Monday, February 28, 2005
Linares - Round 6
Anand vs Kasparov 1/2 - exciting draw. Kasparov survived an onslaught.
Leko vs Kasim - 1/2 - yet to see it. The "live" website is really quite poor.
Topalov vs. Vallejo - 1- 0 - As suspected...Vallejo isn't in these guys league.
Round 7 predicitions: So far I'm 9/15 in predictions. I didn't do it the first round
Francisco Vallejo vs. Peter Leko- 0-1 - Leko still needs to score.
Garry Kasparov vs. Veselin Topalov- 1-0 - Gary is in good form
Michael Adams vs. Viswanathan Anand- 1/2 - Mickey can't beat Anand.
FIDE Tries Again at Reunification
TBILISI, Georgia (AP) - The World Chess Federation said Sunday it would hold a tournament this year in an attempt to unify the chess world that splintered nearly a decade ago with the world champion's walkout. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the president of the federation known by its French acronym FIDE, said the world's eight top chess grandmasters would play a tournament in October to name the world champion. The planned match is the fifth attempt to reunify the chess world since then-world champion Garry Kasparov broke away from FIDE in 1993....
The most recent attempt at unification failed last month, when Kasparov withdrew from a world championship match with FIDE champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov of Uzbekistan scheduled for this spring. Kasparov said he had suffered financial and psychological damage from the match's repeated postponement.
In 2003, FIDE champion Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine refused to sign a contract with FIDE to play against Kasparov. The rift in the chess world grew after Ilyumzhinov, the president of the impoverished Russian province of Kalmykia, became president of federation in 1995. While Ilyumzhinov was praised for pouring millions of dollars into chess, he also introduced numerous controversial changes, including a new knockout format for the world championship and a new, faster time control.
Under a 2002 plan to reunify the chess world, known as the Prague Agreement, Kasparov was to play a FIDE champion. The winner of that match was to face the winner of a contest between Vladimir Kramnik of Russia and Peter Leko of Hungary. Kramnik beat Kasparov in 2000 to become the Classical World Champion, a title not recognized by FIDE. Under the latest Ilyumzhinov's plan, grandmasters Kasimdzhanov, his runner-up Michael Adams of England, Leko, Viswanathan Anand of India, Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria and Russians Kramnik, Kasparov and Alexander Morozevich will play two round-robbin rounds to decide the world title...."
Sunday, February 27, 2005
Linares - Round 5
Anand drew Vallejo with black.
Kasim drew Topalov
Kasparov beat Adams with white.
Gary now leads with +2 over Anand with +1
Predictions for Round 6
Kasparov-Anand 1/2 - This will be a solid game.
Topalov-Vallejo Pons 1-0 - Topalov has been playing well albeit losing some won games. Vallejo is crumbling and will be the Linares whipping boy.
Leko-Kasimdzhanov 1-0 - Kasim has managed to hold off several onslaughts by top players. Not this time. Leko knows he needs to make his move.
Saturday, February 26, 2005
Linares - Round 4
Anand couldn't beat Kasim and Topalov blew a lead to also draw Leko.
Predictions for Round 5
Friday, February 25, 2005
Linares - Day 3
Kasim vs Adams was an uneventful 27 move draw.
Leko vs Anand was 24 move draw, but that ended with Anand sacrificing for a perpetual check draw. I think Anand was happy to grab the draw as black.
Vallejo was taken to school by Kasparov. Essentially Kasparov has a slight positional advantage and a 40 minute time advantage. Then Vallejo played 27. Ra5? in time pressure.
Kasparov and Anand lead with +1.
Round 4 Predictions
Adams-Vallejo 1/2 - Adams will be out of his shell and attack. However, he won't have enough.
Anand-Kasimdzhanov 1-0 - Anand is on a roll.
Topalov-Leko 1/2 - Topalov is still liking his wounds from Anand. Short draw
Thursday, February 24, 2005
Linares - Day 2
Adams vs Leko was a short 18 move draw, which I assumed yesterday. I figured Leko is happy to draw as black and Adams was too stunned/timid from yesterday’s collapse to push an aggressive game against Leko.
I thought Kasparov was going to win the following endgame versus Kasim, but it resulted in a draw. Kasparov only had about 3 minutes to go and 9 moves from time control.
Annan vs Topalov was an interesting game. It was a Sicilian.Najdorf. Here Annan has prevented Topalov from castling and has the queenside majority, but the position is still quite dynamic.
The game then traded down into an interesting endgame. However, white's pawns were able to get rolling faster than black's.
Nearing the end, some chess kibitzers kept clamoring that it was going to be a draw, but I could see that Anand had the easy win.
Predictions for Round 3
Leko - Anand 1/2-1/2 -- Anand looks for revenge and Leko knows it. Look for a long tough draw
Kasim - Adams - 1/2-1/2 GM draw. Adams is still shaky and won't press as black. Kasim is spent from his draw with Kasparov.
Vallejo Pons - Kasparov 0-1 - Gary knows he needs to press any advantage against the young Spaniard.
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Linares 2005 - Day 1
Both Leko vs Kasparov and Kasim vs Vallejo ended in 26 move draws. Annan had the day off.
Topalov vs. Adams
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 d5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 Ne4 7. Qc2 e5 8. e3 exd4 9. cxd5 Qxd5 10. Nf3 Nd6 11. Nxd4 Bd7 12. f3 Nc6 13. Nxc6 Bxc6 14. a4 Qh5 15. Be2 Qh4+ 16. g3 Qh3 17. Kf2 O-O-O 18. Ra3 Rhe8 19. Bf1 Qe6 20. Be2 g5 21. Rf1 g4 22. fxg4 Qh6 23. Kg1 Qh3 24. Bd3 Ne4 25. Rf4
Here comes an interesting sacrifice:
25...Nxg3 26. Rc3 Re6? 27. e4! Nh5? 28. Bc4! Qh4 29. Bxe6+ fxe6 30. gxh5 Qxh5
After Re6 the position crumbled on Adams. 26...Rxd3 seems like the best continuation. 27. Rxc6 Rd7 doesn't yield much for white. 27. Rxd3 Rg8 will be black's best continuation.
31. Rd3 Rg8+ 32. Rg3 Rd8 33. Be3 e5 34. Rf1 h6 35. b4 a6 36. b5 axb5 37. axb5 Bxb5 38. Rg7 c6 39. Qa2 Ba6 40. Qe6+ Kb8 41. Qd6+ 1-0
Games can be viewed live here
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Tricks of the Caro-Kann
The Caro-Kann is a venerable defense against e4, but there are several traps and problems that one must be aware of. I’ve learned some of these at the cost of points over the board, which I will know share for free. If you know them, they can be easily defeated.
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. N1e2 (or 6. Nh3). White’s last move seems a bit strange, but I was expecting f4.
6…Nf6 7. Nf4 e6. So now it seems the whole venture was to trade knight for bishop. 8. h4!! Oh, now I get it! If I play h6, which is typical in other variations (6. Nf3 Nd7 7. h4 h6), he’ll take the bishop and I’ll be forced to recapture with the f pawn. Other typical variations also see 6. Nf3 Nd7 7. Nh4 where the knight is traded away, but the open h file can be used to attack. The only other recourse now is 8…Ne4 9. Nxe4 Bxe4 10. f3 e5 11. fxe4 exf4 12. Bxf4 leaves white with a great position. (See diagram B.) The other option is no better: 8... Bd6 9. h5 Bxf4 10. Bxf4 Bf5 11. Nxf5.
I was subsequently able to draw the game against this particular opponent, but it wasn’t due to my opening play. So how to play it? Go back to the first diagram. 6…Nd7 7. Nf4 e5! The d pawn is protected because of Qa5+. The sequence may continue 8.N xg6 hxg6 9. c3 exd4 10. Qxd4 Ngf6 and black is fine.
Simply put, this variation is a ruse. If you see 6. N1e2 or 6. Nd2, just know 6…Nd7 then 7…e5 and white won’t have any advantage.
White has another trick in the form of 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. g4!? Bg6 5. h4. Here without realizing it, if black plays 5…h6 6. h5 Bh7 7. e6! fxe6 8. Bd3 Bxd3 9. Qxd3 Nf6 10. Nf3 you end up at a position where black is in trouble.
The correct move is 5….h5! leading to 6. g5 e6 7. Bd3 Ne7 8. Ne2 Bxd3 9. Qxd3 Nd7 10. Be3 e6 and black is fine. Black’s knight will go to f5 and be a thorn in white’s side all game. White’s dark bishop is hemmed in by his own pawns.
If you are white, these variations, might be a try in a blitz game, but if you try them in a serious over the board game, you are gambling whether your opponent knows them. If he does, you'll be left with a mediocre position.
Monday, February 21, 2005
Linares Tournament 2005
This is a double round robin tournament where everyone will play everyone else once as white and once as black. This will be the closest thing to a World Championship the world has seen in a while. The only high rated person missing is Vladimar Kramnik, who holds the "classical world championship."
Vallejo Pons is Spain's #1 native player. Usually a local will get invited to these "super-GM" tournaments. Rustam won the 2004 FIDE "World" Championship in which he beat Michael Adams in the tiebreak blitz games in the final rounds. I don't see either of them beating any of the other 5. At Wijk ann Zee, neither Adams, Topalov, Anand, or Leko lost to anyone under 2740.
I think Kasparov, whom some pundits claim is "dead," will surprise many and take this tournament. I think his major wins will be against Topalov and Adams. Anand will have revenge on Leko from Wijk ann Zee.
My official predicted results:
Kasparov - 8/12
Anand - 7.5
Leko - 7
Topalov - 6.5
Adams - 6
Kasimdzhanov - 4
Vallejo Pons - 3
Plugging US Chess Live and the death toll of Yahoo Chess
You have to be a member to have access, so it's not necessarily for the occasional player. They have nightly blitz tournaments, and when you seek a game people are joining with seconds. For additional money (of course), you can get in on instructional seminars or play certain masters. Although I haven't done the latter yet, I am generally pleased with the site and will not go back to Yahoo.
Friday, February 18, 2005
What Makes a Good Player?
Talent – Talent is innate, but can be improved.
Knowledge – Openings, tricks, endgames, tactics. Many of these are learned. How often you seen them depends on your talent.
Time Management – Time pressure can cause blunders and lose games.
Clear Head – You need to be in the right frame of mind to play.
We see books on chess taught by grandmasters. Sometimes it feels like they are talking over your head. Sometimes we sit and play out moves, and everything makes perfect sense. However, when you sit down at the board, sometimes you make the moves, sometimes you don’t. When you play moves out in your head, sometimes you neglect to see where the pieces actually end up and what squares they cover.
Here is a game I played recently against a Yugoslavian club player rated about 1800. I have the black pieces and have a dominant position. I have 31 minutes on my clock versus his 29.
Here I played 23…Re4 which threatens the continued 24. Qd2 g5. 25. Rae1. Originally missed was 23… Rxg3 24. Qxg3 Qd8! The real game continued 25…gxh4. Again I missed 25…. Rxf4 26. Rxf4 Qxf4 27. Qxf4 gxf4 28. Rc1 fxg3 29. Rxc4 Be3! Instead 26. g4 h3 27. Rxe4 hxg2+ Kxg2 fxe4. 30. Qc3. Here I am still up a bishop, but the position is open and the queen’s are on the board.
I play 30…Kc8?! in order to protect the g7 pawn and get my king into a safer position. 30… Kd8 was probably better as it would have avoided complications resulting from 31. Qxc4. I see 32. Rc1 coming. Not only can the bishop be pinned to the queen, it can be pinned to the king. So moving my queen would result in 32. b4. 31… Kb8 can be either met with 32. Rc1 or even 32. Qxe4. Now, I have a bishop for two pawns and my advantage is not decisive. What I missed was 31…Rh2+!! 32. Kxh2 Bxg1+ or 32. Kg3 Bf2+ wins the queen. Instead I played 31…Qb6? thinking that he would have to play b3 and I would have another tempo to move my king. Otherwise (remember these are my thoughts) If he played Rc1, I could play Qxb2 then play b6. What I forgot was that 32. Rc1 Qxb2+ 33. Rc2 blocks the queen with tempo for white. Thus I squandered my advantage and had to settle for a draw. After my 31st move I still had 13 minutes (compared with his 19). I wasn’t in time trouble. So why did I blank? How did I fail to see that he wouldn't be able to block on c2?
Monday, February 14, 2005
Introduction to the Web's Newest Pundit
I will devote this column to grandmaster games, the world of chess, and my games and learning progression. The Wijk an Zee tournament in the Netherlands just finished. It starred the top 2-9 players in the world, where the only exception was Garry Kasparov would thought he was going to play a match with Rustam Kasimdzhanov. Peter Leko ended up edging out Vishy Anand for first place with 8.5/13.
The next big tournament, Linares, starts on February 22nd, 2005. It will star Gary Kasparov, Vesselin Topalov, Peter Leko, Vishy Anand, and Michael Adams, which is the top 3 players and 5 of the top 7 players in the world.