Almost any other move would have been better for White than the one he actully pulled out of the hat: 28.Be1 ?? (What was wrong with 28.Kb1 or Bb4 or g4 or Rd1 or Re1 or...I could go on.)

A DSB each, but look at Black's Pawns: all of them on light squares, whereas White has a useless Bishop with almost every pawn on a dark square.
It seems gridlock however and a chance to draw will present itself soon I reckon.

Spoke too soon: Black obviously has other ideas and plays the reckless 32...Rg6, throwing caution to the wind.

Nothing much else to play but 33.g4 and then, when the smoke lifts, and the ground is cleared, Black will have such a slight edge, depending on which Rook move he plays on move 35, that a draw must be the result. No?

After the unavoidable 33.g4, Wang has been thinking for more than 20 minutes and still no move. 30 mins each and finally the expected exchanges on =g4=.

I know it is not OCB's (Opposite Coloured Bishops), but it certainly cannot be anything but a draw, surely.

Anyways, I'm out of here.

25 Nov 2008

Dresden Round 11

Missed it!

23 Nov 2008

Dresden Round 10

Rowson vs Carlsen

Carlsen's Queens Gambit Declined version:

Commentary below post, inside the comments or addenda, following the game with the help of Rybka and Junior. They don't often see eye to eye actually and I much prefer Junior, particularly in the end game.

D30, QGD without Nc3

22 Nov 2008

Dresden Round 9

After yesterday's intrigueing game between Carlsen and Navarra, today's may come as a bit of a disappointment.

Which one to go for?
Carlsen versus Beliavsky

28 Oct 2008

BONN game X

The battle for the =e5= square.

Weird, unhinged game.

Both players on the wing, Kramnik on the queenside and Anand on the kingside.

Unfathomable moves, but particularly from Anand. He seemed to hand out gifts on various moves. Admittedly the first one had all the hallmarks of a Trojan Horse, but the others were rather transparent attempts to prolong the match by at least one game.

The engines looked askance at Anand's move 21....e5, but at 20 ply Junior 11 accepted it as a reasonable alternative to the top favourite.

Rybka stuck with 21...h6

“I didn’t do anything special,” admitted Kramnik, “but the position became winning. It was a surprise.”


26 Oct 2008

BONN game IX

Yes, Kramnik DID miss something:

35....Bc7! and he'd be in clover. 36.Qg2 Rxb3 37.Bc2 Rb6 38.Rd7 Rd8 39.Rfd1 Rbb8

There are several possible sequences from 35....Bc7 (rather than the text Qc7), but they all produce a reasonable foot-in-the-door for Black.

Click on pic to enlarge.

How come I see those things unaided and the pro doesn't? It's a puzzle. I know they are both very tired with overworked brains, but this miss was unprovoked by time pressure.

25 Oct 2008


Can't be bothered to put up the game itself, as yet again I fell asleep halfway through and by then it was obvious that no more than half a point was going in Kramnik's direction.

However, on Move 11 I was expecting 11.Nb3 after the rap on the knuckles from Anand. (One can hardly call it a novelty).

So I took a closer look at this Knight move, the more so as somebody told me that this actually came up in the press conference after the game. Kramnik said he had looked at it, but it needed more time. Ahem. More time? He's had 18 months.

Actually, it is not a brilliant improvement on the text, unless Black feels compelled to answer wih 11...Qb6, opening the -c-file, rather than the more productive 11....Qb7.

To see the analysis, take a look here on a separate page. I did it in the form of a .jpg file rather than the usual format.

Let me know if you like it.

24 Oct 2008

More than meets the eye

Clearly, there was more to the draw in game 7 than ordinary mortals could perceive.

I stand corrected in my denunciation of that game as dreary. A lot happened whilst I was having my boredom nap.

Slav again, as in the fated games 3 and 5 with reverse colours. But Kramnik doesn't go for Anand's successful Move4....e6. Why not I wonder. In my database it is top choice with almost 5000 games. Does Kramnik think that Anands home prep has exhausted that defence? In which case Kramnik himself ought to have done better in game 5, after a rest day.

Move 15....Bg6 as played by him in Elista one move earlier.
Move 20.Ba3, rather than 20.Bd2, would indicate Anand was satisfied with a draw and had no winning intention.
Move 21....Qxe3, after which Kramnik offered a draw. Refused.
Moves 34, 33, 24 and 25 all King moves, either played or considered, on =f7= and =g6= very influential to the outcome.

Move 34...Nc5+ instead of 34...Kg6 else white's DSB could weave its way to =e3= and hold Black's b-pawn and -g5 pawn to ransom.

23 Oct 2008


To be frank, I've totally lost interest in this match.
In fact, I fell asleep halfway through today's game.

The only thing that I was interested in was the differences in analysis between my junior programme and chessok's Rybka 8pcu.

A mild curiosity as to an alternative move 24....b6 was about all that I can remember from the game.

Besides I suddenly seem to have trouble uploading my playing boards.
It is fiendishly difficult to incorporate them into blogger, and I forget how I did it from one day to the next.

Anyways, tomorrow is another day. And another game...

19 Oct 2008

BONN game IV

It was a moderately interesting game.

In tennis the motto is: If your opponents breaks you, turn round and get a point yourself immediately.

In chess it seems to be: If you lose as White, take a breather with a draw.

QGD, 5.Bf4 system, as played my many top level players today. Replacing 5.Bg5.

One theme running through the middle game was the placement of Black's Knight: =e6= or =e4=, a dilemma coming up at various stages of the game.

Move 11....Bf5 was a bit of a stirrer. Played before of course, but still a bit of a surprise to Anand it seemed, as it set him thinking.

13.Bxf6 had a few alternatives. One was 13.0-0 which looked reasonable too, but no promise of an advantage.

I had high hopes of 14.Qxd5 rather than the text 14.Nd4, but again, this line seems to fizzle out as well.

14....Ne6 was considered somewhat rash on Kramnik's part. I saw little wrong with it. 14...Ne4 would have helped White as would 14...Be4

If, as Anand suggested after the game, Kramnik had played 18...d4, rather than the text 18....Nc5, we could have had a bit of fun.

A real hornet's nest would have been opened up. Pity we won't ever get to see that.

As it was, game IV trundled into a draw without much excitement but sufficient interest to keep us admiring their OTB skill and home preparation.

18 Oct 2008


Anand strikes the first blow.

It needn't have been a loss for Kramnik if he had put his Queen elsewhere.

Move 25.Qe2 was the losing move for White.

There were moments of great subtlety in this game. Far beyond my comprehension, although I was puzzled at the right time. First of all Anand's move 8....a6. Not that it was a novelty, but it was a psychological dart. Apparently. So Kasparov said.

Then there was a similarity to two games from 1946. The move order between move 12 and 15 was different and Anand may have been trying to trip Kramnik up, seeing that they were obviously both aware of the existence of these games, played over 60 years ago.
The outcome was that Black had to wait with Rg8.

I hope somebody somewhere will explain it to me.

Kramnik was using more time than Anand. He seemed to be trying to stir things up. This became clear at move 18 when he initiated an unexpected exchange on the =f4= square.
Actually, for a change I had seen this coming. It was something i would have played, even though the engines (including the powerful 8 proc Rybka ChessOK ) hadn't offered this in their top choices.
I was proud of myself, even though nobody took much notice.

Coming out of that scuffle, White had a choice of 19.Nxd4 and 19.Rxd4, and he opted for the former. Kramnik had by now used up one whole hour more than Anand. 44mins vs 1hr 44 mins.

Several forced sequences after move 25.Qb3 in my alternate versions. All leading to a firm draw by move 40.

13 Sep 2008

All games drawn

Add one point to everybody's score.
Too much work to make a table.

Wish Carlsen would wake up. He ought to give up the orange juice.

Too much sugar in fruit juice. He might as well gorge himself on chocolate bars.

Some sugar for the brain, fair enough. But too much makes one drowsy. Think of Xmas dinner.

Mineral water and fresh air are what he needs. And possibly a cup of coffee towards the end. Not too much of that either. A banana or half of one, for the potassium.

Wish he'd consult a proper nutrionist.

11 Sep 2008

Up and Down


If only Carlsen had tried 35...b6

He might have shared top with his old adversary Aronian.

10 Sep 2008

The fat lady sang, again.

Many moves I would have liked not to see.

Including move 35...Qe7, when, deep in disaster, Black might have turned the tide with 35....b5. Or at least staved off defeat.

I am too disappointed to write up the game. I hope Magnus gets the chance to fool around on the beach tomorrow and soak up some Bilbao sun.


Spanish tournament organisers seem to take exception to draws. I don't blame them.

Although I fully agree with a new and different way of scoring, putting emphasis on fighting chess, I would like to see a differential between a white win and a black win.

Possibly the former might be rewarded with one point less, or the latter with one point more, depending on where the balance lies.

Similarly for draws, a black draw being rewarded with more than a white one.

White: win 2 points, draw 1 point, loss 0.
Black : win 3 points, draw 2 points loss 0

This would mean that Carlsen and Topalov would both have 11 points after round 7. Today, playing each other with Carlsen as Black, a draw would give him the advantage of an extra point. A win for White would put Topalov at 13 and a win for Black would give Carlsen 14 and a tremendous lead.

After all, winning as Black against this type of opposition is a homeric achievement, and ought to be rewarded.

I see little difference between a draw for Black and a win for White and believe they ought to have the same score.


The top standings haven't changed, but the others are creeping up.

Yesterday Carlsen met his match and had to admit defeat.

Ivanchuk was not to be bamboozled in time trouble and had used his thinking time wisely around move 12. It took him 30 minutes to work out that 12.Nd2 was not a wise move. Maybe Carlsen would have been better off to leave the Nielsen game to one side.

Even though the move Bd3 rather than Be2 was the crux of this game, it might have come at a different place from that in the text.

12.cxd5 exd5 13.Nb5 Ne8 14.Bd3 would have offered better chances for White.

The second chance to do the right thing was in the text at move 13, where Carlsen again did not push the LSB far enough. Even I could see that at the time, and it made me uncomfortable then. Easy, when you can back your hunch up with the help of an engine, I know.

9 Sep 2008

Carlsen is King!

What an achievement for such a young player:

Leading this top quality competition midways.

Number One in the Live Rating List

Invited by Anand to be his second in the match against Kramnik.

Can't say that the last item fills me with delight, and I hope that (if this rumour turns out to be true,) Carlsen refuses the 'honour'. After all, he will be in Anand's shoes one day soon, and nobody invited Kasparov to efface himself as a Second. Now did they?

8 Sep 2008

Carlsen versus Aronian

Today it is a D47, Semi-Slav Meran.
Carlsen forgoes his usual choice of 5.Bg5 and plays 5.e3 instead.

By move 15 he has already sacrificed his second Pawn in exchange for an open position.

He is certainly adventurous and one might say dashing, in this tourney, making full use of the new scoring method. Will it be worth it?

Three hours later: 1-0 or rather 3-0 win for Carlsen.

Aronian goes to pieces and pushes his e-pawn too late, on move 26 rather than move 24.

At the time of posting this Topalov and Radjabov seem set for a draw, which would put Carlsen as number one.

7 Sep 2008

Anand versus Carlsen

Six top players slogging it out in Bilbao: The Chess Grand Slam Final is being staged in Bilbao, Spain, from September 1st to 13th 2008. It is a six-player double round robin event, one of the strongest in the history of the game (at least by Elo average, 2775.6, making it a category 22 tournament). Games start at 17:00h local time (CEST).

I only just found out in time to join round 5, where Carlsen held the Black pieces against the temporary World Champion.

They are using some unconventional scoring for this high-class tourney:
Players get three points for a win, one point for a draw and zero points for losing a game.

The prize money is incredibly high for such a minor tournement. could that be the reason Anand emerges from his preparation to expose his weaknesses in public? Mystifying.

The game soon turned into a RL Schlieman/Janische C63.

The middle game showed a few inaccuracies on both sides. Carlsen had a distinct advantage, but allowed it to slip away.

13 Aug 2008

The big match

Thus far I have concentrated on Magnus Carlsen's games.

Next month it will be the turn of the Kramnik versus Anand WCC match.

Can't wait.

2 May 2008

Yes, well...

A little disappointing for Carlsen I would have thought. He might have expected a win here.

David Navara played a solid and interesting game, flirting with the Marshall in what started out like Kasparov versus Karpov in their 1985 WCC game #5.

10...Re8 was a move designed by Karpov's second at the time, Zaitsev. The only drawback of this move is that White players desiring no more than a safe and early draw, have a solid chance to do so by playing 11.Bg5.
See game below for this variation.

28 Apr 2008


There is more than one way to skin a cat....but I wish Magnus hadn't led us such a merry dance.

This round 7 is the most important round for several of today's players, Magnus being one of them.

Winning as Black here would be very good indeed. Would be? What am I saying: He's just this minute done it.

Yet again the time squeeze was the weapon of choice, even though several others where lying to hand.


Not the best of games, with inaccuracies on both sides and of course the peculiar and trappy move 17.Rxh5...
I didn't know what to think and where to go from there. Engines were of little use and we will soon here more about this position.

I feel happy that Carlsen has been able to improve his overall position today, but sad for Radjabov, who is always so careful, but today lost the plot on his homeground.

Well, there is always tomorrow...

24 Apr 2008

Shoe on the other foot

What a pity to get such a poor result after a good start.

I am tempted to not put the game in this post, but that would be unfair to his opponent, who really played a nice game.

By move 25 there was this strange running around the block with the Queen shifting from -c6- to -b6- and back again. Was this jsut to make up the number of moves? Or to force a draw? If so, the outcome was not helpful.

What was needed and not forthcoming was Nb6.

23 Apr 2008

Cramped in Round 3

Talk about cramped! Black kept pushing and pushing and by move 15...e5 had got himself a toehold in the white camp. White might have liked to play 16.Qd2 at that point, but unfortunately that square was occupied.

Black, after having chased the white LSB around the block in true Ruy fashion, managed to push up his e-pawn, with the threat of his heavy artillery piling up on the queenside.

At that point I couldn't see Carlsen escape a very cramped position, needing a hefty dollop of good luck in the form of a sizeable error by his opponent.

Of course I needn't have worried:
Magnus yet again made the most of his opponent's time trouble and came out of the time portal with enough advantage to give him a win.
As I write they are on move 49, with Black running short on time (11 mins left compared to 1 hr for Magnus), but already it looks like a firm win for White.

I'm sure when I get back later, he will have written down 1 - 0.
Well done yet again.

22 Apr 2008

Swindle in Round 2

It may be totally legit, but to Svidler today the draw must have felt like a swindle. The usual Magnus technique: manoever your opponent into Zeitnot, then hit him with slightly offbeat moves to make him use up what little he has left and thus win the game on time.

Unfortunately, by move 35 there wasn't much leaway to produce moves that were not quite the best, but required thinking about. There were rook moves galore for making up time, and the Kings could be shuffled ad nauseam without losing White's advantage of just below one pawn, enough to push for a win.

And sure enough, Svidler squeezed through the time portal unscathed. But.... as so often happens, he couldn't stop his momentum and still played unnecessarily fast on move 41.
Possibly a combination of relief that he had made it, coupled with a release of the intense concentration.

And there it was: Magnus kept the screws on by playing 40.Kg6 really fast and dragged Svidler along into a less than best move 41.Rc4, and there his advantage went up in a puff of smoke, with Carlsen achieving the draw.

Maybe not a swindle, but certainly a psyche!

21 Apr 2008

Perfection is boring

First day of chess in the other Windy City.

No errors of judgement, no slip-ups, no loss of concentration: simply perfect chess.
How boring is that!

The only weapon each of them used was giving their opponent the chance to go wrong. A chance that was never picked up.

The main characteristic in this Berlin Wall was Carlsen's use of Knight moves, centered round the d2-square. Possibly playing for time and trying to elicit an indiscretion from Black. But Black didn't fall for it.

The draw was a workmanlike beginning for Magnus to this 30.000 Euro tournament. I wonder if he is still interested in the prize money, or if he is now sufficiently well off to play for fun and prestige alone. I hope so.

Game boards later.

20 Apr 2008

Grand Prix

The first FIDE Grand Prix tournament is taking place in Baku, Azerbaijan, from April 20th to May 6th, 2008.

This event is part of a series of six tournaments to be held over a period two years (2008-2009).

Twentyone high-rated players have been invited to take part in this series of tournaments, each player taking part in four of them.

The winner of this Grand Prix series at the end of 2009 will be allowed to face the winner of the World Cup (to be held in 2009) in an eight game match. The one who wins that match will be allowed to challenge the World Champion in a match to be held in the third quarter of 2010.

7 Mar 2008

Carlsen versus Radjabov

Final round. Is Carlsen going to pull of a miracle here this afternoon?

Doesn't look like it from where I am sitting. But then..I have no feel for the Schlieman at all. Never played, never studied it. So far there is little I can say.

Ahm wait: I think I can see Carlsen's python technique coming to the fore again: he has just played 28.g3 and after 27...b6 bringing the entire queenside to a standstill, it is going to be the kingside where trouble is brewing.

Radjabov is spending a long time over where to move his Queen at move 30.h4 *
Is he going Qg7 and then back to =h6= again or is he going to move the Rook from right to left and back again? Or is he simply going to say "Pass" ?

All very softly, softly and a little too subtle for me.

What? 36...Qf4?
And why does Magnus NOT take it? What am I missing here?
37.Qxf4 exf4 38.Rh3 Kc8/fxg3
Yeah, that's probably a damp squib.

They are through the time portal and playing fast.

63.b4 was a little wobbly (63.Rh6 better?)

It's got to be a draw.

I'm assuming it will be a draw any second now and I'm out of here.

Well done Magnus! Coming a close second in such company is another amazing feat. Thank you for entertaining us all in such style.

6 Mar 2008

Aronian versus Carlsen

A very pragmatic decision.
I wonder how it will effect the overal standings by the end of the day. Ivanchuk versus Anand is also drawn.

A Queen's Indian, with 4.g3 and they both fianchetto on the a8-h1 diagonal. White doesn't castle until move 13 and plays 6.Nc3 instead .
He manages to block the diagonal with 8.d5 to facilitate -e4-. Move 9 produced a Novelty, but I'm not sure whether for Aronian or Carlsen. I could not find any 9.cxd5 in my own databases.

13....Nd4 was played so fast that it must have been home prep. It set in motion a train of virtually forced moves with Carlsen yet again starting a Pythonesque ( and I don't mean 'Monty', but 'Karpov') trail which imprisoned Aronian and immobilized both his Rooks and his DSB.

Doubling pawns never seems to worry Magnus, and here it actually looked helpful. With 22....d5 he has his opponent locked in a cage, from which it proves hard to escape.

What goes through Carlsen's mind? How does he see it? Surely not the way we do. He makes it such fun for us observers.

Oh, I do nice work :-)

5 Mar 2008

Day off

Not a day goes by without a quick look at chessbase.com . This invariably cheers me up. Has done for I don't know how many years.

The competence, dedication, sense of humour and sheer goodness of nature of the entire team radiates through their pages.

Thank you all, both for your products and the website.

And please, Nadja Woisin, forgive me for stealing this picture. It gave such pleasure to see the relationship between these two so aptly summed up in one shot.

"The child is father of the man."

4 Mar 2008

Carlsen versus Topalov

Today's game started off as a Four Knights English and rapidly turned into an upside down Boleslavsky.
This favoured Carlsen who helped himself to an extra tempo.
Below left today's game at move 10. To the right the Boleslavsky showing the mirror image with Colours reversed.

By move ten Topalov realized what was happening and put a stop to White's march of the a-pawn. In order to achieve that he had to allow Carlsen the Sicilian's fantasy of an early -d4-.

White had to pay for this with a rather holey Queenside and he had to forego -b3-.

Black needed to stay in touch with the =d5= square and had to play c6 to keep a close watch on it.

All this Sicilian flavour promised an exciting game, but it came to an abrupt end when Topalov blundered in not-too-great a Zeitnot.

3 Mar 2008

Leko versus Carlsen

In this Sveshnikov game two of Black's pieces were forced to inactivity: The DSB on =h6= and the Rook on=c6=. Both needed costly rescues.

1 Mar 2008

Carlsen versus Shirov

This is my initial take on the game as it unfolded yesterday up until the disputed move 30.Qg4 rather than the option declared safe by Rybka of 30.Rxc7 combined with 33.Rxf7+

I was too worn out to continue watching with the same intensity after that.
In my eyes, they both won. That doesn't mean that I am not delighted that Carlsen has climbed another rung.

29 Feb 2008

Carlsen fights again

What a game!!
Carlsen and Shirov deserved each other today. Unbelievable ding-dong battle round the time portal at move 40.
I continued the shunned move 30.Rxc7, which actually would have led to a win for White.
With the help of deep Rybka on a dual processor (2700kN/s),
this is what came up.
Use scrollwheel on move-list to reveal entire notation.

Actually, on closer inspection there may be a hiccup in this line with move 39....Qe3+ rather than 39....Kxf7.

24 Feb 2008

Magnus Carlsen

The Armenian chessplayer Levon Aronian usually brings out the best in Carlsen. Virtually all their games against each other have been interesting.