Two kings and one (Italian) queen

God save the chess Queen! Yes, we've got a Queen: the game Rizza-Olivieri, played in Catania about two months ago. This game won the contest "Vota la Regina del 2007 - Aprile" ("Vote for the 2007 Queen - April"), hosted on www.messaggeroscacchi.it (sorry, only Italian players can take part in it). Young Francesco Rizza from Catania, Sicily - even if he has a low rating, about 1660 points -, played like Topalov to outplay his opponent Lucio Olivieri in a rapid (!!) competition: yes, because he sacrificed the exchange as Veselin did in his game against Alexei Shirov last January, in the Wijk aan Zee supertournament. The second most voted game was Palazzo-Della Rocca, played in Gallipoli (not far from Lecce, in Southern Italy), where White sacrificed a piece on "b5" for a mating attack... on the other side! You can download all games taking part in this contest at this address: http://www.messaggeroscacchi.it/regina2007/index.html.
After speaking about queens, now is kings' turn... Many exciting battles took place today in Elista, where the 2007 Candidates tournament are in progress. Hungarian Peter Leko and American Gata Kamsky (our two kings) both won their third game in a row to adjudicate (3.5-0.5!) their matches against Turkish Mikahil Gurevich and French Etienne Bacrot, respectively. I predicted (see my post of May 24) Peter would have won 3.5-1.5 and Gata 3.5-2.5: I was wrong about the result, but not about the winner of each match :-)
Alexander Grischuk and Evgeny Bareev won as well against Vladimir Malakhov and Judith Polgar, respectively, to each lead 3-1: now they need only a draw in the last two games. It's obvious I was completely wrong about the Polgar-Bareev match: the Hungarian will never win 3.5-2.5 or 3.5-1.5 :-(. Levon Aronian and Michael Adams also won over Magnus Carlsen and Alexey Shirov, respectively, to lead 2.5-1.5. Sergei Rublevsky drew with Ruslan Ponomariov to lead 2.5-1.5 as well, while Rustam Kasimdzhanov and Boris Gelfand drew again to remain tied 2-2. Official site: http://globalchess.eu/main.php. You can find a WCM section on my Italian site, www.messaggeroscacchi.it (direct link: www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/candidati07.html).
Top seed Todor Todorov leads by half a point in the 1st "Perini Memorial", which is taking place in Senigallia, Italy. Bulgarian GM has 4.5 points after 6 rounds (two games were played today in the main A1 section); Italian GM Igor Efimov, French IM Vladimir Okhotnik and Serbian GM Sinisa Drazic all have 4 points, while Fide masters Patrick Van Hoolandt from the Principality of Monaco and Marc Geenen from Belgium are on 3.5. Note that Todorov has already played against all his closest rivals and tomorrow will face Van Hoolandt with Black pieces. Official site: http://digilander.libero.it/dragonscacchicv/festivalS07.html. You can download some games from the competition by clicking here.
Our game of the day is (obviously) Rizza-Olivieri. My annotations are based on Francesco's comments (note that he spent only 3 minutes of his time for the whole game!).

Rizza,F (1653) - Olivieri,L (1659) [D89], Catania 29.4.2007
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bc4 c5 8.Ne2 Nc6 9.Be3 0–0 10.0–0 Bg4 11.f3 cxd4 12.cxd4 Na5 13.Bd3
13.Bxf7 is also playable. Karpov and Kasparov had a very hard duel on a very similar variation in their 1987 World championship match, but Garry played the immediate 11...Na5 without exchanging the central pawns.
13...Be6 14.d5 Bxa1 15.Qxa1 f6
Rare is 15...Bd7: after 16.Bh6 f6 17.Bxf8 Qb6+ 18.Nd4!? (18.Qd4!? is perhaps even stronger) 18...Rxf8 19.Rb1 Qd6 20.Qc3! Qe5!? 21.Qb4 White has some pressure.
Francesco was watching the game Topalov-Shirov (Wijk Aan Zee 2007) on line when Veselin played this smart move; this is an exchange sacrifice in pure Petrosjan's style.
Shirov played 16... Bf7 and after 17. Bh6 Re8 18. Bb5 e5 19. Qf2 Re7 20. f4 exf4 21. Qxf4 Qb6+ 22. Kh1 Bxd5 23. exd5 Qxb5 24. Qxf6 Qe8 25. Qd4 Topalov got a strong initiative in return for the exchange.
17.e5! b6?
The first mistake and it is a bad one. 17...e6!? or 17...fxe5 18.Qxe5 Qb8 19.Qxe7 Re8 20.Qc5 b6 21.Qc1, with an unclear position, would have been better alternatives.
18.e6 Bc8 19.Bh6 Re8
19...Bb7!? looks more stubborn, but after 20.Nf4! Nc6 (20...Qd6 21.Nxg6! hxg6 22.Qg4!) 21.Qf2 Ne5 22.Qg3 g5! (22...Nxd3 23.Nxg6) 23.Bxg5! Kh8 24.Bb1! Rg8 25.Qh3 Rg7 26.Bh6 Qf8 27.Rc1! White has a decisive advantage.
20.Bb5 was strong, too, but White wants to crash his enemy castle.
If 20...Qc7 then 21.Nxg6!
After 21.Nxg6 Qc5 or (even better) 21...Bxe6!? Black can hold on.
The second and last mistake! Better was 21...Qe5!, although White would have won anyway, e.g.: 22.Qxe5 fxe5 23.Nh3! Bb7 24.d6!! (the key move) 24...exd6 (24...Red8 25.Rc7!+-) 25.Rc7 Rxe6 26.Ng5 Rf6 27.Rg7+ Kh8 28.Rxh7+ Kg8 29.Rg7+ Kh8 30.Nf7+ Rxf7 31.Rxf7 Bd5 32.Rd7 Bxa2 33.Bxg6+-. If 21...Kh8 then White wins easily: 22.Bxg6 hxg6? (22...Rg8) 23.Nxg6+ Kh7 24.Qg4 Kxh6 25.Nh4 Rg8 26.Nf5+ Kh7 27.Qh5#
22.Bxg6! hxg6 23.Qe4 f5 24.Qd4 1–0
Congratulations, Francesco! I'm sure you will become a master class player very soon!


A new (chess) community was born

There is a new community in the world... a chess community! Its name is Chess.com (www.chess.com) and its motto is "Learn. Share. Play". The creator of this very ambitious project is Erik, a graduate student at Stanford Business School, California (Usa), where he lives. He learned chess when he was 8 years old, "but - quoting his profile on chess.com - didn't really pick it back up until about 10 years ago. Since then I have been playing, studying and enjoying it regularly".
To explain what Chess.com is, I just report what Erik writes in his article "Why the Pawn in the Chess.com Logo?": "When I first started working on Chess.com a long time ago I began with the logo [etc.]. In choosing the pawn I wanted to send 2 signals.
#1 - This site is a fluid community
It has been said that "pawns are the soul of chess" [etc.]. The point is that the pawns create the environment. And I wanted the members of Chess.com to be the backbone of the site.
#2 - This site is for everyone
We're not all Kings and Queens yet! Chess.com should appeal to all chess players - even those that don't yet know the rules! At the beginning of a game the pawn symbolizes the weakest of all the chess pieces. However, as the pawn makes it's journey up the board it becomes more and more powerful, controlling more important squares, and eventually, if it reaches the other end can be whatever piece it wants. I wanted Chess.com to be a site for chess players who are at any point in their personal chess journey - either making their first move ever, or a Grandmaster".
So, what are you waiting for? Go to www.chess.com and register yourself! You can post your articles and opinions and have your own Blog in the community. And if you want to get involved in the Chess.com project, I think Erik will be happy if you contact him (you can easily guess his e-mail: erik(at)chess.com). Well, you had a great idea Erik. Good luck!
And now let's speak about tournaments in progress around the world... First of all, the Candidates matches in Elista: there were no decisive games today... but just because it was a rest day! The 1st "Aldo Perini" Memorial is taking place in Senigallia, Italy. Four players share the lead in the main A1 group after round 4: Bulgarian GM Todor Todorov, French IM Vladimir Okhotnik, Italian GM Igor Efimov and Serbian GM Sinisa Drazic. Ten players are on 2: among them we find Greek GM Spyridon Skembris, German IM Olaf Heinzel, Serbian IM Nenad Aleksic, five Fide masters and two Italian masters. All can happen! Official site: http://digilander.libero.it/dragonscacchicv/festivalS07.html.
Bulgarian chess Federation has asked Fide to let Topalov play in the 2007 World Championship in Mexico (you can read the full press release on Chessbase.com by clicking here). "Since Veselin Topalov was not allowed to play with V. Kramnik in 2007, it is most evident that he should be permitted to take part in the World Championship tournament in Mexico - president Stefan Sergiev writes in a press release - In this way an injustice will be remedied and Fide will prove that the world chess interests are its priority and that the World Champion should be elected in a competition between the best chess players in the world. Any argumentation for the non-admission of V. Topalov is deprived of any logic. The second, the third and the fourth players from St. Louis will play there but the first one will not! The second in the world ranking list, the chess player who won seven super-tournaments during the last two years will not be allowed to play there! Why? Only because Fide has changed its system in the meantime?! We suggest a Fide resolution is passed for nine participants to play in the tournament in Mexico. The organizers have no objections and they will be happy because Veselin Topalov is very popular not only in Mexico but in the whole of Latin America as well". I don't think Fide will change the system another time. If Topalov plays in Mexico, Kramnik will not (for sure). It's too late for changing, anyway: the WCC will start in less than three months!
I eventually make an announcement for all readers of "Messaggero Scacchi", the one and only Italian chess web-zine :-) In a few days (or even hours) you will have to delete www.messaggerie.it from your bookmarks... the only address of our creature (IM Roberto Messa's and mine) will be www.messaggeroscacchi.it!
Waiting for tomorrow's fight in Elista, here is the game Carlsen won against Aronian just yesterday (no comments - sorry).

Carlsen,M. (2693) - Aronian,L. (2759) [A30], Elista 27.5.2007
1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 b6 3. g3 c5 4. Bg2 Bb7 5. O-O e6 6. Nc3 Be7 7. Re1 d5 8. cxd5 Nxd5 9. d4 Nxc3 10. bxc3 Be4 11. Ne5 Bxg2 12. Kxg2 O-O 13. e4 Qc8 14. Qg4 Bf6 15. Nf3 Kh8 16. h4 Nc6 17. Bg5 cxd4 18. Bxf6 gxf6 19. cxd4 e5 20. Qxc8 Raxc8 21. d5 Na5 22. h5 Nc4 23. Nh4 Nd6 24. h6 Rc3 25. Rac1 Rfc8 26. Rxc3 Rxc3 27. Nf5 Nxf5 28. exf5 Kg8 29. Re4 Kf8 30. Rg4 Rc7 31. Rg7 b5 32. Rxh7 Kg8 33. Rg7+ Kh8 34. d6 Rd7 35. Kf3 b4 36. Ke4 Rxd6 37. Rxf7 Ra6 38. g4 Kg8 39. h7+ Kh8 40. g5 fxg5 41. f6 1-0


Leko and Kamsky about to score a try

So you asked for even more blood... Well, today you can't be disappointed: four fighting draws and four decisive games occured in the 2007 Candidates matches. Magnus Carlsen beat Levon Aronian in a Rook and pawn endgame to even the score; Gata Kamsky and Peter Leko beat Etienne Bacrot and Mikhail Gurevich, respectively, to widen their lead to two points; the other winner of the day was Rublevsky, who profited when Ponomariov over-pressed: the Russian was able to turn the tables and win the longest game of the day (92 moves).
And what's about the four draws? Judit Polgar failed to win a promising position against Evgeny Bareev (the game lasted 56 moves); Adams-Shirov was short and sharp and culminated in a perpetual (26 moves); Gelfand and Kazimdzhanov indulged in an orgy of complications, after which they agreed for a draw; Malakhov was able to balance the position after the opening and Grischuk accepted to share half point on move 35. That's enough. If you are not satisfied yet, well, don't know what to say... Tomorrow players will have their first rest day, very useful for those who are in the worst situation (like Bacrot and Gurevich). Official site: http://globalchess.eu/main.php. You can find a WCM section on my Italian site, www.messaggeroscacchi.it (direct link: www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/candidati07.html).
Ukrainian super GM Vassily Ivanchuk took clear first in the 42nd Capablanca Memorial, held in Havana. Chuky scored 7.5/9, winning by two points (!) from Cuban Lenier Dominguez and Azeri Vugar Gashimov, with a 2883 performance! Very well done! Hungarina GM Csaba Horvath won the open section on tie break over Cuban IM Diasmany Otero: both scored 7.5/10. Official site: http://www.inder.co.cu/capablanca/Inicio.htm.
China won the 1st Women's World Team Championship, held in Ekaterinburg, Russia, in May 20 to 29. The team, composed of Zhao Xue, Hou Yifan, Ruan Lufei, Shen Yang and Huang Qian, scored 17/18 and remained unbeaten with eight wins and one draw (against Georgia); Russia lost 4-0 to the winner but was finally placed second on 15; Ukraine was third on 14 and Georgia fourth on 11. Official site: http://www.chesswomen.com/en/.

Adams,Mi (2734) - Shirov,A (2699) [C78], Elista 29.5.2007
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.a4 Rb8 8.c3 d6 9.d4 Bb6 10.axb5 axb5 11.Qd3 0–0 12.Bg5
12.Qxb5 was played in Kupreichik-Shirov, Bundesliga 1997; Black played 12...Qe8 13.Qd3 exd4 14.cxd4 Nxd4 15.Nxd4 Bxd4 16.Qxd4 Rxb3 17.Nc3 Be6 18.Ra5 Nd7 19.Nd5 Bxd5 20.exd5 Qe2 and took the initiative, winning on move 48.
12...exd4 13.cxd4 h6 14.Bh4 g5!?
This move is probably a (pretty good) novelty. 14...Bg4 15.Nbd2 g5 16.Bg3 Bh5 17.d5 Ne7 18.Nd4 Bg6 was played in Rodriguez Cespedes-Suarez Pousa, Mondariz Balneario 2002. White took the pawn by 19.Nxb5 but was finally unable to convert it into a full point and a draw was agreed on move 55.
After 15.Bg3 Nh5 chances are about equal, e.g.: 16.e5 Ne7 17.exd6 cxd6 18.Nc3 Bf5 19.Qd2 Re8 etc.
Forced. After 15...Nh5 16.Bc2! (16.Qg6+? Ng7 17.Bxg5 hxg5 18.Nxg5 Bf5 19.Bxf7+ Rxf7 20.Qxf7+ Kh8 21.Qxf5 Nxf5 22.Nf7+ Kg7 23.Nxd8 Rxd8 with an unbalanced but probably equal endgame.) 16...f5 17.exf6 Rxf6 18.Qh7+ Kf8 19.Qh8+ Ke7 20.Re1+ Be6 21.Qh7+ Kf8 22.Bg6+- White has a decisive advantage.
16.Qg6+ Kh8 17.Qxh6+ Nh7 18.Bc2
This looks quite dangerous, but only leads to a draw.
18...f5 19.exf6 Rf7 20.Ng5
What else?
20...Qxf6 21.Nxf7+ Qxf7 22.Bxh7 Qxh7 23.Qf8+ Qg8 24.Qh6+ Qh7 25.Qf8+ Qg8
Note that all moves played by Shirov after 14...g5 were forced!
26.Qh6+ 1/2-1/2
White has nothing better than this.26.Qf6+ Qg7 27.Qxh4+ Qh7 28.Qf6+ Qg7 29.Qh4+ Qh7 (29...Kg8 30.Ra3 Nxd4 31.Re1 Bg4 32.Rg3 Nf5 33.Qxg4 Nxg3 34.Qxg7+ Kxg7 35.hxg3 is dangerous for Black.) 30.Qf6+ would have led to a draw anyway. Please don't say this is a boring game!


More blood in Elista: 3 wins in game 2

"Blood, blood, blood, we want more blood!". That's what some of you must have thought after game 1 of the first round. Six draws were too many... And today we had more blood! "Only" five draws :-) Well, we have to admit that all players are fighting hard anyway: Rublevsky-Ponomariov ended on move 41 because of a perpetual check; Shirov-Adams lasted 53 moves before a triple repetition (almost) occured; the Malakhov-Grischuk endgame was clearly drawn and Vladimir offered an armistice on move 64; only Aronian-Carlsen (21 moves) and Kasimdzhanov-Gelfand (23 moves) were all but exciting games. And, by the way, three players got the full point. Evgeny Bareev succeed in overcoming Judith Polgar's resistance: the Hungarian resigned on move 64, but she could have played some more (desperate) moves (you can find this game with some annotations on Susan Polgar's chess blog). Etienne Bacrot fell asleep on the chessboard and lost on time after 39 moves against Gata Kamsky: the Frenchman had a difficult but still playable position. Peter Leko eventually crushed Mikhail Gurevich with Black pieces. Now Aronian, Leko, Kamsky, Grischuk and Bareev lead 1.5-0.5 their matches with Carlsen, Gurevich, Bacrot, Malakhov and Judit Polgar respectively, while Ponomariov-Rublevsky, Gelfand-Kasimdzhanov and Shirov-Adams are still balanced. Tomorrow the third game of the first rounf will be played, then on May 30 players will have their first rest day. Official site: http://globalchess.eu/. There is aWCM section on my Italian site www.messaggeroscacchi.it (direct link: www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/candidati07.html).
The strong Bosna tournament ended today in Sarajevo. Slovakian Sergei Movsesian finally took clear first unbeaten on 6.5/10; Bosnian Borki Predojevic was placed second on 5.5. Alexander Morozevich made a poor performance: 5 points on 10 are not many for such a player! Moro got very good results with Black pieces, three wins and two draws, but wasn't able to do the same with White: on the contrary, he drew two games and lost three! Ivan Sokolov shared third place with Moro, while Nigel Short made half a point less than them. Official site: http://www.skbosna.ba.
The 1st "Memorial Aldo Perini" is taking place in Senigallia, Italy. No surprises occured in the first round, played today. Top seeds are Bulgarian GM Todor Todorov, Serbian GM Sinisa Drazic, Greek GM Spyridon Skrembris, Italian GM Igor Efimov, French IM Vladimir Okhotnik and German IM Olaf Heinzel. Nine rounds will be played until June 3. Official site: http://digilander.libero.it/dragonscacchicv/festivalS07.html.
Our game of the day is not a top level one. It was played in Senigallia, in the "A2" group, and is a nice example of how to punish your opponent when he loses a precious tempo in the opening.

Mandolini, R. (1850)-Crea, V. (2073) [B15], Senigallia 28.5.2007
1. Nc3 d5 2. e4 c6 3. Nf3 e6?!
A bad choice. This is a Caro-Kan defence, not a French! Black has already lost a tempo, because he will play c7-c5 moving twice the same pawn (2...c6 and 10...c5). White will punish his opponent in a very convincing way.
4. d4 Nf6 5. e5 Nfd7 6. Ng5 Be7?!
6...h6 7.Qh5 g6 8.Qh3 Qb6 was a more precise defence. Now White's initiative becomes really strong.
7. Qh5 Bxg5 8. Bxg5 Qb6 9. O-O-O a6 10. Bd3!?
Interesting, but not necessary. 10.Qg4 was a reasonable alternative. By the way, all White's pieces are now ready to come into action, while Black is almost paralized.
Black had to take the challenge by playing 10...Qxd4, even if 11.Rhe1 is obviously good for White.
11. Nxd5!
The point!
The last mistake. 11...exd5 was sad but necessary, even if 12.e6 Ne5 (almost forced) 13.exf7+! Nxf7 14.Rhe1+ Be6 15.Bf4 would have been clearly better for White.
12. Ne7 Nc6 13. Nxc6?!
What a pity! 13.d5! would have won on the spot, e.g.: 13...Ncxe5 (13...Nxe7 14.dxe6 g6 15.exf7+ Kd8 16.Qh4+-) 14.dxe6 Nxd3+ 15.Rxd3 Ne5 16.exf7+ Nxf7 17.Nc6! +-
13...bxc6 14. Bc4 Nf8
14...cxd4 or even 14...O-O were better.
15. dxc5 Bd7 16. Be3 Qb4 17. Rd4 Rb8 18. Bb3 Qb5 19. Rhd1 Qb7 20. Bd2 Qa7 21. Be3 Qb7 22. f4 g6 23. Qh6 Rg8
Black can just wait for the end.
24. Bf2
The obvious idea is Bh4, Qg5 and mate...
24... Qb5 25. R4d2 a5 26. a4 Qb4 27. Bh4?!
27.Qg5 first!
Losing immediately. 27...Qxc5 was obviously possible.
28. Qg5 1-0
Black can't survive, so he resigned.


Clash of the chess giants: first blood

And the battle finally began. The first round of the 2007 Candidates matches was played today in Elista, Russia. Many games (6 out of 8) ended in not so peaceful draws: Ponomariov-Rublevsky (36 moves), Kamsky-Bacrot (28), Leko-Gurevich (31), Gelfand-Kasimdzhanov (47), J. Polgar Bareev (63) and Adams-Shirov (50). Rustam and Judit succeed in saving really bad positions, thanks to some inaccuracies by their opponents. Top seed Aronian beat "wunderkind" Carlsen being on the Black side of a Spanish opening, while Grischuk won against Malakhov in the "Russian derby". After posting my predictions three days ago, yesterday I received an e-mail by a reader in which he gives his own forecasts about the WCM. His name is Luciano Dalfovo from Bressanone-Brixen (a nice place - I visited it a couple of years ago - not far from Bolzano-Bozen).
1. Aronian Levon (ARM) - Carlsen Magnus (NOR)
Luciano: Carlsen 3-3 on tie breaks
2. Leko Peter (HUN) - Gurevich Mikhail (TUR)
Luciano: Leko 3,5-2,5
3. Ponomariov Ruslan (UKR) - Rublevsky Sergei (RUS)
Luciano: Pono 3,5-1,5
4. Gelfand Boris (ISR) - Kasimdzhanov Rustam (UZB)
Luciano: Gelfand 3-3 on tie breaks
5. Bacrot Etienne (FRA) - Kamsky Gata (USA)
Luciano: Kamsky 3-3 on tie breaks
6. Grischuk Alexander (RUS) - Malakhov Vladimir (RUS)
Luciano: Grischuk 3,5-1,5
7. Polgar Judith (HUN) - Bareev Evgeny (RUS)
Luciano: Bareev 3-3 on tie breaks
8. Shirov Alexei (ESP) - Adams Michael (ENG)
Luciano: Adams 3.5-2,5

Well, Luciano, we'll se who's the best in predicting the future ;-) Official site of the event: http://globalchess.eu/main.php. You can also find a WCM section on my Italian site, www.messaggeroscacchi.it (direct link: www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/candidati07.html).
Russian IM Ian Nepomniachtchi won the V International tournament "World’s Youth Stars" dedicated to Vanya Somov’s memory, which took place May 14th-28th in Kirishi. Nepomniachtchi scored 7 points out of 11, winning on tie-break over Azeri GM Rauf Mamedov, Indian GM Parimarjan Negi and Armenian GM Zaven Andriasian. There was also a rapid tournament (Nesis's Cup) on May 21 e 22 won by Russian GM Konstantin Sakaev. Official site: http://www.somovs-memorial.ru.
Our "game of the day" is Carlsen-Aronian from the Candidates matches in Elista.

Carlsen,M (2693) - Aronian,L (2759) [C84], Elista 27.5.2007
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.d3 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.a4 Rb8 9.axb5 axb5 10.Nc3 0–0 11.h3 Nb4
11...Be6 12.Nd5 Bxd5 13.exd5 Nb4 14.d4 e4 15.Ng5 c5 was played both in Romanishin-Nunn, Euro team champ 1992 (16.c3), and in Dvoyris-Shinkevich, Chigorin Memorial 1999 (16.dxc6). The text move is a new one according to my (old) database (at least in top level games), but it looks stronger than 11...Be6, because Black can immediately fight for the center with another pawn (by ...c5).
12.Ne2 c5 13.Ng3 Be6 14.Bxe6 fxe6 15.c3 Nc6
Now Black has a very strong pawns center and will soon take the initiative.
16.Re1 Qd7 17.d4?!
17.Bd2, trying to organise b2-b4 and Qb3, was a bit more cautious.
17...exd4 18.cxd4 c4
Black aims to create a passed pawn...
19.Bg5 h6 20.d5?!
20.Bxf6 Bxf6 21.Qd2 looks safer.
20...exd5 21.Bxf6 Bxf6 22.Qxd5+ Rf7 23.Qd2 Ne5 24.Nxe5 Bxe5 25.Ne2 Rbf8
Black has not played any special move, but he now has a much better position!
26.Rf1 Rf3!
26...Qc6 was good too, but Aronian loves to complicate positions.
Another inaccuracy. 27.Qd5+ was slightly better, even if 27...Kh7 28.Rad1 Qc8 29.Ng3 Rb3 30.Nf5 Qc5 31.Qb7 Rxb2 would have led to a difficult endgame for White anyway.; 27.gxf3 Rxf3 28.Nf4 Bxf4 29.Qd5+ Kh7 30.Qf5+ Qxf5 31.exf5 Rxh3 followed by Rh5 or Rb3 was obviously bad for White.
27...Rxa3 28.bxa3 Qc6 29.Nd4
29.f4 Bf6 30.Qe3 Re8 31.Ng3 Bb2 followed by ...c3 is decisive.
29...Bxd4 30.Qxd4 Ra8
Black has a passed pawn and will soon have another one. White's position is hopeless.
31.Ra1 c3 32.Qb4 Qc5 33.Qb3+ Kh8 34.Ra2
34.Kf1 b4 35.a4 Qd4 was winning for Black anyway.
34...Ra4 35.Re2
The last mistake, but what White could do?
35...Rxa3 36.Qd1 Ra8 0–1
Black's pawns are too strong and the rook is ready to support them from the 8th rank. White resigns. How little Magnus will react to this loss?


Palau, a tournament for all tastes

Icelandic IM Hedinn Steingrimsson finally won the 2007 Capo d'Orso Festival, which took place in Palau, Sardinia, in May 19 to 26. He scored 7.5 points out of 9, winning on tie break over 14 y.o. Italian IM Fabiano Caruana, who beat GM Michele Godena and IM Luca Shytaj in the final two rounds; Rumanian GM Mihail Marin and Scottish IM Jacob Aagaard were third on 7. Usually you don't promote over sites or blogs on your own site or blog, but I think we (chess players, chess journalists, chess lovers and so on) are a big family, so I tell you there is a really enthusiastic report about Capo d'Orso Festival on www.chessvibes.com: editor-in-chief Peter Doggers is on tour over Europe (lucky him!) and took part in this Italian event. "I recommend this tournament to everyone", Doggers writes. "The tournament was held in beautiful surroundings in the northern part of Sardinia and players were using digital clocks on every board in a air-conditioned tournament hall. One could book a double room full board for one week for a reasonable price and this is what most participants did. You got a decent accommodation and three excellent meals a day and the use of the beach benches were included. Right at the start of the first round I got a certain degree of sympathy for the tournament. At 15.00 CET, after the opening speech, as usual the chief arbiter had his say. He explained the rate of play and instead of telling the Black players to start the clock, or something similar, he said: «Now I’d like to have two minutes of silence and concentration, before we start the round». A kind of ritual that most chess trainers will encourage!". Well, that's enough. You can find more on Chessvibes.com. Official site of the tournament is http://asd.caissa.it/portomannu/. Congratulations to Yuri Garrett and his team for organizing such a great tournament!
World candidates matches finally have their own official site: http://globalchess.eu/main.php. You can find on it curious (luckily not tragic) news about the arrival of participants in Elista, venue of the event: "During the transportation of the players and journalists of the Candidates Matches from the airport, a local child unexpectedly runs to the road. In order to avoid a serious accident the drivers of the buses had to apply a forced breaking which however pushed some of the passengers forward and they got some injuries. After careful medical examinations they were released from the medical control as their injuries were not serious and did not require further treatment". Good luck to all the players! I remember the first round is: Aronian-Carlsen, Leko-M. Gurevich, Ponomariov-Rublevsky, Gelfand-Kasimdzhanov, Bacrot-Kamsky, Grischuk-Malakhov, J. Polgar-Bareev and Shirov-Adams. You can also find a WCM section of my Italian site, www.messaggeroscacchi.it (direct link: www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/candidati07.html).
Our game of the day was played in Palau a couple of days ago and won the brilliancy prize.

Aagaard,Jacob (2477) - Djuric,Stefan (2460) [C41], Palau 24.5.2007
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nbd7 4.Nf3 e5 5.g4!?
Not a novelty, but a really brave move indeed!
This move looks good for White only! 5...Nxg4 was played in Shirov-Azmpaiparashvili, Euro team champ 2003; after 6.Rg1 Ngf6 7.Bc4 h6 8.Be3 c6 9.Qd3 Qc7 10.0–0–0 b5 11.Bxb5 cxb5 12.dxe5 dxe5 13.Nxb5 Qa5 14.Qc4 Rb8 15.a4 Qb4 16.Nxe5 Qxc4 17.Nxc4 White got a very good compensation in return for the piece and the game finally ended in a draw on move 52.
6.Nxd4 d5?!
A very dubious counter-gambit.
7.exd5 Bb4 8.Qe2+ Kf8 9.Bg2 Nb6 10.g5 Nfxd5 11.0–0!
White almost forces Black to take a material advantage (one pawn), but he gets a very strong attack in return.
11...Bxc3 12.bxc3 Nxc3 13.Qd3 Nba4 14.Ba3+ Kg8
If 14...c5 then 15.Rfe1 is still strong.
15.Rfe1 Bg4?
Black's position was very bad anyway, but this move loses immediately. 15...Be6 or; 15...h5 were slightly better.
White takes the pawn back with a decisive positional advantage.
16...Rb8 17.Nc6 Qxd3 18.cxd3 Ne2+ 19.Rxe2 Bxe2 20.Nxb8 would have lost anyway.
17.Nc6 Qxg5 18.h4! Qxh4
18...Qf6 19.Ne7+ Kf8 20.Bxa8 Ne2+ 21.Rxe2 Qxa1+ 22.Kg2 was not better for Black.
19.Ne7+ Kf8 20.Qd6
Also 20.Bxa8 would have won on the spot.
20...Qf6 21.Qxf6 gxf6 22.Bxa8 Ne2+ 23.Rxe2 Bxe2 24.Nf5 was without hope anyway for Djuric.
21.Ng6+ Kg8 22.Nxh4 Nxd6 23.Bxa8 g5 24.Bc6 gxh4 25.Bxa4 1–0
Black is a rook down and has a terrible position, too. What a crushing win by Aagaard!


An old "trap" by Mario Monticelli

I'm in a big hurry this evening, so I will be quite short. Last month I bought "The lost Olympiad - Stockholm 1937" at LCC, as I already wrote in a previous post. There I've found out some interesting games played by the Italian team (Castaldi, Napolitano, Rosselli, Staldi, Riello) and, wondering why Mario Monticelli was not part of it, I discovered on the web the "Monticelli trap" in the Bogo-Indian defence (ECO code: E11). Probably many of you already know it. For those who don't, here is it.

Monticelli-Prokes, Budapest 1926
1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 Bb4+ 4. Bd2 Bxd2+ 5. Qxd2 b6 6. g3 Bb7 7. Bg2 O-O 8. Nc3 Ne4 9. Qc2 Nxc3 10. Ng5 Ne4 11. Bxe4 Bxe4 12. Qxe4 Qxg5 13. Qxa8 Qa5+ 14. Kf1 Qa6 15. Qe4 Qxc4 16. b3 Qb4 17. Qd3 c5 18. dxc5 Qxc5 19. Kg2 f5 20. Rac1 Qa3 21. Rc2 d5 22. Rc7 Qd6 23. Rhc1 Nd7 24. R1c6 Qe7 25. Rxa7 f4 26. Rcc7 fxg3 27. hxg3 Qf7 28. f3 Rd8 29. Rxd7 1-0

Experts once claimed this trap was irrefutable, but José Raúl Capablanca showed it is not, when he drew two games against Max Euwe in their Amsterdam match in 1931.

Euwe-Capablanca, Amsterdam 1931 (8)
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Bb7 5.Bg2 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Bxd2+ 7.Qxd2 0–0 8.Nc3 Ne4 9.Qc2 Nxc3 10.Ng5 Ne4
White can also play 10...Qxg5; after 11.Bxb7 he has 11...Nxe2 with some compensation for the exchange, e.g.: 11...Nxe2 12. Qxe2 Nc6 13. Bxa8 Rxa8 14. Qd3 Qa5+, etc. That's why White plays 9.Qd3 and not 9.Qc2 nowadays (here after 11...Nxe2 12.Bxa8 Black can't take on d4).
11.Bxe4 Bxe4 12.Qxe4 Qxg5 13.Qxa8 Nc6 14.Qb7 Nxd4 15.Rd1 Qe5
15... c5 was played in the 10th game of the match: 16.e3 Nc2+ 17.Kd2 Qf5 18.Qg2 Nb4 19.e4 Qf6 20.Kc1 Nxa2+ 21.Kb1 Nb4 22.Rxd7 Nc6 23.f4 e5 24.Rhd1 Nd4 25.Rxa7 exf4 26.gxf4 Qxf4 27.Re1 Nf3 28.Re2 Nd4 29.Re1 and a draw was agreed.
16.e3 Nc2+ 17.Ke2 d5 18.Rd2 Qxb2 19.cxd5 Qb5+ 20.Kf3 Nb4 21.Rc1 Qa5 22.d6 cxd6 23.Rc8 g6 24.Rxf8+ Kxf8 25.Qc8+ Ke7 26.Qc7+ Kf6 27.Qc3+ Ke7 28.Qc7+ Kf6 29.Qd8+ Kg7 30.Qxd6 Nxa2 31.Qd4+ e5 32.Qd5 Qxd5+ 33.Rxd5 e4+ 34.Kf4 Nb4 35.Rb5 Nd3+ 36.Kxe4 Nxf2+ 37.Kd4 f5 38.Rb2 Ng4 39.h3 Nf6 40.Rc2 Ne4 41.g4 Kf6 42.gxf5 Kxf5 43.Rc7 Ng5 44.Rxa7 h5 45.Ra3 Nf3+ 46.Kd3 Ng1 47.Kd2 g5 48.Rb3 h4 49.Rxb6 Nxh3 50.Ke2 g4 51.Rb5+ Ke4 52.Rb4+ Kf5 53.Kf1 Kg5 54.Rb5+ Kg6 55.Rb4 Kh5 56.Rb5+ Ng5 0.5-0.5

After seeing these games I wouldn't have ever thought that I could have found similar ones played in recent times...

Van der Sterren-Korchnoj, Antwerp 1994
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Bxd2+ 6. Qxd2 Bb7 7. Bg2 O-O 8. Nc3 Ne4 9. Qd3 Nxc3 10. Ng5 Ne4 11. Bxe4 Bxe4 12. Qxe4 Qxg5 13. Qxa8 Nc6 14. Qb7 Nxd4 15. O-O Nxe2+ 16. Kh1 Qc5 17. Qe4 Nd4 18. Rad1 e5 19. Qd5 c6 20. Qxd7 Qxc4 21. Qxa7 h5 22. Qxb6 Qe2 23. f3 Re8 24. Rde1 Qc4 25. Qa5 h4 26. gxh4 f5 27. Rf2 c5 28. Qc7 Ne6 29. Qxe5 Qxh4 30. Rfe2 1-0

And the following year in the same town...

Novikov - Christiansen, Antwerp 1995
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Bxd2+ 6.Qxd2 Bb7 7.Bg2 0–0 8.Nc3 Ne4 9.Qd3 Nxc3 10.Ng5 Ne4 11.Bxe4 Bxe4 12.Qxe4 Qxg5 13.Qxa8 Nc6 14.Qb7 Nxd4 15.Rd1 Qe5 16.e3 Nc2+ 17.Ke2 d5 18.Rd2 Qe4 19.Rc1 Nxe3 20.fxe3 Qg2+ 21.Kd1 Qh1+ 22.Kc2 Qe4+ 23.Rd3 Qxc4+ 24.Rc3 Qe4+ 25.Kb3 c5 26.a3 h6 27.Ka2 Qa4 28.Rf1 Qb5 29.Rf2 a5 30.g4 a4 31.Qc7 d4 32.exd4 cxd4 33.Qc4 Qe5 34.Rd3 Rd8 35.Qxa4 Qe4 36.Rfd2 e5 37.h3 Qd5+ 38.Qb3 g6 39.Kb1 b5 40.Qb4 Rc8 41.Qe7 Qe4 42.Qd7 Rc6 43.Ka2 Rf6 44.Qe8+ 1–0

Many other games have been played with this variation, many will be (perhaps) in the future. Monticelli had a nice idea, anyway :-)
Speaking about Italian players, Fabiano Caruana took his revenge on Italian champion Michele Godena today in Palau, Sardinia. Last December Godena beat Caruana in a blitz play off to take the national title, now the 14 y.o. IM seems ready to become the youngest Italian #1 ever. Icelandic IM Hedinn Steingrimsson has 7/8 and still leads by a half point over Romanian GM Mihail Marin, Italian IM Lyca Shytaj, Scottish IM Jacob Aagaard and Caruana himself. Tomorrow's round will be decisive, as Steingrimsson faces the #1 ranked player, Scottish GM Jonathan Rowson, who is on 6. Official site: http://asd.caissa.it/portomannu/.


WCM in Elista: non-scientific predictions

Minus 3. The world candidates matches will start on Sunday in Elista, Russia. Sixteen players will fight to qualify for the Mexico City tournament, where a new world champion will be crowned next September. There will be a two rounds of matches: each match will consist of six games, and, if necessary, tie-break rapid games. As everybody knows, the four winners will join Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand, Peter Svidler and Alexander Morozevich in the above mentioned tournament. "Deep Fritz" and "Deep Junior" will have a 6 game match alongside the Elista event.
Here are my "non-scientific" predictions about he upcoming matches.
1. Aronian Levon (ARM) - Carlsen Magnus (NOR)
The score between these two players is 3.5-2.5 (only classical games are considered) in favour of Aronian. I think the Armenian idol is the clear favourite, as he is a much experienced player and Magnus has never defetead him up to now. Possible result: Aronian wins 3.5-2.5 (or even 3.5-1.5).
2. Leko Peter (HUN) - Gurevich Mikhail (TUR)
I can’t believe that Gurevich could be a really tough opponent for Leko, even if he has a 1.5-0.5 score against the Hungarian: he won one game when Peter was a 2465 rated player! Leko didn’t play at his best in the most recent tournaments, but it is time for a revenge... Possible result: Leko wins 3.5-1.5.
3. Ponomariov Ruslan (UKR) - Rublevsky Sergei (RUS)
Rublevsky is not an easy opponent and Pono will have to be very careful if he wants to beat his opponent, against whom he has a 1.5-1.5 score. The Ukrainian is obviously favourite, but no wonder if he will lose. Possible result: 3-3 with Rublevsky winning on tie breaks.
4. Gelfand Boris (ISR) - Kasimdzhanov Rustam (UZB)
Another difficult result to be predicted. I think Boris is slightly favoured, but Rustam won a Fide world title against all predictions. The only classical game between these two opponents ended in a draw at move 26. Possible result: Kasimdzhanov wins 3.5-2.5 or on tie breaks.
5. Bacrot Etienne (FRA) - Kamsky Gata (USA)
Bacrot hasn’t played a high class tournament for a long time. Kamsky should be quite tired after Mtel Masters, but also better prepared to a hard match like this. I think Gata can do it... Possible result: Kamsky wins 3.5-2.5.
6. Grischuk Alexander (RUS) - Malakhov Vladimir (RUS)
The only “derby” whole competition, at least in the first round. Both players are young and Alex is more experienced; I think he is slightly favourite, but Malakhov should be a tough opponent for him. Possible result: 3-3 with Grischuk winning on tie breaks.
7. Polgar Judith (HUN) - Bareev Evgeny (RUS)
Bareev was a first class player some times ago, but he is no longer in the "big" circuit. Judith rarely plays chess now, but she is still in the Fide top 15. She has a 8.5-5.5 score against Evgeny and she can win this match. Possible result: Polgar wins 3.5-2.5 (or even 3.5-1.5)
8. Shirov Alexei (ESP) - Adams Michael (ENG)
This is a difficult prediction to do for me. Shirov is one of my favourite players, at least when he plays like Shirov, but he didn't score good results in his most recent tournaments. Adams is not at his best, too, but he is more solid and it's not simple to beat him, even if Alexei has an impressive 21-14 score against him. So? Possible result: 3-3 with Shirov winning on tie breaks.
That's all, folks, I hope my predictions will be at least 50% right :-) Round 2 pairings: Winner 1-Winner 8; Winner 2-Winner 7; Winner 3-Winner 6; Winner 4-Winner 5.
Official site of the event hasn't been announced yet. I hope there will be one... There will be a WCM section on my Italian site, www.messaggeroscacchi.it.


Alexander the great conquered US

GM Alexander Shabalov finally won the 2007 Frank K. Berry US Championship, which ended today and took place in Stillwater (Oklahoma), with the score of 7 points out of 9 (+6=2-1). He defeated GM Sergei Kudrin in the final round to take the crown. Last year's champion GM Alex Onischuk beat the winner in the sixth round and finished in clear second half a point behind him. After conquering the US title Shabalov said (to quote the official site http://www.monroi.com/tournamentgate/USChamp07/): "Huge thanks to all the fans! I'm so happy I was finally able to pull it out after so many misses earlier in the tournament. In the last round game Sergey surprised me with 2…Nc6!, which totally killed all my preparation versus Dragon or 2…g6. But I couldn't remember a single game of his after 3.Bb5. Does it matter that I'm not playing it? No! So the resulting position was very much in the spirit of pet variation 1.e4 c5 2. Na3 and I did the grinding!".
Icelandic IM Hedinn Steingrimsson still leads in Palau, Italy, with a perfect score after round 6 (yesterdau a double round was played). Tomorrow he will play Romanian GM Mihail Marin with black pieces and this could be a decisive game for the first place: Marin is in second place on 5 points with Ecuadorian GM Matamoros, Italians GM Ortega and IM Shytaj, Serbian GM Djuric and Scottish IM Aagaard. 14 y.o. IM Fabiano Caruana is on 4.5, but he doesn’t have any chance to get his third GM norm as he played against too many lower opponents in the last rounds. Official site: http://asd.caissa.it/portomannu/vega/index.html.
Sergei Movsesian has extended his lead to a full point in the 2007 Bosna supertournament after beating Nigel Short in round 5. The Slovakian GM has now 4 points out of 5, while Bosnian GM Predojevic could get a draw with Morozevich, keeping second place on 3. Official site: http://www.skbosna.ba.
China and Ukraine are dominating the first Women's World Team Championship, which is taking place in Ekaterinburg, Russia. They has both won three matches and drawn one up to now; China beat 4-0 Poland and Russia, 3.5-0.5 Vietnam and drew with Georgia, Ukraine beat 3-1 Armenia and Czech Republic, 4-0 Botswana and drew with Germany. Tomorrow the two leaders of the tournament will play each other. Official site: http://www.chesswomen.com/en/.
And now here is the decisive last round game from the 2007 U.S. championship.

Shabalov,Al (2606) - Kudrin,S (2556) [B51], Stillwater, 23.5.2007
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 d6 4.0–0 Bd7 5.Re1 a6 6.Bf1 Bg4 7.h3 Bxf3 8.Qxf3 g6 9.c3 Bg7 10.Na3 Nf6 11.Nc2 Nd7 12.Rb1
This move should be a novelty. After 12.d3 b5 13.Ne3 b4 14.Bd2 0–0 15.Qg3 bxc3 16.bxc3 Kh8 17.Nd5 Rb8 18.Bg5 Re8 19.Rab1 f6 20.Be3 got a slightly better position in Stefanek-Kochetkov, Jantar Baltyku op 1998.
12...Qb6 13.b3 0–0 14.Bb2 Rac8 15.Qd1 Rfe8 16.d4 cxd4 17.cxd4 Nf8
17...Qa5 18.Ne3 b5 was an alternative to be considered.
18.Qd2 Na7?!
18...Qa5 19.Bc3 Qh5 was better.
19.Ne3 Nb5 20.Rbd1 Ne6 21.Nc4 Qa7 22.d5 Nf8?
22...Bxb2 23.Qxb2 Nc5 was a more active defence. Now White takes the initiative.
23.Bxg7 Kxg7 24.a4 Nc7 25.a5 f6 26.Kh1
26.Nb6 Rcd8 27.Rc1 Na8 28.Nc4 was even stronger.
27.f4 Qb8
Too passive indeed!
28.e5! Nd7
28...b5 29.axb6 Nxb6 30.exf6+ exf6 31.Ne3 was just a bit better for Black.
29.exd6 exd6 30.Re6
White is dominating.
30...Nc7 31.Nxd6 Nxe6 32.dxe6 Nc5 33.Nxe8+ Rxe8 34.Bc4 was not too much different.
31.Nxd6 Nxe6 32.Nxe8+ Rxe8 33.dxe6 Re7
Obviously not 33...Rxe6 34.Qd7+ and White wins on the spot.
34.Qb4! Qe8
If 34...Rxe6 then 35.Rd7+ Kh8 36.f5! followed by Qh4.
35.Rd6 was even stronger, e.g.: 35...Nc7 36.Qxb7 Nxe6?? 37.Rxe6 Rxb7 38.Rxe8+-
35...Nc7 36.Re1 Nb5 37.Qc5
Black can just wait for the end.
37...h5 38.f5 gxf5 39.Bxb5 axb5 40.Qxf5 Qg6
40...Qc6 41.Qxh5 Rxe6 42.Rxe6 Qxe6 43.Qxb5 would have only postponed the end for Black.
41.Qxb5 Qg3 42.Qe2 Qxb3 43.Qxh5 Qg3?
43...Qc3 was the only good move.; 43...Rxe6 44.Qg4+ Kf7 45.Qxe6+ Qxe6 46.Rxe6 Kxe6 47.Kg1 would have obviously been without hope for Black.
44.Re4 1–0
Black has no defence against Rg4, so he resigned.


Too hot... but not on chessboard

It's too hot here in Bergamo, Italy. Almost 35 degrees: and we are not in August! I guess this is one of the reasons why my lap top decided to leave me: yes, I think it is almost dead :-(. One of the main problems connected with this situation, besides the fact I've never created a backup copy of my files, is that I can only use my other pc, which is in my bedroom. And I can't use it until late hours... So, till my lap top doesn't rise again or I don't buy a new one, I think I'll have to be (a bit) shorter than usual in my posts.
The Frank K. Berry 2007 US Championships will come to an end tomorrow in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Two Alexander, Onischuk and Shabalov, lead with 6 points out of 8 with only one round to go. Official site: http://www.monroi.com/tournamentgate/USChamp07.
Slovakian Sergei Movsesian leads the 2007 Bosna tournament in Sarajevo, after beating Alexander Morozevich with Black pieces in the 4th round. Borki Predojevic is second on 2.5, Moro and Sokolov (who lost to Short) third on 2. Official site: http://www.skbosna.ba.
Icelandic IM Hedinn Steingrimsson and Scottish Matthew Peat (not rated player!) lead the 2007 Capo d'Orso Festival in Palau, Italy, with a perfect score after round 4. Today Steingrimsson beat the 14 y.o. IM Fabiano Caruana: scoring a GM norm will now be very difficult for the young Italian prodigy. Top rated players are not having their sweetest times: Elo favourite Jonathan Rowson has only 2 points, Italian champion Michele Godena 2.5, Romanian Mihail Marin and Ecuadorian Franco Matamoros 3. I think the degrading accelerated swiss system (the same in use at Cappelle la Grande) has played a decisive role up to now. We'll see what happens in the last rounds. Official site: http://asd.caissa.it/portomannu/vega/index.html.
And now here is the game between the two leaders of the 2007 US championship...

Onischuk,Al (2663) - Shabalov,A (2606) [D44], Stillwater 20.5.2007
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 e6 5.Bg5 dxc4 6.e4 b5 7.e5 h6 8.Bh4 g5 9.Nxg5 hxg5 10.Bxg5 Nbd7 11.exf6 Qa5 12.Be2 Bb7 13.0–0 0–0–0 14.Qc1 c5 15.Rd1
15.dxc5 Bxc5 16.Qf4 Ne5 has been played a couple of times before. The text move is a novelty according to my database.
15...cxd4 16.Rxd4 Bc5?!
A natural move, but 16...Qb6 was perhaps more precise.
17.b4! Qxb4?
After 17...Bxb4 18.Nxb5 Qxb5 19.Qxc4+ Qxc4 20.Rxc4+ Bc5 21.Rac1 Bd5 22.Rxc5+ Nxc5 23.Rxc5+ Kb7 24.Be3 White has a better position, but Black survives. Now Onischuk takes a very strong initiative.
18.Rb1 Qxb1
After 18...Qa5 19.Nxb5 Bxd4 20.Qxc4+ Nc5 (20...Bc5 21.Nd6++-) 21.Nxd4 Qc7 22.h4 White can only win.
19.Qxb1 Bxd4 20.Nxb5 Ne5?!
20...Bc5 21.Bxc4 Rdg8 22.Qc1 a6 23.Nc3 was a bit better, but White would have won anyway.
21.Bf4 Nc6 22.Nd6+ Rxd6 23.Bxd6 c3 24.Bf3 Bb6 25.Bb4 Bd4 26.Bxc3 1–0
If 26...Bxc3 then 27.Bxc6 Bxc6 28.Qc2 Rg8 (28...Rd8 29.h4) 29.Qxc3 and White easily wins.


Ukrainian star Karjakin special guest in Lodi

A strong open tournament takes place in Lodi, not far from Milan, in June 8th to 10th (5 rounds). Ukrainian prodigy Sergey Karjakin (2686, number 26/27 in the April rating list) will be the top seed, but his compatriots Sergey Fedorchuk (2603), Yuri Solodovnichenko (2580) and Stanislav Savchenko (2545), as well as Bulgarian Aleksander Delchev (2600), Belgian Vadim Malakhatko (2598), Dutch Jan Werle (2556) and Macedonian Vladimir Georgiev (2540), won’t play only for glory… There will be many others GMs and IMs, so Karjakin has to be very careful. The young Ukrainian will also give a simultaneous exhibition “under the stars” on June 9 (at 9.30 p.m., after round 3), in the beautiful San Francesco square. Some events are preparing the road for this strong tournament: yesterday Italian young stars IM Sabino Brunello (2454) and FM Niccolò Ronchetti (2410) played a game on a giant chessboard (if I don’t mind) right in San Francesco square. The duel ended in a fighting draw on move 48. I think (but I don’t promise yet) I will go to Lodi on June 9: if so, I will take some pictures and post here. Official site of the competition: www.lenuvole.org (you’re still on time if you want to take part in the event).
After a loss in round 2 (with Ivan Sokolov), Morozevich took his revenge today in the 2007 Bosna tournament. Russian super GM now shares the lead with Sokolov and Movsesian. Official site: http://www.skbosna.ba.
Another strong tourney is taking place in Havana, Cuba: the 42nd Capablanca Memorial. Ten players compete in the main Elite Group (rating average 2617, category XV): V. Ivanchuk, Kamil Miton, Peter H. Nielsen, V. Gashimov as visitors and Leinier Domínguez, Lázaro Bruzón, Jesús Nogueiras, Neurys Delgado, Walter Arencibia and Yuniesky Quezada from Cuba. Chuky has simply crushed all his opponents up to now, so he leads with a perfect score after round 3, a full point over Cuban Lenier Dominguez. Daily reports at: http://www.vanguardia.co.cu/.
And now here is Brunello-Ronchetti from Lodi… A quiet endgame soon became more complicated then it looked.

Brunello,S (2454) - Ronchetti,N (2410) [B33], Lodi 20.5.2007
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Nd5 Be7 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.c3 Bg5 12.Nc2 Rb8 13.a4 bxa4 14.Ncb4 Bd7 15.Bxa6 Nxb4 16.Nxb4 Qa5 17.Qxd6 Rb6 18.Qd3 Be7 19.Nd5 Rxb2 20.0–0 Qc5 21.c4 0–0
This seems to be the first new move according to my my database! After 21...Rb3 22.Qe2 0–0 23.Bb5 Bxb5 24.cxb5 Bd8 25.Rfb1 Rxb1+ 26.Rxb1 Bb6 27.Qe3 White got the initiative in the game Socko-Krush, Bermuda 2002.
22.Bb5 Bxb5 23.cxb5 Bd8 24.Rxa4 Qxb5 25.Qxb5 Rxb5 26.Rd1
White now has a slight initiative, but Black can easily get an equal game.
This bishop would be obviously better placed in "c5" or "d4".
27.Nxb6 Rxb6 28.g3 g6 29.Rd5 Re8 30.Kg2 Kg7 31.Ra7 Rb4 32.Rdd7 Rf8 33.Kf3 Rb3+ 34.Ke2 Rb2+ 35.Ke3 Rb3+ 36.Ke2 Rb2+ 37.Kf3 Rb3+ 38.Kg4
White finally tries to break the balance...
A risky move. The immediate 38...Rb2 was more precise.
Kings are pieces, after all!
After 39...Rf3?! 40.Rd6 Kg8 41.Rf6 Rxf6 42.Kxf6 White can still fight for a win.
40.Rd6 Kg8
Obviously 40...Rxf2? 41.Rxg6+ Kh8 42.Rh6+ Kg8 43.Rxh5 is good for White.
41.Rf6 Re2 42.Re7! Rxe4 43.f4 Re2?!
43...h4 44.fxe5 hxg3 45.hxg3 Re1 was slightly better, even if 46.g4 would have been strong for White.
44.fxe5 Rxh2?
Now 44...h4 was the only chance to survive; 45.g4 was very strong for White anyway.
45.e6 h4 46.exf7+??
White misses 46.g4!, after which Black is completely lost, e.g.: 46...Rc2 (46...h3 47.Kh6 Rc2 48.exf7+ Kh8 49.Re8 Rc8 50.Rxc8 Rxc8 51.f8Q+ Rxf8 52.Rxf8#) 47.Kh6! Rcc8 48.exf7+ Kh8 49.Kxg6 h3 50.Re3+-
46...Kh7 47.Re8
Now after 47.g4 Rc2 White cant' play the killer move Kg5-h6.
47...Kg7 48.Rxf8?!
48.g4 followed by Re7 and Rxg6 was the only way to keep fighting for the full point.
48...Kxf8 ½–½
After 49.gxh4 Rg2+ 50.Kh6 Rg4 White doesn't have any chance to get a win, so the two young opponents agreed for a draw.


Missing dates and missed bets

I would like to play a chess tourney this summer, but I can’t find any event taking place in Italy (and almost in the whole Europe) in July 2 to 7 and in August 11 to 18, the periods when I’ll have my holidays. This is quite strange, at least in our country, if you consider that there are many tournaments in all other periods :-( Well, I think I’ll have to wait for 2008…
Speaking about Italian events, the strong Capo d’Orso Festival in Palau, Sardinia, didn’t see any surprise in round two, played today afternoon. Pairings are made according to the degrading accelerated swiss system (the same in use at Cappelle la Grande), and that’s why you can’t find any GM on 2/2, while many not rated players are in the leading group. Many interesting games are going to take place in the third round: IM Aagaard-IM Steingrimsson (the only two titled players on top), IM Shytaj-GM Godena, GM Marin-IM Mogranzini, GM Efimov-GM Matamoros, IM Caruana-IM Bruno, GM Djuric-IM Seger, GM Rowson-IM Ziegler, IM Glienke-IM Orlov, GM Ortega-FM Friedrich, etc. Official site: http://asd.caissa.it/portomannu/vega/index.html.
After rounds 6 and 8 (read my previous posts) I wrote I would have bet on Topalov’s win in Sofia. Well, I’m just sorry I didn’t place any bet… because Veselin finally took first place with a half a point lead over Mamedyarov, Kamsky, Nisipeanu and Sasikiran, who lost to Bulgarian GM in the last round. Official site: http://www.mtelmasters.com. Final report in Italian, games and on-line viewer on my Italian site www.messaggeroscacchi.it (direct link to the Mtel section: http://www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/mtel07.html).
Finally here is a crushing win by Italian master Claudio Pantaleoni over Dutch IM Herman Grooten in Palau.

Pantaleoni,C (2219) - Grooten,H (2392) [E15], Palau 19.5.2007
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.Qc2 Bb7 6.Bg2 c5 7.d5!?
A sharp variation, quite popular in recent times. 7.0–0 is more common.
7...exd5 8.cxd5 Bxd5
8...Nxd5 9.0–0 Be7 10.Rd1 Nc6 11.Qf5 Nf6 12.e4 was played in Carlsen-Ivanchuk, Monte Carlo 2007.
9.Nc3 Bc6 10.e4
Is this a novelty? White has previously played 10.0–0 Be7 11.e4 d6 12.Bf4, but the text move looks stronger.
10...Be7 was also possible.
11.Bf4 Nbd7?
The first real inaccuracy. 11...Be7 was definitely better now.
12.0–0–0 Qb8?
The losing move! 12...Be7 13.Bxd6 0–0 was a far more secure defence for Black. Now White wins on the spot.
13.e5! Nh5
After 13...dxe5 14.Nxe5! Bxg2 15.Nxd7 Qb7 16.Nxf6+ gxf6 17.Rhe1++- Black has no defence.
14.Rhe1 Nxf4 15.gxf4 d5 16.Nxd5 Qb7
Black had no good moves, e.g.: 16...Bxd5 17.Rxd5 Be7 18.Qe4 Nf8 19.f5+-
17.Ng5 looks even stronger, but the text move leads to a fast win anyway.
17...Bxd5 18.exd7+ Kd8 19.Qd3
Good, but 19.Ng5! was even stronger: after 19...Bxg2 20.Re8+ Kc7 21.Rxa8 Qxa8 22.d8Q+ Qxd8 23.Rxd8 Kxd8 24.Nxf7++- Black was completely lost.
19...Be6 20.f5 c4 21.Qe4 Rb8 22.fxe6 fxe6 23.Qxb7
23.Qxe6 was faster.
23...Rxb7 24.Ng5 1–0
After 24...Rxd7 25.Nf7+ White is clearly winning, so Grooten resigned. What a crushing win by Pantaleoni!


Lilliputians and… "Short" losses

Lilliput is an island inhabited by tiny people in the world famous book “Gulliver’s travel” by Jonathan Swift. Lilliput is also the name of a fair for children and families in my home town, Bergamo, where chess are among the many activities proposed to the attention of the visitors. The interest for this event (which ends tomorrow) hasn’t been as high as usual this year, but we had a good number of visitors at the chess stand this afternoon. Here follow some photos (click to enlarge).

The chess stand at Lilliput

Ivan Bassis, president of the Excelsior chess club
(official site: http://www.excelsior-scacchi.it/),
explains secrets of chess strategy

Giru, Mida's girlfriend, proves her chess skill
(personal non chess web page: www.strababos.it)

Mida teaches chess to children... and parents

No wonder if I had met the next Italian chess prodigy at “Lilliput” :-)
All games were drawn in the ninth round of the 2007 Mtel Masters. This way Krishnan Sasikiran retains a half point lead over Kamsky, Mamedyarov, Nisipeanu and Topalov, who will play the Indian GM tomorrow in the tenth and last round. Official site: http://www.mtelmasters.com. Updated news in Italian, games and on-line viewer on my Italian site www.messaggeroscacchi.it (direct link to the Mtel section: http://www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/mtel07.html).
The traditional 37th Bosna tournament has started today in Sarajevo. Russian Alexander Morozevich beat English Nigel Short in the first round, crushing him in only 31 moves with Black pieces; Predojevic-Sokolov and Timofeev-Movsesian both ended in a draw. Official site: http://www.skbosna.ba.
The first round of the 2007 Capo d’Orso chess festival was played today in Palau (Sardinia – Italy). Italian FM Denis Rombaldoni, 17 y.o., drew with Black pieces against Elo favourite Scottish GM Jonathan Rowson; Fabiano Caruana beat Swedish IM Ari Ziegler. Dutch IM Herman Grooten and Italian IM Pierluigi Piscopo lost to Claudio Pantaleoni and Isacco Ibba respectively: these were the main surprising results of the round. No games available yet. Official site: http://asd.caissa.it/portomannu/vega/index.html.
And now here is the “short” loss… for Nigel Short.

Short,N (2691) - Morozevich,A (2762) [A28], Sarajevo 19.5.2007
1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.e3 Bb4 5.Qc2 Bxc3 6.Qxc3 Qe7 7.Be2 d5 8.0–0?!
Not the best continuation if White doesn't want Black to take a lasting initiative... 8.d3 0–0 9.0–0 is a more precise moves order.
Simple and effective.
9.exd4 exd4 10.Qb3 0–0 11.Re1
11.d3!? was played in Maurer-Doderer, corr. 1998; after 11...Re8 (11...Qxe2 12.Re1) 12.Bd2 b6 13.Rae1 Bb7 14.Ng5 Qd7 15.Bf3 h6 16.Ne4 Nxe4 17.Bxe4 a6 18.Qa4 Re7 19.f4 Rae8= the position was about equal, but Black could have probably played even better.
11...Bg4 12.Bd1 Qd6
White is simply doomed: he has four pieces on the first rank!
After 13.Qxb7 Nb4 14.Qb5 c5µ Black is dominating.
13...Nd7 14.Bd2 a5 15.Nh4 Nc5 16.Qa3 Bd7 17.Be2 b6 18.Rad1 h6 19.b3?!
19.g3 was the only chance to survive.
19...Qf6 20.Nf3 Rae8 21.Qb2 Bg4 22.Qc2 Rxe2!
A natural sacrifice after which White is completely without hope.
23.Rxe2 Bxf3 24.gxf3 Qxf3 25.Bc1
What else?
25...f5 26.h3
The only move again.
26...Rf6 27.Kh2 Rg6 28.Rg1 Rxg1 29.Kxg1 Nxd3 30.Be3
The best continuation was 30.Qd1 , but after 30...Qxh3 31.f4 Qg4+ 32.Kf1 Ncb4–+ White would have lost anyway.
30...Nce5 31.Bxd4
The awful 31.Kh2 was the only way to avoid mate.
31...Nf4 0–1
White has no defence, so he resigns.


Kasparov and any other business

Poor Garry! After being detained during the “Dissenters march”, one month ago, today Police prevented him from boarding a flight to the city of Samara, where he planned to take part in a protest march coinciding with a Russia-EU summit. Kasparov told Ekho Moskvy radio that police at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport “have simply stolen our passports. They refuse to return them and have given no grounds”. The summit participants included Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency. With EU concerns about Russia’s record on democracy and human rights among the many issues shadowing the meeting, Germany has urged the Kremlin to allow the rally and authorities in Samara have given approval for a demonstration. But activists have said they were being harassed even before the summit. So Garry couldn’t take part in any march, but I’m sure he will fight even harder after this episode…
In yesterday’s post I wrote I wouldn’t have been surprised if Sasikiran had lost to Kamsky. And so happened… Indian GM still leads on 4.5/8, but four players now have just half a point less: Kamsky himself, Mamedyarov, Topalov and Nisipeanu, who beat Adams and relegated him to the last place on 3.5. Now every game should be decisive till the end of the tournament: tomorrow’s pairings are Sasikiran-Nisipeanu, Kamsky-Topalov and Mamedyarov-Adams. I stand firm on my opinion: Veselin can do it… Official site: http://www.mtelmasters.com. Updated news in Italian, games and on-line viewer on my Italian site www.messaggeroscacchi.it (direct link to the Mtel section: http://www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/mtel07.html).
The strong Bosna 2007 tournament (http://www.skbosna.ba/skbosna/index.php) and the Porto Mannu (Italy) open (http://asd.caissa.it/) are starting tomorrow. About the latter, four games will be broadcasted live every day. As I wrote a couple of days ago, Fabiano Caruana has another good opportunity to score his third and last GM norm. Good luck, boy! You would become the youngest Italian GM ever and one of the youngest in the whole world: you are strong enough now not to fail this target.
The “Match of the Hopes” took place today in Porto-Vecchio (Corsica) between two young superstars, Teimour Radjabov and Magnus Carlsen. Radjabov won the first rapid game (10 3), Carlsen took an immediate revenge in the second one. The next two (blitz) games ended with draws. Radjabov won the fifth and final game in Armageddon style. Official site: http://www.corse-echecs.com/porto-vecchio/porto_vecchio2007.html.
Tomorrow I will attend to the chess stand of “Lilliput”, a traditional fair for children and families in my home town, Bergamo, until 8 pm, so I will update my Italian site with Mtel Masters results and others news quite late. I will obviously post one or two photos taken at “Lilliput” on this Blog :-)
Now let’s see the critical moment of the Nisipeanu-Adams game, played today in the 2007 Mtel Masters.

Nisipeanu,LD (2693) - Adams,Mi (2734) [C96], Sofia 18.5.2007
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6
During the press conference, Adams was asked why he didn't use his favorite Marshall attack. “I wanted to try something else”, he replied. No doubt he is saving his opening secrets for the candidate matches…
8.c3 0–0 9.h3 Na5 10.Bc2 c5 11.d4 Nd7 12.Kh1 Re8 13.d5 Nb6
Graf and Romanishin, both against Bologan, played 13...Nf8 at this point. But I’m not sure this is a novelty.
14.b3 Bd7 15.Be3 Qc7 16.g4 c4 17.b4 Nb7 18.Nbd2 a5 19.a3 Ra6 20.Nf1 Rea8 21.Bc1 Nd8 22.Ne3 axb4 23.cxb4 f6 24.Nf5 Bc8 25.Rg1 Nf7 26.h4 Bd8 27.Rg3 Kh8 28.g5 g6 29.Ne3 fxg5 30.hxg5 Kg8 31.Kg2 Na4 32.Qe1 Bd7 33.Qh1 Qc8 34.Qh2 Nc3 35.Kf1 Be7 36.Bb2 Na4 37.Bc1 Bf8 38.Qh4 Be7 39.Qh2 Bf8 40.Qh4 Be7
Both players have just reached the first time control and this is the critical moment...
Nisi is just trying to scare his opponent. 41.Ng4 was an alternative to be considered.
Adams is afraid of ghosts. 41...Bd8 42.Nh6+ (to prevent ...h5) 42...Nxh6 43.Qxh6 Be7 was a far more precise defence; if 41...gxf5? then 42.Qh5 and White has a powerful attack.
42.Nh2 h6?
42...h5 was much better.
43.Ng4! hxg5
43...gxf5 44.exf5 hxg5 45.Bxg5 Nxg5 46.f6 would have easily won anyway.
44.Bxg5 Nxg5
After 44...Bxg5 White wins on the spot: 45.Nf6+ Bxf6 46.Rxg6+ Bg7 47.Ne7+ Qxe7 48.Qxe7+-
45.Ngh6+ Kh7 46.Nf7+ Kg8 47.N7h6+ Kh7 48.Nf7+ Kg8 49.Nxg5 Bxg5 50.Rxg5 Be8
50...Kf7 was not better, e.g.: 51.Qh7+ Ke8 52.Bxa4 bxa4 53.Rxg6 Bxf5 54.exf5 R6a7 55.Re6++-
51.Kg2 R8a7
Black had no good defence, but this loses immediately.
52.Rh1 Qf6 53.Nh6+ 1–0
After 53...Kg7 (53...Kf8 54.Rf5+-) 54.Ng4 Black can't survive.


Big tournaments and little considerations

The 2007 Mtel Masters saw only one decisive game today, but it was a really important one. Leaders “Shak” Mamedyarov and Krishnan Sasikiran faced each other and the latter took the full point thanks to a big blunder by his opponent just after the first time control. So the Indian GM now leads on 4.5/7, while Mamedyarov, Topalov and Adams (these two drew their game after a tough battle) are in second place all on 3.5; Kamsky and Nisipeanu have 3 points. As I said yesterday, all can still happen and I wouldn’t be surprised if Gata will beat Sasikiran in tomorrow’s round, even if he has Black pieces. Official site: http://www.mtelmasters.com. Updated news in Italian, games and on-line viewer on my Italian site www.messaggeroscacchi.it (direct link to the Mtel section: http://www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/mtel07.html).
Some comments about Italian team performance in the 2007 Mitropa Cup have appeared on it.hobby.scacchi (“scacchi” means “chess”). I will add here just a few considerations: Italy was ranked #2 and placed second; Godena (2558), Caruana (2513) and Borgo (2418) scored a 2546, 2515 and 2452 rating performance respectively: this means their results were (more or less) the expected ones. Brunello (2454) had the better performance, 2575, while Mogranzini (2421) just didn’t play at his best and missed one big chance at least (against France), scoring a 2276 performance. Someone is not satisfied with this second place, because other teams (countries) didn’t line up their best players, while Italy (almost) did. And what does it mean? We obviously can’t pretend to win the next Olympiads: perhaps we will never win any team competition by the next 20 or even 30 years. But we are growing up and (for the first time after many years) we can now hope for a good place (top 20) even in the next or in the 2010 Olympiads. We do not have a national chess school and many efforts will have to be done if we want to become more competitive in chess! I finally congratulate with the Italian chess team for the silver medal: you did your job, hopefully you’ll do even better the next time!
A strong tournament will start on Saturday in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Morozevich, Short, I. Sokolov, Timofeev, Movsesian and Predojevic compete in the main XVII category event. The supertournament is organized in honor to May 22, when Bosnia and Herzegovina became a part of United Nations. Official site: http://www.skbosna.ba/skbosna/index.php.
And do not forget that Fide Candidate matches will start on May 27 in Elista, Russia. I hope Fide will remember, too: they announced the sponsor of the competition right yesterday, but official site is to be announced yet (or am I the only one who can’t find it?).
Waiting for so many tournaments to start, here is the important win by Sasikiran against “Shak” in the 2007 Mtel Masters.

Mamedyarov,S (2757) - Sasikiran,K (2690) [A21], Sofia 17.5.2007
1.c4 e5 2.g3 d6 3.Bg2 g6 4.Nc3 Bg7 5.d3 f5 6.e4 Nf6 7.Nge2 a5
Not an orthodox way to face White's opening. 7...Nc6 and 7...0–0 are the most common alternatives.
8.a3 was played in the game Laco-Srebrnic, Nova Gorica 1999, but after 8...c6 9.Rb1 0–0 10.0–0 Bd7 11.h3 Na6 12.Be3 Nc7 13.Na4 Ne6 14.exf5 gxf5 Black obtained equal chances.
8...gxf5 9.d4 0–0 10.Bg5 Qe8 11.0–0 h6 12.Bxf6 Bxf6 13.c5!?
A good way to get the initiative on the Queen side.
Obviously 13...exd4 14.Nd5 is good for White only.
14.Nb5 Qe7 15.Nec3 Qg7
15...exd4? now is even worse than on move 13, e.g.: 16.Nd5 Qg7 17.Nbxc7 Rb8 18.Nxf6+ Qxf6 19.Qb3+ d5 20.Rae1 Kh8 21.Nxd5 Qf7 22.Qb5+-
16.cxd6 cxd6 17.d5 Nd4 18.Nxd4
The immediate 18.Nxd6!? was perfectly possible, e.g.: 18...e4 (18...f4 19.Nxc8 Raxc8 20.d6+/-) 19.Rc1 Rd8 (19...Bd7 20.Ne2 Nxe2+ 21.Qxe2 Bxb2 22.Rb1 Be5 23.Nxb7 Rfc8 24.Rfc1 Qf7 25.Rxc8+ Rxc8 26.Qd2 Qg6 27.d6+/-; 19...Bg5 20.Rb1 Ra6 21.Nxc8 Rxc8 22.f3 e3 23.f4 Be7 24.Re1 Bc5 25.Kh1+/-) 20.Ndb5 (20.Nc4?! b5 21.Ne3 Bd7 with some compensation) 20...Nxb5 21.Nxb5 Bxb2 22.Rc7 Bd7 23.Rxb7 Rdb8 24.Rxb8+ Rxb8 25.a4 Bxb5 26.axb5 Rxb5 27.d6 Qd7 28.Qa4 Be5 29.Rd1+/-
18...exd4 19.Nb5 f4!?
Black sacrifices a pawn to get some counterplay on the King side. 19...Ra6 was an alternative, but after 20.Qd3 Rb6 21.a4 f4 22.Rfc1 Bd7 23.Be4 White is simply better.
20.Nxd6 Bg4 21.Qd3
After 21.Bf3 Bxf3 22.Qxf3 Be5 Black gets some good counter chances, e.g.: 23.Qe4 Bxd6 24.Qe6+ Kh7 25.Qxd6 Rad8 26.Qc5 Rf5 27.Qxa5 Rfxd5 28.Qd2 d3 with good play in return for the pawn.
21...Be7 22.Nb5
22.Nxb7 was good too, e.g.: 22...f3 23.Bh1 Ra7 24.d6 Rxb7 25.dxe7 Rxe7 26.Rfe1 and White has better chances: after 26...Re3 there is the simple 27.Rxe3
22...f3 23.Bh1 Bc5 24.d6 Kh8 25.Rad1
25.Rfe1 was a good alternative
25...Rad8 26.a3
Is this a loss of time? After 26.Rfe1 Bxd6 (what else?) 27.Nxd6 Rxd6 28.Qa3! Rd5 (28...Rfd8 29.Bxf3+/-) 29.Re7 White has nothing to be afraid of.
Now 26...Bxd6 is not as good as before, e.g.: 27.Qxd4 Be5 28.Qxd8! Rxd8 29.Rxd8+ Kh7 30.Rd3 Qf7 31.Rfd1 Qf6 32.h3 Bxh3 33.Rxf3 and White has good winning chances.
27.Rfe1 Bf5 28.Qd2 Qf6 29.Re7 Bd7 30.Rde1
30.Nc7 was even better, e.g.: 30...Qg5 31.Ne6 Bxe6 32.Rxe6 Qxd2 33.Rxd2 Rc8 34.h4 and Black can just hope for a miracle.
30...Qg5 31.Qd3 Qf5 32.Qd2 Qg5 33.Qc2 Qf5 34.Qxf5?
Trading Queens is just good for Black! After 34.Qc1! White would have had the better chances, e.g.: 34...Qg5 35.Nc7 Bc5 36.Qc2 Qf5 37.Qd2 Qg5 38.Qd1 Bxd6 39.Rxd7 Rxd7 40.Ne6 Qf6 41.Nxf8 Bxf8 42.Qd3 with a promising endgame.
34...Rxf5 35.Nc7 d3
Now Black has a strong counterplay and can use used his powerful bishops at their best...
36.Rd1 Rc5 37.Bxf3 Rc2 38.Rf1 Bh3 39.Ne6 Bxf2+! 40.Kh1 Bxf1
Both players have just reached the first time control. This means Mamedyarov could have thought a long on his next move, but perhaps he didn't...
This move loses immediately! White would have forced a draw by 41.Nxd8 Bh3 42.Nf7+ Kg8 43.Nxh6+ Kf8 44.Rf7+ Ke8 45.Re7+ Kf8 and so on (45...Kd8?? 46.Nf7+ Kc8 47.Re8+ Kd7 48.Rd8+ Ke6 49.Ng5++-)
41...Rg8 0–1
41...Bg2+ was more brilliant: 42.Bxg2 (42.Kxg2 Bc5+) 42...Rc1+ 43.Bf1 d2-+. The text move is good too, anyway, e.g.: 41…Rg8 42.Be4 (42.Re8 Bb6-+; 42.d8N Rxd8 43.Nxd8 Bh3-+) 42...Bg2+ 43.Bxg2 Rc1+ 44.Bf1 d2-+


“My holiday on the chess Olympus”

This is the title I’ve chosen for Alex Brunetti’s report from Sofia. You don’t remember who Alex is? Are you kidding? Read my post “An Italian in Sofia” (May 8) or go to TWIC or Chessdom.com: his game against Topalov is already part of chess history :-). Well, his report (thanks for it, Alex!) is really interesting and if I had some more spare time :-) I would translate into English the whole of it. But the truth is I don’t know English (or Italian?) well enough :-). So I will quote just a little part of what he wrote.
“(Before our game) Veselin was really humble and “human”: I practically felt as if he was a member of my chess club. He appeared not to be much confident in his chances (Topalov played blind) and said that he and other GMs who play the Amber tourney sometimes forget the exact squares where pawns and rooks are”.
They all care about my comfort and, as Topalov didn’t seat in front of me, I didn’t feel nervous at all: it was just like a “common” game for me. Unfortunately, watching some videos after the duel, I found out I’ve been indecently chewing a bubble-gum during the whole game, converting it into a… chewing-game!”.
After the game I’ve been overwhelmed by interviewers and someone even asked for my autograph!
I stayed in Sofia two more days after the game, in the wonderful Grand Hotel, as a guest of Silvio Danailov, a honest and exquisite person, painted as a cheat only by backbiters (a completely unselfish declaration: he has already paid for my bill!)”.
Well, that’s enough. If you want to read the whole report visit the following page: http://www.messaggeroscacchi.it/articoli/brunettisofia.html. I hope you understand Italian; if not, just learn it :-). I’m joking! You can try to use Google’s language tools, even if translation will be even worse than mine :-).
About Sofia, today the sixth round was played. Kamsky, Sasikiran and Topalov beat Mamedyarov, Adams and Nisipeanu respectively, so everything can happen now: “Shak” and Krishnan lead on 3.5/6, Veselin and Michael have 3 points, Gata and Nisi 2.5. Who would you bet on? I’m a bit confused now, so I say… Topalov! Official site: http://www.mtelmasters.com. Updated news in Italian, games and on-line viewer on my Italian site www.messaggeroscacchi.it (direct link to the Mtel section: http://www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/mtel07.html).
The 2007 Mitropa Cup finally came to an end in Szeged, Hungary (official site www.sakkversenyek.hu, updated news on my Italian site by clicking here). France won against Slovakia in the last round and secured first place with 22.5 points out of 36; Italy drew with Slovenia and placed second on 20.5; Germany was third on 20. Caruana couldn’t score his last GM norm, but he will play the Porto Mannu open (Sardinia – Italy, May 19 to 26) and organiser Yuri Garrett is sure he will obtain the GM title there :-). GMs Rowson, Marin, Matamoros, Godena, Naumkin, Djuric, Efimov and Ortega are among the participants. I hope there will be a good coverage of the tourney on the official site http://asd.caissa.it/.
And now here is the convincing win by Kamsky against Mamedyarov in Sofia (sorry, I couldn’t find the time to comment it :-( ).

Kamsky, G (2705) – Mamedyarov, S (2757) [B08], Sofia 16.5.2007
1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. h3 O-O 6. Be3 c6 7. Qd2 b5 8. Bd3 Nbd7 9. O-O Qc7 10. Ne2 c5 11. c3 e5 12. Ng3 c4 13. Bc2 Re8 14. a4 bxa4 15. Bxa4 exd4 16. Nxd4 a6 17. Bh6 Bh8 18. Ndf5 Re6 19. Rfd1 Nc5 20. Nxd6 Bb7 21. Nxb7 Qxb7 22. f3 Nd3 23. b3 Bg7 24. Bxg7 Kxg7 25. bxc4 Nb2 26. Rdb1 Qa7+ 27. Kh1 Nxc4 28. Qg5 Rc8 29. Nf5+ Kh8 30. Nd4 Rb6 31. Rxb6 Qxb6 32. Bb3 Rc5 33. Qh6 Kg8 34. Re1 Rh5 35. Qf4 Rc5 36. e5 Nh5 37. Qh4 Nxe5 38. f4 Rxc3 39. fxe5 Rxb3 40. e6 fxe6 41. Nxb3 Qxb3 42. Qd8+ Kg7 43. Qe7+ Kh6 44. Qf8+ 1-0


Pisa-Chicago: a (chess) twinning?

As I already wrote in a previous post, Marco Codenotti, the 10 years old boy who beat IM Zivojin Ljubisavljevic some days ago in Elba Island, moved his first (chess) steps in the United States. Susan Polgar reported the news on her well known Blog on May 7 and today Tom Panelas from Ray School in Chicago, where Marco used to play chess, has blogged about him (http://raychess.blogspot.com/2007/05/marco-beats-master.html). Here is an excerpt of his article: “Surprising though it may seem, Marco’s achievement reflects the steady progress he’s made since leaving Hyde Park in 2005 and returning to his native Italy. In the two years since, Marco has focused intensely on chess and trained with leading masters. And while he’s become something of a celebrity in the chess world lately, he and his family haven’t forgotten where it all began.
«Everything for Marco started at Ray! So we are really grateful!» said Marco’s father, Bruno Codenotti, in an e-mail the other day.
Marco, who attended the early grades at Ray while his family was living in Chicago, joined the chess club in 2005. In his first tournament, the Chicago Public Schools championship, held at Lane Tech High School, he finished among the top players in the K-3 division. He later played well in tournaments by the Youth Chess Foundation of Chicago.
That summer, Marco did a nine-week stint with veteran trainer Wayne Smith, in the chess camp run by the Hyde Park Academy of Scholastic Chess. Unfortunately for Ray, his family returned to Italy right after that, taking Marco and his bionic chess skills with them. The rest, as they say, is history”
Well, guys, why don’t you promote a (chess) twinning between Chicago and Pisa, the town where Codenotti family is now living? :-)
And now… I’m sad to announce that bad news come from Hungary. Fabiano Caruana, 14 years old, wasted a better (almost won) position against Czech GM Marek Vokac and finally managed to get only a draw: this means he won’t score his third and last GM norm in the 2007 Mitropa Cup. GM Michele Godena, too, couldn’t find a winning variation in a better position and drew with IM Jan Bernasek. Having missed so many opportunities, Italy finally lost to Czech Republic with a 3-1 score, as France did against Hungary: this way our team is still in second place, a point behind France, but Germany is now just half a point behind Italy. Tomorrow’s round will be decisive for the first places and the pairings are as follows: Slovakia-France, Italy-Slovenia and Hungary-Germany. Official site: www.sakkversenyek.hu. Updated news on my Italian site by clicking here.
Davide Giovanelli pointed out a nice game, played in the 2007 Uzbek championship, on the Italian newsgroup it.hobby.scacchi. Here it is.

Dzhumaev,M (2505)-Saidov,B (2297) [C70], Uzbek champ. 14.5.2007
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 f5 5.d4 exd4 6.exf5
Not the most common continuation at this point. 6.e5 is much more popular.
6…Bb4+ 7.c3 Qe7+ 8.Kf1 dxc3 9.a3!?
9.Nxc3 was played in Aguera Naredo-Olea Perez, Candas open 1999; after 9…Bxc3 10.bxc3 Nf6 11.Bf4 d5 12.Ne5 0-0 13.Nxc6 bxc6 14.Bxc6 Rb8 15.Bxd5+ Kh8 16.Bf3 Bxf5 Black got a good counterplay in return for the pawn, but he finally lost.
After 9…cxb2 10.Bxb2 White had a good compensation, but the text move is even worse.
10.Bxc2 Bd6?! 11.Nc3 Nf6 12.Bg5 0-0 13.Nd5 Qd8
13…Qe8 looked a bit more precise, but Black’s position was lost anyway.
14.Nxf6+ gxf6 15.Bh6 Re8 16.Qd5+ Kh8
And now here is the decisive combination…
17.Ng5! Ne5
After 17…fxg5 18.Bh6 Bf8 19.f6 Black can’t avoid mate.
18.Qf7! Nxf7
19.Nxf7+ Kg8 20.Bb3!
The final blow.
What else?
21.Nxd6+ Kh8 22.Nxe8 Qxe8 23.Re1 Qh5
23…Qd8 was better, but would have lost anyway after 24.Bf7.
24.Re7 1-0
Black had no defence: 24…Qxh6 25.Re8+ Kg7 26.Rg8#


Good and bad news from Mitropa Cup

Good news are that Italy finally came back to beat the strong Croatian team, after a loss and a draw in the previous two rounds of the 2007 Mitropa Cup. Bad news are that Fabiano Caruana lost with White pieces against Ante Saric and will have to win both his last two games to achieve the GM title (hoping the average rating of his opponents will be higher than 2475 at the end of the competition, which is absolutely possible). Italy keeps being second a point behind France, which leads on 18.5/28, and tomorrow’s match against Czech Republic (14 points) will be decisive both for Caruana and for the whole team: first place is still possible as well as Fabiano’s third GM norm. Today’s heroes were IMs Giulio Borgo and Sabino Brunello; the first completely outplayed his opponents, IM Marco Bosiocic, the latter won in brilliant style an opposite coloured bishops endgame against IM Ivan Saric. Congratulations! Official site: www.sakkversenyek.hu. Updated news on my Italian site by clicking here.
Azeri GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov leads at the halfway stage in the 2007 Mtel Masters. The round before the rest day produced quieter chess than usual: three draws were agreed in 27, 43 and 64 moves respectively (the first two by repetition, the last because lonely kings can’t mate each other :-) ). “Shak” leads with 3.5 points out of 5; Adams is on 3, Nisipeanu and Sasikiran on 2.5, Topalov on 2 and Kamsky on 1.5. Official site: http://www.mtelmasters.com. Updated news in Italian, games and on-line viewer on my Italian site www.messaggeroscacchi.it (direct link to the Mtel section: http://www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/mtel07.html).
Chessdom.com site (they’re doing a really great job! Congratulations!) reported yesterday some interesting news about Fide Grand Slam: “The Chess Grand Slam first edition (2008) is now completed, with five tournaments: Corus Wijk aan Zee (The Nederlands, January 11-27th), Linares (Spain, February 15th – March 9th), M-Tel Masters Sofia (Bulgaria, May 6-18th), Mexico City (June 21st – July 6th) and the Final Masters in Bilbao (Spain, September 15-27th). The Bilbao Final Masters will have the winners of the other four Grand Slam tournaments. The total prize fund of the Final Masters in Bilbao will be 400.000 euros approximately”. I hope all the strongest players will take part in the 2008 Grand Slam, but I think much will depend on the current World Championship Cycle and its own developments…
And now here is Brunello’s win: White didn’t play a convincing opening and Sabino punished him…

Saric,I (2463) - Brunello,S (2454) [C54], Szeged UNG 14.5.2007
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d3 0–0 6.0–0 d5 7.exd5 Nxd5 8.h3 Nb6 9.Bg5?!
This looks to be a (bad) novelty: 9.Bb5 was played before.
9...Qd6! 10.b4 Nxc4 11.bxc5 Qg6 12.dxc4 e4
Well done! White's Queen side pawns are now awful to be seen and very weak too.
13.Be3 exf3 14.Qxf3 Ne5 15.Qg3 Qxg3 16.fxg3 Nxc4
White's position is all but desirable.
17.Bf4 Rd8 18.Bxc7 Rd5 19.Bf4?!
19.c6 bxc6 20.a4 was a better way to fight for an equal endgame.
19...Be6 20.a4 g5 21.Bc1
All White pieces are on the first rank!
21...Rc8 22.Ra2?!
22.Na3 had to be considered.
22...Rcxc5 23.Re2 h6 24.Nd2
This way White loses a pawn, but he didn't have many alternatives.
24...Nxd2 25.Bxd2 Rc4 26.Be3 Re5 27.Rfe1 Rce4 28.Kf2 Rf5+ 29.Kg1 Rxa4
Brunello takes the pawn in the most favourable position.
30.Bd4 Rb5 31.h4
31.g4 deserves attention.
31...Rc4 32.Rf2
32.Re5 Rxe5 (32...a6 33.Rxb5 axb5 34.hxg5 hxg5 35.Bf6 Rc5 36.Re5 Rxe5 37.Bxe5 is a draw) 33.Rxe5 g4 34.Rh5 Kh7 35.Be3 Re4 36.Rxh6+ Kg7 37.Bg5 a5 38.Rh5 a4 39.Be7 f5 was very strong for Black anyway.
32...a5 33.Rf6 Kh7 34.Kf2 Rb2+ 35.Ke3
White is getting nervous and tries to activate his king.
35...Rxg2 36.Kf3 Rh2 37.hxg5 hxg5 38.Re5 Rh5
After 38...g4+ 39.Ke3 a4 40.Ra5 White would have had some counterplay.
39.g4 Rh3+ 40.Kg2 Rh6 41.Rf1 Rc8
41...a4 42.Rxg5 f6 43.Rb5 Rc7 44.Ra5 Bxg4 45.Rxf6 Rxf6 46.Bxf6 Bd1 was a good alternative.
42.Rxa5 Rg8 43.Kg3?
43.Rb1 was the only chance to keep on fighting for a draw, even if after 43...Rh4 44.Rxb7 Rxg4+ 45.Kf3 Kg6 Black would have had some winning chances anyway.
43...Rh4 44.Raf5
The only chance to survive, otherwise 44...Rxg4+ leads to a simple win for Black. In case of 44.Rxg5?? Rxg5 45.Kxh4 Rxg4+ 46.Kh5 f5 White has to sacrifice his rook on "f5" to avoid mate.
After 44...Bxf5 45.Rxf5 Kg6 46.Rf6+ Kg7 47.Rb6+ Kf8 48.Rxb7 Rg6 Black still had very good winning chances, but the text move looks stronger.
45.Kxg4 Kg6
White rooks now have no mobility.
46.Bf6 Rc8 47.Bxg5 Rxc3 48.Be7
White had no good moves.
48...Rc4+ 49.Kf3 Kxf5 50.Ke3+ Ke5
Now Black is two pawns up, but he still has to play the best moves to convert his advantage into a full point.
51.Bf6+ Kd6 52.Rb1 was a bit more precise.
51...Bd5 52.Bf8 Re4+ 53.Kd3 Rg4
Very strong play by Black: the immediate menace is ...Be4+ and Bxb1.
54.Ke3 Rg3+ 55.Kf2 Rg2+ 56.Ke3 f5 57.Bh6 Rg3+ 58.Kf2 Rg6
Sabino is improving his position move by move. Now White is almost lost.
59.Be3 f4 60.Bb6 Rg2+ 61.Kf1 Rc2 62.Bf2
62.Re1+ was more precise, but after 62...Kf6 63.Re8 f3 Black's position is won anyway.
62...Bc4+ 63.Kg2 b5
Black starts pushing the "b" pawn: the end is very close.
64.Re1+ Kf5 65.Re8 b4 66.Rf8+ Kg4 67.Rb8 b3 0–1
White couldn't prevent both ...b2, ...Ba2, ...b1=Q and ...b2, ...Bd5+ etc., so he resigned. A very convincing victory and a well played endgame by 17 y.o. IM Sabino Brunello.