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The Week in Chess

  • Caruana misses chances to beat Ding and extend his Candidates lead – 9
    Fabiano Caruana remains in the lead of the FIDE Candidates tournament in Berlin after 9 of the 14 rounds. Caruana pressed for a very long time against Ding Liren in a very tricky endgame, there were wins for him but it was all very difficult for humans and in the end Ding kept his unbeaten (and un victorious) record of 9 draws.

    Shakhriyar Mamedayarov looked under pressure against Levon Aronian but he found a nice King manoeuvre to hold the endgame.

    Vladimir Kramnik has been unraveling for quite some rounds now and Sergey Karjakin came to the board in a fighting mood determined to take advantage of his opponent’s vulnerability. 9.h4 made this aggressive intent clear and after 16…e5 Kramnik was already objectively lost. Karjakin allowed Kramnik some counter-play but he never got equality and after 24.Be1! and 25.Bh4! the hard work was mostly done and Karjakin brought home the full point.

    Wesley So played a quiet variation of the Berlin against Alexander Grischuk and a draw was agreed on move 34 in a sterile position.

    Round 9 Standings: 1st Caruana Fabiano 6pts, 2nd Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 5.5pts, 3rd Grischuk Alexander 5pts, 4th Karjakin Sergey 4.5pts, 5th Ding Liren 4.5pts, 6th Kramnik Vladimir 3.5pts, 7th So Wesley 3.5pts, 8th Aronian Levon 3.5pts

    Rest day Wednesday 21st March 2018.

    Candidates Round 10 Thurs 22nd March 2018 2pm GMT: Grischuk-Karjakin, Kramnik-Aronian, Mamedyarov-Caruana, Ding Liren-Wesley So

  • Caruana retains a half point lead over Mamedyarov after Candidates Round 8 – 8
    Wesley So played the Qe2 variation vs Fabiano Caruana’s Petroff and found himself in trouble. However with a fine and accuate set of calculations he managed to hold the draw.

    Shakhriyar Mamedyarov didn’t manage to set Sergey Karjakin any serious problems in the Catalan and the game was drawn by repetition on move 30.

    Ding Liren has drawn all his games today but he had serious chances in the endgame against Levon Aronian but allowed his opponent to escape with a draw.

    Vladimir Kramnik’s play continues to baffle observers. He was again last to finish in his game against Alexander Grischuk, he turned down several cast iron draws only to find himself with serious losing chances before taking advantage of a few inaccuracies to be equal, but after that he allowed two more winning positions for Grischuk and finally his opponent took his chance to win. Grischuk to move into 3rd place on his own. Very odd from Kramnik.

    Round 8 Standings: 1st Caruana 5.5pts, 2nd Mamedyarov 5pts, 3rd Grischuk 4.5pts, 4th Ding Liren 4pts, 5th Kramnik 3.5pts, 6th Karjakin 3.5pts, 7th Wesley So 3pts, 8th Aronian 3pts.

    Round 9 Tuesday 20th March 2018 2pm GMT: Wesley So-Grischuk, Caruana-Ding Liren, Aronian-Mamedyarov, Karjakin-Kramnik

  • Caruana wins against Aronian to lead at the half way stage of the Berlin Candidates – 7
    Fabiano Caruana survived what looked like a last throw of the dice from Levon Aronian and picked up a win in Round 7 and lead at the half way stage of the FIDE Candidates in Berlin.

    Aronian found an interesting pawn sacrifice that hadn’t been checked by Caruana in a position where he thought he’d looked at everything. Aronian got quite a lot of practical compensation but the computer assessments tellingly never were better for him and were occasionally dire. Aronian had a final chance to draw with 32.Qh4 after his 32.Bc4? in spite of time trouble Caruana brought home the full point.

    Sergey Karjakin and Wesley So seemed to be heading for a draw as they entered a Rook, Knight and Pawn endgame with all the pawns on the Kingside. But So drifted into difficulties (the active defence 26..Rb6 was suggested by Karjakin afterwards) but he was still in the game until 35…Ke8? (35…Rc7! draws) after which Karjakin was winning, So lost on time.

    Alexander Grischuk had no option but to take a draw by repetition on move 16 in his game against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in a Ragozin Defence.

    Ding Liren equalised quickly against Vladimir Kramnik’s English. 21…Bf5 seemed especially promising but also 27…Bd7. Once Kramnik equalised on move 30 he decided to play on and on as the only one with any theoretical chances. In fact the game remained balanced until the draw was agreed on move 74.

    Round 7 Standings: 1st Caruana 5pts, 2nd Mamedyarov 4.5pts, 3rd Kramnik 3.5pts, 4th Ding Liren 3.5pts, 5th Grischuk 3.5pts, 6th Karjakin 3pts, 7th Wesley So 2.5pts, 8th Aronian 2.5pts

    Round 8 pairings Monday 18th March 2018 2pm GMT: Grischuk-Kramnik, Mamedyarov-Karjakin, Ding Liren-Aronian, Wesley So-Caruana

  • 19th European Individual Championship 2018 – Games and Results
    The 19th European Individual Championship takes place in Batumi, Georgia, Saturday 17th to Wednesday 28th March 2018: Leading players: Jakovenko, Wojtaszek, Navara, Vallejo Pons, Ivanchuk, Mamedov, Matlakov, Dubov, Naiditsch, Ponomariov etc
  • Mamedyarov joins Caruana in the lead after beating Kramnik in Candidates Round 6 – Games and Results
    Fabiano Caruana played 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. e3 an idea initially championed by his opponent Alexander Grischuk in 2013. Grischuk said he gave it up because of the setup he tried in the game, a setup Axel Smith called the ”Poor Man’s Benoni” in his book e3 Poison. Grischuk conceded he was wrong to give the idea up as the position remained very sharp and interesting. Caruana liked his position up to his 27.Bf4 which he described as ”really bad” and soon took the opportunity to repeat and draw.

    Shakhriyar Mamedyarov joined Fabiano Caruana in the lead after defeating Vladimir Kramnik. However Kramnik will probably regard this as a completely self inflicted loss, he totally equalised with black but then thought with 28…h5 he was creating winning chances. Instead a few moves later he blundered horribly with 34…Rdc8 saying that he calculated the resulting position with his rook on c8 instead of c7, but even that seems bad for him. He just seemed to lose all objectivity for a short while. Kramnik dropped his h-pawn for nothing and was completely lost, he resisted for a long time, even finding a mating idea when a rook for queen down but he was never given a saving chance..

    This means that Caruana and Mamedyarov share the lead on 4/6 on +2 a point clear of a group on 50% Kramnik, Grishuk and Ding Liren.

    Wesley So finally showed what he is capable of against Levon Aronian in a Marshall Ruy Lopez. Aronian was well prepared but was outplayed eventually missing that his 33…Rf8 loses material to 34.Re2! Aronian resisted a long time but the game was gone. Wesley So will be glad to get out of the basement and back into the tournament with this win.

    Ding Liren got nothing as white against Sergey Karjakin’s Gruenfeld and the game was drawn in 18 moves.

    Round 6 standings: 1st Caruana 4pts, 2nd Mamedyarov 4pts, 3rd Kramnik 3pts, 4th Grischuk 3pts, 5th Liren Ding 3pts, 6th Wesley So 2.5pts, 7th Aronian 2.5pts, 8th Karjakin 2pts

    Rest day: Saturday 17th March 2018

    Round 7 Sunday 18th March 2018 14.00 GMT: Grischuk-Mamedyarov, Kramnik-Ding Liren, Karjakin-Wesley So, Aronian-Caruana

  • 4NCL 2017-18 – Games and Results
    The 4NCL chess league takes place Saturday 11th November 2017 to Monday 7th May 2018.
  • Aronian misses chances to beat Grischuk and all games drawn in Candidates Round 5 – 5
    All four games in the fourth round of the FIDE Candidates tournament in Berlin were drawn. Levon Aronian missed several concrete chances after he got the advantage in a King’s Indian/Benoni structure. Aronian said he even saw a winning line starting with 28.Rxg4 and acknowledged he should have played 29.Qxc8+ which was his final chance. ”I don’t understand how I played 29.Qd8+, it’s beyond me”. Aronian.

    Wesley So and Vladimir Kramnik drew a Semi-Slav where black pushed a little bit but the game didn’t depart far from equality. Ding Liren and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov drew a Catalan in 31 moves in a position of total equality. Fabiano Caruana gave up equality even earlier in a Catalan against a well prepared Sergey Karjakin.

    Round 5 standings: 1st Caruana 3.5pts, 2nd Kramnik 3pts, 3rd Mamedyarov 3pts, 4th Aronian 2.5pts, 5th Grischuk 2.5pts, 6th Ding Liren 2.5pts, 7th Karjakin 1.5pts, 8th Wesley So 1.5pts.

    Round 6 pairings 16th March 2pm GMT: Caruana-Grischuk, Wesley So-Aronian, Ding Liren-Karjakin, Mamedyarov-Kramnik

  • 8th HD Bank Cup 2018 – Games and Results
    The 8th HD Bank Cup took place in Hanoi, Vietnam 9th to 16th March 2018. Sandro Mareco won the event with 7.5/9 half a point clear of the field after a final round win against Leandro Krysa.
  • Caruana takes the lead in the Candidates after beating Kramnik in an amazing battle in Round 4 – 4
    Fabiano Caruana beat Vladimir Kramnik in an amazing game where fortunes fluctuated wildly. Kramnik’s choice of variation against the Petroff seemed insipid and a draw likely. Caruana used a lot of time and this encouraged Kramnik to become ambitious, however the complications looked likely to lead to his defeat. Caruana’s time trouble rescued him and Kramnik was better at move 40 and winning shortly afterwards, eg with 43.c4. Only a couple of moves later the position was back level following 45.c5+?. The position remained complicated but balanced for a long time before Kramnik went completely wrong with 58.Kb1?! and 59.Rd1?? allowing Caruana to claim a vital win and take the tournament lead.

    Alexander Grischuk sacrificed a piece in a very sharp Semi-Slav against Ding Liren and got a large time advantage to boot. After 21.f4 Ding spent just 2 minutes over 21… gxf4 (21…h5 was best) which would have given Grischuk a decisive advantage had he played 22.Bh4 followed by Qg4. Rxf4 was played instead and the game eventually finished in a draw.

    Levon Aronian managed to get an edge with black against Sergey Karjakin in the sharp Vienna Variation. 13..Qb4! seemed to surprise Karjakin. Karjakin tried to bail out into a difficult ending but it was too far gone to defend.

    Shakhriyar Mamedyarov tried the Qc2 Nimzo-Indian against Wesley So but found his opponent very well prepared and very quickly the game reached sterile equality and a draw was agreed on move 31.

    Round 4 standings: 1at Caruana 3pts, 2nd Kramnik 2.5pts, 3rd Mamedyarov 2.5pts, 4th Aronian 2pts, 5th Grischuk Alexander 2pts, 6tn Ding Liren 2pts, 7th= Karjakin, Wesley So 1pt

    Round 5 Thursday 15th March 2pm GMT Aronian-Grischuk, Caruana-Karjakin, Wesley So-Kramnik, Ding Liren-Mamedyarov.

  • GAMMA Reykjavik Open 2018 – Games and Results
    The GAMMA Reykjavik Open (Bobby Fischer Memorial) took place 6th to 14th March 2018. Players: Rapport, Eljanov, Kamsky, Adhiban, Adly Ahmed, Erwin L’Ami, Gledura, etc. Adhiban won with 7.5/9 half a point clear of the field.
  • St Louis Spring Classic 2018 – Games and Results
    The St Louis Spring Classics took place 6th-14th March. Two Round Robins, players include: Onischuk, Bruzon, Shankland, Ipatov, Akobian, Ganguly, Xiong etc. Jeffery Xiong won the A-group with 6.5/9 and Victor Mikhalevski the B-group with 7/9.
  • Kramnik crushes Aronian to lead the Candidates on his own after 3 rounds – 3
    Vladimir Kramnik scored a very impressive victory against Levon Aronian in the third round of the FIDE Candidates tournament in Berlin. Aronian’s attempt to surprise Kramnik with 1.e4, a move he hardly ever uses, completely backfired. Kramnik had the opportunity to play a 2 year old idea (7…Rg8!) that left him at least equal and with huge attacking chances. Kramnik couldn’t remember much of the precise detail, only that 8…Nh5 was interesting. Aronian didn’t react at all well to this dangerous situation starting with 9.c3 (9.Nc3 was certainly stronger) and he kept missing key moves of his opponent, for instance 14…Qe7! and 18….f5!. In contrast Kramnik was thoroughly enjoying himself and also playing the best moves, sweeping Aronian aside in just 27 moves. Kramnik has started with 2.5/3, there’s a long way to go, but no-one has looked better so far. Aronian seems unsettled and this loss will have been extremely painful.

    Fabiano Caruana and Shakhriyar drew a very sharp and complicated Sicilian Najdorf. Mamedyarov took the very risky decision to grab a pawn with 22…Qxh2? which computers say could have been more or less refuted by 29.Rde1. After Caruana’s alternative 29.Nf7+ Mamedyarov had to give up the exchange but fought his way back to equality at move 40. The game continued to be tricky but was agreed drawn on move 49. They are still tied in second place half a point behind Kramnik.

    After losing his first two games Wesley So didn’t seem in the mood for for a third against Ding Liren. The Marshall was played, and So played solidly as white and they drew in 37 moves. Alexander Grischuk equalised quickly with black against Sergey Karjakin and the game was drawn on move 30.

    Round 3 Standings: 1st Kramnik 2.5pts, 2nd Mamedyarov, Caruana 2pts, 4th Ding Liren, Grischuk 1.5pts, 6th Karjakin, Aronian 1pt, 8th Wesley So 0.5pts

    Tuesday 13th March 2018 REST DAY.

    Round 4 Pairings 2pm GMT Wednesday 14th March 2018. Grischuk-Ding Liren, Mamedyarov-Wesley So, Kramnik-Caruana, Karjakin-Aronian.

  • PRO Chess League 2018 – Games and Results
    The PRO Chess League is a rapid chess tournament taking place on the website 18th January to 8th April 2018. 32 city based teams from throughout the world start in four groups. Play day is generally Wednesday. The first round was changed to fit in with Wijk aan Zee. There are four players per team and they play each member of the opposition once for a total of four games. The final four play in a decider on the weekend of 7th-8th April. Time control 15 minutes plus 2 seconds a move. Leading players: Magnus Carlsen, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, etc.

    Live video commentary on the website.

  • Grischuk beats So in Round 2 of the Berlin Candidates – 2
    The second day of the FIDE Candidates in Berlin was almost as hard fought as the first. This time there was just one decisive game, Alexander Grischuk defeated Wesley So who again got into major trouble early on and is the only player not on the scoreboard now.

    Grischuk played a Ruy Lopez with an early d3 and just as in the first round Wesley So was doing fine and close to equality. 17…Rfe8 was the start of a wrong plan, he was much worse after 19…Nxe4 completely underestimating white’s pressure on his kingside and he was completely lost after 22.Rc5 with Grischuk observing: ”I just said to myself: ‘I have all the pieces in attack and black defends with one bishop if there is no mate I just quit chess.’ I cannot believe there is a defence for black.” Even though Grischuk was in time pressure until move 40 his position was so good he could afford to be slightly inaccurate in realising his advantage.

    ”If you checkmate you don’t have to make it to move 40.” Grischuk.

    ”Once the rook got to g4 it’s very annoying. I just totally underestimated the rook lift, I thought he’d play Rf4 instead of Rg4.” Wesley So

    Ding Liren and Fabiano Caruana played a very interesting Catalan which became extremely sharp after an exchange sacrifice. Although Caruana had the initiative it remained close to equality and well played by both sides. It may be that Ding missed an opportunity with 42.Qe1 after first time control but both seemed happy with a draw by then.

    Vladimir Kramnik said he was happy to be on the white side of a Berlin Defence for a chance but for while he thought he had a large advantage at one stage it seems that this really wasn’t the case and Sergey Karjakin held a draw.

    Shakhriyar Mamedyarov didn’t seem too displeased to draw quickly with Lev Aronian after his long game in round 1. He didn’t get any advantage from the opening and the game finished in a repetition.

    Round 2 standings: 1st Kramnik 1.5pts, 2nd Mamedyarov 1.5pts, 3rd Caruana 1.5pts, 4th Grischuk 1pt, 5th Aronian 1pt, 5th Ding Liren 1pt, 7th Karjakin 0.5pts, 8th Wesley So 0pts.

    Round 3 pairings: Karjakin-Grischuk, Aronian-Kramnik, Caruana-Mamedyarov, Wesley So-Ding Liren

  • Sharp start to the FIDE Candidates tournament in Berlin – 1
    The FIDE Candidates tournament in Berlin started with a very hard fought first round and three of the four games finished decisively. Candidates tournaments don’t have to be cautious with lots of draws, hopefully this sets the tone.

    Levon Aronian obtained the advantage against Ding Liren but decided to take a draw by repetition rather than win material at the expense of murky complications. Wesley So equalised out of the opening against Fabiano Caruana but soon invited a sharp position that turned out not to be in his favour and his position soon collapsed. Vladimir Kramnik beat Alexander Grischuk in a heavy-weight struggle where after some adventures he took a clear endgame advantage and converted it. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov ground down Sergey Karjakin in a long Queen and Pawn endgame where his practical chances of winning were good.

    After the round there were various complaints about the venue from the players including noise. It will be interesting to see how these are resolved.

    Round 2 pairings 2pm GMT 11th March 2018: Grischuk-So, Ding Liren-Caruana, Mamedyarov-Aronian, Kramnik-Karjakin

    Round 1 Standings: Kramnik, Mamedyarov, Caruana 1pt. Ding Liren, Aronian 0.5pts. Grischuk, Karjakin, So 0pts

  • FIDE Candidates Tournament Pairings 2018 – Games and Results
    The pairings for the FIDE Candidates Tournament were published on February 9th rather than decided by a draw just before the start. This in part was no doubt so programmes could be printed. Also the draw pairs players from the same country together at the start of each cycle, ie rounds 1-3 and 9-11 for the Russian players Karjakin, Grischuk and Kramnik and 1 and 9 for So and Caruana.
  • FIDE Candidates Tournament 2018 – Games and Results
    The FIDE Candidates Tournament takes place in Berlin Sat 10th to 28th Mar 2018. Players: Vladimir Kramnik, Sergey Karjakin, Levon Aronian, Fabiano Caruana, Alexander Grischuk, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Liren Ding and Wesley So.

    The official live subscription broadcast with Judit Polgar and Yannick Pelletier commentating is at: My live page will have moves with a 5-10 minute delay..

  • Bundesliga 2017-18 – Games and Results
    The German Bundesliga takes place 21st October to 1st May 2018. Baden-Baden are defending champions and top seeds.
  • 5th Vugar Gashimov Memorial 2018 – Games and Results
    The 5th Vugar Gashimov Memorial takes place in Shamkir 19th to 28th April 2018. Players: Magnus Carlsen, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Vladimir Kramnik, Anish Giri, Ding Liren, Sergey Karjakin, Veselin Topalov, Teimour Radjabov, Rauf Mamedov plus one more.
  • 5th Altibox Norway Chess 2018 – Games and Results
    The 5th Altibox Norway Chess takes place May 27 – June 8 2018. The 10 player field is: Aronian, Anand, Carlsen, Mamedyarov, MVL, Caruana, Karjakin, Nakamura, Wesley So and Ding Liren.

Susan Polgar Chess Daily News and Information