The Maine Thing
Before the weather gets seriously cold, I made the 6-hour drive to the eastern part of Maine and revisited the sights that I haven't seen in more than a decade. Summer is over and the mad rush of vacationers ended weeks ago. Hotel/motel rooms, cabins, and campsites ran abundant, and the coastal highway U.S. Route 1 experiences less traffic at this time of the year. Aside from its awesome natural beauty, Maine is also known for its seafood. People settled the coastal areas in the 1600s, and since then the sea has provided the local population a means of livelihood and a proud maritime tradition. Here's a photo of the dock and bay area in Boothbay Harbor (above). This scene is typical of the area. Maine's lobsters are world famous, and sat high on my must-have list..Together with family, I found a nice restaurant by the water where we chose the lobster(s), and then they were cooked in a huge vat of boiling water right in front of us. In a few minutes, they resurfaced as a dish for our immediate and unabashed consumption. I added an order of steamers, corn, cole slaw, and pints of golden ale to ease them down our systems. This salubrious undertaking was made better by the location of our picnic bench on a raised deck, overlooking the water. In situations like these, conversation is kept at a minimum. Life is good!
Thursday, September 27, 2007
The Maine Thing
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Round 9 : In my predictions, I categorized Morozevich as a player who could rock the boat and upset the balance of things. He did just at in Round 9 when he defeated Kramnik who is now 1.5 points behind Anand after ten rounds. Kramnik's only win in ten rounds, ironically, was against Morozevich. The rest of his games were drawn. I don't think Kramnik is putting in an impressive performance in this tournament. Now, unbelievably, Gelfand also lost his game against Grischuk. They drew the first time around. After ten rounds, Gelfand is still in second place except that now he is a full point behind Anand. Anand, by the way, has scored three wins and Gelfand, Aronian, and Morozevich have two wins. As for losses, Gelfand, Kramnik, and Leko have lost only once. Anand is unbeaten.
This world championship is turning out to be just another super grandmaster tournament. I don't get the sense that one player is beating another for the crown. It's a tournament, and so you earn as many points as possible and hope that others help you along with upsets. There is no gladiatorial combat here, mano a mano. I've seen more excitement in the Aronian-Carlsen match than in this tournament.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Play continued 47...Rff8 ( 47...Rf1+ 48. Kf1 Rd7 [ 48...Kf8 49. Rh7 Nd3 49. Ng6+ ] 49. Rd7 ) 48. Rf8+ Kf8 49. Rh7 c3 50. Ng6+ 1-0
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
Here, Leko moved 28...de5, giving up a piece for two pawns. Obviously, Leko pinned his hopes on these two connected pawns which Aronian blocked with his knight, for a while, as he sought to create a passed pawn on the queenside. Play continued 29. Rd7 ef4 30. Qe2 e5 31. Ne4 Be7 ( there was a threatened fork on d6 ) 32. c5 bc5 33. bc5 ( there's the newly minted passed pawn ) Bc6 34. Rdd1 Bb5 35. Qb2 Qa7 36. Bb5 ab5 ( Aronian seems to have strategized to reduce material ) 37. Bf2 Qa8 38. Nd6 ( more simplification ) See below:
Friday, September 14, 2007
Above, Kramnik, playing white, sacrificed his knight after 13. ed5 fe5 14. bc4 ed4 15. dc6 Be6 16. cb5 d3 17. c7 Qd4 18. Qa4 Nd7 19. Be3 Qd6 20. Ba8 Ra8 21. Bf4 Qf8 22. b6 and white's pawns were too much to handle for black.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Above, we have the final position of Morosevich - Aronian. This game was drawn in 25 moves. Things could have gone 26. Ra8 Ra8 27. Kg2 Ra4 28. Be7 b5 29. Rd1 Bh8 30. Bd6 g5 with a very slight advantage for white.
This double-round robin tournament begins today in a matter of hours. Predictions have been made by pundits and bloggers, and so I need to make mine before the first move is made. I think in the very end, we can expect to see Kramnik, Aronian, and Anand battle for first place. Gelfand hardly qualified for this tournament and so with Grischuk. They will lag behind and finally tail off. Leko, as I have always felt, is erratic. You don't know which Leko will show up and this unsteady aspect of his play will never make him a world champion. Svidler is very good, but he is somewhat like Leko. I think Leko and Svidler will occupy the midsection of the roll. Morozevich? He comes up with a brilliant game or two occasionally, but he is not consistent against elite opposition. He might upset the favorites along the way and have an effect on the final outcome. Aronian is rock-steady and he keeps his focus very well as we have seen in his match against Carlsen. I would have loved to see Carlsen in this group instead of Gelfand or Grischuk. It is also because of his elimination of Carlsen in the Candidates matches that I think Aronian should make his presence count, if not earth-shaking. In the absence of Kasparov, I now follow Aronian's games more than anybody else's. Wishing upon a star, I would be very pleased to see either Kramnik or Aronian emerge on top and I think that they will.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
It seems that the story began with the position depicted above with Mr. Azmaiparashvili having the black pieces. Vladimir Malakhov sat across the board from him in a game that started out as a Pirc. As you may have already notice, the white king is in check. Malakhov played 25. Rd1 to which Azmaiparashvili replied 25...Be5, leaving his rook en prise. Realizing the mistake, Azmaiparashvili retracted this move and played 25...Rd1+ instead. Someone on the web speculated that Malakhov was so stunned and stupefied by this retraction that he failed to object. The true reason, perhaps, for allowing the retraction was Azmaiparashvili's written note on his scoresheet as 25...Rd1+, signifying that this was his true intention and not 25...Be5? Azmaiparashvili went on to win this game in 59 moves. Experiencing a pang of conscience, he offered to score the game a draw but Malakhov stood by his loss. Malakhov, by the way, finished in second place behind Azmaiparashvili ( the 4th IECC in Istanbul, Turkey 2003) .
I must stress that I have not found a direct quote or a full statement by either Malakhov or Azmaiparashvili about this incident. The most I can say is that this is the prevailing story on the web. If there is a statement from either one about this incident, please send me the url. Now, assuming that this is pretty close to the truth, you can see why every fair-minded chessplayer can become alarmed by this incident. It's rule-bending by a high official of FIDE to say the least. I'd say that Azmaiparashvili's retraction of his move was, in reality, rule-breaking. One has to move the piece that he touched, or capture the piece if the piece belongs to the opponent. I mean, we're talking about a basic, bare bones, fundamental rule here. You could not get away with this stuff at your local club championships much more in an international chess tournament. This is absolutely wrong even if your opponent agreed to the retraction because the rules are not made up along the way between the players but are set even before the game started. In the long run, this retraction will cost Azmaiparashvili more than a point. It's going to be the gadfly that won't go away, and it will forever tarnish his reputation that he sought to defend against the concept, or unflattering image, that we all know now as dunderhead.
Imagine the things that go on in the chess world that we hardly notice...Take for example the Prenestini International Festival held in Roma from August 17-19. Officially called 1° Festival Scacchi dei Castelli Romani e Prenestini, this six-round tournament ( Open A ) included four GMs, two IMs, four FMs, sixty-eight players altogether. Well, the undefeated winner was a mere FM who beat three of the four GMs and drew with someone else, scoring 5.5 points out of a possible 6. FM Virgilio Vuelban of the Philippines ( rated 2332 ) put in a performance rated 2713. Quite an impressive performance, I'd say. The finalist were: 1st Veulban 5.5 pts, 2nd GM Rausis 5 pts, 3rd IM Mrdja 5 pts, 4th GM Korneev 4.5 pts, 5th GM Naumkin 4.5 pts, 6th IM Andonov 4.5 pts, 7th GM Popchev 4.5 pts. Vuelban intends to pursue IM and GM norms in Europe. Good luck and congrats on your win. Website http://www.scacchiroccapriora.it/Loc%20Agosto%20WORD%20con%20coord.doc
Friday, September 07, 2007
When it comes to government support for chess, it is hard to beat the Kalmyk model. Chess, Kalmykia, and Ilyumzhinov could be treated as synonyms in the next issue of Roget's Thesaurus. Although some form of it already exists, the FIDE and Kalmyk President announced the establishment and building by decree of the New International Chess Academy of the Republic of Kalmykia ( Sept.5, 2007).
This development should hardly surprise anyone au courant with international chess scene. The announcement was made at the FIDE website, stating its mission as, " The aim of the "Chess Academy" in Elista is to train chess players on a professional level, in order to achieve stable results, to perform norms of "FIDE Master", "International Master", "International Grandmaster." The new building will contain sixty rooms with the source of the financing already determined. I guess that's speaking euphemistically about someone.
Ilyumzhinov has appointed FIDE Office General Director Mr. Vyacheslav Namruev as Director of academy. The call is out for national federations and their members to cooperate with the Chess Academy in Elista. The Kalmyk government made it clear that they are interested in your proposals, questions, applications to have lessons in the Academy and to send them to email@example.com
From the position above, Hou enjoyed a 3-1 pawn advantage plus a very passively positioned black king. Her rook on g2 was well-placed behind the passed G pawn and still able to influence the queenside; there are five ranks behind the passed G pawn along which the rook can travel. The 2-1 pawn situation in the queenside needed to be simplified into one outside passed pawn, and so Hou moved 56. Kc5 Rb1 57. c4 bc4 58. Kc4 Rc1+ 59. Kb5 Rb1+ 60. Ka5 Rb8 ( looks like the white king was seriously cut off from the rest of the board, but not really ) 61. a4 ( good time to advance the outside passed pawn ) Ra8+ 62. Kb5 Rb8+ ( black was reduced to harassing checks while white made progress )
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Elevages Perigord and fine culinary dining...really?
I am getting a bit sick of chess lately, and so I will focus on another important aspect of life. It has not escaped my notice that some chess websites blend their content with other genres without truly blurring their focus on chess. I am almost convinced that all chess and no other makes for a boring site. So, let me turn to an area that is close to my heart and that is the welfare of animals. I consider myself blessed with an ability to be compassionate to animals especially when they are caught in an abusive situation, caught in a no-win situation, not even a draw. We have at least one thing to our advantage as human beings, and that is our ability to articulate our feelings and thoughts, like asking for help. This is the part that moves me the most; abused animals cant speak for themselves in a world that is highly verbal. So, as with bullied kids in the schoolyard a long time ago, female friends who could not get away from an abusive boyfriend, and non-English speaking people who can't explain their situation to a police officer or a judge, I am always willing to help.
I recently discovered a group that is doing excellent work in this area. I have added a link to their website on my sidebar but here it is anyway: http://www.farmsanctuary.org/ You can read all about their work by clicking on the many links, but mind you there is stuff there that could upset you. Click on the Foie Gras Assembly Line, and you see how it isn't so chic to eat it, particularly from a company named Elevages Perigord of Canada. They are being accused of numerous violations of Canadian law pertaining to the ethical treatment of animals, even those meant for food. Here's a link to the complaint written by Gene Baur, President, and Andrew Plumbly, Director of Global Action Network to the Quebec provincial police: http://www.farmsanctuary.org/media/Letter_police.pdf Okay, I know that these things can weigh heavy on your heart and it can be depressing. There are ways to help like donating, spreading the word, and not patronizing products/companies born from this situation. I do know that Amazon.com sells the foie gras from this company, and I have written Amazon ( I've spent a lot of money at Amazon.com ) that I will no longer buy from them until this matter is resolved. I consider it a conflict of interest. Please do not confuse the effort for the ethical treatment of animals with blind faith, militancy, bleeding hearts, or a push for all of us to turn vegetarians. Animals slated for slaughter for food should be treated with dignity and not abused ( read the complaint). There are serious cases of abuse out there, and we should all be concerned. This is my opinion.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
From the position above, Howell played 29. Be3. Why not challenge Wang on the G file with 23. Rg1? Well, there is 23..Ng4+ 24. Kh1 Nf2+ ( 24. Rg4 Rg4 ). Okay, lets continue with 29...Rg2+ 30. Kh1 Bc6 and black sets up for a very nasty discovered check. What to do? Howell fired off 31. Bf7 ( position below ). This move surprised me, but I quickly realized that there is nothing Howell can do to prevent the discovered check. Say, 31. Rg1 would fail against 31...Rf2+ 33. Rg2 Rg2.
From here, Wang played 31... Bf3. I wondered why not 31... Rg7+? Well, there is 32. d5 Nd5 33. Be6+ Kc7 34. Kh2 and white isn't as bad as in the game continuation. So, the game continued 32. Be6 Kb8 33. Bh3 Rdg8 ( what a move! ) 34. Bg2 Rg2 and white resigned (position below).
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
What a match-up! You won't find my name listed in that exalted group. This one is being held in Liverpool, and instead of writing up the specifics I will just send you to the very source of information http://www.liverpoolchessinternational.co.uk/ where you can see some photos of the venue, list of participants, round pairings and results. The PGN files are still in the oven and they will be served up as soon as they are ready. Anyway, I followed Nigel Short's game against Wang Hao on ICC where kibitzers lamented Short's bad form and Wang's inability to crush him when the position looked very desperate for the Englishman. I think Wang Hao squandered away a decisive advantage by exchanging queens at a point when he ( Wang ) should have applied more pressure on Short's disorganized position. Short's rook lay trapped on h8, his knight on the edge of the board on the queenside, his e7 and f6 squares crater-like, and his d6 pawn weak. But, no overwhelming attack came from Wang who chose to exchange queens on f6.
Short recovered from his problems but Wang Hao, ultimately, won the game by using a combined force of a rook, knight, and a passed F pawn. From the diagram, 18...Rc8 19. Ng5 Bg5 20. Hg5 Qe8 21. Qf3 Qd8 22. Qf6 Qf6 23. gf6 Ke8 24. Rac1 Rc6 25. b4 Nb7 26. Ne7 Rc7 27. Nd5 Rc6 28. Re3 Kd7 29. Rec3 Rb8 30. Rc4 Nd8 31. a4 h5 32. g3 Rb7 and Black had somewhat recovered but still not better than white. Wang won in 54 moves.
Monday, September 03, 2007
Let's take a look at the 4th Datu Artur Tan Open 2007 one more time. We've got IM Barlo Nadera (black) against GM Nguyen Dung on white's 25th move. Basically, white doubled up on the knight on a6 but the white knight on c7 is pinned against the queen. This same knight (c7) is protected three times by the bishop on g3, the queen and rook on the c file ( diagram 1). So, here, white played 25. Qe2? The question mark is mine. This move left the rook on c1 unprotected. At this level of competition, I am sure that all sorts of red flags went up in Nadera's mind, and we will see that white might have overlooked a finesse move by his opponent. In response, Nadera moved 25...Nc7. At this very moment, black is a piece up. Recovering the piece does not work because after 26. Bc7 there is the very nice 26...Bd6! Look to the h2 square. Taking this bishop 27. Bd6 will mean 27...Rc1+. Also, 27. g4 is answered by 27...Qh3. And there you see how deep a hole white dug for himself with 25. Qe2. Okay, the game went on via 26. Ra7 Nd5
(diagram 2) with a discov. attack on the white rook. Clearly, 27. Rb7 won't work. White played 27. Rc8 and of course Nadera captured with his bishop 27...Bc8, preserving his piece advantage. Black, ultimately, won this game. I, sometimes, wonder why GMs commit obvious blunders against their equally superior opponents, but they will never make such mistakes against mortals like us. I suppose it takes a good player to make another good player look easy to beat.
Saturday, September 01, 2007
Some chess from Asia...
Li Chao of China won the 4th Datu Artur Tan Open in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with a score of seven wins and four draws. This young man of eighteen is untitled and so is the second placer, Wan Yunguo, also from China, half a point behind the winner. It just shows you that China is still an unexplored area of chess, relatively unknown GM-strength players lurking in the shadows. The field consisted of six GMs, thirteen IMs, seven FMs, two WGMs, one WIM, and one WFM. Eighty-seven players competed from fifteen countries ( Malaysia, Philippines, China, New Zealand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, United States of America, India, Bangladesh, Russia, England, Scotland). Evidently, in 2005, an untitled player also won the tournament. This person is now a recognizable name around the world as GM Wang Hao.
Okay, I am going to play favorites here and ask how well the Filipino players fared in this tourney. IM Barlo A Nadera was 6th (7.5), IM Julio Catalino Sadorra 9th (7.5), IM Ronald Bancod, 13th (7.0), and IM Oliver Dimakilling, 15th (7.0). Not bad at all considering there were 87 players total.
Here's an instructive rook and pawn ending between IM Bancod (white) and GM Adianto from Indonesia (Diagram 1 above). The position seemed drawish but white's rook is more active and it is his move. Bancod played 43. Rb6+ Ke5 44. Rh6 Rd3+ 45. Kg2 Ra3 46. f4+ Kd4 (Diagram 2 below). Bancod managed to get behind one of black's pawns and seemed poised to capture it. It must indicative of a player's maturity and mastery of the game when in this position he elected to play 47. Rd6+, attempting to push the opposing king away from his pawns. Adianto moved 47...Kc4 and the black king stood a good two files away from the nearest pawn ( 47...Ke3 48. Re6+ Kd4 49. Kh3 Ra8 50. Re5 and white has an excellent position ). Play continued 48. Kh3 Ra1 49. Rf6 ( the point of 47. Rd6; Bancod wanted to capture the F pawn first ) Kd4 50. Rf5 Ke4 51. Rh5 Kf3 ( threatening mate ) 52. Kh4 and white won on the 69th move.