2007/04/30

Another “Immortal”... from Belgium!

Vladimir Kramnik finally won his rapid match against Hungarian Peter Leko (4.5-3.5) and I’m sure he is now ready to beat Armenian Levon Aronian too. It was a really tough battle for the World champion in Miskolc: he won games 3 and 5, then lost 6; in the 8th and last game Leko won the exchange, but Vlad easily found the way to get equal chances and a draw was soon agreed. Official site: http://www.lekokramnyik.hu/eng/.
Indian WGM Subbaraman Vijayalakshmi is still leading in Cutro (Italy) with one round to go. After winning the first 4 games, she drew with GMs Drasko and Blagojevic and lost to GM Rotstein; today she finally won again, against GM Djuric: she has 6 points out of 8 and tomorrow she will face German IM Roder in the last round: I think (but am not sure) a draw is enough for her to get a GM norm. Official site: http://scacchicutro.no-ip.info.
I told you the chapter about “Immortals” has not ended yet… And here is a very nice game won by Filip Van Dorpe, a Belgian reader of Midaschess Corner. His “Immortal”. To be honest, he didn’t want me to publish that at first. He sent an e-mail to me, just asking for an opinion, and added: “No need to post this game at all! Really! It's probably of too low quality anyway (my opponent did a few really bad moves). Just saw your post on your blog and thought to myself: "yea, I have this 1 'immortal' game of my own”.
After watching the game, anyway, I asked him why not to share it with all other readers: he was rated 1500 when he played it, but I think this is a master-class victory! Congratulations, Filip! And now I call upon mr. Van Dorpe to speak :-)
“I am not a master, not even an expert. But I have one game I played a few years ago that will stay in my memory forever! :) It was a very important game for me. In our club championship we had three C-class divisions. The 3 winners of these 3 groups would play a finale match of 2 games round robin (one game with White and one with Black). This was the first game of that 3-winners match... (eventually I won that finals too :) hehe).
My opponent was rated about 200 points higher than me. This made the victory even sweeter :) And he resigned the finals immediatly after this game... :S He must have been in shock... Perhaps if you check this game with a computer, it may have many flaws... But for me some moves were really unforgettable! :) (like the manouvre Re1-Nbd2-Nf1-N1h2-Ng4; and overprotecting e5 with rook, two knights, and bishop... I bet Nimzo would have loved this ;) eheh). Also memorable is of course the move Nxe6 and the exchange sacrifice at the end that won his Queen :) Good memories... :D”
.

Van Dorpe, F (1509) – Van Loocke, B (1750) [A05], Ghent – Belgium 13.07.2004
1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. O-O O-O 5. d3 e6 6. e4 d5 7. e5 Nfd7 8. d4 c5 9. c3 Nc6 10. Re1 b5 11. h4 h6 12. Nbd2
This is a theoretical position, often arising from French defence – I mean the 1.e4 e6 2.d3 d5 line.
12...Qb6
Perhaps this move is a tempo waste. After 12…b4 13.Nf1 Ba6 14.N1h2 bxc3 15.bxc3 Qa5 16.Bd2 Qa3 17. h5 cxd4 18.cxd4 g5 19.Re3 Qe7 Black has nothing to be afraid of.
13. Nf1 c4?
And this is a mistake. Black must keep a tense situation in the center: by pushing this pawn he only helps his opponent in putting on an attack on the King side, having no counterplay in return for that.
14. Bf4 b4 15. Qd2 Kh7 16. N1h2 Rb8 17. Ng4 h5 18. Nf6+! Bxf6
The exchange sacrifice by 18…Nxf6 19.exf6 Bxf6 20.Bxb8 Qxb8 would have been an interesting alternative.
19. exf6 Rb7
Better is 19…Nxf6, even if after 20.Bd6! Bd7 (or 20…Kg7) 21.Qf4 White has more than a slight advantage.
20. Be5?!
Stronger was 20.Bh6, with the idea Bg7, Qh6 and then mate.
20...Rh8 21. Ng5+ Kg8 22. Nxe6!?
The more combinative continuation at this point, even if it doesn’t force anything. 22.Bh3 was a good alternative.
22...Ndxe5?
The last mistake: 22…Ncxe5 23.Ng5 bxc3 24.bxc3 Nf3+ 25.Bxf3 Nxf6 was a more stubborn defence.
23. Ng5 Nd7
The alternative 23…Be6 24.dxe5 bxc3 25.bxc3 was a bit better.
24. Re8+ Nf8 25. Rxc8 Rd7 26. Re1 Nd8 27. Re7 Qxf6 28. Rxd7 Nxd7 29. Bxd5
Black has no hope of surviving in this position.
29...Nb6?
The only move was 29…Kg7. Now Black loses his Queen.
30. Rxd8+! Qxd8 31. Bxf7+ Kg7 32. Ne6+ Kxf7 33. Nxd8+ Rxd8 34. Qf4+ Ke7 35. Qg5+ 1-0
“As I said: this might not be a brilliant game (maybe the opponent helped me too much!?) but historically this was an important game for me :) and an unforgettable one too! :))
Greets from Belgium,
Filip Van Dorpe”
.
Well, Filip, don’t worry: this game is brilliant enough to be considered an “Immortal”. At least in my opinion :-). Thanks for sharing your memory! All readers who want their “Immortal” to be published on this Blog, or would just like to have my opinion, can send an e-mail to dario@strababos.it!

2007/04/29

A sweet memory: my "Immortal" game

It finally arrived! I mean the book were my own “Immortal” is published (the only book, as far as I know): “Unusual Queen’s Gambit declined” by GM Chris Ward (Everyman Chess, 2002). First of all, let’s define what an “Immortal” is. I think such a definition can be given to a game where a brilliant combination is played by the winner to outplay his opponent, but also to a particularly memorable victory. It’s my opinion that every player has (or will have) his or her “Immortal”. Perhaps it is not the best game you have ever played, but just one to remember. And that’s enough. The game I’m going to show was played in 1996, when I was a 21 y.o. (strong) candidate master, without Fide rating but with more fighting spirit than now. Two years later I became Fide master, in 2001 I almost quit competitive chess :-(. I often play gambits (and my advice to everyone is: play sharp openings if you want to improve your tactical skill!) and I loved Alekhine’s, Tal’s, Fischer’s and Kasparov’s styles.
The most famous “Immortal” is Anderssen-Kieseritzky, London 1851 (just a friendly game!). Black could have forced White to fight for a draw by playing a correct move order, but in the Romantic period you had to accept all your opponent’s sacrifices as soon as possible if you wanted to keep your honour intact :-). By the way, even Kasparov’s “Immortal” (see yesterday’s post) contains some mistakes. So we can deduce that an “Immortal” is not necessarily a perfect game. And the game I played in Bratto (Italy) against German master Hans Dinser is all but perfect and I don’t think it is my best game (“I haven’t played my best game yet” – do you remember what Kasparov said?). It is quite nice anyway and I think it is one of my sweetest chess memories :-). You can also replay this game at http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1270253, where a debate has been opened on it: the main point of the discussion is that I didn’t find the way to force a quicker win :-).

Dinser, H. – Mione, D. [D09], Bratto 23.08.1996
1. d4 d5 2. c4 e5 3. dxe5 d4 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. g3 Bf5 6. Bg2 Qd7 7. O-O O-O-O
Another game won by an Italian player is published on Ward’s book and it went on with 7…Bh3 8. a3 h5 9. b4 Bxg2 10. Kxg2 O-O-O 11. b5 Nce7 12. h4 Ng6 13. Qd3 Nh6 14. e3 Qg4! 15. exd4 Nf5 16. Bg5 Be7 17. Qd2 Bxg5 18. Nxg5 Rxd4 19. Qc1 Ngxh4+ 20. Kh1 Nf3 0-1 (Bellon Lopez-Cirabisi, Genova 1989).
8. a3
“Some alternatives seen in practical play are: a) 8. Qa4 (etc.); b) 8. Qb3 (etc.) ; c) 8. Nbd2 (etc.)”. (Ward)
8…f6
“Certainly not the first time we've seen the pawn sacrifice confirmed in this manner, although this game introduces some new features. Again 8...Bh3 is possible (with White having the option of returning the pawn for a tempo with 9.e6) whilst 8...d3 is another idea available in the ...Bf5 lines. That said, I prefer White's position after 9. exd3 Bxd3 10. Re1 Bxc4 11. Qa4” (Ward).
To be honest, I don’t know if I had introduced new features. I had a book, “Albin Counter-gambit” (I don’t remember the author, nor the publisher), and I saw this line on it: it just looked interesting to me.

9. exf6 Nxf6 10. Nbd2 Bh3 11. b4 Bxg2 12. Kxg2 g5 (!? – Ward).
“You may wonder what's going on here; I know I am! Of course the likes of Fritz want to grab this pawn too but obviously humans have a tendancy to be a little more cautious” (Ward).
13. b5?
It seems to be a novelty. And a bad one. Grabbing the pawn is possible and I think it is the best continuation for White, even if Black has a good counterplay, e.g.: 13.Nxg5 h5 14. h4 Ne5 15. Qb3 d3 16. e4 Ng6 17. Ndf3 Bh6 18. Bb2? Bxg5 19. Nxg5 Nxh4+! 20. Kh2 Ng4+ 21. Kh1 Rdg8! 22. gxh4? Rxg5! 23. f4? Nf2+! 24. Rxf2 Qh3+ 0-1 (Thystrup-Keith, corr. 1990). I think this was the game reported on my old book as an example of the 5…Bf5 line.
13…g4 (! – Ward)
“Black’s point. Now 14. bxc6 Qxc6 leaves White a little tied up although the game continuation is no improvement and turns very sour very quickly!” (Ward).

14. Nh4 Ne5
“A far more attractive square for the knight than a5 (which is where it might have found itself without g-pawn interference” (Ward).
15. Qb3 Ng6 (! – Ward)
“Black wants to prise open the h-file and you’ll soon see why” (Ward).

16. Nxg6 hxg6 17. Rh1
“To my mind this is slightly premature although h2 is an obvious target” (Ward).
17…d3?!
This move looks strong, but I think it is a mistake. After 17…Qe6 Black has at least an equal game.
18. e3?
“Black wanted to utilise the d-file to aid in an attack and doesn’t intend trading queens. 18. exd3 Qf5, for example, looks very powerful but having a pawn lodged on d3 is also very restrictive for White here” (Ward).
Obviously the text move is a mistake. After 18. Qxd3 I would have probably played 18… Qf7, with this possible continuation: 19. Qc2 Bc5 and Black has some pressure in return for the two pawns.

18…Qf5 19. Bb2 Ne4 (! – Ward)
“The rook on h8 can’t be taken because of the mate on f2” (Ward).

20. Nxe4 Qxe4+ 21. Kg1 Rh3?!
Perhaps 21…Rh5 was even stronger.
22. Bd4?
The only way to avoid mate was 22.Bf6, with the idea: 22…Rd7 23. c5 Rdh7 24. Bh4 g5 25. Qg8 and White holds on.
22…Rd7
“The other rook sets about making its way to the h-file and you’ll soon see the devastation its arrival brings” (Ward).
23. Rd1?
Again 23. Bf6 was the only chance to survive, even if after 23…Rdh7 24. Bh4 g5 White is lost anyway. That’s why 22. Bd4 is a tempo wasting.
23…Rdh7
As someone has pointed out on the “Chessgames.com” kibitzer’s corner, the earlier sacrifice “is valid and a far more beautiful finish”: 23…Qxh1+ 24. Kxh1 Rdh7 25. Bxa7 Rxh2+ 26. Kg1 Rh1+ 27. Kg2 R7h2#. Unfortunately I missed this opportunity :-(
24. Qxd3
“Apparently falling in with Black’s plans, although the fact is that there isn’t even anything resembling an adequate defence available” (Ward).
“Patzer 2” writes: “Fritz 8 gives 24. f3 Qxf3 25. Bd5 [if 25. Rd2 or 25. Qb2, then 25...Rxg3+ mates on black's next move] 25...Qxh1+ 26. Kxh1 Rxh2+ 27. Kg1 Rh1+ 28. Kg2 [or 28. Kf2] 28...R7h2#. However, the difference is not significant”.

24…Qxh1+ (!! – Ward) 0-1
“The two black rooks combine to deliver mate on the h-file” (Ward).
Black has a forced mate now: 25. Kxh1 Rxh2+ 26. Kg1 Rh1+ 27. Kg2 R7h2#.

Well, many thanks to Chris Ward for publishing this game on his book. And what’s about yout “Immortals”? Feel free to send them to dario@strababos.it: this chapter hasn’t ended yet :-).

2007/04/27

Topalov, frequent victim of "K" brilliancies

Veselin Topalov seems to be the kind of player who makes his opponents playing brilliantly. Both Kramnik and Kasparov have won really beautiful duels against the Bulgarian: Vlad has even indicated his victory against Topalov in Monte Carlo, four years ago, as the best game he has played up to now (see http://www.lekokramnyik.hu/eng/ and click on “Players”). It’s really curious that this was a rapid blindfold challenge. About Garry, do you remember the game Kasparov-Topalov, Wijk aan Zee 1999? A really amazing victory by the Russian and former world champion, even if he said, after that: “I haven’t played my best game yet” (or something similar).
Well, here are the two games.

Kramnik,V -Topalov,V [B82], Monte Carlo (blindfold) 2003
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Be3 Nf6 7.f4 a6 8.Qf3 Qc7 9.0-0-0 Bd7 10.Nb3 Rc8 11.Kb1 b5 12.Bd3 Nb4 13.g4 Bc6 14.g5 Nd7
After 14...Nxe4!? 15.Bxe4 d5 16.g6!! hxg6 (16...dxe4 17.Qh3!) 17.Bxg6 d4 (17...fxg6 18.Nd4) 18.Qg4 White has a terrible attack.
15.Qf2 g6 16.Rhf1 Bg7 17.f5 Ne5 18.Bb6 Qd7 19.Be2! Qb7 20.Na5
White doesn't want to allow his opponent to castle.
20...Qb8 21.f6 Bf8 22.a3 Nxc2 23.Kxc2 Bxe4+ 24.Kb3 Ba8 25.Ba7 Qc7 26.Qb6 Qxb6 27.Bxb6 h6
After 27...Nd7 28.Bf2 h6 29.h4 d5 30.a4 White is better, but the game might have lasted much longer.
28.Nxb5! Kd7 29.Bd4 Bd5+ 30.Ka4 axb5+ 31.Bxb5+ Bc6
The best try was 31...Nc6, but White is winning anyway: 32.Bb6 Rb8 33.Rxd5 Bxb6 34.Nc4! Rb8 35.Ne5+ Kc7 36.Nxc6! Ra8+ 37.Na5 exd5 38.Rc1+ Kb8 39.Bd7 hxg5 40.Kb5 Bh6 41.Bg4! +-
32.Bxe5! Bxb5+ 33.Kxb5 Rc5+ 34.Kb6 Rxe5 35.Rc1 Rxa5 36.Rc7+! Kd8 37.Rfc1 Rc5 38.R1xc5 dxc5 39.Kc6!! 1-0
A very beautiful study-like position. Well, this is a pretty nice game, but I can’t believe it is the best Vlad has ever played…
And now here is Garry’s victory.

Kasparov,G – Topalov,V [B06], Wijk aan Zee 1999
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Be3 Bg7 5.Qd2 c6 6.f3 b5 7.Nge2 Nbd7 8.Bh6 Bxh6 9.Qxh6 Bb7 10.a3 e5 11.O-O-O Qe7 12.Kb1 a6 13.Nc1 O-O-O 14.Nb3 exd4 15.Rxd4 c5 16.Rd1 Nb6 17.g3 Kb8 18.Na5 Ba8 19.Bh3 d5! 20.Qf4+ Ka7 21.Rhe1 d4 22.Nd5 Nbxd5 23.exd5 Qd6 24.Rxd4!! cxd4?
The losing move. Black can equalize the position by 24...Kb6! (Kasparov) 25.Nb3 Bxd5.
25.Re7+!!
The key move.
25...Kb6
Even worst were 25...Qxe7?? 26.Qxd4+ Kb8 27.Qb6+ Bb7 28.Nc6+ Ka8 29.Qa7# and 25...Kb8? 26.Qxd4 Nd7 27.Bxd7 Bxd5 28.c4! Qxe7 29.Qb6+ Ka8 30.Qxa6+ Kb8 31.Qb6+ Ka8 32.Bc6+ Bxc6 33.Nxc6 Rd7 34.Nxe7 Rxe7 35.Qxb5 and White is winning.
26.Qxd4+ Kxa5
A forced move: 26...Qc5? 27.Qxf6+ Qd6 28.Qd4+ Qc5 29.Qf6+ Qd6 30.Be6!! +-
27.b4+ Ka4 28.Qc3
Much more stronger looked 28.Ra7!!
28...Qxd5 29.Ra7 Bb7 30.Rxb7 Qc4?
More stubborn was 30…Rhe8.
31.Qxf6 Kxa3?!
Black must play: 31...Rd1+, even if 32.Kb2 Ra8 33.Qb6 Qd4+ 34.Qxd4 Rxd4 35.Rxf7 White has very good winning chances.
32.Qxa6+ Kxb4 33.c3+!! Kxc3
After 33...Kb3? 34.Qb2+ Kxc3 35.Qb2+ Kd3 36.Bf1+ White wins easily.
34.Qa1+ Kd2 35.Qb2+ Kd1 36.Bf1!! Rd2 37.Rd7!! Rxd7 38.Bxc4 bxc4 39.Qxh8 Rd3 40.Qa8 c3 41.Qa4+ Ke1 42.f4 f5 43.Kc1! Rd2 44.Qa7! 1-0
A really fantastic combination. This games has been christened “Kasparov’s immortal”.

2007/04/26

A female "terminator" in Cutro (Italy)

No surprises. Ivan Cheparinov and Magnus Carlsen won Sigeman & Co. and Gausdal Classics respectively: they both finished undefeated with 7 points out of 9. Three players shared second place at 5.5 in each tournament: Dutch Jan Timman and Swedish Tiger Hillarp Persson and Emanuel Berg in Malmo (http://www.sigeman-chess.com/), Lituanian Eduardas Rozentalis, Hungarian Lajos Portisch and Polish Michal Krasenkow in the Norwegian event (http://www.bergensjakk.no/gausdal/classics2007/). So two young players, 20 and 16 years old, succeed in outclassing the old generation, well represented by Timman (former World championship runner up, born in 1951) and Portisch (one of the best players in the ’70 and ’80, born in 1937).
A nice surprise, instead, comes from Cutro Festival, Italy. Indian WGM Subbaraman Vijayalakshmi leads the main open group with a perfect score after round 4: up to now she has beaten Russian GM Igor Naumkin, Ukrainian GM Sergei Krivoshey and Elo favourite GM Evgenij Agrest from Sweden. Vijayalakshmi, 28 y.o., is ranked only eleventh in the tournament, but she seems really resolute to obtain the first place and a GM norm. Tomorrow she will face (with White pieces) GM Milan Drasko from Montenegro: another tough battle or a short draw? Live top games on the officiale site: http://scacchicutro.no-ip.info.
Vladimir Kramnik has finally took the lead in his rapid match against Peter Leko, which is taking place in Miskolc (Hungary). After two draws, the World champion won the third game, then another draw came: the result is now 2.5-1.5 in Vlad’s favour with 4 more games to be played. Official site: http://www.lekokramnyik.hu/eng/.
Only three days ago I made a list of the many matches already planned for the next month. Now I have to add another one: a two games blitz duel will be played in Porto Vecchio (south of Corsica), on May 18, between Azeri GM Teimour Radjabov and Norwegian GM Magnus Carlsen. The so called “Match of the hopes” comes after last year “Match of the Legends”, which opposed former world champions Anatoly Karpov and Boris Spassky. The rate of play is 10 mins + 3 secs increment per move (if the scores are level, more tie-break blitz games shall be played). Details on www.corse-echecs.com/porto-vecchio/porto_vecchio2007.html. Live games: http://www.echecs.asso.fr/.
I’m still waiting for the book on which my “Immortal” game is published, extensively commented by a (quite) famous chess Author and English GM. I bought it on Amazon.com two weeks ago, but Italian delivery of mail is well known for its delays, so I’m afraid I will have to wait for it some more days :-(
I’m also waiting for your suggestions about questions I should ask to Kasparov next June. You can post them in News comments or send an email to dario@strababos.it. There’s a lot of time, anyway, so you can think hard on this matter without any hurry.
And now here is the win by Kramnik against Leko in the third game of their rapid match.

Kramnik,V (2772)-Leko,P (2738) [E15], Miskolc 26.04.2007
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Ba6 5. b3 Bb4+ 6. Bd2 Be7 7. Bg2 c6 8. Bc3 d5 9. Ne5 Nfd7 10. Nxd7 Nxd7 11. Nd2 O-O 12. O-O Rc8 13. e4 c5 14. exd5 exd5 15. dxc5 dxc4 16. c6 cxb3 17. Re1 b2 18. Bxb2 Nc5 19. Nc4 Bxc4 20. Qg4 Bg5 21. Qxc4 Nd3 22. Be5 Nxe1 23. Rxe1 Bf6 24. Bxf6 Qxf6 25. c7 Qd6 26. Rc1 b5 27. Qc2
I was sure I had already seen this position in another recent game, and I finally found it. The game is Radjabov-Aronian, Monte Carlo (Blindfold) 2007.
27…b4
Armenian superGM played 27…g6, but after 28. Bb7 a5 29. Qc5 Qxc5 30. Rxc5 b4 31. Kf1 Rfe8 32. Bxc8 Rxc8 33. Ke2 Kf8 34. Kd3 a4 35. Rc4 b3 36. a3 Ke7 37. Kc3 g5 38. Rxa4 Rxc7+ 39. Kxb3 he reached a very difficult endgame and resigned on move 69.
28. Bb7 g6 29. h4 Rfe8?
This seems to be a mistake. The day after his loss to Radjabov, Aronian improved his play by h5 30. Kf1 a5 31. Qc5 Qxc5 32. Rxc5 a4 33. Ke2 b3 34. axb3 axb3 35. Kd3 Rfe8 36. Kc3 Kf8 37. Kxb3 Ke7 38. Kc4 Kd6 39. Bxc8 Rxc8 40. f4 Rxc7 41. Rxc7 Kxc7 42. Kd5 Kd7 43. f5 Ke7 44. Ke5 f6+ 45. Kf4 gxf5 46. Kxf5 Kf7 and here a draw was agreed, Ivanchuk-Aronian, Monte Carlo (Rapid) 2007
30. Qa4! Qd2 31. Qc6 a5 32. Bxc8 Rxc8 33. Kg2 Kg7 34. Rc2 Qd3
Better was 34….Qd4
35. Rc5 a4 36. Qxa4 Qe4+ 37. Kh2 Qd4 38. Qc2 h5 39. Kg2 Qd6 40. Qb2+ f6 41. Qc2 Kf7 42. Qc4+ Kg7 43. Rc6 Qd7 44. Qc5 Kf7 1-0
After 45.Rd6! Qxc7 46.Qd5+ Black is completely lost.

2007/04/25

Ask your questions to Kasparov!

Had you the chance to pose a question to Garry Kasparov, what would you ask? Russian opposition leader and former chess world champion will come to Milan in two months: he will be one of the 100 guests of “La Milanesiana”, a great cultural event to be held in the main city of Northern Italy. Seven Nobel prize and two Pulitzer winners are also awaited. Kasparov will take part in a discussion about “Competitions” at Dal Verme Theater (2, San Giovanni sul Muro street) on June 30 (start at 9 p.m.) and will be the special guest of an “Aperitif with the author” at Sala Buzzati (3, Balzan street) the next day (start at 12 a.m.). I obviously will go to Milan for those two events: it is just 40 minutes by car from Bergamo, where I live. I hope I will have the chance to ask some questions to Garry: I will try to pose the most interesting among those suggested by you. I already have some ideas, anyway :-)
Today the Italian rapid championship was played in Arvier, Aosta Valley. Surprise winner was candidate master Dario Pedini from Fano (but living in Milan), who scored 8 points out of 9; GM and Elo favourite Michele Godena placed second, IM Sabino Brunello third. 110 players competed in the event. Official site www.scacchivda.com; final full standings are not available yet :-(
Bulgarian GM Ivan Cheparinov has already won the 15th Sigeman & Co. tournament, which will end tomorrow in Malmo (Sweden). Cheparinov leads by one point and a half (undefeated) with only one round to go: whatever will be the result of his last game against Dutch GM Jan Timman, he is the winner of the competition (official site: http://www.sigeman-chess.com/). Cheparinov is well known for being Topalov’s second (with whom he share the manager, Silvio Danailov) since 2005, but he is a strong GM himself, as this and other results confirm. Born on November 20, 1986, in Asenovgrad (Bulgaria), Cheparinov started playing chess at the age of 5. Seven years later he won the junior chess title of Bulgaria. In 2000 he claimed the third place on Wijk an Zee, working up the IM norm, then in 2004 he became national champion of Bulgaria and received the GM status in October the same year. On the April 2007 list Cheparinov reached his highest rating: with a 2646 Elo he is currently 64th in the world. In the recent Euro champ he placed fifth after tie breaks, sharing the first place with 8 points after the 11 “regular” rounds.
His win over Greek GM Vasilios Kotronias in the Sigeman & Co. tourney is a tipical example of his sharp style (quite similar to Topalov’s).

Cheparinov, I (2646)-Kotronias,V (2570) [B65], Malmo 23.04.2007
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 Be7 8. O-O-O O-O 9. f4 Nxd4 10. Qxd4 Qa5 11. e5 dxe5 12. Qxe5 b5 13. Rd3 Ng4 14. Qe4 f6 15. Rh3 g6 16. Qxa8 fxg5 17. Bxb5 Nf2 18. Nd5 exd5 19. Qxd5+ Kh8 20. fxg5 Qb4 21. Qe5+ Kg8 22. Rc3 Ng4 23. Qd5+ Kg7 24. Rc4 Qd6 25. Qxd6 Bxd6 26. Ra4 Bc5 27. Rf1 Bf5 28. Rc4 Be3+ 29. Kb1 Bxg5 30. Rc7+ Kh8 31. Bd3 Nxh2 32. Rh1 Bxd3 33. cxd3 h5 34. Rxa7 Nf1 35. a4 Rf4 36. a5 Nd2+ 37. Kc2 Rf2 38. a6 Be3 39. Ra8+ Kg7 40. a7 Nc4+ 41. Kb3 Nb6 42. Rb8 1-0

2007/04/24

Magnus, the prodigy is still at his best

After Morelia/Linares supertournament Vishy Anand said: “Carlsen? I, like most, consider him a great talent. I think it's almost impossible to believe he won't be world champion some day. Although he still has weaknesses - like everyone, not just him - his performance here has demonstrated what we already suspected for a while now. And he might have finished in clear second”.
Magnus was born on November 30, 1990, and lives in Lommedalen, Bærum, near Norway’s capital, Oslo. He played his first tournament at the age of eight and was coached at the Norwegian Sports Gymnasium led by GM Simen Agdestein. Agdestein put his civil worker and master player Torbjørn Ringdahl-Hansen, currently a FIDE master with a 2340 rating, as his coach and they had one training session every week, together with one of Magnus’ close friends. The young prodigy was given a year off from elementary school to participate in international chess tournaments during the fall season of 2003. A few months later he came to international attention after winning the C group of the Corus Chess Tournament at the age of thirteen (he won the B group of the same tournament two years later at 15). The game Carlsen-Ernst, played in this event, has become famous for the brilliant combination Magnus invented to completely outplay his opponent (you can watch this game at http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1272702).
Carlsen is now one of the best players of the world. He has a rating of 2693, making him Norway’s number 1, World Juniors’ number 2 and World’s number 22. He has a Blog, frequently updated by his father Henrik, since January: the address is http://blog.magnuschess.com/. At the Gausdal chess classic, which is taking place in the famous high mountain hotel in Norway, Magnus crushed Hungarian GM Lajos Portisch, a very experienced player, in the seventh round, and he now leads the field with 5.5 points out of 7 with two rounds to go (official site: http://www.bergensjakk.no/gausdal/classics2007/). Here is the game.

Carlsen,M (2693)-Portisch,L (2512) [E04], Gausdal 24.04.2007
1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. g3 dxc4 5. Bg2 Nbd7 6. O-O Rb8 7. Qc2 b5 8. b3 cxb3 9. axb3 a6 10. Ne5 Nxe5 11. dxe5 Nd5 12. Rd1 Qe7 13. Nc3 Qc5 14. Rxd5 exd5 15. b4 Qxb4 16. Ba3 Qg4 17. Bxf8 Kxf8 18. Nxd5 Qc4 19. Qd2 Be6 20. Rc1 Qb3 21. Nxc7 Kg8 22. Qd6 Rc8 23. Bb7 h6 24. Bxc8 Bxc8 25. Nxb5 axb5 26. Rxc8+ Kh7 27. Rc1 Re8 28. Kg2 Kg8 29. Rc5 Qa2 30. Qc6 1-0

Before the Italian team championship the sicilian town of Palermo hosted a two days event with Spanish GM Francisco Vallejo Pons, who then played for Il Massimo team (which placed second). Vallejo gave a “GM lesson” and a simul exhibition on April 19; the day before he played a blindfold game against Italian master Riccardo Gueci, the blindfold simul record-man in Italy (10 games with 9 victories and 1 draw). Vallejo won on time at move 37, when he had a better position, but not a decisive advantage. You can watch the game on MS Blog at this address: http://www.messaggeroscacchi.it/dblog/articolo.asp?articolo=41. Pictures from this event at www.centroscacchi.it (the title of the news is “Concluse le Manifestazioni collaterali alla serie Master”: just click on “clicca per le foto” and “vedi le foto” to see the images).

2007/04/23

Epic (?) duels for all tastes

How many matches! Leko-Kramnik, Aronian-Kramnik, Junior-Fritz and the Fide Candidates, but there could be some others. Well, the first clash to start will be a rematch of the Classical World championship challenge, which took place three years ago in Brissago (Switzerland) with a 7-7 final result. Hungarian Peter Leko will face the day after tomorrow to April 29 the Fide champion Vladimir Kramnik in 8 rapid games; venue of the duel is the National Theatre of Miskolc. This is the third challenge between the two superGMs: Kramnik won a 12 games rapid match in 2001 (7-5), then in 2004 they played in Brissago. Official site: http://www.lekokramnyik.hu/.
Some days later after the end of this duel, Kramnik will flight to Yerevan, Armenia, where he will play World Cup holder Levon Aronian in May 4 to 6. Two games will be played each day. The time control will be 25 minutes for the whole game with an increment of 10 seconds per move. The match is organised by the Armenian Chess Federation. Official site: http://www.aroniankramnik2007.am/.
We can't forget about the 2007 Fide Candidates matches, which will take place in Elista (Russia), 27 May - 13 June. Official site is to be announced yet, but the first round pairings are known: Aronian-Carlsen, Leko-M. Gurevich, Ponomariov-Rublevsky, Gelfand-Kasimdzhanov, Bacrot-Kamsky, Grischuk-Malakhov, J. Polgar-Bareev and Shirov-Adams. It looks really hard to predict who will succeed in qualifying for the Mexico city competition. I would say Aronian, Leko, Grischuk (or Ponomariov) and Kamsky (or Gelfand), but I think all can happen.
Finally we have the Deep Fritz-Deep Junior duel. Deep Fritz won the 2006 match against the (human) world champion Vladimir Kramnik, Deep Junior is the current computer chess world champion. The rate of play is 75 minutes for the game + 5 sec per move. Arbiter is IM David Levy, President of the ICGA (International Computer Games Association). I don’t know who cares about this electronic brains clash, and I don’t understand why Fide and Ilyumzhinov sponsor this event by giving a 100.000 $ prize fund. I think Fide can spend this money in a better way. And you?
Some details about Anand’s simul on the ICC are finally available on the www.hindu.com site. Arvind Aaron reports: “In a three hour battle, World number 1 Vishy Anand saved a couple of difficult games towards the end to turn around and win 17 games, draw 1 and lose 1 game in the Anand v The World, Vidya Sagar Charity Simultaneous Display held on April 21 at the Internet Chess Club. Anand took on 19 players at the same time from four continents spread across eight nations, from various time zones as Hong Kong in the East to California in the West, in a classical chess game from his home at Collado Mediano near Madrid in Spain. Speaking to The Hindu, Anand said the best preparation before playing such a demanding display was good sleep and rest and he had it. “Both ‘Bluesette’ (real name Marc Lacrosse of Belgium) and ‘Knight Gold’ (Dr Alain Authier from Quebec, Canada) played well, and I managed to recover against Shanbhag and win”, said Anand. Bluesette won a nice ending after Anand admitted that he overlooked a rook manoeuvre by his opponent. Knight Gold took a draw by repetition. The ICC confirmed that $5,408 (about Rs. 2.25 lakhs) was raised for VidyaSagar, Chennai from last night's Charity Simul. The highest bidder paid $501”. Games are available at http://www.chessclub.com/resources/event/anand07/.
A strong tourney has started today in Cutro, Italy. 22 players compete in the main group, with 8 GMs, 4 IMs and 3 FMs. A tough battle for everyone! Swedish GM Evgenij Agrest is the Elo favourite, but GMs Milan Drasko (Montenegro), Arkadij Rotstein (Germany) and Sergey Kasparov (Belarus) among the others won’t let him have an easy victory. Official site: http://scacchicutro.no-ip.info/.
And now here is the only game Anand lost in the ICC simul. His opponent was Belgian player Marc Lacrosse (he has the same name, but he is not the FM, as I previously reported :-) - read the comments).

Anand,V (2786) – Lacrosse,M [B41], ICC 21.04.2007
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Bc5 5. Nb3 Bb6 6. Nc3 Ne7 7. Bf4 d5 8. exd5 Nxd5 9. Nxd5 exd5 10. Bb5+ Nc6 11. O-O O-O 12. c3 Bf5 13. Qd2 a6 14. Bxc6 bxc6 15. Be3 Bc7 16. Bf4 Bb6 17. Rfe1 Qf6 18. Be5 Qg6 19. Qf4 Be4 20. Qg3 Rfe8 21. Bd4 Bc7 22. Qxg6 Bxg6 23. Nc5 a5 24. b3 Bf5 25. f3 h5 26. g3 f6 27. Kf2 Kf7 28. Na4 g5 29. Rxe8 Rxe8 30. Bb6 Bxb6+ 31. Nxb6 Rb8 32. Na4 Rb5 33. Rd1 Be6 34. Ke3 c5 35. Kd2 c4 36. bxc4 dxc4 37. Kc1 Rf5 38. Rf1 Re5 39. Rf2 Re3 40. f4 gxf4 41. Rxf4 Re1+ 42. Kb2 Re2+ 43. Ka3 Rxh2 44. Nc5 Bg4 45. Ne4 f5 46. Rf2 Rxf2 47. Nxf2 Kf6 48. Ka4 Kg5 49. Kxa5 f4 50. gxf4+ Kxf4 0-1

2007/04/22

Cis 2007: Black to play and...

Vimar Marostica finally won the 2007 italian team championship, beating Obiettivo Risarcimento Padova in the last round after a tough battle and scoring 9 points out of 10. Decisive was Robert Huebner’s victory over Albanian GM Erald Dervishi on the first board; all other games were drawn. Il Massimo Palermo, led by Spanish GM Francisco Vallejo Pons, took second place with 8 points and Mens Sana 1871 Siena was third at 6; Padova, Platinum Bologna and La Zisa Palermo scored 5 points each; Triestina, Eporediese, Legnano and Penne has been relegated and will be replaced by Dlf Firenze, Monza, Chieti and Pisignano next year. This is the seventh shield for Vimar: a real record in Italy. Full standings on my Italian site: www.messaggeroscacchi.it/italia/cis07.html.
Top scorers of the competition were Vallejo (5/5) and French GM Robert Fontaine (4/5) on the first board, IM Sabino Brunello (4/5) and FM Piero Mazzilli (3.5/5) on the second, GM Lexy Ortega (4/5), IM Carlo D’Amore (3/4) and FM Sergio Corso (3/4) on the third and masters Mario Ferro and Andrea Amato (3/5) on the fourth. Only 2 points each (out of 4) for Huebner and Italian champion GM Michele Godena.
100 games played, only 23 drawn: many tough battles, but lots of mistakes, too. I found some interesting positions, anyway: Black to move in all cases. Find the best continuations and have fun!

Black to play and...



Black to play and...



Black to play and...

2007/04/21

Cis 2007: three teams fight for the crown

Italian team championship (Cis – “Campionato italiano a squadre”) is coming to an end and the last round (to be played tomorrow) will be decisive for many reasons: three teams are still fighting for the first place, five teams need a victory to avoid moving down to the inferior series. Top seed Vimar Marostica (GMs Hubner, Godena, Ortega and IMs Manca, Borgo) lead with 7 points out of 8, Il Massimo Palermo (GM Vallejo) is a point behind and last year winner Obiettivo Risarcimento Padova (GM Dervishi, IMs Bellini, D’Amore, Vocaturo, Arlandi) is third with 5 points. The astonishing result of the fourth round was the draw between Vimar and La Zisa Palermo: the young sicilian team, with two FMs and two masters, was able to slow down Vimar’s pace to vicory and will play “Il Massimo” in the last round derby. Official site has been updated the whole day with live results, bur organisers forgot to put in the last four until 12p.m. :-( ; organisation is quite good anyway, even if there has been some complaints about food (not for the quality, but for the quantity and the poor choice). I don’t think anybody will write an open letter on this matter, anyway, as GM Erik Van den Doel did for his Dresden meals :-) The first two rounds games are finally available (only one still missing) and I hope tomorrow all the others will be too. Check my Italian site for more details: www.messaggeroscacchi.it/italia/cis07.html.
Magnus Carlsen is the sole leader after round 4 in the Gausdal Chess Classics; after a draw in the first round, he won three games in a row and now has a half point lead over American WGM Irina Krush and Polish GM Michal Krasenkow. In the open group German IM Stefan Bromberger has the same points as Carlsen; nine players are at short distance from him. Official site: http://www.bergensjakk.no/gausdal/classics2007/.
Bulgarian GM Ivan Cheparinov and Swedish GMs Tiger Hillarp Persson and Emanuel Berg share the lead in the 15th Sigeman & Co. Tourney: they all have 3 points out of 4. Official site: http://www.sigeman-chess.com/.
I’ve been quite busy during the last days, so I couldn’t write anything really interesting on this Blog. Don’t worry and pe prepared for… my “immortal” game :-) one of the next few days…
And now here is an interesting game from the Italian team championship. Spanish GM Vallejo could manage to win an opposite colored bishop endgame against German veteran Hubner: very interesting and instructive indeed.

Vallejo Pons, F (2676)-Huebner,R (2608) [D12], Palermo 20.04.2007
1. Nf3 Nf6 2. d4 d5 3. c4 c6 4. e3 Bf5 5. Nc3 e6 6. Nh4 Bg6 7. a3 Nbd7 8. g3 Be7 9. Nxg6 hxg6 10. f4 Ne4 11. Nxe4 dxe4 12. c5 g5 13. fxg5 Bxg5 14. Bg2 Qe7 15. Bxe4 e5 16. O-O O-O-O 17. Qf3 Qf6 18. d5 Qxf3 19. Bxf3 Nxc5 20. e4!
And not 20.dxc6 Nb3 and Black gets the initiative.
20…Bf6 21. Be3 Nb3 22. Rad1 Nd4 23. Bg4+ Kb8 24. dxc6 bxc6 25. h4 Rhf8 26. Rc1 Be7 27. Rc4 c5 28. Kg2 f6 29. h5 Rh8 30. Rfc1 Bd6 31. b4 cxb4 32. axb4 Rhe8 33. Kh3 Kb7 34. Bxd4 exd4 35. Rxd4 Be5 36. Rd5 Rxd5 37. exd5 Bd6 38. b5 Re3 39. Bc8+ Ka8 40. Ba6!
The alternative 40.Rg1 would have held the pawn, but Black could have easily equalize thanks to the good activity of his pieces.
40… Rxg3+ 41. Kh4 Rd3 42. Rc8+ Bb8 43. Rd8 Rd4+ 44. Kh3 f5 45. Rd7 Be5 46. Rd8+ Bb8 47. Rd7
47.Rg8 looked even stronger (47…Rg4 48.d6 +-; 47…Rxd5 48.Rxg7 Be5 49.Rg8+ Bb8 50.Rh8 +-).
47…Be5 48. Re7 Re4
After 48…Rh4+ 49.Kxh4 Bf6+ 50.Kg3 Bxe7 51.Kf4 and 52.Kxf5 Black is lost anyway.
49. Re8+ Bb8 50. Rf8 f4 51. Rf7 Be5 52. Kg4 Re3 53. Rd7 1-0

2007/04/20

Kramnik: number one in popularity

The best (or the most popular?) player nowadays? Kramnik, without any reasonable doubt. Fide world champion is the most voted player in the April MS (my Italian site) poll; the question was, as you can guess, “who is the strongest player of the chess world scene at the moment?”. Russian GM got 117 votes out of 279 (41,94%), while surprising second was his compatriot Alex Morozevich (31 – 11,11%); Vishy Anand placed third with 29 (10,39%), Topalov only seventh (16 – 5,73%). You can check complete results at www.messaggeroscacchi.it/public/sondaggio/aprile07.html. Vlad is not the number one in the last Fide list, but he is undoubtedly the most popular player now. On the other side, Veselin is losing lots of fans. In a recent interview his manager Danailov said: “Most GMs hate us, as they hated Kasparov”. The problem is that also most chess lovers seem to dislike poor Veselin, after toilette-gate and the following controversies.
Italian team championship has started this morning in Palermo. Roberto Messa (MS and TCS editor and former Italian champion) is on the spot and he told me that organisers have some problems with their Internet connection. That’s why second round results and all games are not available yet. All Italian players hope they will resolve this problem soon; thanks to Roberto I got all results anyway and I published them on MS – http://www.messaggeroscacchi.it/italia/cis07.html -. No astonishing results in the first two rounds. Top seed Vimar Marostica is on top after beating Platinum Bologna and Il Massimo Palermo, even if “Paco” Vallejo (Il Massimo) won on the first board against German veteran Robert Hubner (Vimar) - a very interesting game -. Last year winner Obiettivo Risarcimento Padova and Mens Sana 1871 Siena share second place after drawing their 2nd round match. I’m still waiting for third round pairings; I think I’ll wait until tomorrow morning…
About tomorrow, it will be a free day for all on the ICC. At 12:00pm Eastern Time (16:00 GMT – 18:00 CET), Anand will be playing a 90-minute charity simul against opponents who have all bid on eBay for seats to play. Not only can fans watch all the action as it happens on the board, they can also watch an exclusive AnandCam that will show the world #1 playing the simul live from his home in Spain. “Even if you have had a free 7-day ICC trial in the past, you can still join us for what promises to be a fun-filled challenging day for charity”, is the organisers’ invitation.
“La regina del 2007” (“The Queen of 2007”) polls are open on my site. You can vote your January, February and March favourite games. All games are viewable and downloadable at http://www.messaggeroscacchi.it/regina2007/index.html; after watching them just click on “vota la tua partita preferita per ogni mese” (under the page title) and vote! Here is a nice win by Caruana at Gibtelecom Masters from January’s games.

Meenakshi, S1. (2293)-Caruana,F (2492) [A22], Gibtelecom Masters 23.01.2007
1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. g3 Bb4 4. Nd5 Nxd5 5. cxd5 O-O 6. Bg2 d6 7. e3 Bf5 8. Ne2 Nd7 9. O-O Bd3 10. a3 Bc5 11. b4 Bb6 12. Re1 Qf6 13. Bb2 Qf5 14. Nc1 Be4 15. d3 Bxg2 16. Kxg2 Nf6 17. f3 Qg6 18. e4 Nh5 19. Ne2 f5 20. a4 fxe4 21. dxe4 Rxf3 22. Kxf3 Rf8+ 23. Nf4 Nxf4 24. gxf4 Rxf4+ 25. Ke2 Qg2+ 26. Kd3 Qxb2 27. a5 Rf2 0-1

2007/04/19

No rest for chess lovers

Chess world never takes a pause. A big competition (Euro championship) finished just a few days ago, three strong tournaments has started yesterday, all together. The strongest is the 15th Sigeman & Co event, which takes place in Malmo, Sweden (average rating: 2553). Bulgarian Ivan Cheparinov, Indian young star Parimarjan Negi and Dutch veteran Jan Timman are among the participants. Another interesting tourney is the Gausdall Chess Classics (av. Rating 2537), held in the famous high mountain hotel in Gausdal, Norway. Local idol Magnus Carlsen is the top rated player, followed by Polish Michal Krasenkow and Russian Alexey Dreev; American WGM Irina Krush is the surprising leader with a perfect score after two rounds. Finally we have the 2007 Moscow championship (I think you’ll guess where it takes place :-) ). Eight players with a 2527 average rating will battle for the city crown until April 24.
Italian team championship will start tomorrow in Palermo, Sicily. The star of the event is Spanish super GM Francisco Vallejo Pons, who is a member of “Il Massimo” team with FMs Renzo Ramondino, Sergio Corso and Maurizio Genovese among the others; the top seed team is Marostica, with GMs Robert Hubner, Markus Stangl, Michele Godena and Lexy Ortega. I don’t know, by the way, if all these players will take part in the event. Last year winner is Obiettivo Risarcimento Padova, which can count on Albanian GM Erald Dervishi and Italian IMs Fabio Bellini, Carlo D’Amore, Daniele Vocaturo and Ennio Arlandi. I hope I will have some pictures from Palermo in the next days: if so, I’ll put them on www.messaggeroscacchi.it. I’m also waiting for the moves of a blindfold game played yesterday between Vallejo and Italian master Riccardo Gueci: I hope you’ll see it on this Blog by Sunday :-).
Just a couple of days after Caruana, another young Italian talent, 15 y.o. Axel Rombaldoni from Pesaro (his brother Denis played in the GM event), scored his first IM norm in Budapest, tying for first with Russian FM Alexander Khantuev: he won seven games, lost two and draw just one. Congratulations Axel!
Another Italian player, candidate master Alex Brunetti from Como, will face Veselin Topalov on May 8 - as reported on March 24 -, just one day before the start of the Mtel Masters super-tournament. Now we know the details of the match, which will be held in Grand Hotel Sofia. Alex will have White pieces and Topalov will play blind (which means, we hope, he won’t be able to see neither the chessboard nor Danailov :-) ); each player will have 30 minutes to finish the game. Don’t understimate your opponent, Veselin!
And now here is an astonishing loss by Alexei Dreev in Gausdal: he was really crushed by… Krush in the second round, after playing the horrible 19.Rh5??...

Dreev,A (2633) - Krush,I (2464) [D23], Gausdal 19.04.2007
1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 dxc4 4.Qa4+ Nc6 5.Nc3 Nd5 6.e4 Nb6 7.Qd1 Bg4 8.d5 Ne5 9.Bf4 Ng6 10.Bg3 e5 11.dxe6 Qxd1+ 12.Rxd1 fxe6 13.Be2 Bd6 14.Nb5 Bxg3 15.hxg3 Ke7 16.Nxc7 Rac8 17.Nb5 Bxf3 18.gxf3 Ne5 19.Rh5??
Much better was 19.Nd6 or even the immediate 19.f4.
19… Rc5 20.f4 Nd3+ 21.Kd2 Nxf2 22.Rxc5 Nxe4+
That’s the point. Now Black takes the Rook back and White has no compensation for the two pawns loss.
23.Kc2 Nxc5 24.Bf3 a6 25.Nc3 Rd8 26.Rg1 Rd3 27.Be2 Rd4 28.Re1 Kf6 29.Bf3 h6 30.Nd1 Nd3 31.Re2 Na4 32.a3 b5 33.Ne3 Nac5 34.Bg2 h5 35.Kc3 Rd6 36.Nxc4??
The last mistake in a desperate position.
36… Na4+ 37.Kb3 0–1
After 37…Rd4 (or the simple 37…Ndc5+) White loses a piece. A game to forget for Dreev. And very soon.

2007/04/18

"Disappearance of money" in Dresden

Dresden will host 2008 Chess Olympiad, but German organisers still have to work very hard to put on a decent competition. Euro championship web-site was all but perfect and many players were disappointed about the most various details. Here is an open letter by Dutch GM Erik Van den Doel, where a strange "story about the disappearance of money" is told...

During the European Chess Championships in Dresden I stayed at the IBIS hotel. The European Chess Union had made the participants an offer: Full board in a single room in the IBIS hotel during 14 nights for 98 euros a night. Payment could not be done directly to the hotel; the national federations had to transfer the money to the bank account of the European Chess Union (ECU). The ECU would then pay IBIS. This is an important point to understand what happened. Many players made use of this arrangement - of the Dutch Chess Federation GM Tiviakov, GM Smeets, GM Werle and myself opted for it.
Lunch and dinner in the hotel were extremely poor. Both in terms of quality and quantity. Our complaints to the waiters did not have any effect. After about seven days I spoke to the cook. He told me he couldn’t change the situation since he had been ordered to prepare meals for the players for a value of five euros. And indeed five euros average seems like a good indication for what we got, although it could also have been less.
Now it was time for some calculation. We paid 98 euros. The normal rate for a single room including breakfast (which could, for example, be found on a billboard next to the entrance) is 70,50 euros. 98 - 70,50 = 27,50 euros left for lunch and dinner. Lunch and dinner together had a value of 10 euros so 27,50 - 10 = 17,50 euros per person per day disappeared! That is 245 euros per person for the whole stay.
By now we had grown very curious about how much ECU had actually paid IBIS. The manager of IBIS refused to tell us, saying this was something between the players and the organisers. Then I spoke with the organiser in charge of these matters, Mr Verleger. He also refused to tell me. One gets the impression there was something to hide.
I think the national federations whose players stayed in the IBIS should claim a decent refund from ECU.
Furthermore, in the future national federations should transfer money directly to hotels and not through ECU, or any other organisation. And if they must, they should ask for written guarantees /specifications where the money will go. Otherwise history may well repeat itself, for example during the 2008 Olympiad, in Dresden…
GM Erik van den Doel
Leiden
Holland

2007/04/17

"Mens una sumus": a new motto for Fide

Well well well. Fide would probably better change its own motto. I think “Gens una sumus” (“We are one people”) is too old now: “Mens una sumus” (“We’re one mind” – Ilyumzhinov’s) or “Mens summa sumus” (“We’re a great mind” – meaning “We are very smart”) would be more appropriate at the moment. I’m obviously joking. In the very recent past Fide took some questionable decisions, or didn’t even take any decision about the hottest matters. Fide president always speak about professionalising chess, but doesn’t behave as a professional in many ways. Let’s take as an example the 2007 European championship… I just quote IM Andrei Deviatkin from Chess Today (the one and only daily chess web-zine): “As "The Week In Chess" reports, initially there were 33 qualifiers announced but then the number was reduced to 29. The former world Champion Alexander Khalifman considered it unfair (as he would have qualified without any matches due to his better Buchholz) and refused to play his match against Markus. Khalifman has also entered a protest to the organizing committee, according to www.e3e5.com. Some other players didn't participate in the tie breaks either: S. Zhigalko probably didn't need it, as he has the right to participate in World Cup as the current U-18 World champion, and M. Gurevich and A. Najditsch had qualified from the European championship-2006. However, there is no complete clarity in this issue, as this information has been taken from different sources, but not from the championship's official website (where it's very difficult to find anything).
P.S. I can't help writing a little comment about the whole situation. If to be honest, what "clarity" are we speaking about?! We don't even know for sure if the World Cup will be taking place in Khanty-Mansiysk or somewhere else or for that matter if it will take place at all! If somebody wants to argue about this, I suggest they remember the example of the FIDE Contenders' Matches, which had to be played in October 2006...what's with it now? So, hundreds of strong Grandmasters were fighting in Dresden for something obscure – this is sad but true”.
Well, do you think this is professional? Not at all, in my opinion.
Now I can’t refrain from speaking about Fabiano Caruana. Again. He gained 35,5 Elo points in only one month, winning two First Saturday events, which means he has a 2548 (or 2549?) rating at the moment. He has already achieved two GM norms and he is only 14 years old (15 in a few months). I’m sure he will be the first Italian player to break the 2600 wall. If he still lived in the Usa he would probably regarded as the so long eagerly awaited “new Bobby Fischer” (as Josh Waitzkin two decades ago), but he lives in Europe now and he plays for Italy :-) You just have to give a look at his games to understand he is a fine tactitian and he loves sacrificing pieces to get the initiative (or crushing attacks). That’s what he did in his 8th round game in Budapest last Satruday. Facing the Hungarian Peter Prohaszka, he simply put up a strong pressure on him and finally destroyed his defence with the simple but brilliant 26.Rf5! and 28.Rxf7+!. Here is the game.

Caruana,F (2513) – Prohaszka,P (2443) [B17], Budapest 14.4.2007
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nd7 5. Ng5 Ngf6 6. N1f3 e6 7. Bd3 Bd6 8. Qe2 h6 9. Ne4 Nxe4 10. Qxe4 Qc7 11. Qg4 Kf8 12. O-O b6 13. Re1 c5 14. c3 Bb7 15. Qh3 c4 16. Be4 Bxe4 17. Rxe4 Qc6 18. Rh4 Rg8 19. Bf4 Ke7 20. Rd1 Bxf4 21. Rxf4 Qd6 22. Qg3 Qd5?!
The ugly 22....Raf8 was probably better.
23. Re1 g5 24. Rfe4 Nf6?! 25. Re5 Qd7?!
After 25...Qd6, 26.Rf5 wouldn’t have been so strong.
26. Rf5! Qb7 27. Qe5 Nd7?
The decisive mistake, even if 27…Ng4 28.Qe2 (or 28.Rxf7+!? Kxf7 29.Qxe6+ Kg7 30.Qxg4 +/-) would have led to a very comfortable position for White.
28. Rxf7+! Kxf7 29. Qxe6+ Kg7 30. Qe7+ Kh8 31. Re6 Rg7 32. Rxh6+ Kg8 33. Qe6+ Rf7 34. Rg6+ Kf8 35. Nxg5 Nf6 36. Nxf7 Re8 37. Qd6+ Qe7 38. Rxf6 Kg7 39. Qe5 Qxf6 40. Qxe8 Qg6 41. h3 1-0
A perfect game by Fabiano.

2007/04/16

A thousand dollars to beat Rybka

The dice is cast! Grandmasters who think their brains are still better than computers’ microchips can now demonstrate their ability by challenging one of the strongest chess program in the world: Rybka. IM Larry Kaufman has publicly made the following offer on http://rybkaforum.net.
“I will donate $ 1,000 of my own money to any grandmaster who can win a six game match from Rybka (my choice of version and pc) under the following conditions:
[1] Opening book: Rybka is limited to a 3 move deep opening book I would prepare (to provide variety and avoid prepared games); [2] Tablebases: None; [3] Hash table size: 512 MB; [4] Color: Human gets White every game!; [5] Time limit: FIDE time control (90'+30" increment) for the grandmaster, 45'+15" for Rybka. External clock governs human, computer clock governs computer; [6] Breaks: five minute break twice each game on request by the grandmaster. Computer may reboot if frozen; [7] Schedule: two games per day for three days, intermediate break as requested by the grandmaster; [8] In the event of a drawn match, I will donate $500 to the grandmaster; [9] Playing location: my home in Potomac, MD (free accommodations to the grandmaster if desired)”.
Kaufman has already informed Gata Kamsky and Jaan Ehlvest and will probably increase the prize money thanks to some sponsors. “We’ll soon find out if any grandmaster thinks he can win a match with all of these advantages”, he wrote in his last message.
Just a couple of weeks ago (March 27) I spoke about a 5 million pound chess set, decorated with 73 rubies, 146 sapphires and 748 diamonds. Another precious chess set is now to be auctioned off at the upcoming International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA) Congress in Dubai: it is crafted from over 1 kilogram of gold and set with 9,900 black and white diamonds, but it is worth no more than one million dollar :-) Tzoffey's 1818, a European based auction-house, will hold the auction on the final day of the congress. Hurry up if you want to buy the set!
14 years old IM Fabiano Caruana finally scored his second GM norm in a row in Budapest: he won the April First Saturday with 7 points out of 9 (no draws!) and will probably become the next #1 among the Italian players in the Fide rating list. Congratulations Fabiano! Official site: http://www.firstsaturday.hu.
Italian team championship will be held in Palermo (Sicily) Friday to Sunday. Ten teams, five rounds and one chess star, Spanish GM Francisco Vallejo Pons, who will be the special guest of a two days event before the start of the competition (he will also play a blindfold game against Italian master Riccardo Gueci). Obiettivo Risarcimento Padova, with GM Dervishi and IMs Bellini, D’Amore, Vocaturo and Arlandi is the last year winner. Official site: http://www.accademiascacchi.it/.
The game of the day is a tribute to European female champion Tatiana Kosintseva, who won her title with an astonishing 10/11 in Dresden just a couple of days ago.

Mamedjarova, Z (2354) – Kosintseva, T (2459) [D38], Dresden 7.4.2007
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. Bf4 O-O 6. Qb3 c5 7. dxc5 Nc6 8. e3 Ne4 9. a3 Qa5 10. Rc1 Bxc3+ 11. bxc3 Nxc5 12. Qb2 b6 13. Nd4 Bd7 14. cxd5 Nxd4 15. exd4 Na4 16. Qb3 exd5 17. Bd6?
A bad mistake. Now Black easily achieves a won position. After 17.Qb4 White would have had nothing to worry about.
17…Rfe8+ 18. Kd2 b5! 19. Qxd5 Rac8 20. Bb4 Qd8 21. Qh5 Qf6 22. Qf3 Qg5+ 23. Kc2 Bc6 24. Qg3 Qd5 25. Kd2
White king is too vulnerable.
25…Qa2+ 26. Rc2 Qb1 27. Rc1 Qb2+ 28. Rc2 Qa1
Black is only gaining some time on the clock. 28…Qb3 would have been better.
29. f3?! a5! 30. Bd6 Bd5 31. Bxb5 Qxh1 32. Rc1 Qxc1+ 33. Kxc1 Nxc3 34. Kd2?
The last mistake, but 34.Bxe8 Ne4+ was also hopeless.
34… Nb1+ 35. Kd1 Bb3# 0-1
A picturesque checkmate.

2007/04/15

Chess shopping in London

London is Europe’s largest city and you could spend there lots of weeks without getting bored. Bergamo, the town where I live, has several low-cost flights for London every day, so I’ve been there a hundreds time. Hyde Park, St James’, Piccadilly and Covent Garden are some of my favourite places, but this is a chess blog… so let’s speak about chess. Well, the British capital is not like New York: I mean you won’t find chess players in every park. When I made my first visit to London I had already given up chess, so don’t ask me where clubs are located: just type “chess club London” on Google, Yahoo etc. and I guess you’ll find a lot.
I’ve visited two chess shops, anyway: the famous London Chess and Bridge Centre and the BCM Chess Shop (both stores open Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm). London Chess Centre (369 Euston Road) is the biggest one and has a large choice of books and chess sets: there are some offers, too, and I bought “The Lost Olympiad: Stockholm 1937” for 5 pounds only :-). Nearest tube station: Great Portland.
BCM Chess Shop (44 Baker Street) is very nice too and you can find there, besides books and chess sets, lots of second hand volumes: some are very old (late 19th-early 20th century) and rare and I was really tempted to buy a yellowd copy of “Common sense in chess” by Emanuel Lasker. Nearest tube station: Baker street. If you like you can take a photo with Sherlock Holmes’ statue just outside the station and give a look at Madame Tussauds, one the most famous wax museums in Europe, which is in the neighborhoods.
Visiting Covent Garden, you can also find the “Marquetry Inlaid Wood Crafts” (located in the Jubilee market: just ask if you don’t see that). This little shop has lots of chess sets: I even found a 3 player chess board last year and gave it as a birthday present to a friend of mine :-) We’ve played just three games by now (3 players are needed, anyway) and we found out it is all but simple…
Speaking about “real” chess, European championship has finally crowned its king. French GM Vladislav Tkachiev won tie-breaks without losing any single game: he beated Cheparinov, Elo-favourite Jakovenko and Sutovsky in that order. You can find (almost) all games on my Italian site: www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/europeo07.html.
Italian IM Fabiano Caruana (14 years old) is only half a point from his second GM norm in a row at First Saturday in Budapest: he is in first place with 6 points before the ninth and last round. Come on Fabiano! Official site: http://www.firstsaturday.hu.
Another interesting event finished in Heviz, Hungary, this afternoon: a rapid match between chess legends Lajos Portisch and Boris Spassky. 3-3 is the final result: they won a game each and drew the other four. Official page: http://www.palace-heviz.hu/pages/de/chess_at.php.
And now try to evaluate this position. Do you think Black must win or White can draw? Which move would you play? Post your solution by clicking on “comments”!

White to play and...

2007/04/14

A really tough fight for Kasparov

His accession to world chess throne was certainly less difficult. Now he has to face not Queens, Rooks, Bishops and Knghts, but Vladimir Putin and even Police. And there are no rules. We are obviuosly speaking about former World champion Garry Kasparov, who was arrested during a rally in Moscow this morning. The New York Times writes: “The rally, the third so-called Dissenters’ March held by a loose antigovernment coalition known as Other Russia, was noteworthy because authorities aggressively pursued the organizers, including President Vladimir V. Putin’s former prime minister, Mikhail M. Kasyanov, whom the police jostled but did not arrest. The rally was principally supported by Mr. Kasyanov and Mr. Kasparov, who leads a group here called the United Civil Front. Essentially barred from access to television, members of Other Russia have embraced street protests as the only platform to voice their opposition ahead of parliamentary elections in December and presidential elections next March. Early this month, Mr. Kasyanov’s and Mr. Kasparov’s Web sites were blocked, though it was unclear by whom. The marches have become a test both of the determination of the opposition and the willingness of the government to use force to prevent it from gaining traction in street politics in the big cities. Other Russia was refused a permit to march in Moscow, but defied the ban, as it has in two previous marches in St. Petersburg and the Volga River city of Nizhny Novgorod”.
Kasparov was freed later in the evening, after he was fined about 30 euro for participating in the rally. “It is no longer a country ... where the government tries to pretend it is playing by the letter and spirit of the law”, Kasparov said outside the court building. “We now stand somewhere between Belarus and Zimbabwe”, two dictatorships that have cracked down on opposition, he said. Well, what can we say? You will have to fight very hard, Garry, and we are sure you won’t resign! If he won’t be jailed earlier :-(, Kasparov should probably come to Milan next 30th June or 1st July.
I’ve been on holiday four days, but there are not so many news to be told. European championship has come to an end, but a playoff will be played tomorrow to crown the new king, as Jakovenko, Sutovsky, Pavasovic, Cheparinov, Tkachiev, Iljin and Sakaev all finished with 8/11. The new queen is Russian IM Tatiana Kosintseva: she dominated the Women section and finished with 10/11, two points ahead of her sister Nadezhda, Bulgarian GM Antoaneta Stefanova and Hungarian GM Hoang Tranh Trang. Official site: http://www.dresden2008.de/. The Euro page on my Italian site with games, links and other: www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/europeo07.html.
The Internet Chess Club is auctioning off on eBay 15 seats to play in a Charity Chess Simul with GM Vishy Anand (click here if you are interested). The event takes place Saturday, April 21st with matches beginning at 12 noon U.S. Eastern Daylight Time (5pm GMT). The time control will be 90 minutes with a 5 second increment. Seats will only be available to players under the rating of 2200 and they will play with the black pieces. The first four people to donate 350 dollars or more in a winning auction will receive a 12-month subscription (or 12-month renewal) to ICC plus a 12-month subscription (or renewal) to the world’s leading chess magazine, New In Chess, total value 148 dollars. The first two to donate 500 dollars or more will receive an 18-month subscription (or 18-month renewal) to ICC plus a 12-month subscription (or renewal) for New In Chess Yearbook, a total value of 208 dollars.
Well, I will tell you tomorrow about London and its chess shops. Keep connected!
PS: thanks to Susan Polgar for citing midaschess in her (much more read) Blog (you can find the link on the right panel)!
And now here is the game of the day, a well deserved and brilliant victory by young Italian IM Fabiano Caruana in Budapest. After seven games he is in second place with 5 points (two rounds to go).

Caruana,F (2513)-Fodor,T jr (2426) [C24], Budapest 11.04.2007
1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 d5 5. Bb3 Bd6 6. Nc3 Be6 7. Bg5 Bc7 8. d4 exd4 9. Nxd4 O-O 10. Qe2 h6 11. Bh4 Ba5 12. O-O g5 13. exd5 gxh4 14. Nxe6 fxe6 15. dxe6 Qe7 16. Rad1 Kg7 17. Ne4 Bc7 18. Nxf6 Rxf6 19. Rd3 a5 20. a4 b6 21. Rfd1 Ra7 22. Kh1 Bf4 23. g3 hxg3 24. hxg3 Bg5 25. f4 Bxf4 26. gxf4 Rxf4 27. Rg3+ Kh7 28. Qd3+ Kh8 29. Qg6 Qf8 30. Qg8+ Qxg8 31. Rxg8+ Kxg8 32. e7+ Kh7 33. e8=Q Rg7 34. Qxb8 Rh4+ 35. Qh2 Rxh2+ 36. Kxh2 b5 37. Rd6 Rc7 38. Kg3 1-0

2007/04/10

Chess for sale: peculiar sets from movies

Chess are becoming, year by year, a more and more merchandisable and commercial game. You can’t find chess gadgets everywere, but, e.g., lots of animated series and movies – Harry Potter is the most popular at the moment – have their own chess set: in most cases pieces look like the main characters of the movie/series. I have seen or heard of Simpson’s, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and even King Kong’s chess sets. And soon we’ll have Transformers chess set. The movie from the ’80s animated series will be released next July in the Usa and many European countries (Italy included), the chess set will be available from April 28. The set is based on the “Generation 1” cartoon: Optimus Prime is the King of the Autobots side, Megatron of the Decepticon. Well, I don’t want to advertise the product. I don’t think that all Transformers fans will become chessplayers. But such a merchandise can’t be bad for chess and I hope this can help the game to become more popular.
Also chess-based videogames are becoming a more and more commercial item. Some of them are not really correlated with chess, but let’s consider, for example, “Online chess kingdom”. This PSP game was released last year in the civilized world :-) and last February in Italy. Here is the description you can find on Amazon: “Online Chess Kingdoms is set in a world many ages ago when the universe was composed of five distinct forces that were struggling against each other to gain supremacy. Players choose to battle as one of five fully 3D interactive chess sets or use a classic 3D or 2D chess set to determine the fate of the universe in the great fight between the forces. Online Chess Kingdoms not only brings classic chess to the PSP system, but it also adds new twists to classic chess rules such as a Speed Chess mode for players who want dose of quick chess on the go and breakthrough infrastructure play in which gamers join teams and play for control of territory in a persistent online world”. Well, I know the plot looks really sad, but it seems that here you can find a real mix of chess and classic battle games.
And now let’s come back to Chess, with capital “C”. European championship took a rest day and there are no other big tournaments in progress. Nevertheless two young Italian talents are fighting for GM and IM norm respectively in Budapest, Hungary: they are well known IM Fabiano Caruana and 17 y.o. FM Denis Rombaldoni (from Pesaro). Yesterday the third round was played and the “dramatic” Italian derby took place: Rombaldoni, with Black, got the better of it. Unfortunately the game is not available yet.
Well, that’s all folks. I’m leaving for London tomorrow and I’ll be back on Saturday. It’s just a short holiday, but I hope it will give me the inspiration for writing better and more interesting articles in the near future :-). So read all March and April posts, if you haven’t already done, and wait for my next on Saturday evening. I hope I will find a computer to update my Italian site, anyway, so keep on giving a look to www.messaggeroscacchi.it!
And now here is a test from my chess practice.

Black to play and…

You can post the solution by clicking on “comments” (it is not so difficult). You won’t earn anything but the glory and my congratulations, but why don't try? :-)
P.S. for Italian readers: you only have 10 days more to send your games for “La regina del 2007” (http://www.messaggeroscacchi.it/regina2007/index.html). The best game for each month (amongst those sent by readers) wins a book published by Messaggerie Scacchistiche. Hurry up!
I almost forgot the game of the day. Well, here is a brilliant win by Rombaldoni in Budapest.

Rombaldoni, D (2368) - Kahn, E (2334) [D12], Budapest 8.4.2007
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 Bf5 5. Nc3 e6 6. Nh4 Bg6 7. Nxg6 hxg6 8. a3 Bd6 9. c5 Bc7 10. g3 Nbd7 11. b4 e5 12. Bg2 Qe7 13. Ne2 e4 14. h3 g5 15. Bb2 Qe6 16. Qc2 g6 17. Bc3 Nh5 18. h4 gxh4 19. Rxh4 f5 20. O-O-O Kf7 21. Rdh1 Ndf6 22. Nf4 Bxf4?! 23. gxf4 Ng4 24. Kb1 Qf6?! 25. Bxe4! dxe4 26. d5 Qd8 27. dxc6 Ngf6?
Better was 27…bxc6
28. cxb7 Rb8 29. Qb3+ Kg7 30. c6 Qd3+ 31. Qc2 Qb5 32. Be5 Rbd8 33. c7 Qxb7 34. cxd8=Q Rxd8 35. Rxh5! gxh5 36. Rg1+ Kf7 37. Bxf6 Kxf6 38. Qc3+ Ke6 39. Qe5+ 1-0

2007/04/09

Kamsky, a fighter for all seasons

Gata Kamsky is a Soviet-born American chess grandmaster (he was born in Siberia on June 2, 1974). He won the Soviet Under-20 Championship twice before immigrating to America in 1989 with his father Rustam. He was awarded the Grandmaster title after his victory in the 1990 Tilburg Interpolis tournament (Netherlands). In 1991, Gata played and won his first U.S. Championship. He also did well at other prestigious chess tournaments, placing second at the SKA Biel Interzonal in 1993, and winning the Las Palmas tournament in 1994. For a time in the early 1990s he was widely regarded as Judit Polgár's main rival as the most promising chess prodigy.
He soon became the highest-rated American player since Bobby Fischer: he became a fixture of the top ten and the supertournament circuit and at one point he was the third highest-rated player in the world. Like Fischer Gata played in a Fide world championship match, but he lost to Karpov in 1996. Like Fischer Kamsky then disappeared from chess, but to go back to school. Kamsky's next rated games after his loss to Karpov were in 1999, when he returned to play in the Fide Knockout World Championship event in Las Vegas, where he played a two-game match against Alexander Khalifman. Kamsky won the first game, lost the second game, and then lost the rapid play-off games. Kamsky did not play another game in public until June 15, 2004, when he participated in the 106th New York Masters.
Now he is almost 33, married, and he is rated 2705 in the April 2007 Fide list, ranking him nineteenth in the world. Gata is not the same player (and man) he was eleven years ago, but he is still a tough opponent for everyone. Last week he won the 2007 Foxwoods open (official site: http://members.cox.net/tournaments/foxwoods/): he and Izoria were 1st and 2nd on tiebreaks, then Kamsky won a 29 move blitz game as black. A really good result in view of his next appointments: the Mtel Masters in Sofia and the Fide Candidates matches in Elista.
Today the seventh round of the 2007 European championship was played in Dresden, Germany. Ukrainian GM Andrei Volokitin is now the sole leader in the open section with 6 points: he crushed Russian GM Sergey Volkov in only 28 moves in today's game. In the women's section IM Tatiana Kosintseva (in the picture), who will turn 21 next Wednesday, has won all seven games to lead the field by a point and a half. She is followed by her sister Nadezhda and Bulgarian GM Antoaneta Stefanova amongst the others. Official site: http://www.dresden2008.de. Results and games on my Italian site, too: www.messaggeroscacchi.it.
Here is a nice game from Euro champ, a win by Slovenian GM Dusko Pavasovic against Dutch superGM Loek Van Wely.

Van Wely,L (2674)-Pavasovic,D (2567) [D31], Dresden 9.4.2007
1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c6 4. e4 dxe4 5. Nxe4 Bb4+ 6. Bd2 Qxd4 7. Bxb4 Qxe4+ 8. Be2 Na6 9. Bd6 Qxg2 10. Qd2 Nf6 11. Bf3 Qg6 12. O-O-O e5 13. Ne2 Bg4 14. Rhg1 O-O-O 15. Qe3 h5 16. h3 Rxd6! 17. Rxd6 Nb4 18. Qb3 Qh6+ 19. Kd1 Bxf3 20. Qxf3 Qh7 21. Nc3 Qc2+ 22. Ke1 e4 23. Qf5+ Kb8 24. Rxg7 Nd3+ 25. Kf1 Qc1+ 26. Kg2 Nf4+ 27. Kg3 Qg1+ 28. Kxf4 Qxf2+ 29. Kg5??
The losing move. After 29.Ke5 Qc5+ 30.Kf4 Qd6+ 31.Qe5 Qxe5+ 32.Kxe5 Nd7+ 33.Kxe4 Re8+ 34.Kd4 White would have had some drawing chances.
29... Qg3+ 30. Kxf6 Qxd6+ 31. Kg5 Qh6+ 0-1

2007/04/08

Shirov's (rapid) revenge in Spain

Easter day has come to an end. I’ve eaten enough eggs and I’m quite tired: that could also be as my glasses are broken and I have to watch my lap-top screen without them. For all these reasons I will be short (and I suspect you are happy for that:-) ), giving just some Easter news.
Alexei Shirov has taken his revenge. After last place in Wijk aan Zee the Spanish GM won the II Festival “Villa Cañada de Calatrava”, a rapid g/25 event which took place 6th-8th April. Shirov took first place on tie-break from Daniel Fridman, Ivan Sokolov and Boris Gelfand: they all finished undeafeted on 7.5/9. Many of the favourites, such as Anand, Mamedyarov, Ivanchuk, J. Polgar and Grischuk, scored half a point less. Shirov won the Fischer-random event, too, while Ivanchuk was first in the Blitz tournament. The total amount of Alexei’s prize has been more than 25.000 euros (about 33.000 $). Not bad for a three days job :-). Official site: http://www.koali.com/festival/index_en.html.
And what’s about the European championship? Five players are on top after round 6: GMs Volokitin, Volkov, Moiseenko, Tkachiev and surpising Romanian IM Jianu. 31 players have half a point less: Jakovenko, Nisipeanu, Eljanov and Almasi are amongst them. Official site: http://www.dresden2008.de/; you can find news and games on my Italian site, too (www.messaggeroscacchi.it).
Cheating has become a big preoccupation of the chess world in recent months. You can find an interesting article about this argument on “The New York Times”: click here to read it.
Well, that’s enough. And now here is a game to be seen from Euro champ, a crushing win by French GM Vladislav Tkachiev.

Tkachiev,V (2652) – Potkin,V (2593) [B14], Dresden 8.4.2007
1. c4 c6 2. e4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. d4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. Nf3 Bb4 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. Qc2 Nc6 9. Bd3 Ba5 10. a3 Nxc3 11. bxc3 Nxd4 12. Nxd4 Qxd4 13. Bb5+ Bd7 14. O-O Qd5 15. c4 Qf5 16. Bxd7+ Kxd7 17. Qb3 b6 18. Rd1+ Ke7 19. a4 Rhd8 20. Ba3+ Kf6 21. Bd6 g5 22. Qb2+ Kg6 23. Ra3 g4 24. h3 h5 25. Rg3 f6 26. hxg4 hxg4 27. Rd4 Kf7 28. c5 Rg8 29. Rf4 Qg6 30. Rgxg4 Qh6 31. Qb5 Rad8 32. Qc6 1-0

2007/04/07

The same old Easter egg

Well, I know: you won’t find that original at all. So you can consider it the same old Easter egg, if you want. Let’s come to the point. I recently found some interesting chess videos on the Internet. Two of them have been posted during the last week, but I’m not sure someone else haven’t already put them somewhere on the web before: my sources are www.youtube.com and http://video.google.com. Both videos are short animated films: the first one is “Chess Nuts” and the main character is the well-known Betty Boop; the second is “Chess love story” and it tells about a White pawn who falls in love with… the Black Queen! You can watch them at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7P9IO63UAvk (Chess Nuts) and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QmnpUS6mro (Chess love story).
You’ve probably already heard of “Geri’s game”. This 1997 short animated film, made by Pixar, even won an Oscar. Now you can watch it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-q2B1QquzP8. Geri later had a cameo appearance in “Toy Story 2” as the toy cleaner who works on Woody; inside the box of his cleaning kit, viewers can see a collection of chess pieces.
The most interesting non-animated video you can find on the web, undoubtedly, is “Chess fever”. This 1925 silent movie has amongst his characters José Raúl Capablanca (!), but you can also have the only opportunity to watch legendary players such as Ernst Grunfeld, Frank Marshall, Richard Reti, Rudolph Spielmann, Carlos Torre and others in action. Here is the link to the movie.
You can find a complete list of movies where chess have their part at http://movie-chess.hemobile.de/.
Now you’ve eaten your Easter egg I will mention another (interesting?) address: http://kasparovagent.com/index.php. Can you imagine whose site is this? Not his… But you can find some curious material on it, such as a picture where Garry poses with Arnold Swarzenegger. Garry posed with me, too, in Turin (2004) and I posed with… Swarzy :-) at Madam Tussaud's, in London, five years ago. Well, I can say we’re a big and happy family :-)
And now let’s speak about "real" chess. Yesterday a strong rapid tournament started in Spain: the Festival Villa de Cañada de Calatrava. Anand, Mamedyarov, J. Polgar, Grischuk, Shirov, Sasikiran (who all have a perfect score after 3 rounds), Gelfand, Ivanchuk, Bacrot, Milov, Karpov and some other strong GMs are amongst the participants. Official site: http://www.koali.com/festival/index_en.html. The event will end tomorrow.
And what’s about the European championship? After round 4 twelve players have 3.5 points in the main open section, but there is a long list of GMs, IMs and even masters with 3: they are no less than 69! In the women group two players (Mamedjarova and T. Kosintseva) still have a perfect score. Games and various links on my Italian site: www.messaggeroscacchi.it.
And now here is a quick win by Shirov in Spain.

Tahirov,F (2540) – Shirov,A (2699) [A21], Canada de Calatrava 6.4.2007
1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Bb4 3. Qc2 Nf6 4. a3 Bxc3 5. Qxc3 Nc6 6. b4 O-O 7. e3 d5 8. cxd5 Qxd5 9. b5 Nd4 10. exd4 exd4 11. Qc4 Re8+ 12. Kd1 Qh5+ 13. Be2 Qg6 14. Nf3 Be6 15. Qc2 d3 16. Qxd3 Bf5 17. Qc4 Rxe2 18. Nh4 Qh5 19. Qxe2 Bc2+ 20. Ke1 Re8 21. Qxe8+ Nxe8 0-1

2007/04/06

“Dear Mr. President”: open letters to Fide

Ok, now I can stop complaining. European championship site has published all games from the three first rounds and today the fourth will be played; standings are finally available both on the official site and on Chess-results.com; sun is shining and birds are chirping.
The problem is that more serious complaints about various arguments have been posed to Fide’s attention in the last days. First of all, an open letter by Stefan Sergiev, President of the Bulgarian Chess Federation, who simply asks why Fide has changed many decisions in the recent past, not for speaking about the April rating list (!). Well, we assume that Bulgarian federation has never noticed that Ilyumzhinov & Co. have already changed their decisions dozen of times in the past. Here is the most interesting points of the letter (the full article is on www.veselintopalov.net).
“Dear Mr. Ilymzhinov,
We are unpleasantly surprised at the constant modifications in the positions and the resolutions of the Board of FIDE. […]
The candidate matches, which will be played in Elista starting May 25, should have taken place ten days later according to your previous decision. However, that did not happen. The actual date, immediately after the end of one of the most prestigious tournaments of the year – M-tel Masters, affects to certain extent the participants. What was the problem the candidate matches to be played 10 days later?[…]
According to the information published on the official FIDE web page, the rank list from April 01, 2007 should include tournaments completed by February 28. Why is that not observed? Why and who changes the rules? […]
Why did you not accept the bank guarantees of 2 Million Dollars for organizing and carrying out the match between V. Topalov and V. Kramnik? The argument that the term is not kept is not convincing.[…]
Mr. Ilymzhinov, the Bulgarian Chess Federation and Veselin Topalov himself have been very well disposed towards you. The fact that Mr. Topalov had agreed to play a match with V. Kramnik in Elista, predetermined to a great extent your electoral victory on the last congress in Torino.
I turn to you with the kind request to stop your rough and ill disposed behavior towards Veselin Topalov and do all possible that he takes part in the competition for the world title.[…]”.
And now here is a more serious complaint from top Moroccan players about presumed falsifications and irregularities committed by their national federation. You can read the full story on www.maroc-echecs.com.
“Dear Mr. President,
We are writing an open letter to you regarding our previous complaint about the large scale falsifications of some International Arbiter applications that were submitted to FIDE by the Moroccan Chess Federation in the last few years. This scandal has affected Morocco’s image both at the Arab and international levels.
One year ago, we informed the ACP about these fraudulent misconducts. In this complaint, which has been immediately forwarded to FIDE, we have pinpointed serious irregularities and provided strong evidence of deliberate falsification. […]The FIDE Ethics Commission has recognized that the accusation is serious and since then open investigations have been conducted. Some of us were even heard by the Ethic Commission during the Turin Olympiad.
These falsifications are unfortunately only an example of the many irregularities committed by the Moroccan federation, which includes a regrettably wicked and chaotic management and a flagrant abuse of power resulting in arbitrary and excessive sanctions against some players, club managers and presidents of regional leagues.[…]
In September 2006, Moroccan top players have decided to boycott all the activities of the Moroccan Chess Federation until a new federal board is elected.[…]
An urgent decision of the Ethics Commission FIDE concerning the fake IA title applications would certainly help the whole Moroccan chess community to step over the current chaotic situation and look forward to a better future for Moroccan chess.[…]”.
Note that Turin is mentioned in both letters :-). On the Fide official site you obviously won’t find anything about these two complaints. In return :-), you will find special wishes “to His Excellency Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, FIDE President and Head of the Republic of Kalmykia”, for his 45th birthday (he was born on April 5, 1952). Well, Mr. President, we hope that after your party Fide will consider this last letter seriously…
And now here is a crushing win by Andrei Volokitin in round 3 of the Euro championship in Dresden. The young Ukrainian is one of the five players who still have a perfect score. As usual, you can download all games from the first three rounds of the event on my Italian site, www.messaggeroscacchi.it.

Volokitin, A (2654) - Petrosian, T (2580) [B96], Dresden 05.04.2007
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Nbd7 8. Qf3 Qc7 9. g4 b5 10. Bxf6 Nxf6 11. g5 Nd7 12. O-O-O Bb7 13. Bh3 Rc8 14. Rhe1 Qc4 15. Bf1 Qc5 16. a3 b4 17. axb4 Qxb4 18. Qh3 g6 19. f5 e5 20. Nb3 Be7 21. f6 Bf8 22. Re3 h6 23. Nd5 Qa4 24. Be2 Rc6 25. Bg4 Nc5 26. Kb1 Kd8 27. Nxc5 Rxc5 28. Rc3 Rc6 29. Rxc6 Bxc6 30. Qe3 Qb5 31. Rd3 Qc5 32. Rb3 Bxd5 33. Rb8+ 1-0

2007/04/05

What's going on in Dresden?

Ok, tell me this is a joke. Two days has passed, but the official site of the European chess championship (http://www.dresden2008.de/) is still far from being perfect. You can find all games from round 1 now, but it took more than one day to make all of them downloadable in the same file. We are waiting for those of round 2: you can only view the top 40 chessboards of the Men event on the official site and some of the Women section on Monroi.com site at the moment.
Another deplorable fact is that all player ratings reported on the mentioned site are those of the January list. But we are in April and the tourney opened on the 3rd day of the month, when Fide had already made some corrections, adding Morelia/Linares tournament. So why ratings haven’t been updated?
We can’t find standings or bullettins neither (or am I blind?), but we hope that they are available for players at least.
Well, now stop complaining and let’s have a look to the second round of the event. Many draws on the top boards, some good games and some big blunders. As usual. 34 players have a perfect score and will fight each other in the third round. Italian GM Michele Godena has 1.5/2: his next opponent will be Spanish GM Francisco Vallejo Pons, who will be the special guest (and top rated player) at the Italian team championship final in two weeks. The final will take place in Palermo, Sicily, from April 20 to 22 and Italian organisers have planned a 3 days “full immersion” with Paco before the event. For more details you can write an email and ask to bersek@accademiascacchi.it or info@centroscacchi.it (or/and visit my italian Blog on MS: www.messaggeroscacchi.it/dblog).
Now it’s time for sleeping (I usually go to bed quite late, but I have to wake up early this morning…). So here is a nice game from round 2, another win by Jakovenko… and good night!
I almost forgot… You can find all games from round 1 and 40 from round 2 of the European championship on my italian chess site: they are all in the same file :-) – www.messaggeroscacchi.it (www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/europeo07.html is the direct link to the Euro champ section).

Jakovenko,D (2708) – Bobras,P (2545) [C77], Dresden 04.04.2007
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. Qe2 b5 6. Bb3 Be7 7. c3 O-O 8. d4 exd4 9. e5 Ne8 10. cxd4 d5 11. Nc3 Bg4 12. Be3 Bb4 13. O-O Ne7 14. h3 Bh5 15. g4 Bg6 16. Nh4 c6 17. f4 f5 18. exf6 Nxf6 19. f5 Bf7 20. g5 Ne4 21. g6 hxg6 22. Nxe4 dxe4 23. fxg6 Bxb3 24. Qh5 1-0