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The Week in Chess

  • Caruana catches Carlsen by defeating him in Gashimov Memorial Round 4 – 4
    Magnus Carlsen was defeated by Fabiano Caruana in Round 4 of the Gashimov Memorial. Carlsen last lost 31 games ago, again against Caruana in June 2013 at the Tal Memorial. The game itself was not terribly special, Caruana improved with 13.Ne4 in a Berlin Defence over a previous game against Ponomariov, Carlsen just didn’t settle on a good setup, was obviously not happy with the way things were going and just dropped a pawn for no compensation. Caruana took his time to convert but Carlsen never looked like escaping. Carlsen said that he thought from the morning ”it’s a bad day” and he just seemed out of sorts. Caruana’s calculations throughout the game just seemed better than Carlsen’s. With five rounds a rest day and five rounds Carlsen wasn’t the only player who seemed in need of a day off.

    Sergey Karjakin was feeling the pace a little after some long games and played a sharp variation of the Caro-Kann he knew led to a dynamic draw with best play but hoped his opponent Shakhriyar Mamedyarov wouldn’t find his way through, he did and a quick but probably theoretically important, draw was agreed.

    Teimour Radjabov and Hikaru Nakamura played a complex Slav where Nakamura seemed to have almost equalised but the Rook ending whilst probably never more than drawn allowed his opponent to really make him work hard for quite a long time before the game ended in a draw.

    Round 4 standings: Caruana, Carlsen 2.5/4pts, Karjakin, Radjabov, Nakamura 2pts, Mamedyarov 1pts.

    Round 5 Pairings Thurs 25th April 2014: Mamedyarov-Caruana, Carlsen-Radjabov, Nakamura-Karjakin.

  • Nakamura wins Karjakin escapes in Gashimov Memorial Round 3 – 3
    Magnus Carlsen still leads the Gashimov Memorial by a point over the rest of the field but it could have been even better as he quickly gained the advantage with black against Sergey Karjakin. Hikaru Nakamura beat Shakhriyar Mamedayarov in a Caro-Kann where Mamedayarov equalised quite quickly but then got much too ambitious and was destroyed by almost perfect play from Nakamura. Teimour Radjabov hasn’t played a classical event in six months after a catastrophic post-Candidates 2012 run. This event is probably about regaining some confidence. Radjabov played a variation of the Gruenfeld well understood not to be dangerous for either side with best play and a draw was the result.

    Round 3 Standings: Carlsen 2.5pts, Karjakin, Caruana, Radjabov, Nakamura 1.5pts Mamedyarov 0.5pts

    Round 4 Pairings: Karjakin-Mamedyarov, Radjabov-Nakamura, Caruana-Carlsen.

  • Carlsen beats Nakamura for perfect 2/2 start in the Gashimov Memorial – gashmem14_2.pgn
    Magnus Carlsen turned the two white’s he started with into two points at the start of the Gashimov Memorial following a win against Hikaru Nakamura. Carlsen played for the tiniest of edges which he used to cause Nakamura some problems and the in subsequent time pressure Nakamura ”got it all wrong”. 17…Nd6 allowed Carlsen to pin the knight with 18.Ba3 which needed addressing and 18…f5 weakened the kingside, neither necessarily errors but they did give Carlsen something to work with. 21.Qf3 encouraged Nakamura to give up the centre. Nakamura thought 30…e5 was an improvement and highlighted 33…Nb6 as the losing error. Nakamura had hoped that white’s rook would get trapped on the kingside but when it didn’t and a second pawn fell it was only a matter of time before Carlsen converted. Another fine performance by Carlsen and his nineth win against Nakamura without reply.

    The other games were tame affairs leaving the stage open for this game of the day. Much of the post-game press conference centred on some rather inelegant postures Carlsen struck during the fifth hour. The post-game press conference was a rather tense affair but the players conversed in a polite manner. Carlsen was happy with his start but wouldn’t entertain discussions of scoring 9/10 to go over 2900 because it pretty much isn’t going to happen.

    Round 2 Standings: Carlsen 2pts, Karjakin, Caruana, Radjabov 1pt, Nakamura, Mamedyarov 0.5pts.

    Round 3 Pairings: 11am BST 12pm CSET Tues 22nd April: Nakamura-Mamedyarov, Karjakin-Carlsen, Radjabov-Caruana.

  • Carlsen starts Gashimov Memorial with a routine win against Mamedyarov – 1
    Magnus Carlsen started the Gashimov Memorial with a fine positional win against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Carlsen has the white pieces in the first two rounds so it was important that he at least secured one win with these, he did this in a way that made it look easy. Carlsen meets Hikaru Nakamura in round 2 who had a lucky escape against Fabiano Caruana after first time control. Sergey Karjakin was surprised by Teimour Radjabov in a French Defence (an old favourite) and both players seemed somewhat at sea. It is hard to believe Karjakin’s choice to go into the endgame rather than keep the queens on was correct. All the games in the very strong B-Group were drawn.

    Round 1 Standings: Carlsen 1pt, Caruana, Nakamura, Karjakin and Radjabov 0.5pts and Mamedyarov 0 pts.

    Round 2 Monday 21st April: Mamedyarov-Radjabov, Caruana-Karjakin, Carlsen-Nakamura.

  • Vugar Gashimov Memorial 2014 – Games and Results
    The Vugar Gashimov Memorial takes place in Shamkir, Azerbaijan Sunday 20th (round 1) to 30th April. Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Sergey Karjakin, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Teimour Radjabov in the top event. The B-tournament is also very strong: Bacrot, Wojtaszek, Motylev, Wang Hao, Guseinov, Mamedov, Safarli, Durarbayli Abasov and Eljanov.

    Round 1 Sun 11am BST: Carlsen-Mamedyarov, Nakamura-Caruana and Karjakin-Radjabov.

  • 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 10 Pairings Sun: Kosteniuk-Muminova, Stefanova-Lagno, Ushenina-Dzagnidze, Zhao Xue-Batchimeg, Girya-Kosintseva,T, Muzychuk-Hou Yifan. Games and results.
  • 13th Asian Continental 2014 – Games and Results
    The 13th Asian Continental Chess Championship takes place in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. 64 men and 32 women players from 21 countries compete. Rustam Top seed is Bu Xiangzhi of China (2699) and compatriot Tan Zhongyi in the women’s (2488). Other well known names Rustam Kasimdzhanov, Negi Parimarjan, Irene Sukandar etc The event is taking place in the plush Sharjah Chess and Cultural Club. The tournament is a 9-round Swiss with $65,000 in cash prizes. The top five players in the Open qualify to the World Cup while the women’s champion advances to the Women’s World Championship.
  • 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.