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The Week in Chess

  • FIDE Women’s Grand Prix Khanty-Mansiysk 2014 – Games and Results
    The FIDE Women’s Grand Prix taks place in Khanty-Mansiysk 9th April (Round 1) to 21st April (final round 11), There will be live video commentary in Russian and English. Round 9 Pairings Sat: Muzychuk-Kosteniuk,A, Hou Yifan-Girya, Kosintseva,T-Zhao Xue, Batchimeg-Ushenina, Dzagnidze-Stefanova, Lagno-Muminova. Games and results.
  • Intagrand wins the Freestyle Battle 2014 – Games

    Arno Nickel reports on the conclusion of the Freestyle 2014 chess tournament where games are played with a combination of man and machine play. Players can use unlimited resources: Read Article,

    The two month battle of 30 high-skilled Freestyle chess players in an all-play-all online event had started on February 4th and finished in the night to April 11th. Anson Williams from England and his team of helpers behind the nickname ‘Intagrand’ won the title with 29 points a point clear of maximus. Williams is as close as there is to a veteran in such events winning tournaments as far back as 2007 ( article from the Chess Drum about him here).

    Christopher Lutz anaylses the most interesting games here.

    Arno Nickel has been promoting this form of chess since 2005 and is a correspondence chess Grandmaster.

  • John Watson Book Review #110: Repertoires in the Age of Carlsen – 110
    John Watson reviews A Cunning Repertoire for White (Gambit) by Graham Burgess which was released first on Kindle and which I (MC) have been attempting to adopt for a few months now. There is now a physical book too. John Watson also wrote a white repertoire book for Gambit starting with 1.d4 but advocating 2.c4 rather than the 2.Nf3 used in this book and he compares their approaches.
  • Schachbundesliga 2013-14 – Games and Results
    The Schachbundesliga 2013-14 season took place 12th October 2013 to 6th April 2014. Probably the strongest national league saw many of the best players in the world compete. Multiple winners Baden-Baden were already certain to retain their title with a couple of rounds to go. Games and results. Final three rounds 4th to 6th April 2014. Baden-Baden have already confirmed the defence of their title.
  • Danish Championships 2014 – Games and Results
    The Danish Championships take place in Skorping 12th to 21st April 2014. Sune Berg Hansen, Lars Schandorff, Jacob Aagaard etc
  • Kuala Lumpur International Open 2014 – Games and Results
    The DYTM Raja Dr Nazrin Shah Kuala Lumpur International Open Chess Championship takes place 4th to 11th April 2014. Sergei Tiviakov, Suat Atalik, John Paul Gomez, J Deepan Chakkravarthy, MR Venkatesh 88 players etc.
  • 16th Dubai Open 2014 – Games and Results
    The 16th Dubai Open takes place 7th to 17th April 2014. Leading players: Anton Korobov, Vladimir Akopian, Romain Edouard, Andrei Istratescu, Constantin Lupulescu, Csaba Balogh, Gawain C B Jones, Yuriy Kuzubov, Bassem Amin, Eduardo Iturrizaga Bonelli etc. Games and results.
  • Russian Team Championship 2014 – Games and Results
    The Russian Team Championships take place in Loo, in the Krasnodar region with round 1 7th April 2014, 7 rounds finishing on 13th April. There are only 13 teams as Rostov PHMB had to withdraw at the last minute due to financial problems. Leading players include: Grischuk, Karjakin, Svidler, Vitiugov, Nepomniachtchi, Jakovenko, Morozevich, Leko, Shirov, Jobava, Bologan etc
  • College Chess Final Four 2014 – Games and Results
    The US College Chess Final Four takes place in the New York Athletic Club. The event is rather strong with players such as Quang Liem Le, Wesley So (who lost drastically with white in round 2 against Kore Akshayraj), Fidel Corrales Jimenez (finally US registered), Yaroslav Zherebukh, Elshan Moradiabadi, Georg Meier and Ray Robson.
  • 5th Chebanenco Rapid Open Memorial 2014 – Games and Results
    The 5th Chebanenco Rapid Open Memorial took place in Chisinau 1st to 2nd April 2014..Vladimir Malakhov, Alexei Shirov, Viktor Bologan, Igor Lysyj, Dmitry Svetushkin, Yuriy Kuzubov etc. Viktor Bologan took clear first on 7/10. Going into the final round Alexei Shirov and Yuriy Kuzubov led on 6.5/8 but both lost. Rather unusually the first two finishers played off for the title even though Bologan had half a point more than Malakhov. They drew a two game rapid tie-break before Bologan won a final blitz game.
  • John Watson Book Review #109: The Essayist – #109
    John Watson reviews a book of essays by the well known Dutch journalist Hans Ree. He’s one of my favourite writers on the game and has seen the game since the early 1960s. Ree thinks he has been lucky to live through this period in his opinion the heyday of the game. Subjects including Alcohol, Anand, Carlsen and Donald Duck.
  • Anand confirms his triumph leaving his rivals searching for answers – 14
    The final day saw the coronation of Viswanathan Anand as the winner of the Candidates tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk and a surprise second placed finisher in Sergey Karjakin who came right from the basement to almost topple him but still finish in a creditable second place. Anand goes on to play Magnus Carlsen for the title in what is scheduled to be a match in November. For me Anand showed great ring craft throughout, his career has been filled with such pressurised tournaments and he used that experience fully to avoid the melt downs that happened to almost all his rivals. He was only in trouble against Karjakin in round 13 which was a game that started with him being the one with it all to lose, later when defending the pressure also settled on Karjakin who suddenly had chances to win the event himself. Karjakin eventually allowed a forced draw when he thought it was a winning try. If Anand maintains this return to form he should be in better shape than in India to challenge Carlsen. Whether that will be enough is another question.

    Anand admitted that he wasn’t really in the mood to play having achieved victory but that he didn’t want to finish with the bitter taste of defeat in the final round. His opponent Peter Svidler also seemed happy to draw the line under an event which hadn’t gone his way. The played a Ruy Lopez Marshall where both players seemed to know it should finish in a draw. ”basically the most prevalent feeling right now is a feeling of a huge wasted opportunity because I think I played, at least in the first half, very interesting chess and I had chances in almost every game and I think a lot of what went wrong in this tournament were what you would maybe call unforced errors”… I kept on making strange mistakes in situations where I shouldn’t have and because of that a tournament that could have been very interesting from my point of view finished a minor disaster.” was Svidler’s summation of his tournament.

    Vladimir Kramnik finished the event with a short accurate draw against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Most of the interest was in his confirmation of the story that it was he who finally persuaded Anand to play ”We really spoke about it in London and Vishy was unsure by that time. I advised him to participate because I really thought he had a chance and I just told him so…. Also I think he has all chances to win the match against Carlsen. I had similar crises, so I know what was happening inside him.”

    Veselin Topalov finished the event with a draw against Dmitry Andreikin. Topalov said ”It could have been worse but in general I think except Anand and Dmitry I don’t think anyone can be very happy with his play. I mean all the others are more or less losers [before Karjakin's win] none of us got even close to threaten Anand in fact that’s the whole tournament you know.”

    The final game of the day saw a clearly dispirited Levon Aronian go down to another loss and finish near the tail-end of the field. He had a good position out of his unusual opening but his heart really wasn’t in it and he ”missed everything” in time trouble and ended up with a miserable position and was ground down after many hours. His opponent Sergey Karjakin was very pleased with his +3 in the second half and he could have won the event had he converted the day before (although no doubt today’s game would have been completely different too). ”Yeah I didn’t really play well, so.” Aronian.

    Notes to the final round of play in the PGN section. I will try and catch up with Round 13 next week.

    Final Standings: 1st Anand 8.5/14 2nd Karjakin 7.5 3rd Kramnik 7 4th Mamedyarov 7 5th Andreikin 7 6th Aronian 6.5 7th Svidler 6.5 8th Topalov 6

  • Latvian Railway Rapid Open 2014 – Games and Results
    The Latvian Railway Rapid Open took place 28th to 30th March 2014. This event was won by Vassily Ivanchuk with an amazing 13/14 starting with 9 wins then two draws followed by a final 3 wins. Vladimir Malakhov was a distant second on 10/13.
  • Anand qualifies for Carlsen rematch with a round to spare – 13
    The thirteenth round of the FIDE Candidates saw Viswanthan Anand eventually manage to hold Sergey Karjakin to a draw in 91 moves and win the event with a round to spare. This followed a drastic loss by Levon Aronian in the other important game of the day. One should not overlook Anand’s achievement in winning a classical Candidates tournament, one of the very few things he had left in chess to do and again placing him in extremely select company.

    The top game of the day was between Sergey Karjakin and Viswanathan Anand. Karjakin grabbed a pawn with the risky 13…Qa5. It seemed like Anand would equalise but he later he felt forced to give up rook for two minor pieces with 22..Rxa2. This left an ending which ought to be draw but Anand definitely was still in danger. Only analysis will show if this danger was real. ”I was shaky in this game, but I’m not going to whinge about it” – Anand. With Aronian’s loss this meant that Anand was guaranteed to win the event with a round to spare.

    Levon Aronian’s challenge seems to have ended completely with a loss to Dmitry Andreikin. Aronian was on top until Aronian refused to take an exchange offered by Andreikin and took a pawn instead (Aronian thought it not good enough for a win) after which he had a terrible position (missing Kb2) and eventually Andreikin forced home a pawn. Terrible game from Aronian from an event where he has struggled from round 1 but nevertheless was in contention until this loss.

    Peter Svidler and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov drew a theoretical Sicilian which saw an interesting but drawish ending.

    Kramnik vs Topalov was not meaningful for the tournament but the players obviously want to win this grudge match and was one of the most interesting of the day. Kramnik managed to avenge his loss in the first half.

    I had to go and play chess myself so missed the final action. Now official report and photos. I may get chance to add notes to the games in PGN later and maybe get some quotes from the press conferences.

    Round 13 Standings: Anand 8.0pts/13, Kramnik, Andreikin, Karjakin, Mamedyarov, Aronian 6.5, Svidler 6, Topalov 5.5

    Final Round 14 pairings: Aronian-Karjakin, Anand-Svidler, Mamedyarov-Kramnik, Topalov-Andreikin

    Most players came to win the event but apart from Anand they’re now playing for a potentially huge difference in prize money and status in the final round. Who can motivate themselves for one last push? It’s possible there may be tame draws but I expect a couple of the games to be competitive.

  • Anand close to new win and still in charge after Candidates Round 12 – 12
    Visanathan Anand came very close to his fourth win of the FIDE Candidates against Dmitry Andreikin but his opponent Dmitry Andreikin just escaped into a position complicated enough to persuade Anand to take a draw. This results still leaves Anand a point clear of Levon Aronian (with better tie-break) and a point and a half clear of Sergey Karjakin who he plays next and provided he draws or better that result will almost certainly be enough to win the event. Levon Aronian was very fortunate that Vladimir Kramnik has pretty much mentally ”packed” otherwise he would almost certainly have lost. Sergey Karjakin had a major time scramble against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and eventually drew. Peter Svidler by his own admission missed a lot against Veselin Topalov and lost horribly.

    Anand’s game against Andreikin was a Caro-Kann where he eventually achieved a lovely bind across the board. Things were already going wrong for Andreikin when 24…Qc8 led to a loss virtually by force but it did require some precision. 26.Nh5 seemed best but 28…d7 (28.Ng4 was a winner but also had complexity) wasn’t so good although the position remained winning the position suddently became out of control and given that avoiding a loss was far more important than winning Anand eventually ”decided not to temp fate” and drew.

    Peter Svidler has had a roller-coaster ride of the event and today he missed an awful lot against Veselin Topalov and just lost without a fight.

    Levon Aronian one should be reminded lies in clear second place but has still been a shadow of his normal self. Today he took rather unjustified risks and his 27.e4 should have lost but Kramnik just repeated for a draw.

    The final game was a sharp Nimzo-Indian 4.f3 where Karjakin’s preparation gave him a nice advantage but Mamedyarov complicated things and soon had a dangerous attack. Karjakin got into terrible time trouble with a minute and a half for 10 moves against just over 5 minutes. Actually both played OK although 31.Bxf6 would have given Mamedyarov winning chances anything could have happened. Karjakin attacked the ACP afterwards saying they should have forced a change to an increment for this event. Leaving aside who is responsible in my opinion the time format without increment is the adult time control that should be used at this level and the increment shouldn’t be there just to save the players from themselves.

    If Anand at least draws with black against Karjakin and Aronian doesn’t win against Andreikin in Saturday’s round 13 then Anand will qualify. Even if Anand loses he will lead going into the final round game with white against Svidler.

    Round 12 Standings: Anand 7.5pts, Aronian 6.5pts, Mamedyarov, Karjakin 6pts, Kramnik, Andreikin, Topalov, Svidler 5.5pts

    Rest day Friday

    Round 13 pairings Saturday 27th 9am GMT: Andreikin-Aronian, Karjakin-Anand, Svidler-Mamedyarov, Kramnik-Topalov.

  • Anands closes in on Candidates qualification after 11 rounds – 11
    Viswanathan Anand held a very comfortable draw against Vladimir Kramnik in what was the last serious threat to his qualification. Anand has white in two of his last three games and remains the only undefeated player in the tournament. The chasing field didn’t managed to close the gap either as all the games were drawn. Anand is on 7 points, Aronian 6 and Mamedyarov, Karjakin, Svidler on 5.5 these are the only players with any chance to qualify. Karjakin plays Anand with white in round 13 and Svidler has black against him in the final round 14.

    Vladimir Kramnik candidly admitted that he didn’t even get to sleep until 6am on the morning of the game following his terrible blunder against Svidler and already regarded his tournament as over. He played an old idea in the Catalan and almost immediately lost faith in it over the board after some early accurate play from Anand. Kramnik put the breaks on with 18.Bxa7 which brought about quick simplification and a draw.

    Both Peter Svidler and Levon Aronian needed a win today but their game was a draw in a Symmetrical Reti. Svidler’s best chance came after he had given up hope for an advantage as 23…Be7?! should have been punished with 24.e4 when white would have had some advantage.

    Dmitry Andreikin and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov drew a reasonably interesting open Catalan where Mamedyarov knew the theory a bit better but was in slight danger of being worse at a couple of points.

    The only game that could have finished decisive was that between Veselin Topalov and Sergey Karjakin in an English where Topalov took the game into a slightly favourable ending. He tried to complicate coming up to the first time control and Karjakin found a fine defensive exchange sacrifice which turned out to provide him with winning chances instead. The position after 42.a4 is one for the endgame books. The position after 45.g4 may be winning for Karjakin with the suggestions 45…Bg1 (Kamsky) and 45…a3 (L’Ami) both probably doing the trick with breaks a3, h3 and e4 combining to be too many threats to meet. After 45…Bf2 it seems white can just get his pieces in the right positions. Very tough to work out at the board or even off it.

    Notes in PGN and the official bulletin in the body of the article.

    Round 11 standings: Anand 7pts, Aronian 6pts, Mamedyarov, Karjakin, Svidler 5.5pts, Kramnik, Andreikin 5pts, Topalov 4.5pts

    Round 12 pairings: Anand-Andreikin, Mamedyarov-Karjakin, Topalov-Svidler, Aronian-Kramnik

  • Anand edges closer to qualifcation after shock Kramnik collapse in Candidates Round 10 – 10
    Viswanathan Anand edged closer to qualification after he drew with the dangerous Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in the 10th round of the FIDE Candidates tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk. Anand maintains a 1 point lead over Levon Aronian who has a worse tie-break too. Vladimir Kramnik’s slim chances finally disappeared with a one move blunder against Peter Svidler. None of the other players on 50% could edge closer either.

    Anand played a variation of the Sicilian Najdorf against Mamedyarov but was quickly forced to start repeating. Mamedyarov avoided this first repetition but soon offered a draw which was accepted on move 30. Anand seemed pretty happy with the draw and Mamedyarov didn’t seem that upset but knew he had to at least try and press.

    Sergey Karjakin and Dmitry Andreikin drew a Taimanov Sicilian where black had no problems at any stage.

    The most dramatic game of the day was between Vladimir Kramnik and Peter Svidler. Svidler repeated his Dutch defence and equalised extremely quickly but it seems he isn’t quite on top of all the details, he became pessimistic about his chances and eventually Kramnik did have quite a serious advantage. Kramnik felt he was moving in for the kill but missed a very nasty one move tactic and was lost. Kramnik has made far too many tactical errors in this event but denied there was anything wrong but possible fatigue. Perhaps the old adage about one of the best ways to win a game is to give your opponent winning chances himself applies.

    Levon Aronian got nothing out of the opening against Veselin Topalov and then was a little worse but held on to draw comfortably. Not really much sign of a final Aronian charge yet.

    Comments to all the games from the players press conferences in the PGN section and pictures and official report in the body of the article.

    Round 10 Standings: Anand 6.5/10, Aronian 5.5, Mamedyarov, Karjakin, Svidler 5pts, Kramnik, Andreikin 4.5pts, Topalov 4pts

    I will be commentating on ICC with GM Gata Kamsky for Round 11 on Wednesday 9am GMT: Andreikin-Mamedyarov, Topalov-Karjakin, Svidler-Aronian, Kramnik-Anand it can be seen here

  • Anand in the Candidates box seat after yet another day of shock results – 9
    Viswanathan Anand’s calm progress through the Candidates tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk continued with a smooth win against Veselin Topalov in Sunday’s Round 9. Whilst Anand was winning the pre-event favourites Vladimir Kramnik and his joint leader Levon Aronian were losing. Anand leads on 6/9 a point clear of Aronian and with the knowledge that if they tie Anand’s head to head record would see him qualify.

    Anand was not allowed to play the positions he enjoys the most against Magnus Carlsen but he has had fewer problems in the Candidates. Today Veselin Topalov came prepared to fight and played a sharp Najdorf defence which no doubt suited Anand down to the ground. Something went wrong for Topalov when he misjudged the position after 18.Nxe4 and he quickly tried to bail out into a rather desperate looking ending which Anand slowly brought home for the full point.

    Levon Aronian as black caught Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in the opening with a sharp piece of opening preparation in the 4.f3 Nimzo-Indian but this quickly backfired as Mamedyarov found a really strong practical response that turned the tables completely. Aronian was soon in very bad trouble and whilst Mamedyarov chose a rather strange way to exploit his advantage by exchanging into a bishops of opposite colours ending it turned out to be very safe and certain one. A huge blow for the favourite Aronian who needs to score 1.5 points more than Anand to overtake him (there may be complications if there is a three way tie).

    Vladimir Kramnik has had a huge slice of luck in this tournament in contrast to the first half of the London Candidates but he obviously hasn’t played anywhere near his best in the last few rounds and finally he lost one. Here Sergey Karjakin played a London System with the idea of getting an unusual position, it paid off immediately when Kramnik blundered almost immediately with 7…dxc4 when after 8.Qxb7 he was already in a bad way. Karjakin was not entirely convincing in his exploitation of this advantage but Kramnik couldn’t hold on in the end.

    Peter Svidler said that his friends were begging him to play a boring game and today he got a comfortable game with a Sicilian Najdorf which he claimed he was busking as he was totally unsure what Dmitry Andreikin would play even on his first move. Andreikin said that he was unsure about his preparation as he approached the game. The position was drawish at the end.

    In golf the third round of four is often called moving day, it’s where the champions get themselves in place to win the event. It felt a lot like that today when Anand came up with a win and his rivals fell away. Perhaps we’re set for a procession to qualification now, Anand probably only needs to draw his remaining games to do that. However the last four rounds of the London Candidates were very dramatic and it is much too early to regard Anand as a certain winner. How will achieving such a lead affect Anand?

    I will try and add player comments to the game file later but that’s been taking me hours. Added is the FIDE official report on the round.

    Round 9 Standings: Anand 6pts, Aronian 5pts, Kramnik, Karjakin, Mamedyarov 4.5pts, Andreikin, Svidler 4pts, Topalov 3.5pts.

    Monday is a rest day.

    Round 10 Tuesday 25th March 2014. 9am GMT: Karjakin-Andreikin, Kramnik-Svidler, Aronian-Topalov and Anand-Mamedyarov.

  • Candidates passes the half way mark and many players already look very tired – 8
    Viswanathan Anand leads on tie-break from Levon Aronian after drawing their round 8 game with black, both have 5 points. Vladimir Kramnik is still half a point further back. The remaining players are on 3.5/5.

    Kramnik said after his game ”Everyone here is playing too aggressively.” and certainly today there seemed a lot of burned out players from the exertions of the days before. Last year in London Magnus Carlsen suddenly started giving lines that were total rubbish after his round 11 game against Grischuk and his chess was not nearly as strong for that and the remaining rounds. If that’s the sign to look for then a number of the players are in serious trouble already. Gone are the bright eyed and bushy tailed press conferences with accurate analysis, we’re already seeing something very different now. Anand is the only player who has played rather conservatively and preserved some energy. It may be he has gone favourite to win this event. His concern may be the rising pressure that comes with this new status and his age, whilst by no means unfit, he is the oldest in the field and he may become tired too.

    The two leaders met and Levon Aronian played an opening he claimed came to him in a dream and one that he most certainly should have left there. Kramnik later said ”I also had this idea of 3.Qb3 but it’s such nonsense I wouldn’t even play it in rapid.” and Anand didn’t take all that long to play the most critical continuation sacrificing a pawn for huge amounts of play. In fact Aronian was probably in serious trouble after 8.Qb3? (the better 8.Qa4 was only slightly more appetising). The whole opening was a total fiasco and Aronian was lucky that Anand probably was only looking for a draw. They repeated and drew on move 19 ironically in the best position Aronian had had all game but he was a little too traumatised by his close escape to want to continue.

    Veselin Topalov and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov drew a sharp Najdorf where black sacrificed a piece. Topalov saw the best move was 20.Qb4 but didn’t come close to the exact way this was better in the post-mortem even though it seems he was on the right track. A draw was soon agreed.

    Magnus Carlsen comments about Kramnik’s analysis apart Kramnik was for a second day in a row so very far from being right about the assessment and play in his game against Dmitry Andreikin. So much so it was close to shocking. Andreikin was given a pawn and against another opponent he may very well have found a way to win, his variations certainly seemed more on the ball than Kramnik’s.

    Peter Svidler has shown aggression in almost every round, his attitude is that this may be his last Candidates and he certainly isn’t going to spend it playing quietly. In round 7 he played a very hard and fascinating game against Anand and today he seemed to have nothing left to give. His unreal over optimism came out time and time again in his analysis of the early part of the game which was so off beam at times it was astonishing, his attack had almost no chance of succeeding and Sergey Karjakin was well on top of the few ways it could succeed. Karjakin himself has had a poor Candidates so far and only an almost death wish from Svidler allowed him to win this, although his calculation in the final phase of the ending was very nice indeed, his general play was not that impressive. Svidler should have saved this game in several places and his 40.Kg5? left him struggling for an explanation. Svidler’s bad day was to be completed finally with doping control testing.

    We have really missed the Candidates tournament, it’s such a superb test of nerve, will, preparation all sorts of things you don’t need to survive even at the top of the invitational circuit. I think many players need to take a serious look at their approach for next time, which may mean a much duller event. We’ll either see a lot more caution or a lot more blunders before this event is finished.

    Round 8 standings: Anand, Aronian 5pts, Kramnik 4.5pts, Andreikin, Topalov, Svidler, Karjakin, Mamedyarov 3.5pts

    Round 9 Pairings: Karjakin-Kramnik, Andreikin-Svidler, Anand-Topalov, Mamedyarov-Aronian.

    As a post-script to the day I also give a game whose atmosphere couldn’t be further removed from this event. Magnus Carlsen (did anyone else think ringer?) turned out for Stavanger in a play-off to help them be promoted to the first division in a match against Nordstrand SK. He beat Vladimir Georgiev in the kind of conditions I’ve played most of my chess in and at a stress level completely removed from those in the Candidates. But a game by the world champion is always worth a look.

    Comments by the players on the games in the PGN file.

  • Norwegian Team Championship 2013-14 – Games and Results
    The Norwegian Team Championship 2013-14 takes place 1st November 2013 to 23rd March 2014. Magnus Carlsen played for Stavanger in a match to decide who gets promoted to the top league next year on 22nd March 2014. Results of qualifier. The game has been put in the Elite Series file in this article. My thanks to Jokim van den Bos for somehow getting a correct game score (confirmed as correct) from this photo of one of the scoresheets from Carlsen’s game.