Saturday, December 30, 2017

World Rapid and Blitz Championship in host country Saudi Arabia is over

If there's going to be an exclusion of players from certain nations, that should be the decision of FIDE - not the decision of the host country. I hope they don't ever again do this.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Happy Birthday, Evgenij Miroshnichenko

There are some people you don't even know but it's a joy to see their face.

 Photo by David Llada.

Some games from 2017, Part I

I threw away games this year like a drunken rummy, and that was no more true than in this years’ CCCR Championship, which was my worst ever. In this game from round four, give all the credit to my opponent, Dan Burnside. He never faltered in his management of the Black pieces.

Trowbridge-Burnside     0-1 
Championship of the Community Chess Club of Rochester
October 25, 2017
Slav Defense

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. g3
      3. g3 This was a spontaneous decision, I’ve never played it or even thought of it before. I normally don’t play openings spontaneously, I usually try to have an opening plan going into the game. But I suddenly realized that I had faced a Slav Defense against Dan earlier this year, and though I won I didn’t know the line at all well and hadn’t done any homework on it. And I began to wonder if he had. So I went for this crazy 3. g3 line. After the beating I took in this game though I’m not sure I’d recommend anyone try it at home or at the club.

3...Nf6 4. Nf3

      4. Nf3   3. Nf3 Nf6 4. g3 is the usual move order for this particular variation.
After 4. Bg2 Bf5 5. Qb3 Qb6 6. Nc3 e6 7. c5 Qxb3 8. axb3 e5 9. Nf3 e4 Black eventually won in Alburt-Short, Foxboro 1985.

4...e6 5. cxd5 

     5. cxd5 As I don’t have any idea where this is going with White’s fianchettoed position, I decide to steer this to the usually tepid waters of the Slav Exchange. It might not have been the best idea.

5...cxd5 6. Bg2 Nc6 7. O-O Bd6 8. Nc3 O-O

     8...O-O There are a number of games you can find in databases with this position but very few if any with grandmasters.

9. Bd2

     9. Bd2 This is a pretty lame move, isn’t it? 9. Bg5 or 9. a3 are much more to the point.

9...Bd7 10. Re1 Rc8 11. Rc1 Re8 12. a3 Na5 

     12...Na5  A good, enterprising move. 

13. Na2

     13. Na2? This is a clunker. My thinking was really quite confused during most of this game, but I assure you, unlike several of my games this year I was thinking and trying very hard.


     13…Nc4 There does not seem to be any hope of ever getting the knight off this comfy outpost square.

14. Bc3 Ne4

     14...Ne4! Yikes, two knights converging together in my territory. It was like watching Twister at the point where the tornado splits in two.

15. e3 Qe7 16. Re2 Rc7 17. Nd2

     17. Nd2?  Black can now pick up a full pawn thanks to those outposted knights.

17...Nexd2 18. Bxd2 Nxb2 19. Qb3 Nc4 20. Bb4 Rec8 21. Bxd6 Qxd6 22. Rec2 Nb6 23. Rxc7 Rxc7 24. Rxc7 Qxc7 25. Bf1 Nc4 26. Qc3 b5 27. Bd3 Qa5 28. Nb4 Qxa3 

     28...Qxa3 And now two pawns down White will just be driven into extinction. 
29. Qxa3 Nxa3 30. Kf1 a5 31. Na2 Nc4 32. Ke1 b4 33. Kd1 Nb2+ 34. Kc2 Nxd3 35. Kxd3 Bb5+ 36. Kc2 Bc4 37. Nc1 a4 

     37...a4   It’s maddening that those two knuckleheads on a4 and b4 are having the times of their lives while my king and knight can do nothing.

38. Kb2 Kf8 

     38...Kf8    Dan has played an excellent game and from here he knows just exactly what to do.
39. f3 Ke7 40. e4 Kd6 41. e5+ Kc6 42. f4 a3+ 43. Kb1 b3 44. g4 b2 45. h4 bxc1=Q+ 46. Kxc1
a2 47. Kb2 Kb5 48. f5 exf5 49. gxf5 Kc6 50. Ka1 Kd7 51. Kb2 Ke7 52. h5 a1=Q+ 53. Kxa1 Bd3 54. f6+ gxf6 55. exf6+ Kxf6 White resigns.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

New logo for 2018 World Chess Championship unveiled

" everyone sending this to me. I'll answer with a line from the great Tim Rice musical, Chess: 'I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine!'"
Garry Kasparov

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Nakamura advances to speed chess championship finals

Hikaru Nakamura soundly defeated Sergey Karjakin yesterday in the semi-final round of’s Speed Chess Championship. He qualified to meet the reigning Speed Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen in the final on January 3, 2018 (

Online commentator Jennifer Shahade has often said that she thinks it’s instructive to play over speed games from grandmasters – you get a chance to see how mistakes are exploited more often than you might in classical games.

With that in mind I’m playing over some bullet games from yesterday’s match, and I came across this position:

Black to move after 33. Qe2?
With a nice lead in material in this 1m 1s bullet game Karjakin suddenly fell for a tactic by 33. Qe2? that allowed Hikaru to even the material and eventually draw this lost game.

I’m putting this in my “Pins” tactics file. It’s not complicated or hard to find, Sergey would certainly never have fallen for it in anything other a bullet game or a blitz endgame. But it’s still instructive for us intermediate and beginning players.

When he played 33. Qe2? Sergey failed to see or remember that his f2 pawn was pinned by black’s bishop, allowing black to play 33...Ng3, forking his rook and queen, leading to a sudden and unpleasant reevaluation of the position.

Here’s the .png file for those of you wanting to add this into your own Pins (or Forks) file. Email me if you would like a copy of the nine bullet games in .png format played by these guys yesterday.

[Event "Live Chess"]
[Site ""]
[Date "2017.12.16"]
[Round "?"]
[White "SergeyKarjakin"]
[Black "Hikaru"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2946"]
[BlackElo "3116"]
[PlyCount "132"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[TimeControl "60+1"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 b6 3. Nc3 Bb7 4. Bd3 Bb4 5. Nge2 Nf6 6. a3 Be7 7. O-O d5 8. exd5
Nxd5 9. Ne4 Nd7 10. c4 N5f6 11. Qc2 Bxe4 12. Bxe4 Nxe4 13. Qxe4 O-O 14. Rd1 Nf6
15. Qc2 Qd7 16. Bf4 Bd6 17. Bg5 Be7 18. h3 h6 19. Be3 Rad8 20. Rd3 c5 21. Rad1
cxd4 22. Nxd4 Qc8 23. Qa4 Rd7 24. Nc6 Rb7 25. b4 Rc7 26. b5 Qb7 27. Bf4 Bc5 28.
Bxc7 Qxc7 29. Qc2 Ne4 30. Rf3 Ng5 31. Rfd3 Ne4 32. Rf1 Qf4 33. Qe2 Ng3 34. Qf3
Qxf3 35. gxf3 Nxf1 36. Kxf1 Ra8 37. a4 a6 38. Rd8+ Rxd8 39. Nxd8 axb5 40. cxb5
Kf8 41. Nc6 f6 42. a5 bxa5 43. Nxa5 Ke8 44. Nc4 Kd7 45. Kg2 e5 46. Kg3 Ke6 47.
f4 exf4+ 48. Kxf4 Bxf2 49. Kf3 Bc5 50. h4 h5 51. b6 Bd6 52. b7 Bc7 53. Ne3 g5
54. hxg5 fxg5 55. Ke4 Bb8 56. Nf5 Kf6 57. Nd4 g4 58. Nc6 Bc7 59. b8=Q Bxb8 60.
Nxb8 Kg5 61. Ke3 Kh4 62. Kf2 Kh3 63. Kg1 h4 64. Nc6 Kg3 65. Nd4 h3 66. Nf5+ Kf4

Saturday, December 2, 2017

London Classic Round One: All games drawn

All five games of yesterday's round one of The London Chess Classic ended in draws yesterday. An unusual but not unprecedented rest day was scheduled for today before round two.

Former world champion Garri Kasparov said he had made a "generous" but losing bet that at least one of the games yesterday would be decisive. Nevertheless he indicated he was satisfied with the fighting spirit of the players in spite of the bloodless outcome.  He mentioned the Magnus Carlsen vs. Fabiano Caruana game (below) in particular.

One of the striking features of that game for me came early on with Carlsen's offer of a pawn sacrifice with 11. Be3. From what I can tell this is a new position, although I wouldn't be surprised if both players had looked at it before.

Caruana declined the proffered e-pawn with 11...Bc5 but I found it interesting to explore a line (with the help of Stockfish) where black accepts the pawn. What was of interest for myself at my strength was being able to recognize the possibility of offering such a sacrifice. Of course 11...Nxe4 12. Nxe4 Bxe4 is not hard to visualize, but what makes it attractive for white is that he gets so far ahead in development in exchange for the pawn, particularly after a natural move such as 13. Rc1.

The online annotator agadmator noted the variation 13. Bf3 Bxf3 14. Qxf3 Bc5 15. Nc6 Qc7 16. Rc1 a5 17. a3 Rc8 18. Nxa5 bxa5 19. Bxc5 Nxc5 20. b4 axb4 21. axb4 O-O 22. Rxc5 Qd7 23. Rfc1 and "Okay, black does have an advantage on the queenside, four pawns to three but white does have a passed b-pawn. This is better for white."

A line after 13. Rc1 that I think is pretty cute is 13...Bc5 14. b4 Bxb4 15. Nxe6 fxe6 16. Qd4 O-O 17. Qe4 Qe7 18. Rc6 Nf6 19. Qxe6+ Qxe6 20. Rxe6  which looks pretty equal.

Friday, December 1, 2017

The London Chess Classic, Round One Underway

To follow coverage from Yasir Seirawan, Jennifer Shahade, Maurice Ashley, and Cristian Chirila click here.

This years' participants in London - which is the final leg of the Grand Chess Tour are:

Magnus Carlsen (2837)
Levon Aronian (2805)
Fabiano Caruana (2799)
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (2789)
Wesley So (2788)
Viswanathan Anand (2782)
Hikaru Nakamura (2781)
Sergey Karjakin (2760)
Ian Nepomniachtchi (2729)
Michael Adams (2715)

Magnus has been a beast lately so he's probably the favorite in most people's minds. Levon Aronian has also been on a tear. It's great to see the three Americans (So, Naka and Caruana) participating.

The schedule for the nine-round event is:

Friday, December 1 Round 1
Saturday, December 2 Rest Day 1
Sunday, December 3 Round 2
Monday, December 4 Round 3
Tuesday, December 5 Round 4
Wednesday, December 6 Round 5
Thursday, December 7 Rest Day 2
Friday, December 8 Round 6
Saturday, December 9 Round 7
Sunday, December 10 Round 8
Monday, December 11 Round 9