A tribute to Anthony Santasiere

Anthony Edward Santasiere was a strong American chess master, born December 9, 1904. He was US Open Champion in 1945 and three times New York State Champion. Along his career, he beat strong opponents such as Frank Marshall (1931), Arthur Bisguier (1945), Robert Byrne (1946), Larry Evans (1946), Italian Enrico Paoli (1953) and even young Bobby Fischer (1957 – with whom he got a score of 1.5-0.5). Santasiere is best known for the Opening 'Santasiere's Folly' 1.Nf3 followed by 2.b4, but he contributed to chess theory with some others peculiar ideas. You cand find a short biografy of him at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Santasiere and a good collection of his games at http://www.chessgames.com/player/anthony_santasiere.html.
When I was a fighting candidate master I’ve often played the b4 Wing gambit to face Sicilian defence. I found out Santasiere’s idea of putting up a strong pawn center with 3.c4 (after 1.e4 c5 2. b4 cxb4) in a book printed in 1985: “Sicilian defence – Wing gambits” by Thomas Kapitaniak. There was less than half a page dedicated to this line, but it attracted me a lot.
Here is the paragraph.
“1.e4 c5 2.b4 cxb4 3.c4!? e5
Also possible is 3…bxc3 4.Nc3 e5 5.f4 d6 6.d4 exd4 7.Qxd4 Nc6 8.Bb5 Bd7 with an unclear game.
4.Bb2 Nc6 5.Nf3 d6 6.d4 Bg4 7.d5 Nd4
7…Nb8 is worse, for example 8.Be2 Na6 9.Nxe5 Bxe2 10.Qa4+ and White stands better.
8.Bxd4 exd4 9.Qa4+ Qd7 10.Qxb4 Be7
with a position full of tactical possibilities. A. E. Santasiere gives a lot of interesting ideas on this variation, but without serious practical game experience it is very difficult to definitely evaluate this variation”.

Santasiere analized this variation in a period where computers didn’t even exist and Fritz was just a (German) name. He concentrated his attention on 3.c4 bxc3 4.Nc3 e5 5.f4, a Wing-King gambit which, in his analysis, gives a very good compensation for White. Unfortunately Black has a more promising defence then 3…bxc3/4…e5 and can also play 6…exd4 in the main line reported above, as in Hector-Kudrin, Baleares open 1989, the only game I know in which two GMs have met on this ground.
My personal experience with “Santasiere gambit” is not so good. I’ve won some games, I’ve lost some others, but I’ve almost never obtained a good compensation after the opening. Playing a tournament in Lecco twelve years ago, I won with Black against Alberto Miatello, who is now a candidate master. After the game Alberto told me: “What a pity! I had a surprise for you, but I played with the wrong pieces!”. He knew I would have played 2.b4 Wing gambit and then 3.c4 against Sicilian and he was prepared for it. After 1.e4 c5 2.b4 cxb4 3.c4 e5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.Bb2 he had planned 5…Bc5 6.Nxe5 Qf6. This is not a new idea: Santasiere himself gives a quick look to it in his analysis. Unfortunately the American master doesn’t evaluate it correctly: after 7.d4 Black is all but forced to playing 7…Bxd4. The strongest move is 7…Nxe5, after which White has a forced variation: 8.dxc5 (8.dxe5 Qxf2#) 8…Nf3+ 9.gxf3 Qxb3 10.Nd2. Ok, White is not losing and the position is about equal. But nobody plays a gambit to reach such a position.
That’s why I’ve soon left this variation and tried another line: 3.d4 with the idea 3…d5 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.c4 bxc3 6.Nxc3, gaining a tempo for developing pieces.
I only play blitz games on the web nowadays and I’ve sometimes employed the “old Santasiere”; after losing too many games against less rated opponents, I’ve tried a new idea, a postponed Santasiere: 1.e4 c5 2.b4 cxb4 3.a3 bxa3 (you can’t obviously play this variation in case of 3…d5 :-( ) 4.c4. I won a (quite) nice 3 minutes game with this opening just a few weeks ago (ok, it is not perfect…) and I report it here, as well as two other wins achieved with Santasiere Wing gambit in 1994 and 1977 (not by me :-) ). Anthony E. Santasiere died January 13, 1977, 30 years ago: this is my little tribute to him.

Mione,D (2254) – “Mataphor” [B20], Playchess 6.3.2007
1. e4 c5 2. b4 cxb4 3. a3 bxa3 4. c4 d6 5. d4 e6 6. Bxa3 Nf6 7. Bd3 Be7 8. Nf3 O-O 9. Bb2 Nc6 10. O-O e5 11. Nbd2 Bg4 12. Qb1 exd4 13. Nxd4 Nxd4 14. Bxd4 b6 15. h3 Be6 16. f4 Ne8 17. e5 g6 18. f5 dxe5 19. Bc3 Bc5+ 20. Kh1 Bd7 21. Bxe5 Ng7 22. Bxg7 Kxg7 23. f6+ Kh8 24. Ne4 Bd4 25. Qc1 Rg8 26. Qh6 Qf8 27. Ng5 1-0

Bungo,G - Puckett,M [B20], USA-open Chicago 1994
1.e4 c5 2.b4 cxb4 3.c4 bxc3 4.Cxc3 d6 5.d4 Cf6 6.f4 e6 7.Cf3 Ae7 8.Ad3 0-0 9.0-0 b6 10.De2 Ab7 11.Ab2 Cbd7 12.Tad1 Tc8 13.e5 dxe5 14.dxe5 Cd5 15.Cxd5 Axd5 16.f5 Dc7 17.f6 gxf6 18.exf6 Axf6 19.Cg5 Axg5 20.Axh7+ Rxh7 21.Dh5+ Ah6 22.Txf7+ 1-0

Hannibal,T - Church,J [B20], Cleveland open 1977
1.e4 c5 2.b4 cxb4 3.c4 bxc3 4.Cxc3 e5 5.f4 exf4 6.Cf3 g5 7.Ac4 Ag7 8.d4 Cc6 9.0-0 g4 10.Ce5 Cxe5 11.dxe5 Axe5 12.Axf7+ Rf8 13.Axf4 Db6+ 14.Rh1 Axf4 15.Txf4 Ch6 16.Cd5 Db2 17.Ah5+ Rg7 18.Tb1 De5 19.Axg4 Tf8 20.Txf8 Rxf8 21.Df3+ Rg7 22.Tf1 Rg6 23.Ah5+ Rg5 24.g3 1-0


Kramnik, two draws for the glory

Chess holiday is over. With two draws in the final round Vladimir Kramnik became the absolute and sole winner of the 16th Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament, held in Monte Carlo. This is the sixth title for the world champion in this competition: he had already won it in 1996, 1998 (shared with Shirov), 1999, 2001 (shared with Topalov) and 2004 (shared with Morozevich). Kramnik’s performance in the blindfold tourney was the basis of his success. He scored 9 points out of 11, half a point short of the record that Morozevich set last year. The rapid tourney was dominated by Vishy Anand, who finished with 8.5/11 and placed second in the combined standings.
The last round of the event saw seven draws, four wins for Black and only one for White. The shortest game was the blind one between Peter Svidler and Alexander Morozevich: Moro played a sharp French defence and took the initiative with 13...g5, then Svidler blundered with 17.Ne3 (better was 17.Nf2), 18.exf6 (18.Ng4) and the horrible 19.f7 (19.Qh4), after which Moro decided the game in his favour with the simple and brilliant 19...Rxg2+.
The competition, as usual, was a mix of big blunders, nice combinations and interesting innovations in the openings. You can download all games from my italian site www.messaggeroscacchi.it (the page of "Amber" tourney is www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/amber07.html); you can also find on it an on-line viewer and full results.
The next big event in the international chess calendar will be Mtel Masters in Sofia (May 9th-20th, official site: www.mtelmasters.com/en), followed by Candidates Matches for the 2007 World Championship in Elista (27 May-13 June, official site to be announced).
And now here is the above mentioned game Svidler-Morozevich from Melody Amber.

Svidler,P (2728)-Morozevich,A (2741) [C11], Melody Amber (Blindfold) 17.03.2007
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 a6 8. Qd2 b5 9. a3 Bb7 10. Bd3 Qc7 11. O-O O-O-O 12. Nd1 cxd4 13. Nxd4 g5 14. Nxc6 Qxc6 15. Bd4 gxf4 16. Qxf4 Rg8 17. Ne3 f6 18. exf6 e5 19. f7 Rxg2+ 0-1


Amber: Vlad secures first place

Vladimir Kramnik has almost secured first place in Monte Carlo. Yesterday the russian GM drew both his games in round 10 against his compatriot and friend Peter Svidler and keeps a 2 points lead over Anand and Ivanchuk. He now needs only a draw with Paco Vallejo to be the absolute winner of "Melody Amber" 2007, but in any case he has already won the blindfold competition, as Vishy has secured the best result in the rapid one. Another big blunder have been played before the end of the competition by a superGM. Just yesterday Armenian star Levon Aronian lost 2-0 with Radjabov, giving him a piece for nothing at move 7 of the rapid game in a Trompovsky Attack (he fell in a well known trap). Very sad... In a few hours the competition will be closed and we are sure that in the next classical events there won't be so many blunders. Anyway, we can alreday congratulate with world champion Vladimir Kramnik for his convincing success.
Speaking about world champions, five days ago "The Times magazine" (www.timesonline.co.uk) published an interview with Garry Kasparov, in which the former number on of the chess world says he fears "that he could be poisoned because of his forthright criticisms of President Putin". That's why he try to avoid "flying by Aeroflot, the Russian state airline". Kasparov "has repeatedly denounced 'Putin’s corrupt regime' and is a key player in a new antigovernment coalition called Other Russia. He said that when in Russia he had armed bodyguards and that his phones were tapped and he was frequently followed. This month he addressed an opposition rally in St Petersburg that was violently broken up by the police. Kasparov was subsequently denounced on Russian state television as a CIA spy". Poor Garry!
And now here is a quite amazing blindfold game from round 10 of Amber tourney: Morozevich-Carlsen. Quoting the official site (www.amberchess.com), "after 12.Nb5 the Norwegian youngster had to improvise and chose 12…Kd7 having rejected the pawn sacrifice 12…Rc8. Despite the awkward position of the king Carlsen thought he was OK, but he criticized 14…Bd6, where 14…b5 would have been better. ‘His 20.Qg4 was very strong and I didn’t see what I should do. After 20…g6 he has 21.Qf4, so I went 20…g5, but of course this is a terrible weakening. After 21.f4 I was basically lost’".

Morozevich,A (2741)-Carlsen,M (2690) [E15], Melody Amber (Blindfold) 28.03.2007
1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 b6 4. g3 Ba6 5. Qb3 c6 6. Nc3 d5 7. cxd5 cxd5 8. Bf4 Bc4 9. Qd1 Nc6 10. Nd2 Ba6 11. Qa4 Bb7 12. Nb5 Kd7 13. Bg2 a6 14. Nc3 Bd6 15. Bxd6 Kxd6 16. e4 b5 17. e5+ Kc7 18. Qd1 Nd7 19. Nb3 Rc8 20. Qg4 g5 21. f4 h6 22. O-O Kb8 23. Rad1 Ka8 24. fxg5 hxg5 25. Rxf7 Ndxe5 26. dxe5 Qb6+ 27. Nd4 Nxe5 28. Rxb7 Kxb7 29. Qxe6 Qxe6 30. Nxe6 g4 31. Nf4 Ka7 32. Rxd5 Nf3+ 33. Bxf3 gxf3 34. Rd7+ Kb8 35. h4 b4 36. Ne4 Rc2 37. Rd2 Rhc8 38. Rxc2 Rxc2 39. h5 Rxb2 40. h6 Rb1+ 41. Kh2 Rb2+ 42. Kh3 Rb1 43. Kg4 Rh1 44. Nh3 f2 45. Nexf2 1-0


Italian politicians love chess

Last November the British parliament passed the Charities bill, which among other things changed the definition of sport. The Charities Act 2006 has defined sport all the activities “which promote health by involving physical or mental skill or exertion". This definition enables chess associations/clubs to obtain charitable status, albeit subject to satisfying the requirements of the Charity Commission. The first group of provisions came into force on 27th February 2007, when the first commencement order took effect.
Chess is played by more than four million people in Britain and is second only to football in popularity. The game is less popular in Italy, in spite of being recognised as a sport some years earlier than in Britain; unfortunately it doesn’t receive any support or fund from Italian government, but Italian politicians seem to appreciate chess a lot. While Senate was giving final approval to a decree that provides funding for all Italian missions abroad, a man was making war on his lap-top: yes, he was playing a chess game… The chess fan is Giannicola Sinisi, member of “Ulivo”, the main party of the centre-left coalition which supports prime minister Romano Prodi. Italian newspaper "Il Manifesto" has published the picture you can see above in its front page, with this title: "War game". You can find the news (in italian) at this address and an interview with Sinisi (in italian, again) about the fact at this one.


Chess, jewels and a crown for Kramnik

I found out this curiosity only yesterday, but it is a quite old story. About two years ago a company was formed to market a real expensive creation: a 5 million pound chess set. No, you can't buy it at the shop around the corner. The name of the company was "Jewel Royal": the precious chess set was constructed of gold and platinum and decorated with 73 rubies, 146 sapphires and no less than 748 diamonds. Each piece was made from 18 carat yellow gold and encrusted with precious stones. The king alone was worth more than £100,000. This company had and has an official web-site, too (http://www.jewelroyale.com), on which you can read that "a limited number of £20,000 replica sets will be available for product competition prizes, national news paper promotions and special publicity events". The last news, dated 6th April 2006, was really interesting: "Award winning writer, Clifford Thurlow, has been commissioned to write a thriller entitled Checkmate. Work started in February on the book. The central plot is based around the Jewel Royale Chess Set. With a series of sub plots and nail biting suspense, the book is set to be a best seller". And then? Silence. We hope to hear soon about the chess set and the announced best seller, or we'll have to think the creation has been stolen (or the whole thing is a joke...)!
And now let's speak about something serious. Vladimir Kramnik has almost secured first place at "Amber" tourney, beating Carlsen 1.5-0.5 in the ninth round. The world champion drew the blindfold game and convincingly won the rapid with a piece sacrifice. Quoting the official site (www.amberchess.com), "in a Botvinnik Slav Kramnik introduced a strong novelty, 14.axb5, after which the black position is hard to play. Kramnik wasn’t too happy to introduce such an important theoretical improvement in a rapid game, but there was a good excuse: ‘I’m fighting for first place. I don’t think I would have played it if I were on 50 per cent’. Carlsen failed to find a remedy against Kramnik’s new plan and after 20…Qb7 21.Qh5 he was totally lost".
Vlad now has a two points lead over Vishy Anand (1-1 with Aronian) and Vassily Ivanchuk (1.5-0.5 with Leko).
You can find full results, pairings and all games on my italian site, www.messaggeroscacchi.it (the page of "Amber" tourney is www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/amber07.html). And now here is the win by Kramnik.

Kramnik,V (2766)-Carlsen,M (2690) [D37], Melody Amber (rapid) 27.03.2007
1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. d4 dxc4 5. e4 Bb4 6. Bg5 b5 7. a4 c6 8. e5 h6 9. exf6 hxg5 10. fxg7 Rg8 11. g3 Bb7 12. Bg2 c5 13. O-O g4 14. axb5 gxf3 15. Bxf3 Bxf3 16. Qxf3 Nd7 17. dxc5 Bxc3 18. bxc3 Nxc5 19. Rfd1 Qc8 20. Rd6 Qb7 21. Qh5 Rc8 22. Rc6 Nd3 23. Rxc8+ Qxc8 24. Rxa7 1-0


From chess prodigy to Tai Chi champion

Do you recognize the guy in the picture? No? Well, don't worry. He is a Tai Chi Chuan push hands champion nowadays and you haven't certainly played him in recent chess tournaments. But in childhood he was a chess prodigy and the american (chess) community hoped he would have become the new Bobby Fischer. Yes, this guy is Josh Waitzkin, subject of the book and movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer" (in which you can find famous Hollywood stars such as Joe Mantegna, Ben Kingsley, Laurence Fishburne, William H. Macy, Laura Linney and others). Josh walked away from chess about seven years ago, when he was 24, becoming very interested in learning about Buddhist, Taoist philosophies and Tai Chi. In the last years he was also busy writing his first non-chess book, "The art of learning", which will be released by Simon and Schuster's Free Press on May 8. In this book "Waitzkin looks back at his accomplishments, revealing how he managed to become an iconic figure in two very different fields of competition—one for the mind and one for the body"; he also "explains the principles of learning and concentration that have propelled him through so many daunting contests". You can find more informations on Josh's official site, http://www.joshwaitzkin.com.
Coming back to chess arguments, yesterday there were really tough battles at "Amber" tourney in Monte Carlo. After blundering a lot in the first part of the event, Vishy Anand is now playing at his best and in round 8 he didn't give any chance to Spanish Francisco Vallejo, winning both blindfold and rapid games. He is now in second place with 10.5 points out of 16, but Vladimir Kramnik, who is 1 point and a half ahead, keeps being clear favourite for the title. The most interesting match played yesterday was the one between Vassily Ivanchuk and young Norwegian star Magnus Carlsen. Less than one month ago Carlsen won both his games with Chuky in Morelia/Linares and result hasn't changed too much: their first game in Monaco was drawn, but Magnus crushed his opponent in the second with a nice exchange sacrifice. Here is the game: note that 16...Bf6 is a big mistake: 16...Bxd6 would have led to an unclear position.

Carlsen,M (2690)-Ivanchuk,V (2750) [E15], Melody Amber (Rapid) 25.03.2007
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Ba6 5. Qc2 c5 6. d5 exd5 7. cxd5 Bb7 8. Bg2 Nxd5 9. O-O Be7 10. Rd1 Nc6 11. Qf5 Nf6 12. e4 g6 13. Qf4 O-O 14. e5 Nh5 15. Qg4 d5 16. exd6 Bf6 17. Nc3 Nd4 18. Nxd4 Bxg2 19. Nf5 Bc6 20. d7 Qc7 21. Nd5 Bxd5 22. Rxd5 Rfd8 23. Be3 Bxb2 24. Nh6+ Kf8 25. Rad1 Bg7 26. Rxh5 gxh5 27. Qf5 1-0


Sammour-Hasbun surprise winner on ICC

Palestinian master Jorge Sammour-Hasbun is the surprise winner of the VIII Internet Chess Tournament "Ciudad de Dos Hermanas". Sammour-Hasbun, 28 years old, was the only player without a Fide title (he has a 2449 rating) and became champion by beating five GMs: Daniel Fridman (2626, 3-2), Gadir Guseinov (2585, 3-0), Kiril Georgiev (2661, 2.5-1.5), Rasul Ibrahimov (2530, 3-1) and Tigran Petrosian (2592, 3.5-2.5). Petrosian reached the final taking the scalps of strong opponents such as Shahriyar Mamedyarov (2754) and Hikaru Nakamura (2651); Gata Kamsky (2705) lost in the 1/8 final to Ibrahimov. To stop cheating rumors there were proctors in place for the last games. You can find all results and games of the event at this address: http://www.chessclub.com/resources/event/doshermanas2007.
Waiting for 2008 Chess Olympiads in Dresden (Germany), you can download here the intro to documentary of 2006 Olympiads, held in Torino: the hymn is a composition by Italian Ennio Morricone, who received an Honorary Oscar at this year's Academy Awards from Clint Eastwood.
And now here are two games from "Dos Hermanas" Internet tourney. White wins in both cases thanks to a crushing attack against Black King.

Nakamura,H (2651) - Har-Zvi, R (2515) [B80], ICC 23.03.2007
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e6 7. g4 h6 8. f3 b5 9. Qd2 Bb7 10. O-O-O Nbd7 11. h4 b4 12. Na4 Qa5 13. b3 Nc5 14. a3 Nxa4 15. axb4 Qc7 16. bxa4 d5 17. e5 Nd7 18. f4 Nb6 19. Rh3 Nxa4 20. c4 dxc4 21. Qc2 Nb6 22. Nxe6 fxe6 23. Bxb6 Qxb6 24. Qg6+ Ke7 25. f5 Bd5 26. Rxd5 1-0

Abbasov,F (2444) - Zinchenko,Y (2507) [D97], ICC 23.03.2007
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Qb3 dxc4 6. Qxc4 O-O 7. e4 a6 8. e5 b5 9. Qb3 Nfd7 10. e6 fxe6 11. h4 Nf6 12. h5 Nxh5 13. Be3 Nc6 14. a4 b4 15. Ne4 Nf6 16. Qc2 Qd5 17. Nc5 Qd6 18. O-O-O Rb8 19. Bc4 Na5 20. Be2 b3 21. Qd2 Nc6 22. Bf4 Qd5 23. Bxc7 Rb4 24. Be5 Ne4 25. Nxe4 Qxe4 26. Bd3 Qd5 27. Bxg7 Kxg7 28. Rxh7+ Kxh7 29. Rh1+ Kg8 30. Qh6 Rxf3 31. Qh8+ Kf7 32. Rh7# 1-0


Italian Brunetti special guest in Mtel 2007

Italian candidate master Alex Brunetti from Como will be the special guest in Mtel Masters 2007, which takes place in Sofia starting May 9th until 20th. Brunetti (president of the italian group "Chess and computer science" - his own site is http://www.e4e6.com) is the last year winner of the game "Guess Topalov's move" (he guessed 209 moves of the bulgarian superGM in Mtel 2006): this year he has the chance to face up the former world champion in person.
The participants of the supertourney will be six of the top 25 GMs in the January Fide list: Veselin Topalov (last year winner), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Michael Adams, Gata Kamsky, Krishnan Sasikiran and Liviu Dieter Nisipeanu; the competition will be category XIX or XX. The tournament will be a double round robin; in case of equal score after the last round a tie break will be played. As in previous editions, Sofia Rule will be strictly applied, so draw-offers will be allowed only through the Chief-Arbiter in three cases: a triple-repetition of the position, a perpetual check and in theoretically drawn positions.
In the rest day (May 19) Veselin Topalov will play chess in the park in front of Grand Hotel Sofia (venue of the tournament). Official site to be announced soon (last year was http://www.mtelmasters06.com/en).
Waiting for Sofia, a strong tourney finished yesterday in Zafra (Spain), birthplace of Ruy Lopez, to whom the event was dedicated. Armenian GM Gabriel Sargissian scored 6.5/7 in the main XV category group, with a 3021 performance. Peruvian GM Julio Granda Zuniga and former Fide champion Ruslan Ponomariov were second with 4 points. Official spanish site: http://ruylopez.juntaextremadura.net/modules/news/. Here is a nice win by Sargissian against Pono: the critical move is 31.Rg1, after which Black can't play 31... Rxg1 32.Rxg1 Rxg1 because White has 33.h7 and the pawn is unstoppable.

Sargissian,G (2658) - Ponomariov,R (2723) [D20], Zafra 21.03.2007
1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e4 Nf6 4. e5 Nd5 5. Bxc4 Nb6 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. Be3 Be6 8. Nc3 Bc4 9. Bxc4 Nxc4 10. Qb3 N6a5 11. Qc2 e6 12. Nf3 Nc6 13. O-O Nb4 14. Qe4 Nd5 15. Bg5 Nxc3 16. bxc3 Qd5 17. Qxd5 exd5 18. Nd2 Nxd2 19. Bxd2 f5 20. h3 Be7 21. g4 Rf8 22. Kg2 Kd7 23. Rab1 b6 24. a4 h5 25. gxh5 Rh8 26. h6 g5 27. h4 g4 28. f3 Rag8 29. fxg4 Rxg4+ 30. Kf3 Rhg8 31. Rg1 Bxh4 32. Rxg4 fxg4+ 33. Kg2 Ke6 34. Rh1 Be7 35. Kg3 Kf5 36. h7 Rh8 37. Rh5+ Kg6 38. Kxg4 Bf8 39. e6 1-0


Amber V: Vishy's revenge

After blundering and losing blindfold games playing like a child :-(, Vishy Anand took his revenge in round 5. His victim was Loek Van Wely, who has become the ideal opponent to be beaten with brilliant combinations. Dutch GM was already crushed in round 1 of the blindfold event by a brilliant piece sacrifice (remember his game against Chuky?) and yesterday came Anand's turn: indian superstar put up a blistering attack with 19.g6! and finished the game in great style, sacrificing a rook and offering his queen. "Maybe I should have played 18...g6 instead of 18...Qc7", told Van Wely to his opponent after the game. And he is probably right... Anand won the rapid game, too, and thanks to Kramnik's loss (1.5-0.5) against Chuky he is now just 1 point behind the three leaders: Aronian, Ivanchuk and Vlad. As usual, you can find full results, pairings and all games on my italian site, www.messaggeroscacchi.it (the page of "Amber" tourney is www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/amber07.html). And now let's see the brilliant win by Anand in the 5th blindfold game.

Anand,V (2779) - Van Wely,L (2683) [B90], Melody Amber (Blindfold) 2007
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. Qd2 Be7 9. f3 O-O 10. O-O-O Nbd7 11. g4 b5 12. Rg1 Nb6 13. Na5 Qc7 14. g5 Nfd7 15. Nd5 Bxd5 16. exd5 Nxd5 17. Qxd5 Qxa5 18. Bd3 Qc7 19. g6 Nf6 20. gxf7+ Kh8 21. Rxg7 Kxg7 22. Rg1+ Kh8 23. Bh6 Ng4 24. Rxg4 Rxf7 25. Qxa8+ 1-0


Dos Hermanas: great battle on the web

Great battle on the web. For the eighth year running, the ICC playing zone is hosting the Internet Chess Tournament "Ciudad de Dos Hermanas". This event has become one of the most important Internet chess tournaments in the world, featuring the largest number of participants. In the present edition more than 1850 players from all over the world took part in the twelve qualifiers (free entry, even for non-ICC members). Lots of GMs and IMs battled their way through to the final, which will take place 23rd-24th March (the games will start at 3pm server time – 8pm Central European time): amongst the contenders for the first place there will be top-class players such as Shahriyar Mamedyarov, Gata Kamsky, Kiril Georgiev, Hikaru Nakamura, Zurab Azmaiparashvili, Daniel Fridman and Zhang Zhong. The prize fund is 7.700 euros, with a first prize of 1.800 euros.
Italian players tried their best, but didn’t succeed in qualifying for the 32 ko final stage. GM Michele Godena placed eleventh with 9/12 in the 12th and last qualifier (while MF Maurizio Brancaleoni and MF Dario Mione :-) scored 8 points each, placing 26th and 27th), IM Luca Shytaj was 12th with 9/12 in the tenth. Nice “virtual atmosphere” and good organisation in almost every tournament. You can find all results (and even games!) at http://www.chessclub.com/resources/event/doshermanas2007.
Here is a nice win by dutch GM Ian Smeets against azeri GM Namig Guliyev in the 11th qualifier. Unfortunately White combination is uncorrect: after 29.Qg7+?? (29.h7! Rxg3 30.h8=Q+ Rg8 31.Qh6+ Rg7 32.Rg4 would have won on the spot) 29... Rxg7 30.hxg7+ Kg8! (and not 30...Kxg7??) Black has a decisive advantage. Smeets is the only player who made a perfect score in the first stage.

Smeets, Ian (2538) -Guliyev, Namig (2545) [B90], ICC 21.03.2007
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e6 7. g4 h6 8. h4 Nc6 9. Rg1 h5 10. gxh5 Nxh5 11. Qd2 Nf6 12. O-O-O Bd7 13. Bg5 Rc8 14. Be2 b5 15. Nxc6 Bxc6 16. Qe3 Qa5 17. Kb1 b4 18. Bxf6 gxf6 19. Nd5 Be7 20. h5 exd5 21. exd5 Bb5 22. Rge1 Qc7 23. Bg4 Rb8 24. Rd4 Kf8 25. Re4 Re8 26. h6 Qd8 27. Bf5 Bd7 28. Qg3 Rg8 29. Qg7+ Rxg7 30. hxg7+ Kxg7 31. Rg4+ Kf8 32. Rh1 Bxf5 33. Rh8# 1-0


Fun and horror in Monte Carlo

An anecdote from Amber tourney in Monte Carlo. As official site (www.amberchess.com) reports, in the fourth round "the blindfold game between Teimour Radjabov and Vasily Ivanchuk saw a funny ‘incident’ when the Azerbaijani grandmaster asked the arbiter permission to go to the toilet. Normally speaking the players can go there alone if they go through a door at the back of the playing room and follow a route that doesn’t allow them to see any of the monitors where the games are shown. As this door turned out to be locked Radjabov had to go through the other door, but in this case he’d be able to see the monitors for the spectators in the playing room if he turned around. So, accompanied by chief arbiter Geurt Gijssen he left the room watching straight ahead and when he came back he had to cover his eyes with a napkin!".
But there's more and it's quite sad for Anand's supporters: "The blindfold game between Vladimir Kramnik and Vishy Anand produced the biggest blindfold error so far. To be honest, the ‘clash’ between two of the favourites had not been too exciting when in a drawish ending, where White was only marginally better, Anand played his rook to f2, assuming he was trading it there for its white counterpart. Unfortunately for him that white rook was on f1, a fact that had not escaped Kramnik’s mind, which one move later meant the end of the game". Before this mistake Vishy had already blundered a piece: as explained, he just didn't remember the position of his enemy's Rook...
As usual, you can find full results, pairings and all games on my italian site, www.messaggeroscacchi.it (the page of "Amber" tourney is www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/amber07.html).


Blindfold blunders at "Melody Amber"

What's going on in Monte Carlo? Top seed Vishy Anand, who will be number one in the next Fide list, and armenian star Levon Aronian, winner of Corus supertournament in January, resigned after only 23 moves against their respective opponents (Ivanchuk and Gelfand) in the third blindfold game. A negative record for both of them and, incidentally, in the same day. Most curious, they both took prompt revenge in rapid games, so that Vishy is now fourth in combined standings with 3.5 points out of 6, Levon is second with 4.5. Sole leader is world champion Vladimir Kramnik, the only player who hasn't lost a game so far.
Let's see the above mentioned games lost by the two superGMs. In Gelfand-Aronian White completely dominated: 14.exd5! (a strong reply to 13...f6?) and then 15.Ac7! are brilliant moves and Black has no defence against them. After 20...Re8 Aronian loses immediately, but the better 20...Rf7 was also hopeless; after 23.Nd6 he resigned because in case of 23...Qb8 White mates: 24.Nf7+ Kg8 25.Nh6++ Kh8 26.Qg8+ Rxg8 27.Nf7#. The only move, 23...Nc5, loses a Rook: 24.dxc5 Qd7 25.Nxe8. Simple.
And what's about the Ivanchuk-Anand game? The Ukrainian grandmaster executed his moves with determination and at high speed and Vishy soon ended up in a precarious position. 17...Be4? and particularly 18...Ne5? were the last mistakes and 22.f4! is a killer move; after 23...Qg5 or 23...Qf6, 24.Rae1 wins a piece. Wow!
As usual, you can find full results, pairings and all games on my italian site, www.messaggeroscacchi.it (the page of "Amber" tourney is www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/amber07.html).

Gelfand,B (2733) - Aronian,L (2744) [E06], Melody Amber (Blindfold) 2007
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Be7 6. Nf3 O-O 7. O-O c6 8. Bf4 b6 9. Nc3 Bb7 10. Rc1 Nh5 11. Be5 Nd7 12. cxd5 exd5 13. e4 f6 14. exd5 cxd5 15. Bc7 Qxc7 16. Nh4 Nf4 17. gxf4 Rf7 18. Nxd5 Qb8 19. Nxe7+ Rxe7 20. Nf5 Re8 21. Qb3+ Kh8 22. Bxb7 Qxb7 23. Nd6 1-0

Ivanchuk,V (2750) - Anand,V (2779) [E37], Melody Amber (Blindfold) 2007
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 d5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 Ne4 7. Qc2 c5 8. dxc5 Nc6 9. cxd5 exd5 10. Nf3 Bf5 11. b4 d4 12. g4 Bg6 13. Qb2 O-O 14. Bg2 Re8 15. O-O Nc3 16. Re1 h5 17. g5 Be4 18. Bd2 Ne5 19. Bxc3 Bxf3 20. exf3 dxc3 21. Qxc3 Qxg5 22. f4 Qxf4 23. Re4 1-0


Spassky vs Nash: chess and maths in Rome

Chess was one of the main arguments at Europe’s first Mathematics Festival in Rome, which took place 15th-18th March. Yesterday morning former world champion Boris Spassky talked to Nobel prize winner for Physics Zhores Alferov about the relationship between maths and chess and, after the conversation, he played a simul against 15 illustrious opponents. The most famous of them, perhaps, was John Nash, subject of the Oscar-winning film "A Beautiful Mind", who talked for the first time in public, some hours later, about his struggle with schizophrenia and his unexpected Nobel Prize. In youth Nash took a particular liking to board games, such as go, backgammon, chess and kriegspiel (a form of chess in which each player is unaware of the other's moves), and invented a game of his own.
Other renowned participants in the simul were Zhores Alferov, Douglas Hofstadter, Andrew Wiles and John Nash jr. Spassky allowed his opponents retry bad moves; in spite of that he didn't lose any game. On saturday the former world champion also gave an interview to italian radio "Radio3 Scienza"; among other things he said: "The years of my chess reign have been the worst of my life: the title was a big responsibility and there was too much pressure on me".


She looked into his eyes, he made his move

Daily Telegraph - by Adam Lusher

Chess is, by reputation, a game for super-bright, socially dysfunctional nerds. Scratch the surface, however, and you'll uncover a world of seething passion, nightclub violence and exotic dancers.
I came in search of Brazilian dancing girls, sex, violence and castling. So far, I have found only the castling. Before me, in the Golden Lane Community Hall, in central London, stretch 22 chess boards, 44 players, 12 bald patches and precisely one woman. The matches between Battersea 1 and East Ham, and Streatham 1 and Dulwich 1, are being played in the kind of silence familiar only to Trappist monks and assertive librarians. Strain your ears and you might hear the ticking of some players' timekeeping clocks. Some have come in suit and tie. Others, though, have slipped into something more comfortable, such as a cardigan. This looks deeply disappointing.
Recent events would lead a man to expect much more from an evening of chess. Emilio Cordova, 15, an international master from Peru, was crowned South American chess champion in January. The teenager celebrated by running away to Brazil and reappearing in the arms of Adriane Oliveira, a 29-year-old single mother from Sao Paulo.
Miss Oliveira was variously described as "an exotic dancer" (the commonly reported version) or "an NGO worker dedicated to putting on shows" (what Emilio told the world and his father).
Last week, Emilio returned home a Latin American hero. He had proved that chess was no longer a game for the socially maladjusted genius. Chess was sexy.

Click here to read the full story

Chuky, fire on the board in Monte Carlo

Vassily Ivanchuk is one of the strongest and most imaginative player in the chess world nowadays. Someone believe that "Chuky", as he is nicknamed, would become world champion, but his weak nerves and his tendency to blunder in critical positions are big obstacles to be on this target for him. "Wikipedia" reports that Ivanchuk has been described by Vishy Anand as the most eccentric player in the chess world: "He’s someone who is very intelligent, but you never know which mood he is going to be in", indian said. "Some days he will treat you like his long-lost brother. The next day he ignores you completely". Moreover: "Someone says he lives on 'Planet Ivanchuk'. I have seen him totally drunk and singing Ukrainian poetry and then, the next day, giving an impressive talk". That's why, perhaps, some Italian fans call him "Ivanciucco": "Ciucco" is an Italian word for "drunk"...
"Ciucco" or not, in the first double round of "Melody Amber" tournament, which started yesterday (March 17) in Monte Carlo, Vassily completely outplayed dutch GM Loek Van Wely, beating him 2-0. He now shares first place with armenian GM Levon Aronian. Full results and pairings on my italian site, www.messaggeroscacchi.it (the page of "Amber" tourney is www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/amber07.html). Here are the above mentioned games won by Chuky.

Van Wely, L (2683)-Ivanchuk, V (2750) [A17], Melody Amber (Blindfold) 2007
1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4 4. Qc2 O-O 5. a3 Bxc3 6. Qxc3 b6 7. e3 Bb7 8. Be2 d6 9. O-O a5 10. b3 Nbd7 11. Bb2 Qe7 12. d4 Ne4 13. Qc2 f5 14. Ne1 Qg5 15. Qc1 Rf6 16. f3 Qh5 17. g4 fxg4 18. fxe4 Rh6 19. Rf2 Bxe4 20. Qd2 Qh4 21. Bd3 g3 22. Rg2 gxh2+ 23. Kh1 Rf8 24. Nc2 Rhf6 25. d5 e5 26. Qe1 Bxg2+ 27. Kxg2 h1=Q+ 0-1

Ivanchuk, V (2750)-Van Wely, L (2683) [D30], Melody Amber (Rapid) 2007
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 e6 5. Bd3 Nbd7 6. O-O Bd6 7. Nbd2 O-O 8. e4 e5 9. cxd5 cxd5 10. exd5 exd4 11. Nc4 Nc5 12. Nxd6 Qxd6 13. Bc4 d3 14. b4 Na6 15. a3 Bf5 16. Bb2 Rfe8 17. Bxf6 Qxf6 18. Bxd3 Rad8 19. Bxf5 Qxf5 20. Qd4 Qxd5 21. Qxa7 Nc7 22. Rfe1 Nb5 23. Qa5 Qd3 24. Rxe8+ Rxe8 25. Re1 Rc8 26. a4 Nc3 27. Qc7 Qd8 28. Qxb7 Nxa4 29. Ng5 Qf8 30. g3 Rb8 31. Qe4 g6 32. Qc6 Nb6 33. b5 Qd8 34. h4 Rc8 35. Qb7 Qc7 36. Re8+ Kg7 37. Ne6+ 1-0


Sabino, an italian king for Scotland

Sabino Brunello is a 17 years old IM, one of the youngest in Italy. He was born on 14th april 1989 and played his first tournament about 8 years ago; three years later, in 2002, he had 2223 in the Fide rating list. Perhaps you can't call him a prodigy, but his family must have chess in blood: his sister Roberta, born in 1991, won the female national championship last august; his sister Marina, 1994, was one of the youngest player in 2006 Chess Olympiad (she's the U12 female italian champion, too).
But let's focus on Sabino: last sunday, 11th March, he won the first edition of Quality Chess Rapid in Edinburgh, Scotland, beating two GMs in a four-player knockout tournament. His first victim was scottish GM Colin McNab (5-3), then he won the final against romanian GM and Elo favourite Mihail Marin (3.5-2.5). The fourth player was scottish champion Jonathan Grant, who lost both his matches. Congratulations Sabino! Here is one of the decisive blitz game of the final.

Brunello, S (2468) - Marin, M (2549) [B07], Edinburgh 11.03.2007
1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. Be3 c6 5. Qd2 Nbd7 6. f3 b5 7. h4 h5 8. Nh3 Qc7 9. Ng5 Nb6 10. Bd3 Bb7 11. O-O-O Bg7 12. e5 dxe5 13. dxe5 Qxe5 14. Bf4 Qc5 15. Nce4 Nxe4 16. Nxe4 Qd5 $13 17. Kb1 O-O-O 18. Qa5 Qd4 19. Bc1 Qa4 20. Qe1 Qd4 21. Qa5 Qa4 22. Qe1 Qd4 23. Nd2 Na4 24. Qxe7 Nxb2 25. Nb3 Qc3 26. Bf4 Rd7 27. Bf5 1-0


Soldiers, chess and Café de la Regence

For those interested in chess history, here is an interesting article from "Sun.Star Cebu", written by Frank “Boy” Pestaño.

The Café de la Regence in Paris was the favorite playing ground of chess players from all over Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. On one table was a brass plaque saying “Napoleon Bonaparte used to play at this table”.
Although the would-be emperor was a first class military tactician and did love the game, he was a pretty rotten chess player.
Those who have played him say that he was too impatient with little defensive skills and given to impetuous attacks. He was also a bad-tempered loser that is why his generals would let him win.
Another chess player is the unfortunate British Lt. Colonel Rall. The story goes that General Howe has just dealt Washington his worst defeat capturing 3,000 prisoners and was pushing down towards New Jersey with designs on Philadelphia.
Washington, still retreating with a constantly diminishing force, suddenly turned upon Lt .Colonel Rall`s advanced corps of Hessians on Dec. 26, 1776 at Trenton and captured 1,000 prisoners. This was a major turning point in the American war of independence.
What is known much later was that an Englishman who lived nearby sent his son with a note to Lt. Colonel Rall that Washington was preparing to attack him. Rall was busy playing chess, took the note and placed it in his pocket, unopened.
Next day Washington attacked and won a great victory. Colonel Rall was killed and the note discovered in his pocket. Thus it can be said that the game of chess helped the Americans become independent!". Click here to read the full story.

Speaking about Café de la Regence, all chess players know that it was an important European centre of chess in 18th and 19th centuries, located near Louvre and Palais Royal. This legendary "Coffee shop" doesn't exist anymore, but if you want to visit the place where it was, just remember that its location is 161 rue Saint-Honoré. You won't find any pub or shop at this address now, but the Morocco Tourist Office. If you want to eat or drink in a nice place very close to it, anyway, you just have to walk a few meters: Cafè Ruc, at number 159, is a comfortable restaurant. But you won't find any chessboard inside.

A "Second Life" for chess players

Chess players usually spend their “second life” on ICC, Playchess, FICS etc. Perhaps some of them ignore that a more developed virtual world already exists: its name is... “Second life”. Not too original, isn’t it? This world is very similiar to the real one: yes, because you have to pay for everything even there :-) , so don’t be astonished if you’re completely naked the first time you log in...
Our beloved game/art/sport made its first step on “Second life” last november: it was day 16 when the first match of “Avatar Chess” took place on Kula 4 Island (yes, there are lots of islands on “Second life”). You will ask what Avatar Chess is... Well, it is a game of chess played by 32 avatars (16 vs 16), but you can also call them players. In this way chess can be a team-sport! In the mentioned game White team (with... White pieces) won due to Red (Black) running out of time: each team had 30 minutes, with no bonus. One month later, on 10th of December, Red team (with... White) tried to take a revenge, but was checkmated on move 19 after lots of blunders. The first game was not recorded, but there is a transcription of the second one. Here it is...

Red team-White team [A02], Kula 4 Island (Second Life) 10.12.2006
1. f4 e5 2. fxe5 d6 3. Nc3 dxe5 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. e4 Bg4 6. Bb5 Nf6 7. d3 Be7 8. h3 Bh5 9. Nd5 Nxd5 10. exd5 Qxd5 11. c4 Qc5 12. Rg1 Bxf3 13. gxf3 Qxg1+ 14. Ke2 Qg2+ 15. Ke3 Bg5+ 16. Ke4 f5+ 17. Kxf5 O-O+ 18. Ke4 Bxc1 19. Qxc1 Qxf3#

After this second match Avatar Chess has disappeared: it’s not clear if we will hear again about it. Don’t worry, anyway: chess is gaining space on “Second Life” and some people have already created a virtual zone to play it, in parks or other places. You can even buy a virtual wooden chessboard on SLBoutique.com: it costs 99 “L” dollars, but don’t ask me what “L” is for.
It won’t be so unbealievable if, in a few decades, there will be lots of virtual players playing in virtual clubs. And can you imagine big tournaments having place on virtual islands, owned by Fide president? I can, but I hope it will never happen. Don’t tell anything to Kirsan, anyway…

More details on Avatar chess here. “Second Life” officiale site: http://secondlife.com/.


Caruana, italo-american prodigy is growing up

He was born in Miami, United States, on 30th of July 1992. He grew up in New York and lives in Spain at the moment - with his parents -. But Fabiano Caruana now plays for Italy (his mother is Italian) and almost won the national chess championship in 2006: he finally lost 2.5-1.5 a rapid tie-break against GM Michele Godena. His last achievement is the first place at the First Saturday Tournament in Budapest, Hungary, which took place 4th-14th March 2007. With his great result (7.5/10) he scored his first GM norm. What can we say? Well... congratulations! Here is one of his most brilliant victories in Budapest, against serbian GM Zlatko Ilincic.

Ilincic (2486) - Caruana (2492) [E11], Budapest 09.03.2007
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4+ 4. Bd2 Qe7 5. g3 Nc6 6. Bg2 Bxd2+ 7. Nbxd2 d6 8. O-O a5 9. e4 e5 10. d5 Nb8 11. Ne1 h5 12. Nc2 h4 13. Ne3 hxg3 14. hxg3 Nh5 15. Re1 Bd7 16. b3 g6 17. Qc2 Kf8 18. a3 Kg7 19. b4 Na6 20. Qc3 Rae8 21. Rac1 b6 22. Bf1 Bc8 23. Nf3 Nf6 24. Bd3 Ng4 25. Kg2 Nxe3+ 26. Rxe3 Bh3+ 27. Kg1 Nb8 28. bxa5 Nd7 29. axb6 cxb6 30. Bf1 Nf6 31. Bxh3 Rxh3 32. Kg2 Reh8 33. Ree1 Qd7 34. Ng1 Rh1 35. Qf3 Ng4 36. Re2 R8h2+ 37. Kf1 Rh5 38. Qb3 Nh2+ 39. Kg2 Qg4 40. Re3 Nf1 41. Kxf1 Rxg1+ 42. Kxg1 Qh3 0-1


The teenage chess king taken by charms of an exotic dancer

Times online - by Tom Hennigan

A chess prodigy who ran away with an exotic dancer almost twice his age has returned home to a hero’s welcome after an amazing teenage adventure that took him to the hotspots of Brazil.
It all began when Emílio Córdova, a 15-year-old international master from Peru, was crowned South American chess champion in January after winning a tournament in the Argentine city of Córdoba.
Instead of returning to Lima he told relatives that he was heading to Brazil to compete in tournaments there in order to reach the rank of international grandmaster.
But, far from focusing on his grand master dreams, Emílio quickly became caught up in São Paulo’s pulsating but frequently sleazy nightlife.
He soon formed a relationship with a 29-year-old Brazilian single mother, Adriane Oliveira, dubbed the “bella brasileira” by the Peruvian media, with whom he reportedly fell in love.
“I play chess, study chess but this doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy myself,” he said. “I’m young and I want to do this. I have to live. To be locked up in my room all the time depresses me.”
After tracing his son his father set out to bring him back home. At first Emílio was adamant that he would not leave Brazil and the Peruvian Foreign Ministry had to ask the São Paulo police to prevent the boy leaving the city before his father arrived. Emílio now says that Ms Oliveira was just one of several girlfriends he had in São Paulo.
He blames his father for the media storm saying: “Private is private and personal life is personal life. But if my father decides to air it what can I do?”.

Click here to read the full story