Saturday, October 27, 2007

Nakamura wins Magistral D'Escacs in Barcelona : The American GM Nakamura scored 7/9 points to win the tournament. His performance rating went over 2900 with six wins, two draws, and a loss to GM Josep Pallise Oms of Spain. Geez, that must have thrilled the local fans. Well, Hikaru, you can't win all the time. Second and third places went to GM Dominguez Perez 6/9 and GM V. Gashimov 5.5/9 respectively. Here's the endgame between Nakamura ( white) and Dominguez:

White was a piece up at the moment, but black had a 3-1 pawn majority on the queenside which was under fire. Black's rook and bishop's positions are inferior to their counterparts in white, and the same can be said about the king positions. Domiguez, instead of capturing the knight on a5, played 25...c6 and Nakamura returned the piece with 26.Nc6 bc 27.Bc6 Bc6 28.Rc6 Ra2 29.Rc2 and here you can see that white is very much in control. Black's B pawn looked ripe for the picking and the black king had no part in the action at this point. Play continued 29...b3 30.Re2 Ra1 31.Kd2 Ra6 32.Kc3 Rb6 33.Kc4 ( to allow the rook to attack the B pawn ) Ke7 34.Re3 Rh6 and black started thrashing around, looking for counter play 35.h3 Rg6 36.Re2 Rb6 37.f4 h5 38.g3 h4 trying to create weaknesses ( 38.g4 Rf6 39.f5 hg4 40.hg4 Rh6 ) 39.g4 Rd6 40.Re3 ( securing the h3 pawn and finally the fall of the pawn on b3 is imminent ) Rd2 41. Kb3 Rf2 42.f5 f6 43. e5 fe5 44. Re5 and white won in another six moves.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

- Nakamura
The black queen is under attack, and what follows is a kinghunt of legendary proportion. Nakamura starts it off with 21...Qf2+. Krasenkov must have gone into the proverbial " Whatda *$#@ is this? " He accepted the sac with 22. Kf2 Bc5+ ( 22. Kh1 Rf6 23. Ne4 Qa7 24. Nf6+ Nf6 25. Ra1 Qb2 26. Ra5 Bb7 and white has two pieces for a rook and a passed C pawn which might be better than the text move which drew the white king into the open) 23. Kf3 Rf6+ ( another piece comes into the attack) 24. Kg4 Ne5+ ( and another!) 25. Kg5 Rg6+ ( 25. Kh3 Rh6+ 26. Qh5 Rh5# ) 26. Kh5 f6 ( 27...Rh6 is the threat ) Diagram 2

( 26. Kf5 Bc8+ 27. Kf4 Nd3+ ) The hunt went on with 27. Re5 Re5+ 28. Kh4 Bc8 and white resigned. Let's see, there's a threat of 29... Rh6#, if white went 29. g4, then 29...Bf2+ 30. Kh3 Rh6#. If 29. Bd5+ ( making room for the king actually ), then 29...Rd5 30. g4 Rd3 31. Qf3 Bf2+ 32. Kh3 Rg4 and black is completely winning. This game was played at the Casino de Barcelona, 2007.

Kasparov on CNN : Here's Kasparov with Wolf Blitzer of CNN, discussing issues such as his personal safety, polls in a police state, Putin's popularity and so on. Political pundits are asking the same old questions. However, this interview includes a quote from Vladimir Posner who suggested that Kasparov, essentially, has a snowball's chance in hell if elections were held in Russia. Posner, of course, put it in a more dismissive way. Blitzer's second quote came from Alexandr Solzhenitsyn's interview with Der Spiegel, and that one presented a somewhat favorable view of Putin. Hear Kasparov's responses:

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Kasparov on Bill Maher : Kasparov did pretty well in the show although he wasn't part of the debating panel. Nobody challenged him. I mean, things could turn out differently if there was somebody there to take up the opposing view. Even Maher turned soft ala Larry King. I am not familiar with the format of Bill Maher's show ( I don't have cable TV or else I would watch it ), but it seems Kasparov was there as a guest speaker only, a plug for his book. Maher lined up all the fast balls for Kasparov to hit out of the park, and the audience was ready to applaud him. When Maher began to ask about Putin's popularity in Russia, Kasparov came out with his stock answer. That is, polls in a police state cannot be trusted and even Bush and Cheney would enjoy great approval rates if they could employ the same strong-arm tactics. See for yourself :

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Filipino Inmates Thrill: This video gives new meaning to prison life. Sure, this group's collective wrap sheet will run the gamut of offenses from animal abuse, premeditated murder or simply too poor to put up a good legal defense. But, it seems that they have been busy with something more than just scratching plaintive cries on their cell walls. I wouldn't like to be the one to go from cell block to cell block convincing criminals to participate in a... well, have a look: Are they on the road to perdition or stardom? You'll find the more talented lawbreakers in the middle pack while the four-footed ones make their bid to fame on the wings. Not exactly a film by Martin Scorcese, but it will do for now.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Chess and Politics: Our good friend at Chesslodge has an interesting post about the intrusion of politics into chess:

World Junior Chess Championship, 2007, Final: The second half of this tournament was certainly a slambang affair with several players taking the lead at every turn. Well, in the end, it was Egypt's GM Ahmed Adly who triumphed over a field of 80 players. He scored 10 points in 13 rounds, leading after the 6th round and then falling behind to come back on top in the end. GM Adly won his last three rounds. Second place went to GM Ivan Popov of Russia with 9.5 points followed by GM Wang Hao with 9 points in third place. For those of you who follow IM Wesley So, he settled in 20th place with 7.5 points. Considering that this young man of 14 was leading the pack at around midpoint and then lagged behind after successive loses, it seems to me that he might have ran out of steam. GM Parimarjan Negi took 8th place with 8.5 points.

Here is GM Adly's last round game against G. Meier after his 51. Kh3 when black resigned. Let's take a look: 51...Bd6 52. Rd6 Rc8 53. Nd2 Rc5 54. Nf3 and white has won another pawn...Rb5 55. Kg4 Ke7 56. Rd5 Rb6 57. Ne5 and white has a very superior position.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

World Junior Chess Championship, 2007, Rd 10 : Things have changed quite a bit since the last report. The former front runner, IM Wesley So ( Philippines), is now at number 16 ( 6 points) after ten rounds. First place has been up for grabs for almost every round, and now it is IM Avetik Gregoryan who leads the pack with 7.5 points. I am sure the hometown crowd is very proud of him. The next Armenian after him is at 10th place, GM Arman Pashikian with 6.5 points. For a while, Egyptian GM Ahmed Adly looked like the run away winner, but GM is now in 6th place with 7 points. He lost to GM Ivan Popov in Round 10 and to GM Wang Hao in Round 9. Nobody is safe in this tournament. IM Wesley So lost in Rounds 7, 8, and 10 after a stellar performance. Nevertheless, the official website announced that Wesley So and Avetik Grigoryan have already earned a GM norm in this tournament. The number one seed, GM Wang Hao, climbed from the middle of the pack to second place with 7.5 points after 10 rounds. Two more rounds to go.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

World Junior Chess Championship, 2007, Rd 6: After six rounds of the scheduled thirteen, IM Wesley So of the Philippines took the lead with 5 points. This tournament is being held at Yerevan, Armenia from Oct. 2 through the 17th. It's a long and grueling tournament, and so the competitors need to pace themselves. GMs Ahmed Adly (Egypt) 5 points, Maxim Rodshstein (Israel) 4.5 points, and Daniel Stellwagen ( Netherlands) 4.5 points, are in second to fourth places respectively. Players who enjoy better name recognition fared less than the aforesaid players: GM Wang Hao, 4.5 points at 6th place, Gm Parimarjan Negi, 4 points at 16th place, GM David Howell, 3.5 points at 22nd place, and GM Gawain Jones, 3.5 points at 25th place. Here is the game between Wesley So and David Howell:

Wesley So enjoyed pawn majorities on both wins and simplification favored him with 30...Rc2 31. Qa7...Howell needed to activate his queen with 31...Qe8 and So sought an exchange with 32. Qe3. Play continued 32...Qc8 33. Qe7 ( threatening 34. Rd8+ ) Qf5 with Howell making threats of his own on f2.

Here, So dove head first with 34. Rd8+ Kg7 35. Qf8+ Qf6 36. Qd6+ Kg5 ( 36...Kg7 37. Qd4+ Qf6 [ 37...Kh6 38. Rh8+ Kg5 39. Qh4# ] 38. Rd8+ nasty ) 37. h4+ and black resigned. If 37...Kh4, then 38. Qg3+ Kh5 39. Rh8#. If 37...Kg4, then 38. Qg3+ Kh5 39. Rh8#. Let's take a look at 37...Kh6, 38. Qf8+ Kh5 39. Qh8+ Kg4 40. Rd4+ and black has to cover with his queen.

Friday, October 05, 2007

World Blitz Championship 07: A recent post at the DailyDirt chess blog got me scratching my head. According to the post, FIDE is planning another World Blitz Championship this year to be held right after the World Cup in November. There was one held in Israel last year, and Grischuk won that one. He, therefore, is regarded as the reigning World Blitz Champion. As reported, FIDE will seed a few well-known personalities into the final, and all others will have to qualify. Included in the group who have to claw their way to the top is none other than the reigning champion. The illogicality of this decision makes me leery of the report's accuracy. But, knowing FIDE's propensity for byzantine procedures ( world championship cycle ) and unabashed mood swings ( Topalov rematch ), this could very well be the case. Wow. And we play a game based on logical deduction?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A new GM for the Philippines : Darwin Laylo, a 27-yr old from Marikina, is headed for the World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk (Russia) after placing 7th in the VI Asian Individual Chess Championship in Cebu, The Philippines. The World Cup begins on November 23, 2007. When the young man said that it was a dream come true, he was not referring to the his spot in the World Cup but to his newly-minted GM title. His performance at the tournament earned him the last GM norm and enough points to boost his 2486 rating beyond the required 2500. Laylo became the 7th GM the country has ever produced. Congratulations to Darwin Laylo and good luck at the World Cup.

Monday, October 01, 2007

ChessMexico 07, The End : Well, I am glad this tournament is finally over. I am already looking forward to a World Championship reMATCH in 2008 between Kramnik and Anand. I predicted that Kramnik and Aronian will emerged as the top two, and so I was mistaken on Aronian. Aronian lost to Gelfand in both games, and that made Gelfand the only player to win both games against the same opponent. Aronian's two other losses occurred against Anand and Kramnik. Levon, maybe next time.

Nevertheless, congratulations to Anand for winning this tournament, for finishing without a loss, and for having the most wins in the group. Anand scored 9 / 14 points ( 4 wins and 10 draws ) while second placer Kramnik scored 8 / 14 ( 3 wins, 1 loss, 10 draws ). Gelfand has the same stats as Kramnik, but he took third place. The Israeli's armor sports a new luster, and no doubt numerous invitations to compete will be coming.

I remember watching the Kasparov-Anand Match at the World Trade Center in New York in 1995 where Kasparov proved too much for Anand. It has taken Anand 12 years since then to become unified world champion. He stayed the course, kept hacking away at the dream, eyes on the prize, and finally attained the highest honor in all of chessdom. I reckon this victory will make him a greater national hero in India.

Anand's game against Grischuk ( Round 13 ) represents the only time when he could have been beaten at the board. Had he lost that game, Anand would have created a 3-way tie between himself, Kramnik, and Gelfand ( assuming the last two performed as they did ). Those favoring match play would have seen some of that after all. Here is one of the critical positions in that game:

Anand had just played 51...Ra2-h2. From here, the game went into a pawn race that looked hopeless for Anand especially with the white king helping out in the promotion of the white A pawn. Ultimately, Anand sacrificed his rook for the Queen on a8. Anand's H pawn, however, started advancing by then and his king shepherded the H pawn home. Ironically, Grischuk's king performed the same task for his A pawn, but this placed the white king too far afield of the H pawn. For the record, here is the continuation: 52. Rd4 Rh4 53. Ra4 Rh1 54. Rb4 Ra1 55. a4 Kg6 56. Kd5 Ra3 57. Kc6 Rf3 58. a5 f5 59. a6 Ra3 60. gf5+ Kf5 61. Kb6 h5 62. Rb5+ Kg4 63. Ra5 Rf3 64. a7 Rf8 65. a8(q) Ra8 66. Ra8 h4 67. Kc5 h3 68. Kd4 h2 69. Rh8 Kg3 70. Ke3 Kg2 71. Rg8+ Kf1 72. Rh8 Kg1 73. Rh2 Kh2 Draw.